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 Subaru Impreza




Subaru Impreza Story
An Introduction to the Subaru Impreza


History of the Impreza
A complete History of Subaru and the Impreza


Special Editions
All the UK special edition Impreza's listed here


My 2001 Impreza WRX
My own 2001 Impreza WRX in Red Mica


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Upgraded my WRX with PPP saving nearly £1,200!


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Photo gallery of the car at Lochindorb Jan08


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MY08 Impreza (Gallery)
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..:: The Subaru Impreza Story

1. The Subaru Impreza Story, as told by me
2. The History of the Subaru Impreza
3. Special Editions
4. Image Galleries
5. My 2001 Subaru Impreza WRX - Red Mica


..:: The History of the Subaru Impreza

Subaru is a subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries. Which was originally Nakajima Aircraft back in 1917. It's wasn't until 1954 before Fuji Heavy Industries took on the challenge of building a road car. The name of this car was the P-1 (Nothing like the modern Subaru Impreza P1) which stood for Prototype-1. This name was later changed to the Subaru 1500. And here the Subaru was born. The name Subaru Closely translates to reference the star cluster Pleiades, which is the same famous star cluster that we see make up the subaru logo today. over the decades Subaru continued to build motor cars and in 1972 made it's first 4WD car with the Subaru Leone 4WD Station Wagon. From that point onwards Subaru made something for a name for it's self in the 4WD motor car department, almost like a trade mark. Think Subaru, think All Wheel Drive. However it wasn't until 1992 that the Subaru Impreza was born. So let's pick up the story from there.

1992

The Launch of the Subaru Impreza (Japan) The Subaru Impreza was developed after rule changes in the World Rally Championship (WRC) demanded a replacement to the Subaru Legacy which was previously used by Subaru in the WRC. The changes meant that a new smaller, lighter and faster car was required in order to compete in the WRC. So even from day one, the Subaru Impreza was developed for rallying.

1993

The Subaru Impreza reached the UK. Initially the Subaru Impreza was available in both Front Wheel Drive (FWD) and All Wheel Drive (AWD) versions. However the FWD was soon dropped in preference of the trademark Subaru AWD system.

1994

The Turbo Charged Impreza 2000 AWD reached the UK (Known as the Subaru Impreza WRX in Japan). Also in 2004, Subaru Technica International (STI) was born and we started seeing STI versions of the Subaru Impreza Turbo. The Subaru Impreza WRX STI meant much more than an extra badge on the body. The STI stood for a full upgrading of the Subaru Impreza Taking was was learned on the World Rally stages and incorporating developments into the road car. Many areas were upgraded for the Subaru Impreza STI versions. Engine, Suspension and overall performance and handling greatly improved over the standard car. Top speed was limited to 155mph and 0-62 came in at just 4.7seconds for the Impreza STI. These figures made the Subaru Impreza very sought after by the local boy racers. Albeit a bit more expensive than the your every day Peugeot 205 and Vauxhall Nova.

1995

Subaru won the World Rally Championship in a 555 WRC Subaru Impreza driven by fellow Scotsman Colin McRae. A brilliant achievement for both driver and manufacturer. Driver Colin McRae for being the first ever British driver to win the WRC, and Subaru proved that the Impreza was a World Leading rally car. To mark the success of Subaru winning the WRC championship that year, a special edition Subaru Impreza was released in the form of the McRae Series Subaru Impreza.

1996

Subaru took the manufacturer title for a second year in a row, and promptly released another special edition Impreza knows as the Subaru Impreza Catalunya.

1997

Subaru won a hat-trick of manufacturer championships and celebrated once again by releasing a new special edition Impreza. The Subaru Impreza Terzo (Italian for 3rd). Only 333 Subaru Impreza Terzos were made, as a mark of the three championships won with the Subaru Impreza. 1997 also saw a few changes to the Impreza road car. Interior styling was updated including an exclusive MOMO racing steering wheel. Meanwhile STI versions were given an newly designed rear spoiler. In Japan a special 2-door coupe Subaru Impreza was released which was used as the 1998 WRC car.

1998

The Subaru Impreza 22B. A label that often conjures up thoughts of what the ultimate Subaru Impreza might be. The 22B (Note: for the computer geeks out there, 22B in hex converts to 555 in decimal.) provided a 2.2l boxer engine, more hardcore styling all round including 2-doors instead of 4 and an adjustable rear wing made up just some of the key features of the 22B. Only 400 22B's were made in order to celebrate 40 years of Subaru and only 16 of those were destined for the UK. I've seen three in total!! UK versions also had tweaked gearing which was specifically optimised to UK roads. How cool is that!

1999

To celebrate the new driver lineup of Richard Burns in the Subaru World Rally Team, Subaru decided it was once again time for a special edition. This time the RB5 named after Richard Burns. Sadly in November 2003 Richard Burns was diagnosed with a form of brain tumour and later died on the 25th November 2005 from his illness. This makes the RB5 all the more special now. Only 444 RB5's were made, with the option of the WR Sport pack.

1999 Also saw the release of another special edition. The Subaru Impreza P1, which like the Subaru Impreza 22B was a 2-door coupe model, and like the 22B it was only available in WR Blue. However unlike the 22B the Subaru Impreza P1 delivered a 276bhp out of the box, and supporting a whole load of new accessories such as 10-spoke OZ Titanium racing wheels, improved quick-shift gearbox, rear-wiper, new front wing/splitter, new fog lamps and a new exclusive rear wing. Unlike the Impreza 22B there were 1,000 P1's made. Despite this the Subaru Impreza P1 remains one of the most expensive Subaru Impreza's to buy today.

       

2000

For eight years, the Subaru Impreza remained more or less unchanged (externally) until 2000 where Subaru decided to update the Impreza for the 21st century. This change was met with mixed views. The appropriately labeled Bug-eye version by critics, was just that. Bug-eyed! One can only guess it was Subaru's attempt to make the Impreza all cute and cuddly. But this didn't go down well with the fans. Many NewAge impreza's promptly had their headlights replaces with WRC look-alike HI-Definition (HiD) lamps or the more aggressive looking Morette cluster. What was in favour of the fans was the globalisation of the WRX name. Previously only used in Japan, the WRX badge was now stuck to any Impreza with a Turbo!

2001

To celebrate Richard Burns's win in the WRC and the launch of the of the new model, Subaru decided to launch yet another special edition Impreza. This time the Subaru Impreza UK300. Once again just like the 22B and P1 the only colour available was WR Blue. The UK300 supported new prodrive styled spoilers of which the rear wing looked like was picked from bit of an airfix kit and not put together properly. Thankfully the front end was improved slightly, with the addition of improved HiD headlamps which made the car look slightly less like a bug. Yet no matter what they did, it was still going to be remembered as the Bug-Eyed version. 2001 also saw the arrival of the NewAge (Must stop calling it bug-eyed) Subaru Impreza WRX STI to the UK. Just like previous STI's, this was based on the WRX but tweaked a little by the Subaru Technica International (STI) team. If that wasn't enough there was also the option of a Prodrive Performance Pack (PPP). The Subaru Imrpeza WRX STI saw a few key changes over the standard Subaru Impreza WRX. This time, the addition of a 6-speed gearbox as opposed to the WRX 5-speed. Also a nice welcome was similar headlamps which were found on the UK300.

2002

It didn't take long before Subaru had to give in to pressure from fans and go back to the drawing board (literally) to come up with a new style Subaru Impreza. So in 2002, Subaru announced yet another NewAge Impreza. The MY03. Main difference here was the front end. More or less everything else stayed the same, but those bug-eyed headlamps were out and replaced with slightly less ugly ones. Also a bigger bonnet scoop was included. Not to be outdone, the Subaru Impreza WRX power was increased by 10bhp. Not surprisingly many Bug-eyed Subaru Impreza's were made available on the 2nd hand market as many owners wanted to change their driveway accessory for the new style Subaru Impreza.

Although Turbo versions of the Subaru Impreza were available in Japan and Europe from more or less day one. The US favoured their muscle cars and not these Japanese breed of performance cars. Which meant the Subaru Impreza Turbo's never "officially" reached US soil until the 2002 model. Any previous Subaru Impreza's were Imports. Unfortunately for the US market the famous 2.0l boxer engine had to go. The fuel regulations in the US meant that the high performance expected from the Subaru Impreza could not be achieved from the 2.0l engine with US fuel. Instead, the Subaru Impreza was given a nice new 2.5l boxer engine for the US market, in order to keep the power and performance up.

2004

Another Subaru WRC title win with Petter Solberg at the wheel. Once again sticking with tradition a new special edition was released, known as the Subaru Impreza WR1. I must admit the WR1 is one of my personal favourites, if only because of the unique Ice Blue colour. Only 500 WR1's were made, but Subaru decided to throw everything at it, including PPP and Driver Controlled Centre Diff (DCCD). The Subaru Impreza WRX STI also saw further improvements in 2004 with upgraded mechanics from the Japanese models. This new revised STI saw a new front diff, along with the DCCD system which was found on the WR1 and UK300 models. Nice!

2005

Towards the end of 2005. Again just 2 years after the previous model was replaced, Subaru decided to release another new bodied Subaru Impreza, the MY06. This time with new crystal rear light cluster and yet another new front end. The jury is still out about whether or not it is a hit or a miss. I personally think it looks Awesome. Almost as though Subaru have forgotten the last 5 years and gone back to the aggressive styling of the original Subaru Impreza from the 90's! I admit, it did take a few days to get used to, but after you see past the SEAT grill and BMW headlamps you soon realise that this is the sort of car you want other people to see you in, in their rear view mirror. (Admittedly briefly as you scream past them shortly after words :) Sadly the MY06 marked the end for the traditional 2.0l boxer engine. Instead we saw the introduction of the 2.5l boxer engine into the Subaru Impreza. A sad end which seems to have gone relatively unnoticed. But then think of what they can do with that extra 500cubic centimetres of space. Mwaahaahaahaa!...

2006

Towards the end of 2006. Subaru / Prodrive announced the realease of a new Special Edition Impreza. Sadly without recent success in the WRC. This time the special edition was to celebrate the life of previous Subaru WRC Champion Richard Burns who sadly died 12 months previously due to a brain tumour. The New Special Edition Subaru Impreza was to be named the RB320. That's 320bhp and a limited number of 320 to be produced. Essentially the RB320 is a 2006 model Subaru Impeza WRX STi PPP with just abotu ever add on you can think of, along with bespoke prodrive/blitsen dampers, exclusive obsidian black paint work, black alloys and full dront grill set. All in all making the RB320 very exclusive and ver agressive looking with only small markings on the passenger, drivers doors and boot lid of a small orange RB320 logo. The rest of the car is very much black in respect for the late Richard Burns. A true trubite to a great champion!

       

2007

I have yet to come up with a word that describes Subaru in 2007. At the time of writing Subaru had recently announced the drascically redesigned 2008 model of the Subaru Impreza (You can see some photos here) Make your own mind up about what you think of it. My initial thoughts are yuk.. And I have to say my thoughts are still more or less the same. The car does NOT look agressive as it shoudl and just looks like any other family hatchback on the road. a fair pecentage of the Impreza's appeal has always been it's agressive shape and styling. Even teh bugeye version admitedly wasn't welcomed by many had the trademark styling that for every other angle you knew it was an Impreza and more importantly a car to be reckoned with!. This new one doesn't do much for me I'm afraid. Doesn't excite me when I see pictures of it like previous styles. The same recipie is still there usign the same 2.5l boxer engine from teh MY06 models, a new intercooler has been shoved in. Power remains teh same at 225ps for the WRX model, awd as standard of course :). However the tyres are narrower than previous versions. Also it's worth noting that at time of writing there are no plans for a WRX version or saloon version for the UK. Instead we'll have the basic models then a jump up to the STi's I see this as a mistake as the WRX hits a just about affordable market for most peopel who cant afford te £25k price of the STi. However somethign new for the MY08 Impreza will be the introduction of a 170bhp Diesel Impreza. Thats right diesel. Should be interesting...Watch this space...

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Comparison - Bentley Continental GT Speed vs. Mercedes S63 AMG coupé
Comparison - Bentley Continental GT Speed vs. Mercedes S63 AMG coupé The new Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG coupé is aimed squarely at the Bentley Continental GT Speed. Can it outmuscle it? We find out after a flat-out day in Wales

Although there is no formal definition, the UK government recognises a mountain to be any peak greater than 2000ft, of which well over 100 exist within the UK.

And given the vastness of the great Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia national parks, you might expect Wales to be home to a fair chunk of them. But it?s not. It has just eight.

The two most famous are the 2907ft Pen y Fan, which lies south-west of Brecon, and the 3560ft Snowdon, the highest in respectively the south and north of the country.

Handily for a hack looking for a hook to a story about two huge, powerful cars, the route between these two huge, powerful peaks takes in some of the best driving roads in this or any other country in our still intact United Kingdom.

The Bentley Continental GT you will know, for it has been a fairly frequent presence on these pages since its launch in 2003, and despite being regularly and at least once comprehensively updated on the way, it remains essentially the same car.

The 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 motor powering this Speed version isn?t that much changed, either. Yes, its power output has been tickled up by another 10bhp to 626bhp, but given that this engine developed 552bhp in basic form upon introduction over a decade ago, that?s not such a leap.

Then again, and for these purposes at least, there?s some benefit to its consistency, for its role here is the provide the benchmark for the other car now pulling into the car park opposite the Storey Arms on the A470, the start point for most hikers on their way up Pen y Fan.

That car is, of course, the Mercedes-Benz S-class coupé, perhaps better known as the replacement for the CL. In S63 AMG guise as tested here, its 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 has a trifling 577bhp but, lacking the Bentley?s four-wheel drive hardware, it weighs a quarter of a tonne less despite being both longer and taller.

The upshot is a fractional power-to-weight advantage to Mercedes that would matter little were it not backed by a monstrous torque-to-weight advantage, too. The Speed is Bentley?s fastest road car yet and it looks likely to be blown to dust by a Mercedes based on a pre-existing saloon with a smaller engine and fewer cylinders. 

The price differential between them makes painful reading, too, for Bentley fans. At £156,700, the Speed costs over £30,000 more than its rival, money that the Merc buyer could spend speccing his car to the nines or just buying a brand-new Lotus Elise for a bit of fun on the side.

Read the Bentley Continental GT Speed first drive

And I can think of no other two-door car, save a Rolls-Royce Wraith, capable of making the Bentley look so small. But it does: the Mercedes coupé might sit on a shorter wheelbase than an S-class saloon but it still logs in at well over five metres in length, longer even than four-door rivals such as the Porsche Panamera and Aston Martin Rapide S. Its lines flow beautifully, but next to it, the Bentley looks taut, compact and purposeful.

Technologically, it is to the Bentley as a super-computer is to an abacus. Were the roads not so winding, a passenger could have happily whiled away the entire journey from south to north trying to figure out the full range of its functionality and still found work to do at journey?s end.

This is a car that uses cameras as eyes to control the suspension, the cruise control and even the steering ? on the motorway, it really will drive itself. Tick the right boxes on the options sheet and you can have a seat with a longer list of massages than a five-star Bangkok hotel and a Burmester music system with more controls than an Abbey Road mixing desk.

But we?re not here to fiddle with gadgets, however enticing they may be. We?re here to drive and I make no excuses for falling on the S-class keys first.

The route up past Builth Wells, Llandridnod Wells, Rhayader and towards Betws-y-Coed and Snowdownia is one of the best drives anywhere on the mainland, especially if you keep off the A470 and stick to the often more direct and always less travelled B-roads.

It was always going to be a challenge for such cars. Despite their sleek lines, these are not pure-bred sports cars nor even purpose-built GTs. Both are spun off saloon car architectures (let?s not forget the Bentley?s Volkswagen Phaeton ancestry) and even the lighter Mercedes weighs the wrong side of two tonnes.

But at times, 663lb ft of torque can make even such evident avoirdupois seem irrelevant. Mercedes? home-grown seven-speed transmission is annoying because it is neither as smooth nor as intuitive as the ZF eight-speeder in the Bentley, but once you?ve learned to lock it in a ratio and let the torque do the work, this is a mightily fast car, and by any conventional standard you like.

The four-wheel-drive versions available in left-hand-drive markets will pop sub-4sec 0-62mph runs all day long. And that engine! I am by both instinct and disposition suspicious of downsized turbocharged engines but this one is magnificent.

Its performance is not characterised by the turbos at all, merely helped along. They blow relatively little boost, allow for a double-digit compression ratio and, as such, offer neither lag nor impedance to the engine?s voice.

Throttle response is electrifying, the noise the very blood and thunder you?d dream of in such a car, and the thrust? well, it is simply majestic.

Sad to say, the Bentley engine struggles by comparison. The issue is not its relative lack of torque or that its extra power is entirely stymied by its additional weight, because this is still a massively fast car. But it can?t do the subjective stuff anything like so well. Its voice is dull and its throttle response slack by comparison.There is no joy in this engine and, to be honest, it has been that way since it was born.

We?re deep into mid-Wales and I?m fiddling with the S63?s chassis set-up, trying to decide if its Pendolino-like ability to lean into corners is an asset or gimmick.

I decide that on give-and-take roads such as these, where it sometimes struggles to distinguish between curves and cambers, that it?s best left alone and settle for Sport mode instead.

I can remember being blown away by how well the S63 AMG saloon handled, but that was by the hardly high standards that you?d expect from a luxury limousine. The bar is far higher here and the coupé is clearing it, but by less than I?d thought.

There?s an artificiality to the steering that makes the car difficult to place on the road, and despite the arsenal of electronic suspension trickery at its disposal, it lacks the iron-fisted body control that I?d expected.

Then again, these are tough roads and if the Merc is finding them hard, how is the Bentley faring? Oddly, every time I look in the mirror, it is still there and showing no apparent signs of struggling to keep up.

The reason why soon becomes clear. In every dynamic area save perhaps braking, it is objectively inferior to the Mercedes. Subjectively, however, it is a rather different matter.

Out here where there is no such thing as a constant radius bend, where the only thing that changes more often than the weather is the camber and surface of the road, it?s not torque or power that?s the chief determinant of your point-to-point pace: it?s confidence.

Read the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG coupé first drive

And this the Bentley supplies. Its old-style hydraulic steering has a feel that you?ll not find in the Mercedes and, despite their passivity and relative technological backwardness, its dampers retain better control of the Bentley?s body.

There?s less pitch and heave, and in the medium-speed turns that characterise this part of the world, I?d call it the more nimble of the two, were ?nimble? a word you could ever use to describe a 2.3-tonne four-wheel-drive Bentley with a 6.0-litre 12-cylinder twin-turbo motor. Then again, it is shorter in the wheelbase than the Benz, and substantially so, so perhaps we should not be so surprised.

How concerned should we be about such issues? These are cars more sporting than sports and there are many who?d argue that there are considerations that should take their place ahead of mid-corner adjustability in the priority queue for such devices.

Which is fair enough, but when I turn my attention to less exciting but perhaps more relevant considerations, I find them harder to separate.

I should prefer the Mercedes because, again, if you think about it at all sensibly, it?s just the better car. Its ride is more deft and its interior more spacious in front, back and boot. It?s undoubtedly quieter at a constant cruise and there?s so much to play with in here that years from now you?d likely still be finding new functions that you?d hitherto never known existed.

Nor can you quibble with the cabin design, where Mercedes has been able to tempt traditional materials into entirely harmonious living arrangements with a post-modern dash of thrilling complexity and sophistication.

The Bentley has little to offer in reply and its dashboard, with its simple analogue dials and a navigation screen not unlike that in a Volkswagen Golf, seems antediluvian by comparison.

And yet there?s a sense of occasion in here, a feeling of well being amid those exquisitely judged and matched hides and veneers that speak of another set of priorities, an innate class that not even the Mercedes can match. For the less gadget obsessed, it is a wonderful place in which to pass time time.

The verdict

Despite an entire day on the road, by the time we reach the foothills of Snowdon, a clear victor has still to emerge. Despite all the common ground they share, these are profoundly different cars.

Bentley has excelled itself in imbuing the Speed with a timeless quality that the Mercedes cannot match, but if it is performance, ride, refinement or space that matters most to you, the Merc is just better, as well as £30,000 cheaper.

Even in this relatively price insensitive part of the market, that counts. In hackneyed terms, the head directs you straight to the Benz, while the heart implores you to go for the Bentley. I decide to sleep on it.

Soon after dawn the following day, we finish shooting and I?ve rarely seen this part of the world look more beautiful. But I am tired, there are many long hours of driving ahead and time is short. Bentley or Mercedes?

At last, the decision is clear. I walk straight to the Bentley, take one last, wistful look at that gorgeous interior and then, and only slightly guiltily, settle into the Mercedes and head for home.

Read Autocar's previous comparison - New Vauxhall Corsa versus Ford Fiesta and VW Polo

Bentley Continental GT Speed

Price £156,700; 0-62mph 4.2sec; Top speed 206mph; Economy 19.5mpg; CO2 338g/km; Kerb weight 2320kg; Engine W12, 5998cc, twin-turbo, petrol; Power 626bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 604lb ft at 1700rpm; Gearbox 8-speed automatic

Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG coupé

Price £125,595; 0-62mph 4.2sec; Top speed 186mph (with Driver's Pack); Economy 28.0mpg; CO2 237g/km; Kerb weight 2070kg; Engine V8, 5461cc, twin-turbo, petrol; Power 577bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 663lb ft at 2250rpm; Gearbox 7-speed automatic

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China topples Europe as world's largest car maker
China topples Europe as world's largest car maker A booming Chinese market means the region is now the most prolific manufacturer in the world, with the EU pushed to second place

China?s rocketing passenger car making industry is now the world?s largest by a significant margin. Nearly 18 million cars were made in China last year, well ahead of the EU?s production total of 14.6m.

According to figures just released by the European Automobile Manufacturer?s Association (ACEA), while EU production remained almost flat between 2012 and 2013, China overtook the EU in 2012 and continued climbing throughout last year. 

Collectively, the so-called BRIC group of countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) now produces 39.6 per cent of the world?s cars, but China is responsible for making 27.6 per cent of them. India (4.8 per cent), Brazil (4.2 per cent) and Russia (2.9 per cent) are minnows by comparison.

In 2002, China?s fledgling car industry built around one million cars, but by 2006 China had matched the United States? automotive output of just over four million cars.

While nearly every other car making nation saw a drop in production in the wake of the 2008 global credit crunch, China?s car industry enjoyed its most dramatic period of growth, rising up from just under seven million units in 2008 to just over 14m units by the end of 2010. 

ACEA figures from 2012 revealed that 2.2m people across the EU are directly involved in the production of all types of motor vehicles, with a total of 12.7m employed across the entire supply chain. This accounts for 5.8 per cent of all people employed in the EU.

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Lister guns for Pagani and Koenigsegg with new £2m hypercar
Lister guns for Pagani and Koenigsegg with new £2m hypercar Lister boss reveals plans for new 250mph hypercar, which will arrive in three years time and be powered by a 1000bhp V12 engine

Reborn sports car manufacturer Lister has announced plans to take on the likes of Pagani, McLaren and Koenigsegg with its own niche hypercar.

The official design sketch showcases how the new model could look when it goes on sale in around three years time. Lister officials quote a price in the region of £2 million for the planned hypercar.

The firm is seeking investors to buy into the development of the car, which would be powered by a Jaguar-derived supercharged 7.8-litre V12 engine developing around 1000bhp. 

Lister has a history of using and modifying Jaguar V12 engines, primarily from its reworking of the Jaguar XJS during the late Eighties; it also has motorsports experience with its Jaguar V12-engined Lister Storm and the later Storm LMP, which campaigned in Le Mans 2006.

Officials say the new car will use an original Jaguar block, but that the engine's internal components will be significantly modified and that myriad upgrades will be carried out elsewhere ? including the additional of dual overhead cam cylinder heads.

Lister boss Lawrence Whittaker told Autocar the new car would be capable of completing the 0-60mph sprint in "under three seconds" and would offer a top speed of "over 250mph."

"We want to take on cars like the Pagani Huayra, we want to build something that is truly a hypercar," he said. "If you drive a car like this it's because they're exquisitely made and because not everyone has one."

Both road-going and racing variants of the new model are planned, but Whittaker warns that production will likely be very limited, perhaps to as few as six cars annually.

Lister returned to the public eye in 2013, launching a limited run of its special 'Knobbly' Jaguar D-type models to celebrate its 60th anniversary, each costing around £300,000.

The 'new' models are powered by the same 3.8-litre Jaguar D-type engine as their forebears, and in racing specification are tuned to produce 330bhp - enough for a claimed 0-60mph sprint time of 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 181mph. 

Lister now says that nine of the 'Knobbly' cars have been sold. With an order book worth an estimated £3 million, the firm now wants to push ahead with its hypercar project.

"Our aspiration has always been to return the Lister brand to the forefront of people's minds," says Whittaker.

"When it launched we didn't know how many we would sell, but we've been really pleased with the orders we have. We've been thrilled with the response that everyone's had to the car."

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Radical reveals new flagship sports car
Radical reveals new flagship sports car New SR8 RSX to become Radical's performance flagship, with V8 power and Le Mans-inspired design; plus go-faster SR3 launched

Radical has revealed plans to produce a new flagship sports car from next year, and has also launched a new performance version of its SR3 sports car.

The SR8 RSX, revealed in these official renderings, is available to pre-order now with first deliveries expected in Q1 2015. It?s priced at £131,940.

The new model is powered by a 3.0-litre V8 engine, which develops 440bhp at 10,500rpm alongside 280lb ft at 7500rpm. It?s connected to a seven-speed paddle-shift transmission. 

No performance details have been revealed, but with a kerb weight of just 860kg expect some blistering 0-62mph sprint times. The engine is good for 40 hours of racing between rebuilds ? the equivalent to a whole racing season.

The RS8 RSX also gets some styling cues from the Radical?s SR9 LMP2 car. The composite modular bodywork is built around a new, FIA-compliant tubular steel spaceframe chassis. 

The SR8 RSX features double wishbone suspension at the front and rear with pushrod activated dampers. Braking force is supplied by 350mm six-pot ventilated discs, which sit inside 17-inch wheels ? optional 18-inch units are also available.

Inside, vital information is relayed through a 7-inch screen with integrated data logger. This is also the first Radical model to offer electrically-assisted power steering. 

Radical says the SR8 RSX offers ?a specification to beat all rivals,? and provides ?an experience closer to LMP competition than ever before.?

The company has also revealed a go-faster version of its SR3, which takes the name SR3 RSX. Powered by a Suzuki-sourced 1.5-litre four-cylinder DOHC engine with 210bhp at 9500rpm and 124lb ft at 8200rpm, the updated track model can reach 60mph in 3.1 seconds, and has a top speed of 155mph.

Changes over the current car include improved emissions from the engine, redesigned bodywork and extended durability, with the engine now running for 45 hours between rebuilds.

The SR3 RSX is on sale now, with prices starting from £80,349.

Honda opens new hydrogen filling station in Swindon
Honda opens new hydrogen filling station in Swindon Japanese manufacturer hopes to kick start the uptake of hydrogen-powered cars in the UK with the opening of its own filling station

A solar-powered hydrogen production and filling station facility capable of producing 20 tonnes of hydrogen a year has been opened at Honda?s Swindon factory. 

The hydrogen it produces can be dispensed directly into fuel cell vehicles such as Honda?s own FCX Clarity

Fuel cell cars are still under development and so far have only been manufactured in small volumes, but Honda fuel cell expert Thomas Brachman says that if made in numbers of 100,000 a year or more, the cost of a Honda hydrogen fuel cell car could already compete on price with a conventional combustion engine-powered car of today.

The hydrogen station is the first to produce commercial quantities of renewable hydrogen at the point of use. It has been developed by a consortium of companies including the British Oxygen Corporation, with funding from the government?s Innovate UK. 

The plant will also supply a small fleet of bi-fuel Ford Transit vans belonging to Swindon Borough Council and two fuel cell-powered fork lift trucks working in the production facility.

Hydrogen is produced at the new plant in a sustainable way though pressurised alkaline electrolysis of water using electricity produced by a solar farm nearby. 

Electrolysis is a process which breaks down water into hydrogen and oxygen with no carbon emissions, as long as the electricity used is from renewable sources. A fuel cell converts hydrogen and oxygen into ?clean? electricity with only water and heat as by-products. 

Hydrogen is produced by the Honda production plant at 900bar and can be supplied to vehicles with either 350bar or 750bar storage tanks. The firm first established a hydrogen filling facility at Swindon in 2011. 

Until now, the hydrogen it dispensed was shipped to the site, but the addition of the sustainable production facility has significant implications for the potential of hydrogen as a transport fuel. 

One of the challenges manufacturers face in making fuel cell cars a production reality is the distribution of hydrogen to the point of sale. There are arguments in favour of centralised hydrogen production on the grounds of cost, but stand-alone systems don?t rely on a complex hydrogen delivery network and the associated carbon footprint that goes with it.

According to the UK Petroleum Industry Association, the cost of building a conventional high volume filling station capable of dispensing five million litres per year is in the region of £2 million - compared to the cost of the Honda filling station and production plant of just over £1 million. 

Passenger cars make up around 60 per cent of the fuel used in road transport, accounting for around three million litres of the conventional filling station?s capacity. Assuming an average car can achieve 35mpg, that?s enough fuel for around 23.1 million miles of motoring.

The Honda FCX Clarity has a range of 285 miles on 3.9kg of hydrogen, the useable amount in a tank holding 4.2kg. On that basis, the Honda station could provide enough fuel per year to support over 1.4 million miles of fuel cell-powered motoring at an estimated pump price for hydrogen of between £5 and £6 per kilogram. 

On-going running costs would be much lower than a conventional forecourt, with no fuel to buy and no delivery costs. The question of energy security is also removed from the equation altogether. 

The UK government is backing hydrogen as part of a portfolio of low-emission technologies, says Kate Warren from the government?s Office for Low Emission Vehicles: ?Road transport will need to de-carbonise by some 80 per cent by 2050, so we need to understand what the options are.? 

An £11 million project called ?UKH2Mobility? was launched in October with £7.5 million coming from the government and £3.5 million from industry. ?The project is trying to understand what it will take for the roll-out of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and refuelling infrastructure and who needs to do what to make it happen,? said Warren.

The funding is destined for both new and existing stations with the aim of establishing 15 publicly accessible hydrogen stations in the UK by the end of 2015. In the longer term, UKH2Mobility is planning to have a network of 65 stations through the UK.

Warren says £400m of government is in play to support low emission technology, with an extra £500 million to come between 2015 and 2020. A further £500 million has been pledged towards the Advanced Propulsion Centre (a shared initiative between the government and industry) and that is matched by £500 million-worth of industry funding. 

In October, Hyundai delivered six ix35 fuel cell cars to fleets in the UK including Transport for London. Toyota has also announced the UK will become one of the first markets for its FCV next year. Honda?s production FCEV, claimed to be the first fuel cell car with the entire fuel cell powertrain packaged in the engine bay, comes to the Europe in 2016.

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