Clearbell closes new UK focused fund

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 09:27
Real estate fund manager Clearbell has closed its new £310m UK value add fund, Clearbell Property Partners III (CPP III).
Categories: Property

Stenprop starts trading as FTSE 100 climbs on back of ECB update

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 09:27
Industrial-focussed REIT Stenprop has kicked off trading on the specialist fund segment of the London Stock Exchange with a share price of 120p.
Categories: Property

15 SUVs with More Horsepower Than a Ford Mustang GT

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 09:00

Hot hatches such as the Honda Civic Type R and the Ford Focus RS offer a seriously tempting combination of performance and practicality. But what if you want something larger with even more power? In the past, that might have been a problem, but these days, you’re in luck. Here are 15 high-performance SUVs that will even outgun the 460-hp Ford Mustang GT.

Dodge Durango SRT

After years of rumors, Dodge finally gave the Durango the SRT treatment. That means you can now get a three-row American SUV with a 475-hp V-8. It’ll also hit 60 mph nearly 2.0 seconds quicker than the 360-hp Durango R/T.

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S

If you’re willing to settle for a mere 469 hp, Mercedes will happily sell you the GLC 63 as a regular crossover. To see the GLC 63’s full potential, however, you need the S version, which is only available in coupe form. Pick that one, and you get a full 503 hp.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

Many enthusiasts were disappointed to hear that Alfa Romeo had decided to cancel the upcoming Giulia hatchback. After a spin in the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, however, they might no longer care. Its twin-turbo V-6 makes 505 hp, enough to launch the Italian crossover to 60 mph in only 3.3 seconds.

Porsche Cayenne Turbo

Because Porsche recently redesigned the Cayenne, there’s no Turbo S version available yet. The Cayenne Turbo, however, is already on sale. Its twin-turbo V-8 makes 541 hp, and Porsche says it will hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds.

Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography

Like the smaller Range Rover Sport, there are a couple versions of the Range Rover that make more than 460 hp. The SVAutobiography’s 557-hp supercharged V-8, however, is as powerful as it gets. That’s not as much as the SVR makes, but it’s still enough to get the full-size luxury SUV to 60 mph in a claimed 5.2 seconds.

BMW X5 M and X6 M

BMW didn’t necessarily need to build M versions of the X5 and X6, but it’s hard to argue with the results. Both SUVs handle far better than anything that heavy has any right to, and with a 567-hp V-8 sending power to all four wheels, they’re also seriously quick. Sixty mph arrives in 3.7 seconds regardless of which version you choose.

Read about the new 2019 BMW X5 here.

Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR

There are actually a few versions of the Range Rover Sport that make more than 460 hp, but the king of them all is the SVR. Tuned by Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations division, the SVR’s supercharged V-8 makes 575 hp. That’s enough power to launch it to 60 mph in a claimed 4.3 seconds.

Mercedes-AMG G 63

The bad news is that when Mercedes redesigned the G-Wagen, it killed off the G 65. That means there’s no more 630-hp V-12 option. The good news is that you can still get it with a twin-turbo AMG V-8 that makes 577 hp. Sure, it’s less power, but it’s also more than anyone in a G-Wagen will ever need.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S

With 550 hp, the GLE 63 is definitely more powerful than the Mustang GT. But if the folks at AMG had stopped there, it would have come up short compared to the X5 M and X6 M. The GLE 63 S, therefore, makes 577 hp.

Mercedes-AMG GLS 63

Unlike other AMGs on this list, there’s no S version of the GLS 63. Mercedes must have decided there was no need because the regular GLS 63 already makes 577 hp. Last time we tested one, the SUV hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds.

Maserati Levante Trofeo

Maserati’s first crossover was already stylish and fun to drive, and with 424 hp, it was plenty powerful. The Trofeo version goes even further, swapping out the twin-turbo V-6 for a twin-turbo V-8. The result: 590 hp.

Bentley Bentayga W12

If you’re going to charge more than $150,000 for an SUV, it better make some serious power. Luckily, the Bentley Bentayga more than delivers. The V-8 version makes 542 hp, and the W12 makes a whopping 600 hp. That’s enough to launch it to 60 mph in only 3.5 seconds.

Lamborghini Urus

After a 25-year hiatus, Lamborghini finally got back into the SUV game this year with the Urus. It doesn’t have a V-12 like the LM002 did, but its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 is still plenty powerful. It’s good for 641 hp, enough to launch the Urus to 60 mph in a claimed 3.5 seconds.

Tesla Model X P100D

We still haven’t tested a Model X P100D, but the last P90D we tested made 532 hp and hit 60 mph in 3.2 seconds. We can only assume the upgraded P100D will be even quicker. Why? That version makes 680 hp.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

Every SUV on this list makes a huge amount of power, but no SUV on the market today is more powerful than the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. With a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 borrowed from the Hellcat twins, the Trackhawk makes 707 hp. Plus, thanks to its all-wheel-drive system, it’s a full half second quicker to 60 mph than the last Hellcat we tested.

The post 15 SUVs with More Horsepower Than a Ford Mustang GT appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Dromeus Capital to target Greek real estate with €200m fund

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 09:00
Dromeus Capital, a specialist investor in emerging markets, has launched a €200m fund to invest in Greek commercial real estate.
Categories: Property

Profits down 19% at Mountview Estates

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 08:09
Mountview Estates has blamed the “uncertain economic climate” for a fall in annual pre-tax profits of almost 19%
Categories: Property

Profits down 19% at Mountview Estates

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 08:09
Mountview Estates has blamed the “uncertain economic climate” for a fall in annual pre-tax profits of almost 19%.
Categories: Property

Retail landlords resorting to rent-free stores as CVAs bite

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 01:00
Landlords struggle to offset negative impact of vacant units as number of retailers launching CVAs increases.
Categories: Property

Stenprop plans to become 'serviced industrial' provider

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 01:00
The newly listed REIT aims to provide serviced-office style flexibility to multi-let industrial estate tenants.
Categories: Property

The Epworth goes on the market for £78m

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 01:00
London & Regional Properties has put Shoreditch office building The Epworth on the market for £78m.
Categories: Property

Round Hill to forward-fund Watkin Jones’ Project Colorado for expansion plan

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 00:00
Investor poised to forward-fund package of seven student housing developments
Categories: Property

Drones could someday fix potholes overnight

The Car Connection News Feed - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 23:13
A new technology under development in the U.K. makes use of drones and 3-D printing to quickly repair potholes. Wait, what? The process involves a pair of drones, one that searches for cracks and potholes overnight and another dispatched by the first drone to patch the roadway with 3-D printed asphalt. The Telegraph reported Monday that some fixes...
Categories: Property

Watch: Behind the Wheel of the New Aston Martin DB11 AMR

Motortrend News Feed - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 22:08

The V-12-powered Aston Martin DB11 may be gone, but something even better has taken its place. With improved handling, more power, and thoughtful cosmetic upgrades, the DB11 AMR improves upon Aston Martin’s original formula for grand touring.

Aston’s AMR sub-brand has created high-performance variants of the Vantage and Valkyrie, and now the DB11 benefits from the treatment. Slotting above the 503-hp DB11 V8, the model packs a 5.2-liter V-12 with 630 hp. This is 30 more hp compared to the old V-12 model. Top speed is rated a healthy 208 mph.

In our recent First Drive, we noted, “It’s beautiful, powerful, and elegant, and now—with a bit more hair poking out of its shirt—the AMR is a compelling proposition. Before, there wasn’t enough daylight between the AMG-engined DB11 V8 and the big V-12 in terms of power, plus the lighter V8 drove better. Now, the handling advantage goes to the AMR. It’s one iteration more sorted out.”

Check out the video to learn more about how the 2019 DB11 AMR improves upon previous iterations.

The post Watch: Behind the Wheel of the New Aston Martin DB11 AMR appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Celebrity Drive: Poison Lead Singer Bret Michaels

Motortrend News Feed - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 21:58

Quick Stats: Bret Michaels, singer-songwriter, Poison
Daily Driver: 2016 Mercedes-Benz S550 (Bret’s rating: 10 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: See below
Favorite road trip: California, Arizona, and Las Vegas
Car he learned to drive in: 1967 Ford Galaxie 500
First car bought: 1967 Ford Galaxie 500

In this fast-paced world, Poison lead singer Bret Michaels finds driving on road trips to be therapeutic. And he often takes them in his beloved 2016 Mercedes-Benz S550.

“My philosophy is that a long drive and good music is great for the soul. I drive on the good days, it makes them better, and on my bad days, it makes them great,” he tells Motor Trend. “If you listen to my music like ‘Driven’ or ‘Riding Against the Wind,’ [driving has been a part of] a lot of great things in my life—or problems I’ve had to overcome and think through. … It frees my soul.”

He says he’s had a Mercedes since he could rub pennies together. “It was one of the first vehicles I ever bought, back when it was just the S500 and S600. Then I got the S550, it’s just an amazing vehicle,” he says. “Everything is laid out in that car like a cockpit. It’s a big car, so you can take a bunch of people with you, or you can punch it into Sport and just haul ass in it and have a great time.”

Michaels likes everything about these perfect-10 cars, adding that they hold up years later. “They’re like a good-fitting pair of jeans, I can’t give them up. I buy them outright,” he says. “I’m not one of those guys who every other day I’m trading it, I’m a long-haul guy. But this car has such good memories and I feel connected to it.”

He loves the S-Class so much, Michaels drove his 2009 S550 until it reached 160,000 miles. And he still has it.

2009 Mercedes-Benz S550

Rating: 10

Photo: Janna Elias

Michaels lends this car to relatives to drive. “When I say I’m a driver, I drive the bejesus out of these cars, and I love them. It’s never really let me down,” he says. “I have a place in L.A. and a ranch in Scottsdale, and I drive back and forth a lot, and I love it.”

2010 Bentley Continental GT

Rating: 10

Photo: Janna Elias

Some days it feels like a Bentley Continental GT type of day. “That is just such an amazing, amazing vehicle. Besides the speed and the handling, it feels a lot like a muscle car,” he says. “I just put good music in there and sometimes punch it up.”

He likes that the Bentley is a heavy car, as well. “It’s got this growl to it, yet it’s a luxury car. It’s a win-win.”

2016 Nissan Titan

Rating: 10

A few years ago Michaels did a Nissan campaign. “I bought the Titan truck, it’s the Heavy Metal Edition … and it’s amazing. I’ve beaten that thing up, and it just comes back for more,” he says.

He says the truck is great for hauling his dirt bikes, as well. “On my property, I have a full-on Baja dirt kart track,” he says, with a laugh. “When I say I love to drive, I take my kids out on it, we race all the time.”

Photo: Janna Elias 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Rating: 10

With his love for muscle cars, Michaels added this customized Camaro for weekend rides. “That one is a 10, with a lot of elbow greasing and cursing,” he says. “When you have a muscle car, anyone who owns one 1,000 percent understands it’s not going to be your daily driver. A lot of fun for maybe a road trip up to the mountains and back. But, [it] looks amazing.”

Michaels loves working on old muscle cars, and he’s been through a few over the years. “You can buy an updated version or a clone, but it just doesn’t have the same feel. Having the real deal, it never fails if you have the authentic real deal. I love it.”

Car He Learned to Drive In

Michaels bought an olive green 1967 Ford Galaxie 500, with a vinyl top, from his dad for $200, with money from odd jobs such as working at a music store at the mall, being a busboy/cook, and being part of the maintenance crew at a local resort.

Photo courtesy Bret Michaels

His dad taught him to drive in the Ford “He was teaching responsibility. Then I had to put fuel in it myself. I had to get insurance. Good things to learn.” Michaels would also later learn on a manual-transmission Opel.

When his dad taught him on the Galaxie, they would get in the car and drive just outside of their small town, where there were farm fields. “There was lots of back dirt roads, roads that ran down by the Susquehanna River. And that’s how we learned to drive,” he says. “One of my favorite drives was driving up Route 322 along the Susquehanna River up to Penn State or State College with my dad, and there were certain parts where he would let me drive up there. We had an old hunting cabin up there and we would just drive up to that, and it was some of the best days or nights of my life. My dad made a road trip an adventure.”

The Galaxie was Michaels’ high school car, and it became helpful when he needed to drive his band around. “It was a great car because it [had] bench cloth seats, [and a] humongous trunk, so all my music gear, everything fit into it,” he says. “No matter where I was going, if I had the band with me, we could all fit. We could put the guitars in there, even sometimes the drums. So it worked out.”

When the car got too old, Michaels traded it in for a Wide Glide Harley, his first motorcycle.

First Splurge Car in Poison

Every rocker has their first splurge car, and Michaels bought a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette and a Ferrari 328 GTS at the same time. “We were one of the first independent bands to sell, our first album did 3 million records, which was unheard of,” he says. “In the beginning when all these bands around us were getting signed, we were playing all the clubs and no one was signing us; the record labels turned their backs on us.”

Photo: Janna Elias

It was at some point after “Talk Dirty To Me” became a hit that Michaels bought these two cars. “That was probably ’88. The Ferrari was the ’89 GTS 328. And I went back to Pittsburgh and I was in love with this Corvette that our neighbor had in their garage, and I just purchased it,” he says.

Favorite Road Trip

Although some entertainers may not like the traveling part of the gig, Michaels isn’t one of them. “As a musician, I love traveling. My kids know it; they get in the car, I say, ‘Come on, we’re going to take a long drive up to the coast.’ They’re like, ‘Ah, no, here we go.’ I like having a destination, but sometimes that road trip is the destination half the time. I do it almost every day, my life is a road trip.”

His favorite road trip on the West Coast starts in Los Angeles. He travels up the coast to Santa Barbara and back down Interstate 10 to Phoenix. Then from Arizona, he’ll drive to Las Vegas and back to Los Angeles.

“There’s something when you get up and outside to some of these places, that makes you realize life is not as complicated as we have made it,” he says. “It’s pretty simple and beautiful up there. It’s good for the soul and good to clear your head.”

He does the drive in segments, staying at his ranch in Arizona and then getting up early in the morning to drive to Vegas and across Hoover Dam, before taking Interstate 15 back to Los Angeles, in a part of the drive in which he enjoys taking his car to its limits.

“If you’re heading east from L.A. to Arizona, once you get past Indio, and climb up the mountain, all the way to Blythe, it’s wide open. I may have been pulled over a time or two, but it was worth it,” he says. “It opens up. It’s a good day.”

On these road trips, Michael often plays music, but sometimes he likes to just listen to the road. “There’s no rhyme or reason. I’m looking around taking it all in, and I enjoy that. You listen to the road and the engine. There’s something very euphoric about it,” he says.

Poison and Other Projects

Michaels has been busy with various projects. He was just on fellow Celeb Drive Sammy Hagar’s Rock & Roll Road Trip on AXS TV, in an episode that just re-aired recently.

He’s on tour around the country with Poison now, with special guests Cheap Trick and Pop Evil. And he’s always doing his solo tour as well.

Photo: Mark Weiss

He also has a book Photographs and Memories and a video Roses and Thorns: The Story of My Life, both slated for the fall. “A lot of people write these biographies, and they’re amazing, but I want pictures, I want people to see this moment in my life and what was going on, so that there’s also proof with it,” he says. “You’re seeing a story taken in a moment in time, it’s a freeze-frame, and I get to talk about it.”

Michaels also has his Life Rocks Foundation. “Because I’ve been a diabetic since age 6, Type 1, I do the five injections a day,” he says. “I try to lead by example. We donate to not just diabetes—I come from a family of all veterans, so all politics aside, I support our veterans 1,000 percent, and my Life Rocks Foundation works with St. Jude [Children’s Research Hospital].”

Fans may also remember that Michaels had a brain hemorrhage eight years ago and had to be rushed to St. Joseph’s and Barrow Neurological Institute. He wanted to give back to the people who helped him as well as comfort those who will go through what he went through, creating the Bret Michaels Hospitality and Music Room in 2012 at the hospital. “They saved my life,” he says. “I built a room that is the most comfortable.”
For more information on upcoming tour dates and events, visit



The post Celebrity Drive: Poison Lead Singer Bret Michaels appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Aston Martin Reveals New Vantage GT3

Motortrend News Feed - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 21:27

Even though it has been 7 years since Aston Martin rolled out the V12 Vantage GT3, the car is still scoring wins, most recently in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and British GT series. Now, Aston Martin is serving up a replacement. The new Vantage GT3 is debuting in prototype form this week before its official rollout next year.

The model receives a lightweight aluminum chassis based on the road car, in addition to a new steel roll cage, Xtrac six-speed sequential transmission, and Alcon motorsport multi-plate clutch. Alcon brakes, Bosch Motorsport ABS, and Ohlins four-way adjustable dampers are also part of the equation. Under the sheetmetal, the GT3 packs the same 4.0-liter turbocharged V-8 engine that powers the standard Vantage. But instead of the road car’s 503 hp and 505 lb-ft of torque, the GT3 makes 535 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque.

The GT3 makes its track debut at the Michelin Aston Martin Racing Le Mans Festival race. However, it won’t be homologated until March 1, 2019, so it’s still in the development stages. Aston Martin will also display the new GT4, which also won’t be homologated until next March.

Last year, Aston Martin introduced a new Vantage GTE bound for the World Endurance Championship. The car is also racing in the GTE Pro category at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in a bid to win back-to-back class victories.

Source: Aston Martin


The post Aston Martin Reveals New Vantage GT3 appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Average prices in buildings which failed cladding tests still rising

Property Week News Feed - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 20:21
London buildings that have failed fire safety testing performed in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy haven’t reduced in value according to exclusive data analysed by Nimbus Maps for Property Week.
Categories: Property

Volvo S60 Shows Off New Face in Teaser Video

Motortrend News Feed - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 18:30

Volvo will debut a new S60 sedan on June 20, the automaker has confirmed. Until then, we can pretty much see the entire face of the new model in this latest teaser posted to social media.

The video reveals the S60 will feature “Thor’s Hammer” LED lights as well as a larger, more rectangular grille. A Polestar badge sits in the lower right part of the grille, indicating electrification.

It’s all in the details. Join us for the interactive live reveal of the Polestar Engineered #newS60. Six days to go.

A post shared by Volvo Cars (@volvocars) on Jun 14, 2018 at 12:59am PDT

Volvo announced it will launch its new Polestar Engineered series on the S60. These models will feature everything from special gold-painted six-piston brake calipers to black chrome exhaust pipes and gold seat belts. More than that, the Polestar Engineered model will receive performance upgrades including improved brake pads, a recalibrated eight-speed transmission, and multi-link front and rear suspension featuring Ohlins shock absorbers with dual-flow valves for stiffened springs and shocks. It borrows the strut bar and adjustable shock absorber design from the Polestar 1. The Polestar Engineered treatment is available on the plug-in hybrid S60. Polestar has tuned the powertrain to net 415 hp and 494 lb-ft of torque, up 15 horses and 22 lb-ft.

Volvo will build the S60 at its new plant in Charleston, South Carolina. It will be the first Volvo car made in the U.S.

Source: Volvo via Instagram

The post Volvo S60 Shows Off New Face in Teaser Video appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Colville Estate claims pair of London offices for £17m

Property Week News Feed - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 17:40
Colville Estate has acquired the long leasehold interests of two of its freeholds in Chancery Lane and Quality Court for a combined £16.85m from Royal London Asset Management.
Categories: Property

Volvo to invest in lidar company for its self-driving car tech

The Car Connection News Feed - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 17:24
A California company that produces lidar, the technology at the forefront of self-driving car development, said Thursday that Volvo will make a "significant" investment in its operations. Speaking with Automotive News, Volvo research and design chief Henrik Green didn't reveal details of the size and scope of the automaker's investment in Palo...
Categories: Property

Thai deal takes Bluewater plaza to fully let

Property Week News Feed - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 17:16
Landsec has secured Rosa’s Thai Cafe for 2,500 sq ft space in the Bluewater plaza to take the Kent leisure scheme to 100% let.
Categories: Property

2019 LEVC TX Taxi Review: Driving the New Plug-In Hybrid London Taxi

Motortrend News Feed - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 16:46

Taxi! In Manhattan, a battered yellow Crown Vic would shimmy to the curb; in Paris, a growling Peugeot 504 diesel. Down in Calcutta, it would be a Hindustan Ambassador, a motorized fossil based on a 1958 Morris Oxford. Up in Tokyo, a spotless Toyota Crown with a rear door that apparently opens itself and lace antimacassars on the headrests. In the years before the globalization of the auto industry, taxis were part of the unique visual signatures of the world’s great cities. But perhaps none has ever been as deeply embedded in a city’s iconography as London’s black cab.

Taxis have been a part of the London streetscape for centuries. The first hackney carriages—carriages for hire—were licensed by city authorities in 1662; the term is variously thought to have originated from the French term haquenée, describing the medium-sized horse regarded as best suited to pulling passenger carriages through London’s narrow and crowded streets, or from the village of Hackney, now an inner London district, that was the city’s main supplier of horses.

London taxis began to be motorized before the beginning of the 20th century, with 75 electric-powered cabs operating between 1897 and 1898. The first gasoline-powered cab appeared in 1903. But that giddy rush of technological change soon slowed back to a slow trot: The London Taxis International (later London Taxi Company) TX4, which ended a two-decade production run last year, owed its general form and proportions to the Austin FX4, which launched in 1958 and was built for 39 years with only minor cosmetic changes and periodic powertrain upgrades.

At first glance, the 2019 LEVC TX seems, like its predecessor, steeped in tradition, echoing the avuncular automotive form language of the 1940s. It looks tall and upright, with a narrow grille and separate front fenders, a rounded yet near vertical D-pillar flowing down to a bobtail trunk, and a soft fender line undulating through the body side. Appearances are deceptive, however. This is the most radical rethink of the London black cab in more than a century.

The clue is in the name. LEVC stands for London Electric Vehicle Company. Under the TX’s faintly retro skin is a thoroughly modern series hybrid powertrain that comprises a Chinese-made turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder Volvo engine, a 147-hp Siemens e-motor, and a 31-kW-hr battery. As in a Chevrolet Volt, there’s no direct link between the internal combustion engine and the driving wheels. The front-mounted 81-hp engine is used as a generator to charge the battery that powers the rear-mounted e-motor. The e-motor drives the rear wheels via a GKN co-axial transmission similar to that used in the twin-engine Volvo T8 hybrid. LEVC claims the TX will run 80 miles before the internal combustion engine needs to fire up and feed charge into the battery.

The TX also comes equipped with a suite of Volvo safety features, from basic antilock brakes, stability and traction control, to forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and autonomous emergency braking.

Designed under the direction of former Volvo design chief Peter Horbury, the TX’s sheetmetal cleverly disguises proportions that are closer to a modern minivan than a car. The TX is 11 inches longer overall than the old TX4, has a wheelbase almost 4 inches longer, and is nearly 2.5 inches taller. Overall width is the same. There’s no rear hatch, or even a trunk: Large bags and suitcases can be stacked up front in the flat-floored luggage compartment alongside the driver, a design feature resurrected from the 1948 Austin FX3. Despite the increase in size, and the addition of a battery and an e-motor to the powertrain, the aluminum-intensive architecture means the TX weighs just 562 pounds more than the TX4.

All that Volvo hardware, technology, and expertise is explained by the fact that LEVC is a wholly owned division of Geely. The Chinese automaker has been involved with London cabs since 2006, when it partnered with London Taxis International parent company Manganese Bronze Holdings to make versions of the TX4 for the Chinese market. Geely took full control of London Taxi Company in 2013, and has since invested more than $430 million on developing the TX, and constructing a brand-new factory just outside Coventry, England, designed to build more than 20,000 vehicles a year.

That’s a big increase from the 1,500 taxis a year that came out of the old LTI facility close to the center of Coventry. But Geely plans to export the TX to markets around the world, and the plant will also build a small commercial van based on the TX’s aluminum-intensive architecture and sharing its series hybrid powertrain. LEVC says TX prototypes have completed more than one million miles of testing—more than the combined total of the previous three taxis—including durability tests in the Arctic and the African desert.

The TX might be going global, but it’s taking a lot of London with it, with features honed over decades of operational experience on some of the world’s most crowded and demanding streets. The TX’s front wheels turn 63 degrees, giving it a turning circle of less than 28 feet, slightly less than that of a tiny Smart city car. It’s a London taxi standard dictated, according to legend, by the tight radius of the turning circle outside The Savoy Hotel.

Taxis are all about the rear seat, so that’s where we start. The rear doors—which hinge at the rear—open 90 degrees into a broad, flat-floored passenger compartment with room for six, three across the generous rear seat, plus three more in separate rear-facing jump seats. The jump seat nearest the curb swivels outward to enable easy access for less able passengers, and an inbuilt ramp slides out from the floor to allow wheelchair access. Other amenities include onboard Wi-Fi, two USB charge points, and a 230-volt AC power socket.

Rolling serenely through the cut and thrust of north London traffic on pure EV power, the TX is whisper-quiet compared with its rattly old diesel-power predecessors. The ride feels more composed, too. The rear seat is still located right above the rear axle, but the TX has a modern independent setup rather than the live axle used in the TX4. Legroom could be more properly described as lounge room. The tall glass house and panorama glass roof flood the cabin with light and deliver rubbernecking tourists first-class views.

The old TX4 was cursed with an upright and cramped driving position, a near-Dickensian workspace awash with cheap plastic and Pep Boys switchgear. The TX’s cockpit is, by contrast, Swedish industrial chic. Volvo-sourced hardware is rendered in subtly grained black plastic with minimal satin chrome highlights. The instrument panel is a variant of Volvo’s crisply rendered three-dial TFT display, and the same infotainment touchscreen found in Volvo cars and SUVs is fitted in a high-mounted pod that angles toward the driver. The driver’s seat still doesn’t move that far rearward—the room goes to the paying customers—but it’s much more comfortable and accommodating.

The TX is relaxing and easy to drive in the hustle of London traffic, thanks to instant-on e-motor torque that delivers quick, seamless acceleration. In fact, says LEVC, early testing showed the TX to be a little too lively to 20 mph so the software was tweaked to deliver smoother rollout. The steering is light and very direct; on full lock, the TX virtually pivots on its rear axle. The little Volvo engine starts up smoothly and is very quiet when running, betrayed only by a distant turbo whoosh rather than an insistent clatter of combustion.

The powertrain can be configured via the touchscreen to one of three drive modes. Pure EV mode does exactly what it says, allowing the TX to run solely on battery power. In Smart mode, the computer figures the optimal conditions under which the internal combustion engine can be used to deliver the TX’s maximum 377-mile range—for example, when speed exceeds 50 mph, or when the battery charge level falls to 10 percent. In Save mode, the internal combustion engine runs all the time to keep the battery at a maximum state of charge.

LEVC says the 80-mile pure EV range is enough to cover a typical cabbie’s shift in central London, where traffic speeds often average little more than 4 mph during the day. Most drivers—50 percent of London’s 23,000 black cabs are owner driven—will leave home with a fully charged battery, courtesy of an optional 7-kW wall charger. A network of 300 taxi-only 22-kW AC chargers being rolled out across London by the end of next year will provide an extra 50 miles of range in 45 minutes if needed. The TX can also be plugged into 50-kW DC fast chargers that will pump an 80 percent charge back into the battery in just 25 minutes.

All that tech and capability doesn’t come cheap. The TX costs the equivalent of $73,000, about $13,000 more than a TX4. But LEVC says the average London cabbie will save more than $550 a month on fuel, and offers finance deals that keep the increase in repayments to less than $60 a month. Service intervals have been increased from 12,000 miles to 25,000 miles, and the battery is covered by a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty.

Engineered to be roomier and more durable than a passenger-car-based cab such as a Toyota Prius or Camry Hybrid, and quieter and more comfortable than a repurposed commercial vehicle such as the execrable Nissan NV200 that clangs and clatters around Manhattan, the LEVC TX is a masterpiece of industrial design. Geely set out to create the ultimate taxi for a world that will see the number of people living in cities double by 2030. And it has.

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