Meet the eighth-generation Volkswagen Passat - lighter, roomier and more high-tech
Fast Lane The latest Volkswagen Passat is more efficient than its predecessor. -- PHOTO: VOLKSWAGEN

Meet the eighth-generation Volkswagen Passat - lighter, roomier and more high-tech. The car is also more efficient, but for those who want the smallest carbon footprint, there will be a plug-in hybrid variant.

At 4,767mm long, the saloon is 2mm shorter than the previous model, while the wheelbase is 79mm longer at 2,791mm. At the same time, the Passat is 14mm lower at 1,456mm, and 12mm wider at 1,832 mm.

Inside, new features include an optional Active Info Display, which replaces the instrument cluster with an interactive 12.3-inch TFT display; a heads-up display; the latest Modular Infotainment System, including the Car-Net remote app; a further-developed 360-degree Area View function; and the latest generation of Park Assist.

The engine includes a 2-litre bi-turbo diesel delivering 240bhp and an extraordinary 500Nm of torque from 1,750 rpm.

HYBRID VOLVO XC90

The new Volvo XC90 will have a plug-in hybrid variant, which will be badged a T8. Normal driving is conducted in the default hybrid mode. This utilises a 2-litre four-cylinder twin-charged petrol engine that powers the front wheels and an 60kW electric motor that drives the rear wheels.

At the push of a button, the driver can switch to quiet and emission-free city driving on pure electric power where the range will be around 40km. Combined output is around 400bhp and 640Nm.

There is also a D5 twin-turbo diesel engine with 225bhp and 470Nm, as well as another turbodiesel with 190bhp and 400Nm.

FOUR-WHEEL-DRIVE BETTER THAN TWO?

Is four-wheel-drive really necessary? Peugeot attempts to answer that question with the 2008 DKR, a mighty mite that will take on the 4x4 brigade in the 2015 Dakar rally with just two driven wheels. The driver can adjust the pressure of the car tyres remotely.

The compact rally car is powered by a 340bhp twin-turbodiesel mid-rear V6.

It will be interesting to see how it fares in the 8,500km race across Argentina, Bolivia and Chile that will include deserts and canyons.

A VERY DIFFERENT CORSA

Opel's fourth-generation Corsa is about the same size as its predecessor, but almost everything else about it is different. Under the bonnet, new engines and transmissions will include a 1-litre three- cylinder direct-injection turbo and a 1.3 turbodiesel that meets Euro 6 emission standards.

HOTTER SCIROCCO

The new Volkswagen Scirocco promises to be a scorcher. With subtle but effective changes to its design, modernised with new lights as well as a revised bumper with aerodynamic blades, it looks hot.

As on the Golf, the VW emblem now has an additional purpose, functioning as the tailgate release handle.

Petrol engines include a 1.4-litre 125bhp and a new 2-litre 180bhp which replaces the previous 1.4- litre 160bhp unit. Despite an increase in capacity and power, it is more economical than the unit it replaces.

The previous 2-litre 210bhp has been replaced with a 220bhp unit that is also 19 per cent more fuel efficient. The range-topping Scirocco R uses a 2-litre unit producing 280bhp.

There will also be two diesel engines, both 2-litre units, with either 150bhp or 184bhp. They are mated to either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic.

SUPER SPEED ON ELECTRIC POWER

The Exagon Furtive-eGT is an electric four-seater powered by two purpose-built Siemens electric motors. Its monocoque carbon body weighs only 124kg, resulting in an exceptional weight/stiffness ratio.

The two motors develop over 400bhp, allowing the Furtive to hit 100kmh in just 3.5 seconds. There is no word on when this car will be produced, though.