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BMW GETS ROOFLESS WITH ITS 8 SE­RIES

We couldn’t tell you about it in our story on the new 8 Se­ries last week be­cause of em­bar­goes, but BMW showed us the con­vert­ible ver­sion of the new 8 while we were in Por­tu­gal re­cently.

Un­like the M850i we drove, the con­vert­ible had a more el­e­gant look de­void of all the car­bon pack stuff, although you can have it if you want it.

The four-layer cloth roof can be opened or closed in 15 sec­onds at speeds up to 50km/h, above a cabin that, as with the coupe, has a dis­tinct lack of rear legroom. Strictly a 2+2 this one. That will suit many own­ers fine though, with the 8 Se­ries con­vert­ible of­fer­ing open-top tour­ing when it ar­rives in SA in 2019 for those who pre­fer to keep that rear seat space for lug­gage.

How­ever, the con­vert­ible does have 350l of boot space with the roof open and the rear seat backs can be folded down to get in larger items.

The sin­gle M850i model will weigh in at 125kg more than the coupe due to the ad­di­tional straight­en­ing re­quired and Sarah Less­mann of the 8 Se­ries prod­uct man­age­ment team told us that it loses just 3% of its rigid­ity com­pared to the coupe.

BMW is hop­ing the new 8 Se­ries con­vert­ible will steer a few peo­ple away from the Mercedes S-Class con­vert­ible but also take cus­tomers away from more ex­pen­sive mod­els like the Bent­ley Con­ti­nen­tal GTC when it comes along.

VW AND FORD TO COL­LAB­O­RATE

Volk­swa­gen and Ford Mo­tor are said to be in spec­u­la­tive talks to jointly de­velop self-driv­ing and elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

Both these mass-mar­ket com­pa­nies will soon pro­vide more info on such an al­liance be­fore year end, an un­named in­sider told Reuters.

“Our (mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing) with VW cov­ers con­ver­sa­tions about po­ten­tial col­lab­o­ra­tions across a num­ber of ar­eas. It is pre­ma­ture to share ad­di­tional de­tails at this time,” a Ford spokesman said.

A Volk­swa­gen spokesman said the car maker was open to deeper al­liances with out­side com­pa­nies, par­tic­u­larly in the area of au­tonomous driv­ing, while adding that “shar­ing the car maker’s elec­tric cars plat­form MEB with Ford was the­o­ret­i­cally pos­si­ble, although VW is cur­rently fo­cused on rolling out the elec­tric ve­hi­cle tech­nolo­gies among its own brands”.

Spokes­men for both man­u­fac­tur­ers re­it­er­ated what they have said be­fore about the com­pa­nies col­lab­o­rat­ing on the de­vel­op­ment of com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles.

Car mak­ers glob­ally are dis­cussing team­ing up to share the cost of de­vel­op­ing au­tonomous and elec­tric ve­hi­cles. Honda said in No­vem­ber it would in­vest $2.75bn and take a stake in Gen­eral Mo­tors’ Cruise Au­to­ma­tion self-driv­ing ve­hi­cle unit to jointly de­velop au­tonomous ve­hi­cles for de­ploy­ment in ride ser­vice fleets glob­ally.

VW and Ford are un­der pres­sure to roll out more EVs in Europe, where emis­sions rules are be­ing tight­ened in the wake of Volk­swa­gen's diesel emis­sions pol­lu­tion scan­dal.

BURLY MERC SHREDS GREEN HELL RECORD

The new four-door MercedesAMG GT 63 4Matic has com­pleted a lap of the Nür­burg­ing-Nord­schleife (nick­named the “green hell”) in a time of 7min 25.41sec, set­ting a record for the fastest se­ries pro­duc­tion four-seater around the revered race track.

The record was set by AMG de­vel­op­ment en­gi­neer Demian Schaf­fert and the 470kW car wore op­tion­ally avail­able Miche­lin Pi­lot Sport Cup2 tyres.

BMW has peeled off the roof of its flag­ship coupe.

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