x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Week in Motoring: Zagato styles world's smallest-ever electric car, the Volpe

Treading new ground with tyre technology; never mind paper planes, this is a car-d to behold; Award for MG Icon concept; Ferrari on top for Facebook friends

Zagato styles world's smallest-ever electric

The ultimate car for the short urban commute will go on sale next year and not only is it the smallest electric car in the world, it's styled by famed coachbuilders Zagato. The Volpe, which is the brainchild of Romano Artioli, the former owner of the Bugatti and Lotus brands, is only 1m wide and 1.5m tall - so small that it could fit in the lift at the office and you could charge it at your desk. It weighs just 350kg and it's not exactly suitable for long distances as it has a top speed of just 48kph. "Volpe is for every urban dweller desiring to move around town in style, independently, without losing time in traffic and to look for a parking space," said Isabella Artioli, Volpe's vice president. The car will go on sale in the UK and will cost about Dh33,500.

Treading new ground

Having to change a tyre by the side of the road may be an annoyance of the past if German scientists have anything to do with it. Researchers at the University of Applied Sciences are developing tyres that can change their profile to adapt to road conditions. Using electronic sensors, height and width can be altered to suit the terrain. "That means your car is always equipped with the best possible tyre, and noise and petrol consumption are automatically optimised, too," project leader Detlef Riemer told AFP. A patent has been filed though the researchers are still working on what materials to use for the tyres' moveable parts.

A car-d to behold

Everyone appreciates a Bugatti Veyron but the problem for most is finding a spare Dh6 million to afford one. But thanks to a smart graphic designer you can now own a Veyron - a paper version. Taras Lesko, a Ukraine-born Seattle, US-based graphic artist, has posted templates and instructions on his website, visualspicer.com, on how to create a 76cm-long French supercar. Using 44 pages of cardstock paper with 159 parts printed on them and a lot of time and patience, Lesko cut out and then glued cards to create the stunning model. He appeals for donations for future projects but that's still a snip compared with Dh6m.

Award for an Icon

Former British sports car maker MG has won a design award for its Icon concept car, which was revealed at the Beijing motor show last week. The company, which is now Chinese owned, won Best Concept at the show from Autoweek, one of the US's leading car magazines. The SUV concept beat off competition from Lamborghini's Urus 4x4, Mercedes' Concept Style Coupé and the Honda Concept C. "The judges shared our enthusiasm and vision for MG, which is one of the best-loved brands in the world," said design director Anthony Williams-Kenny. The car is inspired by famous MG models such as the MGA.

Ferrari's friends

In terms of merchandising, Ferrari is the most switched on supercar brand, with everything from key rings to clothing and memorabilia available to buy in high street stores and online. But it seems the Italian marque is also leading the way when it comes to social networking as its Facebook page has this week passed eight million fans. To mark the occasion, Ferrari didn't miss an opportunity to increase that figure even further, so it posted a video of a 458 Italia "drawing" the number on the ground at its Italian test track. Check it out at facebook.com/ferrari.