The week in one story
15 September 2006

It's pretty rare that our Chris Harris is disappointed with anything from Hethel, so it was with regret that he found the new Lotus Europa a little disappointing.

Steve Cropley probably didn't have such high expectations when he tried Audi's mammoth Q7 V12, but was nonetheless impressed. "On the high-speed track at Audi’s Neustadt proving ground, a V12 prototype would easily show 160 mph between the banked corners," said Steve.

Audi reckons that this mighty diesel-powered machine it will be chosen for its fuel economy. We're not convinced. BMW also announced its own 6.0-litre V12, this time in a 7-series, and powered by hydrogen. It will be available in limited numbers early next year.

Is hydrogen the fuel of the future? Fiat thinks not. It is hedging its bets on gas, with news of the methane-powered Panda Panda (so odd they named it twice) and the production version of the Multipla Multi-eco. And if you prefer your Pandas with a bit more bite, there's always the hot new Panda 100 HP.

If the 100HP's hot, the new Alfa Romeo 8C Competitzione is positively incendiary. All you need to know is that it's being built in limited numbers, will cost around £100,000 and… oh just look at it – it's gorgeous.

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The same cannot be said of Jeep's new Compass Rallye. In fact, the less said about it, the better. In its defence, it does look a lot like the original concept, something that we hope will be true of the rather rakish Hyundai Arnejs, and which is definitely true of the new Honda Civic Type R.

The new Type R promises to be one of the more exciting hot hatches this year, not least because of several extreme versions in the pipeline, including a lightweight special. When we get behind the wheel, you'll be the first to know.

In the meantime, come back next week for some great video of our annual handling day at Oulton Park – you won't be disappointed.

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