Bentley’s Le Mans tribute Continentals, VW’s electric flagship sedan, beware the new car smell

Bentley | Mark Fagelson Photography
Volkswagen ID.7

Intake: Volkswagen’s first all-electric sedan, the mid-size ID.7, will premier in a global live stream on April 17. The new car will join the ID.4 SUV and ID. Buzz van in the brand’s U.S. line-up, but unlike its smaller sibling, which is assembled in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the ID.7 will be built in Germany and China. VW describes the car as “the comfortable limousine for long-distance travel,” suggesting that its range will be significantly higher than the 275 miles afforded to the ID.4 by the E.P.A. test cycle. “The ID.7 is an extremely important model for Volkswagen in China, Canada, and the USA. It impresses with plenty of space, innovative assist systems, and modern features like a high-end infotainment system. Our customers will receive a genuine premium package with the first all-electric flagship model from Volkswagen,” claims Imelda Labbé, Volkswagen’s Member of the Board of Management for Sales, Marketing, and Aftersales. The camouflage comes off at 8 a.m. EST on April 17.

Exhaust: While most of the world is obsessed with SUVs, EV buyers are still suckers for a sedan, thanks in no small part to Tesla, of course. VW is hoping to take a significant piece of that action with the ID.7 as part of a $7.7 billion investment in “the electric and digital transformation” of the brand in America. Nik Berg

Rising danger: SUVs vs. bicyclists, study says

Driver drives into group of cyclists reflector damage part broken closeup detail
Uwe Anspach/Picture Alliance/Getty Images

Intake: In a study that should surprise no one, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety researched bicycle vs. vehicle accidents, and determined SUVs, with their higher nose and reduced forward visibility, provide the most danger to cyclists. According to Automotive News, “The tall front end of SUVs can strike bicyclists higher on their bodies above the center of gravity. This results in riders getting knocked down, where they can be run over, rather than being thrown onto the hood of the vehicle, said IIHS statistician Sam Monfort, the lead author of the study.” The research, titled “Higher point of impact makes SUV crashes more dangerous for cyclists,” analyzed data from 71 Michigan bicycle crashes that involved a single SUV or car and a bicyclist age 16 or older. Trauma to the body was 55 percent higher for SUVs than for cars, and scores for head injuries inflicted by SUVs were 63 percent higher.

Exhaust: Automotive News, citing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reports that bicycle crash rates are on the rise. In 2021, 966 cyclists were reported killed in crashes, according to NHTSA. This is up from 621 bicyclist fatalities in 2010. — SCS

Study: That new-car smell can be harmful

2022 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate front seats

Intake: A new study claiming that a new-car smell can be harmful to your health is making the rounds of science publications, as well as USA Today. The study claims, according to USA Today, “Researchers at Harvard University and the Beijing Institute of Technology in China conducted a study on the chemicals that create the new car smell, finding that the smell could increase the risk of cancer, and it doesn’t take much time to be in the vehicle for it to become a hazard.” The culprit is mostly formaldehyde, which the study found at levels that were 34.9 percent higher than Chinese national safety standards, and acetaldehyde, a probable human carcinogen, which was found to be at levels 60.5 percent higher than Chinese national safety standards.

Exhaust: Researchers put sensors inside new cars, then closed them up for 12 days in the summer heat. It is difficult to divine what cars, and from where, were used in the study, which would have been helpful information. The entire study can be read here. This is hardly the first time these claims have been made: AAA Magazine wrote about a similar study by the Ecology Center in 2020. Steven Cole Smith

Restored 1927 Alvis Grand Prix car debuts this weekend

Intake: The sole surviving front-wheel-drive Alvis Grand Prix racing car, once abandoned in a scrapyard in Coventry, England, is being revived by The Alvis Car Company, its original creator. It is set to mark its first public appearance in Chiba City, Japan, at Automobile Council 2023 this weekend, 96 years after its race debut at the 1927 Junior Car Club 200 Mile Race at Brooklands. The Alvis caused a stir in 1927 owing to its highly unusual mechanical layout. Remarkably, the car has no conventional front axle. Instead, the steering system uses four elliptic leaf springs in a unique, independent arrangement. An in-line, eight-cylinder, 1.5-liter, supercharged engine sits just behind the longitudinally mounted gearbox, giving the car a distinctive length when compared to its competition.

Exhaust: After qualifying second in the British Grand Prix, the car fell out and was retired. Upon returning to the Alvis factory, the car’s engine was removed and entirely dismantled to diagnose the cause of the failure: a shattered connecting rod, now on display in Alvis’ showroom in Kenilworth, England. The Alvis Car Company still builds limited-edition copies of original Alvis designs. — SCS

Read next Up next: 5 classics heating up in the 2023 Price Guide


    The current Bentley Continental just doesn’t make it styling-wise. The four headlights are too widely spaced apart on either end and the back of the car seems pretty generic and safe Audi. The whole car just doesn’t have the appeal of the previous version which itself only came into its own when it got a refresh that sharpened the edges and introduced the 8. Saw one parked on the street the other day and it has aged very well. I’ve seen these new ones and they’re either awkward or missing character, depending on angle. If you’re going to do a Continental look back to the originals and not copy them, but realize it needs to be a handsome and a bit dramatic.

    Dumb drivers staring at their cell phones are the biggest danger to cyclists, and anybody else on the road.

    John, I couldn’t agree more! The quality of driver skill level if you can even call it that, keeps eroding, and distracted driving just adds to it. Better still, just think about what their child passengers are learning from their parents who insist on continuing this behavior.

    VW has missed the mark (again) with the ID7. They should really consider pulling back the design teams that all defected to Hyundai group. The undisguised pictures looks like they tried to mash up a sedan, a CUV and and SUV to appeal to every possible buyer. I will be curious to see the interior to see if they have course corrected from the ID4 and GTI misses.

    I was thrilled to see the ’03 LM winning Bentley No. 7 depicted. I’ve enjoyed three visits to the 24 hour race; the first was in ’03 to see this car win. Incidentally, the official commemorative poster almost always has the first and second car depicted and in proper order. The ’03 poster shows the No. 8 car first, with the No 7 car behind it. The ’03 race was, thus far, my favorite. I haven’t been since ’08 but, I’m going to the 100th running this year. Should be a great race.

    China has safety standards? That’s a joke. New car smell is bad for you? Oh well, I’m doomed.

    Sorry, but where I live bicyclists are their own worst enemy. They ride down 2-3 abreast down the middle of the traffic lanes, not to the right or in the marked bicycle lane. They almost never stop for a stop sign, rarely stopping at red lights and turn in front of oncoming traffic. Most of them are rude and when their actions cause them problems they invariably blame the other drivers. And right up there with their actions are the apologists and the lack of traffic enforcement actions to rein them in.

    I hate to rain on Bentley’s publicity parade, but the Speed 8 was essentially a roofed development of Audi’s all-conquering R8, which had won LeMans the previous 3 years. It wasn’t exactly a green-painted R8, but the characterization isn’t entirely inaccurate. VW, the corporate overlord, basically granted Bentley a win in the 2003 race; Audi didn’t even enter. After Bentley had its fun, Audi raced the R8 again and won LeMans the next 2 years. If people consider buying this Continental based on such specious racing provenance, well, congratulations to Bentley’s marketing department.

    The study may be “new”, but the findings about off-gassing on new car plastic interiors is not. That’s been pretty much common knowledge for years. However, that’s not the reason that I’ll not be buying any more new cars. Most readers on this forum have cussed and discussed all sorts of reasons to stay away from new car purchases, from lack-of-quality to forced-‘option packages’ to dealership-screwing to outlandish cost – and more. Getting cancer from breathing on a road trip, however scary that might be, is pretty far down on my list of reasons to 1) keep wrenching on my existing fleet to keep it mobile, and 2) only buy used if #1 fails me. 🙄

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