Car Design News looks at some of the design stories that may have gone under the radar over the past week. Read on for the latest from Alfa Romeo, INEOS, BMW and more…

Normal service resumes with this week’s Friday round-up of stories from the world of car design – and beyond. Read on for a raft new of new launches, event updates and even a bottle of whisky that has caught our eye. 

McLaren Artura Spider

The drop-top hybrid supercar has been given a subtle refresh and about produces about 30PS more than the previous generation to 700PS. The reveal took place at the Outernet space in London, known mainly for its virtual reality experiences. 

Full release here

Bentley Continental GT

The fourth-generation Continental GT will be revealed in June and will be the first Bentley to feature the new ’Ultra Performance Hybrid’ V8 powertrain. It follows the news that the current generation’s twin-turbo V8 will be discontinued. 

Visually, we only have a few camouflaged press shots to work with but it is clear that the familiar, stocky GT proportions remain. Markings on the front end suggest a new light signature that departs from the traditional two-bulb layout, and the volumes of the rear appear a little more lithe. Difficult to say for sure at this stage. 

Full release here

BMW XM Mystique Allure

What do you reckon Naomi Campbell’s favourite colour is? You guessed it. Produced in collaboration with the supermodel, this one-off XM derives its CMF strategy from high fashion, employing materials such as velvet and twinkly sequins both inside and out. We saw a similar kind of tie-up between Rolls-Royce and Iris van Herpen not long ago, admittedly pushing the influence of haute couture to entirely different levels. 

Full release here

Nadia Marcus, LEVC

Nadia Marcus joins LEVC

LEVC expands CMF team

Nadia Marcus has joined LEVC as principal CMF designer, following Stephen Stanforth who joined as CMF chief earlier in January. The University of the Arts alumnus brings prior experience from Tata Motors and Nissan. 

Marcus told CDN that “being a part of Brett Boydell’s team in the UK is an incredible opportunity. I’m eager to contribute to the growth of this brand as I believe CMF plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of car design; and I’m excited to be a part of that journey.”

Renault Rafale E-Tech 4X4

Renault has employed the help of its performance-focussed sister brand for a ‘hot’ version of the Rafale crossover. The output from today’s downsized, turbocharged and hybridised engines is nothing short of remarkable: in this case, 300bhp is spat out by a 1.2-litre three-cylinder powertrain (although half of that comes from the three electric motors). The Atelier trim includes exclusive paint, a new spoiler and wheels. In our eyes, anything with the Alpine treatment is worth a look.

Full release here

New powertrains from VW Group

We appreciate this is not ‘engine design news’ but the addition of a new TSI powerplant for both the SEAT Leon and Audi A3 felt noteworthy. Both get a new 1.5-litre petrol as entry-level variants. The Leon also gets a refreshed interior, with an “improved HMI” courtesy of a dual-screen (10.4” and 12.9”) infotainment system setup.

Full releases here and here

Belstaff Grenadier 

To celebrate a century of clothing brand Belstaff, Ineos has put together a special ‘1924’ edition of its rugged SUV. Beyond an interior that clearly draws from the Belstaff colour palette and the occasional badge, it’s not the most overt of homages. But based on shared brand values and, we assume, customers, this is a pairing that just makes sense. Grab your gilet and get down to the launch event in Stoke later this month. 

Full release here

Raise a glass to the pop-up headlight

The London Councours is always a riot and we expect this year’s showing to be no different. It is one of the more laidback events where an amble around the lawn can include anything from iconic rally cars to ultra-rare supercars, muscle cars and euro-classics. Alongside an homage to the V12 engine, there will also be a theme dedicated to pop-up headlights. 

Full release here

Alfa Super Sport 

If the standard Quadrifoglio variants were not enough for you, Alfa Romeo has revealed new Super Sport limited editions for both the Giulia and Stelvio. For the first time in the brand’s history, the four-leaf clover emblem is surrounded by black, while carbon-fibre has been used widely both inside and out. That’s more like it. 

Full release here

Skoda Octavia 

The Octavia has been given a refresh, punctuated by the new second-generation LED Matrix headlights that have been ‘fine-tuned’ by the award-winning lighting design team in Mladá Boleslav. 

Full release here. 

Can whisky be car-design adjacent?

To wrap things up, we’re admittedly stretching the definition of this column slightly, but what pretty bottles these are. For the second time, Callum has released a limited edition series of whisky bottles (with whisky in, courtesy of Annandale Distillery) to coincide with world whisky day. These are objectively pretty objects that – regardless of whether you enjoy a dram – certainly fit the bill of being design-led, “a sensory journey for the eye, in the hand, and on the palate,” as design director Ian Callum puts it.