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Volvo unveils new XC40 plug-in hybrid

Volvo’s new T5 Twin Engine petrol-electric hybrid powertrain debuts in the XC40.

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Volvo reaches an important milestone in its industry-leading powertrain electrification programme with the debut of the new T5 Twin Engine hybrid system in the multi-award-winning XC40 SUV. The introduction makes Volvo the only manufacturer to offer plug-in hybrid versions across its entire product range.

Power and efficiency

The T5 Twin Engine combines Volvo’s new 1.5-litre three-cylinder 180hp petrol engine with an 82hp electric motor in a hybrid system that delivers 262hp. This makes it the most powerful powertrain in the XC40 range. This power is balanced with strong environmental credentials: preliminary WLTP figures for CO2 emissions are from just 38g/km (where 19-inch wheels are specified), while combined cycle fuel consumption is expected to be up to 141.1mpg.

The compact, energy-dense lithium-ion battery has a capacity of 10.7kWh, enabling exhaust emissions-free electric-only driving of up to 28.6 miles (provisional data), according to driving conditions and battery charge levels.

The new T5 Twin Engine joins two diesel and three petrol powertrains in the XC40 range, with an all-electric model joining the line-up next year.

A first for the CMA platform

The T5 Twin Engine is also the first to be engineered for use in Volvo’s CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) platform. It is front-wheel drive, in contrast to the established T8 Twin Engine (390hp) powertrain deployed in larger models built on the SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform, which has all-wheel-drive capability.

XC40 T5 Twin Engine models come with a recharging outlet on the nearside front wing. A 4.5m cable with a three-pin plug is provided as standard.

The powertrain’s efficiency and performance are supported by a new seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission, featured for the first time in a new-generation Volvo model.

Improved charging

Charging via the fast-charge cable will completely recharge the car’s high-voltage battery in as little as 2.5 hours. Fully charging via the three-pin plug cable takes between 3.5 and 6 hours.

Every inch the modern Volvo

Displaying cool, clean, contemporary lines, the XC40 blends Scandinavian style with desirability and dynamism customers seek from a compact SUV.

According to Greg Maruszewski, Managing Director of Volvo Car South Africa, South African motorists are definitely “going green”.

“We are seeing this with the Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in hybrid; interest in this vehicle is at an all-time high. There is currently no plan for the new XC40 plug in hybrid version to come to South Africa but if it did, we would anticipate a high level of interest.”

XC40 T5 Twin Engine technical specifications*

Transmission                             Seven-speed twin-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive

Engine configuration                 In-line, three cylinders

Engine capacity                        1,477cc

Max. engine output                    180hp/5,800rpm

Max. engine torque                    265Nm/1,500-3,000rpm

Max. electric motor output         82hp

Max. electric motor torque         160Nm

Battery type                              Lithium-ion

Battery capacity                        10.7kWh

Total system max. output          262hp

0-62mph acceleration                 7.3 seconds

Top speed                                127mph

WLTP CO2 emissions                 38g/km (19-inch wheels); 41g/km (20-inch wheels); 43g/km (21-inch wheels)

WLTP fuel consumption             112.8-141.1mpg

WLTP all-electric range              26.1-28.6 miles

First deliveries to UK customers from February 2020.

* All technical data is preliminary

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Asus ZenBook Pro Duo reimagines dual screens

Asus’s ZenBook Pro Duo implements the dual-screen concept very differently: instead of side-by-side, the extra screen sits beneath the main screen. BRYAN TURNER tried out the laptop.

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Asus’s strong ZenBook line, aimed at creatives, has added a powerful laptop to the game: the dual-screen ZenBook Pro Duo. This machine shows some of the most thoughtful design on the market, including a new type of dual-screen layout that makes a lot of sense. 

When closed it looks like any other laptop and has a concentric circle design etched into aluminium. The laptop feels sturdy on the base as well as the screen, and looks like it could withstand a drop. It’s 24mm thick and weighs around 2.5kg, so it seems pretty thick until one looks at the internals of this machine. 

We had the Intel Core i7-9750H processor configuration but can come with an Intel Core i9-9980HK configuration. Both configurations come with Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, with 6GB of GDDR6 VRAM. This makes this laptop more of a high-performance desktop with laptop features rather than a high-performance laptop. 

When opening up this computer, we were greeted with a large 15.6” 4K (3840×2160) OLED panel and another 14” (3840 x 1100) 4K UHD display below that, called the ScreenPad Plus. Both screens are touchscreens, 100% DCI-P3, and are brighter than most laptops. As a result, the keyboard and trackpad have been shifted below the second screen. The lowered keyboard takes some getting used to, but is totally worth it for the second display.

The ScreenPad Plus comes with a set of its own apps, including Spotify, handwriting mode, and a few other quick settings. It comes with a stylus called the Asus Pen, which allows for 1024 pressure levels and rejects one’s palm, making it very useful for apps like Adobe Illustrator. The top screen supports that pen too, but writing feels far more natural on the ScreenPad Plus.

An ErgoLift hinge raises the computer up at an angle, to make the lowered keyboard more comfortable to type on, as well as aid the cooling system. It’s at a small 4.5 degrees tilt with this hinge that makes a huge difference in typing comfort.

On the left side, a USB-A port, a regular size HDMI 2.0 port and a proprietary charging jack. On the right side, it features a USB-A 3.1 port, Thunderbolt 3, and a 3.5mm audio jack. Both sides feature air outlet ports. 

We tested Rise of the Tomb Raider at 1080p, with the RTX 2060, and set the game to its highest preset graphics settings. The game’s frame counter was used. It hovered between 70 and 75 frames per second (fps) with 10 minutes of gameplay, which is really good compared to most desktop computers. 

The processor is a 6-Core 9th Generation Intel Core i7 CPU (i7-9750H), which provides snappy performance. We noted a start-up time from shutdown to desktop around 7 seconds. This was made possible by a combination of the fast processor and solid-state drive in the computer. This also makes opening programmes lightning fast.

Now for the trackpad. The off-centre trackpad placement feels a bit weird, even though we know why it’s placed that way. We found ourselves using an external mouse and using it in a very handy NumPad mode. The trackpad is extremely precise otherwise. 

The laptop’s battery is 71 Wh, which may seem large, but it needs to power two big screens and heavy processors. As a result, it’s difficult to get more than 6 hours of productivity out of the machine. We played Rise of the Tomb Raider with both screens on for about 1 hour before we needed to charge it. 

It will be available for about R48,000 (depending on when one buys it) in the Intel Core i7, 512GB SSD, and 16GB RAM configuration, putting it up there with the high-performance laptops in terms of price.

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LG G8X ThinQ doubles up on multitasking

The G8X Thinq from LG features two screens, in a new take that isn’t quite foldable but definitely more affordable.

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LG has announced the global start of sales of LG G8XThinQ with LG Dual Screen, both previewed at Mobile World Congress in February and unveiled in September at IFA 2019 in Berlin. Together, LG G8XThinQ with LG Dual Screen offer consumers a new way to interact with a mobile device, by allowing two apps to run on full screens, side by side.

The handset lets consumers stay on top of two apps at the same time, whether texting a friend while watching a video, updating fantasy football while researching stats, or sharing and comparing while online shopping. And if users don’t want the second screen (depending on the scenario), it can detach.

It features a convenient cover display, with the essentials like notifications, date, time, battery life available at a glance. With a 360° Freestop Hinge, LG Dual Screen is able to lock into at any angle, making it practical for use as a game controller at 120°, a mini-laptop at 140°, flat at 180°, a stand or tent at 270°, or to take a call flipped back on itself at 360°.

LG Game Pad is a dual screen experience designed to level up mobile gaming and deliver an edge in the competitive moment. It gives gamers a view of a game on one screen and a full virtual controller on the other, giving the options to choose from multiple controllers or build a custom layout to match specific game play needs and styles. LG Game Pad mimics touch input on the main display, making it compatible with most games. 

The LG Smart Keyboard converts the device into a mini-laptop. The bottom display transforms into a full-screen virtual keyboard, which makes it possible to write emails on one display and watch the text flow on the other.

LG’s newest G-series smartphone features a dynamic 6.4-inch OLED FullVision display, a powerful 32MP front-facing camera, impressive dual rear-facing cameras with new photo and video modes, two balanced 1.2W stereo speakers, the first in-display fingerprint sensor on an LG smartphone and a large 4,000mAh battery.

“The introduction of LG G8XThinQ and LG Dual Screen enables us to be part of the conversation around larger mobile displays but at a much more price-friendly entry point,” says Morris Lee, senior vice president at LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company. “From the industry’s first wide angle camera in a smartphone, rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and optical gesture control, LG continues to push the boundaries of smartphone innovation and this continues with LG G8XThinQ Dual Screen.”

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