Wheels and deals

The one-off Land Rover Defender, which sold for 400,000.
The one-off Land Rover Defender, which sold for 400,000.

The University of Central Lancashire has released a render of an improved sleigh for Father Christmas.

After analysing the aerodynamic qualities of Santa’s wagon, the team at UCLAN decided to optimise the vehicle for economy. Improvements were made to the shape and size of the sleigh, as well as the materials used.

An updated version of Santa's sleigh designed by The University of Central Lancashire.

An updated version of Santa's sleigh designed by The University of Central Lancashire.

An aerodynamic carbon fibre body is the most striking change for the next-generation sleigh, as are the aluminium runners. The students claim that the next-generation sleigh will reduce the strain placed on Santa’s reindeers and could reduce his journey time (32 hours to travel to every house on the planet) by up to three hours.

Reuben Taylor, first year mechanical engineer, UCLAN explained, “We’ve been working on our own ultra-efficient vehicle for next year’s Shell Eco-marathon, when we realised how inefficient Santa’s sleigh actually is”.

The Shell Eco-marathon is a regular competition in which teams of engineers devise ultra-low fuel consumption vehicles compete to go the furthest with the least fuel. The UCLAN team hope to enter a vehicle when the Eco-marathon comes to London in June 2016.

The current record, set using hydrogen, is equivalent to 15,000mpg in a petrol engine.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz SLC.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz SLC.

Tony Broad, lecturer and project leader, UCLAN added, “The first thing that stood out to us was the really high levels of drag. There’s a big area where turbulent air circles around the sleigh and recirculates behind it, and that makes it harder for him to move forward. Do you know how much Christmas spirit he must waste each year?”

:: Mercedes has killed off the much-liked SLK model and replaced it with a revised car dubbed the SLC.

As part of the Stuttgart-based firm’s new naming structure, the SLC aligns with the C-Class in terms of size and architecture.

What’s more, the fabulous V8-powered SLK 55 AMG is no more, having been replaced with a bi-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 with slightly less power and torque, but lower emissions, a more flexible character and the name SLC 43.

There will be two turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol versions with 181bhp and 241bhp respectively, but diesel devotees will be disappointed to see the clattery old 2.1-litre 201bhp unit still the only choice. It had been hoped that a quieter version would have been introduced for the new convertible.

Only the 181bhp SLC 200 will have a manual gearbox. The SLC 300, 250d and 43 AMG will use a nine-speed automatic as standard.

Mercedes has moved the SLC away from outright performance and sportiness to focus more on infotainment and safety. Automatic emergency braking has been introduced, with a five-mode LED headlight system optional.

Mapping for the COMAND Online infotainment system is now topographical, while with a compatible smartphone connected it can access internet radio, online apps and more. Text messages can be read aloud and there are two USB ports for charging phones or connecting music devices.

The electrically folding hard top roof can now be opened or closed at up to 25mph or so, and in a stroke of genius the boot divider, which prevents the mechanism fouling any luggage and has always been a manually-operated chore, has now been automated. With the roof up there is an impressive 335 litres of boot space.

Prices are expected to be confirmed closer to spring next year, but will move upwards from the outgoing SLK’s current entry price of £33,020, which buys a diesel in base trim.

:: A unique version of the iconic Land Rover Defender, and the 2,000,000th example ever built has sold at auction for £400,000.

The special version, called ‘Defender 2,000,000’ was built in May this year by a number of brand ambassadors and notable people from the history of Land Rover, including Bear Grylls, Virginia McKenna OBE and Stephen and Nick Wilks, sons of the founders of Land Rover.

Sold to a bidder from Qatar, all proceeds from the sale are being donated to Land Rover charity partners, including the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Born Free Foundation, who plan to use the funds to support the ‘Project Lion Rover’ wildlife conservation initiative in Meru National Park, Kenya.

The Defender 2,000,000 has a number of distinctive features including an engraved map of Red Wharf Bay - where the design for the original Land Rover was first drawn in the sand, and a unique ‘no 2,000,000’ badge, with both elements repeated inside. A bespoke aluminium plaque, signed by everyone who helped to assemble the vehicle is fitted to the driver’s seat. It also wears S90 HUE registration plates, referencing the first ever pre-production Land Rover, registration ‘HUE 166’.