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The next Volvo XC90 will be able to brake itself if its driver attempts to pull out in front of an oncoming car, as one of two world-first safety innovations.

The new Mazda 2 will appear this October.
The new Mazda 2 will appear this October.

This auto-brake technology detects whether an approaching car is technically on a collision course and will hit the stoppers to prevent a possible accident.

However, there is no mention of an increased risk of rear-end collisions where drivers following the XC90 might also accelerate, not expecting the Volvo to stop suddenly.

Another world-first application is automatic tightening of the seat belts if a car runs off the road, which, in combination with specially-designed seat cushions, reduces the chance of spinal injuries.

Volvo's auto-brake system will appear on the next XC90. See PA Feature MOTORING Motoring News. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Handout. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature MOTORING Motoring News.

“These two world firsts are further examples of how new technologies target substantial real-life traffic problems. This strategy moves us closer and closer to our ambition that by 2020 no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo,” said Professor Lotta Jakobsson, Senior Technical Specialist Safety at Volvo Cars Safety Centre.

“Our starting point on safety is the same today as it was 87 years ago: real-life situations,” added Dr Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President of Research and Development of Volvo Car Group.

“We study data. We crunch numbers. We innovate. The result is one of the safest cars ever made.”

Professor Jakobsson concluded: “Committing to safety is not about passing a test or getting a ranking.

Undated Handout Photo of 2014 Toyota. Toyota's Prius Plug-in has set an unusual record at the famous Nurburgring. See PA Feature MOTORING Motoring News. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Handout. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature MOTORING Motoring News.

“It is about finding out how and why accidents and injuries occur and then developing the technology to prevent them. We lead, the industry follows.”

Japanese car maker Mazda has taken the wraps off its latest generation Mazda2 model. The compact hatch will be given its public debut at the Paris Motor Show in October.

Taking many of its styling cues from the recently launched Mazda3 and mid-size Mazda6, the firm’s new small car also boasts a full range of its ‘Skyactiv’ technology focused on improving driving dynamics and boosting efficiency and economy.

Crucially, the Mazda2 will premiere in Europe with a brand-new small displacement clean diesel engine, as well as different power versions of Mazda’s current 1.5-litre petrol unit.

Together with manual and automatic transmissions, the hatchback will also receive the company’s MZD Connect in-car connectivity system, which allows the user to connect a smartphone to access an enhanced range of features.

Whatever else you might say about Toyota, it seems the brand has a sense of humour.

Driving enthusiasts will hang their (petrol)heads in shame after Toyota completed the 12.9-mile German track Nurburgring at an average of 698mpg.

The embarrassingly pedestrian time of 20 minutes and 59 seconds was set by motor journalist and Japanese car expert Joe Clifford, and since Toyota is the first to shame itself with a fuel economy run at the heart of performance car testing, it automatically sets a new efficiency record.

The 21-minute time is more than three times slower than laps recently set by modified versions of the Seat Leon Cupra 280 and the Renaultsport Megane 275.

Clifford was driving a Prius Plug-in hybrid, whose electric-only range is more than enough to complete the circuit without using the petrol engine. But unfortunately for the attempt, a long ascent on the circuit strained the batteries too much and the engine cut in, using five tablespoons of unleaded.

He said: “We used no special tricks for this test. We simply took a fully charged car, fitted it with low-rolling resistance tyres and drove the lap, among all the other public drivers taking the opportunity to experience the challenge of the Nurburgring.

“Although the 12.9-mile distance is similar to a typical commuter trip, the difference here is a rise and fall in elevation of around 1,000 feet. In fact, it was only on one long climb that the petrol engine cut in, and then only for a short while.

“Without that, we think we might have even achieved the ultimate 999.9mpg readout — the highest figure the display can show.”

The keen-eyed will notice body modifications on the Prius, but Toyota says these are just styling add-ons sourced from the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) catalogue.