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  1. Yesterday
  2. Ford makes engines at two plants in the UK, including Dagenham Blue Oval's European boss says imposition of tariffs between UK and EU would be "pretty disastrous" for British industry Ford’s European boss has warned that a no-deal Brexit would prompt the firm to review its future in the UK. Steven Armstrong told the BBC that failure to reach a deal for Britain’s departure from the EU, which could lead to the imposition of World Trade Organization rules and tariffs, would be “pretty disastrous” for British industry. Brexit: what it means for the UK car industry Ford currently makes engines at its plants in Dagenham and Bridgend, and transmissions at Halewood. Those units are shipped to other plants to be installed in chassis. Trading under a WTO arrangement, which would involve tariffs on parts shipped between Britain and the EU, would “put a significant amount of cost in our business", said Armstrong. He added: “It would certainly make us think long and hard about our future investment strategy [in the UK].” Armstrong also cautioned against a proposed Brexit arrangement based on the EU’s deal with Canada, which would allow for tariff-free trade but still involve border checks. Armstrong said that “would upset the just-in-time delivery model used by the company in Europe”. Ford is currently understood to be considering a major restructuring of its business due to falling profits, with analysts at Morgan Stanley suggesting the firm could cut 24,000 jobs in Europe. That report was dismissed by Ford as "pure speculation". Armstrong is the latest in a number of senior car industry executives to speak out against a possible no-deal Brexit. Jaguar Land Rover boss Ralf Speth has previously said fears over Brexit had already cost jobs, while Toyota has warned of disruption at its Burnaston plant. Read more Brexit: what it means for the UK car industry Toyota: no-deal Brexit could halt production for months Jagur Land Rover boss: hard Brexit fears have already cost jobs Mini and Rolls-Royce factories to shut for weeks post-Brexit View the full article
  3. The Motorists Guide

    Rolls Royce Cullinan 2018 review

    Big, bold new Rolls-Royce 4x4 begins a new era for the brand – and convinces both on-road and off of it This is, in all senses, a big car. Rolls-Royce boss Torsten Müller-Ötvös acknowledges the Cullinan, the company’s new 4x4 and a distinct diversion for the British luxury brand, is a controversial vehicle. I know: it’s only a car, right? But I guess there are two reasons. First – and let’s get it dealt with – are there not hints of The Simpsons' ‘Canyonero’ about the Cullinan’s appearance? Rolls has, like Porsche did with the first Cayenne, tried to put clear Rolls-Royce cues into the design. Maybe they just don’t translate to an SUV, or maybe we’re just not used to it yet. I think it probably grows on you, and that it won’t matter if it doesn’t: the Bentley Bentayga and original Cayenne discovered looks are unimportant. Two, is this a vehicle Rolls-Royce should be making? To which the answer is ‘obviously’, because buyers want a Rolls-Royce they can drive daily, take the family in, take skiing, shooting or replace a Range Rover with. Dealers are only just now receiving demonstrators but the order book’s already full for more than a year.So here we are. Rolls’s first SUV, although not the first Rolls-Royce to go routinely off-road, because its cars have been going everywhere since roads were rubbish. But it’s its first from the brand with four-wheel drive. The architecture is the bespoke aluminium spaceframe which arrived first in last year’s Phantom and will eventually underpin all Rolls-Royces, distancing the 'cheaper' cars – Ghost, Wraith, Dawn – from the BMW group architecture origins they currently share.It’s a (figuratively, not literally) flexible architecture that allows different lengths and heights and here it’s shorter (at 5341m) but taller (1835mm) than the Phantom, a hefty 2000mm wide and with revised air suspension that’s beefier, has less friction than the flagship saloon’s, and rises 40mm in off-road mode. There are double-wishbones at the front, a five-link setup at the rear, two front and one rear anti-roll bars, electrically active, and active rear-steer. The same 6.75-litre twin turbocharged V12 as in the Phantom sits at the front, making 563bhp and tweaked for the greater low-down urge fit for an SUV. There’s some 627lb ft of it from only 1600rpm.It drives through an eight-speed automatic gearbox on which you can’t select gears yourself – the sat-nav assists gear selection – to all four wheels via a derivative/development (select a word that doesn’t make Rolls engineers wince) of BMW’s xDrive 4WD system. There are stronger components than in a 4WD 3 Series but the principle is the same: an electronically controlled clutch behind the gearbox can let up to 100% of power to the rear axle, or divert up to 50% to the front via a shaft and differential beneath the engine. Both front and rear differentials are open, not locking, but there’s torque vectoring via braking to stop an individual wheel spinning, and in off-road mode, if you also switch the stability control off, it locks the car in 50:50 all-wheel drive. Unlike with, say, a Bentley Bentayga or Range Rover, there’s only one off-road mode, rather than options such as rock, crawl, sand and so on, because Rolls-Royce says it wants its cars to be easier of use. There’s no low-ratio transfer case for the gearbox, either. But there is that 627lb ft from 1600rpm, which should help. The towing limit is around 2600kg because that’s the limit of the optional deployable towbar; work is afoot to make it the 3500kg the chassis can already handle. There’s a two-piece electric tailgate, opening onto a 560-litre boot, and if you specify the standard three-person bench rear seat (as 70% of customers are), it splits and folds, though because rear-seat passengers sit higher than those in the front, and because the seats are opulent, when folded they don’t leave the boot floor totally flat. Instead there’s an electrically operated ramp between boot floor and folded seat, or you can leave a step if you want to prevent luggage sliding forwards (which begs the question as to why you’d have bothered dropping the seats).Alternatively, you can select two individual rear chairs, with a fridge/humidor/whatever else you want between them. Those seats recline, and are backed by a glass partition to the luggage bay, to reduce noise emanating from the rear wheelarches. It’s most popular in markets where owners have a driver. Either way, the rear-hinged back doors give great access to the rear cabin. All doors, big and heavy as they are, can be closed electrically, quickly and with a wicked thud.View the full article
  4. The Motorists Guide

    Ford Mustang Bullitt 2018 review

    We try Ford's film-inspired special-edition Mustang to see if it's a car Steve McQueen would be proud of The revival of a movie car icon or a cynical marketing ploy, depending on your view. Before driving it, I found myself in the latter camp, but its funny how opinions can change just by taking the time to enjoy and appreciate something.As the name suggests, the Ford Mustang Bullitt has been built to mark the 50th anniversary of the film of the same name. The film itself was hardly a cinematic triumph, but is best known for an unforgettable car chase involving Steve McQueen at the wheel of a Highland Green Mustang GT390 Fastback chasing down two hitmen in a Dodge Charger through the streets of San Francisco. Of course, none of that should be news to an Autocar reader. Rebooting an automotive film star from the '60s is a risky business, particularly given today’s models usually bear almost no relation to the original. Thankfully, that’s not the case with today’s 'Stang.It may be bigger, heavier and, unlike the original, able to give you a fair chance of survival in a head-on collision, but it’s still familiar territory. There’s a shouty naturally aspirated V8 up front (albeit slightly smaller than the 6.4-litre GT390), while drive is sent through a manual gearbox and is put to the road via the rear wheels.This is no quick paint job and badge swap, either. The Bullitt benefits from an open air induction system nicked from the Shelby GT350, bigger throttle bodies and a new exhaust. The result is a modest 14bhp power boost to 453bhp (US market versions get more power thanks to emissions regs), as well as improved responses and, crucially, more noise. Like the cars used in the original film, the suspension has been uprated with ‘heavy duty’ front springs and a stiffened-up rear anti-roll bar. A number of new features debut on the Bullitt and will transfer to the 2019-model-year Mustang, including a rev-matching system for the manual 'box, a 1000w B&O sound system and an active exhaust.View the full article
  5. Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up this week's gossip from across the automotive industry This week's snippets of automotive news include news on the Vinfast A2.0 saloon launch, the new Suzuki Jimny and Peugeot's chief executive on new WLTP emissions testing. Peugeot's chief executive on WLTP: Peugeot chief executive Jean-Philippe Imparato took a dig at other manufacturers’ homologation delays and unsold models due to the recently adopted Worldwide harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) emissions legislation. He said: “We didn’t have to stop production. We didn’t have to store stock. We didn’t have to buy airports to park loads of unsold cars in. We were ready.” Vinfast A2.0 saloon launch: Vietnamese car manufacturer Vinfast wheeled out David Beckham to launch its new A2.0 saloon and SA2.0 SUV at Paris – but we reckon they missed a trick. Given Kia got Robert de Niro to endorse the Kia e-Niro, surely Vinfast should have signed up actor Vin Diesel rather than the footballer? Suzuki Jimny 2018 review The new Suzuki Jimny: Suzuki’s UK boss Dale Wyatt says it has had 4500 people sign up on its website as “interested” in the new Jimny, a first for the brand. That’s 150% of the previous model’s best annual volume. The problem for Suzuki is going to be the number it can build, because demand in Japan has been “staggering”. Wyatt is looking at 1100 cars in the first year and then 2000 per year thereafter. Read more New WLTP emissions test could force heavy discounts on unsold cars Peugeot 508 review 2019 Suzuki Jimny makes appearance at Paris motor show View the full article
  6. Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up this week's gossip from across the automotive industry This week's snippets of automotive news include news on the Vinfast A2.0 saloon launch, the new Suzuki Jimny and Peugeot's chief executive on new WLTP emissions testing. Peugeot's chief executive on WLTP: Peugeot chief executive Jean-Philippe Imparato took a dig at other manufacturers’ homologation delays and unsold models due to the recently adopted Worldwide harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) emissions legislation. He said: “We didn’t have to stop production. We didn’t have to store stock. We didn’t have to buy airports to park loads of unsold cars in. We were ready.” Vinfast A2.0 saloon launch: Vietnamese car manufacturer Vinfast wheeled out David Beckham to launch its new A2.0 saloon and SA2.0 SUV at Paris – but we reckon they missed a trick. Given Kia got Robert de Niro to endorse the Kia e-Niro, surely Vinfast should have signed up actor Vin Diesel rather than the footballer? Suzuki Jimny 2018 review The new Suzuki Jimny: Suzuki’s UK boss Dale Wyatt says it has had 4500 people sign up on its website as “interested” in the new Jimny, a first for the brand. That’s 150% of the previous model’s best annual volume. The problem for Suzuki is going to be the number it can build, because demand in Japan has been “staggering”. Wyatt is looking at 1100 cars in the first year and then 2000 per year thereafter. Read more New WLTP emissions test could force heavy discounts on unsold cars Peugeot 508 review 2019 Suzuki Jimny makes appearance at Paris motor show View the full article
  7. Suzuki Alto: cheap, simple and reliable but not very nice Our resident used car expert discusses the good, the bad and the ugly of how reliable different cars are I would like to apologise for something or other I possibly wrote a few weeks ago. I can’t remember what the context was – I’m always saying and then writing down stupid things. But in this case, Brian actually quoted back at me the following: “Mitsubishis are well made and utterly reliable.” Brian snapped back: “No they are not!” Obviously, Brian could support this with his fairly tragic Mitzi backstory. “I have a Colt CZC bought new eight years ago. The faults are as follows: both hydraulic boot struts failed after about five years. Broken anti-roll bar. Leaking sump gasket. Two failed electric window winders recently. Total mileage is less than 25,000. About 18 months ago, the rear discs and pads were worn out and replaced.” Well, there is a bit of wear and tear there, I don’t know how Brian drives and all the Porsche Cayennes I looked at this year had busted struts, but I would agree it isn’t what you’d expect from something Japanese. Except that it isn’t: the badge implies ‘respected Far-Eastern brand’, but if you look at the ‘Made in...’ sticker, it says ‘the Netherlands’. Find a used Mitsubishi Colt on PistonHeads It was the same with the lowland-built Volvos – those small ones were never as well put together as the home-grown family-sized Swedes. So the country of actual physical origin is important. However, I don’t think that enough credit is ever given to UK-built Hondas, Nissans and Toyotas. They really are all well made and, as a rule, utterly reliable. In recent years, Mazda having another crack with the rotary engine was the best idea of all. They didn’t all explode but they always used a lot of oil and, when they did break down, they cost a fortune to fix. I love the look and idea of them, but the last one I saw hadn’t moved in half a year, and the one before that was for sale at a dealer for £599 with a heap of issues. Once out of warranty and out of the hands of a decent, caring owner, vehicles like the Mazda RX-8 deteriorate rapidly. A Toyota Corolla, or indeed a Mazda 626, is unlikely ever to have that problem. Suzuki Altos come from India and are built down to a marginal rupee price. It is one the nastiest cars I’ve ever sat in. That doesn’t make it an unreliable car, just a really, really cheap one. Owners swear by their utter simplicity and dependability. Talking Japanese means I’ve not had the time to go on about unreliable brands by nation, although the short version is that they’re usually French or Italian. If you haveany real-world expert reader input as far as reliability is concerned, then do tell us your worst. I’d be interested – and it might stop me making any rash statements in future. What we almost bought this week: Skoda Superb estate - Those after a car big enough to meet all the demands of a family while still being good to drive and comfortable to ride in should put the Skoda Superb on their shortlist. Few other cars offer so much space for the money, with prices starting from £14,000. As all-round performers go, this is up there with the very best. Tales from Ruppert’s garage: Land Rover Series 3, mileage 29,298: Here you go – I went nuts. After mentioning it for what must be months, I knuckled down, got the wheel spanner out and just swapped one wheel nut for another of the locking variety. The important thing is to keep the spare nuts in a very safe place – that way, you’ll end up with a massive collection of random nuggets of metal which you’ll never pass onto the next owner. I found a bag of Triumph Dolomite ones, probably in better condition than the rest of the car is now, if it still lives. A to Z bangerpedia: S is for Kia Sedona: Large, spacious and versatile – or is it just a big lump of a van? In value for money terms, the Kia Sedona has always been a no-brainer. This much space and equipment has never been cheaper, and you get a full-size car for the cost of something much smaller. There's a choice of large but smooth petrol V6 and a frugal diesel, which is probably the better buy. Inside, there’s no shortage of space and seats for seven, with a useful runway between the middle seats for easy all-round access and removable rear seats to let you create a massive amount of room for extra luggage. Just £700 buys a 2.9 CRDi with 115,000 miles. Readers’ questions: Q. My son wants a used EV but does a high mileage so is nervous about finding chargers when he needs them. He likes the idea of plug-in hybrids but they don’t go far before the engine cuts in. Are there any other ways? Mark Williams, via email A. Your son could always consider a range-extender, such as the BMW i3 REx. In these cars, a small on-board petrol engine charges up the battery as and when it gets low. BMW is about to halt production of the i3 REx, but used ones can be had for about £18,000. M Q. I have an automatic Nissan Qashqai that has let us down on occasion. We would like another small-ish used SUV and another automatic but we’re worried they’re all unreliable. What would you recommend?John Nutting, via email A. There have been a few issues reported with the Qashqai’s automatic gearbox, but don’t let that put you off buying autos altogether. Look at the Seat Ateca and the Skoda Karoq, both of which come with a neat dual-clutch automatic gearbox and both of which are now available to buy used. MP Read more Used car buying guide: Ferrari 360 Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 12 October James Ruppert: when to offload your old car - and what to replace it with View the full article
  8. Last week
  9. Future models don't need to stand out like existing i3 and i8, according to design boss The styling of BMW’s electric cars will become more toned down over time, compared to the styling showcased by the current i range, according to the firm’s design director Adrian van Hooydonk. Reasoning that the current i3 hatchback and i8 sports car needed to stand out from the petrol-powered competition, using their design to draw attention to their innovative powertrains, van Hooydonk added that, as electric powertrains enter the mainstream, so the design of the cars will also start to confirm to more established trends. “Electric mobility will spread through our entire vehicle range in quite a short space of time - to the point that electric or plug-in hybrid is just another option box you tick as you order the car,” said van Hooydonk. “The fact is that BMW customers want a dynamic car, whether it is a battery-electric vehicle or not, and so there’s is increasingly less reason to make these kinds of cars look different.” However, van Hooydonk stressed that this did not spell the end of innovatively designed BMWs. “The i brand stands for inspiration and innovation, and electrification is not the only area of our industry that marks a significant change,” he said. “It’s pretty clear that there will still be i cars, and that the designers will be able to search for different things.” This change in approach can already be seen in the iX3 SUV, which is set to become the next addition to the i range. The concept revealed at the Beijing Motor Show used a more mainstream design that takes inspiration from the standard X3. It will be followed by the i4 saloon in 2021, which is expected to use an adapted version of the next 4 Series platform. Dramatic styling may be saved for the Vision iNext, an X5-sized SUV due the same year. The concept showed a significantly different kidney grille from anything BMW has used before. READ MORE New BMW 3 Series launched with renewed driver focus First drive: 2019 BMW 3 Series 330i M Sport prototype Old vs new BMW 3 Series: compare the styling changes View the full article
  10. GTS will come in saloon and Sport Turismo estate bodystyles, priced from £105,963 and arriving in the UK later this year Porsche has revealed a new GTS variant of the Panamera and Panamera Sport Turismo estate. Priced from £105,963 for the former and £108,110 for the latter, both are due to go on sale in the UK later this year. Like other GTS Porsches, the two Panameras receive unique styling upgrades including black trim for the front and rear-ends, 20-inch black alloy wheels and GTS badging. Inside, both are trimmed in black Alcantara with anodised aluminium highlights, as part of the usually optional Sport Design package. A heated Alcantara steering wheel is standard, while an optional Interior GTS package brings customisable design elements. The GTS is also the first Panamera to receive a configurable head-up display, which will roll out on other models in the range. Sitting below the Panamera Turbo in the lineup, the GTS features a detuned 454bhp version of that car’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 mated to an eight-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox and all-wheel drive. Producing 457lb ft of torque, it makes the two-tonne saloon and estate capable of 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 181mph (180mph for the Sport Turismo). This performance is partially assisted by the standard Sports Chrono pack, usually an option on lesser Panameras. Fuel economy is pegged at 27.4mpg for the saloon and 26.6mpg for the Sport Turismo, with CO2 emissions listed as 235g/km and 242g/km respectively. The Panamera GTS also features a petrol particulate filter, fitted on all Porsche models from September onwards. Being a GTS, the Panamera’s chassis has been revised to offer what Porsche calls “outstanding lateral dynamics”. Adaptive three-chamber air suspension is standard, but lowered by 10mm over regular models, while the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system has been recalibrated for a sportier feel. Rear-axle steering is optionally available to boost agility further, while the brakes are larger than a standard Panamera’s at 390mm for the fronts and 365mm for the rear. Read more: First ride: Porsche 911 2019 prototype Porsche unveils 935 reborn race car 2020 Porsche 911 GT3 spied in near-production bodywork View the full article
  11. The Motorists Guide

    Skoda Kodiaq GT: first images revealed

    The SUV-coupe is based on the existing five-door Kodiaq and looks to replicate the success of the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Skoda has released the first images of its new Kodiaq GT, a more rakish version of its big family SUV. The Kodiaq GT is set to be Skoda’s flagship model in China, the only country in which it will be built and sold. It will be in Chinese dealerships before the end of the year, manufactured as part of a joint venture between local car maker SAIC and Skoda. The SUV-coupe is based on the existing five-door Kodiaq, which is already built in China for the domestic market. The Kodiaq GT is new from the front doors backwards, the new car getting a a sloping roofline, sleeker glasshouse, and a new, angular tailgate. In addition, there are new bumpers and tail lights, and the addition of a small rear spoiler. There are no current plans to offer the five-seater for sale in Europe. Skoda’s European production is understood to be at capacity, and there is simply nowhere to build it. Skoda is reluctant to import from China and would instead prefer to concentrate its efforts on being a success in the the car’s home market. The Kodiaq GT will look to replicate the success premium brands including BMW and Mercedes-Benz have had with coupe-SUVs, with models including the BMW X4 and X6, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé and GLE Coupé. Skoda will look to achieve that at a lower price point, and is the latest car maker to offer a coupe-SUV in emerging markets soon after Renault revealed the Arkana for sale in Russia. Previous information revealed to Chinese media on the car claimed it to be 4634mm long, 1883mm wide and 1649mm high, making it 63mm shorter, 1mm wider and 27mm lower than the regular model. Prices are set to start at around CNY220,000 (around £24,500). Two turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engines are set to be offered, with outputs of 186bhp and 220bhp, and are attached to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. driving either the front or all four-wheels. Read more Skoda Karoq review Facelifted Skoda Fabia priced at £12,840 Skoda Scala: name of new Ford Focus rival confirmed View the full article
  12. Skoda Scala Czech firm picks a Latin-based name for its Rapid replacement, which will be revealed later this year Skoda’s new Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus rival, due to be revealed later this year, will be called the Scala. The new car will effectively replace the Rapid hatchback in the Czech firm’s line-up. Scala is a Latin word that means ‘stairs’ or ‘ladder’, and company boss Bernhard Maier said that it represents Skoda’s next step forward in the compact segment. The Scala will also be the first Skoda to feature the brand’s name instead of the logo on the rear boot lid. Maier said the Scala is “a completely new development that sets standards in terms of technology, safety and design in this class”. The Scala is intended to be a more direct competitor than the Rapid to the big players in the volume hatchback segment, such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. Skoda sales and marketing boss Alain Favey confirmed to Autocar earlier this year that the hatchback would not be called Rapid, instead taking a new name. Favey said: “How should I put this? Our presence [in this segment] is very humble. With the current Rapid Spaceback, we didn’t manage to come through to convince people that we are a credible competitor in this segment.” He added that the new car would have completely new styling and technology. A new sketch, released by Skoda recently, hinted at the styling of the Scala, which follows on from the Vision RS concept shown at the Paris motor show. Skoda will drop the slow-selling liftback version and concentrate on the Spaceback hatch for the Rapid replacement. The five-door Scala will be the first Skoda car to use the Volkswagen Group’s MQB A0 platform, which is already used on models such as the Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen T-Roc. The next Fabia, due in 2020, and Skoda's upcoming baby SUV, previewed by the Vision X concept, are also due to use this architecture. Skoda said the platform will allow the new hatchback to have “compact exterior dimensions and generous interior space”. It added that the car would use “numerous innovative assistance systems in that segment”. It will also be the first Skoda to receive a next-generation infotainment system that will then be rolled out across the range. Favey has described it as “state of the art”. The model will use a range of petrol and diesel engines, including the Volkswagen Group’s three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol with power from 84bhp to 109bhp, as well as a 1.5-litre petrol unit with up to 148bhp. No hybrid or electric versions are planned and are understood to be too expensive to implement in a car of this size and price. The Rapid is Skoda’s second-biggest-selling car worldwide after the Octavia. In 2017, it sold 211,000 units. Favey predicts that sales will double for the new model. Read more Skoda Rapid review All Skoda reviews Octavia vRS to go hybrid View the full article
  13. Skoda Scala Czech firm picks a Latin-based name for its Rapid replacement, which will be revealed later this year Skoda’s new Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus rival, due to be revealed later this year, will be called the Scala. The new machine will effectively replace the Rapid hatchback in the Czech firm’s line-up. Scala is a latin word that means ‘stairs’ or ‘ladder’, and company boss Bernhard Maier said that it represents Skoda’s next step forward in the compact segment. The Scala will also be the first Skoda to feature the brand’ name instead of the logo on the rear boot lid. Maier said the Scala is “a completely new development that sets standards in terms of technology, safety and design in this class.” The Scala is intended to be a more direct competitor than the Rapid to the big players in the volume hatchback segment, such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. Skoda sales and marketing boss Alain Favey confirmed to Autocar earlier this year that the hatchback would not be called Rapid, instead taking a new name. Favey said: “How should I put this? Our presence [in this segment] is very humble. With the current Rapid Spaceback, we didn’t manage to come through to convince people that we are a credible competitor in this segment.” He added that the new car would have completely new styling and technology. A new sketch, released by Skoda recently, hinted at the styling of the Scala, which follows on from the Vision RS concept shown at the Paris motor show. Skoda will drop the slow-selling liftback version and concentrate on the Spaceback hatch for the Rapid replacement. The five-door Scala will be the first Skoda car to use the Volkswagen Group’s MQB AO platform, which is already used on models such as the Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen T-Roc. The next Fabia, due in 2020, and Skoda's upcoming baby SUV, previewed by the Vision X concept, are also due to use this architecture. Skoda said the platform will allow the new hatchback to have “compact exterior dimensions and generous interior space”. It added that the car would use “numerous innovative assistance systems in that segment”. It will also be the first Skoda to receive a next-generation infotainment system that will then be rolled out across the range. Favey has described it as “state of the art”. The model will use a range of petrol and diesel engines, including the Volkswagen Group’s three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol with power from 84bhp to 109bhp, as well as a 1.5-litre unit petrol with up to 148bhp. No hybrid or electric versions are planned and are understood to be too expensive to implement in a car of this size and price. The Rapid is Skoda’s second biggest selling car worldwide after the Octavia. In 2017, it sold 211,000 units. Favey predicts that sales will double for the new model. Read more Skoda Rapid review All Skoda reviews Octavia vRS to go hybrid View the full article
  14. Alongside its upcoming Taycan saloon, Porsche is planning a plethora of zero-emission models by 2022 Porsche is planning a battery-electric SUV and all-electric Boxster/Cayman sports car, plus a Taycan Targa, for launch by 2022 as part of its investment in electrification. Porsche finance director Lutz Meschke revealed the plan for a battery SUV and sports car at an event in Germany last week. "You can expect a SUV BEV [battery-electric vehicle] by 2022 at the latest,” he told journalists, without elaborating further. Meschke also told journalists that “the Boxster and Cayman could be suitable for electrification”. Departed Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller – previously Porsche’s boss – committed every group brand to having an electrified version of every model by 2023, and Porsche was no exception. Porsche readying electric Taycan for 2019 reveal Meschke referred to the electric utility vehicle as a “big SUV”, which would indicate a Cayenne-sized car, but the Cayenne is just a year old and not due for replacement until 2024/25. It would make a natural rival for the Tesla Model X. To get an electric SUV to market more rapidly, Porsche is likely to focus on the replacement for the mid-size Macan – which currently shares its platform with Audi’s Q5 – as it is due for replacement around 2021. However, there are at least three other possibilities: a variant of Audi’s new E-tron SUV, a re-engineered Cayenne, or a ground-up new Porsche all-electric SUV. Porsche is moving fast in the direction of BEVs post-Dieselgate and the new Taycan four-door has been in development for four years and will be launched in late 2019. This month, Porsche announced that it will drop diesel from its engine line-up. This will especially affect the Macan, one of its bestselling vehicles and sold with a rich mix of diesel engines. Porsche is already working on a new, all-electric platform, called the PPE, jointly with Audi for a next generation of electric vehicles. The PPE is all-new, but includes learning from the J1 underpinning that’s the basis for the new four-door Taycan BEV, due on sale “by the end of 2019”. The Taycan will become a family of models with further strong hints that the Cross Turismo, shown as a concept at Geneva this year, has a production future. “The Taycan derivatives have already been showcased,” said Meschke. It has also emerged that the Zuffenhausen plant where the Taycan will be built is preparing for a Targa version, for launch in 2020/21. Details are scarce, but the Taycan Targa is most likely to feature a large glazed opening that slides down to the rear hatch area. The J1 underpinning could readily be adapted with a short wheelbase and two-door body as the basis of a new compact Porsche sports car. However, such a mod would reduce battery size, range and performance. Preparing for more electric models after the Taycan, the new PPE architecture is in development in parallel with the Taycan and could be ready for market in 2022, when Porsche says its BEV SUV will be on sale. It is unclear if the PPE platform is sufficiently flexible to underpin multiple powertrain layouts and firewall heights, but Porsche has already built an electric Boxster E prototype. A packaging prototype, it was also touted as a possible rival for the Tesla Roadster. But that was seven years ago, an age in electric car development. The Boxster E had componentry borrowed from VW’s Golf blue-e motion and a 121bhp electric motor fed by a 340-cell lithium ion battery pack, all packaged in the space vacated by the flat-six combustion engine. Porsche engineers learned a lot from that car, including concerns that the weight of the battery powertrain would affect performance and handling, the latter because the weight raised the centre of gravity. One told Autocar last year that “fully electrified sports cars would work well for longitudinal acceleration, but the weight disadvantage is in the handling”. Whether a future 911 will use solely battery power is also up for debate. Meschke confirmed that the next 911, in its new 992 guise and due on sale later this year, will include a hybrid version. The 911 hybrid won’t be available at launch, but is pencilled in to the plan as part of the new model electrification onslaught by 2022 – to fulfil the group strategic target of every model with an electrified version by 2023. Porsche engineers have previously told Autocar that the packaging issues of a pure battery electric drivetrain were incompatible with the 911 as a fine handling sports car with everyday usable 2+2 seating. Last year, an engineer told Autocar that next-generation solid state batteries, which are lighter and predicted to be able to be shaped to reduce package space, might be the required breakthrough to make a 911 BEV a reality. However, solid state technology may be a decade from production. Read more Porsche readying electric Taycan for 2019 reveal Porsche 718 Boxster review 2021 Jaguar J-Pace moves closer to production with global trademark View the full article
  15. Due by 2022, the brand is planning more electric models to run alongside the upcoming Taycan saloon Porsche is planning a battery electric SUV and all-electric Boxster/Cayman sportscar, plus a Taycan Targa, for launch by 2022 as part of its EU6b investment in electrification. Porsche finance director Lutz Meschke revealed the plan for a battery SUV and sportcars at an event in Germany last week. ‘You can expect a SUV BEV [battery electric vehicle] by 2022 at the latest,” he told journalists, without elaborating further. Meschke also told journalists that “the Boxster and Cayman could be suitable for electrification”. Departed VW Group boss Matthias Muller – previously Porsche’s boss – committed every group brand to having an electrified version of every model by 2023 – and Porsche was no exception. Porsche readying electric Taycan for 2019 reveal Meschke referred to the electric utility vehicle as a “big SUV”, which would indicate a Cayenne-sized car, but the Cayenne is juts a one year old and not due for replacement until 2024/25. Of course it would make a natural rival for the Tesla Model X. So to get an electric SUV to market more rapidly, Porsche is likely to focus on the replacement for the mid-size Macan – which currently shares its platform with Audi’s Q5 – as it is due for replacement around 2021. However, there are at least three other possibilities – a variant of Audi’s new e-tron SUV, a re-engineered Cayenne, or a ground-up new Porsche all-electric SUV. Porsche is moving fast in the direction of BEVs post-dieselgate and the new Taycan four-door has been in development for four years and will be launched in late 2019. And this month Porsche announced that it will drop diesel from its engine line-up. This will especially affect the Macan, one of its best-selling vehicles and sold with a rich mix of diesel sales. Porsche is already working on a new, all-electric platform, called the PPE, jointly with Audi for a next generation of electric vehicles. The PPE is all-new, but includes learning from the J1 underpinning that’s the basis for the new four-door Taycan BEV, due on sale “by the end of 2019”. The Taycan will become a family of models with further strong hints that the Cross Turismo, shown as a concept at Geneva this year has a production future. “The Taycan derivatives have already been showcased,” said Meschke. It has also emerged that the Zuffenhausen plant where the Taycan will be built is preparing for a Targa version, for launch in 2020/21. Details are scarce – but the Taycan Targa is most likely to feature a large glazed opening that slides down to the rear hatch area. The J1 underpinning could readily be adapted with a short wheelbase and two-door body as the basis of a new compact Porsche sportscar. Although such a mod would reduce battery size, range and performance. Preparing for more electric models after the Taycan, the new PPE architecture is in development in parallel with the Taycan and could be ready for market in 2022, when Porsche says its BEV SUV will be on sale. It is unclear if the PPE platform is sufficiently flexible to underpin multiple powertrain layouts and firewall heights, but Porsche has already built an electric Boxster E prototype. A packaging prototype, it was also touted as a possible rival for the Tesla Roadster. But that was seven years ago, an age in electric car development. The Boxster E had componentry borrowed from VW’s Golf blue-e motion and a 121bhp electric motor fed by a 340 cell lithium-ion battery pack, all packaged in the space vacated by the flat-six combustion engine. Porsche engineers learned a lot from that car, including concerns that the weight of the battery powertrain would affect performance and handling, the latter because the weight raised the centre of gravity. One told Autocar last year that “fully electrified sports cars would work well for longitudinal acceleration, but the weight disadvantage is in the handling”. Whether a future 911 will use solely battery power is also up for debate. Meschke confirmed that the next 911, in its new 992 guise and due on sale later this year, will include a hybrid version. The 911 hybrid won’t be available at launch, but is pencilled in to the plan as part of the new model electrification onslaught by 2022 – to fulfil the Group strategic target of every model with an electrified version by 2023. Porsche engineers have previously told Autocar that the packaging issues of a pure battery electric drivetrain were incompatible with the 911 as a fine handling sportscar with everyday usable two-plus-two seating. Last year, an engineer told Autocar that next-generation solid state batteries, which are lighter and predicted to be able to be shaped to reduce package space, might be the required breakthrough to make a 911 BEV a reality. However, solid state technology may be a decade from production. Read more Porsche readying electric Taycan for 2019 reveal Porsche 718 Boxster review 2021 Jaguar J-Pace moves closer to production with global trademark View the full article
  16. The Motorists Guide

    2019 BMW X7 to be revealed imminently

    BMW's teaser image of the upcoming X7 BMW's largest SUV will be sold in the UK from February 2019 and make its public debut at LA motor show in November The BMW X7 will be revealed imminently according to the German car maker, which has release a dark image of the front of the upcoming large SUV. Shown on BMW's Instagram channel, the words accompanying the image said: "The next big thing is coming soon. The first-ever #BMW #X7." We’ve already seen hints off the car: in a video released earlier this year (below) showing a disguised X7’s off-roading ability, in patent images which surfaced online and during our recent camouflaged prototype drive of the car. X7 prototype drive Due to make its public debut at the Los Angeles motor show in November, the range-topping SUV, which will also go up against the Mercedes-Benz GLS, is heavily inspired by the X7 iPerformance concept at last year's Frankfurt motor show. BMW's upcoming seven-seater will initially feature a naturally aspirated engine, rather than the hybrid powertrain of the X7 iPerformance. However, a hybrid variant will come later. An X7 M50d M Performance, as well as xDrive40i, xDrive50i and xDrive30d variants will be available from launch, with the 3.0-litre diesel in 30d, 40d and 50d guises and the twin-turbo 4.4-litre petrol V8 from the X6 xDrive50i expected to make up the meat of the range. It's not known if an upper M Performance model is will sit above the M50d M Performance - it's aimed at the US and Chinese markets - so an equivalent to the M760Li could act as the range-topper. X7 xDriveM60i badging could be used. Sitting alongside the 7 Series at the top of BMW's line-up, the car is due on UK roads from February 2019. The X7 has been spotted testing several times in the past few months, having been in development since 2015, offering glimpses of the future SUV's design and scale. It will be the largest SUV yet by BMW. Its dimensions remain similar to the concept. This means a length of 5020mm, 2020mm width and 1800mm in height, as well as a 3010mm wheelbase, while the car will be roughly 113mm longer, 82mm wider and 37mm higher than the X5, with a 76mm longer wheelbase. It's around 110mm shorter and a little wider than the Mercedes-Benz GLS and around 30mm longer than the Range Rover. It will have three rows of seats, making it a rival for the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator in the US and China – two core markets for the car. Familiar design features such as halo daytime running lights and kidney grilles will appear. The light bar seen on the X7 iPerformance is not carried over to the production model. While the seven-seat X7 is being developed with the US and Chinese markets in mind, it was confirmed for the UK by former BMW head of sales and marketing Ian Robertson in 2016. Speaking to Autocar at the New York motor show that year, Robertson said: “We will have some versions that are top-end luxury, as well as more mainstream versions. I can’t talk about pricing now, but given that this car will have all the technology and luxury of the 7 Series, it gives you a pretty good idea of the price point we’re talking about.” Previously, it was thought that the X7 would be built on an extended version of the X5’s underpinnings, but Robertson said many parts are actually bespoke. “If you put both cars next to each other, the resemblance is small in terms of wheelbase, etc. We’re not going to just extend the wheelbase; it’s a complete new panel cell.” The X7 will be built at the company's plant at Spartanburg, USA. Read more BMW Concept X7 iPerformance previews range-topping SUV BMW ramps up plans to expand i range with electric SUVs View the full article
  17. The Motorists Guide

    Opinion: how Bloodhound can survive

    Despite the project now running under a crew of just 6, its administrator insists that this new court-sanctioned phase in its eventful history is not the end Everyone at Bloodhound — including the remarkably positive-sounding administrator, Andrew Sheridan — insists that this new court-sanctioned phase in its eventful history is not the end. Bloodhound has run out of money, and is currently being operated by a skeleton crew of six people rather than the usual 16. But its technical director Mark Chapman describes the project as “ready to go” to its purpose-built South African track in preparation for its first serious shakedown next year. And administrator Sheridan, whose firm recently found a new owner for the Force India F1 team, makes it clear he wouldn’t have taken this assignment had he not been confident of a good outcome. So what went wrong? The problem boils down to financial uncertainties connected with the state of the world economy, and with Brexit. Promising leads have repeatedly evaporated. Global majors, usually public companies capable of financing this project to its three-to-four year, £25million, 1000mph climax, are proving reluctant to make medium term commitments. Bloodhound land speed project enters administration Another unwelcome thread is that, for all Bloodhound’s undoubted success at attracting the UK’s younger generation, especially schoolkids, to STEM subjects, a CO2-heavy land speed record car appeals less today to an electric-aware younger generation than it did even three years ago, and certainly when the project was mooted 11 years back. Those of us who want success for Bloodhound must depend on the value of the massive global awareness the project has built for itself, and its appeal to the kind of commercial giant that invests in World Cup football or Formula One. As Andrew Sheridan eloquently puts it, the £25m needed to achieve 1000mph is far less than it takes to run the slowest F1 team on the grid. Described that way Bloodhound is a bargain. Read more Bloodhound land speed project enters administration Bloodhound SSC: inside the factory building a 1000mph car Bloodhound wants electric power for its 600bhp fuel pump View the full article
  18. Citing a shortage of funds, the 1000mph land speed record project founded in 2007 has entered administration Bloodhound, the 1000mph land speed record project founded in 2007 by previous record holder Richard Noble and current holder Andy Green, has entered administration, citing a shortage of funds since running the car at 200mph on Newquay Airport a year ago. Team insiders say the project would need around £5 million to run the car at 500-600mph under jet power on its already-prepared 18km track in South Africa, around £15m to achieve 800mph and break the existing record, and around £25m to reach its ultimate goal of lifting the record to 1000mph. Despite the “ghastly” connotation attached to administration, the Bloodhound team insists this is far from the end for the project and may well be its means of survival. The FRP Advisory team taking the helm is the same group that recently found new owners and a stable future for the Force India Formula 1 team. Joint administrator Andrew Sheridan appears to share the optimism, describing Bloodhound as “a truly ground-breaking project that has built a global audience and helped inspire a new generation of STEM [science, technology, engineering, maths] talent in the UK”. “We wouldn’t choose to be in this position,” says one Bloodhound insider, “but we’re greatly encouraged by the behaviour of the administrator. They recognise that we’re unique, and that we’ve already built a great deal of global exposure. They say they wouldn’t take us on if they weren’t confident of a good outcome. The dream scenario is that we’ll be in this state for a month or six weeks, then money will flow again and we can get back into action. We’re ready to go.” Bloodhound SSC: inside the factory building a 1000mph car Bloodhound bosses estimate the project would take about 10 months to get ready for its first South African runs, building the team up from the present five or six to around 15 people. For the full-on 1000mph record runs, they’d need closer to 40 people. In an unusually bullish statement, Sheridan said he believes administration provides the team with “breathing space” to identify new investors. “While not an insignificant amount,” he said, “the £25m Bloodhound requires to break the land speed record is a fraction of the cost of, for example, finishing last in an F1 season or running an America’s Cup team. "This is an opportunity for the right investor to leave a lasting legacy. We are already in discussion with a number of potential investors and would encourage any other interested party to contact us without delay." Read more First Bloodhound SSC speed record attempt confirmed for 2019 Bloodhound SSC: inside the factory building a 1000mph car Bloodhound wants electric power for its 600bhp fuel pump View the full article
  19. The Motorists Guide

    Citroen C3 Aircross long-term review

    Is Citroen's high-riding supermini good to live with and to look at? We’re about to find out Why we're running it: To see if this quirkiest of compact crossovers has more to offer than its head-turning styling Month 1 - Specs Life with a Citroen C3 Aircross: Month 1 Welcoming the C3 Aircross to the fleet - 12th September 2018 There’s really no escaping the charm of the compact crossover, is there? Take the humble hatchback, jack it up like it’s on stilts and apply some off-road-inspired design cues. Job done. The great British public has gone mad for SUV-themed superminis, and so manufacturers are sure to keep them coming to satisfy our thirst. It’s an increasingly crowded corner of the market, so it pays to stand out, which is something the Citroën C3 Aircross has no trouble doing. The Aircross replaces the MPV-inspired C3 Picasso in Citroën’s line-up with the SUV styling du jour, resulting in a crossover that oozes quirky French charm inside and out. It gets Citroën’s trademark focus on comfort, albeit in distilled form, and practicality that’s on par with the best in the class. This might not be the most dynamic, most luxurious or most affordable car of its kind, but we reckon it’s probably the most interesting. And seeing how it’s already the company’s second-best-selling vehicle behind the C3 hatchback, after a little under ten months on sale, it would seem customers agree. We called the design “instantly likeable” when we road tested the C3 Aircross, even if we determined it “wasn’t quite a match for the Seat Arona on performance or handling sophistication”. To find out if that matters for day-in, day-out driving, and to discover whether there’s more to like about the Aircross than its standout styling, we’ll be running one for the next six months. Our long-term test car is powered by the PSA Group’s near-ubiquitous 1.2-litre turbocharged three-pot petrol. It’s an engine that can be found in everything from a crossover like this C3 Aircross all the way up to Peugeot’s 5008 SUV, and is seen here in its most potent form. Power and torque outputs of 128bhp and 170lb ft should be well-suited to a compact crossover, while the six-speed manual gearbox will hopefully be a better match for the short-geared, rev-happy motor than the five-speed ’box fitted to our road test car. Combined fuel economy is quoted at 54.3mpg (NEDC), and while that figure would put it firmly among its peers, we’re expecting inner-city life and all the slow-speed driving that entails to make achieving such a target something of a struggle. More than half of UK buyers opt for the top-spec Flair trim, so we’ve done the same. It builds on mid-spec Feel variants by adding 17in alloy wheels, along with keyless entry and start, a sliding rear bench for a temporary boost to boot space, climate control, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. It also upgrades the 7.0in infotainment touchscreen with Citroën Connect Navigation, although with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay both included as standard, Citroën’s offering will need to impress if it is to replace the Waze app as our sat-nav system of choice. We avoided loading our car with options, choosing only the blue paint and contrasting white roof (£520). The silver colour pack, a no-cost option, then added a further splash of colour to the wing mirrors, headlight surrounds and roof rails. You can buy a C3 Aircross with Grip Control, a £400 option that uses electronics to adjust the traction control in place of four-wheel drive for all-terrain driving, but seeing how few customers feel the need for it, we decided we could live without as well. With no child seats to fit (in the immediate future, at any rate), we also declined to add the Family Pack (£490) and its fold-flat front passenger seat. We’ll have to wait and see if we’ll regret not ticking the box for the £650 Techno HiFi pack, which adds wireless smartphone charging, a 3.5in colour instrument panel, uprated speaker system and colour heads-up display. As is, the instrument panel makes do with monochrome. This brought the total cost to £20,105, which is on par with a Seat Arona 1.0 TSI 115 in FR trim – in our view, still the best all-round compact crossover available today. The thing is, while the Seat may offer a better drive, it has a tenth of the Citroën’s personality. That certainly translates into the cabin. Our test car’s mica grey interior is the most subdued colour option available, but the old-school dials and quirky shapes still make a good first impression. Initial thoughts? The thrummy three-pot has a pleasant amount of shove around town, the high driving position gives a decent view of the road ahead, and there’s no shortage of space in the cabin. With the back seats in place there’s plenty of boot storage, but once the bench is folded flat there’s more room here than you’d find in a VW Golf. That should come in handy for a few of the road trips we have planned for the car. It’s not all good news, though. The seats don’t have the high-density foam padding of those in the C4 Cactus (in which they’re part of Citroën’s advanced comfort ethos). It might be an issue on longer journeys. Having the climate controls relegated to the touchscreen, instead of on dedicated buttons, makes changing temperatures on the move a bit fiddly, and the square gearknob is overly chunky and awkward to grip too. Our time with the Aircross so far has mostly been spent in London’s stop-start traffic, where fuel economy has hovered in the mid-30mpg region. Our car won’t be resigned to the city life for long, though: it already has a spot on the Eurotunnel booked for later in the year to see how it performs as a long-distance tourer. Second Opinion Driving the C3 Aircross straight after a C4 Cactus, I was disappointed to note the smaller car is more crashy around town. It smooths out at speed, but the Cactus’s hydraulic bump stops are sorely missed here. Another bugbear was the speed camera warning ‘bong’ interrupting the radio, taking a bit of the shine off an otherwise likeable car. Lawrence Allan Back to the top Citroen C3 Aircross Flair 130 Puretech specifications Specs: Price New £19,585 Price as tested: £20,105 Options: Breathing Blue paint £520, silver colour pack £0 Test Data: Engine 1,199cc, three-cylinder, turbocharged petrol Power 128bhp Torque 170lb ft Top speed 124mph 0-62mph 10.4sec Claimed fuel economy 54.3mpg Test fuel economy 34.1mpg CO2 119g/km Faults None Expenses None Back to the top View the full article
  20. With cars becoming ever smarter, you'd think a connected future is just around the corner - here's why that probably isn't the case Can we talk about connected cars? They might not excite you but as far as the industry and lots of governments are concerned, they are a pretty big deal – or they’re going to be. Not just yet, though, because connected cars – or co-operative intelligent transport systems (C-ITS) if you prefer – have hit a developmental crossroads. The next step-change in advanced driver assist system (ADAS) technology and increasingly adept levels of autonomy will be made possible by the widespread adoption of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) and, as a handy catch-all, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications. Today’s ADAS functions and Level 2 autonomous systems, such as Tesla’s Autopilot and Audi’s Traffic Jam Pilot (whose Level 3 billing has been dialled back a notch in most countries for now) are limited by what the vehicle’s own sensors can detect, which currently extends to a useful forward range of 250-300 metres on a good day. V2V communication could expand on that massively by allowing cars to share data on relative speeds, positions, directions of travel and even driver control inputs. Mix all this together and it will be possible to create a much more detailed picture of the surrounding area and make driving safer. Or at least that’s the idea. UK’s largest autonomous car trial moves onto public roads As an extension of V2V, V2I will add information from traffic lights and signals, variable speed limits and congestion monitors to enable a freer flow of traffic. Throw in V2P and V2X, including cloud-stored information on anything from the weather to the nearest available parking space, plus data sent via smartphones in people’s pockets, and we’re on our way to a fully autonomous, accident-free utopia. Or at least that’s the idea. But for this to happen, the industry still needs to reach a consensus on how all of this data will be transmitted and shared. Originally it looked like a system using an agreed wireless local area network standard known as IEEE 802.11p, commonly referred to as dedicated short-range communications, or DSRC, would win favour. DSRC would allow V2V communication and a V2I interface via roadside beacons (although it’s never been clear who would pay for, operate or maintain those). In the US a frequency was allocated for transport use as long ago as 1999, then it received approval for the same in Europe in 2008. More recently the DSRC option has been overshadowed by C-V2X (‘C’ standing for cellular) C-V2X was originally conceived using the LTE 4G mobile phone network but has since evolved to encompass the almost-imminent 5G rollout. One of the appeals of C-V2X is that it introduces the possibility of adding pedestrian and cyclist data via smartphone integration, which DSRC wouldn’t allow. In terms of hardware and infrastructure, C-V2X’s LTE technology has no compatibility with DRSC – the two systems are mutually exclusive – “hence the dilemma,” says Colin Lee, Jaguar Land Rover’s V2X manager. “The debate has rumbled on for some time and continues to do so,” says Lee. “At present, China have elected for C-V2X and are moving very quickly. They may soon be joined by the US, who are exploring C-V2X to share the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) spectrum, while they already have vehicles with 802.11p [DSRC] in the market.” DSRC has its advantages. It’s a robust, cost-effective and proven technology but has little scope for growth in terms of its capabilities – something that C-V2X has in spades. The allocation of radio frequencies is a pretty big deal, though, and some quarters of the industry are reluctant to relinquish of control of the 75 MHz-wide band (in the 5.9 GHz region, if you’re interested) that has been ring-fenced for DSRC use. Such is C-V2X’s appeal, though, that a significant number of car makers and tech firms have registered their support for it, a backing represented by the growing membership of the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) that was formed late in 2016. Much of C-V2X’s required technology already exists, including the in-vehicle cellular modems that will be at its heart, as does the supporting telecoms hardware, and the 5GAA said an event in Paris this July that C-V2X shows ‘commercial readiness for industry deployment as early as 2020’. In theory, yes, it might, but it would require everyone to sign up within the next five minutes or so for there to be a widespread rollout by then. In the meantime, the debate rumbles on. The situation is by no means a disaster and a consensus will inevitably be reached, but the timescales remain up in the air. The debate is forcing industry players – and rivals – to work together on an almost unprecedented level, and the crossover with technology and telecoms firms is breaking new ground. But all this takes time. No matter what the decision is, we’re still a long way off from a world in which all of our vehicles, be they capable of Level 3, 4 or 5 autonomy, are chatting away to each other – and everything else – while we put our feet up on the drive to work. Read more BMW i3 review The future of the car: an Autocar guide UK’s largest autonomous car trial moves onto public roads View the full article
  21. With cars becoming ever smarter, you'd think a connected future is just around the corner - here's why that probably isn't the case Can we talk about connected cars? They might not excite you but as far as the industry and lots of governments are concerned, they are a pretty big deal – or they’re going to be. Not just yet, though, because connected cars – or co-operative intelligent transport systems (C-ITS) if you prefer – have hit a developmental crossroads. The next step-change in advanced driver assist system (ADAS) technology and increasingly adept levels of autonomy will be made possible by the widespread adoption of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) and, as a handy catch-all, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications. Today’s ADAS functions and Level 2 autonomous systems, such as Tesla’s Autopilot and Audi’s Traffic Jam Pilot (whose Level 3 billing has been dialled back a notch in most countries for now) are limited by what the vehicle’s own sensors can detect, which currently extends to a useful forward range of 250-300 metres on a good day. V2V communication could expand on that massively by allowing cars to share data on relative speeds, positions, directions of travel and even driver control inputs. Mix all this together and it will be possible to create a much more detailed picture of the surrounding area and make driving safer. Or at least that’s the idea. UK’s largest autonomous car trial moves onto public roads As an extension of V2V, V2I will add information from traffic lights and signals, variable speed limits and congestion monitors to enable a freer flow of traffic. Throw in V2P and V2X, including cloud-stored information on anything from the weather to the nearest available parking space, plus data sent via smartphones in people’s pockets, and we’re on our way to a fully autonomous, accident-free utopia. Or at least that’s the idea. But for this to happen, the industry still needs to reach a consensus on how all of this data will be transmitted and shared. Originally it looked like a system using an agreed wireless local area network standard known as IEEE 802.11p, commonly referred to as dedicated short-range communications, or DSRC, would win favour. DSRC would allow V2V communication and a V2I interface via roadside beacons (although it’s never been clear who would pay for, operate or maintain those). In the US a frequency was allocated for transport use as long ago as 1999, then it received approval for the same in Europe in 2008. More recently the DSRC option has been overshadowed by C-V2X (‘C’ standing for cellular) C-V2X was originally conceived using the LTE 4G mobile phone network but has since evolved to encompass the almost-imminent 5G rollout. One of the appeals of C-V2X is that it introduces the possibility of adding pedestrian and cyclist data via smartphone integration, which DSRC wouldn’t allow. In terms of hardware and infrastructure, C-V2X’s LTE technology has no compatibility with DRSC – the two systems are mutually exclusive – “hence the dilemma,” says Colin Lee, Jaguar Land Rover’s V2X manager. “The debate has rumbled on for some time and continues to do so,” says Lee. “At present, China have elected for C-V2X and are moving very quickly. They may soon be joined by the US, who are exploring C-V2X to share the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) spectrum, while they already have vehicles with 802.11p [DSRC] in the market.” DSRC has its advantages. It’s a robust, cost-effective and proven technology but has little scope for growth in terms of its capabilities – something that C-V2X has in spades. The allocation of radio frequencies is a pretty big deal, though, and some quarters of the industry are reluctant to relinquish of control of the 75 MHz-wide band (in the 5.9 GHz region, if you’re interested) that has been ring-fenced for DSRC use. Such is C-V2X’s appeal, though, that a significant number of car makers and tech firms have registered their support for it, a backing represented by the growing membership of the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) that was formed late in 2016. Much of C-V2X’s required technology already exists, including the in-vehicle cellular modems that will be at its heart, as does the supporting telecoms hardware, and the 5GAA said an event in Paris this July that C-V2X shows ‘commercial readiness for industry deployment as early as 2020’. In theory, yes, it might, but it would require everyone to sign up within the next five minutes or so for there to be a widespread rollout by then. In the meantime, the debate rumbles on. The situation is by no means a disaster and a consensus will inevitably be reached, but the timescales remain up in the air. The debate is forcing industry players – and rivals – to work together on an almost unprecedented level, and the crossover with technology and telecoms firms is breaking new ground. But all this takes time. No matter what the decision is, we’re still a long way off from a world in which all of our vehicles, be they capable of Level 3, 4 or 5 autonomy, are chatting away to each other – and everything else – while we put our feet up on the drive to work. Read more BMW i3 review The future of the car: an Autocar guide UK’s largest autonomous car trial moves onto public roads View the full article
  22. The Motorists Guide

    Used car buying guide: Ferrari 360

    The F360’s 3.6-litre flat-plane V8 makes a useful 390bhp Ferrari’s 360 is the supercar you really can drive every day – as long as your pockets are deep enough Interested in having a Ferrari 360 in your garage? Consider for a moment the owner of a Modena F1, who last April lavished £9000 on servicing it. With such cars, the ticket price (the dealer selling this one-owner 53-reg car with 39,000 miles is asking £67,000) is only part of the story. Not that we wish to put you off buying a 360. The model represented a new chapter in Maranello’s history, for the F360 – unlike Ferraris before it and in particular its immediate predecessor, the F355 – was a perfectly usable and reliable supercar, capable, even, of being a daily driver. It’s why so many have higher than usual mileages and why prices are less sensitive to the odometer reading than those of other Ferrari models. It was launched in 1999 and bowed out in 2005 when the F430 elbowed it aside, so you’ve only six years to choose from. There were just three versions: the Mondial coupé, Spider convertible and track-focused Challenge Stradale, a model that deserves its own guide. The Mondial and Spider, both offered with a choice of six-speed manual or F1 flappy-paddle automated manual, use a 3.6-litre mid-mounted V8 making 390bhp at 8500rpm. Its flat-plane crank – a main contributor to the exhaust’s delicious howl – vibrates enough to crack engine mountings after around 20,000 miles. The same vibes also weaken the timing tensioner bearings, so those three-yearly beltreplacements can’t be ignored. Find a used Ferrari 360 on PistonHeads But for a few issues, both gearboxes are strong and reliable. The F1 can feel a little jerky, so in 2003 Ferrari revised the gearbox control settings to smooth things out. The update is available for earlier cars. The fully adjustable, double wishbone and coilover suspension system features Continuous Damper Control offering Normal and Sport modes. It’s a reliable set-up but the car does have an appetite for tie-rod ends and ball joints. Ferrari’s first genuine daily driver was also its first production car with an all-aluminium body. It was light but immensely strong; more so in Spider form after Ferrari beefed up the sills and floorpan. Don’t think being aluminium makes it rust-free, though – you should still look for signs of bubbling under the paint. The Spider’s folding roof is operated by powerful rams that can spring fluid leaks, so pause the roof halfway through its cycle and inspect the ram seals. There is a smart fix (visit ferrarichat.com), otherwise you’re looking at thousands to fix it. Power windows and leather trim were standard. Desirable options were xenon lights (aftermarket ones don’t have washers), carbonfibre seats and Challenge rear grille. If Ferrari wing shields are fitted, they should be recessed; aftermarket ones sit proud. Must-haves are a fully stamped service book and the original Ferrari toolkit (a replacement costs £800). All present? Then get that garage spruced up. How to get one in your garage: An expert’s view: SCOTT CHIVERS, SELF- TAUGHT FERRARI MECHANIC: “A 360 Modena F1 has been my daily driver for almost nine years. Using salvaged parts, I converted it to a Challenge Stradale: carbonfibre brakes, extra power, 100kg weight reduction, the lot. I bought the car with 21,000 miles and now it’s done 70,000 and never put a foot wrong. It’s even on the same clutch. I’ve got 355s but the 360 is a huge step forward in terms of usability and reliability. You have to drop the engine on the 355 to change the belts, but on the 360 you just remove a panel behind the seats. Some parts are expensive, though. For example, the wheel bearings are sealed in the hub, so you need new hubs – at £800 a corner.” Buyer beware... ENGINE - Annual servicing is essential and timing belts must be changed every three years. Check for cam cover oil seal leaks and the engine undertray for waste oil. Ensure tappet rattles go as engine warms up. Feel for hesitation possibly caused by failing ignition coils. Check for leaky intake manifold gaskets and rattly intake butterflies. Check condition of engine mounts. TRANSMISSION - Check gearbox mounts aren’t broken, allowing the ’box to hang and changes to crunch. On the F1, look for leaks from the hydraulic actuators and check the transmission control unit’s clutch wear record. On manuals, check for clutch slippage, a notchy change from third to second and that the linkage bush below the gearlever isn’t worn. SUSPENSION AND BRAKES - Listen for noisy front ball joints. Wiggle the steering wheel to check tie-rod end play. Check both suspension modes work. Feel for wandering due to incorrect tyre pressures or geometry. BODY - Feel for kerb scrapes under the nose. Look for aluminium corrosion bubbling up and behind the undertrays for corrosion and damage. Look for uneven panel gaps and wheel arch damage from track days. Check for worn boot and door seals, loose door handles, foggy lenses. On Spiders, check for hood creases and tears. INTERIOR - Check window and locking module isn’t corroded and that rubberised trim isn’t sticky. Check door cards and that the instrument cluster lights up properly. Also worth knowing: OE parts are often recommended but dealers and enthusiasts often turn to Hill Engineering. Its re-engineered Ferrari parts are claimed to exceed OE quality. How much to spend: £49,000-£59,999 - Reasonable choice of coupés and Spiders with less than 50k miles and good service histories. £60,000-£69,999 - Low-mile, one-owner cars, those with full Ferrari or respected independent dealer histories the most expensive. £70,000-£84,999 - Mint, fully loaded cars with sub-40k mileages and watertight histories with all major work recently undertaken. £85,000-£110,000 - Ultra-low-mileage Ferrari-approved main dealer cars, others at specialists. £135,000 AND ABOVE - A few Challenge Stradales up to £230k. One we found: FERRARI 360 MODENA F1, 2000, 37K MILES, £59,980 This car stands out for its full service history, decent mileage, right colour combo (red with cream leather), recent clutch and belts job, Challenge rear grille and stainless exhaust. Badges on wings aren’t original but that’s a detail. John Evans Read more The greatest Ferraris ever tested by Autocar Ferrari 488 GTB review Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 12 October View the full article
  23. The Motorists Guide

    Used car buying guide: Ferrari 360

    The F360’s 3.6-litre flat-plane V8 makes a useful 390bhp Ferrari’s 360 is the supercar you really can drive every day – as long as your pockets are deep enough Interested in having a Ferrari 360 in your garage? Consider for a moment the owner of a Modena F1, who last April lavished £9000 on servicing it. With such cars, the ticket price (the dealer selling this one-owner 53-reg car with 39,000 miles is asking £67,000) is only part of the story. Not that we wish to put you off buying a 360. The model represented a new chapter in Maranello’s history, for the F360 – unlike Ferraris before it and in particular its immediate predecessor, the F355 – was a perfectly usable and reliable supercar, capable, even, of being a daily driver. It’s why so many have higher than usual mileages and why prices are less sensitive to the odometer reading than those of other Ferrari models. It was launched in 1999 and bowed out in 2005 when the F430 elbowed it aside, so you’ve only six years to choose from. There were just three versions: the Mondial coupé, Spider convertible and track-focused Challenge Stradale, a model that deserves its own guide. The Mondial and Spider, both offered with a choice of six-speed manual or F1 flappy-paddle automated manual, use a 3.6-litre mid-mounted V8 making 390bhp at 8500rpm. Its flat-plane crank – a main contributor to the exhaust’s delicious howl – vibrates enough to crack engine mountings after around 20,000 miles. The same vibes also weaken the timing tensioner bearings, so those three-yearly beltreplacements can’t be ignored. Find a used Ferrari 360 on PistonHeads But for a few issues, both gearboxes are strong and reliable. The F1 can feel a little jerky, so in 2003 Ferrari revised the gearbox control settings to smooth things out. The update is available for earlier cars. The fully adjustable, double wishbone and coilover suspension system features Continuous Damper Control offering Normal and Sport modes. It’s a reliable set-up but the car does have an appetite for tie-rod ends and ball joints. Ferrari’s first genuine daily driver was also its first production car with an all-aluminium body. It was light but immensely strong; more so in Spider form after Ferrari beefed up the sills and floorpan. Don’t think being aluminium makes it rust-free, though – you should still look for signs of bubbling under the paint. The Spider’s folding roof is operated by powerful rams that can spring fluid leaks, so pause the roof halfway through its cycle and inspect the ram seals. There is a smart fix (visit ferrarichat.com), otherwise you’re looking at thousands to fix it. Power windows and leather trim were standard. Desirable options were xenon lights (aftermarket ones don’t have washers), carbonfibre seats and Challenge rear grille. If Ferrari wing shields are fitted, they should be recessed; aftermarket ones sit proud. Must-haves are a fully stamped service book and the original Ferrari toolkit (a replacement costs £800). All present? Then get that garage spruced up. How to get one in your garage: An expert’s view: SCOTT CHIVERS, SELF- TAUGHT FERRARI MECHANIC: “A 360 Modena F1 has been my daily driver for almost nine years. Using salvaged parts, I converted it to a Challenge Stradale: carbonfibre brakes, extra power, 100kg weight reduction, the lot. I bought the car with 21,000 miles and now it’s done 70,000 and never put a foot wrong. It’s even on the same clutch. I’ve got 355s but the 360 is a huge step forward in terms of usability and reliability. You have to drop the engine on the 355 to change the belts, but on the 360 you just remove a panel behind the seats. Some parts are expensive, though. For example, the wheel bearings are sealed in the hub, so you need new hubs – at £800 a corner.” Buyer beware... ENGINE - Annual servicing is essential and timing belts must be changed every three years. Check for cam cover oil seal leaks and the engine undertray for waste oil. Ensure tappet rattles go as engine warms up. Feel for hesitation possibly caused by failing ignition coils. Check for leaky intake manifold gaskets and rattly intake butterflies. Check condition of engine mounts. TRANSMISSION - Check gearbox mounts aren’t broken, allowing the ’box to hang and changes to crunch. On the F1, look for leaks from the hydraulic actuators and check the transmission control unit’s clutch wear record. On manuals, check for clutch slippage, a notchy change from third to second and that the linkage bush below the gearlever isn’t worn. SUSPENSION AND BRAKES - Listen for noisy front ball joints. Wiggle the steering wheel to check tie-rod end play. Check both suspension modes work. Feel for wandering due to incorrect tyre pressures or geometry. BODY - Feel for kerb scrapes under the nose. Look for aluminium corrosion bubbling up and behind the undertrays for corrosion and damage. Look for uneven panel gaps and wheel arch damage from track days. Check for worn boot and door seals, loose door handles, foggy lenses. On Spiders, check for hood creases and tears. INTERIOR - Check window and locking module isn’t corroded and that rubberised trim isn’t sticky. Check door cards and that the instrument cluster lights up properly. Also worth knowing: OE parts are often recommended but dealers and enthusiasts often turn to Hill Engineering. Its re-engineered Ferrari parts are claimed to exceed OE quality. How much to spend: £49,000-£59,999 - Reasonable choice of coupés and Spiders with less than 50k miles and good service histories. £60,000-£69,999 - Low-mile, one-owner cars, those with full Ferrari or respected independent dealer histories the most expensive. £70,000-£84,999 - Mint, fully loaded cars with sub-40k mileages and watertight histories with all major work recently undertaken. £85,000-£110,000 - Ultra-low-mileage Ferrari-approved main dealer cars, others at specialists. £135,000 AND ABOVE - A few Challenge Stradales up to £230k. One we found: FERRARI 360 MODENA F1, 2000, 37K MILES, £59,980 This car stands out for its full service history, decent mileage, right colour combo (red with cream leather), recent clutch and belts job, Challenge rear grille and stainless exhaust. Badges on wings aren’t original but that’s a detail. John Evans Read more The greatest Ferraris ever tested by Autocar Ferrari 488 GTB review Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 12 October View the full article
  24. The Ceed plug-in will use the same powertrain as the Niro PHEV New Soul EV and fuel-cell large SUV are also part of Kia's wide-reaching electrification plans Kia is planning to greatly expand its portfolio of electrified models with a new Ceed estate plug-in, a new Soul EV and, longer-term, a Sportage plug-in and a large fuel-cell SUV. The Ceed plug-in will use the same powertrain as the Niro PHEV and is tipped to go on sale “in the second half of 2019”. With a 139bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine mated to a 59kW electric motor and 8.4kWh battery pack, a Ceed estate with the same powertrain should match, or even beat, the Niro’s 29g/km of CO2 and 217mpg of the outgoing NEDC economy standard. “We are going to introduce it for the wagon, and then decide if it makes sense on other body-types,” says Kia Europe’s marketing chief Artur Martins. Models that are likely receive plug-in powertrains in future include the Sportage and Sorento, while a new generation of Optima PHEV is also on the cards. “We are going to need more electrification on other products in the future. We must get to a mix of around 25-30% electrified models to hit the CO2 targets,” added Martins. Production will be localised at Kia’s Slovakia plant, the first plug-in it will build in Europe. At November’s LA show, Kia will reveal a new Soul EV, destined for UK launch in spring next year as the sole model in a new Soul range. The Soul BEV’s powerpack will mirror the e-Niro’s with a choice of either a 34 or 60kWhr battery, the latter promising a range of 300 miles. It will boost Kia’s range of BEVs to two models – alongside Tesla one of very few car-makers with multiple BEVs in its range. According to Kia Europe COO Emilio Herrara demand for the e-Niro is expected to hit 20k units/yr by 2019/2020. More radically, Kia is planning a fuel-cell model as a sister-vehicle to Hyundai’s £60k Nexo, which goes on sale early next year. The Sorento SUV, whose higher price can justify the cost of the fuel cell power pack, is highly likely to be the beneficiary of a hydrogen-powered option. Kia already has a fuel cell car on sale in Korea, but in a model not sold in Europe. “We are looking at a fuel cell, in the future, in a bigger car,” says Martins, “but it depends a little bit on how the European market goes. It works better on a bigger car because the customer is prepared to pay more on a bigger car.” Read more Kia Ceed review New Kia e-Niro launches with 301 miles of electric range Opinion: The Kia e-Niro is an EV revolution View the full article
  25. The Ceed plug-in will use the same powertrain as the Niro PHEV New Soul EV and fuel-cell large SUV are also part of Kia's wide-reaching electrification plans Kia is planning to greatly expand its portfolio of electrified models with a new Ceed estate plug-in, a new Soul EV and, longer-term, a Sportage plug-in and a large fuel-cell SUV. The Ceed plug-in will use the same powertrain as the Niro PHEV and is tipped to go on sale “in the second half of 2019”. With a 139bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine mated to a 59kW electric motor and 8.4kWh battery pack, a Ceed estate with the same powertrain should match, or even beat, the Niro’s 29g/km of CO2 and 217mpg of the outgoing NEDC economy standard. “We are going to introduce it for the wagon, and then decide if it makes sense on other body-types,” says Kia Europe’s marketing chief Artur Martins. Models that are likely receive plug-in powertrains in future include the Sportage and Sorento, while a new generation of Optima PHEV is also on the cards. “We are going to need more electrification on other products in the future. We must get to a mix of around 25-30% electrified models to hit the CO2 targets,” added Martins. Production will be localised at Kia’s Slovakia plant, the first plug-in it will build in Europe. At November’s LA show, Kia will reveal a new Soul EV, destined for UK launch in spring next year as the sole model in a new Soul range. The Soul BEV’s powerpack will mirror the e-Niro’s with a choice of either a 34 or 60kWhr battery, the latter promising a range of 300 miles. It will boost Kia’s range of BEVs to two models – alongside Tesla one of very few car-makers with multiple BEVs in its range. According to Kia Europe COO Emilio Herrara demand for the e-Niro is expected to hit 20k units/yr by 2019/2020. More radically, Kia is planning a fuel-cell model as a sister-vehicle to Hyundai’s £60k Nexo, which goes on sale early next year. The Sorento SUV, whose higher price can justify the cost of the fuel cell power pack, is highly likely to be the beneficiary of a hydrogen-powered option. Kia already has a fuel cell car on sale in Korea, but in a model not sold in Europe. “We are looking at a fuel cell, in the future, in a bigger car,” says Martins, “but it depends a little bit on how the European market goes. It works better on a bigger car because the customer is prepared to pay more on a bigger car.” Read more Kia Ceed review New Kia e-Niro launches with 301 miles of electric range Opinion: The Kia e-Niro is an EV revolution View the full article
  26. If the K900 was imported here officially, Kia UK would, as a ballpark figure... It's known as the K9 in Korea but for now, its maker has no plans to bring this luxury saloon to the UK. We find out what we’re missing A twin-turbocharged V6-powered Kia sports saloon developed by BMW M’s former chief engineer seemed like a fairly outrageous idea a few years ago, but the Stinger turned out to be so credible that you wouldn’t believe it was a first attempt from its maker. In that context, a 5.1-metre-long, V8-powered, four-wheel-drive Kia luxury saloon to rival the Mercedes-Benz S-Class might not seem quite such absurd an idea as it once might have done. Perhaps more far-fetched, yes, but not completely a cause for spitting out your cornflakes. And yet such a car is not an idea, but a reality – and one that has been a part of Kia’s range further afield for a few years now. The K900 (known as the K9 in Korea, but renamed for export for fairly obvious reasons) is indeed the manufacturer’s answer to the S-Class. The car has now entered its second generation, having been launched in its home market this summer as a range-crowning technological tour de force. It has wider significance across the Hyundai Motor Groupas the first car to use a new rear-wheel-drive platform that will also underpin Hyundai’s new Genesis premium brand and its G80 saloon, a car that will have greater export appeal than the Kia and is destined for mainland Europe and the UK. The K900, meanwhile, will be sold in the Middle East and US but not Europe, because the idea of a Kia rival to the S-Class is unlikely to be one to find much credibility no matter how good it might be or how much post-Stinger glory there is to bask in. We’re in Seoul to drive it but before we do, a chauffeur drives us. K900s are mostly experienced from the back seat by their buyers. What do they experience? Plenty of space, that’s for sure. A big comfy chair with lots of adjustability, and a decent enough ride. The feel is less luxury, more premium, perhaps like an Audi A8 from a decade ago: it ticks all the right boxes on paper but you don’t really feel all that special. The chauffeur gets the really interesting job. From the driver’s seat you get to experience the V8. Powering the K900 is a 5.0-litre unit with 419bhp and 383lb ft, driving all four wheels through a very smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s good for 0-62mph in 5.5sec. Yet this is no performance car. Instead, the V8 has been tuned the other way, to deliver effortless performance of the kind that quickly and effortlessly glides you through traffic, in a quiet, unassuming manner. There’s no bark or growl from the engine, rather a calming, reassuring presence. We need to talk about the ride quality, though. From the driver’s seat, luxurious it is not. Although primary body control is fine, the way the car crashes over even the most innocuous-looking bump in the road is not. What’s strange is the contrast to how it feels in the back seat. Perhaps that’s where the chassis engineers spent most of their time. This car’s spec is that of a Korean domestic market car, with robust all- weather tyres and suspension tuned for negotiating Korea’s scarcely believable number of speed bumps. A different tune for the US and other markets is promised. The uncomfortable ride up front is a shame, because the front cabin is a more interesting place than the back, with quilted Nappa leather and real wood (beech and ash trims are offered, among others). The wood feels like wood, the metal feels like metal, and everything is executed with a premium mindset. It even extends to the inside of the door bins, which are as nice to the touch as the rest of the cabin. There’s some clever technology too. Indicate, and in the digital instrument binnacle appears a camera image of your blind spot. It’s a welcome and useful piece of safety kit. The infotainment screen is a nice one too. It’s quick to operate, even if the lack of perceived quality surfaces when you recognise the graphics from other Kias. The K900 is really at its best at isolating you from the outside world. Seoul’s traffic isn’t for the faint-hearted, with lanes frequently swapped and aggressive stopping and starting that seems only to make the traffic run less smoothly. Yet in the K900 you’re rarely bothered or wound up by it, which is a key part of any luxury model’s brief. The K9 isn’t really an illustration of Kia moving upmarket and becoming a full-blown luxury car maker; it’s more a reflection of it needing to offer a complete range of cars in a home market where dominance with group sibling Hyundai is almost absolute. The world is no worse a place for this car, though. Ride quality aside, I rather like it. And it makes you ponder: might Kia ever get to the point where it could offer such a car as a genuine and credible alternative to the likes of the S-Class? Perhaps. Then again, perhaps not, badge snobbery being what it is, even when you consider the astonishing progress the brand has made in little over a decade. But then we said the same about the Stinger. Seoul power: Located in a trendy part of Seoul among almost a dozen other flagship luxury car showrooms is the Salon de K9, where the K900 is on display. Prospective buyers can drop in and learn about the car, feel the leather, touch the wood trim and listen to the sound system. But they can’t buy one: they must go to the more conventional-looking Kia dealer next door to do that. This is a fashionable ‘brand space’, then, although it doesn’t feel overly premium. Crammed in are more than half a dozen K9s in different conservative body colours, Koreans apparently keen to see every option. Read more New Kia K900 US flagship demonstrates upcoming tech Kia Sportage review Future Kia GT models to focus on real-world performance View the full article
  27. Given that we’ve already ruled out so many decent market contenders, there’s no room for anything but very good cars in this final showdown Can the Ford Focus reclaim its stranglehold on the family hatchback market? We pit the fourth-gen one against eight rivals eager to thwart it It has been a decade since the Ford Focus last claimed the title of Britain’s best-selling car - and the new fourth-generation model has every chance of repeating the accolade. To see what it has to compete with, we've assembled quite the welcoming committe for the new arrival: eight hatchbacks from well-known volume brands we believe could give it some serious competition. Our task: to discover which is 2018’s best new family hatch, when gathered around a common £22,000 price point, and propelled by similarly powerful petrol engines. Yesterday we narrowed the field from nine to four, seeing the Peugeot 308, Vauxhall Astra, Seat Leon, Kia Ceed, Honda Civic all fail to make the final face-off. On to the sharp end of this exercise, then – to be contended by a couple of cars whose progression to this stage regular readers will have probably seen coming several miles off, but also a couple of cars whose presence might just surprise you. Another surprise, at least as far as this tester is concerned, is that the Kia Ceed isn’t among them. When we road-tested the Kia just a few weeks ago, it felt like a car that had taken several big steps up and might hold its own in competition with the hatchback segment’s elite. But group-testing new cars will always confound you and challenge your preconceptions. And when it came to the crunch, the best of this bunch were just too good for the Kia – and not just for the Kia, it should be noted. If you’re expecting this to descend into a couple of discrete twin tests rolled into one, don’t be so sure: the new Ford Focus, Mazda 3, Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia aren’t so easily separated. Theseare cars which, over a day’s driving, gradually assemble an ownership case that’s quite different from each of the other’s, and one strong enough that it could easily make it the right buy for any Autocar reader. Given that we’ve already ruled out so many decent market contenders, there’s no room for anything but very good cars in this final showdown. It would be broadly true, however, to observe that what we’ve got here, among a quartet of leading lights, is a sensible, practical, straight forward Skoda; a desirable, rounded, finely polished Volkswagen; a handsome, alternative, agile Mazda and, of course, the latest version of the best-handling family hatchback that Europe has ever known. Three of the four cars will be well-known to you - and I won’t pretend otherwise simply to build some phone sense of suspense that might keep you more interested, for the next thousand-and-a-bit words, than you would otherwise be. The questions we should turn our attention towards now, it seems to me, are as follows. First, does the new Focus still offer the most driver appeal in its class even on its most ordinary suspension configuration? The answer to that is not to be taken for granted, with our Titanium X-trim test car not only doing without the lowered sport-tuned suspension of ST-Line versions, but also without the independent rear suspension and adaptive dampers that more expensive Focuses now have. And second, is it good enough in every other way that matters to seal the deal: to succeed where in last-generation from it failed, and supplant Europe’s bigger-selling VW Golf at the top of our class rankings as an all-round package? First things first, then. We could tie ourselves in knots discussing how much driver appeal actually matters in a humble, workaday family five-door. But whether you take the view that I like to think is typical of an Autocar reader (that it matters quite a lot) or you don’t, you would have to admit that it matters in a Ford Focus. Would this car have been so popular with a more ordinary driving experience? We’ll never know, but Ford clearly doesn’t think so – hence the money spent on every subsequent generation to guarantee the preservation of its key selling point – and I don’t think so either. A succession of back-to-back ten-minute stints in each of our four cars is all you need to find out which of the Focus’s rivals is most likely to challenge it in this respect. And, while it has masses of rational appeal and enough completeness as a product to conclusively dump the Honda Civic firmly out of this top-four contest, the Skoda Octavia isn’t much of a challenger on dynamism. Even with more power and torque than anything else in this showdown, it feels and drives like ‘Captain Sensible’ from bumper to bumper – now as much as it ever did. The softness of the Octavia’s handling responses is what you expect to naturally follow, with a turn of that medium-weighted and moderately paced steering wheel, having noted the fairly gentle lope of the car’s quiet and well-isolated ride. It makes sense: this is a family saloon masquerading as a hatchback, really. It reminds you of that suspiciously grown-up kid you remember in your class at school, whose 21st birthday party you later went to a year before everyone else’s. The car handles precisely enough as to be entirely easy to place, and has the body control to tolerate a brisker pace over a challenging road without really struggling. It’s refined too – more so than any other car in this top four – so it’s featuring at the business end of this test for very good reasons. But if a dose of added poise and verve in your everyday motoring is what you’re after, it doesn’t offer much. VW’s 1.5-litre, 128bhp Golf offers more – mostly by apparent virtue of its size. The Golf is notably softer-sprung than both the Mazda 3 and the Focus, being more comfortable than both at town speeds, but keeping better control of its mass than the Octavia when cornering at speed and dealing with bigger lumps and bumps. The Golf pulls off that genius trick of feeling absolutely right-sized: big enough to accommodate a smallish family in comfort and some shopping – but absolutely no bigger, so that it feels light and agile and manoeuvrable, as a compact family car should. Now, as ever, the Golf feels like the epicentre of the hatchback’s planetary system: the fixed point around which every other car has to move. But not because it’s brilliant to drive. You wouldn’t have said that about our test car, which was a little bit soft and short on outright grip when driven more quickly and, though nicely damped at town speeds, came up short on vertical body control at times. The Golf’s engine, meanwhile, didn’t quite share the Octavia’s levels of mechanical refinement and isolation: noisier at high revs than the Skoda, it also revved with less enthusiasm. All in all, in this specification at least, the Golf probably wasn’t a car a keener driver might pick. But the Mazda 3 certainly was. You couldn’t pick a tougher dynamic test for the Ford Focus than this naturally aspirated 2.0-litre Mazda, in fact – and, having spent a day trying, we should know. The car has pin-sharp throttle response, as well as beautifully weighted and feelsome controls; in both respects, it’s actually more than a match for the Ford. Meanwhile, a slightly busy-riding but honest-feeling, firmly sprung chassis gives the car plenty of cornering grip, flat body control, strong front-driven traction, and the ability to change direction sufficiently smartly and cleanly as to keep you fully interested in how it might tackle the next corner. Does the Focus do all that? Does it have an answer to the Mazda’s every challenge? Not quite, but you wouldn’t argue that, through its own differing dynamic instruments, it provides an even more compelling driving experience; one that it’s as much a delight to find in an ordinary family hatchback today as it must have been 20 years ago, albeit perhaps less of a revelation. You couldn’t anatomise the biggest lures of the Ford’s driving experience without giving equal billing to its superbly even-hauling and singularly willing 123bhp three-cylinder engine as to its balanced, incisive, absorbing handling. The Focus has always enjoyed one of these relative advantages over its peers, of course – but now it’s got both, and the relative appeal of both has been taken to even greater heights, I don’t know how anyone could deny the star quality of this car. You might have reservations about the slightly elastic, compliant feel of the car’s new power steering; an awareness, perhaps, that for all its range and prickly enthusiasm, the car’s Ecoboost engine isn’t actually producing as much torque as it might be. But sample the keenness with which the Focus turns in; the tenacity with which it holds on mid-corner; the readiness it has to swing its hips into the action and swivel underneath you on a lifted throttle and the quite brilliant way in which it combines such eager responsiveness and close body control with supple overall bump absorption. Now tell me you’re not convinced that the Focus is a cut above. And on this evidence, given that we’re dealing with a car in as ordinary a specification as it’s possible to get, quite possibly now by a wider margin than it’s had since 1998. But is that enough? I could spend as long again as I just have on driving experiences detailing the difference between these four cars on cabin quality, boot space and relative passenger practicality – but in the end, all you need to know is that the answer’s yes. Leaving aside the Honda and Skoda, there isn’t a meaningfully more practical car in this whole exercise than the Ford. For cabin quality and apparent ambient classiness, meanwhile, the Focus has a slightly longer list of betters to acknowledge, among them the Golf, the 308 and probably the Octavia as well; but none do enough to recover the ground they gave up as driving machines. The Focus remains an entirely ordinary and fairly workaday car in which to spend time. Its cabin doesn’t hide its cheaper materials as cleverly as the Octavia or Ceed, and its richer finishes are nowhere near as effective as those of the Golf. Its cabin is a bit monotone and plain; its fittings not creaky or wobbly like one or two in the Astra, but nothing to write home about either. But by being so ordinary in that sense, the Ford somehow only draws your attention elsewhere – to how it’s so special to drive. Twenty years ago, the original Focus won both enormous critical acclaim and continued UK market dominance for its maker by comprehensively out-handling its every rival; today, with the public’s collective attention on crossovers, while EVs and autonomous tech hogs the limelight, you wonder if the fourth-generation version will do either. It certainly deserves to, though, because the king is back, and in better fettle than ever. 1st - Ford Focus 1.0T Ecoboost 125 Titanium X: Outstanding driver appeal and possibly even better versions still to test. Engine and chassis both brilliant 2nd - VW Golf 1.5 TSI 130 DSG SE Nav: Beats Focus on material class, desirability and tech, but soft handling and ordinary engine 3rd - Mazda 3 SkyActiv-G 120 Sport Nav: Better to drive, in some ways, than the Ford albeit at a greater cost to ride comfort 4th - Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI 150 SE L: Too complete a product to ignore. Refined, cavernous, well-built and decent to drive Read more Best hot hatches: Autocar's top five go head to head New 2018 Ford Focus unveiled as brands 'most advanced' model in Europe Gallery: The 31 finest hot hatchbacks of all time View the full article
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