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  1. Today
  2. Fun in slow motion: Can this sub-1.0-litre Sandero deliver the same thrills as a McLaren? Can you really have fun driving slowly? As the prospect of speed limiters looms, we find out with a 0.9-litre budget hatch Coming over the crest, I saw the road gyrating gratuitously into the distance. At this time in the morning, there’d be no traffic. Even the sheep were too bleary-eyed to pay attention to the blue car that had just appeared on their horizon. Third should do it, I thought with a smile, pushing the lever forward, instinctively nudging the throttle as I did. There was no doubting that cry of approval from under the sloping bonnet. Down went the pedal again, but this time it stayed there, splitting carpet fibres as surely as the car’s nose was renting asunder any air reckless enough to resist our progress. The corner at the far end was long and fast, arcing away uphill and to the right. But it had a secret, and a nasty one at that. At the turn-in point, the road rose imperceptibly to the naked eye, but enough to unsettle the suspension at the very instant you needed it most. This was a foe I knew of old, but that hardly helped. Time was running out and I knew it. The bend looked like it should be taken flat, but how many others had thought as much and found to the contrary and their cost? But something had passed between this man and that machine in all those miles together, something that was unsaid but could not be mistaken. It was telling me it would be all right: it had my back. We would survive this thing together. So my mind stayed strong and my foot stayed down. Flat out it would be. And flat out it was. I guided the nose in, and instantly felt it go light. I saw my hands add another few degrees of lock in response. I thought hard about lifting, but, no, it was already too late for that. We were committed. But I could see the trajectory we were describing and, in that wondrous moment, I knew we would prevail. The car exited the curve with a few inches to spare. As I changed joyously up to fourth and rammed the pedal home once more, I looked down in time to see the early morning sun glinting off the speedometer needle. The Dacia Sandero was doing 53mph. Okay, so I’ve spent the first few paragraphs of this story offering by way of gentle spoof my fond homage to the way that supercar drive stories used to be written by the people who first sparked my interest in cars many decades ago. And while it was fun to do, I did it for a reason, and exactly the same reason that I really did get up early and drive a 0.9-litre Dacia Sandero across one of the most challenging roads Wales has to offer. If you took not some low-slung slice of unaffordable automotive exotica but, instead, Britain’s cheapest new car, could you still have fun? How much of the enjoyment was down purely to the sense of freedom and simple joy of being on a world-class road whatever you’re in? I didn’t have a clue. There was a time when the answer would have been far clearer. Back when our Mr Cropley was plying his trade on another title, he took a group of four of Britain’s cheapest cars and did a not dissimilar thing. And although I’ve not seen the story in at least 30 years, I do recall some reference to drawing lots to see who would have the misfortune of driving the Reliant Robin over the Severn Bridge in a stiff side wind. We have come so far. True, the Sandero supplied was not the absolute poverty-spec model but it still costs just £8800 in this midrange TCe Essential trim, despite having Bluetooth, a DAB radio, electric windows, remote central locking, twin USB ports and air-con. Sufficiently quiet and comfortable, with a rather eager little motor and enough interior space, it’d make a very poor butt for any cheap-car-related jokes. Because it’s entirely adequate for any routine task and, for the money, something closer to brilliant. But could you actually contrive a set of circumstances in which it could be genuinely good fun to drive? That was a different question. At first, I thought not. On more normal roads, it just seemed too slow and soft. That little three-pot motor was willing enough but saddled with unfortunately tall gearing. The gearchange was sufficiently accurate but lacking any mechanical feel: you’d never swap a cog just for the hell of it. Overtaking was difficult, and if you got baulked, recovering that lost speed took time. But in exactly the same way that it takes time to adjust to an implausibly rapid car like a McLaren 720S, so do you also need to acclimatise to a car at the other end of the performance scale. And because human beings are almost infinitely adaptable, what had seemed somewhat lethargic and slow-witted became, well, less so after a while. Remove the traffic headache from the picture and it brightened further. Add in a really great road and you might just be surprised how much fun can be had. I was. Because the sensations that lie at the root of driving pleasure remain. They may not be as accentuated as in a McLaren or even a Mazda MX-5, but that is not to say they’re absent. You can still feel the forces on your body. You can still take an optimal line through a corner. So long as the car is not unpleasant or actively incompetent – and the Sandero is neither – there is still pleasure to be had in guiding it along the length of a road, and seeing how accurately and completely what is still a tonne of metal can be bent to your will. How neatly can you hit that apex? How smoothly can you change gear? How can you best extract the maximum level of performance for the minimum of perceived effort? And for those who like to feel a car on The thing that comes closest to spoiling the Sandero is neither its engine nor chassis, but gearing designed for emissions testing, not road driving. the limit, it’s easily done in a Sandero in such an environment and almost impossible in a supercar. Two more things: the more you drive a car as slow as the Sandero, the emptier the roads appear. You’re always in traffic in a supercar because the time taken to cover the gap between you and the next car is so short. In the Sandero, it can take an age, an age in which you have the road to yourself. And, of course, driving a supercar is these days an exercise in saintly self-restraint, with you rarely if ever savouring more than a small proportion of the car’s potential. By contrast, you can use pretty much all the Sandero has to offer pretty much all of the time. Do not be alarmed: I have not suffered some appalling epiphany. I love fast cars now as much as ever. The only point I seek to make is that if your car is not fast, so long as it is not also unpleasant, there’s still plenty of genuine enjoyment to be had from driving it on a decent road. Enough to make you want to set an alarm and make a special journey in your Sandero? Probably not. Or maybe just not yet. For if the threats are followed through and we do end up in a world where your car shops you to the authorities the moment you inadvertently place one toe on the wrong side of the speed limit, then cars you can enjoy entirely within the confines of the law will suddenly start to make a great deal more sense. Even now, there’s more fun to be had in them than I, for one, had thought. The most fun slow cars Renault Twizy Okay, so the Twizy is not so much fun on a dual carriageway in the rain, but it is just about the only four-wheel device that’s actively fun to drive in town. You’ll scarcely believe the gaps it will get through and the handling is a bona fide hoot. Original Fiat 500 When a car is this small and light, it doesn’t need a lot of power. Rear engine, rear-wheel drive and a tiny wheelbase bring exactly the same attributes to this diminutive Fiat as they did to an early Porsche 911. Citroen 2CV A flat-formation engine and fully independent, front-to-rear interactive suspension from which McLaren learned a thing or two. Yes, 2CVs roll like dinghies in a typhoon, but their snake-low centre of gravity means they cling on superbly. Peugeot 205 You might think the only 205 worth driving is one with a GTI after its name. Not so. GTIs are such fun in the first place because they are so light, but the lesser models are lighter still. A 205XS, for instance, is an under-rated gem. Smart Fortwo A new one. You’d be surprised, but it’s fun for all the reasons the old Fiat 500 is fun, just at a rather higher level of competence. Drove one across Wales a couple of years ago and still look back on it as one of the great drives. Read more Dacia Sandero review Matt Prior: why drive a supercar on the road?​ Britain's best affordable driver's car - the showdown View the full article
  3. It’s one dreaded outcome of the MOT test, which got tougher a year ago this week. We ask those in the know all about it Second only to waiting to hear if you’ve passed your driving test has to be waiting to hear whether your car has passed its MOT. Fail and you know putting things right is going to cost you time and money. Unfortunately, since 20 May 2018, when the MOT test was updated, greater numbers of diesel car drivers in particular have been spending more of both. On that date, much stricter diesel emissions tests were introduced, with new items under scrutiny being tailpipe emissions, the engine management warning light and the diesel particulate filter (DPF). Regarding this last item, the DPF became the subject of much closer inspection, with testers on the lookout for signs of tampering. As a result of the new checks, between May 2018 and February 2019, there was a 63% increase in the number of emissions-related failures concerning diesel cars compared with the same period the year before. Easily the biggest culprit was the engine management light that signals a problem with the car’s emissions system. Over 83,000 fails were recorded, or 32% of emissions-related diesel failures. Lower down the scale came DPF tampering, with 1397 fails recorded, or 0.5%. “DPFs clogged up with soot and ash is the big problem and causes the management light to come on,” says John Ball, managing director of Motest, a network of testing stations that performs 85,000 MOTs on cars each year. “Before the test was revised, to get around the problem of a blocked DPF, drivers would have a hole cut in it and its internals removed. Then the hole would be welded shut. As far as the tester could see, the DPF was present. It wasn’t his concern that it didn’t work.” Now, following the changes to the MOT, the truth is out and, says Ball, a lot of drivers don’t like it: “Some really kick off, especially van drivers!” The figures explain why white van man is so upset. Emissions-related failures for light commercial vehicles were up 116% between May 2018 and February 2019, compared with the same period the year before. Petrol cars didn’t escape the changes to the MOT. Those that emit blue or oily smoke for more than five seconds at idle can now be failed. But while the changes resulted in only a 5.9% increase in emissions-related failures among these cars compared with the period before the test was changed, a far greater proportion failed their emissions tests than diesels: 5.5% compared with 2.7%. Neil Barlow, head of MOT policy at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), says it’s a difference the agency is struggling to explain. “We don’t know the reason for the greater percentage of fails for petrol emissions than diesel emissions,” he says when I meet him at the Motest branch in Aldershot. “The DfT [Department for Transport] is doing some research on emissions testing which may well change the way we test in the future.” Perhaps the department should start by looking at the engine management system. Fails reported for the warning light on petrol cars dwarfed those for diesels, at 275,601, 43% of total petrol emissions failures. Ball remembers the day the changes to the MOT came into force and, in particular, the confusion one key change created. He says: “We spent most of that day explaining to people that while, previously, the test was a simple pass or fail, from today there were now two fails determined by new categories of defects – dangerous and major. “The definitions for the two types look similar but, fortunately for testers, it’s obvious what problems relate to which. The next problem, especially during those first days and weeks, was with some garages – not ours – telling customers whose cars had a dangerous defect that they must not drive them away. Some even held onto owners’ car keys to force them into having the work done. “They had no right, of course. Instead, it’s the owner’s choice whether they wish to break the law and drive their vehicle away, which they will be doing without an MOT and with their car in a dangerous condition.” In addition to these two defects is a third, called a minor. It’s not serious enough to trigger a fail but the difference between it and a major can come down to something as simple as a light bulb. “Take the example of a numberplate with two bulbs,” says Ball. “If one has blown, it’s a minor defect since the plate can still be read. But if both have blown, it’s a major.” The revised test also brought in an updated list of items to be examined, including checking if tyres are seriously under-inflated and brake fluid is contaminated. However, despite these additional checks, the biggest single cause of failure by a mile remains faulty lights. For all the changes there have been to the MOT, Barlow says the DVSA has seen no increase in drivers appealing against test verdicts. “Drivers understand the new defect categories are a way of reminding them of the law regarding dangerous vehicles, and most of them see value in that,” he says. However, Ball believes the MOT test is not keeping up with changes in vehicle technology. “It’s still the old business of observing and prodding,” he says. “We’re doing things in an ‘analogue’ rather than a ‘digital’ way, at a time when cars are becoming packed with more technology.” Barlow is working on a solution. “We’re developing ways to connect test stations to our central computers so that we can see in real time what’s being tested and what the results are,” he says. “By extension, we could do diagnostic testing for stations, remotely.” If his plans bear fruit, it looks like time and money could be about to get even more onerous for those whose cars fail their MOT. Testing, Testing... The DVSA, the government agency responsible for the MOT test, is developing plans to test cars remotely by building on existing internet links with testing stations. Explaining the agency’s plans, Neil Barlow, head of MOT policy at the DVSA, told Autocar: “We’re looking to connect existing garage technologies to our systems and, in the next two weeks, we’ll be trialling a data hookup with a garage’s electronic brake tester. “Later this year, we’ll connect with other stations’ emissions and headlight-aiming equipment. By extension, we could also hook up with other areas of a car, including the dashboard warning lights and safety systems, including blindspot monitoring and traction control. “Our plans would enable the DVSA to become an additional testing resource for garages who cannot afford the expensive equipment required to test some vehicle systems. “It will help us detect fraud, too. There are 60,000 MOT testers but, through our fraud prevention activities, we take a few hundred out of the scheme each year. This number might grow if we have even better monitoring.” READ MORE Getting cleaned out: diesel particulate filters 10 years on​ Four-year MOT exemption for new cars scrapped James Ruppert: how to buy a classic car with an MOT exemption View the full article
  4. Yesterday
  5. Is this Ferrari-engined Levante the performance SUV it always should have been? Last year was not kind to the Maserati Levante.Worse still, that probably came as a surprise to the management at Maserati’s parent firm, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. In the 15 months following the model’s introduction in 2016, some 25,000 examples found owners; compared with Maserati’s 32,000 sales across all of its models the previous year, such volume was an encouraging bellwether for this new SUV. It seemed the high-riding Levante would do for the Bolognese brand what the F-Pace did for Jaguar, the Cayenne has done for Porsche and the Bentayga now seems to be doing for Bentley – usher in a period of prosperity and provide the financial basis for the continued development of traditional sports cars.However, reports suggest Levante production at FCA’s Mirafiori plant was down more than 40% in 2018, with staff temporarily ‘idled’ to better align the number of cars rolling off the line with demand, most of which comes from China, with the US an easy second before the big European markets. The drop is dramatic, and made all the more painful because the SUV segment continues to grow with global enthusiasm. How has such a strikingly good-looking newcomer from arguably the most storied brand in the business failed to capitalise on this trend?The answers are hinted at in the Levante’s original Autocar road test. It scored just three stars from five, and we called it out on the grounds of its tepid turbodiesel performance, ordinary handling, questionable cabin specification and perceived quality. Simply, Range Rover and the German brands did it better, even if the Maserati’s all-round ambience and aggressive pricing made it worthy of consideration.Now Maserati has refreshed the Levante, introducing new technology and greater aesthetic flair. This time we also have a petrol V6 engine at our disposal, something denied to UK buyers until last year. Time to find out whether this left-field contender can claim its spot in the limelight.The Maserati Levante range at a glanceMaserati UK has yet to offer one of the V8-engined Levante GTS or Trofeo models, so for now the 424bhp V6 S is the range-topper for Britain. There are effectively three trim levels: Levante, GranSport and GranLusso. GranSport introduces a more performance-oriented aesthetic, including features such as sports seats, aluminium shift paddles and black detailing on exterior panels. GranLusso is a more luxurious take, adding silk interior and chrome brightwork.Price £79,125 Power 424bhp Torque 478lb ft 0-60mph 5.1sec 30-70mph in fourth 6.5sec Fuel economy 16.0mpg CO2 emissions 273-282g/km 70-0mph 44.0m View the full article
  6. Four-wheel-drive rival to the Audi RS Q3 is set for UK deliveries in 2020; first spy shots have emerged Mercedes-Benz’s AMG division has kicked off testing of the new GLB 45 4Matic on public roads some 12 months before its planned showroom debut. The new Audi RS Q3 rival is differentiated from standard versions of the upcoming GLB by its reduced ride height, larger brake discs, multi-pot callipers and four tail-pipes at the rear, as opposed to the twin-exit arrangement of GLB 35 4Matic prototypes we’ve seen previously. The GLB 45 is among a number of new Mercedes-AMG models set to run a newly developed four-cylinder engine based on Mercedes-Benz’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder 'M260' unit. Also planned to appear in the A45 4Matic, CLA 45, CLA 45 Shooting Brake and GLA 45, the new powerplant is claimed to develop 383bhp in standard guise and 416bhp in a higher state of tune. In the GLB 45, the new engine will be mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and a new four-wheel drive system developed in a partnership between AMG and Austrian engineering specialist Magna Powertrain. It uses electrohydraulic actuation instead of the electromechanical operation of the four-wheel drive system by transverse engine models built by AMG up to now. Among the developments incorporated on the new four-wheel drive system is a rear differential featuring two separate clutches. They allow it to apportion up to 100% of power to each of the individual rear wheels in a so-called drift mode that AMG sources have revealed to Autocar will feature on all upcoming 45-badged models. The GLB 45 is set to crown the upcoming GLB line-up when it goes on sale in 2020. It will be positioned above the GLB 35, which runs a milder 302bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and is set to form part of the initial GLB line-up that's planned to be in early June. The GLB will become the eighth member of Mercedes-Benz’s compact car line-up. Previewed at last month’s Shanghai motor show by the Concept GLB, it measures 4634mm in length, making it just 18mm shorter than the recently facelifted GLC. In standard guise, it will offer the choice of either five or seven seats. Read more Mercedes-Benz targets Audi Q3 with rugged GLB concept Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 arrives in New York with 302bhp Mercedes-AMG plot brand-wide shift to all-wheel drive View the full article
  7. Four-wheel drive rival to the Audi RS Q3 is set for UK deliveries in 2020, and first spyshots have emerged Mercedes-Benz’s AMG division has kicked off testing of the new GLB45 4Matic on public roads some 12 months before its planned showroom debut. The Audi RS Q3 rival is differentiated from standard versions of the upcoming GLB by its reduced ride height, large brake discs and multi-pot callipers as well as the quad exhaust pipe treatment at the rear, as opposed to the twin-pipe setup of GLB35 prototypes we’ve seen. The GLB45 is among a number of new Mercedes-AMG models set to run a newly developed four-cylinder engine based on Mercedes-Benz’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder M260 unit.Also planned to appear in the A45 4Matic, CLA45, CLA45 Shooting Brake and GLA45, the new powerplant is claimed to develop 383bhp in standard guise and 416bhp in a higher state of tune. In the GLB45, the new engine will be mated to an eight-speed dual clutch gearbox and a new four-wheel drive system developed in a partnership between AMG and Austrian engineering specialist, Magna Powertrain. It uses electro-hydraulic actuation instead of the electro-mechanical operation of the four-wheel drive system by transverse engine models from AMG up until now. Among the developments incorporated on the new four-wheel drive system is a rear differential featuring two separate clutches. They allow it to apportion up to 100 per cent of power to each of the individual rear wheels in a so-called drift mode that AMG sources have revealed to Autocar will feature on all upcoming “45” models. The GLB45 is set to crown the upcoming GLB line-up when it goes on sale in 2020. It will be positioned above the GLB35 4Matic, which runs a milder 302bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and is set to form part of the initial GLB line-up planned to be unveiled by Mercedes-Benz in early June. The GLB is the eighth member of Mercedes-Benz’s compact car line-up. Previewed at last month’s Shanghai motor show by the Concept GLB, it measures 4634mm in length, making it just 18mm shorter than the recently facelifted GLC. In standard guise, it will offer the choice of either a five- or seven-seat interior. Read more Mercedes-Benz targets Audi Q3 with rugged GLB concept Mercedes-AMG CLA35 arrives in New York with 302bhp Mercedes-AMG plot brand-wide shift to all-wheel drive View the full article
  8. With a new place to take your beloved vintage motor seemingly appearing every week, Prior asks where they all suddenly sprouted from I’m not imagining this, am I? There actually are way more classic and enthusiast car meet-ups than there used to be, right? The other weekend, I was at one of the excellent Sunday Scrambles at Bicester Heritage, where there’ll have been another big meet by the time you read this, at least one other new midweek classic meeting locally and a huge Japanese car show at Silverstone, while places like Caffeine & Machine are open all the time. The south midlands is pretty motor and motorsport central, it’s true, but still, I hear about classic shows and meetings everywhere. There are more, I’m sure of it. What used to be the odd Wednesday bike night at an A-road layby café is a burgeoning cottage industry throughout the country. I’m amazed there are enough surviving Citroën H vans from which to serve coffee at all of them. I’m curious as to why there are so many, though. It’s said that people like buying experiences more than they like buying ‘things’, so there’s an element of that. Perhaps social media is making it easier for us to find each other, and across brands rather than, as used to be the norm, through single-marque car clubs – and somebody with a slammed Triumph Acclaim with a limited-slip differential might have more to talk about with a Nissan 200SX owner than a TR2 owner, after all. Or is it harder to just find space and time to have an enjoyable drive, so we might as well arrange an event at the end of it, to make it worthwhile? Whatever, I’m pleased. Pleased there are places to be, cars to pore over, owners to talk to, and cars that get driven. And I’m pleased there’s evidence that loads of people, regardless of what cars and driving become, see the car as far more than a way of getting from one place to another. Like horses, baking, or myriad other things, they’re something we don’t need to spend time with, but want to. That said, I met a new bloke the other day when he made what’ll become a semi-regular visit to my house for the glamorous task of emptying the septic tank. It’s an unusual procedure over which to make small talk, between bouts of peering into a 20ft hole in the ground. I’ve seen more attractive holes in the ground, I can tell you. But there we were, when I noticed a car company logo on his hi-viz jacket. Car fan, I asked? Kind of, he said. While his truck’s vacuum busily whirred in the background, he explained he used to work for said car company’s Formula 1 team, and before and after that other F1 and sports car teams, travelling the world, flying away for all the races, to all the cities, gathering stamps in his passport. Only not really seeing much of these places when he got there, and seeing even less of his young family back at home. So he jacked it in to help run the family liquid waste business. Much better. Much happier. The satisfaction of running a good business, being less transient, and enjoying seeing way, way more of his family and his home. I get it. Take a sample of people, briefly explain these two jobs and I reckon most would see one as more appealing than the other. It ain’t always so. READ MORE Autocar's guide to affordable future classics Electrified Aston Martin DB6: driving a future-proof classic Racing lines: the ultimate lap... around the world View the full article
  9. Searching for a roadster with a sweet six-pot engine? A BMW Z3 could be the best budget choice With its swollen haunches and smarter back end, the refreshed Z3 of 2000 looked the business. BMW Z3 2.2, £4995: The 146bhp 2.0-litre six survived the facelift but had been replaced within a year by the 168bhp 2.2. It was one of these, a 2002-reg Sport manual with 62,000 miles, that caught our eye. Finished in classic Estoril Blue with black leather and riding on bright BBS alloy wheels, it’s offered with the rare removable hard-top, although that does mean we’d need to find a safe place to store it. Still, ’tis a small detail. What isn’t is the lack of information concerning the car’s number of previous owners as well as its service history. Cross that bridge etc. While we’re preparing to do that, we’ll recall a few checks pertinent to it and other Z3s. They include looking for problems with the camshaft position sensor on the Vanos variable valve timing system, and listening for a rattly dual-mass flywheel and for gentle tapping on start-up (which fresh oil should cure). Turning to the gearbox, we’ll feel for clutch drag and check the rear differential mount isn’t about to give way. While poking about there, we’ll check the fuel tank for damage. On the test drive, we’ll listen out for rattly drop links and rear suspension top mounts and feel for rumbly front lower ball joints. Our find looks neat but tin worm can break out on the door bottoms. Inside, stray warning lights and a worn driver’s seat bolster will be on our radar. All well and good but that service history is an issue. We want evidence of 6000-mile oil changes, of fresh plugs, transmission and diff oil at 18,000, and of fresh brake fluid every two years – or its yours. Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer, £12,299: Here’s a handsome load-lugger and a welcome change from all the porky SUVs rolling around. We found this 2017/67-reg SRi Nav 2.0 Turbo D with full Vauxhall service history. It’s done 50,000 miles but they were probably motorway ones – the best ones of all. Ford Focus CC, £2250: The Focus CC of 2006-11 was one of the better-looking mainstream coupé-cabriolets but went by largely unnoticed. Now they’re popping up at tempting prices. How about this smart 2008-reg 1.6 with 85,000 miles and full Ford service history? Mini Paceman, £7494: Who knows: perhaps we’re looking at a future classic. With its three-door crossover styling, the Paceman – related to the Countryman – lasted just four years (2012-16). We spotteda 2014-reg Cooper with 62,000 miles and just one owner. Audi A4 2.0 TFSI DTM Quattro, £5895: Here’s that unusual thing: a rare A4. It’s a special from 2005 made to mark Audi’s success in German touring car racing. It has carbonfibre trims, a larger exhaust, lowered suspension and 217bhp. Our 98,000-mile one is tidy but the service book’s missing… Auction watch Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC: Old SECs never die: they just become even more distinguished. That, at any rate, is what one brave bidder must have believed when he scooped this 1990 5.0 V8 for £6660. Brave? In fact, it only had 114,000 miles on the clock and was, according to the auction house that presented it, in three-star condition (out of five, by the way). In simple terms, that means it had some history and looked and drove perfectly well. Built in 1981-1991, SECs aren’t uncommon, which means more choice and a wider price range for canny buyers. Get it while you can Volkswagen Golf R, price new - £33,535, price now - £29,000: Autocar recently reported the death of the Golf R manual. Time, then, to bag a nearly new one before they’ve gone. We found a 2018/68-reg with 1500 miles at a Volkswagen dealer for £29,000. The manual shift is a slick affair, so shame on us Brits for preferring the auto. You can be sure that future generations will regard the few remaining stick-shift Rs differently and pay top money for the best. Hang on to the one we found and you may just cash in later down the line. Clash of the classifieds Brief: Find me a cool cabrio for £10k, please. Mercedes-Benz SL500, £9950: There’s nothing cooler than cruising along in a classy convertible with the wind blowing through your hair – and, for many decades, the smartest-looking convertible has beenthe Mercedes SL. The one I’ve chosen is a 1996 SL500 with the desirable M119 5.0 V8 engine. The car still has its original hard-top and stand, and comes with a full service history. What’s more, there’s some investment potential with this SL because prices are beginning to firm up as people realise how good these things are. Max Adams Honda S2000, £9995: You want a really cool drop-top? The S2000 is a perfectly balanced, rear-wheel-drive two-seater of prodigious performance and low polar moments. At its heart is a wonderful 8300rpm, 237bhp 2.0-litre VTEC engine, a work of art that can potter around or hammer like a racer at the switch of a cam profile. It has aluminium double-wishbone suspension, supersharp steering and a hood that is quick to erect and lower, too. This one is immaculate, has a full history and shows only 60,000 miles – and, of course, it’ll never go wrong… Mark Pearson Verdict: That Honda is hot but the Merc is so cool and just what the doctor ordered. Read more Used car buying guide: BMW Z3 Bangers that work - 20 bargain cars that won't let you down Used car buying guide: cheap fast fun for under £10k​ View the full article
  10. Last week
  11. New Conti Convertible has all the many advantages of a new platform, seen already in the Coupe. It’s in a class of its own. Bentley has just revealed a convertible version of its second generation Continental GT, identical in every important way to the coupe except that it now has an elegant powered hood that takes 19 seconds to erect, can be lowered or raised while the car is being driven at speeds up to 31mph (50km/h) and whose total assembly — plus the requirement for extra chassis stiffness — adds just over 100kg to the coupe’s already substantial 2295kg kerb weight. And which brings its own new level of versatility to two-door luxury coupe ownership.Because this car was engineered from the beginning with a bespoke platform shared only with Porsche’s Panamera, and the need for a ragtop was taken into account at the earliest design stage, the hood intrudes less into the cabin, requires less chassis reinforcement and disturbs the car’s aerodynamics less (drag factor rises only fractionally to 0.32) than in the outgoing car.The result is a rarity in the UK, a luxurious convertible with decent seating for four, though even here the largest occupants probably fit better in the front.View the full article
  12. ‘Chess-piece’ philosophy will bring Hyundai, Kia and Genesis cars greater individuality, as well as setting them apart from segment rivals Future Hyundai, Genesis and Kia designs will become more differentiated from one another, and their models within each segment will become more individual. That’s the strategy being pushed by the design chief of all three brands, Luc Donckerwolke, who said that “our core task is to differentiate the design philosophy of the three brands, not least because we have a big [around 70%] share in Korea. We need to differentiate each model, otherwise the landscape is too homogeneous”. Donckerwolke told Autocar that he believes Kias and Hyundais must become more distinctive not only in the Korean roadscape that they dominate but also around the world, “by segment and by region. We will not have a global design language because otherwise it’s too rigid. [The alternative is] more work, but it’s more flexible.” This does not mean that the brands’ designs will diverge completely across continents. “There will be some unifying themes, with varying treatments,” said Donckerwolke, who likened the approach not to “Russian dolls but to chess pieces, with a look that reveals its own charismatic character. For example, Kia used to be about the tiger nose grille, separate headlights and the lower intake. Now it’s going to be more of a mask that will deliver sportiness and a presence.” Kia design head Byungchul Juh said that Kia will be “young, challenging and cool – cooler than before. There will be a distinct version of tiger face for each segment, and we’ll keep the tiger nose grille. In principle it’s the same, but there’s a different interpretation for each segment, and more of a 3D feeling. We’re moving from a nose to a face.” He added: “The next Optima is the first step. It’s not extreme but progressive, with a strong brand identity. There will be even greater separation between Kia and Hyundai. Kia is more innovative, young, challenging, iconic and cool. There will be unexpected details, and influences from general product design, cars, architecture and fine art.” Because Kias have had a more distinctive look for longer than Hyundais, Donckerwolke and SangYup Lee, former Bentley colleague and now head of Hyundai design, determined that the Sonata represented the heart of the range and would be the design flag-bearer. The saloon is a model built over 35 years and eight generations but no longer sold in the UK. Hyundai’s new look be “sexy, seductive and sensuous, sporty, eager and stylish”, said Donckerwolke. “Hyundai is good on value for money, but we need to add emotion.” He likened the new philosophy to that of fashion house Prêt à Porter, which ‘democratises haute couture’. Kia, meanwhile, is about “streetwear – bold, fresh and young”, Donckerwolke said. “The next Sportage is even bolder than the new Tucson,” he added. A flash reveal of this model in sketch form promises something excitingly fresh. “Genesis is haute couture,” Donckerwolke said, promising “a great new show car”. Expect to see more of Genesis, which has been mooted for a Europe and UK launch for some time and is expected to arrive by next year. “We had Europe in mind from the beginning,” said Donckerwolke. “We need a dealer network, and for that you need a palette of cars, not just two models.” Read More Hyundai N division 'halo' car could be AWD and hybrid Hyundai to invest £5.5bn in hydrogen fuel cell technology Kia details UK prices and specifications for updated Niro​ View the full article
  13. Newly established Italian brand will reveal the Asfanè DieciDieci in Turin on 30th May Fledgling Italian carmaker FV Frangivento is due to unveil the first production prototype of its debut hypercar – the Asfanè DieciDieci – on 30th May. Though no details relating to performance figures have been released, the company has confirmed a hybrid powertrain consisting of a turbocharged petrol engine and two electric motors. An otherworldly-looking concept sketch has also been released. The car’s name carries some meaning. Asfanè means ‘it can’t be done’ in Piedmontese dialect, implying the company has achieved the impossible in bringing the concept to reality. ‘DieciDieci’ means simply ‘TenTen’, which is the metric horsepower produced by the hybrid drive – or around 996 bhp, which puts it close to the Mercedes-AMG One hypercar but behind the 1160bhp Aston Martin Valkyrie in terms of total power output. FV Frangivento first revealed a concept of the car back at the 2016 Turin Motor Show, and referred to it as ‘a forerunner of high-performance hybrid and electric propulsion on an all-Italian platform’. The company has been operating since 2015. Based in Moncalieri in Italy, the firm was created by entrepreneur Paolo Mancini and designer Giorgio Pirolo and receives financial support from Carlo Pirolo. The company also has some notable links to Italian automotive firms such as Pirelli, Sparco, Brembo and OZ Racing. In addition to the car’s unveiling at the National Automobile Museum in Turin, the Asfanè DieciDieci will also mark Italian Republic Day with an appearance at the Italian Embassy in Monte Carlo on Sunday 2nd June. READ MORE The rebirth of Italdesign: £1.5m Zerouno hypercar driven 1900bhp Pininfarina Battista EV to make UK appearance Top 10 best supercars 2019 View the full article
  14. Skoda brings 4x4 Scout trim to newly updated Superb, but it's currently not destined for the UK Skoda has added a new Scout variant to its Superb flagship for the first time, completing the facelifted model’s range revealed earlier today. It’s not coming to the UK, however. In the traditional Scout format seen across other rugged Skodas, the new Superb variant receives new body enhancements to protect against off-road scuffs and scrapes and a 15mm increase in ride height. The exterior changes include bespoke front and rear bumpers with aluminium-effect underbody protection and plastic lower cladding along the sills and on the wheel arches. Chrome-plated roof rails and window surrounds also feature, as do aluminium-look door mirrors and new 18in alloy wheels. As expected, all Superb Scouts come with four-wheel drive, mated to either a 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine or a 2.0-litre petrol unit with 268bhp - the latter being 9bhp down on previous iterations due to a new petrol particulate filter. Both are mated exclusively to a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. Changes to the interior are limited to new wood-effect decorative strips on the doors and dash, as well a specific seat fabric with the option of leather and alcantara. Heated seats are standard, too, while the infotainment can display specific off-road information. A Skoda UK spokesperson claims the Superb Scout isn’t currently destined for the UK due to a perceived lack of demand not justifying the conversion to right-hand drive. The better-selling Kodiaq and Karoq Scouts are also cited as a reason. Read more: 2019 Skoda Superb revealed with plug-in hybrid option Skoda Karoq Scout 2019 UK review Skoda Octavia vRS Challenge 2019 UK review View the full article
  15. They are two of the most exciting supercars to unleash on a track - but what are they like at road-legal speeds away from a circuit? The Ferrari 488 Pista and McLaren 720S are two of Autocar's favourite supercars of the moment. Both are mid-engined, with turbocharged V8 engines making absurd amounts of power - more than 700bhp apiece. They're great track cars and we've already tested them both, extensively, on track. But what are they like as road cars? And what are they like when the going gets ordinary: as in, rain comes down and there are speed limits and other traffic to consider? Are they still enjoyable? Join our editor-at-large Matt Prior and special correspondent Mauro Calo - world-record drifter and the man who is hired to make 'the talent' look good on films and TV shows - as they discuss these two brilliant supercars and decide which is best. READ MORE McLaren Speedtail revealed: 250mph and 0-186mph in 12.8sec​ Britain's Best Driver's Car 2018: the top three​ Top 10 best supercars 2019​ View the full article
  16. Vauxhall Corsa-e Battery electric version of perenially popular supermini revealed with 211-mile range Vauxhall has revealed the new full electric Corsa-e supermini, which will kickstart the brand’s electrification programme when it goes on sale next March with 134bhp and a 211-mile range. The unveiling of official pictures and details of the EV version of the Corsa – which will also be offered with petrol and diesel powertrains – has been brought forward after images of the Opel-branded version leaked online yesterday. The new Corsa is the first Vauxhall model that has been developed since the firm was bought by the PSA Group, which also owns Peugeot, Citroën and DS. It shares the PSA Group’s new CMP platform and powertrains with the recently launched Peugeot 208. The Corsa-e will match the e-208 in having a 50kWh battery to power the electric motor. The powertrain has 134bhp and produces 191lb ft, enough for a 0-31mph time of around 3.1secs. The Corsa-e will feature three drive modes – Normal, Sport and Eco – with Vauxhall claiming the 211-mile official range can be extended by up to 40% in Eco drive mode. The hatch also features a regenerative braking system. While based on the same architecture, the car’s bodywork is entirely a Vauxhall/Opel design, with no crossover from the 208. Despite the new platform, the Corsa’s dimensions are closely matched to the outgoing model, while the styling is also similar. The Corsa-e will have styling close to the combustion-engined version, with a bespoke wheel design and slightly different grille. It features a charging port located where the fuel filler normally is on a combustion-engined car. It will only be offered in five-door form, reflecting current industry trends. Inside, the Corsa-e will be offered with a 10in touchscreen, with an infotainment system compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It will also offer a range of driver assistance features, including traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control and park assist. The combustion-engined version of the Corsa, which Autocar drove a development version of recently, will be launched at a later date. Vauxhall will reveal pricing information for the Corsa-e closer to when it goes on sale next year. As part of the PSA Group's wider plans, Vauxhall will offer a full electric or electrified version of every model in its line-up by 2024. It recently unveiled the Grandland PHEV, and has confirmed the successor to the Mokka X SUV and the new Vivaro van, both due in 2020, will feature battery electric variants. Read more New Vauxhall Corsa prototype first drive Vauxhall Corsa-e name confirmed for 2020 electric hatchback View the full article
  17. Skoda's first electric car gets a 164-mile range and promises to be one of the best-value EVs on the market Skoda has officially unveiled its first pure electric car in Bratislava: the Citigo-e iV. In effect Skoda's updated version of the Volkswagen e-Up, the new city car comes with headline figures of 81bhp and a range of up to 164 miles under the WLTP testing protocol. It will reach the UK early next year, and although pricing hasn't been confirmed yet, Skoda promises it will be one of the most affordable EVs on the market. While we're promised that the two upcoming Skodas that will sit on the Volkswagen Group's forthcoming MEB pure electric architecture are more adventurous, the Citigo-e is much more traditional. The body-coloured radiator grille is the most obvious sign of the different powerplant from the regular car. All Citigo-es will have five doors, and there will be two trim levels – SE and SE L – in the UK. As in the e-Up, power comes from a single electric motor driving the front wheels and supplied by a 36.8kWh lithium ion battery positioned underneath the floor; 155lb ft of torque should ensure peppy responses. Skoda claims a 0-62mph time of 12.5sec, but the top speed will be limited to 81mph. Expect it to be very close to the e-Up’s 1229kg kerb weight. The final UK specification hasn't yet been revealed, but the European Style trim - which is in effect SE L - features a high-speed Combined Charging System as standard. This can support DC charging at up to 40kW, sufficient to replenish the battery to 80% in an hour. Using the standard AC port, a 7.2kW system will take just over four hours to deliver the same level of charge; a 2.3kW domestic wallbox will take around 12 and a half hours. The DC charger - and a higher-rated AC cable - will be optional on the cheaper model. Based on what we've been told about the Euro-spec Ambition, the entry-level SE will be modestly equipped, although we will get 14in alloy wheels instead of the steel rims that will be standard in Europe. There is also climate control and a smartphone dock built into the dashboard - as in the regular Citigo - capable of displaying some EV-specific information. The plusher Style - which will become our SE L - gets a leather steering wheel and 16in alloys. Order books for the Citigo-e will open in the autumn, with first deliveries expected early next year. We're told to expect a price of around £15,000, with the step between SE and SE L versions similar to that of the petrol-powered Citigo at around £550. Read more: Skoda previews future electric models with Concept iV Skoda Citigo review Top 10 best electric cars View the full article
  18. Skoda Superb iV Czech firm kicks off electrification programme with hybrid version of revamped flagship model Skoda has revealed the revised version of its flagship Superb saloon and estate, which will be offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the first time. The hybrid will be launched as the Superb iV in recognition of Skoda’s new sub-brand that will be used for its bold electrification plans. The firm launched the Superb alongside the pure-electric Citigo-e at an event in Slovakia. The Superb iV features a 154bhp, 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine mated to a 114bhp electric motor, which sends drive to the front wheels through a six-speed DSG transmission. The peak system output is 220bhp, with 295lb ft of torque. The car will be capable of completing 34 miles of pure electric running, identical to the similar Volkswagen Passat GTE. Skoda has yet to release performance figues, but insiders suggest they will closely match the Passat, hinting at a 0-62mph time of around 7.4secs for the saloon. The battery pack is located under the floor and ahead of the rear axle, which means a slight reduction in boot capacity – 485 litres for the saloon and 510 litres for the estate, compared to 625 and 660 for the non-hybrid versions respectively. Beyond the well-hidden charging port integrated into the front grille there will be little to give away the PHEV's part-electric status. The infotainment system can display information on battery status and electric range and additional controls for the various powertrain modes. It will also be possible to programme the PHEV's aircon to cool the cabin before the car is needed. The existing Superb powertrains will be carried over for the facelifted model, with a new 2.0-litre 190bhp TSI unit added. The range-topper will continue to be a 280bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged version. The redesigned Superb has gained a new-look grille, with added chrome trim between the LED rear lights. There is also a new front bumper, which stretches the length of the car by 8mm to 4869mm. The car is the first Skoda to gain full LED Matrix headlights as an option, and new driver assistance features include predictive cruise control. Sales for the facelifted car begin in September with the plug-in hybrid version following earlier next year. Pricing has yet to be revealed, but Skoda promises the PHEV will be highly competitive in its increasingly crowded part of the market, and is anticipated to constitute up to 20% of sales in the UK. Read more Skoda Superb review Skoda's electric models to stand out with new lightstrip Plug-in hybrid Skoda Superb to kick-start electrification programme View the full article
  19. Rolls-Royce unveils latest 'Collection' special inspired by world's first non-stop transatlantic flight Rolls-Royce will use this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este to unveil its latest limited-run Collection Car: the Wraith Eagle VIII. Set to be on public display tomorrow at the event in Lake Como, Italy, the Wraith Eagle VIII is limited to just 50 examples. Rolls-Royce says its purpose is to “tell the epic tale of one of the most pivotal moments of the 20th century” - the first non-stop transatlantic flight. In June 1919 - 100 years ago next month - British aviators John Alcock and Arthur Brown took off from Newfoundland, Canada, in a modified First World War Vickers Vimy aircraft, landing in Clifden, Ireland, nearly 16 hours later after battling with thick cloud cover and freezing fog. The aircraft was powered by two 20.3-litre 350bhp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines, from which the new car takes its name. The special Wraith gets a two-tone light and dark grey paint scheme separated by a brass feature line - a scheme used because the flight was at night. ‘Translucent shadow’ wheels also feature, while the black X-pattern grille vanes are a reference to the engine cowling of the aircraft. The interior is finished in grey and black leather with brass accents, but it’s the detailing that’s key. Brass speaker covers show the estimated flight distance (1880 miles) while brass is also used on the door panniers. The dash-mounted clock even receives an iced background effect - glowing green at night - designed to imitate the plane’s frozen-over instruments and the green glow from the control panel. The eucalyptus wood dash fascia features gold, silver and copper inlays depicting a view of the earth from above at night, while the starlight headliner is claimed to show the exact celestial arrangement at the time of the flight, with the flight path embroidered across it in brass thread. Even the moment the pilots were able to clear the clouds and navigate via the stars is marked by a red fibre-optic light. The halfway point of the flight is marked with a plaque, while embroidered ‘clouds’ also feature. A plaque (also brass) on the driver’s door contains the following quote from Sir Winston Churchill on the historic flight: “I do not know what we should most admire - their audacity, determination, skill, science, their aeroplane, their Rolls-Royce engines, or their good fortune.” No pricing details have been revealed for the Wraith Eagle VIII - the old ‘if you have to ask, you can't afford it’ adage probably applies. Read more Rolls-Royce Wraith 2019 review All-new Rolls-Royce Ghost to take fight to Bentley in 2020 Confessions of a Rolls-Royce Phantom chauffeur View the full article
  20. Jaguar's sports car will receive big alterations to the styling, new engines and a cabin upgrade to extend its lifespan Jaguar will release a heavily updated F-Type next year, and the first spy images of a disguised prototype have emerged. Spotted outside the firm’s Gaydon engineering centre, the camouflaged car shows significant styling alterations for Jaguar’s Porsche 911 rival, including a dramatic overhaul of the front-end with a reshaped bonnet and slim headlights relocated further down the front fascia. A redesigned grille also features, while at the rear a new tail-lamp design can be seen with a squared-off rear profile mimicking the recently facelifted XE saloon. It's the first major styling revision since the F-Type was launched in 2013. Though the prototype’s interior hasn’t been seen, it’s expected that much of the more advanced technology and infotainment features from the I-Pace and the 2019 XE will make its way into the F-Type. That means new digital dials, a larger and more feature-laden touchscreen, and substantial upgrades to the materials. Jaguar Land Rover is now phasing out the long-used supercharged V6 in favour of a new turbocharged and hybridised straight-six, and the F-Type will benefit from this more efficient powertrain. The turbocharged four-cylinder and supercharged V8 engines should be carried over to the new car with limited changes, however. What remains unclear is whether the new F-Type will retain a manual option. The current V6 is still offered with one in the UK, although its reportedly been removed from sale in the US. Regardless, sales of the self-shifter are a tiny fraction of overall F-Type sales. Jaguar’s priorities for 2019 are the rollout of the new XE and the launch of a similarly updated XF and F-Pace. However, we could see the revised F-Type revealed before the year is out, with an on-sale date in the first few months of 2020. Read more: Big updates for Jaguar XF and F-Pace to follow XE Bold looks, classier cabin, more tech for facelifted Jaguar XE Jaguar F-Type review View the full article
  21. Nothing is quite so daunting - and adventurous - as a 22,000 mile, cross-continental vintage and classic rally We all love a road trip, so how about signing up for the ultimate drive, with an added spice of competition? That’s the premise for the ‘Round the World’ vintage and classic rally, which will start this week – exactly a year from now. A copious spirit of adventure is mandatory – as are the amounts of time and money you’ll have to indulge. In the best traditions of Phileas Fogg, this 22,000- mile circumnavigation is scheduled to take just 80 days, but split across more than a full year and three legs. “You can choose to do just one,” says Rally the Globe organiser Fred Gallagher. “But we’d love you to do all three.” Gallagher is a rallying veteran who co-drove for Juha Kankkunen, Ari Vatanen and Björn Waldegard during a stellar career, before turning his hand to organising epic historic rallies. But this lap of the globe is the first such since his friend, the late and much-missed Philip Young, ran one back in 2000. So they don’t happen often. Vintage and classic cars split into five classes of age are eligible. That means basically anything up to the 1976 cut-off, and Gallagher hopes for a clutch of Edwardian ‘Pioneers’ among the entry. Crews will gather for the start at Greenwich, site of the Prime Meridian Line, on May 23 2020 for the first leg: a run to Casablanca by 9 June. The rally picks up again in Boston on 19 September and sets aim for Vancouver by 10 October. And the final, mammoth leg starts from Vladivostok, Russia the following May, with crews crossing Siberia, Kazakhstan and northern Europe to make it back to Greenwich by 19 June 2021. Not 80 days in the continuous sense that Fogg or Michael Palin would understand, then, but much more convivial – especially given the fine hotels crews can expect along the route. But the extra challenge comes in the 100 speed and navigation tests (“there will be gravel,” promises Gallagher) that will decide the ‘Rally the Globe Round the World’ champion. Competition always adds a welcome edge. You could try such a trip under your own steam, of course. But you’d soon feel the pinch of vulnerability without a full support team, and the logistics would induce a migraine – plus this is much more sociable. So the cost, besides your precious time? £80,000 per car for a crew of two. New specced-up BMW or the road trip of a lifetime in your beloved Austin-Healey? No choice, surely. READ MORE Racing lines: Blancpain GT is owner-driver racing at its finest Ranked: The world's most beautiful cars Stage flight: why rallying is back to its best in 2019 View the full article
  22. Mk2 Qashqai gives you a decent mix of ride comfort and body control If you’ve more sense than money, a still-fresh Qashqai adds up The car that created a whole new model class is now in its second generation and past its first facelift, to boot. That happened in 2017 when the Mk2 Qashqai, under the microscope here, received a thorough refresh of its design, finish, equipment and refinement. It was all a bid to keep this family-sized SUV ahead of its rivals, competition that its predecessor had spawned the moment it first rolled off the production line 12 years ago. My, how the motoring world was wrong-footed by that first Qashqai. It has since made up for lost time but Sunderland’s compact marvel isn’t giving up without a fight and makes a cracking used car. Ignoring the many high-milers out there, prices for Mk2 Qashqais (they came out in 2014) start at around £8500 for a tidy 2014/64-reg 1.2 DiG-T Acenta with 30,000 miles. For those with deeper pockets, 2017-facelift cars kick off at around £12,000 for a 2017/67-reg 1.5 dCi Acenta in a bright colour and with 20,000 miles. If you like your used car wrapped and tied with a bow, check out Nissan’s approved used stocks. There are the usual benefits, including a 12-month warranty and a 30-day/1000-mile exchange promise as well as a free courtesy car at service time and free roadside assistance when you have it serviced by a Nissan dealer. So what do you get for your money? Not seven seats, that’s for sure. The Mk2 Qashqai is a five-seater only. If you must have seven chairs, check out either a Mk1 Qashqai+2 or the current Nissan X-Trail. Otherwise, you’re getting an exceptionally well-rounded, car-like SUV with decent cabin and boot space, a stylish and comfortable interior, impressive ride and handling, and efficient engines. Two-wheel drive versions get a torsion beam rear axle and four-wheel-drive ones a more sophisticated multi-link arrangement as well as respectable off-roading manners. But it’s two-wheel drive that most buyers vote for. Top of their agenda is value for money and low running costs. On these measures, the Mk2 Qashqai doesn’t disappoint. There’s a gaggle of engines but, for undemanding, low-mileage drivers, we recommend the 113bhp 1.2 DiG-T petrol. It accelerates smoothly, cruises easily on the motorway and returns up to 45mpg. For higher mileage, the 1.5 dCi diesel is more suitable. It’s a flexible, refined and willing unit. It’ll cruise the motorway all day long and return up to 56mpg. There are five trim levels, ranging from Visia to Tekna+. Visia is generous, with four electric windows, a 5.0in infotainment system and air-con. (Acenta, the next up, gets dual-zone climate control.) Further up the range, N-Connecta adds a safety pack and Tekna brings leather upholstery, a Bose audio system and even more safety kit. Newer rivals such as the Seat Ateca may be more polished in every area but a Mk2 Qashqai fits more pockets. Need to know The Qashqai’s optional automatic Xtronic gearbox is a CVT (continuously variable transmission). Such gearboxes can often make a car sound revvy and breathless but, when paired with the impressively torquey 1.6 dCi diesel engine, the Qashqai’s is much less vocal and pretty lively with it. The panoramic sunroof was a £400 option and is well worth seeking out. It’s standard on Black Edition models launched in 2016 but you’ll find it across most versions. It floods the cabin with light and gives the whole plot a welcome lift. Only diesel Qashqais from 2015 on are Euro 6 compliant, so a Mk2 launch model could cost you dear if you want to enter areas such as London’s ultra-low-emissions zone. Our pick Nissan Qashqai 1.5 DCI N-Connecta: A generous spec (Smart Vision, 18in alloys, sports seats, 7.0in display, digital radio and 360deg camera) meet a sweet diesel to make a well-balanced version in plentiful supply. Wild card Nissan Qashqai 1.6 DIG-T Tekna+: The ultimate Qashqai lays it on with everything from nappa leather to a panoramic sunroof and the full panoply of safety features. The torquey, 160bhp 1.6 DiG-T petrol engine offers respectable performance, too. Ones we found 2014 Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta Premium, 158,000 miles, £5999 2015 Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta, 72,000 miles, £8400 2016 Qashqai 1.2 DiG-T N-Connecta, 43,000 miles, £10,000 2017 Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta, 20,000 miles, £11,950 Read more Nissan Qashqai 2007-2014 review​ Nissan adds 1.3-litre petrol engine to Qashqai range​ Nissan previews future of Qashqai with IMq concept​ View the full article
  23. Nothing is quite so daunting - and adventurous - as a 22,000 mile, cross-continental vintage and classic rally We all love a road trip, so how about signing up for the ultimate drive, with an added spice of competition? That’s the premise for the ‘Round the World’ vintage and classic rally, which will start this week – exactly a year from now. A copious spirit of adventure is mandatory – as are the amounts of time and money you’ll have to indulge. In the best traditions of Phileas Fogg, this 22,000- mile circumnavigation is scheduled to take just 80 days, but split across more than a full year and three legs. “You can choose to do just one,” says Rally the Globe organiser Fred Gallagher. “But we’d love you to do all three.” Gallagher is a rallying veteran who co-drove for Juha Kankkunen, Ari Vatanen and Björn Waldegard during a stellar career, before turning his hand to organising epic historic rallies. But this lap of the globe is the first such since his friend, the late and much-missed Philip Young, ran one back in 2000. So they don’t happen often. Vintage and classic cars split into five classes of age are eligible. That means basically anything up to the 1976 cut-off, and Gallagher hopes for a clutch of Edwardian ‘Pioneers’ among the entry. Crews will gather for the start at Greenwich, site of the Prime Meridian Line, on May 23 2020 for the first leg: a run to Casablanca by 9 June. The rally picks up again in Boston on 19 September and sets aim for Vancouver by 10 October. And the final, mammoth leg starts from Vladivostok, Russia the following May, with crews crossing Siberia, Kazakhstan and northern Europe to make it back to Greenwich by 19 June 2021. Not 80 days in the continuous sense that Fogg or Michael Palin would understand, then, but much more convivial – especially given the fine hotels crews can expect along the route. But the extra challenge comes in the 100 speed and navigation tests (“there will be gravel,” promises Gallagher) that will decide the ‘Rally the Globe Round the World’ champion. Competition always adds a welcome edge. You could try such a trip under your own steam, of course. But you’d soon feel the pinch of vulnerability without a full support team, and the logistics would induce a migraine – plus this is much more sociable. So the cost, besides your precious time? £80,000 per car for a crew of two. New specced-up BMW or the road trip of a lifetime in your beloved Austin-Healey? No choice, surely. READ MORE Racing lines: Blancpain GT is owner-driver racing at its finest Ranked: The world's most beautiful cars Stage flight: why rallying is back to its best in 2019 View the full article
  24. Greater differentiation between three key models, plus EV options, are on the cards Mitsubishi will reorganise its SUV line-up to create clearer space between the Outlander, Eclipse Cross and ASX, a senior source has revealed. The strategy, set to roll out from 2020, will be made possible by the firm’s position within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which it joined in 2016 and which gives it access to shared platforms between the brands. Although the source was not specific on car sizes, they said that there would be roughly a 200mm gap in length between each car, giving Mitsubishi a line-up similar to Nissan’s respective X-Trail, Qashqai and Juke triumvirate. As such, the new Outlander will grow, with the next ASX shrinking compared with today’s models. “Today we aren’t in an ideal position, with our SUVs close in size, but in the next 18 months you will start to see a strategy that separates them out,” said the source. “The good news is that the SUV is core to Mitsubishi’s DNA and on that front the world is coming to us. We have a strong reputation in the market – as well as for plug-in hybrids and even electrification – and we can build on that.” They indicated that, as well as petrol and diesel variants, the next-generation Outlander would continue to be offered as a plug-in hybrid, the Eclipse Cross would be available as a hybrid or plug-in hybrid and the next-generation ASX would have the option of full battery-electric capability. “We will not have a unique nameplate, but instead offer the appropriate electrification options for the vehicles and how people will use them,” said the source. The Mitsubishi Engelberg Tourer displayed at the Geneva show in March showcases the look of the next-generation Outlander and a new four wheel-drive plug-in hybrid powertrain. It mates a 2.4-litre petrol engine with a 20kWh battery and electric motors front and rear, with a claimed 44-mile WLTP electric range. New Mirage on the horizon The next-generation Mitsubishi Mirage could be electrified, as the firm tries to balance differing expectations for small cars across global markets, Autocar understands. The current Mirage went on sale in 2012 and, under various nameplates, has met with mixed success, selling well in some markets but struggling in others, including the UK. “If you try to build one car for both Asia and Europe, it’s clear you end up pleasing neither,” said a senior source. “It’s either too lowly specced or too highly specced depending on your perspective. “We have a couple of options. We could look to the Renault-Nissan Alliance for a solution, or we could move towards a battery-electric city car for some markets.” READ MORE Mitsubishi committed to future PHEV development Mitsubishi's journey from rally royalty to plug-in pioneer Mitsubishi calls for plug-in hybrid grant to be reinstated View the full article
  25. Audi chooses a 48-volt-assisted TDI V6 for its latest performance exec, despite diesels being in the doldrums The easy way to view the arrival of the new Audi S6 is as a new and enticingly warmed-over executive four-door, a decent progression from its predecessors but nothing more controversial than that.The new S6 – like its close relatives being launched at the same time, the S6 Avant estate, S7 Sportback and SQ5 soft-roader – gets its extra performance from a brand new 48-volt mild hybrid powerplant whose heart is a new turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine. And diesels, as we know, are in sales decline in the UK following Dieselgate and publicity over the danger to human health caused by exposure to untreated diesel exhaust constituents, principally NOx.Thus the far more intriguing story is about Audi launching a new generation of S6 models that depend on a form of motive power already discredited in some vocal quarters. There won’t be an S6 petrol alternative offered here. The new cars may well deserve customers, but to succeed, they’ll need to buck a strong market trend.Audi naturally deploys good arguments to back its move: it cites the low CO2 output of diesels compared with petrols and the fact that latest exhaust treatment paraphernalia makes 2019 diesel exhausts cleaner than the EU requires (and capable of passing the looming Euro 7 standards). Of course their impressive fuel economy and generous touring range help many drivers, too.View the full article
  26. Audi’s high performance soft-road middleweight adopts new sporty V6 diesel hybrid power, cutting emissions and saving fuel Audi’s decision to break conventions by using a mild-hybrid diesel V6 for its middleweight sporty models is about to extend to the classy SQ5 TDI, due in showrooms in a couple of months and available for order now.Like the S6 saloon and S7 Sportback, the sporty soft-roader has a newly developed 3.0-litre diesel V6, working with a 48-volt integrated starter generator that collectes power on the overrun and deploys it during acceleration, to deliver its impressive performance.Like its siblings, the SQ5 engine’s turbocharger is fed at low crankshaft speeds by an electric compressor that feeds the turbo impeller and greatly reduces turbo lag. Working together, the starter generator and V6 produce 342bhp at a relaxed 3850rpm (a power output slightly lower than the saloons because of different manifolding) but an identical 516lb ft of torque between 2500 and 3100 rpm. Performance matches that of the two new Audi S saloons: the 0-60mph sprint takes a very brisk 5.1sec, and the SQ5 TDI is governed at 155mph, like every other car in its class.The fuel consumption story is impressive: using latest WLTP rules the SQ5 returns 34.4mpg combined, usefully undercutting the outgoing 3.0 TFSI model and soundly beating petrol-engined competitors like the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 4Matic (around £6000 cheaper at £49,890) by a cool 10mpg. Audi will be hoping buyers respond to their model’s efficiency and long range, and not be deterred (as buyers in other markets recently have been) by the fact that it’s a diesel.View the full article
  27. Latest warmed five-door fastback ditches petrol for Audi’s surprisingly sporty hybrid diesel power Sounds a bit crude for such a good-looking car, but what we have here, mechanically speaking, is the closest product possible to the Audi S6 – also launched this week – without masking it the same.The S7 has the same chassis and running gear, the same ingenious, clean and powerful mild-hybrid diesel powerplant and much the same dimensions. In fact, if you were looking for a pair of cars to illustrate how car makers can make two distinct models using the same ‘stuff’, this pair of Audis would fill the bill.This Sportback is a rakish five-door, a little lower and a little heavier than the S6 four-door but deemed special enough to command an entry price of around £8000 to the good. See the two cars together – as we did on test near Wiesbaden, Germany – and it’s not hard to appreciate the reason for that price disparity: the lower and more graceful S7, with its slightly more confined accommodation, is arguably the best-looking car Audi makes, and looks instantly exotic enough to command a higher price. So it does.Along with the S6 and SQ5, it commits Audi to a new 48V hybrid 3.0-litre diesel V6 as motive power for its high-performance versions of the A6, an odd-looking move when diesels are declining in popularity, especially in the UK, and no one’s very optimistic about a recovery.View the full article
  28. BMW X7 M50i M Performance versions of luxury SUVs feature tuned version 4.4-litre V8 twin turbo engine BMW has revealed new M Performance versions of its latest X5 and X7 SUVs ahead of their planned UK introduction during the final quarter of 2019. The two M50i-based SUVs both feature an updated version of BMW’s twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine, which produces 523bhp and 553lb ft, an increase of 67bhp and 74lb ft over the existing xDrive50i versions of both models. BMW has so far only issued a limited number of photos showing the car from the rear, and detail shots of the interior. The updated engine features a revised aluminium block that offers increased stiffness. To boost refinement, it also features pistons coated in graphite-impregnated resin and a damper incorporated in the crankshaft. The power is driven through an eight-speed torque converter-equipped eight-speed gearbox, which features bespoke electronic mapping including a launch control function. The latest entrants in the growing premium sports SUV class also feature a rear-biased xDrive all-wheel drive system with an electronic M Sport differential managed via the Dynamic Stability Control system. It is claimed to be able to transfer up to 100 per cent of drive to the rear wheels in certain driving conditions. No official weight figure has yet been revealed for the new range-topping X5 and X7 models, though BMW claims respective 0-62mph time of 4.1secs and 4.5secs respectively, as well as a limited top speed for both models of 155mph. That compares to 4.7secd and 5.4secs for the X5 xDrive50i and X7 xDrive50i. The machines also feature newly tuned suspension, with a double wishbone at the front and multi-link rear. It uses unique bushing, firmer springs and dampers, and rides on 20inch wheels as standard (21in and 22in wheels are available as options). The X5 M50i features an Adaptive M suspension featuring adaptive damping, while the X7 M50i rides on air suspension with variable ride height control. That suspension is an option on the X5. The boost in performance is accompanied by a retuned double wishbone (front) and multi-link (rear) suspension. It features unique bushings together with firmer springs and dampers and standard 20-inch wheels. In the case of the X5 M50i, it is allied to a so-called Adaptive M suspension featuring adaptive damping control, while the X7 M50i receives an air suspension with variable ride height control - a feature that is also available on the X5 M50i as an option. The brakes feature new two-piece compound steels discs disks with revised M division callipers. The X5 M50i and X7 M50i are distinguished from standard X5 and X7 model by a more heavily structured front bumper with larger cooling ducts, new sills underneath the doors and a revised rear bumper, among other subtle exterior design tweaks. Inside, the door sill plates feature an illuminated M50i logo, and there is an M-Sport steering wheel, gear lever and instruments, and sport seats. The new models will top the existing line-ups for the two SUVs until the arrival of even more powerful X5 M and X7 M variants in 2020. UK pricing has yet to be confirmed. Read more BMW X5 review BMW X7 review Autocar's top ten sports SUVs View the full article
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