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  2. British firm will announce cuts in January as part of cost-cutting plan, according to reports Jaguar Land Rover will announce that it will cut up to 5000 jobs early next year as part of a major cost-cutting programme, according to the Financial Times. The job losses will be part of a £2.5 billion turnaround plan the British firm is set to outline in January. JLR has been hit by falling demand for saloon cars and diesel engines, and posted a loss of £90 million in the third quarter of 2018. The company said that sharply falling sales in China were the key reason for the loss. While Jaguar Land Rover boss Ralf Speth announced the 18-month cost-cutting plan when those financial results were announced in October, no specifics were given on what they involved. But sources have told the FT that it will include job losses that “run into the thousands”, with a financial analyst that covers JLR telling the paper that up to 5000 job losses are planned. JLR, which currently employs around 40,000 people in the UK, has already cut 1000 job at its Solihull plant – which it recently shut for two weeks – and is currently operating a three-day week at its Castle Bromwich facility, which makes its saloon car range. The reports highlight the uncertainty facing JLR, and beyond the cost-cutting plan the company is also attempting to determine its long-term future. Autocar has previously reported this could include the radical step of turning Jaguar into an EV-only brand. Autocar has contacted Jaguar Land Rover for comment. Read more Jaguar Land Rover posts £90 million loss, announces major cost-cutting plan Exclusive: Jaguar could be turned into EV-only brand Jaguar Land Rover boss: hard Brexit will cost jobs View the full article
  3. Photo credit: Effervescing Elephant The £6.70 charge to cross the Severn Bridge into Wales ends today - here's why I approve of the decision For 22 years, I’ve had to put up with the Severn Bridge and its toll. For those of us who live on the western side of either of the two bridges that cross the eponymous estuary, we learned first to grin, then to bear and finally to grimly accept our fate. Which is that every single time someone comes to visit us for the first time, they make a crack about why one has to pay to enter Wales when it would be far more effective if people were forced to pay to get out. Staggeringly, they all think they are the first to have thought of it. And the most galling thing of all? I don’t even live in bloody Wales. You may know by now that the tolls on both bridges (the newer of the two is technically the Second Severn Crossing) will be abolished after today (Sunday December 16) when, just over half a century after the first was built, the bridges pass back into public ownership. Severn Bridge tolls to be scrapped at the end of 2018 Round here, we are largely jumping for joy. Although unquantified, the benefit both to the local economy and to that of the whole of Wales will likely be enormous. For Cardiff, Swansea and any other city, town or village located to the M4 corridor, the effects will likely be hugely significant. Everyone will benefit, from the haulier whose trucks have to pay £20 every time they cross the water, to the person who lives in Chepstow and would love to work in Bristol but is put off by the bridge toll. The maths is simple: it costs £6.70 for each return trip by a private car and, if you do that five days a week for 48 weeks a year, it will cost you £1608 of net income. There is a season ticket but it can’t be transferred between cars and will save you a mere £22 each year. Unless my maths is very wrong (entirely possible), it seems to me that lifting the toll will have the effect of giving a two-grand pay rise to a basic-rate tax payer who has to use the bridge daily for commuting purposes; think how long that would take to achieve through conventional above-inflation pay rises. Of course, the advantages cut both ways: for everyone who is tempted from England to Wales to work, to live or to so much as buy a cup of tea and a bun in a local coffee shop, so too is it possible that there will be someone else who’ll do the reverse and spend their money in England, not Wales. But at least they’ll have the choice and I know of no one around here who doesn’t think Wales will be the net gainer from the forthcoming arrangement or, I should say, lack thereof. There’s another factor too, which is less easy to quantify, but I believe no less important. Just knowing there’s a toll to pay creates an important psychological barrier and therefore a powerful deterrent not to go. Remove that and I think people will come across the border in unprecedented numbers even if, like me, they do so only to slip back into that significant chunk of England that lies to the west of the Severn. But there is another side to all this. Just because the Government now owns the bridges doesn’t mean they’re suddenly no longer going to need maintaining. They’ll cost as much as ever to run, probably more with the increase in traffic they’re likely to see. And there’s no magic money tree; it will all have to be paid for somehow and in future largely from the pockets of taxpayers who derive no benefit from the bridges at all. At least the current system ensures that it’s paid for only by those who use them and in direct proportion to the amount they are used. Then again, if you take that view, you’d presumably also support people lucky enough to enjoy good health not contributing to the NHS or those rich enough to educate their children privately not paying into the state school system. And where would be then? In short, the decision to transfer the costs of running the bridges from those who use them to all tax payers is demonstrably unfair. I’m all for it. View the full article
  4. Volkswagen's first purpose-built EV is going into production in November 2019, and will stay true to the concept car's design Volkswagen's upcoming ID, the all-electric hatchback destined to enter production late next year, has been testing in disguise in South Africa. The first model from the VW brand designed and purpose-built as an EV, the Golf-sized ID will remain largely faithful to the 2016 ID concept, as the new images show. Director of Volkswagen Design, Klaus Bischoff, previously told Autocar: “The proportions, the design cues and the wheel size are the same as the concept. It looks like the show car. We couldn’t do the camera-system rear-view mirrors for legal reasons, nor the electric door handles due to cost. But other than that, it’s pretty much the same.” The firm has started on-road testing for its model, with the first pre-production prototypes having rolled off lines in April. Engineers have a 16-month window to complete the car's development. Company boss Herbert Diess revealed that these prototypes would also be used in an "intensive start-up phase" that will begin in September. The first definitive examples of the ID are due to be produced in November 2019. Customer sales will kick off in Britain at the start of 2020 at what Diess said would be a price "comparable to a diesel model". The new EV will ignite VW's electric car offensive and is a rear-wheel drive, five-door hatchback. With an electric motor providing the car with 168bhp, the ID is claimed to boast a range of 249-373 miles, easily eclipsing the 186-mile range of the facelifted version of the e-Golf. By packaging its electric motor at the rear, VW has freed up space within the front section of the ID, endowing it with an impressively tight turning circle of just 9.9 metres and the promise of excellent manoeuvrability in urban driving environments. One of the stars of the 2016 Paris motor show, where it was first shown in concept form, the ID will be the first of five new electric models planned by VW, including also an MPV similar to the earlier Budd-e concept wheeled out at the Consumer Electronics Show (also in 2016), ID Crozz SUV, ID Buzz Microbus concept and a saloon. Built to showcase the design lineage, electric drive technology and modular platform architecture that are set to underpin VW’s EV offensive, the ID concept also provides an insight to the fully autonomous driving functions the company is developing for introduction on selected models from 2025 onwards. Among its more intriguing features is a multi-function steering wheel that stows away within the dashboard when the driver switches to autonomous driving mode via the VW emblem set within its boss. Styled at VW’s main design studio in Wolfsburg, Germany, the ID sports a highly contemporary appearance that is claimed to set the tone for all of the company’s new electric cars. Commenting on the design process, head of VW brand design Klaus Bischoff said: “We had the unique chance to lead Volkswagen into a new age. Electric drive provides greater freedom for designers. We minimise the cooling holes; the axes move further apart and generate stunning proportions.” With an illuminated badge making it easily identifiable as a VW, the new car departs quite radically from existing models. Key elements include a largely unadorned front end, ultra-short front overhang, a steeply rising bonnet line, a heavily raked windscreen, large wheel houses housing 20in wheels, prominent sill elements, cantilever-style rear doors, an extended roofline, a prominent rear spoiler element and a glass tailgate. By eschewing a traditional grille, using flush fitting glass for the side windows and extending the roofline beyond the top of the tailgate, VW’s designers have clearly attempted boost the aerodynamic efficiency of the ID. At 4100mm in length, 1800mm in width and 1530mm in height, the ID is 155mm longer, 9mm wider and 77mm higher than the existing seventh-generation Golf. It also rides on a wheelbase that is 130mm longer than that of Europe’s perennial best seller at 2750mm. With interactive LED headlights that have been conceived to mimic the action of a human eye by giving the impression of being able to open and close, as well as LED units concealed within various parts of the exterior, the lighting properties and overall visual character of the ID alters depending on the drive mode. When parked, the headlight graphic is designed to provide an impression of a closed eye – as if to signal it is asleep. At start-up, the headlights blink and the graphic is altered to convey the action of an eye opening. At the same time, the VW logos front and rear are illuminated in white, while the lower section of the front bumper, side sills and rear diffuser are lit up in blue. When drive is selected, the LED daytime driving lights are automatically switched on and the VW logos remain lit in white. In autonomous drive mode, a laser scanner deploys from the roof and the front bumper, side sills and rear diffuser are once again illuminated in blue. During recharging, the LED units pulsate in a simulation of the flow of energy being provided to the battery. Inside, VW has exploited the packaging advantages inherent in pure electric drivetrains to provide its latest concept car with an impressively roomy four-seat interior offering accommodation similar to today’s larger Passat, as well as a comprehensive connectivity package that VW suggests will be part and parcel of all upcoming electric models. "Before we took a pen in the hand for the ID project, we intensively discussed the importance of future mobility. One thing is certain: the car for the day after tomorrow will be a place of mobile communication. The open space offered by the ID is such a place,” says Bischoff. While the ID provides seating for four on individual seats, the production version will offer a more conventional layout with space for up to five. VW has yet to reveal nominal boot capacity but says the concept offers up to 980 litres of luggage space when the rear seats are folded down. Despite its contemporary appearance, VW suggests the production version will rely on existing unibody construction techniques using a combination of hot-formed high-strength steel, aluminium and magnesium. This will allow the company to build the new car in existing factories without the need for significant investment in production infrastructure. Underpinning the ID is VW’s newly developed MEB (Modular Electric Architecture) platform originally showcased on the Budd-e concept at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2016. Providing the ID with zero-emissions capability is a 125kW brushless electric motor mounted within the rear axle housing. The in-house-developed unit drives the concept’s rear wheels via a fixed-ratio gearbox. Although VW has yet to hint at a kerb weight for the first of its dedicated electric cars, computer simulations suggest the production version is set to possess a 0-62mph time of less than eight seconds and a top speed limited to 100mph. Energy used to drive the electric motor is drawn from a lithium-ion battery mounted low down in the floor of the MEB platform wholly within the wheelbase for the best possible weight distribution. VW has not yet confirmed the capacity of the lithium-ion unit, but Autocar sources say it will be produced in-house for the production model. However, VW describes the battery used by the ID as being scalable and hints at differing capacities in each of its upcoming electric models in much the same way that it offers differing power outputs in today’s combustion engine models. Little is being said about the charging system for the ID, although going on VW’s claims that its battery can be recharged to 80% within 30 minutes, it appears the car maker may be considering a 800V system similar to that employed by its sibling company Porsche on the Mission E concept revealed at the Frankfurt motor show in 2015. Despite mounting the electric motor at the rear, VW says there is sufficient space to provide the ID with a multi-link rear-suspension similar to that used by the Golf. It is also key to endowing the new car with a weight distribution put at 48:52 front-to-rear. VW is targeting one million EV sales annually by 2025. More content: Volkswagen ID Lounge: luxury SUV will lead electric line-up Volkswagen CEO: We will launch one electric car per month from 2022 Oxford company opens EV motor factory View the full article
  5. Different genres maybe, but both set benchmarks A new Volkswagen Golf R and an original Audi R8 V8 aren’t obvious rivals, but the price parity renders a genuine contest The premise is so simple there has to be a catch. A mid-engined V8 supercar from a highly respected premium brand for the same money as a new hot hatchback. Or less. But that’s what you’re looking at right here. The Audi R8 you can see belongs to Dick Powell, founder of renowned design business Seymourpowell, and we’ve insured it for £40,000 to reflect its condition and low mileage. But clean examples are out there for £30,000 or less once you’ve done a spot of haggling. Meanwhile this five-door Volkswagen Golf R retails for £33,740 with the dual-clutch automatic gearbox fitted to the test car, although if you play fast and loose with the options, as VW most certainly has with this one, that price heads north pretty rapidly. As seen here with its titanium exhausts, this car, a Volkswagen Golf, remember, is just £325 shy of being a fifty grand car… But on the drive over the Golf R reaffirmed why, to me at least, it remains the pick of the super-hot hatch brigade – so much easier to operate than the Honda Civic Type R, far easier on the eye yet scarcely less engaging on a decent run. It will be very interesting to see what the full-fat Trophy version of the Renault Sport Mégane is like when it arrives in the new year. For now though, I’m being blown away all over again, not just by the Golf’s relentless point-to-point pace, brought about by an unrivalled blend of power and all-weather poise in the class, but also by the tranquillity that accompanies it. Maybe the interior should be a bit more exciting, maybe the exterior looks too much like a normal Golf with a big wheel upgrade, but I’m not sure I care: in all situations it works better than you could hope, as all the best fast Golfs have done for more than 40 years. I’m not alone in considering the Golf the best of its kind, either. Powell has one as his daily driver (“you could have used mine if I’d known”) and bows to no one in his admiration for it. But an R8 is something different. Perhaps I shouldn’t be doing this, because the world has moved on and what appeared to be such a capable and entertaining car (miraculously so, given that it was Audi’s first mid-engined machine) 10 years ago may now seem, well, just a little lame. And it’s true that on paper it doesn’t appear to be all that special: 414bhp is no longer a remarkable figure, while its 4.6sec 0-62mph time is no quicker than the Golf’s. You can see how Audi has driven the R8 upmarket over the past decade: limited-number RWS cars aside, the cheapest new R8 costs £126,200, almost exactly £50,000 more than the £76,825 that Audi charged for this car in 2007. Inflation? Hardly. Then it was priced to rival a Porsche 911 C4S; now it’s 911 Turbo money. And power: even the low-spec version is a 533bhp car today. But I’m not sure I care too much about that right now. I’m just enjoying the simplicity of what I can see: a proper handbrake, a key that fits into an ignition slot, three pedals, analogue dials and the merest smattering of steering wheel buttons. The driving position is superb and all round visibility almost Golf-good, which for a mid-engined car is extraordinary. The 4.2-litre V8 spins smoothly into life and with no preamble at all – because the way this car operates is far easier to understand than any modern Audi – we are under way. Which is when, without my foot going anywhere near the floor, the R8 near enough bowled me over. In that moment there was not a damn thing about it I didn’t like, and very little that didn’t make me question the direction supercars have taken of late. We’ll start with the engine: it’s normally aspirated as, to its eternal credit, is that of the current R8. But they are a rare and dying breed, and the crossplane V8 is one of the very sweetest. Gearbox next: it’s not only manual but also has a superb shift quality and an exposed gate, like those on old Ferraris and Lambos. Rifling through the ratios is just a joy. But it’s the suspension that surprised most, because I’d forgotten how deftly sprung these cars are. Its ride is amazing, far better than the Golf’s let alone any modern supercar. The body is allowed to breathe with the road but never enough to let it float over crests or wallow in dips. It’s a car that’s set up for the road, not the track, which appears increasingly to be the way chassis engineers are heading today. Ah yes, but is it fun? You bet it is. You can sling it about if you like – Powell recently enjoyed a day throwing it around Thruxton – and it’ll be balanced and indulgent, but just to guide it through the lanes, savouring the feel of its hydraulic steering, was a delight all by itself. What’s more, it may be way slower than a modern R8 but it’s still quick enough, especially if you let that delicious motor operate somewhere near its 8250rpm redline. Spin north of 6000rpm and it simply howls. I’d expected the Golf to feel quicker point to point but it wasn’t, at least on the roads we used. In both cars the limiting factor was not power or grip but the environment. The VW was a little more chuckable, even though its wheelbase is only fractionally shorter but largely because it has quicker steering. But in a straight line there was precious little in it: the Golf has less torque but what its got is far more accessible, while the additional power of the R8 is offset in part by its slightly higher kerb weight and the fact you need to keep the V8 on the boil. The Golf’s elastic turbo motor, meanwhile, responds eagerly at almost any point of the rev range. Subjectively, however, the R8 is a class apart. The Golf is the best conceived, most skilfully executed example of its kind, but it remains a mass-produced tool. It’s like a high-quality battery-powered watch that will be at least as good and probably better at telling the time as a hand-built, exquisitely engineered mechanical chronograph, but you don’t need to think much about which you’d rather have on your wrist. But there’s something else to say here, too: this drive has made me look at the R8 in a whole new light, not just in comparison with the Golf, but with its rivals when it was new. I’ve often wondered what I might tool about in when this business has had enough of me and hoped that funds might stretch to a 997-generation 911 or an early-ish Aston Martin V8 Vantage. I never considered the Audi R8 until now. I’m not saying that my earlier thinking has gone out of the window and it’s an R8 or nothing, but I’d put this johnny-come-lately supercar from the manufacturer with zero track record in the field absolutely on par with those fine old blue bloods. And that might be the R8’s greatest achievement of all. Buying a used Audi R8 Jonathon Parker from fast Audi specialist Redline Specialist Cars in Harrogate reckons an early R8 is a seriously good buy at present. “Look around the £37-38,000 mark and you can now buy some very nice cars,” he says. “However, I advise against getting one with an R Tronic gearbox. They wear out clutches fast and even if you don’t mind that, you have to lift off the accelerator between shifts if you’re to be at all smooth, in which case you might as well have a manual.” He says cars with R Tronic – an expensive option when new – will be hard to sell on, a fact likely to be reflected in residual values. Otherwise he’s heard no horror stories, even on high-mileage cars. That said, watch for corrosion on the leading edge of the bonnet if stone chips are left unattended or poorly repaired (R8s are mainly aluminium but not entirely rot-resistant). At the rear, that glass screen allows a great view of the engine but means that if the car is left outside, condensation on the inside of the screen can rain on the engine, causing unsightly but not structural corrosion. Ones we found 2007 R8 R Tronic 94,000 miles, £31,000: Yup, it’s done a load of miles, but the engines are good for 250,000 if looked after properly. Be more concerned about the R Tronic semi-automatic gearbox, for this is no dual-clutch auto and shift quality in auto mode will be clunky 2008 R8 manual 32,000 miles, £42,000: This is where you start to find the really good R8s – low-mileage cars with full histories and a tempting list of options. This one has sports seats, upgraded nav, Bluetooth and a premium sound system. I’d not look at a car that isn’t a manual. 2009 R8 V10 manual 55,000 miles, £48,000: V10 R8s start populating the listings around £50k. The V10 is faster plus it makes an incredible noise, but much of the V8’s charm and delicacy has been lost. We’d save the money and have the V8. Read more Buy them before we do: first-gen Audi R8 Audi R8 review​ Britain's best affordable driver's car: Volkswagen Golf R versus Ford Focus RS​ View the full article
  6. "I’ve never been as satisfied as I am today. Design is an incredible outlet for your spirit" Stephenson, famed for his work with Mini and McLaren, tells us how he is shifting his focus from the ground to the sky If there could ever be such a thing as a car designer’s car designer, then Frank Stephenson is that person. Over the past three decades, he has designed Ferraris and Fiats, Minis and Maseratis, and now he’s at work on an entirely new form of transportation: a jet-electric vertical take-off aircraft built by a German company called Lillium. At some point in the 2020s, you’ll be able to hire it like an Uber for short-haul journeys such as Heathrow to Piccadilly. The idea, says Stephenson, is to “move journeys from the ground into the sky”. Not that cars are finished, or anything like it. Stephenson is most famous in the UK as the designer of BMW’s recreated Mini – the car launched in 2001 whose towering success continues – and when we meet in central London, he spends a large part of our time together sketching a proposal for an electric city car after the photographer rather airily asks him to “draw something”. It soon emerges that Stephenson draws all the time; for him, it’s a cross between recreation and a creative release. Others of his age (he has just turned 59) have long since moved to design management, rarely picking up a pencil and spending their days directing others. But for Stephenson, the job has always entailed direct creativity. “I’ve never been able to resist getting my hands dirty,” he says. “I draw without thinking. It’s my hand that seems to do the work. Other designers work this way too. Whatever comes out, comes out.” This compulsion to create cars has resulted in an extraordinary output since Stephenson’s formal design education ended at ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, in 1986. Among his hits are the stand-out design features of the Ford Escort RS Cosworth (especially the biplane rear wing), BMW’s new Mini, the Ferrari F430, the Maserati MC12 racer, the latest Fiat 500, plus the McLaren 12C and P1. He has worked for car companies nearly all his life but decided to leave McLaren after nine years towards the end of 2017 to open his own studio. “I’d been working a long time on the products nobody really needs,” he says. “I’ve always believed you should work to make the world a better place, and perhaps there was a better way of doing that.” Nowadays, Stephenson, who is British-American and operates his design consultancy from home near Henley, commutes regularly back and forth to Lillium’s HQ in Munich, while spending a couple of days a week on other consultancy projects, including designing furniture for a client. “I’ve never been as satisfied as I am today,” he says. “Design is an incredible outlet for your spirit.” In a way, it’s remarkable Stephenson got into design at all. Born in Casablanca to a Norwegian father and a Spanish mother, he was more aware of the importance of camels and horses early on than cars. The family moved to Malaga long enough for his father to open a car dealership, then on to Istanbul for five or six years (his father worked for Boeing). He went back to Madrid to finish high school and to Malaga in the summer holidays to hang out in the body shop attached to his dad’s dealership. By then, he was drawing all the time for recreation – flowers and animals as well as cars – but recalls using the body shop to “change the look of my first car, a Fiat 124”, which included running hot rod-style flames down the sides. Then things took an even more extraordinary turn. Through the car dealership, Stephenson met a friend who enjoyed motocross racing. He caught the bug, and with his father’s approval took a year out to follow the racing scene. He soon discovered he could handle a motocross bike better than anyone, first winning Spain’s junior competitions and then the national senior championship. That led to an invitation to join Honda’s official works motocross team: he spent the next four years as a top-10 rider in world championship events (you can still see evidence of it in Stephenson’s muscular neck, shoulders and arms). “When I was 22, my father called me and told me this had to be my last year,” Stephenson recalls. “I was good at racing, he said – lots of thirds, fifths, sevenths, usually top 10 – but I wasn’t winning. By 30, I’d have plenty of broken bones and no future and I needed to move on. He’d back me in any kind of education, he said, but I needed to get on with it. I didn’t like it, but I knew he was right. “I’d read about ArtCenter in California, where you could learn to design cars, and I’d never stopped sketching, which was lucky because you needed a portfolio. I applied and was accepted.” In 1983, Stephenson started with 30 others, chosen from hundreds of aspirants, but by graduation in 1986 was one of only six. But what a group! They comprised the future designer of the Porsche Boxster, ditto the first Chrysler Viper, ditto the Ferrari Enzo, ditto the first Ducati Monster (“it saved the company”) and the future head of Alfa Romeo Centro Stile. Nowadays, Stephenson has trouble deciding which of his cars he loves best. The project he definitely enjoyed most was the Maserati MC12, because it was so short and creative, the car came out well, and proved almost unbeatable in racing. But it’s the Mini stories from the late 1980s that are most fascinating. “When BMW bought Rover, it had to decide whether to carry the Mini on, or let it dissolve,” he explains. “The Germans wanted a new project, but they were very aware they were recreating a much-loved British icon, so they had to be very careful how they did it. “Usually, a new car project comes out of a competition between two or three design teams, which is expensive enough. But this time they appointed 15 different designers, from the UK, US, Germany and Italy. We were all given a month to design the car, then five months to make a full-size model with a team of modellers. The teams weren’t allowed to communicate in any way. At the end, the different models were all displayed in what is now the British Motor Museum, Gaydon, with seven Rover and seven BMW executives on hand to make the decision.” The proposals were all very different, recalls Stephenson. One designer “fell asleep for six months” and simply scaled up the outgoing Mini. Another “kept smoking illegal stuff” for six months straight. No one else did it like Stephenson, who used several weeks of his initial month to visualise how the Mini would have progressed through the decades from 1959, finding a new look for 1969, then 1979 (“boxy and horrible, over-concerned about safety”), then 1989 (“sporty and more emotional, heading back to the original”), all leading to his real proposal in 1999. The 14 executives unanimously chose Stephenson’s design and the rest is history. That story will be retold in detail – and reveal for the first time those decade-by-decade Mini proposals – in a film of his career that is shooting now and is due out next year. A book is likely to accompany the release. Fascinatingly, Stephenson reveals that these productions even contain a proposal for a 2009 Mini, also conceived in the hectic late ’80s to look a decade forward. It’s not much like the car they’re selling now, warns Stephenson with a grin, implying that the current model could have jumped more into the future. Seeing that, sometime next year, will be yet another moment to savour in Frank Stephenson’s remarkable career. For the next Mini During our London interview, Frank Stephenson created this original design in pencil, starting with light lines on paper and gradually emphasising the ones he liked. It’s how he always works, starting usually with ballpoint pen and paper. This is a 3.6-metre, front-drive, electrically powered city car with two doors and a hatchback. It has a very compact overall length for its cabin size, taking advantage of the new packaging possibilities electric cars bring to car design. It is not, he insists, a new Mini, and it’s not autonomous. For proper autonomy, he explains, the front passengers would need to be able to turn around, which would require a much more vertical screen. “We’ll keep that idea for another day,” he said. Frank's favourite car Is there one car design Frank Stephenson believes surpasses all others? At the end of our interview, I ask this question without much hope, knowing that the design scene is complex, and that car designers have to live with their peers. But Stephenson had already been impressively candid. “For me, it’s the Jaguar E-Type,” he declares. “The S1 coupé. It was built for just one purpose and nailed it the way only the finest designs can ever do. It’s the most sensuous car in history. It has timeless beauty and incredible proportions. If they’d pushed it any further, it would have been a cartoon. If they’d held it back, it would have been mundane. Instead, it’s perfect. “We need future car design to be like this. When you saw the E-Type, you instantly knew you had to have it. There was no need to get used to it, as with some modern designs. Today’s cars are often stretched and pulled about, often by computer influence. We have to resist that. You simply cannot beat the hand of man on a product.” Read more Bettered by design: behind the scenes at Land Rover's design studio​ How to design a new Vauxhall - an Autocar exclusive​ Mini’s future under scrutiny View the full article
  7. Yesterday
  8. The Motorists Guide

    Revisiting our £100-a-week performance heroes

    Our ‘bargain’ formula makes as much sense now as it did in 2005. We revisit our choices from back then and pick tasty used cars for the same money today In March 2005 Autocar set out its manifesto for the £100-per-week second-hand performance hero. For that sum, which equates to a purchase loan budget of £25,000 borrowed over five years, our writers and testers explained you could buy your very own mid-engined supercar, a modern-day muscle car, one of the most beautiful automotive shapes of the past few decades, a V8 super-saloon – or whatever else tempted you. Eleven of the era’s most appealing but affordable performance cars were laid out in detail, with an underlying message that there had never been a better time to throw caution to the wind and buy a dream performance car. Thirteen years later we’re revisiting the idea. In the years that have elapsed the values of those 11 cars have fallen, stayed more or less the same and even, as in a number of instances, risen dramatically. But in every case a more modern alternative has since fallen into the £100-per-week bracket. This time around we’ll look at how the values of each of the cars have shifted in 13 years and suggest a newer model that might now be a smarter purchase. The message, as it was then, is that you needn’t continue dreaming about owning a desirable performance car. Check out our guide at the end of the feature for some loan options that might just draw such a purchase into realistic range. Ferrari 348 Autocar’s David Vivian had it right when he wrote that the 348 “may not be the greatest baby Ferrari ever built, but you’ll wake up in a better mood with one on your drive”. And had you heeded his advice and bought one, you might even have turned a profit. While it was possible to buy a 348 with a £25,000 budget 13 years ago, you will now need at least £40k. The market seems to be forgetting how unloved the 348 once was, but with effortlessly pretty styling and a soaring, normally aspirated V8, perhaps its reputation was unwarranted. But have we seen the end of bargain-basement Ferraris? Not entirely. Mondials and 400s can still be found under £30k, but whether you’d want one is another matter. One we found: 1993 348TS, 71,000 miles, £41,500 Today’s alternative: Audi R8 V8 No, it isn’t a Ferrari. It isn’t even Italian. The Audi R8 does have an atmospheric V8 in its middle, however, and, just like the 348, its manual gearbox has an open gate, so there are at least some important similarities between the two. The truth is you’ll need to spend upwards of £50,000 on a 360 Modena to bag yourself a modern 348 successor, which is why on this occasion we’re leaving Maranello behind and moving on to Ingolstadt. That’s no bad thing, though, because a looked-after early R8 will be no less enjoyable to drive than any comparable Ferrari. Original R8s are yet to drop to £25,000 but they can be found for around £30,000, which doesn’t seem like a huge sum for what is a brilliant junior supercar. The 4.2-litre V8 is very durable, although it does have a thirst for oil. One we found: 2007 R8 4.2, 94,000 miles, £30,995 BMW M5 (E39) In 2005 former Autocar tester Chris Harris wrote: “I think about the [E39] M5 all the time.” That BMW was, and very possibly still is, the yardstick by which Harris judged every new car he tested. “Not in direct seats-and-space terms,” he went on, “but in monetary value.” The E39 M5 is one of the few cars featured in that original piece that has since come down in value, which means his point is truer now than it ever was. They can be picked up today for less than £10,000, although for a little over £15,000 – still a long way short of our budget – you will find very tidy cars with well-documented histories. With a whisker under 400bhp from a normally aspirated V8, a manual gearbox and only two-wheel drive, the E39 is still the M5 of choice. One we found: 2000 M5, 91,000 miles, £17,750 Today’s alternative: BMW M5 (F10) For as long as it exists the F10 M5 will live in the shadow of the earlier E39. Some will tell you the twin-turbocharged M5, which was replaced just this year, was actually the low point of BMW’s super-saloon dynasty, but very few cars have ever combined crushing straight-line performance with effortless long-distance comfort like the F10. What the F10 lacks is the control and agility of those earlier M5s, making the F10 feel more like a grand tourer than a four-door sports car. Since it was introduced in 2011 values have fallen a long way indeed, so much so that you can buy one today for just 30% of its original list price. Our £25,000 budget will afford a 2012 car with around 50,000 miles behind it and a whole heap of very fast, very oversteery miles ahead of it. One we found: 2012 M5, 55,000 miles, £24,000 Chevrolet Corvette (C5) “The appeal of the Corvette is obvious,” wrote David Vivian. “It has got the muscle to scare the quickest – and usually much more expensive – European performance cars in a straight line and the ability to cut it in corners.” That still applies, and you’ll find a C5 today for less than £20,000. One we found: 2001 Corvette, 89,000 miles, £16,995 Today’s alternative: Chevrolet Corvette (C6) The C6 isn’t as pretty as the C5 but it is more powerful and a lot more modern inside. Once you’ve wound that rumbling 6.0 V8 through the gears you’ll be done with turbos forever. One we found: 2009 Corvette, 15,000 miles, £28,950 TVR Tamora TVRs may never shake their reputation for poor reliability, but as Steve Sutcliffe pointed out, the Tamora “was one of the more reliable cars to emanate from Blackpool”. In the 13 years since he wrote those words values have hardly budged, and £25,000 is still the entry point for TVR’s pretty roadster. One we found: 2002 Tamora, 39,500 miles, £25,500 Today’s alternative: TVR Tuscan The Tamora hasn’t shed much value since 2005, but the more powerful Tuscan has drifted into range since then. The head-turning sports car starts at £17,000 today, but with £25k you’ll find a low-mileage car with immaculate history. The faint of heart need not apply. One we found: 2003 Tuscan, 36,000 miles, £26,500 Maserati 3200 GT “It’s genuinely hard to imagine a more adventurous place in which to invest £100 a week than a 3200 GT.” Steve Sutcliffe didn’t pull any punches when describing the Maserati, but with cars out there now at less than £15,000, the Maserati is less risky than it once was. One we found: 1999 3200 GT, 65,000 miles, £14,950 Today’s alternative: Maserati GranTurismo Fully two generations newer than the 3200 GT, the very beautiful GranTurismo is a far easier car to recommend. As a sports car it couldn’t hope to compete with the Porsche 911, but a normally aspirated V8 and knockout styling are hard to resist, especially at £20,000. One we found: 2007 GranTurismo, 75,000 miles, £20,000 Noble M12 GTO With the earliest cars now starting at £35,000, the Noble M12 GTO has sadly crept out of our £100-per-week budget since that original article in 2005. As David Vivian noted, you really had to be into the hand-built sports car subject matter to go off in search of an M12 GTO. This was not a car the typical Porsche 911 driver would have traded into come the end of a finance agreement, after all. In terms of delivering raw driving thrills in a sophisticated and well-judged manner, though, the Noble was more akin to the bona fide supercars of its day: as quick and as exciting as a Ferrari 360, but at a much more realistic price. The Leicestershire company is very different these days, though. It now sells the M600 supercar, a handful of which are built each year, at £250,000 apiece. One we found: 2002 M12 GTO, 33,000 miles, £37,950 Today’s alternative: Lotus Exige (S2) There is no modern equivalent of the M12 GTO, but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy a laser-focused British sports car with two seats and an engine sited between the cockpit and rear axle. Simply cast your gaze away from Leicestershire and look instead to Norfolk. The second-generation Lotus Exige doesn’t offer anything like the straight-line thump of the twin-turbo Noble, but 189bhp working on less than 1000kg still makes for a very rapid car. Nonetheless, it isn’t outright performance that characterises the Exige but handling precision and response. The Exige is known to have absorbent suspension in spite of its hardcore persona, and in that it shares something with every Noble built. You’ll find S2 Exiges today at a little over £20k, but our £25,000 budget will stretch to a newer car with fewer miles. Vauxhall Monaro Apart from being “one of the great performance car bargains of the moment”, according to Steve Sutcliffe, the Vauxhall Monaro was, and still is, infused with an honest, straightforward character that you can’t help but be drawn to. Fast, fun, simple and dependable, and all available today for £10,000. One we found: 2006 Monaro, 42,000 miles, £10,500 Today’s alternative: Vauxhall VXR8 The VXR8 is a saloon rather than a coupé, but the newer model offers a bundle more power than the Monaro and its cabin is more sophisticated. It’s also every bit as fun to drive, in that time-honoured muscle car way. You’ll find one today for as little as £15,000. One we found: 2007 VXR8, 84,000 miles, £14,995 Aston Martin DB7 “You can drive the most beautiful supercar of the late 20th century for the same money as a Peugeot 607,” wrote Andrew Frankel. Now starting at £18k, the DB7 is even more affordable. One we found: 1997 DB7, 34,000 miles, £17,750 Today’s alternative: Aston Martin DB9 The car that made the DB7 feel old-hat can’t be had for £100 a week today, but for £30k you’ll find a sub-50,000-mile DB9. A snip for that gorgeous V12. One we found: 2005 DB9, 44,000 miles, £29,995 Nissan GT-R V-Spec (R34) As was pointed out by David Vivian 13 years ago: “There’s no shortage of iconic Japanese hardware to choose from with £30k at your disposal.” You could buy a used Honda NSX or a brand new Subaru Impreza, he noted, but Japan’s most irresistible car at the time, reckoned Vivian, was the R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R. Much of what he wrote about that car could be said of today’s GT-R: “It has one of the most technically sophisticated and absurdly talented four-wheel drive chassis ever to cling to a twisty road,” for instance, or it “simply loves being driven hard.” While R34s could be snapped up for £28,000 back in 2005, you will need at least £40,000 today. The ultra-rare V-Spec model that was the subject of that original piece, meanwhile, will set you back upwards of £50,000. One we found: 1999 GT-R V-Spec, 70,000 miles, £57,995 Today’s alternative: Nissan GT-R (R35) Despite now being more than a decade old, the R35 Nissan GT-R hasn’t quite slipped below £30,000. In fact, the cheapest 2009 cars still command £32,000. To buy one today for £100 per week you’ll therefore need to make up the shortfall with cash or trade in your existing car – but it’ll be worth it. Even the earliest R35s feel astonishingly fast today both in a straight line and through corners, and since the car has evolved gradually over the past 10 years or so, only the keenest observers will know it isn’t a more recent model. Despite Nissan claiming at the time that the GT-R would be untunable, the R35 spawned a tuning industry across several continents. There are, therefore, plenty of modified examples on sale, so only consider a car that’s been uprated by a reputable company. One we found: 2009 GT-R, 67,000 miles, £31,995 Porsche 911 Carrera (993) “As the last of the air-cooled 911s, [the 993] was the ultimate evolution of the original 911 concept that created the world’s most fabled and enduring sports car legend,” wrote Andrew Frankel back in 2005. Today it’s strange to think there once was a time that a 993 could be bought for £25,000. In that article we reckoned such a car would be worth £20,000 five years down the road, which probably wasn’t an unreasonable estimate. What we did not foresee was that in the years that would follow 993 values would rise like a hot air balloon with its burner stuck at full blast, so in 2018 you’ll need at least £35,000 to put one on your driveway. If you did follow our advice and buy a 993 back in 2005, however, you’ll be quids in today. One we found: 1997 911 Carrera 4, 99,000 miles, £36,000 Today’s alternative: Porsche 911 Carrera (997) Those earlier 911S may well be out of reach now, but for £100 per week you’ll have your pick of its modern alternatives. In some ways the 997 was an echo of the 993, for it too heralded some 911 ‘lasts’; it was the last 911 to have hydraulic power steering and the last one to be truly compact, the way 911s used to be. For those reasons and more besides, the 997 is reckoned to be a high point in the five decade-long saga of Porsche’s rear-engined sports car. Today you’ll need to tread carefully because the normally-aspirated flat-six isn’t as durable as it might be, although neither intermediate shaft bearing failure nor cylinder bore scoring are as common as legend would have you believe. At £25,000 you’ll even find plenty of low-mileage cars. One we found: 2007 911 Carrera, 67,000 miles, £24,950 Lotus Esprit V8 “Even Tolstoy would have baulked at the prospect of writing Esprit: potential problems and what to look out for.” So said Chris Harris, who went on to admit he had a soft spot for Lotus’s V8 sports car. “The Esprit just does it for me,” he confessed. One we found: 1996 Esprit V8, 44,000 miles, £36,995 Today’s alternative: Lotus Evora The Evora certainly wasn’t a like-for-like replacement for the Esprit, but with much more cabin space than an Elise and modern-day conveniences such as sat-nav, it was another Lotus you could conceivably use more than once a week. Prices start at a shade under £30,000. One we found: 2010 Evora, 37,000 miles, £28,500 The financial angle The values of the 11 second-hand cars highlighted in that original feature of 2005 ranged from £22,500 for the Maserati 3200 GT up to £30,950 for the Aston Martin DB7. The average value was something like £25,000. Where did that £100 per week figure come from? That was the approximate cost of borrowing £25,000 as an unsecured loan and paying it back over five years. In fact, the original feature offered six loan options with weekly repayments ranging from £111 to £117. For most of the cars in the original piece a £25,000 loan would have been sufficient by itself, although clearly the DB7 at £30,950 would’ve remained a little out of reach. As pointed out 13 years ago, however (and the same applies to this day), you could have made up the shortfall with your savings or by trading in your existing car (just as long as you had, or your car was worth, at least £5950 in the case of the DB7). With interest rates lower today than they were in 2005 the £100 per week philosophy is actually even more sound, because it’s now possible to find a loan on those same terms that’ll cost as little as £103 in repayments each week. Read more Britain's Best Driver's Car 2018: meet the contenders​ Supercar pace for less than £10k: used buying guide​ 31 used performance car bargains​ View the full article
  9. The 12C’s reserved styling has aged particularly well The McLaren MP4-12C wasn’t without its issues, but at half their original price used examples are tantalisingly close to affordability. Should you be tempted? There is no more exotic car manufacturer than McLaren, at least among those of models homologated for sale all over the world and with annual sales measurable in the thousands. McLaren doesn’t do SUVs, it doesn’t even do 2+2s. All it makes, all it has ever made, are mid-engined supercars with carbonfibre monocoques. And for almost all of us, the prospect of owning one is an impossible dream. Or is it? Journalists have been writing ‘my first Ferrari’ stories for decades, so is the McLaren ownership ladder now descending through the clouds to within tantalisingly close proximity of touching distance? And, more importantly, should you now be stretching every sinew to reach up and grab that bottom rung? Until recently I’d have said no. The most affordable McLarens are the first, and that means an MP4-12C, a car whose introduction was hardly smooth and which McLaren felt the need to restyle, re-engineer, rename and relaunch after just three years on sale. It came to market in 2011 without functioning navigation, with doors that many owners were unable to open and with handling that placed it well over halfway down the order during our annual quest to find Britain’s best driver’s car. But times change and prices fall. And the truth is that a car that cost £168,500 seven years ago can be bought for half that amount today. And what’s more, it’s a hell of a lot better now than it was then. Alastair Bols, the UK’s leading independent McLaren specialist, says: “The car had a huge upgrade in 2012 which not only raised power from 592bhp to 616bhp and got the sat-nav and Bluetooth working, but it was also fitted free of charge for customers with earlier cars. So unless a car has been hiding in a shed ever since, it will have had the upgrade.” So what we’re talking about now is owning an upgraded, carbonfibre McLaren for prices starting around £85,000, the price of a mid-range Lotus Evora. Sounds tempting of course, but should you yield to it? The car I’m driving is McLaren’s own volcano orange 12C Spider, and because it is perfect and has very few miles on its clock, you absolutely could not buy it for a five figure sum. But in the way it drives it is entirely representative of the way any healthy 12C should drive: even that roof makes close to zero difference because even in the coupé it is not part of the structure of the car. Can you feel the years that have passed? Broadly speaking, yes, but this is not an exclusively bad thing. The looks for instance, criticised when new for being dull and like those of a Korean concept car, have weathered startlingly well. To my eyes it no longer looks plain, just subtle – Volcano Orange paint aside – and I expect its shape will have a more timeless property than many of the more dramatically styled super and hypercars that have come to market since. The interior still has a sense of occasion. I actually quite like the big analogue rev counter and the ventilation controls on the inside of the door, while McLaren’s policy of first designing a car its driver can see out of clearly is as much in evidence here as it is in any later car. The navigation is rubbish, but probably not much less so than that of a Ferrari from this era. Press the button, fire her up and let’s see what she’ll do. The family relationship is clear from the start. The car’s basic stance, visibility, control weights, driving position and ergonomics speak of a philosophy that’s as clear here as it is in a brand new 720S. Because of this, if you’re lucky enough to be reasonably up to speed with modern McLarens, the 12C is much more familiar than you might expect. But all the details are different. The engine has the same capacity, configuration and, post-upgrade, the same power as the latest 600LT, but it sounds more anodyne than a 570S and the response is not the same. There’s more lag, and while in a new McLaren you restrict the use of the drivetrain’s Track mode for exactly that environment, if I had a 12C it’s the setting I’d always leave it in. Over the past seven years these sorts of cars have just got a lot sharper in the way they respond to the driver’s foot. Find a used McLaren MP4-12C on PistonHeads Then again, no McLaren made today rides as well as this. It’s true that the 12C had a bit of a reputation for offering up a rather remote driving experience, but today it’s the limo-like comfort that hits you sooner and harder. If there is a more comfortable supercar out there, I’ve not driven it. I don’t quibble with McLaren’s decision to firm things up in later models because a McLaren must be a driver’s car first, second and third, but nor am I blind to the inevitable sacrifices of such a move. As for that driving experience, it’s a lovely thing to thread through the lanes. It’s as rapid as you could want and as grippy, too. The brakes are exemplary. And yet this is where you can see where most progress has been made, and it’s not just in the throttle response. First, a modern McLaren– even a less powerful 570S – feels quite a lot quicker. Today’s Macs have a hurtling capacity that is either amusing or alarming depending on how sensible you are about its deployment; the 12C can’t do this so never feels more than just bloody fast. The gearchange is rather casual, too: the shift itself is still quite quick but the bits either side from issue of instruction to reapplication of power are noticeable, whereas today they are, in effect, absent. As for the handling, well, I wasn’t about to go flinging around one of McLaren’s own heritage cars, but I drove it hard and fast enough to love the weighting and gearing of the steering itself, yet still found the car harder to place than I’d have liked. It’s a sensation I remember from the car when it was new and it is probably in this area – that of pure, subjective driver interaction – that McLarens of today feel most changed. But they cost twice as much as this once you’ve added a few essentials from the options list, and this is where the 12C becomes really interesting. Because for a fivefigure sum it is a mightily tempting proposition – I might even go as far to say a bargain, and it’s not often that particular word has been used to describe a McLaren. In terms of the driving experience on offer, it is probably 80% of a 570S for 50% of the money. And while it’s probably only 60% as exciting as the 720S to which it should be more properly compared, it’s not much more than one third of the price of a well-specced example. And remember the impressions above are relative to other McLarens: its performance and handling relative to almost any normal high-performance car remain pretty amazing, even today. I’m not saying that when the history of McLaren is written that the 12C will be remembered as one of the greats, but it is nonetheless a car with enormous appeal, and right now, for the very first time, it does represent strong value for money. Your first McLaren may be closer than you think. Do they break down all the time? “I must have done more than 50,000 miles in 12Cs,” says marque specialist Alastair Bols, “and I’ve not broken down yet. The most common ‘faults’ are warning lights appearing on the dash, which can frighten the life out of you. My advice is to keep calm. If you just park up, get out, lock the car and leave it for three minutes, at least nine times out of 10 that will cure it.” Bols says there have been issues with gearbox seals but thinks those that were going to go wrong would have done so by now. If it happens it’s £15k or more for a new ’box, although there has been talk that it may soon be possible to repair them rather than replace, and that will bring the price way down. Bols is adamant the 12C’s super-sophisticated interconnected hydraulic suspension is fundamentally sound and that the worst that’s likely to happen is that an accumulator will give up. “But as it only cost £1800 to replace the lot, I tend to regard that as maintenance.” Even so, beware the cost of extended warranties – this is a bespoke car with almost no proprietary parts available, so they are priced accordingly. There are no independent service agents at present so all cars will be main dealer-maintained, and one missed stamp or a slightly long gap between services shouldn’t be considered the end of the world. Read more McLaren 12C 2011-2014 review​ McLaren Automotive: The remarkable rise of the Ferrari rival​ The amazing story of McLaren road cars​ View the full article
  10. Last week
  11. Infiniti's first EV will be a compact SUV, demonstrating a new EV platform and fresh design language Infiniti will unveil a concept that previews its first electric car at January's Detroit motor show, and it has today released a darkened preview image of the model. The car is an SUV that's believed to be similar in size to the BMW X1. It's said to preview the brand's "new-form design language for electrification, infused with Japanese DNA". Details of the car's powertrain have yet to be revealed, but Infiniti claims its platform is newly developed. A statement accompanying the image claimed that "with new exterior proportions, electrification also gifts interior space, enabing spacious and lounge-like interiors, rich in welcoming and assistive technologies". Previous Infiniti electric concepts, such as the 2018 Q Inspiration and Prototype 10, haven't been particularly production-focused, so the new model will be the most realistic interpretation of a series Infiniti EV yet. Design boss Karim Habib describes the concept as "the beginning of a new era for Infiniti, and an illustration of where we want to go with the brand". "Electrification and other new technologies have given us the opportunity to evolve our design philosophy," he said. Read more: Infiniti Prototype 10 concept ushers in electrification from 2021 Infiniti Q30 review View the full article
  12. The Motorists Guide

    Promoted: Mitsubishi – Lake To Peak

    If you want to conquer the toughest terrain, Mitsubishi’s Eclipse Cross, Outlander PHEV and Shogun Sport are the SUVs to have Mitsubishi is renowned for its rich four-wheel-drive heritage, with a line-up of rugged yet stylish and practical SUVs that have been honed in some of the world’s most gruelling and demanding off-road locations. That’s why we decided to take three heroes from Mitsubishi’s SUV range to the heart of the Lake District, following a pair of extreme triathletes on a gruelling training session from the shores of Ullswater to the heights of Kirkstone peak. Find out more about Mitsubishi’s range of SUVs at mitsubishi-cars.co.uk Rugged when it counts Our journey started in the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross – a stylish and spacious family-friendly SUV that’s packed with technology and also boasts true off-road capability. Perfect for tracking our two triathletes as they swam across Ullswater on the start of their training route. Thanks to a four-wheel-drive system honed on the rough-and-tumble of the World Rally Championship and in the heat of the Dakar Rally – allied to 183mm of ground clearance, and 400mm of wading depth – it was easily capable of accompanying our triathletes right down to the gravel shoreline. Plus, with up to 448 litres (VDA) of load volume in the rear, there was plenty of space for the triathletes’ equipment. With a 1.5-litre petrol turbo engine that offers 163PS and 250Nm of torque, the Eclipse Cross was perfect for tackling the twisty roads round the edge of Ullswater, with four-wheel drive and a wealth of advanced driving assistance features – including an advanced head-up display – delivering an added sense of confidence and assurance. Joy of the open road As our triathletes ditched their wetsuits and pulled on their cycling gear, we prepared for the next leg of our journey in the Outlander PHEV. With a plug-in hybrid that offers up to 28 miles of all-electric range*, allied to a spacious, comfortable and technology packed interior, as well as true off-road performance, it’s a no-compromise SUV with a difference. We made the most of the Outlander PHEV’s all-electric mode to start the opening miles of our journey from Ullswater in serene emissions-free silence. As the roads away from Ullswater climbed towards Kirkstone, the intelligent hybrid blended petrol power from the 2.4-litre engine with the added efficiency of the electric motor. Instantly accessible torque from the electric motors proved provided a valuable boost on the steep inclines, leaving us pitying the triathletes left cycling breathlessly in our wake. And, by blending petrol and electric power, the Outlander PHEV is capable of delivering up to 139mpg* with CO2 emissions as low as 40g/km*. As we headed off-road for the final leg of the journey, the ability to run on four-wheel drive – propelled by either petrol or zero-emissions electric power – provided an added degree of confidence on the gravel roads around the base of Kirkstone. There was just enough time for our triathletes to grab a snack and their running gear from the Outlander PHEV’s 1,602-litre spacious rear before they were off again, scaling the slopes as they powered towards the summit. Tough at the top For the final climb to Kirkstone peak, we took the wheel of the Mitsubishi Shogun Sport – a comfortable, spacious, technology-packed seven-seat SUV that is also a truly capable off-roader. Building on Mitsubishi’s rich off-road heritage, it’s perfect for tackling everything that the great outdoors can throw at you with ease – and in considerable comfort and style. With a simple to use Super Select II four-wheel-drive, lockable centre and rear differentials, a low-range gearbox and high ground clearance, it left us feeling somewhat guilty as we powered our way up the steep mountain tracks with ease, while our triathletes were left scrambling in our wake. Added to which, the comfortable interior – packed with technology like dual-zone climate control, and heated front leather seats that conquered the early winter chills – meant we arrived at Kirkstone summit as warm and relaxed as when we’d started. So, whether you want a city-friendly mid-size SUV that can head off-road, a large family-friendly hybrid SUV that can take the rough with the smooth, or a rugged 4x4 that can tackle mountains in comfort and with style, Mitsubishi has the perfect vehicle for you. Please note: Specification varies by model These figures were obtained using a combination of battery power and fuel. The Outlander PHEV is a plug-in hybrid vehicle requiring mains electricity for charging. Figures shown are for comparability purposes. Only compare fuel consumption, CO2 and electric range figures with other cars tested to the same technical procedures. These figures may not reflect real life driving results, which will depend upon a number of factors including, accessories fitted (post-registration), variations in weather, driving styles and vehicle load. There is a new test used for fuel consumption and CO2 figures. The CO2 figures shown, however, are based on the outgoing test cycle and will be used to calculate vehicle tax on first registration. Find out more about Mitsubishi’s range of SUVs at mitsubishi-cars.co.uk View the full article
  13. The technical changes of the Gen2 car explained The introduction of a new, more powerful car, will mean a new start for the electric single-seater championship The fifth season of Formula E starts this weekend in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – but it really marks a new beginning for the electric single-seater championship. That’s due to the arrival of the new Gen2 race car, which is more powerful and features a larger battery, increasing speeds and allowing cars to complete an entire race without pitstops. Here’s what to watch for this season. Technical changes: Formula E’s new Gen2 race car The ABB FIA Formula E Championship's new Gen2 car, officially called the Spark SRT05E, replaces the Spark SRT_01E that has been in use since the inaugural season in 2014-15. Aside from new styling, aerodynamics and safety systems (including a halo cockpit protection device), the most notable change is that the cars will be more powerful. Since Formula E’s second season, teams have been allowed to build their own powertrain with a maximum of 180bhp (240bhp in boost mode), but for the new car that has been increased to 250bhp (335bhp in boost mode). The extra power will increase top speeds from 140mph to 174mph and trim 0-62mph times by 0.2sec down to 2.8sec. The Gen2 also features a new McLaren Applied Technologies-built 54kWh battery, replacing the 28kWh unit in the old car. The extra power means that cars can now last for the entire race, ending the need for mid-race car swaps. The Gen2 machine also gets a new brake-by-wire system that improves regenerative braking. The new battery weighs 385kg, compared to 320kg previously, but with weight savings made elsewhere, the minimum weight of the cars has been increased by only 20kg, to a total of 900kg. The new machines run 18in Michelin Pilot Sport All-Weather tyres, which are designed to last for an entire race weekend. Rule changes: Formula E’s new boost mode For Formula E’s first four seasons, the length of each race varied. With the bigger batteries ensuring that drivers no longer need to switch cars mid-race, events will now last for 45 minutes plus one lap. Races will also feature a new Attack Mode, partly inspired by console racing games such as Super Mario Kart. To use it, racers must drive through a special ‘activation zone’ marked on the track off the usual racing line. They then receive an extra 34bhp of power. The duration of that boost mode and the number of times it can be used each race will differ for each track. The Fanboost system, in which drivers receive extra power based on the results of an online vote, will be expanded. Five drivers rather than three will now receive the boost, giving them an extra 34bhp for a limited period. New manufacturers: who’s on the 2018-19 Formula E grid The arrival of the new Gen2 chassis and the ever-increasing focus on electric road cars has prompted a number of cars firms to enter the championship, joining existing manufacturers Audi, DS, Jaguar, Mahindra, Nio and Venturi. BMW (taking over at Andretti Autosport) and Nissan (taking over the e.dams squad from partner Renault) will both run full manufacturer teams. Ahead of Mercedes entering a manufacturer team in 2019-20 (when it'll be joined by Porsche), its long-time motorsport affiliate HWA will enter, using Venturi powertrains. There have been a couple of other changes: Virgin Racing will switch from DS to Audi powertrains, with Techeetah becoming DS’s partner. Penske-powered American team Dragon Racing will go unchanged. Formula E drivers to watch Techeetah racer Jean-Éric Vergne claimed the championship last season, despite a strong late-season challenge from works Audi driver Lucas di Grassi. Having used Renault powertrains last year, Vergne will have to adjust to the DS unit. Di Grassi’s late push helped Audi to claim the teams’ championship, despite a number of clashes with team-mate Daniel Abt. Both will be worth watching this year, especially with Audi determined to fend off rival BMW. For its first season, BMW’s line-up is rapid British racer Alexander Sims and Formula E race winner António Félix da Costa, while HWA has recruited Brit Gary Paffett and ex-McLaren F1 racer Stoffel Vandoorne. Another ex-F1 racer, Felipe Massa, will debut in the championship with Venturi, while Nissan has signed young Brit Oliver Rowland to join former champion Sébastien Buemi in its squad. Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy: new support series For the first time, Formula E is getting a support championship: the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy. The one-make series will feature a grid of up to 20 examples of the British firm's electric SUV, running in largely standard form aside from race car requirements such as a roll cage. The machines will use the standard I-Pace's motors, which offer 394bhp and 512lb ft. Behind the wheel of a Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy racing car Formula E 2018-19 calendar In the UK, Formula E races will be screened on the BBC Red Button service and its website, BT Sport and British Eurosport. 15 December 2018 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 12 January 2019 Marrakesh, Morocco 26 January Santiago, Chile 16 February Mexico City, Mexico 10 March Hong Kong 23 March Sanya, China 13 April Rome, Italy 27 April Paris, France 11 May Monte Carlo, Monaco 25 May Berlin, Germany 22 June Bern, Switzerland 13/14 July Brooklyn, US (double-header) Read more Autocar drives a Formula E race car BMW partners with Andretti for Formula E entry 1180bhp Schaeffler 4ePrix uses Formula E tech to out-accelerate Ferrari 488 Pista View the full article
  14. The Bosch concept knows when it needs cleaning Autonomous shuttle previews German supply firm’s plans for autonomous vehicle infrastructure and operation Automotive supplier Bosch has revealed a self-driving shuttle concept ahead of its debut at January’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, US. The electric four-seater previews the German company’s intentions to offer a “unique package of hardware, software, and mobility services for shuttle mobility of the future”. Bosch has been working on autonomous technology for many years, and it last year announced that it was working on a fleet of driverless taxis with Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes. Trials will begin in 2019 on busy urban roads in San José, California, US. This concept is the next step in Bosch’s bid to play an important role in the self-driving revolution in the coming years. Described as having a “light, airy, minimalistic design”, the driverless vehicle is said to be capable of travelling almost silently through urban environments. Bosch’s concept features 360deg sensors and an intelligent battery management system that allows the vehicle to monitor its own power levels and locate a power source when necessary. Further to this, onboard sensors can determine whether the vehicle needs cleaning or a software update and then direct the shuttle to a location where such processes can be carried out. The shuttle will also monitor environmental conditions, such as the weather and traffic levels, in order to accurately predict how long its charge will last. At the end of a journey in the driverless shuttle, Bosch says its camera systems can detect any lost possessions and alert passengers via an integrated smartphone communication system. The shuttle's radar, video, sensor and braking control systems are all made by Bosch, with the company keen to demonstrate that it has the capacity to provide most of the infrastructure that will become necessary with the advent of driverless technology. Read more Opinion: There are no driverless cars on sale – and there may never be Jaguar Land Rover tech to help drivers avoid red lights Why do people think autonomous cars are scary? View the full article
  15. European court overrules EU decision to relax nitrogen oxide emissions limits on diesels in Madrid, Paris and Brussels Diesel cars registered before September 2018 can be banned from Madrid, Paris and Brussels after European justices overturned a relaxation of EU emissions limits. The three city authorities have now been given the power to stop all diesel vehicles that don't comply to the latest Euro 6d TEMP rules from entering. The ruling by the European Court of Justice means vehicles that enter have to emit less than 80mg/km of nitrogen oxides (NOx). The Euro 6 emissions standard, launched in 2007, originally set an 80mg/km limit according to laboratory tests. Ahead of the WLTP and Real Driving Emissions (RDE) testing procedures introduction in 2017, the EU relaxed the target so that vehicles could emit 168mg/km of NOx, more than double the original limit. The European court upheld a complaint by the three cities that the relaxed targets allowed "excessively high" local pollution, saying: "the commission did not have the power to amend the Euro 6 emissions limits for the new Real Driving Emissions tests". It looks likely that Madrid, Paris and Brussels will now push forward a previously proposed ban. It's not clear yet whether other cities will follow suit, but Germany has previously announced that it plans to ban the sale of all petrol and diesel cars by 2030. Read more: New car CO2 emissions hit highest point since 2013 Analysing the UK government's plan to tackle NOx emissions Diesel deaths: the complete list of 2018's axed models View the full article
  16. The Motorists Guide

    Audi Q3 35 TFSI S Line 2019 UK review

    Practical, plush compact SUV deserves a stronger engine, but should need little else to claim Audi’s usual market success The second-generation Audi Q3 is a larger, more substantial-looking and generally more serious second swing at compact SUV segment dominance from Germany’s car brand of the four rings. It’s also yet more fresh meat for the apparently unstoppable conveyor belt of downsized, upmarket ‘soft-roaders’ that, over the past 12 months or so alone, has brought us the Volvo XC40, BMW X2, Jaguar E-Pace, Lexus UX and DS 7 Crossback, as well as the second-generation Range Rover Evoque. And those are just the ones from premium car makers; with only a fortnight of 2018 remaining, we’d better not start on the rest.With that much fresh competition out for a share of a growing haul of spoils, Audi clearly didn’t feel it could leave much to chance this time around. And so where the original Q3 looked more like a Nissan Qashqai-sized crossover hatchback, this one is larger and squarer than its forebear, as well as roomier and more grown-up.You can tell as much at first glance. The old car’s ‘fast’ sloping rear hatch and its relatively dainty features have been replaced by a larger, more upright and SUV-typical outline, and a frontal aspect with more of what you might call a big Audi glower.Audi says this design is more bold and daring than the last (well, wouldn’t it just), pointing to the car’s interestingly carved shoulder line, its bracket-like headlight and tail-light settings, and its Q8-aping octagonal ‘single-frame’ radiator grille as evidence. To this tester, all that seems only dressing on a pretty ordinary on-the-eye meal – but one which, for all the apparent convention of its design, looks like it ought to be better-placed to do everything that owners will expect of it than the last Q3 ever was.Moving onto the VW Group’s apparently omnipresent MQB platform, the Q3 has just launched in Audi UK showrooms. It comes with a choice of 1.5-litre 148bhp ‘35 TFSI’, 2.0-litre 187bhp ‘40 TFSI Quattro’ and 2.0-litre 227bhp ‘45 TFSI Quattro’ petrol engines. There will be two 2.0-litre turbodiesel options (148bhp ‘35 TDI’ and 187bhp ‘40 TDI Quattro’), the cheaper of the two being available with either front-wheel drive or clutch-based four-wheel drive.Trim levels will open at Sport and finish at fully loaded Vorsprung, although middle-rung S Line trim is expected to account for just over half of UK sales and brings with it the usual sporty bodykit, 19in alloy wheels and lowered sport suspension.And since the first cars on UK roads are all 35 TFSI S Line derivatives with front-wheel drive and seven-speed twin-clutch ‘S tronic’ gearboxes, that’s what we looked to for our first UK driving impressions.View the full article
  17. The Motorists Guide

    Ford Mustang Bullitt

    Ford celebrates the iconic movie’s 50th anniversary with a ‘remake’ edition Three years after it began, Ford’s great European sales experiment with its sixth-generation Mustang muscle car is still going strong.Having introduced the car in the spring of 2015, Ford has now officially registered a little over 40,000 Mustangs on our side of the pond – in the same timeframe and territory in which Audi registered about 75,000 TTs, Porsche about 50,000 911s and Mazda about 35,000 MX5s.That’s not a bad little gaggle of sporting icons for the Mustang to get in among, in volume terms. And this year’s Mustang sales figures will be boosted by the first mid-cycle facelift that the car has had since its European introduction.This has brought notably sharpened styling; an upgraded interior; a dab of extra performance; a new choice of gearboxes; revised and retuned suspension; and a list of added active safety and convenience features.There’s also a new headline act for the Mustang line, at least as far as European sales are concerned: the subject of this week’s road test, the special-edition Mustang Bullitt.There have been Bullitt Mustang specials before, in 2001 and 2008 – and, like both of its forebears, the shtick of this new one is to play on the cult movie cachet generated for the Mustang by Peter Yates’ 1968 cinema classic of the same name. But this Bullitt ’Stang is special, Ford says, because it has been created to mark the 50th anniversary of that much-celebrated car-chase film – and it’s also the first that we Brits have easily been able to get our hands on. So read on to find out how special they mean. View the full article
  18. The fifth-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI is still a suitably impressive hot hatchback, but what should you look for on a sub-£5000 example? Of the seven generations of Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Mk5 (2004-08) ranks among the best. No – make that the best. Last year, this magazine reviewed all seven and declared a good used Mk5 superior to a Mk7 for performance per pound. Last time we looked, PistonHeads was showing a privately advertised 2005-reg three-door for £4950. The metallic grey car with VW BBS Monza alloy wheels has full service history and has done 86,000 miles. The current owner (its third) has had it three years and accounted for 18,000 of them so should know it inside out. He’s selling it with his personal numberplate. So far so tempting, but it’s worth pointing out a used Mk5’s typical trouble spots. Like rusty front wheel arches caused by sodden sound-deadening material, corroded BBS alloys, worn seat bolsters and irregular rear tyre wear caused by poor wheel geometry. Find a used Golf GTI on PistonHeads Turning to the engine, the camshafts can become noisy, a problem often caused by a worn cam follower. It upsets the fuel pump’s timing, allowing it to spray neat fuel over the camshafts. The inlet valves can coke up, preventing them seating properly and so increasing oil consumption. Ask the seller how much of the stuff it uses each month. The turbo can sound rough and lose pressure, reducing power by up to 50bhp. If you’ve driven a healthy GTI before, you’ll notice it. Both problems are caused by a failed diverter valve. If the engine idles badly and you can hear air escaping when you turn off the engine, the pressure control valve is up the creak. Best you know now before you hand over any readies. Alfa Romeo 159, £5995: Really, the rare 1.75 TBi is the one to have but this 159 2.2 JTS Ti saloon, registered in 2007 and with one owner, will do in its absence. It has done 59,000 miles, has a full service history and costs £5995. One thing: if that engine’s chain is noisy, run a mile. Fiat Multipla, £4495: The original Multipla must be a future classic MPV but it’s rare. Not so the facelifted version of 2004. We found a tidy, 2010-reg 1.9 JTD Eleganza with 55,000 miles. The body is just as usefully boxy as the original and no other MPV has such versatile seating. Westfield, £6250: Our recent Caterham buying guide set us thinking about the cheaper alternative, a Westfield. Seconds later, we found this narrow-bodied SE, a 1992-reg car powered by the superb Vauxhall C20XE engine. Check for signs of careful construction. BMW 745i, £3999: This cut-price alternative to our 740Ld long-term test car caught our eye. It’s a 2002 car with 81,000 miles and full service history. The 4.4-litre V8 produces 328bhp and can muster 0-62mph in 6.3sec. Economy is a reasonably impressive 25.9mpg, too. Auction watch Volkswagen XL1: This XL1 is sure to have created a stir when it went under the hammer recently. The slippery plug-in diesel hybrid, a 2015-reg car with next to no miles and registered to VW, made £103,167. It’s believed to be the first XL1 to be sold at auction. It’s not clear whether it was the same car being touted around VW dealers recently with a sticker price of £99,999. A VW dealer near Autocar’s offices had it on display for a while, but far from drawing a crowd, it sat ignored in the showroom while the punters crawled around the shiny new T-Roc alongside it. Get it while you can BMW 320d M Sport, price new - £38,310, price now - £31,990: Already, BMW’s 3 Series saloon configurator is set up for the new model that’s due to hit showrooms next March, which means time’s running out to bag a pre-reg bargain on a run-out model. Even so, we found one: a 2018/68-reg 320d M Sport in Sapphire Black with just 15 miles on the clock, priced at £31,990. The equivalent 2019 model is £38,310 out of the box, a price that includes the Technology pack. Both put out 190bhp but the newer car is quicker, cleaner and more economical. You pays your money… Clash of the classifieds Brief: Inspired by Dan Prosser’s cheap Nissan Micra, I want a £1000 banger. Vauxhall Vectra 3.2 V6, £995: Ordinarily, you’d buy a Vauxhall Vectra because it was cheap and you were desperate. But while this one is cheap, it is redeemed by a lusty 208bhp 3.2-litre V6, low mileage and a clean MOT. A Honda Prelude in good nick would be worth having, but Mark’s ropey and remarkably rusty example looks like it’ll be hiding all sorts of hidden horrors. No, I’d rather have this Vectra (can’t believe I said that) because it’s younger, faster and fitter than his pensionable Honda. Max Adams Honda Prelude 2.2 VTEC, £750: I know many found the looks of the Mk5 Prelude implausible but underneath that body is cause for much revelry. There’s that wonderful 2.2-litre VTEC engine that pumps out seamless power and revs to high heaven, for starters, and the car is sublime in corners, with ultra-responsive four-wheel steering and a centre of gravity so low that it’s located somewhere near Melbourne. At £750, it’s a bargain, and it’s an ’onda so you’ll have years of trouble-free motoring to come. Mark Pearson Verdict: That Honda Prelude is a special car and much cheaper to tax, but the rust… I’ll take the Vauxhall Vectra and hang the running costs. Read more Volkswagen Golf GTI: which generation beats them all?​ Used car buying guide: Volkswagen Golf GTI Volkswagen XL1 review​ View the full article
  19. The Motorists Guide

    Our best times behind the wheel of a Lotus

    As Lotus celebrates its 70th anniversary, our writers take a look back at the most memorable experiences they've had in Chapman's creations "Simplify, and add lightness" and "lots of trouble, usually serious" are two phrases associated with sports car manufacturer Lotus which, though juxtaposed in their meaning, stand as a metaphor for the mixed bag of creations that have left the company's Norfolk factory over the last 70 years. Despite the propensity of most Lotus cars to provide an exhilarating and satisfying driving experience, the company has often been plagued by issues relating to build quality and reliability, which has, on occasion tarnished its reputation. Practicality issues aside, however, driving something built at Hethel is, more often than not, a formative automotive experience. So, to celebrate the company's 70th birthday, we compiled some of our test drivers' most memorable moments behind the wheel of a Lotus. Andrew Frankel I’d been on the mag for less than a year and already been booted off the road test desk for being, well, crap. Almost 30 years later, I can’t remember how I scored a seat in the weirdest three-car convoy ever to journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats but there we were, a Peugeot 405 Mi-16, a Vauxhall Nova GTE and a Lotus Esprit Turbo SE. The Lotus was pretty terrible: poorly assembled, dreadfully uncomfortable and needlessly noisy. But when we got to Scotland and let it loose on the A9, well, I’ll hand over to the 24-year-old me, writing somewhat breathlessly in this very magazine on 2 August 1989: “In the Lotus it was demonstration time. I sat and steered; it flew. No driving experience I have ever had comes close to that drive from Inverness to John O’Groats.” It was my first proper, long-distance blast in a bona fide supercar, and while there have been plenty since, you never forget your first. I arrived at the tip of Scotland so exceptionally pleased with myself that it is possible I slightly overplayed my hand: the following morning, the road test editor blasted off in the Lotus, leaving me a Nova to drive back to London. Matt Saunders It was 2009 when Lotus last won our Britain’s Best Driver’s Car shootout, with the original, normally aspirated, sub- £50,000 Evora. Ten of us were involved in the judging that year, and for nine of us, the Lotus was top of the tree: better than the Lamborghini Murciélago SV (which, as I recall, fell foul of the track’s noise regulations before it made it out of the paddock), better than the Porsche 911 GT3 of the same year, and better than the defending ‘Handling Day’ champion that year, the Nissan GT-R. On the day, I was one of very few who’d had a taste of the Evora already, having been to Hethel in 2008 to drive a late prototype. And yet, even though I knew what was coming, the Evora dazzled. It had – still has – a world-class chassis with just the right amount of grip and body control to marshal its power and weight, and not a morsel more. I remember being delighted by the car’s hydraulic steering rack; very taken with the throaty roar of its V6; and utterly besotted with the carefree drifts it insisted on chucking around Goodwood’s Lavant corner. To the residents who live in the house you’re always told about when the Goodwood marshals are warning you not to drift around Lavant corner, then, I should probably apologise. Never mind. It was the Evora’s fault. And, as I remember, it wasn’t just me who was seduced to misbehave. Steve Cropley Fantastic drives go hand in glove with Lotus cars, and given that I first went to Hethel when Colin Chapman was still in residence and that I’ve owned seven Lotus cars since those days, there’s a decent store of experiences to draw on. But one event I especially loved was back in the middle 1980s, when the flatscreen Lotus Esprit Turbo was regarded as a close competitor for the front-line Ferrari of the time, the 328 GTB. We took them both to Hethel for some head-to-head stuff on the handling track. This wasn’t usual, even back then, but Lotus’s engineers wanted to see a 328 up close. (They had it on their hoist during the lunch break.) My memory is of many dozens of flat-out laps in the pair, often nose to tail, during which I swapped seats back and forth with Lotus’s legendary wheelman and engineer, Roger Becker. We discovered that the cars were close — the Ferrari more sensitive, more beautiful and aurally superior; the Lotus more stable, brilliant to steer and ultimately a bit quicker. It was a tight battle during which I felt I drove to the limit of my capabilities, which was deeply satisfying, and something I’ve found the best Lotuses usually allow you to do. Matt Prior Think of great drives in some cars and you think of long journeys across breathtaking roads, loads of scenery. Y’know, standard ‘opening sequence of The Italian Job’ stuff. Without the digger. My great drives in Lotuses aren’t like that. My abiding memories are purely about being shocked by dynamics: my first drive of a Lotus Elise, on a decent but not outstanding road in Cambridgeshire on a nice enough summer’s evening, being totally taken aback by how good a car’s steering could be. Or an otherwise unremarkable morning at a test track in the Midlands, discovering for the first time what an Evora’s limit handling was like, and thinking no other mid-engined car, in my experience, had ever felt so adjustable and playful. Location unimportant. Scenery unimportant. It was all in the metal and detail, not the emotion. Which, on reflection, was perhaps never enough to sell loads of cars. Three top used Lotuses 1998 Elise S1 Early Elises are lovely – light, powered by the fine Rover K-series motor and surprisingly tolerant of high miles. You can pay as little as £12k, but £15k should buy you a peach. 2009 Evora The Evora made insufficient sense as a daily driver when new 10 years ago. But today as a recreation, when hot hatch money (£28k) buys you a nice example, the argument is far more convincing. 1994 Esprit S4S The Sport 300 and GT3 are the best Esprits but super scarce and pricey. So go for the S4S, which has the same 300bhp as the Sport 300 and, at about £35k, is a fraction of the price. Read more Lotus plans £2m electric hypercar​ Lotus at 70: the highs and lows Lotus SUV to use Volvo underpinnings and have class-leading handling​ View the full article
  20. Aston's bespoke petrol-electric inline-six could replace the AMG-sourced V8 in future Aston Martin is developing its own straight-six powerplant - possibly with hybrid tech - to eventually replace the Mercedes-AMG-sourced V8, according to a source close to the firm. It is believed that work is already under way on the powertrain, which will be crucial to helping Aston meet tougher future emissions legislation. The most likely first recipient of the powertrain would be the soon-to-be-launched DBX crossover. Aston Martin signed a technical partnership deal with Mercedes-AMG back in 2013. The deal allowed the British brand access to the AMG's 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8, which today can be found in the DB11 and Vantage coupes. However, Autocar understands that the engine-sharing part of the deal was only ever meant to be temporary while Aston engineers work on a straight-six, which could be derived from Aston's current 5.2-litre V12. Technical details of the engine are still firmly under wraps, but it looks likely to utilise hybrid technology developed through the brand's Rapide E programme. While a it might not be a full plug-in hybrid - Aston said last year the overall experience "isn't premium enough" for its customers yet - it should still combine the performance expected of an Aston with efficiency unheard of for the brand. Aston will make use of the Mercedes-AMG deal for another few years yet, launching its hotly-anticipated DBX next year. That car will feature turbocharged V8 and V12 power initially, with a long talked about hybrid variant due early in the next decade. Read more: Aston Martin DBX shown in near-production form before 2019 release Lagonda to relaunch with "radical" electric SUV in 2021 Aston Martin Vantage 2018 review View the full article
  21. The Motorists Guide

    Renault will keep Carlos Ghosn in CEO role

    Renault won’t follow Nissan in ousting arrested chairman as its internal investigation finds no wrongdoing Renault’s board has voted to keep Carlos Ghosn as its CEO and chairman after an internal investigation found no wrongdoing or illegal activity with regards to his pay. The move comes less than a week after Ghosn, who was removed from his role as Nissan director and chair, was formally charged by Japanese prosecutors for financial misconduct. He stands accused of under-reporting his income by around £34 million over five years, and misusing Nissan company assets. Following a board meeting on Thursday, Renault revealed that preliminary conclusions of an ongoing investigation suggested that Ghosn’s compensation approval was “in compliance with applicable law” and that it would “maintain the current governance measures”. Day-to-day running of the company was handed to COO Thierry Bollore in November. Renault, along with the stakeholding French government, has previously claimed that Nissan denied the firm access to more detailed allegations against Ghosn. The revelations are reported to have created a rift between the two firms, which are also in alliance with Mitsubishi. Ghosn joined Renault in 1996 and was named COO of Nissan in 1999, after the French firm bought a major stake in its Japanese rival. Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa has since suggested the concentration of power within the alliance will not be repeated. He said: “In the future, we will make sure we don’t rely on a specific individual.” Read more: Taking stock of Nissan's claims about Carlos Ghosn Dacia set to drop Renault badge View the full article
  22. The Motorists Guide

    Porsche 911 '992' Carrera S: first ride

    Our first experience of the eighth-generation 911 is reassuringly familiar – but that doesn't mean nothing has changed under the skin Whether it was the noise of the flat-six engine from behind, or the slight burst of oversteer as my driver attempted to apply that unit’s 444bhp through cold rear tyres, a ride around Hockenheim proved that much is reassuringly familiar about the new Porsche 911 Carrera S. That’s entirely by design, of course. As Porsche’s R&D boss, Michael Steiner, notes, since it was first launched in 1963, the 911 has “been the main pillar of the brand”. So the new 992-generation machine is understandably evolutionary, both in terms of design and driving dynamics. But don’t mistake evolution for a lack of change. As with the car’s design, which freshens the 911’s look while respecting the past, under the bodywork there are plenty of small details and changes. Porsche’s engineers believe that these, in the best spirit of ‘marginal gains’, add up to make a big difference. A good example of that is how the engine is mounted to the chassis. On every previous 911, dating back to the 1963 original, the engine was mounted via a bracket attached to the crankcase. But on the new car, it’s been mounted directly into the longitudinal members, around 20cm further forward. New 992-series Porsche 911: details of mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions That has been done to reduce the engine vibrations and improve stability. It does so by a matter of degrees, but when combined with the new lightweight yet stiffer shell (which uses significantly more aluminium), Porsche says it makes a notable difference. How big a difference do all the improvements to the new car make? In Nürburgring terms, about five seconds: that’s how much quicker Porsche says the new Carrera S is around that track than the previous model. While a 7min 25sec lap of the Nordschleife is impressive, our first chance to experience the finished version of the new machine (we previously had a ride in a late prototype) came at another German F1 track. First impressions of the new Porsche 911 The design evolution is clear both when you see the 911 in the Hockenheim paddock and when you sit inside it. From the passenger seat, the 911 is comfortable and spacious. The new 10.9in infotainment system is notable, as are the two seven-inch digital display screens on the dashboard – but front and centre behind the steering wheel is a good old-fashioned analogue rev counter. New Porsche 911 Cabriolet detailed in revealing spy shots That balance between luxury and old-school sports car is key to the development of the new 911. “We wanted to make it sportier, but also more usable in day-to-day life,” said Steiner. To achieve that, the 911 features a whole host of new digital and driver assistance systems, which are tuned to widen its performance window, from driver-focused performance at one extreme, to cruising comfort at the other. So, for example, the new dual-clutch eight-speed PDK gearbox – the only unit available at launch – which Porsche says has been set for faster gearchanges at low speeds, and greater fuel economy at high speed. If you use the throttle aggressively, it will automatically hold gears longer, and it uses GPS and data gathered from the car sensors to predict traffic, bends or hills ahead, adjusting the shift pattern to ensure maximum response. At speed in the new 911 Carrera S With a racing driver behind the wheel and on the wide expanse of Hockenheim, it’s very much the sporting end of the new 911’s performance window that I get to experience for a short ride. We take one lap in Normal mode, which also helps to get the aforementioned cold tyres up to speed, before switching to Sport Plus. In that mode, you can feel the increased revs and effort of the twin-turbocharged flat-six 3.0-litre engine. With an extra 30bhp than previously and 391lb ft of torque at its disposal (up from 325lb ft), that unit provides plenty of momentum coming out of corners, and you can feel how the eight-speed dual clutch holds gears for longer, giving more response. The classic 911 balance is clear, and the new car’s more direct steering is reflected in the driver’s confidence as he lifts off the brakes and turns into corners. The new 911 uses new tyres and differing wheel sizes: 20in on the front and 21in (and wider) tyres at the rear. This motorsport-inspired set-up, only previously seen in the previous-generation 911 on the GT2 RS and GT3 RS, is designed to improve the car’s balance and traction, and also to help balance tyre temperature better – always a key consideration on the rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive 911. The Porsche 911’s new Wet Mode Our run ends with a blast around a wet handling track, to showcase one of the new 911’s novel driver assistance features: a new Wet Mode. The car features a sensor located in the front wheel arch that detects spray thrown up from the road, pre-conditioning the safety systems and recommending to the driver to engage Wet Mode. When they do, the traction control and braking systems are increased, the brake balance is shifted forward, throttle response is dampened and the rear wing is deployed to maximise downforce. We take a lap in Normal mode, the driver working hard to drive as badly as he can in the conditions, and experience plenty of sideways action – fun on a wide-open expanse of Tarmac, likely less so on a real wet road. With Wet Mode engaged, you can feel how much harder the traction control and other systems work to combat attempts by our driver to get sideways, with a notable difference in the car’s wayward attitude. Porsche says a considerable focus of the chassis and tyre development went into improving handling and safety in wet conditions, and that’s certainly demonstrated by the new mode. Why the new Porsche 911 feels a welcome evolution A few passenger laps of an F1 track and a wet car park aren’t enough to really judge a new car, of course, but they did provide a welcome first impression of the new 911. That impression is of a car that is at once a step forward, while also remaining reassuringly familiar. There’s an added sheen of comfort with the development of the touchscreens and displays in the interior, and with the addition of new driver assistance systems. Yet those systems appear to have been developed to give those who want to exploit its considerable performance the freedom to do so. Which, when we’re given the opportunity to try the new 911 from the driver’s seat, we very much intend to do. Read more New 2019 Porsche 911: eighth-generation sports car revealed New Porsche 911 Cabriolet detailed in revealing spy shots New 992-series Porsche 911: new details of mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions View the full article
  23. The Motorists Guide

    MG to launch MG 3 budget racer

    The MG Car Club is hoping to attract more entrants to its championship events SAIC interns have been tasked with preparing the supermini for MG Car Club racing events on a budget of £5000 MG has announced that it will launch a low-cost racing version of its MG 3 hatchback in early 2019. Interns at parent company SAIC Motor’s UK Technical Centre, in collaboration with the MG Car Club, have been tasked with preparing a 3 for track use with a budget of just £5000 as part of their internship project. The increasing rarity of classic MG models, such as the Metro, and the difficulty and cost of maintaining a classic car in line with race track specifications has created a financial barrier for many prospective MG Car Club event entrants. New club regulations allow any 3 model, including the current iteration, which was launched earlier this year, to compete in championship events, in a move aimed at attracting those on a more limited budget. Any 3 converted under the new scheme will be eligible for entry into the MG Cup in 2019, with entrants under the age of 25 only paying half the standard entry fee, meaning a weekend of racing could cost just £300. Full details of modifications carried out haven't been revealed, but proposed regulations for the Class A Road Going category allow for limited weight shedding and installation of performance parts such as GAZ adjustable damping components and a Scorpion exhaust system. Adam Sloman of the MG Car Club said: “Motorsport is a huge part of MG and the Club’s heritage, and we are very much invested in bringing new cars, drivers and young competitors to our grids in the future.” Read more MG 3 review Matt Prior: could cheaper motor racing attract more people to the sport? The MG Motors plan - and Longbridge's important role View the full article
  24. Porsche's 992-generation 911 will be joined by another drop-top version in the first half of next year Porsche revealed its eighth-generation 911 at last month's Los Angeles motor show, and now the Cabriolet version has dropped all of its disguise in new spy shots. The drop-top is due to arrive in the next few months as more variants of the 911, including the faster GTS and Turbo models, are slowly added to the range. The first prototype in these shots is sporting a bold green paint scheme, available to order as a special colour on the hard-top. As with the coupé, there will no longer be two body widths offered on any 911, with all cars matching up to the previous wide-body option on higher-spec models. The standard car has grown in every significant dimension too. As expected, the Cabriolet retains the folding fabric roof system from the outgoing model, and the design is broadly similar. The engine range will also be identical, launching with a Carrera S and Carrera 4S using a turbocharged flat-six engine delivering 444bhp. Further variants may be offered at launch if they are added to the hard-top beforehand. Pricing of the Cabriolet has yet to be confirmed, but traditionally the bodystyle adds around £9000 to the list price of the coupé. That would mean a PDK-equipped Carrera S would be pushed over the £100,000 mark. We can expect more details closer to the car's launch. Read more First ride: 2019 Porsche 911 prototype 2019 Porsche 911: new video shows 992 Carrera 4S at the Nürburgring 2020 Porsche 911 GT3 spied in near-production bodywork View the full article
  25. BMW's Porsche Panamera rival is set to arrive in the middle of 2019, after two-door coupe and convertible 8 Series BMW is set to extend the 8 Series range with a four-door Gran Coupe version, and new spyshots show the car with minimal disguise. The model takes over from the market position occupied by the old 6 Series Gran Coupe, and is directly aimed at cars such as the Porsche Panamera and Mercedes-Benz CLS. It's shares its mechanicals and underpinnings with the 8 Series coupe, but with an extended wheelbase and raised roofline offering more passenger and luggage room. The new spy images show the design is a familiar adaptation of the coupe and convertible, with the undisguised front end looking largely identical and a recognisable rear shape. It's not clear yet, however, whether two or three rear seats will be offered - the coupe is a strict two-seater. The engine range of the Gran Coupe will also mirror the rest of the 8 Series range, with a 316bhp 840d diesel entry point and the 532bhp M850i xDrive both available from launch. Later on a flagship M8 version will be offered, using a 4.4-litre twin turbo V8 producing upwards of 600bhp. It's not clear yet if the even more powerful M8 Competition will transfer to four-door form, but at the bottom of the range we should see a lower-powered petrol eventually offered. The two-door 840d is priced from £76,000, so expect the Gran Coupe version to edge towards the £80,000 mark in base form. We'll see the Gran Coupe revealed in full in the first half of next year, with UK cars likely to arrive by late autumn. Read more: BMW M850i xDrive 2018 review BMW 3 series 320d Sport 2019 review BMW M8 Competition leaks out ahead of 2019 unveiling View the full article
  26. Volkswagen head of catering Hern Cordes has a lot on his plate We meet the man tasked with fuelling the 62,000 employees at VW's Wolfsburg plant Volkswagen, as with many major car companies, is a vast operation. In Germany alone the firm has six production plants and employs more than 130,000 people. And in order to ensure they’re fuelled to make millions of cars each year, they all need feeding. That’s a massive logistical challenge, and the man responsible for it is Hern Cordes, Volkswagen’s head of catering. He heads up a department of around 850 people, whose primary mission is to ensure good quality food is available to employees whenever it’s needed. “We like to take care of our employees,” says Cordes. “Our bosses believe that if we treat them the best, they will be more productive and make the best cars. We aim for the quality of food you’d see in a top London restaurant.” Volkswagen’s main Wolfsburg plant, which sprawls over 6,500,000 square metres, has more than 62,000 employees. To feed them, the site features 17 staff restaurants, a number of ‘self-service’ shops and even some mobile food vans. The majority of the food sold in those sites comes from VW’s Service Factory, which produced 13,803,370 portions of food in 2017. With so many staff to feed, and production line workers given precise 15- or 30-minute breaks, getting the food in the right place and the right time is a huge effort. “To make the plants as efficient as possible, we have to make sure every employee is close to food, beverages and things like newspapers,” says Cordes. “When we’re planning a new plant, we really think about the employees and how they get to food quickly. “We’re feeding people 24 hours a day, seven days a week and at any time they might want a salad, a fresh juice or currywurst, so we need a really flexible operation.” That’s why VW developed self-service shops close to production lines, allowing workers to quickly grab refreshments. It’s also why the firm has reworked every canteen to ensure it offers natural light. The best-known item produced there in the Service Factory is Volkswagen’s currywurst, which has become so popular it’s sold in local supermarkets. It’s also offered in every staff canteen - always offered with chips and ketchup. But while the currywurst is a staple, the Volkswagen menu has changed substantially in recent years. “There’s been a big change towards vegetarian and vegan food,” says Cordes. “Around 30% of the food we serve is vegetarian. But we always have options: so we have salad, and offer bacon on the side. “We have one line of healthy food on offer each day, but if you are working hard on a production line you need calories, so we think about that too.” Cordes says that the firm puts such emphasis on quality that it wants employees to have their main meals of the day at the plant - and the shops even sell portions for staff to take home in the evening. Volkswagen has also committed to subsidising half the cost of all the food it sells. But the hospitality department isn’t solely concerned with filling the canteens. The department has the contract to provide catering to the stadiums of the VfL Wolfsburg and Eintracht Braunschweig football teams, and works with the events team to plan catering for major Volkswagen events and car launches. That often includes special food items. “When we launched the Golf GTI at Wörthesee one year, we produced a special black version of our Golf-shaped pasta,” Cordes says. Cordes’s team is currently helping to plan the catering for next year’s launch of the eighth-generation Golf. While he won’t reveal what’s on the menu, he insists that food is as important to the launch of a new Volkswagen as it is to the marketing of them. “Food is one part of a big event,” he says. “It’s part of the storytelling. VW is known for quality and service - and not just in cars.” Autocar was given exclusive access to the Volkswagen Service Factory to find out the secrets behind the firm’s currywurst. Read the full story in this week’s 164-page Autocar double issue. Click here to subscribe, or digital copies can be downloaded from Zinio and the Apple iTunes store. Read more Inside Volkswagen's Wolfsburg production plant​ Picture special: Autostadt – inside VW's theme park for cars​ The mountain decides - behind the scenes of the 2018 Pikes Peak Hill Climb​ View the full article
  27. Volkswagen head of catering Hern Cordes has a lot on his plate We go behind the scenes at Volkswagen's Wolfsburg plant, to find out what's on the menu for its 62,000 employees Volkswagen, as with many major car companies, is a vast operation. In Germany alone the firm has six production plants and employs more than 130,000 people. And in order to ensure they’re fuelled to make millions of cars each year, they all need feeding. That’s a massive logistical challenge, and the man responsible for it is Hern Cordes, Volkswagen’s head of catering. He heads up a department of around 850 people, whose primary mission is to ensure good quality food is available to employees whenever it’s needed. “We like to take care of our employees,” says Cordes. “Our bosses believe that if we treat them the best, they will be more productive and make the best cars. We aim for the quality of food you’d see in a top London restaurant.” Volkswagen’s main Wolfsburg plant, which sprawls over 6,500,000 square metres, has more than 62,000 employees. To feed them, the site features 17 staff restaurants, a number of ‘self-service’ shops and even some mobile food vans. The majority of the food sold in those sites comes from VW’s Service Factory, which produced 13,803,370 portions of food in 2017. With so many staff to feed, and production line workers given precise 15- or 30-minute breaks, getting the food in the right place and the right time is a huge effort. “To make the plants as efficient as possible, we have to make sure every employee is close to food, beverages and things like newspapers,” says Cordes. “When we’re planning a new plant, we really think about the employees and how they get to food quickly. “We’re feeding people 24 hours a day, seven days a week and at any time they might want a salad, a fresh juice or currywurst, so we need a really flexible operation.” That’s why VW developed self-service shops close to production lines, allowing workers to quickly grab refreshments. It’s also why the firm has reworked every canteen to ensure it offers natural light. The best-known item produced there in the Service Factory is Volkswagen’s currywurst, which has become so popular it’s sold in local supermarkets. It’s also offered in every staff canteen - always offered with chips and ketchup. But while the currywurst is a staple, the Volkswagen menu has changed substantially in recent years. “There’s been a big change towards vegetarian and vegan food,” says Cordes. “Around 30% of the food we serve is vegetarian. But we always have options: so we have salad, and offer bacon on the side. “We have one line of healthy food on offer each day, but if you are working hard on a production line you need calories, so we think about that too.” Cordes says that the firm puts such emphasis on quality that it wants employees to have their main meals of the day at the plant - and the shops even sell portions for staff to take home in the evening. Volkswagen has also committed to subsidising half the cost of all the food it sells. But the hospitality department isn’t solely concerned with filling the canteens. The department has the contract to provide catering to the stadiums of the VfL Wolfsburg and Eintracht Braunschweig football teams, and works with the events team to plan catering for major Volkswagen events and car launches. That often includes special food items. “When we launched the Golf GTI at Wörthesee one year, we produced a special black version of our Golf-shaped pasta,” Cordes says. Cordes’s team is currently helping to plan the catering for next year’s launch of the eighth-generation Golf. While he won’t reveal what’s on the menu, he insists that food is as important to the launch of a new Volkswagen as it is to the marketing of them. “Food is one part of a big event,” he says. “It’s part of the storytelling. VW is known for quality and service - and not just in cars.” Autocar was given exclusive access to the Volkswagen Service Factory to find out the secrets behind the firm’s currywurst. Read the full story in this week’s 164-page Autocar double issue. Click here to subscribe, or digital copies can be downloaded from Zinio and the Apple iTunes store. Read more Inside Volkswagen's Wolfsburg production plant​ Picture special: Autostadt – inside VW's theme park for cars​ The mountain decides - behind the scenes of the 2018 Pikes Peak Hill Climb​ View the full article
  28. Downsized engines and revised infotainment keep the nation's favourite crossover competitive A year on from its mid-life facelift, the second-generation Nissan Qashqai is comfortably still the country’s most popular crossover - but this is a rapidly growing corner of the market, and competition is fierce.Rivals were beginning to eclipse the class-defining Qashqai with more dynamic handling and more up-to-date infotainment - although not, it must be said, with higher sales. So, to maintain its position at the top, Nissan has fired back with a focus on technology and a brace of new engines.There’s now a single petrol, a 1.3-litre turbocharged four-pot, which replaces the 1.2-litre and 1.6-litre units. It's available in two states of tune, and both versions are more efficient than the engines they replace, with improved fuel economy and lower emissions courtesy of a petrol particulate filter. Plus, they are tuned to deliver more torque at the lower end of the rev range - something lacking in the old 1.2.The more potent 158bhp engine can now be mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, a first for any mainstream Nissan and following in the tyre treads of the flagship GT-R supercar. It is the model tested here, in top-end Tekna trim.The petrol is joined by a 1.5-litre diesel at launch and will be followed by a 1.7-litre oil-burner in early 2019. The latter will reintroduce a CVT transmission to the range, along with four-wheel drive. All petrol models are front-wheel-drive only.View the full article
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