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  1. Yesterday
  2. The key to Flipping Bangers' success is the relationship between presenters Gus Gregory (left) and Will Trickett (right) A new show on BLAZE® celebrates the art of restoring classic cars on a strict budget and timescale. Here are the episodes you can’t miss Anyone who has restored, or even just tinkered with, a classic car will know that things rarely run smoothly. Not great when you’re the one with oil and an expensive repair bill on your hands, but there’s a certain vicarious thrill in watching other people face the pain – and pleasure – of turning rust into gold. Say hello to Flipping Bangers on free-to-air channel BLAZE®, in which a pair of passionate petrol-heads buy and restore down-at-heel classics with their own money, then have to sell them for double the money in to turn a modest profit. And don’t think they’ve got all the time in the world to fettle their budding pride and joy with tender loving care. The second the car enters their workshop they’re up against it, as it is placed on an internet auction. Let’s badger the bodgers The secret to the show is the stripped back reality and the genuine chemistry between designer, engineer and boat builder Will Trickett (the one with the mad sideburns), and respected car and travel photographer Gus Gregory. “The hook is, it’s real,” says Gus. “There’s no background army doing the cars up. Will and I do the job properly, and there are definitely moments where you can spend a long time doing something before you know if it’s working.” As Will adds: “It’s very seat of the pants. When it goes wrong, it goes wrong – and we’re the ones who have to sort it out.” The relationship between the pair can be likened to experienced expert and enthusiastic amateur. “Will is a trained engineer,” points out Gus. “So, I’m sure he rolls his eyes when I’m looking something up on the internet.” But both share a passion for turning maligned cars into something special. “The thing that drives us both is the determination to do the best job we can,” says Will. Will and Gus lament how modern cars lack scope for tinkering. “The Audi A2 was the first car I remember with a plastic cover on the engine and holes for oil and water,” says Gus. “Today’s manufacturers don’t want you looking under the bonnet. There’s no gain in getting people into car maintenance” But Flipping Bangers isn’t only for experienced enthusiasts. “There’s always going to be a diehard audience,” says Will. “The key is bringing on youngsters or newbies – the sort of people who don’t realise their 1980s Ford Escort is a classic, and probably think it’s just a pile of junk. But old cars are still cool.” After a successful first outing, Flipping Bangers is back for a second 10-episode run – starting this Friday 26th April at 9pm on BLAZE®. So we asked Will and Gus to pick their must-watch moments from series two. Episode 1 - MGB (26th April): Things start with a bang. Will and Gus spot a good-looking car, but soon spot problems that require a major rethink. “The classic tale of a classic car,” says Gus. “It looks like a bargain. Once you start poking round, it’s a world of pain. Apart from the engine and gearbox, everything was wrong with it.” Episode 3 – Austin Maestro MG (10th May): Gus and Will want a classic British sportscar, but settle for something more modest. The end results are something to see. “The Maestro was a much maligned car by the motoring press and the public,” says Gus. “But I think they’re great cars, and this turned out to be something special.” Episode 4 – Suzuki SJ (17th May): Will and Gus head off the beaten track with a budget 4x4. Off-road means ‘mud’, and a major clean of the Suzuki exposes a host of other issues, but the results live up to the ambition. “With the Suzuki, we managed to do exactly what we’d planned,” says Will. “And we had a great day off-roading in it.” Episode 5 – Morris Minor (24th May): Like the MGB, Will and Gus face a world of welding woes and a race against the clock, budget and enthusiasm with this iconic classic. “Welding saps time, but it also saps you of energy,” says Gus. “It can be exhausting cutting and grinding.” The Morris may be a trial of love, but the results are worth seeing. Episode 6 – Skoda Estelle (31st May): “I love Skodas,” says Will. “When I was young, everyone took the mickey out of them, but we managed to find a good example.” The build isn’t without its problems – thanks to some ‘Eastern Bloc’ fuel issues. But some innovative thinking on the exterior gives it a new lease of life. Episode 8 – Volkswagen Beetle (14th June): As you’d expect with a motoring icon, good cheap examples are hard to find. Gus and Will find a project car at a budget-friendly £1000, but it hasn’t been well maintained. “The VW Beetle was difficult,” says Will. “We had one plan with great intentions, and then had to change it.” The question is, will they be forced to sell it as spare parts, or be able to pull off something spectacular? Episode 10 – SAAB 99 (28th June): The perfect car for the perfect finale – a classic bit of Scandi-car. “The Saab was very difficult to know what to do with, because it was at the end of its days,” says Gus. “But we genuinely gave that car a new lease of life.” Episodes of Flipping Bangers air at 9pm every Friday on free-to-air channel BLAZE®, starting on 26th April. BLAZE® is available on Freeview 63, Freesat 162, Sky 565 and Virgin Media 216. Find out more at www.blaze.tv View the full article
  3. Rivian's R1S electric SUV made its debut last year Strategic partnership will lead to Ford using Rivian's skateboard architecture for a new battery electric model Ford has agreed a deal with Rivian to develop a new model on the fast-rising electric vehicle (EV) maker's platform - and take a minority stake in the firm. Rivian is currently developing its R1T pick-up truck and R1S seat-seat SUV, which will both be built on a bespoke 'skateboard’ chassis that was designed to be modular, so it can be used for a wide range of machines. The new strategic partnership, in which Ford has taken around $500 million (£386 million) equity investment in Rivian, will result in engineers from the two American companies working together to develop a battery EV for Ford. There are no details yet on the type of vehicle the firms will work on, although it will be “all-new”. In the US, Ford has shifted its focus to pick-ups and SUVs, and it's currently developing an electric version of its hugely popular F-150. Ford boss Jim Hackett said the partnership with Rivian “brings a fresh approach” to Ford's development of EVs and that the fledgling firm “can benefit from Ford’s industrial expertise and resources”. Rivian founder RJ Scaringe called the deal a “key milestone in our drive to accelerate the transition to sustainable mobility”. Rivian will remain an independent company. Ford is just the latest major investor the firm has secured; it had already raised £894.5m, including £544 million from online retailing giant Amazon, announced at the Los Angeles motor show. The deal is also the latest in a number of partnerships that Ford has secured as part of its global restructuring. It recently agreed a deal to work with Volkswagen to develop a range of vehicles, including vans and mid-size pick-ups, and has talked about building vehicles using the German conglomerate's MEB platform for EVs. Read more Amazon leads £544 million investment in EV start-up Rivian​ "How I started my own car firm" - the story of Rivian​ EV manufacturer Rivian plans rally-style performance car​ View the full article
  4. Mercedes' all-new SL drop-top is due in 2020 with AMG chassis development, and shortened mules testing new platform have been seen Novel-looking Mercedes-Benz prototypes, believed to be chassis mules for the next-generation SL, have been spotted - a week after AMG boss Tobias Moers told Autocar that SL prototype would hit the roads this year. The prototypes show an E-Class saloon with a significant chunk removed from the wheelbase and body. The length and detailing of this chopped mule strongly suggests it is a test bed for the new shared sports car platform. Moers confirmed last week that the SL, which will launch by 2021, will be “aligned” with the next AMG GT. Both cars will share a new aluminium-intensive platform, known internally as the Modular Sports Architecture (MSA), in an attempt to increase the economies of scale and overall profitability of two of Mercedes’ most exclusive model lines. Autocar first scooped the new SL last October, but only recently has Moers gone on the record to confirm AMG's development of the new model. “We’re bringing back the historic DNA of the SL," he said. "It's far sportier [this time round]. It will have a perfect compromise between driving dynamics and comfort because it’s still kind of a cruiser too.” This is the first time AMG has overseen development of any SL across its previous seven generations. Moers said: “Handing over SL to AMG as the performance and sports car brand is great. There’s lots of responsibility behind that, and I’m really honoured.” He also confirmed that the eighth-generation SL would be offered only as a roadster, like its predecessor. Autocar has previously reported that the model will receive a traditional fabric hood in place of the folding hard-top arrangement that has been used for the past two SL incarnations. Overall, the SL will be revived as a lighter, faster and more engaging model, which is why AMG has been tasked with heading up the project. SL and GT sharing As well as sharing a common platform structure, the two upmarket Mercedes sports cars are expected to share axle assemblies, suspension, steering systems, 48V electric architecture and hybrid drivetrains, among other components, in a move to cut costs and boost production efficiency. The new SL and GT will be built alongside each other at Mercedes’ plant in Sindelfingen, Germany. Early plans to base a successor to today’s smaller SLC off the same underpinnings have been abandoned following a recent decision not to replace the junior Mercedes roadster due to dwindling sales. Early prototypes of the new SL were spied testing on track with the new platform underneath a shortened S-Class Coupé body. They give away little about the car’s mechanical set-up, which is rumoured to run a transaxle arrangement with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox integrated within the rear axle assembly, like on the GT. However, the overall dimensions of the engineering mules suggest the production version will be slightly larger than the existing SL, which is 4630mm long, 1870mm wide and 1310mm tall. The adoption of the MSA platform is claimed to have had a positive effect on the styling of the new SL, whose proportions are said to be more in keeping with earlier incarnations of the classic roadster than the current model, which shares a platform with saloon models such as the C-Class, E-Class, CLS and S-Class. A Mercedes source told Autocar that the new SL receives a longer bonnet and more rearward-positioned cabin. “The new platform has given us more freedom,” the source said. “There’s more distance between the front axle and the front firewall. This gives it more traditional proportions.” The decision to replace the folding hard-top of today’s SL with a more compact fabric hood is also said to have provided greater scope in the styling of the rear of the new model. “It’s much more shapely, especially at the rear, because it is no longer dictated in height and width for the packaging of the hard-top roof,” the source added. In a further departure from today’s model, it is also expected that Mercedes will provide the 2020 SL with a 2+2 seating layout. Autocar has been told that AMG is keen to give the new SL the same sort of practicality as the Porsche 911, with a set of rear seats capable of accommodating adults for short journeys or, alternatively, luggage as an extension of its boot. SL to get hybrid line-up Mercedes plans to offer the SL with a limited range of hybridised in-line six-cylinder and V8 petrol engines in a line-up that’s likely to include both standard and AMG models. The range is understood to start with an SL450 EQ Boost model running a turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder developing around 365bhp, along with an added 22bhp in combination with an integrated starter motor. Further up will be the SL53, which will run a more powerful AMG-tuned version of the SL450 EQ Boost’s mild-hybrid drivetrain with around 430bhp and added 22bhp through electric assistance. Among the V8-powered models will be the SL500 EQ Boost. It is due to receive a turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 with a similar power output to the SL53, but significantly more torque. Topping the range will be the SL63. It is likely to be offered in two states of tune, with the most powerful model running a turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 capable of in excess of 600bhp and more than 30bhp of electric boost. It is unclear if Mercedes will continue with the V12-powered SL, although, given the potential output of the SL63, it would seem unlikely. All engines for the new SL will come as standard with Mercedes’ nine-speed automatic gearbox, with the AMG variants set to adopt the Speedshift electronics package for faster shift times. Suggestions are that Mercedes could offer 4Matic four-wheel drive alongside standard rear-wheel drive, although this has yet to be confirmed. Despite the SL’s market repositioning, it won’t completely abandon the luxury focus, so expect the interior to be almost as opulent as Mercedes’ other high-end models. It will be more driver-focused than cars such as the S-Class Coupé, but there could still be plenty of the brand’s latest driver assist systems drafted in, including its semi-autonomous Drive Pilot function. Additional reporting by Rachel Burgess Read more Mercedes-Benz SL review New Mercedes-Benz SQC: all-electric SUV revealed Mercedes-AMG SL 63 review View the full article
  5. More efficient drive unit, faster charging and chassis upgrades for largest Teslas, entering production this week Tesla has announced a series of upgrades for its Model S saloon and Model X SUV, including a range improvement of more than 10% for Long Range models. The American EV maker claims to have substantially upgraded the drive unit fitted to both cars, introducing the “optimised permanent magnet synchronous reluctance motor” from the Model 3, and using silicon carbide in the unit’s electronics. Redesigned gearing, new bearings and improved cooling and lubrication boost all-round motor efficiency. The secret tech behind the Tesla Model 3 The result is a claimed EPA cycle range of 370 miles for the top-spec Model S and 325 miles for the equivalent Model X. This is apparently achieved without any changes to the 100kWh battery pack in both cars. At the same time, Tesla claims to have improved power and torque “significantly” without quoting specific figures. Charging times have come down, too, with both cars capable of achieving 200kW on the latest ‘V3’ Superchargers and 145kW on the more common ‘V2’ Superchargers. The upgrades extend beyond the powertrain, however, with both cars receiving a fully adaptive damping system for the air suspension. Developed in-house, it’s claimed to constantly adapt to the road surface and driver behaviour, while bringing the cars lower to the ground when cruising to optimise aerodynamics. More minor changes include new wheel bearings and new tyre designs for certain variants claimed to boost steering feel, ride quality and range. By way of recompense to those who purchased a Model S or X before the updates, the firm is offering a free Ludicrous Mode upgrade to existing owners buying a new Performance model. In an unusual move, the company has backtracked on its relatively recent decision to axe Standard Range variants by reintroducing them on both models. The updated Teslas are entering production at the firm’s factory in Fremont, California, this week, with online ordering open now. A Tesla UK spokesperson claimed that any of the new models ordered would be subject to a similar delivery wait time as the outgoing variants. Read more Elon Musk claims Tesla will have robotaxis on roads by 2020 Analysis: why FCA Group is paying Tesla Tesla Model S review View the full article
  6. High-riding version of Britain's cheapest car is still a relative bargain, even with extra equipment – if not quite the steal of models lower down the range In recent years, Dacia’s design team have admitted their surprise at having to create an ever-growing range of optional extras in order to keep up with demand from customers keen to add a few luxurious touches to their budget-conscious buys.That’s now being reflected in the model line-up: this new range-topping Sandero Stepway Techroad is effectively what happens when you tick all the options boxes on the high-riding version of Dacia’s supermini.It comes equipped with a rear parking camera, 7in touchscreen with smartphone syncing, LED headlights, electric windows and door mirrors, a raft of safety systems and a number of other shiny extras.It’s all wrapped up with new exterior and interior design flourishes, which include Techroad decals and new paint colours.It’s the most expensive version of Britain’s cheapest car. But is it worth the money?View the full article
  7. Last week
  8. The FCA Group’s CO2 fleet average for 2018 was 125.3g/km Pooling its line-up with Tesla is allowing FCA to cut its EU fleet-average CO2 liability Tesla boss Elon Musk has admitted that making money from selling electric cars is tough. But in the past few years Tesla has made millions by getting rival car firms to pay it for a surprisingly valuable commodity: nothing. In the US, several states require car firms to produce a certain number of zero-emission cars, or face fines. But firms can buy EV ‘credits’ from other car makers, and because Tesla only makes electric cars, it has a huge number of those credits. In one financial quarter last year it made more than $190 million (£164 million) – more than two-thirds of its profit in that quarter – selling such credits to rivals. Tesla has now found a way to turn nothing into profit with its European arm, through a new deal with the FCA Group, which owns Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Jeep and Maserati. In this case, the ‘nothing’ FCA is paying “hundreds of millions” of pounds to access is the 0g/km of CO2 emitted by Tesla’s EVs. By 2021, the EU will require the average CO2 emissions of a manufacturer’s new car fleet to be 95g/km or under (adjusted for each firm based on average fleet weight and some credits earned), down from the previous 130g/km fleet-average target. The penalties for failing to hit those targets are fines of €95 (£82) per vehicle per g/km over the 95g/km limit. FCA and Tesla have agreed to group their European fleets together in a ‘pool’, which the EU counts as a single entity when determining the average emissions of their new car fleet. FCA is in effect buying the right to use Tesla’s EVs to reduce its average CO2 emissions. According to industry analysts Jato Dynamics, FCA sold 961,000 units in the EU last year, with a fleet average of 125.3g/km. Assuming no change in those figures, FCA’s 2021 target will be 89.8g/km, meaning the firm faces a potential fine of £2.8 billion. Tesla only sold 29,000 units in the EU last year, but because cars that emit under 50g/km are rewarded with extra ‘super credits’, it’s enough to reduce the combined FCA/Tesla fleet average to 121.6g/km. While their 2021 target would rise to 91.6g/km (because of a higher average fleet weight), the potential penalty is reduced to £2.25 billion – a saving of more than £500m. Felipe Munoz, an automotive industry analyst at Jato, notes that a lot depends on how much FCA is paying Tesla – and he adds that the 2018 figures don’t account for “the big impact” the Model 3 is having on Tesla’s position in Europe. “As it sells more cars, it will have a bigger impact in any pool,” he says. By 2021 the Tesla deal is likely to save FCA even more money. FCA has also begun an electrification programme, with Jeep and Alfa Romeo plug-in hybrids and an electric Fiat 500 due next year. This deal will help to bridge the gap until those models are selling. Munoz notes that FCA isn’t the only one facing massive EU CO2 emissions fines, saying many “are not prepared” for the 2021 targets. Jato cites both the PSA and Volkswagen Groups as being particularly at risk of massive fines. Meanwhile, Toyota and Mazda have also agreed to pool their fleets, as have PSA’s brands. He adds: “By the time EVs become a real alternative to the internal combustion engine, it might be too late for the car makers, and many of them will have to look for solutions such as the FCA-Tesla pool.” Munoz does note that while the deal works for FCA now, “they are at the end feeding a competitor, making it stronger and more threatening.” Read more Government's approach to emissions is counter-productive​ FCA and Tesla agree deal to beat EU emissions regulations​ Elon Musk claims Tesla will have robotaxis on roads by 2020 View the full article
  9. Aston's new convertible DBS manages the same top speed as the hard-top, making it the fastest soft-top Aston ever Aston Martin has pulled the wraps off the fastest convertible in its history: the new DBS Superleggera Volante. Capable of hitting 211mph – identical to the hard-top DBS – the British firm’s newest addition is available to order now, priced from £247,500. That headline figure is £22,500 more than the coupé, but Aston claims the “extra level of sensory overload that only an open-top super-GT can deliver” justifies the premium. The roof itself is the most advanced soft-top the firm has ever produced, with eight layers of insulation and the ability to fully open it in 14sec – from inside the car or externally via the remote. The mechanism is said to have been put through more than 100,000 cycles in development in everywhere from Nevada’s Death Valley to the Arctic Circle. The roof compresses to a claimed class-leading height of 26cm in the boot, maximising available luggage space. The soft-top itself is available in eight exterior colours, with six interior headliners available to order. Despite the identical top speed, DBS Superleggera Volante weighs a not inconsiderable 170kg more than the coupé, at 1863kg, which marginally affects acceleration. Aston claims a 0-62mph time two-tenths slower (3.6sec) and a 0-100mph time three-tenths slower (6.7sec) than the coupé’s. The twin-turbocharged 5.2-litre V12 produces an identical 715bhp and 664lb ft of torque to the coupé, too. Official fuel economy is reduced from the 22.9mpg of the coupé to 20.1mpg under the new WLTP testing regime. Aside from the roof, the rest of the Volante’s exterior is broadly identical to the coupé’s. However, Aston has revised the car’s rear profile – in particular the rear diffuser – to compensate for any aerodynamic losses from the soft-top. As a result, it produces 177kg of downforce at its peak – a mere 3kg less than the coupé. Read more Aston Martin DBS Superleggera review All-electric Aston Martin Rapide E revealed with more than 600bhp Virtual insanity: Driving Aston Martin's Valkyrie simulator​ View the full article
  10. Firm will unveil a new electric concept car next month; it's set to feature autonomous and artificial intelligence technology Citroën has confirmed that it will unveil a new future-thinking concept car next month. Marking 100 years of the French firm's existence, the as-yet-unnamed model will follow the Ami One, shown at last month’s Geneva motor show. While that previewed a low-cost, quadricycle-class city car, the new concept is expected to be full-sized. It will be unveiled in the coming weeks, just ahead of its public debut at an innovation event in Paris called VivaTech on 16 May. Few details have been released, but Citroën calls it a “100% electric and autonomous object featuring artificial intelligence”. It also claims the concept “symbolises ultra-comfort and offers a unique travelling experience on board". Expect a more outlandish exterior look as a preview of the firm’s future, too, with the promise of “exceptional styling”. Citroën also intends to use VivaTech to showcase PSA’s mobility brand, Free2Move, which explores transport solutions both inside and outside cities. The Ami One will also reappear as Citroën uses every opportunity it can to showcase a century of its innovation. Read more: New Citroën Ami One could be driven without a licence PSA Group boss "open" to Jaguar Land Rover acquisition PSA chairman Carlos Tavares on the group's next steps View the full article
  11. Electric vehicle start-up Siticars' new Me is an ultralight, compact two-seater for urban drivers London-based EV start-up Siticars has unveiled a two-seater microcar aimed at drivers living in the new Ultra Low Emission Zone. The Me, available in pick up, box van and passenger car forms, boasts a top speed of 48.5mph and claimed range of 93 miles from its 10bhp 72V electric motor. It is not dissimilar to the Reva G-Wiz, an electric vehicle on sale during the noughties, which was widely criticised for poor safety. This is, in part, to the fact that quadricycles - of which both the G-Wiz and Me are defined - are not liable to the same stringent EuroNCAP tests as heavier, more powerful cars. Siticars says that, although the Me is “fully approved for use on UK roads by DVLA and has full EU certificates of compliance”, it is ineligible to be driven on motorways due to its top speed. While the G-Wiz was on sale during the early days of electric vehicles, there are now a plethora of zero-emission cars on sale, all of which are exempt from new charges favouring low-emission vehicles, such as London’s Congestion Charge and the recently introduced Ultra Low Emissions Zone. Siticars said the benefit of the 518kg Me over such cars includes its ability to park “in less than half of the space required for traditional cars”. A company spokesperson said that parking 90 degrees to the kerb would allow up to three to park in one space. The similarly sized Renault Twizy is cheaper, starting at £6,690, but features a tandem-style two-seat layout, as opposed to the Me’s side-by-side format, and does not include batteries, which have to be leased from the company. The Me can be ordered online from May for between £7999 and £12,000 according to specified battery choice and bodystyle. The Me, measuring just 2245mm x 1290mmm, can be equipped with 10kWh lithium batteries that can be charged from a domestic 13amp 3-pin wall socket in 4-6 hours. A less expensive lead acid battery option yields a charging time of between 6-8 hours. An optional portable charger is available with the Me, enabling overnight charging for users with no off-street parking. The company says it is currently shipping 50 units per month, but is capable of producing 20 times that number. The Me is available only in the UK, with air conditioning, LED running lights, a rear parking camera, electrically assisted rear door, Bluetooth and panoramic roof fitted at standard. Read more James Ruppert: the best ULEZ-beaters for urban families London's Ultra Low Emission Zone: what you need to know​ James Ruppert: second-hand cars that get you into the ULEZ zone​ View the full article
  12. CEO also predicts the American EV maker will be selling cars with no steering wheel or pedals by 2021 Tesla CEO Elon Musk yesterday laid out another series of ambitious targets while hosting a Tesla Autonomy Investor Day. These included more details of a plan to profitability for the American electric vehicle (EV) maker during a period of additional financial turmoil. There is concern within Wall Street that demand for Teslas has slowed after an initial global rush this year, while short-term problems such as arranging successful deliveries globally has proved to be a sticking point. Musk forecasted that the company will become “extremely cashflow-positive” once it has established a network of “autonomous robotaxis”, beginning next year. He admitted that Tesla “won’t have regulatory approval everywhere” to run such a network but said he was “confident we will have at least regulatory approval somewhere, literally next year”. Acknowledging criticism of Tesla sometimes failing to deliver on its promises, Musk said: “All these things, I said we’d do them. We did it. We’re going to do the robotaxi things too. The only criticism – it’s a fair one – sometimes they’re not on time”. The reference may be to Musk’s frequent optimism for the advent of full autonomy, which appears to have been pushed back. Last month, Tesla started shipping cars that are said to be capable of fully autonomous driving, thanks to new hardware designed in-house. By the end of 2019, Tesla will reportedly have a wireless software update for that system ready, with a target to ensure the system is “safe” by the middle of 2020. Musk promised analysts back in January that the Full Self-Driving system would be granted for permission towards the end of this year. He added yesterday: "probably two years from now, we will make a car with no steering wheel or pedals". If regulators can be successfully convinced of the system’s safety, permission to launch an autonomous taxi service could be granted for the end of 2020. The taxi fleet will be largely made up of customers cars, with Tesla aiming to rent them out to users of a ride-hailing smartphone app. However, it’s expected that a number of new models will need to be brought in if the platform increases in scale during that time. During yesterday's event, Musk also said that Tesla plans in the near future to allow an “aggressive mode” for the Autopilot system that will introduce a “slight chance of a fender bender”, claiming this is "the only way to navigate Los Angeles traffic". Read more: FCA and Tesla agree deal to beat EU emissions regulations Tesla prices changes again as Standard Range model S axed Saloon showdown: 2019 Tesla Model 3 vw new BMW 3 Series View the full article
  13. A V8 Jag S-Type would be a fine part of any multi-car garage The best car collections are built on a budget, and include an option for all circumstances Received a very nice question from Gus about how to run a multi-car garage. There are a lot of Autocar contributors and readers who are bonkers enough to entertain all the fun and games involved when looking after more than one motor. After all, you can only drive one at a time, but then again, it’s always handy to have a spare. This isn’t a flippant answer situation. There is plenty to be said when it comes to multiple motors – except I don’t want to bore you with all the procedural bits. Let’s have fun trying to buy something small, something medium, something large and something sporty. The beauty of this is that it’s your garage and you can have whatever you please between the walls, or on the drive. Let’s set a realistic budget of £5000, which, because there are no other pressing bills, your other half says you can blow on your four-wheeled dreams. Okay, small. A characterful one for bobbing about and doing hardly any miles to the gallon. A Daihatsu Charade would be a hoot. A little cube of joy with a raucous 1.0-litre engine. A 2004 example, which is still £30 to tax and has air-con that isn’t a sunroof, is yours for £795. Plus it delivers 58.9mpg. If everything else goes askew, here’s your daily driver. Medium-size mile-muncher? The great thing is that a middle-order executive with a posh badge would work, even if a Ford Mondeo is the obvious answer. Instead, how about a Jaguar S-Type with the V8 engine and, even more convincingly, a full MOT and an outrageously reasonable mileage? Really well looked after and all for just £695. A 4x4 can be an inappropriate buy but, in our case, it counts as large. Best go for a square slab of wonderfulness that isn’t a Defender. No, a 1990s Jeep Cherokee is a tackily constructed expression of the original SUV culture. The great thing is that you can get a 1995 2.5 TD Sport for under £1000 now. Not all of them are in great nick, but one of your vehicles always turns into a project anyway. How about one car that doesn’t need to pay that pesky car tax? It might even go up in value. A Lada Vaz 2101 from 1972 rather took my eye. Needs a bit of meddling (but not that much) and it’s £1200. Seemed tidy enough and suddenly I’ve only spent £3690, not bought a real sports car and I already have two that need some attention. Well, that didn’t go quite as I planned it, but do you know what? That is mostly how car collections, even the modest ones, come about. What we almost bought this week Ford Cortina 1.6 L: Could you resist a mint Cortina Mk5 from a time when saloons ruled the roost and SUVs were things Americans drove? It’s the base L spec, the staple of 1980s sales reps and in 1981, when this one was registered, Britain’s best-selling new car. We love its orange paint and contrasting beige cloth interior. It’s got a new MOT with no advisories. Tales from Ruppert’s garage Mini Cooper, mileage - 102,618: The Mini Cooper is a fully functioning, small noisy car from more than half a century ago. When I remind myself of this, or just drive the thing like it’s the last time I will be allowed to, I don’t mind paying out £824.62 to make it better. That included a lot of small parts, from hoses to studs and clips, plus a colossal amount of labour. Oh, and rather a lot of petrol, as well as all the usual fluids. Totally worth it. Reader’s ride Volkswagen Golf 1.9 TDI: Robert Carr invites us to take a closer look at what he describes as his cheap ride. “I needed a five-door runaround for driving around town, going to the tip, taking the parents out,” he says. “Bought this Golf 1.9 diesel from a friend’s sister in July last year. It came with full VW history, a recent service, 12 months’ MOT, 130,000 miles and two mature owners. I lobbed some second-hand winter tyres on the steels that came with the car, then bought these alloys for £40 from a friendly breaker. Bought a set of Bosch wiper blades to see properly. Cost £700 in all. I’ve done 5000 trouble-free miles since.” Readers’ questions Question: My wife’s choice of new car is between a Mini Countryman Cooper Sport auto and a Mercedes-Benz GLA Urban Edition auto. The Mercedes is bigger but has no sat-nav, which the Mini has. Advice, please. James Wilson, Devon Answer: The GLA will be replaced next year by an all-new model, while the Countryman is relatively fresh (it was launched in 2017). Don’t worry about the GLA’s lack of integrated sat-nav – it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you can run your phone’s maps on it. The GLA is quicker than the Mini but not as fun to drive. Both aren’t especially comfortable but the Mini is roomier and more practical. It gets our vote. John Evans Question: Is it worth paying to have my nearly new car’s paint protected with a sealer? The car salesman is very insistent. Karen Pitchford, via email Answer: If properly applied, it probably is. That’s a big ‘if’, though, since you’ll never know for sure. It doesn’t help that the stuff is insanely expensive and thrust at customers by salesmen on a commission. Suspicions aroused, we assume it’s quack medicine and wave it away. Without it, our advice is to avoid parking under trees, remove bird droppings when they land and wash and polish the car from time to time. John Evans Read more Opinion: What's the best three car garage?​ Preserving the paint on a Ferrari F40​ Matt Prior: Are cars becoming less practical?​ View the full article
  14. Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up this week's gossip from across the automotive industry In this week's round up of automotive gossip, we take a look at BMW's plans for future electric models, Jaguar's subtle interior ethos and more. BMW’s theory of EV-olution The BMW i3 could spawn multiple successors rather than a single new car, says product management boss Peter Henrich. “Do we need one specific successor to bring the i3’s spirit and technology into multiple other vehicles?” Henrich said. “That is what we will be thinking about.” Volkwagen’s coal goal Volkswagen says it will convert its two power stations in Wolfsburg – which supply five factories and the local town – from coal to gas over the next three years. The £350 million scheme will use ‘combined-cycle’ gas and steam turbines to create electricity and heat, reducing CO2 by about 60%. Jag keeps it simple Jaguar’s interior design will never stray into flamboyance, according to design boss Ian Callum. “Everything should be there for a purpose,” he said at the recent launch of the revised XE. “Some of the flourishes adorning the cabins of our rivals go too far – at least for a Jaguar. Beauty is about something being easy on the eye. It’s about good taste.” Power paradox Seat CEO Luca de Meo sees the current state of public electric car charging as a chicken and egg situation, but is confident governments and automakers will align eventually. “The infrastructure leaders are waiting for us to prove electric cars work, and we are saying we don’t have the infrastructure we can’t sell enough cars. We know there will be a market for them, we will sell cars that need to be charged.” Read more Bolder looks, classier cabin, more tech for 2019 Jaguar XE​ Updated BMW i3 gets longer range​ Seat to add six electrified models by 2021 after record 2018​ View the full article
  15. "The new hybrid powertrains are developments of those already engineered for the 911" Stuttgart is plotting a full range of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure-electric 718 models Porsche is developing a fully electric 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman that will be launched by 2022 – and is considering offering them alongside mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the current cars. The next generations of the two-door roadster and coupé sports cars have for some time been thought to be among a range of future pure-electric models set to be spearheaded by the upcoming four-door Taycan and the Taycan Sports Turismo. However, Porsche chairman Oliver Blume has indicated that hybrid powertrains are also being considered. “We have prototypes of the 718 running in electric now, and a hybrid prototype is being built,” he said. “If you look to the next generation of those cars it is possible, although it is not yet clear whether it would be plug-in hybrid or hybrid.” The decision to pursue both hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the 718 Boxster and Cayman alongside the forthcoming electric models is understood to have been taken after an internal engineering study revealed that lithium ion battery technology is not yet sufficiently advanced to enable pure-electric versions to offer more than 186 miles of range without significant changes to the existing mid-engine platform architecture. Porsche is now pursuing a plan that could see pure-electric Boxster and Cayman variants using the company’s new PPE architecture offered alongside updated versions of today’s models featuring hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrains. The plan would mirror the move taken by Porsche with the next-generation Macan, which will continue to be produced on its existing MLB platform with new hybrid drivetrains while offering the choice of a pure-electric variant based on the PPE architecture. Speaking about Porsche’s plan for the second-generation Macan, Blume said: “For at least two to three years we will have both. At that point, we can decide whether to upgrade the combustion engines to the new Euro 7 standard or go full electric. The pace that countries are changing is different – China wants electric now, Russia is in less of a hurry, for instance.” The new mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrains intended for the 718 models are developments of those already engineered for the larger 911, according to sources. The electrification measures are among changes designed to allow Porsche’s existing combustion engines to meet the upcoming EU7 emissions standards. However, while the hybrid systems scheduled to appear on the facelifted version of the eighth-generation 911 early next decade are based around Porsche’s horizontally opposed six-cylinder petrol engine, those being earmarked for the new 718 Boxster and Cayman are set to use the smaller-capacity flat four engine introduced by Porsche in 2016. Both units feature a 48V electrical system and disc-shaped electric motor integrated into a modified version of the existing Boxster and Cayman’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The mild-hybrid system has been conceived to provide an electric boost to the petrol engine for added performance potential and increased efficiency, albeit without the ability to provide an electric-only driving mode. The plug-in hybrid also provides electric boosting but has been built around a battery of sufficient capacity to offer extended pure-electric running. Porsche’s plan to give the 718 Boxster and its fixed-roof Cayman sibling electric power originated from the 2011 Boxster E project. That machine featured a 121bhp electric motor with a range of 106 miles, although EV technology has moved on substantially since then. More recently in 2017, Porsche developed the one-off Cayman e-volution. It had a claimed 0-62mph acceleration time of 3.3sec, a 120mph top speed and a range of 120 miles on a 38kWh lithium ion battery. Despite the impressive performance credentials of the Cayman e-volution, concerns about its limited range led Porsche to pursue the development of solid-state batteries – both for future pure-electric versions of the 718 Boxster and Cayman as well as for an electric hypercar that is expected to appear in 2025 as a spiritual successor to the 918 Spyder. Porsche insiders citing studies carried out by parent company Volkswagen say they anticipate a rapid evolution of lithium ion cells for an improved energy-to-weight ratio in the next generation of batteries. Estimates are that cell energy density both by volume and weight will increase by 25% from 2019 to 2025. By 2025 they also expect the adoption of solid-state batteries to bring a further increase of 25%. This would allow Porsche to pack more energy in the same space with no additional weight penalty. A £76 million investment by Volkswagen in QuantumScape has given Porsche access to the latest developments in solid-state battery technology. Read more Volkswagen aims for solid-state battery production by 2025​ Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo: new EV estate hits the 'Ring​ 2019 Porsche Taycan: new official pics and details​ View the full article
  16. Jaguar’s new performance SUV is a gutsy, gregarious giggle, but knows how to be grown up when the need arises. A very well-judged fast family car. “An unspecified component supply problem” is the bone offered up to the historical record to explain the near year-long delay of the third ‘SVR’-branded performance car from Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Operations division: the Jaguar F-Pace SVR.This hot SUV was just weeks from its launch to the press in July 2018 when, as a result of a batch of components delivered for production which apparently weren’t as Jaguar ordered them, the decision was taken to cancel the launch and delay the car until the problem could be fixed.That’s the official reason, at any rate: a component supply issue that took nine months to resolve. Hmm. Not sure we’re getting the whole truth there. And it just so happens that SVO has had a new boss, at least one cancelled project (that we know about), and the ripples and repercussions of JLR’s declining corporate fortunes with which to contend during the intervening period between the hot F-Pace’s original introduction timing and now, should you feel inclined towards supposition about other potential explanations for the delay. Plenty clearly do, judging by the rumours I’ve heard.For what it’s worth, though, I don’t buy the theory that new broom Michael van der Sande (formerly of Alpine) could have sent this car back for significant overhaul as one of his first orders of business. A nine-month delay might seem like a long one to us, but in the car industry it’s about enough time to re-engineer a pair of wiper arms and a boot light.View the full article
  17. US firm Vonnen has created a plug-and-play hybrid system for existing 911s, and we've had some time behind the wheel Porsche’s own hybrid 911 is in the works, though a good while off yet. But the engineering might of Stuttgart has been beaten to the punch by Vonnen, a firm based in California’s Silicone Valley turning its hand to electrifying 911s. Chuck Moreland, CEO of Vonnen, says about the idea: “it was a case of us sitting around talking amongst ourselves and thought, hey, wouldn't it be great if... And then we started exploring different ideas of how you might hybridise an existing 911 platform.” That was three years ago, a proof of concept using a 996 as a basis underlined that it was possible. Moreland expands: “This is a C2, and what we did was we took a C4 transaxle, which has a yoke to drive the front, we put a motor in the tunnel and instead of taking torque out, we drove torque back into the transaxle to drive the rear wheels. It worked.” That might have proved it would work, but there was more to come. The proof of concept motor didn’t take advantage of the gear reduction capabilities, so they took a second look. Moreland said: “Okay, cost be damned, what if we wanted to make this thing rip? What would we do?" And so we went back to the drawing board and this is what we dreamed up.” The result is the Vonnen Shadow Drive, a performance hybrid system that adds performance to any 911. To achieve that it squeezes an electric Motor Generator Unit between the flat-six engine and the gearbox, much like Porsche will eventually do with its 992. It replaces the flywheel, that electric motor also removing the need for the starter motor. It’s a tight fit, being around 25mm in depth, shifting the gearbox forward by the same amount - and requiring a 25mm shorter prop to the front if it’s fitted to a Carrera 4 or Turbo model. The batteries powering it are placed under the boot floor, and while Vonnen is currently quiet about the capacity and chemistry, it’s enough for the motor generator unit to deliver a 148bhp and 150lb.ft boost to the car’s overall output depending on the driving mode selected. There’s additional cooling circuits for the motor generator unit and the inverter supplying it, independent of the internal combustion engine’s cooling as they all operate at different temperatures. The system’s weight is around 95kg, but net it’s around 77kg due to the removal of the flywheel and the starter motor. The electronic control of the flat-six is completely unchanged, too, the Vonnen Shadow Drive’s control unit only reading CAN bus data regarding the throttle position, to allow it to add its electric boost when required. The PDK here gets a re-flash, to counter the slippage from the clutches would otherwise occur but otherwise the car doesn’t know the Vonnen Shadow Drive is there. The system can be entirely off, with no electrical assistance at all, while the Street mode adds 90lb.ft of torgue when the accelerator is between 40-60%. Sport mode adds 80lb.ft between 65-95% throttle and an Overboost mode adds the full 150lb.ft at the same rate as in Sport mode. The system is hugely flexible, too, Moreland says that it can conceivably be fitted to any 911, manual or PDK, standard or tuned, naturally aspirated or turbocharged right back to 1965, though earlier cars would need some additional microswitches and sensors to monitor inputs. It’ll fit in the Boxster and Cayman, too. Along with the 991 PDK 3.4 Carrera it’s fitted in here, Vonnen is currently applying it to a GT3 for further development. The cost presently is $75,000, which is huge, but it’s pioneering tech, which adds big performance without having any detrimental effect on emissions. Here, in California, and, increasingly, worldwide, that’s hugely significant. Driving Vonnen’s Porsche 911 hybrid Forget hybrid tech for economy or brief electric-only urban motoring, the Vonnen Shadow Drive is for performance. There’s nothing inside to highlight it’s fitted - if you ignore the power inverter located under the rear window, Vonnen saying it could be positioned out of sight if customers prefer. There’s a smartphone attached to the dash, too, which is nothing unusual today, only it’s running an app showing the status of the batteries, motor and the boost it’s delivering. Switched to off the system does almost nothing, save starting the standard 350hp 3.4-litre flat-six engine and operating the stop-start system in traffic. Switch to Street and the changes are subtle at first, the need for the 40% and above throttle meaning you can drive around it. Where it really aids is flexibility in bigger gears, allowing you to be lazy with the gearbox, the motor generator unit adding that 90lb.ft at low revs, increasing tractability in traffic. On faster roads it’s more apparent, yet the electrically charged performance seems subtly applied. That is, until you glance at the speedometer. It’s deceptively quick, it so linear and progressive in its delivery that you’ll find yourself carrying way more speed than you think. Near silent, too; there’s only a slight, not unwelcome, electronic pitch audible above the ordinary sounds you’d associate with the 911’s boxer engine. In Sport and Overboost modes the greater performance is more obvious, though there remains subtlety to the way it operates that’s counter to usual performance upgrade compromises. With the electric motor working it’s supplemental. The Shadow Drive moniker is an apt description, enhancing without taking away from the standard car’s engagement, there being no obvious regeneration, the engine braking remaining all but identical. It’s clever, arguably a bit too clever at times; it might benefit from an earlier electrical application in Street mode to allow you’d feel the motor’s effect earlier. The development is ongoing though, and Vonnen admits there’s opportunity for changes, it all in the system coding and application. What’s undeniable is the potential, something this Silicon Valley firm has been quick to realise in leaving Porsche to play catch-up. Read more: New 992-series Porsche 911: mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions detailed Porsche 911 2019 review View the full article
  18. Should more people searching for a true driver's car consider Jaguar's compact saloon? We're finding out over six months with an XE Why we’re running it: To evaluate Jaguar’s under-appreciated entry saloon and discover whether some of the UK’s BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 buyers need to think a little deeper Month 1 - Specs Life with a Jaguar XE: Month 1 Racking up the miles quickly - 27th March 2019 The Jag has had a busy baptism – I’ve done more than 3200 miles in our first four weeks together. I’ve left it at the airport a couple of times recently, and enjoyed that frisson you get on a flight home, knowing there’s something decent waiting in the car park. The engine’s a lot looser now, which reflects in the fuel consumption: 42mpg. Mileage: 4108 Back to the top Does this fine driver’s car deserve to snare more buyers or not? We aim to find out - 13th February 2019 It’s an odd time, you may think, to take on a Jaguar XE long-termer. The company has just refreshed its smallest saloon to distinguish it better from the bigger XF. And its showroom performance hasn’t been exactly stellar. But step back a bit. The XE is Jaguar’s most naturally agile and sporty saloon, because of its compactness light weight. That, if you think about it, makes it arguably the best-handling Jag saloon of all time. And we already know enough of the coming refresh to be confident that the changes will mostly be cosmetic: the XE will change very little as a driver’s car. Step back further: we also know that the XE and XF are likely to be combined into one saloon model from the early 2020s, which is to say that despite the global success of SUVs, Jaguar continues to see itself as a maker of saloons. Which neatly reveals our purpose here: to see if we agree. Our XE is exactly the kind of £40,000 upper-mid-spec machine a car-minded user-chooser might go for: the basic car comes well equipped, and the R-Sport pack adds 18in wheels, sports suspension, xenon headlights and sporty decor, including a restrained bodykit. With no extras, this set-up costs £34,500. Our options add £5480. Of all the additions, the one I’d most readily shell out for is our car’s £650 worth of Caesium Blue metallic paint, which positively draws people to the XE’s fine shape and stance. It’s a great-looking car: low, sleek and shrink-wrapped around an elegant set of mechanical muscles. But the company has decided it doesn’t stand out well enough in a crowd, which is what the mid-life changes are about. Changes we'll experience for ourselves when we swap into a facelifted car in a few months' time. Our engine is a 197bhp petrol turbo four, matched as standard with an eight-speed ZF auto, albeit with Jaguar-specific software that affords you more precise control of the gearchange regime, via either the twist controller on the console or the steering wheel paddles. You can elect for a Sport regime on the gear selector and a Dynamic setting from a special console switch, both of which sharpen responses further. It may seem an error to choose the least powerful of three petrol fours (197bhp, 247bhp and 296bhp) but the choice is made advisedly. The first step adds £2500 and shaves a second from an already decent 7.2sec 0-60mph time. The most powerful engine cuts the 0-60mph time to 5.4sec and makes the R-Sport a genuinely fast car but costs a hefty £7600 extra, mostly because it has a permanent 4x4 system (that adds extra weight and less adjustable handling). Worth it if you need the extra traction and are made of money; not otherwise. Chuck in the fact that with eight quick-shifting gearbox speeds attached, our 197bhp engine gets the car off the mark very quickly and can also quickly kick down a couple at higher speeds if needed. My only real gripes with the powertrain are a tendency of the stop/start system to shake the car uncomfortably when restarting, and a less than silky power take-up when accelerating from a crawl. Others do it better. However, it’s the chassis that makes this a true Jaguar. And the driving position. You sit low, backside close to the floor, looking over the top rim of the steering down the longish bonnet. Because the seats offer near-ideal side support, it’s easy to imagine yourself in an amazingly affordable F-Type. Any glance sideways affirms that the XE rides lower than most cars on the road (you have an excellent view of the whirling wheel bolts of buses) and the agility and steering accuracy constantly remind you of the advantage of lowness. Its disadvantage – in a 4.7m-long saloon – is a lack of adult-sized rear leg room (fine for kids, tolerable for early teenagers). On the road, the XE’s size seems close to ideal. Step into it from a bigger car and you’re beguiled by its agility; drive it after a smaller model and you’re impressed by its refinement, composure and uncorrupted steering. It cruises quietly with moderately long legs on the motorway but sprints willingly on demand. The engine is quiet and very smooth when cruising; more audible when used harder. The engine note is one of the less sporty aspects. Fuel consumption is 33-43mpg, depending how you drive, but we’ve so far averaged just over 40mpg. The ride, on the Sport suspension that comes with an R-Sport model, can occasionally be a bit jittery but never leaves you discomforted on long trips. But it has enough sporting character to do well when a journey brings a bonus B-road. On the strength of three weeks and 2000 miles, I’m pleased with the XE. It appears to suit me and the way I use cars. It feels well made (my second car in five years with zero trim rattles) even if Jaguar feels perceived cabin quality needs an upgrade. The way it looks and drives suits the Jaguar ethos and I’d find it hard to contemplate a Jaguar range without a compact saloon. On what I’ve learned so far, the XE and its descendants deserve a long and happy life. Second Opinion Drove the XE for an afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed it. It undermined any impression of Jaguars as old men’s cars. If there’s such a thing as sporty composure, this car has it in spades, although I’d have liked the power delivery to be a little less lumpy off the mark. Olgun Kordal Back to the top Jaguar XE 2.0 R-Sport specification Specs: Price New £34,565 Price as tested £40,045 Options Heated seats £320, Caesium Blue paint £650, 18in alloy wheels £840, Black pack £530, electrically adjustable door mirrors £295, privacy glass £370, Meridian 380W audio £530, park assist and camera £1045, electric towbar £900, keyless entry £530 Test Data: Engine In-line 4cyls, 1998cc, turbocharged petrol Power 197bhp at 5500rpm Torque 236lb ft at 1200-4500rpm Kerb weight 1540kg Top speed 143mph 0-62mph 7.6sec Fuel economy tbc CO2 tbc Faults None Expenses None Back to the top View the full article
  19. Griffith makes use of the fabled Rover V8 The impending arrival of a reborn TVR Griffith has pushed the original hairy-chested roadster back into the spotlight As the all-new Griffith inches closer (deliveries should start next year), interest in its forebear remains strong. Not as strong as it was when news of the new model first broke, though. Then, values of the old Griff stiffened quickly as people made the connection, only to soften slightly as its successor’s launch date was pushed back. Add winter’s usual chilling effect on convertible prices and now is probably your last chance to snare an old Griff for sensible money before the new model, costing from around £90,000, hoves into view once more. All that said, these days you’ll be lucky to find a decent runner much below £15,000, while good, refurbished cars start at around £20,000. The best nudge £35,000, while the very best, lowest-mileage and cleanest last-of-the-line SEs go all the way to £50,000. The good news is that a good Griff, lovingly maintained and refreshed with essential new parts, should one day be worth more than you paid for it. The Griffith was launched in 1991 with a 240bhp 4.0-litre Rover V8 under the bonnet. Power went to the rear wheels via a five-speed Rover LT77 gearbox and a GKN limited-slip differential. The electrical system was by Lucas and lifted straight out of the Range Rover, and that, if you were wondering, is why there’s so much wiring stuffed in with the battery, located in the passenger bulkhead. You’ll also find the ECU, fuse box and heater pipes in there. It’s not a place for the faint-hearted. The Griffith’s glassfibre body is mounted on a spaceframe chassis with outriggers that extend from the backbone of the car. Mud and debris flicked up by the wheels stick to these and in time they rot through, although it happens from above, which can be hard to spot. Replacing the outriggers, without removing the body, costs up to £2000. In 1992, a 4.3 V8 making 280bhp became available, and around 25 of them were produced with big-valve cylinder heads. These were very torquey and, because they just preceded the 1993 law that required a catalytic converter to be fitted to all new petrol cars, gloriously vocal. After a brief suspension in production, in 1993 the Griffith re-emerged with the engine it should have had from the start: a 5.0-litre V8 with 340bhp. It powered the model to the very end, which came in 2002 heralded by the special-edition SE. Some ride on 16in wheels, where most Griffs sit on 15s at the front and 16s behind. The gearbox in 5.0 Griffiths is a Borg Warner T5. You can tell it from the Rover ’box because reverse is to the right and back, where on the Rover it’s to the left and forward. Reverse often spins, so to avoid it crunching, select first then reverse. The engines are generally tough and reliable. It’s electrical gremlins, tired dampers and bushes and chassis corrosion that spoil things. Keeping on top of them should keep you busy at weekends, but the rewards will be incalculable. How to get one in your garage An expert’s view David Hothersall, TVRCC: “I’ve had my 1998 Griffith 500 for 13 years. I bought it with 19,000 miles and today it’s showing 83,000. It’s my daily driver and has mostly been trouble-free. If there had been any serious problems, there’s enough support out there to build a new one. In fact, there are at least three TVR businesses operating from the old Bristol Avenue factory. The Griffith isn’t complicated but, given its torque-to-weight ratio, you have to respect it.” Buyer beware… ■ Engine: Listen for camchain rattles: they last about 100,000 miles; camshafts can need replacing at 50k. Expect oil leaks from rocker cover gaskets and sump cover. Early 5.0s had crank issues. Check oil pressure and also engine temperature since the radiator can become blocked and the fan can seize. Check exhaust condition and for smoke from the manifolds. ■ Transmission: Five-speed gearboxes are tough, but check the fluid has been changed at intervals; on the later T5, check reverse doesn’t crunch. Early GKN diff is noisy; later Salisbury units leak oil. ■ Suspension and steering: Push the car down at each corner to check for any bouncing. Check the condition of the ball joints. Check tyres for uneven wear: wheel alignment issues can be hard to resolve if crash-related. ■ Electrics: Check the ECU, battery and Lucas wiring loom in the front passenger bulkhead are watertight and neatly stowed. Try all the electrics; the body flexes and can chafe wires, and earthing issues are common. ■ Chassis: Check the outriggers that extend from the centre section to the sills, and from which steel sections run at right angles front to back. They collect mud and debris and rot from the top. The seat belt anchors are located on them, so corrosion can compromise safety. Poke underseal with a screwdriver to check it’s not masking rotting steel. ■ Body: Check the body for ripples, cracks and overspray. Inspect the windscreen base for water tightness. Also worth knowing The TVR Car Club (tvr-car-club.co.uk) is a good place to start your Griffith adventure. Find your local group and pay them a visit for buying and owning advice, as well as information on the whereabouts of good Griffs for sale. How much to spend £17,000-£22,999: Includes a 1995-reg 500 with specialist service history and an engine overhaul at 58,000 miles, plus major new peripherals replaced since. £23,000- £27,999: More 500s, including a 2001 car with 65,000 miles and more than £8000 spent on it, for £25,990. £28,000-£31,999: Includes a 1993 500 with 68,000 miles and a power steering conversion for £29,000. £32,000-£50,000: Mix of late 500s in top condition. Includes rare 2001-reg SE with 40k miles for £32,500 and a mint 1999 car with 20k miles for £33,950. One we found TVR Griffith 500, 1997, 62,000 miles, £20,500: A tidy car refurbished by a specialist and with a good service history. Had new outriggers fitted in 2011 with a further £3000 spent recently on fixing oil leaks, and fitting a new clutch and differential, engine mounts and suspension bushes. Read more TVR’s revival: a history lesson from the last Welsh car manufacturer​ TVR factory construction delayed by EU rules​ TVR Griffith - revisiting an all-time classic British sports car​ View the full article
  20. Norris had a strong race in Melbourne, ending in 12th place New McLaren driver Lando Norris is a full-time grand prix driver - and he's still only 19. We meet the rookie sensation Lando Norris isn’t like most teenagers. Ask him a question and you’ll receive a thought-out, considered answer, delivered with an eloquence that belies his age – until you get the 19-year-old onto the right topic, that is. Ask him to recall the first time he drove a Formula 1 car and his eyes light up with glee. “It’s mind-blowing,” he says. “You see it on TV, but it always looks so easy. People just do not realise how hard it is, how quickly things come at you. You just don’t feel like you’ll stop accelerating, you’re going ‘woooah, this doesn’t stop’. Then suddenly you have this massive brake, and the car stops suddenly. Your mind has to take a second to keep up with what’s just happened, then you turn, accelerate and it all happens again. It’s quite insane.” Norris, of course, isn’t like most teenagers. Most teenagers can only dream of driving an F1 car. Norris gets to race one – for the storied McLaren team. When he started the Australian Grand Prix, Norris became the fourth-youngest driver to take part in an F1 race and the youngest-ever Brit, breaking the record set by the then-20-year-old Jenson Button in 2000. Not that Somerset-born Norris is bothered by that bit of British F1 history. “It’s not something I’ve tended to think about, it’s just something that comes with it,” he says, with a nonchalant shrug that suggests racing in F1 at the age of 19 is barely noteworthy. “It’s an achievement, and I’ve got to be proud of it. But my aim is not to be the youngest British F1 driver: it’s to win races and championships.” Still, Norris admits his rapid rise is a touch surreal. “It’s not long ago I was getting up at stupid o’clock to watch the Australian Grand Prix, thinking ‘one day I want to do that’,” he says. “Then you think how far away it is – and suddenly, I’m here. At the same time, I think of it gradually. I’ve taken my time to go through karting and the junior categories.” ‘Gradually’ is a relative concept here. Norris started karting in 2008, with his career culminating when he won the world championship in 2014. That year he also made his car-racing debut in the Ginetta Junior series. Norris switched to single-seaters in 2015, racing in MSA Formula (now Formula 4). He won the title. The following year he raced in two pan-European Formula Renault 2.0 championships and the New Zealand-based Toyota Racing Series. He won all three titles. In 2017 Norris stepped up to the Formula 3 European Championship. He won that title too. Last season, Norris jumped into Formula 2. He won his first race but finished second to fellow grand prix rookie George Russell in the final standings. That one still rankles a bit. “It didn’t quite go as well as I wanted it to,” says Norris, with a pained look that suggests he’d spent the year toiling deep in the pack rather than finishing as runner-up in F1’s top feeder category against a field of grand prix aspirants. “I’m annoyed, because I’d loved to have won it, and have it on my record. But I’ve got to realise I made mistakes that cost a win, or a podium, or a bunch of points. But I know the areas I made mistakes in, and I’ve got to make sure they don’t happen again. I still enjoyed it, and that’s the main thing.” The fact Norris found himself so high up the single-seater ladder before encountering some adversity – a relative term, in this instance – is incredible. Norris insists there’s no secret. “I’ve always been able to have good people around me who have put me in the right direction and with the right team,” he says. “I’ve been fortunate to do quite a bit of testing as well: even if I haven’t been able to test in the car we wanted to race in the next year, I’ve been able to drive something similar.” It’s worth acknowledging that Norris’s ability to race with some of the best teams – including junior single-seater powerhouses Carlin and Josef Kaufmann Racing – and conduct plentiful testing is aided by family wealth. But while you can find many well-funded drivers plying their trade on F1’s nursery slopes, you won’t find many with Norris’s stellar track record. These days, most junior categories have restrictive regulations that help ensure a level playing field. You don’t win as much as Norris has without incredible natural talent. It was that natural talent that brought Norris to the attention of McLaren, who signed him as a junior driver in February 2017. That deal, he says, was the first time he really began to believe he could reach F1. “I never knew,” he says. “Even in F2, I never went ‘I’ve got this, 100%, I can do this’. You always have a bit of doubt. But the biggest thing was joining McLaren, and my first test in Hungary.” Which brings us back to where we started, in August 2017, when a then-17-year-old Norris had his first McLaren outing at the Hungaroring. Norris says the step from F2 to F1 was “massive, the biggest between any category by far”. It’s one he handled well, though: he ended up second-quickest on that first day. And, with further test runs, he began to adjust to the speed. “It still felt very quick at the end of that test,” he says. “Then you have a couple of weeks off, and in the next test it feels a bit more normal, you don’t feel you’re hanging on quite so much. Your mind just gets used to it. But even now, it still feels quick.” With one season of F2 banked and given his young age, Norris might have expected McLaren to suggest he spend a second year honing his skills in the category. Instead, with Fernando Alonso moving on and the team deciding not to retain Stoffel Vandoorne, the talent Norris had demonstrated persuaded the team to give him a race seat. He rewarded that faith in Australia, qualifying eighth – ahead of experienced team-mate Carlos Sainz – and battling for points before finishing 12th. Then second time out, in Bahrain, Norris scored his first F1 points, rising from ninth on the grid to finish strongly in sixth – McLaren’s best result in more than a year. Remarkable. The most recent race in China didn't go quite so well, as he was taken out of the race in a first-lap clash that wasn't his fault. It was a reminder that expectations have to be tempered in F1 despite the impressive start to his career at the top of the sport. “I’m not going to win,” he says of this year. “It is something I’ve had to, not adjust to, but realise. I have new targets. “I’ll still win races – not in terms of finishing first, but in terms of winning our targets. A win for us, after realising what we can do, could be finishing in the top six. Each race is going to be different; it’s about knowing what you can achieve in every one. In the past few years, a win for me has been first place, but it’s also been about achieving everything I could from a race. A win is not just a position, it’s about how you achieve a goal.” There have been plentiful comparisons between Norris and the last British rookie to race for McLaren, a certain Lewis Hamilton. It’s an uneven parallel: when Hamilton had his F1 debut in 2007 McLaren was one of the sport’s powerhouses, but it has spent the past few years in the doldrums. Thankfully, the signs are that McLaren has made a step forward this year, and Norris can set his goals on regular points finishes. A better comparison for Norris as a McLaren rookie would be Vandoorne. He arrived at the team in 2017 as a hotly tipped prospect but was unable to show his skills in the machinery given to him. He’s now racing in Formula E. “The guys at McLaren are working very hard to not allow that to happen again,” says Norris. “They know what I can do, and I know what they can do. It’s not going to be overnight that we’re amazing, it’ll take a few years. Hopefully I’m still with McLaren then to go and do better things.” Norris has time on his side, thanks to his dizzying rise. And his distinctly non-teenage maturity will stand him in good stead. “I still need to work hard and improve as a driver,” he says. “I’m not good enough to go out and do everything perfectly. I’m not the best I’m going to be right now.” F1’s teenage talents Lando Norris was 19 years, four months and four days old when he started the Australian Grand Prix, becoming the 12th teenager to start a Formula 1 race. Those 11 other drivers provide Norris with some promising examples – and cautionary tales. The most notable are four-time champion Sebastian Vettel (19 years, 11 months and 14 days old when he made his debut) and double champ Fernando Alonso (19y7m3d) – the man Norris has replaced at McLaren. In 2015, Max Verstappen (17y5m13d) became the youngest driver yet to start an F1 race. He took the first of his five wins (so far) in Spain in 2016, aged 18 years, 7 months and 15 days. The Dutchman helped spark a youth movement, with two more teenage debutants – Lance Stroll (18y4m25d) and Daniil Kvyat (19y10m18d) – competing this year. Esteban Ocon (19y11m11d) is now reserve driver at Mercedes. But for every Verstappen or Vettel, there’s an Esteban Tuero (19y10m14d), last seen in Argentinian touring cars, or Jaime Alguersuari (19y4m3d), now enjoying life as a DJ. There are also cases of unfulfilled potential. Chris Amon (19y10m20d) started 96 races and is regarded as one of the greatest drivers never to win one. Ricardo Rodriguez (19y6m27d) showed much promise on his debut in 1961, but the Mexican was killed in a non-championship race in 1962, before he had a chance to realise his prodigious talent. Read more Jolyon Palmer: how to improve Formula 1 for 2019 Racing lines: Why Vettel could be F1 champion or bust in 2019​ Jamie Chadwick: meeting the youngest and first female British GT winner​ View the full article
  21. Toyota's e-CVT multi-tasking hybrid drive is efficient, mechanically simple and electronically complex, and it fits into a small, neat package Drivers may bemoan the CVT gearbox's notorious droning, but the advantages make the headache worthwhile Toyota’s umpteenth incarnation of the Corolla is now on sale, mainly in Hybrid form. It’s billed as having an ‘e-CVT’, which at first had our news antennae all a-quiver. In fact, e-CVT is simply another marketing moniker for essentially the same hybrid driveline concept Toyota came up with in the 1990s for the first Prius and has stuck with ever since. Originally called the Toyota Hybrid System (THS), it then also became Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD), giving a nod to the fact that it was also used by Lexus and even sold to a couple of other car makers. Swapping cogs, gear changing, shifting: whatever your favourite expression, gearboxes and cars go together like sticky toffee pudding and custard – unless it’s a CVT. Some drivers loathe the way a CVT’s soaring engine revs are disconnected from the car’s rate of acceleration – known as the ‘rubber band effect’. The CVT was made famous by DAF when it launched the first production version, the Variomatic, in 1958. Instead of a complex box of cogs, it consisted of two pulleys of continuously variable diameter, connected by a belt. To give the lowest ratio (like first in a manual), the engine-driven pulley is at its smallest diameter and the second pulley, driving the wheels, at its largest. As speed increases the engine-driven pulley gets bigger and the drive pulley smaller, increasing the ratio – so the car speeds-up. Controlled not by a computer but by a vacuum, it continuously and automatically adjusts for hills and harder acceleration or cruising. The design has been used by many manufacturers over the years, including Audi, Ford and Fiat. CVTs are not all alike, though. Although Toyota offers a CVT in the new Corolla (but not in the UK), its hybrid drive e-CVT is nothing like the original Variomatic and there’s no belt. Instead, it consists of two electric motor-generators (MG1 and MG2) connected to a planetary gearbox. The whole caboodle has the engine at one end and the driven wheels at the other. Planetary gear sets exist aplenty inside conventional automatics. The compact package consists of a sun, planets and an enclosing ring gear and resemble a desk toy of the solar system. There are only a few components, but making the drive take different routes through the mini solar system allows the two motor-generators to perform different roles. MG1 can start the engine and at other times act as a generator to charge the hybrid battery. MG2 can act as a drive motor on its own or with the engine and also a generator to perform a regenerative braking role. MG1 can also apply small amounts of torque to the gear set to control the balance between the engine and electric drive from MG2, and there are many more combinations. The system allows electric-only drive by decoupling the engine (without the need for a clutch), and it’s small and compact. So not all CVTs are what they seem. This latest one is clever and mega-efficient, and it’s not surprising the basic idea has endured for more than 20 years. Reverse engineering Bosch’s electronically controlled version of the original CVT remains mechanically simple. Despite CVTs being scorned by some, Dutch rallycross star Jan de Rooy dominated with his DAF 55 and 555s in the 1970s. DAFs were banished to their own category in the annual Dutch backwards racing championship (yes, really, it used to be a thing) because CVTs enabled them to drive as fast in reverse as forwards. Read more Toyota Corolla review Under the skin: the technology behind torque vectoring​ Under the skin: how turbochargers have evolved​ View the full article
  22. Steve reviews whether the current Mercedes SLK is a perfect car for summer. The Mercedes SLK is now into its third generation and was first shown at the 2011 Geneva Motor show in preparation for its release later that year and designated by Mercedes as R172. This SLK model aimed to improve on the quality and equipment from the previous R171 model and adopted various options from its predecessor such as Mercedes airscrarf system and also gained the front engine, rear wheel drive set up. The third generation SLK was a stark contrast in appearance compared to its predecessor which had based its looks on Mercedes Formula one cars and the SLR Mclaran supercar. The current SLK has adapted a more of a conservative look in my opinion by having less of a raked/pointed nose, but this has also made the current model look more grown up as well as bringing the design in line with the SLK’s bigger sibling the SL. As Mercedes has had over 20 years to perfect its baby roadster you can expect the quality of the product to be top class. Needless to say the SLK does not fail to disappoint thanks to its wide track with wheels at the edge of all four corners, as well as having a large bonnet gives the car real road presence and should please style savvy customers. On top of this the car benefits from having a hard top folding roof which only increases its desirability in a very competitive sector as road and wind noise is reduced over a conventional folding soft top. Obviously there is a price to pay for a metal folding roof which is increased weight compared to fabric roofed competitors, but I feel this is a small price to pay for the added benefits of a hard top. It’s worth noting that in 2016 the SLK range was revised and renamed the SLC to bring the model marketing on par with the rest of Mercedes products. The SLC is in effect a facelifted version of the SLK with revised engine options but may easily cause confusion amongst used car buyers. However for this article we are only focusing on the SLK spec and drivetrain options as these are more plentiful on the used car market. The SLK range is a available with four petrol engines and for the first time ever, a diesel engine. The engines on offer are: Petrol SLK 200 which is the entry level engine - a 1.8 four cylinder turbo charged engine producing 181bhp. SLK 250 has the same 1.8 four cylinder turbo charged engine from the 200 but with increased power to 201bhp. SLK 350 is a 3.5 V6 turbo charged engine producing 301bhp and as fitted to the previous SLK. SLK 55 is the AMG derived 5.5 litre naturally aspirated V8 producing a whopping 416bhp and 398lb ft of torque. Diesel SLK 250CDI is as mentioned earlier the first ever diesel engine fitted to the SLK and should please the fuel conscious. It produces 201bhp/ 369lb ft of torque from the four cylinder twin turbo unit, but benefits from a combined manufacture stated figure of 56.5mpg and 132g/km. What’s more, the diesel version is available with the 7 speed automatic gearbox as standard. It must be noted that both the SLK200 and SLK250 are available with a six speed manual gearbox as standard but the 7 speed auto is available as a £1500 extra as on our test car. All the other models in the range come with the automatic gearbox as standard. Driving the Mercedes SLK The SLK I have on test is a 2015 SLK 200 AMG sport which is fitted with a 1.8 litre turbo charged petrol engine which produces 181hp (184ps) and mated to a 7 speed automatic gearbox. Sliding into the black leather bucket driving seat I found it to be very supportive, with very good side bolsters as well as being electrically controlled and fitted with lumbar support. I felt the SLK cabin oozes with quality, thanks to soft touch plastics, leather trim and nicely positioned switch gear makes the SLK a nice place to sit. Naturally there is a good level of equipment fitted to SLK models and our test car was no exception. This particular car had the niceties such as heated electric seats, sat nav, parking sensors and the airscarf system for keeping your neck warm whilst driving with the roof down. Turning the key the 1.8 engine bursts into life with a nice rumble and selecting drive on the tunnel shifter the car pulls away effortlessly. Out on the open road I found the 1.8 turbo engine refined and 7 speed automatic a nice duo as the engine had plenty of torque united with smooth and quick gear changes, combined with a good kick down. I found the 1.8 lump more than adequate for all driving conditions and would please most buyers. Obviously the more powerful SLK250 may be a nice compromise for those wanting a balance of economy and more power but it had a £4,000 premium when new and this will reflect in the used car market. If outright power is what you’re after then you would be better off with either the SLK 350 or the range topping SLK55, both of which will provide the extra power and sweeter engine note which will make the SLK more enjoyable. As one would expect from a sports car the handling of the SLK was also impressive as it ironed out the bumps well despite being naturally firm and yet surprisingly this still allowed the handling to be composed, comfortable and obviously agile. This is due to the SLK being fitted with Mercedes Multilink suspension setup and further improved with passive dampers and a stiff chassis. In addition the steering matches the cars sporting credentials by being nicely weighted, allowing it to be light relatively precise. I will admit that the steering could be slightly more direct to improve response and feel for the driver. However, overall I found the steering helped build confidence to push the car hard into the bends and thoroughly enjoy the SLK on country roads. The handling characteristics are finished off with large perforated brake discs front and rear which stop the SLK on a six pence, and partly due to Pirelli tyres as fitted on this car. The brakes have an added purpose as the SLK can active any of the brakes individually to improve cornering. The Motorists Guide View: The third generation SLK is a vast improvement on its predecessor which is thanks to both mechanical improvements and enhanced styling which make the SLK a good sports car purchase thanks to an all-round package making the current SLK worthy successor. This is further supported by superb build quality, with nice materials and a quality fit and finish that consumers have come to expect from Mercedes. Let’s also not forget a key feature of the SLK is a car to be enjoyed for country drives and one where the SLK does not fail to disappoint, thanks to being comfortable, fun but also a relaxing place to be behind the wheel, which most owners will happily drive for long distances. Dimensions Length: 4,134 mm Width: 1,817 mm Height: 1,303 mm Curb weight: 1,475 kg
  23. Don't baulk at the idea of a leggy Mondeo You’d have to be mad to buy a car that’s logged the equivalent miles for a journey to the moon, or would you? Generally speaking, a spaceship destined for the moon is a tiny capsule stuck on the end of a huge, pointy rocket somewhere in sunny Florida. But the spaceship we’re looking at is a family hatchback at a used car dealer in West Drayton, off the M4. In fact, it’s a 10-year-old Ford Mondeo 2.3 Ghia X auto that has done 293,000 miles, or a bit more than a spacecraft does on its way to the moon. It’s for sale at Trade Price Motors, a large used car lot at the end of an industrial estate. Be honest – would you buy such a motor? For most of us, 60,000 miles is the cut-off. Any higher and we start to worry about component life and reselling the thing. The idea of buying one that’s done 100,000 is a stretch, but one with 293,000 miles? Pigs might fly – to the moon. “Sixty thousand miles is most car buyers’ first sticking point,” agrees Mark Bulmer, senior valuations editor at Cap HPI. “Then it’s 100,000, but anything over 150,000 miles and condition is everything, to the extent that the price difference between a car with 200,000 miles and another with 300,000 is negligible. “This is because modern cars can take high mileage. In fact, doing lots of miles is better for a car than doing too few when the oil doesn’t get hot enough to circulate properly. Rust used to be the big killer, but now that car makers have fixed that problem, if a high-mileage car has been serviced regularly, it’ll be fine to buy.” On the strength of TPM’s Mondeo space capsule, Bulmer may have a point. Incredibly, its slotted alloy wheels, shod with matching, premium Goodyear rubber, are pristine. Its paint is original and its body is free of dents and scratches. Inside, its cabin looks as if it’s been lifted from a 3000-mile car rather than one that has done 100 times that. The ‘walnut’ trim gleams and the black leather seats look as fresh as the day they were fitted. Only the part-wood and leather steering wheel looks faded and is beginning to peel. Time to fire it up. Being a Ghia X, the Mondeo has keyless ignition, so I press the start button. The 2.3-litre engine settles to a quiet tickover. During a rare break in the passing traffic, I pop open the bonnet to listen more closely, expecting to hear the shuffle-shuffle of the auxiliary belt as, for the umpteenth time, it follows its tortuous path. Nothing – not even a squeak. The engine is dry but not corroded. The battery terminals have fresh grease on them. It’s disappointing to see there are only nine stamps in the book (all Ford main dealer), but because service histories can get a little hazy at spaceship mileages, I’m willing to believe it’s an incomplete record. It’s got to be worth a run up the road. I select Drive and squeeze the throttle. The big Mondeo rolls across TPM’s granite chippings and potholes incredibly smoothly. I expected to feel some looseness in the suspension and steering rack bushes, but everything feels tight. Out on the road, it picks up speed smoothly. The traffic clears, so I knock the gearshift into Sport and try a few downchanges. The transmission responds without fuss, although the petrol engine feels lethargic, as I’d expect with just 159bhp to give. My old 2007 Mondeo 2.0 diesel auto was much gutsier. The steering wheel is dead straight, the brakes pull up powerfully and the engine temperature is good. Back at Trade Price Motors, I check the dual zone climate control, tyre pressure monitoring system and parking sensors. They all work. Kashif ‘Sam’ Sheikh, the dealership’s general manager, rushes over for my verdict. As we coo over its condition, he says he’s putting up its price – from £1250 to £2495: “The boss was giving it away.” Bulmer isn’t surprised by the Mondeo’s condition. He says most Fords take high mileage exceptionally well. Not only those but Mercedes, Volvos and most Japanese and Korean cars also. Even, he says, old Land Rover Discoverys. He should know about those since he’s Cap HPI’s valuations expert on SUVs. One of his favourites is the Toyota Land Cruiser. “They just keep rolling,” he says. “Mileages over 100,000 are common. In fact, in the past week alone we’ve seen four with well over that figure.” It gives me an idea… From West Drayton I nip part-way around the M25 to West Byfleet, to meet dealer Russell Baker of Baker Brothers. He’s selling something that I reckon Bulmer, a former Land Cruiser owner, would approve of. It’s a 2000 V-reg Colorado 3.0 TD – with 270,000 miles. “We’re big fans of high-mileage Land Cruisers,” says Baker. “They’re top value and take everything in their stride.” His Colorado has good provenance and a great service history. It had one lady owner from 2002 to 2017. She did 200,000 miles in it and had it serviced on the button by a main Toyota dealer. It’s in excellent condition, inside and out. The engine looks great. Its two batteries are still wrapped in their smart, black jackets. Baker himself runs around in a Mk5 Volkswagen Golf diesel that has done 288,000 miles. He bought it with 194,000. “It’s only had a new turbo and still does 60mpg on a good run,” he says, proudly. He also has a 2015 Volkswagen Amarok that’s done 150,000 and two 2016-reg VW mini buses, each with 260,000 miles. “Unfortunately, 100,000 miles is still a problem for many car buyers, but the fact is most cars will do 500,000 miles no problem. “Few owners and good service history are things to look for but condition is everything. If it looks good, it probably is.” High-mileage champion It’s only four years old but we found a 2015/65 Toyota Aygo 1.0 VVT-i X-Play that has done 260,000 miles with its one owner from new and has a full service history. “They were all motorway miles and it drives like new,” says the seller. The owner works in social services, and the car has spent its life shuttling people the length and breadth of the country. We arranged to view it, but during the intervening weekend it was sold for £3490. Read more Why high-mileage cars should rule the roost​ Driving a Lamborghini Murcielago with 258k miles on the clock​ James Ruppert: a cheap used car could go the distance, but should you?​ View the full article
  24. These four-door performance tourers from Porsche and Mercedes-AMG set a rocking beat for all-round brilliance The pitch is simple: these are the cars that do everything, the Gary Sobers, Kapil Devs and Freddie Flintoffs of the automotive world. Go extraordinarily fast? It’s a given. Make you appear suitably plutocratic wherever you turn up? Natch. Keep you endlessly entertained on any empty road? Just look at them. Carry you, your family and your luggage in hushed comfort and true luxury any damn place you want to go? I’m surprised you had to ask. But a pitch is one thing, reality quite another. We can see why you might think (and their creators suggest) that if any car can come close to being all things to all people, a Porsche Panamera or Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door might fit the bill better than any other. But the question here is not just to decide which gets closest, but whether either – or indeed any car – can be truly satisfactory in such disparate regards. Trying to be all things to all owners is the brief from hell, and as sure a recipe as exists for ending up with egg on you face. Press fleet availability means the Porsche and Mercedes seen here are close but not direct rivals, although today this actually helps because it allows us to answer another question, of which more in a minute. One thing both cars absolutely share besides their monstrously powerful twin-turbo V8 engines is stupidly long names. The Porsche is a Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, the Benz an even more befuddling Mercedes-AMG GT 63 4MATIC+ 4-Door Coupé. But there are clues in these titles: the Porsche is the full-fat Panamera in both the literal and figurative senses of the word – ‘Hybrid’ signifying a 671bhp, electrically boosted power output and a staggering kerb weight of 2400kg, exactly 300kg more than the same car without the hybrid system. That 2100kg, incidentally, is the same weight claimed for the AMG. An ‘S’ model not being available, this poor thing has to slum it with merely 577bhp, not the 631bhp that would otherwise have been at our disposal. Yet even in such denuded form, it still posts a fractionally quicker 0-62mph time and a marginally higher top speed than the Porsche, as if such issues really matter. Any car weighing more than two tonnes that will nevertheless hit 62mph in three and a half seconds or less really is astoundingly fast. Before options, Porsche will charge you £139,297 for the Panamera, over £20,000 more than it wants for the non-hybridised version of the same car, which is a scant 0.3sec slower than the hybrid’s 3.5sec to 62mph. So you’re really going to want what the hybrid brings that the regular Turbo doesn’t, including through-the-floor CO2 figures with associated tax breaks, a claimed 31 miles of all-electric running (nearer to 20 in normal use) and possible congestion charge exemptions and so on. The Benz is less expensive at £121,350, although if you wanted to go the whole hog and get the 631bhp S, with its active engine mounts, rear electronic differential and assorted luxury additions, that knocks the price up to £135,550 and the 0-62mph time down by 0.2sec to a McLaren F1-matching 3.2sec. Finally, both cars are available with a choice of two or three rear seats. We start in the Panamera. You sit snug and low in a superb driving position which tells you that, for all its heft and gadgets, Porsche still wants you to think of this as a sports car. TFT screens bound the horizons, bewildering you with the information assault they mount. There’s some learning to do here, but once done it’s surprisingly intuitive, even if it still takes twice the time to perform certain simple tasks than it would with buttons and switches. If anything, the AMG is more sumptuous still. Its interior is more stylised (your eyes are drawn to those gorgeous turbine air vents), although its feel is more applied than designed in, as the Porsche’s is. You sit a little higher in seats that are a little firmer. Here, too, are endless expanses of screens, which are more attractive to me than those in the Porsche and more configurable but less easy to use, especially via a control pad rather than a wheel. The amount of available information is huge, surely more than any owner could need or want. If you ever wish to reconnect with your inner Luddite, there is no shortage of opportunity in either car. In the back there is no contest: the Porsche is just better. Indeed, having a BMW M5 along for the ride allowed the Panamera to show there is little or nothing to lose in either leg or headroom to a large executive saloon. Four six-footers would be happy to travel unlimited distances in here. The Mercedes is not cramped in the back, indeed its rear quarters are probably more in line with what you might expect from a car calling itself a four-door coupé, but there’s a little less room everywhere and if the person in the front seat has his or her seat as low as possible, it will be hard to slide your feet underneath. The cars’ respective shapes suggest the Porsche would have the bigger boot, too, and it does, although by less than I had expected: 520 litres versus 460 for the Merc. The drive over to the mountain road in the Porsche is informative. It rides well and, as importantly, like a Porsche: firm but never harsh. Out here, running with the traffic on all manner of roads save urban, it’s doubtful the hybrid is doing anything for the fuel consumption. I reckon it would be an unusually careful long-distance driver who got a genuine 25mpg from it. The lighter, less powerful Mercedes would do better, but not by much. And then we’re at our desired location, into Sport Plus mode and away. As we all know, weight is the enemy of all automotive engineering but there is a still a sense of occasion and a certain undeniable majesty to see how the powertrain picks up two and half tonnes of Panamera and Frankel combined, and flings us forward. First time out, I defy you not to laugh. There’s so much torque everywhere that the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission seems almost redundant. Yet everywhere you go, that mass goes too, and you are aware of it all the time. It numbs the steering in corners and challenges the dampers over crests. Grip is provided by four stupendously large contact patches, but this is not a car for chucking or even gently lobbing into corners. It needs to be guided, managed on a slow in, fast out basis, which makes it sound like a 911. But it’s not: on that road there were times it felt a little cumbersome and heavily reliant on its dustbin-lid brakes, whose incredible stopping power was in no way matched by its poor pedal feel. What, then, to expect of the Mercedes? Given how AMG has laboured to find the handling sweet spot in the more comfortable versions of its far lighter, more sporting and bespoke two-seat GT Coupé, possibly not that much. And yet, in reality, the car confounds expectations. First, even before you get to the corners, it’s even quicker than the Porsche. The difference is not great, but it’s there. It sounds better, too, at least inside. Outside I’m told the Panamera was in spectacular voice with its optional sports exhausts, but inside the AMG’s soundtrack is sharper and more exciting. And if its nine-speed gearbox – an automatic rather than a dual-clutch but with a wet clutch in place of a torque converter – is any slower than the Porsche’s ZF unit, I couldn’t spot it. But the real difference comes in the corners. I’m sure the Porsche’s case would have been improved had it been fitted with optional four-wheel steering (on the AMG it’s standard in the UK), but I can’t see it clawing back more than a little of the ground it loses here. The Mercedes feels better in every regard: more intimate, communicative and entertaining, while inspiring more confidence. And in cars this fast, vast and heavy, confidence is crucial. So accurate is its steering, so keen is its nose to sniff out an apex, so fluent is its damping, at times you could mistake it for a genuine sports car, which seems a ludicrous thing to write about a four-door car weighing so much. But I can report only as I find. The drive home gave time to ponder its other appeals. Is it as quiet and comfortable as the Porsche? Probably a touch noisier despite the Panamera’s fatter footprints, but maybe a tad more compliant with the dampers in their softest settings. But it doesn’t matter because both are unreasonably good in both regards. There is, then, a clear case for either car, and what’s curious is how each now trespasses on the other’s traditional territory. You’d expect a Mercedes to have more room for people and luggage and offer the better ergonomics, but it doesn’t. Likewise, you’d expect the Porsche to be the obvious driver’s choice, but it’s not. I expect the Panamera’s case would have been better served by the cheaper, lighter, barely slower standard Turbo, but enough to vanquish the Mercedes? I wouldn’t rule it out, but it is a little hard to see. Don’t let that detract from what AMG has achieved here: unless tax concessions and practicality are numbers one and two on your priority list (and you’re prepared to pay a substantial sum for them), the Mercedes is the better car. To answer the question posed at the start, it is an immense all-rounder, superb in many regards, deficient in none. In short, it is a clear and worthy winner. BMW M5 Competition So here’s a question: why would you spend another £25,000 even buying the Benz (let alone the Porsche) when a BMW M5 Competition is just as quick, lighter still and has a bigger boot than either? Style is clearly a factor: the AMG and Panamera don’t look like close relatives of everyday family saloons (even if, beneath the skin, the Merc has significant amounts of E-Class architecture). Their interiors are more luxurious, their sense of occasion more palpable. But out there on the road? Well, the BMW is not short of pace, it too has four-wheel drive and, like the AMG, can even be rear-drive only for the pleasure of the drift merchants. And yet I couldn’t get it configured the way I wanted for that road, the damping proving too soft in Comfort but too busy in Sport, let alone Sport Plus, and I expect that’s down to the Competition suspension mods. I’m sure they work brilliantly on the track to which no one will ever take theirs, but they are far less convincing on roads such as this. In the end, the M5 Competition poses some good questions of these two but fails to make them look like expensive indulgences by comparison. Had we a standard – and less expensive – M5 with us, those questions might have been not only interesting but likely properly awkward, too. Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo review Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door Coupe review​ Top 10 best grand tourers 2019​ View the full article
  25. The new Porsche 911 has lived up to its star billing… so far The best just got better – but by how much? We pitch the new Porsche 911 against two unflinching opponents at either end of the sports car spectrum to find out My, my, the Lotus Evora has changed. The latest version of this now decade-old sports car (there is only one Evora derivative on sale at the moment) is the GT410 Sport – and it’s feisty. It’s got one of those motorway rides. You know the type: with that collusive, delicious high-speed fidget that can only be made by a short, firm coil spring working in tandem with an expensive, belligerent Bilstein damper – and which gently insists you divert immediately from your intended errand-to-wherever to some proper driving roads. It has a supercharged V6 powertrain that demands you time your manual gearchanges well, with the proper footwork, and that picks up from 4500rpm with raw, unfiltered ferocity. It steers with the weight and feel – and kickback – of a competition racer. It really grips – once the Cup tyres are switched on. Lordy, this car has put on some muscle. In many ways, it could even compare to a Porsche 911 GT3: for immersive control feedback, track-ready purpose and potential for driver reward. And that means it ought to be a pretty stern test for the latest, all-new ‘992’-generation Carrera 4S, right? If only the sports car market was so easy to make sense of. Compared with both Evoras I remember driving three, five and nearly 10 years ago now, and with the latest Porsche 911 Carrera, however, the GT410 Sport is certainly different. And difference is your best friend when the opportunity presents to lay a challenge for a car as complete and accomplished as the new 992. Difference is what you need to crack open the lid on this new Porsche’s character and make-up – to find out what it’s gained and given up, how it’s developed and diverged. We could have looked for less difference among the line-up for this group test – and, for a while, we did. To tell you the truth, the Jaguar F-Type R was indisposed on the dates of our Porsche 911 welcoming party, and the Aston Martin Vantage was washing its hair. I understand the reticence. A ‘991’ Carrera GTS gave the current Vantage a thorough dusting in a group test I wrote only last year, as well as a McLaren 540C. And the differences between that GTS’s partly optional mechanical specification (Carrera 4 ‘widebody’, 444bhp 3.0-litre turbo flat six, lowered PASM suspension, PTV active rear diff, four-wheel steering) and the one about which you’re about to read? Well, you might say they’re incremental. So the decision was partly made for us. But however it happened, it became clear that picking starkly different opponents for the 992 might be our best route towards learning something meaningful about the new Porsche. If this is the latest version of the sports car that changed the landscape of its segment, decades ago, with its sheer breadth of dynamic talents and its unmatched usability, why not test the outer limits of its range rather than pounding away pointlessly at its He-Man-like core? Why not give it a really uncompromising, irresistibly simple driver’s car to measure up with on poise, agility, grip, engagement, excitement and reward, I thought; and also a really desirable, exotic, expensively engineered heavyweight German to contend with on material class, usability and everyday ownership appeal? Enter the Lotus Evora GT410 Sport and facelifted Audi R8 V10. Before we get cracking, a quick review of what’s new and different about this Porsche for those in need of one. There’s quite a lot: more aluminium-intensive construction, a longer front overhang, wider wings and axle tracks (the old Carrera 2 narrow body, which wouldn’t have featured on a Carrera 4S anyway, has been discontinued), mixed-width wheels, retuned suspension, new dampers, quicker steering, electro-mechanically assisted brakes, new stiffer engine mountings, bigger new engine induction and fuel injection systems… the list goes on. If you want one any time soon, you can only have a 444bhp Carrera S with an eight-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox, but you can choose between rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive (the latter works via a new hang-on clutch, incidentally), or between fixed-roof coupé and convertible bodystyles. You get a torque vectoring electronic rear differential lock and PASM adaptive dampers as standard; lowered suspension’s an option. And, because this is 2019, even for million-selling, 56-year-old iconic sports cars, you can add four-wheel steering, active anti-roll bars or carbon-ceramic brakes at extra cost, should you want to (our Carrera 4S test car had all three, plus PASM Sport springs). It’s a mechanical recipe that the Audi R8 struggles to better in some ways, in spite of its higher price tag, more exotic spaceframe construction and behemoth Hungarian-built atmo V10. Weighing 1660kg at the kerb, the Audi’s nearly 100kg heavier than the Porsche; and while it beats it comfortably for power-to-weight ratio, it narrowly loses out to its compatriot on torque-to-weight ratio. The Audi matches the Porsche for driven wheels, but not for the latest steering and suspension technologies. The Lotus, meanwhile, with its aluminium tub and rear-drive layout, is more than 200kg lighter even than the Porsche, and has a roofline that sits almost 100mm nearer the road. It does not have active anti-roll bars or four-wheel steering – but with physical stats like that, would you say it needed them? Nope, me neither; particularly not after driving one. See: told you they were different. You don’t expect the Porsche to put up much of a fight to the Audi on static appeal – material richness, on-board technology and the like – because traditionally 911s have kept things pretty simple and functional on the inside, and been all the more likeable for it. And that will probably be true right until the moment you slide aboard the 992 and begin to process the significant strides that it has made on interior design and perceived quality. The car’s cabin ambience is a lot more upmarket than that of the 991. The fascia looks crisp and sculptural now, with wide, wing-like surfaces up ahead of you and a smart-looking centre stack console just above the transmission tunnel. Metallic trim and gloss-black finishes are used judiciously and well, while the car’s primary switchgear feels really solid and expensive, the best of it having a tactile knurled metallic finish. The driving position is excellent: low and snug but accommodating and perfectly supported. And the way analogue and digital technologies are blended for instrumentation and infotainment is really expert. You still get an analogue rev counter, front and centre in the driver’s binnacle, but the digital screens on both of its flanks are hugely configurable. And while the car’s PCM central infotainment screen has now grown to a landscape-oriented 10.9in size, it fits into the fascia surprisingly discreetly; it’s shaded by the upper dashboard so not prone to reflections; and it can be navigated by either touchscreen or rotary dial input. The 992’s is the interior of a very modern and decidedly luxurious sports car, then – and it dominates even the Audi’s in so many ways. The R8’s has more leather and satin chrome within it, but it doesn’t seat you as comfortably or surround you with as much usable space; it doesn’t give you such good all-round visibility; it doesn’t feel quite as solid or expensively made; and, while Audi’s Virtual Cockpit instruments are adaptable and clear, it isn’t so good at giving you just the right information in just the right place. A narrower-feeling on-the-road vehicle footprint and equally good touring comfort means the 992 passes the first phase of our test pretty easily. It’s a nicer car to spend time in than the R8, and it would be quite a lot easier to use. So what about our second test phase: driver appeal? This is a tough one. Every bit as tough a call, in fact, as I’d desperately hoped it would be when phoning up the man from Hethel and inviting disappointment by expecting a 10-year-old Lotus to be able to show a brand-new Porsche the way home on handling. The Evora is no longer the car I remember falling for so deeply a decade ago. In this latest guise, it’s a considerably less rounded, supple, effortlessly poised thing than the car that popped up at our Handling Day test in 2009 and, with only 276 horsepower to its name, duly wiped the floor with an Aston Martin V12 Vantage, Porsche ‘997’ GT3, Lamborghini Murciélago SV and others. The past 10 years have made the Evora less moderate and more single-minded: quite a lot more. But, my word, it can entertain when you get in tune with it. More than an Audi R8 can and, though it’s close, more than a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S can, provided you’re prepared to accept what comes along with the bargain. The Lotus does a lot that will more likely wind you up and test your patience to begin with, of course, while the Porsche never puts a foot wrong. The Evora’s a much harder car to get into, and to see out of, than the 911 – and it’s much more demanding to interact with. Every gearchange in the Lotus demands a couple of well-timed dips of the clutch pedal, a firm double-barrelled shove of the gearlever and, if it’s a downshift, a prod of accelerator; and you’ll be needing plenty of downshifts, because that V6 isn’t so good at accessible torque. The 911’s eight-speed PDK gearbox couldn’t be more different – shifting near-seamlessly by itself and often quite unnecessarily given the torque the 3.0-litre flat six makes. The flip side of that, however, is that when you execute a perfect downshift in the Lotus and then ring that banshee vibrato V6 out to 7000rpm, you feel – just a little bit – like your name might be Fittipaldi. The 911’s powertrain is responsive, rangey, flexible, free-revving and has plenty of charm, but doesn’t excite in quite the same way. On outright handling agility and mid-corner poise, there’s nothing between the two cars – the 911’s clever suspension and four-wheel-steering technologies recovering a position that the car’s mass and centre of gravity suggested it might not have. In terms of outright grip level, the Porsche’s Goodyear tyres deliver a significantly more secure hold on damp Tarmac. The Lotus’s Michelin Cup 2s work better on dry roads when you can warm them through: an act that gives the Brit’s driving experience that much more involvement factor all by itself. But what a spectacular groove the Evora gets into when things go its way – the conditions, the road surface, the traffic level, your belief and confidence level – and what a riot it can be at its best. You get feedback galore through both chassis and steering, and enough lateral grip, handling response and adjustability to make smoother bends both tight and fast an utter delight. The 992’s best, by a slim but unmissable margin, isn’t quite that intoxicating; but you’ll likely prefer to live with the 911’s dynamic compromise than the Evora’s, I’d wager – and, since there’s clearly more to come from other derivatives of this Porsche in terms of outright driver appeal, you’d definitely say that the Carrera 4S is as full-on and feisty as it ought to be. The Porsche copes so much better with mixed conditions, has the ride dexterity to deal with bumps better and has light years more dynamic range bound up in its chassis. The incisiveness of the 992’s handling has come on quite a long way even from a like-for-like 991 – and yet that famous old rear-engined handling charisma has been retained. I first drove a 911 at the age of 22 (aren’t I lucky?) – a wonderfully under-dressed ‘996’ Carrera 2 manual – and I loved the way the nose began to bob as the chassis was really setting to work, while the steering’s weight ebbed and flowed perfectly in time with the music to allow you to keep the car online like a reflex action. Over a mid-corner bump, the 992 behaves in exactly the same way – although you need a slightly bigger bump and more speed to set it all going. The old magic’s still there – and it’s wonderful. So what have we learned? That the new Porsche 911 is a better driver’s car than what it replaces, and that it fully deserves the warmest recognition, and an even more revered class-leading status than we gave the old one. For me, though, it’s the strides that the car has taken in other ways and directions that really set it apart. The most accomplished, usable and widely impressive sports car in the world has just broadened its hand even further – and is now better than ever. Buy them used Porsche 911 997: Immensely popular new and still highly sought, the ‘997’ is the sweet spot in the 911’s development. Wonderfully capable and tremendous fun, we’d seek out a post-2009 Gen 2 version, which gained a number of improvements over the earlier cars. The S will cost more but the standard Carrera is still a wonderful thing. Budget a minimum of £20k for a good one. Audi R8 Gen1: The first-gen R8 was a revelation, its storming performance and agility a result of its mid-mounted 415bhp V8, a rear-biased quattro driveline and a low and lightweight aluminium body. Later models upped the power and included the sonorous V10. Stick with an early V8 with the manual gearbox and expect to pay upwards of £34k. Lotus Evora (2009 - now): Blessed with superb handling and an uncanny ability to brush off the most brusque of bumps, the Lotus Evora is the connoisseur’s choice. Whether you go for an early car, a facelifted 400, a lightweight Sport 410 or the GT430, you’ll have a brilliant B-road hack. Early examples start from £28k, while post-facelift cars with an improved gearbox are closer to £60k. Read more Porsche 911 Carrera 4S 2019 UK review​ Britain's Best Driver's Car 2018: meet the contenders​ Audi R8 vs Ducati Panigale: supercar versus superbike​ View the full article
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