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The Motorists Guide

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  1. Our top ten supercars blends a mix of exotic metal stand out performance with stunning dynamics, but in an intensely competitive market who takes top spot? The definition of a supercar may have changed over the past two decades, but that fact hardly makes the metal content that makes up this class any less sensational. Here, it’s the world’s greatest mid-engined, upper-level performance machines we’re celebrating: not the very highest echelon of the performance car market, but rather the kind of cars you think about when you picture a modern Ferrari, McLaren or Lamborghini. Topping this class means demonstrating that your designers and engineers can master an inherently tricky dynamic brief, stand the heat of particularly intense competition, and satisfy some of the most demanding customers in motordom. 1. McLaren 720S The McLaren 720S has succeeded where both of its predecessors (650S and MP4-12C) fell short in our supercar class chart: purely and simply, by topping it. There are few more direct or effective ways for cars in this stratum of the performance car market to demonstrate their superiority than by accelerating faster, lapping quicker and stopping harder than any rival: the 720S does all three. In many of the performance benchmarks road testers are used to measuring, in fact, this 710bhp blockbuster is a closer match for a contemporary hypercar than one of its mid-engined opponents. But it’s also uncommonly communicative and easy to drive; is a supreme ergonomic achievement; and flatters a rambunctious track style more rewardingly than any of its Woking predecessors. 2. Ferrari 488 GTB It took a car from what felt like another dimension of outright pace and purposefulness to depose Maranello’s excellent 488 GTB from its glorious former perch in this class. Even now there are some at Autocar HQ who prefer the more bombastic character, more dramatic-sounding turbo V8 engine and more indulgent limit handling manners of Ferrari’s take on the supercar concept than McLaren’s quicker but more single-minded one. The 488 was a giant leap forward for its maker when it emerged in 2015: a mid-engined purist’s feast that switched from atmospheric engine aspiration to twin-turbocharging, and exploded class norms for performance while seeming to sacrifice so little on sonic V8 charisma or handling delicacy. On testing road surfaces, the car’s super-quick steering and firm suspension can make it highly strung. But on the circuit it’s nothing short of sensational. 3. Lamborghini Huracán Evo Only the makers of the world’s rarest and most expensive, handbuilt automotive exotics can now really compete with Lamborghini when it comes to creating cars of pure combustive drama, traffic-stopping looks and feral, unfettered soul. The Huracan may be the firm’s entry-level model but it’s no second-order offering when it comes to its sensational styling or its fantastically wild, naturally aspirated V10 engine: a motor that over-delivers in equal measure on speed, responsiveness and audible character. The face-lifted Evo version gets rear-wheel steering and torque-vectoring, and the results raise the Huracan's game closer to that of the McLaren and Ferrari. That you also get the 631bhp powetrain from the old, hardcore Performante seals this junior Lamborghini's reputation as a seriously rewarding, engaging supercar. 4. Ford GT The myth and mystique of the Ford GT, stretching back more than five decades to the GT40’s string of successive victories at Le Mans, would have given this car a larger-than-life presence in any class in which we put it – and lends it an appeal that’s utterly unique and difficult to quantify. Originally resurrected in 2005, this ‘third coming’ of Ford’s motoring legend is a cleverly conceived road-going version of The Blue Oval’s FIA WEC endurance racer. Available in left-hand-drive only, it has a chassis and suspension more exotic than almost any rival – and an engine adapted from than of an F150 pick-up truck. Though it’s size is foreboding, the GT has an unbelievably smooth-ride and is refined and easy-to-place on the road for a car of its ilk. And although it doesn’t howl like an Italian V12, the car’s 647bhp V6 can still hurl you down the road with undiluted motorsport venom. A very special car, this – the likes of which don’t come along often. 5. Lamborghini Aventador SVJ A drive in Sant’Agata’s twelve 12-cylinder, mid-engined series-production flagship supercar is not something you’ll forget. The Aventador’s line goes all the way back through Murcielago, Diablo and Countach to the legendary Miura – and it’s a car with the stunning looks and full-blooded naked aggression to hold its own, even in comparison with its ancestors. It burst onto the scene with almost 700 atmospheric horsepower and Machievellian four-wheel drive five years ago, and was updated to ‘S’ specification in 2017 to include four-wheel steering and even more grunt. Now we have the heroic SVJ, which takes an already unmissable car and turns it into the world's greatest attention-magnet, thanks to an astonishing bodykit. The engine – which in the SVJ 759bhp at 8500rpm – is stupendous, even if its paddleshift transmission isn’t always worthy of it. It does feel hugely wide on the road, and is still a sledgehammer of an instrument on the track, although it’s developed greater handling delicacy and balance in later life. As for drama? Off the scale. 6. Noble M600 This ultra low-volume, handbuilt British supercar bears the name of the man behind the memorable late-1990s M12 sports car, though it’s made by a Midlands’-based firm that no longer has anything to do with him. It’s still built, mind you, to suit specialised tastes that Lee Noble might approve of: with lightness and simplicity, with the purity of a manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive, without anti-lock brakes or electronic driver aids, and for those who like their performance cars raw, direct and big on pace, excitement and involvement. When it was introduced, its 650bhp Yamaha turbo V8 was potent enough to place it well clear of the average mid-engined exotic on power and torque. These days, it’s less of a clear on-paper draw, but it continues to produce a massive swell of acceleration for the M600 that has to be felt to be believed. Handling is at once super-purposeful and amazingly interactive and adjustable with it – although the car’s ergonomic layout and cabin finish leave a bit to be desired. 7. Gumpert Apollo It might have come from a brand name you’d sooner expect to be supplying either construction equipment or wellington boots, but the Gumpert Apollo has a neat way of sweeping aside your expectations. We drove it in 2005, and were certainly struck by the sheer purpose, grip and pace of the car – and that was at the firm’s initial 641bhp state of tune (a 789bhp ‘race’ version was also available). At the time of our test, the car’s six-speed sequential gearbox was its obvious weak spot, being stubborn and tricky to operate, but its accelerative speed was beyond question – Gumpert claims 0-62mph in 3.1sec and a maximum speed of 224mph, and both are believable. Also highly impressive are the car’s huge braking power and its high-speed circuit staying power. Few supercars feel quite this at home on track. 8. Tushek Renovatio T500 Slovenia’s Tushek Renovatio supercar is another little-known mid-engined creation sufficiently obscure that nobody would buy one as a symbol of wealth of status. And that’s probably fine by Tushek owner Aljosa Tusek, who prefers to cater for the serious track-day-regular performance driver anyway – and whose car makes that pretty clear. Carbonfibre-bodied, spaceframe-constructed with carbon-ceramic brakes, the T500 weighs less than 1100kg; and powered by a 444bhp Audi 4.2 V8, it’s not the sort of car for those who like the idea of having more power to dispose of than they really need. Feels more like a Lotus or Porsche GT car on track than a traditional supercar, but none the worse for it. Novel, interesting & nicely put together, too. 9. Spyker C8 Aileron The makers of the Spyker C8 Aileron clearly aren’t a bunch of people who worry about shaking up the status quo. Having dabbled on the Formula One grid in the last decade and hit the headlines by owning Swedish car-maker Saab before taking it into bankruptcy, Spyker has been serving a small but singular following with rare-groove performance cars all the while. The C8 Aileron has a fairly mild-sounding 395bhp and isn’t desperately fast, but it steers and handles with plenty of charm and feel. The richness of sound its V8 engine makes, meanwhile, and the materially exotic fit and finish of its cabin, are real selling points. If you like to be different, and to depart from the obvious choice even among quarter-million-pound mid-engines supercars, you’ll love it. 10. Vencer Sarthe The Vencer Sarthe is the latest in a long line of niche cottage-industry supercars to reach out to a Chevrolet ‘small block’ V8 customer engine in order to supply its power - but there’s plenty of it. Tuned by American performance specialists Hennessey, the Sarthe’s 6.3-litre supercharged lump produces 622bhp, and gives the car the promise of performance every bit as good as this class’ leading lights. But it’s power and performance are delivered incredibly smoothly, Vencer founder Robert Cobben having put a clear emphasis on drivability when developing the car. The Sarthe’s steering and ride feel unexpectedly sophisticated and its traction is strong, although body control is a little too soft to make up for the most manageable limit handling. Otherwise, however, Holland’s newest and worst-known supercar maker is well worth further investigation. View the full article
  2. The Landwind X7 and the original Range Rover Evoque A Chinese court has found Jiangling's Landwind X7 to be too similar to the Range Rover Evoque Jaguar Land Rover has won a long-standing court case in China against the firm that produces a copycat version of the Range Rover Evoque. The Landwind X7, which is only sold in China, has become notorious worldwide for being a near-replica of the popular British SUV. China is well-known for creating copycat vehicles of Western-designed vehicles, but local law has traditionally made it hard for the makers of the original models to stop the practice. Jaguar Land Rover described its win in the unfair competition case as a “first in the global car industry”. The case has been underway for more than three years, having begun after the Landwind X7 was unveiled at the 2015 Guangzhou motor show. In China, the doppelgänger is priced at the equivalent of around £14,000 – significantly less than the £40,000-plus of the locally produced Evoque. The decision issued by the Beijing Chaoyang District Court ruled that the Evoque has five unique features that were copied directly in the X7 built by Jiangling Motor Corporation (JMC) and that the similarity of the two vehicles has led to widespread consumer confusion. The court determined that all sales, manufacturing and marketing of the X7 must stop immediately. The court also demanded that Jaguar Land Rover be paid compensation. Keith Benjamin, Jaguar Land Rover's global head of legal, said: “We welcome this decision of the Beijing Court, which further strengthens our confidence in investing in China and in the fairness of intellectual property adjudication in the Chinese courts. "This ruling is a clear sign of the law being implemented appropriately to protect consumers and uphold their rights so that they are not confused or misled, whilst protecting business investment in design and innovation.” The second-generation Evoque, already unveiled in the UK, will make its Chinese debut at the Shanghai motor show in April. Read more Range Rover Evoque review Gallery: history of the Chinese copycat View the full article
  3. The first model to use Sheffield-produced tubs will arrive in 2020 The £50m facility in Sheffield has delivered the first Monocell lightweight tub to McLaren's factory in Woking The first prototype of McLaren's new Monocell carbonfibre tub has been delivered from the firm's new £50 million Composites Technology Centre (MCTC) in Yorkshire to its main production facility in Woking, Surrey. Codenamed PLT-MCTC-01 (Prototype Lightweight Tub, McLaren Composites Technology Centre, Number One), the lightweight chassis is the first step towards saving weight across the company's model range in preparation ​for complete hybridisation by 2024. McLaren will now subject the prototype to a thorough crash test programme in Woking, ahead of the 2020 launch of its first Monocell-based production model. Wes Jacklin, the MCTC's plant director, said: "It's increasingly clear that with future heavier powertrain requirements, exploiting innovative lightweighting techniques and technologies is going to be a significant key to unlocking all the handling and agility characteristics that our customers demand." McLaren's second production facility was officially opened in November by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, accompanied by the Crown Prince of Bahrain. It's located in the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Catcliffe, between Sheffield and Rotherham. Full-scale production of the Monocell is anticipated to begin next year, with the current 60-strong workforce set to swell to more than 200. Currently, production of carbonfibre tubs for McLaren production models, including the Speedtail hypercar and upcoming grand tourer, is sub-contracted to a company named Carbo Tech that's based in Salzburg, Austria. This firm will continue to supply carbonfibre components to McLaren, with the MCTC producing only Monocell tubs. The British content of McLaren’s cars will increase from 50% to 58% when the MCTC-made tubs are used. Forty-five McLaren employees are located at the nearby University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), which is now partnering McLaren. This team is set to grow to 200 and is working on pushing advances in carbonfibre tub technology. Pre-production versions of Monocell tubs are being built in association with the university, while apprentices are being trained to work at the new facility. In November, the unveiling of a commemorative carbonfibre plaque at the MCTC's opening ceremony was watched by representatives from Sheffield and Rotherham district councils, a number of senior local stakeholders and the facility's team of engineers. At an event to celebrate the facility's opening, a McLaren Senna hypercar performed doughnuts to ‘christen’ the newly laid factory floor, which spans 75,000sq ft. Speaking at the unveiling, Ken Smart, project director for the MCTC, said: “There are two key reasons why we are developing this facility. First, taking control of the manufacture of the tub enables us to build in more design flexibility. So, as we develop the vehicles, we will be able to design the tubs to meet the features of those vehicles – things that matter to the customer, such as vehicle dynamics, ergonomics, space in the cabin, the driving position, visibility, ingress and egress. “Second, and perhaps more importantly, it gives us the opportunity to continually learn from the development process. Every time we solve a problem, we learn something new. “That gives us the ability to modify the design for its structural integrity and gives us the ability to optimise the manufacturing processes yet further. Taking this technology in-house is giving us the opportunity to increase the pace of the design and development of the carbonfibre tub.” The new facility will also lead to a cost saving in the region of £10m, according to McLaren chiefs, and there's potential for the MCTC to supply carbonfibre components for other companies, because McLaren’s production targets for the foreseeable future will leave the plant with surplus capacity when it's fully operational. Read more McLaren to launch 18 models and move to hybrid powertrains by 2025​ McLaren confirms another record year in 2018​ Surprise McLaren grand tourer to be launched later this year​ View the full article
  4. McLaren is pursuing weight-saving technology as a means of making its upcoming hybrid range more competitive and efficient £50m Sheffield-based facility delivers the first MonoCell lightweight tub to McLaren's Woking factory The first prototype of McLaren's new MonoCell carbonfibre tubs has been delivered by the firm's £50m Composites Technology Centre (MCTC) in Sheffield to its main production facility in Surrey. Codenamed 'PLT-MCTC-01' (Prototype Lightweight Tub, McLaren Composites Technology Centre - 01), the lightweight chassis is the first step towards saving weight across the company's range in preparation for the adoption of hybrid technology. McLaren will now subject the new chassis to a thorough crash testing programme at its main Woking facility. The firm is developing its next generation of vehicles under the Track25 business plan, which will see hybrid technology rolled across its entire range by 2024. Wes Jacklin, plant director at the MCTC, said: "It's increasingly clear that with future heavier powertrain requirements, exploiting innovative lightweighting techniques and technologies is going to be a significant key to unlocking all the handling and agility characteristics that our customers demand." McLaren's second production facility was officially opened in November by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, accompanied by the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Bahrain. The site is located in the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Catcliffe, between Sheffield and Rotherham. The MCTC will become the Woking-based manufacturer's specialist carbonfibre facility as part of a push to save weight and improve the energy efficiency of its cars. Full-scale production is anticipated to begin next year, with the current 60-strong workforce to swell to over 200. On hand to watch the unveiling of a commemorative carbonfibre plaque at last year's opening ceremony were representatives from Sheffield and Rotherham district councils, a number of senior local stakeholders, and the facility's team of engineers. An event to celebrate the facility's birth saw a Senna hypercar perform doughnuts to ‘christen’ the newly laid factory floor, which spans 75,000sq ft. Forty-five McLaren employees are located at the nearby University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), which is partnering McLaren. This team is set to grow to 200 and is working on pushing advances in carbonfibre tub technology. The pre-production versions of McLaren's one-piece 'MonoCell' tubs are being built in association with the university, using new techniques and more automation. Additionally, McLaren is training apprentices who will work at the new facility. The British content of McLaren’s cars will increase from 50% to 58% when the Sheffield-made tubs are used. Production of the MonoCell is currently sub-contracted to a company named Carbo Tech, based in Magna where the Jaguar I-Pace and E-Pace are built. When the MCTC is fully operational, the completed tubs it makes will be transported from Sheffield to the McLaren Production Centre in Woking for final assembly. Ken Smart, project director for the MCTC, said: “There are two key reasons why we are developing this facility. First, taking control of the manufacture of the tub enables us to build in more design flexibility. So, as we develop the vehicles, we will be able to design the tubs to meet the features of those vehicles; things that matter to the customer, such as vehicle dynamics, ergonomics, space in the cabin, the driving position, visibility, ingress and egress. “Second, and perhaps more importantly, it gives us the opportunity to continually learn from the development process. Every time we solve a problem, we learn something new. “That gives us the ability to modify the design for its structural integrity and gives us the ability to optimise the manufacturing processes yet further. Taking this technology in-house is giving us the opportunity to increase the pace of the design and development of the carbonfibre tub.” The new facility will also lead to a cost saving in the region of £10m, according to McLaren chiefs, and there is potential for the MCTC to supply carbonfibre components for other companies, because McLaren’s production targets for the foreseeable future will leave the Sheffield plant with surplus capacity when it is fully operational. Read more McLaren to launch 18 models and move to hybrid powertrains by 2025​ McLaren confirms another record year in 2018​ Surprise McLaren grand tourer to be launched later this year​ View the full article
  5. Overhauled engine makes the greatest thing about the R8 even greater, even if the restrained looks and handling poise of the original are becoming an ever-more-distant memory The latest facelifted version of the Audi R8, just arrived in the UK. Supercar, super-sports car, fast Audi godfather, 4WD mid-engined misfit – call it what you will; having been unveiled in this latest form at the 2018 Geneva motor show, it has just been in receipt of a dose of extra power, a retuned power steering system, a retuned stability control system and only a very few hardware tweaks besides.Looks... well, angrier, doesn’t it? Audi’s exterior design tweaks are probably the most significant changes that have been wrought on the car, and among them are a lower, wider, meaner-looking single-frame radiator grille, a more jutting front splitter and a reprofiled bonnet.The car’s rear diffuser has been pumped up in volume, too, and its exhaust redesigned as what looks, at first glance, like a twin-pipe system of quite monstrous proportions. And then you realise, inevitably, that the real pipes are hidden away behind those oversized round bits of plastic trim. An odd tactic on a car with a glass engine cover, and whose chassis legs and induction system can clearly be seen from around the rear end at close quarters if you care to gaze through the right piece of mesh grille. Why put all that on display and then fake the tailpipes? It’s a mystery to me.The 5.2-litre atmospheric V10 that the R8 shares with the Lamborghini Huracán now makes more power and torque than before. The entry-level R8 is up from 532- to a peak 562bhp, while the upper-level version (dubbed the R8 V10 Plus before and the ‘Performance’ now, in line with the naming convention of the rest of Audi Sport’s RS range) is up to 612bhp from 602. The R8 Performance gets the bigger gain of the two derivates on torque, delivered as a result of new titanium valvetrain componentry and some software retuning. Both R8s also get an emissions-reducing gas particulate trap as part of the engine update.Matt Prior had a track-only drive in the R8 in Spain late last year, in upper-level ‘Performance’ guise. Now we try the lesser-powered version with right-hand drive.View the full article
  6. Mercedes-AMG branches out with a four-seat grand tourer with bruising performance The past decade has been one of real developmental significance for Mercedes-AMG.The firm’s continuing ability to transform practically any of Mercedes’ relatively ordinary cars into bona fide road and track performance weapons – often to class-leading effect – continues to be the foundation of its success. Meanwhile, the brand’s association with a certain five-time Formula 1 world champion and his AMG-liveried racing car must also have played its part.Arguably of even greater significance than both, though, is the fact that, within the past 10 years, Mercedes-AMG has turned its hand to developing its very own sports cars. The SLS was the first such creation, first appearing in 2009 with its dramatic 300SL-style gullwing doors and naturally aspirated 6.2 V8 – and its successor, the Mercedes-AMG GT, arrived in 2014 to continue the two-seater sporting theme.Neither was derived from an existing Mercedes model; both were intended to represent the wider reaches of what Affalterbach can achieve when presented with a blank canvas and a generous R&D budget; and both have proved good enough to convince Mercedes’ top brass that AMG should even be involved in the engineering of non-AMG car lines.However, AMG’s third in-house model, and subject of this week’s road test, is a different kettle of fish for several reasons. Welcome, then, to the imposing of stature and convoluted of name Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé, a four-seat sporting GT designed to leave more than a whiff of Affalterbach on the turf of cars as different as the Porsche Panamera and Bentley Continental GT.Being AMG’s first stand-alone model with four seats, this car should broaden the company’s model portfolio quite a bit – but if it’s a proper GT car, it’ll be necessarily different from the SLS and GT that have preceded it. Read on to find out exactly how different that means.Price £121,350 Power 577bhp Torque 590lb ft 0-60mph 3.3sec 30-70mph in fourth 4.5sec Fuel economy 21.7mpg CO2 emissions 256g/km 70-0mph 45.3mThe range at a glance: Mercedes UK may expand the GT 4-Door Coupé range later but it has elected at launch to omit the six-pot 43 and 53 models sold in other global markets and to trim the UK range to just two turbo V8 variants: the 577bhp 63 and the 630bhp 63 S. The standard specification of the two cars is similar and you can have Performance seats, ceramic brakes and AMG’s aero kit on either but only the S gets the AMG Dynamics Plus package (dynamic engine mounts and Race and Drift driving modes). View the full article
  7. CEO Oliver Blume puts forward potential solution to having limited edition models sold on at vast profits Porsche CEO Oliver Blume has proposed a subscription model as a potential solution to speculators buying the firm’s limited edition cars to sell on at huge profits. Although the problem of investors making huge mark-ups is industry-wide, Porsche’s volume of highly collectable, very limited run models, ranging from the Boxster Spyder through to Porsche 911 GT and R models and the 918 Spyder, has regularly put it in the spotlight. In particular, the 911 R hit the headlines in 2016 when collectors were reported to be spending around five times its asking price just months after its launch in order to jump waiting lists. “Our interest is to sell cars for drivers, not dealers,” said Blume. “We put so much love into them, with the goal of people driving them not to put them in a garage. “One thing we could do is look at leasing models to try to avoid this kind of dealing, so the car doesn’t get sold on for a period of time. It is one solution.” First refusal on limited run cars are usually dictated by retailers and given to regular customers, but this has failed to stop speculators selling on, while some car dealers are also believed to be on the preferential lists, albeit with the express intention of selling the cars on. View the full article
  8. Decision expected around 2025 will hinge on development of battery technology The next-generation Porsche Cayenne, due around 2025, could be fully electric - but only if battery technology has advanced significantly. Porsche has already committed to launching the fully electric Taycan saloon later this year, and will follow it with launches of the Taycan Cross Turismo estate and the next-generation Porsche Macan, which will launch in 2021 in both EV and petrol-powered forms. However, pressure from markets - led by China, the world’s largest car market and largest EV market, is leading Porsche to evaluate launching more EV models, including the next-gen Cayenne. “Of course we are discussing the electrification of the Cayenne - but we are doing the same for every model line,” said Wolfgang Butschek, Porsche’s manager for sales and marketing. “Many markets are asking for electric cars - but we have a strategy of developing three drivetrains - petrol, plug in hybrid and EV - at the same time.” Porsche CEO Oliver Blume also admitted discussions were ongoing about the next-generation Cayenne’s powertrain, saying it is “a discussion for the next decade”. It is believed that the decision to electrify the Cayenne could rest on the development of solid state battery technology by 2025; if successful, it would allow more energy dense batteries to be developed at a lower cost and a lighter weight, removing many of the compromises inherent to today’s battery-electric cars, and which would have a particular impact on an inherently heavy vehicle like the Cayenne. By the time the next generation Cayenne launches new Euro 7 regulations for combustion engined cars will also be in place, raising the possibility that the Cayenne could follow the Macan’s lead and be sold in both EV and engined forms. Talking about the decision to sell parallel versions of the Macan, Blume said: “They will sit side by side for two to three years at least, then we can decide what to do based on where the world is. Some markets want electric now; others are a long way from that decision because the infrastructure isn’t there. “We have time on our side before we have to make a decision.” View the full article
  9. Just under £5000 could get you behind the wheel of a raunchy Italian hot hatch A second-hand example of Abarth's Fiat 500-based hot hatchback is a cut-price, but equally fun, alternative to the Ford Fiesta ST Abarth 500, £4990: You can get into a 2014/63- reg Ford Fiesta 1.6 Ecoboost ST with 45,000 miles from a main dealer for £2500 more but if £5000 is your lot, then 50% more dough isn’t on the cards. So the Abarth 500 it is, but don’t look so down because it’s a real hoot and may even inspire you to one day trade up to the rip-roaring, spine-jarring Abarth 595 1.4 T-Jet Competizione. (A 2014/14-reg one with 60,000 miles is around £8000.) But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The 500 we clocked is a 2009/59-reg 1.4 T-Jet manual with 69,000 miles, full service history and lots of extras. It looks good in white, too, especially with those Abarth decals and 16in alloy wheels. The car’s upright stance and tall seating position aren’t ideal in a sporty car but that doesn’t stop the little Abarth being driven con brio. Fortunately, pilots tend to be of the middle-aged variety who look after their stuff. Even so, in the case of our example, it’d be nice to see oil changes have been done every 9000 miles and that it has had a new timing belt. After dipping the oil and checking its level and colour, inspect the water pump outlet for leaks. Now fire up the engine and check the power steering warning light goes out. (If it doesn’t, the body control unit may be at fault.) Back at the engine bay, listen for unusual noises that may be a loose air inlet pipe attachment bolt. On the test drive, feel for the clutch pedal being slow to return. It’s likely to be a weak return spring and the only cure is a new pedal assembly. Not much to worry about, is it? Alpina B7, £24,999: Our story on pre-Brexit bargains found a one-owner B7 with 74k miles for £16k. The catch? It’s a left-hooker. This example, also a one-owner car with full service history, is right-hand drive and has done just 57k miles. It’s immaculate, too. Citroen BX, £995: The BX of 1982-1994 can be credited with having kick-started the UK’s love affair with powerful, sporty diesels. Most have gone to the great scrapper but not this tidy, 1990/H-reg 1.8 TZD. It’s got 186k miles on the clock and a sheaf of workshop invoices. Jaguar XKR 4.0, £4995: An old XKR still makes a great spot. One like this 2002/02-reg with 109,000 miles, gleaming in Zircon Blue and with a sand leather interior. The best bit? It has 15 stamps in its service book, the last fettle performed by Guy Salmon Jaguar. Vauxhall Insignia, £6295: Trips to the tip, house and student moves, long drives to one’s second home… A big diesel hatch like this Insignia has its uses, and when it’s this much value (a 2015/15-reg 2.0 CDTi Design with 68k miles and full service history), it’s near impossible to resist. Auction watch Ferrari 412: You can pay up to £85,000 for a pristine, low-mileage example of Ferrari’s flawed four-seater, so someone knew a bargain when they bagged this 1987 example with just 17,000 miles on the clock and a year’s MOT, for £43,460. It once belonged to a sultan, who, judging by its condition, financed its servicing without blinking. Examples like this are rare. Worse than the body rot they eventually succumb to is the chequered past most have had at the hands of bargain hunters who couldn’t afford to run them. Budget at least £1500 in annual maintenance and about 10mpg with a light foot. Get it while you can Mercedes-AMG A35 4Matic auto, price new £35,580, price now £32,834: It has just gone on sale and already you can get £2746 off a new A35 4Matic. That’s some saving on a car that’s even more entertaining than the previous-generation A-Class hot hatch, the A45 4Matic, and puts that model in a bit of a spot. We saw a 2018/18-reg A45 Premium with 8000 miles for £37,990, or £5156 more than a discounted A35. That seems a hefty premium (no pun intended) to pay for driving an old model. Try that line on the salesman and see if you can get an appropriate discount on a nearly new A45 while they’re still around. Clash of the classifieds Brief: Find me a Tardis: a versatile, roomy but compact car for an active young family with an £8000 budget. Citroën Berlingo Multispace 1.6 HDi Plus, £7499: Many believe that an active family needs an SUV. Not so. The Berlingo’s boxy shape affords a remarkable amount of space for passengers and a 675-litre boot (with the seats up). There’s an ultra-low loading sill, too, and you won’t find an annoying transmission tunnel in the back, so this is a genuine five-seater. The sliding rear doors are a boon, especially in a multi-storey, and the hardy wipe-clean plastics will shrug off the abuse of an active lifestyle. All in all, it’s the perfect family car. Max Adams Skoda Yeti Outdoor 2.0 TDI, £8000: Every so often, a car comes along that defines its category with such nonchalance that it becomes almost iconic. In the land of the SUV, the Yeti is king. Underneath, it is a solid and dependable Volkswagen Group product and therefore a pleasure to drive and to own. Up top, it is an unconventionally styled 4x4 with a practical interior ideal for an active family. This is a 2014 diesel with a low mileage. It’s in Outdoor trim so you can take it off road and it’s bronze so it won’t show the mud. Mark Pearson Verdict: The head says Yeti but those Berlingos are seriously tough and roomy. Yes, it looks like a taxi but isn’t that what family cars are, when all’s said? Read more Alpina B7 2009-2015 review​ EU deals: cars to import while you can How to buy your first Ferrari​ View the full article
  10. New CX-30 touts Mazda's distinctive Kodo design language A walk around the show floor reveals an unexpected turning of the tables in terms of car design The Geneva motor show tells you how much change there is in the car business. You can sense the ground shifting. There’s the obvious stuff, like finding electric motors where engines would have been. Then there’s the non-obvious. The more nuanced, perhaps longer-term shifts. Some are defined by that move to electrification, as it lowers the cost of entry into car making. If developing a new internal combustion engine costs a billion pounds, you have to develop all sizes, with petrol and diesel variants, and an existing manufacturer won’t sell you theirs, that’s a several-billion-pound problem. If you can buy competitively efficient motors and batteries, it isn’t. Electric vehicle architecture itself opens up new possibilities. Motors can go front, rear or, perhaps eventually, in-wheel. Batteries tend to go under the floor. That can push car height upwards – a shame, because it encourages SUV-themes. But it also increases interior space, allows more creativity in external shaping and lets designers shine. And that heralds the biggest shift of all. As motors and chassis architecture become so ubiquitous that Volkswagen will even sell its platform for other companies to build their own body on it, design becomes ever more important. It’s the way to tell things apart. And of the designers who are shining, it’s not the premium car manufacturers who are doing it the brightest – Alfa Romeo perhaps excepted. But things are afoot in the middle ground. The little Fiat concept is sweet. Any Mazda is terrifically surfaced. And Peugeot and Citroën are finding a new groove. Peugeot design director Gilles Vidal told us cars of different sizes “shouldn’t have the same design, because they don’t mean the same thing”. And he’s right. A 508 looks good and the new 208 looks great and, while both identifiably Peugeots, they suggest they’re different. Compare and contrast to established German premium brands, who once had rarity on their side but now have prevalence. They once had engineering exclusivity on their side but then made it available for £170 a month. And they had interior plushness and the latest infotainment on their side, but then gave you the Audi A1’s plastic doorcards and you have a smartphone that’s cleverer. Which leaves design, where they are, in Vidal’s terms, “Russian dolls”. Is it, then, a surprise that, despite posting strong global volumes, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz sales slipped across Europe and the US last year? It’s too early to be talking about the death of premium. But BMW’s massive grille feels like the application of Botox or a chin lift. A reaction to the fading of the light. A fear. A scream from the threatened alpha male: don’t you know who I am? We do, but maybe, just maybe, it’s not only about you any more. Dress to impress It is not entirely unusual to be advised of a dress code for a product launch. Usually it’s ‘casual by day, smarter by night’. Nothing so dreary for DS, though, whose request, made apparently unaware that it was talking to a group of motoring journalists, was to come to the DS 3 Crossback launch wearing ‘casual chic’. I’ve no idea. But by the time you read this, I’ll have tried – so answers on a postcard will be too late. But if the posh branch of Citroën was to define itself by a dress code, I suppose ‘casual chic’ might be it. Who else, though, would do what else? Read more New Fiat Panda could launch as early as 2021 New Peugeot 208 revealed with petrol, diesel and EV choices​ DS 3 Crossback 2019 review​ View the full article
  11. First-generation GT86 has been on our roads since 2012 New coupé will be developed in partnership with Subaru to sit beneath the new Supra Toyota has said that the GT86 coupé will be replaced with a new second-generation model developed in conjunction with Subaru. The new version of the four-cylinder lightweight four-seater will sit beneath the recently launched six-cylinder Supra two-seater in an expanded line-up of Toyota sports cars, which will also make use of the firm’s GR Sport brand. Following the launch of the Supra, there were reports that the GT86 may not be replaced. Confirming that Toyota intends to develop a new GT86, European marketing boss Matt Harrison said it has been “a successful ‘halo’ product for us”. He added: “Supra is not to replace that car. They are for different audiences and are different products. We see a situation where they will sit alongside each other.” The original GT86, launched in 2011, was co-developed with Subaru alongside the BRZ. It uses Subaru’s flat-four Boxer engine and transmission, and Harrison said it was “a safe assumption” that the next-generation model would retain those links. Toyota has used partnerships to help offset the high costs of developing relatively low-volume sports car models, with the Supra developed alongside the BMW Z4. Toyota sees the GT86 and similar sports car models as powerful brand ambassadors, and company boss Akio Toyoda recently expressed a desire to build a full family of performance machines, in particular with its hot GR Sport line. Speaking about the GT86, Harrison added: “Its role is not one particularly about volume globally. It’s about adding excitement to the brand and emotional appeal. “The GT86 has definitely been successful for us in achieving that, particularly in markets like the UK.” Read more New Toyota Supra: 2019 UK allocation sells out​ Toyota Yaris Hybrid GR Sport 2019 review Toyota GT86 review View the full article
  12. Where the BMW X6 attracted ridicule when it was launched 12 years ago, the Cayenne Coupe feels right for the market In many regards Porsche has been slow to the coupe SUV market - after all, BMW has been there for more than a decade with the X6. But perhaps - as so often - Porsche’s timing with the launch of the Cayenne Coupe is spot on. Where early movers attracted ridicule, Porsche arrives as sales in the sector are taking off, and where global tastes - rather than the extremes of markets such as Russia and China - are open-minded to what’s on offer. The potential for widespread success is there for the taking. It’s clear, too, that Porsche have a well-resolved design to work with. Styling chief Michael Mauer says the Coupe sits far more comfortably with Porsche’s sports car heritage than the Cayenne itself, and he has a point: the raked windscreen and sloping roof are far more sports car-like, while the mildly widened rear track gives the appearance of the flared shoulders beloved by 911 aficionados. Little wonder that Porsche’s product planners predict that the Coupe will account for 25% of all Cayenne sales, which totalled just more than 74,000 cars in 2018, and which are expected to rise again off the back of this launch attracting yet more customers. It’s hard to believe, but the Cayenne was once the most controversial Porsche ever launched. Now the firm has landed a coupe variant with barely a naysayer raising a voice, and even those that do sated by the knowledge that the epic profits generated are being ploughed into safe-guarding the future of cars like the 911. View the full article
  13. Restyled version of sporting luxury SUV offers up to 542bhp and a 0-62mph time of 3.9sec The Porsche Cayenne Coupé has been revealed, with the rakishly restyled version of the brand’s largest SUV taking direct aim at the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE. Key styling changes include the adoption of a shallower windscreen and a more heavily curved roofline that extends back to form an integral part of a large liftback-style tailgate. Redesigned rear doors and wider bumpers increase overall width by 18mm, while the rear numberplate has been repositioned into the rear bumper. As with the regular Cayenne, the Cayenne Coupé has an active rear spoiler element. It works in combination with a roof spoiler, extending by 135mm at speeds above 56mph to provide added downforce. “The Coupé includes all the technical highlights of the current, third-generation Cayenne but has a design that is more progressive, athletic and emotional,” said Porsche boss Oliver Blume. Inside, the Cayenne Coupé has a four-seat layout with individual seats up front and a newly designed rear bench of two individual seats divided by a centre armrest. Customers can opt for a three-seat rear bench at no additional cost, however. Rear occupants sit 30mm lower than in the Cayenne, freeing up more rear head room despite the sloping roofline, according to Porsche. Boot capacity is put at 625 litres, rising to 1540 litres when the rear seats are folded down. This is 145 litres and 170 litres less than the Cayenne. The Cayenne Coupé Turbo has slightly less space, at 600 litres and 1510 litres. By comparison, the soon-to-be-replaced BMW X6 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé have 550 litres and 690 litres of boot space respectively. Up front, the dashboard, digital instrument display, touchscreen infotainment system and other controls are shared with the Cayenne. The Cayenne Coupé will be produced alongside that car at Porsche’s factory in Leipzig, Germany. The Cayenne Coupé also comes with a panoramic glass roof featuring a glazed area and integrated roller blind as standard. Buyers will also be able to specify it with a contoured, carbon-reinforced plastic roof similar in style to that featured on the 911 GT3 RS. The optional roof is available as part of one of three lightweight sports packages, which also include unique exterior design detailing, 22in wheels, carbonfibre and Alcantara interior trims and, on the Turbo model, a sports exhaust. The Cayenne Coupé will initially be sold with the choice of two petrol engines, although others, including a pair of petrol-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrains shared with the Panamera, are expected to be added to the line-up by the end of the year as part of Porsche’s electrification push. The entry-level Cayenne Coupé is powered by a turbocharged 2.9-litre petrol V6 producing 335bhp and 332lb ft of torque. In combination with a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox, it has a claimed 0-62mph time of 5.9sec and a top speed of 151mph. Official fuel economy is 30.4mpg and CO2 emissions are 212g/km. Further upmarket is the Turbo, which has a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre petrol V8. With 542bhp and 568lb ft of torque going through the same automatic gearbox, it has a claimed 0-62mph time of 3.9sec and a top speed of 178mph. Fuel economy is rated at 25.0mpg and CO2 emissions at 258g/km. The 567bhp twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre petrol V8-powered BMW X6 M and 577bhp twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre petrol V8-powered Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupé both have a claimed 0-62mph time of 4.2sec and a limited top speed of 155mph. Porsche is yet to detail the changes it has made to the Cayenne's suspension for the Coupé. However, it has confirmed that all models will receive speed-sensitive power steering, 20in alloy wheels, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), the Sport Chrono package, Park Assist and a rear-view camera as standard. Prices for the Cayenne Coupé start at £62,129, rising to £104,729 for the more comprehensively equipped Turbo model. Order books are open now ahead of first deliveries in May. Read more Porsche Cayenne review Electric Porsche Taycan will be crucial to UK range, says boss​ Porsche 911 Carrera 4S 2019 UK review​ View the full article
  14. Italian supercars like the Aventador might be most at home on a circuit, but they can be brilliant fun in the snow as well Most Lamborghinis are locked away for winter, but not all of them. Autocar's Dan Prosser has been driving a pair of very special Lamborghinis on snow and ice. One of them looks well-suited to cold weather terrain, the other not so much, but both prove capable of serious winter fun. First up is the original super-SUV, the Lamborghini LM002, followed by the outrageous Aventador SVJ at the Lamborghini Winter Accademia. READ MORE Next Aventador to be first hybrid V12 Lamborghini Lamborghini Aventador SVJ review New Lamborghini Huaracan Evo: updated 2019 supercar revealed View the full article
  15. The specially adapted Zoe EVs can return energy to the national grid Pilot scheme beginning today aims to cut electric vehicles' running costs and reduce energy usage Renault has launched a revolutionary pilot scheme that aims to prove the feasibility of vehicle-to-grid charging systems by placing energy storage units aboard electric vehicles (EVs). A fleet of Zoes have been adapted to enable reversible charging, which could help to bolster electricity supply at peak times. The system enables electric vehicles to stockpile energy supplies at times of low demand and then transfer electricity back to the grid when appropriate. By moderating power usage in this way, it could reduce strain on national electricity infrastructure, promote energy conservation and save its users money on running costs. The first trials begin today in the Dutch city of Utrecht, in partnership with We Drive Solar, and on the Portuguese island of Porto Santo, where the scheme is backed by energy supplier Empresa de Electricidade da Madeira. Renault plans to introduce 15 adapted Zoes across Europe throughout 2019, with tests scheduled to take place in France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark. According to the French car maker, the trials aim to “measure large-scale feasibility and potential gains”. Gilles Normand, Renault's director of electric vehicles, said: “Vehicle-to-grid charging is a key pillar of the smart electric ecosystems that Groupe Renault has set up. “We have chosen onboard technology that also optimises the cost of recharging stations and thus facilitates large-scale development.” A vehicle-to-grid charging system being developed by Nissan is similar in principle but necessitates the installation of an energy storage unit in EV owners’ homes rather than in the vehicles. Read more Electric car plans of every European car maker​ Nissan and UK government lead UK’s biggest vehicle-to-grid project​ National Grid plans 350kW EV charge point network​ View the full article
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