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The Motorists Guide

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  1. Former interim CEO Bram Schot named management board chairman as part of "cultural change" at the brand Audi has appointed Bram Schot, who took the role of interim CEO at the firm in June, as chairman of the board of management. Schot took the reins from former CEO Rupert Stadler in the summer after Stadler was imprisoned in connection with the Dieselgate emissions scandal. Stadler's employment was terminated with immediate effect, putting an end to his 28-year career at the company. Stadler was released from pre-trial detention in late October, despite a Munich court originally rejecting his appeal for release citing a "danger of obstructing justice". He remains a suspect, despite claiming to have no knowledge of the decision to install illegal emissions-cheating software in Audis and numerous other Volkswagen Group cars. Schot, who was born in the Netherlands, was formerly president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz's Italian operations, before moving to the VW Group. His previous role was head of marketing and sales for the brand's commercial vehicle arm. VW Group CEO and Audi supervisory board chairman Herbert Diess said in a statement: "With the appointment of a new chairman of the board of management, we have laid important groundwork for Audi’s future orientation. As interim CEO, Bram Schot has already done a convincing job in recent months. He is pushing forward with the cultural change in his team and is effectively tackling the current challenges." Read more Greed, lies and deception - the Dieselgate scandal laid bare Audi hit by £700 million fine for diesel emissions scandal Volkswagen: we'll continue to produce combustion engines after 2026 View the full article
  2. Mercedes-Benz aims to have 130 electrified model variants on sale by 2022, alongside electric vans, buses and trucks Daimler has taken a major step forward in its electrification strategy by ordering "more than €20 billion" worth of battery cells for EVs. The order, which is expected to see the Mercedes-Benz brand through to 2030, is part of a plan to have "130 electrified variants of Mercedes-Benz cars by 2022". Alongside this, the company confirms it will be selling electric vans, buses and trucks in the next four years. New Mercedes-Benz EQC: all-electric SUV revealed Daimler joins fellow German firms BMW and the VW Group in putting forward a multi-billion euro electrification plan, which will also see the brand investing in a global network of battery assembly plants, with three to be installed in Germany, one in China, one in Thailand and one in the US. It's not yet clear which companies will be supplying the latest order, but Daimler has contracts with a number of Korean and Chinese suppliers. Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche previously confirmed that it will offer an electrified version of every Mercedes-Benz and Smart by 2022 – but at the same time launched a defence of diesel engines. Speaking at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, Zetsche confirmed that Daimler’s Smart brand would offer an ell-electric range by the end of the decade. Zetsche added: “By 2022, we’ll have the entire Mercedes-Benz product portfolio in electrified version as well, to offer a maximum of choices for our consumers. The time is right.” Zetsche also echoed Volkswagen Group chairman Matthias Müller in arguing there was still a place for diesel engines. After admitting the German motor industry had suffered “a loss of trust” in the public view of its ability to provide sustainable mobility, Zetsche noted Daimler was investing €3bn on new diesel engine technology. Zetsche added that the firm had already developed what he called “the diesel of the future”, which he claimed had already overcome the concerns of the strongest critics. Zetsche said that the world “needed” diesel engines “to meet our climate targets”, and added his belief that “public discourse has become more rational” about such engines. Read more 1000bhp Mercedes-AMG Project one hypercar revealed Smart Vision EQ makes public debut Mercedes EQ S to be flagship in £9bn electric model blitz View the full article
  3. The Motorists Guide

    Dacia set to drop Renault badge

    Duster is one model to retain the Renault logo in some markets Design boss calls for complementary 'sensual' Renault and 'Germanic' Dacia brands Renault’s design boss, Laurens van den Acker, says the firm will phase out the use of Renault-badged Dacia models in certain markets – a move that he says will free up the Romanian brand’s cars to take on more individual designs. Dacia models such as the Duster, Logan, Sandero Stepway and Dokker are sold as Renaults in markets such as Russia, Mexico, South Africa and India. “My goal is to have a unique global Renault line-up,” said van den Acker. “Cars that are Renault derivatives of Dacias, I want that to stop. “I can’t argue with the business sense to do it, because Renaults were expensive for some markets and Dacias were relatively modern cars that were reliable and affordable, so we rebadged them. It helped us gain a foot in those markets. But now we start to sell more cars in markets such as Russia, we will start to differentiate.” The Russian-market Kaptur – which looks similar to the Captur SUV but is a larger car built on a Duster platform – was the first Renault developed specially for emerging markets, followed by the recently unveiled Arkana crossover. The one Renault-badged Dacia that will remain is the Duster because it is one of the firm’s bestselling cars in most markets, said van den Acker. The second-generation Duster is currently being introduced around the world. Van den Acker added that phasing out Renault-badged Dacia models will further liberate the design of future Dacias. He said that the “next-generation Dacia is going to be great”, adding: “We’ll try to be clever. I’m pushing Renault to be very Latin and sensual, and Dacia to be Germanic and robust. This strategy is working great for us.” Read more Dacia Duster review Megane-sized electric car crucial to Renault’s EV plans​ Renault Captur review View the full article
  4. The Motorists Guide

    BMW 3 Series 320d Sport 2019 review

    Seventh-gen BMW 3 Series has another big growth spurt, but size seems no obstacle for an engaging driving experience In our current era of identity politics, when some of the most powerful men and women on the planet think they’re entitled to their own facts as well as their own opinions, this is pretty small fry – and yet, as statements go, it's still a bit too revisionist for my liking.“The BMW 3 Series has epitomized the concept of sporty driving pleasure in the global premium mid-size class for more than 40 years.” That claim is contained within the press release on Munich’s new seventh-generation Three; in fact, it’s the opening line. But it’s not true.Similar lines of description were glibly repeated at the press launch of the ‘G20’ 3 Series a week or so ago, so prominently and so often that you almost questioned your instinct to query them. So when did the BMW 3 Series become ‘mid-size’? Hasn’t it spent most of its famous 40-year history being the world’s defining compact executive saloon? Wasn't the original version small enough that Munich didn't even consider it worthy of back doors?Well, whatever. Apparently, by BMW’s own say so, it’s ‘mid-size’. It’s not clear when the shift happened exactly, although I’ve got a reasonable idea why. But what might it mean now, you may very well wonder, for the character of a car so many of us Brits have come to know better than that of almost any other German car in the world? That's what we're here to find out.This latest ‘G20’ 3 Series is the first to tip-toe over the 4.7-metre mark on overall length – and, within its own particular executive saloon niche, only the current Audi A4 is longer. The three-inch growth spurt that the 3 Series has been through is actually the second significant one in as many big redesigns. The car now sits between BMW’s second- and third-generation 5 Series on overall length. Interestingly, though, it has put on more at-the-kerb centimetres over the past two major model overhauls than it did cummulatively over its first five full model generations. So if you're inclined just to shrug and say "ah well; modern cars are just bigger, aren't they?", consider that this one has grown more in the past seven years of its history than it did in the preceeding 36.It’s partly the existence of the 1 Series that has freed BMW’s hand to add inches to what remains its biggest-selling model globally – but it’s mostly one critical, commercial reality: that China has, of late, become the biggest market in the world for this car, and now approaches three times the size and importance of the car’s next biggest single global market territory. China clearly wants the 3 Series big (let's not forget there's also a long-wheelbase version pretty much just for that market). And China quite evidently gets what it wants, even if that means buyers elsewhere in the world, so familiar with the just-so proportions of the ‘E30’ and ‘E46’, get a new car that looks, in profile, just a little bit as if a foot pump had been taken to its cabin. At least, it does to me.Might that also be why the ‘G30’ has slightly more dressy, busy-looking body surfacing than the last Three, I wonder, as well as a bigger kidney grille that's right on the limit of appearing deliberately oversized? Does BMW’s market research suggest China will prefer the car like that? Now I’m being unkind as well as pedantic, and also generalising, I know – but I rather suspect so.View the full article
  5. Top-of-the-range 3-Series has urgent pace and proper M car-level involvement Anyone who's been waiting for just the right opportunity to announce his own Patridgian command of the history of the BMW 3 Series may know the gospel truth on this one, and so I stand to be corrected, commenters.But now may very well be the first time since 1977 that BMW finds itself without a rear-driven, straight six petrol-powered version of the 3 Series with which to tempt self-confessed petrolheads and aspiring executive managers alike.Does that seem as odd to you as it does to me? And might it put off a few keener drivers shopping at the upper end of the model range?Previous test experience suggests the 255bhp turbocharged four-pot in the 330i is certainly no second-rate motor, and neither, for that matter, will the diesel straight-six in the 330d be.Even so, you can’t help feeling that there’s something about the enduring driver appeal of the 3 Series that has for so long depended – at an increasingly rarified level perhaps, but nonetheless at some level – on the combination of ‘standard drive’ and an equally powerful and smooth inline six-cylinder petrol engine. And that something would seem to heap rather a lot of pressure on the M340i xDrive - soon to become, for a few years at least, the headline M Performance act in the 3 Series range - to really deliver as a driver’s car.The M340i xDrive won’t join the range until the middle of next year, but BMW allowed us to sample it in as-good-as-finished prototype form at the 3 Series’ international press launch recently. And guess what? There’s nothing to worry after all. Clearly not at all by coincidence, this is a four-wheel-drive 3 Series that handles with all the balance, poise and throttle adjustability that you would expect of a rear-driven one.Having already shown that four-wheel drive needn’t be the slightest barrier to the vivid enjoyment of its full-fat M Division cars, BMW is now doing the same with some of its one-rung-lower M Performance models. These cars might not have dedicated 2WD modes, unlike the current M5, but if the new M340i’s any guide, they won’t need them.View the full article
  6. BMW’s latest compact executive icon gets tested in volume-selling 320D and range-topping M340i guises BMW has sold more than 15 million examples of the 3 Series since the car’s 1975 introduction. It is both talisman and bread and butter for the brand, and it's now entering a seventh full model generation. The new G20 version, on sale in the UK in March 2019, will come with a familiar choice of engines & trims. Watch our video review for impressions of the big-selling 320d on the road and of the range-topping M340i xDrive on track at Portimão. READ MORE BMW 3 Series 320d Sport 2019 review New BMW 3 Series launched with renewed driver focus BMW 3 Series M340i 2019 prototype review View the full article
  7. The Motorists Guide

    Cupra Ateca 2018 UK review

    Has some pace and precision, and the usual crossover practicalities, but doesn’t have the hallmarks of a great driver’s car. The Cupra Ateca is the first instalment in a new line of performance derivatives from Spanish car firm Seat, all of which will be sold without Seat badges. From here on out, top-of-the-line sporting models from the VW Group’s Iberian outpost will simply be badged ‘Cupra’. As far as anyone knows, however, they will continue to be factory-tuned versions of existing Seat cars rather than entirely distinct models.So does such a move from a southern European volume car maker sound familiar? Well, it should. Because when Fiat stopped using its Abarth nameplate like Volkswagen uses ‘GTI’ or like Honda uses ‘Type R’ and instead set it up as a brand in its own right, it tried something very similar to what Seat is trying now. The first CEO to be installed at the fully-fledged and restored Abarth company was ex-Fiat boss Luca de Meo, appointed some 11 years ago now. And yet, despite its history and having built one or two interesting performance cars since its modern renaissance, Abarth is arguably still in the process of re-establishing itself as a discrete modern car brand today.So, with a product strategy similar to that of Abarth’s but less history to leverage, how long will it be until we get used to the idea of dropping the ‘Seat’ bit from Seat Cupra? Someone ask Luca de Meo – who’s been president of Seat since 2015. He’s done all this before, after all – and it’ll be interesting to watch how his current employer does things differently from his old one.Is it a smart move, for instance, to launch a performance car brand with a warmed-over version of a crossover hatchback? For marketability’s sake it might well be, even if it might have chosen differently to produce instant creditability among performance car aficionados. Crossover hatchbacks are hugely popular, after all – and the Cupra Ateca is one of the first to offer a potentially sporting driving experience packaged along with all of the familiar crossover advantages: space, convenience, and in this particular case four-wheel drive.The car uses much the same ‘EA888’ 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox and Haldex four-wheel-drive system as the current VW Golf R; but with 296bhp on tap it’s slightly less powerful than the Golf, and being a crossover it’s got a higher centre of gravity and is carrying a hundred-and-something-kilogram relative weight penalty around with it.View the full article
  8. South Korean manufacturer is aiming to take a lead in fuel cell technology - and not just for cars The Hyundai Motor Group will invest £5.5 billion in developing hydrogen fuel cell technology, as part of plans to vastly increase the number of cars it sells that use the powertrain. The Korean firm, which presides over Hyundai, Genesis and Kia, is one of the major proponents of fuel cell powertrains, which combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, with water the only byproduct. Hyundai expects global demand for fuel cell powertrains to grow to around two million units per year by 2030, and to capitalise on this is planning a major investment in both research and expanding its hydrogen facilities. This includes expanding its fuel cell system production capacity to 700,000 units per year, with plans to build up to 500,000 fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) per year, for both passenger and commercial purposes. The group is also aiming to use fuel cell systems to power other vehicles, including drones, ships and forklift trucks, and for other uses, such as power generation and storage. “We will expand our role beyond the automotive transportation sector and play a pivotal role in global society’s transformation to clean energy by helping make hydrogen an economically viable energy source,” said Hyundai Motor Group vice chairman Eui-sun Chung. The group launched its first machine built on a dedicated fuel cell architecture, the Hyundai Nexo, earlier this year, following the ix35 Fuel Cell from 2013. Kia is set to launch its own FCEV using the platform in 2021. Take-up of hydrogen vehicles has been relatively slow due to their high costs (the Nexo is likely to cost £65,000 when it goes on sale in the UK next year), but the powertrain system benefits from economies of scale due to the costs of buying some of the key materials needed, so increasing volume should reduce prices. Part of the group's FCEV Vision 2030 plan is the construction of a new fuel cell system plant in Chungju, South Korea, which will help the Hyundai Mobis parts supply firm increase its output of the systems from 3000 to 40,000 units by 2022. In June, Hyundai Motor Group reached an agreement with the Volkswagen Group to develop hydrogen technology collaboratively. Read more Hyundai Motor Group and Volkswagen Group team up to develop hydrogen technology John O'Groats to Lands End in a hydrogen fuel cell Toyota Mirai Hyundai Nexo UK first drive View the full article
  9. Porsche will add both mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants of the new 911 during the sports car's seven-year lifecycle Porsche has futureproofed its new eighth-generation 911 with a series of engineering measures that will allow it to support both mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrains during its planned seven-year lifecycle, according to its head of sports car development, August Achleitner. Although the 992-series 911 will initially be offered with an updated version of the old model’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre flat six petrol engine, delivering 444bhp in both rear-wheel drive Carrera S and four-wheel drive Carrera 4S models, Achleitner has confirmed that development is progressing on a hybridised version that will provide the iconic sports car with the capability to run exclusively on electric power for limited distances. New 2019 Porsche 911: eighth generation sports car revealed “We’ve taken the experience we gained with hybrid versions of the Cayenne and Panamera, as well as the 918 Spyder, and applied it to the new 911," Achleitner said. "In the future, this will allow us to offer it with pure-electric capability.” Despite its famously tight mechanical packaging, Porsche has successfully modified the rear-mounted drivetrain of the 911 to allow the housing of a disc-shaped electric motor within the rear section of its eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Key among the changes enabling this is a brand-new gearset similar to that already used by the second-generation Panamera and Cayenne. Achleitner, who is set to retire at the end of 2018, says the new gearset is almost 100mm shorter than the old one, providing space in the rear of the gearbox to house the motor. As well as adopting a new gearset, the ZF-produced eight-speed PDK unit also has a higher torque rating than its predecessor at “over 800Nm [500lb ft]”, in a move that Achleitner says is necessary to allow the 911 hybrid to handle the strong torque loading of the motor. The 911’s four-wheel drive system has also been reworked to allow up to 50% of drive to be apportioned to the front wheels. A further change centres around the brake booster. Similar to that used by the discontinued 918 Spyder, it forgoes the electromechanical operation of the previous 911's unit for a fully electric set-up. This allows a much more significant recuperation of energy, both under braking and on the overrun. Achleitner wouldn’t be drawn on the specification of the petrol-electric hybrid 911, but he points to the Panamera S E-Hybrid as a performance reference. The more powerful of two hybrid Panamera models, this has an electric motor developing 134bhp and 218lb ft. This is combined with the 542bhp and 568lb ft of its twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine to provide an overall system output of 671bhp and 626lb ft. Applying the power and torque developed by the Panamera S E Hybrid’s electric motor to the new 911 Carrera S would provide it with a theoretical system output of 578bhp and 686lb ft – some 21bhp less but a significant 133lb ft more than the previous-generation 911 Turbo S. This model had a claimed 0-62mph time of 2.9sec and top speed of 205mph. The battery used to power the electric motor in the 911 hybrid is expected to be housed within the front. Despite bringing added weight, this is expected to greatly improve the weight distribution of standard petrol engine-only versions of the new 911, which is put at 39:61 in the initial 1515kg Carrera S model. The lithium ion battery used by the Panamera S E-Hybrid has a capacity of 14.1kWh, sufficient to provide the 2410kg five-door liftback with an official electric-only driving range of up to 31 miles on the old NEDC test procedure. Another advantage brought by the adoption of a battery pack in the front of the 911 is a reduction in the centre of gravity. Nothing is official at this stage, but insiders suggest early 911 hybrid prototype mules feature a smaller fuel tank than conventional models, allowing the battery to be mounted low down within the car's front end. Read more: First ride: Porsche 911 2019 prototype Porsche 911 GT3 spied in near-production bodywork View the full article
  10. Volkswagen's family saloon and estate have been caught winter testing ahead of the car's mid-2019 unveiling Volkswagen is due to follow next year's reveal of the Golf Mk8 with an updated Passat range, and new spyshots show the car being put through its paces. Test mules for the Ford Mondeo rival are hard at work cold weather testing in the Arctic circle, and a number of tweaks to the exterior are hidden behind camouflage. The front-end will be brought into line with the yet-to-be-revealed Golf, so expect reprofiled headlights and new grille and bumper designs. At the rear, redesigned tail-lamps will feature. Inside the Passat will benefit from VW's latest infotainment system, found in the facelifted current Golf and new Touareg. It's larger, more feature-packed and brings gesture control. Expect the usual trim and material revisions, too, but it's likely Volkswagen's wide-reaching cost-cutting plan will reduce the number of trim level and engine choices. Speaking of engines, we know for sure that VW will be drafting in the firm's new 1.5 TSI Evo petrol engine in place of the old 1.4. It's plausible that diesel engine choice may shrink, although the fleet-heavy mix of Passat sales means it's still expected to be the volume fuel. One way VW intends to decrease the Passat's CO2 emission rating is by offering the plug-in hybrid powertrain in cheaper variants than the existing GTE version, which was a victim of the WLTP emissions regulation change. The powertrain itself will receive minor improvements including a larger lithium-ion battery, allowing for a greater all-electric range. It's also likely that VW will integrate 48v mild hybrid tech into certain variants, as it will on the next Golf. Read more: 2019 Volkswagen Golf Mk8: All the details of next-gen hatchback Volkswagen ID Lounge: Luxury SUV will lead electric line-up View the full article
  11. Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up this week's gossip from across the automotive industry This week's gossip from the automotive industry brings news of challenges facing Kia's upcoming electric cars, the impact an electric delivery van like VW's Buzz Cargo concept could make to emissions, and possible powertrains for any future Bugatti hypercars. Can Kia keep up? Kia reckons the biggest setback for its new electric crossovers, the Soul EV and e-Niro, in the UK won’t be demand but battery supply. Representatives for the firm reckon they won’t get hold of more than 1000 examples of the e-Niro in the first full year of it going on sale, while Soul EV numbers are yet to be decided as production capacity for the battery packs could increase. Will Volkswagen deliver? Volkswagen revealed some interesting stats at the Los Angeles motor show off the back of the US debut of the electric ID Buzz Cargo concept. It said the American population had 11.7 billion parcels delivered last year – an average of 37 each – delivered by vans that contribute some 17% of the nation’s pollution and congestion, hitting home the need for electrification. The face of future Audis Get used to seeing that big black front end, previewed with the E-tron GT concept on future electric-powered Audis. It plays a dual role of providing visual differentiation from Audi’s convention models, but also the ability to hide the various black sensors for the variety of autonomous assist features. Bugatti’s perfect powertrain Bugatti boss Stefan Winkelmann says the brand will electrify its models when the technology is mature enough to support its demands for a truly “cutting-edge” powertrain. Pure EVs were hinted at as being preferable to hybrid solutions, but such a powertrain would currently not be able to support the speed and range necessary for a Chiron replacement without being too big and heavy. Read more Volkswagen ID Buzz Cargo van makes its motor show debut at LA​ Bugatti boss hints at second model line and hybrid Chiron plans The Kia e-Niro is an EV revolution View the full article
  12. Go beyond the plastic seat covers and tyre shine to find out when your new car was actually built Stringent sales quotas for dealerships mean age is not always as it seems when you buy from a showroom We don’t really do brand new cars in this column, for obvious reasons. But the thing is, when you go to the showroom and buy a shiny car, how brand new is it anyway? Three years after Saab officially died in 2011, new ones were still being registered in 2014. I have focused on this because reader Mr Brooks told me his tale of just such a vehicle, which seemed to have been left behind. “I thought I had bought a brand new Jeep Cherokee on 25 September 2015 only to discover that it was actually a 14-month-old car that had been parked in a compound with its brakes locked on,” he says. “The leather was shot and dried out and the brakes had to be replaced. The tyres had flat spots, too.” Of course, it all gets complicated and Jeep has a different view: that Mr Brooks knew how old the car was and benefited from a discount as a result. Mr Brooks refutes that and says it was only at the service when the brakes failed after 5000 miles that the workshop manager revealed just how old the Jeep actually was. This is a matter for FCA customer services, but the point is that, unless you have actually specced the new vehicle and waited for it to be built, then you don’t know how old the car you are buying really is. Dealers don’t like to have stock and usually they don’t have very much, because it costs them money. But they might have to over-order certain models because of allocations and that is when higher spec cars can end up in muddy fields. This means, unless it’s made crystal clear to you on what date the vehicle was actually made, it is always best to ask. The Vehicle Identification Number is the birth date and the dealer should be able to tell you when it left the factory and give you the opportunity to quiz them on what it has been up to in the intervening period. I would like to think that you are an avid enough Autocar reader to know about anorak stuff, like midlife model facelifts, engine upgrades and specification changes. Perhaps the best knowledge is what cars are not selling. Anyone who knows where the new, unsold vehicles are parked – usually it is airfields – will have an idea of which models need their age verified. Right now, sadly, it is JLR products among those clogging up the taxi lanes and you can get an XJ with more than £20,000 off. A couple of years ago, we did mention huge deals on pre-registered Jeeps and maybe that was a warning that might have helped Mr Brooks. What we almost bought this week Mercedes 190E: Those were the days – when brands such as Mercedes built bulletproof cars and made you pay extra for luxuries. This 1991 190E with 98,000 miles for a princely £1500 is a prime example. Imagine those springy seats, the click of the controls, the thunk of the body as you tap it and that reassuringly vocal four-pot. Misty-eyed? Us? Tales from Ruppert’s garage Mini Cooper, mileage - 102,445: The mileage has not changed because my oldest car hasn’t been anywhere recently. I had to go somewhere, though, and that was the machine shop to get the head back. That’s how I found myself at Engine and Diesel Services in Norwich, which was established in 1947. The job? Refacing the cylinder head and supplying a new cylinder head gasket. That all came to £86.44 including VAT. It looked pretty good, but as it was hygienically sealed in a plastic bag and getting foreign bodies into the waterways was how it all started, I just stuck it in the boot of the Baby Shark. Next stop, the workshop. Reader’s ride Austin A35: Steve Lee is a properly good mechanic who told me that my head gasket failure is a real rarity and it is usually merely faulty, or a bad rebuild. Well, he does know his A Series stuff and here’s the proof: “I have a 1959 Austin A35 running a turbocharged 1275 MG Midget engine, essentially the same engine as your Mini but mounted front to back. This engine runs 16 psi boost, has an 11-stud head and a standard MG Metro turbo head gasket and has never had any form of gasket trouble.” Readers’ questions Question: I want the clear, bright light of an LED headlight. Can I fit aftermarket LED headlights to my car and bring it up to date for little money? Rory Swift, Berwick Answer: Best not to, Rory. The MOT comes down hard on doctored lights. In the case of aftermarket high intensity discharge lights, for example, it insists they are installed in a light unit designed and approved for their use (in other words, the original one). If not, the tester is instructed to reject it. You can assume this rule also applies to LED headlights. It’s why you’ll see aftermarket ones advertised with the warning ‘Not road legal’ or ‘Off-road use only’. John Evans Question: What should I look for when choosing a car cover? Paul Smith, via email Answer: A timely question, Paul. With the typical garage now stacked with stuff too good to throw away but unlikely ever to be used, the treasured motor must take its chances on the driveway. So covering it is a good call and we’d recommend you consider the following when choosing one: ‘breathability’, protection against general knocks and scrapes, and robust ties and straps that will make it fit snugly so it doesn't rub the paint in a wind or, worse, blow away never to be seen again. John Evans Read more Up to 20% of new cars are pre-registered by dealers​ Winter car maintenance tips​ James Ruppert on used cars: how to snag a showroom star at a low price​ View the full article
  13. The fifth-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI is still a suitably impressive hot hatchback, but what should you look for on a sub-£5000 example? Of the seven generations of Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Mk5 (2004-08) ranks among the best. No – make that the best. Last year, this magazine reviewed all seven and declared a good used Mk5 superior to a Mk7 for performance per pound. Last time we looked, PistonHeads was showing a privately advertised 2005-reg three-door for £4950. The metallic grey car with VW BBS Monza alloy wheels has full service history and has done 86,000 miles. The current owner (its third) has had it three years and accounted for 18,000 of them so should know it inside out. He’s selling it with his personal numberplate. So far so tempting, but it’s worth pointing out a used Mk5’s typical trouble spots. Like rusty front wheel arches caused by sodden sound-deadening material, corroded BBS alloys, worn seat bolsters and irregular rear tyre wear caused by poor wheel geometry. Find a used Golf GTI on PistonHeads Turning to the engine, the camshafts can become noisy, a problem often caused by a worn cam follower. It upsets the fuel pump’s timing, allowing it to spray neat fuel over the camshafts. The inlet valves can coke up, preventing them seating properly and so increasing oil consumption. Ask the seller how much of the stuff it uses each month. The turbo can sound rough and lose pressure, reducing power by up to 50bhp. If you’ve driven a healthy GTI before, you’ll notice it. Both problems are caused by a failed diverter valve. If the engine idles badly and you can hear air escaping when you turn off the engine, the pressure control valve is up the creak. Best you know now before you hand over any readies. Alfa Romeo 159, £5995: Really, the rare 1.75 TBi is the one to have but this 159 2.2 JTS Ti saloon, registered in 2007 and with one owner, will do in its absence. It has done 59,000 miles, has a full service history and costs £5995. One thing: if that engine’s chain is noisy, run a mile. Fiat Multipla, £4495: The original Multipla must be a future classic MPV but it’s rare. Not so the facelifted version of 2004. We found a tidy, 2010-reg 1.9 JTD Eleganza with 55,000 miles. The body is just as usefully boxy as the original and no other MPV has such versatile seating. Westfield, £6250: Our recent Caterham buying guide set us thinking about the cheaper alternative, a Westfield. Seconds later, we found this narrow-bodied SE, a 1992-reg car powered by the superb Vauxhall C20XE engine. Check for signs of careful construction. BMW 745i, £3999: This cut-price alternative to our 740Ld long-term test car caught our eye. It’s a 2002 car with 81,000 miles and full service history. The 4.4-litre V8 produces 328bhp and can muster 0-62mph in 6.3sec. Economy is a reasonably impressive 25.9mpg, too. Auction watch Volkswagen XL1: This XL1 is sure to have created a stir when it went under the hammer recently. The slippery plug-in diesel hybrid, a 2015-reg car with next to no miles and registered to VW, made £103,167. It’s believed to be the first XL1 to be sold at auction. It’s not clear whether it was the same car being touted around VW dealers recently with a sticker price of £99,999. A VW dealer near Autocar’s offices had it on display for a while, but far from drawing a crowd, it sat ignored in the showroom while the punters crawled around the shiny new T-Roc alongside it. Get it while you can BMW 320d M Sport, price new - £38,310, price now - £31,990: Already, BMW’s 3 Series saloon configurator is set up for the new model that’s due to hit showrooms next March, which means time’s running out to bag a pre-reg bargain on a run-out model. Even so, we found one: a 2018/68-reg 320d M Sport in Sapphire Black with just 15 miles on the clock, priced at £31,990. The equivalent 2019 model is £38,310 out of the box, a price that includes the Technology pack. Both put out 190bhp but the newer car is quicker, cleaner and more economical. You pays your money… Clash of the classifieds Brief: Inspired by Dan Prosser’s cheap Nissan Micra, I want a £1000 banger. Vauxhall Vectra 3.2 V6, £995: Ordinarily, you’d buy a Vauxhall Vectra because it was cheap and you were desperate. But while this one is cheap, it is redeemed by a lusty 208bhp 3.2-litre V6, low mileage and a clean MOT. A Honda Prelude in good nick would be worth having, but Mark’s ropey and remarkably rusty example looks like it’ll be hiding all sorts of hidden horrors. No, I’d rather have this Vectra (can’t believe I said that) because it’s younger, faster and fitter than his pensionable Honda. Max Adams Honda Prelude 2.2 VTEC, £750: I know many found the looks of the Mk5 Prelude implausible but underneath that body is cause for much revelry. There’s that wonderful 2.2-litre VTEC engine that pumps out seamless power and revs to high heaven, for starters, and the car is sublime in corners, with ultra-responsive four-wheel steering and a centre of gravity so low that it’s located somewhere near Melbourne. At £750, it’s a bargain, and it’s an ’onda so you’ll have years of trouble-free motoring to come. Mark Pearson Verdict: That Honda Prelude is a special car and much cheaper to tax, but the rust… I’ll take the Vauxhall Vectra and hang the running costs. Read more Volkswagen Golf GTI: which generation beats them all?​ Used car buying guide: Volkswagen Golf GTI Volkswagen XL1 review​ View the full article
  14. Pininfarina claims its ultra-exclusive electric hypercar will break 250mph, releases images ahead of Geneva 2019 reveal Automobili Pininfarina has released new images of its upcoming electric hypercar, now officially called Battista, and claimed that the 1900bhp EV will be capable of over 250mph. Originally codenamed the PF0, the hypercar has been named after Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina, who founded the Italian design house in 1930. It's now run by Battista's grandson Paolo, who said it was a "dream come true" to launch such a car as a tribute. "My grandfather always had the vision that one day there would be a stand-alone range of Pininfarina-branded cars", he continued. With 'twice the output of a Formula 1 car', the Battista is set to be able to hit 62mph in less than 2.0sec and 186mph in less than 12.0sec. Automobili Pininfarina is referring to the model as "the most powerful Italian performance car ever". Michael Perschke, an ex-BMW and Audi boss and now Automobili Pininfarina’s CEO, says the Battista’s range will be at least 450km and the company will be looking at providing a charging system that can replenish the battery to 80% in just 40 minutes or even less. While Automobili Pininfarina’s head office is located in Munich, Germany, the Battista will be 'handmade in Italy' at the company facility on the outskirts of Turin. It's planned to go on sale in autumn 2020, priced between $2-2.5 million (around £1.6-2.0m). The car is built around a carbonfibre monocoque with the battery packs located both between the front seats and behind the rear bulkhead. Autocar understands that much of the battery and electric drive technology is being adapted from the Croatian company Rimac Automobili, which is 10% owned by Porsche Engineering Group. Sources also hinted that the final car will utilise brand-name equipment, such as braking systems and seats, from well-established high-end component makers. The business plan is for Automobili Pininfarina to produce the car ‘asset light’, leveraging existing technology and using technology partnerships rather than sinking huge sums into proprietary technology. Most of the company’s efforts will go into interior and exterior design and fit and finish. Turning such potentially fearsome performance into something useable in a road-legal car is the responsibility of ex-Formula 1 and Formula E driver Nick Heidfeld. Heidfeld competed in 183 F1 races over 11 years with six different teams and will be the main development driver for the Battista. Just 150 Battistas will be produced. Of the 50 cars allocated to the North American market, many have already been reserved after a mock-up was shown to potential buyers. Another 50 will be allocated to the European markets and 50 will be shared between the Middle East and Far East markets. A classic two-seat supercar with a long rear deck and short nose, Pininfarina insiders accept some aspects of the car’s design are reminiscent of Ferrari - particularly around the main cabin area - but say that is to be accepted considering how closely Pininfarina’s design arm works with the Maranello brand. However, Luca Borgogno, design boss at the Automobili Pininfarina division, says the Battista also marks the debut of a new design language, dubbed Pura, which will place an emphasis on elegance and simplicity, in reaction to the aggressively modernist aesthetic that currently holds sway in the supercar market. Although the Battista has five radiators, the cooling capacity needed for an EV would appear to be less onerous than for a combustion-engined hypercar, which means the exterior isn't dominated by large grilles and intakes. The main intakes - situated in front of the rear wheels - have been impressively well hidden as part of the styling. The full-size model seen by Autocar also had twin active rear spoilers, which can also act as an air brake, but these will be modified to act as single unit on the production car. Active aerodynamics also extend to the car’s nose, with whole of the upper section of the nose cone acting as a spoiler that can lift up. Along with a completely flat underbody, the Battista has an adjustable diffuser under the rear of the car. An interior mock-up showed a cabin dominated by two screens mounted high up on each side of the steering wheel, directly in the driver’s view. The Battista is likely to be the first of a number of cars from the new Automobili Pininfarina brand, which was launched after Anand Mahindra, owner of the Indian Mahindra group, bought more than 70% of parent Pininfarina SpA. Sources say that the Battista is intended to boost the Pininfarina badge as a stand-alone marque and that the company has already mapped out a three-stage production plan. The Battista be only the second series-produced car to wear the Pininfarina badge. The first was the original Fiat 124 Sport Spider which was sold as Pininfarina-badged model between 1983 and 1985, its final two years of production. Previously released sketches have previewed the car's all-carbonfibre design from the rear and interior, showing a minimalist and driver-focused layout for the two-seater. A video (below) shows Paolo Pininfarina describing the car's long-awaited launch as part of "an American dream". SUVs TO FOLLOW Previously referred to as Project Montana, Automobili Pininfarina will follow its top model (which was previewed by the H2 Speed, pictured below) with three SUVs that are all set to arrive within five years. The biggest, codenamed PF-One, will be a high-performance answer to the Lamborghini Urus. The other two will be rivals to the Porsche Cayenne and Porsche Macan respectively. All will use their own version of the same modular underpinnings. The fastest SUV will offer around 940bhp from a battery pack of about 140kWh, enabling a 0-62mph time of less than 3.0sec. Its smaller SUV siblings are likely to use lower-output versions of the same powertrain but their performance will still be at the sharp end of their segments. An insider told Autocar: “Pininfarina has always made very special cars, but usually for other people. When we have sold cars ourselves, like the Pininfarina Sergio [of which six were built in 2015 and sold for a reputed $3m each], we have always done very well. It is not difficult to see what the next step should be. The cars will be exclusive and very beautiful.” A source said that the Pininfarina car brand will be given an initial investment of $100m (about £71.6m) from Mahindra to fund the creation of its model range. Mahindra intends to invest a total of about £358m into Automobili Pininfarina over five years. The new brand will work independently of its parent’s EV division, Mahindra Electric, with operations based in Europe. FROM DESIGN HOUSE TO MANUFACTURER Pininfarina's new car brand comes after Paolo Pininfarina said at the 2018 Geneva motor show that he hoped the dream of his grandfather, company founder Battista Farina, to build cars would “come true in the not-distant future”. “Establishing Automobili Pininfarina as a leading sustainable luxury brand is our strategic vision and will be a dream come true," Perschke said. "It will combine 88 years of iconic design heritage with leading-edge electric vehicle competence of the Mahindra group and Mahindra Formula E racing. It’s a powerful combination." Perschke has more than 25 years of industry experience, and is joined at the helm by chief operating officer Per Svantesson, who has previously worked at Volvo. Speaking to Autocar, he said the company was embracing the challenge of creating Pininfarina’s first production car: “We’re aiming to do something new and modern, without losing the DNA of the company of doing timeless designs. Look at the Cisitalia: it’s 71 years old. “We want to make sure that years from now, people will look at the car and say: 'Wow, it’s beautiful.' That this the kind of design that will hold its timelessness in 30-50 years.” Read more New Pininfarina SUV and saloon designs to become first Vietnamese cars Pininfarina to launch electric super-SUV using Rivian tech Pininfarina H2 Speed concept to enter production as track-only hypercar View the full article
  15. The Motorists Guide

    Porsche Macan 2019 review

    The Macan has been the driver’s choice in its class for four straight years. Is this new one about to make it five? How important is the Macan to Porsche? I think the following, based on the most recent annual sales figures, answers the question nicely.Five years ago, Porsche didn’t have a Macan: last year, it outsold not just the 911, the 718 Boxster and Cayman and the Panamera, but also all of the above, combined. Fully 40% of all cars made by Porsche in 2017 were Macans.What’s more, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Almost all cars follow similar sales curves through their lives: a sharp spike when introduced followed by gentle decline as other, newer rivals become available. Not so the Macan. Launched in 2014, it has outsold itself in every consecutive year it has been on sale.So you can imagine that the briefing pack for those charged with developing this new Macan came with a command on the cover not to cock it up. Probably in gold embossed letters. I can conceive also that when it came to signing off the budget for this second-generation Macan, the phrase ‘don’t fix what ain’t broke’, or its Swabian equivalent, was wheeled out more than once. Which is why this new car plays it bullet straight.Unsurprisingly, then, the car is more refreshed than renewed. Visual changes – including the new wraparound rear lighting that has become part of the Porsche design motif, new bumpers and headlights, the grille and rear diffuser – are restricted to those that can be achieved without the massive retooling costs required for alterations to the body-in-white.Inside, you’ll find Porsche’s new corporate architecture or, at least, most of it. Analogue instruments are replaced by a 4.8in TFT screen, while Porsche’s 10.9in central touchscreen is now responsible for all information, navigation and entertainment functions. But it stops short of providing touch-sensitive panels for switchgear and continues to rely on buttons instead.Porsche has also filled the car with the latest electronic refinements such as LED headlights, a ‘traffic jam’ mode offering far better low-speed cruise control in stop-start traffic, impressive-sounding ‘swarm-based’ traffic data and a dedicated off-road navigation app.What you’ll not find in this or any of the other Macans that will be introduced over the next year or so is any kind of diesel engine. Porsche has turned its back on the black pump despite the fact that the latest diesels are as clean as petrol engines, come with torque characteristics ideal for SUVs and have far better fuel consumption and 20% lower levels of CO2 emissions. You might speculate that, post-Dieselgate, the suppliers to Porsche of such engines within the Volkswagen Group no longer enjoy the unquestioning confidence of Zuffenhausen, but I couldn’t possibly comment.Whatever the truth, the fact is that the absence of a diesel Macan when almost all its rivals remain faithful to the fuel is going to make its life harder, at least in the UK and mainland Europe, where diesel sales may be in decline but are still strong, especially in the high and heavy world of SUVs. Bear in mind, too, that unlike the Cayenne and Panamera, there will be no hybrid Macans in this generation to take up the slack.There will be a Macan S, with a 335bhp 3.0-litre V6 motor unrelated to the similarly sized engine in the outgoing car, and a 2.9-litre Macan Turbo with 434bhp (the smaller capacity due to a need for a stronger bottom end and therefore fractionally reduced stroke). Doubtless in time, there will be a GTS somewhere in the middle too. But all that’s for later.View the full article