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The Motorists Guide

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  1. It’s what’s inside that counts. In this case, the Fabia’s engine bay In around 12 months’ time, the all-new Fabia will arrive in Skoda showrooms. About time, too, since the current, third-generation model under discussion here will, by then, be six years old. Still, it has done a great job of connecting Skoda’s supermini with a younger audience. Being a Skoda, it’s a sturdy rather than plush motor but practical with a large boot and good rear cabin space; reliable, too, as its strong showing in surveys attests. It’s also great value. Prices start from around £4500 for a 2015-reg 1.0 MPI 60 S, the entry-level model. This version is okay for scooting around town, but the engine is underpowered and hobbled by being paired with a tallish five-speed gearbox. That didn’t stop it selling well from new, though, and there are lots to choose from all the way to 2018 when it was dropped at the facelift. There’s a punchier 74bhp version badged 1.0 MPI 75 (it survived the facelift), but it’s rare, presumably because the 1.2 TSI, with 89bhp or 108bhp, was only a bit more expensive per month on a PCP finance deal. Whatever the reason, these two 1.2 TSI engines are the ones to aim for, especially the 108bhp (badged 110) that comes with a sixspeed gearbox. A 2016-reg 1.2 TSI 110 SE with 50,000 miles costs around £6500 and the lower-powered but more plentiful 90 SE about £500 less. Which leaves the diesels. There are three, all 1.4s and producing 74bhp, 89bhp and 104bhp. We found a privately advertised 2015-reg 1.4 TDI SE 90 with 43,000 miles for just £4000 but, generally speaking, dealers ask from around £5500. It goes without saying that the diesels are best if your mileage is on the high side (they’ll do around 60mpg), but you’ll need to look hard for one, because they’re easily outnumbered by the petrols and were dropped with the 2018 facelift. You want an automatic gearbox? The Volkswagen Group’s excellent DSG dual-clutch is available with the 108bhp 1.2 TSI and 89bhp 1.4 TDI. They’re reasonably plentiful and a 2015-reg 1.2 TSI 110 DSG with 30,000 miles costs around £7600 at a Skoda dealer. In 2017, just before the facelift, the 1.2 TSI petrols were replaced by torquier and more efficient 1.0 TSI units making 94bhp and 108bhp. As before, the more powerful engine has a six-speed gearbox and is our favourite for its better all-round performance. Pay from £7000 for an approved used 2017-reg 1.0 TSI 95 with 26,000 miles. When it finally came, the facelift signalled the end of the 1.0 MPI 60 as well as both the diesel engines. The 1.0 MPI 75 was spared along with the new 1.0 TSI units. Meanwhile, the styling was tweaked and daytime running lights were added. SE-L trim was the biggest winner, gaining sat-nav and 16in alloys. Need to know Beware the pre-2018 facelift 1.0-litre, three-cylinder 59bhp and 74bhp MPI petrol engines – they’re cheap but underpowered. Hill-hold assist is an option on manuals but standard on the DSG. Look out for cars with useful options including the Simply Clever pack (a net system and extra storage in the boot and a small door-mounted waste bin). A variable boot floor was another option. Check the standard-issue ice scraper is in the fuel filler. Variable servicing means some Fabias may not have seen fresh oil for 20,000 miles or two years. In What Car?’s 2019 Reliability Survey, the Fabia came 10th out of 25 in the City and Small cars class. Our pick Skoda Fabia 1.2 TSI 110 SE: Not only is this 108bhp unit a sweet motor but it also has a six-speed gearbox where 89bhp versions of the same engine have the long-legged five-speeder that blunts performance. Wild card Skoda Fabia 1.0 MPI 60 S: Only wild in that this is the cheapest, slowest and least well-equipped Fabia of them all. Which is why, of all the versions, it best expresses the Skoda brand’s no-nonsense value. Ones we found 2015 1.0 MPI 60 S, 88,000 miles, £4390 2016 1.2 TSI 110 SE, 35,000 miles, £6495 2017 1.4 TDI 105 Monte Carlo, 25,000 miles, £9700 2019 1.0 TSI 95 SE, 20 miles, £12,495 READ MORE Skoda to showcase student-built Scala Spider New Skoda Octavia vRS gains 242bhp PHEV option for 2020 New Skoda Vision IN is bespoke SUV for Indian market View the full article
  2. Vision AVTR concept previewed Mercedes' ultra-green batteries Environmentally friendly compostable batteries could be coming to road cars – but not for 15 years Radical environmentally friendly organic batteries are a “very promising technology” being evaulated by Mercedes-Benz for future use in road cars – but it's at least 15 years away from mainstream production. The technology was previewed on the future-gazing Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR concept car unveiled earlier this year. Organic batteries are made from graphene-based organic-cell chemistry with a water-based electrolyte. That means they don't use any rare or toxic materials or metals, making them entirely recyclable through composting. Early testing shows they also offer both a high energy density and quick-charging capability. Andreas Hintennach, Mercedes' senior manager of battery research, said: “It’s a very promising technology. I’ve already seen it working in laboratories, where the results look really good, but we don’t see that it’s close to being used in production technology for now. It’s around 15-20 years away.” Mercedes-Benz has set a goal of becoming entirely carbon-neutral by 2039. To this end, it's researching a number of technologies to reduce the environmental impact of battery production – particularly by cutting down the use of controversial materials such as cobalt and lithium. All current electric vehicles, including the Mercedes-Benz EQC and the firm's other EVs, use lithium ion battery technology. Mercedes is working to improve the efficiency of lithium ion batteries – Hinnentach estimates that range could still be boosted by up to 25% – while evaluating a number of future technologies that it aims to introduce within the next 5-15 years. That includes solid-state batteries, but while Hinnentach said this tech “opens a lot of doors and windows”, he cautioned that “it’s not a magic solution”. He added: “Solid state adds lots of positive aspects. It’s not a miracle but would be a huge step forward.” Hinnentach added that a major current problem with solid-state batteries is long charging times, making them unsuitable for road cars. Mercedes is aiming to first introduce them into production in an eCitaro bus in the second half of this decade. Other technologies under investigation by Mercedes include lithium-metal anodes, lithium-sulphur batteries and lithium-oxygen batteries. Hinnentach said that all offer different benefits and drawbacks in terms of efficiency, density and weight. He noted that different battery types would likely be used in different vehicles, with lithium-sulphur, which is lighter than lithium ion, potentially allowing for vehicles to be fitted with smaller battery packs. Asked if there is a risk in pursuing multiple technologies, Hinnentach said: “It is challenging, but you need novel ideas. We need to be very focused on the future. "You do risk inefficiency by looking at multiple options, and not all will make it to market, but if you didn’t take risks in R&D by backing multiple horses, then you could end up losing. We’re also keeping the pipeline open for the future." READ MORE Mercedes-Benz reveals futuristic Vision AVTR concept car Toyota to reveal solid state battery-powered prototype in 2020 New Mercedes-Benz EQE electric saloon spied testing View the full article
  3. New prototype spy shots reveal styling tweaks for estate and bespoke details for hybrid version New prototypes of the facelifted BMW 5 Series have been caught revealing new details ahead of its scheduled launch later this year. The test mules wear the same disguise as those snapped by our photographers last year, but this is the first time we've seen the updated Touring variant being road tested. Like the saloon, it appears to gain only subtle tweaks to the front and rear, but we can see that hybrid versions will be told apart by a bespoke front bumper design, with a horizontal vane spanning the width of the lower air intake. Previous reports that BMW would significantly increase the size of the executive car's trademark kidney grille appear to be incorrect, as it looks to have grown more subtly than it did on the facelifted 7 Series. The move is part of a broader strategy at BMW that aims to give each model its own individual appearance, with the latest 3 Series sporting a different front-end look. Further design changes include redesigned headlights and a more heavily structured front bumper that incorporates newly designed air vents, including vertical air curtain ducts at the outer edges. Changes at the rear are likely to be less significant, although the plastic wrap adorning the spied prototypes hints at styling revisions to the tail-lights, rear bumper, tailpipes and area around the numberplate. Inside, the 5 Series is expected to receive new digital instrument graphics as well as a revised central display housing the infotainment functions. Today’s 5 Series will get BMW’s latest iDrive 7.0 operating system as part of a running change from this month onwards, suggesting the 2020 model will carry this on until the introduction of an iDrive 7.5 system in the eighth-generation 5 Series model due in 2023. The prototype displayed here is propelled by a plug-in hybrid powertrain, shown by the mandatory identification on its front doors as well as the flap for the charging port integrated into the front-left wing. The current G30 5 Series is already sold with a plug-in hybrid set-up in the 530e. This has a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor developing a combined 248bhp and providing an electric-only driving range of up to 40 miles. As part of a push to take its plug-in hybrid drivelines into the performance car class, BMW is said to be planning a new 545e model running the same set-up as the 745e. This would use a more powerful turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine and an electric motor making a combined 388bhp and yielding an electric-only range of up to 36 miles. In further developments, BMW plans to equip all petrol engines with a particulate filter, while the diesels will receive new selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology, according to Munich sources. Read more BMW details hydrogen plans including 369bhp powertrain BMW 3 Series 330e 2020 long-term review​ BMW continues to defend new styling direction View the full article
  4. Pro drivers faced pro gamers in The Race All-Star Esports Battle last week Virtual racing is becoming intrinsic to F1, with stars like Lando Norris using sims to sharpen their skills and racers transitioning from gaming to real-life cars Nothing seems real right now, so it’s somehow fitting that motorsport offers a comforting distraction from our grim plight in a made-up dream world. What’s new, eh? Quiet at the back… To the millions already tuned in, virtual or ‘sim’ racing was already a well-established and lucrative self-sustaining universe, but with real life on hold, it has suddenly burst into the mainstream. “How many nights does it take to be an overnight success?” as Torque Esports boss Darren Cox rhetorically puts it. Formula 1 stars Lando Norris and Max Verstappen were catalysts for the craze when they entered a couple of sim races on the weekend when they should have been lining up on the grid for the real Australian Grand Prix. But the reality is the pair, along with an increasingly large percentage of their fellow professionals, weren’t doing anything they don’t usually do. Online racing is increasingly part of the racing driver existence, and not just for the youngsters. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and seven-time F1 grand prix winner Juan Pablo Montoya, 44, has years of sim racing experience. “It certainly keeps you sharp. Both myself and my son Sebastian use sim racing in our real-world training and preparation,” he exclusively told Autocar. “The tools we have available are quite remarkable and it’s considerably cheaper than actually going testing on-track for real. “Racing is in our DNA, so whether I’m competing for real or racing in a virtual event, I still want to win. Sebastian is now very fast on the sim and we’re very close in competition – but I certainly don’t want to let him win. “Normally, you only get to race on weekends; with sim racing, you can be racing every day of the week.” The burst of wellpublicised sim activity on the Aussie GP weekend attracted telephone-number viewing figures.And predictably, by the following weekend, when the Bahrain GP should have been happening, F1 was running its own virtual race ‘in Sakhir’, while Nascar was also getting in on the act. While the ‘real’ racing drivers naturally drew the interest, sim professionals more than held their own – although it was Renault Academy and Formula 2 racer Guanyu Zhou who won the first official Formula 1 GP that didn’t actually happen. Montoya has long had respectfor the racers he encounters online. “I was a coach on the World’s Fastest Gamer competition last year and was massively impressed with the talent,” he says. “Over 12 days, we put 10 gamers through all sorts of virtual and real-world tests. “James Baldwin was the guy who came out on top [he will this year be racing in the real world for Jenson Button’s GT World Challenge Europe team], but on any given day there are a lot of gamers who have the raw skills to become real-world racing drivers.” Not just a game It’s hard to take the racing too seriously, especially when Norris suffered a tech problem during the formation lap for the virtual Bahrain GP that left his car running on autopilot for half the race – and he still finished in fifth place. But as Montoya points out, there’s still a link between ‘gaming’ and the serious simulator development work that every F1 team today invests so heavily in. “When I first went to F1 with Williams [in 2001], we were just developing the sim, and then when I was at McLaren, they already did a lot of sim work,” he says. “Now all teams in professional motorsport use simulators to help move their programmes forward. The sims are so good that many of the programmes use a specific platform to develop the car, and they are the same that are used in sim racing.” “It’s very realistic,” Montoya insists. “In building the virtual tracks, they laser-scan every inch of the road – every bump you feel for real, you feel in the game. The cars are also remarkably close. “The only difference in real life is you have the fear: in the game, you can hit the reset button and try again, whereas in real life there can be massive consequences if you make a mistake. “It doesn’t replace being in a real car 100%, but it’s a lot better than just sitting on the couch, waiting for this unfortunate situation to end.” The stuff of Hollywood Will this spell in the limelight help push more gamers from virtual to real-life racing? Perhaps. It has already been done plenty of times before. Reigning World Touring Car Cup champion Norbert Michelisz was a pioneering convert, as was Briton Jann Mardenborough, who was discovered through Nissan’s PlayStation-supported GT Academy. The 28-year-old has apparently now signed a Hollywood movie deal to tell his story. His manager, Darren Cox, was a founder of the GT Academy during his time at Nissan and was behind the sim race that Verstappen took part in on the Australian GP weekend. Understandably, he’s protective of his thriving industry now that it’s hitting the mainstream. “It’s Wayne’s World,” he says. “When Wayne was in his basement, his show was cool and everyone thought he was funny. Then the big TV executive bought it, stuck him in a studio and it was rubbish. That’s the danger: you get the over-polished F1 replica. So we have to avoid ‘Wayne’s World syndrome’. If you watched Lando’s feed [during the Veloce-run race], he was swearing. Can you imagine that? No one was bleeping it out.” Esports motor racing is more than just a fad; it’s too well-established to be that. And as Cox points out, racing drivers might now have ‘virtual’ clauses in their F1 contracts to sim race for more than just off-duty fun. This opportunistic explosion of interest could have lasting consequences once we all return to what counts as our ‘real’ world. READ MORE Racing lines: Pure ETCR's deep digs at Formula E Racing lines: F1 pulls in the public; car makers? Not so much Racing lines: New year, new deals - welcome to F1's 'silly season' View the full article
  5. Giulietta's time is at an end Upcoming Tonale SUV is indirect replacement for hatchback, says Italian maker The Alfa Romeo Giulietta will be axed later this year as the Italian maker focuses on expanding its more profitable SUV line-up. The hatchback was not included in plans for the brand detailed late last year, but its off-sale date had not been confirmed until now. Fabio Migliavacca said: “Giulietta is expected to finish its life at the end of this year. The trend is to have SUVs in the C-segment, so the Tonale SUV will be the replacement for Giulietta.” He added that Alfa Romeo was focused on ensuring the upcoming Tonale would have the same driving dynamics as the Giulietta despite being an SUV. “We don’t expect driving dynamics to be a weak point for the Tonale,” he said. The Giulietta, launched in 2010, has struggled to find sales in recent years. Last year, it sold 15,690 units in Europe, compared with 78,911 in 2011, its best-selling year. Meanwhile, the Tonale (above), which has already been seen in concept form and through leaked images, is expected to be revealed officially this year, although the coronavirus pandemic may well delay its launch. The Tonale will sit below the Stelvio in Alfa Romeo’s SUV range and will be the brand’s first plug-in hybrid, employing a similar set-up to the upcoming Jeep Compass PHEV, which is promising an electric-only range of 30 miles. Migliavacca said that although the plug-in hybrid Tonale will have commonalities with its Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) stablemate at Jeep, it will still be an Alfa Romeo: “For the performance side of things, it will be an Alfa Romeo. Every single brand in FCA keeps its identity even with shared elements.” READ MORE New Alfa Romeo Tonale: 2020 production car leaks online Alfa Romeo scraps plans for new GTV and 8C models New Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA is firm's most powerful model yet View the full article
  6. A quick, classy and quiet electric SUV that builds on the solid foundations of its more upright sibling This is the car with which Audi is aiming to challenge the Jaguar I-Pace for zero-emissions SUV driving honours.The E-tron Sportback 55 quattro, as its name suggests, is a more sporting version of the E-tron 55 quattro that has been on sale here since mid-2019. Outwardly, it’s distinguished from its sibling by a more heavily curved, coupé-like roofline and liftback-style tailgate, among other subtle changes, including more aggressively styled bumpers and headlights using Audi’s new digital matrix LED technology.Together, these alterations provide the E-tron Sportback with a shapely profile similar in style and detailing to the Elaine concept that Audi unveiled three years ago.Sharing certain exterior design elements with conventionally powered Audi models, it’s perhaps not as distinctive as the I-Pace. But with a drag coefficient of just 0.25Cd, it’s among the most aerodynamically efficient series-production SUVs yet, beating the Jaguar in this crucial area by a considerable 0.4Cd margin. This is thanks in part to the availability of ‘virtual exterior mirrors’, which use a camera to project a live video feed on the forward part of the doors inside.The changes to the cabin over the regular E-tron are slight, but that’s no bad thing. In terms of attractiveness, perceived quality and tactility, the dashboard, controls and trim materials are all premium in nature.The optional front sports seats are firm and supportive, setting up a pleasantly roomy and airy driving environment. However, accommodation in the rear is compromised to the tune of 20mm by that plunging roofline.The adoption of a more heavily angled tailgate also reduces boot capacity by 45 litres over the E-tron, at 615 litres. Even so, it’s still quite versatile, with 58 litres more than the I-Pace. Like the E-tron (alongside which it’s produced at Audi’s factory in Brussels, Belgium), the E-tron Sportback is based on a modified version of the MLB Evo platform, housing between its axles a sizeable 95kWh lithium ion battery made up of cells supplied by LG Chem.At 4901mm long, 1935mm wide and 1616mm tall, the E-tron Sportback is 85mm shorter, 60mm narrower and a considerable 89mm lower than Audi’s conventionally powered flagship SUV, the Q8.The drivetrain is borrowed wholly from the E-tron. It uses two differently specified asynchronous electric motors, one sitting up front that produces peaks of 181bhp and 182lb ft of torque and a second at the rear making 221bhp and 232lb ft.Together, they provide a maximum system output of 402bhp and 490lb ft for limited periods of up to eight seconds in Boost mode, which is activated by slotting the gear selector into S. In D, the combined output of the motors is reduced to a milder 355bhp and 414lb ft to help increase efficiency and consequently extend the range between charges. The I-Pace’s two motors, by way of comparison, deliver a maximum combined 394bhp and 512lb ft.Power is sent to all four wheels via a single-speed gearbox attached to each motor and networked via a central power electrics system. In a key departure from its more practical sister, however, the E-tron Sportback features a decoupling mechanism between its front and rear axles.This enables it to send its drive exclusively to the rear wheels in everyday driving in D, giving it an additional seven miles of range over the E-tron, at 278 miles. It’s only when you call up greater reserves via the kickdown function in S that the other motor is called upon and the front wheels begin to do the driving.View the full article
  7. Aston Martin is confirmed as rebranded Racing Point Formula 1 team for 2021 and team boss and chairman explains what it means Aston Martin's path to Formula 1 was officially secured on 30 March under new shareholder investment, including from a consortium lead by new executive chairman Lawrence Stroll. The 2021 F1 season will see Aston return to the grid as a works F1 team operating from the team's base in Silverstone. The move is effectively a rebrand of Stroll's existing Racing Point team. Aston Martin Lagonda approved a £536 million fundraising round on Monday, underpinned by an injection of £260m of new capital from Yew Tree Consortium - a group of investors led by Stroll. The current Racing Point team today released a statement detailing the importance of a Formula 1 to the Aston brand. "There is no better way to build the Aston Martin brand globally, and to engage with its customer base, than to have a successful works team in Formula 1. The sport demands excellence in design and engineering, and relentless innovation, much of which will be shared with the engineering and development teams at Gaydon and will progressively be incorporated into the future generations of cars, particularly the planned range of mid-engine cars." The statement confirms work has begun "to lay the foundations for the success of the team, the development of the cars and the building of the brand globally". This is despite the whole sport coming to a halt during the coronavirus pandemic, allowing a number of teams to join the effort to develop and build hospital ventilators. Racing Point released a Q&A with Lawrence Stroll discussing the Aston deal and its future in F1. Q&A with Lawrence Stroll Events have developed quickly over the last few months, but you must be delighted to have officially completed the process. “The process of investing in this wonderful car brand has required all of my attention and energy for a number of months. There were certainly some sleepless nights. At the same time, it has been one of the most exciting deals in which I’ve ever been involved. Cars are my passion, a huge part of my life, and Aston Martin has always had a special place in my heart. "To stand here today and announce that the agreement is finalised is a huge privilege and one of the proudest moments of my career. With all the paperwork completed, I can focus my attention on implementing the strategy to make this fantastic brand even more successful in the years ahead.” Formula 1 is an important part of the strategy and you have confirmed the Racing Point team will be known as Aston Martin F1 Team from 2021. “A brand with the pedigree and history of Aston Martin needs to be competing at the highest level of motorsport. I think it’s the most exciting thing that’s happened in recent memory in Formula 1 and it’s incredibly exciting for all stakeholders in the sport, especially the fans. I can’t think of a better name for a Formula 1 team. "Our investment strategy places Formula 1 as a central pillar of the global marketing strategy, and it makes perfect sense to rebrand Racing Point for this purpose. Aston Martin has been competing very successfully in various classes of motorsport throughout its history, but we now have an opportunity to create a works team in Formula 1. The global spotlight of Formula 1 is second to none and we will leverage this reach to showcase the Aston Martin brand in our key markets.” You’re also keen to leverage the technology of F1 competition for the Aston Martin road cars. “This is another important part of the strategy. Not only does Formula 1 help elevate the brand, it opens up the opportunity for technology cross-over. I’m incredibly excited to see what technology can filter down from the racing programme into the road cars. This will be particularly relevant for the mid-engine road cars that will be launched in the future. There will be a genuine collaboration to ensure that our road cars share the DNA of our success on the track as well.” What is likely to change at Silverstone over the coming 12 months? “The group of men and women at Silverstone are true racers and their determination and spirit is one of the main reasons I invested in the Formula 1 team. After 30 years, they deserve this opportunity to represent this legendary brand. We are continuing to invest in the team to give everybody the resources required and we will see the benefit of those efforts this year as Racing Point. "With the Aston name comes more pressure and expectation. We will need to be competitive from the outset. But I have no doubt the team at Silverstone will rise to the challenge and do the Aston Martin name proud.” The coronavirus pandemic presents difficult times for the whole world. How is this impacting on plans for 2021? “I don’t think there is any area of life or business that hasn’t been touched by this devastating pandemic and the racing community is certainly adapting as best it can. Of course, as racers, we are all very frustrated not to be competing, but we all understand the bigger picture in this global fight and so we stay at home. "The team is also supporting Project Pitlane to help accelerate the production of ventilators. In the meantime, we can rely on video conferences to keep our plans for 2020 and 2021 moving forward. I am committed to Formula 1 with a long-term vision and this is just a temporary pause in the journey.” READ MORE Aston seals funds for DBX production but issues long-term warning Mercedes to discuss Formula 1 withdrawal, potentially triggering sensational Aston Martin buyout Billionaire Stroll takes major stake in Aston Martin View the full article
  8. New tax rules incentivise EV ownership We help you figure out how much Vehicle Excise Duty you'll be paying on your new car, whether it's petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric How much do you have to pay to tax your car? From today, 1 April, the amount could change because the government has overhauled the Vehicle Excise Duty system to encourage buyers to choose zero- and low-emission vehicles. How much you'll pay depends on what kind of car you have, how old it is, and how you want to pay. This article should help you make sense of it all. Vehicle Excise Duty, known as VED, is a tax levied by the government on every vehicle on UK public roads and is collected by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). It’s a major source of revenue for the government, totalling billions of pounds each year, which goes into the central coffers of the exchequer. Although VED is often referred to as road tax, this is misleading. The tax isn’t on the road: it’s on the vehicles that use it. Road tax was abolished in the 1930s and the cost of maintaining the UK’s roads is currently covered by general taxation, not specifically VED. However, in his 2015 budget, then-chancellor George Osborne announced that a new road fund would be set up whereby all funds raised through VED will go into the building and upkeep of the UK’s road system. This new system was implemented by Rishi Sunak in his 2020 budget, but scheduled road works are likely to be pushed back as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The VED system based on vehicle emissions was introduced in 2001 as part of a push to reduce pollutants being released into the atmosphere. Vehicles emitting more pollutants cost more to tax, as part of efforts to persuade drivers to consider buying cleaner vehicles. Changes to system in April mean significant differences for new car buyers. How VED has changed from April 2020 The changes coming into force as of April 2020 were drawn up as a means of enhancing the appeal of electric vehicle ownership. The government has uprated VED in line with the retail prices index (RPI) for cars, vans, motorcycles and motorcycle trade licences, but the biggest change, and the one that will be felt most by motorists and traders, is the switch from using NEDC emissions testing as the basis for the various tax band tiers to the new WLTP system. This new method is said to deliver more realistic readings for a vehicle’s fuel consumption, emissions output and driving range, and will result in vehicles moving up a band and becoming, on average, £5 more expensive to tax annually. On 6 April, benefit-in-kind car tax will be removed for electric vehicles, as part of a move to incentivise fleet managers and company car drivers to choose zero-emission models. Further incentive comes in the form of the removal of the £320 ‘expensive car tax’ for electric cars costing more than £40,000, which means anyone buying a new electric car from 1 April will save £320 per year for years two to six of ownership - a total saving of £1600. The exemption is set to be in place until 31 March 2025 and ongoing ‘expensive car’ payments for cars bought before 1 April 2020 will be scrapped. Elsewhere, diesel cars that don’t meet the latest RDE-2 emissions standards will be taxed at higher rates than their petrol equivalents, but a new flat rate of £150 for purely combustion-engined cars registered after 1 April 2017 will come into effect in April 2021. A flat rate of £140 will be applied to hybrids registered after this date. The old system will still apply to vehicles registered before 1 April 2017. See some examples of these changes at the end of this article. OLDER VEHICLES If your vehicle was registered before 1 March 2001, then the engine size in cubic centimetres (cc) is what’s important. • Cars with engines equal to or smaller in capacity than 1549cc (roughly equivalent to 1.5 litres) have to pay £145 a year, assuming they pay up front for 12 months. • Cars with engines larger than 1549cc will have to pay £235 a year. The exact amount due can vary slightly, depending on whether you pay for six months or 12 months, and whether you pay all at once or in instalments. You can see a full breakdown of the charges by going to the DVLA website. NEW VEHICLES If your car is newer, and was registered between 1 March 2001 and 1 April 2017, then it’s the emissions that you need to think about. Petrol- and diesel-powered cars are the most commonly taxed vehicles and they’re categorised by bands that are determined by their CO2 emissions. Prices vary slightly depending on how you pay – in one go, or in instalments. The table below shows the prices for six- and 12-month cycles and you can see the full breakdown by going to the government’s VED website. Petrol and diesel vehicles *Includes cars that have a CO2 figure higher than 225g/km but were registered before 23 March 2006. Alternative fuel vehicles If your car is powered by an alternative fuelling system, then the charges are slightly different but based on the same premise. Alternative-fuel cars include hybrids and vehicles that run on biofuel or a variant of gas, such as LPG or CNG. Once again, the costs vary slightly depending on how you want to pay. *Includes cars that have a CO2 figure higher than 225g/km, but were registered before 23 March 2006. TAXING FOR THE FIRST TIME If your car is brand new and you’re taxing it for the first time, then the costs are slightly different again. The below prices are only applicable the first time a car is taxed. After that, it follows the tables above. The system rewards drivers of new, low-emitting cars with a lower-than-usual payment for the first year, but it smacks high-emitting vehicles with a fairly stiff initial charge. The prices are for 12 months and are payable only in a single payment. You can see further details here. Petrol, diesel and alternative-fuel vehicles, first year only Goods vehicles and motorbikes have their own VED system, which you can find more about here. PAYMENT Once you’ve figured out what you owe, you can pay your VED in a variety of ways. The simplest method is online at https://www.gov.uk/vehicle-tax, using a credit or debit card. You’ll also need one or more of the following documents to hand: • The V11 reminder letter that was sent to you when your existing tax was running out • The car’s V5C registration document, which must be in your name • The V5C/2 new keeper supplement if you’ve just bought the car • The ‘last chance’ warning letter sent to you if you’re about to end up on the wrong side of the law for not either paying or declaring a SORN If you’d rather use more traditional methods, you can pay over the phone by calling 0300 123 4321. There are charges for this call, which you can read about here. You can also pay at any post office that can process vehicle tax. You’ll need to bring one of the following: • The V11 reminder letter that was sent to you when your existing tax was running out • The car’s V5C registration document, which must be in your name • The V5C/2 new keeper supplement if you’ve just bought the car You may also need your MOT test certificate, valid for the start of the new tax period, and a valid Reduced Pollution Certificate if the vehicle has been modified to cut its emissions. In Northern Ireland, you’ll need to bring your insurance certificate or cover note. EXEMPT VEHICLES From a financial point of view, the best position to be in is to be exempt from paying any VED, and if you’re in any of the following categories, you don’t have to pay anything. The following are exempt from car tax, and have been since before the changes took place: • Vehicles used by a disabled person • Vehicles registered before 1 January 1980 • Electric vehicles • Steam vehicles • Mobility scooters • Mowers • Agricultural, horticultural and farming vehicles If you own a car but you don’t drive it on public roads, then you’re also exempt, although you’ll have to declare it to the DVLA. This is called a Statutory Off Road Notification, or SORN, and you can declare it here. Be aware that if you don’t let the DVLA know that you want the car registered as off the roads, you’ll be liable for road tax even if the car doesn’t move. Conversely, if you want to take the vehicle back onto public roads, you’ll need to pay the appropriate amount of VED first. Unless you’re in the above categories you’ll have to pay. Well, almost – if your car is particularly green and emits less than 100 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre (g/km), then it is also exempt. But everyone else will need to cough up. THINGS TO NOTE Unlike in the past, you don’t need to wait for a tax disc to be sent for display in the vehicle’s window. The tax disc system was abolished in 2014. It’s important to note that VED no longer transfers to a new owner when you sell or buy a car. The new owner will need to tax the car afresh and they’ll need to do so before they drive the car. Some examples using the new system: Hyundai Ioniq Electric Price when new: £29,450, CO2 emissions: 0g/km First year tax rate after 1st April 2020: £0 Tax rate after first year of ownership: £0 Tax cost across first three years: £0 Tesla Model X Performance Price when new: £100,400, CO2 emissions: 0g/km First year tax rate after 1st April 2020: £0 Tax rate after first year of ownership: £0, plus £0 'expensive car' fee Tax cost across first three years: £0 Mercedes-Benz E 300 de AMG Line Price when new: £53,354.99, CO2 emissions: 40g/km First year tax rate after 1st April 2020: £0 Tax rate after first year of ownership: £320 (including £310 Premium fee) Tax across first three years: £660 Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 GT Convertible Price when new £47,185, CO2 emissions: 274g/km First year tax rate after 1st April 2020: £2175 Tax rate after first year of ownership: £560 Tax across first three years: £3295 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Price when new: £225,000, CO2 emissions: 290g/km First year tax rate after 1st April 2017: £2175 Tax rate after first year of ownership: £890 (including £310 'expensive car' tax) Tax across first three years: £3955 READ MORE Budget 2020: How the government’s plans will affect motorists​ Government estimates 634,000 untaxed vehicles on UK roads​ Analysis: will car sharing replace vehicle ownership?​ View the full article
  9. We round up our hottest stories, pictures and videos for you to devour in your lunch break It’s everyone’s favourite part of the working day, lunchtime, and you’re no doubt craving a hefty dose of car-related content. So we’ve revived our Autocar Lunchbox feature to bring you our favourite videos, stories, photos, quotes and more all in one place. Here are today’s picks: HOT NEWS Bentley’s first EV Bentley has begun conceptual work on a new high-riding saloon that it’s preparing to launch as its first fully electric car by 2025. The radical model will further the firm’s ambition to establish itself as the most environmentally and sustainably led premium luxury car maker in the world. Bentley's first EV to be high-riding saloon in 2025 VIDEO OF THE DAY The Ford Ranger Raptor is one of our favourite off-roaders of the moment. We'd say pick-up, but it's not much of a double-cab pick-up these days, because the sturdy leaf springs have been chucked out at the back and the whole chassis redesigned, with coil springs and Fox Motorsport dampers, to create a Baja-style rally car. Appropriately, then, we have a Bowler Bulldog, a real-life cross-country rally car, to test alongside it. See which won in our ultimate 4x4 showdown. PHOTO OF THE DAY Look at that, a proper 1980s hot hatch icon. The original Lancia Delta HF found its way onto bedroom walls across the land following a series of high-profile WRC successes and has become one of the most collectable cars of its era. The same cannot be said, however, for its name-sharing descendant, which sold slowly and had little in the way of kerb appeal. We’ve been considering whether reviving a historic nameplate is always a smart idea for manufacturers. Good, bad or ugly? When car nameplates come back QUOTE OF THE DAY “Frankly speaking, we had a meeting on a Stelvio GTA but it’s just not in line with customer expectations. It has to be the best possible [on track]. On the Stelvio, we have a higher centre of gravity [than a Giulia] so it won’t achieve the same goals.” Mixed news here from Alfa Romeo’s product marketing boss. On one hand, hot SUV fans will be disappointed the firm has no plans to introduce an even faster version of the rapid Stelvio Quadrifoglio, but some enthusiasts will take solace in the fact that the revived GTA nameplate will adorn only the most performance-focused models, such as the latest version of the Giulia. Alfa Romeo: no plans to expand GTA range FROM THE ARCHIVE Nearly every mainstream brand nowadays has a performance division that turns up the wick on their hatchbacks, saloons and estates to create true sports car baiters. Think AMG, Cupra, N and R… But did you know British Leyland was doing the same thing way back in 1970. We headed to Abingdon to sample five of the Special Tuning division’s most potent reworking. Throwback Thursday 1971: British Leyland Special Tuning POPULAR OPINION The new lockdown rules put in place last week mean we’re unable to get out and about in the latest new cars and can’t shoot features, but Steve Cropley has noticed that we’ve quite quickly adapted to the new way of working. We’re using virtual meetings to plan the magazine and profiting from a goldmine of archive images, and none of us even has to go to the airport for a while! Steve Cropley: The last dash before lockdown View the full article
  10. Travel restrictions have wreaked havoc on Autocar's diary, but there's a silver lining At Autocar the diary moves fast. Every five working days we put out more than 80 pages of news and reviews, buying guides, our long-termer updates and, of course, features. Pure editorial, so that’s without counting ad pages. And when it comes to features, much of it is necessarily long-lead stuff – stuff that, frankly, we’re pretty glad to have right now. A white-knuckle dispatch from the North Coast 500, an interview with Stefano Domenicali, an exposé on Toyota K-Series head-gasket failure: all can be researched, written and laid out on the page well in advance of the Friday evening the issue in question goes to the printers. But the news and first drives sections work on a tighter, more fiddly schedule. And for the latter especially there are big spreadsheets crammed with details. During an average month, the road-test desks at Autocar and our sister mag What Car? will drive 85 new cars in the UK and attend around 20 international launches for big-hitters like a new Clio or the latest Porsche GT3. For every one of them, the right person needs to be in the right place, at the time, with a deadline to hit and, much of the time, a photographer in tow. You don’t need me to tell you that for March and April this year, and for the foreseeable future, those spreadsheets are looking somewhat barren, as manufacturers have cancelled international launches and the people who travel the length and breadth of the country to deliver our test cars on home soil are stood down. For them, delivering the car isn’t the problem. Needing to then get two trains, followed by a bus or the Tube, in order to then get home is the issue. Nobody should ask them to do that, and nobody at this magazine is. As you’ll discover in due course, Autocar is in a good position to cope with this immediate lack of test cars, though some lateral thinking has been required. Ordinarily, there’s a lull in the diary during January, as the industry reboots after Christmas, and then again in July, when so many people are on holiday, but what’s happening now is completely unprecedented. Big stories have been postponed or cancelled. Our first taste of the Ferrari SF90 Stradale, for example, has been spiked, and the full road test of the F8 Tributo at MIRA lost for now alongside the likes of the new Seat Leon and Skoda Octavia. There are countless others. And now, the point I want to make. Sorry for the preamble. This calendar bloodbath isn’t all bad news. Why? Because Britain’s domestic tuning scene is world-class. The only thing is that, because we’ve only got so many pages to print on, and those pages are usually filled with mass-market models that people simply need to know about, rarely – and wrongly, though it’s manpower we lack, rather than the will – do these smaller companies get the attention they deserve. But even as the foreign launches started falling like dominoes, this was changing. We visited BBR GTI earlier this year to drive its latest – and utterly brilliant – take on the MX-5, and more recently Autocar has been to Ford-honing stalwart Mountune in Essex. These two outfits achieve something that’s not at all easy: appreciably improving already excellent production-spec cars that have already been lavished with massive R&D spend, and for not a lot of your hard-earned. And better still, they’re not alone. As this pandemic recedes and our personal freedoms return, there will be an inevitable delay before the launch diary for big manufacturer events revs back up. It’s during that time you can expect to read more about Britain's 'tuners', though that term undersells what many of them do. You'll read about Litchfield, experts in improving Nissan GT-Rs and even the Porsche 911, and Birds BMW, which is stockpiling the old rear-driven M140i and making them even better driver’s cars. We’ll get back in touch with Miltek, Revo, CSR Porsche and Autofarm. And, of course, Bowler. And if DMS is offering a 6000bhp upgrade for the McLaren 720S, we’ll drive that too. In this country we have an embarrassment of engineering riches hidden beneath the likes of Lotus, Aston Martin and Caterham. In 2020, expect to read a lot more about it. READ MORE 90 Years Special: The history of Autocar's road test procedures Autocar's exclusive McLaren F1 road test: 25 years on The 100 best British cars ever built View the full article
  11. Volkswagen Tiguan-sized electric SUV to arrive in Europe in August; UK launch could follow in 2021 Chinese manufacturer Aiways will open European orders for its U5 electric SUV at the end of April, ahead of deliveries starting in August. The U5 is a Volkswagen Tiguan-sized SUV with front wheels that are powered by an electric motor fed by a 65kWh battery pack. Its range is 313 miles on the NEDC cycle, with WLTP testing yet to be completed. Aiways has previously suggested that it could launch in the UK in right-hand-drive form in 2021, after the start-up company revealed strong interest. Aiways plans to produce 50,000 units of the Kia E-Niro rival this year, but the effect of coronavirus is likely to adversely hit this target, given the Chinese factory has just been reopened following the pandemic. In Europe, the U5 will be available for lease only, and exclusively online. Klose says a monthly lease cost of less than €400 (£346) is being targeted, making the U5 the equivalent of a €35,000 (£30,244) vehicle, but, crucially, that it offers all the benefits and equipment of a premium model with an electric drivetrain for the cost of a typical family SUV. “If you look at the size and the price, it’s a spot in the market that’s empty,” Klose told Autocar at the Shanghai motor show last year. “When you see the final version and the feature list, you will understand that this vehicle is not entry-level. Yet when you compare to the electric models from Audi and Mercedes, we’re half-price.” In time, Aiways hopes to offer a smaller battery pack to bring the cost down further, because it says most people simply don’t need the kind of ranges being offered for everyday use. Customers will be able to swap to a smaller battery pack and have their monthly lease cost reduced. Alongisde the U5, Aiways also already previewed a larger SUV, the U7, at last year's Shanghai show. The U5 and U7 use the same architecture, which can house different motors and sizes of battery pack and accomodate four-wheel drive. Also part of the Aiways group is the reborn Gumpert brand, which revealed an fuel cell electric supercar called the Nathalie last year. Klose told Autocar there will be technology transfer between Aiways and Gumpert but that the two companies have autonomy from one another. READ MORE Aiways U5 2019 review Chinese car maker Aiways to bring electric SUV and supercar to Europe 2019 Shanghai motor show: all the new cars revealed Gumpert reveals methanol-fuelled Nathalie in production form View the full article
  12. Volkswagen Tiguan-sized electric SUV to arrive in Europe in August; UK launch could follow in 2021 Chinese manufacturer Aiways will open European orders for its U5 electric SUV at the end of April, ahead of deliveries starting in August. The U5 is a Volkswagen Tiguan-sized SUV with front wheels that are powered by an electric motor fed by a 65kWh battery pack. Its range is 313 miles on the NEDC cycle, with WLTP testing yet to be completed. Aiways has previously suggested that it could launch in the UK in right-hand-drive form in 2021, after the start-up company revealed strong interest. Aiways plans to produce 50,000 units of the Kia E-Niro rival this year, but the effect of coronavirus is likely to adversely hit this target, given the Chinese factory has just been reopened following the pandemic. In Europe, the U5 will be available for lease only, and exclusively online. Klose says a monthly lease cost of less than €400 (£346) is being targeted, making the U5 the equivalent of a €35,000 (£30,244) vehicle, but, crucially, that it offers all the benefits and equipment of a premium model with an electric drivetrain for the cost of a typical family SUV. “If you look at the size and the price, it’s a spot in the market that’s empty,” Klose told Autocar at the Shanghai motor show last year. “When you see the final version and the feature list, you will understand that this vehicle is not entry-level. Yet when you compare to the electric models from Audi and Mercedes, we’re half-price.” In time, Aiways hopes to offer a smaller battery pack to bring the cost down further, because it says most people simply don’t need the kind of ranges being offered for everyday use. Customers will be able to swap to a smaller battery pack and have their monthly lease cost reduced. Alongisde the U5, Aiways also already previewed a larger SUV, the U7, at last year's Shanghai show. The U5 and U7 use the same architecture, which can house different motors and sizes of battery pack and accomodate four-wheel drive. Also part of the Aiways group is the reborn Gumpert brand, which revealed an fuel cell electric supercar called the Nathalie last year. Klose told Autocar there will be technology transfer between Aiways and Gumpert but that the two companies have autonomy from one another. READ MORE Aiways U5 2019 review Chinese car maker Aiways to bring electric SUV and supercar to Europe 2019 Shanghai motor show: all the new cars revealed Gumpert reveals methanol-fuelled Nathalie in production form View the full article
  13. Italian maker has reintroduced GTA badge to Giulia but is unlikely to launch SUV variants Alfa Romeo has no plans to use its famous GTA nameplate on the Stelvio, following the reveal of the Giulia GTA last month. The Italian maker hopes the renaissance of the GTA badge will help create a halo effect for the brand - especially in the absence of the GTV and 8C rebirths, for which plans were ditched last year - but product marketing boss Fabio Migliavacca said the ethos of GTA doesn’t fit with other cars in Alfa Romeo’s line-up. “The GTA is an important name for Alfa Romeo," he said. "Frankly speaking, we had a meeting on a Stelvio GTA but it’s just not in line with customer expectations. It has to be the best possible [on track]. On the Stelvio, we have a higher centre of gravity [than a Giulia] so it won’t achieve the same goals.” The Giulia GTA was launched to celebrate Alfa Romeo’s 110th anniversary this year. Migliavacca said: “The idea for our anniversary was to renew GTA as an important pinnacle for Alfa Romeo. The [original Giulia GTA] car from 1965 was really important. If you think about the brand’s icons in history, there is GTA. We decided to bring back the old values. The car had to be special compared to the Quadrifoglio. It had to be lighter. We worked a lot to reduce weight and have better performance in terms of lap time over the Quadrifoglio.” Migliavacca added that reaction to the Giulia GTA has been “amazing”. Referencing the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Italy and, in turn, Alfa Romeo hard, he said: “In this particular moment, people - not only customers - are willing to see something positive in a really difficult reality. A lot of people are raising their hands and saying, ‘I want to have one’, ‘I want to have four’. It’s truly an amazing reaction considering the timing.” Only 500 examples of the GTA and more track-focused GTAm will be made and Migliavacca said that although orders were not yet open, it already had more than 500 expressions of interest. Currently, the split is biased towards requests for the hardcore two-seat GTAm. Performance figures for the range-topping Giulia are yet to be confirmed, but it will eclipse the Quadrifoglio’s 3.9sec 0-62mph time and 191mph top speed. However, Migliavacca said the main focus was not to make the car faster in those terms but to achieve more speed around corners. “We are talking about particular tracks where the car can be faster than the Quadrifoglio," he said. "It is easy to drive, unbelievably quick and effective in corners. For aerodynamics, the front and rear fascias and side skirts have been redesigned to achieve downforce not achievable on the Quadrifoglio.” READ MORE New Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA is firm's most powerful model yet Alfa Romeo scraps plans for new GTV and 8C models New Alfa Romeo Tonale: 2020 production car leaks online Alfa Romeo axes 4C sports car to focus on SUVs View the full article
  14. Petrol Retailers Association warns dramatic dive in sales during pandemic will make businesses “unviable” Petrol stations could be the next victim of the coronavirus pandemic, after warnings that a dearth of business will force many to close in the coming weeks. The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents the independent fuel retailers that make up the majority of UK forecourts, cites a government survey claiming sales of petrol have fallen by an average of 75% across the UK, with diesel down 71%. “Many petrol stations will have to close in the coming weeks, as sales of fuel dry up and their businesses become unviable,” the PRA said in a statement. Stations in hardest-hit rural areas will be most at risk, it claims. Motorists are advised to check that their local station is actually open before leaving the house. The problem is compounded by the majority of retailers filling their fuel storage tanks at much higher wholesale prices prior to the price of crude oil collapsing. In the past week, fuel prices have fallen to a rate not seen since June 2003. “Fuel retailers are having to maintain pump prices at previous levels to avoid suffering significant stock losses,” the PRA claims. The PRA aims to keep a “strategic network of petrol stations open across the country” but acknowledges the immediate challenges many of its retailers face. As well as reduced demand and falling prices, staff shortages, competition from supermarkets and lack of delivery flexibility are all taking a toll. READ MORE Fuel pumps should have cigarette-style warnings, claim health experts Government plans E10 petrol switch in 2021 Petrol and diesel car sales ban could come in 2032 View the full article
  15. Our man gets in a Defender first drive and a tour of the newly opened Silverstone Experience museum before coronavirus lockdown begins In this week's automotive adventures, Steve nabs the opportunity to be wowed by the Silverstone Experience museum and a drive in the new Land Rover Defender just before lockdown descends. He also ponders the impact of Covid-19 on the car industry and Gordon Murray's new website. Monday A torrid week begins. Already lots of coronavirus restrictions are inhibiting out-and-about people like us. During action photography, photographers talk to drivers via phones or two-way radios to obey the law and avoid the usual chat through an open window. Then photography stops altogether. Yet we’re finding we can manage. Car companies have pictures. So does our archive. We’ve got a decent flow of stories in the pipe. Car people are available for phone chats. Feature ideas come from all directions. Working from home, even luddite members of Autocar’s staff (such as your humble servant) learn to meet via computer: surprising how natural it feels. And none of us misses the airport. Stories start filtering out through about hacks marooned with test cars that can’t be given back because their makers/importers have closed. Mine’s a Bentley, but more of that next week. Tuesday Just before lockdown, I grab an opportunity to visit the newly opened Silverstone Experience, a museum that tells the fascinating history of Silverstone (first a monastery, then a country estate, then an RAF base, now the home of British motorsport). I’m shown around by CEO Sally Reynolds, who came to Silverstone from Legoland in 2011, saw a chance to build something fabulous from an old aeroplane hangar (Hangar Straight, geddit?) and, after many struggles, has achieved her dream. Don’t get the idea ‘museum’ means fusty: this place is packed with amazing exhibits and activities, gripping video, fascinating cars and mighty interactive displays, and ends with an Ultimate Lap that’s second only to being on track for real. It’s shut for a while, but don’t miss it. Wednesday Curious contact with one or two reader-critics taking us to task for not saying enough about Covid-19 hurting the motor industry. We’re behaving as though life’s still okay, says one. My view: apart from the fact that every screen and printed page is already packed with virus doom stories, we do feel oddly optimistic. This thing will pass and, when it does, what seemed like routine opportunities will have greatly enhanced appeal. I’m booked into an October autosolo with my Mazda MX-5 and it feels like I’ll be on the grid of the British GP. Thursday Last activity before lockdown: a chance to drive the long-wheelbase Land Rover Defender on the road and then to have its outer-limits capabilities demonstrated by legendary engineer and wheelman Mike Cross. Ours is a poky six-cylinder prototype and – because Mr Prior has already done extensive Defender off-roading – our mission is to drive fast on smoother roads. JLR’s Gaydon high-speed track is like a slightly reduced Le Mans if you get a serious run at it (which we do) and we’ve soon proved the car is composed at 130mph, takes 100mph corners with some roll but amazing grip, feels amazingly supple over bumps but never, ever floats. As our session ends, Mike says he has one more thing to show, then attacks a single-lane road at serious speed. It contains two large jumps. We hit the first at 90; the second at 85. Despite its generous suspension travel, the Defender flies both times but lands almost as if on a feather bed. “This is one of the best cars we’ve ever done,” murmurs Mike, never a man to overdo the hyperbole. Buyers are going to be impressed. Friday Into my inbox drops details of Gordon Murray’s excellent new website featuring the T50, his ‘modern F1’ hypercar. In typical Murray fashion, the site is brilliant. And uplifting. Take a good look at gordonmurrayautomotive. com to see an open-and-shut case for the featherweight, sophisticated but essentially simple supercar. And another thing... A bloke with a grey, short-wheelbase, steel-wheels Toyota Land Cruiser drives past my house every morning at 6.45am. As a result, I can’t forget my regret at never driving Matt Prior’s identical long-termer last year. Note to self: call Toyota as soon as this lockdown ends. READ MORE Land Rover Defender 110 S 2020 review Jaguar Land Rover to invest £1bn in three new UK-built EVs New £25k Land Rover to be followed by luxo-Defender View the full article
  16. Decisions such as launching all-electric versions of car lines, well in advance of the new regs, has allowed PSA to keep its average CO2 emissions beneath the 95g/km limit The PSA Group has been compliant to the new EU 95g/km limit on fleet average CO2 emissions in the first two months of 2020 and as such will not pay a penny in fines if it maintains this. PSA Europe boss Maxime Picat said that it had actually been the case since the very first working day of the year on January 2. If car makers average 95g/km or lower as a fleet average for CO2 emissions, they will pay no fines. If they go over it, the fine is €95 for each g/km of CO2 over the limit for each car sold, which could run into the billions for some car makers. PSA’s own limit is 93g/km, as the 95g/km figure is weight adjusted according to the types of car a car maker sells. It is trying to hit the target on a monthly basis to more accurately track progress towards the target; the EU only takes a yearly figure. “We want CO2 compliance to be natural,” said Picat. “We are working normally and won’t do stupid things at the end of the year.” Picat said that decisions taken six or seven years ago with the 2020 deadline in mind were now bearing fruit. That included launching all-electric versions of many of its car lines, which were planned to launch at the end of 2019 to allow PSA to get a perfectly-timed benefit from their sale in bringing down its overall CO2 level. It also cut several higher-emitting models last year, chiefly at Opel/Vauxhall which it acquired three years ago so initially would not have been part of this long-term planning towards overall compliance. PSA boss Carlos Tavares said that the firm had modelled out a whole host of different scenarios to ensure that it remained compliant even in the worst case, such as diesel dropping to a 10% market share. At present, it has stabilised at around 30%. Picat said the any impact on the coronavirus would not be felt on its CO2 average, as any potential drop in sales would be proportional across all model lines. However, to date he said the virus had had no impact on its operations outside of China, and even there it had not been hit as hard as rivals as China isn’t as important to PSA’s overall business as other car makers. “We are working on the supply chain and finding solutions and issues,” he said. “So far, so good.” READ MORE PSA Ellesmere Port factory investment will hang on EU trade deal Citroen and DS get new bosses in PSA reshuffle PSA Group posts record profits despite sales slide View the full article
  17. How Autocar imagines Bentley's maiden electric vehicle could look British firm aims to push eco credentials with the help of cutting-edge electric tech Bentley has begun conceptual work on a new high-riding saloon that it’s preparing to launch as its first fully electric car. The radical model will further the firm’s ambition to establish itself as the most environmentally and sustainably led premium luxury car maker in the world. In their bid to establish global leadership in these areas, Bentley bosses want to follow this year’s launch of the brand’s first hybrid models by revealing its first electric car by 2025. That date is already challenging designers and engineers as they wrestle with delivering a vehicle with sufficient range for customers looking for a grand touring experience along with the performance capability of today’s cars. Heavy investment in battery technology is already helping to reduce the cost and improve the capability of batteries. However, it’s believed that the next notable step forward will come when solid-state batteries reach production, something that is not expected to happen until closer to the end of the decade. As such, Bentley is likely to launch its first electric car using a more mature version of today’s lithium ion battery technology. However, Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark has hinted to Autocar that his teams have already hit on one potential solution by designing a car with similarities to, but more extreme than, the Jaguar I-Pace. This machine combines a traditional saloon shape with a higher-riding bodystyle to accommodate the battery pack without pushing up into a full-SUV format, which is aerodynamically inefficient and therefore reduces range. The upcoming Jaguar XJ and a related J-Pace model, plus a Land Rover – dubbed the Road Rover but not expected to carry that name into production – are set to follow a similar path, although Bentley’s interpretation is being envisioned to set new performance benchmarks for the industry. “If we’re to launch an electric car in the mid-2020s, then it either needs to be smaller than today’s cars or the same size but not as upright, and smaller isn’t an appealing solution, as it implies a lower price segment,” said Hallmark. “The prediction is battery technology will have moved forward again by that date and that will put us at the edge of what we think we need to give customers: 300-350 miles of range, or enough to cruise at a 65mph average for five hours. “We need to be looking at how we can deliver slippier cars with a profile that gets the most out of it aerodynamically in order to deliver on that promise.” The target date of 2025 and Hallmark’s comments confirm growing evidence that the first Bentley EV will crown a position of environmental and sustainability leadership that the company has been building towards in recent years. Bentley’s Crewe factory was certified as carbon-neutral late last year, underlining an increasingly holistic approach to sustainability that has extended as far as making honey from on-site beehives. The EXP 100 GT concept – revealed last year and created to celebrate the firm’s centenary by looking ahead to its next 100 years – also hinted at the powertrain, materials and production methods that Bentley is working towards. The EXP 100 GT has an electric powertrain that uses four 201-335bhp electric motors and an advanced torque-vectoring system to distribute a combined output of between 800bhp and 1340bhp to all four wheels, depending on spec. Combined peak torque is just over 1100lb ft, delivering an estimated 0-62mph of 2.5sec, along with a top speed of 186mph. Although the figures should be regarded as long-term targets, they hint at the sorts of performance levels that Bentley engineers believe will be possible in time. Likewise, the EXP 100 GT’s interior featured innovative material use, including natural woods, glass, fabrics and leather. Some materials introduced on the concept have already transferred to production in the Bacalar, such as rice pigment paint, sheep’s wool and riverwood. Bentley is well advanced in developing alternatives to the interior styles that have dominated its cars for decades – albeit combined with technical advances such as biometric seating to monitor and potentially boost the well-being of occupants. “Bentley has very little to fear from an electric future,” said Hallmark. “In fact, many of the facets of electrification are what define Bentley. “Sure, today in a GT, you can hit 207mph, but that doesn’t mean very many of our customers drive around at that speed very often, if at all. We’re not a brand that is in any way defined by offering hypercar or supercar performance. “What they do enjoy every time they go out is super-refinement, effortless pace and total comfort. Electrification will only enhance all of those, so for customers, the trade-off is about 12 cylinders for 2000 or so electrical cells. Everything else is improved.” Hallmark said he hoped Bentley would be in a position to pioneer any major battery or electrical architecture breakthroughs made by the Volkswagen Group, of which Bentley is a member, because of its relatively small scale and its customers, who have traditionally been willing to pay a premium to be at the cutting edge of technology. “At Bentley, we are looking to build 11,000 to 12,000 cars a year in a worldwide market of about 85 million,” said Hallmark. “Our values are about delivering the very best money can buy, and that puts us in a position where we can lead in whatever direction we turn to. “Yes, one goal is to lead in electrification in the luxury segment, but we also feel that sustainability can be about far more than just electrification. Our customers are happy to pay a premium if they can buy a car that is truly carbon-neutral, and that is now a core mission of the company.” Hallmark also highlighted the Volkswagen Group’s investment of $100 million (£78.5m) in California-based battery specialist QuantumScape as a likely route to the brand becoming a leader in the development of solid-state batteries, which he described as “game changing” in terms of the energy density they could deliver for the same manufacturing costs. “Once solid-state batteries can be productionised, then the growth in capability will become exponential,” he said. “Of course, they will initially be at the top end of the price scale, but which car maker within the [Volkswagen] Group is best placed with customers to carry that cost? I very much hope that Bentley can be at the vanguard of that and it seems logical that we should be.” Hallmark also confirmed that emissions regulations and customer tastes mean that Bentley’s iconic W12 will be phased out, although he didn’t specify a time frame. Asked if the 12-cylinder engine had a limited lifespan, he said: “Yes, absolutely. For 100 years, we’ve tried to make engines bigger and more powerful. For the next 10 years, we’re going to try to make them disappear. “We want to do this in a progressive and customer-orientated way. We don’t hate engines, but we do love the idea of electrification. We’ll offer hybrid options alongside combustion engine options on every model by 2023.” Jim Holder and Mike Duff READ MORE Bentley Continental GT Mulliner Convertible revealed Mulliner expansion continues with horse-themed Bentley Continental GT Bentley reveals one-off Continental GT W12 ice racer View the full article
  18. German media reports tech still isn't ready and Volkswagen is discussing common OS with Daimler and BMW Volkswagen is facing an uphill battle to launch its ID 3 electric hatchback this summer as the struggle to resolve its substantial software problems continues. German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung claims that examples of the crucial EV had been rolling out of the factory in Zwickau before production was halted due to the coronavirus, but that these cars are effectively 'dead', meaning they don't have the necessary software to run or be used. Volkswagen is hoping to introduce a basic version of the ID 3's operating system (OS) into these cars once it has been finished, the newspaper reports. However, the software project is described internally as an "absolute disaster", with the company failing to employ the software experts needed to fix the wide-ranging issues. Volkswagen has a desire to sell 100,000 EVs globally (with the ID 3 making up a substantial portion of that number) by the end of this year. This is also vital to ensure the reduction in fines from the European Union due to fleet average CO2 emissions. CEO Herbert Diess has been defiant, stating at last week's annual press conference his intent to deliver the ID 3 over the summer as his core project, but the likelihood of that target being hit is up for debate. One source cited by Süddeutsche Zeitung is a Volkswagen Group insider, who claims the cars that are being prepped for the summer aren't actually series-production models. The increasing difficulty in developing software has lead Volkswagen, the newspaper reports, to discuss with the board of directors of Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler the idea of merging resources to create a OS for both firms' electric models. However, when the news emerged, it seemed BMW was also in discussions with Daimler on the same issue. Despite the three brands jointly owning the Here mapping and location data consortium, it's claimed that a joint OS deal could break competition laws. Read more: Volkswagen ID 3: vital EV revealed with up to 341 miles of range Audi to lead Volkswagen Group R&D efforts Volkswagen braces for "very difficult year" as pandemic shuts factories View the full article
  19. Hyundai offshoot's new luxury flagship is lighter and packs more technology than its predecessor Hyundai’s luxury arm Genesis has revealed the new third-generation version of its flagship G80 saloon, which is claimed to offer significant performance and technology upgrades over its predecessor. Sitting atop an all-new, bespoke rear-wheel-drive platform, the Lexus ES rival retains the long wheelbase, short overhangs and rakish, coupé-style roofline of the previous model, but bears the results of a subtle styling overhaul influenced by the brand’s GV80 SUV. At the front, a large, shield-shaped grille is flanked by a pair of distinctive split-cluster headlights, while the previous car’s small air intakes, positioned under each headlight, have made way for an extended lower grille that spans the width of the car. The brand claims the new car’s window line, which slopes more obviously towards the rear of the car than that of the outgoing G80, is inspired by iconic classic cars. A full-length chrome strip is said to strengthen ‘forward visual motion’, in the same way as various styling cues featured on parent company Hyundai’s new Prophecy concept. Larger 20in alloy wheels, dual shield-shaped exhaust tips and a prominent rear spoiler indicate the car’s performance potential, which is delivered by a choice of two turbocharged petrol engines or a 2.2-litre diesel four-cylinder, which can each be specified with rear- or all-wheel-drive. The most potent option, a 3.5-litre turbo V6, sends 375bhp and 391lb ft - significantly more than the outgoing car’s 3.8-litre unit - to the wheels by way of an eight-speed automatic gearbox which is standard to all models. The mid-range 2.5-litre turbo four-cylinder produces 296bhp and 311lb ft, while the diesel option puts out 207bhp and 325lb ft. Inside, the new G80 offers improved rear legroom and headroom, courtesy of a lowered rear bench which also allows for a more heavily raked roofline. The dashboard is dominated by a 14.5in infotainment touchscreen; Genesis says minimal use of physical buttons and switches improves the interior’s appearance and enhances ease-of-use. The G80’s new platform, aside from allowing for improved interior space, also lowers the body and centre of gravity for improved driving stability. It also weighs 125kg less than its predecessor, with aluminium used for around 19% of the body components. Safety functions featured as standard to all models include motorway driving assist, intelligent cruise control, collision avoidance assist, blind spot monitor and pre-active safety seats which automatically pull the passengers’ seat back forwards in the event of an accident to minimise injury. There’s an emphasis on user-friendly technology, too; alongside remote parking, smartphone connectivity and handwriting recognition, the G80 offers ambient interior lighting, a pair of rear-mounted infotainment touchscreens, automated air filtering technology and a posture-correcting drivers seat. In the South Korean market, the G80 will feature an in-car payment device which will also allow drivers to pay for things like tolls and fuel without leaving the vehicle. Launching initially in the brand’s home market of South Korea, the new G80 will arrive in other global markets, including North America and Russia, in the second half of this year. Genesis boss Manfred Fitzgerald previously told Autocar that the brand was plotting a UK launch in 2020, though this is likely to be pushed back as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. When Genesis does arrive in the UK, it is unlikely to bring the G80, as demand for large luxury saloons is not as strong here as it is in the US and the Middle East. Hyundai managed to sell just 50 examples of the original Genesis saloon in the two years it was on sale here. Read more Genesis Mint concept is quirky electric city car 2021 Hyundai i20 N: new hot hatch testing at Nurburgring Hyundai i30 gets redesign, new tech and mild hybrids for 2020​ View the full article
  20. Jaguar Land Rover lends vehicles to Red Cross and NHS Fleet, including 27 new Defenders, will be used to help deliver food and supplies to elderly and vulnerable Jaguar Land Rover is deploying more than 160 vehicles – including the new Land Rover Defender – globally for use by emergency response groups tackling the coronavirus outbreak. The manufacturer has already given the British Red Cross access to 57 vehicles, including 27 Defenders, for delivering food and medicine to vulnerable and elderly people. Another 65 vehicles are supporting Red Cross efforts in Australia, France, South Africa and Spain. JLR is also loaning vehicles to the National Health Service and emergency services to support local efforts and donating protective equipment including safety glasses to a number of NHS hospitals. It's aiming to deploy futher vehicles in the coming weeks. The vehicles handed over to the Red Cross and NHS have been taken from the JLR press fleet and include Defenders intended for use on now-postponed launch events. Simon Lewis, head of crisis response for the British Red Cross, said the “generous support” will allow its teams “to reach even more people living in isolated communities than we could alone”. Like other UK manufacturers, JLR is working with the UK government to offer its expertise in a wide range of research, engineering and production areas. These include digital engineering and design, 3D model printing and prototypes, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Land Rover has a long relationship with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that dates back more than 65 years. READ MORE Review: New Land Rover Defender driven and rated Land Rover SVO creates bespoke Red Cross Discovery View the full article
  21. Share P42, our concept car This is the radical Volkswagen Golf-sized electric car that we have designed for 2025 to 2030 Get up to date with part one and part two before you get started here. It is finished. We first anticipated writing this short, triumphant sentence about six weeks ago, when we began to conceive, with the help of top-class UK designers and engineers, an all-new Volkswagen Golf-sized family hatchback for 2025 to 2030 and beyond. The car you see here, both as a 1:5-scale model and as a series of elaborate, almost photo-real digital drawings, is called the Share P42. It is our car for the future, a five-door C-segment hatchback proposed both for shared and private ownership by Autocar’s journalists, working with experts from the Coventry-based engineering services firm Envisage Group. Autocar’s angle? To investigate what a car planned for two to three generations’ time might be like, and to understand the problems and thought processes the world’s real-time car creators are facing right now. Envisage’s angle? To publicise its impressive talents and skills in car design and prototype building as widely as possible – without revealing any of the confidential projects on which the business is based. The P42’s interior and exterior design is principally the work of four young Coventry Transport Design graduates (Aadil Hafiz, Michael Mills, Ben Martin and Danny Alvarez), who have worked for the past three months at Envisage’s 2016 summer school under the tutelage of Envisage’s practising designer, Oliver Le Grice. Engineering and feasibility work has been handled by ace software jockey Gary Skeggs, working under the creative leadership of Envisage’s dynamic engineering director, Bill Walsh. It has been an amazing experience. Here’s a confession, though: our car isn’t finished. In motor industry terms, it’s hardly started. True, it looks believable and complete, but we’ve learned enough about car creation over the past six weeks to understand that it would take three years from this point to resolve the many technical uncertainties, do the market research, carry out the detailed engineering design, find the suppliers and prepare the manufacturing operation that could put the Share P42 to 40,000-a-year production – assuming we could find a car company that liked the idea and had the finance. Yet many of the decisions and conclusions about the P42’s concept, features and inner workings are mature. They could work. Were we able to continue, we believe we have a good basis to do so. Here are the key features… CONCEPT The Share P42 is a C-segment five-door hatchback, close in size and duty to today’s VW Golf and Ford Focus and as easy to use and own. It can be configured as a shared car or a light commercial vehicle. It is a pure electric car of about 4.3m in length because, like much of the motor industry, we are content that new cars 10 to 15 years hence will prove that the future is electric – aided by the fact that battery prices are falling fast, batteries themselves are being packaged smaller and lighter, improving chemistry adds 5-10% a year and much faster charging points are on the horizon. Multiply all that by 10 and we’re in a promising place. Our car is much sleeker and yet much roomier – in both passenger area and luggage space – because we’ve included two hugely important features that, we reckon, will be feasible by 2025-2030. The first is deployable front and side impact protection – in effect, compact external airbags that pop out to protect when a comprehensive package of sensors detects an impending accident. The second is the decision to design this car without a large, traditional fascia. Instead, we simplify its instruments with head-up displays, use the driver’s smartphone for personal settings and music, and give it a steering boss switchpad and a central touchscreen for primary and secondary controls. The airbags, comparatively small these days, are carried in the car’s pillars. The P42’s heating and ventilation gadgetry fits into engine bay space freed by its use of a single, compact electric drive motor, especially since much of its complex, currently bulky control mechanism will be carried in the cloud. As a result, much more of the car’s overall length is dedicated to passenger and load carrying. Or to put it another way, the P42 rivals a D-segment (Ford Mondeo-sized) car for passenger and luggage room, except that it’s 20-30cm shorter and 10-15cm narrower. It offers flexible seating for four or five, the possibility of more conventional seating for seven, plus a completely flat floor and a huge rear boot that presents the possibility of a cavernous (and possibly extended) white van version. One more revolutionary feature was the idea of a solitary light source, piped around the car by a series of mirrors and lenses to be used for headlights, tail-lights, signalling and interior lights – and perhaps even for messaging fellow road users. ‘After You’ displayed on a front screen might be a better message than a flash of the headlights. DESIGN, STYLING The P42 is unashamedly modern and challenging, developed from an original concept by Envisage’s Mills. The brief was to be up-to-date, distinctive and highly recognisable because none of us had any interest in a ‘me too’ car for a changed world. Besides, the proportions bear little relationship to today’s Focus or Golf. Tomorrow’s designers will be freer in some ways, more constrained in others. Let them find new ways… BODY, CHASSIS We’ve firmed up on the idea of a light, integrated spaceframe formed in aluminium towards the bottom and carbonfibre for the upper structure. We’re cautious about overuse of carbonfibre (CFRP, for carbonfibre-reinforced plastic, is Envisage’s more correct term) because it’s hard to recycle and recycling is about to be a bigger issue. The outer panels are made of seamless impact-resisting plastic, hopefully formed in one of the degradable compounds under serious development right now. The side doors are a clap-hands design, human-powered to save weight and complexity. They’re brilliant for access in tight parking spaces, and the fact that they don’t need a centre pillar makes for really spectacular access, especially with the seats in a club configuration. The load space will also be spectacular. Our designers have conceived a 600-litre volume accessible from the rear either via a side-opening glass door or a much larger lifting tailgate (containing the door), which reveals a flat, wide floor space. Instead of using what Le Grice dismisses as “ancient ironwork”, the P42’s seats have carbonfibre frames, which pick up runners integrated into the car’s aluminium floorpan, which also carries the thin, immensely strong and well-protected battery box. POWERTRAIN The P42 is proposed as a simple battery electric car, carrying the 100kWh energy pack that, Walsh believes, will be relatively common in the electric cars of 2025-2030. The battery is likely to have shrunk to two-thirds the size of packs today. In a car weighing 1600kg, with a drag factor of around 0.28 and a modest frontal area, it should be good for an honest range of 400 miles. Ultra-fast chargers, on the horizon now, will slash charging times so that this car’s pack should be able to be charged from near zero to 80% in an hour at the most. A get-you-home charge might take as little as five minutes. Performance? As befits a car that deploys maximum torque from standstill, the P42 will feel quick, but its 0-60mph time will probably be around 8.0sec, with a potential 100mph top speed governed to around 85mph both to save power and because regulations may well demand it. It will be smooth, seamless and almost silent power, though. Driving a manual gearbox, combustion machine from 2016 will seem like stepping back in time. SUSPENSION, STEERING, BRAKES By wire will be the way to go. There need be no mechanical connection between driver and motor, or steered wheels or brakes. New systems offer far greater flexibility of steering effort (probably configurable to the driver’s taste) and of integrated retardation between regenerative and friction braking, a current bugbear in hybrid and electric cars. It’s probable the P42’s driver will be offered a range of driving modes, selectable according to taste or loaded automatically via a smartphone app. Advancing NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) technology will do much more to help: flush glass will lower wind noise, fibrous panels will absorb sound, and ever more careful design of the exterior mirrors will cut wind rush – until these are replaced by much smaller rearward-facing cameras (the kind we have on our bootlids already). In short, very little noise should disturb your conversation or audio quality. The refinement theme offered by the P42’s near-silent powertrain will continue into the suspension and running gear: it has been configured with thin-section, low-noise tyres on 20in wheels. The all-independent suspension (double wishbones front, space-saving trailing arms rear) will have variable ride rates via magnetic dampers, whose settings are changed by both wheel movements and your sat-nav’s prior knowledge of the road. Sensing technology will sample your car’s grip in arduous conditions and configure the car, juggling its braking or limiting speed. CABIN Although it’s a low car, the P42 is uncommonly airy because its screen and windows are large, it has a see-through roof and there’s no bulky ‘furniture’ in its cabin. The seats are skeletal, compact and easy to move. The floor is flat. The doors are large. The steering column (which is likely to stay in place because we’re unsure whether full autonomy will be around – or permitted – when this car is on the road) can be made to fold forward, leaving the screen and switchgear in accessible positions. Of course, this car is always connected. It reads your preferences from a smartphone app. It communicates via the cloud with others of its ilk for safety’s sake. It monitors your health and tiredness by assessing your pupils. It predicts your likely journey and warns you of hold-ups. It responds to gestures and voice commands far better than today’s imperfect systems. And while doing all this, it is far more intuitive than today's systems. What is more, it is practically impervious to theft, at least as a private car, because it knows your unique fingerprints and the unique pattern of your pupils. And it is never truly ‘off’. CONCLUSION If this Share P42 project has taught us one thing, it is that in the next decade or two, cars will be very, very different. This will be required by the authorities’ pursuit of lower and lower CO2 outputs and toxic emissions, which are not going away. Electrification – via batteries, hydrogen fuel cell stacks or petite on-board charging motors – is coming fast and we punters had better learn to appreciate its advantages. As Walsh puts it, “personal transport is about to become a hugely more relaxing, soothing experience,” even in a Focus/Golf-class car. With electrification, we hope, will come the kind of deployable safety systems suggested for the P42, leading to the changed proportions we suggest here. These, we believe, are arriving just in time. Many of today’s cars have become unfeasibly large and heavy, mostly because of the crash structures they must haul about. As a result, many of them struggle in supermarket car parks and along narrow city streets. Cars currently on the drawing board have many of the answers, especially if they can be shared by some as well as owned outright by others. We believe that many of their advantages are embodied in our dream car, the Autocar-Envisage Share P42. It’s just a shame that we can’t all fast-forward a decade or so to see if we are right. Finished? How about catching up on part one and part two here. This article was originally published on 30 December 2016. We're revisiting some of Autocar's most popular features to provide engaging content in these difficult times. Read more Back by popular demand: reinventing the Ford Capri​ From ink to I-Pace: How Jaguar designs an electric car​ View the full article
  22. Group calls for “shocking” warning labels showing the damage to health and the planet from pollution and climate change Petrol and diesel pumps should carry cigarette packet-style warning labels as a shock tactic, a group of public health experts has claimed. The Times reports scientists have called for “shocking” images including blackened lungs and flooded houses to be displayed on pumps as a warning about the negative effects of using the fuels, such as pollution and climate change. Such labels are already in use on fuel pumps in the city of Vancouver, Canada, while Sweden is also set to introduce them in May. The comments were made in an article published on the British Medical Journal’s website and led by Mike Gill, a former regional director of public health in south-east England. The article claims the same attitude taken towards smoking should be adopted in order to “sensitise people to the consequences of their actions”. “Smoking is no longer viewed as a normal lifestyle choice,” the article claims, “but as an addiction which harms the individual and those around them through exposure to second-hand smoke. Fossil fuel use also harms others through ambient air pollution that accounts for about 3.5 million premature deaths per year, as well as through climate change, which increasingly threatens the health of current and future generations.” The group is calling for labels to be brought in this year, ahead of the United Nations COP26 climate conference in November. READ MORE Government plans E10 petrol switch in 2021 Why car buyers are the victims in the climate change debate Analysis: Can car makers really save the planet? View the full article
  23. In 1986, we had our first experience with a Lee Noble machine – and boy was it an experience Lee Noble made waves in the early 2000s with his eponymous maker of affordable supercars, most notably with the superb Noble M12 GTO at the turn of the millennium. However, he was already getting noticed back in the 1980s, when he began Noble Motorsport Ltd - better known as Ultima, a company that is still going very strong today, having recently revealed the 1200bhp V8-powered RS. The first car produced, dubbed the Ultima, was designed in 1983, and three years later Autocar had its first experience of Noble's talent. Looking like a Group C Le Mans car, the Ultima was based around a tubular spaceframe chassis and used various bits from the Austin Princess (radiator), Ford Cortina (uprights, brakes and steerings), Lancia Beta (rear brakes) and Renault 30 (engine and gearbox), plus some components of Noble's own design. Perhaps unwisely, we decided to drive the Ultima to Leicester Square in central London (because it was built in Leicester, right?), and it was on the way that the first of several encounters of the copper kind would occur. Apparently, this "Mulsanne refugee" didn't quite tally with the Renault family hatchback that NUT 602P showed up as on the police database. The next, rather irate constable called it "the stupidest thing he'd ever seen". "Oh well, the things we do for art," we said. "Now, driving the Ultima around town is an interesting exercise," we said, "because you sit so low that you virtually see under Range Rovers, let alone lorries, and rearward vision is decidedly non-existent. Except for the wing mirrors, so named because all you see in them is wing. "Moreover, the beast is pretty wide. Your ego works overtime on the outward view, all sculpted Can Am-style wheel arches, but then suffers a massive crash with the rending sound of glassfibre graunching pavement. "At least you can be comforted that it's relatively easy to drive, docile and tractable, and the noise! Never before has a humble Renault V6 sounded so like a burbling Chevy V8. It's muscle without the tears." Perhaps more of a challenge than threading through narrow streets was keeping away public attention. The effect on passers-by was apparently "something akin to Samantha Fox removing her dress in an army base". On our fifth try, we finally got the Ultima parked in front of the Empire cinema with police permission, only for "what seemed like half the world to descend upon it", half of them drunk and all of them desperate to have their photograph taken with it – even if only one reveller didn't need telling exactly what the Ultima actually was. "Forget your Ferraris, Porsches and Panther Sixes," we enthused, "this beats the lot in pure, unadultered pose value." Okay, enough of that; time to test the thing where it belonged. So the next day we took to the country, and there the Ultima revealed itself to "handle and drive like the racing car its outward appearance suggests". "Tractability is excellent, the car simple and easy to conduct. The fascia may be less than ergonomically perfect, but everything is there, and the driving position is sensational, as you lie prone, racing car-style, with near-straight legs and arms. "The handling of this all-round independently suspended beast is superb. For sure, there's a little bump-steer, but the roadholding limits go far beyond the bounds of my bravery. "The gearchange takes some getting used to, with an imprecise gate for the Renault five-speeder, but it's slick once you get used to it, while the steering is suitably precise, if slightly too light, likewise the clutch, all of which aid day-to-day driving." The 2.6-litre six-cylinder engine had been modified only slightly by Noble, with just a peaky pair of cams and three double-choke Dellorto carburettors to boost its power output to 168bhp. However, the car weighed only around 740kg, so it recorded some "incredible" performance figures at our MIRA test track: 0-60mph in 6.5sec in the rain. We continued: "The 30-50mph and 50-70mph in-gear acceleration times were faster than the Audi Sport Quattro we tested last year and very close to the Lamborghini Countach Quattrovalvole times as well. "So, in performance terms, it's a Ferrari for the masses, because this slingshot will cost around £7000 (about £20,600 today) to build up from the basic kit; for £3500 (£10,300), the purchaser gets a body and spaceframe kit, with all-round double-wishbone suspension. "All that is then required is trim, wiring and fitment of the mechanics, which are all low-cost items." For us, though, the Ultima was all about the pose value that was shown so obviously in the capital. "You forget the fact that the car is noisy," we said, "typically kit car in its trim, the superb performance and the quibbles over brake and ride, and revel instead in the gaze of passers-by. Which, surely, is why people will pay the price of a hot hatch to own one." READ MORE From the archive, 1996: Jacques Villeneuve makes dramatic F1 debut From the archive, 1992: The 20th-century Renault Twizy From the archive, 1981: Soviet dream machines View the full article
  24. Stroll (pictured above) is now Aston chairman Despite a big cash injection from Lawrence Stroll, the British luxury marque faces a tough future It’s an old political cliché that a week is a long time in politics. On the stock markets, however, just a few hours can turn a company’s prospects upside down – as Aston Martin has recently proven. Ironically, as recently as 23 January, it was reported that analysts at Citigroup rated Aston as a ‘high-risk, high-return’ bet based on the potential of the DBX, targeting a future share price of £6. Since Aston Martin Lagonda plc was floated on the stock market in October 2018, its launch share price of £19 has been in decline, dropping to £11.56 on 14 December 2018. It had taken less than two months for the shares to lose around 40% of their value, although many analysts felt the initial launch price of the shares was over-enthusiastic. By 18 January last year, things had picked up a little before continuing their downward journey. This was perhaps a little surprising, because Aston was reporting a generally successful 2018. According to its accounts, the number of ‘wholesale’ cars sold for 2018 was 6441, up from 5098 in 2017. The company sold 1785 V12-engined cars and 4471 V8s. Sales in the US jumped 38% and Aston’s revenue hit £1.1 billion, up 25%. Excluding the ‘specials’ built by the company, the average selling price for its cars was £141,000. That’s high, but perhaps not high enough considering Aston’s incoming investment plans. One surprise hiding in the accounts was that the cost of placing the company on the stock market was £136 million, helping to push annual profits down to just £68m. On future product launches, the investor presentation was especially bullish. As well as the DBX crossover, the line-up included two new mid-engined supercars – the Vanquish and Valhalla – as well as an electric SUV and electric saloon from Lagonda in 2021 and 2022. On top of that ambitious schedule, in addition to 155 examples of the battery-powered Rapide E, Aston was promising the DB4 GT Zagato continuation model, the DB5 Goldfinger continuation and two versions of the Valkyrie hypercar. Clearly, this programme – as well as the costs of setting up the St Athan factory for DBX production – was ambitious in the extreme, especially for such a small company. The share price continued its overall descent during the first half of last year, dropping to just £8.43 on 24 May before firming up to over £10 by July. But a trading update and profit warning from the firm on 23 July put an end to any hopes of a recovery. Aston revealed it had experienced a 25% drop in sales between April and June last year, with falls of 22% in the UK and 28% across Europe and the Middle East. Shares plummeted by 26% in a single day. On 31 July, Aston announced that it had lost £78m in the first half of 2019, in contrast to a £21m profit in the same period in 2018. By 5 August, the share price had cratered to just £4.54, then £3.99 by 31 October. However, some confidence returned to investors towards the end of the year, with the price stuttering back up to £6.30 on 6 December. That was the recent peak for the company, and one to which it is unlikely to return for quite some time. At the beginning of this year, Aston released its preliminary figure for the whole of 2019. Sales in the UK fell from 1798 to 1429 and in Europe from 1489 to 1074. Revenue went down 9%. The rumour in the analyst world – one later confirmed by CEO Andy Palmer – was that Vantage sales had failed to hit the mark, which might explain the recent redesign. Even a rise in sales in the US couldn’t prevent Aston’s finances taking a beating. That ambitious new model programme was biting, with the company’s debt leaping from £560m to £876m. Serious alarm bells rang and the company’s cash position became incredibly precarious, making the planned roll-out of crucial models such as the DBX difficult. Then came a rescue, of sorts, on 31 January, when billionaire Lawrence Stroll bought a 16.7% stake in the company for £182m, which was to be added to a £318m rights issue to give the company a £500m boost, get the DBX in showrooms and get the development programme for the new midengined cars well under way. Stroll’s plan, which made him chairman, confirmed the Valkyrie for this year, cancelled the Rapide E and pushed the relaunch of Lagonda back to 2025. And then the coronavirus struck. Stroll took advantage of a well-placed clause in the original contract to renegotiate his offer, valuing the shares at £2.25 rather than the original £4 and taking a 25% stake. He also added an additional £25m to the original plan to give £55.5m in working capital in order to tide Aston Martin over. Overall, Aston Martin intends to raise £536 million as announced today. £171m of that will be through Stroll’s consortium as part of their total investment of £262m, while a subsequent rights issue will also follow. Stroll’s new offer was, perhaps, based on the market price of £4.02 recorded on 30 January, and his investment pushed the shares up to £4.98. From there, though, it has been downhill all the way, as the world reacted to the spread of Covid-19. After dipping as low as £1.20 during one day of trading, Aston’s share price ricocheted around under the £2 mark as day-traders took advantage of mini bounces. Despite the factory having to close as a result of the pandemic, the share price has gently risen above that figure since, but not by much. But the value of Stroll’s holding has essentially been halved. And with global car sales almost halting during March and revenue drying up, Aston’s situation now, once again, looks critical. READ MORE New Aston Martin V6 hybrid will be brand's most powerful engine New Aston Martin Speedster is exclusive V12 two-seater Aston Martin: new chairman Lawrence Stroll to bring racing focus View the full article
  25. Citroën C4 Cactus: there’s no funkier way to enter a ULEZ zone Alfa Romeo Mitos, Citroen C4 Cacti and Fiat 500 Ls are what you're looking for The great privilege about being asked to answer car buying questions is that quite often it isn’t an Autocar reader after their next supercar fix. A very nice lady recently spotted an online article I wrote in the dark ages about how very wonderful the Nissan Figaro is. I have no recollection of writing that, but it inspired quite a wish list. She wants a fairly small, ideally left-hand-drive car that will carry five and is around four years old, classic-looking like a Beetle or Mini, automatic, Ultra Low Emissions Zone-compliant and economical – all for around £6k. Seeking out a left-hooker for a town car with infrequent trips over to France seems a bit illogical. It’s better to stick with a locally sourced motor. Petrol cars are safer to buy if you want to comply with ULEZs (it’s easy to check whether the car is compliant by going onto the Transport for London website and entering the registration number), but Euro 6 diesels from 2015 should be fine. The most difficult thing is finding a small automatic hatchback with character. When it comes to small-car character, the Fiat 500 has it, but it won’t comfortably seat five people. In that case, the 500L is rather more accommodating. So a 2015 1.3 Multijet Pop Star with 45k miles and Dualogic transmission at £5600 seems very reasonable. Not pretty, but sort of like an old-school Multipla. The Citroën C4 Cactus is an interesting sort of micro-SUV with roof rails and all that jazz. It’s still fairly big, but a 2015 example with 44k miles and the 1.2 petrol engine is ULEZ-compliant, too, and that’ll cost £5900. The character question always brings up Alfa Romeo. On the small side, there’s either the Mito or the Giulietta. It’s easier to find an automatic Giulietta 2.0 JTDM-2, which is ULEZ-appropriate. I found a Business-spec one with 85k miles at £5900. When it came to the Mito, I only saw an insurance-recorded 2016 1.4 TB MultiAir Collezione at £5500; otherwise, it would have been more than £7000. One day a Ford Fiesta with an Aston Martin-esque grille might be a classic, and at least it’s cheaper than a real Cygnet. So a 2016 1.0T Ecoboost Zetec Powershift with one owner and a serious 85,000 miles costs around £6000. That seems like a pretty good compromise when it comes to economy, value for money and exclusivity if you want to play with bonnet badges. At the moment, if you want a little automatic that’s economical and ULEZ-appropriate, some options are available. But with city cars fast becoming an endangered species, it may not last. What we almost bought this week Toyota Paseo 1.5 ST: Is it just us or does this old Paseo look passably attractive? It’s certainly sleek and nicely proportioned, although look inside and you’ll be greeted by the sight of floral seat upholstery. It’s a 1997 P-reg with 99,700 miles but only one previous owner, who from this distance appears to have looked after it. They want just £500. Tales from Ruppert's garage BMW 320, mileage - 84,350: There has been a colossal amount of outgoings recently, so I’m looking to save some money. Rather than liquidating a member of the fleet, how about dodging the tax? One of two V11s to arrive was for my daughter’s Golf, so at least I didn’t have to pay for that. And the Baby Shark is now well over 40 years old so should be road tax-free. But, because of the strange way the ‘rolling’ system works, I’ve had to wait until 2020 plus three months for it to qualify for a zero rating. That didn’t stop them asking me for £265, though. I’ll go to the post office on 1 April with ‘historic’ paperwork. Hope I’m not a fool. A-to-Z Bangerpedia C is for Citroën C3: There’s plenty to like about the C3, and many will appreciate the raised, people-carrier-like driving position. So there’s a lot of room up front with a usefully adjustable steering wheel and driving seat. The spec levels have always been pretty good; most will want the SX, which has air conditioning and a CD player, while the Exclusive even throws in climate control and sat-nav if optioned. The C3 is a reasonably lively drive and most of the engines are pretty good, especially the 1.4 turbodiesel. Ultimately, the C3 could have been the new 2CV, but Citroën knew today’s car buyer wouldn’t be satisfied with something so basic. Readers' questions Question: What road tax changes are due to come into force next month? Showrooms near me are plastered with window stickers urging motorists to beat the tax rise. Colin Thurrock, via email Answer: The tax rise they’re referring to is the fact that first-year road tax on new cars registered from 1 April will be based on CO2 readings derived from the new, tougher WLTP emissions test rather than the old NEDC regime. The difference in the two readings averages around 25%, and duty revenue is forecast to increase by around £200 million as a result. The change will hit some cars quite hard. JE Question: When abroad, I notice public parking operators grant motorists an additional 10 minutes for free, I assume to allow them to walk to the shops. Why can’t British councils do the same? Dave Harris, Chippenham Answer: In fact, they do; at least in England. A 10-minute grace period after a parking ticket has expired became law in 2015. It applies only in local authority car parks, but there are plans to extend it to private car parks throughout the UK. The regulation says: ‘No penalty charge is payable for the contravention where the vehicle has been left beyond the permitted parking period for a period not exceeding 10 minutes.’ JE READ MORE Petrol-powered Fiat 500 to continue 'as long as there is demand' Fiat 500 reinvented as all-electric city car for 2020 Future of small cars at Fiat Chrysler in doubt, CEO reveals View the full article
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