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  1. The Motorists Guide

    Ford GT vs Ford Fiesta ST

    Both are handsome but only one will turn heads For sheer breadth of product, few can outdo Ford Performance. We find out if the value king Fiesta ST and GT supercar share any family traits. The sheer elasticity of Ford Performance is a remarkable thing. Within the space of a year, the Blue Oval’s fast car division knocked out one of the most intoxicating supercars of its generation, then quickly followed it up with the best affordable performance car money can buy. In the same way that a coastline seems to get longer the more accurately you measure it, the gulf that divides the GT and the Fiesta ST becomes more and more preposterous the closer you look. Consider this: while the ST counts Toyotas, Vauxhalls, Volkswagens and Suzukis among its rivals, the GT costs about the same as a mid-range McLaren, plus a mid-range Ferrari. And if you were to take every penny you had set aside for a GT of your own and spend it instead on Fiesta STs, the 22 hatchbacks that you’d become the proud owner of would weigh the same as four fully grown African elephants. You get the picture. The Ford GT is a lot more expensive than the Fiesta ST, although at £420,000 it is also a lot more expensive than most other supercars. And it isn’t even as though Ford Performance is blagging its way through building two such disparate cars. No, it’s pulling it off in some style, neither one feeling like a leap too far or a token effort. Somehow, the GT and the ST both exist in the Ford Performance heartland. It was only a matter of weeks ago that we crowned the Fiesta ST the finest sub-£30,000 performance car of 2018. A fortnight before that, we awarded it a four-and-a-half-star road test rating, which rather makes the four stars we deemed the GT worthy of 12 months previously seem a touch humiliating. Is the GT really shown up by the ST? We’ll come to that. With the two cars parked alongside each other, the stark reality is that the GT is so otherworldly looking, so malevolent, that in its company the ST almost looks pathetic, like a parasitic remora fish clinging to the flank of a great white shark. Actually, it looks as though somebody has turned up to our photoshoot uninvited and parked right in the way. Of course, the other stark reality is that the supercar was designed and developed in North America while the hot hatch hails from Ford’s R&D centre at Lommel in Belgium, so it is very possible that the personnel overlap between the two projects was precisely none at all. But they are still siblings, or first cousins at the very least, and when you drive the two back-to-back, you do pick up on a number of similarities. Mostly, though, you notice the differences. In the Fiesta you sit upright and have good visibility all around you, but in the GT you are in repose and can only really see directly ahead of you through a narrow slit of windscreen. And while the ST feels dinky out on the road, the GT feels simply enormous. Everything about the GT screams motorsport, which is no surprise at all given it was designed to monster the opposition at Le Mans, and only then made vaguely civilised for road use. And it is motorsport, of course, that justifies this car’s existence at all, because if Ford hadn’t won the world’s greatest endurance race four times in a row half a century ago, the Blue Oval simply wouldn’t have the brand cachet to pull off such a fantastically expensive supercar. If in some parallel universe Ford had gone ahead and built the GT without having won at La Sarthe all those years ago, nobody with even a flicker of sense would have spent the better part of half a million nicker on the damn thing. So the GT isn’t just derived from motorsport, it owes its entire existence to racing. That’s why it seems so appropriate that while Ferrari and McLaren busy themselves with making their supercars more and more usable every day, Ford has charged off in the opposite direction and built something so raw and uncompromising, you’d have to be a masochist to use it daily. The way I see it, a supercar should be used occasionally and be so unlike your daily transport that you never forget how special that supercar is. When the GT slaps heavily over cats eyes, therefore, and when stones ping noisily into the wheel arches and when the boost from the V6 engine’s pair of turbochargers builds extravagantly and then is dumped with a loud hiss, I can’t help but add another layer to that hectic soundscape by whooping in delight. This stripped-back, immersive kind of driving experience has become far too rare. The big rear spoiler drops so quickly from view as you slow down to urban speeds, and with such a loud thwack, that you swear every time it has just fallen off. You sit so close to the centre of the car’s cabin that, with a passenger alongside you, your shoulders are in constant contact. You also have to remind yourself that over your other shoulder there is at least another foot of bodywork. The seat itself is fixed so you tug the pedal box towards you or kick it away with your feet, adjusting the steering column for reach to get your driving position just so. The floating upper section of the dashboard brilliantly mimics the exterior aero tunnels that are this car’s signature design feature, adding to the very real impression that air doesn’t flow over the top of this car or underneath it, but that it passes directly through it. The engine is industrial-sounding, all tuneless turbocharged blare, uncultured thrashing and assorted whistles and whooshes. It isn’t in the least bit musical, but you will not happen upon a more purposeful or to-the-point soundtrack away from a racing paddock. With 647bhp on tap and less than 1500kg to punt along, the GT does feel furiously quick, but it doesn’t deliver quite the panic-inducing, unrelenting acceleration of the admittedly more powerful McLaren 720S. The GT’s steering is detailed and incredibly direct, and there is so much body control even on a cresting, yumping road that it seems daft to mention it at all. Body control is to the Ford GT driver what sand is to the Bedouin. On top of that, the car has enormous grip and freakish agility, but while the springs are very firm and there’s only a modest amount of wheel travel, the quality of the damping in that very short stroke means the ride is actually mature and sophisticated. In fact, it is the Fiesta ST that feels busier when flung across our chosen stretch of Cambridgeshire B-road, boinging up and down in its trademark way where the GT is a little more settled. The ST’s 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbo motor is more or less half the engine the GT’s 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 is, but rated at 197bhp it delivers not even a third of the power. Aside from their industrial soundtracks, the two engines have very little in common – the ST’s three-pot feeling as though it’s done its best work by 5500rpm, whereas the GT’s V6 wants to keep on going. Both cars have frantically responsive steering, to the point where you have to calm your steering inputs to avoid making either car feel nervous or flighty. If there really is any shared DNA between them, however, it’s this: while both cars are enjoyable to drive at medium speeds, they really come together and start working as a cohesive whole rather than a series of interconnected components when you start pressing on. They both want to be flogged near enough to death, and in both cases the engineers have compromised some level of everyday agreeableness – a little in the case of the ST, a lot for the GT–to make it that way. What about those star ratings: is the ST really half a star better than the GT? Only in the vaguest, most meaningless sense, because while the ST is by some margin the best car in its class, the GT is much more expensive than a number of its rivals, it’s not necessarily more exciting to drive and it is actually less adept at the day-to-day stuff. So it’s all relative. The elasticity of Ford Performance is a unique thing and something to be celebrated. That is true for the time being, at least, because when Mercedes-AMG’s Project One hypercar finally comes on line, the title of stretchiest performance sub-division will transfer from Dearborn, Michigan, to Affalterbach, Baden-Württemberg. After all, alongside building £2 million hypercars with Formula 1 powerunits, AMG will also sell the recently announced A35 hatchback at something like £35,000. As the Ford GT drives away at the end of our photoshoot, I realise that in all likelihood I will never drive one again, let alone own one myself. At least in the Fiesta ST, there is a Ford Performance product that is also enormously good fun to drive, and rather more affordable too. Used fast Fords that won’t cost you £400k: ESCORT RS COSWORTH, 1992-1996, Pay £40,000: The RS Cosworth was so popular among car thieves that in certain parts of the country it became uninsurable. With four-wheel drive and a 224bhp four-pot, it had a level of performance we’d rarely seen in a hatchback before. MK1 FOCUS RS, 2002-2003, Pay £12,000: Arguably the original super-hatch, the first Focus RS was laden with go-faster hardware but some reckoned its pronounced torque steer made it a liability. Most agreed it was a real looker, though. GT, 2004-2006, Pay £250,000: What the previous Ford GT lacked in outright performance compared with the newer model, it made up for through sheer force of character. With a walloping V8 and a manual gearbox, it was rewarding to drive too. MK2 FOCUS ST, 2005-2008, Pay £4000: It may not have been universally adored but, with a characterful 225bhp five-cylinder turbo engine, the second-gen Focus ST did at least have a USP. The good news is that since going off sale, it has dropped into bargain basement territory. MK6 FIESTA ST, 2013-2017, Pay £9000: Like its successor, the Mk6-based Fiesta ST was one of the most cohesive performance cars you could buy at any price point. The engineering was reminiscent of a purpose-built sports car, but what mattered more was how much fun it was. View the full article - original article courtesy of Autocar
  2. The City of London is plotting a congestion charge, zero emission zone and 15mph speed limit New transport strategy for London's business district plans to cut vehicle use by half, and introduce 15mph speed limit The City of London is aiming to reduce motor traffic by half within the next 25 years and make the capital's financial centre Britain’s first large-scale zero emission zone. The city and county, which is known as the Square Mile and contains the heart of London's business district, has developed its first long-term transport strategy as a plan for future investment following a public consultation process. Chris Hayward, the City’s planning and transportation chief, said that the plan would “future-proof this world-class, growing business and culture centre.” More than 500,000 people work in the area, and Hayward said that 93% commute in via public transport. The strategy therefore will put a priority on pedestrians, including the introduction of a City-wide 15mph speed limit, subject to the approval of the Department for Transport. The plan is also intended to substantially reduce motor traffic, with the target of cutting traffic by 25% by 2030 and 50% by 2044. To do that, the City will introduce a range of measures, including a “congestion charge that’s fit for purpose”. The City's aim to develop Britain’s first large-scale zero emission zone will begin with smaller-scale zero emission zones covering the Eastern City Cluster, and Barbican and Golden Lane areas. No specifics on how either the congestion charge or the zero emission zone would work have been given yet. They would be separate from the current London Congestion Charge and Ultra-Low Emission Zone that are enforced by the London Assembly. There are also plans to reduce the number of delivery vehicles in the area, through the introduction of timed access and loading restrictions, and the introduction of off-site consolidation areas, where deliveries are grouped together so they can be made in fewer trips. Hayward said: “Once finalised, this Transport Strategy will be transformative in ensuring that the Square Mile remains a healthy, accessible and safe commercial and cultural centre and a great place to live, work, and visit in the years to come.” The Strategy is still being finalised before a last consultation process begins. It could be approaved in early 2019. The City of London is governed by the City of London Corporation, and the strategy will only apply within its 1.12 square mile area. It is one of the 33 districts that form Greater London, which is overseen by the Mayor of London and London Assembly. Read more Variable pay-per-mile charge for London under consideration Mayor of London: electric cars should get free or discounted parking Deputy London mayor: 'we are targetting diesel' London's Ultra-Low Emission Zone to be expanded View the full article
  3. UK licences may no longer be valid on their own when it comes to driving on the continent if no deal is reached with Brussels British drivers could face the "extra burden" of applying for a permit to drive in the European Union in the event of a "no-deal" Brexit, the government has warned. In the latest batch of papers outlining how a failure to reach a deal could impact on British life, ministers revealed UK driving licences may no longer be valid on their own for driving on the continent. This is because the EU might not agree to recognise UK licences, a development which would require drivers to apply for International Driving Permits (IDP). These cost £5.50 and motorists would be able to apply for them at 2,500 Post Office branches across the UK in the event they become a necessity. If they fail to obtain the permit, British drivers face being turned away at borders or being hit with enforcement action. In an extra layer of bureaucracy that could hit drivers, there are two different types of IDP. This is because different EU nations have recognised different conventions on road traffic. So some journeys would potentially require both permits, for example, if you wanted to drive into France and then Spain. AA president Edmund King said: "This will be an extra burden for UK drivers wanting to take a holiday abroad. "We envisage quite a rush on post offices next year for the £5.50 IDPs if no deal is reached. "Hopefully an agreement can be reached to prevent further red tape and expense for drivers." The Department for Transport said it thinks up to seven million permits could be requested in the first 12 months after a "no-deal" divorce. A total of 28 "no-deal" technical notices were published on the government website on Thursday, following the release of 24 last month. As well as driving licences, the latest batch covers topics like roaming charges for mobile phones and the potential impact on passport rules. The papers warn that UK citizens could be prevented from entering EU countries even if they have a valid passport. Britons currently do not need to have a minimum or maximum amount of time left on their passports to travel to the continent, but this could change if there is no deal. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has called on phone companies not to impose roaming charges on customers under "no-deal". Such charges were abolished in June 2017, but a failure to reach a deal would mean surcharge-free travel to the continent could no longer be guaranteed. However, the government has said it would introduce a cap on charges if there is no EU agreement. Ministers would set a £45 a month limit and force companies to send alerts to customers when 80% of that had been reached. Vodafone, Three, EE and O2, which cover more than 85% of the market, say they have no plans to change their approach to mobile roaming post-Brexit. But while the chances of British customers being stung by sky-high charges appears remote, those living near the Northern Ireland border could face higher bills. The government has warned consumers and businesses to be aware of the potential for "inadvertent" data roaming, where a stronger signal from the Republic kicks in.
  4. The Motorists Guide

    £20 fine for leaving your engine idling

    Latest air quality measure means you could be hit with a £20 fine for leaving your engine running while parked A new measure to prevent drivers from leaving their engines idling while parked is gaining traction in multiple areas of the country. Councils in Nottingham, Norwich, Reading and London have all adopted the on-the-spot fines, and the Times reports that 30 further areas are planning to introduce them, in a bid to improve air quality in the UK’s urban areas. The fines are aimed partly at parents picking up and dropping off their children at school; this contributes to spikes in pollution in those areas. A new study carried out by King’s College London highlighted the dangers of car pollution for those living in affected areas, claiming a seven-week life expectancy increase for those born after air quality legislation was introduced. The RAC's head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, said: “With the spotlight firmly on reducing pollution in urban areas, we welcome a focus on reducing unnecessary engine idling. The correct procedure should be for an enforcement officer to ask the driver to switch their engine off, and if they refuse, they will be issued a penalty. Idling engines can produce up to twice the amount of emissions of an engine in motion, and for drivers it can mean higher fuel bills." It’s the latest charge in the name of air quality, with the T-Charge costing London drivers £10 daily if they’re at the wheel of the pre-Euro 4 car, petrol or diesel. Other parties have suggested alternative measures, though. A health group previously suggested the removal of traffic calming measures in residential areas, to prevent the pollution caused by the on-off braking and accelerating associated with them. Read the full article: View the full article
  5. FLIP flops are becoming part of Brits’ daily wardrobe as temperatures continue to soar. But those who choose to drive in their summery shoes could find themselves in hot water if they are involved in an accident While driving in flip-flops isn't illegal in itself, wearing them could lead to a careless driving charge if they impede your ability to drive safely. Under Rule 97 of the Highway Code, drivers are advised they must have “footwear and clothing which does not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner”. Flip flops could slip off, become wedged under pedals and prevent you from pressing the pedals with enough force to brake quickly, which could cause you to drive erratically or even lead to a collision. If you are stopped by police while driving in a potentially dangerous manner or your footwear is a reason for an accident, you could be charged with driving without due care and attention (careless driving). In the most serious cases, careless driving can attract a hefty £5,000 fine, up to nine penalty points and even a court-imposed driving ban. A recent study by insurance brand, ingenie, found that a whopping 27 per cent of drivers could be risking this penalty as they ditch their shoes in favour of flip flops while driving. Despite the large number of Brits taking the risk, around one in three actually thought it was illegal to drive in loose fitting footwear. RAC's guidelines for suitable driving footwear According to the RAC there are some guidelines for what footwear is suitable when driving: Have a sole no thicker than 10mm, but the sole should not be too thin or soft. Provide enough grip to stop your foot slipping off the pedals. Not be too heavy. Not limit ankle movement. Be narrow enough to avoid accidentally depressing two pedals at once. Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy and Research, told Sun Motors: “Before setting off. You should ensure that clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner. “If flip flops stopped you being in control you could be prosecuted, as you are breaking Highway Code Rule 97. “Careless driving is mostly judged on the impact your driving has on others around you, so if you are spotted swerving or braking erratically and then stopped and found to have inadequate footwear, you could be prosecuted. “If you do cause a crash, then it could also be an aggravating factor against you in court and lead to a slightly higher fine or longer ban.” THE ROAD LAWS YOU NEED TO KNOW REGULATED ROADS- Is the Highway Code law and can you actually be penalised for breaking it? LAW AND DISORDER- The eight laws you had NO idea you were breaking Selim Cavanagh, Chief Executive at ingenie said: “It’s promising that almost a third of drivers assume driving in flip flops is illegal, because it’s really dangerous. “They slip off, slide under the pedals, get caught between your feet and the pedals and if your feet are wet, they’ll affect your ability to brake if you need to. “Aside from the actual rules though, driving in flip flops can create a dangerous driving environment, and put you, your passengers, and other road users at risk. “So, if you’re heading to the beach this weekend, make sure you’ve packed some sensible driving shoes to get you there and back safely, as well as your flip flops to wear while you’re there.”
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