Car News

  • Mitsubishi Shogun Sport 2018 review Thursday 21st June 2018
    2018 Mitsubishi Shogun Sport 4 Shogun Sport name returns to the UK, attached to a seven-seat 4x4 that, Mitsubishi hopes, deftly combines practicality, comfort and toughness The Mitsubishi Shogun Sport is the Japanese manufacturer’s new flagship SUV, sitting atop a growing family of ruggedly styled, high-riding models.This car, also known as the Pajero Sport in some markets, is designed to combine practicality — in terms of seating for up to seven people — with the ability to tow sizeable loads and the toughness to cope with excursions off the beaten track.At 4785mm long, 1815mm wide and 1805mm high, the Shogun Sport is smaller in every key dimension than the long-wheelbase version of the full-fat Shogun, but the current version of the latter is being put out to pasture after many years on sale and Mitsubishi hopes its dealers will deftly guide existing and would-be Shogun owners towards this new vehicle.It marks the revival of the Shogun Sport model name last used here back in 2007 and is billed as an altogether more refined and luxurious 4x4 than the Shogun. For all the talk of sophistication, though, the Shogun Sport shares the fundamentals of its construction with Mitsubishi’s L200 pick-up. Not that such comparatively simple body-on-frame underpinnings are necessarily a bad thing, because it should at least bestow upon the vehicle a high degree of strength and durability.Mitsubishi L200 pick-up first drive review  Such hardy traits are very important to hardcore owners of Mitsubishi SUVs; the company estimates that, from the 18,500 examples of the previous Shogun Sport sold in the UK between 2000 and 2007, an impressive 12,000 are still in active service. Mitsubishi is confident that it can sell 3000-3500 Shogun Sports per year in the UK in what is a growing large SUV market. However, perhaps more so than some rivals’ models, Shogun Sport customers will be quite singular of purpose; it is estimated that about 90% of Shogun Sports will be specified with a tow bar. The car has a claimed braked trailer towing capacity of 3.1 tonnes, narrowly eclipsing the claimed hauling muscle of a key rival, the Toyota Land Cruiser.Just two trim levels are being offered, both with the same technical package: a 2.4-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder that produces 179bhp and 317lb ft, mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Don’t expect to find an electrified powertrain here any time soon; Mitsubishi chiefs are adamant that, for now, only diesel can offer the power and torque needed to tow, go off road and/or carry seven. The Shogun Sport 3 costs from £37,775 and comes with 18in alloy wheels, leather seats all round, LED lights, dual-zone climate control, a reversing camera, privacy glass, automatic lights and windscreen wipers and a touchscreen infotainment system with a DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The top-spec 4, which starts at £39,775 and is expected to be chosen by three-quarters of Shogun Sport buyers, adds — among other items — heated front seats, an uprated audio system and adaptive cruise control.
  • Throwback Thursday 1971: British Leyland Special Tuning Thursday 21st June 2018
    Special Tuning MG Midget
    Special Tuning MG Midget
    Many manufacturers now have performance divisions and packs; the Special Tuning department started upgrading to sport spec 50 years ago

    It's increasingly common for manufacturers to have performance divisions — think Audi Sport, Cupra or Hyundai N — making performance models and 'competition packs'.

    One of their forerunners was the Special Tuning department of British Motor Corporation (BMC) and then British Leyland, although this sold racing-influenced upgrades rather than its own series-production models.

    BMC had a successful racing outfit in the Competitions department, but it wasn't welcoming towards owners of its road cars trying to replicate its exploits through modification. In 1963, however, it saw the potential in commercialising such adventures and set up Special Tuning at its Abingdon facility. Early cars for which official upgrades were available included the Mini Cooper, Austin-Healey Sprite and MG A.

    The department proved popular with enthusiasts, so it was retained after BMC merged into British Leyland in 1968 and after the Competitions department was shut in 1970. Its offerings ranged from bolt-on kits tor modest improvements to the preparation of works-standard rally and racing cars for private owners.

    In December 1970, Autocar travelled to Abingdon to sample five of its latest modified products: a Morris 1800, a Maxi 1500, a Mini 1275GT, a Mini Clubman and an MG Midget.

    Although Special Tuning had produced some "very hairy" 1800s, beyond even rally standard, the car we tried was mildly tuned, with a twin-carburettor application and a new exhaust system, boosting it by 5bhp. This cost £43 (about £660 today). 

    The conversion proved not to be overly noticeable, although Autocar's testers did find the car to be "more lively" and concluded that the conversion was "a worthwhile investment for anyone who finds the Morris at all sluggish, for it is cheap, easy to fit and costs little in terms of fuel consumption and flexibility".

    The Maxi also had a twin-carb and new exhaust job, but with better results: a 12% increase in power across the rev range. This cut its 0-80mph time by 12 seconds and gave "a small but consistent gain in flexibility in the gears". Essentially, it brought the 1500 up to the standard of the 1800 with less spectacular results but also for less cash.

    Special Tuning had well over 200 parts in its catalogue for the Mini. The 1275GT we tested had "a good many of the choicer ones". Its engine had been extensively worked on, gaining two extra cylinder head studs, as standard on the Cooper S's engine, and that unit's valve gear. In addition, there was a polished cylinder head and oversized pistons, twin carburettors, lightweight tappets, lightweight flywheel and competition clutch, and a close-ratio gear cluster and improved final drive.

    On the suspension side, competition-rated Hydrolastic units had been fitted at the front, with progressive-rate bump stops at both ends.

    "The moment the engine started, it was obvious that this was something very different," we said. "Response was crisp and instant in true competition style, yet the car could be pulled away from rest without a great deal of trouble. Thanks to the mild cam, there was no suggestion of a sudden wild surge in engine output, although the unit was clearly happier above about 2000rpm.

    "Clear of built-up areas, the car certainly gave the impression of electrifying performance, as different from the standard 1275GT as one could imagine.

    "Roadholding on the fat Dunlop tyres was very good indeed and handling felt very much like that of the Cooper S with, if possible, a sharper response. It was possible to induce rather too much understeer for comfort if lots of power was used, but generally the car felt very safe."

    However, we pointed out, "the ride was extremely harsh and, over poor surfaces, the tendency was to progress from bump to bump in a series of leaps".

    When Special Tuning say that gears are lose-ratio, they really mean it. For example, first gear has a ratio of 2.54, contrasting the standard 3.30.

    "The very high bottom gear gives a good idea of why gentle persuasion was needed at very low speeds. Higher up the scale, however, the closeness of the ratios really enabled the driver to find exactly the right gear for the needs of the moment, with little risk of over-revving when changing down."

    And so we concluded: "In many ways, this was a quite remarkable little car. It was noisy and not all that comfortable, but its performance was extremely good and it was quite easy to drive. And the beauty of Special Tuning is that you can pick and choose, opting, for instance, for a softer ride and higher final drive gearing if you wish."

    The Clubman was also extensively worked on, with a full-race head and camshaft to give 90bhp. It was "a sheer delight to drive".

    We said: "There was considerable difficulty in making a good start without losing revs. Then again, the low final drive meant that the first two up-changes came in rapid succession, slowing the 0-60 mph time to a mere 11.9sec. And through the gears, it became obvious that top-end performance was impressive.

    "The other thing which greatly impressed us about this Clubman was the handling. It was not supposed to boast very much in the way of suspension modifications — the same as the 1275GT but without the Hydrolastic units. Nevertheless, it seemed to understeer a great deal less than the bigger-engined car.

    "On first acquaintance, it felt positively twitchy and very tail-happy, but in time this feeling gave way to confidence that the car was simply doing everything that was asked of it, very quickly indeed. Clearly, this sort of conversion, at a cost of over £300 (£4602) for the engine parts alone, appeals only to the sort of man who is interested in serious competition, but it was still tractable enough to be driven on the road by a driver of sufficient skill."

    As for the Midget, we said: "Whether the A-series engine is athwartships in a Mini or conventionally mounted in a Midget, it is equally amenable to the attention of Special Tuning.

    "Our test Midget had some £200 [£3068] worth of engine tuning, although the rest of the car had been left pretty well alone, with standard transmission and suspension. Uprated front brake pads were the only change to match the increased output of the modified engine.

    "On the open road the performance was nothing short of exhilarating, although again the noise level was high enough to become wearing after an hour or so of really hard driving.

    "With standard gearing and a driveline slightly prone to snatch, it proved impossible to obtain figures in third and top gears from really low speeds.

    "Clean results could only be taken from 20mph in third gear, and from 40mph in top, but even then, the figures show the modified car to lag well behind the standard one for another 10mph, after which everything starts to happen with a vengeance.

    "Even the basic Midget is a power-handling car; the extra stability and cornering power with the throttle open is very obvious. In the Special Tuning Midget, it is more obvious still; the chosen line can be altered to a considerable extent simply by shifting the right foot a little.

    "On the limit, there is considerable understeer, and it is quite possible (as the heading picture shows) to keep the inside front wheel clear of the ground through a long corner. The test car proved very convincingly that the Midget takes well even to extreme tuning of this kind. This conversion greatly enhanced the sporting character of the car without any serious snags arising: even the fuel consumption stayed within very reasonable bounds."

    Special Tuning was rebranded as Leyland ST in 1974 and stepped up its motorsport efforts, taking the Triumph TR7 rallying. In 1981, it moved out of Abingdon and became BL Motorsport. Focus then shifted to racing the Rover SD1 and rallying the MG Metro 6R4, but things didn't always go swimmingly and the department finally closed its doors in 1984. 

  • Toyota Camry to return to Britain as Mondeo Hybrid rival Thursday 21st June 2018
    Toyota Camry to return to Britain as Mondeo Hybrid rival Electrified saloon will fill void left by departing Avensis in early 2019

    Toyota will reintroduce its Camry saloon to Britain in 2019 after a 14-year absence, filling the void left by the soon-to-depart Avensis and presenting a new rival to the Ford Mondeo.

    The Camry, which has remained on sale in other markets and ranks as the world’s best-selling saloon, will come exclusively with a hybrid powertrain that is based on a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine and electric motor.

    This system, already offered in the hybrid version of the RAV4, will be self-charging, meaning no pure-electric running will be possible. It makes the Camry a rival to the likes of the Mondeo Hybrid and Volkswagen Passat GTE.

    In pictures: the greatest Toyotas ever made

    The latest Camry, on sale globally since 2017, is underpinned by the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform, which is also used by the Prius, C-HR and Auris, as well as the RAV4. Toyota said the Camry would be tuned for Europe, suggesting cars sold here will offer sharper handling.

    Toyota will announce UK specifications in the run-up to the car’s market launch, expected to be in early 2019. Due to its larger size, it’s likely that the Camry will cost more than the departing Avensis. A starting price of £25,000 is possible.

    The brand is gradually pulling the British-built Avensis from UK sale due to sluggish demand. UK Avensis sales fell to just 3473 units last year, 1660 fewer than in 2016. However, the larger and more premium Camry is predicted to be more popular with fleet buyers, suggesting it could dwarf those numbers.

    The Camry was offered in Britain from 1983 until 2004, when it was removed due to falling sales. However, the model has remained a strong seller in other countries including the US. It has sold in more than 700,000 units globally.

    More content:

    Ford Fiesta ST-Line long-term review

    Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupé 2018 review

  • Video: 2019 Audi Q8 review | Is flagship SUV as good as a Porsche Cayenne? Thursday 21st June 2018
    Audi Q8
    Audi Q8
    How does the new Q8 stack up among the Bentley Bentayga, Lamborhini Urus and Volkswagen Touareg? We find out

    The Audi Q8 is the sixth Volkswagen Group SUV to be launched on the same MLBevo platform in the last 3 years.

    How does it stack up among the Bentley Bentayga, Lamborhini Urus and Volkswagen Touareg? And is it better than rivals from other manufacturers, such as the BMW X6 and Range Rover Sport

    Read more 

    Audi Q2 review 

    Audi Q7 review 

    Audi Q5 review

  • Ford Fiesta ST-Line long-term review Thursday 21st June 2018
    Ford Fiesta ST-Line 2018 long-term review hero front Does this version of Britain’s top-selling car have the substance to match its style?

    Why we’re running it: To determine whether the country’s best-selling new car is as worthy of that title as its brilliant predecessor was

    Month 1 - specs 

    Life with a Ford Fiesta ST-Line: Month 1

    A run-in engine means Fuel economy improvements - 30th May 2018

    The Fiesta has gone through quite a transformation in its first 1100 miles. To begin with, the 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine felt rather tight, while also returning measly economy that barely surpassed 30mpg during my urban commute. But, gradually, that figure has crept up by 10mpg and the 138bhp triple up front has started to feel more eager to rev.

    Mileage: 1108

    Back to the top

    Welcoming the Fiesta ST-Line to the fleet - 16 May 2018

    ‘Something-Line’ models. You know the breed; they’re the sheep in wolf’s clothing, the converse of a Q-car. They wear the muscle of their most athletic cousins, but behind the spoiler and big wheels are the heart and lungs of the family accountant.

    They’re everywhere; diesel Golfs dressed like Golf Rs, Corsas impersonating the VXR and C-Classes with dreams of being C63s. Now, there’s another and it has just joined the Autocar fleet.

    Say hello to our new Ford Fiesta ST-Line, which flexes biceps with metallic alloy wheels (ours are the optional 18in ones), beefier bumpers and an ST front grille, but beneath its bonnet lives a little 1.0-litre Ecoboost triple. Surely, the buying public will turn their back on such a poorly endowed fraudster?

    Well, actually, no, they won’t. Turns out ST-Line is fast becoming the new Zetec. It is already the most popular trim for the Focus and now it’s climbing up the Fiesta’s popularity ladder.

    ST-Line arrived in November, several months after Zetec and Titanium variants, yet it accounted for 23% of sales in 2017. Titanium was just 2% better than that. Although Zetec, the long-standing trim champion, represented 45% of demand, Ford thinks there’s a strong chance that’ll change this year.

    Given that the Fiesta is the nation’s best-selling new model by quite some margin, and this is the first time we’ll get an extended test in this latest version, it’s fair to assume that we’ll be seeing a lot of Fiesta ST-Lines on roads.

    So I should make the most of these early weeks, during which our red car is garnering appreciation from pedestrians as they wonder whether they’re seeing the new Fiesta ST months before it’s due to appear. Hopefully, these bystanders won’t feel like their glance is wasted on an ST-Line, because our car does at least come with the most potent version of the 1.0-litre Ecoboost on offer.

    We could have opted for the 99bhp entry model or the 123bhp midfielder, but we’ve gone for the 138bhp version because it straddles a middle ground between the standard line-up of Fiesta derivatives and the full-blown ST. In 138bhp form, the Fiesta ST-Line’s starting price is £17,945 — just £1050 less than the opening figure for its upcoming hot hatch sibling.

    Once you’ve added a few options — and our car is adorned with £1550 worth of extra kit — you’ve exceeded the price of a full-bore ST. Tempting, but purchase price is only one part of the equation. If you take running costs into account, Ford’s turbocharged three-pot 1.0 engine should be much easier on my pocket.

    Even in this peppiest form, the 1.0 triple is claimed to offer 62.8mpg (combined) and puff out 102g/km of CO2. So trips to the fuel station should be far less frequent than they would be in the ST, which also uses a three-cylinder but of 1.5-litre capacity and a 197bhp output. Our car should be notably cheaper to insure, too.

    Ford has upgraded the ST-Line’s chassis so it more deservedly sits between the standard line-up and the top variant than most ‘something-Line’ models. The underlying structure is 14% stiffer than the old car’s, thanks to the use of more bracing in key areas, but the ST-Line adds to this with suspension tuned to offer sportier handling than the standard car, achieved primarily through higher damper rates.

    This sounds promising for a B-road jaunt, but there’s a chance that it could make the car tiresome on my urban commute across London. There’s no system to adjust the damping rates, either. In fact, there’s nothing to adjust the way the car is set up at all, unless you count the Eco button that, as far as I can tell, seems only to slacken the throttle’s responses.

    But I like that there’s only the one character for this car. That trait suggests it could be like an old-school warm hatch. Not that it’s old-school inside.

    The new Fiesta is a much nicer place in which to sit compared with its predecessor. The previous car’s cluttered dashboard is a distant memory and the new version’s clean, simple dashboard is, to my eyes at least, a better example of design than the Volkswagen Group’s more functional layout.

    Our Fiesta ST-Line has the optional B&O Play sound system, which includes 10 speakers and adds an 8.0in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. That kit costs £350.

    The buttons and knobs on the dashboard feel of good quality, while the soft, squidgy plastic on the dashtop feels so nice that I’ve already developed an annoying habit of prodding it while stopped in traffic. If you rejoice at the sight of unpopped bubble wrap, you’ll understand the satisfaction.

    Aside from the hard, scratchy plastic for the interior door pull handles, every surface you lay your hands, feet or bottom on feels premium. Take the steering wheel, which comes with soft perforated leather, or the gearknob, which is spherical with a chrome-finished top. The cloth-covered sports seats are very comfortable and supportive, too.

    All in all, this is a car with plenty of potential. Our first drives in the Fiesta ST-Line suggest this could be quite the entry-level driver’s car so, rest assured, I’ll be venturing out of the Big Smoke and heading to the country to see how hard it is to cock an inside wheel in a car with a few miles on the clock. You can take a three-pot on a track day, too, right?

    Second Opinion

    I loved the ST-Line version of the previous Fiesta. While the engine is much the same, the handling is somehow even sweeter and more accurate now, and the difference between the cars’ interiors is like that between a Travelodge and a Hilton.

    Kris Culmer

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    Ford Fiesta 1.0T Ecoboost ST-Line specification

    Specs: Price new £17,945; Price as tested: £19,495; Options: ST-Line 18in wheels £600, rear privacy glass £250, rear parking distance sensors £200, B&O Play premium sound system with 8.0in touchscreen £350, Shadow Black roof and mirrors £150

    Test data: Engine 3 cyls in line, 998cc, turbocharged petrol; Power 123bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 125lb ft at 1400rpm; Top speed 121mph; 0-62mph 9.9sec; Claimed fuel economy 62.8mpg; Test fuel economy 35.4mpg; CO2 98g/km; Faults None; Expenses None

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  • Andrew Frankel: from ice cream salesman to esteemed road tester Thursday 21st June 2018
    Andrew Frankel - 30 years as a motoring journalist It is 30 years since Andrew Frankel became an automotive journalist. He looks back on a career in which he's dodged bullets in more ways than one

    Thirty years ago this month Jaguar won Le Mans for the first time since the 1950s, and the very next day one of the spectators, now somewhat hungover, reported for his first day working for Autocar magazine and, indeed, as a motoring journalist.

    Three decades later and to no-one’s greater astonishment than mine, I’m still here, albeit in the guise of senior contributing writer, rather than assistant deputy envelope licker under manager, or whatever it was back then.

    It is no exaggeration to say Autocar saved me. I left school without sufficient qualifications to get me to a university, after which I got fired from more jobs in just four years than most people have jobs in their lifetimes. Bond dealer, commodity broker, trainee lawyer, ice cream salesman (yes, really) – you name it, I lost it.

    For a while it looked like Autocar would go the same way. Both my immediate boss on the road test desk and the big scary editor soon realised I’d not been so much as economical with the truth in my application as flagrantly dishonest. But I was desperate. I could drive but only a bit, but could not write. At all.

    You can tell how precarious was my position at Autocar by looking at the so-called ‘flannel panel’ list of editorial staff in magazines published after I joined in mid-June 1988. I have copies from late August in which my name still fails to appear because, as said editor helpfully explained, "I’d only have to take it out again". 

    But most of us have one person back to whom the start of whatever small success we may have enjoyed can be traced and mine is Mel Nichols. Many of you will remember Mel as one of Car magazine’s greatest editors and it was his contributions to Car in the 1970s that helped spark my love of cars.

    But by 1988 he was the Editorial Director of Haymarket Publishing – Autocar’s owners then and now – and instead of just telling me my writing was rubbish like everyone else, he ventured to explain why it was rubbish and what might be done to make it less rubbish. One of the finest writers this industry has known, he saw a small shoot of something peering out of the cesspit of my prose and for reasons known only to him, chose to nurture it.

    Then two of his fellow Australians pitched in. First was Peter Robinson, who became Autocar’s European Editor late in 1988 and was and remains the greatest journalist ever to shine his talents upon the car industry, and then came Steve Cropley, who was the other significant inspiration in my childhood when he succeeded Nichols at the helm of Car.

    Once, when I was about 13, I was in London burger bar with my father when a red Ferrari 308GTB pulled up outside. From its interior Cropley emerged and walked into the restaurant. I wouldn’t have been more starstruck if it had been the entire cast of Charlie’s Angels, and no more likely to follow my father’s advice to go and introduce myself. When I first told him this story I can remember Steve looking about as aghast as a large Australian can look, and I smile at the thought he’ll be doing it all over again, right about now. 

    Robbo taught me how to be the best journalist I could be, while Cropley was my staunchest supporter throughout my time on the staff. Every time some other mag came sniffing, Cropley would take it upon himself to explain to those who wore suits why I needed to be persuaded to stay. And thanks to him, stay I did, leaving only when it became clear they weren’t about to hand the editor’s chair to someone entirely unqualified for the job.

    But I left with a deal that Autocar would hold my hand by providing me with some work as I tried to establish myself as a freelance journalist. And 22 years later, it seems it still is.

    I have many memories of the last 30 years but rather too many that can’t be published while I still require a living from this business. But I can tell you James May got sacked because he chose to take the rap alone for a stunt involving many conspirators, none more guilty than me; and one of my early freelance editing jobs was to massacre Chris Harris’s fledgling road tests. Remarkably, both remain friends to this day.

    I’ve had only one proper accident (so far at least, which I think is reasonable in more than a million test miles), when I destroyed the UK’s first Lancia Integrale Evolution one icy January day in 1992, cracked some ribs and earned some concussion while discovering I wasn’t Juha Kankunnen after all. At the time the only amusing aspect of the episode was that when the story came full circle back to me it held that I’d parked the car on its roof in a field. In fact it came to rest right side up, on the road, its roof literally the only panel of the entire car to remain unmolested.

    Short of crashing, the other experience I’d choose not to repeat from my years on the staff was driving 2326 miles in 24 hours on (European) public roads in a 1.6-litre, 90bhp Ford Mondeo crewed only by me and Steve Sutcliffe. Looking at those stats nearly a quarter of a century later it seems almost unimaginable, and my chief memory is the sense of relief at the end knowing I’d never have to do anything quite so stupid ever again.

    Autocar also facilitated the realisation of a childhood dream, namely to get my name into the Guinness Book of Records. My first ever freelance job came in around 1990 when the good book rang Autocar looking for someone to update its motoring pages. I just happened to pick up the telephone, and for the princely sum of £50 per year became its motoring editor.

    But there were no records that looked remotely within grasp and for some strange purist reason, I didn’t want to set a new record. I wanted to break an existing one. So I hatched a plan and told no-one about it.

    I got permission for a new record – the fastest lap of a UK circuit – to be set. At the time it was probably Keke Rosberg’s 160mph qualifying lap at Silverstone for the 1985 British Grand Prix. But all the road testers had gone faster than that in normal street machines around the Millbrook bowl. It felt like cheating but it was definitely a lap. So I offered my boss, Howard Lees, the chance to the set the record, which he duly did at 171mph in a Ferrari Testarossa in 1991.

    I then broke the standard in its quicker, more stable 512TR replacement the following year at 174mph. Job done. It is possible therefore that I also hold the record for being the only person ever to write their own record into the Guinness Book of Records.

    I went faster in 1994 – 211mph while running figures for the only full road test of the McLaren F1 – and have been quicker still in a Bugatti Veyron Supersport (an unverified 217mph), but being part of the crew that landed the F1 test was probably my proudest moment from my years as road test editor, and among the most bittersweet of memories too, coming as it did the day after Ayrton Senna was killed at Imola.

    After I left probably the most bizarre incident came in Sicily on the launch of the Ferrari California in 2009. I was doing those oversteer shots for the camera of Stan Papior (the only bloke to have started at Autocar before me and to still be there) when I noticed a man and a small boy standing at one of turnaround points. I thought he’d come to admire my skills. I was soon disabused of this notion when next time round the boy had gone and been replaced by a shotgun by his side.

    Why I continued I’ll never know – I expect I thought he was out shooting rabbits – but I was still relieved to notice a few minutes later that he’d gone. Relieved that is, until a shot rang out somewhere over my head. My most vivid memory is trying to turn the convertible Ferrari around while ducking as much of my 6ft 4in frame below the window line as I could. I drove back and informed Stan that it was probably time to change location.

    As for how the cars have changed, there’s an entire other story in that so I’ll mention now only that in the back in 1988 we’d tested just one car, a Lamborghini Countach, that had cracked the five-second barrier for the 0-60mph sprint. Today there are Volkswagen Golfs and Ford Focuses that can obliterate that time.

    But it is the people I’ve worked with over the years who’ll live on in the memory long after those of the cars have faded. It’s not possible to maintain the same connection when you work alone in a shed in Wales as when on the staff, but through a long succession of editors and a large number of testers, I’ve never felt less than part of the Autocar crew, none more so than today when find myself writing more for the title than at any time since I went freelance.

    If I had a religious bone in my body, I would call myself blessed. For the truth is that while I’ve lived in a number of different places over the last 30 years, Autocar has always been my home. I hope it will remain so for a little while yet.

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  • Renault Megane RS Trophy 300 to go for for FWD Nurburgring record Thursday 21st June 2018
    Renault Sport Mégane Trophy 300 Hotter version of the new hot hatch produces 296bhp and gets the Cup chassis as standard

    Renault will launch an even faster version of its new Mégane RS hot hatch, the Trophy 300, later this year, with the intention of stealing the front-wheel-drive Nürburgring lap record from the Honda Civic Type R.

    Due to be revealed at the Paris motor show in October, Renault’s new hottest model will use a ramped-up version of the Mégane RS's turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine to produce 296bhp and 295lb ft of torque.

    Those gains, which are 20bhp and 7lb ft over the standard Mégane RS, should push the Trophy's 0-62mph time below 5.8sec. This would make it quicker off the mark than its more potent rivals, the Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S, which are the current and former Nürburgring front-wheel-drive lap champions.

    The fastest ever Nürburgring lap times

    Renault Sport boss Patrice Ratti confirmed to Autocar at an advanced unveiling of the latest RS hot hatch last year that the Trophy would retain the manual and EDC gearbox choices of the regular car. It’ll get the sharper Cup chassis and lightweight 19in wheels bolted to aluminium wheel hubs in order to reduce unsprung mass.

    A Nürburgring lap record attempt could take place before or soon after the car’s expected debut in October.

    Ratti previously said that while outright performance ranks second to driver enjoyment in the new Mégane RS, “an RS Trophy car is already looking very interesting”.

    “As long as we can make the car faster and still comply with the regulations, we will try to break some records,” he said.

    Renault Sport’s impact on the standard hot Mégane’s design was fairly restrained compared to rivals, such as the lairy-looking Civic. It’s possible that the Trophy’s body could be injected with more muscle to illustrate its higher state of tune, although the only obvious modification that has been spotted on a test car is a new vent in the bonnet.

    However, if the car is to challenge for a Nürburgring record, some aerodynamic enhancements are likely to be made. The Civic Type R produces up to 30kg of downforce thanks to its large rear wing, so for the Mégane RS to challenge its 7min 43.8sec lap time, we can expect Renault Sport to enhance the effectiveness of the front spoiler and rear diffuser at the very least.

    The Mégane RS’s performance evolution won’t end with the Trophy – a new Trophy-R version is also due. That model will ditch the rear seats and gain bucket seats in the front. There could also be less sound deadening, Alcantara wrap for the steering wheel and an exterior decal kit to match.

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  • Audi Q8 2018 review Wednesday 20th June 2018
    Audi Q8 2018 first drive review hero front Range-topping SUV is short on the styling and performance pizzazz needed to make it a Range Rover Sport-toppling style icon, although it’s an accomplished luxury car The Audi Q8 is Ingolstadt’s answer to the BMW X6 SUV-cum-coupé – the BMW having turned 10 years old this year. Yup: like it or loathe it, the original German ‘sports activity coupé’ is still here. Back in 2008, there was much doubt in car hackery circles about how many buyers would be ready to pay a premium for a slightly less practical X5, made only very debatably better-looking and more interesting to drive – if at all. The answer, we predicted, couldn’t possibly be very many; amusingly enough, it turned out to be quite a lot.And so, as BMW homes in on half a million global X6 sales in the car’s first decade, what chance of similar success should we give the new Audi Q8? The Audi has marginally more distinguishing features than the X6 had compared with the conventional SUV on which it was based. And yet, after our first taste of it, I can’t say that it strikes me as much more or less than a Q7 made a bit better-looking, a bit less practical and a bit more interesting to drive. Less the bold new-groove Audi passenger car flagship model for 21st century tastes, then, and rather more another ‘Russian doll’ Q-car for the pile, dare I suggest.The Q8 is the sixth Volkswagen Group luxury SUV in three years built on the MLB-Evo platform. Like the Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg, it’ll be built in Bratislava, Slovakia, and it shares the same wheelbase and overall cabin width as the Q7. Outwardly, the car bears more than a passing resemblance to the Lamborghini Urus, and not by chance. Audi’s Q8 project actually started before Lamborghini committed to making the Urus but, because Lamborghini wasn’t held up by the need to negotiate space on that busy Bratislava production line, Sant’Agata managed to beat Ingolstadt into production with its rakish SUV.The Q8 will go on sale in the UK this summer but, until next year at least, will be on offer with only one engine: Audi’s 282bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel, badged ’50 TDI’. Although it’s integrated with a 48-volt electrical architecture, an extra-large lithium ion battery and an extra-powerful engine starter-generator alternator (the combination of which now constitutes ‘mild hybrid’ powertrain status in Audi's technical lexicon), that’s clearly not the kind of engine that's likely to tempt performance SUV buyers out of their higher-end Cayennes, Range Rover Sports and X5s or X6s.However, next year a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol ’55 TFSI’ version, with 335bhp, will definitely join the range. And after that, who knows? Well, you do, if you saw the spy shots of the RS Q8 prototype that appeared on our news pages a few weeks ago.All UK-bound Q8s will get height-adjustable, sports-tuned adaptive air suspension and proper centre diff-based, torque-vectoring quattro four-wheel drive, to which you can add four-wheel steering if you so desire. When asked why they left off the 48-volt active anti-roll bars that have featured so prominently on SUVs related to the Q8 (not least the SQ7), Audi’s product managers claimed that, because of the Q8’s lower roofline and wider tracks, active roll control was deemed to be unnecessary. When the RS version finally appears, I suspect it might be deemed rather more necessary – but we’ll see.
  • Volvo XC40 to be firm's first fully electric vehicle Wednesday 20th June 2018
    Volvo XC40
    The XC40 is already offered in plug-in guise
    Marque will add electric versions of existing range, rather than new EV-only models; next-generation XC90 will gain an EV

    Volvo design chief Thomas Ingenlath has confirmed that the brand’s first fully electric car will be a version of the XC40, with the next-generation XC90 also gaining an EV variant.

    Speaking at the reveal of the new S60 sports saloon, Ingenlath said that it would come after the firm’s electric sub-brand Polestar launches its second car, the 2 that's due in 2019, and would be followed by an electric version of the XC90, which is due to go into production at Volvo's new factory in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2021.

    Ingenlath said the company would only produce electric versions of current cars, rather than building entirely new electric-only machines, such as Volkswagen is doing with its ID line-up.

    “It’s not a secret any more that the first full electric Volvo is on its way with the XC40 coming," said Ingenlath. "It will arrive very soon after the Polestar 2. That is the first to come that’s not exotic. We’ll start with XC40 and then on it will come step after step into our model range. The next car will be the next-generation XC90.

    "That will be the masterplan of how electrification will come to the Volvo product range. We will not establish products beside our hybrids, we will introduce electrification as a powertrain variant within the existing portfolio.

    “You could say that is different to a lot of the mass-production brands. But I have a hard time to understand how their plan will work in the long run. Electrification is the future of the automotive industry, so how do you handle that as soon as you come to the majority of electric cars? How do you handle it in your portfolio? I think it’s much more natural to say it’s a powertrain variant that over time will take up the majority of the sold vehicles."

    Both all-electric Volvos are due with lithium ion battery power, like their sibling from sister brand Polestar. The XC40 EV will join the XC40 plug-in hybrid in the range to give that car two electrified variants.

    Volvo has set itself a target for 50% of its sales volume to be fully electric cars by 2025.

    While Volvo will focus on electric versions of its current line-up, Ingenlath said that the Polestar sub-brand - which he also heads - could be used to develop bolder EV-only cars.

    "We definitely don’t want to bring something that we’ve so successfully just launched like an XC40 to an end just because combustion engines will disappear," he said. "To look at new formats, new bodystyles and non-traditional elements, we founded Polestar to take care of that end of the scope. We developed that strategy: full electrification of the Volvo range, making it a natural part of the offer, and at the same time developing new, unconventional elements in the Polestar brand." 

    The Swedish car maker, which is owned by Chinese giant Geely, has pledged to launch an electrified version of every model in its line-up from 2019. Every Volvo will eventually be offered with a mild hybrid, hybrid or battery-electric powertrain option, and the firm won't launch any diesel variants of forthcoming models.

    The new S60, revealed today, illustrates the philosophy, as it comes with two plug-in hybrid variants, the T8 Twin Engine, which produces a combined 385bhp, and a Polestar Engineered performance version of the same model. The latter has been developed by Volvo’s new performance sub-brand and has a combined power output of 409bhp.

    Read more

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    Polestar 1 to star at Goodwood Festival of Speed

  • Swedish ambassador to US calls for end to trade war with Europe Wednesday 20th June 2018
    BMW X7
    The US is the largest export market for cars built in the EU. However, many European cars, such as the Volvo S60 and upcoming BMW X7 (pictured), will be built in America
    Volvo's new US plant was highlighted as an example of Europe and America's close relationship

    The Swedish ambassador to the US has used the launch of Volvo’s new factory in Charleston, South Carolina, to call for an end to the escalating trade row between America and Europe.

    Karin Olofsdotter highlighted the new factory, Volvo’s first US plant, as the latest step in the strong links between Sweden and the US. The plant will be the sole global production site of the new S60, which will be exported for sale in Europe and China.

    But she admitted that US president Donald Trump’s threat to introduce tariffs - and a possible response from the EU and other countries - was a concern.

    Where are America's best-selling cars actually built?

    “Europe and the US are the best of friends in the world and should really be working together to solve the world’s problems,” said Olofsdotter. “We should be forming bonds that make us stronger, not pushing us apart.”

    Trump threatened to slap car imports to his country with a 25% tariff last month, shortly after China had confirmed it was going to lower its tariff rate from 25% to 15%.

    The president said in a tweet earlier this year that he could "simply apply a tax on [European] cars which freely pour into the US", in a move he said would counter a current "big trade imbalance".

    America is the largest export market for cars built in the EU. Statistics show that £171 billion worth of cars were exported from the EU last year, with the US the destination for 25% of them. Of those cars, just more than half were exported by German car makers.

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  • Lexus RC F 10th Anniversary edition celebrates 10 years of F models Wednesday 20th June 2018
    Lexus RC F 10th Anniversary edition celebrates 10 years of F models Exclusive paint and interior and exterior trim mark out the anniversary edition from standard cars

    Lexus has revealed its RC F 10th Anniversary edition, which celebrates ten years of the brand producing F performance models

    Marked out by grey matt paint, gloss black exterior details and a blue carbon interior. It’s also fitted with the highest-spec audio and infotainment set-up available on the RC.

    Lexus has left the car’s 5.0-litre V8 well alone, so performance is unchanged, with 470bhp and 384lb ft.

    The RC F 10th Anniversary edition will go on sale in July at £69,995 - £10,305 more than the entry-level RC F. 

    Lexus’s F-badged models began with the IS F in 2008 - a 5.0-litre V8-engined BMW M3 rival with over 400bhp. The 552bhp 4.8-litre V10-engined LFA was its second, and in its current line-up is the 470bhp GS F and the RC F.

    It's not yet been revealed how many examples of the RC F 10th Anniversary will be produced.

    Lexus’s UK market share fell to 0.5% last year, with 12,670 cars sold across the country compared with almost 14,000 last year. New model introductions, such as the UX and RX L, are expected to boost this, given the dominance of the growing SUV segments. The brand isn’t expected to launch F-badged versions of its growing range of SUVs in the near future, however.

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  • 2018 Volvo S60 to face 3 Series with keener handling and plug-in variants Wednesday 20th June 2018
    2018 Volvo S60 Newly revealed S60 will be offered in the UK next year with a choice of four petrol engines, two of which will be electrified

    The new Volvo S60, a sports saloon designed to rival the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, has been unveiled in Charleston, South Carolina – and company bosses have promised the machine will be a “true driver’s car".

    The new machine was unveiled in the new US factory that will be its sole global production site. It is built on Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), and shares much of its technology with the recently launched V60 estate.

    Volvo opens first US factory ahead of S60 reveal

    Henrik Green, Volvo’s research and development boss, said: “The active chassis and driving modes deliver excellent control and an engaged platform that makes this a driver’s car.”

    Due to go on sale early next year, the S60 will be offered in the UK with a choice of four petrol engines including two plug-in hybrids, part of Volvo’s pledge to offer electrified versions of all new models from 2019 onwards. No diesel engines will be offered.

    The plug-in hybrid engines include Volvo’s supercharged 2.0-litre T8 Twin Engine, which produces a combined 385bhp, with the 299bhp petrol engine driving the front wheels and the 65kW electric unit powering the rear axle. That model offers 472lb ft and can achieve 0-62mph in 4.9secs on its way to a top speed of 155mph.

    The T8 Twin Motor will also be offered with a ‘Polestar Engineered’ performance upgrade, developed by Volvo’s new performance sub-brand. That upgrade includes revamped wheels, brakes, suspension and a tweaked engine ECU which boosts combined power to 409bhp.

    The Polestar Engineered S60 produces 494lb ft, and is 0.2secs faster to 62mph than the regular version. The maximum speed is unchanged.

    The entry level S60 engine is the 246bhp four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged T5, offered with front-wheel drive, a 0-62mph time of 6.5secs and a claimed WLTP fuel economy ranging from 7.2-8.1l/km.

    The other option for UK buyers is the T6 supercharged all-wheel-drive unit with 306bhp.

    That unit will also be offered with a plug-in hybrid option. Every engine option is driven through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

    The S60 is 4761mm long, 2040mm wide (including mirrors) and 1431mm high, with a wheelbase of 2872mm. It will weigh from 1680kg, and has up to 442 litres of storage. The car sports double wishbone front suspension, with an integral axle at the rear.

    As well as the SPA platform and exterior styling, the S60 shares the V60’s safety and Sensus Connect infotainment systems. These include optional Pilot Assist system, and City Safety autonomous braking capability.

    UK pricing has yet to be confirmed, although sources suggest it is likely to be similar to the V60 estate, which starts from £31,810, putting it roughly on par with the equivalent A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class models.

    The S60 will be available through Volvo’s new Care by Volvo subscription service, allowing people paying a set monthly fee for access to cars without owning one.

    The S60 will be built at Volvo’s new Charleston factory, which was officially inaugurated today. The £772-million-pound facility, which has been under construction since 2015, will employ around 1500 people initially. That will expand to 4000 when it reached full capacity of 150,000 cars annually.

    As well as the S60 the next generation XC90, due in 2021, will be built at the plant, which covers 1600 acres on a 2.3-million-square-foot site.

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  • 2019 Mazda MX-5 to get 15% power hike and more safety kit Wednesday 20th June 2018
    Sports car's 2.0-litre engine gets a boost from 158bhp to 181bhp; torque also increases slightly and exhaust note has been tweaked

    Mazda has revealed that the updated MX-5, which is due on sale in August, will get a 15% hike in power, taking its more powerful 2.0-litre Skyactiv engine to 181bhp from the current 158bhp.

    Improved combustion, a higher redline of 7500rpm (up from 6800rpm) and tweaked accelerator response all contribute to the revised MX-5’s new performance. The exhaust note has been fettled, too.

    Torque increases by around 4lb ft to 151lb ft, although Mazda hasn’t revealed any new performance figures for the revised car. Top speed will rise from the current 133mph, while acceleration will be clipped closer to 7.0sec from 7.3sec.

    For the first time, the MX-5 will also get automatic emergency braking for both forward and reverse gears, a reversing camera, a driver attention monitor and traffic sign recognition.

    A brown roof will also be available, while the wheels will be finished in darker paint.

    The changes will apply to both the standard MX-5 and MX-5 RF.

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    Pikes Peak Hill Climb preview

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  • Pikes Peak International Hill Climb preview: why Volkswagen is going for new record Wednesday 20th June 2018
    VW chose Pikes Peak for 2018 motorsport campaign because it is a 'dream' for engineers

    To understand why Volkswagen has chosen the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for its first full electric motorsport project, you just need to look at the rulebook for the Unlimited Division.

    Go on, it won’t take long – there practically isn’t one.

    To save you leafing through the document, here’s the key bit: “This division will allow any race vehicle invited by PPIHC [the race organisers], and capable of challenging for the overall win, to take part.”

    The only condition is that cars meet the event’s safety standards; after that, anything goes. It is a class without rules, with entrants limited only by their imagination, creativity and budget. “It’s a dream project for engineers,” says François-Xavier ‘FX’ Demaison, VW Motorsport’s technical chief. “It’s fun. You don’t have chances like this many times in your life.”

    A guide to the top of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb with Romain Dumas

    There’s another reason why, rather than joining the firms flocking to Formula E, VW has developed the 671bhp ID R Pikes Peak battery electric vehicle specifically for a one-off hill climb in Colorado.

    For that reason, you need to head to the barren summit of Pikes Peak, 14,115ft above sea level, where the tortuously twisting 12.42-mile climb ends. Up there, the average high in daytime temperature in June is 3.6deg C and the air is so thin that trees can’t grow. 

    That thin air is also bad news for combustion-engined cars; starved of oxygen, they produce nearly half the power they do at sea level. Heck, even at the start line of the climb, 9390ft above sea level, combustion engines will only produce around 70% of the power they usually do. 

    By contrast, battery-powered cars have no such problems. Their motors can run at full power right to the top. And that makes Pikes Peak one of the few motorsport events in the world where electric cars don't just compete on a level playing field with traditional machines — they actually have an advantage.

    “At the start of 2017, we looked at what motorsport projects we could do with a full electric car and we quickly came to Pikes Peak,” says VW Motorsport boss Sven Smeets. “It’s the perfect event because it has an electric record and a lot of challenges. We can show that an electric car can be emotional.”

    That electric record, incidentally, is 8min 57.118sec, set by Rhys Millen in a Drive e0 PP100 in 2016.

    Why the ID R looks is a prototype, not a rally car

    First run in 1916, Pikes Peak was dominated for years by rally drivers and rally-based machines. But that changed when the course was fully paved in 2012 and it’s no surprise that the ID R looks more like a Le Mans prototype than an off-roader — albeit one with a bigger wing and more extreme aero.

    “The electric record was set by a prototype, so you have to go in that direction if you want to beat the record,” says Smeets. “Aero is still very important going up the hill. You can’t just rake a road car and add a 500kW battery.”

    As a result, you won’t find many parts from VW’s previous works motorsport effort, the Polo WRC. “I think the wheel nuts are the same, but that’s it,” notes Demaison. 

    The ID R’s monocoque is based on the Norma prototype that Romain Dumas, who will drive the car at Pikes Peak, has used to win the event outright in three of the past four years. Doing so allowed VW to shortcut some of the early learning when it came to the chassis. 

    “Norma has huge experience of Pikes Peak and hill-climbing, so it was the best choice for the first year, because we have no reference there,” says Demaison.

    VW also used the Norma design for the basic aerodynamics, which were then developed with the help of engineers from sister firm Porsche, using its recent Le Mans experience. The car sits on ZF Sachs double wishbone suspension, with passive dampers.

    The lack of oxygen at high altitude makes the aerodynamics less efficient, hence why Pikes Peak machines generally sport massive wings. The rear wing of this ID R, for example, is 2.4 metres wide — this isn’t without its problems. “It doesn’t fit in the transporter,” laughs Demaison. “We have to remove it and put it in sideways.”

    The ID R’s battery technology

    While impressive, the aero isn’t the really interesting bit of this car. “The aero is known science,” says Demaison. “The challenge is the electric powertrain and battery package — and the most difficult bit is to keep it light.”

    The EV powertrain is all VW and is something of a test bed to develop the technology for the forthcoming range of ID road cars. 

    As with some versions of those cars being developed, the ID R has an electric motor driving each axle to give permanent four-wheel drive, with batteries located under the floor to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible.

    The two motors combine to offer 671bhp with 470lb ft of torque. With the ID R weighing less than 1100kg, VW claims the machine can do 0-62mph in 2.25sec, with a top speed of 149mph.

    While those stats are impressive, the headline figures are dwarfed by the power levels of some previous EV machines to run on the hill; Millen’s record holder, for example, had peak power of 1596bhp.

    But VW bosses reckon power output isn’t everything. “It’s a compromise between weight and power,” says Smeets. “We may have gone a bit different from others.”

    VW is still finalising the exact number of batteries that will be fitted to the car, with the need to balance the energy they carry with keeping the weight as low as possible. 

    “The batteries in the ID R are more advanced [than the ID road car batteries] because the demands on them are higher, but we’re working closely with engineers from Braunschweig [VW’s EV battery plant] on their development,” Smeets explains.

    “The role of weight and performance is very different for the ID R than an electric road car. We don’t need enough power to do 300 miles, just 12.42. But the compromise is similar in balancing weight and power.

    "Using the ID R, we can also learn about how to optimise the positions of the batteries and related components.”

    While altitude won’t sap the ID R’s power, it does make cooling a challenge, especially with all those batteries. “The higher you get, the hotter everything gets,” says Smeets. “That’s been a big challenge to conquer.”

    The need to add extra cooling would hinder the performance of the aero, so this is why VW might choose to limit the ID R’s power in a bid to balance performance all the way up the hill.

    The ID R will be fitted with a kinetic energy recovery device to charge the batteries under braking, with the team estimating 20% of the power it uses on the run will be generated that way.

    Demaison adds: “It’s a compromise because regeneration increases the temperature of the battery, and that costs you performance. The batteries don’t like to be too hot or too cold. 30-70deg C is where we want to operate them.”

    Even simply charging the batteries will be a challenge for VW. The start line of the climb is at mile eight of the Pikes Peak toll road, 9390ft above sea level up a mountain; you won’t find an EV fast charger there. So the firm will use two Formula E-style chargers, powered by a generator fuelled by glycerol (a non-toxic sugar alcohol), with a total output of 90kW. 

    That low output — which can charge the ID R batteries to full in around 20 minutes — is to limit heat build-up, which is a challenge when the temperature at the start point can soar at this time of year. 

    Notably, the glycerol generator doesn’t just charge the ID R, but it does power all the electric devices in the pit area — including the coffee machine (a particularly important tool, given that the team will need to arrive around 2:30am most days to prepare for the early morning runs).

    Can the ID R break the electric record?

    Demaison reckons the ID R will have done around 1000km of testing ahead of this weekend’s event, from a series of tests at a race circuit and hill climbs in France to practice runs on Pikes Peak itself. In practice and qualifying for the event this week, the course will be used in sections; the only time that competitors will run the full 12.42 miles will be in their single timed run on Sunday. 

    That adds to the challenge, especially given Pikes Peak’s unpredictable weather. And that’s why, even though Dumas claimed he was “120% confident” VW could break the EV record, there are no guarantees.

    And even if it can, there’s one more question. Millen’s EV mark is one thing, but what about the outright record? That stands at 8min 13.878sec, set in 2013 by Sébastien Loeb in the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak — a machine that in effect featured the running gear of Peugeot’s Le Mans sports car crammed into a rally car shell.

    “The target is the electric record," says Smeets. “I know my guys like to look forward, but we have not set [the outright record] as a milestone for this year. But miracles always happen, so…”

    Read more

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  • A guide to the top of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb with Romain Dumas Wednesday 20th June 2018
    Pikes Peak 2018 The 40-year-old Frenchman has taken outright victory in the famous hill climb event in three of the last four years. We find out how he does it

    Volkswagen driver Romain Dumas has become a Pikes Peak specialist. The 40-year-old Frenchman has taken outright victory on the event in three of the last four years and built up an extensive knowledge of the 12.42-mile course.

    The 156-turn hill climb is one of the toughest tests in motorsport, starting at 9390ft above sea level at mile seven of the Colorado mountain’s toll road and climbing 4720ft to the finish line at 14,115ft – an average gradient of 7.2%.

    Another challenge: competitors only get a single run up the whole course at the event – the practice and qualifying sessions take place on shorter sections.

    This is Dumas’s guide to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb course.

    Pikes Peak Hill Climb preview: why Volkswagen is going for a new record

    Romain Dumas on Pikes Peak:

    “I always compare this track a little to the Nürburgring Nordschleife. But at the Nordschleife, you can drive at 100%, even if it’s dangerous. At Pikes Peak you can't: if you go off, you can fall for hundreds of metres.

    “The first section has a lot of corners, so you arrive with hot tyres from the heaters and bam, you have grip. You can push at 95%, especially on a qualifying run.

    “The second section has a lot of straights and slow hairpins. It’s narrow but not too difficult: it’s more about the car, with lots of 35-45mph hairpins. It’s nothing special for the driver. But you can use the tyres and traction very quickly. You need to save your brakes and tyres for the top section; you can decide your race in the middle part if you push too hard and destroy your tyres.

    “The last section is the biggest challenge; it’s the fastest part with lots of fast corners. A lot of them are taken blindly at 125-130mph, and there are no trees or anything to use as markers.

    “It’s the hardest sector, and it’s the one you get to practice on the least. Last year, there was snow and fog at the top, so we didn’t get to practice on that section.

    “The top section is always more complicated, because you have less oxygen. That won’t reduce the power in an electric car, but ensuring that we have enough power in the battery will be difficult. The difference in temperature [from the bottom of the course to the top] can be crazy, and the altitude has a huge impact on tyre temperature.”

    Read more

    Bentley Bentayga Pikes Peak car to make record attempt this weekend

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    Volkswagen ID R Pikes Peak electric prototype to be launched on Sunday

  • New Volvo S60 to be revealed today Wednesday 20th June 2018
    New Volvo S60 to be revealed today Russian doll styling means the no-diesel Volvo S60 looks like a downsized S90; the V60 estate has already been shown

    The Volvo S60, the brand's new sports saloon and rival to the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4, will be revealed later today at its factory in South Carolina

    An image previously leaked onto a Swedish car site showed the car's rear, with similar design to the divisive S90 saloon.

    Volvo has begun the reveal process for the S60 with several preview images revealing details of the car's design. A more revealing shot was released of the hot S60 T8 Twin Engine Polestar Engineered - a performance-oriented version of the BMW 3 Series rival, tweaked by now spun-off performance brand, Polestar

    That car, pictured below, will produce more than 409bhp and 494lb ft of torque from its 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine and plug-in hybrid system thanks to Polestar's tweaks, while braking, suspension and other modifications have been applied by Polestar. 

    Volvo's BMW 3 Series rival will be built at a new factory in South Carolina, brand boss Håkan Samuelsson revealed.

    A shot from Volvo previewed the S60's front end, which remains unchanged from the recently revealed V60 estate. This is the first glimpse we've had at the compact executive saloon, however, ahead of its on-sale date after the V60, but before the end of the year.

    The plant, a new facility in South Carolina, will begin construction of the S60 in late 2018, although the plant itself has been under development since January 2016. All S60s will be built at the plant, which has a maximum capacity of 100,000 cars per year. The next XC90 will also be built there.

    Volvo V60 estate unveiled 

    Unlike the V60, the S60 will not appear at the Geneva motor show, but will be shown at a later date. Volvo remains tight-lipped on exactly when, but it's likely to be revealed in a few months' time, given the heavy camouflage in the pictured development car. It'll be built on the same Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) as Volvo's other larger cars, as well as the V60.

    The V60, the 'Versatile' estate version of the S60 was leaked ahead of its official Geneva motor show launch, showing the car's side-on and rear-end styling. The front styling of the S60 and V60 will likely be identical. The leaked V60 images first appeared on Bosnian site AutoMotoSvijet.

    In shots of the development car, the V60’s design was clear to see through the heavy camouflage, with obvious reference to larger models in Volvo’s line-up which were styled by former Volvo head of design - now Polestar CEO - Thomas Ingenlath.

    Specs will mirror that of the XC60, with Momentum spec at the entry level and R-Design Pro at the top. Inscription will be in the middle. Petrol engines will match those of the V60, with a 242bhp T5 sitting above three-cylinder units likely to be shared with the XC40, while the range will be topped by a 335bhp T6 Twin Engine plug-in, and a T4 petrol and mild hybrids later in the car's life cycle. No diesels will be offered; the first car to implement Volvo's no-diesel future.

    Diesels made up 63% of Volvo sales between January and April this year - relatively high considering the public's shunning of the black pump, but considerably down on the 85% slice across the same period in 2015. 

    Safety kit will match that of the XC60, meaning that when it hits the market in early 2019, it’s likely to be the safest car in the class. The XC60 was declared the safest car ever tested by Euro NCAP last year, achieving a 95% overall score. It is equipped with safety systems that are more advanced than Euro NCAP currently tests on cars. 

    Prices are expected to start from £30,000 for the S60 - £6000 less than the XC60 in entry-level 2.0 D4 Momentum spec. This is an increase of more than £5000 over the previous car, but Volvo's move upmarket and the previous S60's long production run account for the jump. By comparison, the XC90 is more than £13,000 more expensive than the entry-level V90

    With Volvo introducing subscription plans, named Care by Volvo for its models, starting with the XC40, it's likely that this will also be rolled out across the rest of the range, including the V60. 

    While a V60 Cross Country variant is a shoe-in for production, the same can't be said for a follow-up to the S60 Cross Country - the model was discontinued in the UK in 2016, after the brand shifted only 34. 

    Proving the slow-down in the saloon segment, as well as demonstrating how sales usually slow the older the car gets, Volvo S60 sales have declined over the last three years - having shrunk by around a quarter since 2015 to 1262 sales in 2017 in the UK. This is less than half the sales of the V60, which shifted 2956 across last year, although less than a tenth of sales of the XC60 - Volvo sold 16,302 examples of the mid-sized SUV last year. 

    Read more

    2018 Geneva motor show preview

    All five-star ratings in latest Euro NCAP test batch

    2016 Volvo V60 Polestar revealed

    Polestar 1 performance hybrid to be limited to 500 units per year

  • Porsche acquires 10% stake in Rimac Wednesday 20th June 2018
    Porsche acquires 10% stake in Rimac Porsche and Rimac are expected to work together on emerging electric tech

    Porsche has bought a 10% stake in Croatian electric hypercar maker Rimac for an undisclosed amount. 

    The move is announced as Porsche gears up to launch the Taycan, its first full-electric car, amid an industry shift towards full electrification. 

    It’s thought that Porsche made the investment with the aim of using Rimac’s electric powertrain technology in its future models, while it will help Rimac grow by supplying its powertrain and technological components to other companies. 

    “We feel that Rimac’s ideas and approaches are extremely promising, which is why we hope to enter into close collaboration with the company in the form of a development partnership,” said Porsche board member Lutz Meschke. “By developing the purely electric two-seaters super sports cars, like the Concept One or C Two, as well as core vehicle systems, Rimac has impressively demonstrated its credentials in the field of electromobility.” 

    Porsche’s announcement focused on Rimac’s expertise in high-voltage battery tech and EV powertrains that it stands to gain from the deal. 

    Rimac CEO Mate Rimac said: “This partnership now is an important step for Rimac on our way to become a component and system supplier of choice for the industry in electrification, connectivity and the exciting field of advanced driver assistance systems.”

    The move is the latest in a series of strategic investments in the car industry to accelerate progress in electric vehicles. Earlier this year, Geely CEO Li Shufu bought a stake of just under 10% in Daimler for an estimated £6.4 billion to further Geely’s EV efforts. 

    The Taycan arrives in 2020 and will be available in several variants, based on a shared architecture named J1. It’ll be Porsche’s first EV in its 70-year history, although the brand will increase its zero-emissions offerings over time, culminating in its core model, the 911, going electric. 

    Mini, Vauxhall, BMW, Skoda, Seat and others are all preparing to launch electric-only cars in the coming two years, either as derivatives of existing models or stand-alone vehicles in their own right. 

    Read more: 

    Plug-in Seat Leon due in 2019 before launch of first stand-alone EV model

    £1.5m Rimac C_Two hypercar almost sold out in three weeks

    Pagani: why the small Italian maker is planning an electric hypercar

    Porsche Taycan name confirmed for production version of Mission E

  • BMW M5 long-term review Wednesday 20th June 2018
    BMW M5 2018 long-term review hero front We rate the new M5 as best in class. Will we think the same after three months with it?

    Why we’re running it: To ascertain if so much power and four-wheel drive are assets or unnecessary excess. And, well, because it’s an M5…

    Month 2Month 1 - Specs

    Life with a BMW M5: Month 2

    A 900-mile return trip to the M3 CS launch and N24 race? Be rude not to take the M5 - 30th May 2018

    Among the blinding greenery of the Rhineland, there’s an isolated ribbon of Tarmac that flows between the sleepy spa town of Bad Neuenahr and the altogether less somnolent village of Nürburg.

    It’s well surfaced for the most part and the setting is completely bucolic. Ideal, say, for an E300 cab: stick the dampers in Comfort, Bob Seger on the radio. Not a worry in the world.

    The funny thing is that above a certain level of commitment, this same stretch becomes an utterly brutal examination of a car’s dynamic repertoire. There are second-, third- and even fourth-gear corners of capricious profile and camber changes where you wouldn’t expect.

    One sequence isn’t unlike the infamous Corkscrew at Laguna Seca, for pity’s sake, and there’s a bend whose exit is not only blind but also concurrent with an unfavourable surface change and a vicious compression on the nearside. You’re spat out of it at the top of third gear.

    It was mainly along this marvellous stretch that the new BMW M3 CS made a convincing case for itself as the most engaging device in M division’s current portfolio. But it was a close-run thing.

    Why? Because our M5 long-term test car could also be found in that precise neck of the Adenauer Forest during the same weekend of the Nürburgring 24 Hours.

    For outright zip, ultimately it failed to match a car some 400kg lighter and with a significantly lower centre of gravity, and nor was it quite so confidence inspiring when the Armco loomed. But it was arguably the greater feat of engineering purely for its astounding body control and the fact that it was actually enjoyable to punt along a road that could have been bespoke-laid for a Lotus Exige.

    As you may have surmised, our long-termer was the steed between home and a gruelling race weekend during which BMW launched its latest M-badged road car, and therein lies the true appeal of this M5. Some back-road fun sandwiched by substantial highway blasts resulted in around 900 miles and an overall fuel economy of 21.4 mpg, for a total expenditure of roughly £260.

    No, this 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 was never going to set records for frugality but, if the car impresses on more tortuous routes, it’ll blow your mind on a derestricted autobahn. How fast? An indicated (and restricted) 164mph, at which point your estimated time of arrival goes into free fall with that engine still pulling damnably hard.

    Perhaps of greater significance is that proceedings remain serene enough that you’d barely have to raise your voice to be heard by those in the back. More prosaically, the M5 simply makes things easy on this kind of trip.

    You can angle the headlights for Continental duties at the touch of a button and the head-up display converts your speed and speed-limit icons into km/h. It is comfortable, it is spacious, the Harman Kardon sound system is very good and you don’t worry about leaving the thing in a strange corner of an unfamiliar town after a mammoth day in the saddle.

    It is quite stocky, though, with a track width that’s more or less equal to that of a Lamborghini Huracán Performante. It means there’s now a small nick on one of the alloy wheels, inflicted by the ghastly width restrictors on the top deck on the Eurotunnel trains.

    Every time I’m lucky enough to drive this car, three things occur to me. The seats are set too high, the body control is simply a touch close for everyday driving, even for a super-saloon, and, God, how I wish they’d made a bit more of the wheel arches.

    But while it takes me a little time to get onto the M5’s wavelength, once there I’m pretty much smitten.

    Richard Lane

    Love it:

    CRUISE MISSILE No surprise that a 600bhp saloon with massage seats can seemingly condense international travel, but it’s a lovely sensation all the same.

    Loathe it:

    TOURING RANGE ‘Loathe’ is strong, but if the 70-litre fuel tank was just a little bigger, you’d easily manage 450 miles between cruising fill-ups.

    Mileage: 9130

    Back to the top

    Life with a BMW M5: Month 1

    Best seat in the house - 9th May 2018

    The steering column, seat back (lower and upper), under-thigh support, head restraint, plus the usual seat options – forward, back, up, down – all adjust electrically. There’s so much adjustment that I have resorted to using the memory function. Then there’s heating, cooling and massage too. I’ll bet the seat weighs more than I do.

    Mileage: 3360

    Back to the top

    Welcoming the M5 to our fleet – 2 May 2018

    I can’t remember a car that has been busier on its arrival on the Autocar long-term test fleet than the new BMW M5. With decent reason, I suppose; it’s a new M5. They are rare and we want to see, as quickly as possible, just how good they are.

    From the moment it was collected from north Wales, the M5 was being used in a group test alongside a Mercedes-AMG E63 S and a Cadillac CTS-V. It won. Then it was videoed alongside an E63 with two different testers — me included. It won again. (Albeit with a lot of love for the AMG, I’ll be honest.)

    Since then, we’ve videoed it alongside an Alpina B5, photographed it alongside the B5 for a feature and, just two weeks ago on these pages, it was subjected to a full Autocar road test. Four and a half stars, my lovely. Four minor demerits; otherwise spot on.

    Some of the highlights, then? The 592bhp four-wheel-drive 4.4-litre V8 saloon hits 60mph from rest in 3.3sec. Then there’s the 7.5sec it takes to reach 100mph, a standing quarter mile in 11.5sec at 125.1mph and a standing kilometre in 20.8sec at 159.1mph.

    So even over a standing kilometre, the M5 is no more than seven-tenths behind a Ferrari 458 Speciale. It’s that fast.

    Comfortable, too — for the most part. Our road test noted a slightly jittery ride on occasion and, mostly, I’m inclined to agree. If terrific body control is the trade-off, though, and presumably there has to be some kind of compromise in a 1940kg car that has to be an executive saloon and yet is also trying to be a sport car with supercar power, then I suppose that’s the rub.

    What I can tell you is that I can’t think of another car that, when it comes to trying to be both engaging and sporty, and yet also luxurious and comfy, is so complete in its dynamic make-up.

    Inside, it’s everything a 5 Series is as well. It’ll seat five in great comfort, there's a 530-litre boot behind them, with a can of foam beneath the boot floor in case you get a puncture because the M5 doesn’t have run-flat tyres.

    Which is one reason why, I suspect, the M5 has such a bewildering array of dynamic capabilities and why the Alpina B5 (spoiler alert) doesn’t ride night and day better — something that's usually one of Alpina’s great traits.

    You can slacken the M5’s suspension, plus its other attributes — powertrain, gearbox, steering weight — to a bewildering degree, too. On the centre console by the gearlever — on which there are three modes for upshift timing — you can select which damper modes, engine response, transmission response and steering weight you want.

    Or you can select from pre-programmed variants. Or you can pick your own set-up and programme that into two discrete red levers on the steering wheel. That’s what I’ve done.

    On the left lever is full comfort on everything. On the right is full angry on everything, stability control disengaged and a transmission that’s in rear-wheel drive mode. Sometimes I flit between these and select other things, as I get used to the car. But mostly I realise I’m doing it for experience and novelty. Were the M5 mine, I suspect I’d just rely on those two particular set-ups.

    There are lots of other things to get used to and get your head around, too, in part thanks to a raft of options that include one of my other favourite steering wheel buttons: a heated wheel rim. I do like a heated steering wheel. And, the other day, somebody left a pea under 20 mattresses and 20 feather-beds and I could still feel it at night!

    Anyway, that’s part of the Comfort pack, which our road test reckoned was a good idea to spec, unlike the Premium pack. I agree; the M5 has a carbonfibre roof to reduce weight and make it lower, so I’d steer clear of too many options — such as the Premium pack’s soft-close doors — that add the kilos back on again.

    Carbon-ceramic brakes also made the list, at £7495, and an M Sports exhaust, at £1100. The brake package is probably what provides a slightly oversensitive pedal at times — we’ll see if that improves with miles — and the ’zorst adds a welcome edge to the turbocharged motor, which otherwise resorts to relatively convincing speaker augmentation for some of its excitement.

    Aural excitement, anyway. It relies on deploying 592bhp in great unhurried strides to deliver the visceral excitement. The engine is terrific. Less overtly V8ish than an AMG it may be, but there’s no arguing with the amount of oomph it provides or how it delivers it through the eight-speed automatic 'box.

    It’s even capable, if you’re careful, of 28mpg, although 23mpg is more likely and 7.5mpg is possible on a track. I suppose owners don’t take M5s there that often, although they should, because it’s a great way to find out that BMW’s new super-saloon is unsurpassed in its dynamic abilities.

    I’m looking forward to exploring those more as we find many, many more jobs for the M5 to do.

    Second opinion

    I love this car. I struggled at first to see why a 5 Series needed to be so hardcore but, after 400 miles, I just couldn’t get enough of its near-supercar steering and body control, plus its intoxicating acceleration, given the practical package and effortless delivery. Brilliant!

    Steve Cropley

    Back to the top

    BMW M5 specification

    Specs: Price new £87,940 Price as tested £101,900; Options Premium package (including soft-close doors, massage seats, ceramic finish for controls) £1995, Comfort package (including steering wheel heating, seat heating all round) £1195, M Sports exhaust £1100, carbonfibre engine cover £1025, carbon-ceramic brakes £7495, M seatbelts £260, carbonfibre/aluminium-look trim £495, Apple CarPlay £235, online entertainment £160

    Test Data: Engine V8, 4395cc, twin turbocharged petrol; Power 591bhp at 5600-6700rpm; Torque 553lb ft at 1800-5600rpm; Top speed 155mph (limited); 0-62mph 3.4sec; Claimed fuel economy 26.9mpg; Test fuel economy 23.3mpg; CO2 241g/km; Faults None; Expenses None

    Back to the top

  • Volvo opens first US factory ahead of S60 reveal Wednesday 20th June 2018
    Volvo plant in Charleston, South Carolina Upcoming S60 will be built at 1600-acre facility in Charleston, South Carolina

    Volvo has officially opened its first factory in the US ahead of the launch of the new S60 sports saloon, which will be unveiled at the new plant in Charleston, South Carolina later today (Wednesday).

    The £772 million, 2.3 million square foot facility will be the sole manufacturing site of the S60, which will go into production in the autumn. The plant will also be used to build the next-generation XC90, due in 2021.

    The S60 (previewed in the below image) is built on the Scaleable Product Architecture (SPA) that Volvo shared with other Geely brands and is based on the already released V60 estate

    The factory is built on 1600 acres and will employ 1500 people by at the end of the year, eventually increasing to a total of 4000. The site has capacity to produce up to 150,000 cars annually.

    Volvo also has factories in Sweden and Belgium, three factories and an engine plant in China and assembly plants in India and Malaysia. The firm believes its first US facility will help its bold expansion plans.

    “The saloon segment and the SPA platform’s proven ability to boost profitability offer significant growth opportunities for Volvo Cars in the US and globally,” said company boss Håkan Samuelsson.

    Read more

    New Volvo S60 confirmed for 20 June reveal

    Volvo to use 25% recycled plastic in cars from 2025

    Volvo XC60 review

  • Hyundai-Kia and VW Group join forces on hydrogen fuel cell development Wednesday 20th June 2018
    Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell
    Hyundai currently sells a hydrogen car called the ix35 Fuel Cell
    Lead partners Hyundai and Audi believe patent-sharing deal will help speed development, lower costs and grow infrastructure

    Hyundai-Kia and the Volkswagen Group - led by its Audi brand - will co-operate on the development of hydrogen fuel vehicles in a deal that they believe will fast-track the technology’s development and dramatically bring down costs, making hydrogen-powered electric cars a viable alternative to battery-electric cars in the near future.

    As part of the deal Audi, which has acted as the VW Group’s centre of excellence into hydrogen research for more than 20 years, has committed to bringing its first hydrogen-powered car to market “at the beginning of the next decade”.

    No details have been released beyond the fact it will be an SUV and that it will be sold as a “small series production” vehicle; it is not clear if this means it will be a bespoke model or a version of an existing vehicle modified to run on hydrogen, but insiders say that the latter is more likely because of the costs involved.

    Opinion: Hyundai and Audi join forces: who’s the winner?

    Peter Mertens, Audi member of the board for technical development said: “For the breakthrough of sustainable technology, co-operation is the smart way to achieve attractive cost structures.”

    Hyundai and Kia’s head of FCEV research, Dr Sae-Hoon Kim, said: “The key motivators are to hasten development and reduce costs. The more capability we have the more scale we will get and the more authorities will be willing to invest in and encourage the technology.

    “The progress we have made in terms of making hydrogen fuel cell cars that are durable enough to be sold is incredible - just a few years ago I did not think it would happen in my lifetime, but already we are there. Now we must focus on cost and scale, and partnerships like this have the potential to address both of those things.

    The deal initially allows for the cross-licensing of patents and access to parts deemed non-competitive, but both sides have confirmed that the deal could extend further in time, possibly including the co-development and manufacturing of vehicles.

    Hyundai has taken leadership in bringing hydrogen-powered cars to market, first launching the ix35 Fuel Cell in 2013 and now the Nexo. However, take up has been hindered by the high purchase price of the cars (likely to be in excess of £50,000 for the Nexo, a car that is around the same size as the Hyundai Tucson, which starts from just under £20,000).

    Audi has only produced test concept cars powered by hydrogen, including the A2H2 test vehicle in 2005, the Q5 HFC in 2008 and the Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro in 2014. The Audi H-tron quattro was then shown in 2016. Despite not launching any of these vehicles into production, Audi says it is now working on its sixth-generation of fuel cell technology.

    Other manufacturers are also working on hydrogen technology collaboratively, including Toyota and BMW, Honda and GM and Mercedes and Ford.

    Read more

    Audi A5 review 

    Hyundai i30 review

    All-new Audi A1 revealed 

  • Hyundai and Audi join forces - but who’s the winner? Wednesday 20th June 2018
    Audi A5
    Audi A5
    The news that the two sides will collaborate on hydrogen fuel cell technology raises important questions

    On paper and perhaps in practice, it is a partnership of equals, but it’s hard not to raise a smidgen of an eyebrow at the news that Hyundai is forging a partnership with Audi and the wider VW Group for the development of hydrogen fuel cells.

    The claim is that Hyundai knows more than its partner about bringing the technology to production, having launched the ix35 FCV back in 2014 and the Nexo this year, while Audi in turn has several tech patents in the wings that appeal greatly to Hyundai’s engineers.

    But while that may be the truth - and the argument that there’s no point in the two sides spending billions trying to find the same solutions has much validity - it’s hard not to be impressed by the fact that the VW Group, the world’s largest car company, with the world’s largest R&D spend, is willing to work hand in hand with a (relatively) upstart car maker that has been on a long upward trajectory for decades, without yet throwing off its mainstream reputation.

    Hyundai-Kia and VW Group join forces on hydrogen fuel cell development

    Practicalities aside, I’d say the kudos from this deal, then, is Hyundai’s. Emerging car companies have long cited the switch from traditional powertrains to electrified ones as an opportunity to shake up the established order and, while Hyundai may not quite qualify as an upstart now, I firmly believe that we’re witnessing a company being rewarded for investing in a technology it has had the foresight and conviction to persevere with. 

    The next, question, of course, is how far the partnership will take the two sides. The barriers to mass uptake of hydrogen-powered car sare simple enough to explain and sufficiently massive to conquer that they feel almost impossible: in simple terms, it’s all about the capabilities and cost of the technology and the near non-existent recharging infrastructure.

    Deals like this should, of course, take steps to address both. With more brain power and scale, both the capabilities and cost should come down. On this topic Hyundai-Kia’s head of FCEV research, Dr Sae-Hoon Kim, is especially interesting. A long-term advocate of hydrogen as a method of storing and then using energy, he passionately explains how the company has made more progress in less than a decade than he imagined possible in a lifetime.

    If it can maintain or accelerate that level of growth as a result of working with the VW Group, so too the authorities and governments might have to start investing in the required infrastructure to make refuelling as possible as it is today. 

    There’s a long way to go, of course, but there’s a possibility that today’s announcement isn’t just a small push towards a new technology emerging, but also a sign of how the industry order might be shuffling as a result of the change.

    Read more

    Audi A5 review 

    Hyundai i30 review

    All-new Audi A1 revealed 

  • Autocar names top 100 British women working in the car industry Wednesday 20th June 2018
    Linda Jackson tops Autocar Great British Women list
    Linda Jackson is the Global CEO of Citroen
    Citroën's global CEO Linda Jackson tops 2018 Great British Women in the Car Industry list; all 100 winners revealed

    Autocar has revealed the 100 most influential and inspirational women working in the car industry, with the list topped by Citroën CEO Linda Jackson.

    The list was compiled by judges from Autocar and the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The full list can be viewed here.

    Autocar editor Mark Tisshaw said: “Linda’s four-year tenure leading Citroën has overseen a remarkable and meteoric rise for the brand. The car industry needs more Linda Jacksons; she’s not only a role model, but an example to women wanting to work in the car industry that the sky is not the limit if you have the talent and determination.”

    Receiving the overall award, as well as winning the executive category honour, Jackson said: “It’s an honour and testament to the hard work from everyone at Citroën that has helped build on what has been such a successful few years. 

    “There is a huge wealth of talent in the sector and it’s a truly exciting industry to be a part of, especially as automotive is one of the most pioneering industries when it comes to future technology. I hope this Autocar award inspires even more women to pursue a career in this industry at all levels.”

    Read more: Steve Cropley shadows Linda Jackson for the day

    Other individual category award winners include Jaguar Land Rover chief product engineer Elizabeth Hill, who has heavily influenced the British manufacturer’s award-winning product line-up, and Helen Emsley, the Yorkshire-born design director of General Motors-owned brands GMC and Buick.

    The Great British Women in the Car Industry’s 100-strong ‘power-list’ looks to celebrate success and encourage more women into the car industry at all levels and in all sectors, from purchasing to product development.

    Tisshaw added: “While there are certainly challenges in the car industry, it’s heartening to see such a wealth of outstanding British women thriving in an array of roles and in the most senior positions.

    “There is plenty of work to be done but, by highlighting the considerable impact of these women, we hope we can inspire more women into our amazing automotive world.”

    SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said: “We are delighted to be involved with this fantastic event again this year, celebrating the many achievements of the top 100 British women in the car industry. Issues of inequality are rightly in the headlines at the moment, highlighting the challenges that remain in ensuring everyone has equal treatment and equal opportunity.

    "The motor industry has improved gradually but still has a long way to go and the women we celebrate today are often role models who have prospered in what is a highly competitive environment. We hope that in years to come, more and more women will follow in the footsteps of the top 100 and help the sector be truly representative of society and the customer base we serve.”

    Read more: Citroën boss Linda Jackson calls for more diversity in the car industry

    Great British Women in the Car Industry, organised by Autocar in association with the SMMT, is backed by BMW, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Mini, Nissan and Toyota.

    The list of winners by category is below.

    Executive and overall winner 

    Linda Jackson, chief executive, Citroën


    Helen Emsley, design director, General Motors

    Product Development

    Elizabeth Hill, chief product engineer, Jaguar Land Rover


    Fiona Pargeter, customer experience director, Jaguar Land Rover

    Government Affairs

    Helen Foord, head of government relations and public policy, PSA Groupe


    Josephine Payne, plant manager, Ford Motor Company


    Sue Slaughter, director of purchasing, Ford of Europe

    Sales - Brand

    Rachael Thompson, sales director, Mercedez-Benz Cars UK

    Sales - Retail

    Diana Mackinnon, general manager, Lexus Edgware


    Michelle Roberts, marketing director, BMW Group UK

    Human Resources

    Clare Martin, group HR director, Jardine Motors Group 

  • Citroen boss Linda Jackson calls for more diversity in car industry Wednesday 20th June 2018
    Linda Jackson
    Citroen CEO Linda Jackson
    Jackson wants the industry to lead the way on equality for other sectors

    Citroen boss Linda Jackson has called on the automotive industry to set an example to other sectors on the need for diversity in the workplace.

    Talking at Autocar’s Great British Women in the automotive industry event, Jackson said: “Automotive is one of the most pioneering industries when it comes to future technology, so why can’t we become a leader in equality and diversity and show other sectors how it’s done?”

    She said the debate should not be “anchored in pure equality terms [but] be about gender-neutrality. In other words, if you’re marking a difference, standing out, you should progress whatever you gender.”

    Acknowledging that the industry remains “massively male-dominated,” Jackson highlighted an Institute of the Motor Industry report which states the automotive staffing mix is a 10 to 2 ratio of men to women. She added: “The age-old stereotypes still exist of men as the car mechanics and car buyers and women as the meek and mild partners who like pink and can’t park.”

    She said that part of the imbalance was the need to address the gender pay gap. According to published government figures, no car dealerships pay women the same or more than men and a quarter of car makers pay women less.

    Click here to see the winners of Autocar's Great British Women in the Car Industry 2018

    “The bottom line is that firms that employ women are more profitable. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact,” she said.

    Jackson added that in the future, she hopes that gender, ethnicity, age and nationality all become insignificant in the workplace.

    “The fact is, we need diversity at every level, through an organization not just as leaders or senior faces or figures. It’s important to make sure our voices are heard, understood, accepted and not overlooked.”

    At PSA Group, Citroen’s parent company, one in five group managers are women. At Citroen headquarters, 38% of employees are women “and rising,” said Jackson.

    Read more

    Click here to see the winners of Autocar's Great British Women in the Car Industry 2018

    Citroen C3 Aircross review

    Citroen C4 Cactus review

    Citroen C1 review

  • Why Citroen CEO Linda Jackson won Autocar's Great British Women Award Wednesday 20th June 2018
    Linda Jackson
    Jackson’s approach makes colleagues feel more like friends
    Steve Cropley shadows Citroen’s Global CEO for the day to find out how she leads from the top

    In the four years since Linda Jackson became CEO of Citroën, lots of water has flowed under the double-chevron-shaped bridge.

    Design, engineering, marketing, car naming policy and much of the Citroën car range itself have been overhauled, and European sales have risen by around 22% to a new record in response.

    The biggest expansion has happened in the past year as important chickens have come home to roost: the new C3 supermini has completed its first full year of sales and the C3 Aircross SUV is now on sale in Europe. In China, the C5 Aircross SUV flagship, due here towards the end of this year, has already sold 40,000 copies.

    Click here to read about Linda Jackson's award win for Great British Women in the Car Industry 2018

    The good times will keep rolling, Jackson predicts. The current development plan runs to 2023, by which time Citroën will have volume sellers in every important market plus an all-new range of saloons that includes the much- missed ‘big Citroën’, this time aimed principally at China.

    One thing hasn’t changed: the pervading sense of wonder outside the PSA Group, which owns Citroën, that a British woman should hold the top job at this most French of car companies, 99 years old this month.

    Every time Coventry-born Jackson appears in the UK, as she periodically does for both work and family, her presence generates a flurry of interview requests. Interestingly, Jackson is slightly less of a curiosity in France these days. Back in 2014, PSA chief Carlos Tavares stated simply that he had “appointed the best person available” to run the company. The way Jackson seized the opportunity, and Citroën’s progress since, have shown he was right.

    Click here to see the full list of winners for the 2018 Great British Women of the Car Industry

    They have also encouraged Autocar’s Great British Women judging panel to decide overwhelmingly that for 2018 Jackson is again our country’s most powerful and inspirational motor industry woman – for the second time in three years – as well as its winner in the Executive sub-category.

    Following the victory, we were quick to grab an offered opportunity to shadow Jackson in Paris for a day. Here’s how it went...

    07.40, WESTERN PARIS: We’re at Jackson’s apartment in leafy western Paris, ready to ride to work in her dark blue C4 Cactus 1.2-litre. She likes the Cactus: right size for the traffic; soft-riding for a bumpy drive to work that includes some impressive back-doubles.

    She finishes her tea and emails, remarking that the most welcome things UK visitors can bring are PG Tips and Marmite.

    She drives herself, partly because it’s policy but mainly because she likes driving. Also because it helps understand the customer. Jackson is well known for her pragmatic outlook (which lovers of generalisation would not list as the foremost French characteristic) and for well-developed diplomacy skills.

    08.00: It has been bucketing. Metro stations are flooded, kids who usually walk are being driven to school, and Paris’s working population has taken to the roads. The traffic is so awful that the usual half-hour journey to PSA’s Vélizy technology centre takes more than twice as long. Jackson phones PA Sylvie Daems (“she’s the woman who rules my life”) to warn of a lost half hour and we chat about driving in Paris.

    Jackson’s quiet advice is to the point: “Don’t be polite. Just keep going.”

    We discuss the working day. Looks momentous to me but she’s relaxed. By the time it ends, Jackson will be on her way to China for a business review – things are going much better now – and she’ll be back early Friday morning in time to nip home for a shower, then to work as usual.

    09.00, VELIZY: The vast ADN (French for DNA) technical centre, situated beside the A86 autoroute heading west towards Versailles, has been in the PSA family since 2004.

    It’s so secret that it’s listed as a governmental restricted area, and aircraft are prohibited from flying over it because they could view the designers’ outdoor display area.

    ADN security procedure takes time. We follow our guide up lifts and down tunnels, through barriers and steel doors to a sanctum where Jackson and Xavier Peugeot, Citroën’s director of product strategy, are already viewing colour and trim choices for the forthcoming European C5 Aircross.

    Despite his name and membership of the founding family, Xavier Peugeot is a Citroën stalwart, one of a close-knit leadership quartet that also includes marketing director Arnaud Belloni and design director Alex Malval. Everyone says they’re like friends. It’s how Jackson operates.

    10.00: Turns out there’s more to this than just surveying one model. Four tables show the choices available for four models: the C3 Aircross, C4 Cactus, C5 Aircross and new Berlingo, coming soon. The idea is to check the consistency of colours, details and materials, one to another. Consistency heightens quality and modernity, says Peugeot. He talks of “optimistic” colour touches, a special Citroën characteristic. Each car has them.

    The two executives talk quietly as they work along the tables. This is serious work. After 20 minutes, the CEO looks up and smiles: “We’re happy, I think.”

    10.50: Almost before we notice, Jackson is smuggled away through another steel door to view some important maquettes – models of forthcoming cars. We’re not allowed to follow but she later confides that these are clays that include the mythical ‘big Citroën’ for the early 2020s, a car I’m seriously impatient to see.

    11.00: We set off by C5 Aircross to the new PSA headquarters, a massive, newly built edifice that houses staff from every marque of the new PSA empire (Peugeot, Citroën, DS and Opel-Vauxhall). It is truly massive, yet there’s a homeliness about the Citroën floor that aims to embody the brand’s values: comfort, practicality, optimism and a willingness to go with what works and leave the rest behind.

    11.30: Jackson joins Belloni and team for a fi gal review of what he eloquently describes as a “global toolbox” of advertising and marketing materials for the new Citroen Berlingo, now about four months away.

    For-TV videos present several different stories of varying lengths and for several uses. Belloni explains that this variety reduces the likelihood that Citroen people in outlying markets will decide (as they have sometimes done in the past) that centrally produced material doesn’t work for them.  We see posters, press ads, banner ads and more, all impressively clear and slick. Unique music is sourced from upcoming young French bands. “Everything is available three months ahead,” says Belloni, “so we have time to react, whatever happens.”

    12.45: Jackson’s lunch is brief but convivial, consisting of upmarket sandwiches while sitting with other team members in a break-out room on the Citroën floor at the HQ. There are no walled offices here: the bosses sit comfortably with everyone else.

    13.15: Back in the C5 Aircross, Jackson heads towards Alésia, a densely urbanised part of inner Paris – inside the M25, as it were – where a new kind of small urban dealership, labelled La Maison Citroën, has just been opened. As in London, it’s cripplingly expensive to open big dealerships where property prices are high. These smaller ones are Citroën’s answer. But they’re not mere brand centres, insists Jackson. They have to sell cars and turn a profit. This is the second in Paris, and it looks promising.

    13.50 - 14.30:  Dealership boss Eric Coppens has clearly been sprucing the place for the CEO’s arrival. There are beads of sweat on his brow as he welcomes Jackson and offers coffee, but she rapidly reduces the tension with lots of smiles and friendly questions in fluent French about the business and customers. Having started in the motor industry 40 years ago as a teenager doing menial work, Jackson isn’t one to stand on her dignity and the French love her for that. Soon she and Coppens are like friends, and our photographer is pressed to take a commemorative group happy snap.

    14.45 - 16.00: Time’s getting away. Jackson is soon due at the airport, and the variable Paris traffic needs respect, especially given this morning’s chaos. If there’s any spare time, Jackson will use it for reflecting and planning. The traffic’s not bad and we arrive at Terminal 2E in decent time. Jackson jumps out of the car, flashes a smile and disappears inside. In just over two days, she’ll be back at work having completed a 16,000-mile round trip and a review of the marque’s biggest market as if it were a trip to the shops. If you remark on the hectic nature of it all, she simply disagrees.“I do this because I love it,” she says. “How many people can say that?”

    Click here to see the winners of Autocar's Great British Women in the Car Industry 2018

    Read more

    Citroen C3 Aircross review

    Citroen C4 Cactus review

    Citroen C1 review

  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class C200 2018 review Wednesday 20th June 2018
    Mercedes-Benz C-Class C200 2018 review hero front Mild hybrid engine completes an extensive facelift for Mercedes’ fourth-generation junior saloon, but the C200 isn’t the most convincing choice in the line-up Facelifts. There are light ones, heavy ones and those that look light but are, in fact, really rather heavy.The fourth-generation C-Class has recently undergone a facelift of the latter kind, with around 6500 parts — half of the car’s overall tally — replaced or modified in preparation for battle with BMW’s upcoming successor for the F80-generation 3 Series and an updated Audi A4.First deliveries are set for July, at which point the petrol range begins with a sophisticated ‘mild hybrid’ C200 that pairs a downsized engine with a 48V belt-driven starter/alternator. There’s also a 251bhp C300 displacing two litres rather than the three its name suggests, and both are derived from the same ‘modular’ engine found in the new CLS. With the electrification of the entry-level model, gone is the option of a six-speed manual; a nine-speed torque-converter is now standard.Changes have also been wrought to the diesel line-up, which now uses the same OM654 unit introduced to the E-Class two years ago. Given the lacklustre delivery of the old lump, this is welcome news, and there’s a choice of either a 1.6 or 2.0 unit in the form of the 158bhp C200d or the 191bhp C220d. Both figures are up by around 20bhp on the models they replaced, although only with the more powerful engine will you have the (optional) security of Mercedes’ 4Matic four-wheel drive.Given that one in every five cars Mercedes sells is a C-Class, there will be further derivatives, not least a fully plug-in hybrid in the form of the petrol-engined C300e and its diesel equivalent, the C300de. Both will get an on-paper electric range of 31 miles, owing to a 13.8kWh battery pack, and an output of around 200bhp, although we have yet to receive any specifics.As for what you can see, the bumpers have been tweaked and there’s a more interesting colour palette, but overall Mercedes’ junior saloon is as pretty as it ever was. In the UK, we’ll get SE, Sport and AMG Line trims that variously allow the C-Class to come across as everything from a particularly posh taxi to a shrunken S-Class — something that’s largely down to the different grilles fitted. The headlights are also new and you can option adaptive Multibeam LED headlights made up of 84 rotating LEDs.The adoption of the electrical architecture from the S-Class allows the C-Class to benefit from its sibling's safety systems, too. It means the camera and radar systems responsible for detecting other vehicles have been upgraded; the camera, Mercedes says, can ‘see’ up to half a kilometre up the road and in 3D for the first 90 metres.Elsewhere, the Distronic cruise control is now linked to the navigation system, so it’ll rein in speed as you approach bends, roundabouts and the like. Naturally, you’ll need to pay more for all this: £1695 for the Driving Assistance package.
  • Autocar magazine 20 June – out now Wednesday 20th June 2018
    Autocar magazine 20 June – out now This week - new 8 Series, A1, T-Cross, Vauxhall's future, the best plush hatch rated, a drive in a Lotus F1 car and more

    This week, we bring you the latest news of BMW's reborn 8 Series - its new flagship coupé, ready to do battle with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé and Bentley Continental GT.

    Also making news from Germany are the new Audi A1, Volkswagen's ID R Pike's Peak challenger, and the Volkswagen T-Cross. We took a ride in the Volkswagen Sedric autonomous shuttle, too.

    Want something closer to home? We've got the inside line on the electric Aston Martin Lagonda that'll do battle with Rolls-Royce when launched, and the future of Vauxhall.

    Also in this issue

    Fancy a feature? We've got five this week: the big three plush hatchbacks have done battle, and a winner has been decided. The Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class have been put to the test.

    We take you on an in-depth tour of the Brabham BT62, as a legendary name returns with a track weapon to challenge established greats.

    Find out about our drive in the world's most shocking Ferrari (pictured), and follow Citroën CEO Linda Jackson for a day in the life of a car industry boss. Oh, and we drive a Lotus F1 car. No biggie.

    Our cars

    In our rolling petrol vs. diesel debate, we've replaced our diesel Skoda Octavia vRS with its petrol counterpart to find out which is the better buy. 

    We wonder what difference a paint colour makes in our Suzuki Swift Sport long-termer, and we discuss what the right size of Cornish pasty is for the centre console of a Volkswagen Golf GTI.


    Our used car expert summarises dream footballers' rides you can buy for prices as low as a (insert nemesis football team) fan's expectations, and provides a guide to finding the best Mitsubishi 2000GT you can nab.

    Where to buy

    Never miss an issue — subscribe to Autocar magazine today.

    Autocar magazine is available through all good newsagents. You can also buy one-off copies of Autocar magazine from Newsstand, delivered to your door the morning after.

    Digital copies can be downloaded from Zinio and the Apple iTunes store.

  • Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupé 2018 review Tuesday 19th June 2018
    Mercedes-AMG C43 2018 first drive review hero front Greater shove and some subtle styling tweaks for the 'baby' AMG C-Class, but the C43 Coupé makes less of a case for itself than the saloon or estate You know the C43 – it’s the link between a mainstream C-Class range dominated by 2.0-litre engines and the full-blooded V8 barnstormers built by AMG in Affalterbach.The reason we’re driving it again is because for 2018 the entire C-Class range is being given a facelift. For the C43 that means greater power, some tweaks to the styling and a touch more flair within its overly sporting cabin, largely by way of a new digital instrument binnacle.These are subtle changes, mind. The output of the 3.0-litre V6 increases only from 362bhp to 385bhp, thanks to larger turbochargers (mounted in traditional fashion outside, rather than within, the vee of the cylinders) that operate at higher boost pressure. Torque increases not a jot, remaining at a healthy 383lb ft, though it is now fed into the C43’s all-weather 4Matic driveline 500rpm later in the rev-range, at 2500rpm. It’s a recipe that has made this particular model something of a runaway sales success.It also means the car’s 0-62mph acceleration figures remain unchanged, at 4.7sec for the saloon and coupé and 4.8sec for the estate, which is quick enough so long as you can forget the fact a C63 demolishes the same measure in 3.9sec. Meanwhile, combined fuel economy is rated at 30.4mpg for the saloon, which is enough for a range-nudging 450 miles.Elsewhere, very little has changed other than the addition of two aerodynamically ‘optimised’ alloy wheel options of 19in and 20in in diameter. As such, the suspension retains a four-link design at the front axle and a multi-link rear, and features steering knuckles from the C63 along with AMG-derived elastokinematics designed to yield high camber stability at speed (spoiler alert: this has worked).On the subject of suspension, the easiest way to tell a C43 from a C63 is the lack of grotesquely flared wheel arches, which leaves the junior car looking a little semi-skimmed by comparison. There are, however, new exhaust tips – four of them, circular and all the more old-school for it – and there’s also a styling pack for those who crave a more aggressive front splitter, rear spoiler and broader side skirts.
  • Ford and Volkswagen Group announce plans for strategic alliance Tuesday 19th June 2018
    Ford Transit
    Ford and the VW Group could at first co-develop next-gen commercial vehicles
    American and German brands could share development costs of vehicles with joint projects

    Ford and the Volkswagen Group are looking to commence a strategic alliance that could result in the joint development of new vehicles.

    The American and German car makers announced today that they are “investigating” several joint projects, including those for future commercial vehicles that Ford said would “better serve the evolving needs of customers globally”.

    The so-called strategic alliance would be restricted to research and development, with no “shared equity” or “cross ownership stakes” like those seen within closer alliances, such as the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.

    “Ford is committed to improving our fitness as a business and leveraging adaptive business models – which include working with partners to improve our effectiveness and efficiency,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s president of global markets.

    “This potential alliance with the Volkswagen Group is another example of how we can become more fit as a business, while creating a winning global product portfolio and extending our capabilities.”

    Thomas Sedran, the VW Group’s strategy boss, added: “Markets and customer demand are changing at an incredible speed. To adapt to the challenging environment, it is of utmost importance to gain flexibility through alliances. This is a core element of our Volkswagen Group Strategy 2025.”

    While only the potential for commercial vehicle projects has been highlighted at this stage, further anticipated benefits for a Ford and VW Group strategic alliance could include better access to their key markets. The VW Group’s brands are key players in Europe and Asia, while Ford remains one of the US’s top car companies.

    Both brands are also running their own projects for the development of future technologies. The VW Group is heavily invested in next-generation electric powertrain technology, while Ford has pledged to launch its first mass-market autonomous car by 2021.

    “The potential industrial cooperation with Ford is seen as an opportunity to improve competitiveness of both companies globally,” said Sedran.

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    Red Bull Racing to ditch Renault for Honda power in 2019

  • Red Bull Racing to ditch Renault for Honda power in 2019 Tuesday 19th June 2018
    Red Bull Racing
    Red Bull Racing has used Renault power since 2007
    Multi-year contract with Japanese firm intends to bring Red Bull back into title contention

    Honda has signed a multi-year contract with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing to supply powertrains from 2019 for at least two seasons of Formula 1.

    Team principle Christian Horner (below) said the move aims to promote his squad back into its world championship-winning ways, following several seasons of disappointing results that have been linked to an underpowered Renault hybrid powertrain.

    Red Bull last won the title in 2013, which was the last of four years of dominance led by its then star driver Sebastian Vettel. However, in the latest V6 hybrid era, the Austrian-owned and British-based team has since fallen behind rivals Mercedes and Ferrari.

    Horner said: “We have always taken decisions such as this dispassionately and with only one criteria in mind — do we believe the outcome will allow us to compete at a higher level? After careful consideration and evaluation, we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the team.”

    F1 2018: Sebastian Vettel regains points lead in Canadian GP

    Citing the improving performance of the Red Bull junior team, Toro Rosso (below), which has used Honda power since the start of this year, as a motivating factor in the deal, Horner added that Red Bull has “been impressed by Honda’s commitment to F1, by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso and by the scope of their ambition, which matches our own”.

    The move will be a significant boost to Honda, which until this year had struggled as an engine supplier to McLaren. McLaren ditched Honda for Renault for the 2018 season, but Honda’s new partnership with Toro Rosso saw the team secure its best finish since returning to the sport in 2015: fourth place at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

    It is not yet known how the deal will affect Aston Martin’s role at Red Bull. Andy Palmer, boss of the British car maker that is title sponsor and technical partner to Red Bull, had hinted previously that Aston Martin could supply engines to Red Bull following the introduction of new engine regulations from 2021. Autocar is awaiting comment on whether this is still a possibility following the Honda partnership.

    Red Bull's deal with Honda will end a 12-season partnership with Renault (its engines have been branded as Tag Heuer since 2016). Red Bull switched to Renault power during the V8 era, following the use of a Ferrari V8 engine in 2006 and a Cosworth V10 in its maiden F1 season in 2005.

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  • UK fuel stations overcharging motorists by 5p per litre, says study Tuesday 19th June 2018
    UK fuel stations overcharging motorists by 'at least' 5p per litre Minister calls for independent monitoring body to prevent unfair pricing

    UK motorists are paying on average 5p more per litre for fuel than they should because fuel stations have not reduced their prices in line with crude oil rates, which today have fallen to a six-week low of $72.45 (£55.06) per barrel.

    A study by fuel price campaigner FairFuelUK revealed that fuel stations have made £500 million in “opportunistic profiteering” by not reducing prices of petrol and diesel accordingly in the past three months.

    The report found that on 15 June, whoelsale oil prices were at £55.36/barrel, while the UK average retail price for diesel was £1.322/litre and petrol £1.292/litre. On 4 May, when oil prices were a comparable £55.45/barrel, diesel was just £1.268/litre and petrol £1.239/litre.

    FairFuelUK says inconsistencies in pricing have favoured the seller and equated to an average overspend per tank of about £2.50 per car.

    “In Germany and France, pump prices can fluctuate on the forecourts daily, even hourly,” said Howard Cox, founder of FairFuelUK. “The cost of filling up in these countries accurately reflects oil and wholesale prices.”

    However, Cox said that in the UK “motorists and businesses are exploited ruthlessly by the fuel supply chain”. He called on the Government to “protect hard-working consumers and the economy from this recurring disingenuous manipulation”.

    His comments were echoed by a Conservative MP for Scotland, Kirstene Hair, who said that the UK needs “an independent price monitoring body” to “ensure households and businesses are no longer charged unfairly for fuel”.

    By contrast, fuel duty’s impact on petrol and diesel prices has remained consistent for seven years. Chancellor Philip Hammond's latest budget confirmed that it would stand at 57.95p per litre.

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  • Citroen Berlingo 2018 review Tuesday 19th June 2018
    Citroen Berlingo 2018 first drive review hero front Boxy, slightly quirky van-based car returns to top form in only third iteration in more than two decades A little over two decades and 1.7 million vehicles ago, Citroën invented a brand new class of affordable van-based MPV called Berlingo. It was compact, simple and flexible, designed to utilise plentiful small hatch components to control cost and complexity while having so much cabin space that it outshone all other forms of family car.Pretty soon everyone had something like it, with two sliding rear doors, five spacious seats and a huge rectangular prism of carrying space in the rear capable of swallowing a mighty stash of family luggage and a kitchen sink as well. It became so successful that there have only been two iterations in 22 years.Now, the third-generation Berlingo is upon us in two versions: a familiarly sized 4.4-metre, five-seat model and a new seven-seat version that's 35cm longer. Best news for Berlingo lovers is that, with this thoroughly modern product, Citroën has deliberately moved to recapture the look and spirit of the admired original, admitting in private that the second-gen car, while successful, wasn’t its best design work.
  • Tesla CEO Musk hints at German location for Euro Gigafactory Tuesday 19th June 2018
    Tesla acquires German engineering company, Grohmann Engineering After Tesla's acquisition of German production tech firm Grohmann Engineering, the car maker is likely to build a European Gigafactory nearby

    Tesla CEO Elon Musk has hinted that the firm's next Gigafactory production facility will be on the French-German border. 

    Musk confirmed the plans for a European Gigafactory at a press conference in Germany in late 2016, after he announced Tesla's acquisition of Grohmann Engineering

    The next Gigafactory, however, is almost certain to be in Shanghai, pending talks with the local government. A European facility will arrive after this. 

    The location of the proposed European site will put it near to Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) countries. At the moment, however, Germany is "a leading choice" rather than a confirmed decision. 

    Read more about Tesla's Gigafactory here

    In relation to a question about bringing production of Tesla models to Europe, Musk previously said: "This is something that we plan on exploring quite seriously with different locations for very large scale Tesla vehicles, and battery and powertrain production."

    Tesla Grohmann Automation (the new name of Grohmann Engineering following the acquisition) is based in Prüm, Germany — not far from Musk's proposed location for the Gigafactory — and specialises in automated manufacturing technology. Following the deal, Tesla said the company should accelerate its production processes as “the factory becomes more of a product than the product itself”.

    Tesla uses the Prüm centre as a hub for its factory developments, although no vehicles will be produced there. At the time of the purchase, Tesla said a total of 1000 jobs will be created in Prüm within two years, with the company planning to expand the centre in the near future. The developments in robotic car production that come from Prüm will be used in Tesla’s existing factory in Fremont, California.

    Read more: Tesla Model S P100D set to become even faster

    Tesla hopes that opening more factories will create greater economies of scale in its production process and this will ultimately drive vehicle prices down. Tesla's struggles to produce the Model 3 at the intended rate have been well documented and most recently culminated in the construction of a third, temporary production line in Fremont. 

    The company needs economies of scale to produce more cars such as the Model 3, Model Y and the as-yet-unnamed Volkswagen Golf-sized hatchback, which is likely to be its cheapest and best-selling model. Tesla said previously that the automation that Grohmann deals with is “critical to reach those economies of scale”.

    Grohmann, according to Bloomberg, also serves the telecommunication, consumer electronics and biotechnical industries, and has presence in multiple Asian markets, as well as Europe, Canada, North and Central America, South Africa and Australia. This will be of great interest to Tesla as it seeks to expand its presence globally and diversify its business.

    Tesla did not expand on Musk's latest comments.

  • Audi appoints sales and marketing chief as stand-in for arrested boss Tuesday 19th June 2018
    Rupert Stadler Brand chief executive is being held due to risk that he could withhold evidence. His interim replacement is former head of sales and marketing, Abraham Schot

    The Volkswagen Group has replace Audi CEO Rupert Stadler with the brand's sales and marketing boss, Abraham Schot, following Stadler's arrest for matters relating to the diesel emissions scandal.

    Stadler was arrested yesterday and has since been placed on leave by Audi. Schot has been temporarily promoted to Audi's helm this week, from his former post as head of sales and marketing

    Leading Audi since 2010, 55-year-old Stadler was taken into custody by the German police on Monday morning following an investigation on charges of fraud and misrepresentation.

    "The accused was brought before the investigating judge, who ordered the execution of the pre-trial detention," the Munich public prosecutor's office said in a statement.

    As a reason for Stadler's arrest, the Munich public prosecutor's office cited "evidence suppression".

    It added: "We cannot comment on the substance of our background in the light of the ongoing investigations. For Mr Stadler, the presumption of innocence continues to apply."

    Stadler is currently being questioned by the Munich public prosecutor's office and will testify this week, according to information obtained by Autocar.

    He has continuously denied any wrongdoing in the Dieselgate emissions manipulation scandal. Another Audi board member, Bernd Martens, was named as a key suspect by the same office on 30 May.

    German media reports suggest evidence obtained in the recent questioning of other former Audi officials link Stadler to possible diesel emissions manipulation from 2012 onwards.

    Stadler’s detention comes one week after German police and members of the Munich public prosecutor's office raided his private residence in Germany.

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  • UK mayors to call for 2030 petrol and diesel car ban Tuesday 19th June 2018
    London traffic Cross-party city leaders are joining forces to encourage the end of pure-combustion car sales

    City mayors across the UK are joining forces to encourage the introduction of a ban on pure petrol and diesel cars from 2030 in a bid to cut emissions produced by private transport.

    Leaders from cities including Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, London and Oxford, who represent a combined 20 million residents, will put their case to environment secretary Michael Gove tomorrow at a national air quality summit.

    Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is among those calling for the Government’s proposed 2040 ban on the sale of combustion-engined cars to be moved forward by a decade.

    “Air pollution is not an isolated problem, it’s a national health crisis,” Khan said. “Our country’s filthy air is shortening lives, damaging lungs and severely impacting on the NHS.”

    Gove recently introduced a new clean air strategy that outlined plans to reduce particulates from vehicle brakes and tyres. However, the strategy refrained from tightening plans introduced in 2017 that included the 2040 petrol and diesel car ban, which excludes hybrids.

    “Michael Gove has made a good start as environment secretary, but we need the Government to match our ambition and help us urgently drive forward these improvements,” Khan continued. “We simply cannot afford to delay.”

    West Midlands mayor Andy Street emphasised that the UK’s air quality issue is "a public health crisis that needs urgent action". He said that enforcing more stringent emissions-fighting policies is “also an industrial opportunity — not least for the West Midlands, where we have built cars, trucks and taxis for generations”.

    Street added: "We need to move to making cleaner vehicles now. It is an essential part of the national industrial strategy."

    Last week, a Government minister suggested that a complete ban of petrol and diesel cars would not necessarily be the most effective method to fight emissions in the UK.

    Richard Harrington, the minister for business, energy and industry, said at a cross-party Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee meeting that petrol and diesel models may “potentially” be allowed for sale after the proposed deadline because it is not possible to predict what sort of technology will be around in 2040.

    The comments echoed those of business secretary Greg Clark, who said earlier this year at the FT Future of the Car Summit: “There is a place for diesel. City centres are a flashpoint. Driving diesel a long distance is a different question."

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  • Promoted: Our MG ZS weekend Tuesday 19th June 2018
    We join the Peakes family in Kent, as they give the MG ZS compact SUV a comprehensive two-day test

    Meet the Peakes – dad Daniel, mum Maxine, and their kids, Lewis and Alfie. Like most families, they live for the weekend, mixing chores such as the big weekly food shop with time out and about in the Kent countryside.

    Whether it’s a going for a bike ride, a match of tennis, a family birthday, or a trip to the cinema, they need an SUV that’s stylish and comfortable – in the front, and in the back – with plenty of room for their busy lives. All of which makes the MG ZS perfect for their needs.

    In fact, there’s a lot to love about the new MG ZS, from its sleek new design, to its spacious, practical interior – with 448 litres of boot capacity – and its smooth, refined drive, which has been honed for British roads.

    To find out more about the MG ZS, head to

    Dynamic, spacious design

    The first thing that stands out about the MG ZS is its distinctive design. It’s a fresh face for the MG brand, with a bold grille, LED daytime running lights, and a premium finish – available in a range of metallic colours – Laser Blue, Black Pearl, Cosmic Silver, Spiced Orange and Dynamic Red. 

    The quality theme continues inside, with soft-touch premium surfaces and leather style seats on the Exclusive trim. The MG ZS also has some of the most generous headroom, legroom and shoulder-room in the compact SUV class, with plenty of practical pockets and cubby holes for storage. 

    In the back, you get 448 litres of load space – around 60 litres more than typical compact SUVs, and significantly more than the rival Nissan Juke, Mazda CX3 and Ford EcoSport. Split-folding 60:40 rear seats and a versatile split-level floor make using this space incredibly easy.

    Perfect for British roads

    Under the bonnet, you can choose from a 1.5-litre petrol engine with a five-speed manual, or an even more punchy 1.0-litre turbo with a six-speed automatic. Once you’re behind the wheel, you’ll quickly find out that the MG ZS’s ride has been honed for the wealth of British roads, while three steering modes – Urban, Normal and Dynamic – make city manoeuvring even easier, or give you a greater sense of engagement on flowing B-roads.

    Up-front, there’s plenty of technology to please music-lovers, with a large 8” touchscreen and infotainment system on Excite and Exclusive trims that includes Apple CarPlay, as well as Bluetooth and USB connection. On the Exclusive trim, you even get a built-in sat-nav, for enhanced navigation.

    The driver also has access to plenty of technology that makes driving easier and safer, including electric mirrors, automatic headlights, hill launch assist, rear parking sensors and a rear-facing parking camera on Exclusive trims.

  • The most expensive numberplates sold in the UK Tuesday 19th June 2018
    The most expensive numberplates sold in the UK
    Welcome to our run-down of the most expensive numberplates sold in the UK. Scroll through for the plates and an artist's impression of what they look like on their respective cars.
    Always fancied a personalised plate? Their prices vary, but these are the most expensive ever sold in the UK

    Personalised numberplates are very divisive things, prompting either admiration at the name or message on the plate, or derided for being a vanity item and dismissed as a waste of money. 

    Whatever you think of them, boggle at the top ten most expensive numberplates ever sold in the UK below. For reference, we’ve even calculated what else you could buy with the money, in car terms. 

    The most expensive numberplates sold in the UK: 

    1 - 25 O - £518,480

    The registration plate 25 O relates to the most expensive car ever sold at auction: the Ferrari 250 GTO. The plate’s £518,480 price tag may be dwarfed by the car’s £30,750,300 final bid, but it’s the most expensive plate sold in the UK yet. 

    According to reports on the sale of the plate, it currently resides on, fittingly, a 1961 Ferrari 250 SWB (pictured), belonging to classic car dealer John Collins. The price of the plate could get you ten Audi TT RSs, but personalised plate vendor Regtransfers reckons it’s now increased in value, to £750,000 (fifteen TT RSs). 

    2 – X 1 - £502,500

    Taking a close second place is the registration plate X 1. Little is known about the owner of the plate or what car it's on, other than it’s probably not attached to a BMW X1. It fetched its half-million pound price in November 2012.

    You could enjoy eighteen and a half BMW X1s for the price of the X 1 numberplate, but its estimated value has doubled since its sale.

    3 – G 1 - £500,000

    G 1 was the country’s most expensive reg plate for little over a year before X 1 came along, pipping it by a mere £2500. Nevertheless, G 1 sold in September 2011 for precisely half a million pounds; the equivalent of around 28 Ford Fiesta STs. 

    If the seller sold the plate today, they would – according to estimates – double their money, to £1million.

    4 – F 1 - £440,625

    Perhaps the most evocative reg plate amongst this list, the F 1 plate sold nine years ago for £440,625. It’s currently registered to Afzal Kahn, of Kahn design fame, on a Bugatti Veyron. Before that, it was on a Volvo S80.

    Kahn has expressed that if offered, he would sell the numberplate for over £10 million, but is not officially advertising the numberplate. The price Kahn payed for the plate in 2008 could buy you more than ten top-spec Volvo S90s. 

    5 – S 1 - £404,063

    Another expensive plate mismatched to its host car; S 1 is registered to a Range Rover, rather than the Audi hot hatch. The current estimated value of S 1 is £1 million - the plate was first bought in September 2008. 

    The plate’s price at the time of purchase could buy fifteen Audi S1s, with a fistful of change. 

    6 – 1 D - £352,411

    Next on the list is 1 D: first purchased in June 2009 for £352,411; in other words, roughly the same price as a Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé. It’s currently registered to a Bentley Bentayga; a car with a starting price of less than half that of the plate today. 

    The plate was originally sold at a DVLA auction, but experts put its value today at £500,000. 

    7 – 1 S - £340,000

    1 S was first bought in March 2010, and currently resides on a car of a similar value to its £340,000 original price tag: a Rolls-Royce Phantom. It’s almost doubled in value since.

    A fleet of nearly 50 Suzuki Celerios could be bought for the same price. 

    8 – M 1 - £331,500

    M 1 is another which found itself on a Bentley; this time it’s on a Flying Spur. The plate was bought in June 2006, making it one of the earliest entries on our list. It’s for this reason that its value has increased so much; it’s now valued at a cool £1million. 

    Its original £331,500 price could buy four Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Coupés.

    9 – GB 1- £325,000

    This is one which has almost certainly risen in value post-Brexit, and it’s on a rather fitting car: the Rolls-Royce Phantom. The patriotic numberplate was sold to a private buyer in November 2009 for £325,000, although it’s now worth £500,000. 

    You could buy a Lamborghini Aventador Superveloce for a similar wad of cash.

    10 – D 1 - £300,096

    The newest entry to the top ten, having been sold for a whisker over £300k in October 2015, is D 1. Currently fitted to a white Rolls-Royce Ghost, the plate has held its value well, accruing £50,000 in value in the last 18 months. 

    For reference, for plate’s price could allow you to fill your petrol tank around 4400 times. 

    So, in summary, the top ten most expensive numberplates ever sold in the UK are: 

    1 - 25 O - £518,480

    2 – X 1 - £502,500

    3 – G 1 - £500,000

    4 – F 1 - £440,625

    5 – S 1 - £404,063

    6 – 1 D - £352,411

    7 – 1 S - £340,000

    8 – M 1 - £331,500

    9 – GB 1- £325,000

    10 – D 1 - £300,096

    Let us know your thoughts below. Which camp are you in? Do you think personalised numberplates are harmless fun or a symbol of frivolous excess?

    Disclaimer: While our images are a close representation of the models which feature these numberplates, they are not the owners' cars. 

  • Porsche Cayenne S 2018 UK review Tuesday 19th June 2018
    Porsche Cayenne 2018 UK first drive review hero front Performance doesn't come at the expense of comfort and composure in Porsche's mid-range Cayenne By now, you’re probably rather familiar with the third-generation Porsche Cayenne. It sits on the same MLB platform as the Bentley Bentayga, Audi Q7 and Lamborghini Urus — albeit here with a shortened wheelbase — and has even more tech, a revised engine line-up and a cleaner, more luxurious interior than before.Here, we have the middle-of-the-range Cayenne S, and it’s the first time we’ve driven this particular strain of Cayenne in the UK (you may remember our video review of the Turbo variant from last year).At its nose sits a 2.9-litre, twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine that churns out a heady 435bhp and 406lb ft of torque, sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. A centre differential allows power to be split between the front and rear axles, while a second differential at the back can split power between whichever rear wheel it determines needs it most.While the new Cayenne range weighs an average of 60kg less than the second-generation line-up, Porsche’s largest model remains a pretty portly beast; kerb weight is at 2,020kg in S guise. Despite this considerable bulk, that V6 is capable of shifting the Cayenne S to 62mph from a standstill in just 5.2sec and on to a top speed of 164mph.
  • 2018 Kia Ceed: £18,295 price for Ford Focus rival Tuesday 19th June 2018
    2018 Kia Ceed Kia’s rival to the Golf and Focus was shown at the Geneva motor show alongside an estate version; a shooting brake is expected later this year

    Kia is taking a direct aim at the Volkswagen Golf with the new Ceed, which it claims will be the most high-tech car in its class. UK sales commence in August for the £18,295 hatch.

    This new price is a £2930 increase over the outgoing Ceed's £15,365 starting figure, although Kia claims a boost in material quality and packaging for the new model. The increased price puts the entry-level Ceed £510 ahead of the Volkswagen Golf and £1295 ahead of the Hyundai i30, but £340 cheaper than the Honda Civic. Full UK specs are yet to be revealed.

    First shown at the Geneva motor show, the five-door hatchback is the first from a new family of Ceed models that also includes the just unveiled Sportswagen estate and a shooting brake that's due in 2019. Beyond that, an SUV is due to complete the line-up.

    Autocar has already driven a prototype 2018 Ceed. Click here to read the review

    Although now outsold by the Sportage and Sorento SUVs in Britain, the Ceed remains a key contributor to Kia’s growing European market share, which last year reached 3% - a level that has doubled since the first Ceed launched in 2006. This year, Kia is aiming to surpass 500,000 car sales in Europe for the first time.

    Talking at the new model's reveal in Munich, European marketing boss Artur Martins told Autocar that the Ceed can hold its own in a market gradually shifting towards SUVs. He said that the Ceed “will continue to grow” in demand at the same time as new Kia SUV models, such as the Stonic, “reach new customers”. He said the Ceed ""attracts a different sort of buyer" to its higher-riding siblings.

    The new five-door has been given a more mature look with straighter lines and less clutter than its predecessor. At the back, oval tail-lights share some lines with those fitted to Kia's top model, the Stinger, while the car’s new LED day running lights mimic those fitted to higher-spec GT models. The Ceed comes with wheels of 15in, 16in or 17in in diameter – the latter of which are the two-tone diamond-cut aluminium ones pictured here.

    Top 10 best family hatchbacks 2018

    Built on Kia’s latest K2 platform and developed at the brand’s European base in Frankfurt, the latest model offers improved interior space and a 15-litre increase in boot capacity (at 395 litres), as a result of tighter packaging and a 20mm wider footprint than its predecessor. The new Ceed also promises to be more agile, thanks to the platform's lower centre of gravity, with the car 23mm shorter and sitting on fully independent suspension that’s been honed on European roads, including some tuning in Britain.

    Albert Biermann, the boss of vehicle testing at Kia's parent company Hyundai Motor Group and the man behind the new Hyundai i30N hot hatch, said to "expect a good step up for driving fun, precision, agility and so on compared with the previous Ceed" during a conversation with Autocar late last year.

    Autocar has already driven a prototype 2018 Ceed. Click here to read the review

    Power for the new Ceed comes from a choice of two petrol engines and one diesel, which are shared with the model's twin from sister brand Hyundai, the i30. The smallest petrol is an updated version of a 1.0-litre T-GDi unit that produces 118bhp, while a 1.4-litre T-GDi engine replaces the old car’s 1.6 petrol and comes in 99bhp and 138bhp forms. Just one 1.6-litre diesel CRDi is offered but it's new and comes in 113bhp and 134bhp guises. Kia expects the cleanest version of the oil-burner to produce less than 110g/km of CO2, thanks to a new selective catalytic reduction system.

    Drive is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual as standard, with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox available as an option on the 1.4 petrol and 1.6 diesel.

    A 48v mild hybrid version will be added to the range next year – the same year Ford introduces a 48v mild hybrid version of its rival, the Focus – while Martins told Autocar that a plug-in hybrid version is “under consideration”. Martins said a fully electric version is also possible but unlikely because the K2 platform would need modifying, which could “impact interior space”.

    Two drive modes, Normal and Sport, are available via the Ceed’s Drive Mode Select system. The former maximises fuel efficiency, while the latter sharpens throttle response and adds weight to the steering. An optional Eco pack adds an active air flap to the car’s front grille, which closes to reduce drag and opens to enhance engine cooling. The pack also includes an underbody cover and lowered suspension to smooth airflow beneath the car, as well as lower rolling resistance Michelin tyres.

    Inside, the car comes with a new infotainment display of 5.0in or 7.0in in size, depending on the specification, or an 8.0in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in top models. The Ceed gets Bluetooth smartphone integration, automatic lights and keyless entry as standard, while buyers are offered options such as a JBL premium sound system, wireless phone charger and heated windscreen.

    The Ceed has a new Level 2 autonomous system called Lane Following Assist, which can take control of the car’s steering, throttle and brakes in traffic and even suggest the changing of lanes to maintain progress in heavy congestion. Also available is adaptive cruise control that can bring the car to a stop, blindspot and rear cross-traffic warning, as well as a parking assist function and pedestrian recognition technology that works with the car's forward collision avoidance technology.

    The car will enter production in May in left-hand-drive form, with right-hand-drive cars following later in the summer ahead of first deliveries in the autumn. The estate will mirror the hatchback's launch and production schedule but the shooting brake, which will be inspired by the striking Proceed concept of 2017, isn’t expected to arrive on roads until early next year, following its anticipated reveal in the second half of 2018. That car will also likely be the most expensive.

    Kia has dropped the apostrophe in car's name (the previous model was called Cee'd) to emphasise its European focus. Kia said the letters in the name stand for ‘car of Europe, with European design’. The model is only sold in Europe; it has surpassed 1.28 million units through two previous generations.

    Read more

    Kia Ceed 2018 prototype review

    Kia Sportage UK range drops 10 variants for 2018

    New cars 2018: what's coming soon?

  • Autocar confidential: Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet, BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, Toyota hybrids & more Tuesday 19th June 2018
    Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet concept
    Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up this week's gossip from across the automotive industry

    This week's snippets of automotive news include news on the Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet concept, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, Toyota hybrid powertrains and Volkswagen’s low-cost project. 

    Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet concept:

    The concept designs for the Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet, due in 2020, were so good that a production run was approved by the company’s board even though it didn’t make “rational sense”, according to VW sales boss Jürgen Stackmann. He said: “It’s a car we all wanted to make. There isn’t a huge market for it – that sort of car is only popular in a small number of countries – but we felt passionately we should do it.”

    BMW 2 Series Active Tourer:

    BMW believes its 2 Series Active Tourer and Gran Tourer models will remain strong sellers despite the continuing downturn in the MPV sector. A senior exec told Autocar that 75% of customers for those BMW models are new to the brand, coming from both premium and non-premium rivals.

    Toyota hybrid powertrains:

    Toyota expects many different types of hybrid powertrains within a car’s line-up to become the norm, in the same way that different petrol and diesel engines are offered now. “Hybrids will come with a combination of transmission systems,” said Toyota Europe boss Johan van Zyl.

    Volkswagen low-cost project:

    A final decision on the Volkswagen Group’s low-cost project in India, led by Skoda, will be made by the end of the year. If it gets the green light, the first cars on the MQB AO platform could be on sale at the start of 2021. Skoda boss Bernhard Maier said: “It’s not an easy undertaking because competition in India is fierce. It is a great challenge for Skoda but also a great motivation. We broaden our base with this project and it will create high-quality jobs.”

    Read more

    Volkswagen T-Roc review 

    BMW 3 Series review 

    Skoda Kodiaq review

  • James Ruppert: the safest used cars on the market Tuesday 19th June 2018
    Volvo’s XC90 has been rated the safest car in the UK
    It’s not only posh cars that come equipped with life-saving tech

    We now know, accordingto the boffins at Thatcham Research, just what the safest car in the UK is.

    I was thinking that it could be one of those barn finds we see, so many of which have not turned a wheel in decades. Instead, the title belongs to the Volvo XC90. Apparently, since it was launched in 2002 and after 50,000 have been sold, no driver or passenger has been killed inside one.

    Jolly well done to Volvo, which has had a commitment to keeping its customers safer for generations. It has also cultivated a civilised, middle-class image that I think helps keep us all safe and sound.

    Find a used Volvo XC90 for sale on PistonHeads

    The secret of the big V’s success in the real world is the early adoption of hazard-detection technology that warns drivers of possible collisions. Maybe artificial intelligence in the form of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), which automatically applies the car’s brakes, is the main explanation, and it can be found on plenty of cars, especially Germans, these days. Perhaps that’s the sort of used motor we should be targeting?

    Starting small, a Kia Picanto 1.25 2 from 2016 will have AEB. I found a 2016 example with just over 40,000 miles and a full service history for £7490.

    Then there is the Fiat Tipo, which you might remember from the 1980s, except that a less boxy version bounced back into the showrooms recently, which you may not have noticed – perhaps because most cars these days now look like Kias. Anyway, a 1.6 MultiJet has AEB and a 2017 with fewer than 5000 miles is £9450. Actually, there are lots in circulation right now. You would probably be a lot happier with a Ford Focus or a Vauxhall Astra, but a Tipo would at least be different.

    As you might expect, Renault is very active in this safety market and there are lots of 2017 Scenics around, which will keep you out of trouble. For £15,300, you will get a 1.5 dCi Energy with around 6000 miles. Actually, with a Dynamique, you get a whole suite of fatigue alert and pedestrian detection systems.

    Posh cars have AEB, so here’s another reason to consider a Jaguar XE. How about the 2.0 i4: a petrol one in Prestige trim with 12,000 miles and all the AEB assistance you will need. A 2016 example is £19,500.

    The late, great boss of Bristol Cars, Tony Crook, once told me that no one had ever died behind the wheel of a Bristol. “Mind you, one chap drove off Beachy Head,” he said. “Not sure that counts as an accident.”I’m off out to buy a Beaufighter. Wish me luck.

    What we almost bought this week: 

    LEXUS IS-FIf you want the practicality and Q-car capability of a hot four-door saloon but your budget is limited, don’t overlook the thundering Lexus IS-F. For £20k – or less, if you’re lucky – you’ll have a fire-breathing 5.0-litre V8 that revs to 7000rpm and hits 62mph from rest in just 4.8sec. Oh, and it’ll do plenty of sideways stuff too.

    Tales from Ruppert’s garage: 

    Volkswagen Golf - Mileage: 36,006:

    Say hello to the new arrival, part-financed by the sale of our daughter’s Polo, the contents of her piggy bank and the Bank of Mum and Dad.

    We turned up at a dealer who sold us the Polo and there was this Golf, which wasn’t even on their stocklist. The nipper drove it and hats off to the dealer for not having kittens about letting a youngster get behind the wheel. So we bought it.

    And why not? It has a full dealer history, is immaculate and, as a 1.4 Bluemotion Tech, will do 53.3mpg to the petrol gallon.

    A-Z Bangernomics - G is for Golf: 

    There was only one truly classless yet classy car in the 1980s: the Volkswagen Golf. It had the broadest appeal: a basic GL was fine for the family unless they wanted to get somewhere in a hurry, then it would have to be the GTI. The VW badge was the guarantee of quality while the Golf meant modernity and practicality.

    The brilliant twist was the GTI, a charismatic combination of sports and family car. There are not too many in circulation now, but they are still relatively affordable in dreary Driver trim. Now may be the time to buy.

    Readers’ questions: 

    Question: I’m very tempted by a Mk3 Toyota MR2 as a bit of summer fun. Is there anything I need to watch out for? Michael Hughes, via email

    Answer: Mk3 MR2s are generally pretty reliable little cars but they do have one fatal flaw, which is that the pre- catalytic converter can break down and bits can be ingested into the engine, wrecking it. There’s plenty online about this problem, so do a bit of research on it first.

    Question: I’ve always wanted a classic Mini and I’ve just come into a bit of money. Is now a good time to buy one and how much should I pay? Dee Smith, Southampton

    Answer: Classic Minis always used to be quite pricey, but they aren’t shooting up in value like some other classics. As long as we’re not talking about a special model like the 1275 GT, £2500 gets you a solid, roadworthy example, £5000 gets you a good one and £8000 or so buys you a cracker.

    Read more

    Mini Cooper S review

    Volkswagen Golf review

    Vauxhall Astra review

  • Mercedes-Benz EQ C: future Model X rival kick-starts brand's EV campaign Tuesday 19th June 2018
    Mercedes-Benz EQ C Purpose-built EV will be revealed next year with twin-motor set-up

    Mercedes-Benz has followed in Audi's footsteps by using development cars for its upcoming EQ C as rolling billboards for its electric programme.

    Mercedes' first stand-alone electric car will arrive after its archrivals, including Tesla's Model XJaguar's I-Pace and Audi's soon-to-arrive E-tron — the latter of which has employed a similar strategy of test car-based promotion. The progress of the EQ C's development is being highlighted with striking new camouflage and a social media hashtag: #switchtoEQ.

    The new SUV, which is due for reveal next year before arriving on roads in 2020, is slightly larger than the current GLC and was previewed by the EQ concept at the 2016 Paris motor show.

    That car used a twin-motor powertrain that delivered more than 400bhp, suggesting the EQ C could be more potent than even the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43, which has 362bhp.

    Built on a newly developed Electric Vehicle Architecture platform constructed from a combination of hot-formed high-strength steel and aluminium, the EQ C uses a new wiring loom that enables its driveline to send up to 100% of torque to the front or rear wheels.

    The loom essentially takes the place of a propeller shaft between the two motors, which are located on each axle, but negates the need of a shaft tunnel in the floor, thereby improving interior space.

    The flat floor that holds the EQ C’s lithium ion batteries can clearly be seen on the development car, which has smooth lower sections to the side sills. The weight of the batteries is likely to ensure the EQ C tips the scales at around 2000kg, but the torque of the electric motors should mean straight-line performance will be comparable to lighter models.

    A 0-62mph time of less than five seconds is predicted, meaning the EQ C will almost certainly be as quick as the GLC 43. Conversely, when driven in a less sporting manner, the car is expected to have a range of more than 310 miles on a single charge — this would align the model with the Audi E-Tron and Jaguar I-Pace. Tesla claims the Model X can eke out up to 351 miles on one charge.

    Although heavily camouflaged, the development EQ C’s design links with the GLC are obvious. Mercedes designers have chosen not to give the brand’s first purpose-built EV a new look that flaunts its zero-emission credentials, but rather to match its design closely to the rest of Mercedes' SUV line-up.

    The EQ C will, however, adopt several aerodynamic features to reduce drag. It will conceal its wipers beneath a flap along the trailing edge of the bonnet, while its lack of grille and flat underside will be significant features to enhance the body’s slipperiness.

    Inside, the EQ C will feature Mercedes’ next-generation infotainment and digital technology. The EQ concept previewed how it could look, with a wide screen that spans half the length of the dashboard, as well as touchscreen controls between the driver and passenger — similar in idea to the layout of the Range Rover Velar. Like the exterior, expect the EQ C’s cabin to borrow much of its design from other Mercedes models.

    Mercedes will quickly follow the EQ C with the EQ A, an all-electric hatchback that was previewed in concept form at last year’s Frankfurt motor show. That car, also due on sale in 2020 as the entry point in the EQ line-up, will use a twin-motor set-up that produces around 268bhp and 369lb ft of torque, as shown in the EQ A concept.

    More content:

    Mercedes EQ concept: first ride

    Jaguar I-Pace: first drive

    2019 Audi E-Tron Sportback to take on Jaguar I-Pace

  • 2018 Audi A1 revealed with racy new look and advanced cabin tech Monday 18th June 2018
    Audi A1
    The second-generation A1 will arrive in November
    Sportier A1 will draw heavily on high-tech safety and convenience kit

    Audi will take the fight to the hot-selling Mini with the new A1 Sportback, which will be packed with technology, safety kit and the brand’s latest premium features in a bid to make it the most generously equipped supermini on sale.

    The second-generation A1 will arrive in November with the aim of drawing new and young customers to the brand. The outgoing A1 is Audi’s third-best-selling model in the UK. It has been a consistent seller for Audi across Europe, too, with annual sales in the region only once dipping below 90,000 units since it was launched in 2010. But with rivals such as the Mini achieving more than double that figure (it sold in 215,549 units last year), Audi has yet to tap into the full sales potential of this segment.

    The new A1, the smallest model in Audi’s range, has been given a dose of sporting design, with nods to the brand’s Quattro rallying heritage, including a single-frame front grille and three flat bonnet slits that reference the original 1984 Sport Quattro.

    Audi A1 designer Hurgen Loffler on why his car has gone 'to the gym'

    Like its Volkswagen Group MQB A0 platform siblings, the VW Polo and Seat Ibiza, the new A1 comes exclusively in five-door form and has grown in size (it’s now four metres long) to increase cabin space, particularly in the rear, and add 65 litres of luggage capacity.

    Next Audi S1 due with 250bhp in 2019

    Power is provided by a choice of turbocharged TFSI petrol engines, with no diesel offered. There will be a 94bhp 1.0-litre three-pot and 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre four-cylinder units offering up to 197bhp.

    A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with a seven-speed S tronic automatic 'box optional. The most potent 197bhp model, the 40 TFSI, gets a six-speed S tronic transmission as standard.

    Later, the A1 will be offered with a natural gas engine in mainland Europe, but not in the UK. A 250bhp all-wheel-drive S1 is due to arrive in 2019.

    The new A1 can be specified with optional adaptive damping and top models are offered with firmer sports suspension.

    As standard, the car gets a 10.25in all-digital instrument cluster and a multi-function steering wheel. With the exception of the entry-level model, A1s come with a centre console touchscreen of 8.8in or, in top models, 10.1in. These MMI systems feature touch-operated handwriting recognition technology taken from the range-topping A8. There’s also more advanced voice control technology.

    The sat-nav system will feature an internet-connected location search, including Google's search engine or Google Maps. With the MMI Plus package, there will also be live traffic updates.

    Along with a DAB radio, there’s online smartphone functionality, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as LTE tech to boost a phone’s signal via the car’s antenna. Entertainment is topped off with a choice of two high-quality audio systems, the bigger of which is a 560W Bang & Olufsen 11-speaker set-up that, Audi claims, is unrivalled in this segment.

    Additionally, the A1 comes with a raft of driver assist features, including pre-sense radar-based technology that can recognise cars, cyclists and pedestrians, even in fog, to offer automatic accident mitigation. The same radar technology enables adaptive speed cruise control that works at up to 124mph and can bring the car to a stop. The car is also available with a reversing camera, parking sensors and an automatic parking system.

    The new A1’s starting price could jump to around £16,500, bringing it close to the Mini, which starts from £16,605 in five-door form. Expect to pay more for a special launch edition, which will come with bespoke bronze 18in wheels and tinted lights. 

    Read more 

    Audi A1 review 

    Audi S1 review 

    Audi A3 review

  • New Audi S1 due in 2019 with 250bhp Monday 18th June 2018
    Audi A1
    A1 exterior designer Jürgen Löffler said Audi’s rallying heritage inspired the look of its new supermini, seen here in launch guise
    New hot hatch is expected late next year with a higher-powered version of the Volkswagen Group’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine

    A turbocharged 250bhp engine and four-wheel-drive traction will make the next Audi S1 the fastest and most powerful car in its class.

    Expected in late 2019, the second-generation S1 will use a higher-powered version of the Volkswagen Group’s EA888 turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. Combined with a Haldex-style quattro system, this should enable the S1 to trim several tenths from the 5.9sec 0-62mph time of its five-door predecessor.

    The new S1 will also benefit from the enhanced structural rigidity provided by the new A1’s MQB A0 platform. This is stronger than the old car’s PQ25 underpinnings and uses 27% ultra-high-strength composites in the bodyshell.

    Although Audi has yet to confirm the next S1, Autocar understands that it's set for sale because it acts as an effective halo product to lure younger buyers to the brand. Much of the success of this philosophy can be seen in the wider range of the new A1, which is far sportier even in standard trim.

    The A1's exterior designer, Jürgen Löffler, told Autocar that Audi’s rallying heritage inspired the look of its new supermini.

    The S1 is therefore expected to receive more Quattro-esque features as well as a larger rear wing, and white wheels are under consideration.

    Read more 

    Audi A1 review 

    Audi S1 review 

    Audi A3 review

  • Audi A1 designer Jurgen Loffler on why his car has gone 'to the gym' Monday 18th June 2018
    Audi A1
    A1 exterior designer Jürgen Löffler (left) talks to Autocar's Sam Sheehan about his newest creation
    Audi's smallest car is no longer its softest-looking, because the second-gen hatch has been given an injection of muscle

    Audi's new A1 ditches the soft, curvy exterior of its predecessor for a harder, more sporting appearance — which might come as a surprise, given that the old car proved immensely popular, particularly with younger buyers.

    To find out what the motivation for this major appearance shift was, we speak to the man who has headed the design teams for both the first and second-generation A1s, Jürgen Löffler.

    What was the design brief?

    “We wanted the new A1 to be the sportiest car in its class. You could say we sent the new A1 to the gym, because the outgoing car looks a little bit round in comparison. The new platform’s proportions have helped this a lot. It’s become lower, wider, longer, with shorter overhangs. So the base was already much better proportionally.”

    Given its popularity with female buyers, was this designed to appeal more to men?

    “I don’t think so. The new A1’s design is more grown-up and sportier; and that fits for both men and women.”

    Why has the A1 received more Quattro features than its siblings?

    “It was always like we’re creating a small rally car appearance. I think that the essence of Audi is in the Sport Quattro, and I think it fits quite well with the A1. It’s a small car with the wheels pushed out to the corners, so it works with the Sport Quattro’s muscular shoulders. You could say it naturally fitted to this car.”

    To read more about Audi's new A1, click here. To see what's to come with the hotter S1, click here.

    Read more 

    Audi A1 review 

    Audi S1 review 

    Audi A3 review

  • Bentley Bentayga Pikes Peak car to make record attempt this weekend Monday 18th June 2018
    Bentley Bentayga The Bentley Boys of the 1920s were known for pushing cars to the limit. Rhys Millen plans to do just that by breaking a hill climb record in a Bentayga

    Bentley has confirmed that testing for its Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Bentayga W12 is now complete, meaning the challenger, which will be driven by Rhys Millen, is now ready for its record attempt over the weekend.

    Millen, the California-based Kiwi who is twice outright winner of the hill climb and a multiple class winner, was confirmed as the driver earlier in the spring, when Autocar visited Bentley's Crewe headquarters to inspect the Bentayga he will pilot (and which is pictured during testing in the newest images). We look back at our visit to Crewe in the run-up to the 2018 Pikes Peak event…

    Woolf Barnato would approve. Tackling the Pikes Peak hill climb, one of the original motorsport tests dating back to 1916, is firmly in the spirit of the challenges undertaken by Barnato and the other original Bentley Boys of the 1920s.

    Back then, the Bentley Boys proved the prowess of the manufacturer’s models by racing against trains, dominating Le Mans and setting records at Brooklands.

    Now, to prove its Bentayga W12 can out muscle and out-handle its high-riding performance car rivals, Bentley is heading to the Colorado mountain in mid-June to attack the class record for production SUVs. That benchmark currently resides at Gaydon: in 2014, a Range Rover Sport driven by Paul Dallenbach achieved a time of 12min 35.610sec for the 12.42-mile course.

    Bentley is confident it can set a new class standard, especially with Millen at the wheel. He's lived and breathed the event for almost his entire adult life and his father Rod was a five-time winner in the 1990s.

    Finished in a striking green wrap, the Bentayga is being prepared by Bentley’s motorsport department, headed by Brian Gush.

    Millen will bring more than intimate knowledge of the mountain course’s 156 corners – his race team will look after event logistics and hone the preparation of the car together with an in-house Bentley motorsport engineer, David Argent. The team has been hard at work since the first announcement of the project in January and Millen has been driving a road-going Bentayga in California.

    “You don’t need to spend much time in this car to evaluate its potential,” he says. “Pikes Peak is a ‘burst speed’ course, not a ‘sustained speed’ course, and the production values of the Bentayga are going to shine in that environment.”

    The Bentayga is running a standard 5950cc W12 engine, which means it produces 600bhp and 664lb ft. As a twin-turbocharged unit, it will suffer less from the performance losses that aff lict naturally aspirated internal combustion engines at higher altitudes, although Gush says “even a turbocharged car will lose about 5-10% of its power” during the 1440m climb from start to summit.

    Millen adds: “That’s when displacement is the biggest factor. All credit to the Bentayga, because six litres are what you want. The engine is basically like a big air pump.

    “One of the most impressive things I’ve found with car is the gearshift. The first four gears are stacked very closely. The average speed for the run will be mid-70mph and the maximum speed will be in the region of 125mph, but for most of the run I’ll be between second and fourth.”

    The team will fine-tune the Bentayga during pre-event tests at Willow Springs Raceway in California and Pikes Peak itself. There’s work to be done on determining which of the Bentayga’s driving modes works best, although Millen already has a good idea: “Sport mode is the right place to be: the gearshifts are crisper, you can use the paddle shifts to change gear manually and you can turn the traction and stability controls off. You’re essentially putting the car into a pure race mode.”

    The Bentayga will run in an ‘exhibition’ class, with as few tweaks as possible to stay close to production specification. Changes are largely safety-related: the driver’s chair is replaced with a carbonfibre safety seat and all other seats removed. The panoramic glass roof, standard on the road car, is replaced with an infill panel. Trim and extraneous equipment will be removed, and a roll-cage and fire extinguisher installed.

    Beyond that, the rulebook permits anything that exists on the road car’s spec sheet as either standard kit or an option, so any components that offer a weight or performance advantage are fitted. In all, the Bentayga is some 300kg lighter than its road-going equivalent. It is nevertheless about two tonnes. With 156 corners to negotiate and precipitous drops off the mountain, slowing down is an important consideration, not least because the thinner air at altitude affects brake cooling. Carbon-ceramic brakes – offered as an option on the road car – are fitted.

    The experience of Millen and his team will be vital during the intensity of race week at Pikes Peak. Practice and qualifying runs take place on shorter sections of the course. The only time competitors tackle the full 12.42 miles is on race day.

    The course, a public toll road to the top of the peak in the southern Rockies, was for many years a dirt track, but sections of it were paved until, in 2012, it was all-asphalt. Just because the course is paved now doesn’t dampen down the challenge. In fact, says Millen, “it’s scarier, because it is faster. It is pretty intense. When having a good run, you can gauge from the handling of the car literally four corners into a run whether you have the confidence to continue pushing.”

    Millen is fired up by the prospect of proving a performance SUV in such a tough environment: “Maybe four years ago, an SUV was a compromise. Now, when you drive this vehicle, with its handling, braking and performance attributes, there is no compromise. It’s a four-seat sports car and this category is growing.”

    Bentley won’t be drawn as to whether this year’s effort is a one-off, but with the company’s centenary looming next year, another tilt at the record in 2019 would be a fitting way to celebrate the heroic feats of Bentley Boys both past and present. 

    Race invaders:

    Five European car makers that relished the Pikes Peak challenge

    AUDI - Five victories in the 1980s, including the first sub-11min run for Walter Röhrl in an Audi Sport Quattro E2 Pikes Peak in 1987.

    PEUGEOT - Ari Vatanen (1988) and Bobby Unser (1989) took the Peugeot 405 T16 to victory; Sébastien Loeb set a new course record with an 8min 13.878sec run in 2013 in a 208 T16.

    SAAB - Rally legend Per Eklund built a jaw-droppingly powerful 9-3 Viggen 4x4 and drove it to glory on the hill in 2000 and 2002.

    NORMA - French company built the four- wheel-drive M20 RD prototype that Romain Dumas used to set the best times in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

    VOLKSWAGEN - Back at the mountain this year after a 31-year absence to prove the potential of its ID R electric prototype, which Dumas will drive.

    Read more

    Bentley Bentayga review 

    Bentley Continental review 

    Bentey Mulsanne review 

  • 2019 Suzuki Jimny revealed Monday 18th June 2018
    2019 Suzuki Jimny: styling and interior revealed Next-gen SUV gets more rugged styling and upmarket interior. Official photos have now been released

    Styling of the next-generation Suzuki Jimny has been shown by the brand ahead of its Japanese reveal over the summer. The small SUV arrives on roads at the start of next year.

    The current Jimny has now gone out of production to make way for its successor. The last units of the model - fewer than 200 cars - were still available for purchase until recently, but sold quickly. The Jimny represents 1100-1200 sales per year for the brand.

    The next Jimny has been seen testing several times, showing its new design. Unlike the Vitara, the future SUV has not been softened with a more road-biased look. It actually looks significantly more rugged, with a retro design. Previous, leaked images surfaced on a Facebook fan page

    The fourth-generation model is being developed with the feedback of existing Jimny owners in mind, who rank its effective off-road capabilities and robustness more highly than on-road performance. 

    Road handling will still be improved, but a Suzuki spokesman explained that the car's unique selling point was its hardy nature, so this will remain the focus during development. An image of the car's ladder chassis shows this, and it's also confirmed that three-link rigid axle suspension will be fitted, and part time four-wheel drive, with low range transfer gear is also used.

    The car's design reflects its 4x4 status, taking influence from earlier-generation Jimnys with a simple, box-shaped body. Much of the design appears similar to that applied to the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, such as the squared-off wheel arches and tail-lights located low on the bumper.

    Images leaked onto the internet revealed the look of the car's interior late last year. Although it gains modern features such as touchscreen infotainment, the overall design remains clunky - likely due to a priority for function over form to enable users to operate controls and buttons with gloves on.

    Suzuki has been testing the car in four countries - one of which is Britain - in order to develop the car's chassis set-up and refinement for launch onto the global market. Its scale is not expected to drastically change from the outgoing car, which is just 120mm longer than a Smart Forfour.

    The brand has remained tight-lipped as to what will power the future SUV, but sources expect Suzuki’s turbocharged 1.0-litre Boosterjet three-pot to be offered, with the brand’s naturally aspirated 1.2-litre a potential entry-point engine. No diesel engine is expected - the brand just confirmed that it has pulled all diesel options from its current line-up.

    Suzuki swapped the manual low-range gear selector in its latest Vitara for an electric rotary dial, but the new Jimny could stick with the former system to maximise its off-road adjustability.

    The brand's decision to ignore the temptation to build a more mainstream model should ensure that sales remain comparatively small (versus other compact SUVs). Around 1200 Jimnys are sold per year in Britain - a figure that has remained consistent since the outgoing version launched in 1998. The new car is expected to comfortably beat this while leading a charge to grow Suzuki sales by 20%.

    The larger Vitara is currently the brand's bestselling model. It achieves UK sales of about 12,000 units per year, with the expectation of further growth.

    More content:

    Audi reveals new e-tron Vision Gran Turismo

    Honda Civic Type R long-term review

  • Volvo to use 25% recycled plastic in cars from 2025 Monday 18th June 2018
    Volvo XC60 with recycled plastics Swedish firm has produced one-off XC60 plug-in with recycled parts

    Volvo has pledged to use 25% recycled plastic in all of its cars from 2025 in a bid to reduce the environmental impact of its production.

    The firm, which has already announced intentions for 50% of its total sales volume to be electric cars by 2025, has produced a one-off XC60 plug-in hybrid using recycled parts to illustrate the potential of this raw material reduction.

    The one-off XC60’s centre tunnel console is made from renewable fibres and plastics taken from discarded fishing nets and ropes. The carpets contain fibres made from PET plastic bottles and a recycled cotton mix using offcuts from clothing manufacturers. PET fibres also helped to produce the seat fabric, while material from used car seats helped produce the sound-absorbing material under the car bonnet.

    Volvo is also working to reduce the environmental impact of its production processes. In January, it announced that the Skövde production site in Sweden had become carbon-neutral — something the brand hopes will be the case for all of its facilities by 2025. Last month, Volvo committed to remove single-use plastics from all of its premises and events by the end of 2019.

    “Volvo Cars is committed to minimising its global environmental footprint,” said CEO Håkan Samuelsson. “Environmental care is one of Volvo’s core values and we will continue to find new ways to bring this into our business. This car and our recycled plastics ambition are further examples of that commitment.”

    Volvo is also investing heavily in electric technology in the face of skyrocketing demand for zero-emission vehicles, particularly in China, the home market of its parent company Geely.

    Toyota is another major car manufacturer to recently announce emissions-fighting changes in its processes. The Japanese brand is producing a megawatt hydrogen station to provide hydrogen cars, such as the Mirai, passing through the Port of Long Beach in California with carbon-neutral energy.

    Audi has also claimed that the production of its upcoming E-tron SUV will be completely carbon neutral, thanks to the use of renewable energy and offsets for its carbon output.

    More content:

    Volvo targets 33% autonomous and 50% subscription sales by 2025

    First Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor produced on temporary production line

  • Why the time is right for hypercars to take over Le Mans Monday 18th June 2018
    2018 Le Mans
    Toyota won Le Mans but faced little competition
    Toyota's dominance showed the failings of the expensive LMP1 class, but new 2020 rules should spice up the spectacle of the endurance classic

    This year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans ended with a feelgood story that will generate plenty of publicity: Toyota finally taking its first victory in the endurance classic, with Fernando Alonso part of the winning line-up. But behind those headlines, the battle at the front of the field was hardly a classic.

    Sure, the two works Toyota TS050 Hybrids battled for glory and traded places on multiple occasions, but this really was a two-horse race. Toyota was the only works team running a hybrid car in the top LMP1 division, and its competition consisted of privateer teams running non-hybrid cars. Without denigrating the efforts of those teams, they were in a different league.

    That’s not intended to knock Toyota’s achievements either. Surviving Le Mans is never easy (remember when a technical problem sidelined Kazuki Nakajima’s leading Toyota in the final minutes of the race in 2016, gifting the win to Porsche?), and the firm also deserves credit for continuing to invest heavily despite having no rivals.

    Le Mans 2018: Toyota and Alonso take first wins in endurance classic

    The problem with the current LMP1 cars is that they're hugely expensive and complex. That was manageable when there were three manufacturers, but now that Audi and Porsche are gone, there simply aren’t any other firms prepared to invest in the machinery - especially for a category that only really gains wider attention beyond motorsport fans for one weekend per year.

    In that context, it was good timing to reveal new rules for the top class of endurance racing from 2020 onwards the day before this year’s race. The new rules promise to slash costs by introducing strict aerodynamic and power controls yet still allowing manufacturers both considerable powertrain freedom and the ability to make cars that look like roadgoing models.

    The new rules borrow from the success of both the LMP2 prototypes, which feature control parts and design elements to keep costs in check, and the GTE Pro class, which uses a Balance of Performance (BoP) system to ensure cars firms running a wide variety of machinery can fight for the win.

    Before the start of this year's race, works Porsche driver Nick Tandy told Autocar how GTE Pro's intense competition arguably made it tougher for drivers than LMP1.

    FIA confirms plans for hypercar-based Le Mans top class in 2020

    The fact that both those classes are so strong bodes well for the new category. Former Formula 1 racer Paul di Resta was part of a high-quality driver line-up in LMP2 this year, making his Le Mans debut with United Autosports. And he was impressed by the division.

    “The biggest thing that struck me is how quick an LMP2 car is for what it is, and there’s a lot to be said for the division when it’s within seven seconds a lap of the top class," he told Autocar. "When you look at the performance compared to LMP1, it’s incredible what you get out of an LMP2 car for the money.

    “You’d love to be driving that Toyota at Le Mans, of course, but you want to see manufacturers coming in and battling hard and competitively.”

    While the GTE Pro-winning Porsche 911 RSR took a comfortable victory, the class featured some huge battles between manufacturers, including a wheel-hanging scrap for second between Porsche and Ford in the closing hours of the race. 

    If motorsport bosses can truly develop a set of rules that will allow manufacturers to come in with road-style cars and fight like that for the outright win for 24 hours, count me in. There are challenges, of course. Trying to keep costs in check in motorsport is easier said than done: top teams and manufacturers have a habit of finding new ways to burn cash in a bid to find an edge, no matter how small.

    And BoP rules raise questions of purity. This year, firms that struggled in qualifying lobbied for BoP tweaks to help make them more competitive, but shouldn’t they have just knuckled down and tried to find pace the old-fashioned way?

    It’s a fair question, and it does concern the purist in me. Part of the joy of Le Mans has always been how open it is to new technology and creativity. That risks being lost if the new rules aren’t written carefully.

    Still, I’m encouraged. Look at the firms building hypercars who've been hinting like mad that they’d love to run such machines at Le Mans. Notably, Toyota chose the event to show its new Gazoo GR Super Sport Concept, which looks very much like something designed to showcase the planned 2020 rules. That raises hopes that they’ll return to challenge for future Le Mans wins – and be made to work for them.

    Think ahead to 2020 and picture this: Toyota, Aston Martin, McLaren, Ferrari, Ford, Porsche and more, for 24 hours, fighting for the outright victory.

    Alonso and Toyota winning Le Mans is a great headline and a great story. But having all those firms battling would offer that as well as the prospect of a great race. 

    Read more

    Le Mans 2018: Toyota and Alonso take first wins in endurance classic

    FIA confirms plans for hypercar-based Le Mans top class in 2020

    Toyota Gazoo GR Super Sport Concept could race at Le Mans in 2020

  • First Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor produced on temporary production line Monday 18th June 2018
    First Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor produced on temporary production line Third production line is outside main factory and was built in three weeks

    Tesla has ramped up Model 3 production on a third production line at its Fremont factory - the new line being a temporary structure that was set up in less than three weeks, according to boss Elon Musk

    The move has allowed Tesla to start building the first all-wheel drive versions of the Model 3. This variant is one of the last to be built due to the company’s production troubles, although production of the entry-level $35,000 car has not begun yet. 

    It’s not yet known how long the temporary production line will be operational for or if it will be gradually converted into a full-time production line. 

    Tesla’s other production facility in Nevada is planned to become the largest building in the world, Musk announced at the brand’s annual shareholder meeting, with large-scale developments planned over the next five years. 

    This is likely due to the planned introduction of a C-segment hatchback model, which could become the brand’s best seller. It’s expected to be the cheapest car Tesla produces upon arrival, undercutting the $35,000 Model 3 to compete with the upcoming Volkswagen ID. The as-yet-unnamed hatchback will arrive within the next five years, Musk said. 

    Musk plans more factories globally to meet growing demand in non-US markets, with the next Gigafactory almost certain to be set up in Shanghai, China. A European production facility has also long been planned but will not arrive before the Chinese plant. 

    Read more:

    Is Tesla moving too quickly?

    Tesla Model Y: small SUV is key to brand's self-sustainable future

    Tesla Model Y to be revealed in March 2019; production begins 2020

    Tesla compact hatchback to launch within five years

  • 2018 Paris motor show preview Monday 18th June 2018
    Renault Trezor concept
    Renault's Trezor concept was one of the stars of last year's Paris show
    The second-biggest motor show of the year is almost upon us, so take an early look at what’s due to make an appearance

    The Paris motor show arrives on 2 October and will be the second-biggest motor show of the year, after the Goliath that was Geneva in March. 

    The last Paris show brought us crucial cars such as the Land Rover Discovery, Volkswagen ID concept and Nissan Micra, with numerous more due soon as production cars, including the Lexus UX

    Here’s what’s coming this year, as more manufacturers confirm models for the ‘other’ motor show of 2018. 

    2018 Paris motor show: the cars

    Audi A1

    The reveal process for the new A1 has already begun, with fragments of the car being revealed on Audi’s social media channels officially. A hefty leak has given the game away early, though. It’ll be officially revealed ahead of Paris, but the show will be our best close-up look at the new Mini rival before our testers get their hands on one. 

    BMW 3 Series

    BMW’s lost some ground to Mercedes-Benz since the C-Class became the country’s — and Europe’s — top-selling compact executive car. The brand will look to the G20 to make up some of the lost pace, despite other car classes being savaged by SUV sales.

    BMW X5

    Speaking of which, while BMW’s rival to the Jaguar F-Pace has already been shown, it will make its first public outing at the Paris show. It’s got a fresh new look, architecture shared with the 5 and 7 Series and it is larger in every direction than its predecessor.

    BMW Z4

    It’s been a long time coming, but the new Z4 will arrive in Paris as the overhauled rival to the Porsche Boxster and Mercedes-Benz SLC. BMW promises a renewed focus on dynamic ability for the new car, as well as a completely different look from its predecessor.

    DS 3 Crossback

    The DS assault on the plush SUV market continues with the 3 Crossback — a rival to the BMW X1 and Jaguar E-Pace. The zany styling of the DS X E-Tense concept could provide a little guidance on where DS is going with the 3 Crossback, which is expected to eventually replace the ageing 3 hatch. 

    Kia Proceed

    Kia’s shooting brake version of the Ceed, the Proceed, replaces the previous slow-selling three-door hatch version and deletes the apostrophe from its name for good measure. We’ve only seen it in concept form, but hopefully styling won’t stray too far from that.

    Mercedes-AMG A35

    The warm version of Mercedes’ new hatch arrives in early 2019 as a 300bhp understudy to the 400bhp full-fat A45. It’ll rival the Audi S3 and Volkswagen Golf R, while the A45 will be more of a match for the RS3 and BMW M2

    Mercedes-Benz A-Class saloon

    Mercedes is also taking the A-Class to the fight against the Audi A3 saloon by making a long-booted version. The A-Class saloon’s styling has already been revealed on the Chinese-spec long-wheelbase car, but a slightly different look will be applied to the European car.

    Porsche Macan

    Porsche's smallest SUV has been with us since 2014, so it's time for a mid-life refresh. We've already had a drive in a prototype, so take a look at our first impressions here before first examples hit the road at the end of the year. 

    Renault concept

    Nothing is yet confirmed, but Renault is almost certain to take a concept to its home motor show. Last time around, the brand unveiled the dramatic Trezor concept  — an autonomous supercar that previewed the new styling direction of the brand. 

    Skoda Kodiaq vRS

    Skoda’s first hot SUV, and what will be the second model in its vRS line-up since the Fabia vRS was canned, is already the fastest seven-seat SUV around the Nürburgring. It’ll be fully revealed in Paris before sales start at the end of the year.