Car News

  • First drive: Volkswagen ID Buzz concept review Saturday 19th August 2017
    Volkswagen ID Buzz
    We had a short test drive in ID Buzz concept in California
    The electric ID Buzz, which will go into production in 2022, is inspired by the classic Microbus. We have a run in the concept version in California

    Entry to the ID Buzz, the concept Volkswagen has confirmed will go into production as the modern-day Microbus, combines the magic of contemporary electronics and traditional heave.

    Waving a hand within the side swage line on the driver’s door triggers an electronic opening mechanism, which involves the conventional front-hinged driver’s door swinging open to reveal the concept’s wonderfully simplistic yet surprisingly roomy interior.

    Official: Volkswagen to put ID Buzz electric concept into production

    The floor is mounted at a high 525mm due to the need to house an extensive crash structure within the front end and the battery within the long 3300mm wheelbase, but there’s a small step integrated within the sill area to ease entry as you climb aboard. You step up and then into cabin. 

    Inside the Volkswagen ID Buzz concept

    The initial impression once you’re inside is just how high you are positioned above the road: the driver’s seat places your torso well above the belt line. In combination with an upright windscreen it offers a commanding view enhanced by generous quarter windows. The links with earlier Microbus models are undeniable and provide the ID Buzz with a wonderfully authentic feel.

    With a design that aims to reduce clutter, the high mounted full width dashboard is devoid of any controls. The main functions, including the gear selection and indicators, are all housed within the rectangular steering wheel.

    The I.D. Buzz is fitted with two electric motors, one mounted at the front within the short nose section, the other within the rear-axle assembly. This gives it four-wheel drive capability. Each motor delivers 201bhp, although the combined system output is limited to 369bhp. It’s a layout Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess says will be mirrored on more upmarket versions of the new Microbus.

    The ID Buzz can also be configured as a rear-wheel-drive model featuring a 268-hp rear-mounted electric motor in a drivetrain layout similar to that of the I.D. hatchback.

    Fitted with a large 111 kWh lithium-ion battery mounted low in the floor, Volkswagen claims the ID Buzz has a zero-emissions range of up to 372 miles on the European test cycle.

    Driving the Volkswagen ID Buzz concept

    A swipe of your finger on a starter button within the touch sensitive steering wheel is all that’s needed to prime the electronics and ready the I.D. Buzz to move off.

    The one-off concept has been in use all morning by the time I get my turn in the driver’s seat, and there are concerns about the level of energy remaining within the lithium-ion battery.

    Although designed with an augmented reality head-up display unit within the windscreen, there are no obvious instruments to reveal the battery charge. As a result, my drive is curtailed to a couple of runs of about a mile along 17 Mile Drive, a picturesque tourist road on the Monterey Peninsula in California.

    While only a brief encounter in a concept with the single motor and rear-wheel drive layout likely to power entry level versions, it nevertheless provides a good indication of what we can expect when the production version arrives in 2022.

    The I.D. Buzz gets underway with surprising vigour as I call up D (for drive) with a swipe of my finger across the steering wheel. This early concept might not possess the full quota of reserves promised by the twin-engine spec, but the e-Golf-based driveline and rear-wheel drive set-up is sufficiently sorted to zip away from standstill with instant response. It hits cruising speeds with engagingly flexible properties when the traffic allows.

    Volkswagen says the boxy concept weighs close to 2000kg, though it gives the impression of being a lot lighter. Like most electric vehicles, the strong torque ensures it feels eager. 

    With a coasting function aiming to maximise efficiency, it freewheels with very low frictional losses when you come off the throttle, rolling along with the electric motor disengaged from the drive process until you pick up the power again or nudge the brake pedal to wipe off speed. Driveline refinement is quite impressive; there’s no trace of whine from the electric motor mounted in the back.

    Volkswagen intends equipping its new Microbus with contemporary autonomous driving technology. With a steering wheel that retracts back into the dashboard and a driver’s seat that swivels through a full 180-degrees to face the rear, it has been properly conceived to support hands-off driving. The concept, though, runs a more conventional set-up that relies on purely on the driver.

    The steering is light but slow to respond and not very direct at all – but with four years of planned development before it is due to reach showrooms, Volkswagen will surely ensure it matches the impressive levels of steering response and directness shown by recent new models.

     The electro-mechanical system, whose rack is mounted forward of the front axle line, can manoeuvre the I.D. Buzz around a Pebble Beach car park without much trouble, although it requires a good deal of twirling the steering wheel to engage much lock. Once up to speed it improves with greater weighting and more feel. Among the functions Volkswagen is touting is a rear-wheel steer system offering a turning circle of less than 11 metres.  

    The ride is firm and quite noisy. Most design-based concepts ride like shopping trolleys, and with the I.D. Buzz riding on 22-inch aerodynamically optimised wheels shod with prototype 235/45 tyres, there’s little in the way of proper wheel travel or comfort inducing compliance.  

    But these particular facets of the ID Buzz’s driving characteristics are not really representative of what we can expect of the finished product. When it launched in 2022 it will use the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension set to be used by all MEB-based Volkswagen models. They’re taken from the company’s existing MQB-based models, and for the most part they all handle and ride with pleasingly direct and refined driving traits.

    Further likely developments include adaptive damping and self-levelling rear air springs to control ride height when loaded with passengers and/or luggage. This, and the fact that the MPV’s inherent layout provides it with a very low centre of gravity, is reason enough to suggest its dynamic qualities should meet the heady expectations already being heaped upon it. 

    Initial impressions of the ID Buzz

    This basic concept provides a sound basis for the return of one of the motoring world’s most iconic machines.

    Sliding rear doors and a fully flat floor shows the ease of entry and generous accommodation we can expect from the future Microbus. Positioning the driver so far forward creates sufficient room to accommodate up to eight, and the interior is designed to support a multitude of different layouts. There are two separate luggage compartments, at the front and rear.

    One of the factors that have allowed Volkswagen to realise its long-held plans of resurrecting the Microbus is the packaging advantages provided by the MEB platform structure. With the electric motors placed down low, the frontal area has been dedicated almost entirely to crash deformation. The only components housed up front are power electronics for the driveline and air conditioning compressor. Everything else resides underneath the flat floor.

    The engineering brief, as it stands today, calls for it to be sold exclusively with electric drive and offer a choice of standard and long wheelbases.

    Four years is a long time to wait, but if the promise shown by the ID Buzz concept during our brief drive is reflected to any degree on the production version it will be well worth it.

    Read more

    First drive: Volkswagen ID concept

    Opinion: Another Microbus concept? Why this one could work (from Jan 2017)

    Volkswagen Sedric previews self-driving pod-like vehicle

    Inside Volkswagen's Wolfsburg production plant

    The future of the car: an Autocar guide (includes autonomous driving explainer)

    Volkswagen commits to electric future but says diesel remains 'indispensable'

  • Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 name confirmed for first hot hybrid model Saturday 19th August 2017
    Mercedes-AMG CLS53 to be first of several performance hybrids
    The next-generation CLS has only been spotted testing in non-AMG guise
    New hybrids will sit beneath 63 models; CLS to share its six-cylinder-based powertrain with other models

    Mercedes-AMG will introduce a new petrol-electric hybrid line-up to sit below its 63 range, starting with a CLS 53 version later this year.

    The model is due to be revealed as part of the next-generation CLS range at the Los Angeles motor show in November, before reaching roads in the middle of 2018. It will use AMG’s 3.0-litre straight-six engine, as used by 43 models, in conjunction with a 50kW electric motor.

    Autocar revealed AMG's intentions to introduce a hybrid-six-cylinder drivetrain to its line-up earlier this year at the E-Class Coupé launch, but information at that time suggested it would be a range badged as 50. A source has now confirmed to Autocar that 53 has been chosen to align the hybrid models with AMG's existing naming conventions.

    The hybrid AMG CLS's combined system output is expected to exceed 450bhp, likely ranking it more than 100bhp behind the current V8-engined CLS 63 S. However, the hybrid six-pot model’s electric torque-filling ability should ensure performance is much closer – so much so that it will likely take the 63’s place and become the CLS’s top variant.

    This would clear space for the AMG GT four-door that’s due in 2018 as an entirely different model, inspired by the GT Concept of the 2017 Geneva motor show. The GT four-door will use a twin-turbocharged V8 engine, borrowed from either the AMG GT or E63, with a hybrid range-topper producing around 800bhp.

    The hybrid CLS is expected to come with regenerative braking technology to help replenish its lithium ion batteries when on the move. This technology is already in use elsewhere in Mercedes’ range, and would come as part of 48v electric architecture.

    Following hybrid six-pot models will share the CLS 53's’s drivetrain. An AMG E 53 would be the most likely next candidate for the system, due to the CLS’s strong technical links with the E-Class. Sources suggest that the electric and six-cylinder system will be the only drivetrain available on AMG coupé and convertible E-Classes, while larger saloon and estate models will remain as E63s with V8 engines.

  • Volkswagen to put Microbus-inspired ID Buzz electric car into production Saturday 19th August 2017
    Volkswagen ID Buzz
    The Microbus-inspired Volkswagen ID Buzz will go into production in 2022
    Retro-styled electric MPV, due to go on sale in 2022, will be capable of autonomous driving

    Volkswagen will put the ID Buzz concept – an all-electric Microbus-inspired MPV capable of autonomous driving – into production, with the car due to go on sale in 2022.

    The machine was first displayed at the Detroit motor show in January, and Volkswagen has now decided to launch a production version in Europe, the USA and China following strong public reaction. The decision was confirmed at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance last weekend.

    First drive: behind the wheel of the ID Buzz concept

    Speaking at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California, Volkswagen CEO Dr Herbert Diess said: “After the presentations at the global motor shows, we received a large number of letters and emails from customers who said, 'please build this car'.

    ”The Microbus has long been part of the California lifestyle. Now we're bringing it back by reinventing it as an electric vehicle."

    While the styling of the ID Buzz evokes the legendary Type 2 van, first launched in 1949, the machine is built around the latest technology on Volkswagen’s new all-electric architecture. It will also feature Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities, meaning it will be able to drive itself with human supervision.

    Volkswagen commits to electric future but says diesel remains 'indispensable'

    The all-wheel-drive concept version is powered by 150kW two electric motors, with one in the nose section and the other by the rear axle, giving a total output of 369bhp. Torque is distributed between the two motors through an ‘electric propshaft’, and it can hit 62mph from rest in less than five seconds. Top speed is limited to 99mph.

    The ID Buzz has a battery charge capacity of 111 kWh, giving a range of around 270 miles. The batteries are built into the floor to maximise interior space. Volkswagen says the ID Buzz’s architecture would also allow it to be fitted with a 268bhp rear-wheel-drive electric powertrain.

    The ID Buzz has a wheelbase of 3300mm and a turning circle of 10 metres. The machine’s variable interior – which is 4922mm long - can seat up to eight people.

    Volkswagen says the interior has been designed for maximum usability, with a rail-based flexible seating layout. The third row of seats can be converted into a bed, in a nod to its Microbus inspiration.

    As with the Type 2 that inspired it, a commercial version, the ID Buzz Cargo, will be produced by Volkswagen.

    Diess said: “The vehicle looks like a compact commercial van on the outside, even though it offers the generous interior space of a large SUV.”

    The ID Buzz concept features a touch-sensitive steering wheel, with an augmented reality head-up display and centre console tablet intended to replace much of the traditional driving instrumentation.

    First drive: Volkswagen ID Concept review

    The ID Buzz will be capable of autonomous driving and will come fitted with VW’s ID Pilot autonomous driving system. The concept version features a steering wheel that retracts and decouples from the steering system when the ID Buzz is switched into its fully autonomous mode.

    The future of the car: an Autocar guide (includes autonomous driving explainer)

    The concept doesn’t feature rear-view mirrors, instead using external cameras whose images are displayed on an ‘e-Mirror’ screen in the traditional location of the rear-view mirror. Again, it is unclear how much of this technology will make it to production versions of the ID Buzz.

    The ID Buzz will form part of Volkswagen’s ‘Together-Strategy 2025’ plan, which involves the firm investing £7.5 billion into developing more than 30 battery-powered models by 2025. The first new model from the firm will be the ID compact car.

    Autocar has driven the Volkswagen ID Buzz concept in California. Read our initial impressions here.

    Read more

    Opinion: Another Microbus concept? Why this one could work (from Jan 2017)

    First drive: Volkswagen ID concept

    Volkswagen Sedric previews self-driving pod-like vehicle

    Inside Volkswagen's Wolfsburg production plant

  • Gallery: the weird and wonderful cars of Concours d'Lemons Saturday 19th August 2017
    Chevrolet Apache
    Probably the coolest truck in existence, the Chevrolet Apache
    This is a concours with a difference: forget Pebble Beach, this free event at Seaside City Hall is where it's at

    “Celebrating the oddball, mundane and truly awful of the automotive world.” That’s the description of the Concours d’Lemons from the organisers themselves.

    And by jove, they’re right. It’s also one of the most refreshing and smile-inducing car events you could attend, providing the perfect antidote to the very expensive cars that are on show at the rest of Monterey Car Week.

    The free event does indeed have a concours element: categories include Rust Belt American Junk and Unmitigated Gaul. There’s also a bunch of motors which rock up having completed the Concours d’Lemons rally, a 2900-mile road trip.

    We've done the rounds and picked some of the most outlandish, hilarious, pretty and unique motors to appear in our gallery. Click on the images above to see our favourites. 

    Gallery: best of the Quail motorsport event

    Infiniti Prototype 9 revealed at the Quail

    Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet unveiled 

  • Top 10 best used investment cars - top 100 used cars 2017 Saturday 19th August 2017
    Peugeot 306 GTi-6

    Peugeot 306 GTi-6 - Built 1996-2001 Price range £500-£6000 We’d pay £2500 See Peugeot 306 GTi-6 for sale on Pistonheads

    It will never quite have the cachet of its predecessor, the 205 GTi, but the
 306 GTi-6 was the hot hatch to beat for most of the 1990s. Combined with its near-perfect proportions, that’s going to make it a desirable car soon – and with top examples starting to crest the £5k mark, prices are creeping northwards. There are still plenty of tatty snotters around, though, so only buy clean, tidy, standard cars with a reasonable mileage. 

    Want to buy a car that’s unlikely to drop in value? We show you how

    Buying a car purely as an investment seems like a bit of a shame, especially if you’re going to stick it in a hermetically sealed room and never touch it in the hope its price bloats while you’re not looking. 

    However, if you want to buy,
 own and enjoy something a little bit special, and justify the cost somewhat by offsetting it against a rise in value... well, that’s a completely different story. And despite the
tales you’ll hear of £115,000 Sierra Cosworths and £38,000 Peugeot 205 GTIs, it’s still possible to do buy an appreciating car for a very reasonable amount of cash. A fact that’s proven by these 10 cracking used buys, all of which should be great fun to drive and have the potential to gain pounds even as you take them out for a
sunny weekend drive. 

    Top 100 used car 2017 special features

    Top 10 used 'Q' cars

    Top 10 used front-wheel-drive cars

    Top 10 used 400bhp cars

    Top 10 used performance saloons

    Read all our used car buying guides here

     

  • Top 10 best used 'Q cars' - top 100 used cars 2017 Saturday 19th August 2017
    BMW M5 E28
    Anonymous looks make this M5 the perfect ‘sleeper’
    If you prefer to blend understated class with rapid pace, you need a Q car. We drive our favourites and recommend nine alternatives

    If you have a few followers on social media, you can be sure that any picture you post of any interesting car will earn some kind of reaction from at least a few people. Then, just occasionally, you get an avalanche. 

    My most recent was when I posted a picture of this 1987 BMW M5 parked in a field on a wet day. It may look like just another three-box saloon, but there is so much love for it that even I, an E28 fan since day one, was surprised by the response. 

    To me, and I guess, to them, its visual ordinariness lies at the heart of its appeal. Actually, Ian Sutton’s superb car seen here (number 185 of 187 right-hand-drive cars built) is in the minority of first-generation M5s having the M-Technic bodykit from the far less powerful M535i. Without it, you’d need to be spotting alloy wheels, badges, a slightly deeper front spoiler and body-coloured wing mirrors to tell the difference. 

    But different it was. Priced north of £30,000 at launch, it cost more than half as much again as the more sporty-looking M535i, but what
 you were buying was not so much a souped-up 5 Series, but an ultra-low- volume, highly specialised four-door supercar built not on the line with all the other 5 Series variants,
but by hand by BMW Motorsport. 

    Most obviously, it had the twin cam, 24-valve 3.5-litre engine first used in the M1, albeit with different pistons, rods and management. Today, 282bhp might not seem like much, but when this car came out, it was more than you’d find under the engine cover of the Ferrari 328 GTB. 

    But there was far more to the original M5 than that: it had a close-ratio Getrag gearbox and bespoke suspension geometry, shock absorbers, rollbars and spring rates. There were bigger brakes, those beautiful 16in wheels (for the UK market) and chunkier tyres, too. 

    Inside, it was even harder to tell the difference: there’s an M-Technic wheel, an M-badge where the fuel economy gauge should be in the
 rev counter and more on the
heavily bolstered sports seats.
Look really closely and you’ll
notice the speedometer reads up
to 170mph instead of the usual 160mph, but it lacks even the red needles or oil temperature gauge 
of its contemporary, the E30 M3.
 At the time, the M5 seemed pretty understated, but in today’s world where a car’s kudos in the sports
car market appears defined by the amount of aerodynamic addenda it wears, it seems very nearly invisible. 

    You sit high in the M5 and notice first how narrow it is, then how phenomenally airy it feels and, lastly, how easy it is to see out of.
 The body’s squared off sides make
 it exceptionally easy to negotiate down lanes, increasing both its point-to-point speed and your confidence and enjoyment of the car. The engine is pure automotive aristocracy. Its voice is clean, sharp, rich and smooth, pregnant with promise yet quiet enough not to intrude. Most E28 M5s have done big mileages, because their first owners gleefully used them as all-purpose daily drivers, dispatching everything this side of an uncommonly powerful Ferrari with barely a puff of smoke from its twin central tailpipes. The gearshift is quite slow but very precise and the ratios are beautifully chosen; sufficiently closely stacked to make the most of the engine’s limited torque, but long enough in fifth so as not to get breathless. 

    The car’s dimensions make it 
very easy to drive fast, while the power makes it a very quick one,
not just by the standards of 30 years ago, but also those of today. A large executive saloon it may have been in its day, but it’s lighter than a brand new Volkswagen Golf R and only a fraction less powerful. And once its engine gets above 4200rpm, it simply sings around to its 7000rpm redline. You could have more fun in this boxy old saloon just travelling in a straight line than most modern sporting cars down your favourite country road. 

    It handles far better than you’d expect, too. The E28 5 Series was quite loose at the rear, especially in the wet, but for all BMW added to the M5 in terms of extra power, it added more in terms of chassis stability. Those suspension modifications allied to a standard limited-slip differential means that while the M5 still rides softly compared with modern cars, it has no shortage of composure. Its steering has perfect gearing, impressive accuracy and feel of a kind that you just don’t find in this kind of car anymore. I wasn’t about to wrench it loose through a quick corner on a wet road in front of its owner, but I drove it as fast as it felt it wanted to be driven and loved how naturally it f lowed from mild understeer to gorgeous neutrality as I applied power from the apex. 

    Really, though, I just loved being in it. Being old enough (just) to
be testing these cars when they were new, I’d been worried about reacquainting myself: 30 years is a long time and not only is the M5 indescribably different to its modern descendants, but I am not the same person I was three decades ago. 

    And yet, like all the best friendships, we just picked up where we’d left off. Within seconds of getting inside of the M5 I was remembering things about this car I’d not thought of for a generation – the little check panel in the roof and the way you have to nudge the brake pedal to make its warning light go out; the charmingly complicated electric seat switches, the bristles either side of the handbrake lever and the way the seat and pedals
are directly aligned, but with the steering wheel bizarrely displaced towards the centre of the car. 

    I don’t think any car has done understated power better than the E28 M5, which is why of all Q-cars, it is my favourite. Many cars have real charm, but very few also have such natural, unassuming class. 

    See BMW M5 E28 for sale on Pistonheads

    Nine more Q-Cutters:

    Lancia Thema 8.32 

    Built 1987-1992 Price range £10,000-£250,000 We’d pay What you can One we found Sadly none are currently for sale in the UK 

    See Lancia Thema for sale on Pistonheads

    A front-wheel-drive family car based on the Fiat Croma, made immortal by its 3.0-litre Ferrari V8. It goes hard, sounds amazing and handles terribly.

    Volvo 850R Estate 

    Built 1996-1997 Price range £3000- £6000 We’d pay £5000 One we found A 1996 850R, fully loaded, black estate, described as ‘excellent original condition’ for £4750. 

    See Volvo 850R Estate for sale on Pistonheads

    A 250bhp Volvo estate might not seem that amazing today, but 20 years ago the concept was earth- shattering. And the 850R sounds even better than it looks. 

    Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 

    Built 1975-1981 Price range £18,000- £70,000 We’d pay £40,000 One we found 1979 6.9, only 60,000 miles from new, left-hand drive, optional velour interior. Yours for £40,000. 

    See Mercedes 450SEL 6.9 for sale on Pistonheads

    The 450SEL 6.9 is almost indistinguishable from the regular W116 S-Class that most people bought, but it has an engine
(a 262bhp V8) twice the size.
It’s a tidal wave on wheels. 

    Volkswagen Passat W8 

    Built 2001-2004 Price range £2750-£8000 We’d pay £5000 One we found 2002 W8 Estate, 122,000 miles from new, genuine UK car, fully loaded for £4500. 

    See Volkswagen Passat W8 for sale on Pistonheads

    Volkswagen should have realised that putting a 4.0-litre eight-cylinder motor in a Passat would be a hard sell. The car bombed in the sales charts, but not before a great Q-car was created.

    Rover 75 V8 

    Built 2003-2005 Price range £5000- £15,000 We’d pay £8500 One we found 2004 MG ZT 260 saloon, 49,000 miles. It’s the MG version because Rovers are incredibly rare, but the powertrain is the same: £8995. 

    See Rover 75 V8 for sale on Pistonheads

    We all fondly remember the lunatic MG ZT 260, with its 4.6-litre Mustang V8, but who recalls that, briefly, there was a Rover version as well? With anonymous looks and 256bhp, it could be the ultimate stealth weapon. 

    Jaguar XJR 

    Built 2003-2007 Price range £10,000 -£25,000 We’d pay £13,000 One we found A 2006 XJR in ebony black with 67k miles. Full service history, Alpine speaker upgrade: £12,450. 

    See Jaguar XJR for sale on Pistonheads

    Looks middle-aged but has 400bhp V8 under the bonnet. Also, this was the first Jaguar with an aluminium monocoque so it’s not only very light and therefore fast, it’s resistant to rot too. 

    Mercedes-Benz 500E 

    Built 1991-1994 Price range £10,000- £30,000 We’d pay £15,000 One we found 1993 500E, 170,000 miles. Big mileage but not a problem if properly maintained: £14,950. 

    See Mercedes 500E for sale on Pistonheads

    A 5.0-litre V8-engined, mid-sized Mercedes engineered and built
by Porsche. Superb to drive and brilliantly easy to live with, if it came with right-hand drive it could have been an even bigger hit here in the UK. 

    Jaguar Mk2 3.8 

    Built 1959-1967 Price range £13,000- £70,000 We’d pay £35,000 One we found 1966 3.8, manual with overdrive, mileage not stated. Restored in 2008, interior refurbished in 2011: £35,995. 

    See Jaguar Mk2 for sale on Pistonheads 

    Most Jaguars of this era had gutless 2.4-litre straight-six motors. The 3.8-litre, however, was good for 125mph, which in an affordable 1950s saloon was simply unprecedented.

    Volkswagen Golf R 

    Built 2014-present Price range £17,000-£36,650 We’d pay £20,000 One we found 2014 Golf R 5dr, manual gearbox, dark blue, 25,000 miles. Full Volkswagen service history from new. For sale at £20,995. 

    See Volkswagen Golf R for sale on Pistonheads 

    So inconspicuous that, debadged, it could be taken for a normal GTI, but the 300bhp under the bonnet combined with four-wheel drive tells a rather different story. 

    Read more

    Top 10 used front-wheel-drive cars

    Top 10 used 400bhp cars

    Top 10 used performance saloons

    Read all our used car buying guides here

  • Top 10 best used front-wheel-drive cars - top 100 used cars 2017 Saturday 19th August 2017
    Best used FWD cars
    Normally aspirated 1.8 makes 187bhp and revs to 8700rpm
    We take a look at the best used front-driven cars you can get

    When BMW was in charge of Rover, there was a big sign at the end of the Rover 75 production line that read: “You are building the best front-wheel-drive car in the world.” 

    It was the type of backhanded compliment that meant “we still make the best rear-wheel-drive cars in the world” but it was, at least, kinda true, if you wanted a complete all-round car. 

    But when I’m talking about the best front-wheel-drive cars, I’m not looking for the best junior Bentley: I’m talking about the best front-drive driver’s car of all time. This, here,
is the definitive list of those. Well, almost. There are one or two models that (a) I haven’t driven or (b) have been nabbed by my colleagues. But it’s as close as you’ll see, regardless of whether they’re any good or not
 as used cars: consider this a celebration of all things great, rather than a conventional used buyer’s guide. 

    That said, the used market is quite savvy and the classic car market savvier still. It rewards not necessarily the reliable, practical cars but, in terms of value and esteem, what the market reflects now is whether these cars were any good in period. 

    The Honda Integra Type R is, without question, my shout for the best front-drive car of all time. I think it’s better than a Peugeot 205 GTi, better than a Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI, better than the latest, greatest, 300bhp hot hatchbacks. Better than, actually, 90% of rear-drive cars. 

    It’s a thing of such perfection and of modest output, and of such purity, that I doubt we’ll see its like again. A bold thing to say? Perhaps. I wouldn’t say a Bugatti Chiron will never be outdone for pace. I wouldn’t say nobody will build a car lighter and purer than a Caterham 7

    But when it comes to cars like this, the world has moved on to such an extent that nobody will make a naturally aspirated 1.8-litre car with only 187bhp that weighs just 1140kg and has a manual gearbox and a mechanical limited- slip differential. Those in charge of product at car companies wouldn’t be able to leave it at that. They wouldn’t be able to offer such little power, they wouldn’t resist torque vectoring by braking, they’d have to fit electric, not hydraulic, power steering, they wouldn’t be able to leave it unturbocharged and they wouldn’t be able to resist active rear steer or adaptive dampers or bigger wheels and tyres than 195/55 R15s. If you sold this car today, nobody would buy it. 

    I say that with some conviction because not that many people bought one at the time. Which is why a good one now costs as much as £13,000. 

    According to the man from Honda, who sourced this car, there are two types of Integra Type R. There are the really, really good ones, which are massively expensive; and there are the shonky old cheap ones. This one is the rarest of all, then, being somewhere between those two poles. It has been modestly revived, on a bit of a budget, but well enough to retain the vast majority of what made it so special in the first place.

    Classic cars have a problem being all they were when they were new because, as time goes on, bodies become a little less rigid, suspension components develop some slack
and, unless you maintain absolute tightness in all bushes and so on, and fresh dampers, there comes a point where older cars start to feel similar; in that they all feel a bit baggy, a bit loose around the edges. 

    With not many more than 50,000 miles on it, though, this one is still tight. Ideally, an Integra should be on Bridgestone Potenza tyres, but this one has had less grippy tyres fitted because Honda doesn’t want to put too much load into the suspension and wear it out more quickly. Think of it as putting those covers on the edge of the sofa, which protect sofa arms you’ll never actually see. 

    So this could feel like a car that’s on its way out of its perfect state. But it isn’t. It’s still an Integra that feels every inch like the best front-driver in the world. It’s utterly magic. 

    When it was new, I tested one on B-roads in the south-east, so that’s where I go. And it takes fewer than three tight corners for it to remind me of what it has to give: nice willingness to turn, and one of the best power- assisted steering systems to grace a front-wheel-drive car. Perhaps this one feels a bit more nose-centric and less adjustable than I remember – although I am trying to recall testing a car I last drove a decade ago–but it is still very agile by today’s standards. 

    Then, of course, there’s the engine, which back then was pretty much the highlight of any Type R. It revs
to 8700rpm – strongly, still, today – with a notable kick above 5000rpm. There’s very little flywheel inertia, the five-speed ’box remains as snicky as it always was, and because the ratios are so close (overall gearing is low), you barely need to prod the throttle on heel-and-toe downshifts to get the revs to match the next gear. It feels like a real precision instrument. 

    Only a few minutes at the wheel is enough to see why values of Integras are on the rise – although not enough to understand why so criminally few were bought new – and conclude that the best thing you can do is buy the best you can and try to keep the chassis on top form. The last thing an Integra will lose, I suspect, is that VTEC engine’s phenomenal kick, but wonderful though that is, it’s the steering and the handling that outclass it. Here’s a car that isn’t just the best front-driver in the world: it’s one of the greatest driver’s cars of all time. Which wheels are powered is almost incidental. 

    Honda Integra Type R (DC2) 

    Built 1997 (UK cars), 1995-2001 (imports) Price range £5000- £13,000 We’d pay £10,000
 One we found Official UK cars are hard to find, so here’s the best of the Japanese imports, at £12,990.

    See Honda Integra Type R for sale on Pistonheads.

    The other front runners:

    Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S 

    Built 2016-2017 Price range £33,000-£46,000 We’d pay £35,000 One we found Ignoring the overpriced unregistered cars, our eye was caught by one with only 500 miles on the clock and priced at £39,995

     See Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S for sale on Pistonheads.

    Volkswagen’s hottest, sparsest modern Golf has a roll cage and no rear seats. Designed to set a Nürburgring lap time but equally happy on a British B-road. 

    Ford Focus RS500 

    Built 2010 Price range £35,000- £50,000 We’d pay £40,000 One we found There are usually only one or two on sale in the UK at a time because only 100 landed here, but worth seeking out. Around the same price they sold at new.

    See Ford Focus RS500 for sale on Pistonheads.

    Last hurrah for the Mk2 Focus RS had 345bhp, rather than 300bhp, from
its five-cylinder engine. Front tyre wear is an issue but it’s a terrifically adjustable, entertaining car. 

    Mini Cooper 

    Built 1996-2001 (plus from 1961 on) Price range £5000-£25,000 We’d pay £8000 One we found Just under £10,000 gets you into a 76,000-miler, but condition of bodywork counts for so much more than miles.

    See Mini Cooper for sale on Pistonheads.

    The original way to go incredibly fast with a front-drive chassis, Mini Coopers are astoundingly adjustable and steer brilliantly. Few cars have such agility. 

    Renault Mégane Trophy R 

    Built 2014-2016 Price range £25,000-£30,000 We’d pay £28,000 One we found The only one we spotted in the UK makes it the one to have. At £28k, it still feels an incredibly special car.

    See Renault Mégane Trophy R for sale on Pistonheads.

    Just 30 Trophy R Méganes made their way to the UK officially as the most heroic of the outgoing hot Méganes. Brilliant handling. See also the Mégane R26.R. 

    Peugeot 306 Rallye 

    Built 1996-2002 Price range £1000- £4000 We’d pay £3500 One we found These cars are both rare and bargains. Tatty ones can be had from £1000 and £4000 buys you the best. We liked a tidy 100k-miler priced at £2900.

    See Peugeot 306 Rallye for sale on Pistonheads.

    Arguably the best hot hatch of the 1990s, the 306 GTi-6 arrived in 1996 (p66). The UK-only lighter, keener Rallye model (1999) was better still, mind. 

    Ford Racing Puma 

    Built 1999-2000 Price range £10,000-£20,000 We’d pay £15,000 One we found This is another of those cars that’s massively rare but worth seeking out. £14,000 gets you a well-cared-for 61k-mile car.

    See Ford Racing Puma for sale on Pistonheads.

    Probably the second-best front- wheel-drive car I’ve driven. Fewer than 500 were made after they struggled to find homes. Daft, really, because they’re sensational. 

    Renault Clio 172 Cup 

    Built 2002 Price range £2500- £5000 We’d pay £3000 One we found Under £4000 for 40k miles. It’s hard to find unmolested ones, but this one has had only two owners, too.

    See Renault Clio 172 Cup for sale on Pistonheads.

    This car was raw when launched in 2002. It had no ABS, the glass was thinner than usual, soundproofing was removed and the suspension was lowered. At just 1020kg, it was an utter hoot. Still is, if in good nick. 

    Mini Cooper S Works GP 

    Built 2006 Price range £12,500- £20,000 We’d pay £16,000 One we found There are a few around but how about an apparently well-looked-after, privately owned 38k-miler at £17,000?

    See Mini Cooper S Works GP for sale on Pistonheads.

    The ‘Mini GP’ was a run-out special. Only 8bhp was added to the engine but 50kg came out in total, including 15kg from the rear suspension and 8kg from the wheels, which made it thrilling to drive, even at £22,000. 

    Peugeot 205 GTi 1.6 

    Built 1984-1992 Price range £4000- £40,000 We’d pay £8000 One we found A three-owner, 56,000-mile car said to have been recommissioned after 20 years in storage: £9500.

    See Peugeot 205 GTI 1.6 for sale on Pistonheads.

    It’s frequently regarded as the best front-driver, but the Honda Integra Type R has more going for it, as far as we’re concerned. And prices for good 205s have gone bonkers. One just sold at auction for £38,000. 

    Read more

    Top 10 used 400bhp cars

    Top 10 used performance saloons

    Read all our used car buying guides here

  • Gallery: best of the Quail motorsport event Saturday 19th August 2017
    This sublime coachbuilt model is called 'Shangri La' and uses a Ramjet engine
    Enthusiasts from around the world reside in Monterey this weekend to see the best the car world has to offer. First up: the Quail

    Monterey car week is well and truly underway - and it brings together car connoisseurs and enthusiasts from around the world to celebrate all things motoring.

    The so-called ‘Quail, a Motorsports Gathering’ occurs at The Quail golf club in California and features a host of old and new cars. Many individual owners compete in the concours while manufacturers use the event as an opportunity to show off their cars to the wealthy.

    This year, Jaguar brought its XE SV Project 8, Infiniti showed its Prototype 9 while BMW displayed its 8 Series concept to name a few.

    To get a ticket means entering a heavily over-subscribed lottery. If you are lucky enough to win, then you’ll pay $600 for the privilege. 

    So, yes, it is exclusive but it’s also a dreamy world of perfect motors, from yesteryear to tomorrow.

    We’ve picked some of our favourite vehicles so you can get a glimpse of what was on show. Click on the picture gallery above to see more. 

    Read more:

    New BMW 8 Series due in 2018

    Infiniti reveals heritage-inspired Prototype 9

  • Infiniti Prototype 9 concept revealed as race-inspired retro concept Saturday 19th August 2017
    Infiniti Prototype 9 concept Pebble Beach Infiniti looks to create its own heritage with retro concept using an electric motor and traditional construction techniques

    Infiniti has revealed its retro-style concept race car, named Prototype 9, at the Quail, which is part of the same Monterey car week as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elégance.

    Despite the car’s Morgan-esque exterior, it’s powered by an electric motor, which gives a 0-62mph time of 5.5sec and a top speed of 105mph. The company’s signature sculpted grille is nodded to on the front of the car.

    It bears a similar 148bhp, 236lb ft electric powertrain to the second-generation Nissan Leaf, which is due to be revealed at the Frankfurt motor show. At 4330mm long and 1820mm wide, it’s 90mm shorter than Infiniti's Q30 hatchback but 15mm wider. The low-slung, race-inspired car stands at 910mm high and is dwarfed by the Q30’s 1495mm height, mostly due to its lack of a roof. 

    The 890kg single-seater features retro construction techniques, such as a steel ladder chassis and handmade steel body panels. It’s leaf-sprung and without power steering.

    The time disconnect between the 1940s-inspired Prototype 9 and Infiniti’s relatively recent launch in 1989 has been pegged as further inspiration behind the concept; Infiniti can trace its history to Prince Motor Company, which Infiniti claims was the first Japanese premium car maker. The Prince R380 will also make its debut at Pebble Beach.

    Even the concept’s name is a nod to Infiniti’s current model line-up; 9, pronounced ‘kyoo’ in Japanese, is a reference to the brand’s Q-based nomenclature.

    Beginning life as a design sketch, the car imagines what an Infiniti grand prix racer would have looked like and mimics the growing barn-find culture in the classic car industry today.

    Infiniti boss Roland Krueger said: “What started as an after-hours idea grew into a fully fledged prototype; our designers and engineers were excited by the notion of creating a past vision; a nod to our origins.”

    “They volunteered their own time; more and more staff became involved. Our teams have proven skills in manufacturing, engineering, design and advanced powertrains, yet they wanted to bring their own traditional craftsmanship to the project.”

    Read more: 

    Gallery: best of the Quail 2017

    Infiniti QX80 Monograph concept previews future Range Rover rival

    Morgan 3 Wheeler: a year behind the wheel

    Morgan 3 Wheeler, Caterham Seven 310R, Ariel Nomad: group test

  • Electric Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet concept car revealed Saturday 19th August 2017
    Electric powered Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet revealed Dramatic new luxury convertible points to the design direction of future Mercedes-Maybach models

    Mercedes has revealed its new art deco-inspired Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet concept car at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

    A drop-top version of the electric Mercedes-Maybach 6 coupé concept, it's the latest step in Mercedes-Benz’s efforts to further resurrect the image and standing of its Maybach luxury sub-brand following strong sales of the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class in key global markets over the past 12 months.

    Taking the stretched lines and intricate detailing of the original 6, which was revealed at last year’s Pebble Beach, the 6 Cabriolet has a retractable roof and a plush new two-seat interior, creating a blueprint for a production model to take on the Rolls-Royce Dawn.

    This isn't the first convertible Mercedes-Maybach, though; at last year’s Los Angeles motor show, the brand unveiled the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class Cabriolet, of which just 300 examples are to be produced. 

    At 5700mm in length, 2100mm in width and 1340mm in height, the 6 Cabriolet is a considerable 671mm longer, 201mm wider but 71mm lower than the S-Class Cabriolet.

    Distinguished by its bold grille, long sweeping bonnet, extreme rearward seating position, towering 24in wheels, extended boat tail-style rear end and two-tone design scheme, the 6 Cabriolet resurrects both the stretched proportions and aesthetic principles common of luxury cars throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

    These traditional cues are combined with a number of contemporary touches, including slim LED headlights and full-width OLED tail-lights.

    Inside, the 6 Cabriolet has a luxurious interior lined with quilted white Nappa leather, a flowing, full-width dashboard featuring the latest in touch-sensitive controls and digital displays featuring traditional analogue needles. The custom-made retractable fabric roof incorporates interwoven threads of gold.

    The dramatic styling and elaborate details are claimed to provide hints to how Maybach versions of Mercedes models will look in future years in order to give them with a more individual and distinctive appearance.

    “The 6 Cabriolet is the embodiment of our design strategy,” said Mercedes' chief design officer, Gorden Wagener. “Breathtaking proportions combined with a luxurious haute couture interior help to create the ultimate experience.”

    The 6 Cabriolet is has a pure electric powertrain delivering a sturdy 750bhp via four compact electric motors – a layout similar to that used by the short-lived Mercedes-Benz SLS Electric Drive supercar.

    The motors act independently on each wheel, making the 6 Cabriolet four-wheel-drive. Computer simulations point to a 0-62mph time of less than 4.0sec, while top speed is electronically limited to 155mph.

    Electricity is stored in a lithium ion battery mounted within the floorplan. Mercedes claims a range of more than 311 miles on the European test cycle. A quick charge function, running at up to 350kW, is said to provide an additional range of up to 62 miles from just five minutes of charging.

    Read more: 

    Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance news

    Mercedes-Maybach 6 convertible previewed ahead of Pebble Beach

    2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet pricing revealed

    Mercedes-Maybach S 600 review

  • The best and worst things I’ve seen this week: 18 August 2017 Friday 18th August 2017
    Porsche’s braided carbon wheels
    Porsche’s braided carbon wheels: So perfectly proportioned, so special, so exclusive and SO EXPENSIVE. A set of them is almost £14,000 and they’re individually woven from Porsche’s carbon braiding machine, which just so happens to be the largest in the world. Porsche certainly knows how to make a wheel. It also knows how to charge for them, through its Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur arm.
    Behind-the-scenes glimpses and other observations from the past seven days around the car industry

    What a week, there have been leaks, scoops, teases, big reviews, irritations, garish colours and much more.

    With all that to choose from, there was much editing to be done in this week's list and somehow I whittled it down to five good and one bad. Take a look below to see what brought delight and despair to my desk this week.

    The best things I've seen all week 

    BMW Z4 Concept

    And with one sweep of a metaphorical silk sheet, the BMW Z4 shot to the top of millions of Christmas lists. What a looker, evoking a new direction for BMW styling, as well as prevailing elements of Bangle-era BMWs.

    Audi RS3 interior

    There’s just something about the mix of sporting, bolstered seats and texture in the white leather interior of an Audi RS model that has a unique allure.  

    Porsche’s braided carbon wheels

    So perfectly proportioned, so special, so exclusive and SO EXPENSIVE. A set of them is almost £14,000 and they’re individually woven from Porsche’s carbon braiding machine, which just so happens to be the largest in the world. Porsche certainly knows how to make a wheel. It also knows how to charge for them, through its Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur arm. 

    The new Toyota Supra

    Previous spy shots were beginning to underwhelm me; the FT-1 Concept showed such promise that there was a risk that the Supra it spawned wouldn’t live up to it and that its BMW Z4 sibling would be the prettier one.

    We’ve spotted it for the umpteenth time and it’s taken a leap forward; maintaining the delicateness of the FT-1 with chunky muscular lines from the previous-gen Supra. I just hope it’s as easy to fettle as the old one. 

    Ken Okuyama Kode 0

    I’m incredibly picky when it comes to car design, but Ken Okuyama’s Kode 0 hypercar made my jaw drop. With a retro-futuristic look thanks to a classic wedge shape but genuinely inspired details, materials and structure, Ken’s done it again. 

    Shame he’s only making one, and shame it’ll likely go straight into a private collection for evermore, never to be driven on the roads. 

    ... and the worst thing I’ve seen this week

    The ‘improved’ M3 motorway

    ‘Smart’ motorways don’t seem to be that smart. I know it’s in vogue to bash the newly (mis)managed motorways, but they’re incredibly stupid, actually causing more problems than they solve. 

    Congestion? Let’s keep an extremely heavy volume of traffic at a speed limit of 70mph, then drop it to 40mph suddenly. No chance of a rear-end collision there, right? Right? Wrong. 

  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.2 TD 210 AWD Speciale UK 2017 review Friday 18th August 2017
    Alfa Romeo Stelvio
    The new Alfa Romeo Stelvio. We've tested it on UK roads for the first time
    First tilt on UK roads reveals a chassis almost as absorbing as the Giulia’s, though the Stelvio’s comfort and quality levels may disappoint SUV clientele This is the second chapter of Alfa Romeo’s grand new epoch, ready for sampling on UK roads for the first time. With the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Turin follows up the well-received Giulia saloon, and answers some questions that be considered key to the success of the rebuilding process that it’s currently undertaking.Can the firm successfully appeal to the tastes of buyers outside of the segments it has traditionally occupied? How effectively can that expensive new ‘giorgio’ platform be applied on a more challenging vehicle type than a compact executive saloon? And can we really expect Alfa to make the best driver’s car in every part of the market it enters from this point onwards – or was the Giulia just a wonderful exception?It won’t be long before we’ll all have a chance to find out. The car goes on sale in right-hand drive form in September, initially with a choice of 276bhp petrol and 207bhp diesel engines - but with an entry-level 177bhp diesel and a 197bhp petrol available soon afterwards. It comes with punchy UK pricing starting under £34,000, with a mid-level trim 177bhp diesel undercutting an equivalent Audi Q5 by a cool £3000.Besides value, the Stelvio can claim a promising power-to-weight ratio courtesy of a kerbweight between 100- and 200kg lighter than rivals, for which its relatively compact proportions, aluminium construction and carbonfibre propshaft are all contributing factors.In advance of the arrival of the first right-hand drive cars, Alfa brought a left-hand drive 2.2-litre 207bhp diesel Stelvio over to the UK to provide us with an introduction on British roads.
  • Alpina D5 S - 237bhp diesel saloon launched with bespoke UK set-up Friday 18th August 2017
    Alpina D5 S tuned for UK roads with lighter engine British version gets twin rather than triple-turbo engine; prices to start at around £62,000

    Alpina has fine-tuned its D5 S diesel for Britain with sharper handling and a lighter set-up than European versions.

    In order to cater to the UK’s narrower, potted roads, the D5 S has shed 100kg thanks to the use of a twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight-six as opposed to a triple-turbo version offered on the continent.

    Alpina GB said it prioritised this more nimble set-up over the additional grunt offered with European cars. The lighter D5 S produces 237bhp and 516lb ft, which is 44bhp and 74lb ft down on Euro-spec cars.

    But UK D5 Ss get the brand’s so-called Integral Active Steering as standard. This four-wheel steering system is said to boost low speed manoeuvrability and high-speed agility, with Alpina CEO Andreas Bovensiepen claiming it makes the D5 S “feel like a 3 Series” sized car.

    It also uses UK-specific Alpina Dynamic Drive electro-mechanical anti-roll technology, which enables softer damping to absorb bumps but minimises body roll in turns. The car sits on the same 20in Alpina Classic wheels as its European cousins.

    All four wheels are driven via an eight-speed ZF gearbox, with a quoted 0-62mph time of 4.9sec and top speed of 171mph. This makes the D5 S six-tenths quicker to reach 62mph than BMW’s quickest oil-burning 5 Series, the 530d xDrive, and 16mph quicker than that car’s limited terminal velocity. The D5 S is also claimed to offer 46.3mpg and emits 161g/km of CO2.

    The car gets nappa leather-wrapped seats with 20-way adjustability and a 205w 12-speaker sound system. Externally, its design is identical to that of the B5 – its 600bhp petrol sibling (pictured).

    Pricing has yet to be confirmed, but the D5 S is expected to start at about £62,000. This is just shy of £10,000 more than BMW’s sportiest diesel 530d, the xDrive M Sport – but the Alpina will be produced in substantially smaller numbers.

  • Top 10 best used 400bhp cars - top 100 used cars 2017 Friday 18th August 2017
    Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG

    Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG Produced 2001-2006 Price range £7000-£13,000 We’d pay £9950 See Mercedes CL55 for sale on Pistonheads  

    It was with its 55-badged generation of tuned factory Mercedes models that the growth spurt that has taken AMG to the brink of launching its own hypercar started. Having been known for a handful of ultra-rare-groove saloons throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the company showed us the SL55 in 2002, and followed it with supercharged versions of the contemporary E-Class, S-Class and CL coupé. CL55s tend to be the most affordable of the lot today, and they pack a hulking 493bhp. 

    Merc’s famous M113K supercharged V8s have been known to develop cooling problems, so check for a healthy radiator (and no coolant leaking into the transmission lubricant) in any car you’re considering.

    We prove that supercar dash is accessible for supermini cash

    This piece really doesn’t need much explanation beyond the headline. 

    The very fact that there’s one way to put a 400bhp car on the driveway for less money than most families spend on a supermini deserves a cheer – and we’re bringing you 10 of the best options. 

    Some of these cars should qualify straight away, others with a bit of light tinkering and one or two with some not-so-light tuning. 

    Top 10 best used performance saloons

  • One-off McLaren 720S by MSO revealed at Pebble Beach Friday 18th August 2017
    Striking 720S has been commissioned by a car collector in completely bespoke form and produced by McLaren Special Operations

    A one-off McLaren 720S has been revealed, created for renowned car collector Michael Fux, who built a multimillion-pound business empire around the sale of memory foam mattresses after arriving in the US from Cuba penniless aged 15.

    Fux has a collection of around 130 luxury and supercars, many of which are finished in bespoke and often garish colour schemes. These include 25 Ferraris, 12 Porsches, 11 Aston Martins and six Rolls-Royces, plus a McLaren 12C12C Spider and P1, finished in orange, purple and green respectively. He is famed in the US for his philanthropic exploits, including raising money for charities by displaying his cars.

    His McLaren - created by the firm’s bespoke McLaren Special Operations (MSO) division - is in keeping with Fux’s penchant for eye-catching designs and features a fuchsia-coloured paint finish and white leather interior. The exterior colour is named Fux Fuchsia and was originally created by Rolls-Royce for him before being redeveloped by MSO for the McLaren.

    McLaren Special Operations to produce more one-off cars

    Other details include using the fuchsia colouring on the wheels, inside the doors, as a pinstripe on the steering wheel and for the rear-view mirror. Elsewhere, white dominates, from the leather to the stitching. The exhaust and window surrounds are finished in grey and some areas of the car are highlighted with a carbonfibre finish.

    No mechanical changes have been made, so it is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 like other 720S cars, sending 710bhp to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

    The car was presented to Fux by McLaren Automotive boss Mike Flewitt at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. No price was revealed, although it is likely to have been substantially more than the £218,020 charged for 720S in Luxury spec. Based on Autocar's understanding of previous bespoke commissions, the modifications are expected to have cost around half the price of the car again.

    Notably, MSO grew revenue by 143% last year, underlining the booming demand among high-end buyers to finish their cars with one-off flourishes.

    “MSO provides McLaren owners with virtually limitless possibilities to tailor a car exactly to their needs and tastes - there are opportunities from unique paint colours and finishes all the way up to complete vehicles designed to individual specification,” said Jolyon Nash, McLaren Automotive’s executive director for global sales and marketing.

    McLaren 570GT by MSO Concept revealed - 2016

    McLaren 720 S video review

  • Skoda Octavia vRS Friday 18th August 2017
    Amid a broader vRS refresh, Skoda has built its most powerful Octavia yet to take on the established order If you’re fond of an underdog, it’s rather hard not to hold a candle for Skoda’s vRS brand.By rights, and in the grand scheme of the Volkswagen Group’s thinking, it ought not really to exist at all.Seat is supposed to deal with the low-priced sporty stuff, while Volkswagen peddles the more prestigious GTI and R badges.The Czech division is for practicality, good sense and affordable functionality. The vRS version of the Fabia was spiked long ago, and the Superb variant never even arrived, ending up an unseen stillborn of cancelled development. And yet the Octavia vRS soldiers on.It does so because, like the current stock model on which it’s based, the car does rather fill a void. Its curious size – virtually reaching D-segment proportions while still gamely clinging to its C-segment status – means that it serves a clientele that values spaciousness and utility almost as much as it does pace and hot hatch-style desirability.It is this niche and impressively loyal customer base that have kept the vRS going despite the odds, encouraging Skoda not only to update the model as part of the Octavia’s broader facelift but also to build the most powerful version it has yet put on sale: the 245.Fittingly, even this seems a little counter-intuitive. While the vRS may surreptitiously flaunt its relationship with the VW Golf GTI underneath, the car’s volume is founded on the diesel model – a patron of the same powertrain used by the Golf GTD.So furnishing an Octavia with the VW Group’s criminally underused 237bhp bi-turbo diesel engine might have produced a more likely headliner.Instead, the 245 gets the same 242bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine used by the Performance edition of the GTI (the now ‘standard’ vRS gets the 228bhp variant) and is available as either a hatch or an estate.If the format doesn’t completely make sense, it does at least inspire some hope in the end result. That’s because although the vRS has proven likeable in its own offbeat way, none of the preceding versions has ever managed to stake an authentic claim to its own USP, each being less a large Golf GTI and more a moderately fast Octavia.Armed now with not only its sibling’s higher output but also the electromechanical front differential to properly modulate it, the vRS might at last make the move from fringe omega to real-world alpha.  
  • Top 10 best used performance saloons - top 100 used cars 2017 Friday 18th August 2017
    BMW M5 Audi RS6
    BMW M5’s 4999cc V10 was inspired by F1 car tech
    We've picked out 100 of the finest used cars you can buy, and we'll be featuring them on the site in the coming days. Let's start with a look at the top hot saloons

    While only a small minority of British resident examples will ever make it to unrestricted roads in Germany, ‘bahnstormer’ has long been accepted shorthand for
 a certain type of car: muscular, fast, normally Teutonic in origin and combining pace with proper high-speed comfort.

    Top 10 best used 400bhp cars 2017

    But for the buying of second-hand cars, the most impressive statistic is likely to be depreciation rather than power output. Pound for pound, nothing sheds value quicker, with both the ‘C5’ Audi RS6 and ‘E60’ BMW M5 today offering compelling value. 

    The RS6 always struggled for critical acclaim when it was new, but 15 years of hindsight suggests that its combination of pace and dynamic security was close to the archetype for more modern equivalents. It certainly made a big impression
on me when I attended the original press launch. I best remember the unlikely sight of the speedo needle practically off its dial, the twin- turbocharged V8 engine pulling at a barely diminished rate well beyond the 155mph the car was allegedly limited to. That was a standard 444bhp example; this later RS6 Plus Avant, which we’ve borrowed from Audi’s collection, got 469bhp and an official 174mph top speed. 

    The RS6 Avant always outsold the saloon, and it’s definitely the one 
to go for – something reflected in their relative values now. This was once the fastest estate in the world, capable of out-accelerating a contemporary Porsche 911 to 60mph but also moving a family and its luggage in comfort. There’s a compelling British connection
 as well, the mighty engine having been engineered by Audi’s then-subsidiary, Cosworth Engineering. 

    What first strikes me in the cabin is how much less equipment top-spec cars had a decade and a half ago.
 The early MMI satellite navigation system provides as much amusement as actual guidance, but the lack of
 kit translates into a corresponding absence of clutter. It’s a revelation 
to see a steering wheel without a single button on its face. The seating position is high, the glassline low and the front pillars skinny by modern standards, meaning visibility is excellent. 

    The V8 has a split personality: more than happy to deliver big when called upon to do so, and still capable of delivering a startling level of acceleration that gets me wondering just how much quicker a contemporary RS6 would be. But it’s also an impressive cruiser, the motor’s broad torque curve (with both RS6 and RS6 Plus producing 428lb ft from 1950rpm) giving it effortless quarter-throttle pace. A five-speed automatic ’box was the only transmission option, and this works best when left to its own devices; manually ordered upshifts are slurry and downchanges slow. 

    The ride is very firm, even with adaptive dampers, but there’s more steering feel than I remember through the old-school hydraulically assisted system. The handling balance is as relentlessly nose heavy as you’d expect for a car with a V8 engine mounted entirely ahead of the front axle-line. There’s little reward for pushing the RS6 hard through corners – it remains a car that lives for the straights. 

    The M5 offers a fascinating contrast. It feels much newer and much more agile, as you would expect, but while the passage of
time has rendered the RS6’s lack of dynamic finesse more forgiveable,
 it has really thrown the BMW’s
 most obvious fault into sharp relief: the presence of what has to be one
of the most infuriating gearboxes ever fitted to a performance car. The fact the SMG (sequential manual gearbox) transmission is also responsible for throwing up many of the huge bills that frequently bite M5 owners adds insult to injury.

    Yet while the rest of the BMW isn’t perfect, dynamically
it gets pretty close. This M5 was developed as the company was trying to emphasise some road
car connections to its Formula 1 effort, hence a naturally aspirated V10 that used the same ‘bedplate’ construction technique as the F1 motors. It couldn’t quite match the race engine’s appetite for revs, but peak power of 500bhp arrived at 7750rpm and the redline was set at a dizzying 8250rpm. Exceptional, even in that high-revving age. 

    Sadly, the SMG single-clutch transmission was the only option for British buyers; after
much lobbying, Americans
 could also have a manual.
 The seven-speed robo-
box felt crude when the 
car was launched, and
more than 10 years on the 
contrast with lightning-
fast twin-clutchers,
 or even deft modern
 autos, is stark. There’s a lunge-inducing pause in
 upshifts, even with the gearbox in its fastest mode, and although M5 owners insist you do get used to
 it – lifting off to smooth changes – I imagine acclimatisation is similar to persistent pain. 

    Dynamically, the gearbox isn’t
 a weak line so much as a collapsed bridge, because the rest of the car
 is pretty much spot-on. The M5
 still looks superb, its muscular
 flanks arguably the high water
mark of Chris Bangle’s design regime at BMW, and the cabin
 feels impressively modern. It’s comfortable and, in the case of
 this last-of-line ‘25th Anniversary’ edition that BMW generously lent us, has a still-respectable toy count. 

    But the V10 is the star of the show. There’s actually more low-end torque than I remember, but the motor still feels anaemic and grumbly below about 3500rpm. From then onwards, it just gets better, pulling harder as the revs ascend with a soundtrack that hardens into a good impression of its F1 sister’s as the red line approaches. The chassis is superb, firmly sprung but well damped and with beautifully weighted steering offering rich feedback. The handling balance is near-perfect and actually benefits from the lack of low-end torque, sparing the frequent stability system interventions that many high-output turbo engines need to stay in line under faster progress. 

    So are these mile-munchers 
worth the prices being asked of them? The market is starting to realise what a special car the E60
 M5 was compared with its much
less characterful ‘F10’ successor and values have been rising in recent months. It’s definitely a car to buy on condition rather than age, with little difference in value between early and later examples; good ones are around £20,000 – the rarer M5 Touring estate costs a couple of grand more. 

    The RS6 is cheaper, but harder
 to find in unmolested condition. The occasional sub-£10,000 examples in the classifieds are mostly in “properly brave” territory considering the size of bills that the transmission and turbos can throw up, but £15,000 can land a cared-for car with a comprehensive history. 

    Of course, any ’bahnstormer
will be expensive to run, eating consumables and guzzling fuel
at a frightening rate: putting £70 
of petrol in the M5 had the trip computer showing just 190 miles to empty. These are risky investments – but hugely rewarding ones too. 

    BMW M5 

    Built 2005-2010
 Price range £12,000- £25,000 We’d pay £18,000 One we found A low-mileage, four-owner example for £19,980 that its seller calls “the best in the country”. Keen to sell to an enthusiast.

    See BMW M5 for sale on Pistonheads.

    Audi RS6 

    Built 2002-2004 Price range £8000-£20,000 We’d pay £15,000 One we found A tidy, 89,000-miles, unmolested example with loads of service history, receipts and four nearly new tyres for £12,950.

    See Audi RS6 for sale on Pistonheads.

    Eight more great 'bahn finds:

    Mercedes E55 AMG/E63 AMG 

    Built 2003-2009 Price range £9000-£16,000 We’d pay £12,000 
One we found A two-owner E55 AMG with a stellar service history, 66,000 miles on the clock and a £13,995 asking price.

    See Mercedes-Benz E-Class AMG for sale on Pistonheads.

    The first real modern AMG saloon, with chassis finesse to match the potency of the V8 engine. The earlier supercharged 5.4-litre engine in the E55 is more effortless, whereas the E63’s naturally aspirated 6.2 lives to rev. 

    Volvo V60 Polestar T6 

    Built 2014-2015 Price range £27,000-£30,000 We’d pay £28,000 One we found Used examples are rare, but top money (£29,945) gets you a late car with a high spec, low miles and a Volvo service history.

    See Volvo V60 Polestar for sale on Pistonheads.

    Rare, but worth seeking out, the early V60 Polestar was a limited edition using a turbocharged straight-six engine that gives impressive performance. 

    Jaguar XJR 

    Built 2013-present Price range £35,000-£55,000 We’d pay £45,000 One we found A 7000-miler from 2015 still in warranty, with seemingly every option ticked.

    See Jaguar XJR for sale on Pistonheads.

    The current XJ has always been
 an oddity: a driver’s car in a luxury segment. It’s even more true in the R, with performance and handling that might intimidate some. Rare in the classifieds, so be patient. 

    Porsche Panamera 

    Built 2009-2016 Price range £28,000-£100,000 We’d pay £29,000 One we found A Panamera 4 serviced every year instead of the standard two. 2010, 44k on the odo and £29,950.

    See Porsche Panamera for sale on Pistonheads.

    Early examples of the just-replaced first-generation Panamera are starting to look attractive, especially the petrol-fired V6 and V8 versions. The Turbo variant, with 493bhp and 516lb ft on tap, is hugely fast. 

    Audi S4 

    Built 2009-2015 Price range £13,000-£35,000 We’d pay £14,000 One we found £14,250 will get you a 2011 car with 79,000 miles, full leather and a full service history.

    See Audi S4 for sale on Pistonheads.

    Another ’bahnstormer that is conspicuously cheap at present, 
the S4 is powered by a 329bhp supercharged V6 of almost legendary tunability. Indeed, it’s not hard to give it pace to rival the much pricier RS4. 

    Jaguar S-Type R 

    Built 2001-2007 Price range £7000-£15,000 We’d pay £9000 One we found A 54-plate, two-owner, 91k-mile example with most options ticked. Yours for £9995.

    See Jaguar S-Type R for sale on Pistonheads.

    The S-Type’s bug-eyed retro styling was never popular and lesser versions have fallen into outright bangerdom. With 390bhp and 399lb ft, the supercharged R is fast but supremely civilised. 

    Mercedes C63 AMG 

    Built 2008-2015 Price range £18,000-£35,000 We’d pay £20,000 One we found Loads of kit is offered on a £19,950 car from 2008 with 66,000 miles.

    See Mercedes C63 AMG for sale on Pistonheads.

    Strong prices continue to ref lect the C63 AMG’s desirability thanks to its hugely charismatic 457bhp, 442lb ft 6.2-litre V8. Most cars in the UK are coupés, but saloons and estates are worth seeking out. 

    BMW M3 

    Built 2000-2006 Price range £7000-£20,000 We’d pay £10,000 One we found £10,990 gets you into a highly specced 99,000-miler that has spent most of its life in the care of the same garage.

    See BMW M3 for sale on Pistonheads.

    One of the great ‘M’ cars, although the market is split between overpriced garage queens and borderline wrecks. Manual coupés are the most desirable. 

    Chasing a classic motor? Read our used car buying guides here

  • Best new car deals - SUV special: save £7100 on an BMW X6 Friday 18th August 2017
    BMW X6 We pick five of the best deals for SUVs on this week’s new car market; all deals are valid until 24 August

    Buying a new car is always better when you know you're getting a bargain, but scouring the internet for the best deals can be time-consuming.

    So Autocar has done the hard work for you and compiled a list of some of the best savings on the new car market; this week we've compiled the best deals on SUVs.

    We've found combined savings of £27,486 on the five models featured below, so take a look, then click the links to read our full road test verdict on each model. All offers are valid until 24 August.

    BMW X6 - Pay £53,193, save £7122

    It's fair to say that the BMW X6's SUV-coupé styling has split opinions since it landed in first-generation form back in 2007. While the mainstream audience appeared interested in its unconventional design, its look was as welcome in the world of motoring as a wasp in a beer garden.

    The latter party had to wait seven years for the second-generation model to arrive, but the good news was it looked much more comfortable in its own skin. It also came with an attractive list of engines and specifications, helping this sporty SUV to remain a strong-seller the world over.

    Whatcar.com has removed more than seven grand from the list price of a xDrive40d M Sport Step Auto - so you're required to part with a little over £53k to bag one.

    Audi Q7 - Pay £46,178, save £6732

    When Audi's second-generation Q7 arrived in 2015 it ditched the cuddly nose of its predecessor for the face of a grinning stormtrooper.

    But the biggest improvements came inside, where Virtual Cockpit technology and a much cleaner dash design added value to an already premium cabin.

    Go onto Drivethedeal.com and you could save close to £7k on a 3.0 TDi Quattro SE Tip Auto, edging the price down towards £46,000.

    Mercedes GLC - Pay £37,319, save £5446

    The Mercedes-Benz GLC goes head-to-head with the Land Rover Discovery Sport and BMW X3 in one of Europe's most popular segments.

    Despite looking as comfortable on urban UK roads as claustrophobic in a mosh pit, the GLC and its ilk sell remarkably well across the nation due to their high-riding seating position and diverse capabilities.

    Uknewcars.com has increased this appeal even further by reducing the price of a GLC 250d AMG Line Premium Auto by nealy £5.5k - meaning this GLC is going for well under £40k.

    Land Rover Range Rover Sport - Pay £70,871, save £4654

    Land Rover is the SUV company and its Range Rover Sport is a perfect example of the brand's breed. Great off road and capable on tarmac, it's as diverse as they come.

    Of course, we all know that the vast majority of Range Rover Sports spend their time trudling through town and clogging up roads outside schools - but it's nice to know that grass verge is of no concern when the going gets tough, right?

    Drivethedeal.com has lopped £4654 off the asking price of a 3.0 SDV6 Hybrid HSE Dynamic Auto, bringing the figure down below £71k.

    Jaguar F-Pace - Pay £38,498, save £3532

    Jaguar's first foray into the world of SUVs has been an overwhelming success, taking the lead as the brand's fastest selling model in history.

    The handsome Porsche Macan rival's road-biased setup gives it sporty on road handling, but it's technical links to the Range Rover Velar make it competent on the slippery stuff, too.

    Those after a 2.0d Portfolio Auto should check Drivethedeal.com where £3.5k has been taken from the asking price.

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  • 2017 BMW M5 to be fully revealed on Monday 21 August Friday 18th August 2017
    2017 BMW M5 previewed in new video ahead of weekend reveal BMW's forthcoming super saloon will have more than 600bhp and will go head to head with the next Mercedes-AMG E63

    The most powerful and technically advanced BMW M5 yet will be revealed on 21 August, and in the run-up to the event, BMW has released a new preview video.

    The upcoming Mercedes-AMG E63 rival can be seen driving at pace through a desert, with shots of its carbon-ceramic brakes and a close up of its front left corner. The shot shows the car's aggressive set of air intakes in the front bumper, as well as the grille-mounted M5 badge. 

    The clip comes two months after the model was featured in a trailer for the Need For Speed video game franchise. The M5 was also previously revealed in CAD images leaked by a company employee.

    Full front and rear styling renderings of the car show the performance saloon's bumper treatment. The images were first revealed to a host of The Cammed & Tubbed Podcast.

    BMW M5 prototype review: super saloon goes four-wheel drive

    The launch timing of this next-generation M5 shows BMW's plans to produce M variants far earlier in models' lifecycles than it has done previously.

    Just as the regular BMW 5 Series underwent a subtle styling overhaul between this generation and the next, the new M5 appears to be fairly restrained when compared with the more extreme M4. However, more significant updates have taken place under the bonnet.

    Leaked documents revealed that the M5’s closest rival, the Mercedes-AMG E63, will produce 603bhp and 627lb ft. It’s expected that the M5 will closely match these figures, using an updated version of the current car’s 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

    The upcoming next-generation M5 will be the first non-SUV M car available with all-wheel drive as an option. It is understood that BMW is concentrating on making the next M5 more driveable, with more mechanical grip and improved traction thanks to the xDrive four-wheel drive system and revised engine mapping. Three drive modes are available through the xDrive system; 4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD - the latter of which drives the rear wheels. More drive modes are available through the car's other drive mode settings. 

    BMW wouldn't reveal how much power the new M5 would produce aside from "more than 600bhp”, but it's expected that 615bhp will be produced, with a weight-saving of 65kg over the outgoing model, and “significantly more than the current car’s 516lb ft of torque," equating to a 0-62mph time of less than 3.5sec.

    Gallery: A History of the BMW M5

    Click here for spy images of the BMW M5

    A new eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox also features, as does a chain-driven clutch, which takes drive to the front axle on demand. There's also a rear differential developed from the one on the M3 and M4, with carbon clutch blades for quicker and more precise torque vectoring. The M5's suspension also gets new adaptive dampers.

    On an Autocar drive of an M5 prototype, BMW M's vice president of engineering Dirk Hacker revealed that the new M5 is the first M car to have "a centralised controller with the power to control every sub-system governing lateral and longitudinal dynamics."

    The optional xDrive would add to what is expected to be a £75,000 entry-level price for the new M5. That figure represents a slight increase over the outgoing car.

  • 2018 Mercedes A-Class caught testing on video in near-production form Friday 18th August 2017
    Next Mercedes A-Class will get S-Class driverless tech in 2018
    Autocar reader Keiron Broadhead was quick to photograph this development car in Berlin
    Next-generation hatchback will also get new, larger underpinnings and hybrid option; top AMG A45 will produce 400bhp

    Development of the next Mercedes-Benz A-Class is entering its latter stages - as shown by the near production ready test cars filmed on the road in Germany.

    Two cars were caught on camera, with one apparently in higher-spec trim and the other in a lower form, as shown by the different wheel sizes. The cars are heavily camouflaged but the elongated wheelbase and sleeker design of the next-gen A-Class is clear.

    The new A-Class will be 10mm longer than today’s car and adopt a new floorpan and body structure that are claimed to provide it with significant increases in rigidity. This, in turn, is claimed provide the new Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series rival with vastly improved refinement.

    The increase in the car’s length is concentrated almost wholly within the wheelbase, providing improvements in interior packaging and the scope for larger rear door apertures for added ease of entry and exit. The boot capacity has also grown beyond the nominal 341 litres of today’s model.

    Underpinning the new A-Class is a redeveloped MFA (modular front architecture) and a chassis featuring MacPherson-strut front and multi-link rear suspension. It supports Mercedes’ Drive Select function, which allows the driver to alter the characteristics of the steering, engine mapping, gearbox software and damping using at least four different modes.

    The roomier cabin has a brand-new dashboard that features higher-grade materials, digital instruments and a new touch-based Comand 5 infotainment system. There is also a new steering wheel with touchpad controls, new sport seats and a raft of new driver assistance systems as part of Mercedes’ suite of Level 2 autonomous driving functions - benefiting from tech first demonstrated in the S-Class.

    Mercedes sales boss Britta Seeger hinted to Autocar earlier in the year that this new tech would be integrated, giving the A-Class the potential to steer and brake itself up to certain speeds. It'll do this using systems that are part of the car's lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control technology.

    The future A-Class is the first of up to eight new compact cars, which include replacements for today’s B-Class, CLA and CLA Shooting Brake, as well as the GLA. There will also be an A-Class Saloon – and its own 400bhp A45 variant – a GLB and a possible new seven-seat version of the GLB.

    The new A-Class and its seven compact car siblings will feature a range of new four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines — all claimed to offer better economy and emissions than today’s units.

    Kicking off the lineup will be the new M282 petrol engine. Developed in conjunction with parent company Daimler’s alliance partner, Renault, it will first be offered in 1.4-litre guise, providing the next A-Class with a new entry-level point. A 1.2-litre version of this engine has also been engineered through to production maturity, although doubts remain over whether it will be used by Mercedes or remain exclusive to Renault.

    Above it will be the M260 petrol engine, which has been developed in 1.6-litre and 2.0-litres guises. Both versions are planned to appear in the next A-Class in a variety of different tunes. In its most powerful form, the M260 will feature a beltdriven generator capable of operating as a mild hybrid, with electrically assisted boosting and step-off in combination with a 48V electrical system.

    The diesels will all be based around Mercedes’ latest 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, the OM654, and come in up to three states of tune, according to engineering sources at the company’s Sindelfingen R&D centre.

    A plug-in hybrid version is also planned as a rival to the Volkswagen Golf GTE. Details remain scarce, although it is expected to run the 1.4-litre version of the M282 four-cylinder petrol engine in combination with an electric motor housed within the forward section of Mercedes’ new nine-speed DCT gearbox. It will be one of a number of EQ Power-branded drivelines.

    Insiders have suggested to Autocar that the lithium battery pack for the new plug-in A-Class will possess sufficient energy density for an all-electric range of up to 31 miles.

    The new A-Class will use revised versions of today’s six-speed manual and seven-speed DCT gearboxes. Selected models will also get an optional nine-speed DCT unit that supports a coasting mode together with kinetic energy regeneration. Alongside standard front-wheel drive, Mercedes will make the 4Matic all-wheel drive system available on higher-end models.

  • What's the best car to drive home from Wales in? Friday 18th August 2017
    Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Would you take an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, Porsche 911 GTS, McLaren 570S or how about a Ferrari 488 GTB?

    “Forget the rest” is a horse racing commentator’s phrase that, in the final furlongs, implores you to ignore the also-rans and concentrate solely on the runners who could win. 

    I was reminded of it when thinking of cars on sale today that would be better to drive than the Alfa Romeo Giulia ‘Quattroformaggio’ on a journey home from Wales. It was an alarmingly short list. 

    You know Wales. Or you’ll have seen it in the pictures: scenic; not so far away; lots of water. If you drive in anywhere than at the bottom, you’ll do it, as I did, on A- or B-roads, not motorway. The sat-nav took me on a lightly used, very bendy single carriageway that I hadn’t driven before. And it was wonderful. 

    But the car was better. Recent Fiats and Alfas have been so underwhelming that it’s tempting
 to believe it ended up this way by accident, until you remember the Giulia’s chief engineer worked on the Ferrari 458. The Giulia is impeccably balanced, sprung, damped. It has the poise of a Ford Fiesta ST but the absorbance of a Mercedes E-Class. It steers all of smoothly, accurately and quickly, but not numbly or nervously. 

    Caveats? Oh hell yes. The Giulia’s gestation period was incredibly short. So short, some said it couldn’t be done. Customer satisfaction surveys won’t feature Giulias for a while yet, but we’ve had niggles with cars, sister magazines have had niggles with cars and, loath though I am to admit their existence, rival magazines have had issues with cars. Maybe press cars are early builds. Maybe it’s coincidence. Or maybe it’s not. Does it have to
 be this way? Please don’t let it have
 to be this way. Still, as m’colleague Dan Prosser will deftly put it on an upcoming video, while other cars 
of its ilk feel like sports saloons, the Giulia feels like a sports car. 

    The list of cars that would be better at this journey, then? An hour and a half of A-road followed by the same distance on motorway, all after a day’s driving whose length would make
 an Uber driver blush? A Lotus Elise, though it would be wearing on the motorway; a McLaren 570S, which might be the same; a Porsche 911
 GTS is terrific albeit noisier and more brittle; a Ferrari 488 GTB, fabulous but too fast, conspicuous and nervous. It’s a shortlist of four that could, in the final furlongs, become one. But forget the rest – this Alfa’s that good. 

    A farewell

    The man who said the Ford Mustang “straddles most British driveways like a killer whale stranded on a toilet cistern” has, inexplicably, gone. Owing to what is, I assume, some kind of administrative error with his luncheon allowance, Nic ‘Nicholas’ Cackett has left the building of his own volition. 

    Pity. Few writers have the imagination to say that a Morgan Plus 8 would regard syncing with
a smartphone “with the same mystification as a de Havilland Mosquito contemplating a Hellfire missile”, or that a fast Audi’s handling is “about as compelling as an email spam folder”. 

    Thankfully, for the void in manpower, and the local cafe’s takings, he’ll still be with us, freelancing. So the bigger news is that we are taking on not one but two new road testers. I’ll be delighted to tell you who they are soon. 

  • Insight: Is the A1 still relevant? Friday 18th August 2017
    With the release of the next-gen Audi A1 imminent, we discuss its future

    The supermini market is dwindling, usurped by a fast-growing number of compact SUVs.

    Superminis, which include mainstream models such as the Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 208, accounted for almost a third of European market share in 2003, yet only a fifth in 2016. But what about the premium supermini segment? Well, it’s bucking the trend and growing its market share, albeit on a much smaller scale. 

    There are very few so- called premium superminis. They amount to the Mini, Audi A1, DS 3 and Alfa Romeo Mito. DS executives recently told us that the 3 will take “a different form” in its next generation. In short, it will be a compact crossover. And there’s every expectation that the Mito won’t be replaced. That leaves the A1 and Mini. 

    Audi has a lot of catching up to do if it has any hope of taking the lead. The Mini sold more than double the A1 in the first half of this year globally. 

    So the new A1 will have its place, for now. But analysts predict demand will stall for premium superminis in the next few years, just as it has for mainstream brands. With a rumoured Q1 baby SUV also on the way, I would be surprised if the A1 makes it to a third generation. 

    Related Stories: 

    The next-gen Audi A1; higher-tech 

    Our Audi A1 review 

  • New higher-tech Audi A1 aims to eclipse rival Mini Friday 18th August 2017
    Wholesale reinvention of Audi’s supermini, due in 2018, will take on Mini

    The new second-generation Audi A1 will be both more dynamic and more comfortable than its predecessor, according to insiders at the company’s Ingolstadt headquarters in Germany. The aim, they say, is to eclipse the latest Mini for overall competence. 

    Audi plans to achieve this by using a new platform structure, a heavily reworked suspension system that features optional adaptive damping control, a new range of engines and updated gearboxes. 

    The new A1 is due to be launched during the first half of 2018 at a starting price expected to remain close 
to the £14,570 of today’s model. 

    The entry-level Audi has grown in size and receives a brand-new look to make it feel more upmarket and dovetail more seamlessly with the rest of the brand’s line-up. 

    Among the styling changes seen on prototype versions are a wider grille and a flatter bonnet with three distinctive vents as a nod to earlier Audi competition cars. 

    A big change for Ingolstadt’s supermini is the end of
 the three-door bodystyle. The second-generation model, to be produced by Audi’s fellow Volkswagen Group brand Seat at its plant in Martorell, Spain, will come in five-door Sportback form only. 

    The move is part of a consolidation of Audi models intended to make savings that will be channelled into the development of electric cars. 

    The starting point for the new A1 is a new platform. The old PQ25 structure, dating back to 2001, has been replaced 
by a more contemporary
 MQB AO architecture, which incorporates engineering solutions already used by the A3 for greater amortisation of production costs. 

    The new platform employs a combination of aluminium and hot-formed steel within the floorpan. Its adoption 
for the new A1 provides the scope for an increase in external dimensions, with the wheelbase alone up by 94mm to 2564mm. 

    Ingolstadt officials confirm that the new A1 has grown slightly, reflecting the shift of the latest Polo, with which the A1 shares a significant part 
of its mechanical package.
 The new structure is also claimed to bring a considerable increase in torsional stiffness — a development that is said to lead to a noteworthy improvement in overall refinement. 

    “There is a maturity to the new model. The differences are instantly recognisable when you drive it,” said a source involved in recent durability testing of the new A1. 

    The increase in external dimensions has extended the A1’s length to more than 4000mm and its width beyond the 1740mm of today’s model. As a result, the new A1 is claimed to offer more interior space and luggage-carrying capacity than its predecessor. Much of the added space is dedicated to the rear, which is said to offer greater leg, head and shoulder room. 

    Inside, there is a new dashboard modelled along the lines of that already seen in the larger A3. 

    Considerable efforts are being made to ensure that the new model attracts younger car buyers through what Audi describes as class-leading infotainment and connectivity features. 

    These include the optional Virtual Cockpit digital display and embedded 4G LTE in combination with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay or MirrorLink. Driving assistance functions include Front Assist, City Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Monitoring systems, as well as a tyre pressure monitoring feature and a speed limiter. 

    The engine line-up for the new A1 largely mirrors the new Polo’s. On the petrol side, today’s turbocharged 1.2-litre four-cylinder TFSI unit will be replaced by a new entry-level turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder TFSI engine delivering up to 113bhp. 

    Further up the line-up, a turbo 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 148bhp slots in as a successor to the older turbo 1.4-litre four-cylinder motor. 

    Topping the initial range will be the S1, although it isn’t expected to go on sale in the UK until the third quarter of 2018. It eschews the turbo 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine of today’s model for a turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine kicking out up to 250bhp. 

    The new A1 was originally planned to be launched
with a carried-over turbo 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel engine with up to 95bhp in combination with a standard selective catalytic reduction filter as standard. However, Audi bosses are said to be reconsidering this in light of the significant drop in sales of diesel-engined small cars. 

    However, the A1 will receive a natural gas option, in combination with a specially adapted version of the turbo 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. It won’t be sold in the UK. 

    Alongside a standard six-speed manual gearbox, buyers will also be able to choose an optional seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission with an automatic shift function. 

    Whereas the first-generation A1 had four-wheel drive on only the range-topping S1, the new A1 will offer a Haldex-style electro-hydraulic multi-plate-clutch quattro system with a wider range of engines.


    Related stories: 

    Our Audi A1 review 

    New Audi A1 spied 

  • Fiat Chrysler to develop level 5 autonomous car platform with BMW Thursday 17th August 2017
    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to develop autonomous car platform with BMW
    BMW's iNext is expected to be the first car to benefit from new platform
    FCA joins partnership with BMW, Intel and Mobileye; platform is set to underpin BMW iNext

    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has joined the BMW Group in a partnership featuring tech firms Intel and Mobileye to develop an autonomous car platform.

    The Italian-American brand joins the partnership a year after the coalition was formed and will contribute to the ongoing research and development of an all-new platform that’s claimed to offer up to level 5 autonomy.

    The platform is being produced to be scalable, with ‘entry-level’ versions enabling level 3 autonomy, which makes the car autonomous in certain scenarios such as motorways. Top level 5 cars will be able to control themselves in all scenarios.

    The platform will be used by future BMW Group and FCA models and benefit from software and hardware supplied by Intel and Mobileye, an Isreali driverless tech company.

    A fleet of 40 autonomous vehicles will make it onto roads before the end of 2017 to test the software and hardware. They will be added to an existing 100 vehicles that have already been deployed by Intel and Mobileye.

    “In order to advance autonomous driving technology, it is vital to form partnerships among automakers, technology providers and suppliers,” said FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne. “Joining this co-operation will enable FCA to directly benefit from the synergies and economies of scale that are possible when companies come together with a common vision and objective.”

    BMW Group is the first of the two car companies to confirm when its autonomous will arrive. Due in 2021, the iNext will offer level 3.5 autonomy and use an all-electric drivetrain capable of more than 311 miles.

    The partnership is not the first time FCA has invested in autonomous technology. The brand supplied Google's Waymo car brand with 100 new Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid MPVs that were specially adapted for autonomous tech last year. Waymo announced at the start of 2017 that it intended to develop autonomous cars with partners such as FCA rather than making its own vehicles.

  • BMW Concept Z4 shows bold design direction of upcoming roadster Thursday 17th August 2017
    BMW Z4 concept
    Concept’s bonnet features the clamshell design that is a hallmark of previous Z4s
    Rear-wheel-drive two-seater boasts fresh styling, revised engines and a new soft-top; it previews a production Z4 due next year

    BMW has revealed the Concept Z4, a preview of the German firm’s third-generation roadster, at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California. 

    Boasting a fresh look, new underpinnings and a revised range of engines, the two-seat soft-top has been developed 
in a joint engineering programme with the new Toyota Supra, which will be offered exclusively in coupé guise. 

    The appearance of the Concept Z4 comes more 
than six months before BMW plans to unveil the production version at the Geneva motor show in 2018. UK sales will be under way by the middle of next year.

    While some of the more flamboyant design features will be toned down, the overall styling and detailing of the concept is claimed to be 
very close to the production car. Design boss Adrian van Hooydonk said the car “expresses the new BMW design language from all perspectives and in all details”. 

    The Concept Z4 is bigger than the current model, with a longer wheelbase and wider tracks. BMW rethought the proportions in a bid to provide it with a more focused look. “A shorter bonnet and crisp overhangs ensure the driver sits closer to the centre of the car than in previous BMW roadsters,” said van Hooydonk. The approach signals BMW’s determination to shift the Z4 further upmarket. During the car’s development, BMW board members considered renaming it. However, the German car maker’s naming system groups even numbers among its coupés and cabriolets, so the long-mooted Z5 badge was never seriously considered. 

    A BMW source said: “We would have had to call it the Z6. And while there has been a move upmarket, it’s not quite big enough to warrant that name. In the end, we settled on retaining the Z4 name.” 

    The Concept Z4 features another interpretation of BMW’s signature kidney grille, seen recently on the Concept X2 and Concept 8 Series

    In place of the customary vertical bars, the insides of the kidney grille feature a new mesh that van Hooydonk said was inspired by the functional treatment used on early BMW roadsters, including the iconic 328 Mille Miglia. 

    The long bonnet, meanwhile, retains the clamshell design of previous Z4 models. On the concept, it features two vents. However, these are unlikely to make production, according to Autocar’s sources. 

    Certain licence has also been taken with the concept’s windscreen, which does not have the sturdy surround of the production version, and the two metallic domes conceived to act as rollover protection will be replaced by more conventional rollover hoops on the production roadster. 

    Although BMW has yet to officially confirm it, the new Z4 eschews the folding hard-top of today’s model for a traditional fabric hood. Already sighted on prototype versions of the two-seater, the hood folds and stows underneath a dedicated tonneau cover at the rear of the cabin. 

    BMW has provided a clear glimpse of the look and layout of the new Z4’s interior. The production car will have a flowing dashboard and relatively wide centre console resembling those of the concept. Features such as the digital instrument panel and head-up display included in the show car will also make their way on to the new roadster. However, the brushed aluminium and carbonfibre trims will be replaced by more cost-effective composite plastic materials. 

    Accommodation is said to have improved thanks to the car’s increased overall dimensions. Boot capacity is also claimed to top the 310 litres of the outgoing Z4. 

    The new Z4 is underpinned by BMW’s CLAR (cluster architecture) platform. It is already used by the 2, 5 and 7 Series and is also set to be adopted by the upcoming 8 Series and the successor to today’s 3 Series. The CLAR platform is allied to a multi-material body structure, featuring a combination of high-strength steel, aluminium and magnesium. Insiders suggest the new roadster will tip the scales at under 1400kg in its most basic form, despite the increase in dimensions. 

    An internal BMW document seen by Autocar revealed that the new Z4 will be offered with a choice of two petrol engines from the start of sales. The first is a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit expected to develop around 181bhp in the Z4 sDrive20i and 248bhp in the Z4 sDrive30i. The second engine powers the Z4 M40i and is the latest incarnation of BMW’s B58 turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine. It is rumoured to develop the same 355bhp as it does in the X4 M40i. 

    A full-blown M version of the roadster, running the BMW performance car division’s 425bhp twin-turbo 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder, has also been mooted, but it has yet to be officially confirmed by BMW. 

    True to tradition, the three initial Z4 models retain the rear-wheel-drive layout that has been part of the two-seat roadster’s appeal since its introduction in 2002. Buyers are set to be offered the choice of a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic in combination with all engines. 

    Production of the new Z4 and Supra will start at the plant of Austrian manufacturing specialist Magna in early 2018.  

    Read more: 

    Take a look at the current car, in our 2016 BMW Z4 review 

    Upcoming Toyota Supra spotted testing

    See all of our BMW reviews in one place here 

    BMW X2 to be headed by 296bhp M35i xDrive model

    BMW 8 Series Concept: an in-depth look with designer John Buckingham

  • Video: Audi RS3 versus BMW M140i review - hot hatch track battle Thursday 17th August 2017
    Audi RS3 versus BMW M140i review - hot hatch track battle Can the BMW M140i overcome a 59bhp deficit to its latest rival, the Audi RS3, by being more dynamically engaging?

    The new Audi RS3 is a monster of a hot hatchback. It has a 2.5-litre, turbocharged, five cylinder engine making a whopping 394bhp, which it puts through all four of its wheels.

    So it should be faster than the (relatively) puny 335bhp BMW M140i, right? 

    Well, let's see, in this Audi RS3 versus BMW M140i track battle. 

    But going faster from point-to-point is one thing. Having fun while you're doing it is quite another. And so to the more pertinent question: which of these mega hot hatchbacks its the more entertaining steer. Join Matt Prior and Mauro Calo as they find out.

  • Dyson car: Aston Martin head of purchasing moves to Dyson Thursday 17th August 2017
    Dyson car: Aston Martin head of purchasing moves to Dyson Dyson’s secret electric car project gains another automotive executive with the hiring of David Wyer from Aston Martin

    Another Aston Martin executive has left to join Dyson as speculation surrounding the appliance company’s first car grows.

    David Wyer has left his role as director of purchasing at Aston Martin after 22 years at the the company to become Dyson's head of procurement, reports Bloomberg

    Wyer is the second Aston Martin executive in as many years to head to Dyson after product development director Ian Minards moved into the same role at the Wiltshire-based company. 

    The move caused a stir, as did Dyson's hiring of Tesla communications executive Ricardo Reyes earlier this year, fuelling the intense speculation around the British company's development of an electric car.

    Wyer confirmed his exit from Aston Martin on professional social media site Linkedin, saying: “So, after 22 years at Aston Martin, today is my last day as I leave one great company to take up an exciting opportunity with another, as Head of Procurement at Dyson.

    “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Aston Martin and have many great memories that will stay with me for a long time. I firmly believe that you work for people, not a company, so I wanted to take this opportunity to thank a couple of people that I have worked for over the years.”

    More speculation was stirred up around the Dyson car last year, when a government document read: “The Government is funding Dyson to develop a new battery electric vehicle at their headquarters in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. This will secure £174 million of investment in the area, creating over 500 jobs, mostly in engineering”.

    The document was quickly altered to say “The Government is providing a grant of up to £16m to Dyson to support research and development for battery technology at their site in Malmesbury.”

    Read more: 

    Dyson car: former Aston Martin product development director joins Dyson

    Dyson denies electric car rumours

    Aston Martin appoints former Ferrari innovation boss

  • Renault Megane RS 275 Trophy-R or Toyota GT86? Thursday 17th August 2017
    Comment: Renault Megane RS 275 Trophy-R or Toyota GT86? Where would your money go - on one of the world's most focused front-driven hot hatches or a pure rear-wheel drive sports car?

    Earlier this week, a faithful reader from Australia called Darren contacted us with an enviable problem – he can’t decide whether to buy a like-new condition Renault Mégane RS 275 Trophy-R or a brand new Toyota GT86.

    This is easy, I thought. Both are fantastic cars, but you’d have to have the hot Mégane, right? I mean, it’s essentially a front-wheel-drive Porsche 911 GT3 and financially speaking, it’s going to be the one to appreciate.

    But then I paused, pondering the purity of a front-engined, rear-wheel drive sports car. Surely, my conscious countered, if the prospect of appreciation were ignored, the GT86 would be the more natural choice for a driving enthusiast.

    My heart was almost sold on the GT86. Then I remembered a comment said a few years back in the office of Evo Magazine, my previous employer, where Autocar contributing writer Dan Prosser also used to work. After a stint on circuit in some of the year’s hottest hatches, he asked “why would you ever need rear-wheel drive when front-drivers handle like that?”.

    Those words reverberated with me when I had my first stint in a 275 Trophy-R. At the time, it was the most focused road car I had driven, yet it was also one of the most approachable. It had ultra-responsive steering guiding the sharpest chassis I’d encountered, all to the soundtrack of the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine’s distinctive ‘blast furnace’ voice – a byproduct of the remnants of 271bhp being channelled through an Akrapovič exhaust.

    Drive it at a snail's pace and the Mégane still feels special, largely because you’re held between the bolsters of a delicious Recaro bucket seat and strapped into a red racing harness. Behind you, there’s nothing but a half roll cage and the crackling sound of stones tapping the rear wheel arches, such is the lack of insulation. The Trophy-R is a road-legal touring car.

    The GT86, on the other hand, feels rather regular at first. Okay, its seating position is low and you’re always conscious of the car’s sleek body, but the atmospheric four-pot boxer engine feels strangled below 3000rpm and the interior is uninteresting.

    Spend five minutes pootling through town in one, never tapping into its engine’s high-rpm groove, where 197bhp live, and you’d question the legitimacy of the car’s claimed 0-62mph time of 7.6sec – which isn’t particularly fast in the first place.

    Darren won’t be driving his car through town very often, though, since his purchase will spend its time on country lanes and sometimes on track. This drastically helps the case of the GT86, because at pace and on the limit, it's one of the most engaging cars money can buy in any price bracket.

    In a race, the Trophy-R, on its sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, would be so far off into the distance that it’d be a mere speck on the horizon by turn three. But the driver of the GT86, with its Prius-spec Michelin Primacy HP tyres, wouldn’t care, because of the workload required from behind their car’s steering wheel. This is a car with a 53/47 front to rear weight distribution, remember. It’s exhilarating to drive on the limit.

    At this point, I was stuck. The choice was simple: pure rear-wheel-drive sports car or ultra-focused road legal touring car, a pair of very different offerings but both equally as appealing as the other. In the end, I stuck to my guns and recommended the Trophy-R, because it is such a special place to depress pedals and turn an Alcantara-wrapped wheel. But I did so with doubt, knowing that a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive sports car is possibly the purest form of performance car in existence.

    In reality, the rarity of the Trophy-R means it’s also the smart choice for a buyer; no doubt it’ll become an auctioneer’s favourite in a few decades from now. But true car enthusiasts don’t buy cars for their investment value. So, I ask you, Autocar reader, where would your money go?

    More content:

    2018 Renault Mégane RS pictures leak online

    2018 Toyota Supra seen with production bodywork and lights

  • Hyundai shows all-new electric SUV with 497-mile range Thursday 17th August 2017
    Hyundai shows all-new electric SUV with 497-mile range Pre-production model previews SUV due at CES next year with fourth-generation fuel cell tech; it’s the first of 31 new eco cars

    Hyundai will launch a fuel cell electric SUV next year that will be capable of 497 miles in one fill, as previewed by this near-production ready prototype that was shown in Seoul last night.

    The yet-to-be-named model uses fourth-generation fuel cell technology and produces 161bhp - 20% better than the ix35 Fuel Cell that the model will replace. Hyundai claims that the new SUV’s drivetrain has an efficiency level of 60% - a 9% increase on its predecessor.

    The drivetrain's cold start capabilities are said to be drastically improved, with its minimum operating temperature now down to -30 deg. It is also fed by three tanks, up from two in the ix35, with walls that benefit from new plastic liner patterns so less material can be used. This helps to save weight.

    The model, which is due to be officially revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January next year, will also showcase the brand’s latest autonomous technology.

    Its design language is based on that of the FE Concept from this year’s Geneva motor show, with slim headlights and a cleanly designed dashboard.

    The fuel cell car is the first of 31 new low emission models due from Hyundai and sister brand Kia between now and 2020. As reported by Autocar earlier this year, the next confirmed model will be an electric version of Hyundai's Kona in the first half of 2018.

    Luxury arm Genesis will then launch its own electric vehicle in 2021. Another EV with a range of more than 310 miles will arrive after that from one of the brands.

    Hyundai was the first car maker in the world to launch a new model with three electrified powertrains when the Ioniq arrived this year. It comes in hybrid, electric and plug-in hybrid forms.

    Opinion: Why global car firms love SUVs

  • Throwback Thursday: 1983 Lonsdale 2.6 road test Thursday 17th August 2017
    We tested this obscure 2.6-litre-engined Australian-built version of the Colt Galant to find out whether it would be suited to British tastes

    “Why, you might ask yourself, should I buy an Australian-built Japanese car when I can buy the Japanese-built version of the same car?” Autocar wrote on 20 August 1983.

    We were talking about the Lonsdale, a masquerading Colt Galant sold from early 1983 to 1984.

    Its existence spawned from voluntary export restraint that was agreed between Britain’s SMMT and Japan’s JAMA in 1975 and supported by Harold Wilson’s Labour government.

    Intended to protect the UK’s motor industry from rapidly rising market share from manufacturers such as Honda and Toyota, this ‘prudent marketing’ exercise restricted the market share of Japanese cars to 11% at a time when it was predicted to soon reach 20%.

    To circumvent this, Mitsubishi, at the time still marketing itself as Colt in the UK, decided to annually import 5000 Adelaide-built examples of the Galant saloon and estate, marketed as Lonsdales and sold through the same dealership network.

    The most obvious difference between the two models was the engines. The Lonsdale was available with 1.6, 2.0 or 2.6-litre petrols - Mitsubishi blocks built down under but with some different parts. For example, the 1.6 lacked the balancer shafts of the Japanese-built version and had 81bhp as opposed to 75bhp.

    The suspension received softer spring rates for the UK, while the steering was of an 'ageing' recirculating ball design, with power assistance standard on the 2.6.

    On the two more powerful models, a five-speed Mitsubishi-built manual was standard, while an Australian-built three-speed automatic was a £400 option.

    Autocar tested the range-topping 2.6 model, which, as with the rest of the range, was cheaper than its Colt equivalent at £7499 (£23,300 today); the 2.0-litre-engined 2000 GLS cost £270 (£840 today) more.

    “The big four-cylinder is undoubtedly ideal for barrelling along unending Bush roads, but does it have an application in British conditions?” Autocar asked.

    We continued: “The power output is hardly remarkable at 102bhp, but there is torque aplenty, 142lb at peaking at a rather low 2400rpm, good for acceleration and ideal for quiet, long-legged cruising.”

    This allowed it to go from 0-60mph in a “spirited” 10.8sec – faster than the 2.0-litre Galant GLS, which had the same power output.

    “The lower gears seem well arranged, exhibiting a gradual closing of rations," Autocar wrote.

    “Fourth pulls on to the car’s top speed of 106mph, at 4900rpm, suggesting fairly ideal top gearing since the engine’s power peak is at 4800rpm.

    “Cruising at 70mph in fifth, the engine is at 2800rpm, not far above the good-for-economy peak torque point.”

    The change was slick and smooth, although you didn’t need it much due to the engine’s flexibility.

    “It revs smoothly and freely, the balancer shafts obviously doing their job well so that at idle the engine can hardly be heard or felt,” we continued.

    “The torquey engine is willing, so that although the car is hardly sporting in character, it is still enjoyable to use its good acceleration around town. By the same token, the smooth, silent low-speed running helps to take some of the strain out of nose-to-tail, stop-start commuting.”

    Due to its large capacity, we expected poor fuel economy of the motor, but it returned a competitive 22.4mpg; we got 20.9mpg out of the rival 2.3 Ford Sierra Ghia automatic and 23.3mpg out of the Galant 2000.

    Although we had an issue with the driver’s door pulling back at 70mph, creating a hiss and rustle of wind, “the Lonsdale proved quieter than many competitors” despite its “dated design”, with “remarkably little wind noise” bar that particular issue and little road noise. Very little vibration translated through to the car’s occupants.

    “The fairly stiff-suspension set-up does allow the occupants to feel a poor road surface, but in fact ride comfort is very good considering the rigid-axle set-up," we wrote.

    “The steering is possibly the car’s worst point from the British point of view. As we commented when we tested the Galant 2000 GLS, if there is one thing worse than low-geared recirculating ball steering, it is adding feel-less power assistance.

    “At speed, there is more weight (the power assistance was speed compensating) but it is difficult to know exactly what the front wheels are doing in fast cornering.

    “The vagueness may make it difficult to hold the car precisely on line through a fast corner, but at least cornering behaviour is well-mannered and quirk-free. Roll is moderate, and the car can be driven enthusiastically on winding roads, due to high limits of adhesion.” The brakes, too, proved to be “of above-average efficiency”.

     

    Inside the Lonsdale, “no attempt has been made to make it look like anything other than the Galant – indeed, none was needed, although we might have expected that typically Japanese inverted steering wheel spoke to take on a more boomerang-like countour”, we joked.

    “Therefore our comments must also echo what we said about the Galant, which impressed us with its attractive and comfortable interior,” we wrote. “The driving seat has four separate adjustments, there is plenty of space for a six-footer and the controls fall easily to hand ad feet. The seat is also well shaped with good thigh and lateral support.

    “The facia may be a Colt copy, but at least the layout remains clear and simple.

    “The interior is quite spacious, so that there is adequate leg and head room in the rear for two adult passengers. There is adequate width to accommodate three at a pinch.

    “The boot is capacious, offering 12.4cu ft of space, though a little awkwardly shaped because of the intrusive wheel arches.”

    We struggled for a car that would provide a direct comparison to the 2.6 Lonsdale, with the closest the 2.3 Sierra, although that was a hatchback rather than a saloon. Other suggestions, all good choices as fleet cars, were the Vauxhall Carlton, Lancia Trevi and Mazda 626, all with 2.0-litre engines, and the 2.2 Volvo 240.

    Autocar considered that, among these, the Lonsdale stood out in terms of handling and only fell behind the Sierra in terms of ride comfort.

    Autocar concluded: “We said at the start of this test that we chose the 2.6-litre version of the Lonsdale to see if the concept of a big-engined, light-steering car had any real value in Britain. Undoubtedly in the Australian context it could be a winner, with hundreds of miles of poorly surfaced roads separating outposts of civilisation.

    “The Sierra, Carlton and Trevi are cars born into the British style of motoring and so can find immediate acceptance. The 240 is an example, perhaps, of a European-style car edging slowly towards the American taste, while the 626 is a US-influenced Japanese product that now strives to attain the European norm.

    “The Lonsdale 2.6 reverts to the US flavour. It may find some favour here – after all, there is a growing interest in American cars – but would be more at home in the Outback.”

    We were proved right in May 1984, when the Lonsdale brand was discontinued due to very poor sales. The remaining stock was rebranded as Mitsubishi Galants as the Colt name was dropped. Today, there is none left on the road or even on SORN.

  • EV CO2 emissions fall to record low through green energy sources Thursday 17th August 2017
    EV CO2 emissions fall to record low through green energy sources A gradual move away from coal has brought down the CO2 output of cars running on electric power, a new study has found

    Electric vehicles now contribute to less CO2 emissions than ever through increasing use of renewable energy sources. 

    A report produced by Imperial College London, partnering with energy company Drax, shows that EV emissions - produced by electricity generation in power stations that is then transferred to EVs when charging - fell by 10% compared with last year, and is up to a third of what it was five years ago. 

    The carbon intensity (grams per kilometre) of EVs has dramatically decreased. For example, the Tesla Model S fell from 124g/km in winter 2012 to 74g/km in winter 2016 and 41g/km today. EVs are generally less efficient in winter, so the real average lies somewhere between the last two figures. 

    The scientist behind the Electric Insights report, Imperial College London’s Iain Staffell, explained that, as the UK continues to move away from coal-fired power stations to natural gas and biomass, as well as renewable energy sources, emissions will continue to fall. This reduction can be sustained for another 12-24 months before slowing as reductions in emissions become harder to achieve. 

    “Emissions are already reducing faster than has been targeted in the recommendation to governments; we’re doing better than anyone would have expected five years ago,” said Staffell. 

    “It’s very important that the public knows the decrease of carbon emissions by EV energy demand, because any time you have a story about EVs or the recent example of the Government banning petrol and diesel by 2040, there are people saying the electricity isn’t clean so EVs aren’t that green.

    “It’s useful that we have conclusively shown that it doesn’t matter if you’re charging in summer or winter, size of car doesn’t matter - it’s better than the best petrol hybrid can do. The people who are wanting to do the right thing by the environment will be pleased to know that we’ve cleaned up the power sector."

    Speaking of the Government’s recent decision to ban petrol and diesel sales from 2040, Staffell predicted that, by that time, people will be buying EVs over petrol and diesel cars for their benefits over ICE powertrains and EVs won’t be more expensive than petrol or diesel models. 

    The carbon intensity of EVs will fall further as solar farm and wind power projects are completed. However, Staffell said that it’s “difficult to understand what the Government wants” in terms of renewable energy, given its axing of solar power subsidies and previous opposition to wind power then subsequent support of Welsh and Scottish wind farms.

    Reports of not having enough power to support EV uptake were also quelled by Staffell, who explained: "Electricity demands have shrunk by 15% in the last ten years, so there’s quite a lot of room in the system [for EVs]. It would take many millions of EVs to get us back to the level of demand we had in 2005, for example."

    A report by UBS predicted EV sales to climb to 30% of the new car market in Europe by 2025 and 14% globally, and that once longer-distance EVs can compete on price with a Volkswagen Golf and are demonstrably cheaper to run over five years, annual sales of EVs will reach five to six million. 

    Read more: 

    Analysis: How will the UK handle the EV revolution?

    Insight: why demand from China is spurring growth of electric car sales

    Hybrids exempt from Britain's petrol and diesel car ban

    Queen’s speech: Government establishes autonomous and electric vehicle bill

    The road that charges your electric car

  • Insight: Will McLaren be the first to produce an electric hypercar? Thursday 17th August 2017
    Autocar imagines McLaren's all-electric hypercar
    The electric hyper-car race is on, but who will gain the lead

    It feels inevitable that, eventually, all of the established supercar makers will introduce electric models, even if they’re limited production.

    It’s the way technology is going, it’s a good showcase for them and, importantly, it will contribute to meeting emissions legislation. 

    For now, a number of obscure manufacturers are promising great things from all-electric supercars. Think Vanda Dendrobium (pictured), NIO EP9 and Rimac Concept One. Perhaps it’s easier
 for them: one project, one car, one powertrain, very small numbers. 

    But what about McLaren and rivals such as Ferrari and Lamborghini? Ferrari has described an electric model as “very difficult” to do in the next five to 10 years and Lamborghini has said it has great interest in electric models but doesn’t see it happening in the short term. 

    So, with Ferrari and Lamborghini hedging their bets, it seems McLaren
 will likely lead the way. 
Its independent business structure allows it to react relatively quickly and, let’s not forget, it has made huge gains in the supercar segment in a short space of time. I vote McLaren. 

    LINKED STORY:

    All-electric McLaren hypercar under development 

  • All-electric McLaren Ultimate Series cars in development Thursday 17th August 2017
    The electric McLaren would join Ultimate Series...
    British firm is developing a pure-electric production model that will be as fast as the 675LT

    McLaren will introduce
 a pure-electric model that must “perform like the 675LT”, according to an Autocar source.

    
No date is set for the launch of the battery-powered car, but it’s expected to be part of the brand’s range-topping Ultimate Series and will arrive after the P15 due later this year — dubbed the most extreme road car in McLaren’s history — and the three-seat BP23 coming in 2018. 

    Although McLaren has previously confirmed to Autocar that it is building an electric model, it has been touted as a test bed only, partly to help McLaren with its aim of making half of its cars hybrid by 2022. Now, our source has confirmed a production model is on the cards. The brand’s intention is to build five examples initially and ask a selection of favoured McLaren owners to drive them as part of the development process. 

    McLaren’s experience with its hybrid P1 hypercar and its role supplying the powertrains to Formula E racing cars will help its progression of an electric road car. From 2018, McLaren Applied Technologies will provide a new battery that will enable Formula E cars to complete an entire race on a single charge, effectively doubling their driving range and eliminating the need
for drivers to switch cars mid-race. Such an effective battery would translate well to a high-performance road car. 

    However, before an electric model arrives, McLaren will introduce hybrids to its Sports Series and Super Series. It will launch its hybrid powertrains at the end of the current five- year model lifecycles, said the source. That means the 570 replacement, due in 2020, will be hybrid, followed by a 720 successor, due in 2021. 

    Related stories: 

    Insight: Will McLaren be first?

    Read our Mclaren P1 review 

    Read about the Mclaren P15 

     

  • Mercedes-Benz launches UK diesel scrappage scheme Wednesday 16th August 2017
    Mercedes-Benz launches UK diesel scrappage scheme Customers in the UK can receive up to £2000 off a new Mercedes-Benz diesel, hybrid or electric model in the latest UK diesel trade-in scheme

    Mercedes-Benz has launched a diesel scrappage scheme that offers UK customers up to £2000 off a new diesel, hybrid or electric model when a Euro 1-4 car is traded in, as the brand rolls out the trade-in scheme across Europe. 

    Following other brands' decisions to extend their scrappage schemes to the UK, the initiative aims to get older, dirtier vehicles off the road in the latest push by the Government and the car industry to improve the UK's air quality. 

    Any Euro 1-4 car can be traded in, no matter what brand it is, although the discount can only be applied to low-emission and clean diesel Mercedes cars. Smart Electric Drive models are also eligible, although it comes with a smaller discount of £1000. The scheme will run until 31 December 2017.

    A sum will also be awarded to customers based on the car's valuation by the CAP Black Book if the car is of Euro 1-3 classification. If the car is a Euro 4, a trade-in price agreed with the dealer will be awarded to the owner. For all customers, this will be in addition to the £1000 or £2000 trade-in reward.

    Like the brand's scheme in Germany, the car must have been in the keeper's ownership for more than six months - this prevents people from taking advantage of the scheme by buying a cheaper, older car in order to obtain the bonus. 

    The Euro 1-3 cars traded in will be scrapped, while the Euro 4 cars will be resold. This will increase the number of low-emission vehicles on the roads, according to a Mercedes spokesman. 

    Read more: 

    Opel, Fiat-Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz launch diesel trade-in scrappage schemes

    BMW to incentivise UK motorists to replace old diesels with £2000 grant

    Volkswagen Group diesel trade-in incentives considered for UK

  • World's fastest shed, based on Volkswagen Passat, to attempt 100mph Wednesday 16th August 2017
    Owner is planning on adding nitrous to the shed to push it over the 100mph mark

    The world’s fastest shed will attempt to break the 100mph barrier at Elvington airfield in North Yorkshire later this week.

    The attempt will be made as part of a charity road trip from Land's End to John O’Groats at the Straightliners Wheelie & Top Speed event during 19-20 August.

    Once the Shed reaches Gloucester, it will be joined by a cruise. It will then visit Elvington airfield in North Yorkshire, where it will attempt to hit the magical 'ton' if wind conditions allow.

    The unlikely speed record machine is the creation of Oxfordshire-based Kevin Nicks, who is making the trip in aid of Katharine House Hospice in Banbury. Nicks is fundraising through JustGiving.

    The fully road-legal shed is based on a 190,000-mile Volkswagen Passat 2.8 V6 Estate 4Motion, which Kevin bought in 2014 as a donor for spares but then didn’t have the heart to scrap. “I thought about it for a few months then had a eureka moment when I was walking past a log store I’d built,” said Nicks. 

    He stripped the Passat back to the floorpan, then replaced the body with a steel space frame to support the wooden shiplap bodywork. Visibility is excellent thanks to the lack of A-pillars and door mirrors are supplemented by rearward-facing cameras feeding flat screens on the dash.

    The four-wheel-drive shed had to meet the stringent Individual Vehicle Approval test to become road legal and had its first speed run at the Shakespeare County Raceway, Warwickshire, in 2015. Nicks has since achieved a timed maximum speed of 99.766mph, which was ratified by the UK Timing Association. 

    Nicks hopes a nitrous oxide injection system recently fitted to the 2250kg outbuilding will help achieve his target by lifting power from 190bhp to 265bhp. Aerodynamics remain a challenge but Nicks has a few tricks up his sleeve for future attempts.

    A former Formula 1 aerodynamicist suggested most drag was being generated by the shed’s huge flat back and recommended the fitting of some vertical wings on each corner to taper the airflow. 

    Related stories:

    2017 Volkswagen Passat review 

    Read all of Autocar's Volkswagen reviews 

  • Electric Audi E-tron SUV to race Jaguar I-Pace to market Wednesday 16th August 2017
    Electric Audi E-tron SUV to race Jaguar I-Pace to market On-road development is well under way for Audi’s first EV SUV, which is due on sale next year with a 310-mile range

    Audi is racing to get its E-tron SUV to market ahead of the Jaguar I-Pace in a bid to secure the title of the first premium electric SUV.

    Spotted on the continent wearing full-body camouflage, the SUV’s all-electric drivetrain is signalled by its lack of tailpipes.

    The car’s design looks to have been toned down compared with the E-tron Quattro concept (see gallery) it is based on, with a slightly less butch front and less raked rear window. But the concept's lighting designs, which include a strip to connect the tail-lights, look to have been retained.

    A senior Audi executive previously told Autocar that beating the I-Pace to market would make it the “first real premium manufacturer doing a premium electric SUV”. This title could be important in kick-starting sales.

    The E-tron, predicted to have a range of at least 500km (311 miles), is built on a development of the electrified platform Porsche is using for its Mission E electric saloon. It is powered by three electric motors, two of which drive the rear wheels while one powers the fronts.

    This set-up was seen in the E-tron quattro concept of 2015, which offered maximum combined outputs of 496bhp and 590lb ft. It enabled a 0-62mph time of 4.5sec and a restricted top speed of 131mph – previewing what’s to come with the production model.

    This set-up will also be used in a second all-electric SUV model, which itself was previewed by the E-tron Sportback concept shown at this year’s Shanghai motor show. It features a more swept-back design and will make it to market one year after its sibling.

    Audi has previously said that the E-tron SUV will “cost about the same as a well-specced Audi A6”, suggesting it will have a price point of at least £60,000. The second SUV may top that figure.

    2018 launch

    Audi sales and marketing boss Dietmar Voggenreiter said that Audi has chosen to launch the E-tron next year because that is when battery technology will be mature enough to offer a range of more than 500km (311 miles). This figure is “crucial”, he said, because consumers won’t accept less.

    Charging infrastructure should also be more extensive next year — another key reason for choosing a 2018 launch date. “A 400km to 500km range must be possible and we must have a fast charging infrastructure,” said Voggenreiter. “Both things are coming in 2018. The battery energy density is there and there is a lot of charging infrastructure in Europe, the US and Asia.” 

    Voggenreiter said Audi was involved through Volkswagen Group and with rival firms such as Ford, BMW and Daimler in ensuring there’s a fast-charging network for longer-range electric vehicles to use.

    “It’s not our job to invest in charging points,”  he said. “We are pushing and organising this, though, and working with partners on it.” 

    He referred to the ‘chicken and egg’ situation of limited charging infrastructure to date: there has been no need for third parties to install chargers because there are not enough cars to use them, and vice versa. “No cars, no infrastructure, but in the next two years there are lots of investments,” he said.

    Audi E-tron

    Audi has opted not to launch its electric cars under a sub-brand, like BMW with its i models and Mercedes-Benz’s future EQ range. Instead, it is using E-tron, which has been a suffix on electrified Audis, as a model name in its own right. It is intended as a stand-alone, milestone launch model to introduce the technology, in a similar strategy used by Audi with ‘quattro’ in the 1980s. 

    Speaking last year about the E-tron name, Audi boss Rupert Stadler said: “It is comparable to the first Audi Quattro, which was known simply as the Quattro. In the long term, the name ‘E-tron’ will stand for a pure electric driveline structure.” 

    Voggenreiter said the E-tron name will be used on a range of follow-up electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, where it will appear mostly as a suffix, as is the case with the A3 e-tron. It’s likely that Audi’s next-generation models, which will start with the A8 this summer, will all get electric versions. The A8 e-tron is most likely to be the first candidate. 

    An SUV body is important for the E-tron because it is the most on-trend bodystyle, said Voggenreiter. “A lot of customers have been asking when we’ll bring this car to market,” he said. “There is certain demand in the premium segment and we’re not being first to market for the sake of it; it’s the right product. It’s a real SUV, with Audi design language.” 

    Voggenreiter suggested the Audi range of E-tron models will get slightly different styling from the Marc Lichte-designed new look that will be rolled out across the rest of the line-up, starting with the A8. 

    “E-trons are close to the designs of Lichte but in different packages,” he said. “There isn’t an engine in the front.” 

    The size of the E-tron suggests it’s a Q6 in all but name, but Voggenreiter hinted that the Q6 was a separate project altogether. He cited speculation that the Q6 should be a “four-door coupé SUV” based on the Q5 in a similar style to the Q8 being spun off the Q7. But he said the E-tron isn’t the Q6 because it’s “not a four-door coupé SUV. It’s a sporty SUV”.

    Sam Sheehan and Mark Tisshaw

  • On this day in 1992: Nigel Mansell wins his first Formula 1 title Wednesday 16th August 2017
    On this day in 1992: Nigel Mansell wins his first Formula 1 title One of Britain’s best-loved racing drivers secured his only F1 championship 25 years ago

    Exactly a quarter of a century ago, the owner of Formula 1’s largest moustache won his first and only F1 world championship title.

    Nigel Mansell, then 39 and racing in his 12th F1 season, was so dominant during 1992 that he secured top spot in the standings at the Hungarian Grand Prix with five rounds to go. He did, of course, have use of the Williams-Renault FW14B - one of the most advanced racing cars produced that used controversial active suspension which was subsequently banned two seasons later. But 1992 was the year Mansell's grit and determination was finally repaid with a dominant car.

    Not that you would have known it if you only watched the race in Hungary, because Mansell finished more than 40 seconds down on the winner, Ayrton Senna of McLaren-Honda. Second place was all he needed, though, to keep Williams teammate Riccardo Patrese out of reach of the championship and secure his name in the illustrious club of F1's best.

    Mansell eventually finished 1992 with 108 points, 52 more than what Patrese secured and 55 more than the season’s third-highest-ranking driver, Michael Schumacher of Benetton-Ford. The plucky Worcestershire-born Brit won nine of the year's races.

    So the Hungarian Grand Prix remains one of few that year in which Mansell had little answer for his rivals. He got off to a slow start, falling from his second place grid slot into fourth, and was forced to battle his way back towards the front to keep alive his hopes of securing the title before dinner.

    The then second-placed Senna proved the toughest on-track rival, with the Brazilian using the grunt of his V12 Honda engine – arguably one of the sport’s most glorious-sounding units – to fend off Mansell’s best efforts. This set a challenging trend for the rest of the race, which culminated in a puncture that required Mansell to stop for new boots. His hopes of a podium Champagne bath looked slim.

    Mansell’s drive to claim the title in Hungary was therefore not without its difficulties and featured plenty of wheel-to-wheel action. We didn't know it at the time, but it was to be his only title and last season in F1 until 1994, because off track politics within the Williams team would send Mansell Stateside for 1993, where he wins the CART IndyCar World Series in his maiden season, becoming an instantly recognisable legend both sides of the pond in the process.

    Today, 25 years on from his defining F1 championship winning day, I invite you to don the rose-tinted spectacles and watch footage of Mansell when he was at his finest – wearing a great big slug on his top lip.

  • Jaguar F-Type Convertible 2.0 i4 UK 2017 review Wednesday 16th August 2017
    Jaguar F-Type Convertible 2.0 i4 on the road Having been previously impressed by the agile four-cylinder F-Type, now is our chance to try it in the UK and in open-top form. But can this entry-level Jaguar sports car hold off the impressive Porsche Boxster? Jaguar’s new entry-level F-Type convertible is a fairly radical departure for the brand. Although Jaguar has been producing cars with four-cylinder engines since the launch of the X-Type diesel, this is the first time one of its sports cars has been sent into battle with such an apparent deficit of cylinders and capacity.The new turbocharged 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol engine certainly isn’t short of firepower; Jaguar Land Rover’s chief engineer, Mike Cross, is keen to point out that the peak 296bhp is slightly higher than that of the XJ-S, made from a 5.3-litre V12 in the early 1990s.Although it boasts improved economy and reduced emissions, the 2.0-litre F-Type’s main role is to give a cheaper entry point. The Coupé, which we have previously driven, slips under £50,000 in the unoptioned form that nobody will actually buy it in, but the convertible – sampled here in the UK for the first time – carries a £5485 supplement in basic form. Meaning that, despite some chunky price increases from Porsche, it is still £10,000 more than the similarly powerful Boxster 2.0-litre. 
  • Used car market falters in second quarter of 2017 Wednesday 16th August 2017
    Used car market falters in second quarter of 2017 Bumper 2016 partly to blame for a flaccid 2017; SMMT chief Mike Hawes insists consumer confidence must be maintained by the Government

    The used car market has declined by 5.1% across 2017 so far, following record-breaking figures in 2016. 

    In the second quarter of this year, used car transactions slumped by 13.5% compared with the same period in 2016; a drop of nearly 300,000 transactions. 

    Diesel cars declined by just 0.1% in the three-month period, contrary to predictions of a cliff-edge drop-off in sales, although the real difference may become apparent later. For new car registrations, alternatively fuelled vehicles such as hybrids and full-electric cars are experiencing a boon, with transactions up by 25% over the second quarter of 2016. 

    The used market continues to drive the popularity of certain colours; black, silver, blue and grey remained the top sellers. Red, green and yellow are the sixth, seventh and tenth most popular colours respectively. White, once the most popular, is fifth. 

    SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes pointed out that, despite failing to match last year's record-breaking figures, the used market is by no means in crisis and mirrors the new market closely in its fluctuations.

    Hawes did, however, put the Government under the spotlight amid the underwhelming performance, saying: “Although the market remains at an exceptionally high level, given the softening we’ve seen in registrations of new cars in more recent months, looking ahead it is vital that the Government secures the conditions that will maintain consumer and business confidence if we are to see both markets continue to prosper.”

    The South-East and North-West of England remain the top areas for used car sales, while London climbed to sixth place from eighth between the first and second quarter of the year, overtaking Yorkshire and Scotland. 

    The top ten used cars in the second quarter of 2017 are:

    Ford Fiesta - 83,222 sales

    Ford Focus - 74,477 sales

    Vauxhall Corsa - 72,341 sales

    Vauxhall Astra - 65,186 sales

    Volkswagen Golf - 54,773 sales

    BMW 3 Series - 44,798 sales

    Mini - 32,914 sales

    Renault Clio - 32,118 sales

    Volkswagen Polo - 31,855 sales

    10 Audi A3 - 21,644 sales

  • BMW Z4 Concept previewed - new picture shows sleek open-roof design Wednesday 16th August 2017
    BMW Z4 Concept previewed - new picture shows sleek open-roof design Future production Z4 will be inspired by this concept; the final model was co-developed by Toyota

    BMW has offered another glimpse of its Z4 concept ahead of its reveal at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on 17 August.

    A new preview image released on social media shows that the open-top concept will feature a long bonnet and a pair of rear butresses. The car's sleek design looks similar to that of the BMW Gina concept of 2008.

    The shape will influence the design of the upcoming production Z4, due in 2019; however, that car is expected to feature a more conventional folding soft top, as seen on Z4 development cars.

    The third-generation Z4 is part of what BMW’s head of sales and marketing, Ian Robertson, describes as the most comprehensive new model push.

    Codenamed G29, the new convertible is being developed in a joint engineering programme between BMW and Toyota, which will sell a coupé version as the Supra.

    The two cars, which have been seen testing in development form on public roads for several months, will be produced alongside each other at Magna in Austria.

    BMW is said to have retained the Z4 name for its future model, rather than using Z5 as previously rumoured, because Z5 does not fit with its naming structure, which uses even numbers for performance models.

    This is backed up by internal correspondence relating to the G29 project, which refers to the car as Z4.

    The production Z4 will arrive three months after the new 8 Series, which is due in 2018 and is previewed by the Concept 8 Series.

    The 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance kicks off on 16 August and runs through to 20 August.

  • Aston Martin Vantage V8 AMR 2017 review Wednesday 16th August 2017
    Aston Martin V8 Vantage AMR
    The Aston Martin V8 Vantage AMR is a swansong for the Vantage - but the first model to sport the AMR title
    Aston Martin's swansong for its venerable Vantage sports car allows it to bow out with its head held high, yet the performance AMR sub-brand's first outing leaves you feeling short-changed How do you send off a loyal and much-loved servant of 13 years? In the case of Aston Martin and the Vantage, you give it more power than it’s ever had and secure what will go down as its crowning glory - victory at Le Mans.Having first been introduced way back in 2005 the Vantage will finally be retired this year, making way for an all-new model that’ll arrive in 2018. Far from fading away with a whimper, though, the car’s last year on sale has arguably been its most memorable yet. That GTE Pro class victory at La Sarthe in June came at the sixth time of trying - following one of the 24 hour race’s most thrilling last lap duels in living memory, no less - while a limited run of 100 V12 Vantage AMRs have had their power outputs lifted to a whisker shy of 600bhp.Interview: how Aston Martin won Le Mans in a final lap thrillerEarlier this year Aston Martin launched its new AMR performance brand, taking inspiration from the Aston Martin Racing competition squad, and the departing Vantage is the first car to carry the new moniker. Eventually, every model in the range will offer an AMR version. The Vantage AMR will be limited to 300 units, 200 based on the V8 model and 100 on the V12. They’ll be split across Coupe and Roadster bodystyles, all offering a choice of manual or paddle shift transmissions.Mechanically they’re identical to the mainstream models, except that the V12 versions have received some minor engine tweaks to lift power by 30bhp to 595bhp. There have been no weight saving regimes or retuned chassis settings, then. Instead, the Vantage AMR offers a number of bespoke paint schemes with contrasting body stripes and, in the case of this Stirling Green car, day-glo brake callipers. This car also carries enamel badges in Union Flag colours as well as bespoke five-spoke wheels. The eye-catching interior trim is also specific to the AMR.The V8 Vantage AMR, tested here, carries a £3000 premium over the base model, lifting the price tag to £97,995. The 4735cc normally-aspirated engine produces 430bhp at a relatively heady 7300rpm and 361lb ft at 5000rpm. The 1610kg Coupe sprints to 62mph in 4.8 seconds - there are four-wheel drive hot hatches that get there faster these days - and tops out at 190mph. 
  • Tesla streamlines electric car charging installation with in-house service Wednesday 16th August 2017
    Tesla streamlines electric car charging installation with in-house service American car brand expands business with new Home Charging Installation Programme

    Tesla can now fit charging stations for its vehicles at customers’ houses as part of a new Home Charging Installation Programme, streamlining the ownership process and expanding its business remit further.

    The company can install 240-volt fast charging outlets close to where customers park their cars, providing them with a source of energy capable of injecting 25 miles of range into the batteries per hour.

    The service, which costs from approximately $1000 (£775), eliminates the need for customers to source their own external electrician or fitter. This not only reduces the workload for a buyer, but expands Tesla’s business remit into yet another sector.

    This continues a trend set by Tesla when its CEO, Elon Musk, acquired solar panel company SolarCity last year for £1.96 billion. The sister brand now produces solar roof panels, which are fitted to the roof of houses, to capture energy from the sun and supply it directly to a Tesla charging port or inject power into the house.

    While the panels are available to customers in the UK, there’s currently no word as to whether Tesla will offer the Home Charging Installation Programme here. At the moment, the service is only confirmed for the US – but the brand’s aggressive global ambitions suggest it will be rolled out in other markets in the near future.

    Tesla's biggest-selling product, the Model 3, entered production this month. With an estimated 400,000 orders for the vehicle already placed, Musk has pledged to build as many as 20,000 units per month from December to meet demand.

  • Frankfurt motor show 2017 preview Wednesday 16th August 2017
    2017 Frankfurt motor show preview The Frankfurt motor show, which takes place from 16-24 September, looks to be a big one, with numerous reveals confirmed

    The Frankfurt motor show is fast approaching and the list of confirmed reveals continues to grow. We've already got 25 big cars scheduled for a Frankfurt appearance, but more are sure to join them.

    Take a look below for a sneak preview at the cars on their way to Frankfurt this year.

    Frankfurt motor show 2017: the cars

    Audi A7

     

    The new A8 has been revealed at a separate event. Next will be the turn of its smaller, coupé sibling - the A7. It is expected to debut at Frankfurt and inherit much of the A8's cutting-edge autonomous tech, and a crisp new look to boot.

    Audi A8

    We've already seen it in the flesh at the Audi Summit in early July, but the A8 will also make an appearance at Frankfurt in September. 

    Bentley Continental GT

     

    The wait is (almost) over - Bentley's long-awaited next-generation Continental GT is expected to be officially revealed at the Frankfurt motor show, as the brand's most advanced car yet. It will even have a hybrid in the range, like its SUV sibling, the Bentayga

    BMW 6 Series GT

    Another we've already seen, but only in pictures: the replacement for the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo, the BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo. It's more conventionally styled than its numerically inferior predecessor, but it's still splitting opinions. 

    BMW i3S

    BMW will officially be the first mainstream manufacturer to produce an entry for the next big performance segment: the hot electric hatch. Renault may have pipped it to the concept with the Zoe e-sport, but the i3S is a dead cert for production. It will show the facelifted i3 range too.

    BMW M5

    Another hot one from BMW but it couldn't be more different to the i3S: it is BMW's newly four-wheel-drive M5. The super saloon has already been shown in part on a video game publicity shot, but this will be the first time we've seen it in full and up close.

    BMW X7 concept

    BMW's answer to the Mercedes-Benz GLS will arrive at Frankfurt in concept form. We've spotted it testing numerous times, and the X2 is holding its concept's looks for production, so expect much the same process for BMW's SUV flagship.

    Chery's SUV concept

    This one has all the trappings of an automotive zeitgeist; it's a Chinese carmaker's European brand, hybrid or electric SUV, to be revealed in pre-production form. 

    Borgward's sports car concept

    Revived German (but now Chinese-owned) car maker Borgward has given us a glimpse of its sports car concept, which could eventually make production as a halo model, akin to MG's E-Motion concept.

    Dacia Duster

    At the other end of the SUV market, though, will be the Dacia Duster. Dacia's small SUV has been around long enough for its replacement to come along, which is expected to be revealed in September at Frankfurt. 

    Facelifted Honda Jazz

    It's time for the Jazz's mid-life refresh, so Honda's expected to be taking one to Frankfurt to show the world. Expect Honda's supermini-cum-small-mpv practicality and dependability, with a similar face to the new Civic

    Honda CR-V hybrid

    The Honda hybrid is back! Well, if you discount the NSX, that is. Honda's first hybrid in its electrification onslaught will likely be a CR-V, before other models follow suit. 

    Hyundai i30N

    Hyundai's first hot hatch makes its bow at Frankfurt, following its debut in Germany earlier this summer. There is up to 271bhp on tap, pumped-up looks and the promise of crisp handling. 

    Hyundai Kona

    Hyundai is helping to keep up the SUV's relentless momentum with the Kona - its answer to the Nissan Juke. It's the first of three cars in this segment, and one of 12 (and counting) hitting Frankfurt in September. Keep scrolling for the others...

    Jaguar E-Pace

    ...Starting with the Jaguar E-Pace. It has already proven to be one of Jaguar's most headline-grabbing modern-day cars, being its second SUV and expected to be its best-seller and that fabled 'Baby Jag'. We'll get another look at Frankfurt.

    Kia Stonic

    Another Nissan Juke rival on its way to Frankfurt later this summer is the Kia Stonic. Kia's small SUV made its initial splash upon its reveal not long ago, but we'll see it for the first time in the flesh at Frankfurt.

    Facelifted Lexus NX

    The European-spec Lexus NX, in facelifted form, will appear at Frankfurt, after the Asian-spec car was revealed at the Shanghai motor show earlier in the year.

    Mercedes-AMG Project One hypercar

    Perhaps the headline car of the Frankfurt motor show will be Mercedes-AMG's as-yet-unnamed hypercar, codenamed Project One. It's set to fight the Aston Martin Valkyrie and usher in a new generation of hypercars when it arrives late next year.

    Mercedes-Benz EQ hatchback

    Mercedes is following Volkswagen's lead with an electric vehicle concept assault; it's now prepping its answer to the Volkswagen ID hatchback concept. Expect a similar approach to its previous EQ SUV concept

    Mercedes-Benz X-Class

    The X-Class may be about to be revealed, but it will be wheeled out again at Frankfurt for its motor show debut, as part of a large Mercedes-Benz stand. 

    Electric Mini concept

    Mini's first fully electric model, a variant on the three-door hatch, will be previewed by a Frankfurt-bound concept, before going into production at the brand's UK plant in Oxford.

    Porsche Cayenne

    Porsche's first SUV, the Cayenne is about to enter its third generation. We have spotted the car testing quite a bit over the past 18 months so have got a pretty good idea of what it will look like. We'll have to wait until Frankfurt to see it in full, though.

    Renault Mégane Renault Sport

    The Mégane Renault Sport's gestation has been plagued with leaks and barely disguised shots, so at this stage it has been all but officially unveiled. Frankfurt will likely host its Renault reveal, though. 

    Seat Arona

    The Seat Arona broke cover a while ago now, but its first motor-show outing will be at Frankfurt, where it will join the ranks of the other SUVs hitting the car market. It will be interesting to see how it stacks up against the competition.

    Subaru Impreza

    The next Subaru Impreza will break cover at Frankfurt, as the firm refreshes its line-up with new architecture, first seen on the new XV

    Suzuki Swift Sport

    Suzuki's latest pocket rocket has been partially revealed ahead of the show, with the promise of a full reveal at Frankfurt. Suzuki has even released a video to show off the car's sporting prowess ahead of the full reveal. 

    Vauxhall Grandland X

    Could this be a new addition to the UK's best-sellers list a year from now? Vauxhall certainly hopes so, and the Grandland X will make its debut at the Frankfurt show as a rival to the Seat Ateca and Nissan Qashqai

    Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer

    It's been a while since the Country Tourer was revealed, but Vauxhall's estate-cum-off-roader will officially make its debut in Frankfurt. 

    Volkswagen ID saloon concept

    Volkswagen's next electric ID concept will be a saloon variant on the theme, and is expected to make its first appearance at the Frankfurt motor show. The ID concepts have all shared a similar look, so it's not hard to guess what the ID saloon will look like.

    Volkswagen Polo

    Volkswagen's Polo has grown up for its sixth generation and was revealed earlier in the summer at an event in Berlin. At Frankfurt, we'll get another look at the now bigger supermini, as well as its hot-hatch iteration, the Polo GTI

    Continental's wireless electric vehicle charging

    Tech company Continental will showcase its latest inductive charging tech in Frankfurt. The road charges the car while stationary, and data is sent to the driver's phone via a smartphone app.

    Event information

    Dates Trade: 14-15 September 2017; Public: 16-24 September 2017

    Location Trade fair grounds, Ludwig-Erhard-Anlage 1, D-60327 Frankfurt/Main, Germany

    Opening times 9am-7pm, daily

    Tickets For ticket information, visit the official website

  • New one-off Ken Okuyama hypercar revealed ahead of Pebble Beach Wednesday 16th August 2017
    New one-off Ken Okuyama model set for Pebble Beach reveal The designer of the Ferrari Enzo has announced the Kode 0 for the prestigious event. Power comes from a mid-mounted V12

    Ken Okuyama, the designer of the Ferrari Enzo, is to launch a one-off hypercar, named Kode 0, at Pebble Beach later this month.

    The famed designer revealed the car's full, wedge-like styling on his Facebook page, but the car will make its full debut at the prestigious motoring event. The car is powered by a mid-engined V12 and is of a carbonfibre monocoque construction. No further details of the car have yet been revealed, but Autocar is awaiting response from Okuyama's design house.

    From the preview images, it’s clear to see Okuyama's trademark features in the car, with swept-back headlights, clean simple lines and dramatic bodywork with flying buttresses and vents incorporated into the Kode 0’s wide rear haunches. 

    The Kode 0 is the first one-off car that Okayama’s coachbuilding house has produced, and the successor to the five-unit-only Kode 57 hypercar of last year. The Kode 57 will join the Kode 0 at Pebble beach, where the latter will be revealed at the exclusive Quail event. 

    Okuyama’s coachbuilding facility claims to be the only one in Japan. Its previous projects include the Lotus Elise R-based KO7 Spider of 2010, which had two Tag Heuer Grand Carrera watches incorporated into its dashboard. 

    Read more: 

    Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance news

    Ken Okuyama KO7 review

  • Chery to reveal SUV concept for new European market assault Wednesday 16th August 2017
    The brand's latest attempt to break Europe will be launched at the Frankfurt motor show with a small SUV concept

    Chinese car-making giant Chery will launch a fresh entry into the European market via a new SUV, which will be shown in concept form at the Frankfurt motor show.

    Much of the car’s styling is revealed in design previews, which show typical SUV lines and a streamlined front not dissimilar to that of the Land Rover Discovery. A glimpse of the interior shows a large, high-mounted infotainment screen and climate control switchgear.

    The car is built on what Chery describes as an "all-new, high-quality" platform, although the company doesn’t say whether it would be a premium offering that competes with the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC or a rival to more mass-market SUVs such as the Ford Kuga and Vauxhall Grandland X. Crash safety is also highlighted as up to the standards of European manufacturers.

    Chery will also focus on electrified models; the company's European effort will only make cars with mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric powertrains.

    The markets selected for the as-yet-unnamed brand’s entry into Europe have yet to be revealed, but Chery has announced that it will open European design and engineering facilities specifically for the model. 

    Chery is one of China’s largest car producers. It sold more than 700,000 cars in 2016, with 100,000 of those exported internationally. Chery’s exports made up almost 30% of China’s total car exports last year. 

    The brand, if it occupies a mass-market position instead of a premium one, would be in direct competition with compatriot car maker Geely’s Lynk & Co brand, which sits below Volvo and was acquired from Ford in 2010. 

    Read more: 

    2017 Shanghai motor show - Chinese cars roundup

    Chery launches DR Euro brand

    Shanghai motor show 2017 - our star cars

    JLR-Chery tie-up confirmed

    2017 Lynk&Co 01 SUV launched at Shanghai show

  • Mazda Skyactiv-X engine range to gain plug-in hybrid variant from 2021 Wednesday 16th August 2017
    Mazda has developed a Skyaciv-X range of petrol engines that use compression ignition
    Mazda will produce the world’s first compression ignition petrol engine, claiming lower 'well-to-wheel' emissions than electric vehicles

    Mazda pledged that its next generation of petrol-engine vehicles will be cleaner than electric cars due to the use of efficiency-boosting compression ignition technology - and it'll boost that promise in 2021, when a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) drivetrain will join the range.

    The PHEV system will be the last of the planned drivetrains to be added to the Skyactiv-X range. The first to arrive will be the new petrol engines, which will replace the current Skyactiv-G units in 2019. These engines use compression ignition technology that has previously only been used in diesel engines. Mazda claims they are 30% more efficient than its current petrol units, matching or even improving on the brand’s Skyactiv-D diesel engine range.

    Alongside the launch of these groundbreaking petrol units, the Japanese brand will add mild hybrid and full electric drivetrains to its line-up in 2019. The latter will be available in pure battery EV form or with a range extender engine. The technology will be shared with Toyota, which Mazda has recently teamed up with for research and development. The next Mazda 3 will also arrive in 2019, suggesting it could be an early benefiter of the new powertrains.

    Interestingly, despite the zero tailpipe emissions of electric vehicles, Mazda claims that its Skyactiv-X engines will actually be the cleanest power sources in its range. Mazda said they'll produce lower carbon dioxide emissions than electric powertrains from a 'well-to-wheel' perspective - which accounts for the whole life cycle of a vehicle and the fuel needed to power it. The company has been developing the new engine technology for several years, as first reported by Autocar in 2014.

    Compression ignition technology has not yet been used on a mass production scale in petrol engines. The system, labelled Spark Controlled Compression Ignition, mixes petrol and air together in the engine’s cylinder like a regular spark ignition engine, but then ignites it using compression at lower load or with a spark at higher loads. This means around half the volume of petrol is required for the same combustion level across most of the rev range.

    Mazda director Kiyoshi Fujiwara, who has oversight of the firm's R&D programme, explained that this “very lean air-fuel mixture that is too lean to combust by spark ignition [alone] can combust by this method cleanly and rapidly”. He added that this enables "better thermal efficiency, improved fuel economy and lower nitrogen oxide emissions". Other benefits include higher efficiency across a wider range of revs, thus improving engine responses and performance.

    The company has pursued this technology because it believes spark ignition technology is reaching its peak. Mazda also argues that while electric technology produces no emissions from a car's tailpipe, it is yet to represent a truly sustainable option on a global scale because much of the world’s electricity grids are still powered by fossil fuels.

    As part of its Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 plan, Mazda has pledged to reduce corporate average well-to-wheel CO2 emissions to 50% of 2010 levels by 2030, before reducing them by 90% by 2050.

    The company will begin introducing electric technology into its range from 2019, but has stated that it will focus sales of these models in regions where sustainable energy is produced. It will continue to invest heavily in petrol technology beyond this point, citing a continued growth of combustion engine demand in other regions, such as developing economies.

    Read more:

    Insight: Designing our Mazda RX-9 Coupé concept

    Mazda and Toyota form alliance to share EV technology

    Mazda plans big efficiency gains

    Long-term test report: Mazda MX-5 RF

  • Honda adds diesel engine to Civic line-up Wednesday 16th August 2017
    Honda adds 1.6 i-DTEC engine to Civic line-up Tweaked 1.6 i-DTEC diesel engine joins the new Civic range from March 2018

    Honda is extending the engine range of the new Civic with a revised version of its existing 1.6-litre i-DTEC engine - the first diesel in the line-up of the new hatchback - available from March next year.

    Despite upgrades including higher-strength pistons and low-friction cylinder bores, the car’s power and torque remain the same at 118bhp and 221b ft. The differences add up to a fuel economy under the new WLTP testing procedure of 76.3mpg, with CO2 output of 99g/km. 

    Honda now makes the pistons of the engine from a chromium-molybdenum steel alloy, while the bores have been subject to ‘super plateau honing’, which smooths the movement of the pistons. 

    In addition, Honda claims that the engine will be more refined and quieter than before, thanks to greater rigidity in the engine through the use of more cast ribs on the cylinder block. 

    To improve NOx emissions, the new engine has an improved storage converter, which stores the harmful gas until the regeneration cycle is under way, while a soot sensor improves the longevity of exhaust parts such as the particulate filter. 

    On top of the new engine, the new Civic will be available with Honda’s nine-speed automatic gearbox later in the year. It’s the first time Honda has put the transmission in a two-wheel-drive car, following its introduction to the new CR-V in 2015.

    Read more:

    2017 Honda Civic on sale in March priced from £18,235

    Honda Civic Type R GT UK 2017 review

    Honda Civic vs Peugeot 308 vs Volkswagen Golf: group test

  • Autocar magazine 15 August – out now Wednesday 16th August 2017
    Autocar magazine 15 August – out now This week: Aston's new SUV, TVR T350t vs Subaru BRZ, 800bhp Ford Mustang and much more

    In this week's Autocar, we bring you the latest news about the new kid on the block in the burgeoning hyper-luxury SUV market - the Aston Martin DBX. 

    There's also an in-depth look at the Mazda engine tech which makes petrol engines, the brand claims, cleaner than electric vehicles. 

    Unabashed by Mazda’s latest claim, though, there are hybrid offerings from Mercedes and Range Rover, as well as a pure electric Audi Q2 e-tron.

    Also in this issue

    The tuning industry responds to Gerry McGovern’s ambition to wipe out the aftermarket segment, while fittingly, we have a go in an 825bhp Ford Mustang, from Clive Sutton. 

    We’ve also been behind the wheel of the Audi RS3 Saloon, Volkswagen Atlas, Honda Civic Type R and Skoda Octavia vRS 245 Estate. We take it down to the wire with Benedict Radcliffe's car sculptures, too.

    Our cars

    Tuning is the word of the week, as we’ve got hold of a BMW M135i and prepare to see what kind of performance we can eke out of it, and fit a cruise control system to our Porsche 911

    Elsewhere, we’ve been disappointed by the multimedia setup in our Honda Civic. But can the rest of the car make up for this weakness?

    Deals

    In light of the Government’s announcement of its ambition to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2040, James Ruppert brings us the cars which will survive for the next twenty-seven years.

    We’ve also got a used buying guide on how to find the best BMW 8 Series for your money, and find out if you should buy a new Subaru BRZ or a used TVR T350t. 

    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.

  • Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Speedster & Shooting Brake models confirmed Wednesday 16th August 2017
    Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Speedster & Shooting Brake models confirmed
    Aston Martin is launching Speedster and Shooting Brake versions of the Vanquish Zagato
    Aston Martin is adding two more models to its limited-edition Zagato family; they sit alongside the Coupé and Volante

    Aston Martin has confirmed Vanquish Zagato Speedster and Shooting Brake models, which will complete a line-up of four Vanquish special editions created by the British car maker and famed Italian design house.

    The other existing models are the Coupé, launched in 2016, and the Volante, which was revealed last year.

    The cars are the latest in a partnership between the two companies that started in 1960 with the DB4 GT Zagato.

    The Speedster model will be revealed at next week’s Pebble Beach, while only a sketch of the Shooting Brake has been released so far. A physical model will be shown at a later date. 


    The four Zagato models will total 325 cars, with production split between 99 Coupés, 99 Volantes, 28 Speedsters and 99 Shooting Brakes. All models except the Shooting Brake have already been sold.

    
With all four cars based on the Vanquish S, the Zagatos use Aston’s naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V12 petrol engine, which produces 592bhp, 27bhp more than the standard Vanquish. It's mated to a Touchtronic III eight-speed automatic transmission.


    Combined with adaptive damping fine-tuned for each model, the Zagatos promise “exceptional driving pleasures that are every bit as stimulating and memorable as their design," according to Aston Martin.


    The hard-top Zagato and Volante can sprint from 0-62mph in 3.5sec and 3.9sec respectively. Additional weight in both the Speedster’s convertible system and Shooting Brake’s design means this time will extend slightly on these models. Top speed will be about 197mph.

    The most noticeable design on the Speedster is the so-called Speed Humps behind the front seats, which represent Zagato’s ‘double bubble’ roof, a feature originally added to the firm’s racing cars of the 1950s to allow space for racing helmets.

    Like the other Vanquish Zagato models, the Speedster has body panels made from carbonfibre, Aston Martin Vulcan-inspired tail-lights and repeated 3D Zagato ‘Z’ motifs in the front grille and rear vent meshes.

    The Shooting Brake remains a two-seater despite its estate-like appearance. However, Aston Martin says it has been conceived as “an individual and exceptionally practical GT”. The extended roof also features the double-bubble surface with glass inlays to allow light inside. It also has a powered tailgate which opens onto a 'luxuriously trimmed' rear area complete with tailored luggage. 

    Both the Coupé and Volante Zagatos are priced at around £500,000. The Shooting Brake is expected to cost £650,000, while the Speedster, as the most exclusive model, will be the most expensive. It's set to cost just less than £1 million.

    Aston Martin's chief creative officer, Marek Reichman, said: “We haven’t released Zagato models as a family before, at least not in this way, but the idea is not without precedent. Think back to the DB7 Zagato and DB AR1, or the V8 Zagato Coupé and Volante, for example. We’ve simply taken things a few steps further. Why create a family of Zagatos? Well, many of our customers want different things. Some prefer the purity of a Coupé, but others love the idea of something more extreme, like the Speedster. And yes, some of them have ordered one example of each. 

    “There’s always an over-demand from our clients and patrons. We could easily fulfil demand for more cars than this, but we want Zagato to remain something very special. We’re creating collectibles, future concours cars.”

    Zagato boss Andrea Zagato commented: “Zagato’s relationship with Aston Martin began with my grandfather almost sixty years ago. To have a creative ‘marriage‘ thrive for three generations is something as unique as the cars themselves. 

    “My family name is associated with all kinds of wonderful designs, but for many enthusiasts and collectors around the world those that combine the Z of Zagato with the wings of Aston Martin are the most special.”

    Related stories: 

    Vanquish Zagato revealed  

    The five Aston Martin Vantage models that lead to today

    Aston Martin Vanquish review 

  • Range Rover Velar UK 2017 review Tuesday 15th August 2017
    Range Rover Velar 2.0D Can the newest Range Rover deliver the goods when it's being powered by a four-cylinder, 2.0L diesel engine? We tried it on UK roads to find out It’s the chance to answer a burning question. When JLR launched the new mid-range Range Rover Velar, it made very clear that four-cylinder diesel models would be available, but there were none to test at launch. Now the four-pot Velar D240 is with us in the UK – so we took our first chance to discover how well the model worked when powered by JLR’s own-brand 2.0-litre, 237bhp four-cylinder twin-turbo Ingenium diesel engine. Several weeks ago we declared the 296bhp Dagenham-built V6 diesel model beautiful, refined, capable – and bordering on the overpriced. Opting for the four-pot slashes £4000 off the total price, but what does that mean for performance and smoothness? And an SUV that still costs close to £70,000 isn’t usually powered by an engine as ordinary as a 2.0-litre diesel: would this D240 perform well enough to allow us to forget that fact? We already had some experience. We’d tried this engine in the new Land Rover Discovery and found it to be extremely refined. But when my colleagues tried it in a Jaguar F-Pace (which uses a near-identical, all-aluminium body-chassis architecture) they were less impressed – even if experience has taught us that two models that use different sets of the same components can be quite different in character. Range Rover majors more on comfort than Jaguar-style sportiness, so only a decent drive was going to answer the question.