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In the News ...

New Audi Q5 55 TFSI e 2019 review
Posted on Thursday September 19, 2019

Audi Q5 55 TFSI e - front
19 Sep, 2019 10:15am Vicky Parrott

The new plug-in hybrid Audi Q5 55 TFSI e is expensive, but it offers the perfect blend of pace, practicality, comfort and efficiency

What could be better than a plug-in hybrid Audi Q5? All that roominess, the executive-plush interior, neat dynamics and enviable brand swagger, complete with an official 26 miles of electric running and a 2.0-litre petrol engine to keep you going after that. It could well be the plug-in hybrid that a lot of buyers have been waiting for.  

There are two plug-in Q5 TFSI e models on offer, both complete with a 14.1kWh battery and 141bhp electric motor. The familiar 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine features in both, alongside Audi’s venerable quattro active four-wheel drive and seven-speed dual-clutch auto gearbox.

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Combined with the electric motor, this brings power up to 295bhp for the entry-level 50 TFSI e, or 362bhp for the 55 TFSI e that we’re testing here. The idea being, of course, is that you can do the school run or shorter commutes virtually fuel-free and then have the freedom of a petrol car at the weekend.

And in practice, it really is close to the best of all worlds. In pure-EV mode, it’s silent, suave and just generally makes you feel full of smug. You can do motorway speeds in electric mode with ease, and of course the uninterrupted stream of power is ideal for slicking around the city.   

We managed to get some 20 miles of electric running during our motorway-heavy test drive, so 25 miles should be possible in good weather around tow. With low battery charge and in Hybrid mode, the turbocharged petrol engine still returns close to 40mpg in unhurried use. 

Just don’t forget that, as with any plug-in hybrid, you have to charge the Q5 regularly to get the efficiency on offer. That’s easy enough to do – a normal three-pin domestic socket will deliver a full charge in around six hours, while a 7kW home wallbox will do it in two – and the necessary cables are supplied as standard.

For longer journeys, Hybrid mode is your best bet. Stick a destination in the car’s nav and it automatically switches between electric and petrol running as it deems best in order to gain the most efficiency. Clever stuff, since it even prioritises electric running for slower roads and petrol for main artery routes.  

Not only that, but it switches cleanly between the two powertrains without any sudden change in throttle response or lurch in progress to distract you from Radio 4 or your latte-to-go. Plus, the petrol engine itself is super-quiet, and barely any more intrusive on a steady throttle than the electric motor.

It’s also very comfortable. The Q5 trim range has had a shake-up with the addition of the plug-in hybrid, but if you want air suspension then you have to go for one of the Vorsprung trims that have it included – it’s not an option on the others. Mind you, our S Line Competition 55 TFSI e rode with impressive composure, feeling taut yet pliant – an impressive balance for a heavy, high-riding SUV. We’d say the adaptive air set-up really is unnecessary.  

The TFSI e doesn’t encourage you to drive as vigorously as an SQ5 does, but it’s tidy and balanced in corners, and the straight-line performance in the 55 TFSI e isn’t far off that of the SQ5 models, either. Not bad for a car that also gets free entry into London (until October 2021, at least) and cheap company car tax.

You even get ample passenger space in the back and a good sized boot; at 450 litres it’s 95 litres smaller than the standard Q5’s and there’s no option of a space-saver tyre. But it’s still easily good enough for a chunky buggy or big dog. The biggest annoyance is the bulky cable case that hooks onto a lashing eye and hangs around, taking up space in the boot. 

Cable storage is one thing, but it’s more likely to be the price that makes you question the Q5 plug-in hybrid. The cheapest 50 TFSI model starts at just under £50,000, while the 55 TFSI e comes in at almost £55,000 – some £6,000 more than an equivalent diesel or petrol Q5. 

And while it does get LED headlights, heated and electrically adjustable seats, Audi’s impressive nav system, Apple CarPlay, wireless phone charging and more, you’re still likely to want to add metallic paint and a panoramic sunroof, as well as the Comfort and Sound pack for keyless entry and the Tour pack to get adaptive cruise control. Before you know it you’ve got a £60k car. A Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine isn’t going to be as efficient as the Q5 when it’s got the petrol engine going, but spec-for-spec it’s certainly cheaper to buy.

The Audi Q5 55 TFSI e manages to be virtually everything to all people. Fast, practical, quiet, efficient, comfortable, cheap to run, and just as sumptuous as you expect. It’s not cheap to buy, but otherwise this Q5 is hard to fault if you want a plug-in family car without the range anxiety of pure electric.
  • Model: Audi Q5 55 TFSI e S Line Competition review
  • Price: £54,900
  • Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged 4cyl petrol plus electric motor
  • Power/torque: 362bhp/500Nm
  • Transmission: Seven-speed auto, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 5.3 seconds
  • Top speed: 148mph
  • Economy/CO2: 108.6mpg/49g/km
  • Electric range: 26 miles
  • On sale: Now

New MINI Clubman Cooper 2019 review
Posted on Thursday September 19, 2019

MINI Clubman - front
19 Sep, 2019 9:30am James Batchelor

The MINI Clubman has been refreshed with subtle exterior tweaks and a revised engine line-up, but it remains an oddball choice

The MINI Clubman has always suffered from an identity crisis. The original, with its single rear door that opened on the driver’s side, was quaint but odd. This second-generation car is part hatch, part estate and four years on from launch, it’s had a refresh. 

This is it and on the surface at least, not much has changed. MINI has chosen to lightly freshen up the looks so the Clubman’s slightly confused personality remains. New lights and a larger grille brighten up the front and there are new, squarer door mirrors, but it’s at the rear where you’ll spot a facelifted Clubman from the old one. 

The rear lights are now full-LEDs and adopt the Union Jack design, first seen on the MINI three- and five-door. With their wider and slimmer shape they are arguably less contrived than the Hatch’s design, but they remain a divisive feature. They’re also a feature you’re stuck with, as MINI isn’t offering a more generic halogen offering for people who don’t want to fly the flag. That wouldn’t be premium enough, says MINI.

Elsewhere it’s your typical mid-life refresh, so there are three new colours – including this Indian Summer Red metallic – new wheel designs and, as this is a MINI, there are now more ways to personalise it. So there are more contrasting roof colours and you can order Union Jack-style wheels and headrests, if you wish. More optional extras, including various technology packs and Matrix LED headlamps, are added to the list as well. But, unsurprisingly, they all come at a hefty price.     

The changes are equally minor on the inside. There are seven new leather upholsteries in various colours, which will grab your eye, but that’s pretty much it. The standard of fit and finish remains extremely high, but the Clubman is still outclassed by the now really rather old Audi A3. The design, however, has a bigger wow factor than the Mercedes A-Class, despite the MINI having been around for longer. There are still loads of cubbies to store things, room in the back is fine for two adults, but not three, and the boot remains large for a hatch but small for an estate car.

As standard the entry-level Clubman Classic still get a 6-5-inch infotainment screen with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay, real time traffic updates, online search and connected services, automatic lights and wipers, LED mood lighting and MINI logo puddle lamps, but is now £700 dearer than before. Meanwhile, Sport carries with it a John Cooper Works bodykit, larger alloys and bucket seats and Exclusive tops the range once again with its leather and chrome features.

Despite all the tweaks to the way the Clubman looks, under the bonnet MINI has slimmed things down. There’s now only one diesel – the 148bhp 2.0-litre Cooper D – and three petrols: a 189bhp 2.0-litre for the Cooper S, a 302bhp 2.0-litre John Cooper Works (70bhp more than the old JCW) and a 134bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder for the Cooper. The One and One D have gone as has the Cooper S All4, with four-wheel drive reserved solely for the JCW.

The Cooper has long been our pick and the bestseller of the range, due to its appealing blend of performance and finesse. It’s also the model that does the best job of differentiating itself from the MINI five-door Hatch, so it’s the engine we’re focusing on here. The mid-life refresh has left the Clubman’s oily bits untouched so it goes, stops and rides like before.

The 1.5-litre three-cylinder is a little gem; it’s punchy across the entire rev range, and yet has similar refinement to that of the 2.0-litre in the Cooper S – it’s never thrashy or boomy, even when you extend it towards the red line. Our car was matched up to a seven-speed double-clutch Steptronic gearbox (a six-speed manual is standard and £1,600 cheaper), which is smooth but never really gives a sporty feel when changing ratios and is more set up for relaxed driving. The same goes for the ride – the Cooper has a pleasing suppleness around town, which happily doesn’t translate to wallowy body control on a country road.

While the Clubman has always tried to be slightly more comfortable than the Hatch, it still has a chassis that’s typically MINI. For a posh hatchback-cum-estate car, it’s surprisingly responsive and feels more agile than an A-Class or even a BMW 1 Series. It’s just a shame then that the steering, while direct, never weights up like it does in other MINI models and feels just a bit too light.              

The second-generation version of the Clubman is now four years old so it’s time for a refresh. On the outside the changes are pretty subtle with the biggest difference being a pair of patriotic rear lights. MINI has slimmed down the engine choices too, but the Cooper remains the pick of the range. While the refresh has smartened things up, the Clubman is still an oddball choice compared to other more conventional premium hatchbacks and it won’t appeal to everyone.
  • Model: MINI Clubman Cooper Exclusive
  • Price: £24,100
  • Engine: 1.5-litre, 3cyl turbo petrol
  • Power/torque: 134bhp/220Nm
  • Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 127mph
  • Economy/CO2: 41.5mpg/154g/km
  • On sale: Now

Glickenhaus Le Mans hypercar unveiled
Posted on Wednesday September 18, 2019

Alastair Crooks 2019-09-18 17:00

American supercar company Glickenhaus reveals its entrant to the revised WEC hypercar class for Le Mans.

This is the new hypercar from Glickenhaus, designed to race in the upcoming WEC Hypercar class at Le Mans. Pictures suggest the new machine could be named SCG 007 and Glickenhaus has confirmed that it will feature a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine. 

• Fastest Nurburgring lap times 2019: quickest cars and lap records

Glickenhaus is best known for commissioning the one-off Ferrari P4/5 supercar which was designed by Pininfarina. The American firm also has history of racing with the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG 003 (named after the company’s founder), contesting of the 24 Hours of Nurburgring between 2015 to 2017. 

This new car will be aimed squarely at a new-look WEC Hypercar class, which will replace the current LMP1 class after 2020 to attract more manufacturers. Currently, only Toyota compete in LMP1 with various ‘privateer’ teams. Along with Glickenhaus, Aston Martin has also confirmed it’s intention of entering the new Le Mans hypercar class with a car based on the Valkyrie

Similarly to the SCG 003, a limited number of road-going versions of the new Glickenhaus car will be made available to customers - in order to abide by WEC homologation rules.

What are your thoughts on Glickenhaus’ latest car? Let us know in the comments below...

£27k Bugatti Baby II toy car launched: a racing icon, only smaller
Posted on Wednesday September 18, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-09-18 17:00

Bugatti has partnered with The Little Car Company to produce a scaled down, battery-powered replica of the Bugatti Type 35

Bugatti baby Type 35 - front

As part of its 110th anniversary celebration, Bugatti has built a scaled down, all-electric replica of the Bugatti Type 35, called the Baby II. It’s 75 percent the size of the original racer, and is designed for both children and adults to drive. Production is limited to just 500 units (all of which have been sold), with prices starting from €30,000 (£27,000).

The Bugatti Baby II’s body and chassis are near-perfect scale replicas of the Type 35’s. The model’s production started with a full digital scan of the 1924 Bugatti Type 35 Lyon Grand Prix racer, to which the designers added mounts for the modern all-electric drivetrain and lithium-ion battery pack.

• Best electric cars to buy 2019

Its eight-spoke alloy wheels are faithful reproductions of the wheels on the original car, but are wrapped in modern Michelin rubber, rather than outmoded cross-ply tyres. The original car’s lightweight hollow front axle has also been replicated to scale, along with its suspension and steering systems.

The Baby II’s cockpit features a classic, four-spoke, wood-rimmed steering wheel, a turned aluminium dashboard and custom Bugatti gauges. The original car’s tachometer, oil pressure and fuel level gauges have been replaced by a speedometer, a battery level indicator and a power gauge (as found on the Veyron).

All cars feature a working horn, a rear view mirror, a handbrake, headlights and a remote control which can disable the car from a distance of 50 metres. On the car’s nose sits a replica of Bugatti’s famous “Macaron” badge, hewn from 50 grammes of solid silver.

The Bugatti Baby II is available in three specifications. The base-model comes with a composite body, the mid-range Baby II Vitesse features a carbon fibre body and the range-topping Baby II Pur Sang has a hand-crafted aluminium body. Just like with the Bugatti Chiron hypercar, the two more expensive trim levels also come with a “Speed Key.”

The Bugatti Baby II is powered by an electric motor, fed by either a 1.4kWh or optional 2.8kWh lithium-ion battery pack. As standard, the drivetrain is fitted with a regenerative braking system and a limited-slip differential.

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The powertrain comes with three selectable power modes. In “child mode,” the motor delivers 1.3bhp and a top speed of around 12mph. “Adult mode” increases the electric motor’s output to 5.3bhp, providing a top speed to 30mph. Enabling the Baby II’s “Speed Key” pushes power to 13.4bhp and disengages the car’s speed limiter.

What do you make of Bugatti’s scaled-down Type 35? Let us know in the comments section below…

Mitsubishi teases new plug-in hybrid SUV concept
Posted on Wednesday September 18, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-09-18 16:30

Mitsubishi will launch a new plug-in hybrid SUV concept at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show in October

Mitsubishi tokyo 2019 plug-in hybrid SUV teaser

Mitsubishi will launch a new plug-in hybrid compact SUV concept at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show. The Japanese brand is yet to release any information about the concept’s styling and powertrain but, like the Engelberg Tourer concept from the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, it seems to be little more than a design exercise.

Judging by Mitsubishi’s shadowy teaser image, its new compact SUV concept will feature a bold separated twin-pod cabin design. Up front, we expect to find LED headlights and a flamboyant interpretation of Mitsubishi’s “dynamic shield” radiator grille and bumper design, similar to that seen on the Engelberg Tourer.

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Mitsubishi says the concept will be powered by a “downsized, lower-weight plug-in hybrid EV powertrain” and an electric four-wheel-drive system. As such, we don’t expect it will feature the same 2.4-litre four-cylinder PHEV system as the Outlander, opting instead for a powertrain based around the 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine from the Eclipse Cross.

Like the Outlander, Mitsubishi’s new concept SUV will feature an electric four-wheel-drive system. There won’t be a physical connection between the front and rear axles with the front wheels likely to be powered by the combustion engine, while the rear wheels will be driven by an electric motor.

What do you make of Mitusbishi’s new compact SUV concept? Let us know in the comments section below…


Fast music makes motorists drive badly, study shows
Posted on Wednesday September 18, 2019

Tristan Shale-Hester 2019-09-18 12:30

Music with a high number of beats-per-minute has a negative effect on a motorist’s driving ability, research has revealed


Listening to fast music behind the wheel can make motorists drive badly, a new study has suggested.

Researchers at the South China University of Technology conducted an experiment which showed that music with a high tempo – over 120bpm (beats-per-minute) – has a tendency to cause erratic driving.

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Participants in the study were placed in a driving simulator where they drove down a six-lane motorway in 20-minute sessions with one genre of music or no music at all being played.

The drivers changed lanes an average of 70 times in a 20-minute period, but this increased to 140 times when fast rock music was playing. In addition, this music genre caused participants to travel at an average of 5mph above the speed limit.

American Idiot by Green Day – an early-2000s rock track with tempo of 189bpm – proved to be the most dangerous song to listen to, followed by Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus, Mr Brightside by The Killers, Don’t Let Me Down by The Chainsmokers, and Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen.

At the other end of the scale, Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin was the least dangerous track to listen to while driving – possibly, the researchers say, because this classic rock masterpiece has a tempo of just 63bpm. The rest of the top five safest songs to play in the car were Under the Bridge by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, God’s Plan by Drake, Africa by Toto and Location by Khalid.

The study follows a similar experiment by Auto Express that found jarring heavy metal bands such as Slipknot had a detrimental impact on driving performance, while music by rap maestro Kendrick Lamar had barely any effect at all.

Qiang Zeng, a lead researcher at the South China University of Technology, suggested his study’s findings could steer “training and management measures, especially for transport operators, and could mitigate the risk of driver distraction”.

Does music change your driving style? Let us know in the comments below...

“If the future’s tough for cars, it’s tougher for car shows”
Posted on Wednesday September 18, 2019

Steve Fowler 2019-09-18 11:50

With the popularity of motor shows waning, editor-in-chief Steve Fowler thinks it would be a great shame if they disappeared altogether

Opinion - motor shows

For those of us who love cars, the motor show has been an important part of our lives over the years. And for those of us lucky enough to report on the business we love, they’re even more important.

For us, it’s not just about gazing longingly at the latest models. This industry is about people, and motor shows give us the opportunity to get time with many of the great and the good running the car companies – all in one place.

Frankfurt Motor Show 2019: round-up

The bi-annual Frankfurt Motor Show remains one of the largest on the planet – even if only in terms of footprint. It’s the best part of a mile to walk from BMW’s hall to the Daimler pavilion and worth every step for the stories that unfold on the many stands.

But motor shows are not what they were, and that was clear in Frankfurt. Downsizing has long been an industry buzzword, and it’s now being applied to motor shows. The no-shows in Frankfurt meant halls previously full of new cars were walked past, while stands that once occupied whole halls were a fraction of the size.

One former industry luminary Karl-Thomas Neumann, who used to run Opel, went as far as to call it “a huge fail”. He went on to say, “It’s just a sad shadow of what it used to be,” before predicting there would not be a Frankfurt motor show in 2021.

Vauxhall boss Stephen Norman told me that he devised a formula for parent company PSA to use to decide whether the return on investment meant it was worth attending. So Vauxhall and Opel were present; sister brands Peugeot, Citroen and DS weren’t. Makes sense.

The important thing in the business is to make sure the head rules the heart, and if it were me, I’d be doing exactly what Stephen Norman does. But motor shows are like your favourite high street stores: if you don’t use them, they won’t always be there. We’ve already seen that in the UK, and it would be a great shame if motor shows disappeared from the world altogether.

Would you be sad to see the death of the motor show? Let us know your thoughts below...

New Volvo XC60 D4 2019 review
Posted on Wednesday September 18, 2019

Volvo XC60 D4 - front
18 Sep, 2019 10:45am John McIlroy

It's slightly old school, but the new Volvo XC60 D4 fulfils its brief as a company car tax-friendly workhorse

Remember the days when the go-to fuel type for a family SUV was diesel? They’ve been and gone, we’re told - not least by Volvo, which says it won’t launch any new purely combustion-engined cars at all after this year. Yet here is the new Volvo XC60 D4, a slightly old-school, company car tax-friendly offering that the company is sneaking into its schedule just before it goes all electrified. 

Of course, this car doesn’t really deserve to be called old-fashioned, because the diesel engine under its bonnet is the company’s latest offering, equipped with the sort of Euro 6 technology that means it’s emitting less harmful NOx than many petrol cars. It’s a 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-turbocharged motor, with 188bhp and 400Nm of torque. 

Here’s the trick, though: this diesel XC60 is front-wheel drive. Cutting out the additional transmission gubbins helps to keep fuel efficiency at a more than respectable level, compared with Volvo’s range of more potent and four-wheel-drive mild hybrids. Indeed, by emitting just 129g/km of CO2, this is by some way the most efficient XC60 without a plug.

And since it is, in Momentum form, the entry point (from £38,715) in the revised XC60 range, it’s clear that Volvo still believes there’s a market for fleet operators and company car choosers who are still focused on Benefit-in-kind tax rates. Significantly, it’s two or three bands lower than four-wheel-drive diesel rivals like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5

The good news is that those who remain faithful to regular diesel power shouldn’t feel short-changed by the XC60 D4. It’s an honest workhorse, with a 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds but more importantly, typical diesel shove in the mid-range. This allows the smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox (a manual isn’t even an option) to keep you below 2,500rpm; unless you stand on the throttle, in fact, you’ll achieve strong enough acceleration for most everyday situations. 

Where the powertrain can’t quite match the sister petrol motor, or the T8 plug-in hybrid, is in general engine smoothness. It’s never what you would call harsh, but there is a metallic twang to the note coming from under the bonnet as you get up to speed. It quietens down (but doesn’t disappear) once you’re cruising.

More than many of its stablemates, this car showcases Volvo’s focus on comfort instead of on-the-edge driving dynamics - so it won’t like to chase an X3 down a country lane. The steering is numb and lifeless, too. You’ll need to put the (noticeable) body roll down as a price worth paying for a generally compliant ride that stays composed over all but the worst surfaces. 

The rest of the XC60 package is as appealing as ever. The cabin is standard Volvo fare, with a portrait-layout infotainment system that has its quirks but remains better than the class average. The choice of materials isn’t flawless but it’s generally a pleasant place to spend time - helped, of course, by Volvo’s excellent front seats, which remain among the best in the business. 

The overall practicality isn’t quite a match for either the Q5 or the X3, mind you; the XC60 gives up the best part of 100 litres in everyday boot capacity, and about double that figure once the rear seats are folded down.

Pure-diesel, company car-focused models like the XC60 D4 are looking increasingly niche these days, but Volvo’s option looks a clever one. It could save choosers money over rivals from BMW and Audi, while still bringing strong enough performance, an appealing cabin and comfortable cruising ability. In many respects this feels like a car that time is passing by – but that shouldn’t mean that it won’t find customers in the here and now.
  • Model: Volvo XC60 D4 Momentum Pro
  • Price: £41,165
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
  • Power/torque: 188bhp/400Nm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 8.4 seconds
  • Top speed: 127mph
  • Economy/CO2: 42.2-47.9mpg/129g/km
  • On sale: Now

Facelifted Hyundai i30 caught on camera
Posted on Wednesday September 18, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-09-18 09:00

The Korean brand’s Volkswagen Golf rival will get a mid-life refresh, with updated styling, a tweaked engine range and fresh technology

Hyundai i30 spy - front

Following hot on the heels of the recently revamped Hyundai i10 is an updated version of the Hyundai i30. Like the city car, Hyundai’s revised hatchback will feature a cosmetic overhaul, a tweaked engine range and a substantial technology update to keep it competitive with the soon-to-be-released Mk8 Volkswagen Golf.

The cladding on this development mule suggests the new i30 will get updated front and rear bumpers, new headlights, a tweaked tailgate and a pair of redesigned tail lamps. Fresh styling lines will likely be penned into the i30’s doors, while buyers will have their choice of a new range of alloy wheel designs.

Best hatchbacks on sale now

Inside, we expect the updated i30 will also come with the Korean brand’s improved 10.25-inch infotainment system, which is currently being rolled out across the Hyundai line-up. A new digital instrument binnacle will also be offered for the first time, lifted from the hydrogen-electric Hyundai NEXO.

The i30’s current engine range will likely be transferred across the facelift, albeit with a handful of performance and efficiency tweaks. As such, buyers will be offered either a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol, a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol or 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel.

Hyundai could also offer a PHEV powertrain for the first time in the new i30, borrowing the technology destined for use in the upcoming facelifted Tucson. The drivetrain will be based around a 1.6-litre four-cylinder GDi petrol engine, which shares the same engine block and mounting points as the unit found in the Korean firm’s dedicated PHEV model, the IONIQ.

Like the upcoming Tucson, the new i30 will use a re-tuned version of the IONIQ’s 139bhp PHEV powertrain, which features a 44.5kW and an 8.9kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Power will be fed to the front wheels via a six-speed dual clutch transmission.

A revised version of the Hyundai i30 N hot hatchback will inevitably follow, as hinted by the production cycle-ending, limited edition i30 N Project C. Expect an equally lairy body kit, a tweaked version of the current cars turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, a reworked suspension system and slightly better brakes.

What do you make of the facelifted Hyundai i30? Let us know in the comments section below…

Best large SUVs on sale 2019
Posted on Tuesday September 17, 2019

2019-09-18 11:35

We examine the big 4x4 market and deliver our verdict on the 10 best large SUVs on sale…

Best large SUVs - header

There was a time, not so long ago, when large SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles) were clunky, woolly-handling behemoths that sucked fuel at a frightening rate, wallowed through corners, and bounced occupants uncomfortably over pot-holes while assailing them with engine noise, wind and tyre roar. Then some bright spark invented the road-biased or crossover SUV concept, which kept all the attributes that large SUV owners loved – the high-riding driving position with commanding views over the bonnet, imposing road presence, and cavernous estate-car style bodies – while removing the compromises inflicted by the need to traverse sand dunes or rocky trails.

Why? Because it didn’t take car companies long to realise that most of their large 4x4 buyers weren’t at all interested in the off-road capabilities of their chosen transport, and never strayed further off tarmac than an occasional muddy car park.

• Best 4x4s to buy right now

With this realisation came a trend for the current class of large seven-seater SUVs, which sometimes nowadays don’t even bother with the added complication of four-wheel drive. Instead, modern trends mean the best large SUVs – or at least the most popular ones – focus very much on the ease of driving, good road handling, comfort and practicality, with less regard for the requirement to go off-road.

That means it’s rare to find a big SUV these days with a rugged separate chassis – a feature that was once the hallmark of a serious 4x4 is now largely limited to commercial off-roaders and double-cab pick-ups. Even those large SUVs that do retain significant off-road ability have benefited from the need to appeal to parents on the school run. So you’ll no longer find clunky low-ratio gear selector levers or manual locking differentials, as advances in electronic chassis control systems mean everything is taken care of by the on-board computers.

As a result, imposing 4x4s from the Audi Q7 to the Volvo XC90 have had tremendous sales success among owners who appreciate the car-like driving characteristics, luxurious appointments and advanced technology that’s lavished on these expensive range flagships. Yet in spite of their chunky looks, neither would get you very far when the tarmac runs out, and the same can be said for many of the other large SUVs on sale today too.

It’s not exclusively the case though, as one of the most successful brands in the large SUV sector is the Jaguar Land Rover group, which has very commendably managed to combine its legendary off-road credentials with the modern trend for excellent on-road manners and luxurious comfort – in fact the Range Rover and Land Rover models have never had such a broad appeal.

While the large SUV concept originated in the wide-open spaces of the US in the days before we cared about the planet, the fact that the high-riding luxury SUV experience has taken-off worldwide has proved challenging from an environmental perspective. It means there’s been a big focus on smaller, more efficient engines, and lighter build technology among mainstream manufacturers, while hybrid and electric tech is increasingly on buyers’ wish lists too.

With all this in mind, read on for our guide to the 10 best large SUVs on sale in 2019, and if you want to find out more you can click through to the full review for each of the models we’ve included in our list of favourites. 

Top 10 best large SUVs

  1. 1. Land Rover Discovery
  2. 2. SEAT Tarraco
  3. 3. Skoda Kodiaq
  4. 4. Hyundai Santa Fe
  5. 5. Volvo XC90
  6. 6. Peugeot 5008
  7. 7. Land Rover Discovery Sport
  8. 8. BMW X7
  9. 9. Audi Q7
  10. 10. Tesla Model X

Click the links above or scroll down to find out more about the best SUVs on sale at the moment...

Land Rover Discovery

The latest Land Rover Discovery marked a shift of emphasis for the model, away from the uncompromisingly rugged appeal of its boxy predecessors, and closer to the more softly-styled mainstream of luxury SUVs.

That’s not to say the Disco is any the less proficient off-road than its forebears, because it’s still all but unbeatable when the going gets tough. But it does mean the Discovery is more car-like, more refined and more luxurious than ever before, making it an alluring choice for those buyers who value looks, image and seven-seat practicality above go-anywhere credentials.

In other words, the school-run mums and dads who were put off by the last Discovery’s macho style, should find the current model less challenging. It’s also more efficient thanks to an entry-level 2.0-litre diesel option offered next to the 300bhp+ top models.

All Discovery variants come with electronic air suspension, eight-speed automatic gearbox and Land Rover’s Terrain Response system that optimises the car for any surface it encounters. On tarmac the Discovery is tuned for comfort rather than speed, but easy, relaxed manners and a cavernously practical, well-equipped cabin make it the ultimate family hauler.

Click here for our in-depth Land Rover Discovery review

SEAT Tarraco

The SEAT Tarraco is a close relative of the Skoda Kodiaq, which means it’s a large seven-seat SUV engineered primarily for road use. That makes it a more fashionable alternative to the SEAT Alhambra people carrier, although the Tarraco’s somewhat confined rear row of seats means it’s not ultimately as practical.

While it shares much of its hardware with its Skoda stablemate (that’s the VW Group ‘stable’ to which SEAT and Skoda both belong), the Tarraco rides a couple of centimetres closer to the ground than the Kodiaq, part of an engineering package that makes its handling responses just that little bit sharper. It’s arguably more sharply styled too, and generally a bit nicer to drive although the 1.5-litre petrol engine can feel a bit strained and the 2.0-litre petrol and diesels are more pleasingly punchy.

You won’t be looking to the Tarraco for serious off-roading, so the two-wheel drive version will satisfy most owners. Those who want to tow trailers or live in areas where extreme weather is commonplace can choose 4D four-wheel drive.

Click here for our in-depth SEAT Tarraco review

Skoda Kodiaq

Choosing between the Skoda Kodiaq or SEAT Tarraco is a matter of horses for courses. While the SEAT offers a more focused driving experience that reflects the Spanish company’s brand values, the Czech version is still great to drive while offering even more practicality and affordability.

The Skoda’s pragmatic brand values mean the smallest 1.5-litre engine suits the Kodiaq a little better than the SEAT Tarraco, although the entry-level 2.0-litre diesel is predictably stronger.

In spite of its competitive pricing the Kodiaq still retains a classy feel, with styling cues taken from the Superb saloon and features like LED scrolling indicators and daytime running lights giving the car a premium feel.

It’s practical touches that really give the Skoda it’s unique appeal though, and the brand’s ‘simply clever’ marketing line is backed by useful touches like umbrellas in the doors, an ice-scraper behind the fuel filler cap, and underfloor storage in the boot. It all adds up to a superb choice for families.

Click here for our in-depth Skoda Kodiaq review

Hyundai Santa Fe

The Santa Fe is a handsome, fine driving and well-equipped large SUV that is loaded with standard features that more prestigious brands charge extra for. Adaptive cruise control and smartphone connectivity are included on all models, but while affordability has long been a Hyundai strength, the arrival of competitively priced rivals like the Skoda Kodiaq has put the Santa Fe under pressure.

There may be a lot of standard kit but there’s only one choice under the bonnet. You must go for the 2.2-litre turbodiesel or shop elsewhere, so it’s fortunate that this is an engine that performs its role with aplomb. You can pick two- or four-wheel drive, and automatic or manual gearboxes, but where the Santa Fe really performs is in the amount of space provided for passengers and luggage – although here again the Skoda Kodiaq performs better.

All versions of the Santa Fe come with a standard seven-seat set-up, although like the Kodiaq children will fare best in the third row.

Click here for our in-depth Hyundai Santa Fe review

Volvo XC90

No other car quite does luxury like the latest Volvos, and the XC90’s distinctive exterior styling is backed up by a Scandinavian-inspired interior and a technology package that makes it a truly appealing choice.

You get three rows of full-size seats in the cavernous interior, and a very large boot, but it’s the tranquil nature of riding in the Volvo that really gets our vote. The interior designers have ‘decluttered’ the cabin by moving most of the ancillary controls to the touchscreen, while superbly comfortable seats and a distinctive leather and brushed metal decor give the car a genuinely luxurious ambience. The effect is amplified by an impressive technology package including digital instruments, and the lavish level of standard equipment.

Although it offers standard four-wheel drive, the XC90 is another SUV designed with road use in mind, and it offers a smooth drive with more than enough performance. The four-cylinder only powertrains offer reasonable economy, and there’s a hybrid model for the efficiency-conscious owner too.

Click here for our in-depth Volvo XC90 review

Peugeot 5008

Blessed with the eye-catching style of Peugeot’s latest line-up, the 5008 seven-seater has plenty of kerbside appeal. The attraction is more than skin-deep too, as the biggest Peugeot SUV is practical, comfortable and great to drive.

It shares its engineering platform with the Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer MPV, but can’t quite match its PSA Group stablemate for roominess. The third row of seats in the 5008 are really child-focused, but you can slide the middle row forward to make knee-room for grown-ups. They also fold flat into the boot floor or can be removed altogether when you need more space.

The interior is a definite 5008 highlight, with a stylish wrap-around dashboard and large infotainment touchscreen, as well as a digital instrument display that gives the car a very contemporary feel.

The driving experience is very comfort-focused, with a beautifully compliant ride, but the trade-off is more body roll in corners than rivals like the Skoda Kodiaq or SEAT Tarraco. The engines are highly efficient and provide adequate performance too.

Click here for our in-depth Peugeot 5008 review

Land Rover Discovery Sport

The Discovery Sport replaced the Freelander in Land Rover’s line-up, and quickly proved just as much of a hit. It has a handsome exterior that’s unmistakeably a Land Rover, yet looks modern and cool, while the practical interior with seven seats make it ideal for active families. As you’d expect from a Land Rover product, it goes off-road better than anything in its class, but the advanced chassis technology means it’s a very comfortable and easy-driving on-road experience too.

The Discovery Sport’s 2.0 Ingenium diesel is impressively refined, and especially so when matched to the optional nine-speed auto gearbox. With pleasingly compliant suspension it adds up to a very luxurious driving experience, that leaves occupants well isolated from road noise and tarmac imperfections. The permanent four-wheel drive system is confidence inspiring in bad weather, and knocks most rivals into a cocked hat if you need to drive off-road thanks to Land Rover’s advance Terrain Response system that adapts to different conditions.

Click here for our in-depth Land Rover Discovery Sport review


Put a BMW 7 Series saloon on a course of steroids, and this is what you get – the BMW large SUV flagship is one of the biggest, and most impressive 4x4s around.

The X7 more imposing than the majority of its rivals, because BMW’s product planners had an eye on markets like China where owners are not shy of flaunting their success. As a result the X7 is a chunky, squared-off giant with an arresting chrome grille that other drivers will not fail to miss in their rear view mirrors.

The X7 features vast accommodation, including a third row of seats which fold to reveal a 750-litre boot. It’s laden with all the latest technology from the 7 Series too, and the cabin is naturally up to BMW’s exacting standards of design, fit and finish.

The engine line-up is powerful too, with even the smallest 3.0d offering 261bhp and the range extending all the way up to the mighty M50d performance model with 395bhp. A six-cylinder 225bhp petrol completes the line-up, and all powertrains combine with a well-sorted chassis to provide excellent on-road handling too.

Click here for our in-depth BMW X7 review

Audi Q7

The latest Audi SUV flagship shares its engineering platform with the Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga and VW Touareg, taking advantage of the very best of the VW Group’s technical know-how, yet retaining its own distinctive brand ‘DNA’ – from behind the wheel it feels very much an Audi.

In spite of its bulk, the Q7’s advanced chassis engineering – with optional four-wheel steering and adaptive air suspension – means it’s a rewarding and fun car to drive. It’s manoeuvrable around town yet has bags of grip and stability when you’re out on the open road and handles with surprising agility thanks in part to its relatively low weight. It’s comfortable too, but the relatively sporty feel means it’s not quite as luxuriant over bumps as a Range Rover.

A pair of smooth, powerful and efficient diesel engines and a standard eight-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox all help to make the Q7 a compelling choice for luxury SUV buyers.

Click here for our in-depth Audi Q7 review

Tesla Model X

Tesla’s all-electric contender in the large SUV sector generated a lot of headlines when it first appeared, but while the Model X offers much of the practicality and luxury of large 4x4 rivals, there’s no pretence about being able to adventure off the beaten track. Still, although the first flush of publicity has faded the original appeal remains – the Model X is a large, luxurious and practical people mover, with strong performance, a low carbon footprint (at least in terms of its day-to-day usage), and a high-tech contemporary feel.

If your transport needs fit the national charging infrastructure, and you need more space than the Model S luxury saloon provides, the Model X has a lot to offer with a versatile and roomy body that features eye-catching, but not always entirely practical, gullwing-style rear doors.

Underneath the Model X shares all its electric running gear with the Model S saloon, and also shares tech such as the autonomous ‘Autopilot’ technology, which continues to make headlines if not always for the right reasons.

Click here for our in-depth Tesla Model X review

Large SUVs too big? Click here for our list of the best small SUVs and crossovers...

Used Porsche Panamera review
Posted on Tuesday September 17, 2019

Used Porsche Panamera - front
17 Sep, 2019 4:00pm Richard Dredge

A full used buyer’s guide on the Porsche Panamera covering the Panamera Mk1 (2010-2016)

With Porsche now building more SUVs than sports cars, the idea of this company making a generously proportioned five-door hatchback doesn’t seem so radical.

Yet when Porsche first investigated the idea of building a four-door 911 in 1988, the project (known as the 989) was canned because the company’s finances were in a parlous state, so the risk of introducing a four-door grand tourer was too great.

But when the Panamera went on sale a decade ago, it hit the spot and sold well as a consequence. Today it’s still a car that’s easy to recommend – if your pockets are deep enough. 

Models covered

  • •  Porsche Panamera Mk1 (2010-2016) - What to look out for when it comes to first-generation luxury grand tourer.

Porsche Panamera Mk1


The first-generation Porsche Panamera reached UK showrooms in September 2009. Buyers could choose between 390bhp S and four-wheel-drive 4S models, or a 486bhp Turbo, all with a 4.8-litre petrol engine.

In June 2010 the Panamera and Panamera 4 arrived with a 292bhp 3.6-litre V6 petrol; by June 2011 the 370bhp Panamera S Hybrid was on sale, alongside the new 535bhp Turbo S with a twin-turbo 4.8-litre V8, which was boosted to 562bhp from January 2014.

In August 2011 the Panamera Diesel appeared with a 247bhp 3.0-litre V6 and rear-wheel drive. The 424bhp Panamera GTS debuted in February 2012 with a non-turbo 4.8-litre V8. A facelift in July 2013 brought an exterior redesign, while the 404bhp plug-in Panamera S E-Hybrid replaced the Hybrid, and a 408bhp twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 superseded the V8 in the S and 4S editions.

Porsche Panamera Mk1 reviews

Porsche Panamera in-depth review
Porsche Panamera Diesel review
Porsche Panamera S review
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid review
Porsche Panamera GTS review
Porsche Panamera Turbo S review

Which one should I buy?

If you want plenty of muscle with reasonable economy, then the Diesel is a good option. While the petrol engines are more thrilling, they’re more expensive because of their thirst, plus the high road tax and insurance costs – although no Panamera is cheap to insure. The E-Hybrid can make sense from a road tax and fuel economy perspective, but purchase prices tend to be high.

On the flipside, every model comes with plenty of equipment, with xenon headlights, part-leather trim, sat-nav, park assist front and rear, 18-inch wheels and an electric tailgate standard across the range. The Panamera S adds heated front seats and automatic dipping door mirrors.

The E-Hybrid and GTS feature adaptive air suspension, while the Turbo adds LED headlights, 19-inch wheels, full-leather trim, Bose sound system and heated rear seats. 

Alternatives to the Porsche Panamera

Audi’s A7, S7 and RS7 Sportbacks are the closest rivals, offering five-door hatchback practicality with lots of performance and cutting-edge technology, plus a cabin that’s easy to live with and very well made. These things are also true of the Mercedes CLS, but its saloon body doesn’t have the same practicality as the Audi or Porsche – although there’s always the CLS Shooting Brake.

The BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé is another luxurious coupe-like saloon that’s superb to drive, hi-tech and searingly quick with the right engine. A more left-field option is the Maserati Quattroporte, which looks great and is entertaining, if not up to the Porsche’s handling standards. Or you could buy a Tesla Model S – the ultra-fast pure-electric luxury saloon for the eco-conscious.

What to look for


The PDK transmission needs its fluid changing every 36,000 miles. Be sure to check for leaks, which are not unknown.


Early V8 engines, particularly Turbos, are known to suffer from cylinder-bore wear from 80,000 miles onwards; check the oil level. 


The Panamera Hybrid can manage 1.5 miles in electric-only mode, while the E-Hybrid officially has a 22-mile (NEDC) pure-electric range. 


Ensure the radiators haven’t become clogged up with leaves; this can lead to corrosion and then some quite hefty repair bills. 


For a sports car, the Panamera is practical; for a family saloon it’s compromised. The seats are supportive, but head and leg room in the back are restricted and the boot is small, at 445 litres (or 1,263 litres with the seats folded). The E-Hybrid is even worse, with figures of 335 and 1,153 litres. But the Panamera is fabulously built, albeit with a busy dashboard that’s overstocked with buttons.


You can buy a nearly new Porsche Panamera for between £71,993 and £129,222 on our sister site BuyaCar. 

Running costs

All Panameras need servicing every 20,000 miles or two years. Schedules are complicated and prices vary, since different versions need different things doing each time. Porsche dealers offer fixed-price servicing, and you can find service sheets with prices at

A Panamera Diesel costs £495-£1,195 to service, while the 4 and 4S are £495-£1,895. You’ll pay £525-£1,895 to have a Panamera Turbo or Turbo S maintained. There are no cambelts to replace, while fresh brake fluid every two years is built into routine services. 


The Panamera has been recalled seven times, first in April 2010 as front seat belts could detach. Turbo failure on Turbo and Turbo S models led to a recall in July 2012; possible E-Hybrid fuel leaks caused a January 2014 action, with the Hybrid recalled 12 months later. Three in 2018 started with a faulty throttle in April, rear suspension issues in June, and a steering glitch in December. 

Driver Power owner satisfaction

The Panamera doesn’t sell in big enough numbers to get into our Driver Power surveys, and Porsche isn’t included in our annual brands survey. But Panamera owners who have left reviews on give the thumbs up, with an average of 4.8 stars out of five. They’re nearly all diesel buyers and they love the driving experience and build quality; even the running costs aren’t too bad.

The Panamera is everything you would expect of a Porsche grand tourer. It’s brilliant to drive, has a beautifully built cabin and is packed with kit, but you’ll need deep pockets to run one. Reliability tends to be good, helped by the fact that most of these cars are cherished and not driven too hard. If you’re not sure about any potential purchase, you can pay a Porsche dealer £216 for a 111-point check. The model range is surprisingly broad, so all you need to do is pick the best version for your needs.

Mitsubishi L200 vs Ford Ranger
Posted on Tuesday September 17, 2019

2019-09-17 12:10

The new Ford Ranger dethroned the L200 earlier this year, but can this revised Mitsubishi reclaim its place as our favourite pick-up?

Mitsubishi L200 vs Ford Ranger - header

The Mitsubishi L200 won the Auto Express Pick-up of the Year Award for four years in a row from 2015 to 2018. The previous-generation model offered everything truck buyers wanted at an affordable price, so this new L200 has plenty to live up to.

Mitsubishi has overhauled its top-selling truck with a bold new look, just in time to take on another fresh model, Ford’s Ranger.

Best pick-up trucks on sale

The Ranger was launched earlier this year and Ford’s revisions worked wonders. Its new pick-up proved to be even better value than the old L200 and it took over the top spot, winning our 2019 pick-up award in July. But here we’ll find out if Mitsubishi has done enough for its truck to take the top spot again.


Model: Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X Auto Ford Ranger 2.0 170 Limited
Price:  £38,640 (inc. VAT)  £34,854 (inc. VAT) 
Engine:  2.2-litre 4cyl diesel 2.0-litre 4cyl diesel
Power/torque:  148bhp/400Nm 168bhp/420Nm
Transmission:  6-speed auto, four-wheel drive  10-speed auto, four-wheel drive 
0-60mph: 11.2 seconds 11.0 seconds
Top speed: 106mph 112mph
Test economy:  31.4mpg 33.5mpg
CO2/tax:  206g/km/£260 197g/km/£260
Options:  Metallic paint (£475)  Metallic paint (£600), 17-inch alloys (£120), roller shutter bed cover and bed liner (£1,500)

Mitsubishi L200

For: Comfortable at speed, good payload capacity, plenty of standard equipment.
Against: Shudders over low-speed bumps, engine is less powerful and noisier than the Ranger’s. 

Mitsubishi’s L200 has been around for 40 years, and this latest version builds on its award-winning predecessor rather than starting completely afresh. So it still uses a body-on-frame construction (a very common trait in the pick-up world), with leaf-spring rear suspension.

This set-up is good for carrying heavy loads and off-roading, but it tends to lead to an unsettled ride on tarmac. Although the L200 is smooth enough on the motorway and on A-roads when unladen, it still shudders and crashes over big potholes, despite revisions to the suspension by the Japanese brand.

The steering is slow, so you have to apply lots of lock to get round tight bends, but this set-up is very good for off-roading and towing because it gives plenty of stability. You have to put in a bit more effort than in the Ford, but the difference isn’t too great. The L200 isn’t quite as composed as the Ford either, because the Ranger feels more like an SUV.

The Mitsubishi’s six-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and shifts down reasonably quickly when you step on the throttle, but the new 10-speed box in the Ford is even smoother and responds more quickly, too. To get the best performance from the L200’s 2.2-litre engine, it’s best to short-shift and use the 400Nm of torque, but the auto gearbox tends to hold onto gears longer. You can use the metal shift paddles behind the steering wheel, but the box isn’t very responsive to inputs from these.

The Mitsubishi managed 0-60mph in 11.2 seconds, which was only 0.2 seconds behind its more powerful rival, and it matched the Ford’s 11.3-second time from 30-70mph through the gears. We weren’t able to record a 50-70mph time in top gear, because even in manual mode the L200 kicked down (in fifth it took 9.2 seconds, the same as the Ranger took in eighth). The greater number of ratios means the Ford is more versatile.

The L200’s engine is acceptable, but no more. That’s because, despite its lower output than before to meet new rules, efficiency hasn’t changed much. The old L200 returned 31.5mpg on test, while this new model did 31.4mpg and we saw 33.5mpg from the Ranger. The L200’s motor is as noisy as before, too, so it doesn’t feel like much of an improvement.

Our high-spec Barbarian X model has a relatively plush interior, with comfortable leather and Alcantara seats, plus a touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Among the other standard kit is a 360-degree parking camera, blind-spot assist, LED lights and a hydraulically assisted tailgate, but this L200 is expensive next to the Ranger in Limited trim. 

Testers notes

  • • Infotainment: The built-in interface is poor. It’s slow to load and not the most logical, but we do like the completely physical air-con controls.
  • • Gearbox: You can flip between high and low-range modes, plus two or four-wheel drive electronically.
  • • Seats: Plush part-leather seats are fitted as standard on L200s kitted out in Barbarian X trim. They’re heated, as well.

Ford Ranger

For: New engine and gearbox are excellent, plenty of tech, good to drive, rides nicely.
Against: Not as well equipped as the L200, heavier weight reduces payload and towing capacity.

In this test we’ve got a Double Cab Limited with Ford’s new 168bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine and 10-speed automatic gearbox. This is the highest trim level available with this powertrain, just as the Barbarian X is in the L200 range.

The Ranger’s engine and gearbox are excellent and a big part of why it’s an Auto Express Award winner. The motor is much quieter and less harsh-sounding than the L200’s 2.2-litre diesel, yet it’s more powerful and more efficient, too. There’s a low rumble as you accelerate, but none of the clatter that you get in the Mitsubishi, and that also helps with in-cabin refinement because there are fewer squeaks and rattles from the interior trim.

The 10-speed gearbox shifts smoothly, and it’s faster to react to changes than the six-speed box in the L200. It’s still lazy by SUV standards though.

In our tests the Ford was 0.2 seconds quicker than its rival from 0-60mph. However, the most impressive part was the Ford’s versatility at higher speed. In fifth, sixth and seventh gears it went from 50-70mph in 7.0, 6.8 and 7.7 seconds respectively (quicker in sixth, due to the torque curve), yet the Mitsubishi took 9.2 seconds in fifth gear.

So despite the Ranger’s heavier kerbweight, its more powerful engine and better gearbox mean that the acceleration is actually more relaxing.

Wind and road noise is suppressed impressively well in the Ranger too, so it’s a match for the L200 on the motorway, because it rides just as smoothly. Both models are settled and composed at higher speeds, but their basic suspension and chassis layout means that they don’t deal with low-speed bumps as well as an SUV or a car.

However, although the Ranger doesn’t iron out bumps completely, it’s much more composed than the L200 in almost all situations. It doesn’t shudder and crash as much on a lumpy section of road.

Both trucks have weighty, slow steering, but the Ford’s set-up is slightly easier because you need less effort around tight bends. The Ranger also has more grip, so you don’t have to brake as much before corners. That makes it more fun and more relaxing on the road; off-road there’s little to split them.

The Ranger’s interior is made of tough plastics like the L200’s, so the main difference is the amount of kit. Ford’s SYNC 3 touchscreen set-up is far easier to use and more responsive, so it feels more up-to-date in the Ranger. Quality is no more than okay, and some areas of the Barbarian X L200 are nicer, like the seats. The Ranger is nearly as well equipped, with heated leather seats, keyless go, smartphone connectivity and a reversing camera as standard.

Testers’ notes

  • • Infotainment: SYNC 3 system is easy to use and works well with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There’s space for your phone by the USB ports.
  • • Transmission: 10 gears sounds like a lot, but the software switches them smoothly for easy performance.
  • • Materials: Hard plastics make up most of the dashboard and centre console, which is only to be expected in a pick-up.


First place: Ford Ranger

The Ranger’s engine is strong but doesn’t compromise efficiency, and the new 10-speed auto is a great companion. They are quiet and smooth together, and push the Ranger ahead of its rival. The Ford is great off road, spacious and more affordable, and gets enough kit, so it’s our winner. 

Second place: Mitsubishi L200

The new L200 is still a good pick-up truck, better equipped and more comfortable than before, but it’s not all good news. Its 2.2-litre engine is less flexible and no more efficient than the previous version, so it falls behind the much-improved, more refined and more efficient Ranger.

New Renault Koleos facelift: prices announced
Posted on Monday September 16, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-09-16 16:40

The facelifted Renault Koleos is here with refreshed styling, a reworked interior, a pair of new diesel engines and a base-price of £28,195

Renault has launched a revised version of the Koleos SUV, priced from £28,195. Updates for the new model include tweaked exterior styling, a revamped interior with an upgraded infotainment system and a pair of new diesel engines. First deliveries are due to arrive this November.

Two trim levels are available. The base-model Koleos ICONIC comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a seven-inch infotainment system, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, automatic dual zone climate control, cruise control and a two-stage reclining rear bench seat. It’s also offered with heated and cooled cup holders and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.

Best SUVs on sale in 2019

The range topping Koleos GT-Line is priced from £30,195 and adds 19-inch alloy wheels, a larger 8.7-inch portrait infotainment system, leather upholstery, electrically adjustable and heated front seats and a powered tailgate. Both cars’ infotainment systems offer support for Apple CarPlay, and a range of new soft-touch materials feature throughout the cabin.

Styling updates for the new Renault Koleos are minor: there’s a new front grille, reworked side skirts with chrome trim, a revised rear bumper with a more prominent diffuser and a slightly tweaked rear spoiler with a larger high-level brake light. Buyers can also opt for a new two-tone alloy wheel design and fresh “Vintage Red” metallic paint.

The first of two new diesel engines is a turbocharged 1.7-litre four-cylinder unit with 148bhp and 340Nm of torque. It’s a unit that was first used by the smaller Kadjar; here it’s mated to a CVT transmission and is only available in front-wheel-drive. Renault claims the powertrain offers a 0–62mph time of 11.8 seconds, a top speed of 118mph, economy figures of 46.3mpg and emissions ratings of 143g/km of CO2.

Renault’s second new powertrain is a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel, with 187bhp and 380Nm of torque. It also comes with a CVT but, unlike the 1.7-litre unit, four-wheel-drive is standard. As such, economy and emissions figures are slightly poorer at 40.9mpg and  150g/km of CO2 respectively. Performance improves though, with the larger engine offering a 0–62mph time of 10.1 seconds and a top speed of 123mph.

Click here to read our in-depth review of the Renault Koleos...

Wiesmann to return in 2020 with new V8 Project Gecko sports car
Posted on Monday September 16, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-09-17 07:00

The V8-engined rear-wheel-drive Wiesmann Project Gecko has been teased ahead of its arrival in 2020

Wiesmann Project Gecko - front light on

Wiesmann, the previously defunct German sports car manufacturer, will re-launch next year with an all-new, V8-engined, rear-wheel-drive coupe. Dubbed ‘Project Gecko’, It will draw inspiration from the brand’s last car – the limited edition GT MF5 from 2009. Wiesmann is currently taking expressions of interest.

Wiesmann is yet to release any technical details on its new sports car, but the firm’s teaser video confirms it will be powered by a BMW-sourced twin-turbocharged V8 engine. A likely candidate is the 553bhp 4.4-litre unit from the previous-generation M5.  

German manufacturer Wiesmann closes its doors

The engine will send its power to the rear wheels via the same seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and active limited-slip differential as the old M5. Wiesmann also claims Project Gecko will be built on an all-new, lightweight platform (with an integrated tubular safety cell), which offers a perfect 50:50 weight distribution.

Project Gecko’s styling will be similar to the old GT MF5’s. Wiesmann’s teaser video hints the production car will share its Jaguar XK 120-esque radiator grille, LED light clusters, sloping roofline, wide haunches, duck-tail spoiler and narrow bonnet. Its interior will be fitted with a pair of deep bucket seats, trimmed in a blend of leather and carbon fibre. 

Judging by the CAD drawing in Wiesmann’s teaser video, Project Gecko’s chassis will come with a fully-independent, manually adjustable, double wishbone suspension system and a set of vented and drilled disc brakes, gripped by six-piston calipers. In addition, we expect it will feature carbon fibre body panels and a carbon fibre rear spoiler.

The finished article will be nailed together at the original Wiesmann factory in Dulmen, Germany. Project Gecko has been under development for the last three years, with the company’s new CEO Roheen Berry overseeing proceedings.

Berry said: “This last true independent manufacturer of German sports cars is back and has an exciting future to look forward to. When we set out on this journey we said we wanted to re-engineer an icon and we are on track to do exactly that.”        

Are you excited for the return of Wiesmann? Let us know in the comments section below…

2020 Jaguar XF spotted testing ahead of 2020 release
Posted on Monday September 16, 2019

Alex Ingram 2019-09-16 16:30

Updated Jaguar's XF saloon has already been spied before its unveiling next year

Jaguar XF spy - front

Jaguar is putting the final touches to an updated version of its XF saloon, and we’ve spied the firm’s BMW 5 Series rival testing ahead of its release next year. 

The extra cladding and camouflage wrap surrounding the car in these photos make it difficult to spot the revisions from the outside. However, if it follows the trend of the recently-refreshed XE saloon, we’d expect the facelift to be fairly subtle: slimmer headlights, new LED graphics and tweaked bumpers are likely to cover the extent of the changes.

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The biggest changes are likely to occur on the inside. Each recent Jag has benefitted from a massive boost in tech; the new infotainment system, known as Touch Pro Duo, combines a 10.2-inch central screen with a secondary display below to control climate functions.

The traditional dials are also replaced, with a customisable digital instrument panel taking their place. These are all updates which are likely to feature in the refreshed XF, too. Likewise, the ‘Clearsight’ rear view mirror: this allows the driver to switch between a conventional mirror and images relayed from a rear-facing camera, giving the driver a wider angle, less affected by bad weather and unobstructed by rear-seat passengers.

News on powertrain updates are still scarce, but the XF is likely to continue with a similar engine lineup to the current model: a mix of four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel units.

A simplified trim level, also used elsewhere in the Jaguar range, is likely to be introduced. A sporty R-Dynamic model will sit above a standard XF model, which buyers can then choose to upgrade with S, SE, or HSE option packs.

Death of the manual handbrake: 30 per cent of new cars have manual handbrake
Posted on Monday September 16, 2019

Hugo Griffiths 2019-09-16 16:32

Fresh research uncovers only three in 10 new cars have a manual handbrake, with JLR, Lexus, Mercedes and Porsche going electric-only

Citroen C4 Cactus - handbrake

The manual handbrake is becoming an endangered species on the new-car market, with 70 per cent of current models coming only with an electronic parking brake with no manual option, new research has revealed.

And some manufacturers - namely Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes and Porsche - have ditched the mechanical handbrake across their entire model lineup, meaning it’s electronic or nothing if you want a car from these brands. 

Electronic parking brakes: what are they and how do they work

The trend for replacing manual handbrakes with electronic ones is increasing, too: back in 2018 37 per cent of cars had a manual handbrake, with just 30 per cent having one today. Dacia and Suzuki are among the car makers to continue to offer a manual handbrake across their ranges, but with seven out of 10 new cars come standard with an electronic handbrake, the familiar ratchet sound of a brake being applied is set to be consigned to the history books.

Chris Knapman, editor of Cargurus, which carried out the research, said: “First introduced on a production car – the flagship BMW 7 Series – in 2001, electronic parking brakes have rapidly gone from being a novelty to what our research shows is now the norm. These systems might lack the tactile feel that some drivers value from a traditional manual parking brake, but they bring several benefits in terms of convenience, safety and packaging.”

 A quick glance at last month’s best selling cars backs up the findings, with six out of the 10 most popular cars coming with an electronic handbrake as standard. 


Manual handbrake available?

  1. Ford Fiesta


  1. Volkswagen Golf


  1. Tesla Model 3


  1. Ford Focus


  1. Mercedes A-Class


  1. Ford Kuga


  1. Volkswagen T-Roc


  1. Volkswagen Tiguan


  1. Vauxhall Corsa


  1. Ford Ecosport


Jack Coursens, the AA’s head of roads policy, called the rise of the manual handbrake “a sign of where car technology is going, as electronic systems take over manual and mechanical ones”

Cousens added there are “definitely some advantages to electronic handbrakes, such as the assistance they give for hill starts, and the fact they don’t carry the risk manual handbrakes do of not being set firmly enough when people park on steep hills. 

But Cousens cautioned: “One concern might be that this is just another piece of technology to go wrong. And young drivers, who may well learn to drive in a car with an electronic handbrake, could find themselves having to learn a new skill if their first car has a manual brake.”

He concluded: “As electronic parking brakes become more and more common, people may well hark back to the days of manual brakes; but then, do people really miss manual chokes?”

One drawback the demise of the mechanical parking brake brings, however, is the fact the handbrake turn - performed safely in track conditions, naturally - may become a lost art for the latest generation of drivers.

Are you sad to see the demise of the manual handbrake? Let us know in the comments below... 

Sharing in-car camera footage with parents could cut young driver crash rates
Posted on Monday September 16, 2019

Tristan Shale-Hester 2019-09-16 15:30

Researchers suggest dash cams that let parents to see how their children drive could reduce young driver crash rates

Young driver

The use of in-car cameras that allow parents to see the way their children drive could cut accident rates among young people, new research has suggested.

When dash cams are used in conjunction with black box technology – specifically, accelerometers which record high G-forces when a car is driven in an erratic or dangerous manner – young people drive more carefully if they think the data may be shared with their parents.

• The history of the driving test

In a report entitled ‘Keeping Young Drivers Safe During Early Licensure’, commissioned by the RAC Foundation, Dr Bruce Simons-Morton says the technology essentially gives parents a permanent presence in their children’s cars. This helps deal with the catch-22 situation young drivers often find themselves in, where they need to drive on the road to get more experience, but in doing so are at risk due to their inexperience.

The study says any tendency young motorists have to drive carelessly is compounded by their inclination to be easily distracted by mobile phones – especially calls and texts – and the presence of other young passengers.

In addition, Simons-Morton believes there is international evidence to support the introduction of a Graduated Driving Licence scheme.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, commented: “This report doesn’t suggest that dash cam footage replaces Strictly or The Voice as regular Saturday night family viewing, but it does argue that greater parental appreciation of what their children get up behind the wheel can be beneficial.

“Whilst teenagers may baulk at the idea of mum and dad effectively supervising their every trip, a constant parental presence, delivered through technology, has been shown to moderate risky behaviour behind the wheel.

“Every parent of a young driver wants their child to drive safely without having to be in the car themselves, but through ‘black box’ telematics and dash cam technology virtual supervision can have a big impact.”

Do you think in-car cameras for parents is a good idea? Let us know in the comment section below...

New McLaren GT 2019 review
Posted on Monday September 16, 2019

McLaren GT - front
17 Sep, 2019 8:45am
Richard Ingram

The new 612bhp McLaren GT arrives to take on the Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin DB11, but how does it compare to its rivals?

The distinguished GT moniker isn’t a new concept for McLaren. In 2016, the firm added the 570GT to its Sports Series range – offering a more comfortable and more practical take on its entry-level supercar. 

But now McLaren is attempting to forge a little more separation between its Sports, Super and Ultimate Series cars by adding a fourth pillar to the range. Launching with the self-titled McLaren GT, company bosses are remaining coy about where this model may take the brand in the future.

• Best supercars on sale

Using an updated version of McLaren’s carbon tub and a tweaked version of the familiar 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, the GT is also sits on bespoke suspension with proactive damping control. There’s a new steering set-up, new brakes, and new tyres, too.

Visually, the GT also introduces a new look for the brand. While it’s still instantly recognisable as one of Woking’s finest, the GT offers a more restrained style, with a longer body and more elevation to the design. That raised stance is key to the GT’s appeal, in fact; McLaren claims it’ll match a Mercedes C-Class for ground clearance. 

Pootling around town you’d be hard pushed to disagree. Speed humps and potholes are no longer cause for concern – to the extent that we didn’t find the need to use the GT’s optional nose lift system even once. The ride isn’t faultless, but it never crashes over harsh lumps or sends shocks through to the cabin. 

Comfort is something of a moot point, actually. Modern McLarens are famed for their sophisticated ride, with even the harder 720S displaying a baffling blend of compliance and adjustability. And while the GT does the same, it struggles to raise the game in this regard. It’s at its best on longer sections of steady-speed motorway, but at lower speeds it shows an unwelcome stiffness missing on rivals like the cossetting Bentley Continental GT.

But of course, a grand tourer must be a master of all trades – and when the road gets windy, the McLaren comes alive. The new electro-hydraulic steering has a beautiful weight to it, feeling darty yet easy to control via the chiselled, perfectly formed wheel. 

With 612bhp under your right foot, the GT doesn’t lack pace. McLaren has looked to smooth the power delivery with a flatter torque curve, but the result is a slightly laggy driving experience – and one that’s only accentuated by the deep intakes and whooshes from the turbos as the revs rise. The car’s engineers have tried to make the GT sound “more like a V8” and while it doesn’t burble like a Mercedes-AMG S 63 or scream like a Ferrari GTC4Lusso T, it isn’t without appeal.

Join the motorway and this McLaren shows its true GT credentials. There’s a slight drone from the sports exhaust on part throttle, but scale things back and there’s very little in the way of wind or road noise – even on our car’s huge wheels and tyres.

Furthermore, when you take control via the gorgeously tactile paddles and keep the car on boost, the new McLaren GT can keep up with the best of them. It’s engaging and addictive to drive, with each click of the rocker-mounted levers effortlessly firing home another ratio. Such is the car’s level of agility and composure, that it’s just as capable of flowing together a set of sweeping curves as it is negotiating tight hairpin bends. It’s a shame the brakes offer such little feel; the top end of the travel feels numb, forcing you to push hard to gain any real bite.

But a big part of the GT’s attraction is the extra practicality it affords over other models in the range. At 4,683mm, it is the longest McLaren to date –153mm more than a 570GT front to back. However, the maker claims its customers don’t need the functionality of a 2+2, instead choosing to focus on available bootspace and cabin practicality.

You still have to climb in over the exposed carbon tub, but inside the GT feels especially airy. The electrochromic glass roof bathes the cabin with light, while few supercars or grand tourers can compete with the unobstructed view out the back. It’s impossible not to smile when you catch a glimpse of those huge air intakes through the side mirrors, too.

On paper, the GT’s 420-litre boot trumps a Volkswagen Golf’s with its rear seats in place. However, it’s a very long, shallow load bay, which in reality isn’t half as practical as the wider, deeper opening you’ll find in an Aston Martin DB11. McLaren claims the GT will carry a set of golf clubs or two pairs of skis, but bulkier suitcases will pose a problem. Even when you take into account the 150-litre space in the McLaren’s nose, the GTC4Lusso is class champ when it comes to usable space.

Elsewhere, McLaren has thoroughly updated its dogged infotainment system, and it’s vastly more responsive than before. The menus remains fiddly to navigate, however, and the display-mounted climate controls are a pain to use. Furthermore, the screen sits in a portrait orientation on the dash – meaning it still isn’t supported by Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

We can’t help but feel the new McLaren GT could have been a bit more special. That’s not to say it’s a disappointing grand tourer – it’s fast, comfortable, quiet at speed and practical enough – we just think it should have separated itself from the rest of the range in more dramatic fashion. With further ‘GT’ cars in the pipeline, we can only hope they’ll one day give us the four-seat Macca we so desperately desire.
  • Model: McLaren GT
  • Price: £163,000
  • Engine: 4.0-litre V8 turbo petrol
  • Power/torque: 612bhp/630Nm
  • Transmission: Seven-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 3.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 203mph
  • Economy/CO2: 23.7mpg/270g/km
  • On sale: Now

New 163bhp Abarth 595 Pista announced for 2019
Posted on Monday September 16, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-09-16 12:00

Fiat’s performance sub-brand introduces a new mid-range version of the Abarth 595, named the Pista

Abarth 595 Pista - front

Abarth has revealed yet another hot Fiat 500 derivative - the new 595 Pista. It’s a better-value, better-equipped version of the 595 Turismo automatic, introducing a range of previously optional performance and cosmetic upgrades as standard. Prices start from £19,135, representing a £1,060 saving over the equivalent Turismo.

The 595 Pista is powered by the same turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine as the Abarth 595 Turismo, albeit with the addition of a revised Garrett turbo. Abarth’s active Record Monza exhaust system is also included as standard – a feature which isn’t available on the Turismo. Power and torque figures stand at 163bhp and 230Nm respectively.

New Abarth 595 Esseesse review

The engine sends its power to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, although Abarth’s MTA five-speed paddle-shift transmission is offered as an optional extra. Manual-equipped models have a 0–62mph time 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 135mph.

The new addition to the Abarth line-up is finished in a unique matte grey paint, with green highlights for the front splitter, mirror caps and rear diffuser. Buyers also get a set of 17-inch, ten-spoke, satin black alloy wheels and adaptive Koni dampers for the rear axle. The Pista is also fitted with a set of drilled and ventilated disc brakes, measuring 284mm on the front axle and 240mm on the rear.

Inside the 595 Pista is finished with a pair of heavily bolstered, cloth-trimmed bucket seats (as opposed to the Turismo’s more accommodating, leather-trimmed chairs), a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, a seven-inch digital instrument binnacle and a seven-inch infotainment screen with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

What do you make of the new Abarth 595 Pista? Let us know in the comments section below…

New Fiat 500X Sport: prices announced
Posted on Friday September 13, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-09-13 16:00

Fiat has confirmed the 500X Sport will have a starting price of £22,500

Fiat 500 X Sport - front

Fiat has announced that the new 500X Sport will have a base-price of £22,500 in the UK. The sporty trim for the Italian brand’s compact crossover features a range of racy exterior design cues, a revised suspension system and an updated interior.

The Fiat 500X Sport is offered with a choice of two petrol engines. The entry-level model comes with a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit developing 118bhp, while the range- topping variant comes with a turbocharged 1.3-litre four-cylinder with 148bhp.

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Both engines’ power are sent to the front wheels. The less powerful engine comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while the latter unit features a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Adaptive dampers are fitted to the more potent model, improving the handling without compromising ride comfort, Fiat claims.

Exterior styling revisions over the standard Fiat 500X include a unique set of 18-inch alloy wheels, a more aggressive front bumper, body-coloured side skirts and trim, a revised rear diffuser, dual chrome exhaust tips and full LED headlights. It’s also 13mm lower than the standard model, thanks to its re-tuned suspension system.

Fiat 500 X Sport - rear

Inside, buyers get an Alcantara-trimmed sports steering wheel, aluminium pedals, an aluminium gear-knob, an ambient interior lighting system and a revised Titanium grey-coloured dashboard. The seats are trimmed in an exclusive blend of black fabric and faux leather, embroidered with a grey “500” logo.

Elsewhere, the 500X Sport comes as standard with a seven-inch infotainment system, automatic climate control, rear parking sensors, cruise control and lane-keeping assist. Buyers can also spec larger 19-inch alloy wheels as an optional extra.

What do you make of the new Fiat 500X Sport? Let us know in the comments section below…


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