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In the News ...

New Kia ProCeed 2019 review
Posted on Wednesday January 23, 2019

Kia Proceed - front
23 Jan, 2019 1:45pm Alex Ingram

The new Kia ProCeed has morphed into a sleek shooting brake estate, but is this 1.6 diesel the pick of the range?

This is the new Kia ProCeed: a name which, since it last appeared on the second generation of the Korean brand’s Ford Focus rival, has gone through something of a personality change. 

The previous Pro_Cee’d wore a compact, three-door body style, placing itself as the most sporting model in the line-up. Now, however, the same name – minus some erroneous punctuation (it’s just ProCeed now) – sits on the boot lid of a shooting brake estate.

Kia ProCeed GT review

The ProCeed is only available in Kia’s top three trims – a move that helps to separate it from the standard Ceed Estate. Prices start from £23,835 for a GT-Line car powered by a 138bhp 1.4-litre turbo petrol, and while we’ve already warmed to the ProCeed when powered by the most potent 1.6-litre turbo petrol in GT trim, it’s the more affordable diesel we’re driving here. The 1.4 petrol and 1.6 diesel are both are available with a six-speed manual gearbox or, for an extra £1,100, a seven-speed dual-clutch auto. The flagship GT is auto only.

Whether buyers prefer the concept of a sporty three-door or swoopy estate remains to be seen, but the Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake-esque look certainly offers something unusual in this class. The rear LED lighting signature looks great, but there are parts of the design – like the silver trim on the C Pillar – that look a little messy. Overall, however, it’s a handsome thing.

If only the cabin was quite so attractive. While we criticise some cars for relying almost exclusively on touchscreen interfaces that sacrifice ergonomics in the name of style, the ProCeed’s button-heavy design sits at the opposite end of the scale. Trying to get familiar with the layout goes to show that having too many switches can be just as distracting as having too few. The overall vibe is salvaged somewhat by a lovely steering wheel that’s as attractive to look at as it is pleasant to hold.

The ProCeed’s roofline is 43mm lower than the estate, so in order to compensate for the loss of headroom, the rear seats are also lower. The result is roughly the same distance from seat squab to ceiling, but the drop in the occupant’s hip point will be felt by taller rear seat passengers, due to a lack of thigh support. Boot volume is stated at 594 litres – not quite a match for the Estate’s 625 litres, but still far more than you’ll get from a typical hatch.

There is one other downside to that sleek shape, though. The rear window is very small and positioned quite low, which means visibility is compromised; a glance through the rear-view mirror offers little more than a view of the tarmac you’ve just driven on.

Keeping to its sporty brief, the ProCeed gets a marginally firmer, lower set-up than the rest of the Ceed family, which benefits from sophisticated fully-independent suspension all-round. The changes don’t transform the way it drives, but a twisty road reveals a little extra body control. The steering still doesn’t have much in the way of feel, but it’s light and precise. Suspension noise is very well suppressed from the cabin and, slightly jiggly low-speed ride aside, it’s smooth and composed.

The 1.6-litre diesel is the same engine used elsewhere in the Kia range. It can sound harsh towards the redline, but otherwise it’s no louder than the (admittedly thrashy) 1.4 petrol. Performance doesn’t quite match the car’s sporty brief though; 0-62mph takes a leisurely 10 seconds. We managed a little over 50mpg on our test run, which isn’t far off Kia’s 56.5mpg claim.

The only true letdown to the driving experience are the gearboxes. The manual box is hampered by both a wooly throw and a sloppy clutch bite, which conspire to make make smooth progress frustratingly tricky. The more expensive auto is no better: it slurs lazily through changes, and is slow to respond when controlled through the steering wheel-mounted paddles.

The base GT-Line trim misses out on the top spec car’s 18-inch alloy wheels, electric driver’s seat and blind spot detection system, but equipment levels are still generous: 17-inch alloys, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment display, reversing camera, plus heated front seats and steering wheel are all standard.

4
The ProCeed brings with it all of the other positives of the Kia Ceed, and wraps them up into a package which, at this price point, offers buyers something just a little bit different. It’s not quite at the top of its class for driving enjoyment or refinement, but impresses in both areas. This diesel option is smooth and frugal, too, and should suit high-mileage drivers down to the ground. If a Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake is out of budget, the Kia Proceed could be the ideal substitute.
  • Model: Kia ProCeed 1.6 CRDi GT-Line
  • Price: £24,685
  • Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbo diesel
  • Power/torque: 134bhp/280Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 10 seconds
  • Top speed: 124mph
  • Economy/CO2: 56.5mpg/111g/km
  • On sale: Now

2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed theme announced
Posted on Wednesday January 23, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-01-23 13:00

'Speed Kings – Motorsport’s Record Breakers', is the theme for the 2019 Good wood FoS.

Volkswagen I.D. R - front

This year’s Goodwood FoS will celebrate racing’s record breakers, featuring everything from land-speed cars to lap record holders

The organisers of the Goodwood Festival of Speed have announced the theme for this year’s event. Dubbed 'Speed Kings – Motorsport’s Record Breakers,' it will celebrate every area of record breaking in motorsport, featuring everything from land-speed record breakers to lap record holders from some of the world’s most famous circuits.

Nurburgring lap record holders

Due to start on the fourth of July 2019, the 2019 Festival of Speed marks the 20 years since Nick Heidfeld claimed the outright hill-climb record at the helm of the McLaren MP4/13. He covered the 1.16-mile course in 41.6 seconds; a record which has stood unbeaten since it was set, despite the Volkswagen’s valiant effort of 43.8 seconds with its all-electric I.D. Pikes Peak racer in 2018.

Other exhibitions will include a showcase of the most consecutively-winning race cars, a tribute to the most successful manufacturers and, in keeping with the festival’s theme, the potential for a fresh Goodwood hill-climb record holder.

Returning attractions include the Michelin Supercar Paddock, the Concours d’Elegance, the Goodwood F1 paddock, a Forest Rally Stage and the recently-added Festival of Speed “Future Lab,” hosting the most innovative technologies from the worlds of aerospace, robotics and autonomous transport.

Goodwood Festival of Speed: previous themes

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2018 - header

Each year, the Goodwood Festival of Speed adopts a new theme. This year focuses on record breakers, but previous years have seen a broad range of things celebrated. Here's how the past few years have shaped up...

2008 – Hawthorn to Hamilton – Britain's Love Affair with World Motor Sport
2009 – True Grit – Epic Feats of Endurance
2010 – Viva Veloce! - The Passion for Speed
2011 – Racing Revolutions – Quantum Leaps that shaped Motor Sport
2012 – Young Guns – Born to Win
2013 – Best of the First 20 Years of the Festival of Speed
2014 – Addicted to Winning – The Unbeatable Champions of Motor Sport
2015 – Flat-out and Fearless – Racing on the Edge
2016 – Full Throttle – The Endless Pursuit of Power
2017 – Peaks of Performance – Motorsport’s Game-Changers
2018  Festival of Speed - The Silver Jubilee
2019 - Speed Kings – Motorsport’s Record Breakers

Are you excited about this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed? Let us know in the comments section below…

Volvo recalls 200,000 cars over fuel leak fears
Posted on Wednesday January 23, 2019

Hugo Griffiths 2019-01-23 11:20

Over 30,000 UK Volvos affected, although company says there are “no reports alleging injuries or damages related to this issue”

Used Volvo V60 - Volvo badge

Volvo is recalling 219,000 cars globally due to a potential fuel leak, with 30,777 UK cars affected.

The recall relates to diesel-engined 2015 to 2016 model year examples of the Volvo V40, V40CC, S60, S60CC, V60, V60CC, XC60, V70, XC70, S80 and XC90 built between 2015 and 2016. In affected cars, a faulty fuel line could develop cracks, allowing fuel to leak into the engine bay.

Volvo sold 46,696 cars in the UK in 2016, and 534,332 globally, meaning a significant proportion of cars are affected. The company is “proactively” recalling the cars, so affected owners should be contacted over coming days and weeks. 

Volvo’s recall of 219,000 cars follows a global action by Toyota in October last year, which saw 2.4 million previous-generation Prius and Auris recalled over a potential stalling issue. BMW, meanwhile, recalled 268,000 UK cars in 2018 over fears a potential glycol leakage from the exhaust gas recirculation cooler could lead to fire.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) – the UK organisation responsible for monitoring recalls – recently told Auto Express it was considering linking its MoT and recall database. Some 2.39 cars are subject to an outstanding recall in the UK, almost a million of which are for potentially defective Takata airbags.

A spokesperson for Volvo told Auto Express: “Investigations by Volvo Cars have identified that some vehicles may have small cracks inside one of the fuel lines in the engine compartment. This, in combination with a pressurised fuel system, may over time lead to fuel leakage in the engine compartment.

“There are no reports of damage or injuries related to this issue. Volvo is proactively recalling these cars as a preventative measure to avoid any problems in the future.”

Click here to find out what you should do if your car is recalled...

Used Audi RS 3 review
Posted on Tuesday January 22, 2019

Used Audi RS 3 - front
22 Jan, 2019 5:00pm Richard Dredge

A full used buyer’s guide on the Audi RS 3 covering the current generation RS 3 (2015-date)

Audi is no stranger to usable high-performance cars. Ever since the arrival of the original Quattro in 1980, the company has offered fast, family-friendly models with the added security of four-wheel drive, and that’s especially the case where its thrilling RS family is concerned.

The first of the line was the 1994 RS2 estate, built in conjunction with Porsche, and ever since then we’ve had a slew of hatchbacks, saloons, coupés, estates, SUVs and convertibles with plenty of power, discreet looks and drive to all four wheels.

The RS 3 is Audi’s smallest RS model yet, and it happens to be the most affordable as well. However, it’ll still sprint from 0-62mph in four seconds, so it’s no soft option.

Models covered

  • • Audi RS 3 (2015-date) - Five-door hatch and saloon combine practicality and performance. 

Audi RS 3

History

Audi’s original 335bhp RS 3 was on sale between 2012 and 2013; an all-new 362bhp model based on the third-generation A3 reached UK showrooms in July 2015. It was available only in five-door Sportback form, priced from £39,950 and powered by a turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine. All RS 3s had a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch auto gearbox.

A revised RS 3 Sportback was introduced in September 2017, now with 395bhp to give 0-62mph in just 4.1 seconds. At the same time an RS 3 Saloon was launched; it was mechanically identical to the Sportback but with a different bodyshell. Standard equipment was the same as before, while key options included ceramic brakes and an uprated exhaust for a fruitier soundtrack. 

Audi RS 3 reviews

Audi RS 3 in-depth review
Audi RS 3 Sportback review
Audi RS 3 Saloon review
Audi RS 3 long-term test review

Which one should I buy?

You don’t have many choices to make because all RS 3s have an automatic gearbox, so it’s mainly a question of working out whether you want a five-door hatchback or a four-door saloon; the former is by far the most common body shape.

From the outset, LED headlights and 19-inch alloy wheels were standard features, as were automatic lights and wipers, Nappa leather trim, heated front seats and dual-zone climate control.

Optional extras included electric seat adjustment, magnetic ride suspension, an upgraded hi-fi and navigation. The latter was available for £495 and it’s a common fitment; it was also offered for £1,495 as part of the Technology Package that brought a larger (seven-inch) display as well. A panoramic roof is a desirable option that few cars have; it originally cost £950 extra.

Alternatives to the Audi RS 3

If you want a four-wheel-drive hatchback with searing pace, the 355bhp (376bhp from September 2015) Mercedes-AMG A 45 might suit. As with the Audi it blends accessible performance (and lots of it) with practicality and high running costs. These attributes also apply to the BMW M135i, which morphed into the M140i in May 2016. With power going only to the rear wheels rather than all four, it’s more fun to drive but less usable than the 4WD alternatives in adverse weather conditions.

If you can live with 300bhp rather than 400bhp, consider the Ford Focus RS, Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf R. All are far cheaper to buy than the RS 3, but they’re still extremely fast despite the power deficit.

What to look for 

Spare wheel

Instead of a spare wheel of any kind, there’s a tyre mobility kit in the boot – and you don’t get a well for a spare wheel to go in.

Top speed

If they were willing to pay an extra £2,495, RS 3 buyers could specify the Dynamic Package Plus, which raised the top speed to 174mph. 

Mirrors

You’d think heated, folding, electrically adjustable door mirrors would be standard on a car such as this, but they were a £150 extra. 

Extras

Other options that are worth keeping an eye out for on a potential buy include a reversing camera and cruise control. 

Interior

Based on the standard A3, the RS 3 shares that car’s classy cabin but has much sportier seats. It’s crammed with premium materials and is spot-on ergonomically, plus there’s plenty of leg and headroom in the rear. Boot space is generous as well; the Sportback has 335 litres with the seats in place and 1,175 litres when they’re folded, although the saloon offers 315 or 770 litres.

Prices

You can buy a nearly new Audi RS 3 for between £31,950 and £48,000 on our sister site BuyaCar.

Running costs

All RS 3s come with variable servicing allowing 9,000 to 18,000 miles and up to two years between garage visits. An initial inspection including an oil change, along with new oil and pollen filters, is pegged at £414.

After this services alternate between intermediate and major, at £309 and £465 respectively. But these are discounted rates on the understanding that by the time the car needs its second service, it’ll be three years old; rack up the miles quickly and the bill could be higher.

Fresh brake fluid is required every two years (at £65), and because the engine is equipped with a timing chain, there’s no cambelt to replace.

Recalls

The A3 Mk3 on which the RS 3 is based has been recalled only once. The campaign, launched in November 2017, affected just 30 A3s and Q2s built in August that year, and related to rear hub carriers failing because of a manufacturing fault. It’s unlikely the RS 3 was included, but to be sure, enter the chassis number into the search facility at https://car-recalls.eu/vin-check-recalls/audi

Driver Power owner satisfaction

The A3, S3 and RS 3 are all ranked as one model in our Driver Power satisfaction surveys, and finished 46th in the new car poll and 29th in the used survey. It’s the fit and finish that owners like the most about their Audis, with the infotainment systems winning lots of praise as well. Nothing scores badly, although running costs aren’t rated as highly as they could be.

Two decades ago the Ferrari 360 was a state-of-the-art junior supercar with its 400bhp V8. This Audi packs similar power in a practical package that allows you to take the whole family (and their luggage) with you. Cheaper to buy and run than the Ferrari, the RS 3 is a performance-car bargain, although it’s still not cheap to own – especially if you drive it as it was designed to be driven. A quick scan of owners’ forums reveals how highly those who’ve bought an RS 3 rate it; the only downsides seem to be the big fuel, maintenance and insurance bills.

MoT data reveals best and worst cars for pass rates
Posted on Tuesday January 22, 2019

Hugo Griffiths 2019-01-22 15:41

Official government data names best and worst models and brands for passing MoT tests

MOT testing station

MoT test data has been released by the Government which reveals the cars most – and least – likely to pass an MoT exam.

Taking the top spot for the model most likely to make the grade is the humble Honda Jazz (96.32 per cent pass rate), followed by the desirable Porsche 911 (95.93 per cent), with the diminutive Toyota iQ (94.49 per cent) snatching bronze. The Mazda MX-5 and Porsche Boxster round out the top five.

MoT failure catergories changes take effect

And the least likely vehicles to pass their MoTs? Four of the bottom five are vans, a statistic likely to speak volumes about the harsh lives and high mileages that commercial vehicles experience. The Vauxhall Combo van posted the lowest pass rate (74.15 per cent), followed by the Renault Mégane (77.47 per cent), the only car in the bottom five.

The data, released this month by the Department for Transport, covers MoT pass rates in 2017 and was analysed by pay-per-mile insurance company, By Miles. Models were excluded if fewer than 3,000 examples were submitted for testing under By Miles’ vigorous rules for interrogating the stats. Also, only cars and vans between three and five years old were included – so in most instances, the data doesn’t apply to current-generation models.

Best and worst performers

This is how likely individual cars and makes are to pass their MoT tests, according to official Department for Transport stats.

Pass Rates top five Manufacturer top five
1. Honda Jazz (96.32 per cent pass rate) 1. Honda (93.77 per cent pass rate)
2. Porsche 911 (95.93 per cent pass rate) 2. Porsche (93.18 per cent pass rate)
3. Toyota iQ (94.49 per cent pass rate) 3. Subaru (92.84 per cent pass rate)
4. Mazda MX-5 (94.42 per cent pass rate) 4. Lexus (92.61 per cent pass rate)
5. Porsche Boxster (94.4 per cent pass rate) 5. Smart (92.42 per cent pass rate)
Pass Rates bottom five Manufacturer bottom five
1. Vauxhall Combo (74.15 per cent pass rate) 1. Chrysler (80.14 per cent pass rate)
2. Renault Mégane (77.47 per cent pass rate) 2. Chevrolet (82.24 per cent pass rate)
3. Renault Kangoo (77.61 per cent pass rate) 3. Renault (82.45 per cent pass rate)
4. Citroen Dispatch (77.79 per cent pass rate) 4. Citroen (84.38 per cent pass rate)
5. Ford Transit (77.95 per cent pass rate) 5. Alfa Romeo (84.9 per cent pass rate)

By Miles also collated the makes of car most likely to pass their MoTs, with the top five dominated, again, by Japanese brands. The bottom five was populated by French and Italian marques, plus two makers which are no longer active in the UK, Chrysler and Chevrolet.

Other trends picked out reveal turquoise cars are most likely to pass their MoT, with a 92.48 per cent success rate. The most likely day for a vehicle to get through its test is a Sunday, when 79.03 per cent pass, compared with the least fortuitous day, Monday, when just 72.36 per cent achieve a favourable result. 

Mileage, unsurprisingly, played a significant part in how likely a car was to pass its MoT in 2017. By Miles CEO James Blackham explained: “Toyota, Honda and Mazda are in the bottom half of the mileage table, while Porsches are right at the bottom, being driven an average of 3,576 miles a year. No doubt owners of three to five-year-old Porsches look after their cars pretty well, too.”

By Miles also detected a noticeable decrease in the amount Britons are driving overall. MoT records show average distances travelled fell from 7,712 in 2007, to 7,134 in 2017 – a 7.4 per cent drop.Blackham added: “If you spend less time on the road, you’re less likely to be involved in an accident, and you should therefore pay less for your insurance. That’s why we created pay-per-mile car insurance.”

Are you surprised by the MoT best and worst list? Let us know in the comments below...

Renault facelifts the Twingo but axes it from UK line-up
Posted on Tuesday January 22, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-01-22 14:25

Renault’s city car has received a fresh face, new powertrains and more customisation options, but it won’t make it to UK shores

renault twingo facelift front quarter

This is the facelifted Renault Twingo, featuring a revised engine range, more customisation options and infotainment updates. However, due to the city car’s poor performance in the UK market, this reworked model won’t be sold in the UK.

Renault has confirmed that the second generation Twingo will be removed from UK showrooms once the remaining stock has been sold.

2015 Renault Twingo review

Styling revisions include a redesigned front bumper, fresh C-shaped LED daytime running lights, a new rear bumper, a 10mm lower ride height and an engine intake scoop on the rear left quarter panel, previously reserved for “Sport” models only. Two extra colour choices are also available and LED headlights now come fitted as standard across the range.

Inside, the facelifted Twingo will get a new gear-knob, more storage space and a redesigned centre console with two USB ports and an audio jack. A new seven-inch infotainment system also features, with support for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Renault’s new EASY CONNECT system.

The new software will be fairly basic on release, but Renault intends on revising it over the Twingo’s life-span, adding support for TomTom navigation and Google Places via “over the air updates.”

Owners will also be given a broader range of interior colour customisation options over the outgoing Twingo. A choice of red, yellow or black trim is available for the dashboard, air-vent surrounds, steering wheel inserts and gear-stick gaiter. Also, the seat stitching will match the colour chosen.

Like the outgoing model, the Twingo will retain its rear-engined, rear-wheel drive layout. However, its engine range will receive a lift with the addition of a new, lesser-powered 1.0-litre naturally aspirated three-cylinder with 63bhp and 95Nm of torque. It will act as the new base-model, whilst the outgoing model’s engines will receive a slight hike in power

Renault’s old SCe 70 engine gets an extra 5bhp, whilst the old TCe 90 gains another 4bhp, taking their total outputs to 74bhp and 94bhp respectively. All models are available with a five-speed manual gearbox only, except for the new TCe 95 which can be specced with a six-speed automatic.

Whether or not the sporty Twingo GT will return for the car’s second generation is yet to be confirmed, as is the European pricing information for the known range.

What are your thoughts on the Renault Twingo’s removal from the UK market? Let us know in the comments section below…

BMW 3 Series vs Mercedes C-Class vs Jaguar XE
Posted on Tuesday January 22, 2019

2019-01-23 00:01

The new BMW 3 Series is out to regain its number one spot in the company car park from the Mercedes C-Class and Jaguar XE

BMW 3 Series vs Mercedes C-Class vs Jaguar XE - header

SUVs might have gained a foothold in company car parks, but business users still turn to compact executive saloons in their droves – and a mainstay of this sector has been BMW’s 3 Series.

Over 43 years and six generations, it has pretty much set the class benchmark. And now there’s a new generation.

Best executive cars on sale right now

This is really big news because replacements for the 3 Series don’t come around often, so the new car has the potential to seriously shake up the sector. Our current market leader is the Mercedes C-Class, which was revised last year to great effect. It offers more tech than ever, so the BMW faces a tough task.

When Jaguar launched the XE back in 2015, the contemporary 3 Series was its dynamic benchmark. The Jag served up great driving enjoyment, so the latest BMW will have to live up to it here.

But this all-new 3 also promises to offer more tech, a stronger driving experience, more practicality and even better ride and refinement. Let’s find out if it has succeeded. 

BMW 3 Series

Model: BMW 320d M Sport auto
Price:  £38,200
Engine:  2.0-litre 4cyl diesel, 187bhp 
0-60mph:  6.6 seconds
Test economy:  46.9mpg/10.3mpl 
CO2:  112g/km  
Annual road tax:  £140

With this new seventh-generation G20 3 Series, BMW has gone back to the drawing board, fitting an all-new platform, new engine tech, improved chassis sophistication and even more infotainment innovations. Let’s see how the car fares in £38,200 320d M Sport trim with the sport automatic gearbox.

Design & engineering

As with BMW’s larger saloons and SUVs, this new 3 Series is now based on the CLAR architecture. As a result, there’s a weight saving of up to 55kg and as much as a 50 per cent improvement in torsional rigidity.

The 3 Series uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel unit that delivers 187bhp and 400Nm of torque. The pair of turbos are designed so that the smaller first one kicks in lower down to help reduce lag and boost acceleration response, while the second larger unit takes over at higher revs once the engine is into its stride, to deliver strong power.

It’s sent to the rear wheels here (four-wheel drive is available, as with its rivals) through BMW’s eight-speed sport automatic transmission.

Although the new 3 Series is now based on BMW’s CLAR platform, unlike the larger 5 Series and 7 Series saloons, it doesn’t use double-wishbone suspension. Instead, there are cheaper (but no less effective) MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link rear end set-up.

A new development for this car is its lift-dependent suspension damper technology. This reacts to the weight on board, so when the 3 Series is full of people and luggage (and therefore the suspension is more compressed), the damping is tauter, while when the car just has the driver on board the damping is softer. Adaptive dampers are available as an option.

There have been as many advances inside as there have been under the skin as well. The cabin redesign is extensive and the layout now feels much more modern. It’s also packed with lots of advanced tech, while quality has taken a step up, too. In fact, it feels like a scaled-down 5 Series.

Nav and a digital dash are standard, as are Apple CarPlay, parking sensors, a reversing camera, LED lights, heated leather seats, autonomous braking, M Sport suspension and body kit, plus climate control.

Driving

Our three test cars are relatively evenly matched for performance – don’t let the Jaguar’s slightly tardy 0-60mph time of 8.2 seconds fool you (due to some slippery conditions and a quirk of the gearbox). The 3 Series hit this benchmark in 6.6 seconds, 0.1 seconds slower than the C-Class.

The in-gear figures are more instructive; here the BMW bettered the Mercedes in almost every test. It was faster than the XE in some, but not others; however, the margin is narrow enough between our three cars that it will be difficult to feel the difference on the road.

Response and refinement are therefore likely to be more important. And here the 3 Series is good. That turbo set-up means it’s rare you’re caught off boost and, for a diesel, there’s enough urgency in response to your throttle input. The gearbox helps because it kicks down smoothly in auto mode without much hesitation or jerkiness. Refinement is much better, too. There’s still a diesel rumble under power, but it’s quieter and less intrusive now; it’s more hushed than its rivals’ rattly units, and at a cruise the BMW is quiet and comfy.

Those new dampers are responsible for the latter. The set-up is still firm and we’d like maybe a little more compliance on lumpy B-roads, but the 3 Series still edges its rivals for composure. The damping feels plush and smooth, controlling the saloon’s body well, but allowing for enough movement to soak up the surface in the most part.

This also gives the 3 Series its now-trademark agility. BMW has done it again with this new model; it’s the best driver’s car in its class. The steering is still squishy and lifeless, but the chassis delivers a brilliant balance of dynamism and enjoyment without hurting comfort too much. 

Practicality

A 41mm longer wheelbase and a 21mm wider rear track mean there’s now more legroom and width across the cabin, so adults will be more comfortable in the back than before. Legroom is a little better than in the Mercedes and eclipses the cramped-feeling Jag.

The BMW betters it for boot space, too, with 480 litres. Both the C-Class and XE only offer 455 litres.

The redesigned cabin also provides good storage, with a lidded cubby in front of the gearlever that hides the cup-holders and wireless charging plate, a bin between the seats and roomy door pockets.

Ownership

BMW was 21st in our Driver Power 2018 satisfaction survey maker’s chart, one place behind Mercedes and 11 places adrift of Jaguar. But the 3 Series’ safety tech is much better.

While Euro NCAP has yet to test the car, we would expect a good result, with autonomous braking, collision and lane departure warning all standard.

Running costs

Most cars in this class are run by business users, and it’s here where the 320d makes most sense. It splits the Mercedes and Jaguar on price, but with emissions of just 112g/km, it sits in the 27 per cent Benefit-in-Kind tax band – one group below the 117g/km C-Class and six percentage points ahead of the XE.

This means higher-rate earners will have to pay £4,098 in tax per year to run the 3 Series, compared with £4,256 for the C-Class and £4,784 for the XE.

Testers’ notes: “BMW is offering xDrive all-wheel drive on the 320d from launch, hiking the price by £1,500. Four-wheel drive on the Mercedes and Jaguar add £1,910 and £1,800 respectively.” 

Mercedes C-Class

Model: Mercedes C 220 d AMG Line
Price:  £39,160
Engine:  2.0-litre 4cyl diesel, 191bhp 
0-60mph:  6.5 seconds
Test economy:  46.1mpg/10.1mpl 
CO2:  117g/km
Annual road tax:  £140

In facelifted form, the Mercedes C-Class won its first group test against the Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Giulia, heading to the top of its sector in 2018. Here we’re testing a C 220 d in AMG Line trim to match the BMW’s M Sport specification. But can the car retain its compact exec crown against the all-new 3 Series?

Design & engineering

Although the C-Class was updated last year, it’s still based on Mercedes’ Modular Rear Architecture (MRA), in contrast to the BMW, which is an all-new model.

However, a new 191bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine was fitted to the latest C 220 d, replacing the old 2.1-litre diesel. It matches the BMW for torque, at 400Nm, with both trailing the Jag’s 430Nm, but the Mercedes does have the most power of the trio.

It also uses a long-geared nine-speed automatic transmission to help improve efficiency, and like both rivals, it’s rear-wheel drive, with 4x4 versions available at extra cost. Diesel is still likely to be the best choice for most buyers of these cars, but petrol versions are available as well.

One of the most noticeable changes for this latest version of the C-Class was the addition of a 10.25-inch hi-res infotainment system. Sat-nav is standard, along with DAB radio, heated seats, cruise control, parking sensors and a reversing camera, plus climate control and autonomous braking.

AMG Line also offers 18-inch alloy wheels, sporty body styling, 15mm lower suspension and Artico artificial leather sports seats. Air suspension is available as part of the Airmatic Dynamic Handling Package (£895), which allows the driver to soften or stiffen the set-up as required.

The C-Class’s interior is better built and has a cleaner design than the Jaguar’s, but it can’t match the quality or construction of the latest BMW’s cabin. The 3 Series is more modern inside and its driving position is the best here.

Driving

In this company, the Mercedes offers a more relaxed option. The BMW and Jaguar are aimed at drivers looking for something with a sporty side, but while the C-Class is good to drive, it’s more focused on keeping things comfortable.

Its suspension set-up is tuned so that the saloon cruises smoothly over softer bumps, although it does sometimes drop into harsher potholes with a thud.

There’s more body roll in the Mercedes than in either rival as a result, and ultimately the BMW provides the best balance of ride and handling here, because it offers even more comfort than the C-Class, yet it’s much more fun to drive. The Mercedes has numb steering that’s not helped by the artificial weight added in Sport and Sport+ modes, and the driving position is higher than in the 3 Series or XE.

Still, the 191bhp 2.0-litre unit does have an edge when it comes to full-throttle performance, because the C-Class sprinted from 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds, 0.1 seconds faster than the BMW and 1.7 seconds quicker than the Jag. But long gear ratios and a higher kerbweight than both competitors set the Mercedes back in our in-gear tests. It fell behind both rivals from 30-50mph in fourth, and from 50-70mph in every higher gear. The only area it matched the BMW was from 30-50mph in third; both took 2.7 seconds, and the XE 2.9 seconds.

Although the nine-speed gearbox is smooth and fast enough to change, the BMW’s eight-speed transmission is a little swifter. The long ratios mean low cruising revs, but while the new 2.0-litre engine is quieter than the previous model’s 2.1-litre unit, it still can’t match the 320d for refinement.

Practicality

The C-Class has a 455-litre boot, the same as the Jaguar’s, with both falling behind the BMW’s 480-litre load volume.

Inside, there’s a large storage compartment with cup-holders near the climate controls, and the central bin between the front seats is spacious as well. The USB ports are located in here. The cabin also feels more spacious than its rivals’.

There’s plenty of head and legroom in the rear, too, so passengers will be able to get comfortable here, although it’s still no better than the BMW.

A powered tailgate is available, but only as part of the £4,995 Premium Plus pack, which also adds a 12.3-inch digital dash, wireless charging, a Burmester stereo and a panoramic roof.

Ownership

Owners expect a premium manufacturer such as Mercedes to go the extra mile, but with a 20th place finish in our Driver Power 2018 owner satisfaction survey, the German brand has some work to do here.

Still, safety is a strong point for the C-Class, with autonomous braking and a parking camera as standard. Euro NCAP awarded it the maximum five stars when the car was tested in 2014. You can add the £1,695 Driving Assistance package on AMG Line models; this includes active blind spot warning and lane-keep assist, too. 

Running costs

All three of these premium models are set to hold their value fairly well. Our experts predict that the C-Class will retain 42.1 per cent of its original price after three years or 36,000 miles, losing £22,662 in that time.

That places it in between its rivals when it comes to depreciation, because the BMW is expected to hold on to slightly more, at 43.3 per cent, while the XE is estimated to retain 41.7 per cent. It means those models will lose £21,675 and £21,467 respectively over the same period and mileage.

Testers’ notes: “While there’s new tech available inside, such as the upgraded infotainment and digital dash, the C-Class’s basic cabin design from 2014 is starting to look a little dated compared with the 3 Series.” 

Jaguar XE

Model: Jaguar XE 20d R-Sport auto
Price:  £36,815
Engine:  2.0-litre 4cyl diesel, 178bhp 
0-60mph:  8.2 seconds
Test economy:  45.3mpg/10.0mpl 
CO2:  141g/km
Annual road tax:  £140

The Jaguar XE shot to the top of its class when it arrived in 2015, and it stayed there until last year, when Mercedes’ updated C-Class took its crown. Our images show a Portfolio-spec car, but how does the XE 20d R-Sport fare against the new BMW 3 Series? 

Design & engineering

In 2018 Jaguar introduced a number of small updates to the XE range, and while it wasn’t a full-blown facelift, the new model features the company’s latest 10-inch InControl infotainment system and extra safety technology.

It retained the 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel engine, which produces 430Nm of torque – 30Nm up on its rivals – although it does have the least power of the three cars, at 178bhp. As with the BMW, it uses an eight-speed automatic box, and it’s rear-wheel drive.

Under the skin is Jaguar’s modular aluminium platform, which uses the lightweight metal in core parts of the architecture to help reduce weight and improve economy, performance and handling.

Aiding the latter is the XE’s double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension set-up, which has been tuned to deliver the dynamic balance for which Jaguars are famous. The throttle response, gearshift mapping and steering weight can be adjusted using a range of selectable driving modes, as in its competitors here.

The cabin is the car’s weak point, because it is now showing its age – but the XE never had the most interesting layout, even when new. It’s more cramped than the opposition and although the driver-focused set-up will appeal to some buyers, the build quality isn’t on the same level as the German models’.

R-Sport matches M Sport and AMG Line with an exterior body kit and features 18-inch alloys, parking sensors, cruise and climate control, sat-nav, DAB radio and connected services as standard.

You also get heated leather seats, a WiFi hotspot, connected apps and safety tech including auto emergency braking and lane departure warning. 

Driving

While the BMW 3 Series sets a new benchmark in the class for its mix of enjoyable handling with a smooth ride, the XE can still hold its own here. It’s not quite as forgiving as the Mercedes, but many buyers will be able to see beyond that because the Jag is more fun to drive and far from uncomfortable.

The steering is weighty and precise. The speed means it changes direction well, helped by the support from the chassis. There’s plenty of grip, too, while the suspension is tuned sweetly and allows enough compliance to soak up mid-corner bumps and retain composure.

That means it’s good to drive on a bumpy country road, as well as being smooth on the motorway and faster, more flowing A-roads.

But next to these two rivals, apart from the slower 0-60mph time due to a quirk of the gearbox in bottom gear (it shifts up earlier), the lower-powered Jaguar was strong. Although it was slower from 30-70mph through the ratios, it was quicker than both rivals from 50-70mph in sixth, seventh and eighth gears, thanks partly to its extra torque delivered low in the rev range. So when you’re pushing hard and making the most of the engine’s performance, the Jaguar falls behind, but if you prefer to use the torque of the diesel and keep revs low, there’s little difference between them.

Unfortunately the Ingenium engine is not as refined as its rivals’, and its rattly note is more present in the cabin at idle and while cruising. 

Practicality

The Jaguar’s more cramped interior compared with its rivals’ stems from its less functional design in the front, and the XE isn’t quite as spacious for rear-seat passengers as its opponents, either. Leg and headroom is more cramped, but this is relative to its competitors so there’s still an adequate level of space.

At 455 litres, the XE’s boot matches the C-Class’s for space, but falls behind the new 3 Series’. However, have a look at all three load areas next to one another and you’ll find only a small difference; every model has plenty of room for a few suitcases. A power convenience pack is available for £1,125 that adds a gesture-controlled bootlid and keyless entry.

The Jag’s driving position is good, but not quite as comfy as the BMW’s, while in-cabin storage is decent. 

Ownership

Jaguar ranked in 10th position in our Driver Power 2018 satisfaction survey, higher than Mercedes and BMW. However, both the previous 3 Series and the C-Class finished in our rundown of the top 75 models to live with. The XE didn’t score highly enough to make an appearance in that list.

At least the Jag gets autonomous braking, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and six airbags fitted as standard. The £2,425 Active Safety Pack adds blind spot monitoring and cross- traffic alert, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control to that list of safety kit. The XE scored five stars when it was tested by Euro NCAP in 2015.

Running costs

When it came to fuel economy on test, the XE fell slightly behind its rivals, returning a still-impressive 45.3mpg. That works out at an annual fuel cost of £1,566 a year if you cover 12,000 miles, which is slightly more than the 3 Series or the C-Class’s figures.

The BMW returned the best economy on test, at 46.9mpg, while the Mercedes managed 46.1mpg. Those numbers work out at annual fuel costs of £1,512 and £1,538 respectively.

Verdict

First place: BMW 3 Series

The 3 Series is king of the compact executive class. It sets a new benchmark for handling, but balances this with comfort and refinement. It’ll also be cheaper to run, boasts more practicality and an updated interior and infotainment that cement its first place finish. In almost every area the BMW betters its rivals, with advanced tech keeping up with buyers’ demands in this market.

Second place: Mercedes C-Class

The C-Class drops to second place. It’s still a solid all-rounder with a strong interior, plenty of updated technology, decent performance and good fuel economy – but it drops behind the BMW when it comes to ride, refinement and agility. The Mercedes is still comfortable enough and well equipped, but it’s also pricier, not as good to drive and not as advanced as the latest 3 Series.

Third place: Jaguar XE

Third place here is more a reflection of how long the XE has been around for without a major update. It’s still good fun and rewarding to drive, rides relatively well and is affordable, but it’ll cost more to run due to high CO2. The real downside is the cramped cabin and severely flawed infotainment in this company, though. The XE isn’t as well equipped as its two rivals, either. 

Other options for similar money...

New: Alfa Romeo Giulia

alfa romeo giulia static front

Model: Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.2 JTDM Speciale
Price: £37,390
Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 187bhp

Keen drivers will appreciate the Alfa Giulia’s fine handling. Its interior and infotainment are leagues behind the BMW’s, while the 2.2-litre turbodiesel is as noisy as the Jag’s 2.0 litre when revved. Still, the quick steering and chassis make this a sweet package. 

Used: BMW 5 Series

BMW 5 Series - Front Still

Model: BMW 530d M Sport
Price: £35,000
Engine: 3.0-litre 6cyl, 261bhp

For this budget you should also consider a used 5 Series. You could get a larger saloon with a punchy straight-six diesel at this price. The 5 Series rides more smoothly than the 3 Series, even if it’s not quite as agile, due to its larger footprint.

Figures

BMW 320d M Sport auto Mercedes C 220 d AMG Line Jaguar XE 20d R-Sport auto
On the road price/total as tested £38,200/£46,495 £39,160/£43,660 £36,815/£36,815
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000) £16,525/43.3% £16,498/42.1% £15,348/41.7%
Depreciation £21,675 £22,662 £21,467
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £2,049/£4,097 £2,128/£4,256 £2,392/£4,784
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £1,512/£2,520 £1,538/£2,564 £1,566/£2,609
Insurance group/quote/VED 36/£639/£140 27/£730/£140 27/£598/£140
Cost of servicing £399 (3yrs) £32 per month (3yrs) £599 (2yrs)
Length/wheelbase 4,709/2,851mm 4,686/2,840mm 4,672/2,835mm
Height/width 1,442/1,827mm 1,442/1,810mm 1,425/1,967mm
Engine 4cyl in-line/1,995cc 4cyl in-line/1,950cc 4cyl in-line/1,999cc
Peak power/revs  187/4,000 bhp/rpm 191/3,800 bhp/rpm 178/4,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs  400/1,750 Nm/rpm 400/1,600 Nm/rpm 430/1,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission  8-speed auto/rwd 9-speed auto/rwd 8-spd auto/rwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel 40 litres/run-flats 66 litres/repair kit 56 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity 480 litres 455 litres 455 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight 1,450/610/1,600kg 1,585/580/1,800kg 1,640/550/1,800kg
Turning circle 11.4 metres 11.2 metres 11.6 metres 
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery 3yrs (60,000)/3yrs 3yrs (60,000)/3yrs 3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. 21st/19th 20th/13th 10th/16th
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars N/A 92/84/77/70/5 (2014) 92/82/81/82/5 (2015)
0-60/30-70mph 6.6/6.2 secs 6.5/6.0 secs 8.2/8.0 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 2.7/3.0 secs 2.7/3.5 secs 2.9/3.3 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th 4.3/5.9/7.4/13.4 secs 5.0/6.0/7.7 secs/N/A 4.5/5.5/7.1/11.3 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph  149mph/1,600rpm 149mph/1,600rpm 140mph/1,700rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph  44.5/32.2/9.6m 52.3/40.7/10.3 48.0/34.4/9.0m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph 70/44/60/70dB 70/46/63/72dB 76/47/59/68dB
Auto Express econ. (mpg/mpl)/range 46.9/10.3/413 miles 46.1/10.1/669 miles 45.3/10.0/558 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined  51.4/72.4/62.8mpg 53.3/72.4/64.2mpg 55.4/76.4/53.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined  11.3/15.9/13.8mpl 11.7/15.9/14.1mpl 12.2/16.8/11.7mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 161/112g/km/27% 164/117g/km/28% 167/141g/km/33%
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/camera Eight/yes/yes/yes Seven/yes/yes/yes Six/yes/yes/£560*
Auto box/lane keep/blind spot/AEB Y/£1,250*/£1,250*/y Y/£1,695*/£1,695*/y Yes/£480*/£580*/y
Clim/cruise ctrl/leather/heated seats Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/Artico/yes Yes/yes/yes/yes
Met paint/LEDs/keyless/pwr tailgate £670/y/£990*/£990* £685/y/£4,995*/£4,995* £650/no/£530/£450
Nav/dig dash/DAB/connected services Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/£520/yes/yes Yes/£510/yes/yes
Wireless charge/CarPlay/Android Auto £350/yes/yes £2,275*/£295/£295 No/no/no

Limited-edition Maserati Levante Vulcano released
Posted on Tuesday January 22, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-01-22 12:40

Restricted to 150 units, the limited-edition Levante Vulcano features an exclusive matte paint-job and a red leather interior

maserati levante vulcano tracking front quarter

Maserati has announced the new Levante Vulcano. This special edition model will be limited to the European and Asian markets in a production run of 150 units. Prices start at £85,425, with deliveries expected to commence later this year.

The special edition model features an exclusive “Grigio Lava” matte grey paint-job, LED headlights, a set of red six-pot Brembo brakes and soft-close doors. Also included is Maserati’s “Nerissimo” pack, which adds smoked rear lights, a black chrome grille, gloss black window surrounds, body-coloured door handles and dark exhaust tailpipes.

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Inside, the Levante Vulcano receives high-gloss carbon fibre trim, carbon fibre paddle shifters, a Bowers & Wilkins sound system, unique “one of 150” badging and a rather dashing heated and ventilated red leather interior with black stitching (or vice-versa).

Both of the Levante’s 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engines are available, offering either 345bhp or 424bhp, with both feeding their power through an eight-speed automatic gearbox to all four wheels.  The Italian firm claims 0-62mph is dispatched in 6.0 seconds and 5.2 seconds respectively; top speeds stand at 156mph and 164mph.

The Maserati Levante Vulcano is on sale in the UK now. Prices for the more powerful 424bhp model start at £93,000.

Now read our review of the standard Maserati Levante. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…

 

New Vauxhall Vivaro van revealed and it will be built in Luton
Posted on Tuesday January 22, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-01-22 23:01

The all-new British-built Vauxhall Vivaro van secures 1,250 jobs at the brand’s manufacturing plant in Luton

Vauxhall Vivaro - front tracking

This is the all-new Vauxhall Vivaro. To be built in Vauxhall’s plant in Luton, deliveries will commence in summer this year.

Based on PSA Group’s EMP2 platform (shared with the Toyota ProAce and Peugeot Expert), the latest Vivaro will have a payload of 1,400kg and a towing capacity of 2,500kg, which is a respective 200kg and 500kg more than its predecessor.

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A choice of three body styles will also be available, including a panel van, a crew cab for up to six occupants and a platform chassis.

The all-new Vivaro is available in either short or long wheel-base, with the larger model bearing a maximum load capacity of 6.6 cubic metres (233 cubic feet). Thanks to a load-through flap under the passenger seat, objects up to 4.02m (13ft 2in) long can be transported in the long wheel-base version.

Technology-wise, the new Vivaro gets a head-up display, a new traction control system, lane-keeping assist, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, a driver drowsiness alert, forward collision assist and automatic emergency braking.

Other updates over the previous Vivaro include optional automatic sliding doors (operated by kicking your foot under the van’s sills), a seven-inch infotainment system, parking sensors, an optional rear-view camera and an optional work-site set-up with higher ground clearance and underbody protection.

Vauxhall is yet to announce the new Vivaro’s engine-range, but we expect they’ll be the same as the Toyota ProAce and Peugeot Expert. This means, depending on the wheelbase, you’ll get the choice of a 94bhp 1.6-litre diesel, a 118bhp 2.0-litre diesel or a 178bhp 2.0-litre diesel.

Prices for the new Vivaro are yet to be announced but, seeing as how it’ll be almost identical to the ProAce and Expert, we expect it to cost around the same. Short wheelbase low-end models should start at around £20,000, rising to around £30,000 for the range-topping longer wheelbase versions.

What are your thoughts on the new Vauxhall Vivaro van? Let us know in the comments section below…

Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Track Performance pack announced
Posted on Tuesday January 22, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-01-23 00:01

Q-branch provides Aston Martin Valkyrie customers with a set of track-focused bolt-ons which promise eight per cent quicker lap times

Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Track Performance Pack Stirling Green and Lime - front

Aston Martin has announced an AMR Track Performance pack for the Valkyrie hypercar, providing customers with a set of interchangeable parts to optimise the car’s performance on the race track. 

Bolt-ons include a new, more aerodynamically-efficient front clamshell, an entire second set of exterior panels, lightweight titanium brakes, track-focused suspension and a set of lightweight alloys with carbon-fibre aero-discs.

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Other options include a range of personalised pit-garage equipment, personalised race suits and a choice of three AMR livery designs.

Aston Martin has also announced a list of personalisation options for road-going Valkyries, including an exposed carbon fibre roof, a black exhaust, titanium Aston Martin badging and the choice of several exclusive Valkyrie colours (such as Slipstream Green, Liquid Petroleum, Ethanol Silver and Maximum Orange).

The Q by Aston Martin “Gold Pack” features a 24-carat gold leaf livery laid under the paint lacquer. Meanwhile, the “Mokume Carbon Fibre” option pack replaces the Valkyrie’s sidepod vanes, headlight bodies, central interior vent, armrest and steering wheel fascia with carbon fibre units. 

Aston says that with all the track options fitted the Valkyrie will set, approximately, eight per cent quicker lap times than a version without the pack. However, no pricing for the Track Pack has been announced.

Inside, customers can spec a wide range of Alcantara colours, patterns and finishes, along with six colour choices for the harnesses and three colour choices for the switchgear. A further “Q” pack adds the option of all-titanium switchgear. 

Aston Martin’s Executive Vice President & Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman said: “We are really pushing the boundaries to match the dreams of our customers. Every single element of this hypercar, including its performance, can be personalised.”

What are your thoughts on the new Aston Martin Valkyrie? Let us know in the comments section below…

New Lamborghini Huracan Evo 2019 review
Posted on Tuesday January 22, 2019

Lamborghini Huracan Evo - front track
22 Jan, 2019 9:00am Stuart Gallagher

We get behind the wheel of the new Lamborghini Huracan Evo in Bahrain to see if the upgrades have made it the best Huracan ever

2018 was all about the Urus for Lamborghini, its first foray into the premium SUV market resulted in one of the most driver focussed, quickest SUVs you can buy. Then again, you wouldn’t expect anything less from Lamborghini, would you? 

But the Urus hasn’t been the only model occupying the production schedules of the Sant’Agata car maker, because while it provides the volume to allow the company to reach its production target of 7,500 cars a year, the additional revenue it generates also allows for more traditional Lamborghinis to flourish and prove that when it comes to drama there’s little to beat a slice of raging Modenese wedge. The Urus helps Lamborghini build cars such as the new £206,000 Huracan Evo.

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Lamborghini creates the Evo by taking the V10 engine from the existing Huracan Performante and installing it in to an aluminium and carbonfibre chassis that is the most technologically advanced of any in a Lamborghini.

At the core of the Huracan Evo is a new electronics package called Lamborghini Dynamic Vehicle Integration (LDVI). LDVI works by controlling these four key dynamic components of the chassis via an algorithm that takes just 20 milliseconds to process the data received before predicting how the driver requires the systems to react. It’s called a Feed Forward Logic approach, one that learns your characteristics on steering input, gearshift patterns, braking and the grip and traction available from the tyres. 

Key to LDVI are two new components fitted to a Huracan for the first time: four-wheel steering and torque vectoring. The former delivers the same benefits as it does to every car: increasing agility at slow speeds by turning the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front wheels, then turning them in the same direction at high speed to increase stability. By adding torque vectoring Lamborghini also ensured the LDVI system can adjust the torque distribution at the rear wheels, adding yet another level of dynamic control to the Lamborghini’s chassis. 

A sharp new look comes courtesy of the Huracan Evo’s aerodynamics. Its new front splitter incorporates an integrated, suspended front wing to disperse the air over and under the car as cleanly and as fast as possible. Air curtains in the new front bumper reduce turbulence in the front wheel arches, channelling it directly to the engine intakes ahead of the rear wheels.

At the base of the engine cover is a new rear slotted spoiler that splits the airflow over and under it, the former to provide the downforce, the latter creating a Venturi effect to draw the air through more quickly. A new rear diffuser sucks the air under the car quicker than before and combined with the aero enhancements, increases downforce by a factor of seven over the previous Huracan. In terms of design, it’s so much more aggressive than the outgoing car.

As impressive as this all sounds, and is, what continually fights for your attention is the car’s 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10 engine. Even when you’re sat in the Huracan Evo’s heavily refreshed interior, which now features an 8.3-inch touch screen and a level of connectivity not seen on a Lamborghini before, you’re drawn to the fighter jet style cover for the starter button… 

Flick the red cover. Press the button. Wait. Whirr. Boom! Gone is the anodyne tone of the previous Huracan’s engine note, in its place a more rampant, vocal, deep chested roar. You can thank the Performante’s sports exhaust system for the amplified vocals and it’s just what every Huracan requires.

Unfortunately we’re only allowed to test the Huracan Evo on the wide, flat surfaces of the Bahrain International Circuit, so with the Sport driving mode selected (Strada and Corsa are also available), we pull back the right hand paddle to engage first gear on the seven-speed double clutch gearbox and trundle down the pit lane.

Pass the exit lane before selecting second… third… apply more throttle and the Evo is off. Fourth is needed before the first corner and a leap of faith as you turn-in and the Huracan whips its nose to the apex in one beautifully fluid motion. 300 metres covered and already the new Huracan’s chassis has made its predecessor feel obsolete. 

With every lap the Huracan Evo impresses more and more. It has the level of agility and precision that was lacking in the old car. Gone is the need to constantly adjust the steering – dynamic steering is now the only option because of the four-wheel steering set-up – and a sense that perhaps the Huracan’s front end wasn’t entirely in tune with the rear of the car. Where there was inconsistency there is now consistency; consistency that breeds trust and confidence to extract as much performance as you feel comfortable with. 

What really impresses is how the Huracan Evo delivers this new level of precision, agility and confidence inspiring dynamics without removing any of the excitement, the driver still integral to getting the very best from it.

4.5
The Lamborghini Huracan Evo is a considerable step up from the car it replaces. Its new chassis technology helps deliver a visceral and exciting driving experience that makes the car’s performance more accessible than ever before. Combine that with the thorough overhaul of the car’s connectivity and this V10 supercar is the most advanced Lamborghini ever.
  • Model: Lamborghini Huracan Evo
  • Price: £206,000
  • Engine: 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10
  • Power/torque: 640bhp/600Nm
  • Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch, all-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 2.9 secs
  • Top Speed: 202mph
  • Economy/CO2: TBC
  • On sale: Spring 2019

Hyundai assembles a Kona Iron Man edition
Posted on Monday January 21, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-01-21 16:59

The limited-edition Hyundai Kona comes with STARK Industries branding and Marvel logos, and it’s coming to the UK

Hyundai Kona Iron Man Edition - front

Hyundai has teamed up with Marvel to create a new “Iron Man” edition of its Kona SUV. Priced at £27,995, it bears a host of styling upgrades inspired by the Iron Man film series.

To start, the Kona gets a redesigned exterior finished in two tone “Iron Man Matte Grey” and “Red Armour,” along with an Iron Man emblem on the roof, “STARK Industries” branding on the sills and a deep bonnet scoop.

Best SUVs and crossovers 2019

Iron Man edition Konas also get specific “Iron-grip” 18-inch alloy wheels (complete with a set of Iron Man centre caps), Iron Man emblems for the front wings and puddle lamps, along with a handful of Marvel logos.

The interior receives the same treatment; the Kona’s heated leather seats are stamped with “STARK” branding, the infotainment system displays Iron Man’s eyes on startup and the gauge cluster features the superhero’s Arc Reactor as a background graphic. To finish it off, the dashboard bears the signature of Tony Stark.

Despite what the instrument cluster might suggest, the Kona Iron Man edition isn’t powered by a miniaturised Arc Reactor and rocket thrusters, but an entirely conventional 175bhp 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol. Performance falls short of the Iron Man suit, however, with a more leisurely 0-62mph sprint of 7.9 seconds and 127mph top speed.

The Kona Iron Man edition comes as standard with the equipment from the upper end of the Kona range, including automatic LED headlights, keyless entry, air-conditioning Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and a head-up display.

Only 300 Kona Iron Man editions will be built. On sale from March 2019, they come with Hyundai’s five-year unlimited mileage warranty, Hyundai’s roadside assistance package, a five-year annual health check and a 12-year anti corrosion warranty.

What do you make of the Hyundai Kona Iron Man Edition? Let us know in the comments section below…

Councils plan to charge drivers up to £1,000 a year to park at work
Posted on Monday January 21, 2019

Tristan Shale-Hester 2019-01-22 09:41

The AA has condemned the Workplace Parking Levy as a “poll tax on wheels” as several local authorities plan to implement the scheme

Best parking apps - header

Councils across the UK are planning on implementing a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) that could see drivers charged up to £1,000 to park at work.

The charge would be paid by businesses with more than 10 parking spaces, but the AA believes the fee would be passed on to employees who drive to work.

• Councils slash road budgets despite £165m increase in parking revenues

The WPL is already in effect in Nottingham, where businesses are billed £402 per space per year, rising to £415 later in 2019.

Now, a number of other local authorities – including Hounslow, Merton, Brent, Camden, Reading, Oxford, Bristol and Cambridge – are consulting on introducing similar charges, while Edinburgh and Glasgow are planning to go ahead.

Hounslow is planning one of the heaviest charges, as it looks to introduce a fee of up to £1,000 per space per year.

One of the key aims of the WPL is to raise money for public transport. Since introducing the charge in 2012, Nottingham has raised £53.7m that has been used to improve the city’s tram network.

However, a briefing for Reading City Council said that WPL has only had “a small impact on congestion” in Nottingham.

• Parking fees set to rocket as councils plug spending gaps

A survey of 8,744 AA members who work in a city or major town found 57 per cent commute by car and park for free at their workplace.

When those 57 per cent were asked how they would react to having £400 or more docked from their wages as a result of the WPL, 46 per cent said they would continue to drive to work because there is no suitable travel alternative.

Furthermore, 21 per cent said they would continue to drive because it’s the fastest way for them to commute, while 17 per cent said they would probably have to change their job and nine per cent would drive part of the way before either walking, cycling or using a park and ride.

• Drivers fined £4.2m for parking in disabled bays

Just six per cent said they would stop driving altogether and use public transport instead.

Research for the Department of Transport shows that even with current levels of congestion, taking public transport instead of driving to work in a private car usually adds around an hour to daily travel times.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “While many car commuters who live along public transport routes may be able to switch relatively painlessly, WPL discriminates against employees who may be older and less mobile, pregnant women, the low-paid and parents who combine a trip to work with school runs.”

What are your thoughts about being charged to park at work? Let us know in the comments below...

Geneva Motor Show 2019: preview
Posted on Monday January 21, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-01-23 09:56

Here's our round-up of what you can expect to see at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show

Geneva Motor Show 2019 - header

The Geneva Motor Show is one of the most important dates in the automotive calendar. While any increasing number of manufacturers pull out of motor shows around the world Geneva continues to attract some of the biggest names around.

This year will be no different with the likes of Audi, Skoda and Honda all showcasing world debuts at the event in March. There will also be a host of new brands such as Polestar and Pininfarina debuting new metal, too.

Audi

• Baby EV crossover

Audi bosses confirmed to Auto Express that a new Q3-sized all-electric crossover is on the way. It will be built on VW Group’s dedicated pure-electric MEB platform (the same underpinnings as VW’s I.D. line-up) and is likely go on sale in 2021.

BMW

BMW 7 Series

BMW’s latest flagship saloon will be debut at the Geneva Auto Show. Recent images show a few styling updates, chief of which being the grossly enlarged kidney grilles, slimmer headlights and a flatter bonnet. In terms of powertrains, we’re expecting a range of diesel engines, a petrol/electric plug-in hybrid and a range-topping petrol-powered V12, with a choice of either rear- or four-wheel-drive.

Honda

Honda EV prototype

Following the company’s success at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show with the Urban EV, Honda will reveal a new all-electric vehicle at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. The above image gives an indication of how it will look.

Honda says its latest prototype is focussed on functionality, drawing its design inspiration from the retro-styled 2017 Urban EV concept. It will be supported by a demonstration on the firms plans for the electrification of two-thirds of its range by 2025.

Mercedes

Mercedes CLA shooting brake

Mercedes will debut its latest CLA Shooting Brake at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. Like the previous model it will prioritise sporty styling over outright practicality. The engine range will be identical to the current generation A-Class hatch, with a 1.5-litre diesel, a pair of 1.3-litre turbos and a 221bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol forming the lower end of the range. A hot AMG CLA 35 will potentially follow, borrowing the A 35’s 302bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder motor.

Mercedes GLC Coupe facelift

Mercedes will also give its BMW X4 rival a mild facelift, with a new LED headlight design, fresh tail-lights, efficiency updates for its conventionally-powered engines and a potential plug-in hybrid powertrain. Inside, expect a fresh set of digital dial, a new infotainment system and support for Apple CarPlay.

Pininfarina

Pininfarina Battista

Named to honour the company’s founder, Battista Farina, it’s an all-electric hypercar with a claimed 1,900bhp, 2,300Nm of torque, a 0-62mph time of under two seconds and a top speed in excess of 250mph. It’ll go on sale in 2020 with no more than 150 units being built, each costing between £1.5 and £2 million.

Polestar

Polestar 2

Polestar will bring an all-electric Tesla Model 3 rival to the Geneva Motor Show. Joining the company’s plug-in hybrid Polestar 1, the pure-electric saloon will hit showrooms in 2020 with a claimed range of 310 miles and a price-tag of £35,000.

Renault

Renault Clio

Renault looks set to debut its latest Ford Fiesta rival. The newest model will feature updates such as a new 48V hybrid powertrain, reduced kerb weight, basic semi-autonomous driving systems and evolutionary styling update.

Based on the existing car’s CMF-B platform, a revised edition of the 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbo will also be available, along with a new 1.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder. Due to the current movement away from diesel engines, we’re still unsure whether Renault will offer the Clio with any dCi engines.

Skoda

Compact SUV

Skoda will unveil a compact SUV tasked with rivalling the Nissan Juke in the ever-expanding crossover market. Based on an extended version of Volkswagen’s MQB A0 platform, it will follow the brief of the company’s Vision X concept from last year’s Geneva Motor Show and will launch the company’s new 20-model-strong SUV offensive.

It’ll be offered with the VW Group’s latest batch of engines, including a range of 1.0-litre three cylinder petrols, a 148bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol from the latest Golf and a 1.6-litre diesel. A plug-in hybrid remains highly unlikely, at least initially.

Toyota

Toyota Supra

The new Toyota Supra will make its European debut at the Geneva Motor Show. Quite possibly the worst-kept secret on this year’s automotive calendar, the new Supra is built in tandem with the new BMW Z4, sharing its engine and interior components.

It’s 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six produces 335bhp and, thanks to its eight-speed ZF gearbox, it will cover the 0-62mph sprint in 4.3 seconds. Toyota also recently confirmed that the top speed would be electronically limited to 155mph. Prices will start at £52,695 when it goes on sale in summer this year.

Let us know which car you are most looking forward too in the comments below...

EVs could be the same price as petrol and diesel cars in two years’ time
Posted on Monday January 21, 2019

Tristan Shale-Hester 2019-01-21 14:00

New data suggests cost could no longer be a barrier to electric car ownership from as early as 2021, while supply may exceed demand by 2030

Hyundai Kona Electric vs Nissan Leaf - front

Electric vehicles (EVs) could drop to the same price as their petrol and diesel equivalents in as little as two years’ time, according to new data.

Research conducted by Deloitte suggests the cost of owning an EV will be on par with that of a conventionally powered car by 2024, but could come as early as 2021.

• EVs cleaner than petrol or diesel cars, even when the electricity comes from coal

The UK-based multinational professional services firm analysed industry data and predicted the pace of global electrified vehicle adoption – including plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) – is set to rise drastically from two million units in 2018 to four million in 2020, 12 million in 2025 and 21 million in 2030.

In addition, Deloitte predicts that EVs will account for 70 per cent of the electrified car market by 2030, with this growth attributed to growing consumer demand for greener vehicles and governments offering financial incentives while placing restrictions on conventionally powered vehicles in city centres.

In 2018, global electrified vehicle sales surpassed two million units for the first time in history. This was twice the number sold in 2017.

However, Deloitte predicts that, in contrast, supply will “vastly outweigh” demand by approximately 14 million units by 2030.

The firm’s UK automotive partner, Michael Woodward, said: “This gearing up of EV production is driving a wide ‘expectation gap’ and manufacturers, both incumbent and new entrants alike, will need to adapt towards this new competitive landscape.

• Congestion Charge exemption to end for electric cars

“Those that can successfully build trust in their brand, ensure a positive customer experience from initial sale through to aftercare and reflect consumer shifts towards the sharing economy in future business models will successfully navigate this.

“Equally, continual investment in engineering talent and the formation of partnerships with bespoke battery producers and third-party mechanic networks will also be important.”

Click here for our list of the best electric cars on sale right now...

VUHL 05RR revealed, and it’s got even more power
Posted on Monday January 21, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-01-21 12:40

Supercar acceleration and lower kerbweight than an original Mini should make the 05RR blisteringly fast

vuhl 05rr front static

Mexican car manufacturer, VUHL, has revealed a hardcore edition of its track-day car, tasked with taking on the KTM X-Bow and Ariel Atom. Called the 05RR, it’s a heavily revised version of the VUHL 05 with less weight, fresh suspension and even more power.

The new VUHL 05RR features a tuned version of Ford’s 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engine, with 385bhp and 500Nm of torque. That’s a 115bhp and 100Nm boost over the standard model. It feeds its power through a six-speed sequential transmission to the rear wheels.

Best track day cars

Kerbweight has also dropped by 65kg to 675kg, thanks to a fresh carbon fibre/aluminium bonded monocoque. As a result, the 05RR has a power-to-weight ratio of 600bhp per tonne and will cover the 0-62mph dash in a Bugatti Chiron-worrying 2.7 seconds. Top speed stands at 158mph.

Other revisions include a lightened flywheel, lightened clutch and carbon fibre wheels, all of which help reduce rotational mass, transmitting the engine’s power to the road more efficiently. A set of track-focused Bilstein suspension also features, along with slick tyres and a new single-plane rear wing.

VUHL has also improved the RR’s aerodynamics over the standard 05. Improvements to the car’s undertray, splitter, diffuser and rear wing mean it will now generate up to 1.8G of force through a fast corner.

On sale now, prices for the VUHL 05RR start at £119,500 for the base model. However, pick a few items from the options list, like a custom-made helmet or a titanium exhaust, and the price will soon rise to an eye-watering £202,020 for the fully-specced version.

What are your thoughts on the new VUHL 05RR. Let us know in the comments section below…

Volkswagen I.D. R targets Nurburgring electric car record
Posted on Monday January 21, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-01-21 11:20

The Pikes Peak winning-Volkswagen I.D. R will now tackle the Nurburgring, with the hope of claiming another record

Volkswagen I.D. R - front

Volkswagen is attempting to set a lap record for an electric car at the Nurburgring with its I.D. R. Following its victory at Pikes Peak last year, the racer is currently being developed for the record attempt, which will take place later in the summer.

The current Nurburgring record for an all-electric car, held by the NIO EP9, stands at 6:45.90 minutes. Set in 2017 it averaged almost 115mph around the 12.9-mile track.

• Best electric cars to buy now

The Volkswagen I.D. R is driven by two electric motors developing 671bhp and, thanks to its 1,100kg kerbweight (including the driver), 0-62mph is a claimed 2.25 seconds. For the Nurburgring attempt, Volkswagen will revise the I.D. R’s aerodynamics due to the altitude difference between the Nordschleife and Pikes Peak.

Romain Dumas will once again act as the helmsman. In June 2018, he beat the outright Pikes Peak record in the I.D. R by a margin of 16.730 seconds, breaking Sebastien Loeb’s 6:13.878 minute record of 2013 in the Peugeot 208 T16. In the same attempt, Dumas also broke the existing electric car record by almost a minute.

The I.D. R Pikes Peak record kick-started part of Volkswagen’s broader plan to introduce dozens of electric and plug-in hybrid models by 2025, with the first production I.D. hatch set to arrive in 2019.

At the time of the Pikes Peak attempt, Dr Frank Welsch, Volkswagen Member of the Board of Management with responsibility for Development, said: "We want to be at the forefront of electromobility with Volkswagen and the I.D. family.”

Volkswagen hopes to capitalise further on the I.D. R’s records. Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director, said: “After the record on Pikes Peak, the fastest time for electric cars on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife is the next big challenge for the ID. R. A lap record on the Nordschleife is a great accolade for any car, whether a race car or a production car.”

What does the Volkswagen I.D. R have to beat? Click here for the current Nurburgring lap records...

 

MG ZS review
Posted on Monday January 21, 2019

For 
Contemporary design
Good value
Interior quality improvements
Our Rating 
3
Against 
Generic styling
Interior feel still feels basic
Comparatively thirsty
MG ZS - front
2017

The MG ZS struggles to compete head-on in the small SUV segment but few serious flaws and value pricing mean it’s still worth a look

Look at the competition, and it quickly becomes clear the MG ZS has a tough battle on its hands. The compact SUV sector is full to bursting with excellent rivals, and while the Chinese-built MG looks decent enough on paper, it lacks the visual and dynamic flair to really trouble the class leaders. Despite this, buyers who want to jump on the SUV train but haven’t got the budget for a European, Japanese or Korean rival, may easily be tempted by what the ZS does offer at the price. It’s comfortable, decent looking and well-equipped, and the entry-level model especially looks stonking value. Crash safety ratings could be better, though.

21 Jan, 2019
3

The MG ZS is fairly unremarkable from a design point of view, although it’s handsome enough in a generic sort of fashion, with hints of its stylish Japanese rival the Mazda CX-3 from some angles, and more Korean feel from others. Either way, with its bold chrome-highlighted grille, projector lamps and smart alloy wheels, all but the entry model manage to present quite a respectable air. And even the entry model avoids looking like a bargain basement offer.

The five-door body features quite a bluff nose and heavily accentuated wheel arch bulges which give it a slightly ponderous air, while the rakishly angled rear side windows and roofline that tapers towards the rear hatch help to mask the overall boxiness of the shape. Paint colours can make a big impact on a car like this, and MG offers a bright Spiced Orange hue for those who want to stand out a little more than the otherwise fairly standard choices.

Underneath, the ZS utilises a platform designed by MG for the SUVs, and which is shared by the GS its bigger sister and the Roewe RX3, which is a related model sold in China. Neither the engineering or electronics platforms appear particularly exotic by the standard of more expensive rivals, but they serve their purpose at the ZS’s price.

The same can be said of the ZS’s interior, which is one of the best we’ve seen from the marque and certainly won’t disappoint at the price point. Material quality feel isn’t up to the level of Europe’s contenders, but the facia is pleasing to look at and feels durable and decently put together.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The entry level ZS Explore comes with a basic radio set-up although you can stream music via USB or Bluetooth. The two plusher models both come with a central infotainment touchscreen and DAB audio, and while the screen has crisp graphics and responds well to the touch, its menus are not as intuitive as they might be. Only the top Exclusive model gets navigation as standard.

2.5

Unlike MG models of old, the current crop don’t make too much of a pretense of being fun to drive. The ZS is reasonably comfortable on the road, but there’s a lack of sophistication evident even though the suspension effectively soaks up the bumps and potholes that pockmark British roads. It feels more wallowy and less compliant and supple than the Citroen C3 Aircross, for example, and things get markedly worse if you try and make faster progress.

Push the car harder into a bend and excessive body roll becomes apparent fairly early, deterring the driver from pressing on. There’s also too much fore and aft pitching and diving, especially under braking, but for a driver who takes things gently this is unlikely to be too much of an issue

Best small SUVs and crossovers 

The steering is relatively heavy in normal mode, but you can select Dynamic or Urban settings. The former adds weight but no more feel or responsiveness, while Urban usefully lightens the helm for town duty and is a worthwhile addition.

Engine noise is decently muted, but again the Chinese made MG’s lack of sophistication is revealed by wind and road noise – it’s not too terrible, just not as good as rivals. 

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

There are two petrol engine options only, and the entry-level is the 1.5-litre four-cylinder model. This engine is only available with a five-speed manual gearbox, and it drives the front wheels as the ZS has no 4x4 option. It’s a fairly old-school combination, and performance is pretty stodgy although the quoted 0-60mph time of 10.4 seconds isn’t too bad.

The pricier option is a three-cylinder direct injection turbocharged 1.0-litre developed in conjunction with General Motors. It comes with a six-speed automatic gearbox and is actually slower in the sprint to 60mph at 12.1 seconds, although it’s peppier in the 50-70mph zone which should aid overtaking.

2

The cut-price nature of the MG ZS starts to make itself felt in more significant fashion here, as clearly the safety aspects of the car have not been as well conceived or developed as many rivals.

The lack of any sort of automatic emergency braking (AEB) – or other systems designed to mitigate in accident scenarios – contributed to a low score in the Euro NCAP Safety Assist category, but arguably more worryingly the occupant safety scores look poor compared the rivals like the SEAT Arona. Where the ZS scores 71 per cent and 51 per cent for adult and child crash protection, the Arona scores 90 per cent and 80 per cent. As a result of all this, the MG ZS Euro NCAP score of just three stars looks pretty weak.

Reliability has not been shown to be a particular issue, although MG as a brand hasn’t scored well in our Driver Power owner satisfaction surveys. That’s based on older models though, and the MG ZS has yet to make it into the survey. Factors such as running costs and dealer service charges have played into the poor ratings, although styling and fit and finish rank higher – suggesting owners are happy with build quality of their cars.

Warranty

(MG offers a seriously generous warranty on the ZS. It runs to seven years and 80,000 miles – the same length but 20,000 miles short of Kia’s seven-year, 100,000-mile cover. Still, there’s nobody else even in the ballpark, so MG deserves significant credit. The warranty is transferable too, so can be passed onto a new owner if you sell. 

Servicing

MGs service intervals are annually or at 15,000 miles, and you can buy service plans from dealers to help spread the cost. 

4

The MG ZS is very well suited to family life thanks to its boxy five door design, and it’s roomy for five people and their luggage - there’s no seven seat option, or any other body configuration.

The driving position is good with lots of driver’s seat adjustment to accommodate all shapes, but while the steering wheel tilts it doesn’t slide in and out for reach which is a bit of a disappointment. The seat is well bolstered and comfortable for long journeys though, and five people can travel in reasonable comfort, although a middle passenger in the rear will be somewhat squeezed between the two main seats. Visibility from the driver’s seat is good, and the ZS has good cabin storage with large door pockets and cubbies around the passenger space.

Size

The MG ZS is a little bigger than most of its direct competitors, and measures up at 4,314mm long, 1,809mm wide and 1,611mm tall. The Renault Captur is 4,122mm x 1,778mm x 1,566mm. The shape of the C pillar means there’s quite a blind-spot at the rear when reversing, so park sensors are a valuable addition to the spec.

Leg room, head room & passenger space

Leg and headroom is good for all four passengers in the primary seats, but the middle seat on the rear bench is on the narrow side. The transmission tunnel doesn’t intrude too heavily on legroom for the middle passenger though. 

Boot

The MG ZS has pretty generous boot space with 488 litres of luggage volume on offer – that’s nearly 100 litres more than the Nissan Juke.

The MG’s rear seat splits and folds 60:40 when necessary, and with all the seats down luggage volume goes up to 1,375 litres. Unfortunately, the seats don’t fold completely flat, which makes loading longer items potentially more awkward.

3

There’s no doubt the MG ZS is cheap to buy, and it should be reasonably cheap to run too, although it’s not exactly an economy star when you compare its efficiency to that of rivals.

The 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine is the more technically advanced option, and you might hope for better figures than it actually delivers. It only musters 45.4mpg on the combined cycle using WLTP measures, while we’d have hoped for it to crack 50mph like key competitors. CO2 emissions of 145g/km don’t look great either, and we suspect the automatic gearbox is the culprit. But of course you’ll have to drive a long way before any economy disadvantages eat up the savings you’ve made in the showroom by opting for the MG instead of a European competitor.

Plump for the larger but cheaper 1.5-litre engine with its five-speed manual gearbox, and the official figures promise 47.1mpg and 140g/km of CO2. Road tax will be the same whichever model you plump for at £140 per year.

Insurance groups

The lack of performance and cheap pricing mean the MG ZS will be cheap to insure, with the 1.5-litre sitting in group 11 and the 1.0 in group 10 for quote purposes. It’s not quite as attractive as the group 9 rating for the smallest engined Renault Captur but it’s close enough to have a minimal effect on premiums. 

Depreciation

Residual values for the MG range haven’t been on a par with European built rivals, and the fact that there’s no factory PCP option for the ZS that may be an indication that depreciation levels will be relatively harsh. Dealers instead offer a five-year zero per cent finance deal with deposit that gets the Exclusive model down to £199 a month, but you’ll own it outright at the end with no guaranteed value.

Tesla to axe 3,000 jobs in a bid to boost profits
Posted on Friday January 18, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-01-18 17:45

The American electric car firm will cut seven percent of its workforce, following its meagre profits in the second half of 2018

Tesla Factory Tour - production line

In a letter to his staff, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced that his company will be reducing its full-time workforce by seven per cent, retaining only the most critical temporary staff and contractors, in a bid to improve its revenue.

Tesla has suffered a string of financial setbacks, with a series of production bottlenecks limiting the number of cars sold. The company only managed to eke out a four per cent profit margin in Q3 of 2018. Q4 proved to be more financially taxing, with Musk confirming an even narrower profit margin.

Best electric cars to buy now

The EV manufacturer’s workforce was 45,000 employees-strong by the end of 2018 (growing by 30 percent over the previous year), which Musk says is more than the company can support. As a result, Tesla will trim 3,000 jobs.

In addition to the workforce cuts, Tesla will also increase the base-spec Model 3’s production rate, in an effort to lower its retail price. By increasing its scale of production, and automating more of its manufacture, Tesla hopes to finally reach the Model 3’s promised retail price of $35,000 (around £27,000), which it has failed to achieve since the model’s launch.

What are your thoughts on Tesla’s workforce cuts? Let us know in the comments section below…

 

Ford Transit Custom Nugget campervan pitches up
Posted on Friday January 18, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-01-18 17:09

Unveiled at the 2019 Brussels Motor Show, the Ford Transit Custom Nugget boasts an attic bedroom and its own indoor toilet

Ford Transit Custom Nugget - roof raised

This is the Ford Transit Custom Nugget. Converted by Ford’s specialist motorhome partner, Westfalia, the Nugget is available in either short or long wheelbase, and comes with its own kitchenette, a living and dining area and sleeping accommodation in its roof extension.

Standard amenities include a double-burner gas hob, a sink, a refrigerator, an outdoor shower, rear privacy glass with flip-out windows and an auxiliary heater for use when the camper is parked. The Nugget also has two 42-litre water-storage tanks for fresh and waste-water respectively.

• 2018 Ford Transit Custom review

Long wheel-base models are around 37cms longer than the standard camper, adding space for a larger wardrobe, an extra washbasin and a built-in toilet, situated at the rear of the vehicle.

The front two seats can swivel through 180 degrees to face the rear, allowing for up to five people to be seated around the Nugget’s table. Should you require more dining space, a fold-out table with two chairs provides extra space under the camper’s retractable awning.

In the cockpit, the Nugget comes with a healthy amount of storage space and an eight-inch infotainment system fitted with sat-nav and Ford SYNC 3, allowing support for voice and gesture control. Other features include adaptive cruise control, a rear-view camera and an optional premium sound system.

It’s powered by Ford’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder EcoBlue diesel engine. Available in two states of tune, customers can select either a 128bhp or a 168bhp unit, both of which are mated to a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. Ford also claim economy figures of up to 44.8mpg and emissions ratings of 165g/km of CO2.

UK prices for the Nugget are yet to be announced. However, Ford tells us that its looking to officially roll-out the Transit Custom-based camper shortly, following its research into the expanding campervan market in Britain. We’ll update you with pricing information as soon as it’s available.

Now read our review of the Ford Transit Custom. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…

 

 


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