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In the News ...

Range Rover Evoque review
Posted on Friday March 22, 2019

For 
Slick styling
Great mild-hybrid engines
Luxurious, tech-filled interior
Our Rating 
4
Against 
Some rivals better to drive
Rear seats still slightly cramped
Automatic gearbox easily confused
Range Rover Evoque front
2019

The all-new Range Rover Evoque offers great levels of luxury, technology and – perhaps most importantly – style

The latest Range Rover Evoque has taken a big leap forward over the old model, adding fresh styling, up-to-date technology, a range of more efficient mild-hybrid engines and extra touches of luxury and refinement inside.

With two diesels and three petrols – plus a slightly dizzying trim level range – there’s plenty for buyers to choose from. The standard equipment list is generous, while higher-spec models bring full-fat Range Rover appointments like Touch Pro Duo infotainment, sophisticated LED headlights and quilted leather upholstery.

While rivals including sister firm Jaguar’s E-Pace and the BMW X2 offer a more engaging driving experience, the Evoque provides a focus on luxury and comfort that most buyers will prefer. And while it’s likely that Evoques will be sold on looks alone, it’s encouraging that the car once again represents a viable alternative to favourites like the Audi Q3, Volvo XC40 and even JLR’s own Jaguar E-Pace.

22 Mar, 2019
4.4

The latest Range Rover Evoque has received an evolutionary styling update – Land Rover has chosen not to break what worked so well for the original car. The Evoque takes inspiration from the larger Range Rover Velar, with similar headlights, taillights and smoothed-off flanks with smart recessed door handles. R-Dynamic models bring a sportier look, adding black and burnished copper detailing plus a body-coloured front bumper.

There are plenty of alloy wheel designs to pick from, ranging from 17 to 20 inches as standard depending on spec, or 21 inches as an option. On the standard car, an optional black exterior pack replaces some chrome and body-coloured trim parts with glossy black items for £640.

A palette of silvers, greys and blacks makes up most of the Evoque’s paint choices, with Firenze Red a notable exception. Metallic paint costs £640, premium metallic paint £950 and a contrasting silver or black painted roof costs £535.

• Driver Power 2018 – the best cars for interior and comfort

Inside there’s more inspiration from elsewhere in the Range Rover line-up, with a focus on quality materials, clean design and modern infotainment. Overall interior quality has taken a welcome step forward and is now on a par with rivals like the Audi Q3 and BMW X2; it feels slightly ahead of the Volvo XC40 in this regard, with a greater focus on outright luxury.

There’s plenty of scope for personalisation inside. ‘Kvadrat’ textile upholstery is standard, available in two shades and complemented by faux-suede Dinamica elements; quilted leather upholstery is a £1,650 upgrade available in four colours.

There are numerous headlining options, along with decorative dashboard and centre console trim in wood or aluminium; an optional steering wheel with a decorative bezel or suedecloth trim can also be specified. Configurable ambient lighting and illuminated tread plates add an extra element of personalisation.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

In-car technology is one major area where the new Evoque blows its predecessor into the weeds. Entry-level cars get a standard 10-inch infotainment system as found across the JLR portfolio, with standard front and rear parking assistance and a rear view camera.

The step up to S trim adds sat nav and – for the first time on a Land Rover – Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. SE and HSE models benefit from Touch Pro Duo, Land Rover’s dual-screen infotainment system; a set of digital dials behind the steering wheel is also added.

Touch Pro Duo splits the car’s infotainment functions across two screens on the centre console, with most car settings (including ventilation) moved to the lower touchscreen with its three rotary dials. The upper screen is used for sat-nav, music and parking assistance, among other features. The system works well and is a good match for similarly sophisticated systems from Audi, Mercedes and Volvo.

Music lovers will enjoy the two optional sound systems developed by British hi-fi manufacturer Meridian – a 10-speaker system for £600 or a 14-speaker surround sound option for £1,200. The former is standard with HSE trim, with the latter priced at £600 for this model.

3.8

Unlike its sportier JLR stablemate the Jaguar E-Pace, the Range Rover Evoque hasn’t been designed to offer outright thrills to its driver. On a twisty country road there’s a bit of body roll, some slack in the steering at the straight-ahead position and a less tenacious front end than that of the Jaguar.

However, the Evoque is perfectly pleasant to drive with a bit less gusto – as most of us do most of the time – and it particularly comes into its own on the motorway. Here, the refinement and comfort levels on offer have taken a big step on from those of the old car; Land Rover’s engineers have made sure that the Evoque is a cosseting cruiser rather than a sports car in an SUV body. In this respect, the Evoque compares favourably with the Volvo XC40, a small SUV with a similar outlook on life. Even on our test car’s optional 21-inch wheels, ride quality was excellent – though we are yet to test the Evoque on the rutted roads of the UK.

It’s not terribly likely that any Evoque will venture off-road, but being a Land Rover product, the car does boast impressive skills when the going gets rough. Wading depth has increased from 500mm on the old car to 600mm, while Land Rover’s Terrain Response 2 system can automatically adjust the Evoque’s behaviour to suit the conditions at hand. The supplied Comfort, Sand, Grass-Gravel-Snow and Mud and Ruts settings can each be selected manually too.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

We’ve tested the most powerful 237bhp twin-turbocharged diesel model, which manages 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds and a 140mph top speed. Performance is punchy and it barely ticks over at a motorway cruise, but we can’t help but be disappointed by the automatic gearbox, which although generally fit for purpose, can get confused when pressing on through twistier sections.

The engine’s hybrid technology (found across most of the range) cuts in as the Evoque slows to a stop, operating in place of the internal combustion engine at speeds below 11mph. It also stops any unwelcome harshness when restarting the engine.

The best SUVs to buy now

Land Rover expects that most customers will choose a diesel engine despite the current trend towards petrol units. The entry level manual, two-wheel drive D150 Ingenium 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel gets 147bhp and a 0-62mph time of 10.5 seconds; the same engine with four-wheel drive and an automatic manages the same sprint in 11.2 seconds.

Next is a 178bhp D180 version of that engine that cuts the 0-62mph time to 9.3 seconds, while our test car’s 237bhp D240 diesel engine gains an extra turbocharger to provide additional punch.

The entry point into petrol Evoque ownership is the P200, which brings a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 197bhp and a 0-62mph time of 8.5 seconds. The P250 ups power to 246bhp, dropping the 0-62mph sprint to 7.5 seconds, while the top-spec P300 gets hot-hatch levels of performance thanks to its 299bhp, 6.6-second 0-62mph time and 150mph top speed. All petrol models come with four-wheel drive and a nine-speed auto.

3.8

The latest Evoque is yet to be tested by Euro NCAP, but the outgoing model was awarded a maximum five-star overall rating, with 86% adult occupant and 75% child occupant scores.

All models come as standard with a rear camera, front and rear parking assistance, lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking (AEB), a driver condition monitor and cruise control with a speed limiter.

Safety kit includes an intrusion sensor, child locks, six airbags and a deployable bonnet with pedestrian airbag. S models add traffic sign recognition with an adaptive speed limiter, SE models get a standard ‘Park Pack’ (park assist, 360-degree camera, rear traffic monitor, clear exit monitor), while HSE models add Land Rover’s Drive Pack (blind spot assist, adaptive cruise control, high-speed emergency braking).

The latest Evoque is too new to have been included in our 2018 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, but the previous model finished 42nd out of 75 cars surveyed. Land Rover itself did well, however, thanks to the rest of its more modern range, finishing 7th overall.

Warranty

The Evoque is subject to the same competitive warranty as other Land Rover products: three years with unlimited mileage. This is the same as you get with the Jaguar E-Pace or BMW X2, but beats the standard three-year/60,000-mile warranties from Audi and Lexus.

Servicing

There aren’t any firm figures for servicing costs as yet, but the outgoing Evoque was quite expensive in this regard, requiring £330 for an interim service or £440 for a full service. It’s likely that the current car should come in at around the same mark.

3.9

The Range Rover Evoque may look much like the old car to the untrained eye, but with just a few Velar-inspired tweaks a near decade-old design has been brought right up-to-date. The car has a longer wheelbase than before to try to free up some more rear passenger space, but that sloping roofline still poses an issue for taller occupants.

In the front, a good driving position is easily found – eight-way manually adjustable seats are standard on entry-level models, with S, SE and HSE cars getting 10-, 14- and 16-way electric adjustability respectively. S models get heated seats, while the SE and HSE add a memory function for multiple drivers.

Rearward visibility isn’t fantastic thanks to that narrow rear window and slim glasshouse, but the optional ClearSight rear-view mirror (£450, standard on HSE) helps solve this issue. It uses a roof-mounted camera to display an uninterrupted, widescreen view of the road behind or – at the push of a button – can be returned to a conventional mirror.

There are four generously sized storage bins, a large cubby under the centre front armrest and a useful rubberised tray on the centre console that’ll happily store a phone or wallet – cupholders are located beneath this.

Size

The Range Rover Evoque measures in at just under 1.65m tall, 4.37m long and a few milimetres over 1.9m wide - or 2.1m including mirrors. For comparison, the Volvo XC40 is a few millimetres taller and longer, but a shade narrower at 2.03m including mirrors.

The BMW X2 is lower, measuring just over 1.52m tall, but almost the exact length and width of the Evoque - 4.36m and just under 2.1m including mirrors, respectively.

Leg room, head room & passenger space

There’s enough space in the Evoque to sit one six-footer behind another, but despite a small increase in leg room over the original car, the rear-seat occupant will still feel a little hemmed-in.

Longer journeys may become uncomfortable for adults in the rear as a result; sitting three-abreast will also prove pretty cosy as the car tapers towards its rear. The sloping roofline will annoy anyone much over six feet tall. Rivals like the Volvo XC40 and Audi Q3 make a much better job of rear-seat packaging.

Boot

The Evoque’s boot is up 10 per cent in size versus the outgoing car. There’s 591 litres on offer with the seats up, but this is probably measured floor-to-ceiling; rival’s figures seem small on paper by comparison, but the difference is not as drastic in actual use. For example, BMW quotes 470 litres for the X2 and Lexus 475 litres for its NX.

Fold the seats down and there’s 1,383 litres of space to play with. The rear seats folds on a 40:20:40 split - this can be done via a handle in the boot. In true Land Rover tradition, there’s a huge selection of practicality-boosting accessories to add – seat-back stowage (£88), a rubber mat for the boot (£136), a rear bumper protection cover for loading (£179 and a modular ‘Click and Go’ system for the rear of the front seats, which costs £32 plus extra for hook, hanger, iPad/Samsung tablet mount or tray-table attachments. The usual array of luggage retention solutions are also offered.

Towing

The Evoque lives up to its badge when it comes to towing. There’s a choice of an electrically deployable tow bar for £985 or a detachable item for £700; Land Rover’s Advanced Tow Assist (which can only be had in combination with certain options) costs £360, which helps demystify the dark art of reversing a trailer using the rear view camera.

All Evoque models can tow an unbraked trailer of up to 750kg; choose an automatic gearbox and diesel engine combination and there’s up to 2000kg of braked trailer towing ability. The entry level diesel with two-wheel drive and a manual gearbox is limited to 1,600kg braked trailers. Maximum towball weight across the range is 100kg.

3.5

Regardless of which engine you go for, the Range Rover Evoque boasts good economy and emissions, which should help keep a cap on long-term running costs and company car tax contributions.

Starting with the diesels, the lowest-powered D150 has a quoted NEDC-correlated emissions figure of 143g/km, with average WLTP fuel economy of 42.1 to 44.9mpg; these figures rise to 169g/km and drop to 39.9-41.9mpg respectively if you opt for the automatic, four-wheel drive version.

The D180 sits somewhere in between, with 150g/km of CO2 and 38.4 to 41.3mpg. Opt for the D240 and you’ll still emit less CO2 than the equivalent lowest-powered automatic diesel Evoque, with 163g/km quoted. Fuel economy sits at 37.9 to 40.4mpg, however. The most powerful diesel, the D240, emits 163g/km of CO2 and returns 37.9 to 40.4mpg on average.

The petrol models emit more CO2 and return slightly worse fuel economy figures than their diesel counterparts. The lowest-powered P200 emits 176g/km of CO2, with 28.6 to 30.7mpg on average; step to the P250 and you’ll get 180g/km of CO2 with average economy figures of 28.5 to 30.4mpg.

The hot-hatch-baiting P300 is the biggest polluter of the range with 186g/km of CO2, although fuel economy remains much the same as the other petrols: 28.7 to 30.3mpg on average.

We’d plump for the D180 diesel, which seems to offer the best trade off between performance, economy and emissions. Opt for the Evoque or Evoque S with this engine and go easy on the options and you should avoid the government’s £320 annual VED surcharge in years two to six of ownership for cars over £40,000; the CO2-weighted first-year road tax payment will be £205 (usually rolled into the on-the-road price), followed by the standard £135 per year (after April 2019) for hybrid

And while Benefit in Kind percentage charge ranges from 34 to 37% in the 2018/19 tax year depending on engine, all Evoque models will be in the maximum 37% band for 2019/20.

Insurance groups

The Range Rover Evoque starts in insurance group 26 for the lowest-powered petrol and diesel models, climbing through groups 29 to 39 for the R-Dynamic D180 and HSE P300 models respectively.

By contrast, the BMW X2 starts in group 19 in basic sDrive18i SE form; the sportier sDrive20i M Sport X tops out at group 32 and the performance-orientated X2 M35i’s group 40 rating is just one spot above the sportiest Evoque. The Audi Q3 ranges from group 24 to 36 depending on spec, while the Volvo XC40 sits in groups 22 to 33.

It’s likely that the cachet of that Range Rover badge might have something to do with the Evoque’s higher rating versus its rivals.

Depreciation

Our experts predict that the latest Range Rover Evoque should hold on to around 46 to 54 per cent of its value come trade-in time after three years and 36,000 miles.

By contrast, the Audi Q3 is predicted to retain around 41 to 48 per cent of its value over the same period, with the smaller Q2 expected to hold on to as much as 53%. The Volvo XC40 is expected to retain a decent 47 to 51 per cent over the same period

Land Rover wins court dispute over Chinese copycat
Posted on Friday March 22, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-03-22 15:28

Land Rover has announced its success in a legal battle regarding the similarity between the Evoque and the Chinese-made LandWind X7

Range Rover Evoque at Geneva2

Jaguar Land Rover has won a legal battle against the Chinese car manufacturer, Jiangling, after raising a case of copyright infringement in 2016. Until now, the Chinese firm has sold an SUV which bears a clear resemblance to the Range Rover Evoque, called the LandWind X7, which the Chinese judicial system has now deemed unsuitable for sale.

The Beijing Chaoyang District Court ruled that the LandWind X7’s similarity to the Range Rover Evoque has caused widespread consumer confusion, outlining five major design aspects which the Chinese car plagiarised from the British car. These include its basic silhouette, its roofline, its headlights and the near-identical body creases down the car’s flanks.

Unbelievable Chinese copycat cars

As a result of its piracy, Jiangling must withdraw all LandWind X7s from the market and pay compensation to JLR. Keith Benjamin, JLR’s Global Legal Director, commented on the outcome, stating, “we welcome this decision of the Beijing court, which further strengthens our confidence in investing in China.

LandWind X7

“This ruling is a clear sign of the law being implemented appropriately to protect consumers and uphold their rights so that they are not confused or misled, whilst protecting business investment in design and innovation.”

Land Rover’s concerns over the Chinese copycat car were first raised in 2016. At the launch of the updated 2018 Range Rover, the firm’s design boss, Gerry McGovern, said the company was “wary of showing new concepts” because of such incidents.

McGovern was concerned that the design of a forthcoming car could be copied from the concept before Land Rover could launch the production version. Shortly after the new Range Rover’s launch, the British firm filed an updated copyright for the Evoque’s design and an unfair competition complaint against Jiangling Motors.

“The success of Jaguar Land Rover is based partly on its unique design and engineering attributes, which we believe are worth protecting across all markets,” said a further JLR spokesperson.

Land Rover isn’t the only brand to fall victim to alleged copycat designs. Chinese manufacturer Zotye has previously gained notoriety for producing models which seem to be copy-and-paste versions of the Porsche Macan, VW Tiguan and Smart ForTwo.

Now check out our round-up of some of the most blatant Chinese copycat cars...

Aston Martin DBZ Centenary Collection marks 60-year Zagato partnership
Posted on Friday March 22, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-03-25 09:00

Aston Martin celebrates its 60-year partnership with the Italian design house Zagato, with £6 million pair of ‘DB’ models

Aston Martin DBZ Centenary Collection

Aston Martin has released sketches of its upcoming DBZ Centenary Collection. Built to celebrate the firm’s 60-year partnership with Zagato, the collection consists of a modern, track-only version of the classic DB4 GT Zagato and a new, road-legal DBS GT Zagato.

The Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato Continuation was announced last year, with the promise that it would follow the template of the original car, albeit with a few modern engineering and performance enhancements. Much like the firm’s DB4 GT Continuation model, it will be a brand-new version of the original 1960s car.

First continuation Aston Martin DB4 GT built at Newport Pagnell

Built using a combination of yesteryear craftsmanship and modern-day technology, the DB4 GT Zagato Continuation will feature a tubular chassis and thin-gauge, aluminium panelling. The entire body is hand-beaten, with its styling checked against a digital scan of an original DB4 GT Zagato.

Aston Martin claims a power figure of 380bhp, which will likely come courtesy of a reworked version of the same Tadek Marek-designed 4.2-litre twin-spark straight-six petrol engine from the DB4 GT Continuation. Power will be sent to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission and a limited slip differential.

Paired with the DB4 GT Zagato Continuation will be the new DBS GT Zagato. Based on the new Aston Martin DBS Superleggera, it will feature a redesigned body with a wider wrap-around windscreen, flared wheel arches, unique headlamps, a new grille and a swooping carbon fibre double-bubble roof.

Performance specifications for the DBS GT Zagato are yet to be released, but we expect it will feature a reworked version of the 715bhp 5.2-litre twin-turbocharged V12 from the standard DBS Superleggera.

The DBZ Centenary Collection is priced at £6 million, with deliveries for the DB4 GT Zagato Continuation starting by the end of the year. The DBS GT Zagato will follow, reaching customers by the end of 2020. Production will be limited to just 19 pairs, with the two models being sold exclusively as a duo.

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

 

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo review
Posted on Friday March 22, 2019

For 
Huge performance
Entertaining chassis
Class-leading interior
Our Rating 
4.5
Against 
Expensive to buy
Pricey options list
Hybrids less exciting to drive
Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo front
2019

With powerful engines, a sublime chassis and a luxurious interior, the Panamera Sport Turismo could be the ultimate executive express

The Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo builds on the success of the standard Panamera and offers enhanced accommodation and arguably a more stylish exterior, too. But it’s likely the most compelling reason to buy a Sport Turismo is for the driving experience – just like the standard Panamera, it combines excellent all-wheel-drive traction with a level of precision and agility you wouldn’t have thought possible from such a large luxury car.

The Sport Turismo commands a small price premium – just over £2,000 in most cases – over the ‘regular’ Panamera, but we feel it’s worth paying for the extra space on offer.

22 Mar, 2019
4.7

While the first-generation Panamera had a decent cabin, the second-generation model on which the Sport Turismo is based features an even better interior design, blending sporting pretensions with generous accommodation and a host of technology.

All models come with comfortable electric seats and every driver, no matter their size or shape, should be able to find their optimal driving position. Porsche has also taken criticisms of the original Panamera on board, and as a result there are significantly fewer buttons clustered around the centre console to contend with. So finding the function you are looking for is far less confusing.

The buttons that do remain are touch sensitive and covered by a sophisticated glass panel which provides a top-quality feel. And that’s a theme repeated throughout the cockpit – high-grade materials are used and the attention to detail is second to none. There’s a nice approach to the traditional Porsche instrumentation, with the centrally positioned analogue rev counter now flanked by a pair of seven-inch digital screens whose content is customisable by the driver.

The one on the right can feature information such as the sat-nav map, fuel gauge, on-board computer, range, economy and the like. The one to the left encompasses the speedometer, speed limit and traffic sign recognition, as well as cruise control information. The overriding impression is of a very slick driving environment with everything you need falling easily to hand.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

Along with the Sport Turismo’s pair of digital screens flanking the rev counter, you get a centrally mounted 12.3-inch touchscreen that operates a plethora of functions and acts as the hub for the Porsche Communication Management. As you’d expect there’s an intuitive factory navigation system that gives seamless route guidance, although these days owners will be more likely to use the standard-fit Apple CarPlay on a regular basis.

The system in the Panamera Sport Turismo is the most sophisticated multimedia set-up ever fitted to a Porsche, and it shows – you can connect to apps, use Google Earth and hook up to the built-in WiFi hotspot for internet access. It works beautifully and is very impressive.

4.8

Given that Porsche made its name manufacturing sports cars, it should come as no surprise that its SUVs, saloons and estate cars follow the same path, offering levels of driver involvement not generally associated with these types of vehicle. And this holds true for the Panamera Sport Turismo, too.

Within the six-model range there are some differences to be noted depending on suspension set-ups and powertrains. But the overriding impression is that this two-tonne executive express rides, handles and performs with aplomb whether you opt for the entry-level Panamera 4 or the top-spec Turbo S E-Hybrid.

Perhaps what impresses most is the Sport Turismo’s agility – for a big, heavy car it handles exceptionally well, turning into bends with verve and composure, accompanied by exceptional levels of grip thanks to its four-wheel-drive system. The steering is nicely geared and well weighted, and if you go for the optional rear-wheel steering the Sport Turismo feels like an even more keenly sporting machine.

The E-Hybrid models aren’t quite so finely honed as the conventionally powered models, thanks to the additional weight they have to carry around. The range-topping Turbo S E-Hybrid tips the scales at over 400kg more than the entry-level Panamera 4 Sport Turismo, and this extra weight can be felt when cornering at speed, even though the flagship model has more sophisticated air suspension rather than the more basic car’s steel spring set-up.

That air suspension is an option on the Panamera 4 and 4S models, but is included as standard on the rest of the range. It’s worth having because it does help the Sport Turismo to ride with significantly more composure than the cars with the standard set-up, especially if large 21-inch wheels are fitted. In Normal mode, the Sport Turismo with air suspension has a remarkably fluid ride quality, with only the worst of potholes sending a shudder through the cockpit. In Sport or Sport Plus modes it’s considerably firmer and allows more minor road imperfections to be felt, but the flip side of this is superior body control when cornering.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

Despite Porsche shunning diesel power these days, there are still six models to choose from and even the entry-level £75,000 Panamera 4 Sport Turismo offers 325bhp and 450Nm of torque. That’s enough to propel it from 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds and onto a top speed of 160mph. The 4S features a reworked version of the 4’s 3.0-litre V6 for an output of 434bhp and maximum torque of 550Nm. Its 0-62mph time drops by over a second to 4.4 seconds and top speed rises to 177mph. You’ll pay an additional £21,000 for the privilege, though.

The other two conventionally powered Sport Turismos, the GTS and the Turbo, both use a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 in different states of tune. The GTS has 454bhp and 620Nm of torque to deliver a 4.1-second 0-62mph time. Meanwhile, the Turbo packs 542bhp and 770Nm for a 3.8-second sprint time. Top speeds are 179mph and 188mph respectively.

Porsche also has two plug-in hybrid models in its Sport Turismo range. The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid uses the Panamera 4’s V6 biturbo engine allied to an electric motor for combined maximum outputs of 456bhp and 700Nm of torque. It covers 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds. The range-topping Turbo S E-Hybrid matches the Turbo’s 4.0-litre V8 with an electric motor for a colossal 670bhp and 850Nm of torque, which is enough for a benchmark sprint time of 3.4 seconds.

While the Turbo S E-Hybrid is undoubtedly the fastest choice in the line-up and the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid the greenest, most frugal and company car tax-friendliest, the hybrid models don’t quite offer the perfect Panamera driving experience. Their overly complex drive modes do take a little away from the fun behind the wheel.

4.4

The Panamera doesn’t sell in large enough numbers in the UK to have featured in our Driver Power 2018 satisfaction survey, and we didn’t receive enough responses from owners for Porsche to have ranked among more run-of-the-mill manufacturers. But the brand is well respected within the industry for its engineering excellence, so we don’t have any qualms about the reliability of the Sport Turismo.

As far as safety is concerned, the Sport Turismo does come with all the expected stability and traction control devices and has a comprehensive selection of airbags, too. However, while the car is undoubtedly surefooted, most safety enhancing systems that you might expect to be standard equipment are to be found on the options list. On the entry-level Panamera 4, for example, you’d need to spend an additional £795 for a lane keeping assist system, £617 for a lane changing assist system and an eye-watering £2,438 for its most advanced active cruise control set-up.

It’s unlikely the Sport Turismo will be tested by the safety experts at Euro NCAP, but the Porsche Cayenne was assessed in 2017 and achieved the full five stars, so we’d expect the Panamera Sport Turismo to offer similar levels of protection in the event of an accident.

Warranty

Porsche’s new car warranty lasts for three years and has no mileage restriction.

Servicing

Porsches tend to be more expensive to maintain than some of their mainstream competitors, although they are not in the same category as some Italian supercars. Main service intervals on the Sport Turismo are every 20,000 miles.

4.2

One of the main reasons for choosing a Sport Turismo over the standard Panamera is that the shooting brake styling gives the car an edge on practicality. The boot is a little larger, there’s a little more headroom in the rear and the Sport Turismo is also suitable for occasional five-seat use, whereas the Panamera hatch is strictly a four-seater. However, where the Panamera hatch is also available in long-wheelbase ‘Executive’ trim, which offers significantly more rear legroom, the Sport Turismo can only be ordered on the standard wheelbase.

There’s no doubting the Sport Turismo’s comfort levels, though; the seats hug and support you in all the right places and with the high centre console you feel cocooned when sitting in the driver or passenger seat. There’s plenty of storage space for oddments, too, with a cubby in the centre console and generous door pockets.

On the optional air suspension, the ride is excellent when in Normal mode, and you’re well insulated from wind noise, although tyre noise on the larger alloys can be a little intrusive on some surfaces.

Size

There’s no escaping the fact that the Sport Turismo is a very large car – it’s over five metres long and nearly two metres wide, so it can be a bit of a handful when threading your way through city streets or negotiating width restrictions. By way of comparison, the Panamera is almost identical in size to a BMW 7 Series saloon.

Nevertheless, visibility is actually quite good, even though the car doesn’t have a huge glasshouse, and while you’ll need a large space in which to park, manoeuvring into it isn’t too much of a battle.

Leg room, head room and passenger space

As you’d expect from a vehicle with these dimensions, the interior accommodation is pretty accomplished, although for a car of this size its ‘4+1’ seating arrangement is perhaps a bit of a disappointment. But this is how Porsche describes it and, in effect, it means the middle ‘seat’ in the rear is only to be considered for occasional use; a trip to the pub would be fine, a cross-continent drive would not.

Legroom for the two outer rear passengers is more than adequate and the Sport Turismo’s raised roofline does offer a little more in the way of headroom for passengers in the rear.

Boot

Another perceived advantage of the Sport Turismo is that its shooting brake styling will offer a bigger boot than in the Panamera hatch, and it does, but probably not by as much as you might be thinking.

In the Sport Turismo you get between 520 and 1,390 litres of luggage carrying capacity, which is between 20 litres (with the seats up) and 50 litres (when they’re folded) more than in the standard Panamera. However, slightly more bulky items can be carried and the 40:20:40-split folding rear seats do make it a more practical proposition. The seats also fold virtually flat, which is a bonus when carrying larger items.

3.9

While the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid might not be the best driver’s car in the Sport Turismo range, it is likely to be the most popular model thanks to its lower running costs. If you have a relatively short commute you can take advantage of its all-electric running capability, and with a WLTP economy figure of between 78.5 and 85.6mpg, it offers significant fuel savings over its conventionally powered cousins. It’s also by far the most cost-effective machine in terms of Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company car tax with a 16 per cent BiK rate thanks to its 60-62g/km CO2 emissions figure.

Despite its monumental performance, the Turbo S E-Hybrid could also potentially be a relatively ‘sensible’ purchase, with official economy figures of between 72.4 and 74.3mpg and a BiK rating of 19 per cent. However, the purchase price of over £140,000 means company car tax will still be a hefty proposition. And, naturally enough, if you use its performance potential you’re highly unlikely to achieve anything near those official economy figures.

The four conventionally-powered Sport Turismos are closely matched on official WLTP economy figures, with the 4 and 4S being marginally more fuel efficient that the two 4.0-litre V8s in the GTS and Turbo. Best economy is quoted at 25.6mpg for the Panamera 4, while the Turbo and GTS have worst-case official figures of 22.2mpg. As with the Hybrid models, should you delve into their considerable performance envelopes you’ll return significantly worse economy.

All Sport Turismos bar the E-Hybrids attract a BiK rate of 37 per cent, which will make them an expensive company car choice. Thanks to their high prices, models with purely internal combustion engines attract high annual VED rates of £450, while buyers choosing the hybrid models face bills of £440 a year.

Insurance

As you might expect, a sporting estate with high levels of performance and high purchase prices is going to be expensive to insure. Every model in the Sport Turismo range falls into the top insurance bracket, group 50, so you’d be wise to get some quotes before signing on the dotted line.

While the Panamera Sport Turismo has very few direct competitors, most cars in this price range and with this performance potential will attract similarly high insurance rates. In addition, most insurers will probably require a Thatcham-approved tracking system to be fitted.

Depreciation

As the Sport Turismo is still a very new car, it’s difficult to gauge how it will perform in regard to depreciation. But for the hatchback Panamera, the residual value after three years is expected to be between 48 and 53 per cent. While this will represent a significant sum of money, it is better than average for the class where expensive models traditionally depreciate quite heavily during their first years on the road.

New 2019 MINI Clubman facelift caught completely uncovered
Posted on Friday March 22, 2019

James Brodie 2019-03-22 11:51

The MINI Hatchback’s practical Clubman sibling is due for a refresh, and we’ve got exclusive pictures

MINI Clubman spy shots watermark

The next MINI due for renewal is the Clubman estate, and according to these fresh spy shots, a facelifted version of MINI’s barn-doored Volkswagen Golf rival is due to hit showrooms imminently.

Our spy photographers seem to have ambushed the updated car during a press shoot, indicating the immediacy of its arrival. As such, we expect the updated car to go on sale by the summer.

Best estate cars to buy

The pictures indicate that the facelift heading the Clubman’s way will be a very subtle one, much like the minor redesign bestowed upon the MINI hatch last year. These spy shots showcase the updated car with no disguise at all, but all we can pick out on these Cooper S models are new wheels, new headlights, and taillights using an interpretation of the hatch’s oft-mentioned union flag lighting signature.

Elsewhere the new Clubman will receive a fresh set of badges, using the MINI brand’s latest motif, while the LED headlights will be the same single-ring running light and indicator setup used on the hatch. Matrix LED headlights will be available on the options list, as will a host of new customisation options such as wheels and paint colours.

Given the technical similarities of the Clubman and the Hatch, and the fact that a lot of the new tech featured on the facelifted Hatch trickled down from the Clubman, we expect very minor changes inside. A 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system will be a standard fit, but an optional eight-inch unit will appear too. As usual, the infotainment will be based heavily on BMW’s iDrive system. Elsewhere, wireless charging pads for smartphones capable of inductive charging will also be added, but new interior trims and schemes to choose from will ultimately be the most obvious and transformative additions. 

Engines will remain unchanged with Cooper models powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine producing 134bhp, and Cooper S cars using a 189bhp 2.0-litre turbo, though automatic versions of Clubman should inherit a new seven-speed automatic dual-clutch gearbox. Diesel has been removed from the hatchback variant, but the Clubman could continue with a single diesel option.

Though this latest change to the MINI line-up looks minor, the brand is gearing up for a big release early in 2020. An all-electric version of the MINI Hatch is on the way, and we've been for an early drive.

Do you like the look of the new MINI Clubman? Let us know in the comments below...

'The world may never see 100 million new car sales in a year'
Posted on Friday March 22, 2019

Mike Rutherford 2019-03-23 13:00

86 million new car sales in 2018 is impressive but the 100 million barrier may be out of reach says Mike Rutherford

OPINION new car sales

Sorry, I got it wrong. A couple of years back I slipped into forecasting mode (similar to and almost as dangerous as betting on the horses), and predicted consumers of the world would by now be buying or leasing at least 100 million new cars a year. 

Truth is, this hasn’t happened. The relentless growth in car sales we’ve witnessed over recent decades has, for now at least, stalled. Only around 86 million private individuals and businesses signed up for fresh-from-the-factory vehicles last year.

New car sales 2019

That’s fewer than in 2017, and 2019 is expected to be another flat year. As far as car sales in the 2010s are concerned, they’ve peaked. At best, we’ll have to wait until the roaring ’20s before that psychologically important 100m-per-annum barrier is breached.

In one sense, 86 million car sales a year is impressive. But we need to remind ourselves that this figure is surprisingly low in view of the fact there are now hundreds of millions – possibly billions – of in-work or comfortably retired consumers across the globe with incomes large enough to place them in new-car territory.

In China, India and Brazil, for example, salt-of-the-earth working-class folk have wealth like never before. But they’re just not signing up for new cars in the numbers I, for one, expected them to.

Maybe they’re holding back due to financial uncertainties on a national, international or, more likely, personal level. Or perhaps a lack of consumer confidence and/or long-term
job security fears prevents them from acquiring the keys to new cars. Perhaps they are simply opting for used vehicles instead, deeming factory-fresh models too expensive.

Another factor is the politicians at home and abroad, with their war on diesel and the fines or bans they slap on motorists who dare to drive personal vehicles in city centres.

It’s also becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to qualify as a driver with a full licence then buy proper, eye-wateringly expensive insurance cover. Some might ask why they should bother learning to drive at all when autonomous cars will soon do all the driving for them – before adding that while they’re waiting for the driverless revolution to arrive, they can always use existing car sharing, ride-hailing and other services.

Being transported door-to-door in cars by ‘professional’ drivers charging reasonable fares has never been more convenient. And the process will, in theory, get cheaper and easier when autonomous tech takes over and driver wages are removed from the equation.

In crude terms, today’s ‘norm’ is that one private car is purchased and driven by one private car owner each day. But the ‘new norm’ will be one public car, without a driver, carrying, say, 100 folks over the same period. That, in turn, will translate into a single sale for the global motor industry, not the 100 sales it would have previously enjoyed. 

No wonder manufacturers are currently struggling to sell 100 million cars a year, never mind the hundreds of millions they could – and perhaps should – be selling in a world that comprises nearly eight billion people.

Enjoyed reading this? Then you can find more of Mike's columns here...

All-electric Porsche Cayenne under discussion
Posted on Thursday March 21, 2019

Jonathan Burn 2019-03-21 22:20

Porsche’s flagship SUV could go electric as bosses discuss the Cayenne’s future

Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid - front static

The next Porsche Cayenne could be sold as a fully electric car after company bosses revealed that discussions are taking place about the SUVs future.

The German brand has recently accelerated its plans for electric vehicles by confirming the next-generation of Macan, due in 2021, will become the firm’s third fully electric model following on from the Taycan saloon and Taycan Cross Turismo estate.

Best electric cars to buy now

Bosses are now discussing whether the larger Cayenne could follow suit. A company spokesperson told Auto Express: “This decision is not made yet. But of course, [we’re discussing] the future of almost every model, because many markets are asking for electric cars.”

An all-new Cayenne is still a number of years away but if a full EV is given the green light it will be built as a dedicated EV with no petrol or plug-in hybrid versions offered. Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said: “When we do a fully electric car it has to be designed purpose built for electro mobility, like the Taycan. I’m not a fan of doing everything in one car because our vehicles are high performance and to achieve that with multi purpose powertrains it is not possible.” 

As a result, it’s possible that Porsche could sell the existing Cayenne alongside the dedicated electric version, which would move to a new platform, to cater for markets that may not be switching to electric vehicles as quickly as others. 

Blume added: “The first steps for the next decade, we have to have in every segment, in our sports car, limousines and SUVs, an offer of a petrol, hybrid and full electric car.” 

Should Porsche bring an electric Cayenne to market? Let us know your thoughts in the comments…

New Porsche 911 Carrera S 2019 review
Posted on Thursday March 21, 2019

Porsche 911 Carrera S - front tracking
21 Mar, 2019 5:30pm Richard Ingram

We get behind the wheel of the 992-generation Porsche 911 Carrera S to see if it can cope with the UK's notoriously harsh roads

The Porsche 911 is the benchmark against which all new sports cars are measured. Incremental improvements with each model iteration have transformed the latest version into one of the greatest all-rounders on sale.

We first tried the 992-generation 911 Coupe back in January, though our impressions centred on a single track drive – complemented by only a few miles around the restrictive perimeter roads near the Hockenheim circuit in Germany.

Best sports cars to buy

The car’s biggest test had to wait, then. You can’t truly judge a car’s dynamic quality until you’ve driven it on UK roads – and what better place to do that than around the fantastic winding switchbacks, tight corners, and pothole-ridden tarmac of the Scottish Borders?

The first thing you notice is how well damped this latest 911 is. The compliance on rough roads is little short of astounding; if roads like these can’t upset a car’s high-speed composure then little else is likely to cause issue. Irregular cambers, deep ridges, and sudden changes of elevation did little to affect the 992’s solid, squat and impressively collected stature.

The same is true when cruising. While road noise on the Porsche’s typically wide-section rear tyres continues to be the car’s downfall, it’s impossible to pick fault with the way it rides on a motorway. Shamefully, adaptive cruise control is a £1,203 option. Oh well, you can’t have it all.

While the roads we drove weren’t soaking wet, you’d happily describe them as greasy. An early squeeze of the throttle on the exit of a particularly tight bend is enough to send the 992 squirming, but switching the car to its ‘wet’ setting gives the two-wheel drive ‘S’ model near-4S levels of traction – and with seemingly little restriction of power. Rarely do the complex electronics interfere with the drive experience, simply gnawing away in the background to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Normal mode is where many drivers will spend most of their time, and it’s in this setting where the 911 arguably feels most complete. Striking a beautiful balance between compliant cruiser and ballistic missile, it allows you to pootle calmly through town before unleashing 444bhp when the roads open up. The gearbox, despite now featuring eight (instead of seven) ratios, is as alive and responsive as ever – the short but perfectly mounted shift paddles falling neatly to hand in the 10-to-2 position.

Speaking of the steering, this is an area where the 911 continues to delight, setting a high bar in the sub-£100k sports car class. The wheel is upright, but there’s loads of feel, providing lightning fast reactions and a level of precision missing in many rivals. It offers a perfect match for the muscular engine and responsive gearbox.

While the previous-generation 991 model started life as a naturally-aspirated sports car, all non-GT models switched to forced induction when the car was facelifted in 2016. However, as this 992 is fully-turbo’d from the start, it has allowed Porsche’s engineers to work a little harder on making the 911 sound as ferocious as it looks.

Both the S and 4S use an evolution of the 3.0-litre turbo flat-six found in the outgoing car. Turn the starter switch and you’re welcomed by a familiar bark as the revs rise before settling into a burbling idle. It’s relatively quiet around town, but push harder and you can hear the extra whooshes and whistles as the turbo spools, as well as the occasional pop and bang when you lift off. It can’t match the aural engagement of a Jaguar F-Type, but it’s better than before.

Elsewhere, the cabin offers a big step up over the car it replaces, with a clutter-free dashboard centred around a short, stubby gear lever. There’s a line of simple toggle switches harking back to 911s of old, while the central screen sits higher up and is easier to navigate as a result. The digital displays either side of the rev counter offer crystal clear trip and navigation info on demand.

The 911 is still a strict 2+2, however. While it’s both more dynamic and easier to live with, the rear seats are strictly for kids – and even then you’ll have their muddy feet brushing against the supportive and infinitely adjustable front chairs. If just two of you are travelling, those backs seats double as a luggage rack – and there’s sufficient space in the nose (132 litres) for a couple of soft bags.

5
While there was never much doubt, this latest 992-generation Porsche 911 manages to improve on its already accomplished predecessor in near enough every way. The smarter cabin and expert detailing give it true GT credentials, while the explosive powertrain and responsive handling make it a fantastically engaging car to drive. The newest 911 therefore retains its place as the benchmark in this class, without question. To think there will be even harder, faster and more dynamically proficient models on the way, is quite hard to comprehend.
  • Model: Porsche 911 Carrera S
  • Price: £93,110
  • Engine: 3.0-litre 6cyl turbo petrol
  • Power/torque: 444bhp/530Nm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 3.5 seconds
  • Top speed: 191mph
  • Economy/ C02: 28.5mpg/ 205g/km
  • On sale: Now

Toyota Corolla vs Volkswagen Golf vs Peugeot 308
Posted on Thursday March 21, 2019

2019-03-24 16:00

We see if Toyota’s new British-built Corolla can put up a fight against rival family hatches from VW and Peugeot

corolla vs golf vs 308 header

Car manufacturing in the UK is facing an uncertain future, but there’s still some good news around, and Toyota’s brand new Corolla family hatch is one such success story. The model is built at the Japanese firm’s plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire.

It replaces the Auris in the maker’s line-up, another product that was produced here in the UK, but Toyota has opted to return to the name that has sold more cars than any other.

Best hatchbacks

Despite using an older nameplate, it’s an all-new car featuring modern hybrid engine technology. The Corolla is available as a hatchback, estate and saloon, and it’s the former we’re testing here, because it will be the most popular with British buyers. Yet its success will depend on how well it matches up to its key rivals.

The Volkswagen Golf and Peugeot 308 we’ve lined up here are strong contenders in the hatchback class, offering families plenty of space and comfort in an efficient package for not much money. Topping the class, the VW is the car to beat here, because it offers the best mix of abilities. But the Peugeot’s appeal runs deep, too, with impressive versatility, fuel economy and tech to rival the Golf.

However, can this sharp new Corolla match its competitors in terms of practicality, comfort, efficiency and equipment?

Toyota Corolla

Model:

Toyota Corolla 1.8 Petrol Hybrid Excel

Price:  £27,345
Engine:  1.8 4cyl petrol/electric motor, 120bhp
0-60mph:  11.4 seconds
Test economy:  44.3mpg/9.7mpl
CO2:  83g/km
Annual road tax:  £130

Toyota’s dedication to hybrid power continues with its newest model, the Corolla. We’re testing the £27,345 1.8-litre hybrid version in Excel trim, but is it a match for conventional rivals?

Design & engineering

The new Corolla’s striking design might remind you of the C-HR or even the latest Prius. All of these models sit on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform, which is designed to integrate electrification at its core. This set-up also has a focus on body rigidity and lightness. It uses MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link rear axle, so the suspension is more sophisticated than the 308’s, and matches the Volkswagen’s.

The powertrain is another point of difference. There’s a 1.8-litre petrol engine linked to an electric motor for a total output of 120bhp, which is sent to the front wheels through a CVT automatic gearbox. Unlike the Golf’s dual-clutch box and 308’s torque converter, this continuously variable transmission doesn’t have gears, and instead constantly adjusts engine revs to maximise power or efficiency, depending on what you ask of it with the throttle.

Toyota calls the Corolla a ‘self-charging’ hybrid, which simply means it can’t be plugged in.

The interior doesn’t have the visual flair of the Peugeot’s, and there are more cheap-looking, cheap-feeling plastics (for example, the cup-holders) than in the Golf. Yet build quality is impressive and the layout looks more modern than in other Toyotas.

While it’s pricier than its rivals here, the Corolla does have more equipment as standard. Excel gets 18-inch alloys, along with parking sensors and a reversing camera, adaptive cruise control, heated leather seats, sat-nav and a digital dial display.

Driving

You notice the difference in the powertrain compared with its rivals’ units from behind the wheel, but there are positives and negatives to this set-up. At low speed it runs quietly in EV mode, although it’s not long before the small battery needs to be topped up by the petrol engine, which chimes in and out smoothly. It means the Corolla is great in traffic, where the lack of engine noise and the electric motor’s assistance make progress calm and relaxed.

That continues as you leave congestion behind, because the 1.8-litre engine is well insulated from the cabin and refinement is very good. If you demand a burst of acceleration the CVT gearbox brings revs up in a slightly unpleasant way, much like every other gearbox of this type. Yet this is among the best CVTs we’ve tried, keeping revs as low as possible in order to maximise refinement and economy. It’s obvious Toyota has worked hard at trying to improve the connection between car and driver, because there’s less of the surging feel usually associated with CVTs.

The hybrid powertrain provides enough punch initially, but performance ebbs away thereafter as the lethargic 1.8-litre engine takes over acceleration duties. In our tests it posted a 0-60mph sprint time of 11.4 seconds, 2.6 seconds slower than the Golf and 1.6 seconds behind the 308. This isn’t the biggest issue if you drive to keep economy high, but the Corolla isn’t much of a driver’s car as a result.

That’s a real shame because the Toyota’s chassis is impressive. It’s very comfortable, soaking up bumps with composure and taking hard road surfaces in its stride, while also keeping body roll to a minimum. Ignoring the powertrain, the Corolla is almost as good to drive as the Golf, although its steering feels more disconnected than the Volkswagen’s.

Practicality

The Toyota’s hybrid powertrain necessitates a battery, which eats into interior space. The boot is 361 litres with the rear seats in place; that’s smaller than the Golf’s 380 litres and the 308’s large 470-litre load bay. It’s only 19 litres down on the VW’s, so there’s enough room for family life, but you might have to get creative with slotting in suitcases if you’re heading on holiday.

The rear doors are quite small and bulky, so it’s not as easy to get in and out of the Toyota as its rivals. However, once you’re inside, leg and headroom are good, and even with the front seats set back, adults will still feel comfortable, because the seatbacks are soft enough to rest your knees on.

It does fall behind for overall space and it’s darker in the back as well, due to the small, tapered rear windows. You do get a cup-holder in the doors, which is useful, but otherwise storage is only average.

Ownership

Even though it costs more than its competitors on test, the Corolla offers the most safety kit. While a reversing camera is £340 in the Golf, it’s standard in the Toyota, and similarly, autonomous braking is included here, but costs £400 on the 308. You also get seven airbags, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise control fitted as standard.
Toyota’s five-year, 100,000-mile warranty is great, too, but the brand’s 12th place out of 26 marques in the manufacturers’ chart of our Driver Power 2018 owner satisfaction survey was only average.

Running costs

The hybrid Corolla returned a fuel economy figure of 44.3mpg on our test, which was ahead of the Golf’s 41.9mpg and the Peugeot’s 38.5mpg returns.

Low CO2 emissions of 83g/km put the Toyota in the 19 per cent Benefit-in-Kind tax bracket for company car users, so lower-rate earners will only pay £1,033 a year to run one. That’s less than the £1,174 and £1,243 it will cost for the Volkswagen and 308 respectively.

Testers’ notes: “You’ll need to adapt your driving style to get the most from the Corolla’s powertrain, but once you do and use the battery and electric motor, you’ll maximise economy, which should cut costs.”

Volkswagen Golf

Model:

Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI 130 DSG GT 5dr

Price:  £25,740
Engine:  1.5-litre 4cyl petrol, 128bhp
0-60mph:  8.8 seconds
Test economy:  41.9mpg/9.2mpl
CO2:  113g/km
Annual road tax:  £140

The Volkswagen Golf is our favourite family hatch and therefore the model to beat here. The 128bhp 1.5-litre petrol TSI version in GT trim is the highest spec available with this comparable engine to the Toyota for power, although it’s not a hybrid.

Design & engineering

This Golf uses petrol power alone. The 1.5-litre TSI turbo delivers 128bhp and 200Nm of torque to the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch auto box. Some GT models also have lowered suspension over the standard car, but our 128bhp version features the normal set-up.

It sits on the MQB platform, which underpins many different VW Group models, so there’s strut suspension at the front, and while some versions use a torsion beam, this car features a multi-link set-up at the rear to match the Corolla.

The Golf’s interior is simple and functional, but it’s also well built and uses soft-touch materials that make it the most upmarket model of the trio. Adding to the classy image is the excellent infotainment system. The eight-inch set-up is the most modern-looking here and it’s standard on the GT (although the car in our pictures is an SE Nav). It includes smartphone connectivity which, sadly, is not yet offered on the Corolla.

You can also add a 12.3-inch TFT Active Info Display digital dashboard for £495. This is larger than the Toyota’s seven-inch set-up and replaces the traditional analogue dials behind the wheel.

In addition, GT spec includes upgraded upholstery, ambient lighting, selectable driving modes and adaptive cruise control. However, some features that are standard on the Corolla, such as a reversing camera and LED headlights, are optional (at £340 and £995 respectively). Even so, add these extras and the Volkswagen still works out cheaper.

Driving

The Golf gets each aspect of the driving experience just right, which is why it’s one of our favourite cars.

For a start, it’s quiet and calm inside even at high speed, and the suspension soaks up lumps and bumps in the road surface adequately enough. Only occasionally does it bounce abruptly. At least body control is great, which makes it enjoyable on a twisty country road as well, since it remains tied down even over rough tarmac.

Steering is direct, while there’s also plenty of grip. The Golf isn’t the finest driver’s car in this class – mainly because of its numb steering – but it is the best here.

The engine is quiet, smooth and punchy, thanks to its 200Nm of torque from as low as 1,400rpm. It took 8.7 seconds to go from 30-70mph through the gears, due in part to its dual-clutch gearbox. The Corolla was quite a bit slower, completing the same test in 11.7 seconds, while the eight-speed Peugeot managed the 30-70mph test through the gears in 9.8 seconds, splitting its two competitors.

VW’s hatch was quicker than both of its rivals in gear as well, because it went from 30-50mph in just 3.8 seconds. The Corolla took 4.4 seconds using full throttle (it doesn’t have gears to directly compare here), while the 308 posted a time of 4.3 seconds.

The DSG transmission shifts smoothly, although it does sometimes struggle to choose the correct gear in traffic and stop-start situations in town.
The gearbox does mean that, unlike the Corolla, you don’t need to work the engine hard to add speed, since the torque is produced low in the rev range, so the box doesn’t need to shift down.

Practicality

This is one of the VW’s strong points, because the Golf is roomy inside and there’s lots of head and legroom in the rear. The doors open wide, and large door bins, a big glovebox and a deep cubby between the front seats mean in-car storage is good, too. There’s also a place to put your phone ahead of the gearshifter, although access to the USB port is tricky.

While the Golf’s 380-litre boot isn’t as spacious as the 470 litres you’ll find in the Peugeot, it’s still big enough for the vast majority of family uses with the rear seats in place, and it’s still a bit larger than the Toyota’s luggage area. There’s a variable-height floor, which means you can swap between having a little extra boot space or a smaller loading lip.

Ownership

EURO NCAP awarded the Golf five stars and the model has extra safety tech now compared with when it was first tested. All cars get seven airbags and autonomous braking with pedestrian detection. GT models feature adaptive cruise control and parking sensors, but a reversing camera is £340 and lane-keep assist and blind spot warning are part of option packs (the lowest-priced pack to bring the former is £55, the latter £1,120).

Volkswagen scored highly in our Driver Power 2018 poll, finishing fifth overall in the manufacturer section. That was ahead of Toyota and Peugeot, which were 12th and 17th respectively out of 26 brands.

Running costs

The Golf’s 41.9mpg return on test was in between the Toyota and the Peugeot, and it’ll manage 461 miles on a single tank.

Estimated residuals are okay, at 41.7 per cent after three years, but the Toyota’s 44.1 per cent figure is a little higher. Both beat the Peugeot’s 39.9 per cent. Our experts predict that the Golf will be worth £10,734 after 36 months, a loss of £15,006. It should be worth more than the 308, at £10,003 (losing £15,067), but the Corolla trumps both rivals because it will be worth £12,059. However, the pricey Toyota actually loses the most cash, at £15,286.

Testers’ notes: “There are plenty of engines and trim levels to pick from in the Golf’s wide range. We’d also consider a downsized 1.0-litre model, or even a 2.0-litre diesel, depending on how you plan to use the car.”

Peugeot 308

Model:

Peugeot 308 PureTech 130 EAT8 GT Line

Price:  £25,070
Engine:  1.2-litre 3cyl petrol, 129bhp
0-60mph:  9.8 seconds
Test economy:  38.5mpg/8.5mpl
CO2:  124g/km
Annual road tax:  £140

The Peugeot 308’s sharp styling means it competes with the Corolla for the attention of buyers. This 1.2-litre petrol auto in GT Line trim costs £25,070, so it’s the cheapest car here, but you’ll need to add optional extras to match the Toyota’s kit list.

Design & engineering

Peugeot’s 308 is based on the versatile EMP2 platform, which also underpins the 3008 and 5008 SUVs, and even the larger 508 saloon. At the front it uses pseudo-MacPherson struts, while at the back there’s a de-formable crossmember (torsion beam). It’s a less sophisticated set-up than in either rival here, because they have multi-link set-ups.

The 308 also features a three-cylinder engine, but don’t think that having one less cylinder than the VW and Toyota puts it at a disadvantage; the 1.2-litre unit is the most powerful on test, producing 129bhp and 230Nm of torque. There’s also a traditional torque- converter automatic gearbox, with eight ratios.

Peugeot calls its interior design ‘i-Cockpit’, and that means there’s a divisive driving position and tiny steering wheel, with the dials positioned just above instead of behind it. The layout works for some drivers, but not others. Material quality is a little way behind the Golf’s, and about on par with the Toyota on the important touch points.

The main benefit of i-Cockpit is that all models get a 9.7-inch touchscreen display right in the middle of the dashboard, because it’s the only way to control things such as the air-conditioning and radio. It comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and you even get satellite navigation included.

Dual-zone climate control is also standard, and if you go for the GT Line model we’re testing here (although our pictures show a Tech Edition), it also brings 18-inch alloy wheels, live traffic updates, LED headlights, leather-effect seats, parking sensors and a reversing camera.

Driving

The Peugeot’s engine provides punchy performance, and thanks to its three-cylinder layout, it has an entertaining exhaust note as well. At the track the motor helped it to sprint from 0-60mph in 9.8 seconds, which was 1.6 seconds faster than the Corolla and one second behind the Volkswagen.

Our in-gear tests showed that it performs well in the higher gears, thanks to its extra ratio. The 308 took 7.4 seconds to go from 50-70mph in fifth, 0.3 seconds faster than the Golf. While the Corolla can’t be compared directly due to its CVT box, at full throttle it covered 50-70mph in 7.2 seconds.

A kerbweight of 1,204kg makes the 308 the lightest model here, which partly explains its strong performance, but this lightness has benefits to ride and handling as well. The Peugeot rides smoothly for the most part, but its chassis is more shaken by harsh bumps, especially mid-corner. The Corolla and Golf both have more composure here.

But the French hatchback’s quick steering and small steering wheel mean it turns in sharply, and there’s enough grip to support that. The steering has a more satisfying weight than the Golf and Corolla’s set-ups, but it’s similarly devoid of feedback, while the other models’ composure over rough roads means they ultimately inspire more confidence on a country route than the Peugeot. It’s close, though; all three cars score highly for ride and handling.

Practicality

Fold the rear seats down and the 308 has more space than both rivals, with 1,309 litres available. But the difference in reality isn’t vast, and all three models will have enough room for a typical trip to Ikea, for example.

Most owners will use the boot with all the seats in place, and the 308 has the edge here as well, because its boot volume is 470 litres, well ahead of its rivals’ capacities; it’s here where the spacious Peugeot shines.
There’s not much trade-off in the back seats, either, because you get a good amount of head and legroom in the rear. Still, the Golf has a bit more space and has more accommodating seats as well. The Corolla’s rear-seat space is about on par with the 308’s, but the French model is a little easier to get in and out of because the doors open wide.

Ownership

In our Driver Power 2018 satisfaction survey Peugeot finished 17th in both the manufacturer and dealer categories, which is toward the bottom of the table and a disappointing result for the brand.

Toyota ranked 12th and third respectively in our annual poll, while Volkswagen came in fifth overall out of 26 in the makers’ chart, but its garages trailed in 18th place out of 28 marques.

The 308 also drops behind its rivals for safety kit, because autonomous emergency braking is £400 as part of the Drive Assist pack, which also adds adaptive cruise control (both are standard on the other cars). You have to pay for lane-keep assist as well; this is included with the Corolla, but the Golf also misses out on this technology as standard.

Running costs

The Peugeot 308 managed a poor 38.5mpg on our test, which places it well behind the Toyota and VW for economy. At current fuel prices, that works out at an annual petrol cost of £1,700 in the 308, while the Golf will set you back £1,562 and you’ll spend £1,478 a year at the pumps with the Corolla.

Our example insurance quotes demonstrated that the Golf will be the cheapest car to insure here. Our numbers show an annual premium of £416 for the 308, £510 for the Toyota and just £397 for the VW.

Testers’ notes: “The Peugeot’s EAT8 automatic gearbox is smooth, but it’s not as fast as the Golf’s dual-clutch unit. It does keep revs lower than the CVT in the Toyota, because it can use the engine’s low-down torque.”

Verdict

First place: Volkswagen Golf

The Golf is a stand-out winner in the family hatchback class because it’s such a fine all-rounder. It’s comfortable, good to drive, practical and economical – all key areas for most buyers looking for this type of car. But its strengths go even further than that, because it’s also great value, has a superb infotainment system, is quiet, refined and roomy in the rear. It’s little wonder why the VW is one of Britain’s best-selling cars.

Second place: Toyota Corolla

For ride and handling, the Corolla is close to the best in class. The chassis is fun but comfortable, and while keen drivers will find the powertrain frustrating, it’s yet another improvement with greater refinement than before. If relaxation is a priority and you want to maximise economy, the Toyota is a top choice, and while Excel trim is pricey, low running costs mean it’s a better pick for many buyers, despite poor infotainment tech.

Third place: Peugeot 308

The 308 drops behind its rivals because of its slightly lumpy ride and poorer economy. It’s well equipped and has the biggest boot here, but it’s not an order of magnitude more practical than the others, plus other foibles such as quality, the driving position and infotainment hobble it. There are positives, though, including its entertaining, punchy engine, smooth gearbox and decent refinement.

Coming soon

Mazda 3

Model: Mazda 3 GT Sport Auto
Due: Mid 2019 Price: £25,895
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 120bhp

Mazda's new 3 will offer clever tech called SkyActiv-X that promises diesel-like running costs from a petrol engine. For now, only a mild-hybrid petrol is available, although our early impressions were positive.

Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI 130 DSG GT 5dr Toyota Corolla 1.8 Petrol Hybrid Auto Excel Peugeot 308 PureTech 130 EAT8 GT Line
On the road price/total as tested £25,740/£26,895 £27,345/£28,360 £25,070/£25,070
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000) £10,734/41.7% £12,059/44.1% £10,003/39.9%
Depreciation £15,006 £15,286 £15,067
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £1,174/£2,348 £1,033/£2,067 £1,243/£2,485
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £1,562/£2,604 £1,478/£2,463 £1,700/£2,834
Ins. group/quote/road tax cost 16/£397/£140 TBC/£510/£130 N/A/£416/£140
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service £297 (2yrs) TBC £199/£249/£179
Length/wheelbase 4,258/2,620mm 4,370/2,640mm 4,253/2,620mm
Height/width 1,492/1,799mm 1,435/1,790mm 1,457/1,804mm
Engine 4cyl in-line/1,498cc 4cyl & e-motor/1,798cc 3cyl in-line/1,199cc
Peak power/revs 128/5,000 bhp/rpm 120bhp/5,200rpm** 129/5,500 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 200/1,400 Nm/rpm 142Nm/3,600rpm^^ 230/1,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission 7-spd auto/fwd CVT auto/fwd 8-spd auto/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel 50 litres/space saver 43 litres/repair kit 53 litres/space saver
Boot capacity (seats up/down) 380/1,270 litres 361 litres/N/A 470/1,309 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight 1,280/500/1,400kg 1,295/525/750kg 1,204/636/1,400kg
Turning circle 10.9 metres 10.6 metres 10.4 metres
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery 3yrs (60,000)/1yr 5yrs (100,000)/1yr 3yrs (unlimited)/1yr
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. 5th/18th 12th/3rd 17th/17th
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars 94/89/65/71/5 (2012) TBC 92/79/64/81/5 (2013)
0-60/30-70mph 8.8/8.7 secs 11.4/11.7 secs 9.8/9.8 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 3.8/4.9 secs 4.4 secs (kickdown) 4.3/5.4 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th 7.7/10.1/13.6s/N/A 7.2 secs (kickdown) 7.4/8.9/13.0s/N/A
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 130mph/2,400rpm 112mph/N/A 127mph/2,000rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 48.8/35.2/10.3m 50.3/38.0/9.6m 44.3/34.4/8.9m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph 70/52/64/71dB N/A/N/A/64/74dB 71/43/63/74dB
Auto Express econ. (mpg/mpl)/range 41.9/9.2/461 miles 44.3/9.7/419 miles 38.5/8.5/449 miles
WLTP fuel consumption (med) 44.8-46.3mpg 55.3-62.7mpg 41.6-48.5mpg
WLTP fuel consumption (med) 9.9-10.2mpl 12.2-13.8mpl 9.2-10.7mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 156/113g/km/23% 147/83g/km/19% 239/124g/km/25%
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/camera Seven/y/y/£340 Seven/yes/yes/yes Six/yes/yes/yes
Auto box/lane keep/blind spot/AEB Y/£550*/£1,120*/y Yes/yes/no/yes Y/£500*/£400*/£400*
Clim ctrl/cruise/leather/heated seats £425/ad./£1,900/£400^ Y/adaptive/y/y Y/y/£1,200*/£1,200*
Metallic/LEDs/keyless go/pwr tailgate £580/£995/£375/n £1,015/yes/yes/no £545/yes/£350/no
Nav/digi dash/DAB/connected apps Yes/£495/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/no/yes/yes
Wireless charge/CarPlay/Android Auto No/yes/yes No/no/no No/yes/yes

New Porsche Cayenne Coupe unveiled, and on sale from May 2019
Posted on Thursday March 21, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-03-21 18:15

Porsche jumps on the coupe-SUV bandwagon with the Cayenne Coupe, a new rival for the BMW X6

Porsche Cayenne Coupe reveal event

Porsche has released a coupe version of its Cayenne SUV. Priced from £62,129, the new model will reach UK showrooms in May this year, tasked with muscling-in on the BMW X6’s market.

The Cayenne Coupe’s styling adheres to the coupe-SUV rulebook. At the front, it’s almost identical to the standard Cayenne, but the roofline from the B-pillar back has a steeper rake and the rear window tapers more sharply towards the rear bumper. Other revisions include a fixed roof-mounted wing, an adaptive tailgate-mounted spoiler and flared wheel arches.

Best SUVs on sale right now

Two engines will be available from launch. As standard, the Cayenne Coupe will come with a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol unit with 330bhp and 450Nm of torque. Like the standard model, it will send its power through an eight-speed automatic gearbox to all four wheels, offering a 0–62mph sprint of six seconds and a top speed of 150mph.

For £104,729, buyers can opt for the Turbo Coupe with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol, with respective power and torque figures of 534bhp and 770Nm. The engine is lifted from the current Cayenne Turbo, along with its transmission and four-wheel-drive system, claiming a 0–62mph sprint of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 177mph.

Although not available at launch it’s likely that a plug-in hybrid version of the Cayenne Coupe will eventually be offered borrowing tech from the regular model.

Standard equipment includes a set of 20-inch alloy wheels, active dampers, a panoramic glass roof, Porsche's ‘Sport Chrono’ package and front and rear parking sensors. As an optional extra, buyers can spec a lightweight sports package which includes 22-inch alloy wheels, a carbon-fibre roof and, for the Turbo Coupe, a sports exhaust system.

Inside, the Cayenne Coupe gets a pair of eight-way adjustable sports seats, a 12-inch infotainment system, a centre-mounted rev counter and a digital gauge cluster. The rear bench has also been reworked and now only features two individual seats, while the whole car sits 30mm lower to the ground over a standard Cayenne

Do you think the Porsche Cayenne Coupe will be a sales hit? Let us know in the comments section below...

SUBSCRIBE NOW to get Driver Power 2019 as one of 6 issues for £6
Posted on Thursday March 21, 2019

2019-03-21 13:00

The Auto Express Driver Power 2019 results are in and you can read them first with a subscription to Auto Express

cover and gift Driver Power

Driver Power is the UK’s number one car customer satisfaction survey and in 2019 it’s bigger and better than ever.

The Driver Power survey gave you the chance to tell us what you think of your car, car manufacturer, car dealer, car insurance company or car breakdown cover provider.

We analysed the data and compiled the results to give the definitive verdict on which new cars are the UK’s best to buy, own and run. How does your car fare?

Make sure you subscribe by 31/03/19 to get the Driver Power results delivered straight to your door as the first of your 6 issues for £6 special trial offer. To celebrate the special Driver Power issue, we also have a subscriber welcome gift for those who continue to subscribe to Auto Express after the trial.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to Auto Express magazine

UK’s largest public electric car rapid charging hub installed in Milton Keynes
Posted on Thursday March 21, 2019

Tristan Shale-Hester 2019-03-21 13:06

The BP Chargemaster hub, located just off the M1, features eight 50kW rapid charging units for public use

Milton Keynes rapid charging hub

The UK’s largest public electric car rapid charging hub has been installed just off the M1.

The BP Chargemaster hub is located at Milton Keynes Coachway and features eight UK-made 50kW Ultracharge rapid chargers running on Polar, the largest public charging network in the country.

UK firm launches public EV chargers embedded into kerb

The hub is also fitted with three high-visibility canopies so drivers know where the chargers can be found and are able to take shelter in the event of poor weather. The facilities of Milton Keynes Coachway, including a cafe, are also accessible from the site.

Milton Keynes Council designed and built the hub with the help of its contractors, Ringway, as part of the Go Ultra Low City programme. The funding came as part of a £9m package from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles to support the growth of electric vehicles in the town.

Since going live, the hub has been used to charge more than 500 cars, with the launch event demonstrating a BMW i3s, Hyundai Kona Electric, Jaguar I-Pace, Kia Soul EV, Nissan LEAF, Renault ZOE, Volkswagen e-up! and Volkswagen e-Golf all using its chargers.

The site was opened by the mayor of Milton Keynes, councillor Martin Petchey, along with Brian Matthews, head of transport innovation at Milton Keynes Council, and David Martell, chief executive of BP Chargemaster.

• UK’s AFC Energy launches CH2ARGE - world’s first hydrogen fuel cell electric car charger

Matthews said the council was “very proud” of the new facility, which he said was part of the town’s plan for “supporting electric vehicle drivers”.

Meanwhile, Martell added that the “convenient” hub would “join the 300 Fastcharge and 65 rapid chargers” that BP Chargemaster already operates in the Milton Keynes area.

Do you welcome this new rapid charging hub? Let us know in the comments below...

UK speed cameras explained
Posted on Thursday March 21, 2019

Dean Gibson 2019-03-22 12:09

Everything you need to know about UK speed cameras, the types, how they work and what to look out for

Speed camera apps

Speed cameras are firmly on the UK motoring map, whether you think they're a good thing or not. Those that use them would prefer they were known as safety cameras, as they're designed to make UK roads safer, but whatever you want to call them, recent fake news reports about cameras on motorways like the M1 and M25 being set so they snap more motorists breaking the speed limit, show that they can still be misunderstood. This guide helps you to know what to look out for where UK speed cameras are concerned.

With police forces battling reduced funding, especially for road policing, speed cameras play a vital role in keeping a watchful eye on UK roads. Combined with local safety camera partnerships, they are a good visual deterrent and a reminder to check your speed when driving. Some motorists see them as a revenue earner, though, as they can only catch speeders and are unable to spot unlicensed drivers, uninsured cars, drink and drug-drivers or general bad driving like road traffic officers are able to.

Best speed camera detectors

History of the speed camera

The first speed camera appeared in the UK in 1991 on the M40 motorway in West London. The cameras used rolls of film, which had to be developed and processed, and this also meant that there was a limit on how many speeders they could catch - it's thought that the first camera used up its 400-exposure roll in 40 minutes after it was first switched on.

Over the years, new tech has been introduced, including forward-facing cameras and digital technology - so there's no more need to change rolls of film, and means live cameras can be operated 24/7, uploading images directly to a central control room. Average speed cameras have also been introduced to monitor vehicle speed over longer distances, rather than just in one location, while traffic light and wrong-turn cameras have also been introduced.

We've also seen the introduction of cameras that no longer need a flash to snap speeding vehicles at night, while the latest mobile cameras operate over far longer distances than before. In this instance, if you're speeding, the mobile camera could well have spotted you long before you've spotted it.

UK speed camera types explained

Here's our guide to the different types of camera used on UK roads, and later we tell you what to expect if you think you've been caught speeding. The most common cameras in the UK are Gatso and Truvelo speed cameras, but there are more than a dozen different types of speed camera in use on UK roads in total. So without further ado, here's what you should be looking for.

Gatso speed cameras

Gatso static speed camera

The Gatso was the first type of speed camera seen in the UK, and it's still the most common type you'll find. First introduced in 1991, the Gatso - short for Gatsometer, the name of the Dutch company that makes them - is a rear-facing camera. That means it faces up the road and takes a picture of the rear of a speeding vehicle, so it can catch motorcycles as well as cars, vans and trucks.

A Gatso camera is easy to spot, as speed cameras must be painted yellow by law (in Scotland they have yellow and red diagonal stripes), although they can be obscured by road signs, street furniture and poorly maintained hedgerows. Gatsos are usually mounted at the side of the road on a pole, although they can also be used in mobile units or on overhead gantries, such as you'll find on the motorway.

Gatsos use radar to measure a vehicle's speed, but the law says that there needs to be secondary proof of speeding. This is why all Gatso locations have dashed lines painted on the road in front of them. These dashes are spaced evenly and are used to measure distance over time, so when a Gatso is activated it takes two pictures a fraction of a second apart, which can then be checked to see if an offence has been committed. The camera features a flash, and this goes off with each photo that's taken.

Speed Camera

On single carriageway roads, two sets of dashed lines are usually painted at a Gatso location. That means vehicles using either side of the road can be measured for speeding, but only in the direction that the Gatso is pointing. That means a camera site can only catch vehicles travelling away from it - if you are speeding towards one and it flashes, a ticket can't be issued. Gatsos are also reliant on the dashed lines in the road - if the lines aren't present, then the photos alone cannot be used to prosecute speeders.

While the first Gatso cameras used photographic film to record speeders, a new generation of digital camera arrived on 2007. These use a hard drive to store images and can be run 24/7 with a direct link to a control centre where the images are stored.

Truvelo speed cameras

Truvelo digital static speed camera

The other common type of speed camera in the UK is the Truvelo, which is named after the South African company that makes it. While Truvelo cameras look similar to a Gatso because they are painted yellow and mounted on a pole, the chief difference between a Truvelo and a Gatso is that most Truvelo sites are forward facing.

As with a Gatso, a Truvelo camera uses a flash to get a clear image of a speeding vehicle's number plate, but it also has a special filter on the flash that stops it from dazzling drivers. While this means that motorcycles (which lack front numberplates) are harder to identify when speeding, the Truvelo can be used to identify the driver of a speeding vehicle.

The Truvelo only takes one picture, because the speeding offence is registered by sensors in the road which activate the camera. However, as with a Gatso, the photographic evidence needs backup, so small white squares are painted on the road where the sensors are to act as secondary evidence that a vehicle is speeding.

How to appeal a speeding fine

In recent years, the Truvelo has evolved into the Truvelo D-Cam. This is a digital version of the Truvelo that can be mounted forward or rear facing, can also be used at traffic lights, and can even be set up to watch up to 3 lanes at a time. The D-Cam comes in a distinctive housing, while some have a flash unit separate from the camera itself - which again makes no visible light.

HADCES speed cameras

Smart motorway speed camera

HADECS 3 stands for Highways Agency Digital Enforcement Camera System 3, which is the name given to the speed camera system that is being used on smart motorways across the country.

Hadecs units come in two small housings that are mounted on the side of motorway gantries. Thanks to their limited use of yellow to give away their location, and the fact they are about half the size of a Gatso or Truvelo camera unit, some people have called them stealth speed cameras, as they can be difficult to spot when travelling at 70mph.

Like other speed cameras, there are lines painted on the road that are used as secondary proof of speeding. And like a Gatso, Hadecs is a rear-facing radar camera, and it flashes when it picks up a vehicle travelling at more than the speed limit.

Speed cameras

The innovation that allows Hadecs to be used on a smart motorway is its ability to adjust its detection speed according to the variable speed limit that's posted. It does this by receiving information from sensors further along the carriageway, so when you see a lower limit posted on a smart motorway, the Hades cameras ahead can catch you for breaking it.

As well as speeding, Hadecs cameras can be set up to monitor up to five lanes, and they can detect vehicles that are using closed motorway lanes. As they are radar-based, they are able to work in all weather conditions, too.

SPECS speed cameras

Speed camera variable speed

The SPECS camera system works differently because it measures vehicle speed over a far greater distance than a Gatso or Truvelo camera. You'll see two or more sets of cameras to monitor vehicle speed for an extended distance, and this can be for as little as 200 yards or up to 99 miles - as the SPECS cameras on the A9 in Scotland do. SPECS cameras are often referred to as average speed cameras and are popular for use in roadworks where a lower speed limit than usual needs to be enforced.

SPECS uses Automatic Number Plate Reading (ANPR) tech to register vehicles as they pass. The first camera logs the vehicle with a time and date stamp. Once the vehicle has passed the second camera, the time stamps on the two images are compared, and if the time taken to cover the distance means the average speed is higher than the posted limit, then a ticket is issued.

You will usually find SPECS camera systems on motorways, especially in roadworks. And while some people think that weaving between lanes can help you pass them undetected, the truth is that the SPECS system can monitor multiple lanes. It's also no use slowing for the cameras and then speeding between them, because the system measures your average speed between the two locations, not just how fast you're going as you pass either camera.

Mobile speed camera vans

As well as these fixed speed cameras, many regions use mobile cameras to provide temporary coverage in areas where speeding is known to occur. Mobile units are usually located in vans that are marked as a safety camera vehicle with a bright livery, and they feature opening windows or panels to point the cameras through. You will usually find them parked at the side of the road, in laybys (although not where parking restrictions apply) and also on bridges over roads.

The kind of cameras these mobile units use include mini Gatso cameras that use radar technology but there are also handheld radar or laser gun cameras. A laser gun uses a narrow laser beam that is reflected off a vehicle to measure its speed. These devices are quick and effective, being able to register a vehicle's speed in as little as half a second and up to a distance of a mile away.

A radar gun works similarly to a laser gun. It has a wider beam and only works up to around 300 yards, while it will only come back with a reading after around 3 seconds, but it's still an accurate way of registering a car's speed.

Speeding fines explained 

Mobile camera vans can be set up in any direction to catch speeders, and can just as easily be set up to catch speeders approaching the camera site as going away from the site. As with fixed camera locations, a mobile camera site must have road signs indicating its presence, but apart from that, mobile cameras can be set up at any time. In terms of location, mobile units are usually found in places notorious for accidents or speeding in the past, and are not normally pitched up in random places. Some local speed camera operators have been known to issue information on radio and social media to inform road users of where mobile camera units are operating on particular days.

Other speed cameras

Gatsos, Truvelos, SPECs and Hadecs 3 are the most common types of speed camera on UK roads, while other cameras that are available do a similar job. These are in addition to cameras which are used for traffic monitoring, catching vehicles that jump traffic lights (which incidentally aren't required by law to be painted yellow) and cameras used by government agencies to check road tax and other ANPR-based activities.

Whichever way you look at it, the best way to ensure you're not caught speeding is to remain aware of the speed limit and stick to it.

The big Speed camera questions answered

How do I know if a speed camera caught me?

If you have passed a speed camera that has flashed, the only way you will know for certain that you have been caught is when the registered keeper of the vehicle receives a Note of Intended Prosecution (NIP). This will arrive within 14 days of the offence taking place and will explain what happens next. This 14-day rule is in place so that companies, such as vehicle lease firms and car hire firms, can determine who was driving the vehicle at the time of the offence.

If you are the one that was caught speeding, then you will face a minimum fine of £100 and three points on your licence. If your driving licence is clean, then you may be offered the option of taking a speed awareness course instead of the penalty points.

Speed cameras variable speed

As of 2017, the maximum fine for a speeding offence is up to £2,500 on the motorway. The amount you pay and the number of points you could face will depend on how much you were exceeding the speed limit by, as well as your level of income.

Do all speed cameras flash?

Most speed cameras flash when they capture an image, but you might not see the flash of a Truvelo forward-facing camera. That's because forward-facing Truvelo cameras have a special filter over the flash to prevent dazzling oncoming drivers. If a camera is operating in good light conditions, the flash may not necessarily go off, either.

How do mobile speed cameras work?

Mobile speed camera units must be parked legally, either at the side of the road, in a layby or on a bridge, and operators must make motorists aware of their presence with the use of speed camera warning signs. That means they can operate in areas where the signs are already fixed, or they need to put up temporary signs nearby.

A speed camera van usually has openings at the rear or the side of the van for the cameras to have a clear line of sight of the road they are checking. Depending on the camera being used, the speed camera van can detect speeding vehicles up to two miles away on a clear day, especially with the latest camera technology being used.

Britains most active speed cameras revealed

The camera is operated either by a police officer or by a certified camera operator associated with a local speed camera partnership.

How can I avoid a speeding fine?

Of course, the easiest way of avoiding points and a fine is to check your speed at all times and keep within the speed limit. But with so much street furniture and so many distractions bombarding the average motorist, it's not too hard to get caught out by a change in speed limit.

If you want added security, then a speed camera locator is the best piece of kit to use. We tested a batch of speed camera locators in 2018, with products from Road Angel and Snooper performing well, while apps from TomTom and Sygic were also well received.

Speed camera detectors use GPS location technology to warn you of fixed camera locations. In addition, the best units also feature laser and radar detecting technology to warn you of mobile speed camera sites, as well as those fixed locations that aren't logged on to the device's database. The best speed camera locators can show you your speed, as well as calculating your average speed within a SPECS average speed camera location.

What are your thoughts on speed cameras in the UK? Join the debate in the comments...

Long-term test review: Mercedes-AMG G 63
Posted on Thursday March 21, 2019

Mercedes-amg g 63 long-termer
21 Mar, 2019 12:45pm Steve Fowler

First report: New 577bhp SUV joins our fleet. Can the Mercedes-AMG G 63 fulfil its luxury and sporting brief?

Mileage: 8,279
Economy: 18.3mpg

The Mercedes G-Wagen can trace its history back to the early seventies when it was designed as a utilitarian off-roader. With various updates along the way, it rolled on until 2018, when the biggest change in its history took place – the all-new G-Class was born.

While the style of the new G is very similar to that of the original – a really clever update of an iconic look – it’s now part SUV, part luxury car and, in Mercedes-AMG G 63 guise, part sports car.

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As a bit of a G-Wagen fan, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass when the chance to run a G 63 came up. How would this giant, twin-turbo 4.0-litre SUV stack up as part of the Fowler fleet, dealing with family duties and daily commuting?

I had to wait a short while before I got my car because it was put to use moving the glitterati around during London Fashion Week – ideal work for such a head-turning vehicle that’s garnered something of a reputation as a favourite of the fashionable and famous.

I took delivery of my Rubellite Red G 63 at Mercedes’ flagship showroom at Brooklands, which sits alongside the Mercedes World experience centre at the famous old race track in Weybridge, Surrey.

This isn’t just a story of an SUV with 577bhp, 850Nm and rather delightful (and sometimes rather rude) side-exit exhausts that emit the most glorious deep roar when you floor the throttle. This is every inch the modern Mercedes, with the very latest tech on board that adds to the luxury feel that the G 63 has in abundance.

So I needed a thorough handover, which came courtesy of Joe Jeavons, who took me through the myriad menus in the G’s infotainment system and connected my smartphone to the Mercedes Me app – which is already proving useful and reliable.

With a list price of £143,305, you’d expect the G 63 to be well equipped, and it is – but that’s not always the case with such cars. The twin 12.3-inch screens with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, the 15-speaker Burmester surround sound system, heated seats and steering wheel, a choice of 64 light colours to bathe the interior in, adaptive cruise control and parking assistance (that might come in handy) are all standard. Even the metallic paint finish is included – a rare thing indeed.

My car adds the £2,700 AMG Night Package, which gives the exterior a darker, meaner look, plus the £2,000 AMG Driver’s Pack, which ups the top speed to 149mph. Not that I plan to go anywhere near that.

In the first few weeks of G 63 ownership, there are a few things that stand out. Yes, it’s sensationally quick – the official 0-62mph time of 4.5 seconds doesn’t do justice to the sheer force of this 3.2-tonne, 4,613mm-long SUV at full throttle, or the surprise of others at the speed and the noise. It’s a truly exhilarating and intoxicating experience.

Yet it also does the luxury thing brilliantly. The interior is impeccably built and looks fantastic – it’s a work of art, especially at night when you can play with the colour schemes for hours on end.

It’s also doing everyday stuff well. It’s a gentle companion on my daily commute and the whole Fowler five have taken a few long journeys already with no complaints about space or ride comfort – the bouncy ride used to be a real bugbear of Gs of old.

For the fitter members of the family, climbing up into the cabin is no problem, but sadly (ahem) my 79-year-old mother-in-law struggles. And at 1,969mm high, the G 63 squeezes under the height restrictor in our office car park with just millimetres to spare – it’s best described as ‘van height’.

You have to get used to being looked at lots, too – this is a car with a reputation for being driven by the rich and famous. You soon become familiar with the disappointed expressions as people realise this one isn’t.

And as we expected, fuel economy isn’t great, but it’s not horrendous. My average of 18.3mpg is only around 10mpg behind a diesel Range Rover I ran some time ago. For me, though, for the rare combination of power and luxury, it’s a price worth paying.

4
We’re warming to the G 63’s split personalities as quickly as it can sprint away from a set of traffic lights. So far it’s proving to be as exhilarating as it is comfortable and relaxing. We love the beautiful and hi-tech interior, and the old downsides of living with a G-Class seem to be long gone.
  • Model: Mercedes-AMG G 63
  • On fleet since: January 2019
  • Price new:: £143,305
  • Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, 577bhp
  • CO2/tax: 299g/km/£450
  • Options: AMG Night Package (£2,700), AMG Driver’s Package (£2,000)
  • Insurance: Group: 50 Quote: N/A
  • Mileage/economy: 8,279/18.3mpg
  • Any problems: None so far

Hyundai i30 Fastback review
Posted on Thursday March 21, 2019

For 
Extra boot space
Competitive pricing
Good standard equipment
Our Rating 
3.5
Against 
Unexciting to drive
Slow base models
Rear headroom suffers
Hyundai i30 Fastback front
2018

The i30 Fastback adds some coupe style to the Hyundai compact hatchback formula

The Hyundai i30 Fastback brings some diversity to the crowded compact hatchback market, and is likely to attract interest from anyone looking for something other than a standard five-door hatchback. Whether or not they will find the i30 Fastback attractive is a personal thing. Where it really delivers in its all-round competence; there is a broad and efficient engine range, a high level of standard equipment and good build quality, a sound driving experience and competitive pricing, all of which makes for a compelling case on paper. What might be lacking is the spark of driving excitement that comes with a Ford Focus, or the superior quality feel of a Volkswagen Golf that might persuade buyers to sign on the dotted line.

21 Mar, 2019
3.8

The changes to transform the i30 from a hatchback to the Fastback model are centred on the back of the car, with a lower roof line and a small increase in length at the rear giving a sleeker appearance. Whether this is a sufficient improvement on the standard car is a decision only the potential buyer can make; it is not radically different to the standard car, but if an i30 has been decided upon then the alternative appearance may be an attractive one.

Unlike some fastback five-door coupes that have frameless door glass, the i30 Fastback features fully framed windows, giving it an even closer resemblance to the standard hatchback.

Inside there is a straighforward carryover of design and components from the i30 hatchback, but this is no bad thing. The layout of the cabin is both sensible and attractive to the eye, while the materials used are of a good standard. Standard equipment is generous too, with sat-nav, Bluetooth with voice recognition, wireless phone charging and rear park assist with a rear-facing camera all included as standard. Premium models add dual-zone climate control, privacy glass and heated seats, while Premium SE includes a panoramic roof, leather seats and a heated steering wheel amongst other extras.

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The i30 N Fastback builds on this still further, adding amongst other things sports seats and the five-mode vehicle dynamic system which changes the car’s behaviour depending on the conditions.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

All i30 Fastback models come with an eight-inch infotainment system that includes satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. Voice control is fitted and a multifunction steering wheel allows you to control the screen without having to take your hands off the wheel. In addition, Premium models and above add a 4.2-inch display ahead of the driver and between the dials that can be configured to show a number of information sub-pages.

3.7

The Hyundai range generally provides an all-round competent driving experience, balancing comfort with driving pleasure, and the i30 Fastback largely follows this same template. The Fastback model has a number of detail changes compared to the hatchback model, notably the body shell is slightly stiffer and the suspension is fractionally lower and firmer, but for the standard model at least the emphasis is on delivering tidy handling and a comfortable ride.

The i30 Fastback copes well with all types of road, and while never excelling in one particular area, it is impressively capable and undemanding whatever the driving conditions. The standard six-speed manual gearbox has a smooth action while the brakes offer good stopping power and are easy to modulate, too. The steering is relatively heavy for a car with standard power assistance and the ratio of the rack is relatively slow, but it is as accurate and consistent as all the major controls, making it undemanding to operate for all kinds of drivers.

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The i30 Fastback N moves this to another level, with significantly stiffer suspension, a unique gearbox, engine and electronic drive mode programme all taken from the i30N hatchback. While the ride is noticeably stiffer than the rest of the Fastback range, it’s not quite as stiff as the i30N hatch, and is all the better for it. What it does provide is satisfyingly-sharp steering responses and a good deal more excitement for the keen driver.

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Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The entry-level i30 Fastback model comes with the 1.0-litre three cylinder turbocharged petrol offering 119bhp and 171Nm of torque. Although a keen engine that is willing to rev and is efficient, performance is modest with a 0-62mph time of 11.5 seconds and a top speed of 117mph. The 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine offers a better balance of abilities, with 138bhp and 242Nm of torque providing sufficient acceleration to achieve 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds and a top speed of 129mph. The four-cylinder engine is also a little more refined than the three cylinder unit, although the latter has a more pleasing sound when taken to higher revs.

The i30 Fastback N is a different animal, with 271bhp and 353Nm of torque enough to deliver 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. That makes it a genuinely fast car, with rapid acceleration available instantaneously with an engaging exhaust note, particularly when one of the more aggressive drive modes is engaged.

4.4

The i30 Fastback hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP, but its so closely-related to the i30 hatchback that its five-star crash test rating applies to the Fastback as well. This includes an 88% score for adult occupant protection, and 84% for child safety in the car, and there is little reason to expect the Fastback to perform any poorer than that.

It’s helped by the standard safety provision, again much of which is shared with the i30 hatchback. All models receive lane departure and forward collision warning systems, plus lane-keep assistance and autonomous emergency braking. Premium and Premium SE models add blind-spot monitoring and a rear cross-traffic alert system for added reassurance.

The i30 Fastback has not yet appeared in the Driver Power owner satisfaction survey as it is too new, but the brand has a whole performed well in the 2018 survey. The Tucson and i20 models made it into the top 75 ranking, with particularly strong results for reliability and build quality. Hyundai achieved 15th place overall out of 26 manufacturers, putting it ahead of rivals such as Ford and Vauxhall.

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Warranty

Hyundai’s warranty is more generous than the norm, with a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty across its entire range. This represents a show of confidence in the quality and reliability of its products which should bring added reassurance to private buyers. This warranty coverage is matched by Toyota, while sister brand Kia edges ahead with a seven-year warranty, although it does have a 100,000 mile mileage limit, which might not suit some long distance drivers as much as Hyundai’s unlimited warranty.

Servicing

The servicing cost for the i30 Fastback is competitive, with a minor service costing approximately £135, rising to around £280 for a major service. Hyundai also offers a fixed-price servicing plan as well as a free annual check.

3.6

The i30 Fastback is capable of carrying four adults comfortably, with the possibility of squeezing a fifth adult in the rear centre seat for short journeys. The driving position is good, with a broad range of adjustment for the seat and the wheel, while the infotainment and climate controls are well placed for easy access. All-round visibility is good, and although the rear view is reduced fractionally compared to the hatchback it’s not enough to significantly impact rearward visibility.

In terms of storage throughout the cabin, the i30 Fastback shows plenty of thought has been given to making the most of the available space. Each of the door bins is generous in size and depth, while the centre console cubby can swallow a decent amount of items. A ski hatch is fitted to all versions, too.

Size

The i30 Fastback sits around the middle in terms of its relative size compared to its key rivals. It is 130mm shorter and 25mm lower than the Mazda 3 Fastback but shares its width, while it is considerably longer than the hatchback Ford Focus, as well as lower and narrower. The Kia Proceed, which is related to the i30 Fastback, is longer, wider and lower. In terms of boot space, the Hyundai is competitive, offering more space with the seats up than all bar the Kia Proceed.

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Leg room, head room & passenger space

The change in the roofline of the Fastback compared to the hatchback i30 inevitably means something of a compromise in terms of space, although what is lost in respect of room for occupants is partially regained when it comes to the luggage area. Front seat passengers enjoy competitive head and leg room, and in the rear legroom is on a par with the hatchback. Where the Fastback loses out is rear headroom, with the sloping roof robbing occupants of some space. Anyone of six feet in height will find the headlining encroaching on them.

Boot

Going some way to compensate is the increase in boot space, with the Fastback offering 450 litres, in comparison to the 395 litres available in the hatchback. That is still less than the i30 Estate however.

4.3

For a car of this size and a range that currently doesn’t include a diesel engine, the i30 Fastback offers impressive fuel consumption and CO2 performance. The smallest 1.0 T-GDi unit is inevitably the best performer in the range, with fuel economy as low as 47.1mpg combined under WLTP testing and 125g/km of CO2. The bigger 1.4-litre four cylinder engine offers useful extra power but it is quite close in respect of economy, with the version fitted with the seven-speed dual clutch DCT gearbox coming close to the 1.0 T-GDi at 46.3mpg combined and matching its 125g/km emissions figure. The worst-performing standard model is the 1.4-litre model with the manual gearbox which manages 45.6mpg and 132g/km of CO2, while the i30 N Fastback model is considerably less efficient with quoted WLTP figures of 35.3mpg combined and 178g/km emissions.

Insurance groups

Insurance rates for the i30 Fastback are competitive, with the SE Nav 1.0-litre model falling into group 8, and the most expensive 1.4-litre Premium SE model only in group 15. The high performance i30 N Fastback model is considerably higher at group 29, but this is relatively low for a car with this level of performance.

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Depreciation

Hyundai has made solid progress in recent years of transforming its brand, taking it from being seen as offering low sticker prices and little else to one that still provides good value but that is able to compete on quality and ability too. This has helped improve the residual values of Hyundai products, although its products do still fall behind the best in class for residual values. The i30 Fastback has values edging close to 40 per cent, which is slightly better than the standard hatchback, but still a couple of per cent behind hatchback class leaders such as the VW Golf and Honda Civic.

Car industry hits back at keyless car theft security tests
Posted on Thursday March 21, 2019

Tristan Shale-Hester 2019-03-21 11:34

Both industry and manufacturers criticise Thatcham Research’s new assessments for keyless-theft protection and vehicle security systems

How to buy a used police car - keys

The car industry has hit back at a new vehicle security test that gave poor ratings to a number of new 2019 models for their alleged vulnerability to keyless and other types of theft.

The new assessments from Thatcham Research examine a car’s ability to resist increasingly common methods of theft, such as relay attacks and OBD (on-board diagnostics) hacks, and then gives a rating of either ‘Superior’, ‘Good’, ‘Basic’, ‘Poor’ or ‘Unacceptable’.

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Thatcham tried the test out on 11 brand-new 2019 models, seven of which received a rating of poor or worse. However, the industry was quick to fight back against these claims, calling Thatcham’s testing methods into question.

One of the cars rated as ‘poor’ by Thatcham was the new Kia ProCeed. A statement from the manufacturer said: “Thatcham has not communicated with us on this testing procedure and has not outlined how this rating was achieved.”

It added that another report from Thatcham on the same car from February 2019 gave the ProCeed a security rating of four out of five stars.

Hyundai also took issue with Thatcham’s methods. The hydrogen fuel-cell Nexo was also given a rating of ‘poor’, but Hyundai said example tested for its resistance to relay attacks was a pre-production prototype and was not equipped with the full security system found on customer cars.

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The only car tested to receive an ‘unacceptable’ rating was the new Suzuki Jimny, but the Japanese brand pointed out that the car is not available with keyless entry and has a mechanical steering column lock as opposed to an electronic one, so is not vulnerable to external relay attacks. Thatcham’s tests assess security are said to assess more than just keyless systems, however.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders), said the organisation had “serious concerns” with the system, which he described as having been “developed in isolation” and “at odds” with its creator’s own insurance classification.

He added that it “does not compare like with like”, “has the potential to confuse rather than simplify a very complex issue” and “offers a signpost to thieves”.


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Richard Billyeald, chief technical officer at Thatcham, defended the test, claiming that the point of it is to show consumers that if they buy a car with keyless entry, it will be “vulnerable” to theft.

He claimed that the test was “a collaborative process” and that manufacturers are always told in detail why their cars are scored in the way they are.

He added that the Kia ProCeed test from February 2019 was for insurance companies, not consumers and therefore takes a different approach, resulting in a different score.

Billyeald also said the new test takes all layers of security into account and that the Suzuki Jimny’s ‘unacceptable’ rating was because “the overall level of security on that vehicle is below the expectation for that class of car”.

In addition, Billyeald addressed Hyundai’s claims regarding the Nexo, saying that even though work is done on pre-production models, the final car is always tested for the rating that comes out when the model is released to the public.

Are you worried about your car being stolen through keyless entry? Let us know in the comments below...

Hyundai Tucson SUV gets sporty N Line treatment
Posted on Wednesday March 20, 2019

Alex Ingram 2019-03-20 23:01

Hyundai Tucson gets the brands sporty N Line treatment, while a second diesel unit becomes equipped with a 48 volt mild hybrid setup

Hyundai Tucson N Line - front tracking

This is the Hyundai Tucson N Line: the second model in the Korean brand’s range to be offered with a performance-inspired trim level. First seen on the i30, the N Line offers buyers of the Peugeot 3008 rival a sporty look which imitates its hot N lineup but without the outright performance or expense. The launch also coincides with a new addition to the SUV’s engine lineup: a 1.6-litre diesel with mild hybrid technology.

From the outside, the N Line gets a host of sporty styling additions which, according to Hyundai designers, aim to “offer something more special to the people who like Tucson. For those who want something customised.”

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At the front, there’s a unique bumper design which gains more aggressive air intakes, boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights and ‘shark tooth’ elements sticking up at the outer edges and flow into the dark plastic cladding.

Much of the car’s brightwork has also been removed: the front grille (whose mesh design matches the i30 N Line and three small indentations along its lower edge mimic the hottest i30 N) is finished in dark chrome, and the headlights feature black bezels. Around the sides, the window surrounds are now black and the door handles are body coloured.

The N Line rides on 19-inch alloy wheels which, along with the door mirror caps, roof and extended rear spoiler, are painted black. Around the back, there’s a gunmetal grey skid plate and a pair of real tailpipes.

Inside, the black interior is perked up with a range of red highlights. There’s bright red stitching on the dashboard, steering wheel, and seats, which also have red piping. While the front seat design is the same as other Tucsons, N Line models are trimmed in a mix of faux leather and mock-suede upholstery. The red stitches extend the gear selector, which in manual models share their design with the i30 N.

Aluminium pedals aside, the Tucson N Line’s cabin loses all of the silver trim found in other variants; the vent surrounds, door handles and infotainment surround are all black. Standard equipment includes an uprated nine-speaker Krell sound system, and a panoramic glass roof will be optional.

On its release in the UK, the Tucson N Line will be offered with one petrol engine and a new diesel option. Based on Hyundai’s existing 1.6-litre turbo diesel, a 48-volt electrical system updates the unit with a mild hybrid setup. While it’s not able to operate in a full EV mode, it allows the Tucson to engage its stop/start system before coming to a complete stop, and a brake regeneration system can be fed back into the driven wheels, reducing load on the engine. 

The changes, according to Hyundai, result in an 11 percent reduction in CO2 emissions relative to the conventional 1.6 diesel. It will be offered with both a six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Though Hyundai officials would not give a time frame, they confirmed to Auto Express that the 48v system will soon find its way into petrol-powered Hyundais, too.

The current petrol choice is a familiar one: the 175bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged unit is already available in other Tucsons, and can accelerate from 0-62mph in 8.9 secs when paired with a dual clutch automatic gearbox.

WLTP figures for the Tucson N Line show that it will emit just 118g/km for 1.6-litre turbo diesel when coupled with the dual-clutch auto and only 117g/km for the manual. Figures for the standard 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol are higher with a figure of 175g/km for the manual and 163g/km for the automatic.

Hyundai’s N Performance division has been involved in a couple of modest chassis tweaks to sharpen up the handling of the petrol. Revised dampers are slightly firmed up relative to regular models, while the electronic power steering software has been tweaked to give a sportier feel. These changes will not be applied to the 1.6 diesel, which will share its settings with the rest of the Tucson range.

While the Tucson is the second Hyundai to gain the N Line trim, it looks likely that other models will follow suit. Hyundai insiders wouldn’t be drawn into confirming which would come next, but said, “we will see how successful this model is before a full roll-out [of N Line].” Should other models receive the N Line treatment, expect similar exterior styling tweaks and a black and red interior theme.

The Tucson N Line is due to be released in May. While prices are still to be confirmed, expect a starting figure above the existing SE Nav trim.

Do you like the Hyundai Tucson N Line? Let us know in the comments below...

Kia ProCeed GT review
Posted on Wednesday March 20, 2019

For 
Swoopy styling
Good engine and road manners
Decently practical
Our Rating 
4
Against 
Dashboard layout isn’t great
Compromised rear space
Auto gearbox response
kia proceed gt prototype tracking front
2019

Kia’s stylish shooting brake is a worthwhile range flagship

The Kia ProCeed GT is a sporty-looking five-door estate that has more of a lifestyle flavour than the boxy Ceed Sportswagon, which is the range’s mainstream load-lugger. The ProCeed takes a leaf out of the Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake’s book, and exists as a sporty but practical range-topper for drivers who want a Kia with a bit more style. The GT version is the warmest, with a 1.6-litre turbo engine and 200bhp, but performance is hardly staggering by hot hatch standards.

It’s well built and handles nicely enough though, and the roomy boot is practical too. The ProCeed suffers for its looks with reduced rear headroom, and the cabin ergonomics are suspect, thanks to its reliance on too many buttons. That said, it benefits from a sporty and upmarket cabin ambience with its black leather interior with red stitching.

21 Mar, 2019
3.7

The exterior of the Kia ProCeed GT is upmarket and stylish, especially with its LED lighting, which gives the model a hi-tech feel. It has definite nods to rivals like the Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake, and even – some think – to the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo, so it really fits the brief of being a stylish yet practical family car.

It looks sporty too, with dynamically styled front and rear bumpers, twin exhausts, a honeycomb style front grille and red highlights along the sills, on the wheel centres and on the grille. At the rear the roofline dips towards a heavily raked tailgate, which looks good but isn’t great for rear headroom, luggage space or rear visibility.

Inside, the feeling of sporty luxury continues in the ProCeed GT with black leather upholstery and lots of hi-tech kit. The ambience is good, but the design of the dash employs ranks of push buttons which take a bit of getting used to. There’s a big 8-inch touchscreen on the centre of the facia, which looks like a freestanding tablet device, and a very grippy steering wheel with multifunction buttons and a clear view of the traditional analogue dials in the binnacle ahead of the driver.

All in all it’s a contemporary feel, and with the array of toys and gadgets included in the standard spec list, it’s a genuinely pleasing place to spend time behind the wheel.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The central 8-inch touchscreen in the ProCeed GT is the heart of a pretty impressive infotainment set-up. It includes a five-speaker audio system, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and wireless phone charging. The sat-nav is a TomTom system, and it comes with European mapping and traffic messaging. The display also has a reversing camera linked to the Park Assist system.

3.9

The ProCeed sits 5mm closer to the ground than its five-door and estate stablemates. In sportiest GT guise it also has suspension that’s tightened up with stiffer springs and, perhaps counter-intuitively, softened anti-roll bars. On the road, that translates into tidy handling with well-controlled levels of body roll, and admirable levels of grip. Ride quality is on the firm side, but it’s still pliant and avoids crashiness over bumps.

Steering is accurate and well weighted, but doesn’t offer particularly good feedback. And while the manual gearbox is smooth in the lesser-powered models, there’s a fly in the ointment for the GT model in the shape of the DCT auto that’s the only choice with the most powerful engine. Its shifts are on the sluggish side, and the engine pick up feels a little blunted when you want maximum acceleration too.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The 1.4-litre turbo petrol and 1.6-litre turbodiesel are smooth and relatively refined, but don’t offer particularly scintillating acceleration. Depending on model and gearboxes, 0-62mph times range from a little over 9 seconds to ten-and-a-half seconds.

Things improve with the 1.6 turbo petrol GDi unit in the GT, which does 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 140mph. You get a drive mode selector too, which adds a bit of extra throttle sharpness, weights up the steering and opens up the exhaust flaps to create a sportier noise. It’s not too extreme, and adds a bit more fun to proceedings, without meaningfully increasing the performance or potency.

4.5

The ProCeed GT is a range flagship, and as you’d expect it comes loaded with safety tech, although the less overtly sporty GT-Line S version of the ProCeed is more lavishly equipped still. The GT comes with Lane Keeping Assistance, Forward Collision Avoidance, and Driver Attention Warning, but the GT-Line S trumps it with Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Following Assist. Stability and traction control are included too of course, and you also get six airbags and ISOFIX child seat mounts with top tethers.

There’s no Euro NCAP independent crash test result available yet, but the high safety spec should count for something, while the five-star rating for the regular Ceed hatchback applies just as equally to the ProCeed as it does to the Ceed SW estate.

The ProCeed GT is too new for reliability to be accurately assessed either, but the long seven year warranty is greatly reassuring, and Kia came 8th out of 26 car makers in the latest 2018 Driver Power Survey which is pretty good too. Just over 10 per cent of respondents said they’d had a fault of one kind or another in the first year of ownership.

Warranty

The Kia warranty is industry-leading at seven years and 100,000 miles. Any remaining warranty also transfers with the car when you sell it, free of charge for the new owner. However, some buyers might be more attracted to Hyundai’s five-year warranty, because it comes with unlimited mileage cover.

Servicing

10,000-mile or annual service intervals for the ProCeed GT are pretty standard, although the diesel ProCeed can be driven up to 20,000 miles in a year before requiring a visit to the garage. There is a range of cost-effective Kia service plans, and you can even pay in advance for up to seven years to match the warranty.

3.6

The Kia ProCeed comes with only the one body style, but of course if you want a regular hatchback or a traditional estate, there are those options available in the Ceed line-up. So the ProCeed comes with five doors and five seats, and an experience from the driver’s seat that’s identical to the Ceed hatchback – which means it’s roomy and comfortable with plenty of adjustment to find a good driving position.

Visibility forward is much like any other hatchback, but the design of the rear end makes the view out of the back somewhat limited. Fortunately, there is a Park Assist system, which reduces the issue, but it can still be problematic when looking over your shoulder. Cabin storage is decent though.

Size

The ProCeed GT fits in-between the regular Ceed five-door and the larger SW estate model. It’s 5mm closer to the ground than the hatchback, and the low rear roofline means the rear seats are lower too. This can make it a little awkward to get in and out of, as you need to drop down into the back seats and mind your head on the roof.

Leg room, head room & passenger space

While the ProCeed is plenty roomy enough in the front seats, six-footers will find themselves under pressure for headroom in the rear, which could make long journeys quite uncomfortable. Smaller folk or children should have no problems.

Boot

The ProCeed’s boot is around 50 per cent bigger than the standard five-door Ceed’s, and offers a total of 594 litres of luggage space. It’s not far behind the Ceed Sportwagon estate in fact, and really only loses out due to its sharply sloping rear window. There’s a 60:40 split rear bench as standard, and the GT gets an underfloor storage compartment and a powered tailgate.

3.7

The ProCeed GT isn’t as thirsty as some more extreme versions of the ‘shooting brake’ genre, but its officially quoted consumption of 39.3mpg on the latest ‘real world’ WLTP combined economy test isn’t particularly impressive – until you remember the 1.6-litre petrol turbo boasts 201bhp. On the High MPG cycle it manages 45.5mpg, while the Low MPG figure is 28.2mpg.

If you need to better those figures, the 1.4-litre petrol GT-Line model can return up to 45.6mpg on the Combined test cycle, while the 1.6 diesel scores 53.3mpg – or up to 65.7mpg on the High economy test cycle. Still, you’ll have to rack up some serious miles for the GT model’s figures to make too much of a dent in the budget.

On the emissions front, the GT meets Euro 6 regulations and produces 163g/km of CO2 under WLTP testing. Under the old NEDC tests, that’s a more reasonable sounding 142g/km, which means manageable costs for company car users. Interestingly, the less powerful ProCeed models both fall into the same tax bands as the GT version.

Insurance groups

The Kia ProCeed GT comes in with a Group 30 insurance rating, which means it’s going to cost a fair amount more to insure than the more than other models in the Ceed line-up. Hatchback Ceeds range between Group 8 and Group 22.

Depreciation

Rapid advances in quality, design and engineering mean the Kia line-up performs pretty well for depreciation, aided by the fantastic seven-year warranty. The ProCeed has yet to be evaluated by our residual experts, but the standard Ceed has depreciation in the 35-43 per cent ballpark, with the Ceed SW estate performing slightly poorer. If the Hyundai i30 sister model and its sporty i30 Fastback variant are anything to go by, the ProCeed could well be the best performing depreciator in the Ceed range.

Volvo launches an open-to-all library of motoring safety
Posted on Wednesday March 20, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-03-20 15:53

The Swedish manufacturer has opened a central digital library sharing information on all its safety innovations from the last 60 years

Volvo crash test

Volvo has launched a centralised digital library which details all the motoring safety innovations the firm has developed throughout its history. The Swedish company encourages other manufacturers to draw on the library, continuing its 60-year tradition of publicly sharing the plans for its most important safety equipment.

The library’s launch coincides with the 60th anniversary of one of the most important in-car safety technologies: the three-point seat belt. Volvo developed the technology in 1959 and, instead of privatising the patent and pocketing the revenue, the firm released its designs publicly, with the aim of improving overall road safety.

Volvo’s latest models to monitor drink drivers

Over the past 60 years, Volvo has produced a range of crash-safety technology, the patents for all of which it has made publicly available. Notable examples include the side-impact protection system (SIPS) and whiplash-preventing head-restraints for the eighties and nineties. More recently, the brand has developed shock-absorbing seat pads, which claim to reduce spinal injuries during run-off accidents.

Volvo’s latest collaborative venture comprises 60 years-worth of research, which is currently being used to analyse the different crash safety requirements for men and women. For example, the firm claims the difference in anatomy and neck strength for the average man and woman mean that females are more likely to suffer from whiplash injuries.

“We have data on tens of thousands of real-life accidents, to help ensure our cars are as safe as they can be for what happens in real traffic,” said Lotta Jakobsson, professor and senior technical specialist at Volvo Cars Safety Centre. “This means our vehicles are developed with the aim of protecting all people, regardless of gender, height, shape or weight, beyond the ‘average person’ represented by crash test dummies.”

What are your thoughts on Volvo’s collaborative safety agenda? Let us know in the comments section below…

Toyota RAV4 review
Posted on Wednesday March 20, 2019

For 
Bold styling
Great ride quality
Decent running costs
Our Rating 
4
Against 
Noisy engine
CVT gearbox won't suit all
Infotainment not up to scratch
Toyota RAV4 front
2019

The Toyota RAV4 offers unique styling, hybrid-only power and great build quality but it trails rivals in some key areas

The latest Toyota RAV4 represents a welcome step forwards over the old model when it comes to styling, comfort and practicality – and it's still very well-built and likely to be solidly reliable. However, it lags behind key rivals in the infotainment stakes and the lack of a diesel engine may put off many. It drives neatly and rides very well, but many cheaper rivals offer a similar breadth of ability.

As a pure hybrid mid-sized SUV though, the RAV4 is pretty much in a class of one – and that makes price comparison tricky. On the face of it, an SUV of this size with a starting figure just shy of £30,000 looks pretty expensive compared with the likes of the Skoda Kodiaq.

If you're on the lookout for a well-built, economical, practical and comfortable SUV that's likely to major on reliability, the Toyota RAV4 is a strong choice.

20 Mar, 2019
3.8

The interior quality is hard to fault - the RAV4 feels well built enough to last beyond the natural three-year PCP cycle without any rattles or squeeks. But, as is often the case for Toyota, the finish is functional more than luxurious. There’s a smattering of double-stitching and soft-touch materials in the places that matter, at least. 

The layout is broadly functional, too, albeit with a few extra buttons low down between the steering wheel and the door that are hard to find without taking your eyes off the road. We like the chunky, heating controls, however, with their rubberised finish that makes them easy to grip with cold hands.

Our car had a panoramic rear-view mirror, which takes a feed from a camera just inside the rear hatch glass and shows it on a digital screen integrated into the usual mirror housing. It takes some getting used to, but ultimately shows a wider-angle image so we could see its benefits, in time.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

It’s certainly more helpful than the eight-inch infotainment system, which is probably the single weakest point of the vehicle. In hardware terms the screen looks slightly lower-resolution than what you can get in a VW or even a Kuga. And the interface is classic Toyota, with a clunky approach.

Worst of all, the smartphone integration is lamentable in this day and age, with not even the option to add Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, so you can’t bypass the in-car system in the same way that you can with, say, a Honda CR-V. Toyota sources say engineers are “working on it” but this functionality - standard on most of the RAV4’s rivals and at least optional on pretty much all of them - will not be available at launch.

3.8

On the road, the RAV4 is a curious mix. This generation’s body is 57 percent more rigid than the outgoing model’s, and this - coupled with the TNGA underpinnings - makes it a surprisingly capable performer on twisty roads. It shirks the worst body roll excesses that you find with SUVs, and the front end turns in crisply, with steering that’s direct and nicely weighted. Barring the worst hooliganism, it doesn’t suffer much from understeer, and it is admirably amenable to sudden changes of direction.

These traits promise to reward the driver more than you might expect in such a tall vehicle, but Toyota’s hybrid powertrain isn’t quite willing to play its part in that. It’s not that it’s unrefined or inherently unsorted; it’s more that the Hybrid Drive principle of having an engine speed not entirely related to how fast you’re travelling, is a just an insurmountable obstacle to driver involvement.

You can use steering wheel-mounted paddles to play with the ‘stepped’ ratios in the system, particularly under braking, but it’s always going to ignore you and do what it thinks is best once you’re back on the throttle.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

Recognise this fact and adopt a smooth, relaxed approach and you’ll find the 2.5-litre set-up fast enough for most situations, including around town. And there’s no doubt that the larger capacity and increased torque mean that when the CVT revs do go skywards – and yes, they still do, from time to time – they tend to be shorter blasts than you might experience in, say, an older Toyota Auris or Prius.

The front-wheel-drive model takes 8.4 seconds to reach 62mph while the AWD edition, which has an extra motor on the back axle, trims three-tenths of a second off that figure. 

When you’re cruising on the flat at motorway speeds, you’re unlikely to hear much engine noise at all – although this is as much down to a fair bit of wind rush from the side mirrors as it is the refinement of the latest powertrain.

Most of our meaningful mileage was in a front-drive Dynamic but we also tried a four-wheel-drive edition on some pretty badly rutted and muddy terrain. It acquitted itself well enough to persuade us that this RAV4 has more than enough ability off road for the type of person who’s going to buy one. There’s no discernible pay-off in on-road performance either.

4

The latest RAV4 is yet to be tested by Euro NCAP, but the previous model scored a full five stars with decent ratings in most areas, so we have no reason to expect anything less for the new car.

All RAV4 models get Toyota Safety Sense 2 as standard. It brings adaptive cruise control with lane departure warning and steering assist, a pre-collision system including pedestrian detection, automatic high beam headlights and road sign recognition.

The latest RAV4 is too new to have featured in our 2018 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, but the outgoing model finished 51st out of 75 cars. A fairly low 11.5 per cent of owners reported experiencing a problem with their cars. Toyota itself finished 12th overall out of 26 manufacturers, beating big names Volvo, Audi and Mercedes in the process.

Warranty

All Toyota models are covered by a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty. The battery for the hybrid powertrain in the RAV4 is also subject to an additional year or 10,000 miles – this can be renewed up to the 15th anniversary of the date of registration and there's no mileage limit.

Servicing

Intermediate servicing starts at £185 for the RAV4, with a full service starting at £335, or £395 for a 'Full+' service. Toyota also offers a price match guarentee on new tyres. The RAV4's hybrid system is subject to extra diagnostic checks at service time, but Toyota doesn't charge extra for this.

3.5

Size

These figures look competitive enough against, say, the Nissan X-Trail, which musters 565 litres as standard. But the Toyota’s ultimate capacity is some way shy of the Nissan’s 1,996 litres total and on the whole, its loadspace isn’t a patch on what you can get in the (much cheaper) Skoda Kodiaq or the (similarly priced) VW Tiguan Allspace. Still, we wouldn’t argue with Toyota’s claim that the RAV4 can swallow a full-size mountain bike without taking the wheels off, so it should be more than spacious enough for most family uses.

Leg room, head room & passenger space

Inside, a 30mm stretch in wheelbase over the old car means that there’s space for four adults – and five could travel in reasonable comfort for a decent length of time.

Boot

The boot is pretty practical, too; there are is 580 litres on offer with the rear seats in place (79 litres more than in the Mk4 RAV4), and 1,690 litres available if you fold them down.

Towing

Those looking to tow with their RAV4 will need to specify one of the three towing packs, each priced at £600 and offering different pin and reciever layouts as required. Unbraked towing weight is quoted at 750kg and braked at 1650kg for AWD models; two-wheel drive models can only manage 750kg and 800kg respectively.

4

During our test on mixed roads including city and motorway driving, the RAV4 returned as much as 61mpg and didn't dip below 40mpg at any point. These figures are great, comparing favourably to the smaller, slower and similarly powered Kia Niro Hybrid. Emissions are equally impressive – official NEDC-corrected CO2 emissions of 102 to 105g/km are quoted (depending on driven wheels and wheel size). 

It's worth factoring in the effect that the RAV4's impressively low CO2 emissions have on Vehicle Excise Duty (£135 across the range) and, more importantly, Benefit-in-kind taxation for company car choosers. The entry point of the RAV4 range, that front-drive model, has BIK of just 21 percent – and every other version is 22 percent, regardless of how many driven wheels they have. Toyota reckons a RAV4 user-chooser will save more than £120 per month in tax over a comparable Tiguan petrol or diesel.

Insurance groups

Insurance group information isn't yet available for the latest Toyota RAV4, but we expect that it will sit around group 24-26, much as hybrid versions of the outgoing model did. 

Depreciation

Our experts predict that the Toyota RAV4 will hold on to around 39 to 42 per cent of its value come trade-in time after three years and 36,000 miles. By contrast, the Skoda Kodiaq should hold on to around 47 to 52 per cent over the same period depending on specification; a Honda CR-V Hybrid is expected to hold on to almost 51 per cent when specified with four-wheel drive and SE trim.

 

 


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