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In the News ...

New Honda CR-V hybrid 2018 review
Posted on Friday November 16, 2018

Honda CR-V Hybrid - front
16 Nov, 2018 1:45pm James Brodie

Hybrid technology adds appeal to the flagship Honda CR-V and makes it the pick of the range

Most of the world’s big carmakers have made headline-grabbing announcements by committing themselves to an electrified future – and Honda is no different. The firm reckons up to two-thirds of its European sales could comprise electrified cars by 2025, with full-EVs a big part of that plan, too.

But before we see the wraps come off the Honda’s retro Urban EV next year, this is the first step in the brand’s strategy; a hybrid version of the all-new fifth-generation CR-V.

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The new powertrain is already fitted in the Accord saloon in the US, but it makes its European debut in the latest CR-V. It’s called Intelligent Multi Mode Drive (i-MMD), and the system enables three drive settings.

Pure electric running is available in EV Drive, but only for very short periods given the tiny 1kWh battery pack. Hybrid Drive uses the power of the 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine, which runs at low revs to power one of the electric motors. This, in turn, generates the power used by the other motor for propulsion.

Engine Drive closes a clutch to enable the front axle to be driven by the petrol motor, while the gearbox is a single fixed ratio transmission. Both front and all-wheel drive versions are offered.

As such, in Hybrid Drive, the best way to get your head around the way the CR-V’s  powertrain works is to think of it as being a little like a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle – only using petrol to generate charge for the electric motor.

The car automatically shuffles through the three modes depending on speed and how you drive, but for the most part, the changes are extremely seamless. Away from the motorway, the CR-V Hybrid spends nearly all of its time in Hybrid or EV Drive, meaning the engine is either ticking away to trickle power to the battery, or not running at all. 

Drive the CR-V Hybrid sensibly and it’s a very quiet and comfortable car indeed. Not only is the cabin well hushed, it’s still a nicely finished and appointed place to sit. The setup is slightly less convincing when Engine Drive takes over and the revs rise, but it really does take a significant prod on the throttle to make the engine come into play.

The set of paddles behind the steering wheel allows the driver to alter the strength of the energy recuperation system, too. There’s also a Sport mode, which is said to unlock sharper throttle response – but its impact is minor.

The CR-V hybrid rides well and soaks up the road nicely, delivering comfort to match the serene environment. The steering feels sharp, but this is hardly a sporty car to drive. With over 100kg extra on board due to the hybrid system, the standard car’s body roll is amplified.

Overall it feels like a pretty unique package, though, and that’s ultimately where most of its appeal lies. Claimed fuel economy of 51.4mpg isn’t ground-breaking, but on par with most diesel SUVs of this size. It’s certainly going to prove far more economical than the petrol version for many buyers – and given Honda has no plans for a diesel, will offer welcome appeal for most.

Practicality is often a Honda strong point, but the hybrid system means bootspace shrinks from 561 litres to 497 litres – and there’s no option for seven seats. There’s plenty of useful space in the cabin, and room for adults to sit comfortably in the rear.

Price-wise, it rather depends on which trim level you opt for, but on our range-topping EX model – tipped to be the most popular – the hybrid setup is only £800 more than the all-wheel-drive CVT petrol car in EX trim. As such, if you were considering such a car, we’d probably recommend taking the step up to the hybrid when it goes on sale in February. 

4
This hybrid is the pick of the new Honda CR-V range. The premium you’ll pay is larger at the lower reaches of the range, but at £800 more than equivalent EX-trim CVT AWD models, it makes total sense on the more expensive cars. Near-silent running most of the time with no need to ever plug in, makes it an appealing and somewhat unique version of Honda’s flagship SUV.
  • Model: Honda CR-V Hybrid EX AWD
  • Price: £37,255
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl petrols plus two electric motors
  • Power/Transmission: 181bhp/315Nm
  • Transmission: Single-speed CVT auto, all-wheel-drive
  • 0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 112mph
  • Economy/CO2: 51.4mpg/ 126g/km
  • On sale: February 2019

New AVEVAI IONA electric van is bound for Europe
Posted on Friday November 16, 2018

Adam Smith 2018-11-16 13:30

The Guangzhou Motor Show has turned up a new electric van that maker AVEVAI plans to bring to Europe in 2019

AVEVAI IONA Van

AVEVAI, a Singapore-based tech company, has unveiled two new electric light commercial vehicles at the 5th Guangzhou International Electric Vehicles Show in China.

Order books are open for the Chinese-built large panel van called the IONA Van, and a box van called the IONA Truck with the first European deliveries due to start in May next year. Both models are available in SWB and LWB with payloads up to 2,500kg.

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Both e-LCV models use supercapacitor batteries which, according to AVEVAI, accept and deploy charge much faster than conventional batteries. The IONA Van can be fully charged from a 22kW charger in 4 hours while the bigger IONA Truck takes just 2 hours. Ranges are 205 miles and 186 miles respectively.

While both models have impressive ranges, the 99bhp IONA Van has a top speed of just 62mph while the 80bhp box van tops out at 56mph. They’re not fast, but the quick charge times, high payloads, and low running costs should make them ideal for inner-city deliveries.

Both IONA models have been developed with cost-saving in mind and offer comprehensive 5 year/200,000km warranties to ensure no battery-related expenses are incurred.


Check out our review of the Renault Master ZE, an electric van you can buy in the UK now...

New all-electric MG eZS revealed with 266-mile range
Posted on Friday November 16, 2018

John McIlroy 2018-11-16 12:30

An electric version of the MG ZS SUV, called the eZS, has been revealed at the Guangzhou Motor Show

MG eZS - front

MG has unveiled an all-electric version of its ZS SUV at the Guangzhou Motor Show. 

The British brand, which is owned by Chinese conglomerate SAIC, is calling the car eZS - and given the regular ZS’s positioning as a rival for the likes of the Renault Captur and Nissan Juke, the EV version could prove a competitor for the Hyundai Kona Electric.

Best electric cars on sale

The new model has a single electric motor driving the front wheels and producing 148bhp and 350Nm - enough to take the 4.3-metre-long crossover from 0-31mph in 3.1 seconds. MG hasn’t issued a battery size but it says the eZS can travel for 428km, or 266 miles, between charges. It also appears to have fast-charging capacity; MG claims that up to 80 per cent of charge can be replenished in 30 minutes.

Inside, the eZS has a further evolution of MG’s cockpit layout and infotainment system, with a glossy central display and a digital screen between conventional dials in the instrument panel. The exterior looks relatively normal by EV standards, with what looks like a conventional front grille, although none of the official images issued by MG shows an obvious charging port and it could be accessed under the MG badge.

There are no immediate plans to sell the eZS in the UK although increasing demand for EVs means that it is likely to join the firm’s compact range in due course. The biggest obstacle to this could well be fulfilling demand in SAIC’s native China, where EV sales are booming.

Click here to read our review of the regular MG ZS SUV...

New body kit turns Suzuki Jimny into a mini Land Rover Defender
Posted on Friday November 16, 2018

Jake Weaver 2018-11-16 10:45

Japanese tuning company DAMD can turn your Suzuki Jimny into a tiny Land Rover Defender or even a Mercedes G-Class

Suzuki Jimny 'Little D' - front

While customers wait patiently for JLR to reveal the new Defender, a Japanese tuning company called DAMD have created a unique body kit for the Suzuki Jimny that makes it resemble a Land Rover Defender.

Called the 'Little D', the body kit includes nose alterations such as adding another headlight bulb for the Defender's signature trio and "LITTLE D" lettering above the grille, which ditches the Wrangler-like vertical slats for horizontal bars. Also included is a larger front bumper with a more prominent skid plate, while mud flaps, knobby off-road tires, bare spare tire, and the angled rear bumper made to look like the Defender's visible chassis complete the look. The Jimny's boxy profile remains as do the wheel arches and roof cap.

Best small 4x4 to buy

Of course, if a little Defender is a bit too average for your taste then DAMD also offer a G-Class body kit for your Jimny. The ‘Little G’ is much the same as the ‘Little D’ with the body kit designed to resemble the much bigger Mercedes G-Class. A new grille, air vents, chrome skid plate and headlights create a surprisingly accurate imitation while black wheels, white paint and a contrasting black coach line make the ‘Little G’ appear more premium and noticeable than both the ‘Little D’ and a standard Jimny.

This is not the first time DAMD have fitted custom body kits to popular Japanese cars, having previously tinkered with a Mazda MX-5, Toyota GT 86 and a Subaru WRX STi.

Prices for both the ‘Little D’ and ‘Little G’ are yet to be announced although both are slated for a 2019 release date. Customers interested can register with the website to receive further information when it comes online.

Do you like the idea of having a tiny Defender or G-Class? Let us know in the comments below... 

New 2019 Toyota Corolla Saloon joins hatch and estate
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

Alex Ingram 2018-11-16 08:00

The new Toyota Corolla Saloon features an all-new face to add prestige and differentiate it from the rest of the range

Toyota Corolla Saloon - front

This is the new Toyota Corolla Saloon. The four-door version of the 12th-generation Corolla will join the already-revealed hatchback and estate to form a three-strong family when UK sales begin in the first quarter of 2019.

The saloon’s debut will mark the first time that a C-Segment Toyota saloon has been sold in the UK for almost 15 years. The new model is positioned, Toyota says, as a more prestigious alternative to the hatch and estate models, which is reflected in its unique styling.

New Toyota Corolla hatchback prototype review

Its face is all-new: the headlights are smaller, the grille is slimmer and wider, and the less aggressive front air dam gets horizontal slats as opposed to the other models’ honeycomb grating. A long, straight character line along the flanks lends the traditional three box shape to smart proportions when viewed in profile, while the back gets a smoother bumper design and broader tail lamp units than the hatchback.

From the driver’s seat, the Saloon is pretty much identical to the other models in the Corolla family, which means that wireless smartphone charging, an eight-inch touchscreen, a seven-inch multimedia display between the dials and a head-up display are all available. 

In the back, rear legroom is a match for the estate, as the saloon shares its 2,700mm wheelbase - a 61mm stretch beyond the hatchback. The different lengths have been made possible by the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) GA-C platform which the Corolla uses.

Multi-link suspension and a low centre of gravity have contributed to the Corolla’s fine ride/handling balance - something we already discovered when we tried prototype versions of the hatch and estate, and which stands to reason should be carried over to the saloon. 

In the UK, the four-door is expected to make use of just one powertrain option: a 1.8-litre mild hybrid. The 120bhp unit is shared with other Corollas as well as the Prius and C-HR, and in this application it’s claimed to achieve 65.7mpg in the latest WLTP tests, while CO2 emissions are quoted at 98g/km.

A 1.6-litre non-hybrid petrol is offered in other markets, while the more potent 2.0-litre hybrid isn’t slated for use in the saloon.

While official prices and equipment levels have yet to be confirmed for the UK, safety will remain high on Toyota’s agenda for the Corolla saloon. An autonomous emergency braking system, which can detect pedestrians in both day and night and cyclists during the day, and traffic sign recognition will both be available. Meanwhile, the car’s adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist systems can work together to semi-autonomously drive and steer the car on motorways.

Click here to read our Toyota Corolla Touring Sports estate prototype review...

Mazda 6 2.5 GT Sport Nav+: long-term test review
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

17 Nov, 2018 11:00am Sam Naylor

First report: Is the non-turbo Mazda 6 saloon a throwback like a classic camera?

Our new Mazda 6 saloon has been welcomed to the fleet by going straight in at the deep end: a 2,000-mile drive down to Italy on its first week with Auto Express.

There was plenty of time for me to contemplate the Mazda’s merits on the two-day trip to Piacenza, and I came to realise that the 6 has something in common with my 35mm film camera.

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If you’ll excuse the slightly tenuous link, the Mazda’s naturally aspirated 2.5-litre engine is a bit of a throwback in the modern era of turbocharged engines, just like using film. But for me, both of these older methods add to the experience hugely. It’s fun to take pictures on film, just like driving a car with a responsive, smooth and revvy non-turbo engine is a treat.

This large 2.5-litre motor isn’t the best example of this theory because it doesn’t relish revs, but for me, it proves that even a disappointing naturally aspirated engine is more entertaining to use than most turbocharged units.

This powerplant is only available with an automatic gearbox, which is a bit of a shame; Mazda’s manual boxes are all class-leading. That reminds me of my autofocus camera, too: in the same way that I prefer to change gear myself, I’d rather focus manually while snapping.

One final thing they have in common is impeccable build quality. The camera is made of titanium and is a delight to hold, yet because digital cameras are the current trend, it was very affordable to buy. Likewise, the Mazda’s interior is ergonomically superb and wouldn’t look out of place in a far more expensive car.

The more time I spent in the 6 driving through France and Italy, the more I came to appreciate just how well designed it is. The driving position is near-perfect, with the distance between the pedals, seat and steering wheel simply spot-on, even for a tall driver like me.

The seats themselves are plush and comfortable, too, and the cooling function was extremely useful in the 30-degree September heat.

Then there’s the suspension set-up, which provides a smooth ride on the motorway as well as neat handling on the twisty mountain roads once we arrived. It was only here that I really wished for that manual box, because while the auto is fine on the open road, it’s a bit lethargic on twisty sections.

There are better-value cars in this class, and many people will prefer the turbocharged engines in rival models. But the Mazda 6 ticks all the right boxes for me: the engine, driving position, the weights of the controls and the handling mean it’s a very satisfying car to drive, and with its impressive 39.3mpg economy figure, the 6 is my personal favourite family saloon, in part thanks to this long trip.

*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old living in Banbury, Oxfordshire, with three penalty points.

4
The Mazda 6 treads its own path with its rather outdated engine, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Its mix of comfort and driving engagement has won over at least one member of the team, but we’ll see over the next six months if it has real lasting appeal.
  • Model: Mazda 6 2.5 194ps GT Sport Nav+ Automatic
  • On fleet since: September 2018
  • Engine: 2.5-litre 4cyl petrol, 191bhp
  • CO2/tax: 153g/km/£140
  • Options: Soul Red Crystal Metallic Paint (£800), Light Stone Nappa leather upholstery (£200)
  • Insurance*: Group: 16/Quote: £565
  • Mileage/mpg: 2,601/39.9mpg
  • Any problems?: None so far

New Ford Focus Vignale 2018 review
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

Ford Focus Vignale - front tracking
15 Nov, 2018 12:15pm Richard Ingram

We drive the new Ford Focus Vignale in the UK, but is it worthy of the premium badge?

Ford’s resurrected Vignale brand has been around since 2015. It now spans almost the entire model range, from the Fiesta supermini to the flagship Edge SUV.

But until now, the chrome-covered Focus has been conspicuous in its absence; Ford buyers in search of a posh family car have been forced into the larger Mondeo or Kuga Vignale models. Keen to rectify this, the all-new Focus Vignale will appear in dealers over the coming weeks.

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Designed to sit above the previous Titanium X range topper, it offers buyers a little bit more of everything. A little bit more luxury and a little bit more kit; inevitably it costs a little bit more money, too.

Prices start at £25,800 – or £2,670 more than the equivalent 1.0 EcoBoost 125PS in Titanium X guise. That price difference remains pretty much in step throughout the range, right up to the flagship diesel, which costs from £29,550.

We tested something of an anomaly, however, as the middling 148bhp 1.5-litre EcoBoost fitted to our car has just been dropped for the Vignale. Instead, you’ll have to step up to the range-topping 180bhp version as per our spec panel.

Look at the costs on a PCP finance deal and you’ll be paying roughly £52 more per month for the flashy Vignale with the entry-level engine and gearbox combination. Higher rate company car drivers will fork out another £28 per month in BiK tax, too. So whether you consider it good value for money, will depend largely on the added equipment the more expensive car offers.

But the cheaper Ford Focus Titanium X is already a well-equipped car. You’ll find 17-inch wheels as standard, as well as front and rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, dual-zone climate control and part-leather trim. Ford’s latest SYNC3 infotainment system is also included, featuring sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Vignale models like ours then add larger 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, a wide-view reversing camera, heads-up display and Active Park Assist. That’s a lot of kit for your cash, whichever way you look at it. On top of that, there’s full leather trim with Vignale badging, a B&O sound system, multi-colour ambient lighting and bespoke exterior styling. 

Speaking of which, Ford has consciously made the latest Focus Vignale look a bit sportier than its siblings. There’s less chrome and more body-coloured trim, while the chunkier bumpers and big wheels give it a more aggressive look. It happily occupies a middle ground between the grown-up Titanium and the racier ST-Line models.

Inside, you’d expect the Vignale to feel posher and better built than the standard Focus models given the premium it commands. You’ll notice the contrast stitching on the dashboard and the comfortable leather seats, but aside from that it’s standard Ford fare.

While that may sound like a negative, it’s actually an acknowledgement of how well built the latest Focus feels. There are still a few scratchier plastics around the lower centre console, but it appears almost as plush as a comparable Volkswagen Golf or BMW 1 Series.

To drive, the Vignale is just like any other new Ford Focus, as well. That is to say it’s dynamic, comfortable and relatively quiet – although the larger 18-inch wheels can generate some quite unpleasant tyre roar on harsher surfaces. The steering is weighty and direct, while the ride is nicely damped, too.

While our car’s unicorn spec means we’re unable to comment on the new 180bhp 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine for now, our experience with the 148bhp car (tested here) and the entry-level three-cylinder would suggest the smaller unit suits the car better. The 123bhp 1.0-litre will be plenty quick enough for most buyers, while strong refinement ensures it’s a solid motorway car as well.

The auto box works nicely, but the six-speed manual is really sweet and plays nicely to the Ford’s dynamic ability. The auto will suit those whose journeys are largely confined to urban areas, however, swapping cogs smoothly. It rarely bogs down when you ask for extra power, either.

4
It’d be easy to dismiss the Ford Focus Vignale as simply being too expensive. Yet people have been buying similarly priced BMWs and Audis for years. It offers a substantial amount of extra kit over the already well-equipped Titanium X, as well as plush leather, extra refinement and unique styling. Most will find the cheaper models sufficient for their needs, but this is the most convincing Vignale yet.
  • Model: Ford Focus Vignale 1.5 EcoBoost 8spd Auto
  • Price: £28,400
  • Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl turbo
  • Power/Torque: 180bhp/240Nm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed auto, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 8.4 seconds
  • Top speed: 137mph
  • Fuel economy/CO2: 46.3mpg/137g/km
  • On sale: Now

New Maserati Levante V6 petrol 2018 review
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

Maserati Levante GranLusso - front
15 Nov, 2018 9:15am Steve Sutcliffe

The Maserati Levante range has gained a new entry-level V6 petrol option, but the overall package still trails behind many of its rivals

When Maserati unleashed the Ghibli-based Levante SUV in 2016, its global sales pretty much doubled overnight, and at that point it was fair to say that Maserati, the brand, was well and truly back in business.

Two and a half years down the line the Levante continues to do very well indeed for Maserati, with China being its number one market followed by the USA, Germany, Italy and the UK sitting at number five. Yet on the horizon there was a problem facing Maserati’s biggest selling car.

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By far the most popular version is the V6 turbodiesel, which is not surprising because it’s also the cheapest Levante you can buy. But we all know what’s happening to the diesel market at the moment, so despite the fact that – in the UK at least – the Levante Diesel continues to account for around 70 per cent of overall sales, something had to be done.

Enter this new entry-level 3.0-litre V6 petrol-powered model, known simply as The Levante. In basic trim it costs a seemingly competitive £61,425 and is capable of 156mph courtesy of its 345bhp twin-turbo V6 engine. Zero to 60mph takes 6.0 seconds compared with 6.9 seconds for the £58,315 diesel model, although in terms of economy the petrol V6 Levante driver takes a fair old hit beside their diesel-engined equivalent with just 23.5mpg versus 34.0mpg.

Other more sporting and/or luxuriant models are available with the same engine, both costing £69,425. The luxury variant is called GranLusso, the more sporting model GranSport, but apart from their differing interior trims and some styling elements to differentiate them on the outside – the GranSport’s front end styling is much more aggressive – all three new versions of the Levante are essentially the same car.

Inside, the centre console has been redesigned and includes a new lever for the eight-speed auto gearbox while the seat leathers have been upgraded on all versions. Outside, there are also new LED Matrix headlights plus a range of new colours and bigger wheels with either 20in as standard or optional 21in rims. There’s also a new “Nerissimo” trim level with moody all-black paintwork.

All V6 petrol Levantes get the same electric power steering that was introduced on the Ghibli late last year, and they all come with Maserati’s “Skyhook” adaptive air suspension as standard. Maserati is proud to point out that no other rival comes with either of these elements, although they are available as options on the Range Rover and Porsche Cayenne.

On the road the Levante is a mixed bag to be honest. On the one hand it does feel unusually agile for such a big, heavy SUV that weighs well over two tonnes. It’s bigger physically than both the aforementioned rivals yet from behind the wheel it doesn’t seem anything like as vast, especially compared with a Range Rover.

The V6 twin-turbo engine also delivers strong but by no means class leading performance. You need to rev it quite hard to get the best out of it, and there’s never the same mid-range surge of energy that you get from a Cayenne Turbo, although the engine combines well with the eight-speed auto, even if the absence of paddle shifters in the GranLusso version we drove was a curious omission. These cost £270 extra, which seems a bit mean in a 70 grand Maserati.

Even so, you can drive this Maserati Levante with real sporting intent and it won’t roll around in the way you might expect it to. From this specific point of view it’s surprisingly sharp to drive, especially if you select Sport which tightens up the dampers, weights up the steering a touch and puts the exhaust, engine and transmission into fruitier modes.

But on the other hand its refinement levels, and its ride quality in particular, aren’t where they need to be to compete at this rarefied level. Even in Comfort mode the ride is too firm, too fidgety, too busy, while the level of tyre roar is also too intrusive beside the best rivals.

On top of this the cabin, though well enough equipped for the money, lacks the fundamental high quality feel you get in the main competition. At least the amount of space on offer front and rear, and in the boot, is hard to knock.

So, for the keen SUV driver who doesn’t necessarily want what everyone else has got, the Levante remains and interesting, if flawed choice. In some areas it’s excellent, but in others it frustrates. And sometimes even disappoints. It’s a Maserati then, right to its core.

3.5
The latest version of Maserati’s best-selling car has lots going for it, but it is by no means a class leader. Performance is well behind that of a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, as are its economy and emissions. Cabin quality isn’t the best, either, even if the space on offer is excellent. Yet on the road, and on the eye, the Levante has strong appeal, and in basic V6 guise it’s well priced. A mixed bag overall, which makes it a true Maserati.
  • Model: Maserati Levante GranLusso
  • Price: £69,425
  • Engine: 3.0-litre V6, twin-turbo, petrol
  • Transmission: Eight-speed auto, four wheel-drive
  • Power/torque: 345bhp/500Nm
  • 0-62mph: 6.0 seconds
  • Top speed: 156mph
  • Economy/CO2: 23.5mpg/278g/km
  • On sale: Now

New Jaguar Land Rover tech lets cars 'talk' to traffic lights
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

Tristan Shale-Hester 2018-11-15 09:00

New JLR tech suggests optimal speed to avoid red traffic lights ahead and help keep you moving

Jaguar Land Rover Traffic Light Assist tech

A new system from Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) will enable cars to 'talk' to traffic lights, gathering information that lets them to inform their drivers of the right speed to travel at to hit a series of green lights. 

The “vehicle-to-infrastructure” or V2X system is called Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory (GLOSA), and is designed to prevent traffic tailbacks at traffic lights, helping ease traffic flow in urban areas. 

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JLR says widespread adoption of GLOSA would prevent drivers from racing to beat the lights and improve air quality by reducing harsh acceleration and braking.

GLOSA is currently being trialled in a Jaguar F-Pace as part of a £20 million Government-funded project called UK Autodrive. A number of other connected technologies are also being tested by JLR to try and reduce the amount of time commuters spend in traffic.

One of these is Intersection Collision Warning (ICW), which alerts drivers when it is unsafe to proceed at a junction.

ICW informs drivers if other cars are approaching from another road and is able to suggest the order in which they should proceed at a junction.

JLR is also working on systems to provide real-time information of available parking spaces and an Emergency Vehicle Warning to alert motorists when an emergency services vehicle is approaching.

The Coventry-based manufacturer says its pledge is to deliver “zero accidents, zero congestion and zero emissions” with connected technology.

JLR connected technology research engineer Oriol Quintana-Morales said GLOSA has “the potential to revolutionise driving by creating safe, free-flowing cities that take the stress out of commuting”.

She added: “Our research is motivated by the chance to make future journeys as comfortable and stress-free as possible for all our customers.”

Do you like the sound of Jaguar's traffic light assist system? Let us know in the comments...

New 2019 BMW 330e plug-in hybrid joins line-up
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

James Brodie 2018-11-15 14:40

New plug-in hybrid BMW 330e gets XtraBoost performance mode and 37-mile pure electric range

BMW 330e - front

BMW has followed up the reveal of the new six-cylinder M340i xDrive with the debut of the new plug-in hybrid 330e, which will go on sale in summer 2019. 

Like the previous generation 330e, the new model uses a 182bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to an electric motor, which produces 67bhp. Total system output is rated at 249bhp, just as before.

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However, BMW claims that this new, lighter model can now do 37 miles of electric running on a single charge – an increase of 12 miles over the model is replaces. Fuel economy increases a little to 138mpg, while claimed CO2 emissions have been slashed to 39g/km. Top speed on battery power only now stands at 68mph.

BMW claims that performance has increased, too. 0-62mph now takes six seconds flat, while the 330e’s top speed is 143mph. There’s also a new XtraBoost function, which is enabled by selecting the Sport drive mode. This summons extra battery power from the 12.0kWh pack, and boosts the output of the electric motor, taking total system power to 289bhp. Drive is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic BMW Steptronic transmission.

Boot space stands at 375 litres – down 105 litres due to the integration of the battery pack.

Prices have not yet been revealed, but we’d anticipate the new 330e to eclipse the outgoing model with a price tag approaching £40,000 when it goes on sale in July. SE, Sport and M Sport trim versions will be available.

Click here for all the latest on the new BMW 3 Series...

New 2019 Kia Soul to make LA Motor Show debut
Posted on Wednesday November 14, 2018

John McIlroy 2018-11-14 15:35

The second-generation Kia Soul will feature a range of petrol engines, while the new Soul EV could gain different battery capacities

Kia Soul - teased

The new Kia Soul will make its debut at the forthcoming Los Angeles Motor Show, the Korean manufacturer has confirmed. 

First introduced in 2009, the small crossover has proven a bigger sales success globally than it has in the UK. That has earned the model a second generation, despite the fact that Kia’s SUV line-up has evolved in recent years to include the similarly-sized Stonic and the electrified Niro.

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The single teaser image issued by Kia along with confirmation of the car’s debut at the LA Show reveals that it will retain the current car’s distinctive vertical rear hatch treatment - although in truth, this had already become clear thanks to several spy images of the car undergoing testing.

The Soul’s distinctive profile has been ring-fenced for the new generation, therefore - and that’s despite an expected switch of platform. The existing car uses Hyundai-Kia’s PB architecture - but the new Soul should share some of the same set of components, called GB, as the Hyundai Kona and, indeed, the Stonic. 

This will allow Kia to fit the Soul with the latest generation of the firm’s engines, including 1.0-litre Kappa and 1.6-litre Gamma petrols. There’s unlikely to be a diesel, given the model’s focus on markets like the United States, but there will also be at least one new Soul EV. Kia says the car will offer “zero-emissions electric options”, which could mean different battery capacities - but in a bid to preserve the e-Niro’s status as Kia’s flagship electric car, UK Souls are expected to get a 39kWh battery instead of the larger 64kWh unit that the company has at its disposal.

The evolutionary styling will incorporate more advanced LED technology, particularly in what look like ultra-slim tail-lights. The cabin should get a ‘floating’ infotainment screen across the range, and the spy pics hint at a slight stretch of wheelbase that could improve interior space, especially for rear-seat passengers. 

Kia says the new Soul will go on sale in Europe in 2019; we’d expect it to reach American dealerships in the first half of the year, with UK examples available from the autumn.

Click here for all the latest in the build-up to the 2018 Los Angeles Motor Show...

Tesla to open up CCS fast charging for European Model 3, Model S and Model X
Posted on Wednesday November 14, 2018

Steve Fowler 2018-11-14 12:50

Third-party CCS fast charging available to all Tesla Model 3 owners with adaptors coming for Model S and Model X owners

Tesla supercharger

European Tesla Model 3s will come with a CCS (Combined Charging System) fast charging compatible port when they arrive in the early part of 2019. That means that, as well as using Tesla’s own Supercharger and Destination networks, the Model 3 will be able to fast charge on third-party networks such as Polar/BP Chargemaster and Ionity

Owners of Model X and Model S cars will also be able to use third-party CCS chargers by buying an adaptor that can be plugged into their cars’ existing on-board Type 2 sockets. The new adaptors are expected to be priced similarly to existing CHAdeMO fast-charging adaptors, which cost around €500 (£435), yet will be slightly smaller in form.

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Speaking exclusively to Auto Express, Tesla’s head of global charging infrastructure, Drew Bennett, said: “There’s a lot of excitement about Model 3 coming to Europe and charging is always part of that conversation.

“We’ll be continuing to invest in our network – that’s a huge part of the ownership experience. But we’ll be enabling our owners to have access to the CCS networks that are starting to grow in Europe, so the Model 3 will have a charge port for the CCS standard and we’ll also have an adaptor for Model S and X.

“All existing Tesla customers will be able to use the Supercharger network still, but these changes will allow people to venture outside the network – this is something that could really help our owners and is really exciting for us to be able to say that about the infrastructure in Europe.

“We’re all about accelerating the advent of sustainable energy and transportation and this is another way to help everybody scale.” 

Tesla’s European Supercharger network now covers more than 430 locations with over 3,600 Superchargers, while Bennett promised the arrival of Model 3 will mean Tesla will be “investing more than ever” in its network. “We’ll accelerate things for sure,” he said. “We’re there to put infrastructure there before our owners need it; the Tesla Supercharger network and Tesla Destination network.”

Tesla will roll out upgrades to its Superchargers by adding CCS charger plugs to fit Model 3 before deliveries of the new car commence in Europe early next year. “It’ll start ahead of deliveries,” Bennett confirmed. “There’ll be a significant retro-fit and the goal is to make sure for all the main travel routes, as Model 3 launches, that owners will be able to go anywhere on the Supercharger network. We’ll continue to aggressively switch from the single connector per post to dual connectors per post.”

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Bennett also confirmed that Tesla is still very much open to discussions with other car makers about them having access to the Supercharger network. “We’re definitely open to talking to other car manufacturers who want to have access to the network,” said Bennett. “Capacity is a driver for our investment; it’s new routes, new markets and then capacity.

“A lot of car makers have spoken to us about it, but we haven’t had any conclusive discussions on it. They’re still trying to figure out what they would need in a network, but we’re a couple of years ahead of them in terms of embracing the investment required to transition to EVs.” 

Tesla’s Model 3 deliveries in the US have reached new highs recently, but the European market could be even more lucrative, with Tesla recently reporting: “The mid-sized premium sedan market in Europe is more than twice as big as the same segment in the US. This is why we are excited to bring Model 3 to Europe early next year.” 

Model 3s will start to appear in European Tesla stores this week, with pricing and specifications announced in the new year.

As for UK deliveries, Elon Musk tweeted earlier this year that “Model 3 was designed for min engineering & tooling change for RHD. Note left/right symmetry. LHD for Europe & Asia first half of next year. RHD probably middle of next year.”

For more information head over to our sister site DrivingElectric.com right now...

New 2019 Range Rover Evoque teased ahead of official reveal
Posted on Tuesday November 13, 2018

Jonathan Burn 2018-11-14 08:30

Wire sculptures hint at the new Range Rover Evoque SUV’s shape ahead of 22 November launch

Range Rover Evoque - wire teaser

This is our first official look at the next Range Rover Evoque. The British brand is gearing up for the launch of its second-generation compact SUV by creating a fleet of scale wire sculptures that have been dotted around the capital.

The covers will officially come off the new Evoque on 22 November and Land Rover will begin taking orders on the same day. Prices are expected to start from around £32,000.

• Best SUVs to buy now

Eight years on from the launch of the original Evoque, Land Rover is claiming the new model will set new standards “of design, capability and sustainability”. Over 750,000 examples of the current model have been sold around the world so far.

The sculpture indicates the new Evoque won’t undergo a dramatic redesign, sticking closely to the current car’s overall shape with the fastback roofline and slender head and tail-lamps. Our exclusive image gives you a better idea of what to expect from the showroom model, with a lot of design cues taken from the Velar.

The Velar look will be particularly evident in the cabin, where spy shots have revealed the Evoque will feature the dual-screen set-up on the centre console and dash, which first appeared on its larger sibling.

It’s expected to use a revised version of the current D8 platform, but the SUV will be slightly longer than before, with a stretched wheelbase giving more room inside. The platform will also be adapted to support mild-hybrid tech – JLR boss Dr Ralf Speth has said that every new product launched from 2020 will feature some form of electrification.

However, a range of JLR’s Ingenium petrol and diesel engines will make up the bulk of the Evoque line-up, with power ranging from 148bhp to 296bhp. It’s still unclear if Land Rover has managed to engineer the car for plug-in hybrid power.

Click here to see our list of the hottest new 4x4s and SUVs coming soon...

 

New 369bhp BMW M340i xDrive unleashed ahead of LA Motor Show
Posted on Tuesday November 13, 2018

James Brodie 2018-11-13 11:20

The new BMW M340i xDrive is the warm up act for the next M3, and will go on sale in the summer with all-wheel-drive

BMW M340i xDrive - front

BMW is warming up for the reveal of the new M3 next year with the first performance variant of the latest 3 Series – the M340i xDrive, which has been revealed ahead of its full debut at the Los Angeles Motor Show later this month. 

On sale in Europe next July, the M340i xDrive gets a developed version of BMW’s 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six engine. Power increases by 47bhp compared to the previous generation 340i, up to 369bhp, while torque rises 50Nm to 500Nm.

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BMW says it has achieved this through a number of changes to the unit, such as redeveloped turbochargers and higher pressure fuel injectors than before.

It means that 0-62mph drops to 4.4 seconds, while fuel economy and CO2 stand at 37.6mpg and 172g/km. Those are figures obtained through WLTP testing, but estimated back to be representative of NEDC figures.

More importantly, power is now sent to an xDrive all-wheel-drive system through an eight speed gearbox, rather than to the rear wheels exclusively. As ever, BMW claims that the system is still rear biased, particularly in the Sport and Sport+ drive modes the car supports. The M340i xDrive is also equipped with an M Sport rear locking differential, a launch control function and a valve-controlled sports exhaust system. 

Elsewhere, the M340i xDrive rides on M Sport suspension 10mm lower than the standard 3 Series. The car’s track is slightly wider too, while electronically controlled adaptive dampers make the options list. 

BMW has also equipped the M340i xDrive with a new set of brakes, with 348mm disks at the front and 345mm disks at the rear. 

The new model also arrives with some design and trim tweaks. It gets a more aggressive looking bodykit compared to the standard 3 Series, plus a more intricate grille with a new mesh design, a new lip spoiler on the boot lid and angular exhaust tips. 18-inch alloy wheels are standard, with 19-inch wheels optional. Final UK spec has not yet been outlined, however. 

Inside, sports seats are found, plus an M-specific interior upholstery combining Sensatec leather with Alcantara and an M Sport steering wheel. Prices should start from around £49,000 when it goes on sale next summer.

Click here for spy shots of the new 2019 BMW M3 on the road...

Mercedes A-Class range expanded with A 200 d and A 220 d diesels
Posted on Monday November 12, 2018

Alex Ingram 2018-11-13 08:45

A 200 d Sport and more powerful A 220 d AMG Line available to order now with prices starting from £28,805 and £31,575 respectively

Mercedes A-class tracking front

Mercedes has expanded the A-Class lineup with the addition of a pair of diesel engines. The A 200 d Sport and the A 220 d AMG Line are available to order now, with first deliveries due in the Spring.

Both models are powered by the same 2.0-litre unit in different power outputs. They sit above the existing A 180 d; though while the 1.5-litre diesel was co-developed with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, the larger engine is Mercedes specific and first appeared under the bonnet of the Mercedes E 220 d.

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The A 200 d offers up 148bhp and 320nm, enough for an 8.1-second 0-62mph time and a top speed of 137mph. The more powerful unit in the A 220 d makes 187bhp and 400nm, accelerates from 0-62mph 1.1 seconds quicker and has a 146mph top speed. Both are front-wheel drive only and matched to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Fuel consumption figures for the A 200 d and A 220d stand at 67.3mpg and 65.7mpg respectively - these compare to figures of 70.6mpg and 65.7mpg for the most closely-matched BMWs; the 118d and 120d.

The A 200 d is available in both Sport and AMG Line trims. The A 200 d costs £28,805, and its standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a mix of fabric and artificial leather upholstery, and a pair of 7-inch infotainment screens with a DAB radio and a reversing camera.

AMG Line models cost £1,200 more, adding 18-inch wheels, an AMG body kit and front grille. Inside, the AMG Line features a sports steering wheel and seats finished in Alcantara-effect and leather-effect trims.

The A 220 d is only available in AMG Line trim, and is priced from £31,575. Both trim levels are available with a range of option packages, including the £1,395 Executive line (larger 10.25-inch media screen, active park assist, heated front seats and folding/dimming mirrors), the £2,395 Premium Line (10.25-inch instrument cluster, ambient lighting, keyless entry and an uprated sound system), and the £3,595 Premium Plus pack (Premium line plus electric front seats, a panoramic roof and multibeam LED lights).

An augmented navigation system, which superimposes directions onto images displayed from a forward-facing camera, is a £495 option when combined with any of those three packages.

Read our in-depth review for the Mercedes A-Class...

New Mitsubishi L200 2019 review
Posted on Monday November 12, 2018

Mitsubishi L200 - front
12 Nov, 2018 4:00pm Rob Lewis

We get behind the wheel of the heavily revised Mitsubishi L200 ahead of its late 2019 arrival in the UK

This is the facelifted Mitsubishi L200 – a somewhat earlier than expected overhaul of the truck that’s won our Pick-up of the Year crown for the last four years in succession.  

Launched in Bangkok, Thailand where it’s built, the L200 (or Triton as it’s known in some of the 150 markets where it’s sold) is Mitsubishi’s second biggest seller; 4.7million of these popular trucks have now been sold globally since 1978.

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By way of a 40th birthday present, the award-winning mud-plugger has received no less than 2,400 changes in a notably generous overhaul tackling it’s looks, off-road capability and ride - and it’s all the better for it.

The outgoing L200 has been on the market for four years and – although an undisputed triumph – it has been criticized by some for its softer, more feminine looks when compared to more rugged rivals.

To address this, a radical new face on this new L200 incorporates Mitsubishi’s ‘dynamic shield’ grille design – a theme that’s gradually appeared on all its SUVs from the ASX to the Shogun Sport.

The L200 now rocks a much more masculine aesthetic complete with chiseled cheekbones, chrome flashings and slim-line LED projector headlamps. The headlamps have been raised significantly increasing their distance off the ground to a very wade-worthy 700mm.

That, coupled with pronounced, squared-off wheel arches and larger 18-inch alloys adds up to a welcome return of the sort of bullish charm pick-up truck buyers seem to appreciate. Around the back it’s more a case of business as usual – bar the tidying up of the previous wraparound tail lamps to more conformist ones. 

And while many of the updates have been to cater for lifestyle buyers, those intending to work the L200 hard will be relieved to know that even though its payload or towing capacity hasn’t improved, it’s fully compatible with the existing flatbed accessories of the outgoing model.

Mitsubishi bosses and engineers emphasise that the L200’s rugged durability will remain undiminished despite a raft of the latest safety and off-road tech having been piled on to the once utilitarian workhorse.

Forward and rear collision mitigation, blind spot warning, lane change assist and miss-acceleration intervention complete with 360-degree video cameras keep the pick-up’s occupants safer than in any previous Mitsubishi truck.

And then there’s its new adventurous side, which we tested near Mitsubishi’s Thailand factory that produces 38 L200s every hour. On a test route that took us through bamboo forest tunnels, rivers and challenging off-road sections, the truck performed well. 

The rotary Super-Select 4WD system lets you switch between rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive on the fly and can tailor engine power, transmission and brakes for a variety of specifically testing conditions including gravel, mud/snow, sand and rock. Hill Decent Control and a rear-diff lock also feature in the go-anywhere-do-anything truck’s arsenal of newfound abilities.

The L200’s interior strikes a degree of balance between the bi-polar needs of the lifestyle owner versus the business user and remains close in look and feel to its predecessor. But with scant spots of soft-touch materials for door trim inserts, floor console and central armrest, it’s not going to be challenging the Mercedes X-Class at the plush end of the pick-up class.

We tested the carried-over 2.4-litre turbodiesel engine that continues to impress with its low-end torquey punch. Mitsubishi won’t commit at this stage to exactly what engine it will drop into the UK spec trucks when then arrive on British shores in late summer 2019 – but it is expected to be this one, just with potentially further improved emissions.

As far as transmissions go, a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic (with sport mode and optimized sixth gear for bonus refinement at speed) transmissions will be the available options. 

The steering carries adequate weight and quickness making it no problem to negotiate smaller streets with confidence and stopping power has been beefed up too with larger ventilated front discs and twin-pot calipers.

The ride is relatively composed, for a pick-up, edging ever closer to SUV territory thanks to the increased capacity of the rear shocks for countering the bounce that can plague an unladen truck.

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This nip ‘n tuck has done the much favoured Mitsubishi L200 truck the world of good for what’s expected to be only a modest increase in price. The L200 looks sharper, feels more sophisticated to drive and is now packed with the latest safety systems – it’s just a shame UK buyers have to wait until next September to get one.
  • Model: Mitsubishi L200
  • Price: £28,000 (est)
  • Engine: 2.4-litre four cylinder diesel
  • Power/torque: 179bhp/430Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed auto, all-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 11.8 seconds
  • Top speed: 111mph
  • Economy/CO2: 37.7mpg/196g/km
  • On sale: September 2019

Best winter driving apps 2018
Posted on Monday November 12, 2018

2018-11-12 15:30

These are our top 10 essential winter driving apps to motorists moving in the cold

Best winter driving apps - pictures

There are lots of things you can do to prepare for driving in the winter, from making sure you have the correct tyres to packing plenty of emergency kit. However, technology can also help so we’ve picked the best winter driving apps to help you get ready for the big freeze.

Smartphone downloads have been helping motorists for a number of years now, with apps for mapping/satellite navigation and parking being particularly well documented. When winter arrives, though, there are plenty of other apps that are essential for driving in the cold.

We’ve selected ten of the most important apps below, which include weather forecasts, breakdown services, petrol station locators and even a survival manual should you find yourself stuck in the snow.

Of course, arguably just as important as any winter driving app, is a charging cable. Make sure you keep a spare one in your car in case you find yourself stuck with very little battery life. A winter driving app is only useful if you can actually use it.

Scroll down below for our list of the best winter driving apps…

Top 10 winter driving apps 

TomTom GO

Available on: iOS, Android
Price: Free for 50 miles per month, £14.99 for the year 

Sat-nav apps that alert you to traffic and road closures are especially handy in winter, with accidents common and road closures rife. TomTom GO offers 50 free miles every month, and includes the same traffic alerts drivers get with the brand’s premium sat-navs. Our previous test winner is quick to calculate alternative routes around jams, plus its layout and voice commands are clear.

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PetrolPrices

Available on: iOS, Android
Price: Free 

One of the best ways to prepare for any winter drive is to make sure your fuel tank is full before heading out; you could be on the road for a lot longer than anticipated. The PetrolPrices.com app covers 98 per cent of UK forecourts; a simple tap searches for the nearest and the app will guide you there. You can also select sites with the cheapest fuel to help keep the costs down during the holiday season. 

AppyParking

Available on: iOS, Android
Price: Free 

Many of us visit friends and family in winter, and parking can be tricky, especially in cities. AppyParking has an easy-to-use interface, shows the nearest on and off-street bays and directs electric car owners to the closest charge points. Maps are split into zones to help you identify the different parking rules, so you won’t be hit with a ticket. Prices are shown clearly, and the app will help you locate your car.

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Breakdown app

Available on: iOS, Android
Price: Free (membership required)

Members of any of the big breakdown operators – such as the AA, RAC or Green Flag – can report a problem via their respective apps. These are free to download, but membership fees vary. The app could help you and your family get back on the road more quickly in bad weather, as you jump call centre queues. It’s also a good back-up if your phone signal is poor but you can still access its data connection.

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Offline Maps & Navigation

Available on: Android
Price: Free, Offline European maps & traffic £23

If you know you’ll be driving through areas where mobile signal is poor, install offline maps of the area. Your phone should be able to receive a GPS signal, which it will use to navigate the offline maps. Apps like Offline Maps & Navigation offer online and offline maps, so you can use it for normal navigation, and download
a set of maps for later use. 

Met Office weather app

Available on: iOS, Android
Price: Free

Checking the weather before you hit the road is another winter must. The Met Office weather app not only offers drivers accurate forecasts, but will also let them know where, when and how much rain will fall in the next 24 hours. It can give real-time severe weather warnings about snow, strong winds, ice and fog, and you can share forecasts and warnings with your friends and family.

Drivermatics

Available on: iOS, Android
Price: Free 

Icy, slippery roads in winter increase the risk of accidents. While we’d recommend a dash cam to capture any incident, apps like Drivermatics are a good budget back-up. Other software – such as sat-nav apps – can be used while the dash cam runs in the background. Recordings are stored on cloud remote servers as well, so your phone’s memory isn’t taken up entirely by camera footage.

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Be Avalanche Aware

Available on: iOS, Android
Price: Free 

Yes, avalanches do happen in the UK. There were more than 100 last year, with most in the Scottish Highlands. Anyone driving north can check the conditions and forecasts with the Be Avalanche Aware app. It gives daily reports as well as automatic notifications as you enter a forecast area. Another useful tool in understanding harsh UK weather patterns.

INRIX Traffic

Available on: iOS, Android
Price: Free 

INRIX Traffic uses weather and jam information to help drivers navigate through sudden road closures or build-ups of traffic. Each road is categorised in green, orange or red, denoting the flow of traffic, and INRIX’s analysis of weather conditions on traffic flow will give you the best idea of how long your journey will take. Drivers can also report incidents to other motorists using the software. 

Offline Survival Manual

Available on: Android
Price: Free 

Even though you took all the precautions, from checking the weather to fitting winter tyres, you may still find yourself stuck at the roadside as the snow drifts. If that’s the case, you need The Offline Survival Manual on your phone. This provides tips to help you last through the night – from how to make a fire to keeping warm in cold conditions, as well as important first aid advice.

Winter driving special


Best winter cars

• Hot new SUVs coming soon • Best SUVs to buy now
• Best crossovers to buy now • Best small 4x4s to buy now

Get ready for winter on the roads

• Winter tyre test • All-season tyre test
• Choosing the best tyres for your car • Snow chains in the UK: do you need them?
• Winter car checklist and best buys • The best winter driving courses
• How to store your car over winter • How to avoid a flat car battery
• The world's coldest roads • Preparing your car for winter

Top tips for winter driving

• What is all-wheel drive? • Winter driving tips
• 10 winter driving myths busted • How to drive in rain and floods
• How to drive on ice • How to drive in snow
• How to control skids • How to use ABS brakes
• What is ESC or ESP? • How to jump start your car

New Mercedes-AMG E 53 2018 review
Posted on Monday November 12, 2018

Mercedes-AMG E 53 - front
12 Nov, 2018 12:15pm Sean Carson

The results are good as we try the new Mercedes-AMG E 53 saloon for the first time

Mercedes-AMG’s quest to fill every performance niche continues with this ‘53’ badged E-Class saloon. It’s not the first time we’ve tried this engine, but it is the first time we’ve tried it in Merc’s executive four-door.

Consider the Mercedes-AMG E 53 as a half-way house between the full twin-turbocharged V8 madness of the E 63 and E 63 S and a much brawnier alternative to Mercedes’ E 200 regular petrol. It’s a sweet solution too, and much of that is due to the new engine.

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The 429bhp 3.0-litre straight-six engine is deliciously smooth. You can rev it out if you want, but there’s more performance to be exploited in the mid-range, thanks to the turbocharged 520Nm slug of torque. Even in a big car such as this, 0-62mph only takes 4.5 seconds.

It never feels fast enough to alarm you, but by the same token it doesn’t feel strained or slow. 

The engine’s character is lovely. You don’t really notice the mild hybrid system’s momentary 22bhp, 250Nm hit because it’s so well integrated, but it is there to boost throttle response and eagerness when you get on the gas. After its initial deployment there’s just a smooth flow of power to all four wheels.

Traction is great thanks to Mercedes’ AMG-tuned 4MATIC system, and you can just feel the E 53’s well-hidden sense of fun as the setup helps you out in turns, slightly tightening your line.

Otherwise it’s sensible rather than scintillating. The steering is a nice weight but a little mushy – although no worse than an equivalent Audi or BMW, while the gearbox shifts positively, but there is a slight pause between pulling the paddle and the gear engaging.

• Best performance cars on sale

In Sport+ mode the motor’s personality is amplified nicely by the exhaust, only it’s also accompanied by a nasty augmented sound inside the cabin that doesn’t quite work so well.

The rest of the package is sweet. Sitting on 19-inch alloy wheels the ride in Comfort mode is just a little knobbly at low speed, but the faster you go the damping smooths out as the relatively silky suspension control delivers (mostly) decent comfort on sweeping A roads and motorways. Albeit catseyes and expansion strips still cause a thump.

Up your commitment and the 1,945kg kerbweight shows, so you’ll have to toggle the air suspension to Sport or Sport+ mode. However, this degrades the ride quality, so in our experience it’s best to bask in the softer side and accept that the E 53 doesn’t have the poise of its BMW equivalent.

The cabin lives up to the £63,790 price tag. 53 models get Merc’s twin 12.3-inch displays as standard and some sportier AMG touches, such as a chunkier body kit, those wheels and red seat belts. Other standard kit includes multi-beam LED lights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 360-degree parking camera and the kind of trim you’d expect at this level – although man-made Artico leather instead of real hide is still a bone of contention.

A big family saloon, regardless of its powertrain, has to deliver decent practicality too – and the E 53 absolutely delivers. The 540-litre boot is plenty big enough, legroom inside is great and with a 66-litre fuel tank cruising range is good. 

That’s boosted by the mild hybrid system’s efficiency enhancing potential, as the AMG’s claims stand at 32.5mpg and 200g/km CO2. Not great compared with a diesel, but adequate for a saloon of this size, weight and power.

4
The Mercedes-AMG E 53 is a swift performance saloon that blends usability and power fairly convincingly. There are a few question marks over the ride in some cases, but the characterful motor makes up for this shortfall. This is the heart of the 53, like many AMG models. It makes good use of its mild hybrid tech and boasts all the benefits of any E-Class model, so when you don’t need the performance, it’ll be a pleasant place to be.
  • Model: Mercedes-AMG E 53 4MATIC+
  • Price: £63,790
  • Engine: 3.0-litre 6cyl turbocharged petrol
  • Power/torque: 429bhp/520Nm
  • Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 4.5 seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Economy/CO2: 32.5mpg/200g/km
  • On sale: Now

Volkswagen Polo SE L 1.0 TSI: long-term test review
Posted on Monday November 12, 2018

VW Polo long termer
14 Nov, 2018 11:15am

First report: Our new Volkswagen Polo supermini makes a great first impression with everyone who drives it

Mileage: 1,250
Economy: 42.0mpg

When I heard that my next car would be the new Volkswagen Polo, I was excited to get behind the wheel. After all, a small car like this is perfect for my short commute and small trips around London, while I’d heard about how comfortable the supermini is from colleagues who had already driven it.

But photographers Pete Gibson and Otis Clay, as well as editor-at-large James Batchelor, have been standing in the way of me getting hold of the keys, and despite the fact that the car has been on our fleet for more than a month, I’ve only just started using it.

Best superminis 2018/2019

So instead of reporting directly on what my new Polo is like, I’ve had to ask them what they thought about the brand’s latest supermini.

Pete was first to drive the car, because he needed to use it to get to a photoshoot. He loved the Volkswagen’s surprising practicality; despite being small on the outside, the Polo has a 351-litre boot, which was more than spacious enough for all of his gear. He also said that the VW supermini is better to drive than ever, especially because it feels more grown up on a motorway. Even though it has a 1.0-litre engine, he told me the Polo easily keeps up with traffic, while the cabin is quiet at a cruise, too.

I’ve only spent a few miles on the motorway so far, but I’m inclined to agree with Pete there. It’s definitely more like a VW Golf than before.

Pete also loved the way the car looks, especially the lighting signature at the front. I’m a fan of this as well; it gives the Polo a very modern appearance.

Otis was next to drive the VW, because Pete’s own new fleet car had arrived. He was similarly impressed with the supermini’s big boot, but also praised its handling.

Otis loved its balance of ride comfort and fun, because it manages to drive smoothly over harsh surfaces while also remaining relatively fun on a twisty section of road. Unlike Pete, his only reservation here was that with all of his heavy camera kit in the back, the 113bhp 1.0-litre engine felt a little hamstrung.

But when I was driving on my own, with nothing in the back, I felt more than happy with the little car’s performance. It feels just as nippy around town as I would want.

James was next up in the Polo, and he agreed with both photographers about the ride quality being excellent. He is also a fan of our car’s tasteful interior, which uses grey and black plastic trim. However, it doesn’t feel too cheap inside, and James thinks Volkswagen has used materials in a clever way to give the supermini more of an upmarket air.

That leads on to James’ other point about the Polo, especially the model we have on test. He loves how well it fits in to any kind of lifestyle. Whether you’re driving to work, carrying kids to school or heading to a fancy cocktail party, the car fits in and looks the part. I thought it would be my turn to drive the Polo after James – I’m going to be running it for the next six months, after all – but before I could do so we needed to take some photos of it, and senior reviewer Sam Naylor volunteered to drive.

He was impressed by the car’s precise steering and neat gearchange, along with the entertaining noise from the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine.

Finally, after fighting my colleagues for the keys, I’m now settling into life behind the wheel of the Volkswagen.

So far, despite only spending a small amount of time with the car, I have to agree with the other members of the team: it’s a great small car, with a classy interior, a comfortable ride and a big boot. I’m really looking forward to taking the Polo on some longer trips, as well as using it for nipping about town, to see where it works best.

I just hope that I can keep hold of the keys, because it seems more and more of my workmates are vying for a go in the newest VW supermini.

*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old living in Banbury, Oxfordshire, with three penalty points.

4.5
The Volkswagen Polo is one of the most popular cars on our fleet already, thanks to its impressive all-round ability. We love the way the VW looks and drives, which is promising for the months ahead.
  • Model: Volkswagen Polo SE L 1.0 TSI 115PS 6spd manual 5dr
  • On fleet since: September 2018
  • Price new: £18,560
  • Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl petrol, 113bhp
  • CO2/tax: 107g/km/£140
  • Options: Pure White paint (£340), 17-inch alloy wheels (£450). Art Velours upholstery (£1,000)
  • Insurance*: Group: 11/Quote £390
  • Mileage/mpg: 1,250/ 42.0mpg
  • Any problems?: None so far

New Citroen C4 Cactus to be first electrified Citroen in 2020
Posted on Sunday November 11, 2018

Steve Fowler 2018-11-11 09:25

All-new Citroen C4 Cactus model to set new design theme for future Citroen models

Citroen CXPERIENCE - full front

Citroen’s C4 Cactus has only just been facelifted, but an all-new model is set to arrive in 2020 with a model range featuring a battery-powered version. The electric C4 Cactus will be Citroen’s first all-electric car since the C-Zero, with every model in the Citroen range set to feature some form of electrification by 2025.

The new Cactus is set to shift onto the PSA Group’s Compact Modular Platform (CMP) that will also be used for next year’s new Vauxhall Corsa and Peugeot 208, before being rolled out across the rest of the group’s small car range. That platform is capable of full electrification, with the new Cactus offering electric power alongside petrol engines from launch.

Citroen C4 to return with electric power

As with the original C4 Cactus, which was launched in 2014, the new model is set to usher in a new style for future Citroens, with the new look said to be based on the CXPERIENCE concept from the 2016 Paris Motor Show.

Citroen announced at this year’s Paris show that its new C5 Aircross SUV will feature plug-in hybrid tech from next year, but EV fans will have to wait another year for a fully electric Citroen.

However, Citroen has confirmed that it will be showing a fully-electric concept at next year’s Geneva motor show as part of its centenary celebrations. The show car will be one of two, with the first focusing on Citroen’s vision of future mobility, but retaining the ‘spirit of the 2CV’.  A teaser picture shows a stylish new take on a door handle, while Arnaud Belloni, Citroen’s Senior Vice President of Global Marketing Communications, told us, “If the original 2CV was for farmers and people who live in the country, our new concept will be for city dwellers”.

A second centenary concept will be unveiled at April’s Shanghai motor show. It, too, has been teased with what looks like hi-tech sensors on top of the car. It’s set to reveal a different and larger take on the future of autonomous driving.

Check out the best electric cars on sale here and vist our sister site DrivingElectric for more on EVs...

 

 


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