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In the News ...

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 it’s 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

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 - front 3/4 static

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 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 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 2019-03-21 16:00

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.

Best 4x4s and SUVs

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.

The best hatchbacks to buy now

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’.

Best Faraday bags to buy 

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.

How to avoid keyless car theft

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”.


Car security - staying ahead of criminals

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.”

Exclusive images preview hot Hyundai Tucson N

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.

Toyota to build new hybrid model for Suzuki in UK
Posted on Wednesday March 20, 2019

Tristan Shale-Hester 2019-03-20 14:51

Toyota will build a new hybrid model for Suzuki in the UK following the two brands agreeing on the terms of their future collaboration

Toyota factory - production line

Toyota will build a new hybrid car for Suzuki at its UK factory, the two brands have revealed while announcing their agreement on how they will collaborate in future.

The firms have been working on a memorandum of understanding since February 2017 and it has now been agreed that Toyota will supply its hybrid system to Suzuki on a global scale.

Hundreds of Nissan Sunderland jobs at risk from shift cuts

Production of a new Corolla-based hybrid Suzuki model will begin in late 2020 at Toyota’s Burnaston factory in Derbyshire, while the powertrains will be built at the firm’s Deeside engine plant.

Although the move will not create any more jobs or investment for the UK automotive industry, it should be a welcome vote of confidence for a sector that has faced a number of difficulties recently, including job cuts and factory closures.

The new model will be one of two Toyota-built Suzukis coming to Europe, with plans for one based on the Corolla estate and another on the RAV4 platform.

Toyota will also be adopting newly developed Suzuki powertrains for use in compact vehicles. These engines will be built with the support of Denso and Toyota at the latter’s factory in Poland.

• BMW eyes up moving MINI production abroad

In addition, the two manufacturers will be collaborating on a number of different projects specific to Africa and India.

Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota, said he hoped the agreement would allow for the “wider use of hybrid technologies, not only in India and Europe, but around the world”, as well as help give Toyota “the competitive edge we will need to survive this once-in-a-century period of profound transformation”.

Meanwhile, Suzuki chairman Osamu Suzuki said the firm appreciated the “kind offer” from Toyota to let it use its hybrid technology, adding: “We will continue our utmost efforts.”

Is this finally some good news for the UK automotive market? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below...

New Toyota RAV4 2019 UK review
Posted on Wednesday March 20, 2019

toyota rav4 tracking front quarter
20 Mar, 2019 2:00pm Alex Ingram

The new Toyota RAV4 is pricier than its rivals, but is it worth the premium? We drive the new hybrid SUV in the UK to find out

This is the new Toyota RAV4. Prices for the fifth generation of arguably the founder of the crossover class start from £29,635 and climb to £36,640. On the face of things, these numbers place it in a risky no man’s land in the current market.

That’s because cars such as the Peugeot 3008, Skoda Karoq and Ford Kuga can all be considered rivals to the RAV4, but their ranges start in the low twenties. And models from the perceived ‘posher’ brands aren’t much more expensive than the top-spec Toyota: the cheapest Volvo XC60 costs £38,470. So what justifies a price which, on paper at least, looks rather steep?

Best small SUVs and crossovers

Under the skin, the RAV4 rides on the TNGA platform that forms the basis of many recent Toyotas: the Prius, Corolla and C-HR all use it. This allows the use of both traditional combustion-engined layouts and a petrol-electric hybrid system. While some markets get both versions, UK-spec RAV4s will only be offered with the electrified options.

There’s a choice of two models: front and four-wheel drive, each with a 2.5-litre petrol engine linked to a front-mounted electric motor. The difference between them comes at the back: an extra £2,240 buys a second electric motor to drive the rear wheels.

The total system output stands at 215bhp for the front-driven model and 219bhp for the four-wheel-drive cars, enough for 0-62mph times of 8.4 and 8.1 seconds respectively. On paper, both of those figures better the family SUV average. And from behind the wheel, they feel much quicker: the instant torque of the electric motor makes our front-wheel-drive test car lively away from the line, and the power builds from there in one smooth, linear shove.

It’s just a shame that, as with many previous hybrid Toyotas, the noise is so unpleasant. The engine is hooked up to a CVT gearbox which causes a monotone drone from the engine when it’s either cold or under load. This is a pity because when its Lexus UX cousin – a TGNA-based hybrid with a different 2.0-litre petrol-electric drivetrain – sounds so refined, it clearly isn’t beyond Toyota’s scope to make this set-up work.

Much more convincing is the comfort-based approach to the RAV4 driving experience. The ride cushions its occupants well from the road below, suppressing the sound of shocks and bumps impressively. Despite this, the body remains under control, never wallowing in the way a Honda CR-V might. With the engine settling down at a cruise, the most audible sound at motorway speed is the rumble from the tyres. The RAV4 is simple to drive, too: the precise steering makes it easy to place on the road, and it’s light at parking speeds.

You can make up your own mind about the exterior styling, but at least it could never be mistaken for a Skoda Karoq or a VW Tiguan. The inside is hard to fault, though: build quality is faultless, and the chunky temperature switches and gently glowing cubbies are lovely touches. The rubberised door grips feel nice, too, although one wonders how long it’ll be before they get grubby.

If there’s one true letdown, it’s the infotainment system. Pick any rival set-up you like – whether from Kia, VW or Ford – they all offer slicker interfaces with sharper graphics. The complete lack of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility seems bizarre, since both make for an ideal ‘get out of jail free’ card for any sub-standard system. At least the Toyota’s menus aren't too difficult to work out, and the physical shortcut buttons are welcome.

The basic Icon trim doesn't get satellite navigation, but elsewhere, equipment levels are great. We’d go for the Design: it comes with standard front and rear parking sensors, sat-nav, 18-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights.

The RAV4 is slightly longer and taller than a Ford Kuga, and those dimensions translate to generous interior space. Rear leg and headroom are impressive overall, but if you are tall you might find it wanting for under-thigh support: the floor feels high in relation to the seat squab, forcing taller occupants’ legs up at a steep angle. The 580-litre boot isn’t quite as roomy as that of the Peugeot 3008 (591 litres) or the Volkswagen Tiguan (615 litres), but it’s more than big enough.

So the RAV4 drives as well as its rivals, it offers stronger performance and it has one of the smartest cabins in its class. That price is beginning to look more reasonable, then, but its greatest appeal lies in its fuel consumption. On our test routes, covering a mixture of city and motorway driving, the new Toyota returned figures as high as 61mpg, and never below the mid-forties. Those numbers are roughly similar to what you can expect from a Kia Niro Hybrid – a crossover which is both smaller and significantly slower than the RAV4.

It scores well for emissions, too. NEDC-corrected CO2 emissions of 105g/km – or 102g/km on the smaller 17-inch wheels – mean that the RAV4 falls into significantly lower Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax groups than pretty much any of its rivals, at least until the plug-in hybrid version of the Peugeot 3008 arrives.

So it’s sure to appeal to company car users, but how does it fare on a Personal Contract Purchase (PCP)? The closest alternative to the Toyota RAV4 in price and philosophy is the Honda CR-V hybrid, another petrol-electric SUV which scores strongly for comfort. Here, the Toyota stacks up very well: taking a 2WD RAV4 Design and a CR-V SE as an example, and with a matching deposit (roughly £8,600, in this case), the Toyota costs £56 per month less, at £233 versus £289.

4
The RAV4 might seem pricey compared with some alternatives, but there’s still plenty to recommend here. It’s spacious, refined and well built, and while some rivals offer sharper handling, the Toyota counters with great comfort. It’s just a shame that the infotainment system is still well behind the best in class, and that the engine drones so noisily. Fuel bills promise to be very cheap, though – especially if you spend plenty of time driving in town.
  • Model: Toyota RAV4 Dynamic
  • Price: £34,400
  • Engine: 2.5-litre 4cyl petrol-electric hybrid
  • Power: 215bhp
  • Transmission: CVT, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 8.4 seconds
  • Top speed: 112mph
  • Economy/CO2: 49.2mpg/105g/km
  • Fuel tank size: 55 litres
  • Cost to fill up: £66.55
  • On sale: Now

Skoda undecided about affordable all-electric Volkswagen ID. rival
Posted on Wednesday March 20, 2019

John McIlroy 2019-03-20 11:48

Skoda CEO admits that firm has not yet committed to an affordable electric car to sit on the MEB platform

Skoda Vision iV concept - front

Skoda has yet to commit to a more affordable electric car that could sit alongside the Volkswagen ID. hatchback and SEAT el-Born in the forthcoming range of MEB models, the CEO has admitted.

The Czech manufacturer will launch its first vehicle based on the MEB all-electric platform next year. A production version of the Vision iV large SUV coupe, built on the longer MEB wheelbase shared with the likes of the VW ID. Crozz, it will be made on the same line as the Octavia at Skoda’s home factory in Mlada Boleslav.

Volkswagen ID. hatch order books to open in May

The new model will be part of Skoda’s plan to launch “at least 10” fully electric, plug-in hybrid or 48-volt mild-hybrid vehicles by 2022 - but while this number will include an additional MEB model, the company’s CEO Bernhard Maier told Auto Express that it has yet to commit to following VW and SEAT with a more affordable pure-electric offering.

“We have two MEB cars coming. One is the basis and the other is the derivative of that first model,” Maier said. These cars are understood to be the Vision iV coupe and a regular SUV with a more conventional roofline. They should both reach market by the end of 2021. 

However, Maier said Skoda is “still working on” the idea of a more affordable MEB model - in the same way as VW’s stated goal of selling the entry-level ID. hatchback for about the same price as a well-specced diesel Golf. “This platform is really multi-functional. It is usable for different car sizes and different car segments,” Maier said. “We are looking for a lower-specced car as well. And once we have a positive business case we can come up with a clear solution.”

He added, “We want to do a car like the ID. hatchback or the [SEAT] el-Born, but it has to be one step after the other. We have a clear product target.” 

Maier did admit, however, that the cheaper MEB model could be at the heart of rumoured plans for a car based on the platform to be built at Skoda’s Kvasiny factory - the same plant where the plug-in hybrid version of the Superb will be produced from later this year.

What do you think of Skoda's electric plans? Let us know in the comments below...

Audi Q8 review
Posted on Wednesday March 20, 2019

For 
Cool, contemporary styling
Fabulous interior ambience
Refined and luxurious drive
Our Rating 
4
Against 
Not as practical as a Q7
Rivals more fun to drive
Expensive to own and run
Audi Q8 - Front Tracking
2019

Audi’s slickly-styled SUV ‘coupe’ flagship gives BMW and Mercedes a run for their money

The Audi Q8 is luxurious, extravagant and stylish, and makes an admirable executive express for owners who aren’t too worried about its rather obvious packaging compromises. It takes up about as much room on the road as a Q7 SUV, but has only five seats and a much less useful boot. In spite of its more dynamic and contemporary styling, it doesn’t offer significantly more involvement or engagement for the driver either, and is less sharp on the road than the BMW X6, a key rival.

But the Q8 offers good road manners and superb refinement, as well as a plush ride – if you avoid Dynamic mode – and fabulous interior ambience with its twin-touchscreen interior and lavish appointments. As such, it’s a thoroughly appealing choice for drivers who place style and comfort above sports car-like driving responses.

20 Mar, 2019
4.6

The exterior of the Q8 is quite a step on from the relatively restrained Q7. Features like the larger front grille, more aggressively styled bumpers, new LED headlamp designs and a full-width lighting strip across the boot lid – as well as frameless side windows – give the Q8 a more upmarket and opulent feel.

Inside things step up a gear again from the Q7, with a truly impressive feel that’s inspired largely by the latest A8 limo. There’s lots of piano black trim and brushed metal finishes on display, and the whole fascia is configured around the MMI Touch dual-screen infotainment set-up we know from elsewhere in the Audi range.

As with other models, the top 10.1-inch screen delivers the infotainment, while lower 8.6-inch screen takes care of more fundamental systems like the climate control and car set-up options. It also features handwriting recognition, but this may be a step too far for many right-handed drivers – it makes a lot more sense when the steering wheel is on the left as per other European markets.

The Q8 also features Audi’s Virtual Cockpit as standard, which replaces the traditional instrument pack with a wide full-colour display that can be configured with high-resolution navigation maps or instrument graphics.

It’s not a sporty environment, but rather it’s luxurious, contemporary and very upmarket. That said, when we prodded some of the plastics there was a bit of creak and flex which was a little unexpected. All the electronics and technology systems are made possible because the Q8 is built on the VW Group’s shared MLB Evo platform.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

As you would expect, the Q8’s infotainment system is impressively configured. There’s full smartphone connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a highly specified audio system, and of course voice control, DAB audio and internet connectivity are all part of the available tech.

3.1

The Audi Q8 feels quite a lot like its Q7 stablemate on the road, which is unsurprising given the fact the two share a platform and drivetrains. That’s great if you’re looking for a deft and reasonably sharp handling big SUV, but not so if you’re looking for something that’s more rewarding to drive. The BMW X6, Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport are all more obviously sporty, but given the philosophical conundrum big ‘sporty’ SUVs present, it’s no surprise some owners are more impressed by comfort.

All Q8s sold in the UK come on advanced adaptive air suspension, and on its softest setting the car is softly compliant while resisting roll admirably in corners. The Dynamic setting is less rewarding, as although the Q8 will tackle corners with little body roll and prodigious levels of grip, the ride quality becomes distinctly rough around the edges. Unless you’re on perfectly smooth tarmac, it’s hard to see the advantages and the compromises are considerable.

Steering feel is like every other Audi, which means it offers no sense whatever of the road through the steering wheel rim, but is accurate and responsive to inputs anyway. The 8-speed automatic is not a dual clutch device but a torque converter gearbox, and can be a little hesitant off the line.

The Q8 is supremely quiet at speed, with barely any wind noise and very well muted engine and road noise.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The Audi Q8 arrived first in the UK with only 3.0-litre V6 ‘mild-hybrid’ diesel engine in the 50 TDI. It’s an impressively smooth and refined set-up, and with 282bhp offers rapid acceleration too. 0-62mph arrives in 6.3 seconds, and top speed is 152mph.

The petrol option is a 335bhp 3.0 V6 55 TFSI which will do 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds, and has a top speed of 155mph. More additions to the engine line-up are expected in due course, including an etron plug-in hybrid.

4

As you’d expect of an Audi flagship, there’s absolutely loads of safety kit wrapped up in that big SUV body. Audi bundles its safety kit into four packages, with the top spec Tour Assist package offering adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping, collision avoidance from the front and sides, and the ability to match speed limits via road sign recognition, and also slows autonomously for corners and roundabouts.

There are five systems at play in the city, monitoring cross-traffic front and rear, vehicles approaching from the side, plus exit and lane change warnings. A Park Plus Assist package prevents bumps during low-speed manoeuvres, and will also park the car autonomously.

Euro NCAP testing has yet to be carried out on the Q8, but we’d expect it to perform similarly to the Q7 with which it shares a platform – and which is itself a five-star-rated car.

What’s less clear is how the model will fare in reliability terms. In our 2018 Driver Power Customer Satisfaction survey, the Audi brand only managed 18th place out of 26 in the survey. Almost 20 per cent of owners across the Audi line-up reported at least one fault with their car in the first year of ownership, too.

Warranty

The Audi Q8 gets the same warranty as everything else in the line-up, which means you’re covered for three-years but only 60,000 miles. BMW’s standard warranty is also three years, but you’re covered for unlimited mileage.

Servicing

You can opt for annual services for your Q8 if you’re the kind of driver who does relatively low mileage with lots of short journeys. The alternative is a variable schedule determined by the car’s onboard sensors. This could see service stops extended as far as two years, but not further.

3.6

The Q8 only comes in the one body style, and only as a five-seater. That rakish rear hatch rules out the possibility of an extra third row of seats, even for kids.

You have to climb up into the Q8 which can be a bit of a stretch, and although you ride marginally lower than in the Q7, the view out of the front is pretty much as good. Rear visibility is a little less impressive, but there are lots of parking assistance sensors and systems available to help with that.

A vast range of driver sizes can be accommodated thanks to lots of adjustment in the seats and steering column, and there’s loads of storage around the cabin thanks to a big centre console bin, large glovebox and door bins.

Size

The Q8 measures up at 4,986mm long, 1,705mm tall and 1,995mm wide, so it takes up a chunk of space on the road. The Q7 is a little bit longer at 5,052mm, narrower at 1,968mm and taller at 1,740mm, but there’s not really much in it as you can see. The BMW X6 is 4,909mm long, 1,989mm wide and 1,702 tall. 

Leg room, head room & passenger space

Fortunately, the swoopy roofline doesn’t impinge much on passenger space, as it only dives significantly downwards aft of the rear seats. That means there’s a decent amount of headroom, and the broad width of the car means there’s lots of elbow and shoulder room too. The Q8’s long wheelbase ensures that rear seat passengers aren’t hard done by for legroom either, even if there are tall passengers up front with the seats pushed right back.

Boot

There’s a big boot lurking beneath the Q8’s tailgate, and at 605 litres its volume is a little larger than the boot in the rival BMW X6. It can’t match the luggage capacity of its seven-seater stablemate the Audi Q7 though – it’s way ahead with 770 litres of space.

The Q8’s aggressively sloping tailgate does have quite an impact on the practicality, too, as it means you may struggle to fit large boxy items such as washing machines or furniture. Even bicycles might be a problem, and it’s a long way up to the roof if you need to put them on a rack.

3.4

There are two engine options currently available in the Q8 line-up, giving buyers the choice of petrol or diesel power – the latter with mild hybrid electric assistance. As you’d expect the 50 TDI diesel is markedly more efficient, offering 42mpg on the combined economy cycle with CO2 emissions of 178g/km.

The petrol powered 55 TFSI is quicker but it’s also a fair bit thirstier, coming in at 31mpg. It’s also more polluting with a 207g/km of CO2. As prices start from around £65,000, all versions of the Q8 cost £450 a year for the first five years of road tax. You won’t get off lightly on Benefit-in-Kind if you’re a company perk driver either – the Q8 is in the highest percentage tax bracket whether you choose petrol or diesel power.

The 48-volt electrics in the Q8 make the mild hybrid tech possible in the diesel version. There’s a lithium-ion battery under the boot floor, which is regenerated under braking. When coasting between 34mph and 99mph the diesel engine’s stop-start tech cuts fuel and progress is maintained using the belt drive starter motor.

Insurance groups

The high price and strong performance of the Audi Q8 ensure high insurance premiums too. The 3.0 V6 diesel versions are rated at Group 45, while the more rapid petrol TFSI comes in at Group 47. These groups are a little higher than equivalent versions of the Audi Q7.

Depreciation

You can spend around £85,000 on a top-spec Audi Q8 before you’ve had a look at the options list, so even though depreciation as a percentage of purchase cost is reasonably competitive at 53 per cent for the S line model (Vorsprung versions are around 46 per cent, reflecting a list price nearly £20k higher), it’s still going to cost you a chunk of change when it comes to move the vehicle on. It seems likely the added economy of diesel versions ought to make a difference on the used market.

Limited edition Lister LFT-C announced: 666bhp for £139,000
Posted on Wednesday March 20, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-03-20 10:58

Lister has launched a convertible variant of its Jaguar F-Type-based LFT-666, in a limited production run of only 10 units

Lister LFT-C - front

Lister has announced a convertible version of its tuned Jaguar F-Type, called the LFT-C. The limited-edition model will be priced from £139,000 when it reaches the UK market this summer. Only 10 units will be built, with each featuring a numbered solid silver plaque on the engine cover.

The LFT-C uses the same tuned 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine as the LFT-666, with 666bhp and 976Nm of torque. Lister claims a 0–62mph sprint of around three seconds and a top speed in excess of 205mph, making it the fastest convertible model the company has produced to date.

Lister LFT-666 review

Upgrades over the standard F-Type convertible include a set of 21-inch alloy wheels, a louder custom exhaust, uprated suspension and bigger brakes. As with the hardtop, the LFT-C gets a unique bodykit designed by Lister, with fresh front and rear bumpers, new side skirts, a redesigned splitter, an updated diffuser, flared wheel arches and a lip spoiler.

Buyers will be given a range of customisation options, with a “limitless” number of paint finishes and wheel designs available to order. The LFT-C also benefits from unique hand-stitched leather upholstery, a re-trimmed dashboard, new floor mats and Lister-branded treadplates.

For those who find the standard F-Type R’s performance more than adequate, Lister is also offering its bumper, badge and wheel upgrade as a separate £9,750 aftermarket addition for both the convertible and hardtop Jaguar models. Cars with only these body enhancements will be badged simply as ‘LFT,’ without the ‘666’ or ‘C’ suffixes.

The LFT-C will soon be joined by the reimagined Lister Knobbly, the Lister Costin and a modified version of the Jaguar F-Pace, called the LFP. Production of these four models will be spread between Lister’s new £6million facility in Blackburn, Lancashire, and the firm’s existing production site in Cambridgeshire.

What are your thoughts on the new Lister LFT-C? Let us know in the comments section below…

 

Win an LDV EV80 electric van - worth more than £60,000!
Posted on Wednesday March 20, 2019

2019-03-20 17:03

You could be driving away in an amazing LDV EV80 van in this incredible competition

For businesses looking to reduce their transport costs and boost their eco-credentials, an electric van is a must-have. The new LDV EV80 is one of a tiny group of vans to blend all-electric motoring with a huge cargo capacity.

The LDV EV80 boasts an impressive 120-mile range on a single charge, and the batteries can be topped up to 80 per cent capacity in just 1.5 hours. That means you can keep your business on the road for longer, and with less down-time.

The 56kW battery and 92kW motor means there’s no compromise when it comes to carrying capacity either. The EV80 boasts a 1,005kg payload and a 10.2m load volume in its panel van configuration.

But if that’s not enough, the EV80 is also available in crewvan, minibus and chassis cab variants.

And LDV is offering you the chance to drive away in an EV80 panel van worth £60,000 - plus a five-star hotel stay in Birmingham for the Commercial Vehicle Show, where you’ll be presented with your prize.

Simply head over to LDV’s website before 19 April 2019 to enter your details.

Good luck

Volvo Care Key lets you limit the speed of your car
Posted on Wednesday March 20, 2019

Alex Ingram 2019-03-20 14:30

Volvo's Care Key tech lets owners set a speed limit for their vehicle and anyone who borrows it.

Volvo Care Key

Volvo has announced a system which will let any Volvo owner impose a speed limit on to their car. Called Care Key, it allows buyers lending their car to family members and friends to encourage more responsible driving by presetting a maximum speed.

The move is designed to reduce the risk when handing the keys to relatives who may be less familiar with the car, or to drivers who are younger and less experienced behind the wheel.

Volvo to limit cars to 112mph

It comes as part of Volvo’s three-pronged assault on reducing road accidents and fatalities - which also aims to prevent speeding or driving while intoxicated - as the Swedish brand aims to eradicate road deaths in its cars by 2020.

The introduction of such technology, according to Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelson, is about initiating discussion among manufacturers about how much responsibility they have to install technology which encourages more responsible driving behaviour.

“We believe that a car maker has a responsibility to help improve traffic safety,” says Samuelsson. “Many owners want to be able to share their car with friends and family, but are unsure about how to make sure they are safe on the road. The Care Key provides one good solution and extra peace of mind.”

The benefits could extend beyond safety for owners, too. Volvo is in talks with car insurance companies in several markets, to offer reduced rates to models equipped with such technology. As Mr Samuelsson points out: “if we can encourage and support better behaviour with technology that helps drivers to stay out of trouble, that should logically also have a positive impact on insurance premiums.”

Volvo's Care Key is similar in principle to Ford’s ‘My Key’ system: a speed-limiting function which has been available on its cars since 2013 in the UK.

The launch of the tech follows on from Volvo's announcement that all of its cars will have a 112mph speed limiter buy 2021.

What do you think of imposing a speed limit on your car? Let us know in the comments below... 

 

 


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