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In the News ...

99 per cent of fuel thefts go unpunished
Posted on Thursday August 22, 2019

Tristan Shale-Hester 2019-08-22 14:59

Met Police reports £1.1m of fuel thefts in London in 2018, while rest of UK sees £638,217 of fuel stolen in the same year

Fuel station

99 per cent of fuel thefts in the UK go unpunished, new data has revealed, as it transpires £1.75 million of fuel – including petrol, diesel, kerosene, paraffin, coal and gas – is being stolen across the country each year

Some £1,113,074.98 of fuel was stolen in London in 2018, the Metropolitan Police Service revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request by Crown Oil. Of the UK’s 45 other police forces, 22 responded to the FoI to say they’d seen another £638,217 of fuel stolen in the same year. In spite of this, though, only one per cent of all fuel thefts in 2018 resulted in a prosecution.

The most common type of fuel theft was drivers leaving petrol stations without paying – making up 80 per cent of the figures – but the statistics also included petrol and diesel being stolen from vehicles and other fuel types being taken from commercial premises.

From the data, Crown Oil calculated that, on average, each theft cost its victim £91.21 – extrapolated across the estimated 120,000 total fuel thefts in the UK in 2018, this works out as a total national cost of £9 million.

The figures show an 11 per cent drop in fuel thefts year-on-year from 2016 to 2018, but some areas saw an increase. The West Midlands was particularly badly affected, seeing a 47.57 per cent rise over those same two years from 1,501 fuel thefts in 2016 to 2,215 in 2018.

Lancashire saw a similarly drastic increase of 44.58 per cent from 1,467 to 2,121. In contrast, the Port of Dover has remained as the least affected area, with no fuel thefts taking place there in 2016, 2017 or 2018.

Matt Greensmith, managing director of Crown Oil, commented: “These findings confirm our suspicions – fuel theft occurs far too often across the country and costs businesses and individuals alike millions of pounds a year, whilst the nature of the crime often means a reported theft will go unpunished.”

Do you think the police should crack down harder on fuel thefts? Let us know in the comments below...

New 2019 Vauxhall Corsa-e Rally: Rally-spec electric Corsa revealed
Posted on Thursday August 22, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-08-22 14:00

Opel Motorsport will launch the £46,000 Corsa-e Rally at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show

Vauxhall Corsa-e rally - front

Vauxhall will launch the world’s first commercially available pure-electric rally car at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. Called the Corsa-e Rally, it debuts in Opel guise and features a range of chassis upgrades and a tweaked version of the standard car’s all-electric drivetrain. Prices are set to start from around £46,000.

The Corsa-e features uprated springs and dampers all round, larger disc brakes with four-piston calipers, new underbody protection panels and a mechanical handbrake finds its way into the cabin too. In addition, the car’s traction control, electronic stability control and ABS system have all been deleted.

New Vauxhall Corsa-e to start from just over £26k

The Corsa-e Rally’s body-in-white is also lighter than the standard car’s and features an integrated roll-cage and fire extinguisher system. Thanks to a range of new lightweight, quick-release panels and a race-spec dry battery, it tips the scales at around 1,400kg.

The Corsa-e Rally features all-electric drivetrain and 50kWh lithium-ion battery pack found in the standard Corsa-e hatchback, with power and torque standing at 134bhp and 260Nm respectively. Drive is sent to the front wheels which, but unlike the road-going version, it features a torsen differential.

Starting next year, Vauxhall’s Corsa-e Rally will compete in the single-model ADAC Opel e-Rally Cup. Vauxhall says the race series is tailored towards younger drivers, acting as an entry-point into rallying.

What are your thoughts on the new Vauxhall Corsa-e Rally? Let us know in the comments section below…

Citroen C3 range updated for 2019
Posted on Thursday August 22, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-08-22 12:51

The Citroen C3 supermini range has been revised in response to increased customer demand for upmarket models

Citroen C3

Citroen has simplified the C3 range, reducing the number of trim levels from six to three. The revised C3 range will go on sale this October, priced from £15,860 for the entry-level Feel model and climbing to £20,145 for the range-topping Flair Plus variant.

Since the C3’s launch in January 2017, Citroen has sold more than 42,000 examples in the UK – 62 per cent of which were specced in the outgoing high-end Flair and Flair Nav Edition trim levels. As such, Citroen has restructured the C3 range with emphasis on the car’s more popular high-spec features.

• Best superminis on sale now

The old entry-level Citroen C3 Touch has been discontinued. Citroen’s Feel trim replaces it, coming as standard with a set of 16-inch alloy wheels, a lane departure warning system, automatic air-conditioning and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Citroen’s Origins specification now acts as the sole mid-range model, priced at £17,160. It adds a contrasting black roof, black plastic body mouldings and unique interior trim, as well as active safety braking, rear parking sensors and Citroen’s Connect Nav sat-nav system, which offers real-time traffic updates and a three-year subscription to TomTom live.

The range-topping C3 Flair Plus replaces the old Flair and Flair Nav Edition models. Prices start from £17,625, with additions including a leather steering wheel, reversing camera, rear privacy glass and red interior trim.

As with the current Citroen C3, buyers have their choice of three engines. A turbocharged 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is available in two states of tune, with the entry-level variant producing 82bhp and 118Nm of torque and the more potent version providing 108bhp and 205Nm. 

A single 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel is also available, with 100bhp and 250Nm of torque. All three engines come with a manual gearbox as standard, although the C3 Flair Plus diesel can be specced with a six-speed automatic transmission for an extra £1,220.

Now read our review of the current Citroen C3. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below… 

 

End personal car ownership, MPs say
Posted on Thursday August 22, 2019

Tristan Shale-Hester 2019-08-22 12:23

UK cannot become a carbon-neutral country until personal vehicle ownership is ended, Science and Technology Committee says

London traffic

Private car ownership is incompatible with making the UK a carbon-neutral country, a group of MPs has said.

In a new report critiquing the Government’s plans for the UK to have net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the Science and Technology Committee claimed that while low and zero-emission vehicles are better for the environment during their period of use, the process of manufacturing them still produces “substantial” emissions.

• Petrol and diesel car ban should be moved to 2030, say Government advisers

With this in mind, the report casts doubt on the future of personal vehicle ownership, stating: “In the long-term, widespread personal vehicle ownership therefore does not appear to be compatible with significant decarbonisation. The Government should not aim to achieve emissions reductions simply by replacing existing vehicles with lower-emissions versions.”

Meanwhile, in the near-term, the Committee wants the Government to “reconsider” its fiscal incentives for drivers to buy zero-emission vehicles, criticising the fact that Fuel Duty has been frozen for nine years in a row while the Plug-in Car Grant has been cut. It has also called for more cooperation between the Government and owners of public land to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicle charging points.

The report also takes aim at the Government’s existing policy for the sale of all new conventionally-powered (i.e. non-hybrid) petrol and diesel cars to be banned in 2040 (except in Scotland where the deadline is 2032).

The Science and Technology Committee doesn’t believe this is soon enough for the Government to meet its 2050 net-zero target. It wants to see the ban brought forward to 2035 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and for it to include hybrids, meaning the only new cars allowed to be sold will be those that are fully electric.

Norman Lamb MP, chair of the Science and Technology Committee, criticised the Government’s inaction on implementing policies to tackle climate change. He said: “Throughout our inquiry, it was worrying to hear that although the Government may be ambitious when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, it is not putting the policies in place which are needed to achieve those targets. We need to see the Government put its words into actions.”

Do you agree with that personal car ownership should be banned? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below..

Jaguar I-Pace: long-term test review
Posted on Thursday August 22, 2019

Jaguar I-Pace - front showroom
22 Aug, 2019 10:15am Steve Fowler

First report: Will daily life change our view of the Jaguar I-Pace?

Mileage: 883
Economy: 2.5m/kWh

The latest arrival on our fleet has a lot to live up to. A year ago, the Jaguar I-Pace was the first pure-electric car to be crowned Auto Express Car of the Year. Then in April this year, I was one of the jurors who voted it World Car of the Year. 

So it’s fair to say I’m already a fan of the I-Pace, but living together day-in day-out can change any relationship – so let’s see what happens over the coming months.

Best electric cars to buy 2019

With the first few hundred miles under its stylish 22-inch alloys, things – like the car – are looking good. I collected my I-Pace from the swankiest Jaguar dealership I’ve ever been in: Lookers, Park Royal in London. 

I drive past the site twice a day on my daily commute, but I had never been in, and it’s seriously impressive. It’s modern, minimalist, clean and a world away from the big wooden desks and Chesterfield sofas of Jaguar dealers of old.

As are the sales staff. Ryno Nortier is a certified Genius, recognised by Jaguar as being an I-Pace expert. So he was the perfect person to talk me through the many features of my new car, especially the important stuff like connecting my phone to the car (Apple CarPlay in a Jaguar at last!), going through the maze of menus to adjust the various settings, and starting me off with the Jaguar Remote app that allows me to keep tabs on charging, every journey I take, and even warm up or cool down the car remotely.

Jaguar has learnt a thing or two from its rivals when it comes to speccing a car, too. Although my top-spec HSE comes nicely equipped, it has a fair few enhancements, ranging from the rather comfy sports seats, to a long glass roof, head-up display and a black exterior pack with privacy glass to up the cool factor, and keep things cool inside.

The end result is a list price of £71,495 after the plug-in car grant, rising to £82,200 all-in. A big chunk of that comes from the beautiful 22-inch wheels, which I worried would boost the look, but ruin the ride. 

Yet with the addition of air suspension, Adaptive Dynamics and Adaptive Surface Response, my well over two-tonne car (plus driver) on big wheels that should – at least in theory – ride dreadfully actually soaks up the bumps brilliantly and handles just as well – a marvel of engineering, but at a cost.

So dynamically, the I-Pace stacks up, but of most importance is how far it can go on a full charge. Jaguar claims 258 miles (WLTP), but with limited running so far, 200 seems closer to the mark. We’ll see what we can eke out of it in the coming months.

One thing I’ve noticed is that every time I turn the car off it goes back to Comfort mode rather than my preferred Eco setting. Maybe that can be fixed by an over-the-air update, which is coming soon to Jaguars.

I’ve also struggled with the boot release. You’re supposed to be able to wave your foot under the rear bumper and the tailgate will open. It worked for Ryno, but not for me. Maybe it’s my small feet or dodgy footwear!

I do like the pop-out handles, though. My car has keyless entry and start, so I just touch a button on the handles and they jump out to attention to let me open the door.

So far, I’ve only charged the I-Pace using my home wall charger, which gives me around 100 miles of charge overnight, so it’ll be interesting to see how I get on with the national charging network. 

I already know that if I want to charge in the public car park we use for work I’ll need to get up early – the charging points fill up quickly, often with plug-in hybrids that stay there all day but clearly don’t need to. I feel a campaign on EV etiquette coming on…

Other than that, the I-Pace is living up to its award-winning, five-star billing. It’s already proving to be a conversation-starter, and I don’t miss trips to the filling station.

• Audi e-tron vs Jaguar I-Pace 

Build quality is good, there’s plenty of space on board, I’m really enjoying driving the car, it’s comfortable and packed with tech. Also, it looks absolutely fantastic. Our long-term relationship is off to a great start.

5
The multi-award-winning I-Pace has got off to a good start. It’s further proof that electric cars are great fun to drive, and is proving easy to live with so far – let’s hope the EV shine doesn’t wear off any time soon.
  • Model: Jaguar I-Pace EV400 HSE
  • On fleet since: July 2019
  • Price new: £71,495
  • Engine: 90kWh battery & two electric, 395bhp
  • CO2/tax: 0g/km/£320
  • Options: Metallic paint (£700), suede headlining (£900), 22-inch alloy wheels (£2,400), air suspension (£1,100), Adaptive Dynamics (£800), privacy glass (£375), 14-way heated and cooled seats (£1,400), panoramic sunroof (£960), Black Exterior Pack (£260), Adaptive
  • Insurance: Group 50
  • Mileage: 883
  • Efficiency: 2.5m/kWh
  • Any problem?: None so far

Hyundai confirms ‘45’ electric concept car for Frankfurt Motor Show
Posted on Thursday August 22, 2019

James Brodie 2019-08-22 09:49

New Hyundai 45 concept will be a retro-inspired showcase of how the brand could design future electric vehicles

Hyundai 45 teaser

Hyundai has teased a new concept car for the Frankfurt Motor Show, which the Korean marque has confirmed as being a fully-electric show car leaning heavily on the brand’s heritage.

The new concept car, christened 45, marks 45 years since the introduction of the original Hyundai Pony at the Turin Motor Show in October 1974. The Pony, while not the first car to wear a Hyundai badge, was the first car developed wholly in-house by the firm.

Best electric cars to buy

A teaser image confirms that the 45 will be an electric concept car with an unambiguous retro-futuristic design, much like the Honda Urban EV concept now destined for production as the Honda e.

The rear of the car features plain surfacing and slim pillars. The rear fascia is fully digitalised and adorned with LEDs but takes on a classic layout with a set of faux-retro taillights and an offset Hyundai badge. 

Hyundai claims that the concept showcases what it believes its fully-electric vehicles could look like in the future, calling it a “symbolic milestone for Hyundai’s future EV design.”

The 45 won’t be the only new car on show from Hyundai at next month’s Frankfurt exposition. A new production car is inbound in the form of the next-generation i10 city car too.

Are you excited about the prospect of a retro-inspired all-electric Hyundai? Let us know in the comments below...

New Skoda Kamiq 2019 review
Posted on Wednesday August 21, 2019

21 Aug, 2019 8:00pm Richard Ingram

The Skoda Kamiq has some talented rivals to beat, but the new supermini-sized SUV could be the pick of the bunch

Three new SUVs in a little over three years: Skoda’s recent push into the crossover market is bang on trend with where the new car market is heading, and following the debut of the Kodiaq in 2016 and the Karoq 12 months later, 2019 sees Skoda line-up yet another newcomer in this growing segment. 

It’s the arrival of the brand’s smallest and possibly most important SUV model: the Kamiq. Pronounced ‘Ka-mick’, this is a rival for the Renault Captur, Volkswagen T-Cross, and the soon-to-be-replaced Nissan Juke, competing in the small, supermini-sized SUV market.

Best small SUVs and crossovers on sale

Instantly recognisable as the third of Skoda’s SUVs, the Kamiq inherits its siblings’ split headlights, clamshell bonnet and V-shaped grille. Based on the familiar MQB A0 platform underpinning the Volkswagen Polo, Skoda insists it offers all the flexibility and ‘Simply Clever’ features we’ve come to expect, in a smaller and more manageable package.

On the whole, it feels well built; the cabin is a mix of soft, squashy rubber and slightly cheaper hard plastics on the face of the dash. Most of the touch points are covered in tactile leather, while all the buttons and switches are solid and easy to use.

Skoda is looking to overtake its SEAT sibling as one of the VW Group’s most technological brands, and a quick glance at the Kamiq’s interior would suggest it’s edging ever closer to stealing that accolade. Our car had the optional 9.2-inch touchscreen, as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - something none of the Kamiq’s competitors can offer yet. The infotainment is typically functional, sharp and simple to navigate, though frustratingly, there’s no rotary dial to control the volume.

Exact specs haven’t been confirmed, but the Virtual Cockpit dials are likely to be extra, too. It isn’t as clear or sharp as the equivalent Audi set-up, but it adds a touch of class missing in many of the Kamiq’s rivals. We’d suggest they’re a ‘nice to have’ rather than an essential bit of kit, though.

There will be three engines at launch; a pair of 1.0-litre petrols (94bhp or 113bhp) and a 1.6-litre TDI diesel. The more powerful 148bhp 1.5 TSI hasn’t been homologated yet, but it’ll join the range before the end of 2019.

On the road, the Kamiq felt safe and solid no matter what we threw at it. We were driving the more powerful 113bhp 1.0-litre, which Skoda expects to be its biggest seller. It accelerates cleanly, and while the control weights – the pedals and gearbox especially – are light, they’re perfectly accurate. Few buyers will feel short changed in this area, regardless.

Up at motorway cruising speed, the Kamiq’s engine is all but silent. There’s little to no tyre roar, but the A-pillars and door mirrors do generate quite a bit of wind noise, which proves the only interruption in an otherwise refined drive.

Despite it’s jacked-up styling and raised body (the Kamiq is 60mm taller than the Scala hatch), Skoda’s newest SUV handles neatly in the corners. It’s a lovely car to drive, in fact, offering what could prove to be the best compromise of ride and handling of any car in this class; grip is good and body control is well contained. We’ll find out if it can pinch dynamic honours from the SEAT Arona when we put it against its rivals in the UK in the coming months.

So, the Kamiq ticks the driving and technology boxes, but what about practicality? Skoda prides itself on the ‘Simply Clever’ touches that make all its cars unique, and rest assured, the Kamiq is littered with bits and bobs designed to make this SUV incredibly easy to live With.

There’s the usual ice scraper in the fuel filler cap, and an umbrella in the driver’s door. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find an LED torch in the boot, a funnel for the washer fluid, and slick, but optional pop-out door-edge protectors. That’s something Ford has been doing for years, yet it’s a trick that never fails to impress.

But fun features aside, the Kamiq’s outright space and practicality can shame in the class above. The 400-litre boot (1,395 litres with the rear seats folded flat) is pretty much par for the course, but rear seat accommodation leaves its rivals trailing. There is ample head and leg room for six-foot adults, even with the front seat set to fit a similarly-sized driver. It certainly feels bigger inside than its compact dimensions would suggest.

Skoda hasn’t revealed official pricing, specs or fuel economy data for any Kamiq model just yet. However, initial signs point towards a £17,500 starting price (Kamiq S 1.0 TSI 95PS), or £19,750 for the well-equipped SE in punchier 1.0 115PS trim. Residual values should be strong, which will likely result in favourable PCP rates, too.

The trim structure will largely mirror the new Scala’s format, offering a choice of S, SE and SE L. Entry-level cars should bring 16-inch wheels, LED lights, the smallest 6.5-inch infotainment screen, DAB radio and manual air conditioning. Continuing to use the Scala as a guide, SE would add a larger eight-inch display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, parking sensors, cruise control and an eight-speaker stereo. SE L sits atop the range, with 17-inch wheels, privacy glass, keyless entry, dual-zone climate control and a 9.2-inch sat-nav with complimentary Virtual Cockpit dials.

This engine is a known quantity, as well, as it’s used throughout the VW Group range on a wide variety of vehicles. Expect around 50- 55mpg and CO2 emissions of 112g/km depending on spec and wheel size. 

4.5
The new Skoda Kamiq is predictably brilliant. It pulls together all that we love about VW’s tried and tested MQB platform, with a stylish, spacious, and cleverly designed body. While exact specs, prices and all-important PCP deals could make or break the SUV’s chance of success, there’s a very real chance this Kamiq will shoot straight to the top of the class when we test it in the UK in the coming months.
  • Model: Skoda Kamiq SE 1.0 TSI 115
  • Price: £19,750 (est)
  • Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl turbo petrol
  • Power/torque: 113bhp/200Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
  • Top speed: 121mph
  • Economy/CO2: 55mpg (est)/112g/km (est)
  • On sale: Late September

Porsche 911 Cabriolet vs Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster
Posted on Tuesday August 20, 2019

2019-08-20 16:15

The brand new Porsche 911 Cabriolet takes on the updated Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster

Porsche 911 Cabriolet vs Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster - header

With summer in full swing, there’s a number of new high-profile convertibles hitting the market, starting with the Porsche 911 Cabriolet. This drop-top follows in the wheeltracks of the Coupé, with the famous sports car now in its eighth generation.

There’s also much more tech underpinning the 911’s new platform, while Porsche has worked hard to reduce the impact of removing the 911’s roof and make this a car that’s befitting of that badge when it comes to the driving experience.

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After more than 50 years of evolution, the 911 in all its forms has staved off the challenge of its rivals. But with this 992 Cabriolet they’re still coming thick and fast, the latest in the form of the updated-for-2019 Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster. The recipe here is traditional AMG, with a V8 engine up front powering the rear wheels for what, we hope, is a beautifully balanced drive.

Both cars have electrically folding fabric roofs, a top speed of 188mph and a price tag comfortably exceeding £100,000. Yet they approach the brief for an exclusive cabrio in decidedly different ways, so let’s find out which is best.

At this level of the market, with cars costing this much, buyers will forgive few faults, so it’ll be an incredibly tough test. 

Porsche 911 Cabriolet

Model: Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet
Price:  £109,398
Engine:  3.0-litre flat-six twin-turbo, 444bhp 
0-60mph:  3.3 seconds
Test economy:  22.1mpg/4.9mpl 
CO2:  207g/km  
Annual road tax:  £465

We’re testing the new Carrera 4S version of the 911 Cabriolet here. So while it’s four-wheel drive when compared with the rear-driven AMG, it brings their respective prices closer for parity, at £109,398. It’s a chunky price tag, but is it worth it?

Design & engineering

Like the 911 Coupé, this 992-generation Cabriolet is based on a new platform that includes more aluminium than ever before to help keep kerbweight down. This stands at 1,635kg for this Carrera 4S, which is unsurprising given the 911’s increase in size over its predecessor.

The Cabriolet is currently offered in Carrera, Carrera S and Carrera 4S guises, all with Porsche’s eight-speed PDK, dual-clutch automatic gearbox – a manual box is promised at a later date.

All models get a 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat-six that’s an evolution of the engine seen in the 991.2 model. New turbos (now specific to each cylinder bank) and updated cooling and injection systems in the latest unit have helped liberate more power and torque, so there’s 444bhp and 530Nm on offer in the 4S.

The transmission is also new, with eight ratios and space inside the gearbox for an electric motor, so hybrid variants of the 911 are in the product plan.

The 911 has a wider track front and rear, which has created a little more space inside, while Porsche’s approach to the interior has changed tack with the 992. There’s a lot more tech, and the infotainment screen and major controls are arranged horizontally in two layers, rather than the central stack of its predecessor. It works well; the ergonomics are good and the driving position superb – the AMG GT is more compromised.

Removing the roof has obviously required some chassis strengthening to retain as much structural rigidity as possible, and while the Cabriolet is 70kg heavier than the coupé, it also adds to the experience.

You can drop the roof electrically in 12 seconds at up to 30mph, while the canvas features extra insulation to improve refinement. That’s an element that’s been improved for this new car, while there’s also more standard kit – and so there should be at this price.

Sat-nav, Apple CarPlay, LED lights, heated seats, adaptive suspension, parking sensors, a reversing camera, AEB, climate and cruise control are all standard.

Driving

A huge part of any cabriolet’s appeal centres on the roof-down driving experience, and the 911 is about as complete as they come.

Convertibles are partly about basking in the exhaust note, and while the AMG offers a superbly characterful V8 bellow, the 911’s soundtrack isn’t quite as rich, even with the £1,844 sports exhaust fitted. The bassy bark is overlaid with turbo noise – it’s the way 911 development has gone, but it does mean there’s plenty of performance.

Despite a 32bhp power deficit and 100Nm less torque than the AMG, the 911’s excellent launch control and four-wheel-drive traction meant it romped from 0-60mph in 3.3 seconds.

With an extra ratio in its gearbox, the 911’s in-gear times are slightly skewed against the Mercedes’, but the Porsche feels equally potent. The gearbox is great, with sharp changes and no perceptible interruption to drive. Downshifts are beautifully smoothed out with an automated blip. There’s a little more lag than the Mercedes, but the engine is torquey and linear.

Where the 911 really shines compared with the AMG is in the way it rides and handles. It’s firmer, but much more comfortable, while the inevitable body shake you get from a convertible is well contained.

Even in the firmer of the two suspension modes the damping feels slicker, finessing bumps that the AMG thunders over. It’s impressively composed and generates more grip than the Mercedes. You also know more about the grip level and have a better connection with the car thanks to the steering – the weighting in particular is much more natural.

Practicality

Convertibles like these generally see practicality as a secondary concern, with usability centring more on features like the 911’s wind deflector. It’s electric and does a good job of reducing turbulence when the roof is down.

Of course, with two small back seats for kids or extra luggage, the 911 has a little more practicality than the Mercedes, even if the 132-litre boot in the nose is less than the GT’s claimed 350-litre maximum. 

Ownership

Porsche didn’t rank in our Driver Power owner satisfaction survey this year. However, given that much of the 911’s tech is shared with other models – its infotainment is similar to the Cayenne and Panamera’s, for example – and the 3.0-litre engine proved to be reliable in the previous-generation 911, then this 992 should be no different.

There’s more safety tech on offer than ever as well. Autonomous braking is fitted, there are six airbags plus pop-up roll bars that deploy from behind the rear seats if the electronics sense that the car is going to flip over, as with the GT. Lane-keep and blind-spot assist are optional, at £749 and £581 respectively. 

Running costs

Fuel economy won’t be much of a concern for buyers looking at a £100,000-plus convertible sports car. But cruising range might, and both cars here are similarly matched. The 911 returned 22.1mpg, and with a 67-litre tank will manage a max 326 miles on a run.

The AMG GT did slightly less well, at 20.9mpg, but will cover around 345 miles thanks to its larger fuel tank. Petrol costs based on these numbers stand at £3,253 and £3,440 for 12,000 miles of use.

Testers’ notes: “How can you tell the difference between the rear-wheel-drive Carrera S and the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4S in our pictures? Simple, the latter has silver air vent slats on the engine cover.”

Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster

Model: Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster
Price:  £115,875
Engine:  4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo, 469bhp 
0-60mph:  4.1 seconds
Test economy:  20.9mpg/4.6mpl 
CO2:  261g/km
Annual road tax:  £465

A facelift for the Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster has kept it fighting fit against newer rivals like the 911 Cabriolet, with some significant updates to improve its appeal. At £115,875 it’s dearer than even the 911 Carrera 4 S Cabriolet, but price isn’t as much of an issue as ability at this level.

Design & engineering

The GT is based on an aluminium chassis with double wishbone suspension all-round – while the 911 uses more aluminium than ever, there’s still steel present. The AMG also uses some magnesium components, yet it still weighs more, at 1,690kg, than the 911’s 1,635kg.

This difference is offset by the extra firepower from the AMG’s thunderous V8. In GT form the 4.0-litre twin-turbo engine produces 469bhp and 630Nm of torque. It comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and drives the rear wheels.

The AMG’s looks were subtly updated with new LED headlights and tail-lights. However, the changes in the cabin are more important. These include an updated infotainment system and new buttons for selecting drive modes and other parameters.

A fully digital dashboard is now standard, while other kit matches the Porsche’s: parking sensors, a rear camera, autonomous braking, climate and cruise control, heated leather seats, sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all included.

However, where it can’t match the 911 is for quality. There’s too much cheap-looking and feeling black plastic inside. It has lots of leather, but fewer surfaces are coated in it than in the Porsche, which feels higher-quality and better built. The mix of textures inside the GT means it doesn’t feel as premium.

Driving

The AMG GT’s ride is firm, so those plastics vibrate more on bad road surfaces. Adaptive dampers aren’t standard, unlike on the Porsche, and cost £1,495 extra. On 19-inch wheels the AMG feels less forgiving, because it fidgets and never really settles. And yet the set-up is also softer than the 911’s.

Mercedes has recalibrated the steering so it’s much lighter than before. There’s plenty of grip, but not as much poise as in the 911. Because the steering is so fast and light, the AMG turns extremely quickly, and the softer set-up means there’s some roll. The chassis and steering aren’t as communicative as the 911’s, and the car can feel nervous. It takes some getting used to, and even when you think you’ve got the measure of it, you sometimes find yourself taking separate and distinct bites at corners, because the Mercedes doesn’t have the same easy flow as the Porsche.

There are no complaints about how the GT Roadster romps down the road when you’re on the power, though. With the roof down and the exhaust set to its louder setting, the V8 rumbles aggressively. There’s very little turbo lag and the engine feels more urgent than the 911’s as soon as you accelerate.

The AMG did 0-60mph in 4.1 seconds, which was 0.8 seconds slower than the 911 – but that’s not much of a surprise given the GT has more power that gets sent through just two driven wheels. The in-gear times show that: in the lower ratios it was pretty much honours even, but in the taller gears the AMG was actually slightly quicker than the 911.

The gearbox is brilliant, with little to separate the two car’s transmissions, and the AMG’s double- clutch unit rifles through the box with clinical ease. Downshifts unlock another level to the noise, and the pops in Sport+ mode from the quad exhausts fit the hot-rod vibe well. Given the powertrain’s personality and ability, it’s all the more frustrating that the chassis can’t quite match up.

Practicality

Mercedes claims the GT offers between 165 and 350 litres of boot capacity. It’s a wide but shallow space, whereas the 911’s load bay in the nose is a little more regular. There’s enough room for weekend bags in the Mercedes though, which should be enough practicality.

It’s a good job the GT has a reversing camera, because rear visibility isn’t great, even with the roof down – thank the car’s long, low proportions for that.

The cabin is more cramped than the 911’s, and it doesn’t boast any extra space because there are no rear seats, but there’s just enough storage.

Ownership

We haven’t exactly seen a stunning performance from Mercedes in our Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, finishing 26th our of 30 brands, which might not be what you’d expect from a premium brand.

Neither the GT nor the 911 have been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, but safety is good, with six airbags and autonomous braking both standard. However, as in the Porsche, lane-keep and blind-spot assist are extra and come as part of a £1,695 pack.

Running costs

Many people purchase on finance, so monthly PCP prices could drive a buying decision. For cash buyers the Porsche holds on to more money, with an impressive 62.2 per cent retained value, according to our experts. This means it’ll be worth £68,046 after three years.

The GT costs more, but will hold on to less, rated at 49.6 per cent. This equates to a higher loss: £57,474.

Servicing will also be pricey, with three checks on the 911 costing £2,670 compared with £49 per month over three years for three checks on the AMG, which comes to £1,764. However, while the 911 is costlier, it might only need servicing every two years compared with annual check-ups for the Mercedes.

Testers’ notes: “The AMG’s roof can be raised or lowered electrically in 11 seconds at up to 31mph. With the top down it’s as refined as the 911. The Airscarf system also helps to warm your neck in winter.”

Verdict

First place: Porsche 911 Cabriolet

There are a few small flaws, but the 911 Cabriolet is about as competent as convertible sports cars come. Admittedly, it doesn’t excite in quite the same way as the AMG, but it’s as fast, rides and handles better and feels higher-quality inside, with a little more practicality. It’s basically all square on infotainment and equipment, so the Porsche’s prowess on UK roads sees it score higher than the GT. 

Second place: Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster

The AMG’s engine is reason enough to buy it; factor in the looks and the theatre, too, and it’s a great convertible, but it’s not the most competent sports car here. Its motor and gearbox are great, but the super-fast and oddly light steering, combined with the lumpy ride and some shake through the chassis, mean it’s not ultimately quite as rewarding as the 911. It’s ability, not cost, that’s the issue.

Other options for similar money...

New: Audi R8 V10 Spyder

Audi R8 V10 - front cornering

Price: £136,985
Engine: 5.2-litre V10, 562bhp

For a little more than the GT you get quite a bit more power and stunning supercar looks. The mid-engined R8 V10 Spyder sounds great, and with four-wheel drive is as quick as the 911. Be prepared to sacrifice a little usability for the styling.

Used: Mercedes SLS AMG

Mercedes SLS AMG GT front tracking

Price: £121,850
Engine: 6.2-litre V8, 563bhp

The SLS is the GT’s predecessor. All AMGs are now turbocharged, but the SLS was one of the last remaining non-turbos, with its glorious 563bhp 6.2-litre V8. In the Roadster you can hear the noise even more clearly, and it looks great.

Figures

Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster
On the road price/total as tested £109,398/£120,998 £115,875/£127,295
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000) £68,046/62.2% £57,474/49.6%
Depreciation £41,352 £58,401
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £7,997/£15,993 £8,413/£16,825
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £3,253/£5,422 £3,440/£5,734
Insurance group/quote/VED 50/£1,056/£465 50/£1,151/£465
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service £625/£950/£1,095 £49/month (3yrs)
Length/wheelbase 4,519/2,450mm 4,544/2,630mm
Height/width 1,299/1,852mm 1,259/1,939mm
Engine Flat-six/2,981cc V8/3,982cc
Peak power/revs 444/6,500 bhp/rpm 469/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 530/2,300 Nm/rpm 630/1,900 Nm/rpm
Transmission 8-spd PDK/4wd 7-spd DCT/rwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel 67 litres/repair kit 75 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity 132 litres 165-350 litres
Kerbweight/payload 1,635/430kg 1,690/250kg
Turning circle 11.2 metres 12.5 metres
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery 3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs 3yrs (unlimted)/3yrs
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos N/A/N/A 26th/13th
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars N/A N/A
0-60/30-70mph 3.3/2.8 secs 4.1/3.8 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 2.0/3.1 secs 2.0/2.7 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th 3.6/5.2/8.5 secs 3.1/4.0/6.3 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 188mph/1,600rpm 188mph/2,000rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 45.5/34.2/8.4m 49.6/36.0/8.7m
Auto Express economy/range 22.1/326 miles 20.9mpg/345 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined  25.0-26.6mpg 23.0-23.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined  5.5-5.9mpl 5.1-5.1mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 295/207g/km/37% 312/261g/km/37%
Airbags/parking sensors/camera Six/yes/yes Six/yes/yes
Auto box/lane keep/blindspot/AEB Yes/£749/£581/yes Y/£1,695*/£1,695*/y
Climate/cruise/leather/heated seats Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes/yes
Met. paint/LEDs/keyless/pwr tailgate £876/yes/£387/no £945/yes/£2,995*/no
Sat-nav/digi dash/DAB/connectivity Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes/yes
Wireless charge/CarPlay/Android Auto No/yes/no No/yes/yes

New SsangYong Korando 2019 review
Posted on Tuesday August 20, 2019

SsangYong Korando - front
20 Aug, 2019 3:15pm Alex Ingram

Can the SsangYong muscle in on the congested small SUV segment with its new Korando?

The SsangYong Korando has undergone quite a transformation over its 36-year history. Starting life back in 1983 as a remanufactured Jeep CJ-7, the second-generation model took its place with a curvy, quirky off-roader 13 years later. 

The Mk3, launched in 2011, took a much more modern SUV approach, and it’s a formula the Korean brand has kept for the new-for-2019 model. While the formula is the same, this model is all-new: there’s a new platform under the skin, accommodating new mechanicals and tech.

Best small SUVs and crossovers on sale 2019

But the Korando has quite a daunting task on its hands. This is a category packed with choice: the Nissan Qashqai remains the big seller, while our favourites, the Skoda Karoq, Peugeot 3008 and Toyota RAV4 are all impressive all-rounders. There’s also the prospect of competing against its compatriots, the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, too. So why should you pick the Korando?

From the outside, it gets off to a promising start. The third-generation model was penned by Giugiaro, but the knock-off Vauxhall Mokka styling won’t go down as an Italian design classic. The 2019 car was designed in-house and it looks both sleeker and sharper than before – impressive considering it’s the same height as its predecessor and just 40mm longer. 

Like the exterior, the cabin takes a huge leap over the old one. The smart layout is more appealing than the Qashqai’s, and while there’s quite a lot of hard plastic dotted around, all of the switchgear feels pleasingly solid.

The in-car tech is leagues ahead of the Nissan, too. Top-spec models get a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, replacing the conventional analogue dials. Similar in principle to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, it offers a range of customisable displays, which can present driving, infotainment and navigation readouts in a variety of ways. It’s all easily controlled via buttons on the steering wheel, and the graphics are sharp and clear.

The infotainment system varies based on trim level, as well. Currently, buyers are offered a choice of eight or nine-inch displays. Both feature clearly laid-out menus and are responsive to touch inputs; and though the smaller of the two lacks built-in navigation, it does come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Rear seat passengers are treated to a vast amount of rear legroom, and headroom is above average for the class. Our test car was equipped with a full-size spare wheel in the boot, which will be useful to some, but it reduces boot volume to 407 litres. Without it, total space grows to 551 litres – a competitive figure in this segment.

The Korando launches with just the one engine option: a 134bhp 1.6-litre diesel unit. This December will see the introduction of a 1.5-litre petrol turbo model with 161bhp, but the combustion options are just a precursor to what arguably could become the most important variant in the range. A Korando EV will launch towards the end of 2020, delivering emissions-free driving in a class where fully electric cars are currently very thin on the ground. Full specs are still to be confirmed, but SsangYong tells us that it’ll boast a circa-250-mile range.

First impressions for the diesel unit are mixed. Turn the key (unless you go for the top spec Ultimate, which gets a push button start) and you’re greeted with a slightly unpleasant clatter. It doesn’t settle down much more on the move either, with harder acceleration greeted by more noise.

A 12-second 0-62mph time is a touch slower than rivals, but the power delivery itself is fairly smooth. The slow but smooth ethos is followed by the six-speed automatic gearbox, too.  

The Korando doesn’t trouble the class leaders for fun, either – the steering is too vague and the chassis too lumbering for that – but it’s reasonably comfortable on the move. There are caveats, though: the 19-inch wheels of top-spec models result in a fidgety low speed ride, and all models suffer from more tyre noise than the class best.

The main thing SsangYong hopes will tempt buyers is its price. On the whole, the brand claims that the Korando is around 10 per cent cheaper than the equivalent Sportage or Tucson, but some models in the range appear better value than others. The entry-level petrol, manual, front-wheel drive model will start from £19,995. Four-wheel drive adds £2,000 to that figure, while the auto box is a further £1,500. 

At launch, there are two trim levels to choose from. The Pioneer, driven here, comes with a choice of two and four-wheel drive, and it’s well equipped with 17-inch alloys, all-weather tyres, heated front seats, parking sensors all round and the eight-inch infotainment screen.

• Best family cars to buy 2019 

We also tried the Ultimate model. This adds 19-inch wheels, LED headlights, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, and that digital instrument display. However, the diesel model comes in at an eye-watering £31,995. If you’d really want all of the best kit, we’d wait for the petrol version, which in Ultimate trim is set to cost from £26,495.

Of course, all Korandos come with a seven-year, 150,000 mile warranty – a huge draw for anyone wanting to keep their car for a long time. 

3
The SsangYong Korando comes with a few too many compromises to be a class leader – the diesel engine is sluggish, refinement could be improved and the handling is ponderous. Yet look beyond these faults and there’s much to like; there’s loads of space in the back, great tech, and there’s the peace of mind of a huge seven-year warranty. However, we suspect that the upcoming petrol option, largely thanks to its lower price, will make more sense to prospective buyers.
  • Model: SsangYong Korando Pioneer Diesel 4x4
  • Price: £28,495
  • Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl diesel
  • Power/torque: 134bhp/324Nm
  • Transmission: Six speed auto, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 12.0 seconds
  • Top speed: 112 mph
  • Economy/CO2: 43.5mpg/171g/km
  • On sale: Now

New Jeep Gladiator 2019 review
Posted on Tuesday August 20, 2019

Jeep Gladiator - front
20 Aug, 2019 3:45pm Steve Fowler

The new Jeep Gladiator pick-up is US only for now, but it could make it to the UK

With Jeep sales doing well in the UK, the iconic US brand could be forgiven for making hay while the sun shines. So surely it’s latest model – a Wrangler-based pick-up – would be a slam-dunk success on our shores?

For now, Jeep hasn’t committed to bringing the Gladiator to the UK. But, with right-hand drive models confirmed for other markets – and a 257bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel arriving in 2020 – the omens are good. So, should Jeep UK lobby hard for the Gladiator? We headed to the US to find out.

Best pick-up trucks on sale right now

The Gladiator has just gone on sale in the States and judging by our experience, it’s already got a cult following. Americans aren’t shy about letting you know their thoughts – and in our time with the car driving through New York and up into New England, there were plenty of thumbs-up, positive comments and people wanting to take a look. A new Jeep is big business, and the Gladiator is the biggest of the lot.

For some that might be a sticking point, but the Gladiator is no taller or wider than a Wrangler – and at 5,539mm long, it’s only 200mm longer than the Mercedes X-Class. Long, sure, but not unmanageable. That length means there’s a 1,531mm load bay, as well as plenty of room inside for five people to travel long distances in comfort. As we did.

Comparisons with the Wrangler are a little unfair, given the engineering that’s gone into the Gladiator. From the B-pillar forward there are carry-over panels, but the front frame is new, and there’s unique rear suspension, larger brakes and upgraded cooling to cope with the extra payload and towing, too.

The interior uses the same pieces as the Wrangler, and it’s a cool look. Jeep’s head of design Mark Allen, told us: “People asked us to put more heritage into the interior. So we listened.

“There’s a more horizontal theme [to the dash],” he said. “We’ve lost the old centre stack and put in either a seven or 8.4-inch touchscreen, oversized controls and even four positions for people to put their mobiles. And the silver bits are all real metal.”

Knowing that buyers spend plenty of cash modifying their cars, Jeep is trying to tempt buyers with a host of clever options, including the ability to remove the roof and doors, and fold the windscreen flat forward. There are plenty of accessories for the load bay, too, including a two-stage tonneau cover. Inside there are lockable, waterproof, under-seat storage bins, as well as four auxiliary switches so owners won’t have to attach their own buttons to the dash. 

One of the neatest options, though, is hidden behind one of the rear seats. Fold it forward and you’ve got a detachable, wireless Bluetooth speaker for the inevitable tailgate parties. It charges itself when in the car, and doesn’t sound bad, either.

Its maker proclaims that the Gladiator is 100 per cent truck and 100 per cent Jeep, so it proudly wears a ‘Trail Rated’ badge. Jeep says it’s unbeatable off-road and has the stats to prove it. It gets approach and departure angles of 40 and 25 degrees, with a breakover angle of 18.4 degrees – and things improve on the toughest Rubicon version. 

“Off-road is who we are,” Allen told us. “Off-road is our Nurburgring.” We’ve no reason to doubt that, and the dirt trails we found on our test were totally dismissed by the Jeep. 

However, the biggest surprise of all is how the Gladiator fairs in every day use. With the difficult-to-marry jobs of being an everyday car, capable load carrier and serious off-roader, Jeep’s engineering team have done an incredible job of making the Gladiator really comfortable and easy to drive. Unladen, it doesn’t have the uncomfortable bounce of many pick-ups, with a ride that’s compliant over all but the very worst surfaces.

It’s quiet, too. The 3.6-litre V6 isn’t there for its sprinting abilities, but it’s whisper-quiet most of the time and works well with the slick-shifting eight-speed auto. And of course, there’s a low-range option for serious off-road work. 

The only downside is steering that’s purposely a little slack – as a good off-roader’s helm should be – meaning it takes a little getting used to, with constant corrections on the motorway. Oh, and the turning circle is wide, which you’ll need to remember.

The bluff shape means wind noise is a little apparent at cruising speeds, but that’s partly down to how quiet everything else is. The Gladiator may not be the last word in luxury, but it’s surprisingly upmarket – and you’ll be amazed how easy it is to live with.

4
Should Jeep bring the Gladiator to the UK? From our perspective, it’s a resounding yes. It’s large, but only slightly bigger than a Mercedes X-Class – offering a combination of go anywhere carrying ability, upmarket quality and sheer cool that nothing else in the class does. Pricing would be key, but we reckon it would be an interesting alternative in the burgeoning lifestyle pick-up market.
  • Model: Jeep Gladiator Overland 4x4
  • Price: £40,000 (est)
  • Engine: 3.6-litre V6 petrol
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
  • Power/torque: 281bhp/353Nm
  • 0-62mph: TBC
  • Top speed: TBC
  • Economy/CO2: TBC
  • On sale: TBA

New 2019 Audi RS 6 Avant arrives with 592bhp
Posted on Tuesday August 20, 2019

James Batchelor 2019-08-20 23:01

The new Audi RS 6 Avant super-estate will take on the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V8

Audi RS 6 Avant - front

Audi is marking its 25th anniversary of building high-performance estate cars by launching another. Just like original RS 2 of 1994, the new Audi RS 6 Avant takes the brand’s largest estate car, adds a more powerful engine, four-wheel drive and a mean exterior makeover.    

The new range-topping Audi performance estate will get its first unveiling at a special Audi Sport Driver’s Club meeting on September 5, before heading to the Frankfurt Motor Show for its world debut. Its arrival will top off the already rather expansive Audi A6 Avant range, which has recently swelled to include a new Allroad version and a performance S6 model.

• Best performance cars on sale

While in previous years the S6 and RS 6 Avants have shared engines, the latest models break with that tradition. The S6 now packs a 344bhp 3.0-litre mild-hybrid diesel engine while the RS 6 uses one of Audi Sport’s 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engines.

Mated to an eight-speed tiptronic gearbox and Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system, the 592bhp V8 cracks 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds. Maximum torque stands at 800Nm –which is available between 2,100 and 4,500rpm – while the top speed is limited to 155mph. Audi is offering two performance packs for extra punch, however – the ‘Dynamic Package’ ramps the top speed up to 174mph while the ‘Dynamic Package Plus’ allows the five-seater estate car to top out at a supercar-rivaling 190mph.

The RS 6 does share the S6’s mild-hybrid set-up, however. The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is assisted by a 48-volt system that consists of a belt alternator starter and a small lithium-ion battery. Audi says up to 12kW of power can be saved during coasting between 34 and 99mph, and the RS 6 features cylinder-on-demand technology, too. When in a high gear and at low speeds, cylinders 2, 3, 5 and 8 are shut down allowing the car to travel along in four-cylinder mode.

As usual the RS 6 gets a full suite of modes in the Audi Drive Select system, which changes parameters like throttle and engine response, but there are also two new modes. ‘RS1’ tunes the steering, engine, suspension and the differential for more enthusiastic driving (along with different graphics for the Virtual Cockpit and optional head-up display), while ‘RS2’ turns off the ESC. Go for the (again, optional) sports exhaust system, the RS modes also change how the RS 6 sounds.

Air suspension comes as standard on the new RS 6. At speeds above 74mph the suspension is lowered by 10mm or, conversely, it can rise by 20mm at low speeds. Just like the top speed limiter, the suspension can be upgraded to the ‘RS sport suspension plus’ pack, which uses steel springs and three-stage adjustable dampers, allowing the RS 6 to corner more tightly. There’s progressive steering as standard, too, and again, when the ‘Dynamic Package’ and ‘Dynamic Package Plus’ option boxes are ticked, the steering is upgraded to include all four wheels. 

To differentiate future RS models from S cars, Audi Sport is making them look far more aggressive than ever before and the RS 6 is one of the first to demonstrate this. The body is 40mm wider on either side and blistered arches cover standard-fit 21-inch alloys wheels.

The RS 6 ditches the standard A6 Avant’s headlights and instead poaches the slimmer ones found on the A7, and like the rear light clusters, there’s an ‘RS-specific’ light sequence when the car is locked and unlocked – but only if you go for the optional RS Matrix LED laser lights. There’s also a new wider and flatter grille, a front bumper with massive air intakes and a new bonnet with a power bulge. In fact, only the roof, front doors and tailgate are carried over from the standard A6

A pair of massive nappa leather and alcantara sports seats dominates the interior and the steering wheel gets aluminum gearshift paddles. ‘Audi Sport’ is beamed onto the pavement from the puddle lamps and the infotainment system gets an RS Monitor that gives temperature readings for the mechanical components and a g-meter. The RS 6 is just as spacious inside as the standard A6 Avant, but its boot is still over 100 litres smaller than a Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Estate’s.

It’s still a large car, though and one that can be personalised in typical Audi fashion. There’s a 13-strong colour palette, including two unique shades and five matt effect finishes, and there’s also a black pack for the exterior trim and the Audi four-rings badges. The RS 6 will be arriving in the UK early next year, with prices and specifications announced nearer the time.

What does the new Audi RS 6 Avant have to beat? Click here for our list of the best fast family cars currently on sale...

New Volkswagen ID. Buggy concept review
Posted on Monday August 19, 2019

Volkswagen ID. Buggy concept - front
19 Aug, 2019 8:00pm James Batchelor

The Volkswagen ID. Buggy concept was one of the stars of Geneva, and now we've been for a drive

Meet the Volkswagen ID. Buggy. It marks the return of the classic VW beach buggy of the 1960s, and, just like that famous car, this new one promises to offer the same heady mix of open-air thrills and fun driving charm. But just before you visit your local VW dealer with flowers in your hair and singing the Beach Boys to place your order, there’s a sting in the tail.

Before we get to the rub, a small history lesson: the ID. Buggy harks back to the iconic dune-bashed creation of the sixties, with its big wheels, flat windscreen, bug-like eyes, sit-up-and-beg driving position and a Beetle engine slung out the back, behind the real wheels.

Volkswagen ID.3 vs Volkswagen e-Golf

It was never a Volkswagen-designed car, though. Californian engineer Bruce Meyers came up with the idea of taking a VW Beetle chassis, shortening it and bolting on a fiberglass body. With a set of chunky tyres and the strong and tuneable Beetle engine fitted, it was hugely successful in 1960s desert racing. Initially offered in kit form, the buggy was put into production as the Meyers Manx. But by 1971 the original company had folded.

Fast-forward to 2019 and we’re driving a car that’s supposed to be evoking the spirit of the Manx. The ID. Buggy takes the very same idea as Meyers’s and brings it bang up to date. There’s the same bug-eyed front end, chunky tyres, a tall windscreen, two seats and simple bodywork bolted on that seems to be floating above the wheels. There’s a contemporary platform underneath – Volkswagen’s new ‘MEB’ architecture – and drive goes to the rear wheels, just like the Meyers Manx’s did. But it’s powered by something rather different.

The MEB platform is Volkswagen’s new architecture, designed specifically for its electric cars. There’s a whole range of them on their way, starting with the crucial, Golf-sized ID. 3 early next year. You can think of the ID. Buggy as using the ID. 3’s underpinnings – just like how the Manx buggy used the Beetle’s running gear.

There’s no engine but instead a 202bhp electric motor at the back, with an electronic differential. It’s powered by 62kWh lithium-ion battery. VW says a second motor, giving around 100bhp, could be added to the front wheels to make the Buggy four-wheel drive, something the Manx never was.

Inside, there’s the same rudimentary Manx spirit, with unadorned surfaces, washable seats, a drain plug in the floor, and a steering wheel. As a nod to its modern DNA, though, the steering wheel has volume controls on it, the gearbox is operated by a stalk and the pedals have play and pause icons on them. There’s also a roof – but it’s just a tarpaulin stretched from the rear targa bar to the top of the windscreen.

On the road, there’s no air-cooled soundtrack, but this aside, the ID. Buggy does drive like the original beach buggy in many ways. There’s the same wind-in-the-hair sensation, the view out over the bonnet is alike and there’s the general feeling of fun.

It’s good to drive, too, as the steering – borrowed from the ID. 3 – is light and surprisingly accurate – and (despite a 35kph limiter on the concept car) it's very quick to accelerate. The ride is nicely soft too; the more you drive it, the more you realise this is like no other typical, creaky, badly finished motor show concept car. It feels production ready.

That’s because it is – and, what’s more tantalizing, Volkswagen still hasn’t made up its mind whether or not to build it. Officially the ID. Buggy is a clever one-off to show how flexible its new MEB platform is. VW has already signed a deal with Ford for it to take the MEB architecture and build its own range of electric cars wearing the Blue Oval badge, and the Buggy is a nifty way of showing what could be done, just like the Manx did 50 years ago. It’s a pristine, set-dressed showhome in a new housing development.

However, there are signs VW is warming to the idea of building it, whether by making it internally or licensing it to low-volume manufacturers. VW bosses admit the project will ultimately come down to whether the sums add up and whether there’s actually a market for the car.

Of course, VW has its hands full with its new bread-and-butter electric car, the ID.3, and making that a success. But the ID. Buggy could happen, and that’s a very exciting thought.

The buggy you’re looking at is the 2019 equivalent of the classic Meyers Manx beach buggy, that used VW Beetle running gear so effectively in the 1960s. Well, that’s what VW want you to believe, because it’s actually a clever selling tool, showing off how flexible its new EV-dedicated MEB platform is. It could go into production, though, by the middle of the next decade, either with VW building it or the firm licensing it to other manufacturers. Here’s hoping it’s given the green light.
  • Model: Volkswagen ID. Buggy concept
  • Price: Not on sale
  • Engine: One electric motor
  • Power: 202bhp
  • Transmission: Single-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 7.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 99mph
  • Range: 155 miles
  • CO2: 0g/km
  • On sale: Not on sale

New Ford Focus RS Mountune boasts 513bhp
Posted on Monday August 19, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-08-19 16:21

British tuner Mountune has launched a pair of performance packages for the Mk3 Ford Focus RS, with the more potent M520 boasting 513bhp

Ford Focus RS Mountune

Mountune has just launched a pair of tuning kits for the Mk3 Ford Focus RS, with the most potent version offering a maximum power output of 513bhp. Called m450 and m520, the tuning kits are priced at £2,950 and £5,975 respectively, and feature larger turbochargers, reworked exhaust systems and upgraded ECUs.

The m450 package swaps the Focus RS’s standard turbocharger with a larger BorgWarner unit, specially configured by Mountune. Other additions include a high-flow catalytic convertor, stronger stainless steel hose clamps, and new silicone joiners. The package boosts the RS’s output to 444bhp and 580Nm of torque; up from 345bhp and 470Nm.

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Mountune’s m520 package includes all of the upgrades from the m450, with the addition of an even larger turbo, an uprated fuel pump, a revised set of camshafts, and a reworked valve train. When fitted, the Focus RS’s total output stands at a claimed 513bhp, with 700Nm of torque.

Mountune is very keen to stress that, to maintain the safety and reliability of the Focus RS’s 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine, buyers must replace the engine’s standard connecting rods and pistons with forged replacements. The tuning firm also advises buyers to fit an uprated intercooler, a freer-flowing intake and a three-inch exhaust system.

For those who don’t want to carry out the work themselves, both kits can be purchased with a supplementary fitting cost. The fully-fitted m450 package is priced at £3,995, while the equivalent m520 system costs £8,195. In both cases, the upgrades are installed by specialists at Mountune’s headquarters in Hutton, Essex.

Due to the complexity of the upgrades, and the amount of additional performance they produce, both the m450 and m520 tuning packages will void the Focus RS’s standard Ford warranty.

Now have a look at Mountune’s 222bhp Ford Fiesta ST. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below...

Used Suzuki Jimny review
Posted on Monday August 19, 2019

Used Suzuki Jimny - front
19 Aug, 2019 2:00pm Richard Dredge

A full used buyer’s guide on the Suzuki Jimny covering the Jimny (1998-2018)

Suzuki has a long history of producing titchy 4x4 vehicles. As long ago as 1970, the Japanese firm launched the LJ10, a Jeep-style four-wheel drive powered by a 360cc two-cylinder two-stroke engine. Then in 1981 came the SJ: a bigger 4x4 with a 1.0-litre, four-cylinder engine. This was the first Suzuki 4x4 to come to the UK, where it was sold as the SJ410, and it remained on sale until the late nineties, when the Jimny took over.

After the SJ410, the Jimny was a big step forward in many ways, but in a fast-paced industry rivals soon eclipsed it for comfort and safety. Don’t dismiss this little Suzuki completely, though, because it can be quite endearing in the right circumstances. 

Models covered

  • • Suzuki Jimny (1998-2018) – Short on frills but big on thrills, this small 4x4 is cheap and cheerful.

Suzuki Jimny

History

The Suzuki Jimny arrived in March 1999 as a three-door hard top, but a year later the Soft Top was introduced, bringing with it a removable roof. A refresh in April 2004 added a CD/tuner, twin airbags, ABS and EBD, then another update in March 2005 brought a push-button selector for the 4x4 system and remote central locking.

A JLX+ model joined the range in March 2006 with body-coloured door handles, silver roof rails and a leather interior. Then a new range-topper appeared in July 2009; the SZ4 featured privacy glass, 15-inch alloy wheels and metallic paint.

Another refresh in January 2013 brought a Euro 5-compliant engine, minor styling tweaks plus Isofix mountings for the two rear seats. Further updates in November 2014 brought extra colours, plus standard tyre-pressure monitoring and ESP.

Suzuki Jimny reviews

Suzuki Jimny in-depth review

Which one should I buy?

There’s only one engine: a 1.3-litre petrol. This initially came with 82bhp, but from March 2005 its power was boosted slightly to 85bhp. You can choose a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic gearbox, but we’d always take the former.

No Jimny is lavishly equipped and, unless you’re buying a relatively new example, you should focus on condition rather than specification. We would avoid pre-March 2005 cars, though, because the revamped engine has variable valve timing, more low-down torque and is more efficient. 

Alternatives to the Suzuki Jimny

The Jimny’s only true rival is the Daihatsu Terios, which was sold in the UK from 1998 to 2006. This was also small, cheap and quite capable off road, but not so good for on-road driving. It’s by far the most readily available used Daihatsu, but there still aren’t very many to choose from.

You could also consider the Dacia Duster. It’s larger and more modern than the Jimny, but similarly capable off road, and more refined, affordable and available with petrol or diesel power. If you just want the security of four-wheel drive but have no plans to go off-roading you could buy a Vauxhall Mokka or Nissan Juke. Unlike most B-segment SUVs, these are available with four-wheel drive. Both are plentiful and they’re also much more up to date than the Suzuki.

What to look for

Wheels

Some cars are fitted with three-spoke alloy wheels, which have been known to buckle. Stronger replacements are available.

Brakes

The front brake discs are somewhat prone to warping, so make sure to feel carefully for juddering through the pedal as you press it.

Roof

If you’re looking to buy one of the soft-tops, check to see if water has managed to get into the cabin, because leaks are a common occurrence. 

Corrosion

Look closely for signs of rust, particularly in the wheelarches, door bottoms, boot floor, floorpans, and behind the bodykit.

Interior

It’s like stepping back in time. Refinement is poor, the dashboard is dated, many of the materials look cheap, and the rear seats are flat, unsupportive and have very little legroom. It’s not as though the boot is big to make up for those cramped rear seats; it can stow just 113 or 816 litres (seats up/down). Throw in vague steering plus a bumpy ride, and the Jimny is clearly very compromised.

Prices


Running costs

Service intervals are 9,000 miles or 12 months, alternating between minor and major, which are priced at £186-£290 and £318-£525. Jimnys more than three years old get discounted maintenance at Suzuki dealers, with services costing from £129-£259.

Even the major service is largely about checking and reporting, though; the replacements are the brake fluid, in-line fuel filter, plus the air and pollen filters. The minor service comprises an oil and filter change plus a check of the coolant level and electrics. The brake fluid should be replaced every two years or 18,000 miles and the coolant every three years or 36,000 miles. There’s no cam belt to renew. 

Recalls

The Jimny has been recalled five times over 20 years. The gearstick could fall apart on cars built up to October 1999. A loss of power steering assistance led to the second recall in July 2010; in April 2014 the third was for axle fixings that could work loose. The fourth came in September 2015 because of potential electronic stability programme failure, while the latest campaign tackled possible brake servo failure. 

Driver Power owner satisfaction

The Jimny hasn’t made it into our new or used Driver Power surveys because it’s too specialised. But there are more than 30 owner reviews on the Carbuyer website with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5. Many owners revel in the durability of their Suzuki, its off-roading ability and its great looks – but not the poor refinement or disappointing fuel economy.

The Suzuki Jimny had an incredible 20-year stint, and it was hardly the last word in comfort, refinement or technology when it arrived. By the time it bowed out in 2018 it felt positively ancient, outclassed comprehensively by newer alternatives that were safer, quieter, better equipped and more comfortable. But as one owner told us: “I’d much rather drive a BMW, Merc or Audi. The Jimny’s wipers are rubbish and the headlights are like candles. But in the snow this little car leaves them all sliding about on the road – its 4x4 capability is unreal.” It’s extremely compromised on-road, but if you need something that won’t break the bank yet which will take you anywhere at any time of the year, even when the road runs out, the Jimny has few real rivals.

New Mercedes A 250 e and B 250 e plug-in hybrids revealed
Posted on Monday August 19, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-08-19 11:20

Mercedes has unveiled a pair of new plug-in hybrid vehicles, with a claimed all-electric range of around 40 miles

Mercedes A 250 e - front charging

Mercedes has launched plug-in hybrid variants of the A-Class and B-Class, called the A 250 e and B 250 e respectively. The A 250 e will be priced from £32,500 for the hatchback and £33,100 for the saloon, while the B 250 e MPV will start from £33,700. All three models will be available to order in October, with first deliveries expected in early 2020.

Merc’s PHEV powertrain comprises a turbocharged 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (lifted from the mid-range A 200), a 15.6kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and a 75kW electric motor. The powertrain is mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, with total system output standing at 215bhp and 450Nm of torque.

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As a result, the A 250 e hatch has a 0–62mph time of 6.6 seconds, a top speed of 146mph, and a claimed (WLTP-rated) all-electric range of between 37 and 42 miles. Mercedes also claims economy and emissions figures for the A 250 e hatchback, with the former standing at 188.3mpg and the latter between 33–34g/km of CO2.

The Saloon version of the A 250 e has a marginally slower 0–62mph time of 6.7 seconds, but a higher top speed of 149mph. Its all-electric range remains the same, while its economy and emissions figures stand at 201.7mpg, and between 32–33g/km of CO2.

Due to the B 250 e’s larger dimensions, it’s marginally slower and slightly less efficient than both A-Class PHEVs. Its 0–62mph time stands at 6.8 seconds and its all-electric range is reduced to between 35 and 42 miles. Economy and emissions figures are 176.5mpg and 32–36g/km of CO2 respectively, although its top speed stands at 146mph.

Mercedes claims that all three PHEVs can be charged from 10 to 100 percent capacity in one hour and 45 minutes when plugged into a 7.4kW AC Wallbox. When using a commercially available DC fast-charger, the system can be charged from 10 to 80 percent in around 25 minutes.

Three drive modes are offered, with drivers given the choice of Comfort, Eco and Sport, and all three models feature a selectable energy recuperation system with four levels to choose from. All three cars’ MBUX infotainment and sat-nav systems can be programmed to find the most efficient route, as well as inform the driver of nearby compatible charging stations.

Mercedes is says its A-Class PHEV models share almost identical passenger and luggage space to their conventionally powered counterparts, thanks to a slightly smaller fuel tank (reduced from 45 to 35 litres), a shortened, re-routed exhaust system, and an efficiently packaged battery, stored under the rear bench seat.

What are your thoughts on the new A-Class and B-Class PHEVs? Let us know in the comments section below…

Jaguar Land Rover develops new 3D head-up display
Posted on Monday August 19, 2019

Luke Wilkinson 2019-08-20 00:01

JLR's new 3D infotainment system could project real-time safety alerts onto the car’s windscreen and allow passengers to stream 3D movies

Jaguar Land Rover - head-up display

Jaguar Land Rover is developing a new 3D head-up display and infotainment system that could project real-time safety information onto the windscreen in front of the driver. In addition, the system could allow passengers to stream 3D movies.

As illustrated by Jaguar Land Rover’s images, the 3D head-up display system could project a range of safety alerts within the driver’s field of vision, highlighting navigation instructions, potential obstacles and lane departure warnings over the prevailing road conditions.

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JLR hopes the system will improve the safety of its vehicles, allowing drivers to react more naturally to hazards. Valerian Meijering, one of JLR’s Human Machine Researchers, said: “Not only does [this system] provide a much richer experience for customers, but it also forms part of our Destination Zero roadmap, helping us move towards a safer future.”

Jaguar - 3D head-up display tiger

Development for the head-up display was green-lit in response to a series of studies conducted in Germany, which found that 3D displays in an automotive setting can improve both the driver’s reaction time and judgement of depth.

Added benefits of the head-up display system would include an increased amount of personalisation options for drivers and the opportunity for passengers to watch 3D movies. JLR says its system could incorporate head and eye tracking software to follow the user’s position, ensuring they can see the film without the need for 3D glasses.

The software could also be expanded upon once autonomous motoring is better established. Jaguar Land Rover envisions its 3D displays could be used to display personalised media to individual passengers, including journey details, points of interest and movies, regardless of their position in the vehicle.

What are your thoughts on Jaguar Land Rover’s 3D head-up display? Let us know in the comments section below…

New Nissan Juke prototype review
Posted on Monday August 19, 2019

Nissan Juke prototype - front
19 Aug, 2019 7:30am James Brodie

Our early test reveals that the all-new Nissan Juke is roomier, good to drive and retains its adventurous styling

The new Nissan Juke has been a long time coming, but if Nissan can repeat the popularity of its mould-breaking predecessor, the second-generation model will be a common sight on driveways up and down the land in the not-too-distant future.

Most cars tend to remain on sale for some seven or eight years, but the Mk1 Juke has now ticked past nine. Its longevity is not just down to its success in what has become an enormous market segment – more than one million Jukes have been sold around the world since 2010 – but also because its creators have taken their time with this, the tricky second album.

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The first Juke arguably kick-started the supermini-sized SUV revolution. We’re told the goal this time is to totally modernise the car – make it more upmarket, better to drive, easier to live with and more practical, without sacrificing the provocative, almost Marmite-like reception of the original.

It’s clear that the Juke will remain a bulbous crossover with exaggerated wheelarches, split headlights, a tapering roofline and hidden rear door handles. In profile it looks longer than before, but carries forward the design principles of its predecessor. However, Nissan Europe design director Matthew Weaver says his team has worked on making the design more practical and easy to live with. That’s why the tail-lights are now attached to the tailgate and not the body, allowing far wider access to the larger, 422-litre boot.

The Juke sits on a fresh platform called CMF-B. It’s the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance toolkit used on the latest Clio and Captur – the second of which will rival the Juke when it arrives in November.

Nissan claims that the advantages of the new platform are found mainly in packaging and rigidity. The new car’s wheelbase grows by 105mm, while it’s also 35mm wider and 75mm taller. It’s stiffer thanks to the use of more high-tension steel, yet Nissan claims the Juke is 23kg lighter, too. Improved crash performance is another consideration of the new platform; Nissan has yet to put the new model through Euro NCAP’s test procedure, but it’s confident of a five-star rating.

We’ll see electrified powertrains further down the line, but at launch the Juke will be petrol only. The prototype version we’re driving has the same turbocharged 1.0-litre DIG-T engine as the Micra N Sport. This develops 115bhp and up to 200Nm torque on overboost, and sends drive to the front wheels through a six-speed manual box.

An automatic version will also arrive at launch, using a newly developed seven-speed dual-clutch box, more suited to the European market than the CVT transmission that was previously offered. The Juke will be built at Nissan’s plant in Sunderland.

A lot of the damper tuning has been done in Britain, too, with Nissan modifying its test facilities to mimic European conditions. The sign-off for the Juke’s dynamic performance then took place in Germany.

It’s something immediately apparent as we take the wheel of this nearly finished prototype; even this short, early taste reveals that the Juke is a far more serious proposition than before. It’s hardly a full road test, but a couple of laps of the demanding Alpine handling circuit at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire show that, even before sign-off, the Juke has come on a long way.

The driving position is massively improved, as are all of the controls and the level of adjustability in the seat. The steering wheel now features telescopic reach adjustment (the Mk1 car’s wheel adjusted for height only), and in the manual car the gearlever sits more purposefully on the centre console; the shorter throw is evident the moment you select a gear and release the handbrake.

The suspension and steering on our test car were virtually finished, showcasing the Juke’s sporty new character. On Millbrook’s tarmac, the Juke has a slightly firmer edge than some of its rivals. But the trade-off for the stiffer set-up is strong body control; driven back to back with the old car, the Mk2 Juke immediately seems more poised.

Engineers have focused on how the car reacts to undulations and sudden changes of direction, and it feels much more sorted. The steering is more direct and the rack feels faster, but there’s still no feedback.

As for the engine, there’s still some work to be done, such as reducing vibration at idle, but it’s a refined three-cylinder turbo and it equips the Juke with more than enough power to perform. Nissan says it emits 136g/km of CO2, but fuel economy figures haven’t been announced yet. Around 45mpg should be possible.

As for the new six-speed manual gearbox, it’s better than before, but the gearlever’s action isn’t the sharpest; Nissan says this will be improved. The arrival of a new seven-speed DCT gearbox, replacing the unappealing CVT, is good news though.

We can’t tell you much about visibility, given that our lightly disguised test car’s rear windows were covered. Nor can we show you the interior yet, although during a behind-the-scenes walkaround of the car, Weaver insisted he wanted to carry over some of the original’s character.

A new eight-inch touchscreen will sit at the top of the newly designed dash, and there’s a seven-inch digital display in the instrument panel. The design is flamboyant, sporty and rounded, a bit like a MINI’s. Nissan promises that there will be plenty of personalisation, and has confirmed a range of trim themes and colours to choose from.

Based on our short pre-production drive in the new Nissan Juke, one thing is obvious: this is a car that the design and engineering teams have thought long and hard about. Even at this stage, it feels like a strong evolution over the first-generation model. The new platform and engine deliver a better driving experience, while the fresh tech and practicality will make it easier to live with day to day. New customers may want to wait until we’ve tested the production car against its key rivals – but from here it looks like the Juke is set, once again, to take the segment by storm.
  • Model: Nissan Juke 1.0 DIG-T 117PS
  • Price: From £16,500 (est)
  • Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl turbo petrol
  • Power/torque: 115bhp/200Nm
  • Tranmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 10.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 120mph (est)
  • Economy/CO2: 45mpg (est)/136g/km
  • On sale: November

New Volkswagen Golf R Mountune M52 2019 review
Posted on Sunday August 18, 2019

Mountune VW Golf R - front tracking
18 Aug, 2019 4:15pm Steve Sutcliffe

Mountune have extracted another level of performance out of the Volkswagen Golf R, but are the upgrades worth it?

There are many things that impress about the Mountune M52-upgraded Volkswagen Golf R. The way it looks, for example, and the way it rides, steers, stops, sounds and changes gear.

In all these aspects it gently improves on what the already fine Golf R achieves, feeling like a natural progression from the standard product, rather than a radical departure in a different direction.

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But what defines the M52 as something genuinely out of the ordinary, is its outrageous performance figures. Not that long ago, a 3.7-second sprint to 60mph would have been the exclusive preserve of exotic, highly expensive mid-engined supercars. Now, though, it’s available in a humble 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, five-door family hatchback. Extraordinary.

The increase in performance arrives courtesy of Mountune’s £795 Stage 1 power upgrade, which is essentially a ECU re-map of the standard Golf R’s 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. It can be controlled by the provided handset; no laptop is needed, and you don’t need to spend any time in the garage altering the settings. 

To get the full beans output you’ll also need the High Flow induction system for another £399, plus a silicone induction hose (£115), plus what Mountune calls the ‘turbo muffler delete’ for a further £125. But with this lot in place the Golf R’s power output from 296bhp to 360bhp while its torque swells from 380Nm to a rousing 500Nm, hence the major increase in performance. The standard R does 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds – so we really are talking about a very different kind of acceleration.

And that’s just how it feels on the road. At anything above 2,000rpm the M52 surges forward in a way that no standard Golf R driver would ever recognise, with a series of demonic whooshes to signal that something fairly epic is occurring beneath the bonnet. At 3,800rpm the thing just goes berserk, as full boost fires you towards the horizon amid an outburst of energy that, on first acquaintance, can feel quite disturbing. Once you’ve sampled what the M52 can do under full acceleration just a couple of times, though, all you want to do is go back for more. The thrust it generates really is that addictive.

The good news is that the rest of the car is more than up to the job of harnessing all that energy. The part-time four wheel drive system does a lot more work than in the standard R, for sure, but it meters out the torque in a neat and manageable way.

The steering is also still clean and crisp, the uprated brakes (£1,090) feel strong and powerful underfoot, while the suspension kit (£215 for the springs and £450 for Mountune’s own uprated damper kit) also works well, tightening the body control without ruining the standard car’s excellent ride. As a result the M52 feels firmer than the regular R, but not in a crashy or inelegant way. Plus it has massive grip in the dry, thanks to its Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.

The aftermarket “fifteen52” 19-inch wheels are a take it or leave it option that cost an additional £1,180. We’d say leave them, but understand there are those who will no doubt love their design and the way in which they alter the R’s otherwise quiet appearance. The new £195 paddle shifters, on the other hand, work a treat, making the gearshift feel snappier – despite no actual alterations to the transmission.

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So overall the Mountune M52 Golf R is a bit of a weapon. But, there is one downside to be aware of; none of the upgraded parts are covered under Volkswagen’s manufacturer warranty – nor are any of the parts they might affect.

As such, it makes more sense to fit these parts to an old car, whose warranty has already lapsed. Got a new Golf R buy can’t resist these bits? Don’t say you’ve not been warned.

4
With an extra 60bhp and a thumping 500Nm of torque courtesy of its Stage 1 power upgrade, the Mountune M52 Volkswagen Golf R is a genuine rocket ship, as its scorching performance figures clearly demonstrate. Be warned though – none of the upgraded parts, or the bits they might affect – are covered by VW’s manufacturer warranty.
  • Model: Volkswagen Golf R Mountune M52
  • Price: £35,954 (£3,539 upgrade)
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
  • Power/torque: 360bhp/500Nm
  • Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 3.7 seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Economy/CO2: 32.8mpg/195g/km
  • On sale: Now

New Bugatti Centodieci revives spirit of iconic EB110
Posted on Friday August 16, 2019

James Batchelor 2019-08-16 22:45

Bugatti Chiron-based Centodieci harks back to forgotten EB110 supercar of the 1990s

Bugatti Centodieci - front Pebble Beach

Bugatti has revealed an exclusive new model that echoes one if its most forgotten cars. The Centodieci, launched at Pebble Beach, California, harks back to the EB110 of the nineties and celebrates 110 years of the French brand. Centodieci – which literally translates to one hundred and ten – is limited to 10 units with each car costing £9m.

Just like the £12m one-off Bugatti La Voiture Noire revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March, the Centodieci uses the Chiron as its base.

• The best hypercars in the world

It also uses the Chiron’s 8.0-litre, quad-turbocharged W16 engine developing just shy of 1,578bhp, but the car weighs 20kg less. It’s in the styling department where the Centodieci really differs from the Chiron, though.

At the front the Centodieci harks back to the EB110 with a smaller horseshoe grille bookended by large slats, and slim LED headlights, while along the sides the Chiron’s c-shaped hoop is replaced by five circular holes in a diamond pattern.

The Centodieci also references the EB110’s rear-end with its LED light bar, but here there’s a more modern take on aero and especially cooling for the 8.0-litre W16 engine. The adjustable rear wing not only improves downforce but also looks back to the EB110 SS.

The EB110 was built in the mid-nineties when the Bugatti brand was owned Romano Artioli. The McLaren F1 rival was powered by a 550bhp, 3.5-litre quad-turbocharged V12 and was built on a carbonfibre chassis and featured active aerodynamics.

Despite being designed by the famed Lamborghini Muira designer Marcello Gandini, the EB110 was never a real success and the French marque was bought by the Volkswagen Group in 1998.

What do you think of the new Bugatti Centodieci? Let us know your thoughts below...

New open-top McLaren Ultimate Series hypercar confirmed
Posted on Friday August 16, 2019

James Brodie 2019-08-16 14:55

All-new hypercar could take on the McLaren GT Superlight name when it arrives in 2020

McLaren GT Superlight teaser

McLaren has confirmed that a new ‘Ultimate Series’ hypercar is in the works, which will make its full debut at some stage in 2020 and will be strictly limited to just 399 examples. 

Announced at Pebble Beach Concors d’Elegance, McLaren has also teased the design of newcomer in typically shadowy format. The roofless model is described as a ‘two-seat, open cockpit roadster’, sitting low with only a minor lip for a windscreen, and with noticeably contoured flanks. Dihedral doors will be fitted, too.

New 250mph McLaren Speedtail revealed

The new car, which could be called GTZ or more likely GT Superlight based on recent McLaren trademark applications, will sit between the Senna (£750,000) and upcoming Speedtail (£2.1m) in price.

The company is taking expressions of interest from current customers at the Pebble Beach gathering in San Francisco this weekend.

While the Senna has been designed for outright track performance, with the Speedtail an aerodynamic special majoring on outright top speed, the third Ultimate Series car will be a road-focused machine.

The engine has been confirmed as being the 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 used across the brand’s entire line-up. It’s likely to arrive with the same 789bhp figure as the Senna, sending drive to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. 

It’ll still utilise McLaren’s carbon-fibre tub chassis, and the firm claims that it’ll be the lightest car the company has produced in the McLaren Automotive era (2010 onwards). To that extent, the bodywork will likely be all carbon-fibre too.

Click here for more info on the new McLaren GT by MSO revealed at Pebble Beach...

 


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