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In the News ...

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

John McIlroy 2018-11-14 15:35

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

Kia Soul - teased

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Fowler 2018-11-14 12:50

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

Tesla supercharger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jonathan Burn 2018-11-14 08:30

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

Range Rover Evoque - wire teaser

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

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

• Best SUVs to buy now

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

James Brodie 2018-11-13 11:20

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

BMW M340i xDrive - front

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

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

New BMW 3 Series: prices, specs and pics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ingram 2018-11-13 08:45

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

Mercedes A-class tracking front

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4
This nip ‘n tuck has done the much favoured Mitsubishi L200 truck the world of good for what’s expected to be only a modest increase in price. The L200 looks sharper, feels more sophisticated to drive and is now packed with the latest safety systems – it’s just a shame UK buyers have to wait until next September to get one.
  • Model: Mitsubishi L200
  • Price: £28,000 (est)
  • Engine: 2.4-litre four cylinder diesel
  • Power/torque: 179bhp/430Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed auto, all-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 11.8 seconds
  • Top speed: 111mph
  • Economy/CO2: 37.7mpg/196g/km
  • On sale: September 2019

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

2018-11-12 15:30

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

Best winter driving apps - pictures

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

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

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

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

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

Top 10 winter driving apps 

TomTom GO

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

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

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PetrolPrices

Available on: iOS, Android
Price: Free 

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

AppyParking

Available on: iOS, Android
Price: Free 

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

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Breakdown app

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

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

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Offline Maps & Navigation

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

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

Met Office weather app

Available on: iOS, Android
Price: Free

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

Drivermatics

Available on: iOS, Android
Price: Free 

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

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Be Avalanche Aware

Available on: iOS, Android
Price: Free 

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

INRIX Traffic

Available on: iOS, Android
Price: Free 

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

Offline Survival Manual

Available on: Android
Price: Free 

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

Winter driving special


Best winter cars

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

Get ready for winter on the roads

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

Top tips for winter driving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Best performance cars on sale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mileage: 1,250
Economy: 42.0mpg

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

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

Best superminis 2018/2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Fowler 2018-11-11 09:25

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

Citroen CXPERIENCE - full front

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

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

Citroen C4 to return with electric power

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

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

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

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

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

Fleet-owned plug-in hybrids may never have been charged
Posted on Saturday November 10, 2018

Hugo Griffiths 2018-11-10 20:30

Analysis of PHEV company cars, which were bought with subsidies, indicates drivers are running predominantly on petrol

Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in long term - first report plugged in

Company car drivers running plug-in hybrids are seeing average fuel consumption of just 40mpg – around a third of official figures – leading experts to consider many PHEVs are not being plugged in at all, and are running on their internal combustion engines alone.

The research was carried out by The Miles Consultancy, a specialist firm that helps companies interrogate their workers’ driving habits and fuel consumption figures. By analysing economy figures for around 1,500 cars, the consultants calculated average fuel economy for PHEVs at 39.27mpg.

Best plug-in hybrid cars on sale

Official figures indicate some of the more common PHEVs on the market should return around 140mpg. And while drivers who regularly charge up their PHEVs’ batteries are actually likely to see a figure of around half that in the real world, The Miles Consultancy claims many drivers did not even bother unwrapping their cars’ charging cables from their cellophane packaging.

Before the government abolished the Plug-in Car Grant for PHEVs, buyers could save £2,500 off the list price of a new plug-in hybrid, while those who bought a PHEV before March 2016 could get a £5,000 discount. Around 70 per cent of PHEVs purchased so far in 2018 were said to have gone to company car fleets.

As well as discounts on purchase prices for fleet buyers, those running a PHEV on a company car scheme have also enjoyed advantageous Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) rates due to their cars’ low official carbon dioxide emissions. BiK rates for a car emitting 50g/km of CO2 (typical on-paper emissions for  PHEV), for example, currently stand at just 16 per cent. A comparable petrol car would emit around 140g/km, while a diesel might manage 110g/km, leading to respective BiK rates of 29 and 27 per cent respectively.

Company car tax guide

Paul Hollick, The Miles Consultancy's managing director, told the BBC, which commissioned the research: “There are some examples where employees aren't even charging these vehicles up. The charge cables are still in the boot, in a cellophane wrapper, while the company and the employee are going in and out of petrol stations, paying for all of this additional fuel.” 

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), which represents a number of large fleets, told the BBC “a poorly designed tax regime is driving some poor behaviours", adding: "We have got some situations where company drivers are choosing the vehicle based on their tax liability, rather than having the right vehicle for the right job." 

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: "We need policies that encourage consumers and businesses to invest in the cleanest cars, however they are powered."

These are the best plug-in hybrid cars currently on sale...

Jaguar F-Type rally cars built to mark 70 years of Jaguar sports cars
Posted on Friday November 09, 2018

James Brodie 2018-11-12 00:01

Two Jaguar F-Types have been modified with FIA-spec rally goodies, including spotlights and full rollcages

Jaguar F-Type rally car - front

A pair of Jaguar F-Type convertible rally cars have been developed to mark 70 years of sports cars at the British firm. They’re bespoke and not available for customers to buy. 

The Rally F-Types are finished in a livery promoting the latest limited edition version of the sports car; the F-Type Chequered Flag.

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Jaguar is celebrating 70 years since the introduction of the XK 120 in 1948, and these modified F-Types pay homage specifically to a rally prepared XK 120 driven in the early 1950s by racer Ian Applyard, who took his Jaguar through three consecutive Alpine Rallies without incurring a single penalty point. He also won the RAC Rally in his XK 120 as well.

Based on the 296bhp 2.0-litre F-Type, the new rally cars feature FIA-spec tweaks such as a roll cage, fire extinguisher, racing seats complete with six-point harnesses and bonnet-mounted spotlights.

The brakes have been uprated to grooved discs with four-piston calipers, while a suspension system comprising of three-way adjustable dampers and softer springs has been added to handle rutted tracks. Proper gravel rally specification wheels and tyres have also been added, plus a proper limited slip differential and a mechanical handbrake, too. 

Both cars have been put through their paces at the Walters Arena rally stage in south Wales, and Jaguar plans to bring the two Rally F-Types along to Jaguar events over the next few months.

Click here for more on the limited edition Jaguar F-Type Chequered Flag...

New Mazda CX-5 automatic 2018 review
Posted on Friday November 09, 2018

Mazda CX-5 2.0 - front
9 Nov, 2018 3:30pm James Brodie

The petrol auto version of the Mazda CX-5 SUV is a niche choice, but it’s worth exploring

The Mazda CX-5 hasn’t really been facelifted. It looks almost exactly the same as the car launched last year, instead receiving changes to the individual trim levels, an updated diesel engine with a bit more power, and a new automatic petrol option.

Diesel has long been favoured in cars of this size, but with a recent backlash against the fuel putting sales under a bit of pressure, petrol could be back on the menu for mid-size SUV buyers.

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That’s why Mazda has expanded its petrol offering with this automatic option. The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine hasn’t been altered, and drive is still sent to the front wheels exclusively, but a new six-speed automatic gearbox is now also fitted.

In truth, we’ve always been quietly impressed with the petrol-powered CX-5. The 2.0-litre engine does without turbocharging, but it doesn’t feel immeasurably weaker for it. There’s 213Nm of torque, and the CX-5 certainly makes the most of it. The gearbox seems to work nicely with the power delivery, too.

This is a very smooth SUV to drive, the transmission is rarely wrongfooted and the engine is very quiet at a cruise, only becoming vocal if you floor the throttle. Opting for the automatic gearbox doesn’t result in a harsh fuel economy penalty, either, with that 42.8mpg figure obtained under new WLTP testing procedures.

Elsewhere, it’s as you were. That means a fine balance between a composed ride and composed cornering, and extremely well sorted steering. Few, if any, cars in this segment and price range are better to drive.

The interior is impressive, too, using superb materials and being neatly laid out. However, while space for five is generous, the Mazda still lacks a seven-seat option.

This automatic petrol CX-5 certainly adds something extra to the line-up, and it’s a nice car, no question. There’s a £1,500 premium to add the automatic gearbox, which isn’t a huge cost to cover. But it still won’t be to all tastes, on top of which diesel grunt and fuel economy are likely to remain in demand. Diesel CX-5s are the only models available with all-wheel drive, too.

4
The CX-5 remains an extremely appealing mid-size SUV, mainly because of its solid driving characteristics, family friendly space, comprehensive list of standard equipment, and its impressively crafted interior. This new automatic petrol option certainly expands the Mazda’s appeal, but unfortunately it isn’t our pick of the range.
  • Model: Mazda CX-5 2.0 165 Sport Nav + Auto
  • Price: £29,795
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl petrol
  • Power/torque: 163bhp/213Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front-wheel-drive
  • 0-62mph: 9.8 seconds
  • Top speed: 119mph
  • Economy/CO2: 42.8mpg/150g/km
  • On sale: Now

New 2021 Mercedes C-Class caught on camera for the first time
Posted on Friday November 09, 2018

Alex Ingram 2018-11-09 14:45

New Mercedes C-Class saloon to feature more advanced infotainment system and several hybrid powertrains

New Mercedes C-Class - spy shot 1

A new Mercedes C-Class saloon is due with us in 2021 - and these spy shots give us our first hints of what we’ll see from the brand's next BMW 3 Series challenger. 

While the testing mule is currently clothed in camouflage cladding, the overall shape suggests a fairly subtle design evolution from the current C-Class. The brand’s recent trend is towards cleaner overall shapes, so we can expect fewer character lines and creases across the car’s flanks.

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Both the window line and tailgate are set to take a similar form in order to maintain family ties with the outgoing model. A lower, more prominent grille will sit between headlights that are likely to move to full LED tech, and will take on a slimmer shape than those of the existing W205.

Under the skin, the new C-Class is set to ride on an updated version of the current car’s Modular Rear-wheel drive Architecture (MRA) system. Despite the name, there will be four-wheel drive variants, which could see the next hot AMG model distribute its power to all four wheels. It’ll likely be powered by the same 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo engine, but the extra traction off the line should improve the 0-62mph time.

Sitting below that model should be the AMG 53 - an Audi S4 rival powered by a straight-six petrol with 48-volt mild hybrid assistance. That’ll be one of several versions of the new C-Class with varying levels of electrical propulsion.

Expect a mild hybrid set-up to assist some of the more modestly-powered four and six-cylinder petrol and diesel units, and a plug-in option with a 30 mile-plus battery-powered range. A fully-electric saloon won’t sit within the C-Class line-up, but as a standalone model.

While the outside will stay largely similar to its predecessor, the cabin will be set for a complete redesign. The new look will be focused around a new infotainment system as, like the latest A-Class and GLE, the C-Class will feature the latest twin-screen MBUX infotainment setup. This will bring features like customisable digital dials, conversational voice controls through the ‘Hey Mercedes’ interface, and augmented navigation directions.

Click here to read our in-depth review of the current Mercedes C-Class...

‘We should celebrate Lewis Hamilton as the greatest British sportsman since 1966’
Posted on Friday November 09, 2018

Mike Rutherford 2018-11-10 17:00

After winning a fifth Formula One world title, Mike Rutherford thinks Lewis Hamilton is not getting the praise he deserves

Opinion - Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton ain’t my favourite person. I don’t even know that I like the bloke. But I do know he’s paid too much. And that his sometimes sulky manner puts him in ‘bad loser’ territory. C’mon chap, losing is rare for you, so please be a bit more gracious in defeat.

But that’s where my criticisms of the great man end. The 33-year-old from Stevenage has just claimed his fifth Formula One World Championship, and in doing so can consider himself responsible for the greatest sporting achievement by a Brit in the past 50 years.

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True, the likes of Steve Redgrave, Lennox Lewis, Kelly Holmes, Jonathan Rea and Bradley Wiggins have taken to the global sporting stage and become one-off or serial world champions. They should be applauded, revered, rewarded and never forgotten.

But what Hamilton did in Mexico last month was on another level. Winning just one F1 race is something most talented, respected drivers just can’t do. Martin Brundle didn’t achieve a single victory in his 158 starts. Yet Lewis has to date won 71 races – more than Lauda, Fangio, Fittipaldi and Surtees put together.

Another true-great is Sir Stirling Moss, who won 16 F1 races but never, despite his obvious talents, secured a world title. But Lewis has already picked up five. To put this feat into context, collectively James Hunt, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Jenson Button couldn’t and didn’t win as many.

With those world championships already under his belt, Hamilton is joint second with Fangio in the league table of most successful drivers in F1 history; only Schumacher is ahead, with seven wins. But Lewis is still young, hungry and talented enough to equal or beat Michael’s record, thereby assuming the title of Greatest F1 Driver Ever. He could, should and probably will.

So what more does he have to do to gain the recognition he deserves from the broadcast media, Buckingham Palace, the British public and others? BBC Sport salivates when Andy Murray wins a game of tennis, or Phil Taylor throws a dart at a board, or ‘plucky’ Gareth Southgate tries and fails to win the World Cup.

But Hamilton’s serial F1 victories barely get a mention on the Beeb. And even Channel 4, sole provider of F1 coverage on terrestrial telly, disgracefully failed to show Lewis winning his fifth world title on the Sunday he won it, instead hanging on until the early hours of Monday to air the history-making moment.

The Queen should immediately deliver Lew’s overdue knighthood. His local mayor should award him the freedom of Stevenage. The PM must find a date in the diary for Lewis Hamilton Day, a Monday, in summer, when we all get a day off to celebrate the greatest British sportsman since 1966. Truth is, that’s what he is.

Do you agree with Mike? Do you think Lewis Hamilton deserves more praise for what he has achieved? Let us know below...

New Mercedes E 400 d Estate 2018 review
Posted on Friday November 09, 2018

Mercedes E 400 d Estate - front
9 Nov, 2018 10:30am Jonathan Burn

The big Mercedes E 400 d Estate offers great pace and efficiency, but it comes at a cost

The latest Mercedes E-Class is a known quantity – it’s been around for a couple of years now and won plaudits for its impeccable build quality, luxurious cabin and best-in-class practicality.

Its vast array of engine options also means there’s something for everyone, from efficient plug-in hybrids to high-power AMG versions. This latest E 400 d holds the middle ground between the two, serving up decent fuel economy and punchy performance – on paper at least.

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Under the bonnet sits a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel that develops 336bhp and a whopping 700Nm of torque. It’s linked to Mercedes’ tried-and-tested nine-speed automatic gearbox and 4MATIC four-wheel-drive system as standard. The company says it will manage more than 46mpg and cover the 0-62mph sprint in a hot hatch-troubling 5.1 seconds.

The engine is near-silent at idle and is so well isolated from the cabin on the move it’s barely audible. The gearbox plays a big role in this, shifting its way up through the ratios at the earliest possible opportunity to keep everything as calm and serene as possible. 

Squeeze the throttle and the engine pulls hard from as low as 1,200rpm – the big estate will happily plod along at 30mph in sixth gear and accelerate all the way up to motorway speeds with minimal fuss. You don’t need to extend it beyond 3,000rpm because of the effortless delivery. Add in the supple ride quality and the E 400 d is simply one of the most relaxing and refined cars in which to cover long distances.

And because the engine is rarely strained it’s very easy to get close to the claimed fuel economy figure – after several hundred miles, which included a mix of city-centre driving and long motorway runs, we managed just shy of 44mpg. That’s almost on par with what you’d get from a lesser-powered, four-cylinder E 220 d. However, because of the E 400 d’s CO2 emissions of 161g/km, you’ll have to pay out £820 for the car’s first year of VED.

Despite its racy AMG Line trim (the only spec the E 400 d is available in) and punchy performance, this big, comfortable estate is a car far more suited to pottering around city streets and devouring long motorway miles than it is on a winding B-road. The standard 4MATIC all-wheel drive means you’re never short on traction or surefootedness at speed, but you’re always aware of the car’s mass during cornering, when the soft suspension allows the body to lurch over to the side. However, the car’s whole effortless and serene nature rarely encourages you to drive in such a way.

The E 400 d does come at a price, though – as an estate it’ll set you back £56,685 before you add any options. That’s a whopping £12,000 more than the already-excellent E 220 d 4MATIC.

As you’d expect at that price, the E 400 d is very well equipped; a full leather interior, panoramic sunroof and LED lights come as standard, as do automatic climate control, a 360-degree reversing camera, 12.3-inch digital cockpit, Burmester sound system, Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity and 20-inch alloy wheels.

One optional extra that may be worth adding if you’re doing lots of motorway miles is Mercedes’ Driving Assistance Plus package. It’s not cheap, at £1,695, but the semi-autonomous driving function is one of the best around, helping the car to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front and keeping the car perfectly in lane even through high-speed motorway bends.

And because it’s an E-Class Estate, the E 400 d comes with best-in-class practicality as standard. The cavernous 640-litre boot is bigger than that of any other estate car in this class, while dropping the rear bench frees up a total of 1,820 litres of space.

4
If you have the budget and don’t want to jump on the SUV bandwagon, the Mercedes E 400 d estate could be the ultimate family car. It’s supremely comfortable, effortlessly quick and beautifully equipped. However, at over £56,000 it’s also a long way from being cheap; the more sensible and affordable E 220 d will be perfectly good enough for most people.
  • Model: Mercedes E 400 d Estate
  • Price: £56,685
  • Engine: 3.0-litre 6cyl turbodiesel
  • Power/torque: 336bhp/700Nm
  • Transmission: Nine-speed auto, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 5.1 seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Economy/CO2: 46.3mpg/161g/km
  • On sale: Now

New 2019 Mitsubishi L200 facelift arrives with new look and tech
Posted on Friday November 09, 2018

James Brodie 2018-11-09 16:50

Updated Mitsubishi L200 pick-up truck gains revised four-wheel-drive system, new safety kit and the brand’s latest family face

An updated version of the Mitsubishi L200 pick-up truck has been unveiled, just three years into the current generation's lifespan. 

Revealed in Bangkok, where the L200 is built, it’ll go on sale first in Thailand on 17 November, but it won’t arrive in British Mitsubishi dealerships until next year.

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The latest model marks 40 years of the L200, and the updates bestowed upon this revised version of the pick-up are pretty extensive. A new design using Mitsubishi’s latest ‘Dynamic Shield’ design language has been introduced, with the more angular front bumper and slimmer headlights bringing the look closer in line with some of the brand’s more recent launches, such as the new Shogun Sport.

There are some small design changes in the cabin, too. The refreshed truck keeps the same dashboard, but tweaked with some new trim elements and switchgear surrounds. Mitsubishi says that new soft touch materials are used on the console, centre armrest and handbrake.

With the dimensions of the vehicle unchanged, the cargo bay of the double cab version remains at 1,470mm square with a depth of 475mm.

Big changes come under the revised skin. Two four-wheel-drive modes are offered – Super Select 4WD and Easy Select 4WD, which Mitsubishi says is a simplified version of the selectable 4WD system.

The 4WD systems have been altered with a new off-road drive mode, with settings for gravel, mud, snow, sand and rock. 

Engine details have not been announced, but it’s more than likely that the L200 sticks with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel unit. The five-speed automatic gearbox is no longer, however, and has been replaced by a new six-speed automatic transmission. Elsewhere, the L200 gets new, larger brakes, while Mitsubishi claims it should ride better thanks to the use of larger, more robust rear dampers.

The selection of safety equipment and driver assists have also been enhanced. The new L200 is available with new collision mitigation and warning systems, plus blind spot assist, rear cross traffic alert, and a top-down style around view monitor linked to the vehicle’s infotainment display.

UK prices and a release date have not been announced, but you’ll have to wait until 2019 to see the new L200 in Britain. Prices should rise slightly over the £19,505 basic cost of a single cab model, given the new safety equipment, new brakes and new suspension.

Q&A with Vincent Cobee, Mitsubishi Corporate Vice President of Product Strategy

Vincent Cobee Mitsubishi

What is Mitsubishi’s plan to expand the PHEV range?

"There has to be electrification. But we have limitations; range and weight. We will use our PHEV knowledge to expand it to a broader range of cars. The next-gen Outlander with 80-100km is the next step."

When will we see the first PHEV pick-up? 

"2023. I’m pragmatic. Euro7 will make diesel so expensive. We need the right recipe at the right cost point. The window when things will happen is from 2023 to 2025. And we cannot continue beyond 2025 without it. But the biggest problem, for me, is convincing the customer – the business customer most importantly. But we need to prove PHEV here is right – prove its reputation. Like diesel once did."

Will Mitsubishi be first, out of the Alliance, to have a PHEV pick-up?

"We will be the leader here for frame-based cars and we will be the leader for PHEV, so. Yes."

Will PHEV technology fundamentally change the nature of body-on-frame pick-up trucks?

"No. This will not change. If you need to take a big load on the rear axel then you need a frame and wishbone suspension. If you don’t do this it its good for ride but it’s bad for load. The structure will stay the same. It’s a heavily constrained body. What will change is diesel."

So are pick-ups are last in line for electrification?

"There is a big difference between an Outlander and a pick-up in terms of customer expectations. We need to improve. Towing goes against the power of an electric motor. At low speed power is low and you need the torque to tow – so how do you do this? You need a gear system at some point – and we don’t have that on PHEV. Pick-ups have very specific needs."

Given Renault and Nissan both have pure EVs, is Mitsubishi under pressure to deliver one too?

"No. But you certainly can’t pass the 2025 CAFE regulations without it. We have to launch one by 2021. I have a bipolar view on this however… Regulation anticipates customer demand but I don’t think those things are completely disconnected. In China, policies are way ahead of customer intention. So we’re not under pressure but we do have to have EVs soon."

What’s your take on the UK withdrawing government PHEV subsidies?

"We need to work on this. We need to make a counter offer – take up the challenge and prove our case to keep subsidies. I suspect the thinking of the British legislature is that a PHEV can be used as a normal car. We could consider it’s our duty to prove they are actually used as an EV."

…and the solution?

"We live under massive constraints but the question is where is the sweet spot. You could decide 90kw batteries in a car, but that will cost a fortune. Install quick chargers on the motorways? Or you can be pragmatic. A 50km-100km range for in the city and beyond that an efficient engine at stable speed – and if you drive an Outlander PHEV that’s what you have! I understand it’s not a black or white solution we need a bit of transparency on the rules. To me it’s a cost-efficient recognition of what is the real challenge – not a dogmatic choice between one or the another."

Click here for our list of the best pick-up trucks currently on sale in the UK...

New Toyota Hilux GR Sport revealed for Brazilian market
Posted on Thursday November 08, 2018

Alex Ingram 2018-11-09 09:10

The new Toyota Hilux GR Sport is a pick-up with sporty Gazoo Racing tweaks, but it's only available in Brazil

Toyota Hilux GR Sport - top

Toyota’s sporty Gazoo Racing brand has arrived in South America with this: the Toyota Hilux GR Sport. The new model was revealed at the Sao Paulo Motor Show, and just 420 will be produced for the Brazilian market when deliveries start in 2019.

The main changes to the GR Sport are cosmetic. The Gazoo Racing decal package adds stripes across the pick-up’s flanks; they're finished in either black and red (if you go for white body colour), white and red (black paint) or black and white (red paint), while a black bonnet is available on white cars.

Best pick-up trucks on sale

The front grille, door mirrors and roll bars are also blacked out, while the front fog lamp surrounds gain contrasting highlights. The exterior changes are rounded off by a set of black 17-inch alloy wheels.

The detail tweaks continue on the inside, too. The leather seats feature contrasting red stitching and Gazoo Racing logos are stitched into the front headrests. GR branding also extend to the starter button, and a numbered plaque behind the gear selector.

The only mechanical change comes to the suspension: the GR Sport gets firmer springs and new dampers. Elsewhere it’s the same as the standard Hilux: the GR Sport is powered by a 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine (other versions of the Brazil-spec Hilux are offered with petrol/ethanol-fuelled motors too) which produces 175bhp and 450Nm of torque.

The four-cylinder unit is matched to a six-speed automatic gearbox and a four-wheel drive system with a locking differential.

Would you like to see the Toyota Hilux GR Sport come to the UK? Let us know your thoughts below...

Kia Ceed vs Volkswagen Golf vs Hyundai i30
Posted on Thursday November 08, 2018

2018-11-10 11:00

New Kia Ceed locks horns with our top family hatch, the VW Golf, and the Hyundai i30 in fresh N-Line spec

kia ceed vs vw golf vs hyundai i30 group test

When we look back on this decade, there’s every chance that it will be seen partly as the time where South Korea took over the consumer world. 

Companies that make everything from TVs, smartphones and, crucially here, cars are reporting huge sales around the world, and with good reason. Kia is one firm that’s made great leaps and bounds in such a short period of time, and the brand’s latest Ceed family hatch is aiming to continue that trend.

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Going up against Kia’s latest mainstream model is the most established rival there is in this class: the Volkswagen Golf. It practically invented the segment that it still dominates today, so in every sense it’s the benchmark for the new Ceed.

But the Kia also has to beat competition from much closer to home in the form of the Hyundai i30. We test it here in new N-Line + trim, which looks sporty and matches the First Edition Kia for kit, but is cheaper. Do either of these Korean hatches have what it takes to beat the Golf? And if so, which is the better buy?

Kia Ceed

Model: Kia Ceed 1.4 T-GDi DCT First Edition
Price: £26,850
Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl petrol turbo, 138bhp
0-60mph: 8.8 seconds
Test Economy: 38.0mpg/8.4mpl
CO2: 127g/km
Annual Road Tax: £140

This is the all-new Kia Ceed. The brand has removed the apostrophe from the previous model’s name, partly to help customers searching online to find it more easily. The car we’re testing is a top-spec First Edition model with a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine and auto gearbox, priced from £26,850.

The changes Kia has made to improve the Ceed’s driving dynamics have paid off. Where the previous model was comfortable enough, it wasn’t much fun, but that has all changed now because it rides and handles nearly as well as the Golf.

It’s compliant and soaks up lumps and bumps well, although larger imperfections will still upset the Kia where the Golf remains composed. But at the same time, body roll is well controlled, the steering is direct, there’s lots of grip from those sticky tyres and even a touch of adjustability on the throttle. It’s no Ford Focus, but the Ceed rewards being driven hard in a way that the previous version – and even its sister car, the Hyundai i30 – simply doesn’t.

It’s a shame then that this auto model’s dual-clutch transmission dampens its appeal. The gearbox isn’t as swift to change, nor as smooth at low speed, as the DSG in the VW Golf. We’d choose a manual Ceed instead, although the same is true of the Golf. The 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine isn’t as refined as the Golf’s 1.5-litre petrol, but it sounds okay and is flexible, too. You can rev it hard if you want to enjoy a stretch of road, but its low-down torque is strong enough so that you can take it easy if you wish.

The Kia’s dual-clutch automatic is much better implemented than the similar unit in the Hyundai here. It’s not perfect because, like the VW’s DSG, it occasionally delivers clunky shifts, but on the whole it’s smooth and swaps its ratios neatly. The Ceed was a tenth of a second quicker than the i30 from 30-50mph in third and fourth gear, at 3.3 and 4.5 seconds respectively, but was a tenth slower from 50-70mph in fifth, taking 6.6 seconds.

The Golf was faster than both rivals in all of those tests, although the Koreans were quicker than the VW from 50-70mph in top gear, with the Kia and Hyundai taking 10.4 and 10.2 seconds respectively to beat the Golf’s time of 11.0 seconds.

Testers' notes: “The similarities between the Kia and Hyundai are obvious. Both have the same engine and gearbox, and even the infotainment systems are very similar, but the Kia is better to drive.”

Volkswagen Golf

Model: Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI Evo 150 DSG GT 5dr
Price: £26,090
Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl petrol turbo, 148bhp
0-60mph: 7.8 seconds
Test Economy: 38.6mpg/8.5mpl
CO2: 119g/km
Annual Road Tax: £140

The Volkswagen Golf is our favourite family hatchback and is the benchmark in this class, offering incredible all-round appeal. Here we’re testing it in 1.5 TSI DSG form, in GT trim (although the car you see in our pictures is an SE Nav-spec model). The GT costs from £26,090, so is £760 cheaper than the Ceed First Edition.

The 1.5 TSI petrol engine in the Golf is the most powerful here, with 148bhp compared to 138bhp in both rivals. It has slightly more torque as well, at 250Nm while the Korean duo have 242Nm.

In our track tests the Golf performed well, recording a 6.8-second 30-70mph time through the gears, which was faster than both of its competitors.

In fact, the Golf was faster from 0-60mph than the Ceed and i30 as well, taking just 7.8 seconds to complete the benchmark sprint. Plus, its 3.2-second time from 30-50mph in third gear was impressive, again beating both of the Korean models.

Best family cars

While the 1.4-litre engine used in the Kia and Hyundai is quiet at idle, the Golf’s engine is quieter when you bring the revs up, and it’s more hushed at speed than its rivals’ motors. It’s not quite as fun to rev as the unit in the Ceed and i30, but the extra performance will make up for that for many buyers.

The Golf’s DSG auto box is smoother than the DCT transmission fitted in the Kia and Hyundai in most situations. It changes more quickly in manual mode, and that extra responsiveness is important when you’re driving quickly, because you’re rarely left waiting for a shift in the VW. However, the gearbox isn’t perfect, and at low speed it can feel a bit jerky. If you really want an auto, the Golf’s box is best, but we’d save some cash and buy the manual.

Even Golfs without the optional adaptive dampers are comfortable, and aren’t upset too much by harsh bumps, even while cornering. However, we’d still pick the upgrade, because it turns the Golf into one of the best-riding cars in its class.

That means the VW is the best car for motorway trips, because it’s refined at speed, but it’s also fun to drive on twisty roads. The steering lacks feel, but it’s direct enough to enjoy, and neither rival here has a better set-up. Grip is strong as well, although the sportier tyres fitted to both competitors meant they had slightly better bite than the Volkswagen.

Testers' notes: “Add the £495 Active Info Display to the spec list to get a 12.3-inch display screen instead of traditional analogue dials. It’s one of the best systems of its type and is a hi-tech option that’s well worth having.”

Hyundai i30

Model: Hyundai i30 1.4 T-GDi DCT N-Line +
Price: £24,255
Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl petrol turbo, 138bhp
0-60mph: 8.5 seconds
Test Economy: 32.6mpg/7.2mpl
CO2: 129g/km
Annual Road Tax: £140

Hyundai’s i30 family hatch has never stood out in this crowded class. While it’s practical and offers good tech, its disappointing driving dynamics have held it back. But can this N-Line + model (priced from £24,255 in 1.4 T-GDi DCT form) change that?

While most Hyundai i30 models ride smoothly, the large wheels and re-tuned suspension on this N-Line have compromised the quality slightly, while doing little to add to the dull driving experience. 

The Hyundai doesn’t ride or handle as well as the Kia or the Golf, because its steering is numb and the suspension isn’t as compliant. However, the premium rubber on our car meant it was very grippy, but mid-corner bumps upset the i30 more than the Kia due to the firmer, less sophisticated-feeling set-up.

Best hot hatches

In short, the N-Line trades ride quality for a barely noticeable increase in driver engagement, and both rivals here are more fun to drive. It does at least share the same peppy 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine as the Kia, which has strong low-down torque while still relishing revs. It’s no hot hatch, but there’s a hint of sportiness to the exhaust note, at least.

Even though the i30 has the same seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox as the Kia, it behaves very differently in the Hyundai. From a standstill the i30 allows more revs before it engages the clutch, which helped improved its 0-60mph time; it beat the Ceed by three tenths of a second. Yet the transmission is frustrating when on the road because it pauses, then lurches forward at junctions if you ask for a reasonably-quick getaway.

Plus, the i30’s sporty aspirations in N-Line trim have filtered through to the gearbox, and although it does change gear quickly (the Hyundai took 7.5 seconds to go from 30-70mph through the gears, half a second quicker than the Ceed), it’s too keen to hold on to ratios and ultimately isn’t as well calibrated as the Kia’s. The DSG in the Golf, along with its slightly more powerful engine, meant that the VW was more than half a second quicker than the i30 in the same test.

The slightly lumpy ride means the i30 is the least comfortable car for motorway trips, although it’s not by a huge margin. Wind and road noise do tend to build up at speed, but the engine is very quiet at idle.

Testers' notes

“If you want to buy a sporty i30, then consider going for an i30 N instead. The flagship of the i30 range is only a little more expensive than this N-Line + car and is significantly more fun to drive.”

Verdict

First place: Volkswagen Golf

The Golf offers almost everything you’d want from a family hatch. It’s practical and economical, there’s plenty of space inside and the ride soaks up bumps sweetly, even on the roughest roads. At the same time, it’s fun to drive, with good body control and a punchy but smooth petrol engine. It doesn’t have as much kit as the Ceed, but it’s cheaper and still gets lots of features.

Second place: Kia Ceed

This new Ceed is the best version yet. It’s genuinely enjoyable to drive, but balances this with a smooth ride and comfort. The Kia’s not quite as well sorted as the Golf, but it runs it much closer than you’d think. It’s practical and gets loads of kit, but is held back here by its higher price in First Edition form. Get the specification right and the Ceed is a very good choice.

Third place: Hyundai i30

The i30 is spacious, well equipped and features an excellent infotainment system, but this N-Line model’s ride is disappointing. The handling isn’t much improved, and it’s difficult to feel the link to the i30N. Although you get lots of equipment to match its rivals at a more affordable price, the harsher ride and weaker gearbox mean that this isn’t the right pick in the i30 line-up.

Rivals

New: Ford Focus

Price: £23,440
Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl, 148bhp

The Ford Focus is the best car in its class to drive, and will soon be available with a 1.5-litre engine to match the Golf’s, along with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It also comes well equipped in higher-spec Titanium trim.

Used: Audi A3 Sportback

Price: £24,500
Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl, 148bhp

A more premium option in this class, the Audi A3 is also available with the Golf’s 1.5-litre petrol engine. We found one example with delivery miles for only £24,500, which is competitive with its rivals in this test.

Figures

Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI Evo 150 DSG GT 5dr Kia Ceed 1.4 T-GDi DCT First Edition Hyundai i30 1.4 T-GDi DCT N-Line +
On the road price/total as tested £26,090/£26,090 £26,850,£26,850 £24,255/£25,090
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000) £10,593/40.6% £9,175/34.2% £8,450/34.8%
Depreciation £15,497 £17,675 £15,805
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £1,242/£2,483 £1,385/£2,769 £1,250/£2,500
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £1,853/£3,088 £1,882/£3,137 £2,194/£3,656
Insurance group/quote/VED 19/£376/£140 20/£446/£140 15/£397/£140
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service £164/£329/£164 £429 (3 years) £129/£222/£136
Length/wheelbase 4,258/2,620mm 4,310/2,650mm 4,340/2,650mm
Height/width 1,492/1,799 1,447/1,800mm 1,455/1,795mm
Engine 4cyl in-line/1,498cc 4cyl in-line/1,353cc 4cyl in-line/1,353cc
Peak power/revs 148/5,000 bhp/rpm 138/6,000 bhp/rpm 138/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 250/1,500 Nm/rpm 242/1,500 Nm/rpm 242/1,500 Nm/rpm
Transmission 7-spd dual-clutch auto/fwd 7-spd DCT auto/fwd 7-spd DCT auto/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel 50 litres/space saver 50 litres/space saver 50 litres/space saver
Boot capacity (seats up/down) 380/1,270 litres 395/1,291 litres 395/1,301 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight 1,317/568/1,500kg 1,345/505/1,000kg 1,388/610/1,400kg
Turning circle 10.9 metres N/A 10.6 metres
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery 3yrs (60,000)/3yrs 7yrs (100,000)/1yr 5yrs (unlimited)/1yr
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. 5th/18th 8th/7th 15th/12th
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars 94/89/65/71/5 (2012) N/A 88/84/64/68/5 (2017)
0-60/30-70mph 7.8/6.8 secs 8.8/8.0 secs 8.5/7.5 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 3.2/4.2 secs 3.3/4.5 secs 3.4/4.6 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th 6.4/8.5/11.0 secs 6.6/8.1/10.4 secs 6.5/7.9/10.2 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 134mph/2,000rpm 128mph/2,100rpm 127mph/2,100rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 48.3/38.0/11.5m 50.5/32.4/8.9m 46.2/35.4/9.1m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph 70/44/63/72dB 58/42/64/74dB 57/39/68/78dB
Auto Express econ. (mpg/mpl)/range 38.6/8.5/425 miles 38.0/8.4/418 miles 32.6/7.2/359 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 45.6/65.7/56.5mpg 42.8/57.6/50.4mpg 42.2/55.4/49.6mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 10.0/14.5/12.4mpl 9.4/12.7/11.1mpl 9.3/12.2/10.9mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 169/119g/km /24% 172/127g/km/26% 200/129g/km/26%
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/camera Seven/yes/yes/£340 Six/yes/yes/yes Six/yes/yes/yes
Auto box/lane-keep/blind spot/AEB Yes/£550*/£1,120*/yes Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/no/yes
Climate ctrl/cruise/leather/heat seats £425/yes/£1,900/£400* Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes/yes
Met paint/LEDs/keyless/pwr tailgate £575/£995/£375/no Yes/yes/yes/no £585/yes/yes/no
Nav/dig dash/DAB/connected services Yes/£495/yes/yes Yes/no/yes/yes £250*/no/yes/£250*
Wireless charge/CarPlay/Android Auto No/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes No/yes/yes

Shock plan to turn new Audi TT into a four-door coupe
Posted on Thursday November 08, 2018

Jonathan Burn 2018-11-08 15:30

New four-door Audi TT has been given the green light, and our exclusive images preview how it could look when it arrives within two years

New Audi TT (watermarked) - front

The next generation of the Audi TT will be dramatically overhaul, with the iconic sports car transforming into a more practical and profitable four-door coupe, Auto Express can exclusively reveal. And it will be in showrooms in less than two years. 

The German firm first hinted at the idea of a four-door TT with the TT Sportback concept back at the 2014 Paris Motor Show. However, plans to bring that model into showrooms never got off the ground for a number of reasons.

• Best sports cars currently on sale

It was partly due to a lack of customer demand, but the main factor was the VW Group emissions scandal, uncovered in 2016, which meant extensive cost savings had to be made and forced the termination of a number of projects across all brands, including Audi.

Four years down the line from that initial concept car, and with the shackles of Dieselgate loosening, Audi has finally given the green light to the four-door TT, Auto Express understands. It will serve as a direct replacement for the two-door model, which this year marks its 20th anniversary, as shrinking demand for sports cars and small coupes has forced Audi into a rethink for the next model.

One Audi board member told us: “If you set falling demand against rising costs, it’s obvious Audi cannot sustain its present course in the medium term. Instead, there has been intensive consideration of the coupe and the convertible in the compact segment.”

The UK is a good barometer of how well the TT performs for Audi in the sales charts because it is the car’s third most successful market. Sales of the model peaked at 10,413 examples in the UK back in 2008 but they have failed to surpass that mark since.

Auto Express understands that the project has been finalised and Audi’s board of management has approved the design of the four-door model.

Our exclusive images preview the look of the car. The TT’s low-slung stance is still recognisable, only with an extended wheelbase and rear end added to accommodate the extra doors.

The overall proportions are expected to remain close to those of the original TT Sportback concept, meaning the body will be around 290mm longer than today’s coupe, while 60mm will be added to the car’s width and 120mm to the wheelbase. The four-door is expected to be based on an updated version of the MQB platform that underpins the current TT.

Whereas today’s model, which has recently been updated, is only available with petrol engines, Audi will offer an extensive line-up of conventional and electrified powertrains on the next-generation version.

First to arrive will be a range of mild-hybrid petrol engines using 48-volt technology. This is designed to fill brief gaps of turbo lag and help improve economy by as much as 10 per cent. A new generation of electrified diesel engines will also be offered.

Plug-in hybrid technology will play a key role as well, as will the option of a fully electric model. Both of these will be a part of Audi’s plan to have 20 electrified vehicles on sale by 2025.

The German manufacturer predicts that around 35 per cent of its overall sales will be accounted for by such models in the same timeframe.

Do you like the idea of the current Audi TT being replaced by a four-door coupe? Let us know your thoughts below...

 

 


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