Gordon Murray awarded CBE in New Year's Honours

Gordon Murray, automotive designer and engineer, has been made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list 2019, for ‘services to motoring’.

Designer of some of the most successful Formula One cars of all time, Murray helped Brabham win two world championships (1981 and 1983) and McLaren win three (1988, 1989, and 1990), before he began to focus on road cars. Read More

Porkers in the Peaks: meeting up in two second-hand Porsche Caymans

There are some great roads in the Peak District, but there’s also a surprising amount of traffic for a wet Wednesday in late autumn. So after a few runs through the magnificent gorge at Winnats, we head towards the Cat and Fiddle pass, which will take us down to the Cheshire plains. 

Running with a near-identical car gives a heightened appreciation of the one you are driving yourself. Webber’s Cayman looks small and lithe as it carves along the tight roads towards Buxton, darting between bends and fitting well past oncoming traffic. Viewed from behind, there’s a surprising amount of lean in loaded-up corners. I’m sure a modern 718 Cayman would stay flatter and generate far higher g-forces, but I’m also certain its driver wouldn’t be enjoying the same level of feedback that comes through the 987’s hydraulically assisted steering. Obviously, I’m biased but I reckon the only vaguely affordable car that better dials its driver into what the front end is thinking is a Lotus Elise.  Read More

Reinvent the wheels: designing new versions of old cars

Its fame was hugely amplified by a star appearance in the 1967 Hollywood film The Graduate, with Dustin Hoffman, but it didn’t need such publicity for success. Its basic excellence and loss-making Alfa Romeo’s inability to replace it caused it to live on for 27 years, in increasingly adulterated form, before being replaced in 1995 by the front-drive Spider loosely based on the Fiat Tipo. While not a landmark machine, that 916-series Spider sold decently, survived until 2004 and was eventually replaced in 2006 by the 159- and Brera-derived Spider. More cabrio than sports car, this overweight two-seater sold very slowly until being deleted, yet to be replaced, in 2010.  Read More

New Land Rover Defender: reveal confirmed for 2019

“Our brand is about passion, and it is icons that drive that passion. The truth is the world doesn’t need another premium brand doing what all the others do. These icons are what separate us; at Land Rover we are rooted in our heritage and that’s what makes us different.”

Bräutigam added that he felt the time taken between the Defender going off sale in 2016 and relaunching could be a positive for the new car, including the liklihood that it will be offered with electrified powertrains as well as petrol and diesel units. Read More

Hyundai brings fingerprint recognition to 2019 Santa Fe

Hyundai has announced it will introduce a fingerprint unlocking and entry system on the newly launched Santa Fe SUV, a feature that it claims is the first of its type in production in the world.

The technology sees the driver place their finger on a sensor located on the 2019 Santa Fe’s door handle. The print is then identified and transferred to a fingerprint controller inside. The doors are unlocked, and the driver can then start the car by touching the ignition button, which is also equipped with a print scanner. Read More

Dream motoring jobs: meet the people in the best car industry gigs

“I’ve worked for HR Owen for more than 20 years, starting on Mercedes and then moving through to Bentley, Rolls-Royce and now this, which I consider to be the absolute pinnacle,” he says. 

Building experience has been key to success, says Stevens, who has led HR Owen Bugatti Mayfair’s efforts to be in the running for the performance car maker’s coveted global top retailer award. “You build knowledge, confidence and – of course – a black book of contacts who might be interested in the cars,” Stevens says.  Read More

Frankel's miscellany of motor cars

6 Dan Gurney took maiden grand prix wins for Porsche, Brabham and Eagle.

7 Lewis Hamilton’s ‘44’ number is the UK’s phone dialling code.

8 1970 was the only year F1 had 13 races, and the only one to have a posthumous world champion.

9 ‘The Formula One racing driver Narain Karthikeyan’ is an anagram of ‘Hang on, Ferrari overtaken. I’m a rather lucky Indian. Read More

Christmas delivery: the garage you can have shipped in

My container requirement was purely as a great big stuff-swallowing box. Santa, though, might prefer all sorts of the more fancy options and they are available as offices with windows, or even clad in wood for that North Pole log cabin look. 

So where can you plonk your container? Well, the good news is that they are regarded as temporary structures. Just like caravans, they can be parked on your property and you should not need any planning permission. However, it’s wise to go and see your local planning office first, just in case. They may have restrictions when it comes to location, especially if you are in an area of natural beauty. There would be issues if you decided to start stacking them. It makes sense not to cover any mains drain access, or have power cables directly overhead.  Read More

Matt Prior: 'tis the season to be grateful

And it’s that fascination with the machine that makes the Shannon lifeboat such a thrill to experience and write about. So we’re tremendously grateful to the RNLI, which would like to fund a new Shannon this Christmas. If you visit www.rnli.org, there are ways to help pay for a machine that, as much as any can, has a soul and a tremendous ability to surprise.  Read More

Christmas road test: RNLI Shannon Lifeboat review

But not as impressive as the way it stops. Dropping the buckets and reversing thrust slows a Shannon from its max speed to stationary in just 57m in a straight line, but even that’s not the fastest way to do it. Throwing one jet into reverse and cranking the steering to the side, a kind of maritime handbrake turn, will have a Shannon sideways in just 20.5m, barely more than its own length, from top speed. Keep turning on that trajectory and it’ll execute a U-turn with a diameter of 48m, with peaks of 2.8g. Hence the harnesses. Read More

2019 Mercedes-AMG A45: video shows 400bhp hatch on track

Despite rumours to the contrary, the model will be pure petrol and will not require a hybrid set-up to produce its headline-grabbing numbers. “It’s going to be the next step in every perspective, including driving dynamics,” said Moers.

The A45’s big power advantage will be illustrated with only small aesthetic differences. It will have a quad oval-exit exhaust system, whereas the A35 will get a dual-exit system. Read More

The 12 used cars of Christmas: Bangernomics special

Hot hatchback Christmas present to yourself: Mini Cooper

Years built: 2001-2006

Price: £1500

Don’t see why everyone else should get great presents and have all the seasonal fun? In that case, treat yourself to one of those newfangled Minis. Well, they are not exactly new any more, but they did defy depreciation for what seemed like an eternity. Right now, though, the best early ones are at banger prices. For model designation freaks, you will be looking at the R50 Cooper and possibly the R53 Cooper S.  Read More

The motoring enthusiast’s bookshelf essentials

Mike Duff

PJ Stephens – Building and Racing my ‘750’ (Pan)

I bought this when I bought an Austin 7 Special. Part diary, part technical build handbook, Building and Racing my ‘750’ is the story of an ordinary bloke with no experience and no power in his garage turning an Austin 7 into a 750 Motor Club racer, which he goes on to race against the likes of Colin Chapman, and race well. More ‘how I did it’ than ‘how you should’, it’s written with great generosity and warmth and is surprisingly comprehensively photographed. “It is quite an extensive treatise, and no enthusiast can fail to be interested in it as a story as well as a handbook,” said The Autocar in 1955. I think the same today. Read More

Autocar’s guide to spending the average Christmas budget

This sort of cash might buy you a day in a supercar, or a bit longer in a rented sports car, but what I’m suggesting will help you get more out of every drive you take. A budget of £473 is just enough to buy you one of Don Palmer’s Car Control courses (donpalmer.co.uk). I’ve met Don a few times, since we occasionally used to share track space with him at Bruntingthorpe airfield. And although I haven’t been instructed by him directly, I’ve seen him in action and heard many good reports about his tuition. How could anyone fail to enjoy a day with a bloke who teaches you how to drive sideways?  Read More

Delivering a Christmas tree from Scotland to London in a Suzuki Jimny

Cargo secured, we pick our way down a rocky mountain bike trail, say a grateful farewell to Brown (the most obliging off-roading ex-arborist one could wish for) and in the 4pm darkness point both tree and Jimny south towards an overnight stop in Edinburgh. As we get up to speed, there’s the sound of a distant flat tyre, but it’s just the foam layer flapping against the roof. Photographer Luc Lacey reaches outside with some duct tape and the problem’s solved.  Read More

My other Lamborghini's a tractor

In 1956, Mannesmann, a German industrial conglomerate, acquired the licences and began building Porsche tractors in serious numbers. By 1963, when production ceased, it had built more than 125,000 of them. 

Unsurprisingly, certain Porsche and Lamborghini tractors command high prices today. For example, earlier this year, a fully restored 1958 Porsche-Diesel 308 Super N made £19,833 at auction and a restored 1960 Junior 108 L, £13,200. Prices for collectable Lamborghinis vary widely. In 2016, a restored 1955 Lamborghini DL25 like Ciro’s (his was built in 1954) sold for £86,000 at auction in the US but another, equally pristine, example made just £9440 in the UK.  Read More

Mercedes-Benz C-Class C220d Coupe 2018 UK review

Sitting lower than the saloon and with a far sleeker chassis, the C220d certainly gives the impression of a sportier C-Class. The AMG Line trim of our test car borrows much of its styling from Affalterbach’s most potent models, although the engine badge on the swooping rear end says otherwise.

The 2.0-litre turbodiesel is responsive enough when pushed, dispatching the 0-62mph sprint in 7.5sec, and while improved from the outgoing 2.1-litre engine, still sounds less than polished under hard acceleration. Read More

BMW lifts lid on self-driving cars

The 25W level three unit is quite small but has 10 times the computing power of the ECUs used for the level two, partial automation systems that BMW has offered since last year. 

The 200W level four ECU is many times larger, uses six microprocessors, needs liquid cooling and has 1000 times the computing power of the level two system.  Read More

BMW lifts lid on its self-driving vehicle tech

The 25W level three unit is quite small but has 10 times the computing power of the ECUs used for the level two, partial automation systems that BMW has offered since last year. 

The 200W level four ECU is many times larger, uses six microprocessors, needs liquid cooling and has 1000 times the computing power of the level two system.  Read More

UK car manufacturing drops by a fifth in November

Output from Britain’s car factories fell by 19.6% in November compared with the same period last year, with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) describing the fall as “very concerning”.

A total of 129,030 cars were manufactured across the month, down from over 160,000 in November 2017. It marks the fifth consecutive month that car production has fallen, while exports dropped by an even steeper 22.8%, down to 105,000 cars.  Year-to-date the industry has experienced an 8.2% decline on last year’s output, down to 1,441,334 cars produced. Read More

Used car buying guide: Land Rover at 70 special

Discovery 1: If you don’t want to deliberately buy trouble, then just about any Discovery should be given a wide berth. At least the 2, 3 and 4. We can make a case, though, for the original model, which was little more than a Range Rover chassis with a high-rised body on top. They also seem to be properly tough and durable and still don’t cost much. A three-door would be cool and we found a 1995 300 TDi with jacked-up suspension and a snorkel at £1600. It’ll be fine. No wonder so many owners go to the bother of bobtailing them. Read More

Lamborghini Aventador SVJ 2018 UK review

And then, all of a sudden, it seems quite deliciously old-fashioned, as you explore the many sounds, vibrations and sensations created by a V12 sitting just a few inches behind your head. By jingo, it’s good. As razor-sharp in its responses as ever, but perceptibly more torquey and forceful-feeling through the middle of the rev range than any other V12 that Lamborghini has ever made. Read More

Kia Proceed 1.6 T-GDi GT 2019 review

There are two driving modes available – Normal and Sport – which govern the calibration of the power steering, accelerator mapping and shift behaviour of the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. But the biggest noticeable difference in the car when you select Sport mode is the increased engine/synthesiser sound produced in cabin. In any mode, the four-cylinder engine feels ready and willing from below 2000rpm, giving its best at intermediate crank speeds, but it starts feeling abused when it gets near the 6500rpm redline. Performance figures have yet to be released but it feels as though they should be pretty strong, and competitive for a 200-horsepower compact family car. Read More

Porsche Cayenne E-hybrid 2018 UK review

Porsche is extremely keen that the new hybrid Cayenne is not seen as a compromised choice any more. The sales pitch is that it offers the performance expected of the marque first and foremost, while offering locally green town pootling and lower running costs as an added bonus. 

To help juggle these abilities, the E-Hybrid comes with almost as many driving modes as there are days in the week. To the usual Sport and Sport Plus modes, there’s E-Power (which runs up to 84mph in pure-EV mode) E-Hold (which stops draining the battery until you tell it otherwise) and E-Charge (which decreases efficiency to top up the battery for later use).  Read More

Insight: why Infiniti faces hard slog

Infiniti has also been hit by new WLTP emission testing regulations that came in at the start of September. The 1.5-litre diesel version of the Q30 was the bestselling model, but the Renault-Nissan Alliance axed the engine ahead of the switch to WLTP regulations. 

Meanwhile, all versions of the Q50 – a BMW 3 Series rival – have been temporarily taken off sale after the best-selling 2.2-litre diesel was stopped. Also cut this year were the Q60 coupé (which only went on sale in late 2016) and the Q70, the bigger saloon. Age caught up with the QX70 SUV last year and it, too, was dropped.  Read More

New Land Rover Defender: teaser image confirms 2019 reveal

“In time, as you’d expect, the Defender will go through all the usual test routines, from cold weather testing in Arjeplog in Sweden to extreme hot weather testing in Death Valley in the USA. It’s exciting for us to be able to now be one step closer to bringing the car to market, of course. We are talking about the rebirth of an icon and not just as a single car, but as a whole family. Read More

Ford Ranger Wildtrak X 2018 UK review

While rivals can carry off an impression of a car quite well, the Ranger can’t. It’s a dyed-in-the-wool truck, no matter how many toys are in the cabin, or how pleasing it is to the eye with its nice new paint, trim and addenda. 

While we commend Ford for the honest approach of the Ranger and its effectiveness at what it was set out to do, it can also be used as a stick to beat this Wildtrak X version with. Ford quotes £38,574 for it, rising to £40,350 for our test car with a smattering of options. Read More

Mini reveals facelifted John Cooper Works hatchback and convertible

Standard equipment offerings for the UK market have been enhanced, with a choice of 17in alloy wheels, black exterior and interior trim, and leather bucket seats now available at no extra cost on both body styles. 

Also fitted as standard to the performance model is a sports suspension and braking system, while a John Cooper Works bodykit visually differentiates it from other models in Mini’s line-up. As with all other Mini models, LED front and rear lights, automatic headlights and rain sensors are standard fitment.  Read More

Mercedes-Benz G-Class G350d 2018 review

Should I buy one?

The G-Class and Porsche’s 911 share a common theme: the most accessible model in the range is by far the most authentic. Porsche’s seminal sports car was conceived as a more delicate device than the ludicrously well equipped, fat-wheeled, wide-body spaceships of today and the G-Class originated as a military vehicle. The supercar power and low-profile tyres of the G63 are a fun sideshow but for many prospective owners it simply won’t be a sustainable relationship. After a few miles it’s all too tiring and, frankly, too superficial. Read More

Top 10 best hardcore sports cars 2018

5. McLaren 675 LT

Ranking here because, just like the Ferrari 458 Speciale, it has yet to be directly replaced, the McLaren 675 ‘Longtail’ was a coming of age for its British originator in more ways than one. It was the first of McLaren’s supercars to begin to show us evidence of a key realisation from Woking: that keen drivers ultimately care at least as much about how they’re going fast as how fast they can ultimately go. Read More

Skoda Kodiaq vRS 2019 review

Nevertheless, there are alterations, including resculpted bumpers, the vRS trademark full-width reflector and more assertive exhaust pipes. LED lamps are standard, and the red-painted calipers of the upgraded brakes you’ll easily see through the gaping alloys.

Red detail highlights are a general theme, but inside you’re far more likely to notice an inviting pair of sports seats and their Alcantara upholstery. Despite the sports theme you can order the vRS with seven seats. The VW Group’s excellent infotainment system is the centrepiece of a neatly unostentatious dash featuring a configurable instrument and message centre complete with additional sat nav display. In the centre console are off-road and snow buttons for the transmission, these complementing the seven driving modes of Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, Individual and Snow. Read More

James Ruppert: how to make money from your motor

Collins told me that there are owners in the US earning up to $50,000 a year renting out their Porsche 911 Cabriolets. They do have the Pacific Coast Highway as a playground, but that income is more than enough to cover any payments and it makes me think that I could buy a 2007 911 Carrera 4 with a modest sub-40,000 mileage at £35,990 and the rental money will pay for the Porsche. That’s car enthusiasts’ maths, of course, and potentially hiring it out a few times a month should raise around £500.  Read More

Autocar confidential: no hybrid for VW T-Cross, how Jaguar keeps the XE competitive and more

This week’s gossip from the automotive industry brings news of Mitsubishi’s plans to stick with what it knows, VW’s decision not to offer a hybrid in the sure-to-be-popular T-Cross, Jaguar’s emissions concerns and more.

Jaguar XE doesn’t mean business

Jaguar Land Rover sales and marketing boss Rawdon Glover admits that CO2 emissions are not the XE’s strength. “But the overall package is appealing,” he said. That’s one reason the brand has been pushing the XE in the retail market. “The business car market is in flux, with taxation, WLTP and so on, so we’ve been going to the retail market with good deals such as 0% finance,” he said. In October, XE sales rose 14% year on year.  Read More

New Nio ES6 unveiled: £41,000 electric rival to the Audi Q5

Chinese newcomer Nio has released details of its third production model: the electric, Audi Q5-rivalling ES6.

Order books in the firm’s home market have opened immediately for the four-wheel-drive SUV, with prices starting at the equivalent of £41,075. 

The five-seat ES6 uses the same platform as the larger, seven-seat ES8, which went on sale in July 2018. That means it has an electric motor on each axle powered by a liquid-cooled lithium ion battery pack. Read More

Nio ES8 2018 review

What’s it like?

The team there has come up with a generic SUV to look at. More stand-out are the tight panel gaps, door handles that fold out of the bodywork and doors that close with a reassuringly solid thunk.

Inside, the ES8’s quality feel continues, with an interior that’s cloaked in Nappa leather. The electrically adjustable, heated, ventilated and massaging front seats are comfortable and supportive. The passenger chair has a business class range of movement. Should its occupant wish to catch up on some sleep, there’s an electric footrest that folds out from where the glovebox should be. Alternatively, they can glide back to tend an infant seated in the middle row of three seats. Read More

New 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA hits wind tunnel ahead of January unveil

The added length is concentrated mainly within the wheelbase, providing scope for larger rear door apertures, easier access to the rear seat and improved interior packaging with greater rear legroom. Autocar was granted access to the new model, known internally under the codename C118, during a recent photoshoot at the brand’s Stuttgart wind tunnel – featuring two-time ironman triathlon world champion, Jan Frodeno. Read More

Renault Megane RS Trophy: Prices and specs announced for 296bhp hot hatch

The uprated four-cylinder is now also more responsive and eager to rev, owing to the use of new turbocharger hardware that’s inspired by Renault Sport’s Formula 1 engine. The turbine, which rotates at almost 200,000rpm, is now mounted on a ceramic ball bearing, saving weight and reducing friction by a third. This responsiveness is maximised when the new exhaust system bypasses a silencer with a mechanical valve. Read More

New 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA teased ahead of CES reveal

If the test prototypes are any guide, the 2019-model-year CLA will be quite a bit larger than its predecessor, with a longer wheelbase that’s set to provide more length to the rear door apertures to ease entry to the rear along with improved rear leg room. The interior will share a great deal with the latest A-Class, including a near-identical dashboard design. Read More

Used car buying guide: Saab 9-3

So, a quick petrol and a quick diesel – how about a warm, four-wheel-drive 9-3? Again in 2008, the 2.0 XWD was launched. It was powered by a 207bhp version of the standard 2.0-litre petrol engine, sending portions of it to the corners via the four-wheel drive system from the Turbo X. A limited-slip diff was optional. Running costs are quite high, official economy being just 32.3mpg. Perhaps that’s why it’s even rarer than the Turbo X.  Read More

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