Britain's Best Driver's Car 2018: and the winner is…

McLaren has already hit dizzying heights with the £750,000 Senna this year and might go on to similar ones with the equally high-end Speedtail in 2019 – but the 600LT shows that its attention can be lavished just as generously on cars at the more attainable end of its showroom range, and to spectacular results. It is a superb track car and a quite sublime fast road car – and now it’s officially the very best new driver’s car of the year to boot.  Read More

Britain's Best Driver's Car 2018: the top three

The Pista is monstrously, preposterously fast. It accelerates with a violence you very rarely find in a car with numberplates, feeling less like a car at all while doing so and more like it might be invisibly but very firmly attached to some distant F35 fighter jet (albeit one that you can’t actually hear over the angry yowl of the V8 engine). For Frankel, its pace was “epic”; for Bird, it was “intense, visceral, out of this world”.  Read More

Tackling the Rubicon Trail in a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Welcome to the Rubicon Trail. The pedal in question is attached to the latest, JL-generation Jeep Wrangler – gently tweaked, substantially improved but, to everybody’s relief, fundamentally unaltered from before – and what you’ve just imagined is a stretch known as Cadillac Hill. In essence, this is 15 sweaty-palmed minutes of warily managing gravity in such a way that machine isn’t unnecessarily damaged or beached entirely by your own ineptitude. Read More

Britain's Best Driver's Car 2018: meet the contenders

Sometimes you get a sense with this event that it’s going to be a good one. Not just when all the cars are assembled in the paddock, but often weeks or months in advance, as the main contenders start to reveal themselves. We’ve been doing this a while – 29 years, if you’re interested – during which we’ve learned to trust our instincts. And for quite some time now, we have thought that 2018 was going to be more than usually kind to what is known as our Britain’s Best Driver’s Car competition externally, but what, within the Autocar walls, is referred to simply as Handling Day. We weren’t wrong.  Read More

Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD SR 2018 review

The car switches between all three dynamically to maximise battery power. and to keep the engine in its optimal power band for as long as possible. Any excess shove it creates in hybrid mode is diverted to recharge the battery, and the battery can assist in engine mode for a boost to performance. It equates to a 0-60mph time of 8.8 seconds in front-wheel drive guise, and 9.2 seconds for the all-wheel drive model. Top speed is the same, at 112mph. Read More

New Skoda Kodiaq GT revealed as China-only SUV-coupe

Skoda has revealed the new Kodiaq GT, the brand’s first SUV-coupé that will serve as its flagship model in China.

The GT is based on the existing five-door Kodiaq, which is already built in China for the domestic market alongside the Kamiq and Karoq SUVs. Although it shares its front end with the regular Kodiaq, the GT loses the third-row seating option and has a sloping roofline that leads to a squat rear end. Read More

Can this man save Bloodhound?

The major hurdle won’t be the actual amount of money required, he says: “For some companies and wealthy individuals, the amount needed is little more than loose change. And it’s a fraction of the cost of funding a team to finish last in an F1 season, or running an America’s Cup team.  Read More

Top 10 best super-luxury cars 2018

The Ghost was a line in the sand for Rolls-Royce when it appeared in 2009: the beginning of a transformation that took the company’s annual production volume from hundreds of to several thousand cars per year.

Using mechanical underpinnings adapted from those of the BMW 7 Series, the Ghost made Rolls-Royce ownership more accessible – only slightly but significantly so. The management’s view now on the decision to use those BMW Group mechanicals may reasonably be imagined to differ somewhat from what it once was, since the next Ghost will move onto the same all-aluminium Rolls-Royce-only platform that the Phanton and Cullinan use. Read More

UK automotive industry welcomes draft Brexit terms

The news that British businesses could be given a 21-month transition period after the nation’s exit from the European Union has been greeted positively by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT).

The Government’s proposed deal, outlined on 14 November, would allow UK-based concerns to continue to operate as normal until the end of 2021, when any new international trading regulations would come into effect. Read More

Guangzhou motor show report and gallery

Underlining the importance of the Chinese market to established car makers, Jaguar Land Rover, which now produces selected models in China with its joint venture partner Chery, brought along its largest motor show stand. Spanning the complete length of one hall, it is described as being almost twice as large in overall floor area than the stand used in Paris last month. And it was also a similar story at Audi, Honda, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Renault, Peugeot, Citroen, DS Automobiles and Skoda – the latter of which revealed its new Chinese-built Kodiak Coupe, a model which, for the time being at last, is reserved exclusively for Chinese car buyers, here. Read More

Ford's baby Bronco SUV leaked in dealer presentation

Leaked photos from a recent meeting of Ford dealers in Las Vegas, US, appear to show a smaller sibling to the upcoming Bronco SUV.

Also visible in the image is a shadow from a larger car, which could be that of the full-size Bronco, which Ford has previously detailed. 

While the smaller car, expected to arrive in 2020, will be positioned to rival such cars as the Jeep Renegade and Mazda CX-3, the larger will sit atop the four-wheel drive platform of the Ford Ranger pick-up truck in a bid to enhance its off-road credentials. Read More

New Mazda 3 spied for first time ahead of LA show debut

This new architecture is also intended to improve driving dynamics, refinement and comfort. 

Confirming that the all-new 3 will keep its hatchback bodystyle, the Kai concept also hinted that Mazda’s next generation of vehicle design will adopt styling cues from past concepts – most notably, the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso-like twin-circle tail-lights, sunken back into the bodywork and split horizontally by a chrome strip.  Read More

Volkswagen greenlights sub-£18,000 electric people’s car

Diess, the architect of Volkswagen’s electric car strategy, recently claimed engineers are working on a car conceived to be priced at half that of the Tesla Model 3 without naming the secret new electric-powered crossover, suggesting it would be on sale within four years.

Autocar has been told the idea behind the new I.D. model is to create a car with classless design appeal, outstanding interior space within a compact footprint and the sort of affordability to allow it to appeal to a wide number of car buyers in all of Volkswagen’s existing markets. Read More

New Kia Soul heading to LA show; UK version to be EV-only

Kia has confirmed that it will launch its new Soul at this month’s Los Angeles motor show, while also revealing it will come to Europe solely in electric form.

The compact crossover is due to arrive in the UK in the latter half of 2019, after a US debut earlier in the year. While the American market will receive various petrol engine options, only an electric model is deemed necessary for the UK, because the similarly sized Stonic will be the conventional volume seller. Read More

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge open new McLaren production facility

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Forty-five McLaren employees are located at the nearby University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), which is partnering McLaren. This team is set to grow to 200 and is working on pushing advances in carbonfibre tub technology.

Using the university’s facilities, McLaren’s team is making pre-production versions of its one-piece MonoCell’ tubs that form the basis of its cars. Employees are therefore already gaining experience of the build processes, which are said to embrace some new techniques and more automation. Additionally, McLaren is training apprentices who will work at the new facility. Read More

Ford Focus 1.5 Ecoboost 182 ST-Line X 2018 UK review

What’s it like?

The new Focus has already been well reviewed in other forms, and if anything this one enhances its capability. The new three-cylinder doesn’t give the car massive performance (8.3sec 0-62mph is decently brisk rather than truly fast, though the 137mph top speed is quicker than any one of us will need) but it delivers so smoothly, with such a sophisticated sound and willing response that you can’t help liking it a lot. Read More

Analysis: car makers ready for no-deal Brexit

“They’ve effectively stalled investment plans in the UK,” said David Bailey, professor of industry at Aston Business School in Birmingham. 

A hard Brexit would damage sales further, cutting the three million light vehicle sales (including vans) in 2016 to 2.55 million by 2020, analyst firm LMC Automotive forecasts. The pound would likely lose a further 10% of its value, making imported cars even more expensive on top of any tariffs. Ford has said its swing back to a loss in Europe this year is largely down to the UK’s weak currency amid the Brexit negotiations. Read More

2019 Range Rover Evoque styling teased ahead of reveal

The current Evoque, codenamed L538, has become firmly established since its launch, and design boss Gerry McGovern believes there is no need for the concept to be reinvented, saying it should not “lose key ingredients” and would be designed with the intention of making it “more relevant”. McGovern said that even years after its launch, the Evoque Mk1 – the design of which can be traced as far back as the Land Rover LRX concept car from 2008 – remained a “very distinctive vehicle” that is “known for what it is: falling roof, rising beltline”. Read More

Insight: 11 Volkswagen saloons you've never heard of

See the six of them in the metal next to each other, and they still all look broadly similar. But to drive? This is where the differences at last creep in, the greatest influence of all being the origin of the underpinnings.

Smallest is the Santana, which also happens to be the worst to drive. It’s based on a development (read: budget) of the VW Group’s old PQ25 platform, and is largely similar to the Skoda Rapid and Seat Toledo sold in Europe. Hardly a good start, and the recipe is further flavoured with the appealing combination of a slow-witted automatic gearbox, coarse engine, and dead brake pedal, while your hands are in contact with a steering wheel from a late 1990s Skoda Fabia Read More

Kia Picanto GT-Line S 1.0 T-GDi 2018 review

The Picanto 1.0 T-GDi is more of an Up TSI rival than a fully fledged Up GTI worrier. The third-generation Picanto impressed us when we first drove it last year, and this new turbo variant builds on that in a couple of areas.

Let’s start with the obvious: this Picanto is within striking distance of actually being called brisk. A sub-ten-second 0-62mph time is par for the course for high-level superminis, but it’s still a rarity in a city car. The in-gear performance is even more worthy of note.  Read More

James Ruppert: which used car is best to keep a no-claims bonus ticking over?

If the car is not going to be used much, it needs to be reliable, simple and fairly bomb-proof. If he wants to save money, then go cheap and buy a cockroach. I know I should be concentrating on something Japanese but that is too easy and, right now, could make classic status more of a long shot if it is a boring hatch. Instead, a Citroën ZX is enough of a curio to become unironically interesting, especially in coupé form. You’d struggle to pay more than £1000 for that and you read it here: the breeze-block styling guarantees future interest.  Read More

New Ford Focus ST primed for early 2019 reveal

A modest power boost will be bolstered by the fact that the new Focus is up to 88kg lighter than the old car; and even with the ST’s heavier, larger-capacity engine, weight savings should still be apparent. The Focus ST will initially be offered solely with a manual gearbox, but an automatic version is also under development for both petrol and diesel cars. Read More

Used car buying guide: Caterham Seven

TRANSMISSION: Listen for gearbox, clutch and, if it has one, differential noises. The Ford T9 five-speed ’box is tough and Caterham’s six-speed unit really suits the K-series engine. Check the condition of the clutch cable. 

TYRES, BRAKES AND SUSPENSION: Expect brake pads and discs to have lots of life remaining. Check for uneven tyre wear caused by incorrect wheel alignment or worn suspension. Inspect the condition of the front wishbones.  Read More

An F-Type with a difference: the open-top Jaguar rally car

What exactly does it take to turn a two-seat roadster into something that can be thrashed along a gravel rally stage? Lots of underbody protection, for one thing, and gravel tyres on 16in wheels for another. The car now sits 40mm higher on new springs and trick Exe-TC dampers (ask Sébastien Loeb what he thinks of Exe-TC and he’ll go misty-eyed; each of his nine World Rally Championship titles was won on its dampers).  Read More

PHEVs face uncertain future in the UK

The industry is not happy, understandably. Mitsubishi, maker of the UK’s bestselling plug-in hybrid, the Outlander PHEV, called the decision “extremely disappointing” and premature. The car makers’ lobby group said it was “totally at odds” with the Government’s aim to become a world leader in the take-up of ultra-low-emission vehicles. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders cited the Danish precedent, where a government decision to drop incentives in 2017 eviscerated the market for EVs.  Read More

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The £2 million roadsign business run by veterans

Reflect on that the next time you’re following road signs to a place that, for reasons best known to the council, appear to stop, leaving you marooned and fuming… 

As if reading my thoughts, Streetley rummages around for a road sign that might help and, having found it, holds it aloft. The lower half is a traditional white-on-brown sign – your typical ‘Welcome to Trumpton’ or some such – and officially known as a tourist gateway sign. The top half, however, is a full-colour composite photograph of the location. “Bath and North East Somerset have really taken to these,” he says, proudly.  Read More

Ford GT vs Ford Fiesta ST: in search of the blue bloodline

The big rear spoiler drops so quickly from view as you slow down to urban speeds, and with such a loud thwack, that you swear every time it has just fallen off. You sit so close to the centre of the car’s cabin that, with a passenger alongside you, your shoulders are in constant contact. You also have to remind yourself that over your other shoulder there is at least another foot of bodywork. The seat itself is fixed so you tug the pedal box towards you or kick it away with your feet, adjusting the steering column for reach to get your driving position just so. The floating upper section of the dashboard brilliantly mimics the exterior aero tunnels that are this car’s signature design feature, adding to the very real impression that air doesn’t flow over the top of this car or underneath it, but that it passes directly through it. Read More

The firm that builds the firm that builds your car

B&P was at the heart of the UK’s post-war rebuilding effort, ensuring machines and materials got to where they needed to be. In 1985, it moved into automotive, installing the new body and press shops at Nissan UK. Four years later, it installed a 5000-tonne Hitachi Zosen press at Rover Group’s Longbridge plant. Over the course of the next two decades, it worked with most of Europe and Japan’s car makers, including with Toyota on the construction of its new Burnaston plant, and with BMW at Hams Hall and when the firm relocated its Mini and Rover 75 body shops.  Read More

2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA spotted testing in near-production guise

The extended rear doors, like those of the previously spotted shooting brake variant, appear longer than those of the first-generation, hinting at extended rear legroom and easier entry and exit for passengers.

The new CLA and CLA Shooting Brake will be the fifth and sixth models to use Mercedes-Benz’s MFA2 platform, following on from the A-class, A-class saloon, A-class saloon long wheelbase and recently unveiled B-class. It supports both front- and four-wheel drive and is engineered to accommodate either a torsion beam or multi-link rear suspension.   Read More

Mercedes-Benz S-Class S500L 2018 long-term review

But why an S500? Three reasons: first, the S500 has always been the mainstream choice for people who weren’t simply buying a diesel ‘airport car’. Second, I’m this car’s custodian and I’ve already had two S500s over the years. How interesting to investigate their differences and surprising similarities. Read More

BMW i8 Roadster 2018 UK review

On anything but faster, smoother A-roads and motorways in and around the national speed limit, the i8 is just too darn firm. Not ‘sporty’ firmness, either, more the sort tuned into the suspension to try and mask the lack of body control.

It’s far more fun accelerating out of a corner than slowing down and turning in for one, thanks to a combination of a weird numb and unresponsive feeling in the first half of the brake pedal travel, and a tendency to understeer when pushed. Still, it corners flat and it corners fast, without ever really involving you in anything other than when you floor the pedal on the way out of a corner to enjoy that point-to-point pace once more. Read More

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