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DEALS
New cars A-Z All the latest models rated 158
Road test results Autocar’s data archive 175
Classifieds Cars, number plates, services 180
Bumpers for goalposts:
Our 16-car, 10-nation
world cup decides the
best hot hatch of all time
Battery power vs
horsepower: which one of
these is pony and trap?
64
NEWS
Porsche’s 5-series rival ‘Junior Panamera’ planned 10
BMW M6 GranCoupé Sleek four-door targets CLS63 12
Mini Paceman JCW Hot all-wheel-drive coupé coming 15
Range Rover Sport New look and seven-seat option 16
Maserati’s 911 rival Alfa 4C-based sports car planned 19
Spotlight BMW’s cut-price carbonfibre revolution 20
TESTED
Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi AWD Titanium Bigger is better 28
Skoda Octavia 1.8 TSI SE Refined third-gen hatch 30
Vauxhall Adam 1.4i Steer’s one they made earlier 33
BMW 120d xDrive Four-wheel drive enhances hatch 35
Dacia Sandero Stepway 1.5 dCi Cheap and rugged 37
Mitsubishi i-MiEV Evo CHRISTMAS ROAD TEST 80
FEATURES
Top 20 cars of 2012 Our road testers’ favourites 41
Your cars of the year Autocar’s readers’ favourites 63
Hot hatch world cup International all-comers contest 64
Cobham services It’s more than just a petrol station 72
Heroes of 2012 Autocar’s men of the moment 74
Race2Recovery Injured servicemen tackle the Dakar 78
Karting challenge Teenage champ vs road test editor 88
Taki Inoue interview F1’s least talented driver talks 94
Bring back the trolley bus Why it’s ripe for a return 98
Reins vs mains Nissan Leaf vs horse and carriage 100
Bloodhound SSC Counting down to 1000mph 108
Review of the year The stories behind our top stories 110
Web wonders What floated your boat at autocar.co.uk 114
Video top 10 Autocar’s most-viewed videos of 2012 117
Photos of the year Our snappers pick their top pics 118
The Autocar Almanac Preposterous predictions 126
The 12 used cars of Christmas Festive buying guide 130
OUR CARS
A year on the Autocar fleet Long-termers rated 148
EVERY WEEK
Steve Cropley A year in cars, and with great people 22
Steve Sutcliffe The ups and downs of 2012 24
Alan Henry Highlights of a season to be savoured 26
Your views Belt and braces approach to parking 146
Colin Goodwin Dear Santa Claus… 147
Richard Bremner BMW Z1 remembered 186
THIS WEEK
COVER
STORY
COVER
STORY
COVER
STORY
Meeting the slowest man in Formula 1 We choose our top 20 cars of 2012 94 41
100
126 What’s going to happen in 2013. Not 108 Latest update from the Bloodhound SSC team
Ruppert’s
secondhand
stocking fillers
130
‘ The new Ford
Kuga is a better
car overall and a
cheaper one, too’
COVER
STORY
COVER
STORY
Young pup teaches old dog new tricks Mind your head: 2012’s best photos Why we need more trolley buses
Mitsubishi i-MiEV Evolution Christmas road test: the electric car just got interesting
88 118 98
80
Matt Saunders, p28
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FREELANDER 2
landrover.co.ukJfreelander
TPE CALMBEFDRE, DURINC
ANDAFTERTPE STDRM.
*£325 per month reIers to the Freelander 2.2d TD4 GS Manual. Model shown is the Freelander 2 TD4 GS includes optional metallic paint which costs Irom £550.
Representative 5.º% AFR Land Rover Freedom is available on new Freelander models, registered between 1st October and 31st December 2012. Fromotions
are not available Ior used cars. Finance subject to status. Guarantees may be required. Land Rover Finance, FO BOX 44ó5, Slough, Berkshire, SL1 0RW. With
Land Rover Freedom you have the option to return the vehicle and not pay the Inal payment, subject to the vehicle not having exceeded an agreed annual
mileage (a charge oI 12p per mile Ior exceeding 10,000 miles per annum in this example) and being in good condition. We work with a number oI creditors to
provide Inance to our customers, including Land Rover Finance.
OIIcial Fuel Consumption Figures Ior the Freelander 2 range in mpg (l/100km): Urban 32.5 (8.7) ÷ 3º.8 (7.1)
Extra Urban 48.7 (5.8) ÷ 52.3 (5.4) Combined 40.4 (7.0) ÷ 47.1 (ó.0) CO
2
Emissions:185 ÷ 158 g/km.
From £325 per montb*
Òn rhe Foac Frice £27,250
Deposir ConrriLurion £2,000
Cusromer Deposir £5,ºº5
3c Monrhly paymenrs £325
GMFv (Òprional Final Faymenr)
(¦ncluces £2º5 lee) £10,18º
Amounr ol Crecir £1º,255
Toral Amounr FayaLle Ly Cusromer £2º,884
Durarion ol Conrracr 37 monrhs
Fare ol inreresr (Fixec) 5.28%
Fepresenrarive 5.º% AFF
Pepresentative exampIe
FreeIander 2.2d TD4 G5 ManuaI
Magic moments of
a year in motoring
JIM HOLDER EDITOR
jim.holder@autocar.co.uk @Jim_Holder
MY CAR OF the year? The Toyota GT86, for the sheer thrill
of it living up to the hype, and for being so good that other
car makers have been forced to look at similar projects.
My drive of the year? The TwinAir-powered Fiat Panda. It
just felt so right as a no-nonsense city car, and I rather
enjoyed the fact it bloodied the nose of the Volkswagen Up.
My moment of the year? Being at Brooklands to see 21
cars on the banking for our ‘Best of British’ photo shoot, a
production that Autocar always seems to do so well.
You, no doubt, will have memories of many different
moments, some of which will be jogged by this year’s
bumper Christmas issue. In 2012 the car industry has, as
ever, thrilled, surprised and shocked in equal measure.
The roller-coaster will begin again in the new year with
our next issue, on sale on 2 January. The magazine will
feature two new columnists: Matt Prior, our road test editor
of five years, and Joe Saward, a
veteran of more than 25 years in the
F1 paddock. Steve Sutcliffe takes on
a new role writing features for the
magazine and autocar.co.uk.
Exciting times, I hope you’ll agree.
THIS WEEK
Issue 6028 | Volume 274 | No 12
THREE THINGS WE’VE
LEARNT THIS WEEK
Production of the
Citroën C6 ends today
(19 December). Read
Hilton Holloway’s
thoughts on the
French executive car
at autocar.co.uk.
Vehicle manufacturing
in the UK is still rising
as the year ends. The
number of cars built
went up nearly 10 per
cent between January
and November.
Troubled Peugeot-Citroën is to cut
1500 jobs by 2014, on top of the
8000 job cuts announced in July.
Workers who leave the company
won’t be replaced.
FIND US AT
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autocar.co.uk/mag
Download the digital edition of Autocar wherever
you are in the world every Wednesday
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Republic/Slovakia, Egypt, Greece, India, Indonesia,
Japan, Korea, Lithuania, Malaysia, Middle East,
Singapore, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.
10 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
THIS WEEK
Porsche set to take
QAll-new ‘junior Panamera’ poised for green light Q Tipped to be a five-door liftback QRear
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News to share? Call 020 8267 5782/5796 e-mail mark.tisshaw@autocar.co.uk
P
orsche is poised to give
the green light to a
direct rival for the BMW
5-series and Mercedes
E-class after more than a
year of research and debate,
according to company insiders.
If the project is rubber-
stamped, Porsche would for
the first time be entering a
mainstream market segment,
albeit a premium sector
dominated by the German ‘big
three’. If the model gets the
go-ahead, it will hit showrooms
in 2016 at the very earliest,
but it is still considered part of
Porsche’s plan to sell 200,000
units annually by 2018.
Michael Mauer, Porsche’s
styling chief, was recently
quoted as saying that a road
car smaller than the Panamera
“was a possibility”. It’s
thought that Mauer’s design
team have recently been
able to spend serious time on
the 5-series-sized concept,
now that the Macan SUV and
Panamera facelift are both
heading for the showroom.
Most expect that the ‘Pajun’
(a nickname derived from
‘Panamera junior’) will be a
five-door fastback, like its
bigger brother. A Mercedes
CLS-style sportwagon version
is also pencilled in, with a two-
door coupé possible in the next
decade. It’s also thought that
V8 and four-cylinder engines
have been ruled out.
Most industry sources
expect the Pajun to be built
on the VW Group’s next-
generation MSB platform.
Porsche is developing this
rear-drive and all-wheel-drive
architecture for use under the
next-generation Panamera,
Nearly all future Bentleys,
among other high-end VW
Group models, will also use it.
Porsche could have used
If the project is rubber-stamped,
Porsche would for the first time be
entering a mainstream segment
THIS WEEK
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 11
on 5-series
drive and AWD Q Estate and coup´ e to follow QDue 2016
Hilton Holloway
Porsche can go mainstream
TWENTY YEARS AGO, BMW was a relative minnow, albeit
highly respected. The firm realised that the global car market
was about to go through a period of radical change, and SUVs
and smaller cars for urban use were a big part of the future.
However, it felt that it couldn’t expand under the BMW badge.
An upmarket SUV or front-drive city car could never be a ‘real
BMW’. Buying Rover Group to get access to Mini, Range Rover
and Rover itself proved a disaster. Today, the BMW badge is
about to be used for a three-pot, front-drive mini-MPV.
It’s now well recognised that premium brands are
far stronger than they once thought. When a respected
brand expands into a new area, as long as the execution
is convincingly premium, the result is readily accepted by
consumers. Who would have imagined a Porsche off-roader —
the Cayenne — would become the company’s biggest seller?
More important, premium
status is no longer attached to
numerical exclusivity. BMW,
Mercedes and companies such
as Apple show that a premium
product doesn’t lose its lustre by
being mass-produced. Porsche
will continue to expand on the
back of this phenomenon.
Audi’s next-generation mixed-
materials MLB architecture,
which will also underpin its
upcoming Macan SUV, as well
as all future Audi models from
the A4 to A7.
However, the MLB is a
natively front-wheel drive
platform, so all versions of
an MLB-based Pajun would
have been all-wheel drive. A
front-wheel-drive Porsche is
considered unthinkable.
According to figures from
IHS and Credit Suisse auto
analysts, the global market
for premium E-segment cars
— which includes the 5-series,
E-class and Audi A6 — will this
year be about 970,000.
That figure is projected to
bounce along at about the
same level until 2017, when
a growth spike will take it to
about 1.3 million units by the
end of 2019. So this is fertile
new territory for Porsche.
This market segment
promises substantial profit
margins. It’s not as profitable
per unit as the market for
big, premium SUVs (which
Porsche is already exploiting
with the Cayenne), but sales
volumes are bigger. This is
why Maserati is also looking
to exploit this market with its
new Ghibli (see p19).
It’s easy to understand why
the more exclusive premium
brands see the potential to
shake up a segment dominated
by the 5-series, E-class and
A6. These three models
account for about 70 per cent
of global sales in the sector.
The premium E-segment
market is “underperforming”
compared with other premium
segments, according to Credit
Suisse analyst George Galliers.
“We believe this is part of
the ongoing trend towards
‘other’ vehicles [such as
SUVs],” said Galliers. “The
growth opportunity in
this price range/vehicle
size is likely to come from
comparable products which do
not conform to the traditional
three-box saloon, in our
view. Presumably, this is the
opportunity which Porsche
also sees.
“We presume that any
product which they would
offer would most likely have
a hatchback configuration as
per the Panamera.”
HILTON HOLLOWAY
A BMW like this was once unthinkable
12 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
M6 GranCoupé targets CLS63
BWM M division’s four-door coupé gets a 552bhp V8 and hits 62mph in 4.2sec; on sale in the spring
RS7 (below) and
Q3 RS (left) are
expected next year
B
MW is taking aim at the
Mercedes-Benz CLS63
AMG and upcoming Audi
RS7 with its new 552bhp
M6 GranCoupé. The sleek twin-
turbo 4.4-litre V8-powered
saloon will cost around
£100,000 when it reaches the
UK in the spring after a Detroit
motor show debut next month.
The latest M-car will broaden
the scope of the existing M6
line-up and provide added
practicality and comfort.
The 4.4 V8 engine and
seven-speed dual-clutch
gearbox are the same
combination as found in the M5
and M6 coupé and cabriolet
models. Torque swells to a
maximum 502lb ft between
1500 and 5750rpm. Economy
is rated at 28.5mpg, with CO2
emissions of 232g/km.
At 1950kg, the GranCoupé
weighs a mere 5kg more
than the M5, endowing it
with a power-to-weight
ratio of 283bhp per tonne —
some 23bhp per tonne less
than its keenest four-door
performance car rival, the
Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG.
BMW claims its new super-
saloon is marginally faster
than the CLS63 on the run
from 0-62mph, with an official
time of 4.2sec versus 4.3sec.
Top speed is nominally limited
to 155mph, but buyers can
increase it to 189mph with an
optional driver’s package.
The M6 GranCoupé is based
around a high-strength steel
platform that boasts the same
2964mm wheelbase as the
M5. As is customary for all
M-cars, its tracks have been
widened significantly over the
standard 6-series GranCoupé,
at 1631mm and 1612mm front
and rear respectively.
The M6 GranCoupé is
distinguished from lesser
versions of the 6-series
GranCoupé by a series of
M division styling cues,
including deeper front and rear
bumpers, widened front wheel
arches, deeper sills, a rear
diffuser, quad tailpipes and a
carbonfibre-reinforced plastic
roof panel. The alloy wheels
are 20 inches in diameter.
GREG KABLE
AUDI’S HIGH-PERFORMANCE
RS arm will launch four new
models next year, including
an RS7 and its first high-
performance SUV, the Q3 RS.
Quattro GmbH chief
Stephan Reil confirmed
the number of new models
planned but did not detail
them. Autocar understands,
however, that in addition to the
recently revealed RS6 Avant
and RS5 cabriolet models,
the RS7 and Q3 RS will be
launched next year.
The RS7 is tipped to be
shown as soon as next month’s
Detroit show. It’s likely to be
mechanically identical to the
RS6, meaning power will come
from a 552bhp twin-turbo
4.0-litre V8. A top speed of
190mph is also expected.
The swoopy four-door
saloon-cum-coupé RS7 is
expected to be offered instead
of a saloon version of the
RS6. A similar strategy
is employed with RS4/
RS5 models, where there
are estate and coupé versions
respectively but no saloon.
The Q3 RS was previewed
at the Beijing show in April.
Reil hinted that a production
version would be shown at
the Geneva show in
the spring. The
concept used a tuned version
of the TT RS’s 2.5-litre, five-
cylinder engine with 355bhp.
Four potent new Audi RS models due next year
FIAT SETS PANDA 4X4 PRICES
The Fiat Panda 4x4 will cost from £13,950, while
front-drive Trekking models start at £12,450.
The 875cc TwinAir is the entry-level engine, while
the 1.3 MultiJet diesel attracts a £1000 premium.
First deliveries are due in mid-January.
UK TO GET AUDI A3 SALOON
A saloon version of the new Audi A3 is coming
to the UK, with a likely on-sale date of late next
year. The three-box A3 is tipped to be shown
in production form in the spring, at either the
Geneva or Shanghai motor shows.
OFFICIAL
PICTURES
THIS WEEK
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 13
YOU CAN ARGUE that the world doesn’t need the
M6 GranCoupé, but you’d be wrong. It should bring
something important to BMW’s M portfolio that
the M5 failed to deliver: true super-GT style and
desirability combined with saloon-like usability.
While the M5 has a superb chassis and a mighty engine,
it looks and feels like a humble 5-series. It’s the classic
understated German performance saloon. The M6 four-door,
meanwhile, gives M division an opportunity to ramp up the
richness and exoticism, and really have a pop at the likes of
Maserati and Aston Martin with a more usable GT. With no
M-badged 7-series, I’d say it deserves that chance.
In these continuing tough economic times, cashing in on
cars like this means giving a small but rich customer base a
reason to come back that bit more often. So instead of selling
two M5s to different customers, you simply sell the same
bloke an M5 followed by an M6 GranCoupé. MS
Do we need an M6 GranCoupé?
Cabin is larger and
more practical than
the two-door M6’s
A larger XK will focus
more on its luxury
GT credentials
M6 GranCoupé shares
its powertrain with
the M5 saloon
A NEW ENTRY-level sDrive18i
has joined the BMW Z4 line-up
as part of a series of mid-life
changes to the roadster.
Power for the model comes
from a turbocharged 2.0-litre
engine producing 154bhp and
177lb ft. That is enough to
propel the six-speed manual
sDrive18i from 0-62mph in
7.9sec and on to 137mph.
Combined fuel economy is
rated at 41.5mpg, with CO2
emissions of 159g/km.
An optional eight-speed
automatic is also offered.
The engines in the other Z4
models — sDrive20i, sDrive28i,
sDrive35i and sDrive35is —
continue unchanged.
Cosmetically, the changes
to the facelifted roadster
are minor, the revised LED
headlights being the stand-
out change. New alloy wheel
options are offered, while
there are minor exterior trim
detailing changes.
Other changes include the
option of a new Design Pure
Traction styling pack, which
adds contrasting black and
orange trim to the cabin. The
interior also features new
gloss black trim for the air
vent and iDrive surrounds as
standard. Leather trim is also
standard for the sDrive28i
models and above, with a
Fineline Anthracite wood
finish available as an option.
The M Sport package
— comprising bespoke
suspension settings, alloy
wheels and exterior and
interior trim — is again offered,
with a more focused version
of this pack available on the
sDrive35is range-topper.
The revised Z4 is due to
reach the UK in April.
THE NEXT-GENERATION
Jaguar XK is set to grow in
size following the introduction
of the F-type. Design director
Ian Callum said Jaguar
was “going through a lot of
discussion” about how the XK
should evolve.
No final decision has yet
been taken, but Callum said
there was an opportunity to
“allow the car to become a bit
more special than a GT”.
“It could grow into the
luxury market, and grow in
size,” he said. “Whether it
stays the same as a two-plus-
two or becomes a two-plus-
more-than-two has not been
committed to yet.”
The F-type’s launch
removes the need for the XK
to act as out-and-out sports
coupé and luxury GT. With the
F-type becoming Jaguar’s
dedicated sports car, there’s
scope for the XK to focus on
its luxury GT credentials.
While a shift in strategy
for the XK seems likely,
the XJ is set to remain as a
conventional saloon in its
next generation, despite the
declining market for such
luxury four-doors.
Sales of large luxury SUVs
are now dwarfing luxury
saloons, but Callum believes
it’s the state of the global
economy rather than a shift in
market trends that is to blame
for dwindling luxury saloon
sales. “I think the market will
come back,” he said. “We’re
strong in China and big cars
are also always going to be
popular in the US.”
Callum didn’t confirm the
existence of a large Jaguar
crossover to sit alongside
the XJ in its line-up, but said
the firm “had to take notice”
of the growing popularity of
crossovers and SUVs.
New 2.0-litre turbo joins
refreshed BMW Z4 line-up
Jaguar XK to grow as F-type takes sports car role
UPDATED i10 ON ITS WAY
A new Hyundai i10 is set to be revealed at next
year’s Frankfurt show. It is expected to stick to
the current model’s successful formula, with
subtle styling changes, interior quality updates
and more efficient 1.0 and 1.2 petrol engines.
RINSPEED’S MICRO-MINIBUS
The MicroMAX is Rinspeed’s latest outlandish
concept. Designed around themes of personal
and public transport, the concept is just 3.6
metres long and 2.2 metres wide, yet it has
enough space for five people plus bulky items.
OFFICIAL
PICTURES
THIS WEEK
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 15
Paceman gets JCW boost
Mini’s 215bhp, all-wheel-drive Paceman John Cooper Works promises hot hatch thrills; due in March
RENAULT-NISSAN IN LADA DEAL
The Renault-Nissan Alliance now has a majority
stake in Russia’s largest car maker, Avtovaz, which
is known internationally as Lada. The alliance, as
part of joint venture with the Russian state, now
owns 74.5 per cent of Lada.
MG 6 GETS BTCC MAKEOVER
MG Motor has marked its first year in the British
Touring Car Championship with a BTCC Edition
MG 6 saloon. The £16,995 model gets gloss black
exterior trim, BTCC graphics and 18-inch wheels
but no extra power for its 158bhp 1.8 petrol engine.
M
ini’s new Paceman coupé
has been given a potent
140mph John Cooper
Works range-topper. The
Paceman JCW promises to be
one of the most focused Mini
models yet thanks to its all-
wheel-drive sports chassis and
215bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre
petrol engine.
The Paceman JCW uses
the same engine as the
Countryman JCW on which it is
based. The highly tuned 215bhp
1.6 produces 207lb ft of torque
from 1900rpm to 5000rpm.
An overboost function can
provide a further 14lb ft for
short bursts between 2100rpm
and 4500rpm.
These are sufficient reserves
to propel the Paceman JCW
from 0-62mph in 6.9sec,
regardless of whether it is
fitted with the beefed-up
six-speed manual gearbox or
optional six-speed automatic.
That’s 0.1sec quicker than the
Countryman JCW can achieve.
The Paceman JCW’s top
speed is 140mph for the manual
version and 139mph for the
auto, the same in both cases as
the Countryman JCW.
A sports chassis is fitted to
the Paceman JCW, making it
sit 10mm lower than standard
models. Larger anti-roll bars
and optimised spring and
damper rates are among the
suspension upgrades.
A Sport button features on
the centre console of the JCW’s
cabin. When engaged, this
sharpens the throttle response,
alters the exhaust note and
stiffens the steering. On JCWs
equipped with the automatic
gearbox, shift times are also
made quicker.
The all-wheel drive
system sends 50 per cent of
drive to the rear wheels in
normal conditions through
an electro-magnetic centre
differential, and it can send up
to 100 per cent rearwards in
extreme conditions.
The look of the Paceman has
also been overhauled for the
JCW version, with new 18-inch
alloy wheels (19s are optional)
and an aggressively styled
aerodynamic body kit.
The Paceman JCW will make
its debut at the Detroit motor
show next month. It will reach
UK showrooms in mid-March,
priced from £29,535.
MARK TISSHAW
HONDA SKETCHES JUKE RIVAL
Honda will unveil a concept version of its new baby SUV at the Detroit motor
show next month. The Urban SUV Concept will spawn a production
version that is expected to go on sale within the next three years.
The new car, which is widely tipped to be based on the next-
generation Jazz, will rival the Nissan Juke. Honda
is targeting sales of up to 400,000 units a year
in the US and Europe for the new car.
Honda is giving its global regions freedom
to develop the Jazz to suit local tastes. The
European version is expected to be built at
the firm’s plant in Swindon.
Paceman JCW has a
new body kit and a
lower ride height
Urban SUV Concept
will be unveiled
at Detroit
Price £29,535
0-62mph 6.9sec
Top speed 140mph
Economy 38.2mpg (combined)
CO2 172g/km
Kerb weight na
Engine 4 cyls, 1598cc,
turbocharged, petrol
Power 215bhp at 6000rpm
Torque 207lb ft at
1900-5000rpm
Gearbox 6-spd manual
MINI PACEMANJCW
OFFICIAL
PICTURES
16 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
Bolder look for new Ran
New Range Rover Sport will be given more “personality” than the current car in a bid to put greater visual
T
he new Range Rover Sport
will have much greater
visual differentiation from
the standard Range Rover
than before, design director
Gerry McGovern has revealed.
The second-generation
Range Rover
Sport is
due to be
revealed in the middle of 2013
before going on sale at the end
of the year.
McGovern said the new
car “would be given more
personality than before” and
it would be “separated a bit
more” from the Range Rover.
Insiders have revealed
that the new Range Rover
Sport line-up will include a
seven-seat option for the first
time, a model that should sell
particularly well in one of the
Range Rover Sport’s biggest
markets, North America.
McGovern didn’t confirm it
for production but said it would
be a “challenge” to
make a seven-
seat Range
Rover
Sport. “It’s a sporty car with
a sleek profile,” he said, “so
creating it would be a challenge
if it is successfully to carry
extra seats.”
Under the skin, the new
Range Rover Sport will be
closely related to the new
Range Rover. The two will share
Jaguar Land Rover’s Premium
LAND ROVER ENGINEERS
have started work on the
new Freelander 3, as these
spy shots of the Evoque-
based mule show. The longer
wheelbase and increased
ride height reveal this as an
early engineering prototype,
probably being used to test
new suspension components
and suspension geometry.
The Freelander is currently
Land Rover’s best-selling
model. It was launched in its
current form in 2006 and
given a mild makeover for
2013. The third-gen model
is expected to go on sale in
early 2015. It promises to
be a significant step forward
from the current Freelander,
offering greater wading depth,
better interior packaging and
improved boot space.
The new Freelander is
based on the same LR-MS
platform as the Evoque. It
was developed from the Ford
EUCD platform that underpins
the current Freelander,
although Land Rover says 90
per cent of the parts are new.
The Freelander 3’s
wheelbase is expected to be
more than 150mm longer
than the Evoque’s and is
expected to open the way for
a seven-seat version. It will
be fitted with JLR’s all-new,
super-frugal ‘Hotfire’ four-
cylinder engines, which will
be built at a new plant near
Wolverhampton.
The new Freelander is
expected to be made from
a mixture of materials, with
nearly all of the platform
and upper body made from
high-strength steel. The roof
and bonnet will be aluminium
and the front wings and
tailgate are likely to be made
from composites.
The entry-level, front-
wheel-drive Freelander 3 is
expected to have a CO2 rating
of as little as 119g/km.
More space inside for bigger
third-generation Freelander
Freelander 3 test mule is hidden under Evoque bodywork disguise
Evoque convertible: decision within weeks
THIS WEEK
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 17
gie Sport
distance between it and the Range Rover
THE FORD KA is highly
unlikely to see a third
generation. According to Ford
of Europe design boss Martin
Smith, the city car “produces
absolutely no profit” and
doesn’t fit in with the firm’s
global ‘One Ford’ ambitions.
“It won’t pass a US crash
test, it was designed too
narrowly to suit European
tastes and it’s only built in one
place. It’ll get a light mid-life
refresh but, as things stand, I
can’t see a life for the car much
beyond that,” he said.
However, Smith did hint
that there was a great deal of
interest internally in a more
diverse range of superminis
that could be used to return
Ford of Europe to profitability.
“[Ford president and CEO]
Alan Mulally’s favourite
kinds of car of the moment
are small cars with global
reach that we can create a
high yield from,” Smith said.
“The Ecosport is the perfect
example: it’s simple, cheap
to make and could sell the
world over.”
A DECISION ON whether to put a convertible version of the
Range Rover Evoque into production will be taken in the
coming weeks, according to Land Rover design director
Gerry McGovern.
The Evoque convertible concept was well received at the
Geneva motor show earlier this year, and McGovern said
there was “a desire” within the
company to see it through
to production.
Although the concept looks
more likely than not to make
production, McGovern said it
would be signed off only if the
business case could be proven.
Ka ‘won’t be replaced’, says design boss
MERC CLA GETS 4WD IN THE UK
Four-wheel drive will be offered on the Mercedes
CLA when it hits the UK next summer. Mercedes’
4Matic drive system has been redesigned for
transverse engines. It will be an option with most
engines and standard on the CLA45 AMG.
FREELANDER SPECIALS
Land Rover is to make 600 special Black & White
editions of its revised Freelander. Based on the
S model, Black & White trim adds gloss black
exterior detailing, 17-inch alloy wheels, privacy
glass and Bluetooth. Two colours are offered…
Confidential
THE NEXT RENAULT
Twingo, due in 2014, will
be available with lots of
customising options, in the
style of the Mini and the Fiat
500. Renault insiders admit
that the firm has been slow
to capitalise on demand for
customising small cars.
PETROL ENGINES WILL
never displace diesels in some
continental markets, reckons
Renault marketing boss
Stephen Norman. “Diesel is
so well rooted in some places
that it will never go in the
other direction, and we’ll
never see a shift to petrol
engines in line with what
they’re capable of,” he said.
THE BMW i3’s interior
simplicity will carry into
production, according to i-car
design boss Benoit Jacob. He
describes the cabin of the i3
Concept Coupé as a “little loft
on four wheels”, suggesting
a simple cabin doesn’t
mean losing on quality. The
concept features extensive
use of natural fibre trim.
Sustainability is central to
the car, which is why fast-
growing eucalyptus has been
used in the dashboard.
AMG IS SET to sell 35 per cent
more cars this year than last,
thanks to a raft of new models
and increased global demand.
About one-third of all AMGs
are sold in the US.
VW R&D CHIEF Ulrich
Hackenberg is so enthusiastic
about the Polo R WRC road
car created by his department
and VW’s rally team that he’s
got his eye on one for himself.
At the car’s launch in Monte
Carlo, Hackenberg explained
that he’d driven the 151mph
car during hot-weather testing
in South America. “With more
than 200bhp in such a small
car, it’s quick and handles
well,” he said.
Lightweight Architecture
(PLA), a riveted and bonded
aluminium monocoque that
should help shave about
300kg from a base V6 diesel,
taking it to about 2160kg.
An even lighter kerb weight
would be achieved by fitting
a four-cylinder diesel engine.
Insiders have confirmed that
this option is under evaluation
for the new Range Rover Sport
(but not the Range Rover).
Despite the close
relationship under the skin, a
greater visual differentiation
between the Range Rover
and Range Rover Sport will
come from a more sharply
raked roofline, shorter rear
overhang, deeper body
sides and more aggressive
treatment for the front and
rear detailing.
Launch engines are likely
to include a 255bhp V6 diesel
as the entry-level unit, and
a 334bhp twin-turbo V8 as
the most potent oil-burner. A
503bhp V8 petrol is likely for
the Supercharged variant.
The economy champion will
be a V6 diesel-electric hybrid,
which should have a claimed
combined 333bhp, a 0-62mph
time of 7.4sec and CO2
emissions of just 169g/km.
MARK TISSHAW
THE NEW DEFENDER can
do to the Land Rover badge
and image what the smash-
hit Evoque did for the Range
Rover. That is the view of
Land Rover’s design director,
Gerry McGovern.
It is now over a year since
Land Rover revealed the
DC100 concept and began
touring it worldwide at shows,
getting feedback. “The
concept got the thumbs-up,”
said McGovern, “and 90 per
cent of the 250,000 people
we spoke to loved it.”
McGovern said design
work on the Defender
replacement had progressed
and various different
concepts had been looked at
internally in addition to the
DC100, ahead of a planned
introduction in “the middle
of the decade”.
He believes the “new
Defender can do for Land
Rover what the Evoque did
for Range Rover”, bringing a
new, more style-conscious
buyer to the Defender and
the Land Rover brand.
Although style is
promised, it will not be at
the expense of function.
“We need a new Defender
for a new generation,” said
McGovern, “so it has to be
relevant and desirable to a
modern audience, but it has
to have the essence of the
Defender.James Bond needs
to be able to kick the hell out
of it and it will still be able to
get up for more.”
McGovern understands
the sensitivity of the new
Defender project due to the
current car’s staunch fan
base, but he said it couldn’t
“be developed through
rose-tinted spectacles”.
He said: “A like-for-
like replacement for the
Defender would not be
appropriate and wouldn’t be
legal with safety legislation.
We can still capture the
essence of the past but in
a modern way.”
New Defender can
‘do an Evoque’
Ka doesn’t fit with
the ‘One Ford’
philosophy
THIS WEEK
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19
Maserati plans 911 rival
Mid-engined Maserati sports car based on Alfa Romeo 4C underpinnings could be on sale by 2015
VITARA’S NEW YEAR REFRESH
Suzuki’s Grand Vitara has been given a minor
cosmetic nip and tuck for the new year. The 127bhp
1.9 DDiS engine has had its CO2 emissions cut
to 174g/km and economy improved to 42.8mpg.
The switchable four-wheel drive system remains.
500L DRESSED TO ESPRESSO
A built-in coffee machine is on the options list for
the new Fiat 500L, which is on sale now priced
from £14,990. The base 500L Pop Star gets a
1.4-litre petrol engine, one of four engine choices
in the mini-MPV. Deliveries will start next March.
M
aserati looks set to
launch a mid-engined
rival for the Porsche 911
by 2015. It will be offered
with both V6 and V8 power and
will get a chassis based on that
of the forthcoming Alfa 4C.
Although Maserati’s ‘4C’ has
yet to be confirmed, company
bosses have hinted that such
a model is essential if it is to
reach its future growth targets.
“We are currently
represented in just 21 per
cent of the luxury sports car
market,” Maserati boss Harald
Wester told Autocar. “But by
2015 we will have 100 per cent
representation.” That market
coverage would not be possible
without a Porsche 911 rival.
The new mid-engined
Maserati will play a crucial role
in the company’s intended
plans to sell 50,000 cars a year
worldwide by 2015, up from
the 6159 cars it delivered
last year. Maserati aims to
achieve this through the new
Quattroporte, a new BMW
5-series rival called Ghibli, the
new Levante SUV and the still-
to-be confirmed 911 rival.
Speculation about the
name of the new mid-engined
Maserati suggests it might be
known simply as the GranSport.
Whatever it is called, power
will come in the form of either
a twin-turbo V6 or a twin-
turbo V8, with approximately
450bhp and 550bhp on offer.
The target kerb weight is
said to be less than 1400kg,
and although the V6 model is
destined to have rear-wheel
drive, there’s a possibility of
the V8 being offered with the
option of four-wheel drive,
just as the Quattroporte is in
certain markets.
Given the close relationship
between Ferrari and Maserati,
a dual-clutch auto gearbox also
seems probable — although
under no circumstances will
the car be priced or engineered
to rival Maranello’s own mid-
engined V8. That means a
price tag of less than £100,000
and a slightly more luxurious
character than that of a Ferrari.
STEVE SUTCLIFFE
Renault says new
Alpine sports car
will be here by 2015
Summer reveal for ‘aggressive’ Ghibli
MASERATI SOURCES HAVE told Autocar that the
forthcoming 5-series-rivalling Ghibli saloon will be a “much
more aggressive car than the Quattroporte, in both its
engineering and in its design”.
The Ghibli will be based on a shrunken Quattroporte
platform and is due to be revealed next summer before
going on sale in
the autumn.
Sources have
also confirmed
the Ghibli will be
the first Maserati
to be offered with
a diesel engine,
likely to be a high-
performance V6.
RENAULT WILL LAUNCH its
Alpine sports car, to be built in
a joint venture with Caterham,
within three years, giving the
firm until the end of 2015 to
finish the project it started in
earnest last year.
Renault marketing boss
Stephen Norman confirmed
that the car would not take
four years to appear, as had
been speculated. He also
hinted at the sort of character
the car would have, describing
it as “not soft”.
“It won’t be more hardcore
than a Mazda MX-5,” he
said. “What we do will not
be soft, but not hardcore
like a Peugeot 106 Rallye.
You can’t betray the DNA
of Alpine. That’s a third of
what the car will be. “
Norman described that DNA
as French and not German.
“It must be light and look
different, and have a touch of
French dash,” he said. “It’s not
a car for dandies, though. We
know who the buyer is: he’s
either French or a Francophile.
And the car has technical
innovation as part of its DNA.”
The new Alpine will be
a clean-sheet design and
create a rival for the Porsche
Boxster and high-performance
versions of the Audi TT. It will
be priced at less than £50,000
and will use a Renault engine
with around 250bhp.
Renault looked seriously
at reviving Alpine in 2007,
but the recession meant the
project had to be shelved.
By the time the market had
recovered, the original design
was considered too old.
Alpine sports car ‘won’t be soft’, says Renault
SPY SHOT
GHIBLI ITALY
20 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
SPOTLIGHT
Making carbonfibre
for the masses
Carbonfibre is an expensive material, but producing more of it is vital
to the success of BMW’s range of electric i-cars. Stuart Milne reports
on a global operation that’s changing how the material is produced
T
he latest carbonfibre
technology is core to
the first two models in
BMW’s i-series, which
go on sale at the end of next
year. Extensive use of the
lightweight material in the
range-extended, hybrid and
electric models is needed for
BMW to hit its CO2 targets. But
without addressing its high
production costs, it can’t build
the cars profitably.
Carbonfibre’s benefits are
manifold, once the problems
of its mass production have
been overcome. The key issue
is obtaining a consistent weave
to ensure consistent strength,
but once that is achieved the
material is extremely durable. It
is half the density of aluminium
and 30 per cent lighter, it can
absorb high levels of energy
in a crash and is resistant to
corrosion, acids and solvents. It
could even be possible to strip
away worn components and
build a ‘new’ car around the i3’s
carbonfibre frame at the end of
the vehicle’s life.
Nevertheless, carbonfibre
remains a niche product for
niche applications. Last year
just 40,000 tonnes of it were
produced, compared with
four billion tonnes of steel, 1.5
billion tonnes of aluminium and
4.9 million tonnes of glassfibre.
When BMW and carbonfibre
specialist SGL, which has
experience in the defence and
aerospace markets, announced
a joint venture in 2010, it was the
final piece in a plan to enable
BMW to produce lightweight
zero or low-emissions models.
BMW says the deal brings
“lightweight competence to
the BMW Group”. The factory in
Moses Lake, Washington state,
is the second link in a chain
that connects production and
development from Japan to the
US and on to Germany, and it
has the benefit of using cheap,
naturally sourced power.
The Moses Lake plant has
the capacity to produce 3000
tonnes of carbonfibre per year
— about 7.5 per cent of global
production. If the i project
is a success, SGL says it can
expand the site six-fold.
If all goes to plan, that’s
likely to be the case. SGL is
already working on deals with
other car makers, and last year
Volkswagen purchased an eight
per cent stake in the company.
Long term, the chances are
that BMW’s i3 and i8 will be
seen as carbonfibre pioneers.
And as use rises and prices
drop, many of us will be driving
cars using the material.
Carbonfibre is half the
density of aluminium
and 30 per cent lighter
SWITCHING ENERGY SUPPLIERS
The BMW/SGL site is powered by electricity generated from the Wanapum Dam
on the Colorado River (below). Electricity is the biggest cost in carbonfibre
production, most of which is used for the oxidation and carbonising processes.
Electricity from Wanapum costs three cents per kWh, compared with 15 cents
per kWh in Germany. BMW says reducing the environmental impact of its
i-cars, along with a desire to reduce cost, was behind the move to Moses Lake.
BMW’S WORLDWIDE WEB
A global production network isn’t considered to be a significant cost. The
base ‘precursor’ material is made from a blend of chemicals and crude oil by
Mitsubishi Rayon in Japan. Precursor ribbons are sent to Moses Lake, where
they are turned into rolls of fabric, then shipped to BMW’s Wackersdorf plant
and stitched into cloth. Total global transfer energy costs are estimated to be
around one per cent of the cost of the carbonisation process in Moses Lake.
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 21
THIS WEEK
BAKED TO PERFECTION
At Moses Lake, a never-ending 5cm-wide strip of precursor is pulled from its
containers and fed into a series of ovens ranging from 230 to 290deg C. The
fibres change through a series of ever-darkening colours as their chemical
structure alters. The fibres are then 95 per cent carbonised in a 750deg C
furnace before being blasted with 420 amps, helping them to bond with resin.
The fibres are then rolled onto 9kg spools like giant cotton reels.
KNIT ONE, PEARL ONE
The BMW/SGL joint venture claims to be at the forefront of changing the
approach to carbonfibre production. In their process, the end product is
knitted, rather than woven, using a heavier tow. This means around 50,000
fibres are bundled together rather than 10,000-12,000 in a conventional
carbonfibre tow. The process creates a smoother finish and is estimated to
cost around one-third that of traditional carbonfibre production methods.
Steve Cropley
22 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
A year in cars A snapshot album from 12 months of living life in the Cropley lane
IT’S OVER, AND I’m not
pleased. Amid the festive
spirit, it strikes me that there’s
room for a tinge of melancholy.
We’ve had such a wonderful
motoring year; can one hope for
anything half as enjoyable next
year? And living the privileged
life I do, have I made the most of
my opportunities?
THIS YEAR…
…I reckon the answer to that
second question is a conditional
yes. You can always do better,
but my resolution this time last
year to happy-snap cars, people
and events of significance
through the year lasted all the
way to last month’s Classic
Car Show at the NEC in
Birmingham (see pictures, far
right). It also brought me an
affirmation that all good car
stories are about people.
NEXT YEAR…
…the economy’s not going
anywhere, but we can still
depend on the motor industry
to build more and better cars.
Next year we’re getting a new
Range Rover Sport, Jaguar’s
F-type sports car, a Maserati
SUV and Porsche’s hybrid
918 Spyder. And that’s just
scratching the surface.
We also look forward to
seeding the increasingly
powerful autocar.co.uk
with fascinating stuff, and
producing 51 classy issues of
the magazine. But none of it
is half worth doing without
continuing support from you,
our loyal readers. We all send
seasons greetings, heartfelt
thanks for past support, and
hopes that you’ll see fit to
continue the relationship in the
happy new year.
Love this 1960s Simca 1000 shape; had to be
restrained from buying this racer at Nogaro, France,
while watching Renault’s Carlos Tavares racing
On hand to watch Renault chief Carlos Tavares
race this 600bhp all-carbon single-seater at
Nogaro. No messing: he scored a first and a second Lotus expert Paul Matty organised a great day at Shelsley Walsh to celebrate the marque’s anniversary
Stan Papior gets strapped
into a Ford filming rig
“Want to drive a DAF?” asked the
organisers at Cholmondeley. “Regular
driver can’t come.” Turned out to have
March suspension and 450hp Rover V8
THIS WEEK
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 23
Can’t resist a healthy Flathead Ford V8 special
Opel GT styling surely a decade ahead of its time
Jim Clark won his first sprint in a DKW like this
Unimproved Commer heading for restoration
What did Citroën bosses say when they saw this?
Drove one of these to Alice Springs. Not quickly
CLASSIC FAVOURITES
Future cars pose at Cholmondeley.
Renault Twizy in my care (centre) was
a nightmare. Everyone — and their kids
— wanted to get in and drive it away
Year’s highlight was a Range Rover drive
to Marrakesh, where an original model
I drove snapped its throttle cable. No
problem for a local repairman, though
Ford GT poses beside another arrival at a wet Goodwood Breakfast Club,
run under the eye of organiser and muttering rotter Barry Wiseman (right)
Steve Sutcliffe
24 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
Quick thinking The things that made 2012 good, bad and slightly sad
HIGHS
OWatching the Brazilian
GP. I don’t think I’ve ever
enjoyed watching a GP more
than the one at Interlagos this
year. Normally there’s a good
10 minutes when not much
happens during a GP, when
there’s time to make a cup of
tea or do the washing up, or
simply fall asleep with a belly
full of recently roasted meat
and potatoes. But in Brazil there
wasn’t so much as a second that
was missable. I wonder how
badly Lewis Hamilton will miss
being at the sharp end in 2013,
or how long he’ll be able to sit
it out on the sidelines before
asking Ron for his old job back.
ODriving the Pagani Huayra.
The world would be a much
duller place were it not for the
likes of Horacio Pagani and
his thoroughly insane but also
quite wonderful Huayra. Any
car with 720bhp and rear-wheel
drive needs to come with a
reasonable-size health warning,
but when that power comes
at you via two turbochargers
that also have a fair bit of good
old-fashioned lag – which
means you go from 100bhp to
700bhp in half a heartbeat – the
excitement factor goes through
the roof. As does your pulse
rate the moment you climb
aboard this extraordinary car.
Hopefully we’ll road test it in
the UK next year, and maybe
some of the Veyron’s records
will be rewritten as a result.
ODrifting the Renault Twizy
until its battery ran out. This
happened only after about the
87th lap of the wet steering pad
at MIRA, before which I had
about as much fun sliding the
Twizy as I did in any car all year.
Whoever said EVs are boring
was flat wrong, and I reckon the
Tesla Model S will confirm this
when we test it next year.
OUsing the configurator on
Jaguar’s website to spec ‘my’
long-term XKR-S convertible.
It’s a lovely way to spend an
hour or so, working out which
colours to pick, which wheels
to go for and so on. In the end
I went for black everything,
which is the spec favoured by
Jag’s design boss, Ian Callum.
When the car arrived a couple
of months later, it looked even
better than I’d imagined. It will
absolutely kill me when they
come to take it away.
OThrashing the Toyota GT86.
This £25k rear-drive sports
car is conclusive proof that you
don’t need to be going all that
fast to have fun – big, proper,
grown-up fun. The best thing
of all about the GT86 is that it
emanates from a global mega-
company. You just don’t expect
such intimacy in a car like this
from a company like Toyota, but
if they can repeat the formula
in future – with a new Supra,
perhaps – it’ll be good news for
everyone, but most of all for the
genuine enthusiast.
ODriving a BMW M3 CSL
around Brands and realising
that the legend remains intact.
It wasn’t quite as fast as the V8
M3 that was also present, but
that didn’t matter because in
the areas that count (steering,
handling balance, rear axle
feel) the CSL showed the latest
car how it’s done. Which is good
news for the next M3 if BMW is
true to its word and produces a
modern interpretation of this
car for 2014.
OMatching this year’s lap
record around MIRA’s wet
handling circuit in the small
and exceedingly white Audi
A1 quattro – and demolishing
the Nissan GT-R’s time in the
process. Never before have the
benefits of narrow tyres, not
too much power and a low kerb
weight seemed so relevant.
There wasn’t a thing the 542bhp
GT-R could do to stay with the
Audi on that particular circuit,
on that particular day, to a point
where it eventually fell off the
track in the attempt.
LOWS
OThe death of Lola. I always
had a soft spot for this small,
seemingly efficient racing car
company from Cambridge,
founded by Eric Broadley in the
late 1950s. For a long time they
were a shining light of British
innovation and engineering.
When the administrators
turned up, half the cars that
have raced at Le Mans suddenly
had no ancestral home.
OBurying a Caterham Seven
R500 so deep into the trees on
the Millbrook hill route that I
thought, just for a moment, that
this might actually be it.
OWatching the decline of the
WRC. It’s is a shame because not
long ago I was an unashamed
fan of this mad sport.
Have a fine Christmas and
a happy new year. See you in
2013, although no longer in this
part of the magazine. After five
years, I’m handing over and
moving on to produce more
online content for the magazine
instead. Next up in this space
is road test editor Matt Prior. I
wish him the very best of luck,
knowing full well that he’s one
of the safest pairs of hands in
the business. Arrivederci!
Got an opinion? Email us at autocar@haymarket.com
An armful of opposite lock will always put a stupid smile on Sutcliffe’s face…
…even if it’s at the wheel of a 17bhp Twizy. Steve did this until the battery went flat
E46 CSL proved that faster and newer doesn’t always mean better
The World Rally Championship’s appeal has sadly dwindled
THIS WEEK
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 25
The world would be a duller
place were it not for Horacio
Pagani and his Huayra
Audi A1 quattro made a GT-R look silly in the wet
The demise of race-car maker Lola was a sad day
Toyota rediscovered
the purity of driving
with the new GT86
Alan Henry
26 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMEBR 2012
Racing lines In a season that went down to the wire, these were the F1 highlights
1
GENIUS AT WORK
The 2012 world
championship had much to
commend itself in terms of raw
racing, but if you glanced more
closely behind the scenes, there
was also much unqualified
genius on regular display.
Sebastian Vettel launched a
statistics-busting assault on the
record books, stepping up to the
plate magnificently during the
course of seeing off the equally
tenacious Fernando Alonso,
who worked miracles at the
wheel of a below-par Ferrari
and very nearly pulled off the
impossible dream as the clock
ticked away through the nerve-
wracking finale at Interlagos
last month.
2
WILLIAMS BACK ON
TOP OF THE PODIUM
Nominating Vettel’s
best race of the season proved a
thankless task; none stood out
as being shaded by another. Not
so in the Williams ranks, where
Pastor Maldonado had the
beating of Fernando Alonso’s
Ferrari in a straight fight to
Sebastian Vettel
showed exceptional
ability all season
Maldonado put
Williams back on top,
for one week only Abu Dhabi winner Kimi Räikkönen didn’t need to be told what to do
alan.henry@autocar.co.uk @f1alanhenry
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edge out the Ferrari star and
return Sir Frank’s team to the
top of the podium for the first
time since 2004. This dearth of
success had been going on for
too long, but the interruption
endured for only one weekend,
because neither Maldonado
nor team-mate Bruno Senna
managed to duplicate it over
the balance of the season.
Maldonado clearly had the
spark but lacked consistency.
Senna has his late uncle’s
gregarious charm but precious
little of his potential. Before the
end of the year, he received his
marching orders.
3
KIMI RAIKKONEN
STILL STARS
If Bruno Senna’s career
has probably peaked as far as F1
is concerned, Kimi Räikkönen
bounced back on to the grand
prix scene with such a casual
insouciance that it was difficult
to believe he had taken two
seasons out in order to try his
hand at world championship
rallying. Put simply,
Räikkönen’s return season was
as dazzling as his rally exploits
were inconsequential. The
Finn still had plenty of tactical
nous and had also retained
his breathtaking speed, as his
THIS WEEK
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 27
Why can’t all the drivers
reflect the same unalloyed
enthusiasm as Button?
After a 28-year
absence, Texas
raised its hat to F1
Button ended the
season with two
pieces of good news
Schuey failed to
add to his tally of
wins. Unlike Vettel
Lewis Hamilton’s decision to move to Mercedes for 2013 is baffling
winning performance in Abu
Dhabi so graphically proved.
Hell, at one stage in the season
there were some in the pitlane
who began confidently to muse
that he might gatecrash the
battle for the championship.
Next year, perhaps?
4
F1 RETURNS
TO TEXAS
Bernie Ecclestone’s
long struggle to revive F1 in the
US was launched with huge
success on the brilliant Austin
circuit in Texas, 28 years after
the sport had made a single visit
to the Lone Star State – and
all it lacked was an American
driver as a rallying point for the
amazingly enthusiastic crowd,
who packed the grandstands to
capacity. More please!
5
JENSON BUTTON
KNOWS WHEN HE IS
WELL OFF
As Jenson Button put his feet
up to celebrate his victory in
Brazil, he must have thought
all his birthdays had come
together. Team-mate and rival
Lewis Hamilton will be exiled
to Mercedes next year and his
incoming team-mate, Sergio
Perez, will need to shape up
dramatically if he is to compete
in Button’s company – and
smartly. PS: why can’t all
the drivers reflect the same
unalloyed enthusiasm for their
chosen vocation as Button does,
rather than look so miserable as
they trot off to the bank?
6
TOLD YOU SO
To the regret of Michael
Schumacher and
Mercedes, in real terms their
performances in 2012 left
the seven-time champion
even further away from the
pace than he had been in
the previous two years of
his comeback campaign. To
Schumacher’s credit, he never
overtly moaned about the
car and he became almost
philosophical about the entire
project well before the end of
the year. Schumacher’s efforts
were akin to trying to row
upstream, and after the final
chequered flag had been waved
in his face he looked like a
man at ease with himself, but
possibly one left wondering
why the hell he took on such a
project in the first place.
7
AN UNFATHOMABLE
DECISION
No, I didn’t say
unfashionable; I did actually
say unfathomable. How else
could one describe the decision
of 27-year-old Lewis Hamilton
to turn his back on McLaren
in favour of Mercedes from the
start of the 2013 season? Two
expressions come to mind.
The first is: don’t these drivers
have agents? And, assuming
the answer is ‘yes’, why the hell
don’t those agents give their
clients a bit of advice: tell ’em
to bite the arm off any postman
arriving with a large envelope
postmarked ‘Woking’. Then get
the bloke to sign it and exchange
it for a large cheque. Simples!
THE YEAR IN STATS How the season unfolded
(according to Pirelli’s number crunchers)
1139
Number of overtaking
manoeuvres in 2012
215
Top speed in mph
hit in 2012
(Kimi Räikkönen, Monza)
2.31
Fastest pitstop time (McLaren)
31,800
Number of Pirelli tyres supplied to teams
Average number
of pitstops
per driver 1.9
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28 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
FIRST DRIVES
Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi
10.12.12, Cannes Ford targets European SUV dominance with a bigger, sportier Mk2 Kuga
THERE’S A REAL sense of gravitas
about the new Ford Kuga. Within
three years, Ford plans to dominate
the growing SUV sales charts here.
This mid-size 4x4 will be vital to the
attack, alongside the 2014 Ecosport
supermini SUV and the larger Edge,
which will also come to Europe.
Responsibility rests on the
shoulders of this car, and while
some of the original Kuga’s compact
distinctiveness may have been lost,
it’s also brought with it new-found
quality, refinement and practicality.
The second-generation Kuga
shares the original’s wheelbase but is
81mm longer and offers a bigger boot.
The extra length changes the Kuga’s
market positioning a little. Visually,
the car belongs less to the band of
crossovers desperate to unseat the
Nissan Qashqai from its top spot, and
more to the band of SUVs grouped
around the Honda CR-V and Toyota
RAV4. That’s partly because this car
will also be sold in North America as
the Escape. A bit of extra heft was an
An 81mm increase in overall length frees up space in both the rear cabin and the boot
unavoidable consequence – although
most examples of the new car are
actually lighter than previous ones.
Buyers can choose between
2.0-litre turbodiesels and 1.6-litre
turbocharged Ecoboost petrols. The
cheaper 138bhp diesels and 148bhp
petrols will be front-drivers. But if you
want either the 180bhp petrol Kuga
or the 161bhp turbodiesel we tested,
it’ll come with Ford’s new all-wheel
drive system. The automatic gearbox
option on the diesel is provided by
Getrag’s Powershift dual-clutch
transmission; on the headline petrol
it’s delivered by a more old-school
torque converter gearbox intended,
one suspects, to keep America happy.
The Kuga’s cabin has lost some
of the old model’s ostentation, but
there’s no denying the gains made
on space, smartness and perceived
quality. The architecture is more or
less identical to what you’ll find in
the C-Max MPV, and there’s little
wrong with that. Materials are tactile
and attractive and, but for a slightly
intrusive fascia that eats into driver
kneeroom, ergonomics are good.
Big strides have been taken to
improve the Kuga’s on-road manners,
and they pay off. The turbodiesel of
SO GOOD
NO GOOD
TESTER’S NOTE
QMechanical refinement
QAthletic handling
QImproved practicality
QImproved cabin quality
QFirm low-speed ride
QAnonymous design
High-end Kugas get
a powered tailgate
opened by waving
your foot under the
rear bumper. MS
FIRST VERDICT
Practical and refined with sporty
and impressive car-like handling
AAAAC
This week’ssssssss nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrsssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss
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Price £25,545
0-62mph 9.9sec
Top speed 123mph
Economy 47.9mpg (combined)
CO2 154g/km
Kerb weight 1692kg
Engine 4 cyls, 1997cc, turbodiesel
Installation Front, transverse, 4WD
Power 161bhp at 3750rpm
Torque 251lb ft at 2000-3250rpm
Gearbox 6-spd manual
Fuel tank 60 litres
Boot 456-1653 litres
Wheels 8.5Jx17in
Tyres 235/55 R17
FORDKUGA2.0TDCI AWDTITANIUM
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 29
The second-generation Kuga is bigger than the previous model, but it’s firmer and more agile and feels sportier to drive
Smarter, higher-quality cabin shares its architecture with the C-Max MPV. Centre console intrudes into driver’s kneeroom
our test car was smooth and quiet,
and wind noise was well controlled
through new double door seals and
new foam baffles for the B-pillars.
New dampers and hydraulic
bushings have allowed Ford to ramp
up the Kuga’s chassis rates without
bringing harshness to the secondary
ride. There is one word of warning,
though. The car’s low-speed ride
may be quiet, but it will be a little too
firm for some; the muscular tussle
and check of the suspension over bad
town roads makes for a more stark
contrast with the softness of some
SUVs than the original Kuga struck.
If you like your 4x4s comfy, this
probably isn’t the car for you.
But at higher speeds the Kuga’s
handling precision is more
impressive than ever, aided not only
by a 4WD torque vectoring system
that fights early-onset understeer
effectively, but also by great dynamic
balance and taut yet supple body
control. This could be a regular,
low-rise five-door hatchback, given
the way it arcs accurately towards
apexes and hangs on mid-corner.
It’s true that the Kuga has lost
some of its exuberance, but the new
one is a more serious car that must
earn its keep globally. And while it’s
a bit less distinctive, it’s a better car
overall and a cheaper one, too. Ford
has lopped around £1000 from like-
for-like prices, as well as improving
spec levels. That fact, plus a healthy
dose of Ford’s sporting brio, should be
enough to return the Kuga to the top
of our class rankings.
MATT SAUNDERS
QUICK FACTS
PRICE £25,545
ON SALE JANUARY
Matt Prior
Please all of the people, all of the time
MMMM
PP
GONE ARE THE days when Ford could afford the Mondeo
to fail in the US and the Explorer to be largely ignored in
Europe. And now that Ford, or anyone else, can less and
less afford the luxury of creating different cars for different
regions, it stands to reason that the Kuga — a medium-size
SUV — has been developed for all markets.
Engineered with both sides of the Atlantic in mind, there’s
no reason it shouldn’t do well anywhere, provided the
right engineers get the right jobs. That the Kuga is bigger
overall is no surprise; that it’s less distinctive is a pity. But
the impression I’m particularly keen on is that quality and
refinement are up. Premium models aside, that’s not usually
a trait common to transatlantic cars, but it’s a welcome —
and necessary — one to make the Kuga popular over here.
QUICK FACTS
PRICE £25,545
ON SALE JANUARY
Caption here and
here and herexx
xx xxx xx xxx
30 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
Skoda Octavia
11.12.12, Prague The all-new, bigger Octavia takes the old car’s strengths and improves on them
THE MK3 SKODA Octavia is based
on the new MQB platform that will
underpin future Volkswagen Group
front-wheel-drive models ranging
in size from the Polo to the Passat.
Compared with the outgoing model,
the new Octavia is 90mm longer
and 45mm wider and has a 108mm
longer wheelbase.
Skoda claims that this car has
interior space comparable with that of
a model from the next class up; it can
carry a 240cm flatpack with the rear
seats folded. Fold the front passenger
seat and that goes up to 274cm. The
boot is even bigger than before, at a
vast 590 litres.
The exterior styling is a sharper
and crisper take on the current model,
with the tail shaped to look more like
a saloon than a large hatchback.
Inside, the finish of the plastics is
a notch back from those you’ll find
in the new VW Golf, but the whole
interior is a festival of restrained good
taste, clarity and slick assembly. All
of the controls are neatly drawn and
QUICK FACTS
PRICE £18,995 (EST)
ON SALE MARCH
Rear seats are spacious; drop the seatbacks and the boot can take a 2.4m-long load
nicely weighted, but there’s no great
design flair, either.
With the adoption of the MQB
architecture comes more in the way
of sophisticated options, including
active cruise control and traffic sign
recognition. Traditionally practical
touches include a doubled-sided
(carpet and rubber) boot floor.
While the entry-level Octavia petrol
engine is the new-generation 1.4 TSI,
next up in the range is this 177bhp
1.8 TSI unit. In this test car, it was
hooked up to a six-speed dual-clutch
automatic gearbox. Push the starter
button (which sits where the ignition
key used to be) and the motor spins
up into a subdued idle. Pull the (very
slick-action) lever into ‘D’ and the
Octavia pulls away with remarkably
little mechanical intrusion.
This drivetrain is exceptionally
smooth and refined, with the
transmission worthy of a special
mention, such is the instinctive way
it interacts with the engine. The car
has a handy turn of speed, too, partly
thanks to it being 85kg lighter than
the outgoing model.
There’s a great delicacy and
SO GOOD
NO GOOD
TESTER’S NOTE
QVery smooth engine and
transmission combination
QSensitive and accurate steering
QImpressive interior space
QUK mix will be higher prices/more
kit, not cheaper/lower spec
It’s a great pity that
the multi-link rear
axle is standard on
only the higher-
power Octavias. HH
FIRST VERDICT
Roomy, practical and, in this turbo
petrol guise, satisfying to drive
AAAAC
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 31
With the multi-link rear suspension fitted to higher-powered models, it offers a good balance of sweet handling and a smooth ride
The cabin architecture will be familar to drivers of the new Golf; the spec is decent and the quality of plastics good, if not Golf grade
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0-62mph 7.5sec (est)
Top speed 139mph (est)
Economy 49.5mpg (combined)
CO2 132g/km
Kerb weight 1200kg (est)
Engine 4 cyls in line, 1798cc,
turbocharged, petrol
Installation Front, transverse, FWD
Power 177bhp at 4500-6200rpm
Torque 184lb ft at 1500-4500rpm
Gearbox 6-spd dual-clutch automatic
Fuel tank 50 litres
Boot 590 litres
Wheels 7Jx17in
Tyres 225/45 R17
SKODA OCTAVIA1.8TSI DSGSE PLUS
accuracy to the steering that shone
through even on the very uneven and
snow-packed B-roads outside Prague.
This car can be driven through the
fingertips and rewards precise inputs.
The ride is excellent, too, doing a
fine job of rounding off ridges and
short bumps. The car is flat and
stable on the motorway; high-speed
cruising is notable for the calm in the
cabin, marred only by the noise from
our test car’s winter tyres.
Interior space is as impressive
as Skoda claims, without having to
suffer a car as unwieldy as today’s
Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia.
The boot is vast, being both deep
and long, without affecting the car’s
styling, which avoids the Octavia’s
previously tail-heavy look.
In this petrol turbo form, a smooth,
sweet transmission is matched by
what, even on very poor, ice and
snow-covered Czech back roads, is
an equally sweet-handling, smooth-
riding chassis. It’s the sort of car
that would be ideal for a precise and
thoughtful driver.
The only Octavia-shaped caveat
is that this model has the multi-link
rear suspension and a motor that’s a
good 60kg lighter than in the diesel
Octavia. I suspect that the entry-level,
beam-axle, oil-burning version won’t
be quite as impressive.
HILTON HOLLOWAY
Beam me up
THE LOWER-POWERED Octavias get a rear beam axle,
which is cheaper to make and saves 16kg over the more
sophisticated multi-link unit. It is a completely new design,
using a stiff, U-shaped section tube (with the open end
of the ‘U’ facing downwards) between the trailing arms.
According to Skoda engineers, it also has a new mounting
system, which uses two pivot points under the floorpan
that are mounted parallel to the axle line. The previous
beam axle used angled mounts positioned closer to the
wheel hubs. The engineers say this new set-up gives better
geometrical characteristics as the wheel rises.
FIRST DRIVE
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 33
SO GOOD
NO GOOD
TESTER’S NOTE
QLooks will delight many
QDecent driving position
QSteering much improved
QRear room not in Panda’s class
QBetter-equipped models look
a bit pricey
Adam’s gearchange
now seems nicer
than test original’s.
Let’s hope this one
was typical. SC
FIRST VERDICT
New baby car is much improved by
steering settings developed in UK
AAACC
Steve Cropley and Vauxhall’s Gerry Baker (in car) discuss the Adam’s steering foibles before uploading another setting to try
WHEN WE FIRST drove the
new Vauxhall Adam, due in UK
showrooms next March, we weren’t
happy. The ride seemed lumpy and
the engine thrashy and old-tech,
but the big mismatch was between
electric power steering that seemed at
once ponderous and unpredictable,
and a sporting ride quality (our Slam-
spec test car was on sports suspension
and 18-inch wheels) that surely
demanded crisp, intuitive steering.
However, Opel-Vauxhall is fast
developing a tradition for retuning
the electric power assistance of its
cars for the UK market (its biggest in
Europe). And following our adverse
reaction and others, this is what it
firmly decided to do.
In co-operation with Opel chassis
engineers, Vauxhall chassis guru
Gerry Baker conducted some wide-
ranging tests to set the car up in a way
that would please local customers.
The setting was signed off “weeks
ago” on some pretty narrow and badly
surfaced roads around Vauxhall’s
Millbrook proving ground, and
Autocar was allowed to try it.
In fact, we tried five different
iterations, starting with the original
European set-up and ending with
the one signed off for the UK. Just the
fact that this was possible – simply
because Baker’s laptop could ‘talk’ for
a few minutes to the car’s computer
– shows the great versatility of
electronic power steering. In the old
days, Baker was quick to point out, it
would have taken a couple of hours to
swap systems, assuming the right one
was available; it took days if it wasn’t.
By this time, much of your memory of
the original fault would be gone.
We tried the Euro system (by my
judgement, dead at the straight-
ahead, with an overly quick assistance
build-up away from it) plus three
systems developed “on the way”. It
became clear that the way assistance
builds up as you move the wheel
away from straight-ahead, the actual
amount of assistance supplied at
different speeds (the system swaps
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Price £13,475
0-62mph 12.5sec
Top speed 110mph
Economy 51.4mpg (combined)
CO2 129g/km
Kerb weight 1135kg
Engine 4 cyls, 1398cc, petrol
Power 86bhp at 6000rpm
Torque 96lb ft at 4000rpm
Gearbox 5-spd manual
VAUXHALL ADAMSLAM1.4i
Vauxhall Adam Slam 1.4i
6.12.12, Bedfordshire Style-led city car gets revised, UK-specific steering tune to correct its flaws
QUICK FACTS
PRICE £13,475
ON SALE MARCH
between 16 levels of assistance)
and the shot of extra assistance you
can get when you suddenly swing
the wheel – think of it as a kind of
overboost, designed to kill any feeling
of delay – is what governs decent
steering. Baker’s settings varied
between pretty good and deliberately
comically bad.
Then we tried the new UK settings.
This was the same steering wheel,
in the same car, yet suddenly its
responses seemed natural and
intuitive. When a looming Transit
appeared at a crowded apex, my
hands knew exactly what to do. I
found myself driving the Adam with
comfort and commitment – yet
considerably faster than before. It
was a little heavier, but mainly it was
entirely predictable.
The Adam still isn’t the perfect car.
It’s pricey for the performance, and its
1.4 engine still feels crude. But now it
has nice steering. That’s an essential
ingredient and a big step forward.
STEVE CROPLEY
FIRST DRIVE
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 35
SO GOOD
NO GOOD
TESTER’S NOTE
QAdds security in poor conditions
QTempers rear-driver’s
understeer habit
QEconomy sacrifice is small
QStrained, industrial engine note
QRide can be pattery
For snow-drifting
fun, the 120d xDrive
ran rings around the
M135i xDrive auto
we tried. RW
FIRST VERDICT
Four-wheel drive gives the 1-series
winter safety and dynamic interest
AAAAC
All-wheel-drive 1-series shares its cabin with the rear-drive model; confidence-inspiring xDrive brings little in the way of penalties
UK ORDERS FOR the BMW 320i
xDrive have been encouraging since
the book opened in June. In Germany,
most models can be had with xDrive,
including the 1-series hatch, which
is now destined to come to the UK
in all-wheel-drive guise. It joins an
expanding xDrive range that already
accounts for a third of BMW’s global
sales. Germany, the US and China all
buy more xDrives than Audi quattros,
and that clearly leaves room for
improvement in the UK.
BMW’s xDrive models use a multi-
plate wet clutch to apportion torque
fore or aft from the default 40 per cent
front, 60 per cent rear setting. BMW
claims the system is the most quick-
witted, anticipating wheel slip and
reacting in 0.1sec.
Otherwise, the 120d xDrive is
largely the same as its rear-drive
counterpart. A slightly higher kerb
weight (by 40kg or so) and friction
increases bring a 4g/km CO2 penalty
(theoretically adding £70 to the road
tax bill on the smallest wheels), while
fuel economy drops by less than four
per cent to a still-superb 60.1mpg.
Performance is barely affected and
BMW’s chassis engineers have aimed
to maintain the rear-driver’s sporty-
yet-supple set-up using revised
springs and dampers.
The sensible money banks on both
winter tyres and four-wheel drive, and
that’s how our test car was equipped
for a stint in the Alps. On snow, the
xDrive system is hamstrung by the
Dynamic Stability Control, which
continually cuts the power. But with
the Dynamic Traction Control set to
permit some slip, understeer can be
tamed with an increase in rear-bound
drive. Unless DSC is fully engaged,
unchecked oversteer would cut
doughnuts in the snow all day.
Similarly, on the driest road we
found, the 120d xDrive showed
signs of overcoming the rear-drive
model’s tendency to understeer.
The steering, meanwhile, is accurate
and uncorrupted and the brakes
inspire confidence.
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Price £25,015 (est)
Top speed 140mph
0-62mph 7.2sec
Economy 60.1mpg (combined)
CO2 123g/km
Kerb weight 1500kg
Engine 4 cyls, 1995cc, turbodiesel
Power 181bhp at 4000rpm
Torque 280lb ft at 1750-2750rpm
Gearbox 6-spd manual
BMW120DXDRIVE
BMW 120d xDrive
14.12.12, Kühtai, Austria All-wheel-drive version of the 1-series hatchback is on its way to the UK
QUICK FACTS
PRICE £25,015 (EST)
ON SALE MARCH
Body control is taut, but the
ride is disappointing over broken
surfaces, the new suspension settings
seemingly reprising the 1-series’
tendency to fidget despite sensible
wheels and tyres.
The engine, though gruff, remains
a wonder of power and economy,
and the xDrive system distributes its
considerable torque ably.
A more secure, surefooted 1-series
certainly has appeal. German buyers
pay around £2000 extra for an xDrive
1-series, but we’d probably fork out
more like £1535; that’s the premium
charged for the 320i xDrive, aligning
closely with Audi’s £1600 supplement
for the A3 quattro.
RICHARD WEBBER
FIRST DRIVE
FIRST VERDICT
Jacked-up treatment enhances the
appeal of mid and high-spec models
AAABC
ROUGHTY-TOUGHTY OFF-ROAD
flavour works well for Dacia. It makes
the Duster a singularly unpretentious
and likeable machine. And on the
Sandero Stepway, loosely termed a
crossover supermini, it only seems to
enhance the simple, functional value.
Mechanically, there isn’t much that
differentiates the Stepway. This is
ostensibly a standard Sandero hatch
with plastic wheel arch extensions,
faux plastic scuff plates, roof bars and
an extra 40mm of ground clearance
(to make 207mm in all).
There’s no entry-level 1.2-litre
engine with the Stepway, and no
pared-down Access trim. Prices start
from £7995, but you also get more
for your money with the entry-level
898cc petrol-engined Ambiance-spec
Stepway, which gets front fog lamps,
body-coloured bumpers and mirrors
and metallic paint.
The range-topping 1.5-litre diesel
we tested adds rear parking sensors
and sat-nav, offsetting more than
half of the £1000 premium you’ll pay
versus the equivalent hatch. And it’s
a marginally more appealing and
obliging machine than the regular
model, with chunkier styling, easier
entry and egress, handling that shows
little compromise on accuracy or M
A
N
U
F
A
C
T
U
R
E
R
’S
C
L
A
IM
E
D
F
IG
U
R
E
S
Price £10,795
0-62mph 11.8sec
Top speed 103mph
Economy 70.6mpg (combined)
CO2 105g/km
Kerb weight 1083kg
Engine 4 cyls, 1461cc, turbodiesel
Power 89bhp at 3750rpm
Torque 162lb ft at 1750rpm
Gearbox 5-spd manual
DACIASANDEROSTEPWAY
1.5DCI 90LAUREATE
control and a slightly more fluent
primary ride. The diesel engine only
really becomes noisy above 3500rpm
and generally performs strongly –
albeit not quite as efficiently as the
70.6mpg claim suggests.
The bottom line is that, if you insist
on spending £9000 or more on a
Sandero, the Stepway’s probably the
car to spend it on – whether you want
a crossover or not.
MATT SAUNDERS Dacia Sandero Stepway
QUICK FACTS
PRICE £10,795
ON SALE JANUARY
Top-spec Stepway comes with sat-nav
Hundreds of cars endured the scrutiny of our road testers this year. Most were
decent, but these 20 newcomers, in no particular order, were something special
AUTOCAR
TOP 20
CARS 2012
42 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
play the traditional big Ferrari. It can
still be docile enough to ease away
500 miles in a sitting, dampers in
soft mode, gearbox working away
imperceptibly, engine mumbling
quietly at a calm cruise – your nerves
entirely unjangled. That breadth of
ability isn’t just rare; it’s nothing
short of a masterstroke.
MATT SAUNDERS
Price £239,736
0-62mph 3.1sec
Top speed Over 211mph
Economy 18.8mpg (with stop-start)
CO2 350g/km (with stop-start)
Kerb weight 1630kg
Engine V12, 6262cc, petrol
Power 730bhp at 8250rpm
Torque 509lb ft at 6000rpm
Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch auto
FERRARI F12 BERLINETTA
FERRARI F12 BERLINETTA
T
he day that Ferrari handed
us the keys to its new F12
may have been the longest
Sunday in history. It didn’t
start particularly early, but –
for one frazzled soul, at least
– it finished at 3.47am on Monday
morning. It didn’t really finish at all,
come to think of it. I had time for 42
minutes of rest before getting up
and leaving Maranello to board the
early flight home.
Eleven amazing hours in the car
and in front of a video camera were
followed by six hours at the keyboard
and a brush with a printer’s deadline
that left absolutely no margin for
error. The one thing that made it all
possible: a car so monumental that
the story all but wrote itself.
The F12 is a landmark – a
paradigm shift. It will have an
influence far greater than its sales
reach might imply. It rewrites the
rulebook on conventional ‘super-GT’
design – the class made up of the
grandest of grand touring coupés.
Cars with front-mounted V12 engines
and 2+2 seating, which Ferrari made
its own with the 1968 Daytona.
Because the F12 proves that practical,
long-legged exotics needn’t be so big.
They needn’t be so heavy. In fact,
they can be as razor-sharp, fast and
rewarding as a full-blooded supercar
– and still be supremely usable.
The F12 is the first 12-cylinder
model ever made by Ferrari to be
smaller than the car it replaces,
regardless of which way you measure
it. It’s also significantly lighter
and stiffer but, at the same time,
more spacious than a 599. It’s more
powerful than a McLaren F1 and,
according to official figures, faster
to 62mph. It has incredible active
aerodynamics; it produces actual
downforce from as little as 70mph,
but it still has a drag coefficient to
rival a family saloon’s. Don’t ask me
how that’s possible, but I believe it.
And when you drive the F12, your
sense of awe only increases. This car
steers with the directness of a single-
seater. It’s a front-engined V12 that
just doesn’t know that understeer or
body roll exist. Its capacity for grip
and high-speed stability in Race
mode is almost as spine-tingling as
its appetite for slip angle when you
turn it all off.
It represents as much of a full-on
challenge on a circuit as a stripped-
out track special like a Porsche 911
GT3 RS. It’s not supremely easy to
get on terms with, but you wouldn’t
want it to be. Because, when you get
it right, the F12 can lap a track as
quickly as anything in the world. It’s
quicker around Fiorano, Ferrari’s
own test track, than an Enzo.
And besides all of that, it can still
DRIVEN 1.8.12
730bhp
The colossal power output from the
F12’s V12 engine packs more grunt
than a McLaren F1.
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 43
FORD FOCUS ST
SECOND OPINION
MATT PRIOR
Ford’s test track, Lommel.
A passenger ride I was
allowed to write about,
and a drive I wasn’t.
Mid-corner, change of camber, a lift
and… hello, lots of oversteer. “You
think it oversteers too quick, too
much?” asked the engineer sitting
next to me. I laughed. He laughed.
“No,” I said. From that point, I knew
this would be a great car.
THE NEW FORD Focus ST wouldn’t
have had to be good for it to stick in
the mind. Fast Fords, teased from
the firm’s vast machinations only
sporadically, are event cars in Britain.
No other brand of hot hatch, save
the VW Golf GTI, extracts as much
ink from us, and no other brand,
save perhaps Renault, earns as
much praise. The ST was different
in that it wasn’t solely intended for
the enthusiastic UK market. The car
was largely developed in the US, and
rather than throwing its considerable
weight behind trick chassis items,
Ford’s SVT division kept the Focus ST
relatively simple and the costs small.
The result is a £22k body blow to
its rivals. For the same money that
buys a new 1.4 TSI Golf, you can have
a 247bhp ST that seats four and hits
62mph in 6.5sec and 154mph, yet
managed 40.2mpg on our road test
touring run.
But figures, no matter how heart-
warming, don’t do the Focus justice.
Ford has cast its abilities wide, yet
somehow managed to prevent them
from spreading thin. Strong-willed
but soft-edged is how we described
it at our Britain’s Best Driver’s Car
event (where it was the only front-
wheel-drive model deemed worthy of
a place) and that almost says it all.
There’s mega-hatch pace and
dauntless, dynamic handling at
one end – fired by 250lb ft of torque
from 1750rpm and a zealous variable
steering rack – and considerate,
tightly manipulated comfort at the
other. Under the road test microscope,
the beguiling mix earned it 4.5 stars.
With any luck, the other half star will
be where the next Focus RS goes.
NIC CACKETT
Body roll is absent on
sinuous roads yet its
ride remains pliant
The ST possesses
dynamic handling
as well as usability
The £240k required
to sit here as owner
is money well spent
It’s not an easy car
to master but it
rewards its driver
DRIVEN 12.9.12
AUTOCAR
TOP 20
CARS 2012
44 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF
Price £23,500 (est)
0-62mph 8.4sec
Top speed 131mph
Economy 60.1mpg (combined)
CO2 109g/km
Kerb weight 1288kg
Engine 4 cyls in line, 1395cc,
turbo, petrol
Power 138bhp at 4500-6000rpm
Torque 185lb ft at 1500-3500rpm
Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch auto
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF 1.4 TSI 140
GT DSG 5DR
P
eople stopped in the street
for this car. I had far less
reaction in the new Mercedes
SL or Audi RS4 this year, so
it seems the Mk7 Golf is a
real head-turner. On three
different occasions while floating
around the scenic edges of Sardinia in
it, putting a video together, passers-by
stuck their head through the window
and said, “Nuovo Golf?” Then they
proceeded to talk some more in Italian,
but since they weren’t ordering coffee
or pizza, I couldn’t understand them.
Suffice to say that the hand waving
and admiring noises suggested they
were seriously impressed.
And rightly so. The new Golf is
painfully well executed. It’s bigger
but lighter, more efficient but
faster, more heavily equipped but
no more expensive.
Of course, it is still predictably
evolutionary. It’s a Golf, after all. But
it does feel of the class above, at least
in the maxed-out spec of our 1.4 TSI
GT test car. In particular, the optional
eight-inch colour touchscreen,
which senses your hand movements
before you’ve even touched it, gives
the impression of a real, upmarket,
executive car finish. It does things that
only the Mercedes S-class & Co would
have done a couple of years ago,
including offering a wi-fi hotspot in
conjunction with your smartphone.
And if all that isn’t enough to earn
it acclaim, the powertrain certainly is.
I played a game for a full hour where I
tried to find the flaw in the fuel-saving
cylinder deactivation technology.
I never managed to; it is almost
irritatingly good. And the tech also
serves to further improve refinement,
which is a truly outstanding element
of this car and another characteristic
stolen from one or two classes above.
It doesn’t stop there. You even
get adaptive dampers on the Golf.
It doesn’t transform the ride and
handling, but I came away convinced
that it is a good thing on a car used
in such a broad variety of countries.
What it doesn’t do is suddenly make
the Golf hugely entertaining. I wasn’t
thrilled by its scintillating handling,
more in awe of its capability overall.
So the Golf is still a little dull, but
it’s less anodyne than it was. And it is
even more faultlessly complete than I
had expected – the Swiss Army Knife
of everyday cars, with desirability,
attainability, efficiency and
outstanding refinement all wrapped
up in a subtly sharper design.
You could almost resent
Volkswagen’s relentless success – if
only it didn’t make such good cars.
VICKY PARROTT
This a classy, accomplished all-rounder
60.1mpg
The 1.4-litre turbo engine runs on two cylinders
when driven gently to improve fuel economy.
DRIVEN 3.10.12
SECOND OPINION
STEVE CROPLEY
For Golf, read
consistency. You’re
talking to someone who
vividly remembers the
original model’s fresh appeal and
logical design when it was launched
nearly 40 years ago. In this seventh
iteration it has the same feeling of
fitness for purpose — and it’s still
the class leader.
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 45
MCLAREN MP4-12C SPIDER
FIAT PANDA
THERE ARE THOSE who’ve accused
the regular McLaren MP4-12C of
lacking a certain something when
it comes to soul. They claim that it
has neither the styling flamboyance
nor the aural appeal of its equivalent
Ferrari, and that it isn’t as exciting to
drive as a result.
BOLD, LOVEABLE, AGILE and
peppy, we said in our road test
verdict. Everything a city car should
be. More often than not, such
statements are built on quicksand
– correct and concrete for the week
in which they are written, before
sinking into three feet of shifting
ground, waiting to be downtrodden
and downgraded by a successor. But
But these people need to drive
the Spider version of the 12C before
declaring it to be lacking beside its
nemesis from Maranello, because in
the Spider – which is louder, looks
sexier and is a touch faster and more
furious than the coupé – the new
McLaren has found its mojo.
the current Panda, already, after only
eight months of exposure, feels like it
might just be one of those cars whose
reputation continues to swell over
time rather than contracting.
Why? Well, those adjectives, what
we think a city car should be, are not
going to change until the planners
rip up our towns and start again. The
successful criteria are set in stone,
Were you working for Ferrari right
now, you’d have to be that little bit
more concerned about the progress
that Woking has made, especially
since McLaren Automotive, the
company, has yet to celebrate its
second birthday and has another,
rather more outrageous new car
that’s due to be unleashed next year.
It’s not just the extra noise that
makes the Spider seem so much more
alive than the coupé. The engine and
gearbox have been upgraded, too.
There’s more power from the twin-
turbo V8 engine, sweeter gearshifts
and more response – all of which will
make their way into the coupés for
the 2013 model year.
Most impressive of all, perhaps,
is that dynamically the Spider gives
away precisely zero to its coupé
sibling. Other than carrying an
extra 40kg (because of the electronic
system that operates the hard roof),
it is identical to drive in every way.
Except that it isn’t, of course,
because it’s better – not just louder
but more exciting somehow, too.
No wonder McLaren expects more
than 80 per cent of 12C customers to
choose Spiders from now on.
STEVE SUTCLIFFE
and the Panda ticks them off with
relish. It’s inexpensive, is cheerily
robust inside, swallows four adults,
is cheap to run and looks cute. Most
important, it drives with a singular
sense of itself. It doesn’t aspire to be a
scaled-down saloon car like the VW
Up; it’s a rough ’n’ tumble tyke with
nimbleness and attitude to overcome
its rival’s po-faced refinement.
Fiat’s boss has called the new
model “the official car for doing
whatever the hell you like”, and
that sentiment rings true again
and again. Certainly, the year ends
with us having driven objectively
better cars, but very few were as
attainable or as easy to enjoy in a
crowd as Fiat’s future classic.
NIC CACKETT
Spider is every bit a match for a 458
DRIVEN 17.10.12
DRIVEN 25.4.12
It’s the “official car
for doing whatever
the hell you like”
AUTOCAR
TOP 20
CARS 2012
46 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
TOYOTA GT86
GT86 shows what
can be achieved by
purity of purpose
DRIVEN 4.7.12
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 47
SECOND OPINION
MATT PRIOR
It’s not all about the
rear-end breakaway.
Okay, it’s mostly about
the rear-end breakaway.
But before that, there is the
30-second test: how a car feels in its
first few moments. GT86? Control
weights, perfect; driving position,
spot on. Later, I’d find the engine a
bit thrashy and the ride noisy, but the
good work had already been done.
Price £24,995
0-62mph 7.6sec
Top speed 140mph
Economy 36.2mpg (combined)
CO2 181g/km
Kerb weight 1275kg
Engine 4 cyls in line, 1998cc, petrol
Power 197bhp at 7000rpm
Torque 151lb ft at 6400-6600rpm
Gearbox 6-spd manual
TOYOTA GT86
T
ucked away in the intestines
of Autocar’s offices, in an
utterly anonymous stairwell,
there are shelves groaning
under the weight of a 100-year
archive. They are bound in
huge, pulpit-style books, covered in
dust and inked in history. They are
the independent automotive record
of the past century. All new models
are recorded and ranked among the
pages, of course, but very few become
a reference for the future or worthy
of revisiting in subsequent decades.
This year, 2012, has produced a
handful of such cars at the most. The
GT86 is one of them.
And not just because of the way it
drives, although we’ll come to that.
Not because it received a rare five
stars in our road test or earned the
coveted Britain’s Best Driver’s Car
title, even though both accolades
usually guarantee a lasting prestige.
No, it’s because the GT86, a car
summoned into being on the basis
of delighting its driver, was not
designed and engineered by Porsche
or Lotus or Ferrari; it was coaxed
from the benign, dour leviathan
that Toyota has become, with the
help of the conglomerate backwater
that is Subaru.
The senior partner in the deal had
shown recent previous, perhaps,
with the introduction of the freakish
Lexus LF-A in 2010, but that was
lunacy contained within the padded
cell of a £330,000 price. The GT86
is intended as an entry point for the
general public – for mass production,
the domain of numbers, scale and
discipline. Possibly that is why it took
so long to get right. The car, which
has just nine per cent commonality
with its siblings, seemed to dawdle
through several vague stages before
Toyota chief engineer Tetsuya Tada
and his Subaru counterpart, Toshio
Masuda, were apparently convinced.
What we wouldn’t give to have
been present during its prolonged
development. To find out who said
what, who stipulated all that purity
(rear-wheel drive, no turbocharging,
ordinary tyres), who insisted on
the precision and weight and focus,
and if any of them realised what a
revelation the final product would be.
Because that’s what we’re left
with: a car that not only eschews
the false idols of outright grip and
ever more extreme pace but also
stands as an irresistible sermon to
the rival possibility of low-speed,
high-happiness handling. That
combination, as in the original
Mazda MX-5 before it, makes the
GT86 the quintessential road car
solution for a world increasingly
disdainful of or terminally unsuited
to the thrill of high velocity.
Nevertheless, it is not perfect. Not
everyone is a diehard fan and we, too,
recognise its shortcomings. But, as we
pointed out in our definitive verdict
in the summer, the package is so
well conceived, and so persuasively
delivered, that the threat of
diminishment shadows any possible
alteration. More power? Perhaps, but
it isn’t intended to be fast and a turbo
would likely ruin the perfectly poised
throttle response. A bigger, better,
quieter interior? Well, okay, but we
wouldn’t want to add a single solitary
kilogram to Tada’s and Masuda’s
hard-won 1275kg kerb weight. A
slightly smaller price? Certainly.
Because then we could all afford
one. But, for once, we’re content to
let Toyota squeeze a profit out of this
particular model. They’ve earned it.
NIC CACKETT
1275kg
Toyota’s driver-focused car is 200kg
lighter than the Vauxhall Astra VXR.
AUTOCAR
TOP 20
CARS 2012
48 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
LOTUS EXIGE S
RENAULT TWIZY
SECOND OPINION
MATT SAUNDERS
Road tests on cars with a
50-mile range inevitably
involve a bit of towing.
We had concerns that
the Twizy, with its tiddly axle track,
wouldn’t fit on our trailer, but it
did — just about. And once it was up
there, passing people in traffic with
its scissor doors at head height, it
looked even more extra-terrestrial.
Kids jumped around and waved. And
so did plenty of their dads.
IT’S REASSURING TO think that, in
a world where corporate existence is
infused with committees, town hall
meetings, workspace assessments,
restructuring programmes and
future growth plans, there is still an
area untouched by management-
speak, where genius is allowed to
flourish unburdened. I like to call
such a haven a ‘Kimi Space’.
In Kimi Space, the phone rings,
THE QUESTION IS: are they
laughing with you, or at you? Either
way, they’re smiling, and probably
pointing, as you pass at anything up to
an indicated 52mph. There’s a decent
chance that you’ll be smiling, too, if
you’re in the driver’s seat of a Twizy,
and mostly for the right reasons.
The Twizy is, for me, the best
incarnation yet of the modern electric
car. Let’s be honest here: without
the assistance of an on-board power
supply, unless there’s a revolution
in battery technology, electric cars
are not viable family transport. Not
someone stops doing something
useful, answers it and listens for a
moment, before saying, “Leave me
alone. I know what I’m doing.” Then
they hang up. Several months later,
a large door from Kimi Space opens
and something like the new Lotus
Exige S rolls through it.
The Exige S is the best-driving Lotus
since the 2-Eleven, a car that, like this,
was an engineer’s car. A car whose
with their range. Not at their price.
Short-range, lightweight commuter
vehicles, though? Now you’re talking.
To my eyes, the Twizy is a sweet
piece of product design, unburdened
by the shocking finish and appearance
that blights, say, a G-Wiz. I’m sorry to
pick on the G-Wiz. I’ve nothing much
against it and, clearly, it sells. You see
plenty around town, but I’ve really no
idea why. A Twizy seems preferable to
me in every sense.
They’re a giggle, too. Some people
say the ride is too hard. It is firm, but
its body is light so it is easily deflected,
role and mechanical specification
was not decided, you suspect, by a
marketing department, but instead
by a bunch of like-minded technical
geniuses who made some tea, had
a sit down and thought, “You know
what I really want to do right now,
in the middle of this crapfest we find
ourselves in? I want to go and make
the best driver’s car I possibly can.”
So they did. And it’s wonderful. The
Exige S has power and poise to spare.
It is more than the sum of its Elise-
based parts should ever be. It is its
base elements taken to their extreme –
the extreme of what’s possible without
power steering, what’s acceptable
with its weak gearshift. It’s raucous,
raw, uncompromising, intimate and
engaging. It’s exactly the sort of car
that Lotus does best.
MATT PRIOR
and you can’t slacken the suspension
because the body is tall. There has to
be an underlying firmness to retain
stability. There’s really no alternative.
As a result, the Twizy is hilariously
agile. It’s genuinely good fun to drive,
with accurate, feelsome, unassisted
steering, approachable limits and
sufficient narrowness that you
can thread it between bollards you
shouldn’t (shhh). It’s pricey, but
as an urban commuter it’s a real
hoot. Whisper it, but I’d love to try
a petrol-engined one…
MATT PRIOR
As a driver’s car, this is the best Lotus since the 2-Eleven
Everything you need, plus a gearshift you probably don’t
If the looks don’t
get you, the smile-
inducing drive will
DRIVEN 16.5.12
DRIVEN 25.4.12
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 49
PAGANI HUAYRA
Price €849,000, plus local taxes
0-62mph 3.3sec
Top speed 224mph
Economy 25.7mpg (combined)
CO2 343g/km
Kerb weight 1350kg (dry)
Engine V12, 5980cc, twin-turbo, petrol
Power 720bhp at 5800rpm
Torque 738lb ft at 2250-4500rpm
Gearbox 7-speed automated manual
PAGANI HUAYRA
T
he 720bhp, 230mph Huayra
was probably the wildest and
certainly the fastest car that
we drove this year. But then
they don’t tend to do things by
halves at Pagani. Never have
done, never will.
The legendary Zonda that preceded
the Huayra (pronounced why-raa)
was one of the world’s maddest, most
iconic supercars, so replacing it was
always going to be tough. Especially
since Horacio Pagani had decided
that he wanted to sell his new car in
America (unlike the Zonda), which
meant that all sorts of noise and
emissions regulations would need to
be adhered to this time round.
In the event, what Pagani came
up with was breathtaking – quite
literally, given the fact that the car
had to have a turbocharged engine
in order to ensure it of a 10-year shelf
life. But the Huayra’s 6.0-litre twin-
turbo V12, designed and engineered
specifically for the car by AMG, isn’t
exactly your run-of-the-mill force-
fed engine. This is a monster of a
powerhouse in every way imaginable,
and it defines the Huayra’s
personality every bit as much as its
beguilingly aerodynamic lines or its
actively aero-enhanced chassis do.
On the road, the latest Pagani feels
heart-stoppingly fast, especially in
the mid-range, when the effects of
738lb ft of torque do their best to blast
your internal organs straight out of
your back whenever the throttle is
floored. Only the brave or genuinely
stupid reach for the button that turns
the traction control off, for although
the Huayra’s mid-engined chassis is
exceedingly well mannered most of
the time and is aided in its cause by
over 400kg of active downforce above
150mph, it’s still a rear-wheel-drive
monster that’ll bite your arm off in a
heartbeat if you treat it badly.
As ever with Pagani, the cartoon-
like interior of this car provides
almost as much entertainment as the
driving experience. In both cases,
some will find what the Huayra offers
too extreme. But given that Pagani’s
order books are now full for the next
three and a half years, there are also
plenty who think otherwise and love
the Huayra for what it is: one of the
world’s craziest, most exciting cars.
You can count us among them.
STEVE SUTCLIFFE
When the traction
control is off, it will
end in smiles or tears
It’s mad inside, mad
to drive and deeply,
madly entertaining
DRIVEN 18.7.12
AUTOCAR
TOP 20
CARS 2012
50 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
BMW 320D
SECOND OPINION
STEVE SUTCLIFFE
It feels as if BMW spent
absolutely massive
amounts of money on
this car, so good and so
complete does it feel to drive. But
BMW didn’t, apparently, which makes
it all the more impressive, in my view.
Price £29,080
0-62mph 7.7sec
Top speed 146mph
Economy 61.4mpg (combined)
C02 120g/km
Kerb weight 1495kg
Engine 4 cyls, 1995cc, turbodiesel
Power 181bhp at 4000rpm
Torque 280lb ft at 1750-2750rpm
Gearbox 6-spd manual
BMW 320D SPORT
E
very time we spend time with
a BMW 3-series, especially if
it’s the miracle-working 320d,
sooner or later someone falls
to wondering out loud whether
this isn’t the best saloon car in
the world. And despite the received
wisdom that the best car in the world
is much bigger and much, much more
expensive, there’s usually plenty of
support for the idea.
Everyone knows the reasons by
heart. This compact, rear-drive
four-door saloon – powered by a
well made but relatively ordinary
2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel
engine, driving through a common-
or-garden six-speed manual gearbox
– has repeatedly been proven to have
a breadth of capability that simply
eludes even the best rivals.
It offers amazingly high
performance (a 146mph top speed
and a 0-62mph sprint time of 7.7sec)
yet its official combined economy
figure of 61.4mpg is supported by
our own just-as-spectacular road
test touring figure of 56.8mpg. Its
terrific high-speed stability and sure
on-limit handling are accompanied
by a docility at a dawdle that is no
less impressive. It has decent cabin
accommodation for four. And a big
boot. And a big name.
Despite all this, you can buy one of
these fine cars – our road test team
gave it the elusive five stars when we
tested it back in February – for just
over £29,000, or for £9000 more if
you buy it with the bells and whistles
of our test car, which included £540
18-inch alloy wheels, £750 M Sport
suspension, a £450 cabin comfort
pack, Dakota leather at £1265,
‘Professional’ sat-nav for £2000, £610
metallic paint, £180 Servotronic
power steering and £925 adaptive
xenon headlights. BMW has not lost
its penchant, on option prices, for
charging like the Light Brigade.
But it’s the quality of what you
buy that makes the car so special.
The car is fairly low, and you sit low
in it. The steering wheel is relatively
high, and you have a clear view of the
typically BMW instruments (they
hardly ever seem to change) through
its top semi-circle from the comfort
of your supportive seat. The fascia is
a slightly confusing asymmetrical
sculpture, with an infotainment
screen sprouting from its centre,
behind two rectangular dash vents.
The steering wheel is the usual thick-
rimmed design with a big triangular
boss and the familiar blue-and-white
roundel level with your chest.
The engine sounds sporting for
a diesel and behaves that way, not
least because it offers decent shove
between 1200rpm and 5000rpm,
a wide band for a diesel. The 320d
dismisses the 0-60mph sprint in a
time worthy of a Volkswagen Golf
GTI not many years ago, while using
half the fuel. The gearlever moves
with what our road testers termed
“cushioned accuracy” and the ratios
are widely spread so the car can
cruise at over 100mph while showing
less than 3000 in top (and only three-
and-a-bit in fifth).
The chassis is lovely – flat-
riding in Comfort mode but supple
enough for UK back roads and UK
passengers, yet good enough in Sport
not to be disgraced on a circuit. The
Servotronic steering is lovely to heft,
perfectly weighted and accurate, and
the brakes have all the energy one
needs in a car that wants to be driven.
Again and again, you wonder if this
paragon of driving pleasure can
really be a 2.0-litre diesel.
Better yet is the ownership
experience. Against all comers,
BMWs are reliable and long lasting
and hold their value. So you can buy
to move the car on fairly quickly,
or run it for a decade. Best of all, as
you drive, you repeatedly detect the
thoroughness and enthusiasm of the
people who engineered this car; they
have built, pound for pound, one of
the finest cars on the road.
STEVE CROPLEY
DRIVEN 22.2.12
Whatever the mood
or road in question,
it has the answer
The driving position
is excellent, as is
the interior quality
7.7sec
Hot-hatch acceleration and 61.4mpg economy
provide an untouchable all-round package
thanks to the 320d’s brilliant diesel engine.
AUTOCAR
TOP 20
CARS 2012
52 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
DACIA DUSTER
W
hen you think of ‘proper’
off-roading, you think of
the Bornean jungle, or
Icelandic lava fields. Not
some woods just off the
A130 near Chelmsford.
Yet that was where I found myself,
wagging a road-biased wheel about
four feet over an alarming hollow and
contemplating just how grovelling
an apology I’d have to deliver to earn
forgiveness for whatever damage
I was surely about to cause to our
Dacia Duster test car.
The plan was to take the 4x4
Duster 1.5 dCi to a muddy location
to find out just what this soft-roader
could do compared with our class
champion, the Skoda Yeti 2.0 TDI
140. It turned out that both could do
way more than I expected. The extent
of the angle they could reach, the
mud slide they’d scrabble through
and the amount of confidence they
inspired while doing so was wholly
unexpected. It was like getting
stranded in the wilderness with your
hitherto unexceptional uncle, only to
discover that he’s actually Ray Mears.
But that’s when you get
complacent. Uncle Ray may be able
to make a shelter and dinner out
of nothing but grass cuttings and
a cheery demeanour, but even he
wouldn’t be able to save someone
going in search of trouble.
So clearly, we never should have
tried the water splash picture. But
we did. And sure enough, after some
very scientific stick-dipping depth
measurement, we succeeded in
plunging the Dacia to a watery halt.
And so the grovelling apology was
needed after all, although mercifully
our Duster test car emerged
unscathed after being towed out
by one of the modified Land Rover
Defenders run by Essexoffroad.com.
Not the greatest on
road but capable off
it and superb value
DRIVEN 12.9.12
£8995
The starting price for the Duster,
redefining value-for-money
motoring and embarrassing
other car manufacturers.
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 53
MERCEDES SL
SECOND OPINION
MATT SAUNDERS
Not sure that you’d call
me one of the lucky few,
but I am one of not very
many Brits to have driven
a Tata Nano. The Duster struck
me as even better value than the
world’s cheapest new car. Useful,
go-anywhere family transport for
less than the price of a new supermini.
It’s too good to be true, really.
Price £14,995
0-62mph 12.5sec
Top speed 104mph
Economy 53.3mpg (combined)
CO2 137g/km
Kerb weight 1294kg
Engine 4 cyls, 1461cc, turbodiesel
Power 109bhp at 4000rpm
Torque 177lb ft at 1750rpm
Gearbox 6-spd manual
DACIA DUSTER 1.5 DCI LAUREATE 4X4
Skoda Yeti and live happily ever after.
So this is why the Dacia Duster
deserves to be in our top 20. With a
frankly unfeasible £8995 starting
price in its entry-level guise, it brings
a refreshing sense of realism to the
UK market. It’s far from perfect but,
in Britain in 2012, it’s arguably the
most relevant new car out there.
VICKY PARROTT
The whole experience with the
Dacia had been a joy up until this
point. Not because it had proved
remarkably accomplished on road;
it hadn’t. It had all the high-speed
directional stability and refinement
of a cross-channel ferry and a
‘leather’ interior that clearly had its
origins in crude oil rather than cows.
Yet I was totally charmed by this
SUV, which, for all its objective
flaws, brought a whole new level of
attainability to the world of SUVs.
Despite costing just £15k, our car
came with Bluetooth, climate control,
remote audio controls and lockable
four-wheel drive. It also benefited
from the decent 1.5 dCi motor, a
roomy, squared-off cabin and an
appealingly spongy ride quality.
Provided you weren’t going to use
it to do daily circuits of the M25, it
was easy to see why you might save
yourself £8k over the equivalent
Longevity is assured,
along with luxury
and sophistication
THE LIFE OF a road tester isn’t
usually one of privilege. For every
unforgettable day, there’s at least a
week spent measuring legroom on
MPV comparison tests. In the rain.
I’m sensing the groundswell of
sympathy here, and I understand
why it mightn’t be forthcoming.
Because days like the one when you
get to drive a new Mercedes SL could
outweigh a thousand ordinary ones.
In the first place, you feel fortunate
just to be in the business long
enough to outlast one. We’re only
on the sixth-generation SL. Each
previous version has lasted an
average of 11 years; the ‘R107’
generation made it to the grand old
age of 17. My career as a motoring
hack nearly ended after two months,
after I stuffed a Smart Roadster. This
isn’t a car; it’s a monolith.
And then, when you do arrive at
the international press launch, you
discover that Mercedes tends to push
the boat out on special occasions
like these. That’s why it emptied
the works restoration department
to provide several examples of
every generation of the SL since the
original Gullwing, before simply
inviting you to indulge.
It was impossible to come
away feeling anything other than
wonder for the perennial majesty of
Mercedes’ 60-year-old grand touring
legend – and, more important, being
totally convinced of the safety of that
legend in the hands of the people who
created the new ‘R231’ generation
of it. The SL continues to be utterly
devoted to cosseting luxury; if you
spec it right, it’s entirely uncorrupted
by sporting ambition. No convertible
in the world is better distinguished
or greater of stature. And none in the
world appeals to me more.
MATT SAUNDERS
DRIVEN 7.3.12
SECOND OPINION
NIC CACKETT
The only car I’ve ever felt
guilty for eating a service
station McDonald’s in. The
SL is so assuredly upper
class that sullying its interior with Big
Mac lettuce felt about as appropriate
as tagging my grandad’s coffin just
before it went into the ground.
AUTOCAR
TOP 20
CARS 2012
54 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
PORSCHE 911 CARRERA S
SECOND OPINION
MATT PRIOR
There’s a small circuit
at Bedford Autodrome
that is used primarily
for pulling skids in small
cars. But there’s nowhere better
for demonstrating the pendulous
handling of a 911, Scandinavian
flicking into one slide after another.
Left leads to right leads to short
straight into left, right, and repeat
ad lib to brake fade.
Price £81,242
0-62mph 4.5sec
Top speed 188mph
Economy 29.7mpg (combined)
CO2 224g/km
Kerb weight 1415kg
Engine 6 cyls horizontally opposed,
3800cc, petrol
Power 394bhp at 7400rpm
Torque 324lb ft at 5600rpm
Gearbox 7-spd manual
PORSCHE 911 CARRERA S
O
ur first UK test of the all-
new Porsche 911 – the 991
generation – didn’t need
more excitement. Besides the
obvious inclusion, it involved
three of the market’s best
incumbent sports cars in a Jaguar
XKR, a Lotus Evora S and an Audi
R8. It also involved an afternoon with
Anglesey circuit all to ourselves.
We could have done without the
driving snow, to be Iair. And as Ior
the incident that almost interlinked
the Ireezing mountain road, the
aIorementioned Porsche, the
seemingly unstoppable slide and the
pitch-black 500It drop that was
deIinitely surplus to requirements.
Still, at the end oI those couple
oI days, the 911 was the only thing
anyone really wanted to talk about.
And I remember being as relieved to
report that the car had survived as I
was to be able to say that it was JRRG.
Faster, more civilised and better
balanced, sure, but still so idiosyncratic
when you peel away the layers.
For months, the concern around
the oIIice had been palpable. Was
the unthinkable to be thunk? Could
one oI a dwindling group oI true
sporting characters leIt in cardom have
been sanitised by Porsche`s attempt
to bring it up to date? The longer
wheelbase, the electric steering, that
alien-looking seven-speed manual
gearbox. how many sit comIortably
in this wonderIul, lasting rear-engined
enigma? And in a proper purist`s
car, judged against the excellent 997
version oI the 911, could this really be
considered progress?
It could. All right, so isolated
parts oI the new 911 aren`t perIect
or even as good as they used to be.
Steering Ieedback isn`t as dazzling as
it was in the 996, the shiIt quality is
nothing compared with that oI the 997,
and throttle response still hasn`t Iully
recovered Irom the addition oI direct
Iuel injection in 2008.
But these are trivial issues that just
don`t enter your head aIter the 991
has delivered you to the end oI a long,
high-energy cross-country blast.
Between the touring manners, the cabin
quality, the more settled ride and the
improved directional stability, all you
perceive is improvement. And then
only once the memory oI the 911`s vivid,
absorbing motive charms has Iaded.
A month later our road test declared
the 991 an 'outstanding¨ class leader.
And although the car Iailed to sweep
all beIore it at Britain`s Best Driver`s
Car 2012, nothing and no one has
altered its status since.
MATT SAUNDERS
It’s more civilised,
faster and still full of
unique 911 character
Quality and solidity permeate the cabin
DRIVEN 8.2.12
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 55
RENAULT CLIO
MERCEDES C63
AMG BLACK SERIES
Clio is now back to
rubbing shoulders
with the very best
Brutishly purposeful yet also civilised
JUST WHEN RENAULT most needs
a star performer, it seems to have
produced one. The French firm has
been having a hard time selling cars
across Europe, challenged for every
sale by a pincer movement from VW
and Hyundai-Kia. Its model range
lost so much momentum in the UK
last year that at the beginning of 2012
it killed all but four of the models it
sells here, awaiting better cars to sell.
The big fightback begins next
February, when the new-shape Clio
goes on sale. The car – longer, wider,
lower and 100kg lighter than its
predecessor – is based on the well-
proven running gear of the outgoing
Clio but features new and much more
characterful interior and exterior
designs by a team led by Laurens van
den Acker, the ex-Mazda design boss
appointed by Renault in 2009.
The big news for more basic
models is a brand-new 89bhp, 898cc,
three-cylinder turbo engine. There’s
still a normally aspirated 1.2-litre
four for entry-level models and
the familiar 1.5-litre turbodiesel is
offered again. There’s also a semi-
sporting 1.2-litre GT petrol turbo
model coming to fill the gap to a new
197bhp Renaultsport model.
IT MUST BE somewhat weird to
work behind the door that’s marked
‘Black Series division’ at Mercedes
AMG. One day, it seems, you’ll
produce a car that most of the world
will fall about laughing at on account
of it being, well, not very good
(SLK55, anyone?). And yet, on other
There’s no doubting that the new
Clio looks great. We tested the Clio
TCE 90, powered by the new triple,
and it looked even better than you see
in many photographs: fresh, modern
and distinctive. Same goes for the
interior. The fascia is dominated by
its seven-inch touchscreen. This is
the first mainstream Renault to get
the new R-link infotainment system
and it adds much to the car’s appeal.
On the road, the new Clio instantly
feels mature, because road noise is
low and it seems more composed
over low-speed jitters than before.
But it is more agile, too, because the
rack and pinion steering has quicker
gearing, the suspension has been
rerated and the car is lighter. Faults?
It floats a bit more than we expected
at high speeds (is this the return of
‘funny’ French suspension?). And we
were surprised that the free-spinning
three-cylinder engine wasn’t just a
little more tractable, given the fact
that its rapidly expanding retinue of
three-pot rivals usually are.
Still, the Clio is a great little car
again, engaging inside and out, and
ready to lead a French fightback. It
has much work to do.
STEVE CROPLEY
DRIVEN 17.10.12
DRIVEN 5.9.12
SECOND OPINION
MATT SAUNDERS
The tyres weren’t quite
pristine the day that the
C63 AMG Black Series
showed up at the MIRA
test track, so we saved the dry
handling lap times until last. The
circuit surface is unusually abrasive,
sure, and once a fast lap was set, the
electronics were quickly turned off.
But the rear covers lasted a grand
total of 12 laps before one of them
exploded. What a beast.
days, you’ll come up with cars that
will stun the exact same audience
into complete and utter silence, so
complete and so capable are those
cars at what they can do.
The latest endeavour of the Black
Series division’s labours, the C63, is
very possibly the best of the lot. The
more we drove it this year, the better
it seemed to get – to a point where
it actually managed to top the time
sheets and get close to an outright
win at the 2012 Britain’s Best Driver’s
Car contest, held on the wide open
spaces of Bedford Autodrome.
Considering the machinery that
it was up against, the C63’s raw
speed against the stopwatch was
extraordinary, but it was the way
it went about murdering the lap at
Bedford that impressed the most.
It was quick through the corners,
powerful under brakes, outrageously
rapid down the straights and,
perhaps best of all, perfectly civilised
to drive out on the public road.
The C63 Black may be way the other
side of expensive at a barely credible
£110,000, but if ever a hotrod based
on something far more humble can be
worth that kind of money, this is it. A
future classic has been born, and how.
STEVE SUTCLIFFE
AUTOCAR
TOP 20
CARS 2012
56 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
MORGAN
3 WHEELER
SECOND OPINION
VICKY PARROTT
You know the grit when a
road is being resurfaced?
At 20mph, on a quiet
Surrey back road, I stuck
the Morgan’s front wheels in the grit-
free tracks left by other vehicles, and
neglected to consider that this left
the rear wheel entirely traction-free
on loose gravel. It was the most fun
I’ve ever had on a public road.
Price £25,000
0-62mph 8.0sec
Top speed 115mph
Economy 35.0mpg (combined)
CO2 215g/km
Kerb weight 580kg
Engine V2, 1983cc, petrol
Power 80bhp at 5250rpm
Torque 103lb ft at 3250rpm
Gearbox 5-spd manual
MORGAN 3 WHEELER
T
he Morgan Motor Company’s
modus operandi is like a
cardigan that, if you keep it for
long enough, will eventually
become fashionable again.
Things happen in Malvern
that are beyond the realm of the rest
of the car industry; only on Morgan’s
website could the top news story
read, “Ash dieback disease will not
affect production.” And only Morgan
could release a three-wheeler like
this. Not just because it’s the only one
with the heritage, but also because
it’s the only car maker bonkers
enough to sign it off.
But what a stroke of genius. Four-
wheeler legislation is so tight that
you can’t have sticky-out switches
in the cabin. You can’t have head
traps in the bodywork; you can’t
have remotely sharp edges. Look at a
Radical SR3 SL and you’ll see, with
its narrow wing and slats in the side
and rounded splitter, the lengths to
which niche car makers must stretch
to gain even limited type approval.
The 3 Wheeler, though? Well,
that’s a trike, not a car, so more of
the ‘bike’ regulations apply. Want
a two-cylinder, air-cooled motor
hanging over the front axle and
toggle switches inside the cabin?
Fill your boots.
And what a machine that results.
We gave the 3 Wheeler five road test
stars with very good reason: we test
cars on their fitness for purpose. This
car’s entire purpose is to make you
smile and, if it doesn’t, chances are
you haven’t driven it yet. There were
a few doubters in the office that it
was worth the score. So we sent them
down the road in it and they came
back, converted.
The 3 Wheeler brings its limits to
you; it doesn’t, like so many sports
cars, expect you to step up to some
extraordinarily heady heights that
would, a few decades ago, have been
the dynamic preserve of F1 and top-
line sports car drivers. It’s utterly
relevant to the world we live now in.
So we invited it to our Britain’s
Best Driver’s Car contest, where
its suspension broke, quickly and
without warning, on the circuit, of its
own accord. Our driver was shaken,
but there was no contact. If it had
happened on the road, he might not
have been so lucky.
At that point, suddenly, you
realise that Morgan does exist in
the same industry as everyone else.
To its credit, within days Morgan
had uprated the front wishbones on
new-build models and promised a
free set of the stronger wishbones
for existing customers – although it
didn’t recall the 3 Wheeler or foot the
cost of the swap. For what it’s worth, I
still think it should do both.
But don’t let that affect what the
3 Wheeler represents: the industry
doing what it does best, suiting our
wants, not our needs. As so many
mainstream car makers are learning
to their cost, people don’t want
boring cars. What Morgan does today
is arguably more relevant than ever.
MATT PRIOR
DRIVEN 6.6.12
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 57
AUDI RS4
Only Morgan could
make a vehicle quite
like the 3 Wheeler
On a track or twisty
back road, it shows
real depth of talent
I FIND IT ridiculously easy to forget
that the Audi RS4 shares the same
engine and gearbox combination
as the RS5. I think of the RS5 as a
relatively keen coupé – one liked
more by this magazine than many
others – with a firm but poised ride,
decent tail-end adjustability and a
powertrain that is unremarkably
matched to it.
In the RS4, however, I think about
the powertrain quite differently. In the
RS4, the engine, a naturally aspirated
4.2-litre V8, feels phenomenal. It revs
to 8250rpm, where it makes its peak
power, and it drives through a twin-
clutch auto that feels, to me, every
inch as crisp and sharp as the one in
a Ferrari 458 Italia. This is an estate
car with a touring car drivetrain. It’s
utterly, stupendously outrageous.
And it can only be the body that’s
pulling me into this misconception.
It really can only be that, one minute,
the RS4 is quite happy to plod
along, adjustable dampers turned
to ‘Toddington to Leicester Forest
East’, lulling you into misjudging
its purpose as a fast but docile long-
distance wagon. Because if you turn
off the long and straight and head
to Wales or, better still, a circuit, the
RS4 reveals depths that surprised all
of us at times this year. It’s so fast, so
capable and, unusually, so adjustable
and understeer-resistant when
you take it by the scruff and bully it
around. No question, it is one of the
greatest of all RS Audis.
MATT PRIOR
2 cylinders
The 3 Wheeler’s air-cooled 2.0-litre V-twin engine
hangs out of the front of the car.
DRIVEN 17.10.12
SECOND OPINION
STEVE SUTCLIFFE
The way the RS4’s
diffs suck you towards
whichever apex you’re
aiming at is genuinely
spooky. As long as you keep your foot
in, though, it will look after you — until
you reach the point of no return and
then it’s truly goodnight Vienna.
AUTOCAR
TOP 20
CARS 2012
The 3 Wheeler’s air-cooled 2.0-litre V-twin e
hangs out of the front of the car.
58 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
CHEVROLET
VOLT
T
here was no better
preparation for a year
driving the Chevrolet Volt
than spending a year in a
Nissan Leaf. The biggest
downside of the Leaf was
its restricted range and prolonged
recharging time. Unlike the Leaf,
which relies entirely on its battery
pack, the electrically driven Volt has
the advantage of a back-up, petrol-
powered generator. At a stroke,
the Volt overcomes the problem of
‘range anxiety’ and has a potential
generator range of 270 miles per
(small) tank of fuel.
Although the battery pack is
smaller and less powerful than the
Leaf’s, the Volt should (unless it is the
middle of winter) deliver a 35-mile
range from the battery pack, enough
for a daily round-trip commute. And
it you want to take the Volt further
afield, it will run happily just on the
petrol engine/generator, which is
why it is the first really viable car
driven primarily by electricity.
Based on a heavily modified and
widened version of the GM Delta
platform (which is also used under
the Astra), the Volt has a five-and-a-
half-foot, 198kg, T-shaped battery
that runs down the centre tunnel
and under the rear seats. Up front, it
has a transversely mounted, 1.4-litre
petrol engine, good for 85bhp,
driving a 72bhp generator, which
can supply an electrical charge
straight to the electric motor that
drives the front wheels.
In terms of down-the-road
performance, what really matters is
the output of the electric motor. This
delivers 149bhp and a very healthy
273lb ft of torque from the moment it
starts running. The electric motor’s
combination of silence, smoothness
and fat torque curve is enhanced by
the single-ratio transmission. You
can’t get smoother gearchanges
than no changes.
Like the Leaf before it, the Volt’s
effortless pace and drivetrain
refinement in battery mode
would shame a serious luxury car,
although the Volt doesn’t quite have
the exceptional urban ride and
refinement that marks out the Leaf.
And when the Volt is in generator
mode, the peace of the cabin is
sometimes intruded upon by the
engine. Compared with a typical
diesel, however, the Volt is almost
executive-car silent.
And this is one of the unexpected
things about a car that is primarily
engineered for its environmental
performance: its surprising
luxury. The Volt is an exceptionally
comfortable place to spend long
hours. The driving position is first
class. The ride is good in town and
very good elsewhere. The boot is big
and the fold-flat rear seats make for a
substantial load bay.
This is not a car to fling around,
but the chassis tuning makes it feel
impressively taut and controlled,
with very accurate steering and great
high-speed stability. Overall, the
DRIVEN 30.5.12
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 59
SECOND OPINION
STEVE SUTCLIFFE
I drove the Chevrolet
Ampera for a week
and got something
like 120mpg out of it
overall. I loved it because it felt
different, relevant, interesting
and yet strangely conventional,
all at the same time.
Price £35,000
0-62mph 8.5sec
Top speed 100mph
Economy 60mpg (combined)
CO2 27g/km
Kerb weight 1715kg
Engine Electric motor; 4 cyls,
1398cc petrol generator
Power 149bhp
Torque 273lb ft
Gearbox Variable-ratio
CHEVROLET VOLT
The layout looks
eye-catching at first
but is conventional
Unlike Nissan’s Leaf,
the Volt feels happy
at high speeds
Expect an addiction to the mpg readout
Volt has a nice, clipped, controlled
balance and it is very happy at higher
motorway speeds – unlike the Leaf.
It was developed while GM was
bankrupt, so it is a minor miracle that
the Volt even exists. But by mixing
everyday electric commuting with
an otherwise unlimited fossil-fuel
range, the Volt is the most viable
mainstream EV in the 110 years that
the concept has been around. Of
course, we still have no real answer
to the cost and complexity of electric
cars and their battery packs. The
Volt’s fossil fuel economy is still poor
compared with similarly priced
production hybrids and diesels and it
is very expensive when seen solely as
a zero-emissions commuter car.
But the Chevrolet Volt is one of
the most original, thoughtful and
innovative mainstream cars that
we’ve seen for decades, not just over
the past 12 months.
HILTON HOLLOWAY
35 miles
The Volt’s range on the electric motor. If
your commute is less than this, you might
never have to visit a petrol station again.
AUTOCAR
TOP 20
CARS 2012
60 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
LAND ROVER
RANGE ROVER
it became a machine so special,
so stylish, so luxurious and yet so
capable that it instantly became a
star. An early model was exhibited
in the Louvre.
Things are very different now.
Everyone knows about Range
Rover excellence. The outgoing
model, in production for 11 years,
was considered good enough, late
last year, to raise concerns over
whether a new model could bring big
improvements. First drives revealed
the truth: the 2013 Range Rover is
so much better in so many ways that
T
he arrival of a new Range
Rover is practically a stop-
the-traffic national event.
The brand-new 2013 model
– a little larger, a lot lighter
and due in the hands of
earliest buyers in the first months
of 2013 – is only the fourth edition
since the original arrived in 1970 to
revolutionise the look and duty of all
future SUVs. Back then, even Land
Rover people didn’t know what they
had. The model was merely supposed
to broaden the capabilities of the
classic farmer’s Land Rover. Instead,
DRIVEN 31.10.12
it seems likely, despite worldwide
economic ills and unapologetically
high prices, that the model will be in
extreme demand for many months,
just like the Evoque before it.
The basis of the model is a new
aluminium monocoque body-chassis
that slashes up to 400kg from the
weight of the hefty outgoing model,
depending how you count. Three
engines are offered: a 255bhp twin-
turbo V6 diesel (not previously
offered), a 335bhp twin-turbo V8
diesel and a 503bhp supercharged
petrol V8. All put their torque
through various iterations of ZF’s
eight-speed paddle-shift automatic,
driving all four wheels via an
improved Terrain Response system,
now with an automatic function.
The exterior styling is unmistakable
but more sophisticated. The interior
seems even better than the outgoing
model’s, although with a simplified
switch and control layout.
Rear comfort is a special feature.
Land Rover hopes big extra sales will
come from Russia and China, where
such cars are often chauffeur-driven.
Thus, the rear compartment is larger,
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 61
PORSCHE BOXSTER
SECOND OPINION
NIC CACKETT
Best moment? Cresting
a particularly mighty
Moroccan sand dune on
the launch in a 5.0-litre
supercharged car. Everything that
the new model stands for — the
excess, the potency, the ground-
pounding go-anywhere power — was
best encapsulated in a six-second
sand-churning vertical sprint.
Price £94,695
0-62mph 6.9sec
Top speed 135mph
Economy 32.5mpg (combined)
C02 229g/km
Kerb weight 2300kg
Engine V8, 4367cc, twin-turbo, diesel
Power 334bhp at 4000rpm
Torque 516lb ft at 1750-3000rpm
Gearbox 8-spd automatic
RANGE ROVER 4.4 SDV8
AUTOBIOGRAPHY
IT ONLY TOOK a warm summer’s
evening, an unbroken stretch of
British B-road and some quality
time alone for me to fall in love with
the Boxster. I’d already driven the
car in the south of France, but that
was a PDK-equipped model with the
steering wheel on the wrong side and
a photographer in it; I’d gathered
enough to know that it was very good
indeed, but it hadn’t worked its way
under my skin.
A month or so later and Porsche
had the car in the UK, with a manual
stick shift and an empty passenger’s
seat adjacent to it. It was only the
standard 2.7-litre model (we’d road
test the pokier S) but its brilliant blue
paintjob matched the sky overhead
and it wasn’t lumbered with too
much optional extra chicanery. ‘Pure’
would be one word for it, and that’s
exactly what it felt like on my two-
hour route to the south coast.
We’ve spent thousands of words
since then dissecting the root
causes of this vague conviction,
but recalling that day, I remember
only the gushing, gravelly yowl of
the six-pot, the perfection of a fully
exploitable 263bhp and the sinewy,
scintillating quality of the handling.
Oh, and the expression on my face: a
slowly evolving smile that finished,
at 6700rpm, as an open-mouthed,
gleeful gasp. The minimum standard
for any car capable of putting wind
in its driver’s wig is invigoration,
but on that particular afternoon the
Boxster, in a country mostly built
from traffic jams and speed limits,
reminded me why this, right here, is a
‘best job in the world’ contender.
NIC CACKETT
DRIVEN 6.6.12
The new Boxster is
sharp, rewarding,
fast and refined
You can just drive
forever with this
view, in this cabin
Supreme luxury
travel, whatever
conditions outside
the seats are more cosseting (and
there are more design variations) and
the rear compartment controls and
fittings are even more impressive.
On the road, the Range Rover
is instantly recognisable for its
grand seating position, its fascia
and interior architecture. But it
is improved in every way. There’s
better stability (especially in corners
and under braking), the steering
is quicker to respond and there’s
an instant benefit from the weight
reduction: the new V6 diesel is
quicker (and more agile) than the
outgoing V8. A recent 1300-mile
trip in a V8 by our testers returned a
real-world 29.7mpg average, at least
on the trip computer.
No Range Rover traditionalist
will need reassurance about the
looks or positioning of this new one.
It is instantly recognisable, even
more imposing and even faster and
easier to drive. To repeat the words
of our testers, “It’s like a Range
Rover – only better.”
STEVE CROPLEY
SECOND OPINION
VICKY PARROTT
I’ll admit it. I love
roadsters, particularly in
sunny but cold weather,
so my autumnal drive
in the Boxster was unlikely to
disappoint. But what amazed me
was the car’s completeness. It’s
comfortable and luxurious, yet it has
the sort of delicacy and response to
its steering and chassis that makes
it a joy to drive, even at normal road
speeds. It surpassed expectations.
AUTOCAR
TOP 20
CARS 2012
MEGA CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY
We’ve teamed up with Silverstone, Goodwood and Car-Skin
to offer THREE readers a fantastic motoring package
Car-Skin Experience
Deluxe Pack
A copy of the
Autocar
Yearbook
2013
A pair of tickets
to Goodwood
Festival of Speed
A pair of tickets to
practice for the 2013
British Grand Prix
Enter via our Facebook page autocar.co.uk/facebook
TERMS AND CONDITIONS 1. To enter, ‘Like’ Autocar’s Facebook page and fill in the online form. 2. Entries close at 11.59pm on Wednesday 2 January 2012. 3. Entrants must be UK residents. 4. Only open to those who have held
a driving licence for at least three years and who are above 21 years old. 5.Silverstone vouchers must be redeemed by 31 May 2013. 6. Tickets to the British Grand Prix 2013 are for Friday 28 June. 7. Goodwood Festival of Speed
tickets are for the Friday of the festival, although the date has not been set yet. 8. No cash alternative. Prizes are non-transferable. 9. Only one entry per person. 10. Full terms and conditions can be found on the competitions
online entry form. For more information visit haymarket.com/privacy. The Promoter: Haymarket Media Group, Teddington, Middlesex TW11 9BE.
a
o
of the
ar
ook
he
p
Win! A supercar driving experience at Silverstone
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 63
Readers’ top 20 | Review
YOUR CAR
OF THE YEAR
The GT86 is a
return to the times
of an affordable,
fun car aimed at
people who enjoy
driving
We asked and you responded. More than 600 of you told us your
favourite car of 2012 — and it was a landslide win for Toyota’s GT86
20
19
18
17
16
15
14
13
11
10
9
8
7
6
1
2
3
4
5
12
Toyota GT86
21.5%
“It’s unreal to drive.
Proper driver’s car.
Well done, Toyota”
Mercedes C63 AMG
Black Series 11.7%
“Much more sophisticated
than most people think it is
(and yet mad)”
Porsche
Boxster 3.2%
“Awesome
handling,
handsome,
communicative
and a high-
tech gem”
Ferrari F12
Berlinetta 8.0%
“The concept of removing
body surfaces rather than
adding them to improve a
vehicle’s aerodynamic qualities
is fascinating”
Lotus Exige S 7.2%
“A real sports car with supercar performance
that you can use on the road or track. It’s at a
reasonable price and it looks great as well”
Pagani Huarya 6.5%
“Exciting? It can’t get more exciting
than this! Just sitting in one would be
an experience, but to drive…”
Range Rover 6.5%
“Astonishing. Definitive.
Unparalleled.”
Dacia Duster 5.0%
“Because sensible, no-frills
motoring doesn’t have to
mean driving a four-wheeled
domestic appliance”
Morgan 3
Wheeler 5.0%
“Because it just
makes me smile”
Fiat Panda 3.9%
“A car for the masses, sensibly
priced and competent in the
most important areas”
P
o
rs
c
h
e
9
11 3
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%
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64 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012 64 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
HOT HATCH
W
elcome to the Hot Hatch World Cup. Or, more accurately, Cups.
Our mission? To determine the optimal exponent of the most
useful automotive configuration conceived for enthusiasts living
in the real world. It comes in two parts. First, hatches from the past
fight to find a winner; then current ones do the same. Finally, from
the winners of each contest, an outright, all-time victor is named.
Just to get to the start, we whittled down a long list of 57 contenders to just
eight per contest, on a one car per country per contest basis. We had more than
eight eligible countries, but we’re journalists, not mathematicians, and the
tables started to look like quantum physics calculations. Besides, we doubted
that anyone would miss Malaysia and the Proton Satria GTI. We then seeded
each country in each contest according to the number and strength of their
entries, created a top and bottom half of each draw and let battle commence.
Finally, you may be wondering why certain cars are representing certain
countries. Essentially, unless we were flexible with the arrangements, we’d
not have a contest. Besides, if Kevin Pietersen can bat for England, the Ford
Focus can do the same for America.
There has never been a contest like it: eight of today’s best hot hatches, eight of
the best the world has ever seen, and one grand final. Andrew Frankel referees
THE CONTENDERS
FRANCE
Peugeot
205 GTI
Winner of
match 1
Winner of
match 3
Winner of
match 2
Winner of
match 4
GERMANY
Volkswagen
Golf GTI Mk1
ITALY
Lancia Delta
Integrale Evolutione
USA
Ford Focus
RS Mk1
SWEDEN
Saab 900
Turbo
JAPAN
Honda Civic
Type R
SPAIN
Seat Leon
Cupra R
BRITAIN
Talbot Sunbeam
Lotus
CEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
MATCH 1
MATCH 2
SEMI-FINAL 1
SEMI-FINAL 2
FINAL
MATCH 3
MATCH 4
Winner
of semi-
final 1
Winner of final 1
Winner
of semi-
final 2
PAST CONTENDERS
GREAT BRITAIN
Mini Cooper S
MG 6
Vauxhall Astra VXR
USA
Ford Focus ST
ITALY
Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.4
MultiAir
Fiat 500 Abarth
FRANCE
Renault Clio 200 Cup
Renault Mégane
265 Cup
GERMANY
Volkswagen Golf
GTI Mk6
BMW M135i
SPAIN
Seat Ibiza FR
CZECH REPUBLIC
Skoda Fabia vRS
Skoda Octavia vRS
JAPAN
Suzuki Swift 1.6 Sport
KOREA
Hyundai Veloster Turbo
CURRENT Nine countries, 15 candidates, one winner
000
NY

1
N
vic c
ta
l ti
3

usss
m
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 65
WORLD CUP
FRANCE
Renault Clio
200 Cup
Winner of
match 1
Winner of
match 3
Winner of
match 2
Winner of
match 4
GERMANY
BMW
M135i
USA
Ford
Focus ST
BRITAIN
Mini
Cooper S
CZECH
REPUBLIC
Skoda Octavia vRS
JAPAN
Suzuki
Swift Sport
S KOREA
Hyundai
Veloster Turbo
ITALY
Alfa Giulietta
1.4 TB MultiAir
CZECH REPUBLIC
Skoda Fabia VRs
FRANCE
Citroën AX GT
Citroën Visa GTI
Peugeot 106 GTI
Peugeot 205 GTI
Peugeot 309 GTI
Peugeot 306 GTI-6
Peugeot 205 Rallye
Renault 5 GT Turbo
Renault 5 Turbo One
Renault 5 Turbo Two
Renault Clio 182
Renault Clio Williams
Renault Mégane R26R
GERMANY
BMW 130i
VW Golf GTI Mk1
VW Golf GTI Mk2
VW Golf GTI Mk5
GREAT BRITAIN
Mini Cooper S
(BMW, Mk1)
Talbot Sunbeam Lotus
Vauxhall Astra GTE
16v Mk2
Vauxhall Chevette HS
MG ZS
ITALY
Alfa Romeo Alfasud
1.5 Ti Veloce Mk3
Alfa Romeo 145
Cloverleaf
Fiat Strada 130 TC
Fiat Cinquecento
Sporting
Fiat Tipo Sedicivalvole
Lancia Delta Integrale
Evoluzione
JAPAN
Daihatsu Charade GTti
Honda Civic Type R
Nissan Sunny GTI-R
Toyota Corolla GT (RWD)
Subaru Impreza
WRX STi
MALAYSIA
Proton Satria GTI
SEMI-FINAL 1
SEMI-FINAL 2
FINAL
Winner
of semi-
final 1
Winner of final 1
Winner
of semi-
final 2
CURRENT CONTENDERS
MATCH 1
MATCH 2
MATCH 3
MATCH 4
PAST Seven countries, 35 candidates, one winner
FR
R
RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEE
A
P
GGEERMA
JAP
S
VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV
B
66 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
Round 1, match 1
FRANCE vs
SWEDEN
Peugeot 205 GTI vs
Saab 900 Turbo
Neither the first nor the fastest,
but its lightweight, cute looks and
hair-trigger handling make the
205 GTI among the most fondly
remembered of all. Early cars enjoyed
disappearing backwards through
hedges, but by the time the 130bhp 1.9
arrived in 1987, the design had been
optimised to a point that, some say,
has never been beaten.
Its opponent is the Saab 900 Turbo,
offering bank-vault construction,
turbo lag and a requirement than you
locked it in reverse before removing
the key. Quirky and engaging but
lacking the driver involvement for
anything other than a round one exit.
Round 1, match 2
GERMANY
vs JAPAN
Volkwagen Golf GTI Mk1 vs
Honda Civic Type R
The idea of putting a fuel-injected
1.6 in a family hack and firming
up its suspension a little seems so
modest that it’s hard to see at 37 years
distance why the Golf GTI sparked a
revolution. Until you remember that
at the time Britain was producing an
Allegro with a square steering wheel.
The Type R Civic it faces is not the
most recently deceased version but
the one before, with double wishbones
all round, an engine happiest at
8000rpm and a no-prisoners attitude
to the open road. It’s a closer contest
than you might think, but the sheer
significance of the Golf means that
it’s Japan heading for an early bath.
Round 1, match 3
ITALY vs
SPAIN
Lancia Delta Integrale Evolutione vs
Seat Leon Cupra R
We know this isn’t fair, but nor is
Accrington Stanley being drawn
against Manchester United in the FA
Cup. Sometimes, it just goes that way.
The Lancia is the car that has it all:
killer looks, competition heritage,
a driving experience that lives in
the mind 20 years later and the oft-
overlooked fact that, with five doors,
four-wheel drive and a reasonable
boot, it makes a far better all-purpose
weapon than you might suppose.
Can the Leon offer more than
token resistance? We like its looks,
power and value, but will we still
be drooling over it 20 years after its
birth? In a word, no.
Round 1, match 4
USA vs
BRITAIN
Ford Focus RS Mk1 vs
Talbot Sunbeam Lotus
To drive a Sunbeam Lotus is to love a
Sunbeam Lotus. Powered by Lotus’s
famed 2.2-litre twin-cam engine in
a car with no discernible wheelbase,
it slides faster than you can say
“opposite lock” but is easy enough to
catch to make your mates think that
you are Tony Pond’s love child.
The first Focus RS is its antithesis:
front-wheel drive, turbocharged
and child’s play to drive at blinding
speeds across country. Today, it
might just be the best-value hot
hatch out there. Should it win this
contest? For the accessibility of its
performance combined with its
practicality, it does, just.
PAST CONTENDERS
Semi-final 1
FRANCE vs GERMANY
Peugeot 205 GTI vs Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1
Probably the toughest single decision of the entire competition as the two
classic hot hatches of yesteryear come up against each other in the semis. In
the Golf’s favour is that it was the first, the one without which the other may
not even have existed. Rightly or wrongly, that counts. Also, its build quality
relative to the Peugeot’s is Cologne cathedral to a sand castle.
The Peugeot is prettier and quicker, although that’s not enough to topple the
old-timer. But the simple genius of its chassis is. The 205 is no less practical
than the Golf but a whole world more involving to drive. It is our first finalist.
Semi-final 2
ITALY vs USA
Lancia Delta Integrale Evolutione vs Ford Focus RS Mk1
These two feel like cars trying to do similar jobs. They share supercar-slaying
point-to-point pace and the curious feeling that however much abuse you mete
out, they remain stoically on your side. But you’ll pay much less for the Ford.
Even so, the Lancia has a sense of occasion created by the way it looks and why
it looks that way. Its motorsport heritage can be seen in those wheel arches, felt
in its unpolluted steering and heard in the crisp bark of an engine with a fine
competition pedigree. It’s the only car in this contest that appeals not only for
what it is, but also for where it’s come from. The final is France versus Italy.
ROUND 1
SEMI-
FINALS
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 67
How do you compare these two?
The Peugeot is a blue-collar, mass-
market hatch that costs £7k for a
nice one. Mark Flower’s immaculate
Evo 2 Integrale is a blue-blooded
homologation special advertised by
Nick Johnson on PistonHeads for
£29,995. One has four-wheel drive,
a twin-cam, 16-valve head and a
turbo; the other, er, doesn’t. Natural
sparring partners they ain’t.
But although they may be
approaching from different
directions, their destinations are the
same: both intend to combine driver
involvement and common-sense
practicality into a blend so potent
that your heart and head will fight to
be first to the chequebook.
The Integrale goes first. These cars
are often misunderstood; they’re
not the sideways, gravel-spitting
monsters their rally reputation might
suggest. They are instead massively
effective ground-coverers. I once
gave up trying to follow one across
Devon; I was in a Ferrari Testarossa.
In many ways, age has improved
the Lancia. The appearance of
exterior and cabin alike, with its vast
Recaros and fighter jet dials, seem
more special than ever. The driving
position is terrible but you soon
adapt. The crisp engine note brings
the memories hurtling back, and
although it’s quick, it not the outright
pace that grabs your attention.
Instead, it’s the feel that’s so
striking, and I’m not just talking
about steering feedback. By luck
or design, Lancia engineered into
the Integrale a sense of specialness
that I’ve not found in another hatch.
Although the steering is superb,
the grip exceptional, the engine
characterful and the looks amazing,
none of these things explains it. It’s
as if Lancia bottled the essence of a
1990s Italian supercar and poured
the contents over an inexactly
assembled hatchback.
What can the humble 205 GTI do to
face down such an opponent? Unlike
the Lancia, which achieved greatness
by living at the technological
cutting edge, the Peugeot opted
for hair-shirt simplicity. There are
no frills, nothing clever under the
bonnet. What it does, instead, is
illustrate starkly just how much
can be achieved by keeping a car’s
concept pure, its design light and its
development obsessively honed.
So you have a relatively large
engine tuned for torque coupled to
old-style fuel injection designed to
maximise throttle response, with
fuel consumption not even on the list.
It runs through the slickest gearbox
ever fitted to a hatchback. This
powertrain mobilises a hatchback
lighter than a Lotus Elise S and as
throttle-sensitive as a 1960s racer. On
the right road, it fills and thrills your
heart; the rest of the time, it’s civilised
and spacious enough to use daily.
The 205 may not be quite as special
as the Delta, but it gets closer than its
raw material would ever suggest and,
incredibly, is even more involving to
drive. It is, by a distance, the greater
achievement, which is why it wins.
THE FINAL
FRANCE vs ITALY
Peugeot 205 GTI vs Lancia Delta Integrale Evolutione
YOUR HEART AND HEAD WILL FIGHT
TO BE FIRST TO THE CHEQUEBOOK
HOT HATCH
WORLD CUP
68 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
ROUND 1
SEMI-
FINALS
Round 1, match 1
FRANCE
vs CZECH
REPUBLIC
Renault Clio 200 Cup vs
Skoda Octavia vRS
Once, the idea of a 150mph Skoda
would have been as implausible as a
base-jumping tortoise, but not even
Golf GTI running gear can stop the
Octavia vRS being slam-dunked off
the pitch by the Clio 200 Cup.
True, the Skoda is more sensible
and, in this world, that counts. But
not as much as the Clio’s ability to
make you laugh until your ribs crack.
That Skoda even made the cut shows
how far the company has come, but
its encounter with this Clio shows
only how much further it has to go.
Round 1, match 2
GERMANY
vs JAPAN
BMW M135i vs Suzuki Swift Sport
The BMW M135i might be expected
simply to blast the little Swift off the
field. Not so.
Truth is, we love the Swift Sport for
its honesty, simplicity and back-to-
basics fun. It may be modern, but on
its bedroom wall you’ll find pictures
of 205 GTIs and Alfasuds. If you
believe less is more and if value really
matters, go and drive one.
It only fails to progress here
because of a BMW that also takes
us back to another era, evoking as it
does the memory of the original M3.
It may not be a proper M-car, but the
M135i is BMW’s current Ultimate
Driving Machine.
Round 1, match 3
USA vs
SOUTH
KOREA
Ford Focus ST vs
Hyundai Veloster Turbo
No prizes for guessing this one, the
Hyundai playing tethered goat to
the Ford’s grizzly bear. The Focus
will encounter far stiffer opposition
later on, but to extend the animal
metaphor a little further, the
Veloster’s here on the dancing dog
ticket: it’s not the quality of the dance
that matters but the fact that it’s
dancing at all.
The Focus needs no qualification
at all and treats the Veloster as little
more than an amuse bouche to warm
itself up for the courses to come.
Round 1, match 4
UK vs ITALY
Mini Cooper S vs
Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.4 TB MultiAir
How good it is to see Italy at last able
to offer a credible contender. For fans
of hot hatches from the country that
brought you not only the Integrale
but also the fabulous Fiat Strada
130 TC and the Alfasud, pickings
have been slim and grim of late.
But the MultiAir Giulietta is pretty,
capable and powered by a genuinely
exceptional and characterful engine.
It’s just a little too slow and serious
when faced with a Cooper S snapping
at its ankles. Imagine a terrier
chasing a spaniel and you’ll have the
right idea. The Mini is so much more
involving that not even the Alfa’s
considerable charm is going to spare
it the long walk home here.
Semi-final 1
FRANCE vs GERMANY
Renault Clio 200 Cup vs BMW M135i
With front-wheel drive, a greater-than-100bhp deficit and a price barely half
that of its rival, the Clio could have been flattened. But its lightness and agility
let it duck and weave its way around most of that which the BMW lobs at it.
Indeed, while the M135i still feels like the warmed-up 1-series that it is, the
Clio feels like a bespoke product, unrelated to the humble hatch upon which
it is based. It’s more hardcore than the BMW and more rewarding. As a car to
own, we’d take the M135i and, for the money, you’d expect nothing less. But as
a thing to drive, we’d choose the Clio every time.
Semi-fnal 2
USA vs UK
Ford Focus ST vs Mini Cooper S
An odd contest, not least because both could have represented Germany. As it
is, this represents Britain’s and America’s only chance of getting a car to a final.
It’s the Focus that secures it for Uncle Sam, but by less than you might think.
Most hot hatches are often less exciting to drive than memory serves, but the
Cooper S is the reverse, always that bit more incisive and invigorating than
you’d expect. As fun as the Focus? It’s really close. Then again, the fact that a
heavier five-door can even get on to terms with the Mini is a great achievement.
The fact that it does so while offering space and civility clinches it.
CURRENT CONTENDERS
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 69
For most of the early history of the
hot hatch, this final would have been
Volkswagen versus Peugeot. And
although we rate the current Golf
GTI and have huge hopes for the
next, the fall from grace of Peugeot is
shocking to see. The most recent of
its cars even to make the long list was
launched last century.
But Peugeot’s loss has been
Renault’s gain and the Clio squares
up the Focus ST without flinching.
The Ford is bigger and stronger
but that didn’t stop the Renault
delivering a decisive blow to the
BMW M135i in the semis. It’ll take
more than a large tangerine Ford to
intimidate this Clio into submission.
The Ford, however, would never
have got this far on size and power
alone; it is anything other than the
brute force and bloody ignorance
machine it might appear to be. Yes, its
247bhp easily trumps the 197bhp of
the naturally aspirated Clio, but the
fact that it’s quicker explains little.
What makes the ST such a
formidable opponent is that it’s
even more fun to drive than it
looks, thanks to two extraordinary
talents. The first is a turbo engine
that retains throttle response so
good most of the time that you
could mistake it for a large-capacity
atmospheric engine.
Secondly, Ford has been
phenomenally brave with the car’s
set-up. As if stung by comments
about how dulled the standard
Focus had become relative to its
predecessor, Ford seems determined
that this was one car no one would
ever say lacked bite in a corner. And if
that meant making the rear anti-roll
bar out of railway track, so be it.
Lighter and shorter of wheelbase
as it is, the Clio relies on a balance
more natural than imposed to
provide its throttle-steered fun. To
this end, its philosophy is rather old-
school and deliciously so at that.
But adore the Clio though we do, it
is that very sense of having been here
before that ultimately undoes it. It
may be traditional in concept, but its
execution cannot be; the Peugeot
205 GTI weighs 909kg, the Clio
1240kg, and not even Renaultsport
engineers can disguise that.
The Ford is heavier still (although
by only 122kg) but it’s playing an
entirely different game, one that
looks forward, not back. It feels
utterly contemporary, a state-of-the-
art hatch that promises the world and
then delivers it. It shows you can
drive a car that’s quiet, comfortable,
spacious and economical (fuel
consumption is far better than the
Renault’s) yet will execute instantly
your every command up to the limit
and thereafter do skids so easily
recovered that you might mistake it
for an Evo Mitsubishi. It’s not just
easier to live with than the Clio, but
we found that it’s also better to drive.
Before these two met, we’d have bet
our aunties the Clio would win. But it
doesn’t. For its ability to appeal to the
heart and head alike, as all the best
hot hatches of history have done, it’s
the Ford that takes it for America.
THE FINAL
USA vs FRANCE
Ford Focus ST vs Renault Clio 200 Cup
HOT HATCH
WORLD CUP
THE FORD IS PLAYING A DIFFERENT
GAME, ONE THAT LOOKS FORWARD
70 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
IN HOT HATCHERY, THE
205 GTI IS PERHAPS
THE ONLY ONE VISITED
BY TRUE GENIUS
THE LIST WAS long and included such clunkers as the Peugeot 206
GTI, Ford Fiesta RS Turbo, Alfa Romeo 33 Permanent 4 and Toyota
Corolla T-Sport. In the end, however, we gave it to the VW Golf GTI.
Allow me to explain. We loved the first two and last two GTIs, but in
between something went badly wrong, no better example of which is
the 1992 Mk3 GTI. It wasn’t that the car was scarcely more fun than
a normal Golf or that, with a pathetic 115bhp 2.0-litre engine, it
could barely get out of its own way. They could have called it the Golf
GT and got away with it. But the moment VW added
the ‘I’, it made a promise the car stood no
chance of keeping. Perhaps we should call
it the most disappointing hot hatch
rather than the worst, but the truth is
that it wasn’t even a hot hatch but an
insult to the memory of the most
important of all.
THE ULTIMATE FINAL
FRANCE vs USA
Peugeot 205 GTI vs Ford Focus ST
We’re not going to dwell on this,
because whatever might separate
these two on the road is nothing like
the generational divide that splits
them in time. Even so, we need an
outright winner.
The Beatles didn’t invent rock
’n’ roll, but they took it to a level
unapproached before or since. There
have been some amazing bands in
the interim but few that will be talked about 100 years from now, and none
more so than them. In the admittedly less vaunted field of hot hatchery, that’s
how I feel about the 205. It is The One, perhaps the only one visited by true
genius. The Focus is the outstanding product of its era, but the greatest hot
hatch of all time? Not a chance. That title belongs the 205 GTI 1.9 and, in this
risk-aware age of heavyweight car manufacturing, it takes more imagination
than I possess to think of what kind of car might beat it. L
THE WORST HOT HATCH
OF ALL TIME
26 SEPTEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 71
FRANCE
PEUGEOT
205 GTI
WORLD CHAMPION
HOT HATCH
WORLD CUP
M
otorway services used
to be about the chance
to spend a penny, grab
a sandwich and fuel up
the car. Ten minutes after
stopping, you were gone.
These days, though, they’re almost
destinations in themselves; there
are places to sleep, play, eat and even
charge your electric car.
The earliest motorway service
station opened on the M1 in 1959
at Watford Gap; the latest began
trading in September this year at
Cobham, between junctions nine
and 10 of the M25. Its opening, after
almost two decades of planning
and building work, plugs a 63-mile
services gap on the M25 between
Clacket Lane and South Mimms. It
cost £75 million.
It’s so vast, and so impressive, that
I quickly learn I’m not even allowed
to refer to it as a motorway services
any more. Today’s behemoths have
their own acronym to abide by: it is
an MSA, which stands for Motorway
Service Area. Here, you can have a
walk around a lake, have a picnic in
the large outside seating area, frolic
in the playground, do your weekly
shop in M&S, stay in a hotel, try your
luck at winning a cuddly toy on the
grab machines or have a meeting
in the airport lounge-style business
centre. The list goes on and on.
You’ll even be able to charge your
electric car soon, once a service
provider is in place to make use of
the pre-installed infrastructure.
And while you’re waiting for it to
charge, you can grab a bite to eat.
If McDonald’s isn’t for you, there’s
always KFC, Greggs and Starbucks.
And a noodle bar, a dessert station, a
pizza takeaway, a restaurant…
Cobham is already servicing
around 9500 vehicles and some
14,000 customers per day. This is
anticipated to rise to around 12,000
vehicles and 18,000 customers once
the area is fully established and
SERVICES WITH A SMILE
Britain’s newest service area was 19 years in the making. Mark Tisshaw visits the
huge Cobham site on the M25 to see what’s on offer and why it took so long
PHOTOGRAPHY AL STALEY, STUART PRICE
72 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
Super service station | Insight
at busy times of year such as the
current Christmas season.
As Cobham’s 19-year gestation
period indicates, you can’t just open
an MSA on a whim. A man who
knows all about the toil required
is Andrew Long, chief executive of
Cobham’s fast-expanding operator,
Extra. Britain’s fourth-largest MSA
provider is also behind the M40’s
Beaconsfield site, which opened
in 2009. He took control of the
66-acre Cobham site in 1993 after a
“detailed assessment of its suitability
for MSA development”.
In order for a new MSA to be
approved, it first has to fulfil a need.
In the case of Cobham, that is to plug
a gap between other services. This
meant taking into consideration its
location, not just on the M25 but also
in relation to services on motorways
as far and wide as the M1, M40, M3,
M4 and M23.
Government policy recommends
that service areas should be provided
every 30 minutes or so on main
carriageways. Cobham’s case was
also looked on positively on the basis
of the amount of through-traffic
using the south-west section of the
M25 as part of longer journeys; it
is estimated that an average of
150,000 vehicles pass through the
area each day.
Proving that ‘need’ is in addition
to overcoming further hurdles such
as the acquisition of the land itself,
planning considerations of the
chosen site, agreement with the
Highways Agency on the detailed
design of access arrangements,
and road safety.
Environmental issues need to be
taken into account, too. To that end,
there’s a rainwater harvest facility
to provide some of the site’s water
and a large solar wall that stores and
provides enough power to heat the
main concourse and food court.
Local residents were also
consulted in the design of the site,
which at its highest point is level with
the main M25 carriageway. To allow
the Cobham MSA to be built ‘below
ground’, around 300,000 cubic
metres of soil were excavated.
The locals seem happy enough;
it’s been reported that the area’s
residents with midnight munchies
Cobham is home
to a wealth of
food and retail
Mark relaxes
by cheating
at yoga…
The vast service
area covers 66
acres in total
You can get
something to eat
24 hours a day
There are a
staggering
141 fuel pumps
£75m
The cost of developing
the services
1993
The year the land
was bought
300,000
Cubic metres of soil that had
to be moved
12,000
The number of cars that will
visit each day
18,000
The number of people that will
visit each day
141
The number of fuel pumps
1.3m
Litres of fuel the underground
tanks can hold
COBHAM SERVICES
BY NUMBERS
are taking full advantage of the
24-hour operation of McDonald’s.
With the Cobham MSA now up
and running, one of the last major
gaping holes for services in the
UK motorway network has been
filled. Long says the next 20 years
are likely to bring a much-needed
redevelopment of some of the UK’s
older-style, 1960s/1970s-era services,
for which Extra has “substantial
investment capital available”.
If they’re to be anything like
the sprawling new Cobham site,
two hours’ free parking hardly
seems like enough. L
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 73
74 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
HEROES
2012
Behind every special car or story
is at least one special person — and
there have been many over the past
12 months. Steve Cropley names
his top 10 motoring heroes of 2012
and Autocar’s Man of the Year
A
1. SEBASTIAN
VETTEL, who joined
F1’s elite with a third
world championship.
2. WOLFGANG
DURHEIMER, who did
great work at Bentley
before an abrupt
transfer within the
VW Group.
3. KIMI RAIKKONEN,
whose “Leave me
alone — I know
what I’m doing”
revolutionised F1
communications.
4. LAURENS VAN
DEN ACKER, whose
arrival as Renault
design chief resulted
in the promising Clio.
5. FORD’S UK
ENGINE DESIGNERS,
who built the
remarkable 1.0-litre,
three-cylinder
Ecoboost engine.
THEY ALMOST
MADE IT
Mentioned in dispatches
CHIEF OF THE family firm and
grandson of its founder, Charles
Morgan would surely cite as his most
impressive recent achievement the
launch of the 3 Wheeler, a modern
recreation of the three-wheeler made
from 1909. In its latest incarnation,
the 3 Wheeler has a 2.0-litre, two-
cylinder engine that drives the rear
wheel via a five-speed MX-5 gearbox.
DR MARTIN WINTERKORN has many titles in the VW-Audi-Porsche
hierarchies, but it’s safe to say that his chief role is as one of the people who
set the standards and govern the culture of VW’s automotive network. An
engineer by profession, Winterkorn is famous for touring motor shows to
view rival products, while trying not to attract attention. It rarely works.
ARGUABLY, WING COMMANDER
Andy Green’s greatest feat lies
ahead, even though he is the world’s
fastest man on land, having achieved
763.035mph – and become the only
person to break the sound barrier
on land – driving Thrust SSC in
1997. However, Green is currently
preparing to go faster still as driver of
a new British-built land speed record
car, Bloodhound SSC, which will
attempt to break 1000mph. Runs are
due to take place from 2013, building
up to full-speed attempts in 2014.
8. ANDY
GREEN
9. MARTIN WINTERKORN
10. CHARLES
MORGAN
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 75
Top people of 2012 | Review
ALEX ZANARDI WILL be famous
forever for his achievements as a
Paralympian at the 2012 London
Games, where he won two gold
and two silver medals for various
individual and team handcycling
competitions. Zanardi is admired
as much for the manner of his
victories as the achievements
themselves, displaying levels of
iron determination and down-to-
earth humility rare in any sphere.
Born in Bologna, Italy, Zanardi
had two driving stints in F1,
book-ending a period in Champcar
in the US. He never quite reached
the highest level in F1 but managed
to sample both top-class sportscar
and saloon racing along the way.
He moved to CART racing for 2001
and was involved in a horrific crash
at the Lausitzring in Germany that
resulted in the amputation of his
legs. The way he has conducted
himself since the accident is the
chief reason for his continuing
popularity and prominence.
Impatient with the performance
of his prosthetic legs, he designed
his own. By 2003 he was racing
a BMW saloon again, this time
equipped with hand controls.
He raced on through the
ensuing six years, scoring four
wins before retiring in 2009.
Then came his handbiking
achievements,
culminating in
the Olympic
victories.
CHARLES GORDON-LENNOX,
Earl of March and Kinrara, is best
known in car circles for launching
and developing the flagship
Goodwood events, the Festival of
Speed (20 years old next year) and
the Revival, which recreates with
remarkable success the sights and
atmosphere of the mid-1960s, when
the Goodwood racing circuit was in
its heyday. Lord March has become
famous for his attention to detail
and for maintaining the interest
of enthusiasts – and the support of
the car industry – in a pair of events
that, in other hands, might have
become predictable by now. Instead,
his fine track record means that car
enthusiasts are always interested in
what he will do next.
ACCORDING TO THE pundits, the
only race car designer who can be
mentioned in the same breath as
thoughtful, analytical 54-year-old
Adrian Newey, who for the past
three years has led the design teams
that have delivered Red Bull’s recent
spate of championships, is the
immortal Colin Chapman at Lotus.
Newey has masterminded
championship-winning cars at
three different F1 teams in a 32-year
career. He moved straight into F1
after his graduation in 1980 and has
been building winning racing cars
ever since. He took an eight-year
diversion into US CART single-
seater racing early in his career
but returned to March for 1988
with a design far more competitive
than many expected. However,
his biggest successes have been at
Williams, McLaren and Red Bull.
Newey’s Red Bull cars of 2010
and 2011 were clearly the class
of the field, but in the first half of
2012 the team’s better opponents
were catching up. And a change in
diffuser regs seemed to hurt Red
Bull more than others. But Newey
showed his class in the second half
of the season by finding ways to
restore his cars’ competitiveness
and the result, predictably enough,
was wins in both the drivers’ and
constructors’ championships.
4. ADRIAN NEWEY
7. RATAN TATA
6. LORD
CHARLES MARCH
5. ALEX ZANARDI
THE CHAIRMAN OF the Tata
group of more than 100 companies,
Ratan Tata, will always be revered
as the person with the courage and
foresight to acquire Jaguar and
Land Rover from Ford in 2008,
shortly before the world industrial
slowdown, and to keep investing in
the companies during the difficult
days. He has lately been rewarded
by the return of strong profits –
£2 billion in the year to March 2012
– generated mostly by the strong
international sales of Land Rovers.
Tata, widely admired for his modesty
and integrity, is due to retire at the
end of 2012 on his 75th birthday.
Born in Bologna, Italy, Za
popularity andp
Impatient with the performance
of his prosthetic legs, he designed
his own. By 2003 he was racing
a BMW saloon again, this time
equipped with hand controls.
He raced on through the
ensuing six years, scoring four
wins before retiring in 2009.
Then came his handbiking
achievements,
culminating in
the Olympic
victories.
A
o
76 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 26 SEPTEMBER 2012
AS WITH EVERY winning car
design, opinions vary about what
and who provided the spark of a
great idea. But there can be no doubt
that Land Rover design chief Gerry
McGovern was the one who saw
the Evoque design potential very
early, ensured that it was properly
developed, sold it to the management,
fought off efforts to dilute its radical
looks, made certain it got an interior
to match its arresting exterior – and
thus delivered to Land Rover the
fastest-selling model it has ever had.
As other makers idle along for lack
of demand, Land Rover wonders
how on earth it can make
enough Evoques to meet
demand and earns so much money
from it that the whole Tata Group
bottom line, dogged by difficulties,
looks quite respectable.
Coventry born and trained,
McGovern, 56, worked for Chrysler
early in his career and has had several
periods working in Detroit. He was
on hand for the launch of the first
Freelander, but later spent several
years at Lincoln, gaining insights
into the design of premium cars that
serve him so well now. McGovern
fearlessly led the team that created
the look of the new Range Rover,
another burgeoning success. Now
one of Britain’s best-known designers,
he is at the height of his powers.
HE DELIVERED TO LAND
ROVER ITS FASTEST-
SELLING MODEL EVER
2. GERRY McGOVERN
3. ALAN
MULALLY
WHAT PEOPLE WONDER about
Ford’s larger-than-life president
and chief executive, Alan Mulally,
is what on earth things are going to
be like without him in a few years’
time. The 67-year-old, who can
fairly claim to have
saved Boeing
and then
saved Ford
straight
afterwards,
recently
calmed
short-term
fears of an
imminent departure (which had
started reducing Ford’s share price)
by announcing that he loved the
job too much to leave and would be
around “through 2014”.
Mulally will always be
remembered in Ford annals for his
implementation of a simple ‘One
Ford’ plan, the objective of which
is to improve the worldwide profits
and brand image by building “great
products” in ways that allow the
sharing of design, engineering,
component and manufacturing
across the globe.
Mulally’s philosophy meant that
Ford had to sell promising premium
marques that it owned (Aston
Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and
Volvo included) and mortgage just
about everything it had, including
the Blue Oval.
At first it looked risky and
unwise, but it resulted in Ford not
needing to be bailed out by the US
government during the recession.
This brought huge kudos and an
amazing uplift in sales soon after.
Mulally is currently attacking
the last frontier – unprofitability
in Europe – by cutting costs and
closing several plants.
WHAT PEOPLE WONDER about
Ford’s larger-than-life president
and chief executive, Alan Mulally,
is what on earth things are going to
be like without him in a fewyears’
time. The 67-year-old, who can
fairly claim to have
saved Boeing
and then
saved Ford
straight
afterwards,
recently
calmed
short-term
fears of an
iimminent departure (which had
sstarted reducing Ford’s share price)
bby announcing that he loved the
jjob too much to leave and would be
aaround “through 2014”.
Mulally will always be
rremembered in Ford annals for his
iimplementation of a simple ‘One
FFord’ plan, the objective of which
iis to improve the worldwide profits
aand brand image by building “great
pproducts” in ways that allow the
ssharing of design, engineering,
ccomponent and manufacturing
aacross the globe.
Mulally’s philosophy meant that
Ford had to sell promising premium
marques that it owned (Aston
Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and
Volvo included) and mortgage just
about everything it had, including
the Blue Oval.
At first it looked risky and
unwise, but it resulted in Ford not
needing to be bailed out by the US
government during the recession.
This brought huge kudos and an
amazing uplift in sales soon after.
Mulally is currently attacking
the last frontier – unprofitability
in Europe – by cutting costs and
closing several plants.
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 77
TIMES MAY BE tough, but Toyota’s
charismatic president and chief
executive has had a remarkably
successful year, and for this he
wins Autocar’s premier end-of-
year accolade. Starting from a level
somewhat lower than most observers
reckoned his company could sink,
Toyoda has brought redemption
to the company after a succession
of damaging safety scares – then
launched an extremely impressive
‘halo’ car, the GT86.
Taking over from a distinctly
old-school Japanese president, Akio
Toyoda (who looks younger than
his 56 years) has won approval from
enthusiasts for his irrepressible
love of cars. His establishment of
the Gazoo Racing organisation (to
encourage car-loving employees to
create great Toyotas in future) and
love of motorsport (he has raced
a Lexus LFA at the Nürburgring)
are moves that simply wouldn’t be
possible for someone who didn’t love
cars. Even those critical of ‘boring’
Toyota can see how directly Toyoda
brings hope for the future.
Toyoda has won worldwide respect
for his courage and humility in
dealing directly with, and continuing
to talk about, Toyota’s quality lapses
of 2010-2011. Some of the faults
have turned out to be far less serious
than first thought and many a car
boss would be anxious to point out
the unfairness of such treatment.
Toyoda resists. “I don’t know if we
were unfairly treated or not,” he
told us during a visit to this year’s
Goodwood Festival of Speed, which
he loves. “This year we celebrate
Toyota’s 75 years and as part of that I
want to identify the past three years
as a very good period during which
we came to better understand what
people want Toyota to be.”
Of course, the job is not done. Toyota
has continued to take criticism
from the wider press over large but
essentially minor recalls. And the
company still makes characterless
models, some launched since Toyoda
took over. All the same, there is
powerful evidence to suggest that
Autocar’s Man of the Year has sized
up the task and intends to get it done.
WINNER
AKIO
TOYODA
A
AUTOCAR’S MAN OF
THE YEAR HAS SIZED UP
THE TASK AND INTENDS
TO GET THE JOB DONE
Top people of 2012 | Review
78 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
Biggest heroes of 2
C
aptain Tony Harris has a point to prove.
“If I wrap myself in cotton wool, I let my
injuries define my life,” he says. “Doing
the Dakar Rally is about proving that what
happened that day in Afghanistan isn’t
going to define my life. I can compete,
I can challenge, I can inspire and I can still be
grateful for what I have.”
In April 2009, Harris was the victim of a
roadside bomb in Sangin, Afghanistan. The blast
led to the amputation of his left foot, but while the
rest of us battle our new year hangover, Harris
will be in Lima, the capital of Peru, for the start of
the 2013 Dakar Rally. From 5-20 January, he will
drive his Qt Wildcat Rally Raid car through Peru,
Argentina and Chile, travelling 3730 miles across
some of the world’s toughest terrain.
He will not be alone. The Race2Recovery team
was the idea of Harris and Tom Neathway, who
met at Headley Court, a military rehabilitation
centre in Surrey. “It was all about giving ourselves
a goal and getting back that adrenalin rush we’d
been missing,” says Neathway.
A member of the parachute regiment, Neathway
lost two legs and an arm when he stood on a booby
trap in Afghanistan in 2008. “My feet just turned
into what they call ‘pink mist’,” he explains. “They
just disappeared.”
Come January, Neathway will be strapping
himself into the co-driver’s seat of the 275bhp
Wildcat. Built to withstand the rigours of desert
racing, the Wildcat employs a tubular chassis
and a front/mid-mounted 4.0-litre V8 sourced
from Land Rover.
Harris and Neathway’s vision was to build a
team of injured servicemen capable of competing
in the world’s toughest rally. Their timetable gave
them 18 months to do that, while simultaneously
managing their disabilities, supporting their
charities and raising the seven-figure sum needed
to compete. It has not been easy. As late as October,
a financial crisis almost put an end to their hopes.
By the time they reach the starting line, the
Race2Recovery team will consist of 28 people,
four Wildcats, a T4 Renault Kerax racing truck and
a host of support vehicles. Each Wildcat will be
driven or co-driven by an injured serviceman.
Joining Harris and Neathway will be Philip
‘Barney’ Gillespie from Northern Ireland and two
After life-changing injuries, these servicemen are about to
tackle their first Dakar Rally. Alistair Weaver reports
In many ways, the
mental injuries are
harder to deal with
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 79
Race2Recovery | Dakar Rally
013
The Dakar Rally, perhaps oddly, no longer visits
Dakar. Or Paris, from where it took its original
Paris-Dakar name in 1978.
That’s because security threats in Mauritania,
which it passed through, led to the event’s
cancellation in 2008. The following year the
organisers decided that the rally was best run in
South America, on equally challenging terrain
but with less potential for terrorist attacks. This
year’s event runs from 5 to 20 January, during
which time successful competitors will cover
more than 5000 miles.
Including the car, bike and truck teams, about
80 per cent of the competitors are amateurs,
and the event is broken down into 14 stages.
Away from towns, each night all the competitors
set up camp together, after competitive sections
that can vary from as short as a few miles up to
500 miles.
To this day, it is regarded as the toughest
motorsport event in the world. In total, there
have been 60 recorded deaths attributed to the
event, of which 25 were competitors.
DAKAR… IN SOUTH AMERICA?
THE ROUTE
The Qt Wildcat combines a tubular chassis with a 4.0-litre V8 supplied by Land Rover
PERU
BRAZIL
CHILE
Lima
Pisco
Nazca
Arequipa
Arica
Copiapo
Pacific
ocean
Atlantic
ocean
La Serena
Santiago
Calama
Salta
Cordoba La Rioja
Fiambala
San Migeul
de Tucaman
ARGENTINA
BOLIVIA
US Marines, Tim Jay Read and Mark Zambon.
Read and Gillespie are both single amputees, and
Zambon is a double amputee who served in Iraq
and Afghanistan as a bomb disposal expert.
Zambon had already been injured in four
separate explosions when a fifth, in Afghanistan,
removed both his legs. “For me, the job always
had a huge attraction,” he says. “It’s about keeping
your fellow brother safe. The richest people in the
world can’t experience what I have. I’ve no regrets
about my career path.” He has already climbed
Kilimanjaro as part of his rehabilitation, but this
will be his first taste of off-road rallying.
The Dakar lasts for 17 gruelling days, during
which time the team will be sleeping in tents,
repairing their vehicles on the fly and making
do. For all their military experience in hostile
environments, they are novices when it comes to
the unique challenges of the Dakar.
“For a team of rookies, it is going to be tough,”
says Moy Torralladona, a Dakar veteran and Land
Rover Experience instructor who tutored the team
during a training camp in Morocco. “Probably
their biggest challenge is their lack of experience.”
In Morocco, the team used Defenders provided by
sponsor Land Rover, building up their experience
of the kind of terrain they’ll face in South America.
This, coupled with the inevitable exhaustion of
the Dakar, will be an extreme test of endurance.
“In many ways, the mental injuries are harder to
deal with,” explains Read. “People can see and
understand the physical injuries, but no one who’s
been that close to a bomb hasn’t been affected
mentally. The rehabilitation process can be lonely
and selfish and, for me, the biggest thrill is to be
part of a team again. I feel like a man again.”
Every member of the team is aware of their role
as an inspiration to others. The Race2Recovery
project is raising money for Tedworth House,
Help for Heroes’ flagship Recovery Centre, which
helps injured servicemen fulfil their potential. In
early November they received a major boost with
the first ever grant from the Endeavour Fund,
set up by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and
Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
With royal support, widespread publicity
and a TV documentary following their every
move, the team is not short of attention or
pressure. Just getting this far has been an
extraordinary achievement, but having made
it to the starting line, they’re determined to
make it to the finish in Santiago, Chile.
“Race2Recovery is about injured servicemen
finishing the hardest race in the world,” says
Harris. “It has been from the start.” L
A documentary about the Race2Recovery team will
be shown on Eurosport on Christmas Eve.
80 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
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OThe lithium ion batteries
are the same as a standard
i-MiEV’s, but there are more
than twice as many of them.
This is how they’re charged.
ODriving lights were insisted
on by MMC’s vehicle stylists, to
make the i-MiEV Evolution look
more like the i-MiEV road car.
As was the roof.
OFront splitter helps the car to produce ground
effect and contributes to a negative coefficient
of lift of -0.2.
OHigh scuttle at the base of the windscreen
deflects air over the open cabin. It also
makes most of the front of the car, and
parts of the road ahead, impossible to see
from the driver’s seat.
Hillclimb special promises a new future for a performance icon
No 5094
ROAD TEST
Mitsubishi i-MiEV
Evolution
O Price Not for sale O Power 322bhp O Torque 443lb ft O 0-60mph 3.8sec
O Fuel economy Under 2800Wh per mile, going uphill, quickly O CO2 emissions na O 70-0mph 39.1m O Skidpan 1.3g
WE LIKE Electric throttle response Q Lightweight construction Q Unaffected by altitude
D
esigning a competition car to
perform at more than 10,000ft
must keep even the smartest
boffins in motorsport awake
at night. Altitude can do punitive,
even catastrophic, things to a vehicle.
Thinner air saps power from a
combustion engine, puts more strain
on cooling systems and requires
bigger wings to generate downforce.
As you climb, the car underneath you
can change drastically.
There aren’t many places in the
world where you can engage in
motorsport at that kind of altitude
– but you’ll have heard of one. The
MODEL TESTED
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 81
DESIGN AND ENGINEERING
AAAAB
If you want to make a racing car
immune to altitude sickness, electric
motors – which rely on air for cooling
only – are the perfect place to start.
Mitsubishi Motors started with three
of them, all mechanically identical to
the one you’ll find in the production
i-MiEV EV. One mounts in the nose,
driving the front wheels, while the
other two are squeezed into the
space behind the cabin and drive ◊
Rea Lentz set a time of 20:55.6 at Pikes Peak in 1916
HISTORY
The Pikes Peak has been
run 90 times since 1916.
During that time the course
record has tumbled from
20min 55.6sec (Rea
Lentz, Romano Demon
Special, 1916) to 9min
46.2sec (Rhys Millen,
Hyundai Genesis Coupé,
2012). Until this year, 30
per cent of the hillclimb was
gravel. Now, all of it is asphalt.
Although it has often supplied cars for customer entries, Mitsubishi Motors
Corporation had never entered a factory team in the event until this year.
OMitsubishi designed two rear spoilers; this is
the smaller one. The bigger one is higher and
more effective but limits the car’s top speed
and affects chassis balance at high speeds.
OTwo electric motors drive
the rear wheels, through a
common mechanical limited-slip
differential. Suspension is via
double wishbones.
ONo door; you go feet first
through the window. And mind
where you put your weight:
the panels aren’t designed to
support lardy Westerners.
ORear overhangs don’t come
much shorter than this. The only
thing behind the rear axle line is
the diffuser. There’s no need for
an exhaust.
WE DON’T LIKE Needs a big support crew Q Makes an Atom look practical Q Belongs to Mitsubishi
12.42-mile Pikes Peak hillclimb,
Colorado’s Race to the Clouds, starts
beyond 9000ft and ends up, 156
corners later, at 14,110ft. The finish
line for this incredible time trial is
three times as high as the summit of
Ben Nevis, and to be the quickest to it,
you need a very special car indeed.
You need a car like the subject of
the 2012 Christmas road test: the
Mitsubishi i-MiEV Evolution. It
was fast enough to finish second in
class and eighth overall (out of 128
finishers) in this year’s Pikes Peak.
And it’s powered not by pistons but
innovation, devotion and electricity.
Your CV is full of rally
raid and endurance
experience. Had you ever
had experience of Pikes
Peak before?
It was my first Pikes
Peak experience. I have been racing
mainly in off-road races like cross-
country rallies, and it was the first time
in 20 years, since Formula Mirage,
that I was racing on a paved asphalt
surface road. I was very excited but
nervous at the same time.
How do you rank Pikes Peak as a test
of a man, and of machine? Is it as
tough on you as the Dakar?
During the course of the race, the
surrounding environment changes
drastically, from its climate and
atmospheric pressure to temperature.
Thus, the Pikes Peak race is tough on
the machine as well as on the driver.
Although the nature of the race is
different from that of the Dakar, they
are both one of the toughest races.
How would you describe the i-MiEV
Evolution, compared with other track
or competition cars you’ve driven?
The most obvious difference is its
acceleration. The i-MiEV Evolution
is very powerful yet provides smooth
acceleration. Once you experience
this acceleration that you have never
experienced with the gasoline-engined
cars, it makes it difficult to go back to
gasoline-engined cars.
Describe the accident. Was it driver
error, or was there any kind of
failure with the car?
It was a simple driver error. I thought
it was a high-speed curve where it
was actually the hairpin curve. I tried
to eliminate the damage as much
as possible. I felt greatly sorry for
those partner companies who were
sponsoring us for this race. Thanks to
the team members and their efforts,
the car was fixed by the final racing
day. I cannot express my deepest
appreciation for their great efforts.
How fast do you think the car
might have gone if your accident
hadn’t happened?
It is true that I slowed down a little
bit after the accident. However, the
highest priority was to complete
the race and gather enough data
to support our development of the
EV components, which was why we
participated in the race. As it was a
race, there is no sense of talking
about ‘what if’ — but I believe the
result would have been different if
no accident had happened.
82 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
OPadded protuberances screwed to
the cabin’s side are handy for resting
your knees on during fast cornering.
OBinnacle is lifted straight from a
production i-MiEV and includes a
digital speedo that reads to 140km/h.
OKey and starter button sit next to
the switches for three cooling fans.
They were on before every test run.
ORotary gear selector is less like the
one in the Range Rover and more like
one on an industrial microwave oven.
ON THE INSIDE
Q&A with driver Hiroshi Masuoka
4341mm
1
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19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 83
HOW BIG IS IT?
VISIBILITY TEST
WHEEL AND PEDAL ALIGNMENT
Δ the rears. And given a software
refresh from their conservative
production tune, each one spins to a
maximum 11,000rpm and produces
a peak 107bhp and 148lb ft of torque.
They drive through reduction gearing
of approximately 7:1.
The layout gives the i-MiEV Evo a
default one-third/two-thirds torque
split between the front and rear axles,
which MMC considers ideal for a
racing all-wheel-driver. But the rear
motors are connected in parallel and
drive a conventional mechanical
limited-slip diff. MMC engineers
admit that an independent motor for
each rear wheel would have brought
big benefits on asymmetrical torque
vectoring, but they simply didn’t have
time to develop such a system. Not for
the car’s debut season, at any rate.
The power for those motors comes,
via the same high-voltage power
management inverters used on the
standard i-MiEV, from 96 pairs
of lithium ion battery cells housed
on either side of the cockpit, in
overgrown side pods, which provide
35kWh of stored direct current.
They also account for a third of the
weight of the entire car, so housing
them inside the wheelbase, low to the
ground, gives the i-MiEV Evolution a
very low centre of gravity and a perfect
50/50 weight distribution.
The body of the car is a high-
strength steel spaceframe – with
a roof but no windows – on which
panels of carbonfibre-reinforced
plastic are fixed. Suspension is by
double wishbones at both ends and
consists of fully adjustable coil-overs.
Mitsubishi wouldn’t permit us
to weigh the i-MiEV Evo. But the
scrutineering form for the Pikes Peak
records a figure, complete with driver
Hiroshi Masuoka – who must account
for little more than 60kg – of 1400kg
exactly. Not as light as it looks, then.
But considering the content, not a
figure to be sniffed at, either.
INTERIOR
AAAAC
Autocar’s timing gear pretty well
doubled the complexity of the i-MiEV
Evolution’s functional cockpit.
There’s a racing bucket seat, a fire
extinguisher, two pedals, a handbrake
and a steering wheel. And besides ◊
OThe amount of headroom is unusually generous by the normal standards of a
closed-cockpit racing car. Legroom most certainly isn’t, though.
OThis is not a 2+2. The space behind the driver is taken up by motors, an
inverter and the car’s quick-charging socket.
OThere’s no storage provision anywhere in the car. The closest thing to a
creature comfort is this Japanese luck charm.
Front
Limited by the
high front scuttle.
Otherwise, very
good, thanks to
the extremely
skinny pillars.
Headlights
We didn’t drive after
dark. But then doing
12.5 miles in under
10min uphill is hard
enough in daylight.
Excellent. The brake isn’t so
offset that you can’t operate
it with your right foot, but
it’s more comfortable for
your left. Whichever leg
you use, it’ll need plenty of
muscle power. The wheel is
adjustable for reach and rake.
30mph 40 50 60mph 70mph 80mph 90mph 100mph
2.4s 3.3s 7.3s 4.3s 5.7s 14.3s 9.1s 11.4s
4s 2s 0 6s 12s 14s 10s 8s
30mph 40 50 60mph 70mph 80mph 90mph 100mph
1.7s 2.3s 5.0s 2.9s 3.8s 11.9s 6.5s 8.8s
4s 2s 0 6s 10s 8s
30mph-0 50mph-0 70mph-0
39.1m 19.8m 7.3m DRY
WET - N/A
10m 5m 20m 15m 0 25m 30m 35m
84 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
ON THE ROAD
Track notes
O Its high-speed performance
is a limiting factor only down
the straight.
O Compression and jump
between hairpins force a lift
of the throttle to prevent the
car from grounding.
On the limit
When you’re driving someone
else’s multi-million-pound, one-off
competition car, you approach the
limit gradually — particularly when
told, in no uncertain terms, to “take
no risks”. Thing is, you have to be
going very quickly indeed to approach
the handling limits of the i-MiEV
Evolution. But the harder you push,
the better the car gets, responding
with even sweeter balance and no less
body control. Like every true racing
car, it’s at its most controllable just on
the edge of adhesion.
We can’t tell you what happens
in a 90mph slide with half a turn of
opposite lock applied, because you
don’t take those kinds of liberties in
these kinds of circumstances. Even
if you could, we wouldn’t have been
brave enough. Instinct says the car
wouldn’t be all that predictable or
forgiving and that, with very different
torque levels available at different
cornering speeds and no gear ratios to
juggle, you’d never be quite sure how
its line or attitude would react to your
right foot. But we can’t say for sure.
DRY CIRCUIT
Mitsubishi i-MiEV
Evolution
1min 20.2sec
Mitsubishi Evo X
(MMC driver)
1min 20.0sec
Mitsubishi’s narrow,
technical Okazaki circuit
brings out the best in the
i-MiEV Evo, which stops
hard and picks up quickly
from low speeds.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV Evolution
Standing quarter mile 12.8sec at 102.1mph, standing km na, 30-70mph 3.3sec, 30-70mph in fourth na
ACCELERATION 12deg C, dry
Mitsubishi Evo X FQ-300 SST
Standing quarter mile 14.4sec at 100.3mph, standing km 26.1sec at 124.6mph, 30-70mph 4.9sec, 30-70mph in fourth na
BRAKING 60-0mph: 2.31sec
Δ an instrument binnacle from a
production i-MiEV, there’s little else.
Getting in is one of those processes
that spry Japanese men make
look deceptively easy, like eating
a whole steak and rice pudding
with chopsticks. For the heroically
proportioned, it’s tricky. A step helps.
As does a five-man support crew.
There is no door, but you can
pick either side to start from, before
lowering a leg on to the seat, bracing
yourself against the spaceframe,
hitching the other leg over and then
threading your torso sideways and
down. The detachable steering wheel
makes this a little easier, but only in
as much as The Times crossword is
made easier by possession of a pen.
Once in, you realise how low
the solitary seat is, and how high
the scuttle (which doubles as a
spoiler to compensate for the lack
of windscreen). Barring the highest
extremities of the front wheel arches,
you can’t see any point of the front
of the car. Legroom is modest –
particularly for a 6ft 4in tester.
Padded knee rests are provided to
keep you comfy when pulling high
lateral forces through corners.
Want a boot? Of course you don’t.
You’ll be more grateful for MMC’s
traditional hand-painted Japanese
luck charm dangling behind the
driver’s seat.
The ignition is engaged via an old-
fashioned key and starter button, the
transmission via a rotary knob.
PERFORMANCE
AAAAC
We don’t quote 0-10mph acceleration
times much. There’s little point
when most ordinary road cars do it
within a couple of tenths of one whole
second. The i-MiEV Evolution does
it in 0.5sec, pulling a peak 0.85g. An
Ariel Atom V8, complete with launch
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 85
Under the skin
YOU’VE BEEN FRAMED
The spaceframe around which the i-MiEV Evolution is
built is every bit as exotic as the powertrain. Stiff, strong
and light, it was designed, laser-aligned and fabricated
by a company called West Racing Cars, based in Japan’s
home of motorsport: Suzuka. West’s bread and butter is
making single-seaters for Japan’s junior circuit formulas.
The spaceframe is steel and clad with aluminium panels
in places. What West Racing Cars didn’t know is that the
front of it would have to be remade by Clarks Metal and
Speed of Colorado Springs, after driver Hiroshi Masuoka
had a crash in practice and laid waste to the front end.
Everything forward of the front bulkhead had to
be repaired or replaced. That process, according to
ex-Autocar staffer Bill Thomas (who witnessed the
rebuild), allowed a repair team of four men about six hours
of rest each in almost four days. But it also allowed the car
to compete at Pikes Peak — and ultimately to come very
close to a class win.
O Everything ahead of the front
bulkhead had to be rebuilt after a
crash in practice at Pikes Peak.
O The car’s steel spaceframe was
designed and constructed by West
Racing Cars in Suzuka, Japan.
control, is no faster at that. A Bugatti
Veyron Supersport is a tenth slower.
That gives you a flavour of the sheer
brutality bludgeoned out when this
car’s right-hand pedal is flattened
from a stationary start. What does
443lb ft feel like when it’s available
the instant the driving wheels start
to turn on their hubs? Cruel. It’s the
kind of power delivery you should
prepare for with a non-aqueous and
particularly spongy breakfast.
But after launch it becomes
seamlessly smooth and perfectly
linear. It hits 50mph in 2.9sec and
60mph in 3.8sec, so it’s as quick as
most supercars off the mark, as well
as the last Evo FQ-400. By that point,
however, the electric motors’ power
and torque outputs are beginning to
tail off. Which is why getting from
60mph to 100mph takes another
8.1sec. Top speed, limited by the
redline of the motors, is 115mph.
Flying past in full cry, the i-MiEV
Evolution blends wind rustle, road
roar and screaming motors like
nothing you’ve ever heard. It taps
into frequencies that could probably
subdue an angry Rottweiler at 500
paces. Beyond 50mph, from the
driver’s seat, the wind howls hard
enough around your helmet to totally
drown out that turbine symphony.
Stopping is something the car
does exceptionally well, even without
anti-lock brakes. The iron-hard pedal
inspires absolute confidence once
you’re used to the effort that it can
soak up, and you can bring the car
to rest from 70mph in less than 40
metres. That’s a 20 per cent shorter
distance than in most road cars.
RIDE AND HANDLING
AAAAA
The track at Mitsubishi Motors’
Okazaki factory doesn’t have many
bumps. It has everything else: jumps,
compressions, hairpins, six-inch-high
kerbs and some immaculate topiary.
But not many bumps. So we can’t tell
you how smoothly the i-MiEV Evo
might ride on a chilly Tuesday evening
commute. Trust us: considering the
tortuous entry and exit routine alone,
you’d only take it to the office once.
But it’d be a memorable journey.
Assuming you had the commitment,
you could pull a consistent 1.3g of
lateral load on your favourite corner –
pure grip of a magnitude that eludes
99.9 per cent of road cars. A Ferrari
458, a Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 or a
lightweight track special could equal
it. They’d struggle to beat it.
You have to adjust to the super-
sharp throttle response before you can
get it to go really fast. Rushing on to
the power on your way to the exit of
a tight bend only invites understeer-
related disaster; it’s that easy to ask
the contact patches to do too much.
So you ease all that torque in
gradually, as you straighten out the
steering, and the i-MiEV Evolution
comes to you. And then it comes
under your spell by another degree,
as your entry speeds creep up and the
tyres warm, offering you unexpectedly
tame adjustability of attitude as
you lift off the throttle on your way
towards an apex, as well as neutrality
on the power on the way out.
Pitch and roll are breathtakingly
well controlled, the body resolutely
flat even when you can’t hold your
head upright through a fast bend.
And the steering wheel is light but
so accurate, ready to communicate
all the time. It’s an electric power
steering set-up, there to mitigate
bump steer and dial out torque steer
as much as anything, and makes the
car surprisingly manageable.
BUYING AND OWNING
AABCC
There will only ever be one i-MiEV
Evolution. When its competition
career is concluded, it’ll probably find
a home in the museum metres from
the track where we tested it, beside
Gilles Panizzi’s 2005 Lancer Evo WRC
car and Pentti Airikkala’s 1982 Lancer
Turbo. You could offer millions and
the men from MMC would just smile
politely and shake their heads.
We usually praise electric cars for
their lack of appetite for fuel, and we’ll
do the same here. But don’t think
this would be a cheap car to run.
Everywhere it goes, there follows an
18-wheel articulated quick-charging
station and a team of enthusiastic
engineers, whose consumption of hot
saki and salmon skin rolls will more
than offset the saving in Sunoco.
Handily, though, the selection of
stock i-MiEV parts that constitute
the car’s powertrain should make it
a bit easier to service and repair than
your average one-off experimental
high-performance EV. ◊
It’s supercar quick to
60mph, after which it
is blunted by gearing
86 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
DATA LOG
THE SMALL PRINT Power-to-weight and torque-to-weight figures are calculated using manufacturer’s claimed kerb weight, which we’re trusting
them on, because we didn’t have room for the MIRA proving ground weighbridge in our baggage allowance. For more information on the i-MiEV
Evolution, you could contact Mitsubishi UK; they’re lovely people. But at the end of the day, we’re not going to bother with their contact details
here, because they’d probably prefer to flog you something they actually sell. Like an L200. Which isn’t the same thing at all. It might be more
useful to you than a nuclear submarine, though, or the guidance system for a satellite, a giant digger or a hundredweight of cement — any of which
you could inadvertently purchase if you start randomly dialling phone numbers listed under ‘Mitsubishi’ in the Japanese yellow pages.
Read all of our road tests autocar.co.uk
ROAD TEST
17.5kWh
17.5kWh
LSD
0 0
4000 8000 12,000 0
Engine (rpm)
332bhp
P
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o
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(
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T
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(
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100
300
200
400
500 500
100
400
300
200
443lb ft
TECHNICAL LAYOUT
MITSUBISHI I-MIEV
EVOLUTION
On-the-road price na
Price as tested na
Value after 3yrs/36k miles na +/- 10%
Contract hire pcm 2% of na
Cost per mile 0.0002% of na
Insurance/typical quote um...
EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST
Removable steering wheel Q
High-strength tubular safety cage Q
Five-point safety harness Q
Fire extinguisher Q
8.5Jx18in alloy wheels Q
Quick-charging articulated lorry Q
Medium and high-downforce rear wing Q
Japanese luck charm Q
Q= Standard na = not available
RANGE AT A GLANCE
ENGINES POWER FROM
3x80kW AC motors 322bhp na

TRANSMISSIONS
Single-speed reduction gearing Q
TECHNICAL LAYOUT
Steel spaceframe body carries three electric motors, all mounted transversely — one in the front, driving the front
wheels and two just ahead of the rear axle line, driving the rears. All drive through direct-drive transmissions.
Central driving position sandwiches the driver between the 35kWh lithium ion batteries, which weigh over 400kg.
How long it takes the i-MiEV Evolution to get
from 20 to 40mph. A Veyron Supersport
does it in 0.8sec, a Renault Twizy in 11.2sec.
The speed of Masuoka’s crash at the
2012 Pikes Peak. May seem slow, but the
subsequent repair took almost three days.
ENGINE
Installation 1xfront, transverse;
2xrear, transverse;
four-wheel drive
Type AC synchronous electric
motor, permanent
magnet
Battery pack Lithium ion, 35kWh,
330-volt; circa 450kg
Power 322bhp at 4000rpm
Torque 443lb ft at 0-4000rpm
Red line 11,000rpm
Power to weight 240bhp per tonne
Torque to weight 331lb ft per tonne
POWER & TORQUE
BRAKES
Front 355mm ventilated discs
Rear 355mm ventilated discs
Anti-lock na
CABIN NOISE
Not tested
SAFETY
Steel safety cage, 5-point harness
EuroNCAP crash rating Not tested
EMISSIONS & TAX
CO2 emissions na
Tax at 20/40% pcm na
CHASSIS & BODY
Construction Steel spaceframe, CFRP body
Weight/as tested 1340kg/na
Drag coefficient na
Wheels 8.5Jx18in
Tyres 245/40 R18 93W
Dunlop Direzza 036
Spare na
TRANSMISSION
Type Single-speed reduction gearing
Reduction ratio 7.0
SUSPENSION
Front Double wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Rear Double wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING
Type Electrically assisted rack and pinion
Turns lock to lock 1.6
Turning circle 12m
ECONOMY AND RANGE
TEST
CLAIMED
Usage Range
Track 1200Wh/mile 29 miles
na
Battery capacity 35kWh
ACCELERATION ACCELERATION IN GEAR
MPH TIME (sec)
20-40 1.1
30-50 1.2
40-60 1.6
50-70 2.1
60-80 2.7
70-90 3.8
80-100 5.4
90-110 -
100-120 -
110-130 -
120-140 -
130-150 -
140-160 -
MPH TIME (sec)
0-30 1.7
0-40 2.3
0-50 2.9
0-60 3.8
0-70 5.0
0-80 6.5
0-90 8.8
0-100 11.9
0-110 -
0-120 -
0-130 -
0-140 -
0-150 -
1.1sec
18mph
No 5094
TESTERS’ NOTES
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 87
MAKE
Model
Price
Power
Torque
0-60mph
Top speed (claimed)
Fuel economy (combined)
Kerb weight (claimed)
CO2/tax band
ROAD TEST
Mitsubishi i-MiEV Evolution
AUTOCAR VERDICT AAAAB
Wieldy, responsive — the best hillclimb car in the world (probably)
TOP 5
Verdicts on every
new car, p158
MATT
SAUNDERS
The cabin’s
a strangely
relaxing place,
once you’re over the
trauma of getting in. But
the available legroom is
definitely biased towards
the classic Japanese
build. If I’m going to be
your back-up driver
for Pikes Peak in 2013,
guys, I’ll need another
three inches in the
wheelbase.
SPEC ADVICE
Colour, trim and wheel
choices are very
limited. For touring
use, you might want
to develop your own
Perspex windscreen
and hand-operated
wiper. For Bluetooth
connectivity, you’ll need
an aftermarket solution.
JOBS FOR
THE FACELIFT
O Fit hinges to the
battery-packed sills and
turn them into doors. Or
make the windows wider.
O Come up with a
two-speed transmission
to improve performance
beyond 60mph.
O Work on a better
torque vectoring
system — ideally one
that operates through
independent motors for
each rear wheel.
T
he tradition is for an Autocar Christmas road test to end with a five-star verdict. This one
doesn’t – because there is still room for ‘evolution’ in this i-MiEV. It didn’t win the event it
was designed for. But next year, with a more practised driver and a few mechanical updates,
it could. We’d love to see it happen and are withholding the last half star as a motivator.
Even if it does become a winner, though, the i-MiEV’s real legacy could be bigger still. The
official line is that this car is an accelerated testbed for the components you’ll find in the current
i-MiEV and in Mitsubishi’s new breed of plug-in hybrids. What MMC is not saying is that the
next Lancer Evo is highly likely to be a plug-in hybrid and equally likely to benefit directly
from work done on the i-MiEV Evolution. This isn’t just a race car, then; it’s cause for hope that
Mitsubishi’s rally-bred performance saloon icon can have a sustainable – and seriously fast and
exciting – future. So there you have it, Evo fans: be careful what you eat for breakfast.
2nd 1st 3rd 4th 5th
TOYOTA MOTORSPORT
EV P001
Loads
469bh p
664lb ft
3.9sec
162mph
Excellent
970kg
Not a whiff (at the tailpipe)
MITSUBISHI
i-MiEV Evolution
Don’t ask
322bhp
443lb ft
3.8sec
115mph
Equally great
1340kg
Zip, nil, nada
TAJIMA MOTOR
Monster Sport E-Runner
Top secret
Top secret
Top secret
Top secret
Top secret
Top secret
Top secret
Not top secret
NOVARACE
Novakar
They don’t say
240bhp
They don’t say
They don’t say
They don’t say
They don’t say
400kg
Take a guess
Fastest EV on the day, and the
current Nordschleife EV lap
record holder. Radical chassis.
+++++
A proper zero-emissions
rocketship, and father of the
next Lancer Evo. Mind-bending.
++++B
The EV that the old Pikes Peak
record holder, Monster Tajima,
put his faith in. It caught fire.
++++C
Electric single-seater driven to
third overall by Texan Elias
Anderson. Clearly a brave man.
+++BC
HYUNDAI
Formula Drift Genesis Coupé
Plenty
700bhp
650lb ft
Quick
Who knows?
Who cares?
1270kg
Lots
King of the mountain 2012,
driven by Rhys Millen. Relies on
archane internal combustion.
+++++
88 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 26 SEPTEMBER 2012
What’s the trick to driving
a kart truly quickly? A
15-year-old champ gives
Matt Prior a masterclass
PHOTOGRAPHY AL STALEY
MATT PRIOR
HEIGHT 5FT 10IN
WEIGHT 75KG
AGE 37
CAREER
HIGHLIGHTS
2012 MIRA
canteen loyalty
card holder
2009 St Albans
and District
Pool League
1st Division 11th
place/relegated
2008 Britcar
24hr 3rd place
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 89
Man vs teenager | Karting
P
lease, not today. Any time but today. I like
snow as much as the next bloke, but not on
a day I’m supposed to spend karting with a
reigning British and European champion.
The premise was simple enough. “You
like karting,” said the editor, “so go to a
kart track, do some laps in the same kart as one of
these hotshoes who’s going to have a racing career,
and find out what makes them so fast.”
In other words: go along, get embarrassed and
write about it. No problem. I’ve been doing it for
the past 15 years.
Today, though, it’s going to prove difficult, if the
track even opens at all.
The circuit in question is Whilton Mill, near
Daventry, from where, I’m told en route, an early
dusting has disappeared, but has left the circuit…
slippery. Just how much so I find out when we
arrive. Every corner has ice on it. Every straight,
too. Each kerb and painted line is treacherous.
Photographer Al Staley and I take a few near-
tumbles on our skate around it. Today, the racing
line will simply be the warmest line.
I’ve never been to Whilton before, but I know
it’s used in all the major series. The International
circuit is 1200m long and the whole shebang is
nestled within sight of the M1. I’m no expert, but I’d
imagine that’s an advantage, given that it’s often
home to 30 chainsaw motors revving to 15,000rpm
at the same time. Fewer locals will get annoyed.
Today, it’ll be quieter but will nevertheless
host probably the most talented karter it has seen
all year. Motorsport’s a fickle business, but I’m
prepared to take a punt that you’ll hear a lot more of
Ben Barnicoat, the 15-year-old who today is going
to tell me how to drive fast – even though he hadn’t
even started driving when most of us last saw a
copy of the Highway Code.
Barnicoat first stepped into a kart when he was
eight. He’d messed around with diggers belonging
to his father’s construction company before then
(“I could drive them better when I was eight than I
can now,” Barnicoat says), but he first stepped into
a kart while on holiday.
“We went to this kart track while we were
in Cornwall,” Barnicoat tells me from the
comparative warmth of a bay in Whilton’s kart
garage. He loved it, and when the family returned
from holiday they sought out their local track, PF
International in Grantham. Then they did what ◊
BEN
BARNICOAT
HEIGHT 5FT 6IN
WEIGHT 53kg
AGE 15
CAREER
HIGHLIGHTS
2012 MSA Super
One British KF2
champion
2012 FIA-CIK
European KF2
champion
2011 CIK-FIA
Academy Cup
runner-up
2011 ABkC 0-Plate
championships
2008 MSA Super 1
3rd place
2010/2011 KF3
Winter Series
champion
2010 KF3 Formula
Kart Stars
champion
2010 Super 1
vice-champion
2009 Formula
Kart Stars
4th place
2008 WTP
champion
Barnicoat isn’t short of commitment, despite the ice
90 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
Δ families do when an offspring really wants to do
something: they let him have a crack at it.
Within a couple of years Barnicoat was winning
championships, and although he can’t quite pilot
a digger with the same skill these days, what he
can do with a kart seems like a fair trade. There are
countless karting series in the UK and Europe –
too many, probably – but Barnicoat is competing
in the very best, and winning.
This year he took the UK and European title
in KF2 (the various KF series are the FIA’s
own championships) and travelled to Dubai to
compete in the last round of the under-18 world
championships, where he finished third.
The kart we have today isn’t Barnicoat’s race
kart. Instead, Zip Kart has kindly provided one.
Very few ways of bankrupting yourself are quite as
easy as competing in motorsport, and Barnicoat’s
family are not the sort who own their own island.
So as a result of his talent, Barnicoat is backed
by the Racing Steps Foundation (its strapline:
“Young, Gifted and Backed”), a non-profit funding
organisation that allows youngsters to compete
at a level that would otherwise not be possible for
them. Zip’s association with Racing Steps is why
we have this kart with us today.
The big differences between this one and
Barnicoat’s race kart? “Mine’s got front brakes,”
he says. They’re operated by a hand lever,
independent from the rear, foot-operated brake –
the only brake this kart has. Barnicoat’s usual steer
is also a bit faster, at about 30bhp to the 24bhp of
this. I’ll be honest: 24bhp still seems like a lot to me.
The track is still treacherous when Barnicoat
heads out for a few sighters. “It’s been a while since
I’ve raced in the wet,” he admits. He also says that
he’s only been to Whilton Mill once this season.
You wouldn’t know it. He tells our snapper he’ll
put it sideways anywhere we’d like for pictures;
within a couple of laps he’s sussed the icy bits
from the icier bits and looks pretty on it to me.
You can see him searching the drier patches. A
gantry leaves the side of one straight in shadow,
so Barnicoat brakes off the conventional line, cuts
down the inside, then hooks his inside tyres inside
the edge of a kerb, hoiking the weight on to the
outside tyres and giving him extra grip, before he
gets back on the gas at the apex, lights up the rears
and, with the requisite heroic ‘dab of oppo’, is away.
He does a few laps and pops back for a natter.
Golfers, tennis players, footballers, athletes:
they all have coaches. I’ve often thought it strange
that not all drivers do. Part of the problem is that
coaches can’t talk to you while you’re driving. But
they can look at data. When we interviewed Nico
Rosberg in the summer, he said, for that reason,
his engineer is probably his coach. His driving
can be laid bare.
Today, to my partial relief, it can’t be. Usually,
Barnicoat’s kart has telemetry and data logging,
but the cold has nobbled it, so we’ll have to rely
on a stopwatch. But first I want to download
Barnicoat. “I haven’t studied the theory of driving
that much,” he tells me, but he’s going to go on to
study Motorsport Engineering at college when his
GCSEs finish this coming summer. Continuing
to do well in those despite the time constraints of
karting was part of the deal. In the warm months,
he might only be at school two days a week.
He’s clearly gifted mechanically. He not only
understands how to get the best out of a chassis but
is also adept at explaining it. He talks me around
the circuit in its current conditions (see above
right). In weather like this, even in his regular ◊
There are no front brakes on this kart, unlike Barnicoat’s normal 30bhp racer; this one’s engine puts out 24bhp
Barnicoat is a smart
engineer as well as
a fast racing driver
26 SEPTEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 91
Man vs teenager | Karting
He tells our snapper
he’ll put it sideways
anywhere we’d like
TURN 1
Barnicoat hits the kerb hard
to straight-line into T2.
TURN 2
“Stay wide because the
inside line is the iciest.”
TURN 3
It’s all wet but “there’s less rubber
off line”; use that for braking.
TURNS 4 AND 5
“Get it back over to the left
in time for the right-hander.”
TURN 6
“A pretty normal hairpin.”
TURNS 7, 8 AND 9
“Take the entry into the second
left wide so you can straighten
the line on the exit.”
TURNS 10 AND 11/12
“Brake just after the marshal
post” for the left and hit the
kerb hard. Then keep left and
“make the two right-handers into
one corner.”
TURN 13
“It’s really icy on line, so brake on
the inside.” Then hook the inside
wheels over the kerb edge.
WHILTON MILL, TURN BY TURN
START/FINISH
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
92 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 26 SEPTEMBER 2012
Barnicoat’s normal
racing kart is fitted
with a data logger
Δ kart he’d use the back brake first, then ease the
fronts. In the dry, it would be different. “You can’t
really lock the fronts then,” he says, “so you’d be on
those a lot harder.” On the way into a hairpin he’d
“get it stopped” before easing off the brakes and
turning in, whereas “in medium-speed corners
you might hold it in on the front brake” on turn-in.
In the dry, these karts will lift a rear wheel under
heavy cornering and, with no differential, initially
power goes through the outside tyre. But putting
the power back on drops the rear, from which point
“you feed it in and ‘let it wash’,” says Barnicoat.
Effectively, you let the linked rear wheels drift the
kart straight on the exit. Credit to him: while he’s
explaining this, he’s also polishing and fettling the
kart, trying to get the telemetry and data logging
to work. He’s hands-on. Engaged and engaging.
Before long he’s back out again for pictures, on
a marginally drier circuit, and I’ve pulled out a
stopwatch. He’s asked how long we want him to
stay out. “Stay out until you’ve put in a time you’re
happy with,” I say. So off he goes, inch perfect,
every apex clipped, every braking point nailed, and
he sets as quick a time on his first flier as he does
for the next eight – barely a few tenths between
each one. His fastest is 55.45sec.
We stop for lunch. Barnicoat is about 5ft 6in,
I reckon, and says he weighs between 50kg
and 55kg. He goes to the Porsche Experience
Centre at Silverstone for some fitness work, and
he’s on McLaren’s Young Driver Development
Programme, too, a lot of whose focus is on fitness.
But he can afford the odd bacon roll. So can I,
because I’ve discovered that I can’t fit into his seat,
and the next size up is, if anything, a touch loose.
When the track reopens, I get a steer. It’s sunny
and drier. I’m perennially intrigued by how
reclined racing drivers fit their seats, even at
this early age. My legs are comfortable, but even
though I’m about four inches taller than Barnicoat,
the steering wheel feels too far away. It keeps the
centre of gravity and drag coefficient lower but,
as a road car regular, I find the urge to sit more
upright compelling.
Most modern racing two-stroke karts have
electric starters and centrifugal clutches,
26 SEPTEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 93
alleviating the frantic push-starting nonsense.
Most of my recent karting has been in hire
karts and, although they’re fun – more agile and
reactive than any road car – this is a revelation
again. The steering’s beautifully direct. And by
gum, I discover, it’s fast. It’ll light up the rear tyres
in the damp with no bother. There’s not a trace of
understeer and oversteer arrives in wonderfully
predictable little slews as the power comes in.
Even in marginally damp conditions, though,
it’s physical. At least, it is for me. After this,
Barnicoat will get a lift home, catch up on
schoolwork and be back at school as normal the
next day. Meanwhile, I’ll go home, fall into a hot
bath and oversleep the next morning.
Truth be told, I don’t get as near to the kart’s
limit as I’d like. The circuit is drying and I’m not
allowing for it; I’m back on the throttle before
the apex because I’ve slowed too much. So
although I set a time only a few tenths slower
than Barnicoat’s, the difference would be seconds
given the same conditions.
A decent time in the dry would be about 47.0sec
in one of these karts. Barnicoat’s pole position
time in his KF2 kart at Whilton this year was
42.9sec. I genuinely can’t imagine what a mental
leap it would take to lap this circuit 13 seconds
more quickly. But that’s why Barnicoat will end up
racing cars for a living and why we mortals don’t.
But what a buzz. “What did you think?”
Barnicoat asks when I finally peel myself out
of the seat. It’s brilliant, I tell him. A thrill. So
immediate, so responsive.
Barnicoat isn’t sure what he’ll be racing in 2013;
Racing Steps makes the final decision, but it’ll
most likely be a mix of karts and single-seaters,
perhaps Formula Renault. I can’t imagine a car
giving a bigger thrill than this, though. This, for
me, is the purest driving experience around. Does
Barnicoat think a single-seater will be more fun?
“Well, it will be faster, so I think I’ll enjoy it more,”
he says. Which is as strong a mark of a racing
driver as you’re likely to hear. L
Man vs teenager | Karting
Prior says he slowed too much too soon for the corners, whereas Barnicoat used every last inch to find extra grip
By gum, I discover, it’s fast.
It’ll light up the rear tyres
in the damp with no bother
Serial crasher, YouTube star, Twitter hero and self-
proclaimed “worst F1 driver ever” Taki Inoue looks
back on his career over a pint with Colin Goodwin
PHOTOGRAPHY STAN PAPIOR
‘DRIVING A FORMULA 1
T
akachiho ‘Taki’ Inoue arrives at Heathrow
one day in 1987. He doesn’t speak a word
of English but he needs to get to the Jim
Russell Racing School at Snetterton.
Sensibly, he goes to the information desk
at the airport. “Jim Russell!” Confusion
reigns for a time until 24-year-old Inoue mentions
Norfolk. Bingo, he is dispatched to Victoria
Coach Station, where he can take a National
Express coach to Norwich. Unfortunately, at the
coach station, Inoue’s instructions are slightly
misunderstood, which is how our young hero
finds himself outside the gates of Newmarket race
course, literally in the dark.
Twenty-five years later, the sun is shining
brightly on Monaco’s Casino Square, where
photographer Stan Papior and I sit on a wall,
waiting for Inoue to turn up. The editor has given
us a budget of £200 with which to entertain him.
Inoue likes being entertained and he likes beer.
There he is; I recognise him from his classic racing
driver’s walk (short steps, quickly taken) and from
his photo on Twitter.
Ah, Twitter. Those who know me well will not
be surprised to hear that I am not a member of the
twittering classes. At least, I wasn’t until a couple
of weeks ago, when the editor told me to read Taki
Inoue’s tweets about F1. “They’re very funny,” said
editor Holder, “and particularly on his own career,
about which he is very self-effacing.” A modest
racing driver? This I must see.
During the Abu Dhabi GP, I try to watch the race
on TV and keep up with the Taki-isms on the phone.
Inoue on Kimi Räikkönen’s radio moment: “YES
YES YES means shut your mouth and **** OFF.”
The pre-race commentary is good, too. While
a verdict on Sebastian Vettel’s fuel issue in
qualifying is awaited, Inoue reckons the FIA’s
Charlie Whiting and Herbie Blash aren’t sure what
to do and have gone off to lunch to discuss the
matter. “Charlie and Herbie have gone to dinner
during Vettel’s car investigation? What a comedy
show. So I start drinking too.” And when Inoue hits
the pop, it gets better: “Three hours have passed
since they went out for dinner. I now believe they
are totally ****** and can’t even talk any more.”
A couple of weeks later, in Monaco, Inoue recalls
his first impressions upon making it to Snetterton
in 1987. “I’d never seen a Formula Ford before – all
the springs and dampers outside the bodywork.
And no grip. Terrible,” he says. But something
as trifling as a massive lack of talent and speed
doesn’t put Inoue off. His hero is James Hunt and
he wants a bit of the Hunt lifestyle.
In 1988, Inoue is competing in the British
Formula Ford championship with David Sears
Motorsport. Money is tight and eventually the
pot is almost empty. Disaster. The Formula Ford
Festival is coming up and he has been told that
this is motor racing’s X Factor opportunity. “I told
David [Sears] I would do a couple of days a week
gardening for him if I could stay on,” he recalls.
We suggest the famous Tip Top restaurant for
lunch on the downhill section of the GP circuit that
runs down to the Loews hairpin, but it is no good
for Inoue because he needs somewhere that’ll let
him smoke his small cigars. We settle down at a
brasserie a few doors up and order up a couple of
grand ones. Stan has a Diet Coke.
Like all good storytellers, Inoue tends to
embellish a bit. He claims he has been unemployed
for the past 18 years, but it is difficult to live in
Monaco if you have no money. The authorities tend
to pop you in a van and drop you off in Ventimiglia
or use you for sea defences. Besides, his loafers are
not from Primark.
At the end of 1988, Inoue returns to Japan and
somehow manages to get a go in an F3 car. “Much
better,” he says. “No sliding around, more grip.
Easier for me to drive.” And more expensive. “A car
is $150,000, but someone tells me that a Dallara
chassis is half the money. But I have no money,
so what can I do?” Easy. Young Inoue buys two
fully optioned Honda Legends on finance and
immediately sells both of them. The only snag is
that the Dallara comes without an engine, so he
has to scrabble around finding yet more cash.
For the next few years, Inoue bashes away in
Japanese F3, slowly improving. In 1994, however,
he is back in Norfolk, driving in David Sears’ Super
Nova Formula 3000 team alongside Vincenzo ◊
One of Taki’s helmets was written off… by a safety car
94 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
Taki Inoue | Interview
At Loews, Inoue tells
Goodwin about his
1995 Monaco GP
At Estoril in 1995,
Inoue held provisional
pole for 12 minutes
CAR FRIGHTENED ME’
‘I COLLECTED
GRAVEL FROM
EVERY TRACK
I CRASHED AT’
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 95
Δ Sospiri. Sospiri is a title challenger; his team-mate
is not. No matter; Taki still wants to be James Hunt.
More Inoue man maths and at the end of the
1994 season our man is in a Simtek F1 car at
Suzuka. He qualifies 3.4sec slower than team-
mate David Brabham and aquaplanes off in the
extremely wet race. Instead of staying with Simtek,
Inoue goes to Footwork Arrows to take a seat that
cost him $5 million.
“Actually, there had been a big earthquake
in Japan and I managed to negotiate a discount
because I gave them a bit of a sob story,” he says.
“I got the drive for $4.5 million and each month I
had to give the team half a million dollars.”
What a season. “Alan Jenkin [the Arrows
designer] didn’t say a word to me all season,” he
recalls. “The mechanics were great, though. I’ve
always got on well with British mechanics. They’re
very funny and good company.” You can imagine
the fun they had teaching Taki English.
Several more ghastly French lagers later, we’re
walking down to the hairpin and on to the famous
tunnel. “Must have been an amazing speed
sensation going through the tunnel. Did you enjoy
the performance of an F1 car?” I ask. “No,” replies
Inoue. “I was always frightened.”
There’s a funfair down on the harbour, just
before the famous swimming pool. An opportunity
to drive dodgem cars with an ex-F1 driver cannot
be missed. Inoue looks very nervous as a few dozen
French schoolkids bear down on him.
Perhaps he is having flashbacks. It was near
here, during qualifying for the 1995 Monaco
GP, that Inoue had one of his most remarkable
moments in F1. Having lost his brakes and gone
down an escape road, he stalled his Arrows.
Wanting to get back to take part in the next session,
he refused a crane lift and instead was towed back.
Bizarrely, rally legend Jean Ragnotti, driving the
safety car, went straight up the back of the Arrows.
“The car turned around and rolled over, taking a
bit out of my helmet,” says Inoue. He got away with
concussion and was able to start the race.
It must have been an interesting time to be in
F1, I venture – Hill versus Schumacher and all
that. Inoue on Schumacher: “You just had to make
sure you got out of his way when he was coming
through. I spoke to him once or twice. Several of
my Japanese sponsors wanted his autograph so
I had to queue up in one of the organised signing
sessions with a handful of Schuey photos.”
In Portugal, for 12 amazing minutes, Inoue was
on provisional pole. It was also at Estoril that he
took a stand against French nuclear testing in the
Pacific by boycotting French red wine, previously
his favourite drink. Judging by today’s beer
necking, it is a boycott that is yet to be lifted.
“But Taki,” I ask, “you can’t really be as
talentless as you claim. I mean, those cars weren’t
easy to drive.” But he steadfastly rejects any notion
of talent. “Kamui Kobayashi: he has major talent,”
says Inoue. “The best Japanese driver ever.”
We’re now in the old part of Monaco, which is
the only nice bit of the place. The sun is slipping
down into the Med and the last beers of the day
have been ordered. Last, because Inoue has to get
home to see his sons, both not yet in their teens.
“Would they like to be racing drivers?” I ask. “I
took them karting,” he replies, making a nought
with forefinger and thumb. “Zero talent.”
Inoue is worried about Chinese driver Ma Qing
Hua. A recent Taki tweet: “If Ma Qing Hua signs as
race driver for 2013, I’m sure Taki Inoue would lose
his position as legend of the moving chicane.”
Perhaps, but with 14,500 followers already on
Twitter, the Inoue legend is still growing. L
‘ONE TEAM
TOLD ME I USED
THE BRAKES
TOO MUCH’
‘WHEN I HAD MY ACCIDENT IN
HUNGARY, NO ONE SENT ME
MESSAGES – JUST AN INVOICE
FROM THE HOSPITAL’ HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEE
Japanese GP 1994, where he
later aquaplaned to a DNF
The “legend of the moving chicane” appears somewhat nervous in the cut and thrust of Monte Carlo’s dodgems
96 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
Taki Inoue | Interview
‘DURING A RACE, I ALWAYS
WATCHED MY MIRRORS. WHEN
I SAW MICHAEL’S HELMET, MY
HANDS STARTED SHAKING’ RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
HUNGARORING 1995 AND the Hart V8 in Taki
Inoue’s Footwork has just gone pop. He pulls
off on to the grass and climbs out. Seeing that
the engine is about to self-immolate and that
the marshals are dawdling, Inoue grabs an
extinguisher from a marshal and heads back
to the stricken Arrows. Unfortunately, he
fails to spot the medical car careering across
the grass towards him. Taki is clouted by the
speeding Tatra and is tossed on to the bonnet.
He slides back down, stands for a few seconds
and then collapses as his leg gives way.
“It bloody hurt,” says Inoue. “But Charlie
Whiting says, ‘Taki, you’ll have to keep quiet
because if the medical helicopter takes you
to hospital, we’ll have to stop the race. You
can go by car’.” The leg wasn’t broken,
however, and Inoue was back behind the
wheel for the next round.
A painful incident, but it has made Inoue
famous on YouTube and the extinguisher
incident fuels lots of good tweets. During the
Abu Dhabi race weekend: “Eminem can be
expected tonight? Great! Please send my
best regard to him and I hope to be at his
stage with my extinguisher shortly.”
THE EXTINGUISHER
Hungary, 1995, and Inoue is
about to become a video star
Inoue has some
previous with an
extinguisher; see
why on YouTube
Inoue drove for Footwork-Hart during the ’95 season
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 97
98 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
Urban transport | Trolley buses
F
ive years ago, in the 2007
Christmas issue, Autocar
commissioned an engineering
proposal for a new-generation
Routemaster bus. We thought
it was time that old-fashioned
buses, using commercial vehicle
technology, were brought up to date.
They needed to be slicker, more
appealing and far less polluting.
Boris Johnson, prospective London
mayor, liked the idea. When he
became mayor, he commissioned a
design competition for a new bus.
The result was an electrically driven,
range-extender hybrid double-decker
with three doors and two staircases.
In last year’s Christmas issue we
drove the final production version
of the New Bus 4 London (NB4L),
designed and manufactured by
Northern Ireland’s Wrightbus.
With 600 of the new buses recently
ordered by Transport for London,
we thought we might build on that
success by suggesting the next step
in the updating of the UK’s miserable
inner-city public transport network.
It’s time to bring back the electrically
driven trolley bus.
The UK’s big cities all suffer from
diesel-fired pollution. Many main
streets are well in breach of EU
clean air regulations, with the worst
offender probably Oxford Street in
central London. Researchers are
increasingly worried by the effects of
breathing in the particulates emitted
from diesel exhausts, especially
the ultra-fine types measuring less
than 2.5 microns. Experts think that
prolonged exposure to fine particles
(Oxford Street has three times
the density of nearby Hyde Park)
is causing illness (lung and heart
problems) and tens of thousands of
premature deaths each year.
Although hybrid buses are much
better in terms of air pollution (the
NB4L’s engine/generator is nearly
half the size of a typical bus engine),
high bus density and busy, narrow
streets concentrate the problem.
Again, Oxford Street is an extreme
example. It has an estimated
200 million visitors per year, who
have to fight with 300 buses per hour.
One commentator described it as a
“diesel corridor”.
In the previous decade, there
was a huge push to install trams in
many of the UK’s cities. Running
off overhead electric cables, trams
RETURN
OF THE
TROLLEYBUS
Not content with having inspired a new
London bus, Hilton Holloway argues
the case for turning it into a trolley bus
don’t produce any pollution locally. A
few schemes actually happened but
others were killed off. Edinburgh’s
tram project shows why. Expected to
cost £375 million for three lines, the
scheme has been dogged by huge cost
overruns, disputes with contractors
and massive congestion as main
streets were closed for months at a
time. The final, single-line scheme
has cost nearly £1 billion.
The biggest problem for
Edinburgh – and any other city
that wants a tram – is the massive
cost of digging down into the road
and moving all the underground M
A
I
N

I
M
A
G
E
B
E
N
S
U
M
M
E
R
E
L
L
-
Y
O
U
D
E
Laying tramlines is costly and disruptive
services. Gas, water, electricity and
telephone cables all have to be moved
from under the intended path of the
tram tracks. In Edinburgh, it cost an
estimated £80 million per mile just
to lay the track, ignoring the huge
disruption to local businesses. The
cost for doing the same on 1.5 miles of
Oxford Street can only be imagined.
Trams look like an ideal solution
for zero-pollution urban transport,
but the costs have probably ruled
them out forever. Which is where
the trolley bus comes in. Although it
takes power from overhead cables, it
is otherwise a normal bus, running
BACK-UP POWER
NB4L’s existing 4.5-litre diesel
engine/generator could be
discarded because power comes
from overhead cables. However,
retaining it would enable the trolley
bus to still operate in a power cut.
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 99
Trolley buses are used all over the world
on the existing road surface. And
because the NB4L is a series hybrid
(it has an engine/generator that is
not connected to the wheels), it could
be converted remarkably easily to
become a trolley bus.
In the capital, both the London
Assembly and The New West
End company desperately want
to reinvent Oxford Street, but the
over-populated pavements, the ‘wall
of buses’ and the highly polluted
atmosphere provide a mighty hurdle.
Taking inspiration from the
‘shared space’ reinvention of
Exhibition Road in west London,
the answer to Oxford Street’s
woes – and many other unattractive
shopping centres around the
UK – is pedestrianisation and the
replacement of the regular buses with
a trolley bus shuttle service running
between the new Crossrail station
at Tottenham Court Road in the east
and Marble Arch in the west.
The overhead power wires could
be contained on a central pylon
system, so the shuttle trolley buses
run parallel, close to the centre of the
road. The NB4L’s three doors and two
staircases mean that getting people
on and off would be a swift process.
The unobstructed route would also
allow the bus to brake entirely on its
motors, eliminating the tiny particles
given off from the pads and discs by
friction braking. The result would
be public transport that is not only
free of any kind of air pollution,
particulates or noise pollution but is
also hugely cheaper than a tram.
Ironically, trolley buses were a
common site around the UK until the
early 1960s, when they were forced
off the road by diesel buses. It seems
increasingly likely that they are now
the clean-air future for many of the
UK’s bigger towns and cities. L
BRAKING
A high-torque electric motor
driving the rear wheels can be
used to silently brake the trolley
bus on its fixed, obstruction-
free route instead of using the
conventional friction brakes.
REDESIGNED STREET
Oxford Street is resurfaced on ‘shared
space’ principles, with minimal street
furniture and no kerbs. A central corridor
for trolley buses is visually delineated from
the rest of the road surface.
OVERHEAD LINES
Mods to the existing NB4L are kept
to a minimum: new, stronger roof
structure to accommodate the
trolley poles, and high-tension leads
routed down to the drivetrain.
While a trolleybus system could
provide a future solution to Oxford
Street’s problems of congested
streets and dangerously high
nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels,
Leeds is already well on the way to
introducing such a system.
In the summer, following five
years of debate, the Department
for Transport gave the green light
to a £250m scheme to build an
8.7-mile trolleybus line that will
link the city centre to park-and-
ride locations in the north and
south, as well as the university
and hospital.
A mountain of red tape has to
be negotiated before building work
can begin. Leeds City Council
and transport operator Metro
have to formally apply for the
legal powers needed to operate a
trolleybus network. That hurdle
will be followed by a public inquiry
next year, with construction likely
to begin in 2016. It is expected to
‘go live’ in 2018, exactly 90 years
after the West Yorkshire city’s first
trolleybus system was axed.
LIVE IN LEEDS
Reins
MAINS
R
enault talked about it a few years ago
when embarking upon its electric
adventure. The idea is that an electric
car will have removable batteries that
can be disconnected in moments and
then swapped for a fully charged pack.
In theory, this changeover could be quicker than
filling your conventional car with petrol, unless
of course some wretched kid in the queue can’t
choose between Fruit Pastilles and Wine Gums.
It’s quite a good idea, because in practice it gives
your electric car an unlimited range. There are a
few potential snags that can be foreseen – a music
festival, for example. A sleepy hamlet that for 363
days of the year sees a low level of local traffic
suddenly, over one summer weekend, is invaded
by tens of thousands of people arriving to listen to
some bands and wade around in the mud. Loads
of them will be wanting to swap their cars’ battery
packs at the end of the weekend. It’s not difficult to
arrange for a few extra fuel tankers to deliver over
a weekend, but how would a small local garage
store thousands of battery packs, and how could
they be recharged?
Perhaps there could be a chain of battery stations
that are located at relevant intervals on the main
routes throughout the country; Glastonbury would
be served by battery stations on the M5 and the ◊
Colin Goodwin wonders
which is quicker on a
long trip: electric car or
horse-drawn carriage?
PHOTOGRAPHY STAN PAPIOR
100 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
Leaf vs horse-drawn carriage | Comparison
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 101
102 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
Comparison | Leaf vs horse-drawn carriage
long career doing weddings and appearing on the
small and large screen. Their owner, Haydn Webb,
runs a business supplying horses and carriages
to the film industry and can have as many as 50
mounts at his stables. There isn’t much he doesn’t
know about the subject.
We’re not entirely sure exactly how old the
coach is, but late 1850s is a good guess. It was
built in Paris by coachbuilder Jean Labourdette,
whose son, Henri, went on in 1896 to build bodies
for those new-fangled motor cars. Jean had a
bit of a Chapman-like reputation for building
lightweight bodies (this one weighs 500kg) to
a very high standard, and this carriage is a fine
example. Our colleagues at The Autocar back in
1895, when there were only 14 motor cars on the
road, would still have been very familiar with
horse-drawn vehicles, but to the modern tester
who has grown up with Bosch Jetronic and the
airbag, Mr Labourdette’s carriage is unfamiliar.
The first thing you notice when opening the door
is the fabulous quality of the hinge and locking
mechanism. The door opens and shuts with a
firm clunk that brings tears to the eyes of an
ex-Mercedes W124 owner.
Presumably the original buyer of this
Labourdette was given a great amount of latitude
when it came to colour and trim. Today companies
like Porsche call it personalisation, but back then it
was simply known as having a choice. There are ◊
Haydn Webb does
lots of film and TV
work with his horses
Labourdette carriage’s door handles have a quality feel
Leaf’s advances include keyless entry and central locking
Leaf EV provides hushed and fuss-free progress
Δ A303 and so on. Then the penny drops. The
blueprint for this scheme was laid down more
than 200 years ago when the great and the rich
travelled these islands in stagecoaches. In cowboy
films, horses travel at full gallop halfway across
Wyoming without stopping, but in the off-celluloid
world horses need a regular break or they turn
four-hooves-up on the side of the road. The solution
if you wanted to travel long distances was obvious:
fresh horses needed to be provided en route, and
those horses were stabled in coaching inns.
And so it is that we find ourselves outside
The Bell in the hamlet of Waltham St Lawrence,
near Maidenhead. The building dates back to
the 14th century and has been a pub since 1723.
Little has changed in Waltham St Lawrence for
centuries, and apart from the tatty BMW Z3
parked to one side of the pub, we could be here
150 years earlier. Lambert and Butler, the two
grey equine powerplants, certainly look the part,
and so does the coach to which they are attached.
Long-distance commercial stagecoach operations
between the cities would have used four horses (or
‘four-in-hand’, to use the proper term), but a well-
to-do person might use a small coach and a pair
of horses such as these for a trip from London to
Brighton. He’d be rich, for sure, because only the
elite could afford their own horses and carriage.
You also have to be quite flush to own the other
vehicle in today’s most unusual twin test. It is a
Nissan Leaf, the best of the current crop of electric
vehicles now on the market. Designed from the
outset to be electrically powered, the Leaf is
spacious, rides well and is whisper-quiet on the
move. It’s a thoroughly pleasant way of getting
about. Price to you, sir, £30,990 – from which we
can deduct the government’s £5000 grant.
We’d whirred our way up from Autocar’s office
in Teddington, driving cautiously but not holding
up traffic. Our estimated range when we started
out was 100 miles, which dropped immediately
by around 15 miles when we switched on the
heater. By the time we arrived at the Bell, we had
just over 40 miles of range remaining after the
29-mile trip from Teddington.
Lambert and Butler are unfazed by any traffic
but appear for a moment to give the Leaf a second
look due to its unexpected quietness. They’re
around 25 years old, these two, and have enjoyed a
‘The ride is comfy,
but the powertrain
can be slightly jerky
when distracted’
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 103
Carriage’s plush, trimmed-to-order cabin seats four and has railway-style windows; driver gets to sit inside with the Leaf, and sat-nav pinpoints the nearest charging points
Comparison | Leaf vs horse-drawn carriage
Δ two bench seats facing each other, with enough
room for four adults, although 2+2 would be more
comfortable. The side windows slide up and down,
like in an old railway carriage, with a leather strap
to hold them open in a choice of positions. You
will notice that on the side of the carriage there
are flaps mounted onto the body. These are not
aerodynamic devices; rather, they’re guards to
prevent spray from the wheels splashing anyone
who happens to be looking out of the window or if
the window is open for ventilation.
To avoid using too much battery power in the
Leaf, it’s advisable to wear thick clothing so you
don’t need the heater too often. According to
Haydn Webb’s wife, Lisa, travellers in the 19th
century would have been given hot-water bottles at
each stop. It’s an idea that Nissan could investigate,
perhaps. The carriage’s cabin is trimmed in velvet-
like upholstery and is extremely comfortable.
Twenty-inch rims and larger are commonplace
on Range Rovers and SUVs today, but for wheel
one-upmanship you can’t beat the Labourdette’s
34-inch fronts and 48-inch rears. All four are shod
with two-inch-wide, solid rubber tyres. Rubber
tyres had indeed arrived by the time that this
carriage was made, but although they were quiet
and gave a much more comfortable ride, they had
a lot of rolling resistance, so the faster commercial
stagecoaches still ran on iron bands. Suspension is
by leaf springs, which we’ve not quite abandoned
in the modern world. The ride is comfortable but
the powertrain is slightly jerky, especially when
the horses are distracted by cows in a nearby field.
Braking is taken care of by the horses with the
back-up of rear axle braking via shoes, which
the driver operates by twiddling a small wheel
down by his right thigh.
Both the Leaf and Lambert and Butler are
refuelled at the front end. In the Leaf’s case there
is a cable that can be plugged into a domestic
socket, or there’s another socket under the flap
that connects to a quick-charge point.
The main stagecoach routes between towns
and cities had a well thought out infrastructure.
Lambert and Butler pull their carriage at about
10mph. They’d need to stop around every 10 miles
to change horses, so on the major routes you’d find
a coaching inn about that distance from the last.
Even with the sad demise of the public house, they
are still far more plentiful than electric vehicle
charging points.
For the private traveller, a trip from, say, London
to Chipping Norton required detailed planning.
Several days before the trip, he would send his man
off on a steed to arrange the change of horses that
would be required. These would be hired from
individuals or livery companies that specialised in
renting them out – a bit like Renault’s forthcoming
Zoe, where you buy the car but lease the batteries.
The young, fit and fast horses tended to be used in
towns, then when the edge had gone from their ◊
Coaching inns
are still far more
plentiful than EV
charging points
12mph top speed wouldn’t
stop carriage winning
on a Brighton trip
Nose-mounted recharging points are put into action for both, but Leaf takes eight hours to fully restore
104 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
PLUS ÇA CHANGE
“WELCOME TO THE 1899 Paris
Autocar Show at the Jardins de
Tuileries! We have 400 stands and
expect 50,000 of you to visit.”
As they did for the 2012 Paris
motor show, The Autocar sent a
team to report. The early motor
shows were even more important
then than they are now, and The
Autocar devoted a large chunk of
its 8 July issue to it. They would
have been just as busy as the 21st
century hack, as back then there
were far more new vehicles. Many
of them were electrically powered
— more than at Paris this year. The
Compagnie Française de Voitures
Electromobiles showed a phaeton
that weighed 1800kg, including
its 400kg Cruto accumulators.
Its makers claimed a range of just
under 40 miles — not bad at all.
There was some interesting
experimentation going on, too. The
Société des Voitures Electrique et
Accumulateurs Bouquet, Garimond
et Shevrin had a vehicle on show
that used one electric motor (more
efficient than two, they claimed)
with two sets of windings to give
four combinations of speed,
thereby avoiding the need to vary
‘excitation’ or disconnect cells.
The novel Renault Twizy? Not
that novel, because 113 years
ago Patin et Requillard showed
a two-seat vehicle that weighed
520kg, including batteries, that had
a guaranteed range of 60km.
Carriage’s front rims are more than twice the diameter of Leaf’s weedy 16-inchers
Leaf can manage 91mph but needs a long break every 109 miles
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 105
Δ performance they were sent to rural areas to
work. They’d end their lives working on farms,
finishing ultimately as glue. Every town had a glue
factory, in fact. It’s not yet known what we’ll do
with thousands of dead battery packs.
Planning a long trip in a Leaf is a lot more
simple thanks to modern technology, as you can
download many different apps that’ll tell you
where the next charging point is, as will the car’s
sat-nav system. So there’s no need to go sending
your man ahead to organise charging.
Already Nissan’s hackles will be up, and those
of electric car fans. Yes, yes, we know that the
electric car is for short journeys and commuting.
But that is one of the most infuriating things about
the Leaf and its rivals: for the first time since the
invention of the motor car, we have a vehicle that
is severely limited. But wait a minute – it could be
worse than that. Could it be that our Leaf could
not manage a journey that could have been done
several hundred years ago in a stagecoach? Could
it be beaten by a stagecoach?
“In the 1830s,” explains Webb, “a stagecoach
made the journey from London to Liverpool in
24 hours, setting a record for the day. Another
record-breaking run was London to Brighton and
back in eight hours in 1888. And remember,” he
adds, “the roads were very poor in those days.”
Let’s think. London to Liverpool in a Leaf. The
distance not using motorways is 202 miles. After
about 75 miles we’ll need to stop for our first
recharge. Of course, the Leaf will cover ground
quickly, so we’ll probably cover that distance in
around 90 minutes. Add an eight-hour charge
and we can start our next leg 9hr 30min after
leaving London. Another 75 miles and 1hr 30min
later, we’re 150 miles into the journey. One more
charge and, 19 hours after leaving London, we’re
ready to set off on our last leg. We should therefore
arrive in Liverpool 20hr 30min after leaving the
capital. Crucially, however, we will have arrived in
Liverpool with only 23 miles of range left, so if we
hadn’t managed 75 miles from a charge we’d have
needed to stop again.
The other run, from London to Brighton and
back, really is a win for the team from the 19th
century. Having got to Brighton in one charge, our
Leaf would need a charge at around Horsham on
the return leg. And that would take eight hours.
Perhaps we are missing a point. Driving long
distances in an electric car could put the adventure
and romance back into travel – things that the
motorway, the modern car and even the airliner
have taken away. A trip to Cornwall, stopping off
to recharge at inns, chatting up serving wenches
and downing pies and mash… yes, perhaps there is
something in that. L
In 1888 a stagecoach made it from London
to Brighton and back in eight hours
106 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 107
840m
m
m
in
1080m
m
m
ax
9
7
0
m
m
m
in
10
3
0
m
m
m
a
x
660m
m
m
in
940m
m
m
ax
9
10
m
m

330-680 litres
2690mm
4445mm
56% 44%
1
5
5
0
m
m
0.29
2500mm
3500mm
2
0
0
0
m
m
Leaf vs horse-drawn carriage | Comparison
Price
0-62mph
Top speed
Economy
Emissions
Kerb weight
Engine layout
Installation
Power
Gearbox
Length
Width
Height
Wheelbase
Range
Front suspension
Rear suspension
Brakes
Wheels
Tyres
£30,990 less £5000
government grant
11.9sec
91mph
278Wh/mile
0g/km (tailpipe)
1525kg
360V AC electric motor
Front, transverse, FWD
107bhp
Direct-drive single-gear
reduction drive
4445mm
1770mm
1550mm
2690mm
109 miles
MacPherson struts, coil
springs, anti-roll bar
Torsion beam, coil springs,
anti-roll bar
283mm ventilated discs
(f), 292mm discs (r)
6.5Jx16in
205/55 R16
Carriage £5000,
powerplants £8000 each
na
12mph
5kg of corn each per day,
plus plenty of hay
Methane, plus useful
manure for gardens
Carriage 500kg, horses
550-600kg each
2 equine mammals
Front, longitudinal,
parallel, eight-hoof drive
2hp
Eight legs
3500mm
2000mm
2000mm
2500mm
20 miles
Elliptic springs
Elliptic springs
Engine braking plus
rear axle handbrake
Ash and oak on steel axles
Rubber on steel channels
Horse and carriage Nissan Leaf
A READER’S LEAF STORY
“MY FATHER AND I are both car fans, and here in the North East there are some very
proactive schemes that allow you to trial certain cars before you buy them. We did that,
then decided to lease a Nissan Leaf and a Peugeot iOn. Obviously we had to know they’d fit
into our lives first. And the three-year lease deal took away any concerns about residuals,
so we knew just what we were getting in to.
“The verdict so far is extremely positive. There are times when you need to consider
the range, but mostly there’s no problem; I commute about 10 miles each way and charge
at home each night, and if I need to go a long way I borrow my wife’s Skoda Yeti or hire a
car. I’m helped by the North East’s seriously good infrastructure. And I quite enjoy the
challenge of planning ahead; it makes you think more about what you do.
“The truth is that we — like most people — don’t drive more than 80 miles each day. The
cost of running the Leaf is so low that I’m saving all the time.
On the one occasion I’ve had to hire a car to go further, it has
cost me £40, but the Leaf has more than saved that amount.
We did the sums and an electric car is a no-brainer for us.
But it’s not just about the money; the Leaf is so nice to use.
You can pre-heat it in winter, it’s silent on start-up and the
ride just soaks up bumps. I simply love being in it.”
BEN COTTAM, 34, GATESHEAD
VERDICT
RATING
Best EV so far.
Comfy and quiet,
but poor range
AAAAC
Characterful
powerplants,
wonderful cabin
AAAAC
Leaf springs still adorn some modern cars; rear brakes are wheel-operated
Webb attends to Lambert and Butler; recyclable emissions prove green credentials
20 miles
20 minutes
8 hours
109 miles
Range
Charging time
DESERT
STORMER
H
ere are some things you need
to know about Bloodhound
SSC. Its fuel pump is from
a Cruise missile and is
powered by a Cosworth F1
V8, whose sole job is to make
the pump keep up with the rocket
motor’s demands for fuel. Before the
rocket fires at 200mph, the car uses a
turbofan from a Eurofighter Typhoon
to get it moving (that’s a fighter
plane’s jet engine being used as a
slave propulsion unit, not as the main
event). And it doesn’t yet exist.
But it will because, in 2014, this car
will roll out on to the glassy-smooth
surface of the Hakskeen Pan in South
Africa and attempt to top 1000mph.
And because the people behind it have
built land speed record-breaking
vehicles before, twice (Thrust 2 and
Bloodhound SSC is on track for trial runs
next year, prior to its 1000mph record
attempt in 2014. Dan Stevens reports
Thrust SSC), so if anyone can make it
happen, they can.
They have, so far, designed and
successfully fired the biggest hybrid
rocket ever made. It uses two types
of fuel; rockets normally run on one,
either liquid or solid. Bloodhound
will have both, because by cutting
the flow of liquid fuel, the rocket can
be instantly shut off, which could
be crucial if something were to go
wrong on the other side of the sound
barrier. But although it works, project
director Richard Noble says there “is
still a long way to go with the hybrid.
We need 27,500lb of thrust, and we
achieved 14,000lb on the test. We just
have to experiment with it.”
Now they have to start building the
car proper. “We’re seeing large chunks
of the car finished,” says Noble, “and
it will be done by summer.” That will
be the first time we’ll see the definitive
article, charging down a UK runway
to reach 200mph, the speed at which
the rocket takes over from the jet, to
test their interaction. Then it’s off to
South Africa for a run up to 800mph
before the record attempt in 2014.
Noble says fundraising has been
harder than with Thrust. “It’s much
more advanced,” he says, “and
the technology is not mature, so
it’s harder to convince donors and
companies to get involved.”
Although it feels as if we’ve been
talking about Bloodhound for ages,
it has been only four years since it
was first announced. An awful lot
has been done in that time and the
pace is quickening, because there is
a deadline for the 800mph attempt,
imposed by the start of the December
rains in South Africa. If they’re late,
they’ll have to wait another year
before they can run again.
The condition of the desert surface
is crucial to the success of the attempt,
so much so that it has been cleared
nd SSCis on track for trial runs
The team has built record
breakers before, twice
108 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 SEPTEMBER 2012
A Eurofighter jet gets
it to 200mph, then
the rocket kicks in
Bloodhound SSC
needs to produce
27,500lb of thrust
Andy Green, driver of
Thrust SSC, will be at
Bloodhound’s wheel
and polished and fenced off to stop
wildlife from damaging it. The North
Cape government has spent £1.2m
sorting out the surface of the pan, to
the point where, over a 2.5km stretch,
there’s a height variation of just
61mm. That’s flat. Flat enough for a
car to do 1000mph and not turn over.
Mind you – and this is another of
those unknowns so typical of this
project – it might actually destroy
the desert surface before it gets to it.
There is a theory that sound (about
761mph at sea level on what NASA
calls a “standard day”) travels faster
through the earth than through the
air, which could mean that the desert
surface breaks up ahead of the car’s
wheels as the shockwave travels
through it. They’ve had people who
model the effect of underground
nuclear explosions take a look and
they don’t know, either.
None of this, and the prospect of
having to get it all done in under 12
months, seems to phase Noble, who
is relentlessly enthusiastic about
everything to do with Bloodhound.
Especially what he calls “social
learning”. He says, “The message
is that engineering and science is
exciting. Britain stopped making
things years ago, and kids have
nothing extreme to get inspired by.”
So everything learnt about the car,
every piece of information gleaned
from the development and build, will
be available to schools and colleges to
use in lessons and increase students’
understanding of engineering. The
world’s fastest car, it would appear,
also has a social conscience. L
To see Bloodhound in 3D, download the
team’s app at bloodhoundssc.com/ar
and scan the image below
110 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
JANUARY
TOP STORIES OF 2012
F
or proof that the car industry
moves fast, cast your eyes over
the front covers here. Over 51
issues and 3825 editorial pages,
we’ve written about great cars,
average cars and even the
occasional poor one, revealing their
first details, driving them, road testing
them and offering advice on how to
buy them at a better price.
We’ve had cars that have shocked
(Range Rover Evoque cabrio, Bentley
4x4), cars that have wowed (Porsche
911, Toyota GT86, Range Rover) and
everything in between. We’ve broken
stories on cars that will rock our future
(McLaren P1, Ferrari Enzo) and some
that might not (already the makers of
the Lamborghini SUV appear to have
gone cold on the idea).
The common thread is that we are
fascinated by each and every one –
and as dedicated as ever to bringing
you the best coverage of them all.
The surprise in our fast Ford special
We wanted to gather some of the fastest and finest
Fords ever made, but what we didn’t expect was how
we’d fall in love with something that was neither
particularly fast nor a de facto classic.
It all happened by accident, too. We wanted to
head to Wales in a convoy made up of the Sierra
Cosworth, Mk1 Focus RS, Mk2 Focus ST, Racing
Puma and a Mk3 XR2i. Stumbling through Ford’s
heritage collection, we made a last-minute decision
to bag a white, carb-fed Mk2 XR2 instead.
The delicacy, simplicity and tiny dimensions
appealed. Dim headlights on Wales’s dark, flooded
and twisty roads en route to our shoot didn’t. The
chance to let the more modern metal lead the way
was gratefully taken up.
But once the rainclouds cleared, the baby of this
test came into its own. It may have cost roughly half
of the next cheapest in our test, but it was the one
that we all secretly coveted.
STUART MILNE
A 200mph taste of the One-77
When the ‘yes’ came, we weren’t expecting it. We
must have asked 20 times whether we could ride
with Chris Porritt, engineer and Le Mans racer,
in the £1.2 million One-77 supercar that he’d just
spent years building. And we’d become rather
comfortable with a refusal.
Suddenly, they said yes. Porritt would take me
on to local roads around the factory and then on
some hot laps of the Gaydon test track.
He delivered, big time. He was restrained on
the open road, but we truly stormed the test
track. I had previously thought of it as a sterile
piece of straight and curved blacktop, curiously
wide in places. But at 200mph, it was just wide
enough; for 15 minutes, Le Mans moved to the
Midlands. I can still see the white faces of the
onlookers as we rocketed by.
Porritt burned rubber for 15 minutes,
producing one of the best cover pictures we’ve
ever had. He also conclusively proved the
One-77’s credentials. Job done.
STEVE CROPLEY
We pick our favourite cover stories and reveal some behind-the-scenes secrets
FEBRUARY MARCH
Five Ford heroes, but
it was the Mk2 XR2
that stole our heart
Cropley found out
what a One-77 feels
like when it’s flat out
Cover stories | Review
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 111
APRIL MAY
Matt had no doubt
that the BRZ was
very special indeed
The story of a new
Alfa Spider meant a
new cover, pronto
We snapped the
Vanquish during
testing in Germany
JUNE

New Alfa Spider twinned with next Mazda MX-5
Advance warning and tight planning are always good for the heart, but there’s
nothing that sets the pulse racing like an unexpected news story breaking. On
the morning of 23 May, I woke up at about 6am, looked at my phone and leaped
out of bed with considerably more speed than I would on any other day.
The dry, corporate press release from Mazda and Alfa contained a bombshell:
the next-generation MX-5 would spawn a new Alfa Spider — great news for them
and for car enthusiasts. First job was to get a story up on the web. Then we tore
up the planned front cover (BMW’s loss was Alfa’s gain) as the news desk picked
up the phones and searched their contacts for the all-important inside line.
JIM HOLDER
Subaru BRZ takes on its rivals — and mullers them
Our group test of the ‘Toyobaru’ was a very special occasion — the first true
test of a car that would go on to achieve so much. You couldn’t have wished for
better sports cars to deploy on the Route Napoleon than the Mazda MX-5 and
Nissan 370Z we had with us. Nevertheless, we got one. Subaru’s BRZ showed
what its rivals lacked: a totally absorbing driving experience, characterised by a
rev-hungry power delivery and a spellbinding blend of grip and adjustability.
As the test wore on, our certainty about the BRZ’s greatness grew and grew.
Then I beached the victorious
BRZ by dropping its rear wheels
off the edge of the road during a
three-point turn. We did finally
get it moving again, but for a
while I must have been the only
bloke in the world to have wished
that 2012’s most revered rear-
driver wasn’t rear drive at all.
MATT SAUNDERS
Great reasons to feel patriotic
What do a £190k supercar from one of Britain’s most
famous companies and an LPG-powered trials car
owned by a Cornish farmer have in common? Both
made the cover of our 9 May issue, which celebrated
the best of motoring that our fair isle has to offer.
We were the first car mag to tell the world official details of Aston’s
new V12 coupé, which made the Vanquish scoop a no-brainer as our
cover star. First drives of the latest Lotus Elise S and Morgan Plus 8
ramped up the patriotic fervour to a level befitting a diamond jubilee
year, but our road test team pulled no punches in their frank review of
the mediocre Mini Roadster.
The curve balls were Steve Cropley’s story detailing why Indian giant
Tata is making use of Britain’s finest engineering talent, and that trials
car, for which Colin Goodwin was dispatched to a field on the windswept
cliffs of north Cornwall to try a very British form of motorsport.
From grand tourers to grass roots, this issue had it all.
MATT BURT
112 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
The GT86, slowest
car here, gave the
most B-road fun
The five-page P1
news scoop ran
close to the wire
The British car
industry is at the
top of its game
JULY AUGUST SEPTEMBER
Best of British: all present and correct
It was one of the most heartening things about organising our
Best of British extravaganza: just about every single one of the 21
manufacturers, regardless of distance and adversity, agreed on
the first phone call to come along to our event.
The goodwill was palpable little beyond me saying ‘hello’. So
although I would love to claim full responsibility for spending
hours sweating over the contacts list to make it happen, I’d have
to give most of the credit to the blokes from every marque that,
frankly, just agreed to come and then turned up at a terrible hour
of the day, braving awkward traffic, to spend a day loitering on the
Brooklands banking.
Quirky and frustrating as the British car industry can be,
no one can fault its punctuality and willingness to travel. Or its
ability to build the widest and most interesting range of vehicles
anywhere on the planet.
VICKY PARROTT
Jumping for joy in Toyota’s GT86
There are a few places dotted around where you can
get a car airborne. But there’s nowhere quite like
Millbrook because, well… just look at the picture
below. You can get loads of air between tyre and
asphalt — and land safely afterwards — without
resorting to Photoshop to make it look dramatic.
The yump itself is on Millbrook’s hill route, a piece
of track that is, frankly, a right old laugh. Its steepest
downhill section ends at a right-hand, positive-
camber bend, through which you need to carry a
lot of speed. Then there’s a short uphill straight,
on which it’s important to keep the throttle nailed
and hoik the car to the centre line before the crest
arrives, along with an uneasy feeling that you’re
driving a car whose steering won’t do anything.
Feels great. Doesn’t last long. There’s a downward
slope (which takes the worry out of the landing)
followed by a very sharp left (which doesn’t).
MATT PRIOR
Scooping the McLaren P1
Wandering eyes around the office are
frequently drawn to my computer
screen. Not because I’m looking at
things I shouldn’t be but because, as
news man, I get images of new cars
first to put them where they are then
seen first: in Autocar’s news pages.
So you can imagine the crowd that
gathered when the first pictures of the
new McLaren P1 appeared. Autocar
has a lot of history with the McLaren
F1, so interest in the P1 was greater
than for any other car this year.
The three pictures and a 100-word
press release arrived just hours before
our print deadline. We’d planned five
pages and a 1000-word story. A delve
into Hilton Holloway’s contacts book
later and we had a real scoop on our
hands — and one of the defining cover
stories of the year.
MARK TISSHAW
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 113
Cover stories | Review
We’re expecting
great things of the
M4, due in 2014
We covered
2000 miles in the
new Range Rover
OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER
Nice, but where’s the M4?
The news that the BMW 4-series nameplate was
finally coming to life was exciting enough, but what
whet my appetite was the prospect of an M4.
Since reading the news, I (like many like-minded
souls, I dare say) have spent a fair bit of time
dreaming up my ideal spec: 450bhp, 480lb ft, a
seven-speed dual-clutch auto, a lighter, leaner,
cleaner engine, and steering that makes your
fingertips fizz. Exciting? You bet.
STEVE SUTCLIFFE
To Marrakesh by new Range Rover
The all-new Range Rover, a 21st century testament to the
brilliance of its 40-year-old blueprint, deserved the most
comprehensive first drive review of the year, but no one
anticipated just how far we’d be allowed to drive it.
A 2000-mile journey from Land Rover’s Midlands home to
Marrakesh gave us the necessary space to stretch the Range
Rover’s extraordinary new legs and deliver the earliest verdict
on what makes this latest version arguably the finest luxury car
in the world. The trip also put Cropley back at the wheel of a 1971
two-door — an eloquent reminder that the most iconic cars always
hat-tip the past before striding triumphantly into the future.
NIC CACKETT
How we uncovered every new Landie
Britain’s leading automotive journalists were at
Gaydon for a technical seminar on the new Range
Rover. During the presentation, chief designer
Gerry McGovern flashed up a rough product plan,
intended to indicate how the future Land Rover
range would be made up of three main types of SUV.
I snapped it with my iPhone — and reckoned that if
it was possible to work out the platforms they were
based on, we could work out the production sites
and then the actual model shown on the plan.
The key to the jigsaw was obtained later that day
at Solihull’s new production line for aluminium cars.
I asked about the plant’s maximum capacity and
was told “150,000 on three shifts”. This made it
much easier to work out which new model was which
and nail the details of all 16 of the new models.
HILTON HOLLOWAY
114 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
BEST OF THE WEB:
CLICKS AND PICS
T
he beauty of the web is that
the numbers don’t lie; every
time you click on a news story,
blog first drive, road test,
or video, the numbers get
crunched and the statistics
counted. So it is that we can reveal
that the Skoda Rapid is more popular
than the Ferrari F12, for instance,
and that the Range Rover 4 has
attracted more attention than the
entire Paris motor show garnered.
The beauty of statistics, though,
is that they can tell a different story
depending on how you look at them.
The F12, for instance, recorded
massive interest when it was revealed
and subsequently driven, whereas
the Rapid had early initial bursts on
both counts, but kept on attracting
interest from would-be buyers. So
it is that mainstream can often out-
punch exotica on the web.
Our word cloud also shows which
marques we’ve written about the
most. A lot depends on which makes
are launching the most cars, or are
the most talked about, but you also
get a very good idea of which brands
are attracting the most interest by
generating headlines. Here are the
year’s real movers and shakers.
It’s been a record-breaking year for
autocar.co.uk, which was relaunched
with dramatic success in May, but
rest assured there’s plenty more
to come from us as well as the car
makers next year. L
What really fired your interest at autocar.co.uk in 2012?
Stuart Milne reveals the top cars, stories and pictures
PARIS SHOW DOES THE TREBLE
THE OPENING DAYS of motor shows are the busiest days on
autocar.co.uk, with the Paris motor show in late September
breaking all previous records for the number of visitors and
page views. In fact, on the opening day we recorded three times
the number of page views that we would normally expect on a
non-motor show day.
Around half of the pages viewed are of pictures of the new
cars, ensuring our photographers are kept busy. To find out just
how busy, we asked photographer Stuart Price to keep a record of
how many photos he took and how far he walked to capture the
photos. He’s since asked for a pay rise, but we reckon the health
benefits more than compensate…
1222222?? ?? 222????
reees es essss es ess
RANGE
ROVER
WAS THE MOST
POPULAR CAR OF THE YEAR
News and reviews pages about
the car were viewed 2.5m times
28%
…more people have
visited autocar.co.uk
so far this year
compared with last year
Looking at 36%
more pages
593,000
Number of Paris
photos viewed
PHOTOS TAKEN
FOOTSTEPS
PER SHOT
steps
walked
PHOTOS
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 115
autocar.co.uk | Review
WHO MADE THE most headlines in
2012? See for yourself.
The bigger the manufacturer’s
name, the more mentions it received
in our news and reviews sections.
MOST READ ROAD TESTS
1 BMW 1-series
2 Volkswagen Golf
3 Ford Focus
4 BMW 3-series
5 Volvo V40
MOST POPULAR CARS
1 Mercedes A-class
2 Skoda Rapid
3 Aston Martin Vanquish
4 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
5 Tesla Model S
MOST READ NEWS
1 Paris motor show report and gallery
2 Geneva motor show report and gallery
3 Detroit motor show report and gallery
4 New Range Rover pictured
5 VW gets radical with new Golf
MOST VIEWED PICTURE GALLERIES
1 Range Rover Mk4
2 Paris motor show
3 Goodwood Festival of Speed
4 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
5 Volkswagen Golf Mk7
MOST WRITTEN-ABOUT CARS
OUR ONLINE TOP FIVES OF 2012
Google
MOST
SEARCHED-
FOR CARS FROM
1 Vauxhall Ampera 2 Volvo V40 3 Range Rover 4 Peugeot 208 5 Skoda Rapid
Suzuki
Chrysler
McLaren
Rolls-Royce
Jeep
Lexus
Volvo
Seat
Alfa Romeo
Lotus
Infiniti
Bentley
Mini
Citroën
Toyota
Volkswagen
Kia Peugeot
Audi
Jaguar
Renault
Nissan
Honda Mitsubishi
Skoda
Land Rover
Hyundai
Porsche Ford
BMW
Chevrolet
Vauxhall
Mercedes-Benz
Mazda
Fiat
Ferrari
Aston Martin
Maserati
Subaru
Lamborghini
Cadillac
SsangYong
Fisker
Saab Alpina MG
Dacia
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Top videos | Review
AUTOCAR’S
TOP 10
VIDEOS
OF 2012
Who would have thought that a Golf could be
more popular than a Ferrari? Or a Subaru more
interesting than an Aston? Welcome to the
unconventional world of Autocar’s top 10 videos.
This year we have produced more than 80 videos
to complement the words on our pages. Here we
reveal the most-viewed videos on
autocar.co.uk in 2012, some more
surprising than others.
To watch them, just scan the QR
code on the left or visit the video
section of autocar.co.uk.
1
Each has roughly 550bhp, costs around £75k and offers brutal
performance. Here, they go head to head in a series of tests.
BMW M5 vs
NISSAN GT-R
2
5
8
3
6
9
4
7
10
PORSCHE 911 REVIEW
Steve Sutcliffe puts the new, more
civilised Porsche 911 Carrera S through
its paces on his favourite road.
ASTON MARTIN ONE-77
EXCLUSIVE FEATURE
Aston’s chief engineer drives it flat out
with Steve Cropley in the passenger seat.
FERRARI F12 BERLINETTA REVIEW
Matt Saunders drives the £240k F12
and finds out whether 730bhp is too
much for a rear-wheel-drive supercar.
ASTON MARTIN VANQUISH TESTED
The new Vanquish costs £190k and is
powered by a 565bhp 6.0-litre V12. We
ride shotgun during hot-weather testing.
VW GOLF MK7 REVIEW
The most important real-world car
of 2012 goes under the spotlight to
establish whether it’s a hit or a miss.
PAGANI HUAYRA REVIEW
We didn’t think it was possible, but
Pagani’s 730bhp Huayra proves even
more incredible than its Zonda forebear.
RANGE ROVER SECRETS REVEALED
The long wait is over. Hear about what
to expect of the all-new Mk4 Range
Rover, and see the car in detail.
SKODA FABIA RALLY CAR
VS NOBLE M600
Find out if the 650bhp Noble M600 can
live with a 265bhp Skoda Fabia S2000.
SUBARU BRZ REVIEW
We ask what Subaru’s new rear-wheel-
drive coupé has to offer over its Toyota-
badged equivalent, the GT86.
118 WWW.AUTOCAR.CO.UK 26 SEPTEMBER 2012
Coxxson | Pexxxxx xx
THE BEST
PHOTOS OF
THE YEAR
As the shutters come down on another year,
our staff photographers pick their favourite
images captured by their own moving shutters
STUART
STAN PAPIOR
GOODWOOD GLAMCABS
A fantastic job at the Goodwood Revival.
Colin Goodwin acted as a taxi driver in a
1964 Vauxhall Victor. Pick-ups included
Brian Redman and Richard Attwood.
Chief photographer
Stan recently
celebrated 25
years as an
Autocar lensman
— a remarkable
achievement given the gruelling
weekly schedule of motor shows,
press launches and group tests.
He’s been responsible for some
of the most iconic images ever to
grace the pages of this magazine.
26 SEPTEMBER 2012 WWW.AUTOCAR.CO.UK 119
Photos of the year | Review
STAN
ASTON MARTIN ONE-77
It isn’t often that you get to photograph
such an exclusive car. And it’s even
rarer, when you ask for some extremely
lairy skids, that its keeper says, “Sure.
How many?” Parts of Gaydon are still
reverberating to the sound of this
£1.2 million car going sideways.
STUART
FORD GT
The first studio shoot of the year: a special
and rare opportunity to photograph one
of the most iconic GT cars of all time.
120 WWW.AUTOCAR.CO.UK 26 SEPTEMBER 2012
Review| Photos of the year
STUART
RANGE ROVER EVOQUE
Most will have seen the Land Rover
billboard ads leading up to the launch
of the Evoque. We decided to recreate
it using Stan’s long-term Evoque and
my cousin Tom’s 90 Defender. I know
which one is my favourite…
STAN
STRETCHED INFINITI
In Russia, Infiniti SUVs sell well. That
this one in Russia is parked in an area
reserved for buses tells you a lot of
what you need to know about it.
STUART PRICE
Stuart is never
happier than when
he’s dangling
precariously from
the boot of a moving
photographer’s car
in a bid to capture that perfect
tracking shot. When he’s not sharp
shooting, he’s a long-suffering
Aston Villa FC fan and enjoys
expounding his theories about the
mysteries of the universe.
26 SEPTEMBER 2012 WWW.AUTOCAR.CO.UK 121
STUART
MCLAREN MP4-12C
A McLaren MP4-12C road car and a
background that is quite special. It’s
not every day that you get to decide
where you want the Spitfire to be.
STAN
TUSHEK RENOVATIO T500
A Tushek supercar, a Slovenian airfield
and a proposition from a guy who owned
a nearby hangar: “If you can take a photo
for me, I can put a video camera on my
helicopter.” Deal. Five minutes and a lot
of downdraught later, we had this.
122 WWW.AUTOCAR.CO.UK 26 SEPTEMBER 2012
STUART
MORGAN PLUS 8
This is how I’m sure many people
will remember 2012: not for the
Olympics, but for the rain and dark
clouds. It was a relief to find that the
Morgan Plus 8 was a vibrant red.
STAN
FESTIVAL OF SPEED
I love the Red Arrows, but getting
a picture just of planes into the
magazine is a hard sell. So I
positioned myself in the right spot
and exercised a bit of patience.
STAN
MERCEDES A-CLASS GROUP SHOT
Looks peaceful, doesn’t it? It wasn’t.
It was below freezing, a gale was
blowing up to the beach and, two
minutes later, the sun would have
finally appeared from behind that hill
and ruined the whole lot.
26 SEPTEMBER 2012 WWW.AUTOCAR.CO.UK 123
Photos of the year | Review
STAN
FERRARI F12 BERLINETTA
Ferrari always seems to launch its
cars from its factory. With some car
makers, that would be a drag, but
not with Ferrari. The countryside is
terrific and the goodwill of the locals
lets you get away with parking in
someone’s driveway, as we did here.
STUART
TRIALS CAR
Another superb job, again with Col.
This time: to the hills of Cornwall,
to shoot Col learning the wheel
(and balancing) skills of Roland
Uglow’s gravity-defying trials car.
124 WWW.AUTOCAR.CO.UK 26 SEPTEMBER 2012
26 SEPTEMBER 2012 WWW.AUTOCAR.CO.UK 125
STUART
OPEL AMPERA
In July road tester Matt
Saunders and I took up the
challenge of competing in the
Silvretta Rally, in Austria.
This is one of the best roads
that I have ever come across.
STUART
BEST OF BRITISH
The biggest static
shot of the year for me
was during the Best of
British 2012 test.
STAN
NISSAN INVITATION CONCEPT
This is the next Nissan Note, in
Barcelona. It was all perfect: the
location, the weather, the time we
had with the car… except the sea
view behind was a bit barren. So
I’ve digitally moved the Barcelona
shoreline to the right a little…
STAN
RANGE ROVER EVOQUE
You’re looking at a view that has
probably now been demolished.
This is Stoke-on-Trent, where a
failed government scheme pulled
down many, many houses.
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F E R R A R I E N Z O 1 : 4 6 . 4
JANUARY
“This is the year when electric cars will enter
the mainstream,” declares the government.
New legislation declares mainstream much
smaller than before.
McLaren reveals the performance data for
its new P1 supercar. It’ll cover 0-62mph in
2.6sec and 0-100mph in 6.5sec and will lap
Silverstone in 1min 46.5sec.
With no prior warning, Ferrari reveals the
performance details for its next Enzo supercar.
It’ll cover 0-62mph in 2.5sec and 0-100mph in
6.4sec and will lap Silverstone in 1min 46.4sec. It
accompanies the announcement with an image of
chairman Luca di Montezemolo holding the new
car’s front wishbone mounting screw.
Dacia launches new, higher-priced Duster
4.0 GXL and Sandero Ghia Turbo models to
immediate sales success. “British buyers don’t
really like ‘poverty’ models,” Dacia’s sales director
tells Autocar. “They’re happier paying proper
prices for their affordable models.”
FEBRUARY
Ford invents a new car segment. “We’ve
exhausted the A, B, C and D segments, so
we’ve decided to start from the other end of the
alphabet,” explains a high-ranking source. The
so-called ‘Z-car’, revealed at Geneva, bears an
uncanny resemblance to a 1963 Zephyr.
McLaren releases the first interior photos of its
P1 supercar. The driver-orientated cockpit draws
positive comments from around the world for the
quality of its leather.
With no prior warning, Ferrari reveals details
of the interior of its next Enzo supercar. Pointed
references make clear that not all leathers are the
same, and that Ferrari’s are sourced from cows
that graze in fields next to the Spa F1 track. It
accompanies the announcement with a first image
of the car’s driver-side door handle.

MARCH
When the dry ice clears at the start of VW’s
traditional pre-Geneva motor show group
night, journalists are astounded to see VW
boss Ferdinand Piech and Fiat/Chrysler boss
Sergio Marchionne arm-wrestling. “We accept
that Alfa Romeo is still not for sale,” says VW
communications boss Stefan Grusem, “so we
have decided to settle it this way.”
Nikolai Smolensky buys Lotus. He plans to
use the name for a new brand of energy drink. If
successful, he says, he’ll use the funds to launch a
Lotus grand prix team.
McLaren reveals the production version of its
P1. Ron Dennis unveils the car in the upper sixth
form classroom of Woking High School, where
he fills the blackboard with complex equations
outlining why the car is better than any other.
Ferrari reveals it will never reveal its new Enzo,
as showing new cars is the preserve of inferior car
makers. The press release carries an image of the
new Enzo’s windscreen, claimed to be more see-
through than any rival’s.
The French government tightens up on foreign
motorists using its road network. As well as
packing a hi-vis vest and two breathalysers, and
disconnecting their sat-navs, British drivers must
download an MP3 of La Marseillaise and play it at
full volume on their car’s stereo for the entirety of
any Continental journey. Anyone caught playing
God Save The Queen risks a ¤1200 fine.
APRIL
Cash-strapped Peugeot delivers its first 208
GTIs to customers, promising it is a true spiritual
successor to the 205 GTI. Jubilant bosses see an
immediate rise in profits, as owners reacquaint
themselves with lift-off oversteer, the awkward
feeling that comes with flying through hedges
backwards, and their local bodyshops.
A Romanian website prints what it claims is the
first image of the new Enzo. It is later revealed ◊
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Δ to be a photoshopped image put together by
someone who realised Ferrari had released teaser
images of every component on its new car. Ferrari
strenuously denies the image is a true likeness.
Dacia rockets to the top of the sales chart when
it reveals that its new Stepway model is being given
away to anyone who cuts three tokens from the
back of a cereal box and encloses a 50p postal order
and a stamped addressed envelope.

MAY
Lotus announces a radical change of direction.
“We are going to build cars that people want to
buy,” reveals new boss Aslam Farikullah.
Buoyed by the success of the Adam, Vauxhall
decides to rebrand other cars in its range. The
Insignia becomes the Ian-signia, the Meriva
becomes the Brian and the Australian-built VXR8
is renamed the Vauxhall Trevor.
The government rolls out tough new
immigration laws. Each applicant for British
citizenship is shown silhouettes of the entire
Aston Martin range and has to distinguish a
Vantage from a DB9 from a Vanquish. Deportation
numbers rocket to a new high.
Land Rover bigwigs are furious when spy
pictures of a top-secret Range Rover facelift
appear in the motoring press. The photos, taken by
an enterprising Autocar reader during rush hour
on the M40, show a subtly tweaked Rangie in a
garish dayglo livery with a massive sign on the roof
reading ‘Secret new Range Rover here’. “We can’t
understand how it was spotted,” says a bemused
spokesman. “We were careful only to release 250
disguised test mules into Warwickshire. What are
the chances?”

JUNE
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is
photographed driving a car through the streets
of Maranello that looks remarkably like the one
on the Romanian website two months ago. When
contacted by Autocar about reports that this is the
new Enzo, a Ferrari spokesman drawls down a
crackly line, “We do not comment on speculation.”
Ford reveals a huge breakthrough in its
continuing push towards engine downsizing.
The new Fiesta replaces a traditional internal
combustion engine with a hole in the floor, through
which the driver and occupants push the car along
with their feet. “We expect this Fiesta Flintstone
edition to be a huge hit,” says a spokesman.
Inspired by the immense success of Vauxhall’s
naming policy, Bugatti reveals that the mighty
Veyron will be rebranded as, simply, the Ron.
McLaren immediately sues.
JULY
BMW announces another extension to its M
model range. The M Sport Minus line, with lower
power and extra weight, will carry a 10 per cent
premium over the model on which it is based but
will come with extras like front and rear bumpers,
headlamps and special inch-thick interior leather.
As the Vauxhall/Opel Adam sets new sales
records across Europe, Volkswagen decides to
rename the Golf the ‘Jeff’. Sales skyrocket.
The new Dacia Logan surges past the Stepway
in the sales charts after a deal is struck up to give
one away away with every Walkers Crisps 12-pack.
Weary of being featured in the backgrounds
of Autocar’s group test photo shoots every week,
sheep on the moors of mid-Wales form a union and
start demanding royalties.
Morgan buys the rights to the Supermarine
Spitfire and immediately puts the World War Two
fighter back into production as the Plus Twelve.
AUGUST
McLaren reveals that it will make a special-
edition version of its new P1 supercar, in honour of
its lead F1 driver, Jenson Button. Team personnel
are forced to storm the stage and rugby tackle Ron
Dennis to the ground after he lets slip details of the
Lewis Hamilton version that the team had planned
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prior to his defection to Mercedes. “It would have
been about 0.3sec a lap faster,” sobs Dennis.
Ferrari announces a Sebastian Vettel version
of its new Enzo supercar. Asked why it has made a
special edition in honour of the Red Bull driver, a
spokesman denies that the decision has any special
significance. “The media is always far too eager
to jump to silly conclusions when there’s no hard
evidence,” he says.
Volvo’s road train tests move to London but
come unstuck when the 25-vehicle group attempts
to turn right at the Hangar Lane gyratory. Many
participants are hospitalised after being deafened
by the horns of angry black cab drivers.

SEPTEMBER
Porsche’s revolutionary 918 Spyder is launched.
It is faster, lighter, more efficient and cheaper than
the P1 and Enzo, but no one notices.
Encouraged by the success of winter tyres,
enterprising manufacturers introduce a radical
new range of one-day-a-week rubber. “It’s well
known that drivers want to get from work to the
pub a bit quicker on Fridays than on Monday, so we
have a high-performance set,” beams a spokesman.
“And who doesn’t fancy a bit of extra ride comfort
when they’re halfway through a gruelling week?
We’ve got a tyre for every occasion.”
Dacia begins road trials of its autonomous
driverless road-train system. The technology,
which consists of a length of blue nylon rope and
an ‘on tow’ sign, can be retro-fitted to existing
models and shows signs of early success.

OCTOBER
Toyota recalls the only Urban Cruiser it has ever
sold in Europe, over a quality issue with the rear
wiper blade. The Daily Mail leads a worldwide
outcry, rapidly joined by grateful 24-hour news
channels desperate for something to talk about.
Mini proudly reveals a new iteration from
what it calls the world’s most flexible brand.
The 18-wheel, 54-seat Mini Gargantuanman is
designed to sit just above the Countryman in the
firm’s range. “We think there’s massive potential
in the new compact HGV market,” enthuses a Mini
spokesperson. “It’s entirely in keeping with the
heritage of our brand.”

NOVEMBER
Dacia becomes the world’s largest car maker.
“Our next move,” says a spokesman, “is to find a
way of charging actual money for the cars, so we
can offset some of the build costs.”
Ferrari opens a new UK technical centre in
Chertsey. By coincidence, McLaren announces
plans for an Italian development base in Sassuolo,
just a few miles from Maranello. High-speed
collisions on Italian arterial roads rise markedly.
DECEMBER
McLaren reveals a new hand-crafted titanium
pencil sharpener, announcing, “It’s the lightest,
fastest, sharpest-sharpening pencil sharpener in
the world,” says a spokesman. “And as far as we
know, Ferrari doesn’t make one.”
Fernando Alonso announces his immediate
retirement from Formula 1, describing the decision
to offer his pencil-sharpening services to every
buyer of the all-new Ferrari pencil sharpener as
one of the toughest decisions of his life. “If I shave a
corner too fine in my new career, the consequences
could be very bad,” he says.
Mini unleashes another new model, the
Sherman. The variant has caterpillar tracks, a cabin
that can rotate through 360deg and an optional
hydraulically operated tubular attachment. It is only
available in khaki and in Mini’s high-performance
spec. “We think the Mini Sherman will find favour
with urban warriors,” says a source.
“Next year is the year electric cars will enter
the mainstream,” declares the government. The
Oxford Dictionary changes the definition of the
adjectival form ‘mainstream’ to mean ‘rare’. L
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STUDIO PHOTOGRAPHY PETER SPINNEY, LUC LACEY
On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… a
12-cylinder Ferrari… James Ruppert picks a dozen ways for your
loved one to spoil you, from a £500 coupé to, yes, a £100k Ferrari
132 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
THE SIMPLE TRUTH is that if you
can’t afford an NSX, this is the next
best thing. No, really, it is. This was
Honda’s purple patch, when it built
the ultimate driving machines of the
East, blending great engines with
superb handling and pop-to-the-
shops reliability.
You can easily afford the pretty
1992-to-1997-generation examples,
and the more dreary-looking ones
from later are also just coming into
range. There have been a whole
heap of imports over the years,
distinguishable by their air-con
(which probably doesn’t work any
more), rectangular numberplate and
rust starting to bite around the sills
and wheel arches. There are plenty
of highly modified ones, too, which
may be outside of the price bracket.
But ideally, you need to find a well
kept, few-owner, British-registered
example and not even worry about
the mileage. It may be a 2.3 auto in
retirement spec, but who cares?
As a driving machine, the electronic
four-wheel steering works extremely
well. Cornering is never less than
flat and secure, with seemingly
endless amounts of grip. The best
Honda engine is the relatively small
2.2, which has VTEC variable valve
timing and lift; it not only screams
but also slingshots the coupé forward
at a tremendous pace. With a top
speed of 140mph and a 0-60mph time
of just over seven seconds, it delivers
power aplenty. Yes, it’s an NSX, just a
bit slower and a lot cheaper.
BEAUTY AND ECONOMY: you can
have it all with this lovely-looking
coupé designed by the people who
usually do Ferraris (Pininfarina). Its
brilliant HDi diesel engine delivers
about 50mpg. However, we’d go for
the thumping V6 petrol, which is
priced much cheaper and often on a
par with the lacklustre 2.0.
Being a slightly flaky French car, it
is not without problems, especially at
this sort of age and price range. Brake
discs can warp and are not cheap.
Coolant leaks and blocked radiators
are common if the car hasn’t been
maintained properly. But electrical
issues are the major problem, so
check the air-con, power windows,
mirrors and anything else that relies
on the battery. If you can live without
them, though, the 406 is still pretty.
Pretty good value, too.
IF YOU ARE 17 and just emerging from
that long, dark tunnel of depression
called puberty, the only thing that
might cheer you up is a Saxo VTR. But
there’s plenty there for us oldies, too.
Around town, it is quiet, nicely
damped and well behaved. The
controls are light and the power
steering allows fast, confident
changes of direction. Once the
road opens up, the 1.6 engine is
enthusiastic and can tug the VTR
from 0-60mph in just over 9.0sec.
Thrash it all day long and you’ll never
get less than 30mpg.
In the handling stakes, the Saxo
VTR is a front-wheel-drive firework.
Best to make sure that it hasn’t gone
bang, though. Look for accident
damage under the bonnet, in the
boot and around the floorpan for
kinks and repairs.
PEUGEOT 406 COUPE
PRICE RANGE £500-£11,000 YEARS BUILT 1997-2003
OUR PICK 3.0 V6, 1997, 130k miles, £500-£3499
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Electrics, coolant leaks, warped brake discs
CITROEN SAXO
PRICE RANGE £400-£2500 YEARS BUILT 1996-2003
OUR PICK 1.6i VTR, 2000, 106k miles, £450
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Worn discs, crankshaft oil seal, accident damage
PRICE RANGE £395-£1495 YEARS BUILT 1992-1997
OUR PICK 2.3 4WS auto, 1994, 80k miles, £500
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Brakes, exhaust and clutches are going to be the
big things to go — and that four-wheel steering
Alternative stocking fillers
HONDA PRELUDE
FROM
£500
1
JAMES RUPPERT’S
12 cars of Christmas
THE FORD PUMA is one of the cutest
and sweetest-handling little coupés
of them all. With the 1.7, you’ve got
just the right amount of power and
there are loads to choose from. The
Racing variant has some rarity but is
way out of our price league. However,
a really late 1.7i Thunder from 2001
with leather, snazzy alloy wheels and
air-con is all you really need. What’s
more, there are plenty of standard-
issue 1.7s out there at way below
£1000, making it great value.
It may look like it’s only a car
for girls, but why should they have
all the fun? Provided you stick to
silver, blue or special-edition black
and completely avoid the yellow
Millennium (oh, yes, and steer clear
of the 1.4), your manhood should
remain intact.
Pumas are tough enough. Just
brakes and suspension need tweaks
when the miles build up. Major
neglect and skipped services are
going to cause trouble. Look at the
oil on the dipstick for colour, and if
the mileage is ultra-low, has it been
serviced at least once a year?
The Puma has the sharpest
handling package in its small
class and also shames many more
expensive sports cars. It always feels
safe yet can be steered into and out of
sharp bends with remarkable ease.
Yes, it flatters average drivers, but
what’s wrong with that? The Puma
is all about having fun.
THE DEFAULT COUPE choice for the
past few decades, and why not? It’s
handsome, fun to drive and a pleasure
to own. There are a whole bundle of
great engine options, but the 318i is
plenty powerful enough and a good
all-rounder with decent economy. If
you are a Bavarian purist, though, you
would plump for a six-cylinder model
every time, and there are 323s and
325s in the mix.
Running costs needn’t be a huge
concern. Depending on how you use
the car, an oil change every 6000
miles and a major filters job each year
is going to be fine. Every two years,
though, a so-called ‘Inspection 2’
(brake fluid and so on) and a new
cambelt at 25,000 miles will keep
the engine sweet. A good national
network of BMW specialists means it
is affordable.
IT STILL LOOKS weird, doesn’t it?
After all this time, the GTV coupé
has not lost the ability to shock — or
entertain. Ideally, go for the biggest
and most charismatic engine — the
3.0 — but the 2.0 is more in budget.
With its fixed roof, the GTV will be
far less wobbly than the pricier Spider,
and I’d argue that it looks much
better, too. The rear seats are really
for children, but at least the
dashboard is interesting to look at.
The GTV zips along sweetly and that
V6 sings in a truly operatic fashion.
Be prepared for all sorts of
sensor and electrical-circuit-based
shenanigans. Engines need proper
servicing, so look out for a decent
history or expect trouble. Also,
make sure you get the red-topped
master key and look out for rust on
top of the bootlid.
BMW 3-SERIES COUPE
PRICE RANGE £450-£11,000 YEARS BUILT 1992-1999
OUR PICK 318i, 1996, 103k miles, £995
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Accident damage, brakes, suspension
ALFA ROMEO GTV
PRICE RANGE £750-£4000 YEARS BUILT 1996-2004
OUR PICK 2.0 TS, 2001, 98k miles, £995
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Rust, electrical malfunctions, patchy history
PRICE RANGE £395-£2995
YEARS BUILT 1997-2002
OUR PICK 1.7, 2001, 95k miles, £950
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Rust,
suspension, brakes
Alternative stocking fillers
FORD
PUMA
FROM
£1000
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134 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
ONE OF THE BETTER roadster buys.
There are lots around, depreciation
has eaten into values and, despite a
history of niggles, it is still the most
reliable MG ever. It is also one of the
most exciting, with a mid-mounted
engine that comes in two flavours,
one with variable valve timing.
Legroom is quite limited and
some drivers don’t like the fairly
high-set driving position, although
that does mean good all-round
visibility. The engine is well proven,
but it needs to be revved hard to
really perform and the automatic
gearbox is best avoided. The bottom
line is where the TF appeals most,
delivering good fuel economy and low
insurance costs.
It has had issues over the years,
of course, but nothing that can’t be
sorted easily enough. The old MGF
had Hydragas suspension, which
seems quite reliable, but if it is not set
up correctly, the handling will be all
over the place.
Japanese-market air-conditioned
models can be light on service history
and will have missed vital recall
work. Early on, there were secret
service-bay upgrades.
Probably the best reason to buy an
MGF/TF is because they are mostly
run by affluent, committed and
careful drivers rather than immature,
sound-system-obsessed kids. So they
ought to be in good nick. It’s certainly
as far from the traditional British
sports car as it is possible to get and
much cheaper than those Chinese
knock-offs. Aim to buy as late an
example as you possibly can.
SHARP STYLING, PERFORMANCE
and handling make this a sports car
that is great to drive and easy to own.
Treat it as a two-seater, enjoy the
good level of standard equipment
and don’t worry too much about noisy
engines and road noise, because that
is all part of the Celica’s appeal. As
for the handling, it is pure sports car
without too many electronic aids.
You need to pick your specification
carefully. The Premium pack means
leather trim and electric sunroof,
Sport adds 17-inch alloy wheels and
a spoiler, and Dynamic brings even
funkier alloys and spoiler. Then again,
there is the more full-on 190, with
many of the packs as standard, and a
T Sport from 2001. So the more spec,
the better, but the basic ingredients
are spot on, with responsive engines,
sharp looks and, being a Toyota,
complete and utter reliability.
TAKING UP WHERE the 205 GTI left
off was always going to be difficult
and, in many respects, the 206 didn’t
even try. The performance is there —
it gets to 60mph in well under eight
seconds — and the revised suspension
is more than capable. According to
some, though, the gearchange is slow
and clunky and it doesn’t feel quite as
sharp as its contemporaries.
So is it a slow-witted Saxo? Of
course not. With a 2.0-litre engine
and a relatively light body, it can
be plenty of fun. However, drivers
have to grimace as they cope with
offset pedals and a general feeling of
awkwardness. Still, that is part of the
charm, as is the fact that it is cheap to
run and has 20k service intervals.
It is a fine effort, even though it has
not managed to dim the memory of
the 205 just yet.
TOYOTA CELICA
PRICE RANGE £1000-£8500 YEARS BUILT 1999-2006
OUR PICK 1.8 VVTi (Premium plus Style pack), 2004, 94k miles, £2000
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Fuel tank recall, owner abuse, tyres, kerbed alloys
PEUGEOT 206 GTI
PRICE RANGE £650-£4000 YEARS BUILT 1999-2006
OUR PICK 206 GTI, 2002, 74k miles, £2000
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Central locking, warped brake discs, air-con
PRICE RANGE £595-£4600 YEARS BUILT 1995-2005
OUR PICK 1.8 VVC Trophy, 2001, 48k miles, £2000
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Blown head gasket, damp interior,
alignment of the front wheels
Alternative stocking fillers
MG TF
FROM
£2000
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nk recall, owner abuse, tyres essssssss, , ,,,,,, ke k rbed alloys
O
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JAMES RUPPERT’S
12 cars of Christmas
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 135
AFTER ALL THESE years, we can
finally go out and buy ourselves a
Mini Cooper for a smallish sum.
Just as BMW predicted and BMC
never even contemplated, the Mini
won over the Great British buying
public with its style, its charm, its
condiment-based option packs, the
numerous special editions and, most
of all, the fact that it drove like an old
Mini. It has the directness, lightness
and, it has to be said, crashiness of the
original’s suspension.
It may be great to drive, but the
Cooper has not been fault-free. On
Minis fitted with electronic stability
control (ASC+T), all the brakes wear
at the same rate. So take a peek at
the service history and budget for a
brake overhaul if it hasn’t been done
recently. Usually, that will happen at
20k-25k miles and cost £400-£500.
Also, water leaks through the A-pillars
on early cars can lead to isolated
electrical failures that affect the lights
and locks. So check for damp carpets
or condensation on the windows.
Some owners have been quoted up to
£1000 for a fix.
In an ideal world, you’d want a car
with a Chili pack and the Cooper S
had its own version of the Chili.
This meant you got air-con, xenon
headlamps, halogen foglamps,
17-inch alloy wheels and part-leather
trim, among other features. As long
as it has ‘S’ on the bootlid, though,
you’ll be fine.
OVERLOOKED AND UNDERRATED,
this car. It’s a four-seat coupé that
looks handsome and is tidy when
pushed. As with all modern Alfas, the
specification list is reason enough to
consider a GT, as one trim level fits all.
The V6 is one for
enthusiasts
and
the turbodiesel is going to be the
popular choice. In reality, though, it
is the 2.0 JTS that falls within our
budget. But there isn’t a bad GT here.
They all look stunningly pretty.
The Selespeed transmission is not
everyone’s favourite way of changing
gear and there have been some
problems with the actuator, for which
there is an official Alfa fix. Watch for
oil leaks, and some steering boxes are
weak. Emergency stops mean warped
brake discs and expect the inevitable
bits of flappy trim. All this Alfa really
needs is a bit of TLC to keep it sweet.
THAT FUNKY STYLING has a lot to
answer for. The big ‘shaking that ass’
of a rear end means that the boot
is not as big as it looks, and it sets a
new record for blindspots, so this is
not the easiest car to reverse. Rear
passengers have never enjoyed a huge
amount of legroom, either. But that’s
all the boring stuff.
What you want from the 225 is
excitement, and this comes with
some qualification. Roadholding is
fine, but the lifeless electric power
steering is not much liked. As a result,
the Mégane 2.0T Trophy is less than
exciting to drive enthusiastically
and, anyway, doesn’t look much like a
hot hatch. But it is refined, still quick
(0-60mph in under seven seconds)
and full of kit. The even better news is
that it has depreciated considerably,
bringing this model within our budget.
ALFA ROMEO GT
PRICE RANGE £3000-£11,900 YEARS BUILT 2004-2010
OUR PICK 2.0 JTS, 2004, 64k miles, £2995
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Oil leaks, weak steering boxes, warped brake discs
RENAULT MEGANE 225
PRICE RANGE £3000-£11,000 YEARS BUILT 2004-2009
OUR PICK Mégane 225, 2004, 86k miles, £2995
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Suspension knocks, body damage, crusty alloys
PRICE RANGE £3000-£9000 YEARS BUILT 2002-2006
OUR PICK 1.6 Cooper S, 2002, 59k miles, £3000
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Brake pads, exhaust, central locking,
power steering
Alternative stocking fillers
MINI COOPER S
FROM
£3000
4
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The V6 is one for
enthusiasts
and
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136 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
THE MAZDA 6 is pleasingly
aggressive and stylish compared with
most repmobiles. After the dreary
626, anything would have been an
improvement, and it was. If anything,
this was a 3-series for people who
didn’t care to pay extra for a badge.
The 6 always was a bit special, with
its stiff chassis and sharp steering.
Unsurprising, then, that the uprated
MPS doesn’t just look a bit sexy and
drive serenely but can also deliver
some real excitement on a budget. The
2.3T MPS AWD is a sort of Audi S4
but far, far cheaper. Like the Audi, it
is a saloon, for added rigidity.
The simple fact that it has a
Mazda badge means that reliability
is pretty much a given, provided
the car has been looked after.
Oh, yes, and as well as being good
looking on the outside, it isn’t half
bad inside. The quality of the
materials is impressive and, like all
Mazdas, it is well screwed together.
This is also a practical car, because
the space inside is suitably generous
and there is a sizeable boot for
everyone’s luggage.
The driving position is excellent.
The steering is direct and its handling
responses are suitably tidy. Overall,
the ride is comfortable but, this
being the sporty one, extremely firm.
Nevertheless, the cabin provides a
fairly relaxed and quiet environment,
even at motorway speeds, although,
obviously, the engine pipes up when
you start to stretch it.
There are some very tidy examples
around, with leather, electric driver’s
seat and six speeds, at comfortably
under our budget. Go slightly over
our limit here and you can even get
warranted examples for complete
peace of mind.
WHEN IT CAME out, the S2000 was
the thinking buyer’s BMW Z3, or even
the grown-up’s Mazda MX-5, because
it was, and still is, that good.
At the heart of this sports car is a
wonderful engine, which may be small
in size but creates a huge amount
of power. It links together brilliantly
with a six-speed gearbox that is
delightful to use and very precise. The
sophisticated suspension provides the
car with lots of grip and lets it tackle
bends with complete ease.
The standard spec was pretty
good and included remote locking,
immobiliser, leather trim and electric
operation for the windows, mirror and
roof. From 2002, it gained a heated
rear screen and upgraded Category 1
alarm. What Honda never messed with
was the purposeful styling. Arguably
one of the best roadsters ever.
IT WAS SO nice to have the original
GTI back in 2004. After years of not
really trying, the hatch got a lot of its
hotness back thanks to the 197bhp
turbocharged 2.0-litre engine. It was
smooth and quick (0-60mph in just
over seven seconds). However, going
fast isn’t the whole point, and the best
news was that VW had ensured that
its Golf GTI was pin-sharp again, with
loads of grip and agility.
To celebrate, VW even added
those subtle touches, such as unique
chequered seat trim. It also offered
special editions that were not all
about the badgework or trim; both
the Edition 30 and Pirelli added a
useful 30bhp. Neither ducks under
our budget, though. Instead, we’ll be
looking at a regular GTI from 2004-
2005 with a six-figure mileage.
HONDA S2000
PRICE RANGE £3300-£17,000 YEARS BUILT 1999-2009
OUR PICK S2000 2.0, 2000, 86k miles, £4995
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Full service history, brimmed dipstick (it drinks oil)
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI
PRICE RANGE £5000-£12,999 YEARS BUILT 2004-2008
OUR PICK 2.0T GTI, 2004, 125k miles, £5000
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Air-con failure, fuel pump, cold start, misfires
PRICE RANGE £3900-£7500 YEARS BUILT 2006-2007
OUR PICK 2.3T MPS, 2007, 66k miles, £5000
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Worn suspension bushes and dampers,
heavy clutch
Alternative stocking fillers
MAZDA 6 MPS
FROM
£5000
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JAMES RUPPERT’S
12 cars of Christmas
IS THERE SUCH a thing as a family-
friendly convertible? Yes, it’s the
A4, which is also a stylish machine
that demonstrates a remarkable
attention to detail and quality. The
new-generation model from 2001
has been particularly impressive in
driving terms and the level of standard
kit is now comprehensive.
If the defining quality of these
mid-sized Audis is mild dynamic
sterility, I can’t say that many buyers
notice or care. With the V6, you
could not ask for a smoother engine.
Whether it is the multi-valve 2.6 or
the 2.8, you can’t fail to be impressed
by the way it delivers power in a
controlled manner. Indeed, there is a
massive choice of engines, including
the TDI diesels.
Overall, it is a truly practical four-
seater with a decent boot. Brilliant.
IF A SUBARU Impreza Turbo is a bit
too lairy and obvious for you, then
there is always the rather more
reserved Octavia vRS. It is, in effect,
a Skodaru but cheaper and, in some
ways, better. It’s just as well built,
there are no scary bills if something
goes wrong and it has a big old boot at
the back, which is very useful.
Now, it may look like a more stylish
Rover 600, which isn’t difficult, but
in essence it is actually a more useful
Golf GTI, but with four-wheel drive
and an eager 1.8 turbo engine or, if
you prefer, a 2.0 TDI diesel. Not only
that, but you could also get yourself
a pacy load lugger in the shape of the
vRS estate. Funky seat coverings,
nice alloy wheels and a deep spoiler
indicate that this is the hot one.
Reliability has been very good,
but older models may
have skipped their
cambelt changes.
AUDI A4 CONVERTIBLE
PRICE RANGE £2000-£10,000 YEARS BUILT 2001-2005
OUR PICK 2.5 TDI 163 Sport, 2005, 79k miles, £8000
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Damaged hood, electrics, cooling and ignition coils
SKODA OCTAVIA VRS
PRICE RANGE £3500-£21,995 YEARS BUILT 2005-2012
OUR PICK 2.0 TDI PD vRS, 2008, 53k miles, £10,000
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Brake discs, worn suspension and steering
Alternative stocking fillers
6
LOTUS
ELISE
FROM
£8000
THE ELISE IS little more than four
wheels, a pretty glassfibre body
and an engine positioned behind
the driver. That is all anyone needs.
Buyers didn’t even get a radio and
there’s just an excuse for a hood. But
the handling and performance are
utterly breathtaking.
In its own way, the Elise is extremely
comfortable. The seats are true sporty
bucket items, being firm and very
supportive. In fact, the driver’s seat is
mounted closer to the passenger’s side
to improve weight distribution. There
is no glovebox and luggage room is
minimal, but none of that matters in a
two-seater like this. For over 15 years,
the Elise has offered probably the
most satisfying drive on the planet.
With this budget, we are looking
at the Mk1 model. So on paper, the
performance potential does not look
too promising. All the Elise had to
play with in the beginning was a
118bhp (120bhp after 2001) engine
as fitted to the Rover 200 and MGF.
However, the car weighs just 690kg,
translating into a 0-60mph time of
6.0sec. Top speed is over 125mph.
Acceleration is lively and only a
sloppy gearshift can slow you down.
Lotus quickly expanded the range
to suit more hardcore tastes, hence the
arrival of the 111S with a 143bhp VVC
engine. A Sport 135 tuning pack gave
the Elise 20bhp more power and the
Sport 160 had 160bhp plus modified
brakes and suspension.
PRICE RANGE £5500-£12,995
YEARS BUILT 1996-2000
OUR PICK 1.8, 1998, 55k miles, £7950
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Bodywork
damage, especially to the pricey
bonnet, and the heater matrix
a
g
-
nice alloy wheels an
indicate that this is
Reliability ha
but old
have
cam
140 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
THE BMW 6-SERIES, at first sight,
is a big dumpy old girl complete with
a difficult rump and a bodged nose
job. Never mind; the looks of this
GT do grown on you eventually, but
what melts your heart is the wallet-
friendly asking price and the fact that
it goes like stink.
Admittedly, a 645Ci is not an
M6 (that really is out of this budget
range), but it is damned close and
I’d have to argue that getting to the
arbitrary speed of 60mph in under six
seconds is hardly hanging about. That
big, smooth V8 is something you can
easily fall in love with, but what seals
the deal is the asking price. Especially
as, back in 2004, a 645Ci cost a not
insubstantial £50,450. So a £40,450
discount is not to be sniffed at, even
if the car has a few more miles on
the clock today.
In ‘E’ number terms (BMW’s model
code numbers), it’s an E63, launched
in 2003. Big petrols were the order of
the day and buyers benefited from an
astounding number of toys, whether it
be xenon headlamps or heated electric
seats, although the most uplifting
feature could be a panoramic roof.
But then why bother with a roof? At
the same time as the 5-series-based
coupé was launched, a canvas-roofed
convertible joined the line-up. You
can now hop aboard one of those
within this budget, too. GTs have
never looked better.
WHOEVER DECIDED TO bring back
the four-door coupé deserves a
medal. Stuff the rear passengers and
their precious headroom when the
whole package looks as sexy as this.
Yes, it’s an S-class for groovy people
rather than plutocrats. The great
news is that it’s now so affordable, too.
Trouble is, most buyers would
come over all sensible and go for a CDi
engine, which starts to put the CLS
out of reach unless you’re happy with
a starship mileage and the problems
that this can bring to a diesel engine.
All the better to man up and invest
in a 500. It may only deliver mpg in
the teens, but it also dishes up a
thumping good drive. Some even
have official AMG body styling,
too. This side of a Phantom,
nothing turns heads so instantly.
THE ODD THING here is that you can
choose between the really ugly and
the really dull Scooby. Yes, there are
WRXs and then there are WRXs; the
bug-eyed and then slanty-eyed ones
up to 2007 have bulges in all the right
places, while the dull one doesn’t. If
you go for the dullard, it will be newer
and will have covered fewer miles,
though it won’t necessarily be better.
What isn’t in any doubt is that the
WRX has always been great value,
with a fine level of standard kit and
superb performance and handling. An
irregular engine beat at idle means
that the expensive platinum plugs
are going. Also on a cold start-up, the
clutch may judder, and this again can
be traced to the plugs. That gearbox
is strong but the brake pads can wear
quickly. It’s pricey to run but not to
buy, especially if you choose dull.
MERCEDES-BENZ CLS500
PRICE RANGE £8000-£22,000 YEARS BUILT 2005-2010
OUR PICK CLS500, 2005, 50k miles, £9480
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Automatic gearbox issues, squealing brakes
SUBARU IMPREZA
PRICE RANGE £700-£27,000 YEARS BUILT 1994-2011
OUR PICK 2.5 GB270 WRX, 2007, 44k miles, £10,000
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Clutch, suspension, crash damage, over-tuning
PRICE RANGE £7300-£26,000 YEARS BUILT 2003-2010
OUR PICK 645Ci, 2005, 62k miles, £9000
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Service history, body damage, suspension wear
Alternative stocking fillers
BMW
645Ci
FROM
£10,000
7
140 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
WHOEVER DECIDED TO bring back
the four-door coupé deserves a
medal. Stuff the rear passengers and
their precious headroom when the
whole package looks as sexy as this.
Yes, it’s an S-class for groovy people
rather than
news is tha
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IF YOU ARE not quite sure what this
is, it’s really a ‘Road Rover’ and based
on the Discovery. Not that this makes
it a bad vehicle. Indeed, it’s a great
one for those who spend most of their
time on the road. As a used prospect,
it makes all sorts of sense, being good
value and almost fun to drive.
Standard spec always comprised
electric windows, a CD player and
climate control, which is a good start.
It’s essentially a four-seater, but you
can squeeze an extra body on board
and then they can share the cost of the
of sub-18mpg for the supercharged
one and about 30mpg for the diesel.
‘Sport’ may be the wrong badge,
but it is tidy enough to drive, with
none of the sloppiness associated
with a big 4x4. If it needs to go off
road, though, it is perfectly capable,
as it should be, given its Range Rover
badge. The 4.2 supercharged V8 is
a bit mad and the great news is that
they are within budget, although
the TDV6 with comprehensive HSE
specification is more widely available,
so you might as well go for that.
PRICE RANGE £11,000-£14,950 YEARS BUILT 2005-2012
OUR PICK 2.7 TDV6 HSE, 2005, 91k miles, £14,850
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Poor LPG conversions, electrics, fuel pumps
RANGE ROVER SPORT
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 141
THE TRULY WONDERFUL thing
about all Jaguars is that they become
affordable eventually. The great news
is that we haven’t had to wait that long
for the gorgeous XF to hit a realistic,
you’d-be-mad-to-ignore-it price.
Despite a recent refresh, it still
looks the part and it shouldn’t break
down… much. Early ones had lots of
quality niggles and Jaguar still lags
behind the Germans for fit and finish,
so check the car carefully. The 4.2 V8
supercharged R is out of our range,
as is the normally aspirated V8. If you
want petrol, then it’s a 3.0 V6, which
can be found quite easily. There are
loads of 2.7 V6 diesels at all kinds of
mileage, though, and with a massive
kit list at the Luxury grade level.
The XF looks special and feels
special, both inside and out. It’s the
best used Jag, since the last one.
HERE’S ONE OF the cheapest ways
to get yourself a Lamborghini: buy an
S6. Now, it may look like a cooking A6,
but it definitely isn’t. Under its bonnet
is a stonking V10 previously seen in a
Gallardo. That means there’s 429bhp,
which combines with the quattro
all-wheel drive system to keep you
safely on the road.
However, if you buy a baggy
example with issues, it will cost a
fortune to sort out. Running costs are
also suitably stratospheric and this
may be the factor that prompts you to
switch to a diesel A6. If you decide not
to cop out, you can choose between
saloon and Avant, and if you are not
bothered by the magical RS badge,
or even M for that matter, the S isn’t
a second best; it’s just a better-value
way of getting a super-saloon or
estate. Or Lamborghini.
JAGUAR XF
PRICE RANGE £11,000-£45,000 YEARS BUILT 2008-2012
OUR PICK 2.7D Premium Luxury, 2008, 67k miles, £14,975
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Gearbox noises, trim fit and finish, electrics
AUDI S6
PRICE RANGE £12,995-£37,995 YEARS BUILT 2006-2011
OUR PICK FSI saloon, 2006, 71k miles, £14,990
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Brakes, suspension bushes, cambelt at 60k miles
Alternative stocking fillers
8
FROM
£15,000
JAMES RUPPERT’S
12 cars of Christmas
142 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
MASERATI HAS DONE four-doors
before and this is its fifth and best
attempt, although the original 1964
Frua-designed one looks equally
gorgeous. While senior management
dullards make do with a BMW
7-series, corporate financial directors
favour a Merc S-class and the old
chairman a Jag, bright, free-thinking
entrepreneurs like us can get a Maser.
You can choose which one, too,
There’s the GT Sport for the hardcore
driver, a riot of carbonfibre, faster
gearbox software and electronic
dampers that are programmed to
entertain. Then there is the softer
Executive GT, with more dollops of
chrome, Alcantara and more comfort
kit. The actual spec varies hugely.
Ideally, make sure the prettier 19 or
20-inch alloy wheels are fitted. Cost-
option parking sensors help you to
avoid a prang, too.
Being Italian, it is not going to be
an easy ride when things go wrong. So
if you miss even the most apparently
small fault, it will cost a four-figure
sum to sort. For instance, those stylish
headlamps are pretty and also pretty
expensive. Like everything, there is a
sensor inside, and once that goes, you
need a new one. And they cost £1400
each, plus VAT, plus fitting.
Then there is the original semi-
automatic ’box, never the smoothest,
and the clutch will wear. A dealer has
the software to check for the amount
of wear and slippage. When it’s gone,
or on the way out, you’ll pay £1500 to
replace it. You have been warned.
WHO WANTS A baby Porsche? The
answer is absolutely everyone. Purist
bores can drone on about there being
only one proper Porsche, but the
Cayman, in many ways, is a back-to-
basics sports car that only Porsche
could make. It has taken seven years
but now they are half price or less,


and for that buyers can still get a
sublime little car.
It’s important to look closely at
the spec because most fixtures and
fittings are expensive options. The
basics are there, though: air-con, CD,
electric windows and traction control.
Full leather, climate control and
ceramic brakes are all cost options
but hardly vital to driving fun. What
may affect it is the choice of engine.
The standard car has a 2.7-litre flat
six, but the 3.4-litre S delivers the
outright pace. It’s a cut-price 911 in all
but name and even more of a bargain.
HERE IS THE proof that too much of a
good thing is a very good thing indeed.
Sure, 6.8 litres is certainly more than
enough for most motors, but it suits
the Arnage down to the ground. It
enables the captain of the sumptuous
ship not just to waft about town, but
also to floor the throttle and shift this
Edwardian gentleman’s club at an
unseemly but strangely appropriate
pace. The full-on Red Label will skip to
60mph in 5.5sec and run to 170mph.
Depreciation has worked its magic,
so the original substantial six-figure
price has been massively reduced.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with
to the running costs, whether it is
fixing stuff or fuel. So buyers need to
be braced for that and it is, of course,
worth it. There are better, more
practical and cheaper luxo-barges,
but none comes close to its charisma.
PORSCHE CAYMAN
PRICE RANGE £15,000-£50,000 YEARS BUILT 2005-2012
OUR PICK 3.4 S, 2007, 60k miles, £20,000
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Worn discs, crankshaft rear main seal, electrics
BENTLEY ARNAGE
PRICE RANGE £18,000-£99,000 YEARS BUILT 2005-2011
OUR PICK Red Label, 2001, 70k miles, £20,000
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR History, leather, power steering leaks, brakes
PRICE RANGE £16,900-£70,000 YEARS BUILT 2004-2012
OUR PICK 4.2 V8, 2007, 72k miles, £19,990
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Body damage, clutch, electrical issues
Alternative stocking fillers
MASERATI
QUATTROPORTE
FROM
£20,000
9
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 143
IF YOU WANTED to be a snob, there
are lots of good and bad reasons not
to buy a Continental GT. But just look
at it. It’s a big, blunt and heroically
beautiful yet luxurious lorry. That’s
pretty much what a Le Mans Blower
Bentley was, without the luxury bit.
It is GT by name and nature; there
is no compromised wafting here.
The whopping 6.0-litre, 12-cylinder
engine – last seen in a VW Phaeton,
for goodness’ sake – finally gets the
surroundings it deserves. It manages
to move the blunt beauty to a top
speed that nudges 200mph and gets
to 60mph in under five seconds,
which, let’s face it, is supercar stuff.
Inside, it looks the whole burr walnut
and chrome part, plus there’s tons of
space for two and room for a couple
of pals in the back, too. The boot has
space for everyone’s Louis Vuitton.
The company’s push into the
relative mass market means that the
sheer ubiquity of the model is starting
to hit values. The WAG factor can’t
be underestimated, and that is a big
reason why you can get them for
£30k. I think it’s blinging brilliant.
In 2006 there was a recall to check
braking efficiency. There can be
some electrical issues that need to
be checked by a diagnostic system.
The new ownership profile and some
private hire examples mean that some
examples definitely need some TLC.
FOR A USED car, the Evora is pretty
brand new. It was launched in 2009
and, three years later, there seems
to be an awful lot in the classifieds.
It looks to have won few friends,
and the unfocused nature of the
company does not help entice buyers
to the brand. There is also the small
matter of build quality, comfort and
ergonomics. However, what the buyer
gets is a superb driving machine — just
one that isn’t, on the face of it, worth
£50k-£60k. But the closer you get to
£30k, the more like a bargain it seems.
You won’t get the supercharged S,
of course, but a basic 3.5 V6 with
under 20,000 miles on the clock and
registered in 2010 is still a tempting
buy for this money. What’s more,
you will never pass another going the
other way, unlike those pricey and
rather common German coupés.
COMPARED WITH THE characterless
modern open-tops of today, a Morgan
never lets you forget that you are
bowling along in a bespoke sports car.
The Morgan experience is unique. This
is an exclusive car built by real people
at an incredibly reasonable price and it
turns every journey into an event. So
if its appeal has to be explained, then
you’ll never get it, or buy one.
The tragedy of all Morgans is that
they don’t get used enough. Look at
the ones on sale that all have fairly
marginal mileages. That fair-weather
use is a significant contributor to
their equally marginal depreciation.
Yet they could easily cope with the
daily grind. After all, the mechanicals
are modern and the body is aluminium.
The wood frame is flexible and, with
copious amounts of Ronseal, should
survive and will probably outlast you.
LOTUS EVORA
PRICE RANGE £30,000-£70,000 YEARS BUILT 2009-2012
OUR PICK 3.5 V6, 2010, 18k miles, £30,000
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Service history, clutch, battery failure
MORGAN 4/4
PRICE RANGE £20,000-£44,000 YEARS BUILT 1925-2012
OUR PICK 1.8 4/4, 2004, 3k miles, £29,995
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR History, dampness, seized brakes, tyre flat spots
PRICE RANGE £26,000-£92,000 YEARS BUILT 2003-2012
OUR PICK GT 6.0 W12, 2004, 41k miles, £29,990
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Batteries, electrics, scruffy ex-hire cars
Alternative stocking fillers
BENTLEY CONTINENTAL
FROM
£30,000
1
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JAMES RUPPERT’S
12 cars of Christmas
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144 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
JUST A FEW years ago, the R8
was the handsome supercar with a
substantial waiting list. This meant
that prices had quite a premium
attached to them but, right now, those
who were prepared to be patient can
get themselves an example for half of
that premium-fuelled price. That has
to be good news, even if some people
regard it as ‘just an Audi’ and no more
than a super-sized TT.
That is, of course, a little unfair.
This side of the original Quattro, here
is the sexiest Audi just about ever.
It looks like it could win Le Mans as
easily as the prototype racers that
gave birth to it and, given the 187mph
top speed and 0-60mph in 4.6sec, it
probably could. Not only that, but an
R8 is everyday practical, too. Owners
don’t have to be contortionists to
climb aboard and there’s a decent
boot, which is a detail that most
supercars do without.
Perhaps the biggest part of the
R8’s appeal, apart from the utterly
awesome boot space, is that it is easy
to drive. Yep, no more difficult to
handle than a TT; probably easier, in
fact. Oh, yes, and it is now affordable.
The arrival of the V10 meant that the
V8 softened in value. Suddenly, the
market is full of high-spec R8 4.2s
still in immaculate condition and with
full service histories. There are even
some in budget with manufacturer
warranties and very reasonable
mileages. So nothing to worry about.
THE VANQUISH IS the last of the
hand-built Newport Pagnell Astons,
so that is reason enough to consider
it for your collection. It is also the link
from the old-school Astons to the new
generation, the basis for DBs to come.
It’s an aluminium-and-carbonfibre-
bodied monster and it can’t really be
confused with a DB9 because it is so
much more pumped up. It is also a
proper 21st century supercar because
it’s a member of the 200mph club.
That’s all very nice, but even more
exciting is just how affordable it is
to buy. (Running costs are another
matter.) It is very cosy inside. The rear
seats are unusable and up front it is a
bit tight and doesn’t feel as special as
a £170k car should. But that’s okay,
because you’re not paying anywhere
near that for a 2003 example with
just 49k miles; it’s a £50k bargain.
MERCEDES HAS A bewildering range
of coupés, but right at the top sits the
S-class-related CL. It is supposed to
take on the Astons and Bentleys of
this world, but it doesn’t. The CL is
much cleverer than those two and
better value; it’s for people who would
rather pass unnoticed or be mistaken
for a C-class or E-class coupé owner.
That’s why I like it, and I also like the
fact that, after just a few years, it’s
less than half price.
More astounding still is that among
all the CL500s, there are proper
AMG-flavoured 63s well within
budget. So if you do want a special CL
with 20-inch AMG alloy wheels, nappa
leather, Alcantara headlining, digital
TV, night vision trickery and all that
fancy stuff, you’ll get one from £40k.
So it should be number one here, but
CL buyers wouldn’t like that.
ASTON MARTIN VANQUISH
PRICE RANGE £49,000-£119,000 YEARS BUILT 2001-2007
OUR PICK Vanquish, 2003, 49k miles, £49,995
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Bodywork damage, service history, electrics
MERCEDES-BENZ CL
PRICE RANGE £20,000-£90,000 YEARS BUILT 2007-2012
OUR PICK CL63 AMG, 2007, 40k miles, £41,995
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Electrics, service history, tyres
PRICE RANGE £42,000-£150,000
YEARS BUILT 2007-2012
OUR PICK 4.2, 2007, 33k miles,
£49,995
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Tyres are
very expensive; an Audi diagnostics
check is essential to see how it has
been used/maintained
Alternative stocking fillers
AUDI
R8
FROM
£50,000
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IF YOU ALWAYS kicked yourself
for missing out on an Enzo and still
find it a struggle to rustle up the
readies for a pre-owned one, there is
an alternative. The 599 is an Enzo-
powered road rocket that is rather
more sensible to steer and live with.
Inside, it is surprisingly spacious
and you can actually see out when
tooling around town. When you get
to the open road – sorry, track – there
is 620bhp to play with, delivering
60mph in less than four seconds.
Previous owners should have cared
for the 599 as if it were a favourite
child, so ideally there should be no
expenses to consider and certainly no
remedial work to wheels, bodywork
or interior. If there is, don’t buy it.
There’s also the question of left-hand
drive. In the short term, it will save
you money; in the longer term, it will
be more of a challenge to sell.
There are supercar running costs,
of course, but that comes with the
territory. Waiting lists when new
meant that premium prices were
suitably high, but now that it has
been replaced, £100k represents
some sort of reality. From its Enzo-
inspired carbonfibre steering wheel
to the all-aluminium body and
magnetic fluid dampers, everything
about this car is special.
WHAT HAVE THE Germans ever
done for us? Well, for a start, they
re-established the British luxury car
industry. Most remarkable of all, BMW
went on to grab the Best Car in World
trophy back (probably from Lexus)
with the Phantom.
Left to its own devices, Rolls-Royce
would have become a mad old bag
of a fluttering lady and it took BMW
to reinvigorate what Rolls was all
about. And what Rollers are all about
is making an impression. No one
should ever forget that they have
seen a Phantom and, with this one,
they never will. And whatever you call
those rear doors (‘suicide’ or ‘coach’),
this is the most elegant way to enter
and exit any vehicle.
All in all, more than a quarter of a
million quid well spent when new. So
an absolute bargain used. Danke!
‘SUPERCAR’ IS A term that is open to
misinterpretation, but the Murciélago
is, from air duct to air dam, every
single inch a super-duper-car. For a
start, it has a whopping V12. However,
despite the imposing sight and stats
— top speed 205mph and 570bhp — it
is easy to live with. You could never
have said that of old Lambos, and
that was part of the appeal, but who
really wants a temperamental motor
when you can have a focused, full-on
thoroughbred like this?
What most buyers have noticed is
that compared with the old-school
brittle-pasta Lamborginis, the build
quality is quite astounding. Audi’s
firm hand on the company steering
wheel has paid off very handsomely.
So no huge worries here, but do check
that it’s a genuine car, because there
are some private/trade chancers.
ROLLS-ROYCE PHANTOM
PRICE RANGE £97,000-£240,000 YEARS BUILT 2003-2012
OUR PICK 6.7, 2004, 43k miles, £96,995
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Service history, ex-private hire, body damage
LAMBORGHINI MURCIELAGO
PRICE RANGE £75,000-£120,000 YEARS BUILT 2002-2010
OUR PICK 6.2 VT, 2003, 22k miles, £84,999
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Suspension ball joints, clutch, bodywork damage
PRICE RANGE £88,000-£299,950 YEARS BUILT 2006-2012
OUR PICK GTB Fiorano F1, 2007, 16k miles, £89,850
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Service history, body damage, must be mint
Alternative stocking fillers
1
2
FERRARI
599
FROM
£100,000
JAMES RUPPERT’S
12 cars of Christmas
146 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012

I WAS INTERESTED to read your road
test of the Honda CR-V (Autocar, 24
October). My own feeling is that it’s just
too anonymous, especially in view of the
styling presented by the Korean brands.
I did, however, disagree with you
regarding the fitting of both a rear-view
camera and parking sensors.
The position and type of lens can make
a huge difference to the ease of parking.
Some systems are so optically distorted
that you can ‘arrive’ at an obstacle much
sooner than anticipated. Likewise,
there may be something low down
that the lens can’t ‘see’ but would be
triggered by the sensors.
Paul R Walker
Cheadle
DON’T LOOK BACK IN ANGER
TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE
I agree with your recent articles on
bargain used cars. After several years of
being tempted by finance deals on shiny
new Volkswagen Golf GTIs and Audi
TTs, a new job forced me into buying
something more reasonable.
And so a 54-plate BMW 330Ci coupé
arrived for £6000. It does 0-60mph in
6.5sec, has 230bhp, returns 35mpg, is
built to last and has a big boot.
It’s all you’d ever need in a car. Except
also in my garage is a lovely 1997 Fiat
Coupé turbo. The cost: £1800. I have two
bought and paid for performance cars
for the cost of the interest payments on a
new Audi A3.
Andy Driscoll
Via email
X-TYPE HIT THE SPOT
What damage does Hilton Holloway
think the X-type did to Jaguar’s image?
Thousands of motorists who would
never have considered buying a Jaguar
did so because it was the most practical,
economical, reliable and best-handling
saloon the company had ever produced.
Many of them went on to purchase other
models in the range.
Give credit where it is due: this Jaguar
didn’t let anyone down.
Ken Beamond
Via email
In some specifications the X-type was
a solid car, but that didn’t prevent it
from being viewed with disdain by some
prospective buyers less than enthused
by the Mondeo underpinnings — MB
ZIGGY CAR-LUST
Following on from Steve Gibson’s
comments regarding the Vauxhall
Adam’s 2014 trim specs (Your views,
28 November), I will wait for the 2015
Ziggy Stardust limited editions: Wham,
Bam and top-spec Thank You, Ma’am.
Nigel Oates
Chester, Cheshire
YOU’RE WRONG ABOUT TVR…
I agree with Chris Park about your
negative TVR comments (Your Views,
5 December). I also have a Griffith that
I have owned for 10 years and it has also
been reliable. The only breakdown has
been a split radiator hose.
The Rover V8-powered models are
simple to maintain, don’t have a habit
of self-destructing like certain 911s
and don’t need an engine-out cambelt
change every two years, unlike some
Italian exotica. Even the AJP and Speed
6 engines are now sorted.
TVRs are backed up by dedicated
and knowledgeable specialists and
the owners’ club is the best that I have
experienced. TVRs pull on your heart
strings more than any other car I know. I
never plan on selling mine; in fact, I may
rewrite my will so I am buried with it.
Steve Ashton
Via email
…NO, ACTUALLY YOU’RE RIGHT
Has Chris Park lost his sense of humour?
I loved your comment about TVRs. I’ve
had two; neither has been reliable but
both have been enjoyable. It’s a pity the
company went down the tubes. But there
is hope: I’m about to order a DAX Cobra,
a 6.3-litre Chevrolet with 450bhp and
costing £34-50k depending on spec. The
test drive had me grinning all the way.
David Allen-Butler
Wittersham, Kent
SPOILED ROTTEN
I was interested to see that Holden is
testing a new VXR8 disguised as a
Jaguar XF (News, 28 November). Or do I
need to go to Specsavers?
Seriously, does Ian Callum really
design/sign off the spoilers for all the
R-S Jags? Perhaps we both need our
eyesight tested. There has to be a more
elegant way of achieving the downforce.
The word ‘tacky’ doesn’t come close.
Simon Astley
Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire
New or used? A
2004 330Ci does
the job for Andy
Jaguar X-type: deserves some credit
WIN
Letter of the week wins a selection
of car care products from
Car-Skin worth over £65.
pro-valets.co.uk
LETTER OF THE WEEK
YOUR VIEWS
Write to Autocar, Teddington Studios, Broom Road,
Teddington TW11 9BE or email autocar@haymarket.com
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 147
LETTERS
A LEADING QUESTION
I live in a terraced house with no drive
or garage. If electric cars become
commonplace, how are we supposed
to charge them overnight? Will we
have lots of charging leads across the
footpath from kerb to front door, or will
we have to leave them at a charging
point and walk back to collect them?
This small fact of life seems to have
been overlooked. I would be interested
in comments or possible solutions, apart
from moving house.
CJ Niblett
Via email
We’ll have to wait for inductive charging
via pads in the street to become the
norm, CJ. Then the issue will be getting a
parking space equipped with one — MB
ECONOMIES OF SCALE
It’s right to heap praise on Ford’s
low-emission petrol engines. However,
it’s also as well to recognise the money-
making motive. Building three-cylinder
petrol engines in Romania is massively
cheaper than making four-cylinder
diesels in Dagenham, and it’s plain
to see from the price lists that Ford is
pocketing those savings in profits.
Tim Farrell
Via email
SOLD ON YOUR 320D
I was sad to see the departure of your
BMW 320d fleet car (Our Cars, 28
November). It had quite an influence on
me. In the showroom of my local main
dealer recently I spotted a sales leaflet
for the 3-series, which was reprinted
from the road test of your 320d.
I took a copy home to drool over
and a couple of weeks later the dealer
invited me to a ‘VIP’ sales event. After
registering to attend, a salesman phoned
and asked me to describe my perfect
BMW. I was in a hurry, so I grabbed the
sales leaflet and gave him the spec of
your long-term test car!
When my wife and I attended the
event, the salesman led us to a gleaming
red 320d Sport. “Here is your car, sir,” he
proudly announced.
Sure enough, it was identical to your
car. A clever sales technique, I thought.
After some persuasion on the part of both
the salesman and my wife, I bought it.
It is so much better in every way than
my (slightly disappointing) 2008 318d.
I shall continue to enjoy my beautiful
320d saloon for quite a few years more.
Colin Walker
Bristol
Great news, Colin. We were rather
fond of our 320d — see p156 for further
proof. We’d better get in touch with that
BMW dealer regarding our commission
on your car — MB
XFR-S’s rear spoiler
does exactly that,
reckons Simon
Col is still smarting
from 1968’s slot
car disappointment
YOU’VE NOT HEARD from me for
many decades. Not since Christmas
1968, in fact. It’s not that I’ve lost
faith in your existence, more that it’s
taken this long for me to forgive you
for giving me a Woolworths slot racing
set instead of a proper Scalextric.
My friends raced recognisable cars
such as Lotus 49s, whereas my
set contained a pair of generic and
somewhat naff single-seaters. And
I couldn’t extend my layout, either,
so while the others had crossover
sections that could propel racing cars
off the track towards the dog or their
little sister, my track was a basic oval.
But never mind, I’m willing to give
you another chance, so here’s my
Christmas list. I’d like a set of imperial
Snap-On ratchet wrenches. I’ve got a
good set of Snap-On tools because the
last time I got married the bride had a
list at John Lewis and I had a list with
my Snap-On man. I did well out of it,
but I really would like a set of those
wrenches. If you can’t afford Snap-On,
please don’t repeat the slot car set
Goodwin’s Email to the management
To Santa Claus, North Pole-based largesse distributor
Subject Colin’s Christmas list
Dear Santa, S
Yours sincerely,
C Goodwin, Esq
fiasco and buy cheaper imitations,
because I’d rather go without.
I’d also like a subscription to Motor
Sport magazine, please, because I
managed to miss an issue this year and I
don’t want that to happen again. I’d also
like a complete set of Autosport from
1962, the year I was born. Someone
gave me a 1962 Jane’s Aircraft of The
World book for my birthday this year
and it’s amazing. An Observer Book of
Cars from the same year would be
cool, too. If you struggle to find one,
give my pal Richard Bremner a call as
he might have a duplicate. He’s also
got around 600 Scalextric cars, the
git. He must have been a really good
boy when he was a kid.
FEELING DOWN? LOST THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT? Contact Colin at colin.goodwin@autocar.co.uk
NEXT
ISSUE
ON THE WEBSITE
autocar.co.uk
INSIDE THE MAGAZINE
On sale 2 January
SPECIAL FEATURE
New cars for 2013
Our 18-page guide to what’s
coming over the next 12 months.
ROAD TEST
Ford B-Max
Radical tech meets new compact
MPV. Read our experts’ verdict.
FIRST DRIVE
Skoda Octavia
Early impressions of the Czech
firm’s bigger third-gen Octavia.
DRIVEN
Vauxhall Adam
Supermini’s UK-specific steering
recalibration tested on our roads.
148 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
Annual round-up of our fleet
OUR CARS
33 cars, 276,000 miles:
our motoring year
A
nother year gone, another chance
to look back with fondness and
affection at the comings and
goings of the shape-shifting
mélange that is the Autocar long-term
test fleet. And what a year it has been,
with no less than 33 different vehicles
staking their claim to a regular spot in
the car park in the past 12 months — a
much higher turnover of fresh metal
than in recent years.
From oddball electric urban
runabouts to 550bhp V8s, via city
cars, warm hatches, saloons, trackday
specials, a seven-seat MPV and even a
£500 Bangernomics special, Autocar’s
2012 long-term test fleet has provided
a solid backdrop to a year’s great
motoring. And if nothing else, it has
also been testament to the innovation
and creativity of a motoring industry
increasingly hemmed in by regulation
and legislation. For that we should be
very thankful.
In the interests of fairness, and given
the diversity of machinery eligible for
voting, we’ve revised the categories
a little for this year’s competition and
included some new ones. Also, given the
higher number of eligible entrants, it’s
inevitable that some cars only barely
scraped a mention at the final count,
so no one should be too disheartened
by that. And just to make it absolutely
clear, anything that was eligible for the
vote this time in 2011 doesn’t make it in
to this year’s competition, even if the
car was still around in 2012.
So with the ballot closed, the bribes
paid and the votes counted, who are our
winners, not-so winners and also-rans in
2012? Read on and find out…
BMW
320d
AUDI
A6 ALLROAD
VAUXHALL
ASTRA GTC
FIAT
PANDA
BMW
728i
ALPINA
D5 BITURBO
MAZDA
CX-5
VAUXHALL
ASTRA VXR
LOTUS
EVORA S
HONDA
CIVIC
2012 yielded a bumper crop of long-term test cars here at Autocar, lending us an embarrassment
of riches to choose from in our end-of-year awards. Following extensive rumination, choose we did
LOVE IT
LOATHE IT
MERCEDES
E63 AMG
GINETTA
G40R
RANGE ROVER
EVOQUE
RENAULT
GRAND SCENIC
RENAULT
TWIZY
HYUNDAI
i30
HYUNDAI
i40 TOURER
SEAT
MII
FORD
FOCUS
CATERHAM
SEVEN
VOLVO
V40
SUZUKI
SWIFT SPORT
CHEVROLET
VOLT
AUDI
Q3
ASTON MARTIN
V8 VANTAGE
JAGUAR
XF
JAGUAR
XKR-S
SUBARU
XV
SSANGYONG
KORANDO
LEXUS
LEXUS CT200h
150 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
Suzuki
Swift
Sport
BEST FOR A B-ROAD THRASH
T
he idyllic B-road thrash is the
bread-and-butter experiential
staple of the driving enthusiast.
Unfortunately, though, the
notion of the back-road blast is one
increasingly tinged with nostalgia
and regret. In the old days, when the
countryside was black and white and
cars were more genteel things, a
spirited thrap along a favourite piece
of rural blacktop could be enjoyed at a
pace unlikely to cause offence.
Today, though, thrash a Mercedes
E63 AMG or Jaguar XKR-S at ten-tenths
along a B-road and you’ll need not
just your wits about you but possibly a
good solicitor, too. To this end, it’s not
surprising that the highest-scoring cars
in our ‘Best for a B-road thrash’ category
are cut from simpler cloth. And few
eyebrows were raised when the winner
was announced: the Suzuki Swift Sport
— a 1.6-litre warm hatch that makes just
134bhp, can barely crack 120mph and
costs only £13,499.
Trailing the diminutive three-door by
a single vote was the Caterham Seven.
It is perhaps telling that the more senior
members of the Autocar collective erred
towards the Seven’s hardcore charms.
“As someone who has built, bought,
raced and wrecked various Sevens
over the past 25 years, for the specific
discipline of the B-road thrash, there
remains nothing to touch it,” insisted
Andrew Frankel.
Matt Prior was in agreement. “It has
to be the Caterham, because normal
cars are too big for B-road thrashes
these days, and, well, I might as well stop
writing,” he wrote. “The Caterham has
won this hands down, hasn’t it?” Sorry
Matt but no, it hasn’t.
Before we hail our winner, an
honourable mention must go to the
Ginetta G40R. “It’s a brilliant driver’s
car, and perfectly sized for Britain’s
narrow roads,” reckoned Stuart Milne.
Steve Sutcliffe also voted for the Ginetta
“because it was built to be thrashed
along a quiet B-road by people who
aren’t especially bothered about how
fast they are travelling but do care
about how much fun they are having
in the process.”
But the majority verdict went in
the Suzuki’s favour, and there was
a recurring theme in our judges’
commendations. “The beauty of the
Swift is that it connects you with the
road at speeds that are still legal,”
said Jim Holder.
Matt Burt concurred. “It’s great fun
even at a fairly modest pace, and you
always feel confident that it’s you driving
the car and not vice versa,” he said.
News editor Mark Tisshaw ran the
Swift Sport for 12,000 miles, so he gets
‘ The beauty of the Swift is that
it connects you with the road at
speeds that are still legal’ JIM HOLDER
OUR CARS
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 151
Alpina D5 Biturbo
BEST FOR LONG-DISTANCE TOURING
‘ Pound for pound, this is probably
the best car ever at munching
long distances’ STEVE SUTCLIFFE
the winner’s T-shirt and the final say.
“No other car is as accessible and easy
to exploit at its limit,” he said. “These
days, too many performance cars feel
like they’re driving you; the Swift Sport
is the opposite. It is very much a car you
take control of, plus it won’t go crying
to the dealer asking for new tyres and
brakes and fresh oil every other month.
Come to think of it, can I have it back,
please, Suzuki?”
Y
ou can go as far as you like in
anything you like, as long as
it’s reliable. But if the journey is
to be something special, then
the car must be, too. It needs to be
comfortable, refined and economical
(or offer a half-decent range). And it
needs to be fast. Perhaps not rabidly
so, but it needs to deliver effortless,
relentless, country-munching speed.
Sounds like the Alpina D5 Biturbo.
Which is why our 345bhp, 3.0-litre
diesel saloon stole the honours here
by a decisive margin.
Lower down the order, the Audi
A6 Allroad was rightly recognised
for its long-haul credentials. “No
aches, no pains, no need to stop for
fuel,” said Stuart Milne after a run
from Devon to Essex. Nods, too, to
the “decadently appealing” Aston
Martin V8 Vantage and “remarkably
relaxed yet never boring” Mercedes
E63 AMG, while the Range Rover
Evoque won Hilton Holloway’s long-
distance vote. “Sitting higher than
normal is the most relaxing position of
all,” he said. “That and the Evoque’s
Elemental Caterham Seven was the road
test editor’s pick, but not the majority’s
SECONDPLACE CATERHAMSEVEN
SECONDPLACE BMW320d
cosseting cabin seal the deal.”
Second place went to another
Bavarian-built diesel four-door, the
BMW 320d. “Here’s a sports saloon
that can hit 60mpg, so fill-ups on
lengthy road trips will be few and far
between,” said Gary Lord.
At the final count, however, the
Alpina won out. “Pound for pound,
the D5 is probably the best car ever at
munching long distances,” reckoned
Steve Sutcliffe. Allan Muir praised the
Biturbo’s “unbeatable combination of
muscular performance, refinement,
ride quality, seat comfort and
economy”. “A wonderful way to gobble
up miles,” said James Ruppert.
Patrick Fuller accepted the ‘Best
for long-distance touring’ real plastic
trophy on Alpina’s behalf. “I would like
to thank Alpina’s managing director,
Andreas Bovensiepen, who shared with
Hans Stuck the first diesel to win that
ultimate test of long-distance touring,
the Nürburgring 24 hours, in 1988,” he
said. “The outrageously good-looking
D5 wins here using a similar formula
of effortless torque and aversion to
fuel stops. Or, to put it another way,
170mph and 43mpg. ’Nuff said.”
320d’s sporty performance and
60mpg potential won many fans
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OUR CARS
Caterham
Seven
BEST FOR MAXIMUM-ATTACK ALL-OUT HOONERY
WE ALSO RAN THESE ALSO-RANS
W
ith the public road an
increasingly unwelcome place
to stretch a performance car’s
legs (see ‘Best for a B-road
thrash’ for evidence), we’ve introduced
this new category for 2012. Set free
from the shackles of legislation and
social responsibility and let loose on a
circuit, test track or proving ground,
which of our fleet members offers
the most reward to the committed
driver? Our survey says: the Caterham
Seven Supersport.
Not surprised? You shouldn’t be, but
even so it was tight at the top. Our Seven
took the winner’s medal by just a single
vote, but it’s interesting to note that
while the long-term fleet’s V8 bruisers
— the 420bhp Aston Vantage, 550bhp
Mercedes E63 AMG and 542bhp Jaguar
XKR-S — were shunned in the ‘B-road
thrash’ category, they made a strong
showing here.
Editor Jim Holder courted a human
resources department backlash by
voting for the E63 and declaring that
anyone who did otherwise “needed to
be sacked”, while Allan Muir noted of the
Merc that “big drifts are on the cards as
long you’ve got the space and the budget
for fresh tyres”.
It was, however, the XKR-S that ran
the Seven closest. “It’s the perfect size,
plus it’s got loads of poke, with a chassis
developed in the UK by true driving
enthusiasts,” declared Steve Cropley. In
fact, the Jag was roundly praised for its
potent mix of poise and power, but Mark
Tisshaw wasn’t the only one to give it the
nod simply for the noise it makes. “You
only need to floor the pedal and listen
to the exhaust note to declare it the
winner,” he said. Except it didn’t win.
That honour went to the pure and
simple Caterham because, as Steve
Sutcliffe noted, “it’s obvious, is it not?”
Matt Saunders elaborated further.
“Drive it to the trackday, hoon it all day
and drive it home with an enormous
smile on your face,” he said.
The Seven continues to be run by road
tester Nic Cackett, so we finish with his
words. “The Caterham understandably
covered itself in maximum-attack glory,
but in truth there was little competition
for it on the current fleet,” he reckoned.
“Not because the other cars weren’t
worthy, but because in the dark art of
toe-down thrashery, the 50-year-old
Seven is a full rolling burnout ahead of
most of the competition. Our Supersport
is particularly effective because its
140bhp is so perfectly deployable and the
limit of every gear can be high-fived with
enthusiasm. And that is what genuine all-
out hoonery is about.” Amen to that.
Lotus Evora S
The Hethel-built 2+2 would doubtless
have picked up more than the
smattering of votes it did in both the
‘B-road thrash’ and ‘Maximum attack’
categories had it been fitted with a
manual gearbox rather than the IPS
automatic transmission it came with.
BMW 728i
Shamefully overlooked by our judges,
James Ruppert’s £500 Shed Seven
picked up just a single nomination.
Vicky Parrott voted for it in the ‘Best for
family life’ category, “so you can be all
snobbish at the school gates since it’s
old and you’re recycling”.
Vauxhall Astra GTC and VXR
Our warm and hot Astras were mostly
forgotten. The VXR was expected to bag
votes in the ‘B-road thrash’ category,
but failed to score. James Ruppert
voted for the GTC in the ‘Maximum
attack’ class because the bits you wear
out on track would be cheap to replace.
Range Rover Evoque
Our stylish, great-to-drive three-door
compact SUV slipped through the gaps
between our categories for this year
and unexpectedly failed to register
more than a handful of votes, only
recording nods for the ‘Run into town’
and ‘Long-distance’ classes.
SECONDPLACE JAGUAR XKR-S
Jag got Cropley’s approval for proportions, poke and poise. Tisshaw liked the noise
‘The Seven is a full rolling
burnout ahead of the
competition’ NIC CACKETT
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 153
OUR CARS
BEST FOR A RUN INTO TOWN
BEST FOR FAMILY LIFE
Seat Mii
Renault Grand Scenic
F
amilies are funny things. They’re
like a living, breathing extension
of you, except they’re not you, and
they very often want something
quite different from a car than you do.
So when necessity overtakes desire,
only three letters will do: MPV. And with
just one representative of the breed
on the fleet, it was no surprise that our
Renault Grand Scenic took the honours.
“It’s far from perfect,” said Jim
Holder, “but if you’re lugging a family
and all their possessions around, there’s
no substitute for useful space. It puts
the Renault’s dynamic deficiencies to
the back of your mind.”
Despite being branded “desperately
uncool” by Allan Muir and “too
obvious to vote for” by Mark Tisshaw,
the Renault scored for its all-round
usefulness and low running costs.
Patrick Fuller declared it “an ugly
duckling that’s a swan at the pumps”,
while Matt Saunders said “you can fill it
with a flat’s worth of clutter, drive it 100
miles and still better 50mpg”.
Tied for second were the Hyundai
i40 Tourer (“terrific space, surprising
economy”) and Audi A6 Allroad (“name
something else with over 300bhp, four-
wheel drive and a vast boot that will also
do 40mpg”). The i40’s all-round good
value won it several votes, while the A6’s
mix of desirability, pace and practicality
secured its place.
In the end, though, the Grand Scenic
took the win. “It had to,” said the
Renault’s keeper, Tim Dickson. “It’s as
single-minded in purpose as an F1 car,
and so well suited to family life I made
my other half have a baby while I was
running it just to get the best out of it.”
T
he endearingly basic Mii city car
was a clear winner here, scoring
twice as many votes as the
second-placed Panda. There were
strong showings for the Renault Twizy
and Chevrolet Volt, too.
Gary Lord summed up the cleverly
packaged twin-pot Italian best. “It’s
small, but not silly small,” he said.
“Great all-round visibility means you
won’t take out jay-walking pedestrians,
and the engine is both fun and frugal.”
The Mii, however, scored for its
compactness and appealing simplicity.
Even Allan Muir, who raves about the
Twizy, conceded that the Mii was the
best choice. “It’s nippy, easy to park,
and so basic that you never have to
worry about dings,” he said.
Our Seat’s zero-frills nature also
won it plaudits. “Poverty spec should
make it the runt of our litter, but in
fact it gives the Mii bags of charm,”
reckoned Matt Burt.
The last word goes to Mark Tisshaw,
who runs the Mii. “I was expecting the
Panda to win,” he said, “but while that
car can polarise opinion, the Mii
is enjoyed by all. In S spec it’s a
back-to-basics urban runabout with
a spacious interior and perfectly
weighted controls. It’s one of the
slickest city cars ever.”
SECONDPLACE FIAT PANDA
SECONDPLACE AUDI A6ALLROAD&HYUNDAI i40 TOURER
Characterful two-cylinder Italian
competitor also impressed us
Allroad’s size and performance won admirers; i40 Tourer is seriously capacious, too
‘ The Panda polarises opinion,
but the Mii is enjoyed by all’
MARK TISSHAW
‘ The Grand Scenic is as
single-minded in purpose
as an F1 car’ TIM DICKSON
THE ‘DARK HORSE’ AWARD FOR UNDERSTATED AND POSSIBLY UNEXPECTED USEFULNESS O S OSS
156 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 19/26 DECEMBER 2012
BMW 320d
THE ‘REAL-WORLD’ AWARD FOR
DRIVER APPEAL, AFFORDABILITY
AND EVERYDAY USABILITY
N
ever before in the history of
Autocar’s end-of-year fleet
shootout has one car scored such
a resounding, crushing victory. So
comprehensive was the BMW 320d’s
win in this new-for-2012 category that
no other car secured more than a single
vote, hence the absence of a definitive
second-place finisher.
The Vantage, Swift Sport, Civic,
Alpina D5 and Focus 1.0 all managed a
vote each, while Matt Prior asked if he
could have both the Caterham and Fiat
Panda since, combined, “they cost less
than a lot of the others do on their own”.
Yes, Matt, they do, but no, you can’t.
The ever-optimistic Steve Sutcliffe,
meanwhile, voted for his long-term
XKR-S, remarking that “the world no
longer seems terribly real, so if we’re all
heading for the mire then why not have
some fun en route?” Why not indeed.
Back to reality, then, and to the victor,
the spoils. Far from being content to rest
on the laurels of its five-star road test,
the 320d’s emphatic win was backed up
by glowing praise from all quarters.
“Forget restricting the choice to
the long-term fleet,” declared Andrew
Frankel. “Of all the cars on sale in the
country, there’s none with a better claim
to being the best car in the real world.”
Jim Holder said the BMW was
“boringly good”, but admitted “it drives
so much better than the opposition, you
wonder why they can’t get closer”.
Allan Muir, too, was a fan. “The 320d is
even more well rounded than you’d ever
expect,” he said. “It has the comfort and
refinement of an exec saloon, along with
an unbeatable combination of strong
performance and low running costs.”
Matt Burt went so far as to brand the
BMW “almost perfect”, following an
initial reluctance to jump on the 320d
bandwagon. “I drove it and instantly
understood what everyone had been
banging on about,” he said.
Our high-mileage photographer
Stuart Price had the task of accepting
the engraved pewter jug on behalf of
his beloved charge. He was gracious
in victory, thanking BMW for all their
hard work in creating such a great car.
His 320d had lived a particularly hard
life, having been driven back from the
press launch in Spain and immediately
subjected to full-on road test duty.
“After that,” admitted Stuart, “I tried
not to let the road testers near it again.
But the 320d endured a tough life and
racked up 20,000 miles in the following
nine months. It’s my ultimate long-
termer.” And so say all of us.
SsangYong Korando
G
iven the diversity of cars on the
fleet, it’s no surprise that this
new, broadly encompassing
category generated such a pick-
and-mix assortment of votes.
Everything from the Ginetta G40R
and Honda Civic to the Chevrolet Volt,
Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost and Audi Q3
scored a nomination. But at the final
count we were left with a second-place
coalition consisting of the Subaru XV
(“family-friendly utilitarian appeal”)
and the Mazda CX-5 (“frugal and
incredibly practical”).
Wearing the victor’s garland,
however, is this year’s least likely
Autocar award winner: the SsangYong
Korando. This budget South Korean
off-roader was saddled with the weight
of preconception on its arrival, but
it made short shrift of that thanks
to its ruggedness, practicality and
comfortable, well equipped interior.
Not only that, but it was also, as deputy
road test editor Matt Saunders noted,
“the only long-termer we’ve had for
ages that’s come with a tow bar”.
Steve Cropley, a man familiar with
far more exotic kit than the SsangYong
he ran for six months and 11,000 miles,
admitted he was delighted but not
surprised that the Korando won. “I often
preferred it to higher-tone cars because
of its engaging versatility and spacious
cabin, plus it’s a surprisingly enjoyable
drive,” he said. “A Ssanger also lifts you
out of the ‘my brand’s better than yours’
minefield that causes many car buyers
unnecessary agony. You buy it because
you can afford it, or you like it. Simple.”
OUR CARS
19/26 DECEMBER 2012 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 157
SECONDPLACE SUBARUXVANDMAZDACX-5
‘ You buy it because you
can afford it, or you like
it. Simple’ STEVE CROPLEY
XV and CX-5 majored on practicality
‘The 320d is my ultimate
Autocar long-termer’
STUART PRICE
MORE ALSO-RANS
Hyundai i30
As likeable, practical, good looking
and everyday useful as it is, our
Hyundai hatchback barely registered
in the voting. It does nothing wrong,
but sank into virtual anonymity
in a sea of more characterful and
exciting-to-drive opposition.
Volvo V40
The new Volvo hatch suffered a
similar malaise to the i30. Had our
car’s recent dynamic rejuvenation
happened somewhat sooner, it might
have featured more strongly in our
voters’ affections, but as it was, the
V40 as good as failed to register.
Jaguar XF 2.2D
Well liked and dynamically appealing,
but our four-pot Jag saloon was oddly
overlooked. The XF arguably suffered
a similar fate to the Evoque and didn’t
sit comfortably in any one category,
but then again the BMW 320d
managed pretty well, didn’t it?
Lexus CT200h
Our luxury-spec, hard-riding hybrid
hatch was a non-scorer in the final
vote. Had we created a category that
favoured cars whose benefit-in-kind
tax rating made them an attractive
company car proposition, the Lexus
would have been up there.
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vvv.maseraIideaIers.comlgraypauIlnoIIingham
GraypauI Edinburgh
ForI Kihhaird, Ldihburgh, LH15 3HR
0131 629 0641
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1ower Carage, Lgham, Surrey, 1W20 0AX
01784 558 093
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Ca| s|owu Vase|a¦| C|au!u||sro 'po|¦ VC '||¦¦ /u¦o £90,750 ou ¦|e |oad w|¦| re¦a|||c pa|u¦ a¦ £5o4 aud 20·|uc| /u¦||ac|¦e C|e, /s¦|o des|çu a||o, w|ee|s a¦
£480. C¦¦c|a| ¦ue| cousurp¦|ou ¦o| ¦|e Vase|a¦| C|au!u||sro 'po|¦ VC '||¦¦ /u¦o |u rpç (||¦|es/100 |r). u|bau 12.9 (21.9), e·¦|a u|bau 28.8 (9.8), corb|ued 19.7
(14.3). CC
2
er|ss|ous ou corb|ued c,c|e. 331 ç/|r.
\c buy supcrc+rs
Over 20 years experiehce ih presIige per!ormahce
ahd luxury cars !or reIail cohsumers.
CohIacI us !or a valuaIioh 01332 542 466 · chris©bayIreecars.com · www.bayIreecars.com
Jaguar XK8 4.0 ConvertibIe
auto, 1998, 136k miles, now upgraded
to look like 2005 model, SH, 5 mths Mot,
new unmarked ivory lthr/carpets, int.
chrome pack & knob, resprayed, new
tyres, 18¨ alloys, r/park sensors, HK disc
changer, over £12k spent in last 3 yrs,
valeted & serviced,
£8,000
T:07590 757196
mmlstreet54@googlemail.com
Mini 1.6 SidewaIk
Limited Edition
2008, 42k, white siIver, Ieather, LSD,
DSC, chrome Iine ext. Front c/armrest,
htd f/seats, Xenons, auto AC, HK Hi
Fi, 1 previous owner, FMSH, Mot/Tax,
exceIIent condition throughout,
£10,750 ono
T:01264 738738
07973 183610
tom@sycon.net
Esprit V8 GT
Twin Turbo
fuII Mot, VGC, new cambeIt, cIutch, 2
turbos, brake discs, bIk Ieather, AC,
radio/muIti CD, Tracker, OZ wheeIs,
aIarm, CL, EW, abs, 1 previous owner,
29,200 miIes,
£19,500
T: 07764 223227
kevin@theedge.eu.com
RoIIs Royce SiIver Spirit
'88, dark bIue, waInut int. cream
uphoIstery, new Mot, 11,700
miIes from new, owner retired, p/x
considered for motorhome.
£17,950
T: 01256 843729
01256 762435 e
07802 852801
Lotus EIise
340R Limited Edition
2000, onIy 1950 miIes, never
raced, never seen rain, Ioads of
upgrades, perfect for coIIectors,
£33,995
T: 07932 100706
0161 7245868
enquiries@4asc.co.uk
Mini Cooper S 1.6
2010, ChiIIi red, bIack roof, mirrors &
bonnet stripe, great spec, chiIIi pack,
17" aIIoys, bi- xenons, auto AC, sports
s/wheeI, red, red/bIack haIf Ieather
interior, TLC ( free deaIer servicing for
1st 5 years), VGC, FMSH, 1 Owner,
£11,995
T:07774 881810
wn700700@aoI.com
Jaguar S Type
V6 SE, 2006
Tax/Mot, 1 owner, auto, Sat
nav, cruise, Ieather int. 35,200
miIes,
£8,495 ovno
T:01773 822634 (Derbyshire)
john@fransham.com
SuubeamÞaµier. !963, rcºtorcd and orcoarcd aº a workº
rcolica rall, car with ocriod ¦ittin¸º, nicc cxamolc with oartº to
rcvcrºc modº i¦ rcouircd, ori¸inal bronzc colour. Vot.
£ó,2Su
uI487 82uó22 er u772u8ó27S9(Lambs)
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8MwMóBi¿hIiue, !988, lovin¸l, carcd ¦or
ºincc 2003, rcccnt timin¸ chain, diºcº, drivcº
bcauti¦ull,
£9,9uu
u79uS 2ó9Iuó er u78óuIuII94
(berbyshire)
£scert I977
,rº Vot, 4 ncwt,rcº, ori¸inal !300 cn¸inc,
currcntl, on SOlN, lowcºt ºuºo. Ncwºtockº
and much morc.
£2,99S
u78I7 8uu479
BMW Ӹ SERIES ӸӸʇI M SPORT
CONVERTIBLE
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čҌҌάنčϨѭ MάϨɌčʒɌȦ ʇȧНڄڄ ӓ ʇ ЇЮИӜΏҝ Ӝčٟ
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čȗȗɌҝҝѭ PčҌϔάИʒ ҝɌИҝЮҌҝ FѴRѭ FЮϨȫάИʒ
ЇάҌҌЮҌҝѭ SЇЮϔɌ ْάИȫЮْҝѭ
TɌϨѭ ڄҰҰʍڄ НʇНʇӸҰѭ
NЮ ȂҌЮϔɌҌҝ ӓ ЇɌȫάč ҝčϨɌҝɵ
8Mw2 Series 22ui MSµert Bi¿hIiue Leuv Aute,
2uIu, ONL\ 5,001 V¦LLS, Llack ºaoohirc, lull Lcathcr,
ncatcd Scatº, Vulti¦unction Stccrin¸ whccl, `cnon
ncadlamoº, VSoort lllo,º, VSoort Lod,kit, ¹rio tomoutcr.
£2I,99u
uI722 22uSSS
www.bi¿meteriu¿werId.ce.uk
X5 3.0i Sport
2004/04
sapphire bIack, 62k miIes, fuIIy
Ioaded, 11 mths Mot, 5 mths tax,
FBMWSH, just serviced,
£8,500 ono
T:07889 962872
01992 700625
Range Rover 3.0 TD6 Vogue
2002, auto, silver, diesel, trip
computer, cruise, R/CD M/changer,
Pas, 99,300 miles, leather int. 4 prev.
owners, htd/elec. seats, sunroof, ES,
Wm, AC, sat nav, ABS, P. sensor,
CL, spare wheel, 3 mths Mot, 4 mths
tax, rem. towbar,
£9,995
T:07812 123809 or 01752 511963
trogfd@hotmaiI.co.uk
CHRYSLER WIMBLEDON
RHD, 1937, original registration
DNE 896, much work done,
superb history, restoration
project,
£3,000
T: 07799 206560 .
(Surrey)
Lervette Ló2uu9, \ictor, Ldititon
!3,000 milcº, ,clloww/ black/¸rc, intcrior, 6.2 litrc
\8 cn¸inc, ncwLorla ºoortº cxhauºt
£2I,Suu
uI27u78u222
www.chris¿rahamcervettes.ce.uk
Jaguar XF 3.0 D V6 Lux
2009, high spec, auto, dynamic mode,
fsh, good tyres, Ieather, Sat nav,
BIuetooth/phone, CD, ipod aux, camera
for P.sensors, mem seats, 40 mpg,
exceIIent cond. tax/mot,
43,300 miIes, £17,295
T:07841 420036
01527 459993
juIianwaterson@aoI.com
Miui Leeµer SÞSÞ, I27Scc
!990, onc o¦ !000 built John tooocr Vini, ºtorcd
o¦¦ road 5 ,carº, cxccllcnt condition, ºtandard ºocc
£S,7Su
uI242 ó78óuó
LheIteuham jehu.fb@taIktaIk.uet
Jaguar XK8 4.2 ConvertibIe
2005, bIk, auto, RL, sports
seats, cream Ithr, yrs Mot, tax,
fsh, cIimate, h/seats, cruise,
Sat nav, VGC, 66k,
£13,995
T:07743 497000
01752 254228
Lotus Elise
1999
23k miles, weekend car, new
cambelt by Lotus, brake overhaul,
regretted sale by present owner, all
leather,
£9,850
07842 565128
01202 714330
chris@ivadebtIine.com
Lexus IS 250
SEL CVT
2010, 4dr, Windsor bIue, auto, 18"
aIIoys, cIimate, cruise, CD, Mark
Levensen 14 spkrs, park assist,
Dab radio, Ivory Ithr, eIec. r/bIind,
s/history, immac cond. 11650mIs,
£19,250
T: 020 8549 2069
07969 393241
charIesshadrake@yahoo.co.uk
Mercedes SL350 Tip
ConvertibIe
2004, kruganite, glass roof, FDSH,
Tax/Mot, £3k extras incl: upgraded
Merc alloys, Park sensors F&R, all
usual spec,
16k miles
£17,500
T: 07780 333285
1aguar SS I00I937 (repIica) 3980cc ИɌْȂԐάϨȫ ȗЮЇљϨɌӜɌȫ
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An early example was shown to the press in 1986; production version arrived in 1989
No 44 BMW Z1
The high cost of this complex roadster diminished its considerable appeal
NEXT WEEK Renault Mégane Concept
C
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ometimes, “I want one” gets
shouted loud enough for a wheeled
motor show tease to get nudged
into unexpected reality. That’s what
happened to the BMW Z1, whose trick
doors, slender nose and plastic panels
fired desire in petrolheads worldwide
and gave the firm’s engineers a headache
when their bosses rashly committed to
build it. The headache was caused by the
fact that the concept hadn’t really been
designed to go into production but was
instead an engineering testbed created to
research mixed-material structures. And
apart from its galvanised steel chassis
and plastic panels, there was plenty
in the Z1’s make-up to challenge any
engineering team.
For a start, there were the doors, which
were the Z1’s ingenious, gotta-have-it
flourish. Instead of opening outwards,
they performed a submarine plunge
into a pair of oversized sills. That made
it harder to get in, for the doors were
shallow and the sills fat and deep, but the
cumbersome clamberings were worth it
not only for the dramatic entrance they
provided, but also for their extreme
al fresco potential; this BMW was
driveable with its doors wide open.
The Z1’s body structure also meant
that its platform could be shared with
no other BMW, and its plastic exterior
panelling presented a fearsome mass-
manufacture challenge in terms of fit,
finish, painting and profitability.
BMW also launched its so-called
Z-axle on the Z1, a complex multi-link
rear suspension that, besides resembling
a light tangle of tree roots, promised to
combat the snap oversteer for which
the brand’s cars had become too easily
known. A bespoke dashboard was also
needed, along with clamshell seats
and hundreds of other specially made
components. But at least BMW’s 2.5-litre
straight six would be carried over without
any cash-soaking modifications.
The 1989 end product was admirably
close to the car unveiled at the 1987
Frankfurt show. The crowning-glory
doors were there, as was the ultra-slender
nose, with its pertly gaping nostrils, and
a dinky little hood cantilevered neatly
beneath its flat rear deck. All this came
with a weighty price, though, and when
the 35,000-odd bods who had placed
an order for the car discovered what it
was, the dreamers disappeared faster
than the Z1’s doors.
It wasn’t just the high price that was
off-putting. The combination of a not
particularly potent 168bhp six, a torque
peak as distant as the next mountain range
and excess heft yielded performance
bordering on the lazy. Suddenly, BMW
was building an expensively complex
sports car for which there were vastly
fewer buyers. In the end it built just 8000
loss-making Z1s, 86 of them UK-bound
left-hookers, the last one heading straight
for the company museum in 1991. Z1s are
oddball collectors’ pieces today, but it
pioneered BMW’s vital Z-axle, paved the
way for the company’s high-intensity
headlamps and signalled Munich’s intent
to build small sports cars. It deserves next
year’s 25th anniversary celebrations.
This BMW had extreme
al fresco potential; it
could be driven with
its doors wide open
Richard Bremner
THEY WERE THE FUTURE, ONCE T
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since 1895 ‘in the interests of the
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