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Special Issue No. 1,456 | £3.50


EXCLUSIVE IMAGE Secret plan for thrilling new hot EV uncovered


18 Jan–7 Feb Special Issue

Best new models to buy How much you should pay Deals from £89 per month

New Nissan Micra

DRIVEN Finally a genuine Fiesta rival PLUS Merc’s small car boom ● Detroit show


News | New Cars | Features | Tests | Products | Buying cars | Sport

Newsweek 8

COVER Vauxhall’s new SUV

Crossland X takes aim at Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008

Merc’s small car boom


Lexus LS revealed


COVER VW’s electric GTI


Pothole repair breakthrough


Detroit show round-up


EQA to join new A-Class saloon and GLB mini-SUV Official pictures and details of bold new 7 Series rival Powerful, sporty model could head up new range of I.D.s New tech could make fixes easier, cheaper and more durable

Best of the rest from the stands in Motor City

Features 24

They don’t just make TVs

Panasonic shows the tech coming to your car soon

New cars 8 Official pictures and details as Vauxhall takes the wraps off new Crossland X SUV

COVER Nissan Micra


503bhp C-Class Cabriolet


Renault Grand Scenic


Skoda Kodiaq


DS 3 Performance Line


Peugeot Traveller


Behind the wheel of production supermini for the first time We blast off in Mercedes-AMG’s storming C 63 drop-top Stylish new seven-seat MPV driven on UK roads 1.4-litre TSI petrol version of SUV hits the road

Racy new trim adds some welcome spice to posh supermini Verdict on new van-based people carrier

16 VW’s plan for new electric GTI revealed

17-plate special

12 Electric EQA leads Merc small car boom

Online this week


COVER 100 great new car deals

Get ready for the plate change with offers from £89 per month

Road tests Mégane ST vs rivals


Our cars


Renault faces Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot 308 in estate battle Updates on the Skoda Superb and Volvo XC90

Products DETROIT

28 We get behind the wheel of new Micra

100 NEW


DEALS cars to buy, 41 Best and what to pay

Motor Show round-up Page 20

First drive verdict on new MINI Countryman THE original MINI Countryman was the brand’s first SUV, and has seen huge sales success since it launched back in 2010. Now, though, there’s an allnew Countryman, and we’ve driven it for the first time. The Cooper D will account for the majority of sales here in the UK, but there’s also a plug-in hybrid version on the way – offering buyers performance and rock-bottom costs. Log on to now for our first drive verdict.

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WRC season preview, plus all the latest news Mike Rutherford on Donald Trump and the car industry

Special Issue 5

This week

Visit for all the latest new cars news Editor-in-chief: Steve Fowler Editor: Graham Hope Deputy editor: John McIlroy

News, reviews and tests Reviews editor: Richard Ingram News editor: Jonathan Burn Chief reviewer: James Disdale Senior staff writer: Sean Carson Staff writers: Lawrence Allan, Sam Naylor Editorial assistant: James Brodie


Ford’s smart move is focusing on cars and mobility solutions Contact us

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JANUARY in Detroit means the usual battle of the big three US car makers to dominate their home show. This year, Ford was the clear winner. It may not have had the biggest new model launch (although a revised version of America’s top-selling pick-up truck, the F-150, was a fairly major deal), but by running a City of Tomorrow symposium while everyone else was whipping covers off their new models, Ford laid down a pretty big marker as to where its future lies. CEO Mark Fields reiterated that Ford is now an “auto and mobility company” producing “vehicles, mobility services and transport solutions”. But it was chatting with former Auto Express Brit List winner and now Ford’s global marketing, sales and service boss, Stephen Odell, that the value of these new mobility businesses becomes clear. “The margins in some of our emerging businesses are much bigger,” he said. “Sometimes up to 20 per cent.” Odell was quick to point out that vehicles would always be Ford’s core businesses, but by branching out into dynamic shuttles like the Chariot business it bought last year and Ford Go bikes (above), the company is playing a big part in what Mark Fields described as “helping make people’s lives better by changing the way the world moves’’. Fields also revealed how Ford is committed to partnering with cities to deliver mobility solutions, working with organisations like Bloomberg Philanthropies, including former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg. Bloomberg appeared via satellite link during Ford’s press conference, proudly announcing that he’d driven to work that morning in his (Ford made) Lincoln SUV. Maybe a starting point for these new mobility solutions is for past and present politicians to use them.

STEVE FOWLER Editor-in-chief The paper used within this magazine is produced from sustainable fibre, manufactured by mills with a valid chain of custody. @AutoExpress @stevefowler

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Top story First for news every week


High bonnet and large front bumper give Crossland X a rugged 4x4 look, but it’s set to be front-wheel drive only

Wraps off Vauxhall’s new Crossland X SUV ■ Rugged-looking replacement for Meriva to arrive in summer ■ Takes fight to smaller Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008 Sam Naylor S

Sam @SamNaylor_AE

VAUXHALL has revealed its newest SUV, the Crossland X, which will sit below the Mokka X and upcoming Grandland X in the brand’s expanding range. It’s set to arrive in the summer, and we expect prices to start from around £15,000. Since it’s joining the line-up to replace the ageing Meriva MPV, the Crossland X has been described by Vauxhall bosses as a CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle) rather than an SUV – and the design reflects that. From

8 Special Issue

the front, the high bonnet, large headlamps, roof rails and rugged-looking front bumper give it a more chunky 4x4 stance. But move to the side and the high shoulder and roof lines make it resemble a traditional people carrier, although it’s far removed from the outgoing Meriva. As with the new Renault Scenic MPV (driven on Page 32), a few SUV-like features are used in the design to give the car a wider-ranging appeal – although the Vauxhall is smaller. It’s 4.21 metres long, which is 160mm shorter than an Astra, but 100mm taller

at 1.58m. That means it’s larger than a Nissan Juke or Peugeot 2008, but smaller than a Mokka X or Renault Kadjar. It’s also smaller than the Meriva MPV it replaces. A two-tone paintjob along with the blacked-out C-pillar also creates a similar ‘floating’ roofline to the Astra hatchback. The overall look is very much in line with other models in the Vauxhall range, with the roof also resembling that of the Adam city car – and as with that model, there’s a choice of colours for the roof as well. The Astra’s influence on the design is even more apparent inside. The dashboard

and seats will look very familiar to owners of Vauxhall’s excellent family car. Also carried over are the dials and switchgear, and the similar-looking seats are set higher up for a more SUV-like driving position. Vauxhall says the seats have been designed for better long-distance driving comfort, as well as improving legroom. In the rear, the seats can be moved back and forth by 150mm, so you can switch between extra legroom for passengers or more boot space. There’s a 410-litre load capacity with the seats in place, and this increases to 520 litres

Vauxhall Crossland X

Top story

“In the rear, seats can be moved back and forth, so you can switch between extra legroom or more boot space” DESIGN

Two-tone paint and black C-pillar give the illusion of a floating roofline

“High shoulder and roof lines make it look like a traditional people carrier”

Special Issue 9

Top story


Touchscreen display is up to eight inches in size, and gives access to IntelliLink features and OnStar concierge service


Under bonnet, new car is set to share PSA petrol and diesel engines

with the seats forward and 1,255 litres when they’re split 60:40 (or 40:20:40 as an option) and folded flat down. In the centre of the dashboard is a touchscreen display of up to eight inches with Vauxhall’s IntelliLink infotainment software, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You can charge your phone wirelessly, and Vauxhall’s OnStar service includes in-car WiFi as standard. Detailed driving instructions and many other kinds of help are available over the phone via the OnStar concierge service, too. Also on the kit list are LED headlights, a rear parking camera, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition and drowsiness detection. This three-stage system alerts a tired driver when it detects their unusual behaviour while on the move. There’s also a heated steering wheel, a heated windscreen and cruise control available, although details on trim levels or pricing are yet to be revealed. The Crossland X sits on a shared platform with PSA Peugeot Citroen, using architecture

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“Despite the SUV styling, the Crossland X will most likely be front-wheel drive only, with manual and automatic options”

that also underpins the Peugeot 2008. Although there are no details on the engines available yet, we can expect a range of PSA units that are shared with its sister cars. That means small turbocharged petrols for entry-level cars – the 2008 uses a 1.2-litre three-cylinder – with a powerful 1.6-litre diesel for higher-spec versions. Despite the SUV styling, the Crossland X will most likely be front-wheel drive only, with manual and automatic gearbox options. However, nothing has been confirmed about the powertrains so far. The Crossland X is the first of five models that will join the Vauxhall range by 2020, with the larger Grandland X set to arrive later in the year. That car will compete in the compact SUV market with the likes of the SEAT Ateca and Renault Kadjar. It will share a platform with the Peugeot 3008, and is likely to appear at the Frankfurt Motor Show later in 2017. There are also plans for an Insignia-based flagship SUV, due to be the largest car in the line-up, but it’s not expected until 2020.











Drive away a pre-owned Outlander PHEV, the UK’s most popular hybrid vehicle. You could own a luxury full size 4WD SUV, capable of delivering up to 156mpg1. We’ve got a limited number of these low mileage vehicles that are less than 10 months old and come with all the benefits of the Mitsubishi Approved Used Car Programme, including guaranteed service history, roadside assistance, free annual health check and a 30 day vehicle exchange plan. What’s more, they come with 4 years’ manufacturer’s warranty.

BECAUSE IT’S NEW TO YOU REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE: Pre-owned 16MY Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GX4h On The Road (OTR) Price Customer Deposit 36 Monthly Payments Option to Purchase Fee (inc in final payment) Final Payment (GFV)

£28,000 £7,830 £299 £10 £12,300

Total Amount of Credit Total Amount Payable Duration of Agreement (mths) Representative APR

Interest Rate (fixed)

£20,170 £30,894 37 5.9% APR 3.1%

1. Official EU MPG test figure shown as a guide for comparative purposes and is based on the vehicle being charged from mains electricity. This may not reflect real driving results. 2. Congestion Charge application required, subject to administrative fee. 3. The Alternatives PCP finance plan shown above is only available to customers resident in the UK, aged 18 and over, subject to status only through Shogun Finance Ltd T/A Finance Mitsubishi, 116 Cockfosters Rd, Barnet, EN4 0DY. Finance Mitsubishi is part of Lloyds Banking Group. Alternatives figures are based upon an annual mileage of 10,000, any excess mileage will be chargeable at 9ppm. The Guaranteed Future Value (GFV) is subject to the vehicle being returned on time, in good condition (fair wear and tear accepted), within the permitted maximum mileage and all the required payments having been made. Final payments (GFV) and monthly repayments may vary dependent upon date of registration and mileage, examples are a guide. Full written quotations are available upon request. Offer is only applicable in the UK (excludes Channel Isles & I.O.M) and may be withdrawn at any time. Finance offer available at participating dealers between 29th September and 28th December 2016.


Mercedes range expansion


EQA would be based on Mercedes’ new scalable EV platform

“EQA is set to take design cues from next A-Class, but adopt the family look of EQ range”


A-Class-sized EV heading Jonathan Burn @Jonathan_burn

MERCEDES has confirmed its compact car line-up will expand from five to eight models by 2020. Auto Express understands that the three new arrivals – revealed in our exclusive images – will comprise a saloon version of the next-generation A-Class, an all-new GLB crossover plus an electric hatchback, possibly called the EQA, launched under the new Mercedes-EQ sub-brand. Mercedes chairman Dr. Dieter Zetsche made the announcement on the range expansion on the eve of the Detroit Motor Show. The brand’s current compact car line-up consists of the A-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake, GLA and B-Class. High-performance Mercedes-AMG variants of those vehicles are not considered as standalone models, so the range expansion will come from elsewhere. Bosses remained tight-lipped on the exact identity of the three new models, but the most significant new addition is believed to be a VW e-Golf rival badged the EQA. Auto Express spoke to Mercedes’

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■ Images show EQA, plus GLB, A-Class 4dr in range expansion

vice president for marketing, Dr. Jens Theimer, at the Detroit show, who told us: “We will see EQ cars in every segment, from compact cars to big [SUV] segments.” Mercedes has invested over 10billion Euros (£8.7billion) into the development of 10 new electric vehicles under the EQ sub-brand that will launch between 2019 and 2025. The manufacturer has also registered every suitable EQ-prefix to cover its range of upcoming models. The first to arrive will be a production version of the Generation EQ concept that Mercedes launched at last year’s Paris Motor Show; a smaller EV hatchback is likely to follow. Underpinning the EQA will be a version of Mercedes’ new scalable platform, which is able to house an electric motor on each axle to provide permanent four-wheel drive. In a bid to reduce costs and bring the car in at a more accessible price point, however, only one electric motor is likely to be used; a minimum range of 310 miles is expected. Our image (above) shows how the finished EQA could look. It’s set to take


New GLB to provide rugged alternative to rivals such as BMW X1


Mercedes range expansion



Saloon version of A-Class also set to join range and take fight to four-door A3

EXCLUSIVE IMAGE Christian Christ Chr istian ian Sc Schul Schulte hulte te

Mercedes boom design cues from the next-generation A-Class, due next year, but adopt the family look of the EQ range previewed by the Generation EQ concept. Mercedes has seen huge growth in its compact car sales, with over two million vehicles finding homes in the last five years. Over 60 per cent of GLAs sold are conquest sales from other brands, so Mercedes sees big potential for compact SUVs to bring even more new customers to its dealerships. Sitting above the GLA, an all-new GLB is currently under development, intended as a more rugged and practical alternative to the BMW X1. It will be based on the same MFA2 platform as the next A-Class and will follow that car into showrooms in 2019. To differentiate it from the GLA, it could also come with the option of an extended wheelbase, while the chunky styling – as illustrated by our exclusive image (left) – will mark it out visually. Taking the final slot in the expansion of the compact car range will be a saloon version of the A-Class. It will be the first of the three new models to arrive, possibly next year, and will face the likes of the Audi A3 saloon when it lands in the UK.


Richard Ingram Reviews editor, Auto Express Ric

Small cars feed the future MERCEDES recently announced its unrivalled success in the international marketplace has taken it beyond two million global sales for the first time. Chairman Dr. Dieter Zetsche credits the success to its ever-expanding range of small cars and SUVs, with the continued drive for new variants, niches and powertrains resulting in huge conquest sales. As many as 60 per cent of GLA buyers are new to Mercedes, while the average age of an A-Class customer has dropped by more than 13 years since 2011. This looks set to continue with an all-new A-Class next year, as well as variants like the A-Class saloon and GLB SUV. Mercedes’ plan to future-proof its models with the launch of the EQ sub-brand is a clever decision. The market for electric vehicles will only grow, with Merc aiming to have more in the range by 2025 meaning the future is looking brighter than ever.

“Average age of an A-Class customer is down by more than 13 years since 2011; this fall looks set to continue”

Special Issue 13


Lexus LS

Bigger, lighter new Lexus ■ Saloon stars at Detroit; t; bigger than before, but 90kg lighter ghter James Brodie


l-new LEXUS has introduced its all-new or Show, flagship LS at the Detroit Motor th the with the saloon set to compete with BMW 7 Series and the Mercedes S-Class. The coupé-like shape is clearlyy influenced om 2015, by the LF-FC Coupé concept car from with the angular face dominated by the big grille and detailed headlights. As expected, it’s underpinned by an extended version of the new GA-L architecture that’s also used on the new LC coupé. It’s a lighter, stiffer platform, and combined with weight savings from new materials such as ultra-high-tensile steel and aluminium, the new LS is 90kg lighter than before, despite being a larger car. Making its debut in LS 500 form, it gets a new twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 engine developing 409bhp and 600Nm torque. That means more power and torque than you’ll find in the outgoing V8-powered LS 460, plus it should be more efficient. Lexus claims the all-wheel-drive LS takes 4.5 seconds to get from 0-62mph. It will also be available with the option of rearwheel-drive, and uses a 10-speed automatic gearbox as standard. Multi-link suspension front and rear is fitted, making use of lightweight aluminium. The new system should introduce a more precise steering response. It’s paired with a vehicle dynamics management system for comfort and traction, and rear-wheel steering is also part of the package. A refreshed cabin is packed with equipment and design tweaks. Ambient

OFFICIAL lighting inspired by Japanese lanterns greets passengers, and there’s a new selection of wood finishes. New 28-way adjustable front seats with a range of cooling, heating and massage functions will be offered. There will also be a flat dashboard teeming with displays, the centrepiece of which will be a 12.3-inch navigation screen. And among the optional extras will be a 24-inch head-up display. So far Lexus has only confirmed that the car will go on sale in the United States towards the end of 2017. It’s expected to arrive in UK showrooms early in 2018.


Under angular looks, LS gets new twin-turbo V6 that delivers more power and torque than the outgoing car’s V8

“New suspension should give more precise steering response”

Electric BMW M car ‘unavoidable’ A FULLY electric BMW M car is ‘unavoidable’ in the future, says the boss of the company’s performance arm, Frank van Meel. Speaking exclusively with Auto Express at the recent Detroit Motor Show, van Meel told us: “It will happen, but the question is when is that going to happen. Currently we still have a power to weight issue with electrification, which makes that difficult to fit into a motorsports philosophy.” To help bridge the gap between the M Division’s current range of vehicles and a fully electric model, hybrid powertrains will be first introduced to the M line-up. Rather than aim to boost efficiency, the system will prioritise performance. “We already see the stop/start feature coming to M vehicles and the next step is electrification. At the end it will be pure electric, but it’s going to take some time,”

14 Special Issue


Likes of M2 already have stop/start; electrification is just the next step, says M boss van Meel added. “We are in close contact with the Project i group looking into the next generation of cell technologies, electric motors, weight and cooling systems.” However, the M Division chief ruled out the possibility of an M-developed

BMW i8. Despite the sub-brands working together on new tech, marrying the two together isn’t part of the longer-term plan. “That wouldn’t make sense,” van Meel told Auto Express.

■ CARBUYER MAG ON SALE ISSUE two of Carbuyer magazine is on sale now. Published by Auto Express’s sister site, it focuses on the 105 best cars you can buy today. The 148-page magazine features top 10 rundowns of the best models in 20 different categories. Every car is reviewed, rated and pictured in Carbuyer’s famous clear, straightforward and jargon-free style. The winners in each category are given indepth reviews with detailed information on the factors most important to today’s car buyer: running costs, practicality and reliability.

s LS targets S-Class OFFICIAL

Lexus LS

News news inbrief

New top-spec Clio is a big hit for kit

Toyota’s sizzling Yaris set to challenge Ford Fiesta ST Beneath the skin, new platform brings weight savings and should help make car greener

OVER at Toyota, first pictures and details of its Ford Fiesta ST rival have revealed the firm’s first hot hatch for more than a decade will develop more than 210bhp. Based on a threedoor version of the facelifted Yaris, the car gets aggressive front and rear bumpers, side graphics in the colours of the new rally team and a large roof-mounted spoiler. Toyota has not yet revealed what engine the hot Yaris will be powered by, but said it will “forge the link between the Yaris WRC and the standard road-going model range” with a motor “producing more than 210bhp”. The performance hatchback is scheduled to make its debut at March’s Geneva Motor Show.


New bumpers and eye-catching graphics hint at ‘210bhp-plus’ of hot Yaris

Points KO for 6,000 young drivers BANNED

Shock number of young drivers had licence revoked via two-year rule

NEARLY 6,000 drivers aged 17 to 25 have had their licences revoked in the last five years under the two-year sixpoint rule, according to new figures. Research by Co-op Insurance found young drivers in Greater London make up more than a fifth of the 5,853 young drivers who have lost their licences due to the rule, followed by those in the West Midlands and West Yorkshire. The rule states provisional and new licence holders can only receive six penalty points in the first two-year period of driving and face a fine of up to £1,000. Before being allowed behind the wheel again, drivers must pass their theory and practical exams again. Drivers aged 19 were most guilty of falling foul of the laws, accounting for around a sixth of cases in under-25s.

RENAULT has revealed a new top-ofthe-range Signature Nav version of the Clio (above), priced from £17,715. It features heated front seats and a height-adjustable front passenger seat, while tech includes a hands-free park assist function, rear parking camera, 360-degree parking sensors and Renault’s R-Link infotainment system. There’s also a seven-inch touchscreen and sat-nav. The cabin is trimmed in black part-leather, too. The car is on sale now.

Hit-and-runs rise with scam crashes THE number of hit-and-run accidents has reached its highest level since 2005, as many drivers are concerned about crash-for-cash scams. Research by the University of Leicester and the Motor Insurers’ Bureau found more than 17,000 road accidents in 2015 involved a driver who failed to stop or left without giving details – including 77 fatalities. The report said this was motivated by motorists’ “self-preservation” and fear of being stung by a fraudulent claim.

Honda takes Civic Type R out in style HONDA has launched a run-out version of the Civic Type R to mark the end of the current hot hatch’s production run. The Civic Type R Black Edition (below) will be limited to only 100 cars in the UK, and gets some minor changes including a black interior with red accents. Honda’s Swindon plant is gearing up to manufacture the 10th-generation Civic ahead of it going on sale here in March.

Special Issue 15


Volkswagen’s electric GTI

Electric GTI to lead VW’s n ■ Exclusive image shows how hot version of I.D. hatch is shaping up Steve Fowler @stevefowler

VW is busy hatching plans for a new range of electric cars that could wear the legendary GTI badge. While the I.D. Buzz MPV stole the show in Detroit last week (see right), a hot version of the I.D. all-electric hatchback, seen at last year’s Paris Motor Show and going on sale in 2020, is likely to arrive first. Speaking to Auto Express at the Detroit Motor Show, Volkswagen’s sales and marketing boss Jürgen Stackmann said: “I think the formula of GTI will change – it will not be the same formula that took us here. But to have an exhilarating, fun to own, fun to drive car, with electric cars it is possible to deliver that. “Technology is clearly set to be able to do that – it is actually quite easy to do, with fourwheel drive if you want to.” Our exclusive main image shows what the car could look like, borrowing classic GTI red design detailing to give it “strong character”, as Stackmann referred to it. The I.D. hatch uses new MEB architecture that will underpin a whole range of VW Group electric cars. Its 168bhp output is said to power the car from 0-62mph in “under eight seconds”. But as with all battery technology, VW will be

able to balance range, charging time and performance to suit each model, with higheroutput batteries expected for GTI versions. Christian Senger, Volkswagen’s vice president Product Line G4, e-mobility, also hinted at all-electric GTIs when speaking to Auto Express at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “Today we are really successful in having a range of performance,

“I.D. hatch uses new MEB architecture, with higher-output batteries expected for GTI models”

Dieselgate bill could top £3.6bn VOLKSWAGEN could be forced to pay more than £3.6billion in compensation to UK owners affected by the dieselgate emissions scandal, after legal company Harcus Sinclair launched a lawsuit. As we went to press, four days after the lawsuit was announced, 17,000 affected UK owners had signed up. With each expecting around £3,000, the VW Group could face a £3.6bn-plus bill were all 1.2 million affected drivers to join the case. But a Harcus Sinclair spokeswoman told Auto Express the case won’t only apply to current owners, but to “previous owners of affected VW Group vehicles”, meaning the final bill could be even higher. Harcus Sinclair has applied for a group litigation order against VW, on the grounds the maker sold cars that shouldn’t have been certified as fit for sale in the UK. Damon Parker, head of litigation, said: “It’s only

16 Special Issue


If all 1.2m drivers in UK affected by dieselgate applied for compensation, firm could face crippling legal bill

right that affected UK owners have the opportunity to seek compensation.” Financial backing from a legal fund means owners can sign up for free and won’t be out of pocket if the court rules in VW’s favour. The trial should start in 18 months’ time. One

Tiguan owner said: “VW has acted in an indescribable way by cheating and lying.” The VW Group has already reached a $15bn (£12.3bn) compensation settlement in the US following lawsuits, but said it would “robustly” defend this UK challenge.

especially at Volkswagen,” he said. “We need to recreate this with e-mobility. “We can start with a rational approach, the car performing quite well every day. But then we can scale up. More range, more acceleration, more charging points for the money and maybe also 4WD.”

Now Fiat-Chrysler are accused in US FIAT-CHRYSLER has been accused of cheating emissions tests in the US by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – the same group that uncovered the VW scandal. According to the EPA, manipulation software was found on more than 100,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram trucks, although it remains unclear if any are in the UK. The Ram isn’t sold here and just 4,235 Grand Cherokees were registered from 2014 to 2016. The firm has denied it has acted illegally, and claimed software is not a “defeat device”. Renault also faces another investigation by French prosecutors into emissions of its vehicles.

Volkswagen’s electric GTI

new family of EVs EXCLUSIVE IMAGE A Avarvarii



news inbrief

Our image shows how traditional GTI styling cues such as red detailing could be used on new electric hatch

And I.D. Buzz EV could be joined by SUV, sports car ON SHOW

Retro electric eight-seater was a star of Detroit stand; boss says more I.D. models are on the way

THE expansion of VW’s all-electric I.D. family will continue in the next few months. The manufacturer is set to reveal more concepts pointing at models that could join the I.D. hatch in the marketplace from 2020. Speaking to Auto Express at the launch of the I.D. Buzz at the Detroit Motor Show, Volkswagen sales and marketing boss Jürgen Stackmann said: “We are exploring for our electric platform all the concepts that could be done. To show the spectrum, we’ll introduce you to two or three more ideas on the platform in the months to come, and we’ll lay down our cards very soon on what we can do.” Rumours circulating in Detroit suggest that an SUV and sports car could be two of the concepts we’ll see. Stackmann is hopeful that the I.D. Buzz will get such a strong reaction that VW has to build it, and said: “I think this is the most realistic shot ever at the Microbus.”

F-Type gets new bumpers, LED lights, range of cabin tweaks

F-Type gets fresh look, more tech JAGUAR has announced a round of updates for its F-Type. The new sports car goes on sale in the coming months, starting from £51,450 for the standard 335bhp coupé. This is the first significant update to the F-Type since its 2012 launch, and the car benefits from a refreshed design across the range thanks to new, fresher-looking,

McLaren’s next 650S wings aero changes McLAREN is readying its replacement for the 650S supercar, with the latest teaser image (above) showing an active rear wing surrounded by carbon fibre bodywork. Bosses at the British brand say the new model is twice as aerodynamically efficient as the current car, as well as having 50 per cent more downforce. The wing can even be used to help slow down the model, acting as an air-brake. The new car forms part of the Super Sports series, and will be revealed at March’s Geneva Motor Show.

Cover decision over autonomous prangs VICTIMS of crashes caused by autonomous cars will be covered by traditional insurers, the Government says. A nine-week consultation into the technology concluded that compulsory motor insurance will be extended, so drivers will be compensated by their cover provider, which will in turn claim back costs against the vehicle’s manufacturer or software developer.

Price is right for the all-new Hyundai i30



model-specific bumpers with cleaner lines. The bumper tweaks are joined by LED headlights and several interior updates, including a new infotainment system. Two new models have also been added to the facelifted range: the R-Dynamic and 400 Sport. The first replaces the F-Type S, and comes with the same 335bhp and

HYUNDAI has announced that its all-new i30 hatchback (below) will cost from £16,995 when it goes on sale in March. The Ford Focus rival is available with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo for the first time, while standard kit across the range includes DAB radio, Bluetooth and a raft of safety tech such as hill start assist and autonomous emergency brake. There are five trim options – S, SE, SE Nav, Premium and Premium SE – and the range tops out at £24,745.

375bhp V6 engine options. Meanwhile, the 400 Sport features an uprated 395bhp version of the supercharged 3.0-litre V6, paired with an eight-speed automatic box. The 400 Sport is priced from £70,115, although it will be on sale only for the duration of 2017. It also benefits from an uprated chassis and bigger brakes.

Special Issue 17


Pothole revolution

Smart infrared tech could cut pothole repair bill by £3.5bn ■ Cheaper, longer-lasting repairs could save billions ■ Comes as councils face 14-year, £14bn backlog REPAIRS Martin Saarinen @AE_Consumer

A REVOLUTIONARY new method to fix potholes could save councils around £3.5billion in 2019, by making repairs cheaper and longer lasting. A research partnership between Brunel University and engineering company Epicuro has developed a Controlled Pothole Repair System (CPRS) that will use infrared heat technology to cut repair costs by an estimated 25 per cent and double lifespan. It’s easy to transport and won’t require extensive road closures, either. It couldn’t come at a better time, after the Local Government Association announced last week that cash-strapped councils are facing a financial “tipping point” as the cost of the 14-year backlog of pothole repairs surges from £9.8bn in 2010 to a projected £14bn by 2019. Repairs using a CPRS won’t only be cheaper but also longer lasting, according to Juliana Byzyka, a PhD researcher at Brunel University who’s investigating

“Councils are facing a financial ‘tipping point’ as the cost of pothole repairs surges again”

the tech. She told Auto Express the current process is temporary at best, adding: “One current method is to repair potholes with the use of heat – by inserting a hot asphalt mix to a pothole. However, if the mix is at 140 degrees Celsius but the pavement is cold, the bonding will be low temperature and not as effective, which makes it more prone to failure.” Studies have shown some patches newly repaired under the current method start to crack after only three months. Yet Byzyka and her colleagues predict that by pre-heating the pothole with the CPRS to anywhere between 60 and 80 deg C, the bonding process between the mix and asphalt will be significantly stronger – resulting in more reliable fixes that won’t have to be re-repaired so soon. “We estimate a 25 per cent decrease in repair costs – but more importantly, a substantial increase in repair life, more reliably five years than the current two years,” Byzyka said. The research is expected to be completed within two years, with real-world use to follow soon after. Professor Denis Chamberlain, founder of Epicuro, explained: “This new method of repairs could push the lifespan of pothole repairs to many years beyond the current expectation, creating betterquality road surfaces, fewer accidents and smaller maintenance budgets.”

UK councils face huge backlog of pothole repairs, and revolutionary new system uses infrared tech to fix damage faster, more cheaply and leave a more durable surface

“We estimate a 25 per cent decrease in repair costs and a substantial increase in repair life” JULIANA BYZYKA PhD researcher, Brunel University

Volvo reveals plan for EV family OFFICIAL


Official image gives glimpse of models in Volvo’s range of electric models, due from 2019

THE first electric car from Volvo, due in 2019, will be followed by a family of EVs, Auto Express can exclusively reveal. Speaking at the Detroit Motor Show, Henrick Green, Volvo’s recently appointed boss of research and development, told us: “We are full speed now developing our first full EV to launch in 2019, and

18 Special Issue

it’ll be followed up. It will not be a oneoff project, and it will be followed up by further products down the line.” He continued: “Right now we have the plug-in hybrid, which we believe is a very strong transitional product. However, in the longer term the fully electric battery vehicle will be taking a much larger share of the

market mix. People will use fully electric as their main or only propulsion system.” Green also admitted that Volvo is considering whether to launch the electric vehicles under a new sub-brand, in a similar way to BMW’s i Division. “How that will exactly fit into our portfolio we are yet to fully define,” he said.

Merc F1 hypercar ‘almost sold out’ BOSSES have revealed to Auto Express that Mercedes’ upcoming hypercar – codenamed Project 1 and set to use power from a Formula One racer – will be limited to a maximum of 300 examples, most of which have already been sold. Due to be officially unveiled at September’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the Project 1 will be the first road machine ever to feature an F1 race car’s powertrain. The hybrid system will comprise a turbocharged V6, plus up to three electric motors. Mercedes has already confirmed that the McLaren P1 rival will develop upwards of 1,000bhp and be able to cover up to 25km on electric power alone. It also says that a four-wheeldrive system will be fitted.


Detroit round-up

Audi SQ5 leads best of t

■ Sizzling 349bhp SUV unleashed in Motor City ■ Stars alongside hi-tech self-driving Nissan, Kia GT Lawrence Allan


DETROIT has been the beating heart of American car culture for more than a century, and while newcomers such as the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas are attempting to steal its limelight, the Detroit Motor Show remains a calendar highlight. A number of brands, both home-grown and from abroad, revealed new models at this year’s event. There were big unveils and announcements from Audi, Ford, Lexus and VW, with more developments in electric and autonomous vehicle technology, too. Here, we round up the important news from Motor City.

AUDI SQ5 AUDI pulled the covers off its new, second-generation SQ5 for the first time at Detroit. The car is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 petrol twinturbo with 349bhp and 500Nm of torque, taking it from 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds. There’s no word of a diesel yet, but it’s rumoured that the SQ7’s bi-turbo V8 TDI could be offered in 2018. The petrol SQ5 features an eight-speed tiptronic automatic box and all-wheel drive, while an active torque-control system brakes the inside wheel while cornering to improve agility.

AUDI Q8 JOINING the SQ5 on Audi’s Detroit stand was the Q8 concept, and here’s our first glimpse of the SUV’s cabin. It features four seats (the production car will have five), an intelligent augmented reality head-up display and a new generation of the brand’s Virtual Cockpit display with extra functionality. There are also three separate touchscreens on the centre console, controlling the infotainment, climate control and cabin lighting, plus a 630-litre luggage area. Virtually all of the physical buttons have been replaced; a version of this design will feature on the new Audi A8 later this year.

AUDI SQ8 AT the reveal of the Q8 concept, Audi bosses hinted that a hot SQ8 version will follow the launch of the standard car in 2018. Speaking exclusively to Auto Express, Audi’s sales and marketing chief Dietmar Voggenreiter told us: “The Q8 is a brother to the new A8, so it will be highend luxury. But could there be a highperformance SQ8 version? That’s something I’d like to do.” An SQ8 is likely to use the same 4.0litre bi-turbo V8 diesel as the SQ7, with 429bhp and 900Nm of torque. That should mean 0-62mph in under five seconds.

20 Special Issue

Detroit round-up

the rest at Detroit

News e s

James Batchelor @JRRBatchelor @JRRBatch tchelo elor


FORD BRONCO FORD used the Detroit show to announce the return of the classic Bronco nameplate. The badge will be used on one of five new SUVs that will go on sale globally by 2020. The Bronco name hasn’t been aired by the blue oval since 1996, but prior to that it featured on the company’s rugged 4x4s for 30 years. Speaking at Ford’s press conference, executive vice president Joe Hinrichs (above) said the new car would be “a no-compromise midsize 4x4 utility for the thrill-seekers who want freedom and off-road functionality with the space and versatility of an SUV”. No decision has been made, but the success of the Mustang in the UK means the Bronco could eventually come here.

AT, we round up our Detroit show stars and have full details on Bentley’s hot Continental GT.

Video round-up of Detroit’s big reveals

MOTOR show season has well and truly begun. Detroit kicked things off in style, with many international debuts of striking concepts, as well as cars bound for the UK later this year. Among the newcomers was the Infiniti QX50 (above) and VW’s retro electric Microbus, plus the Audi SQ5 and Q8 SUVs and the Kia Stinger you see on these pages. Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler reveals his show stars.

KIA STINGER GT KIA stunned Detroit showgoers with its fastest and most expensive production model ever – the Stinger GT. The car has a 365bhp 3.3-litre V6, with smaller petrol and diesel engines on the way, while head of overseas marketing Spencer Cho told Auto Express a Tesla-rivalling electric model is also on the cards. He said: “This all-new platform is capable of a full EV powertrain at a later date.” An all-electric version might not arrive until 2019, though, while Cho also confirmed autonomous tech is on the way from Kia. Engineering boss Albert Biermann has announced that a four-wheel-drive version is coming, too.

NISSAN VMOTION 2.0 NISSAN displayed a new saloon in Motor City that previewed a raft of cutting-edge technology. The Vmotion 2.0 has been built primarily to showcase the Japanese brand’s forthcoming ProPILOT driverless system, although it also displays Nissan’s constantly evolving design language. An enlarged version of the company’s family face features, while ‘suicide’ doors at the rear open to reveal the absence of a B-pillar. The Vmotion 2.0 is also capable of full autonomy both in cities and on motorways, and is rumoured to preview a replacement Maxima luxury saloon.

Full details on new ultimate Conti GT

BENTLEY is seeing out the secondgeneration Continental GT in style with a new Supersports model. Fittingly for the final version of the car, it will be the most powerful and focused Conti GT yet. Head to our YouTube channel to find out all the details – and hear how it sounds. You can watch any of our videos on your phone Simply scan this QR code.

Special Issue 21

Watchdog We get behind the stories that affect you

Joe Finnerty Autonomous cars should cut crashes; but human error is still a major factor in safety

Carla was unhappy with the paint finish on her new Kadjar

Owner rails at Renault over new SUV’s paint

■ CASE STUDY Carla fuming after maker claims ‘grit’ in Kadjar’s finish is fallout from nearby railway track Julie Sinclair

NOTHING takes the shine off a new car more than dodgy paintwork. So imagine one reader’s dismay when her new Renault Kadjar was delivered with “grit” on the bodywork. Carla Lavender-Ward of Tipton, West Midlands, collected the 16-plate SUV from Renault Wolverhampton back in April and said: “I spotted what looked like dimpling and grit under the paint, alongside some other damage and scratches. You just don’t expect this with a new car.” The dealer booked the Kadjar in for repairs, but Carla told us the respray was bodged by its bodyshop, adding: “There was overspray, and in the sunlight, I noticed the gritty paint was a problem on every panel.” So Carla contacted Renault, which agreed to send someone out to inspect the car. But when five weeks had passed and no inspection was arranged, she told Renault Finance she wanted to reject it. When her request was refused, Carla called Auto Express, and said: “Renault was suddenly claiming there was no fault, and the finance company wouldn’t cancel the agreement without that acknowledgement.” We contacted Renault to find out what was wrong with Carla’s paintwork and why it was refusing to help. Its spokesman said: “The paintwork was affected by

22 Special Issue


Showroomfresh SUV appeared to have “grit” under surface of the paint

chemical fallout from the atmosphere and not covered under the manufacturer paintwork warranty.” It directed us to a detailing website which claimed this can be caused by anything from acid rain to tree sap or metallic fallout. The Renault spokesman added: “The customer lives

close to a railway line and that can often be a cause of metallic airborne particles.” Carla claims other cars in her household don’t have the problem and argued it was a manufacturing fault: “I’ve had three courtesy cars from the dealer since buying this Kadjar, and all three had paintwork issues.” Renault did agree to swap Carla into another car but she said the replacement she was offered also had paintwork problems. Renault has now agreed to cancel her finance agreement, and return Carla’s £2,000 deposit and contribute £1,000 towards her finance payments to date. Carla said: “I can’t thank Auto Express enough.”

MUCH of the talk of self-driving cars is about whether humans will feel comfortable handing over control, and essentially putting their lives in the hands of a machine. Simply put, if the overwhelming majority of drivers don’t, then the business case for autonomous vehicles just won’t stand up. But it could be that the focus on handing over control is hiding a concern about having to take control back. It’s something that I experienced first-hand during a test of a selfdriving BMW 5 Series (Issue 1,455) at the recent Consumer Electronics Show, where the focus was on in-car autonomy and artificial intelligence. You’ll have read about our journey on the interstate around Las Vegas where we handed over control at 60mph on public roads. Oddly enough, this felt totally natural – so much so that we completely ignored the road and focused on the new lifestyle tech on the prototype. About 15 minutes later, it was time to pull off the freeway and back on to town streets, when we realised we had travelled several miles without even noticing. Having to then re-engage behind the wheel and get a feel for how fast we were travelling was much harder than we expected. Going from totally distracted to safe driver is not easy. And, for me, that brings into question the claims from those who say the technology will immediately cut car crashes massively, as 95 per cent of accidents involve human error. It might be true that autonomy will make roads safer, but as long as humans still have some role in driving, accidents won’t be eliminated as quickly as some hope. @AE_Consumer

“With humans still involved, accidents won’t be eliminated as quickly as some hope”


What do you think?

Contact Martin Saarinen

HOT TOPIC Faraday Future FF91 FROM: JayDub I’M not totally convinced by Faraday Future. Its production facility in Nevada had to be put on hold because of financing problems already. There’s a lot of promise in the project, but the company needs to sort out internal troubles before heading to the market.

Drivers who don’t shop round for insurance pay up to £350 more, study claims

FROM: Wiley IT’S great to see more and more electric cars making headlines, but I’m not sure about the need for such high performance. In the end, what the electric car has to deliver on is range, comfort and practicality. Top speed figures won’t matter in the long run.

Motorists missing out on insurance savings


Faraday Future FF91 gave a glimpse of future EV in Issue 1,455, but readers question if it’s necessary

■ Drivers who automatically renew pay £123 more on average Martin Saarinen

RISING insurance premiums coupled with not shopping around for the cheapest policy is costing young drivers in Britain over £350 a year, new research has found. Analysis by insurance website found providers are taking advantage of motorists who automatically renew their policy without shopping around. Across all age groups, the gap between the cheapest policy and the average price paid has gone up to £123 – the highest since 2012. Young drivers aged 17-20 were overcharged the most, with the highest difference of £352 between the cheapest and average insurance premium. Older drivers aged 65 to 79 faced a £42 gap. The gap is only likely to rise in the future, as experts predict higher prices in 2017, given the recent hike in the Insurance Premium Tax from 10 to 12 per cent. The month of December alone saw average insurance prices rise by £30 to £738, with the cheapest policies going up by £20 to £608. “The current cost of motor insurance is unwelcome to most,” explained Dan Bass, head of motor insurance at “The potential savings of £123 show renewal prices and cheapest quotes are getting further away, which may suggest insurers are relying on customer inertia.”

Useful Contacts


INSIDER Jason Lloyd

Managing director,

Join the debate at FUEL is a contentious subject, and in some circles it can spark fury – no more so than when you ask someone what type they use. Supermarket standard? Branded unleaded? Or a “super” fuel? Each type has its supporters with forums filled with anecdotal evidence. But with so much conflicting information out there, it’s difficult to know where you should be spending your money. In order to put an end to the rumours and false information, we’ve done some research. First, there is no scientific evidence to suggest supermarket fuel is inferior to the brand-name equivalent. In the UK, both petrol and diesel are governed by national and international rules. These require fuels to conform to minimum quality standards, so in Europe, supermarket fuel is as good as any. However, there are some proven benefits to using more expensive “super” fuels, costing an average of 11p more per litre; but these are only really pronounced in sports cars. So if you’re cruising around in a supermini, don’t bother. To save yourself some money – whether it be branded or supermarket’s own – just look out for the cheapest option in your area. Your car won’t care either way, but your bank balance certainly will.

THE following provide help with motoring problems. Some services are free, others charge a fee or operate on premium-rate lines (p), while some offer advice for members only (m).

Legal AA: 0906 010 1300 (p) RAC: 0870 5533 533 (m) Which?: 01992 822 800 Consumer Direct: 0845 404 0506 Local Trading Standards Local Citizens Advice Bureau

■ “It’s funny to see a brand new electric car company building a brand new electric car with an all too familiar shape.” Phil

■ “This is the kind of ambitious project I’d expect to see on Kickstarter – not from a car company. Only time will tell.” chriskinner10

■ “It’s easy to judge it based on rumours of financial trouble, but I’ll reserve my opinion until the car is driven.” Joblessinchicago

Drivers need to know emergency response

Lack of interior choice is putting off buyers

FROM: Douglas Schwab THANK you for bringing awareness towards how to drive near emergency vehicles (Issue 1,451). Steve Haire’s tips should be emphasised more in driver education, and included as part of the driving test. If you fail to behave correctly, you won’t pass.

FROM: Bill Tuckwell LIKE many looking for a new car, I’m disappointed to be offered only black interiors on some models. These brands are missing out on sales, because if a car doesn’t come with a lighter interior at no extra cost, I pass immediately. Many of my friends do, too.

Tech required to thaw frozen windscreens

Speed bumps needed until we slow down

FROM: Donald Taylor WHY is there still no technology to ensure we can clear our windscreens in cold weather when our washers and pipes are frozen? I still see many cars having to pull into lay-bys to clear their windscreen with bottled water mid-journey. Surely the industry can come up with a solution?

FROM: John Tellick IF motorists didn’t speed, especially in urban areas, speed bumps wouldn’t even be necessary (Issue 1,454). Installing speed cameras on every road in the UK is not possible, and even so, we all know what drivers do in between cameras – drive faster. The best solution is to just slow down.

Used car inspections AA: 0800 085 3007 RAC: 0800 085 2529 Technical advice AA: 0870 606 1619 (m) Driving licences DVLA: 0300 790 6801

Car registration/history HPI: 01722 422422 AA: 0800 316 3564 DVLA: 0300 790 6802 RAC: 0800 975 5867 Traffic information AA: 09003 401100 (p) RAC: 09003 444999 (p)

Problems with dealers The Motor Ombudsman: 0345 241 3008 Consumer Ombudsman: RMIF: 0845 839 9205 (m) Scottish Motor Trade Association: 0131 331 5510

Problems with makers The Motor Ombudsman: 0345 241 3008 Financial problems Financial Ombudsman: 0800 023 4567 Safety concerns/recalls DVSA: 0300 123 9000

Special Issue 23

Insidestory A different take on the world of motoring

STRONG PRESENCE Panasonic had a busy stand at recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

Graham Hope

THINK of Panasonic, and you think of what exactly? Televisions? Probably. Many of us will have owned a Panasonic TV at some point. High-end audio equipment, too, possibly. But times are changing fast. While Panasonic is still a major player in these areas of the market, its automotive activity is becoming increasingly important. The recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas illustrated this perfectly; Panasonic was one of a number of tech companies keen to show how it will have a much more integral role to play in a future where cars with semi-autonomous and autonomous features become the norm. Auto Express caught up with executives from the Japanese company to learn of its plans. You may be surprised to learn just how key the car industry is to Panasonic is already; as Tom Gebhardt, President of Panasonic Automotive Systems, America, explained: “The Panasonic Automotive group has recently become the largest group within Panasonic North America.” The brand’s interests are truly diverse; it has just announced a tie-up with Qualcomm to launch a nextgeneration Android-powered infotainment system, it supplies lithium-ion batteries to Tesla and is developing a pioneering smart mobility system in Denver, Colorado. But that’s only scratching the surface. As we found out when we visited its stand at CES, there are some radical innovations on the way as the industry prepares to enter an era of unprecedented change, with cars having the capability to drive themselves. Andreas Heitmann, VP of Panasonic’s infotainment division in Europe, believes this presents a major opportunity for the company, and told Auto Express: “Autonomous ge par ryday cars are set to become a huge part of our everyday anyone has explored just how the lives, but hardly any n can c fit in with regular autonomous cabin

owing that “We are showing taking a tripp in an autonomouss cabin will enrich our lives” ANDREAS HEITMANN MANN VP, Panasonic infotainment tainment 24 Special Issue

Driver’s seat of autonomous cabin features little in way of controls. Design Material Buck showcases illumination that can aid driver safety consumers. In a scenario with just autonomous cars, you’ll have a cabin where you don’t need so much crash protection or passive active safety features like airbags. You’ll have a cabin where you can concentrate on telling the car where to go, and after that you can use your time as you please. We are showing with our next-generation technology that taking a trip in an autonomous car will enrich our lives.” The brand’s ideas of what we might expect in future were illustrated most vividly at CES in its breathtaking autonomous cabin concept, a vision of what driverless travel might look like in 20 years or so. The futuristic four-seat interior was dominated by what Panasonic terms Connected Interactive Tables for each occupant, which can be operated individually or joined together to create one super-sized unit. These 4K resolution tablets could be used on their own for work, viewing or Internet browsing, or as we saw, joined together to form a huge digital surface ideal for a board game to be played by a family as the car drives itself to its destination. An in-car camera would use facial recognition to identify a designated ‘driver’ – the only person who could

THEY D Tech giant Panasonic is extending its influence in the car industry. We learn what it has planned

Inside story CABIN OF THE FUTURE Panasonic execs demonstrate a digital board game in the firm’s vision of an autonomous cabin – and our editor Graham Hope also tried it out (below)


Autonomous cabin featured in iteration of a car of the future, and dominated Vegas stand

Evolution of a tech giant FOUNDED in 1918 in Japan, the firm first made its mark with duplex lamp sockets. Over the years it’s evolved into a true giant, and its current portfolio covers areas as diverse as energy management, consumer electronics and digital network systems. But as it nears its centenary, the Osaka-based company has an ever more focused eye on the automotive world. It’s currently the number one supplier globally for centre console screens and manufactures car parts as varied as speakers, steering switches, on-board chargers and batteries. With the firm claiming there is now more growth in supplying car manufacturers than its traditional heartland of consumer electronics, it’s clear we’ll be hearing much more about it in the auto world.

Special Issue 25



Company’s next-generation HUD can project all key info on to windscreen. And augmented reality (above) depicts objects on the road in front of car

PREPARED FOR THE FUTURE This specially adapted and branded Renault Twizy was on display at CES to showcase new head-up display technology programme the navigation to direct the vehicle – while augmented reality windows provide weather updates and information on landmarks that the car passes. If all that sounds a little too futuristic, tech that will come to fruition a little sooner was on display, too, in the shape of the brand’s next-generation head-up display (HUD), also featuring augmented reality. Implemented on a specially adapted Renault Twizy, the HUD is capable of projecting large images into the driver’s path at a distance of 10 metres in front of the vehicle. This allows the augmented reality tech to warn of potential dangers, and it can distinguish between pedestrians, other vehicles and other objects if they are on a collision course. The system uses a total of eight cameras that project a 360-degree view around the car on to the HUD which means mirrors are unnecessary, while it is also responsible for switching the car’s indicators on and off and notifying the driver on the display. With all relevant info on the HUD, there is no need for an instrument cluster. The benefits? The driver never has to take their eyes off the road. Auto Express tried the system out at CES and found it extremely useful. Said Heitmann: “Every day drivers are subject to multiple distractions. This system makes their lives at the wheel much easier.” Panasonic’s experience in consumer goods was perhaps most evident on another of its CES demos, the visually arresting Design Material Buck. It showcased how resin can be used to deliver the realistic look of wood, metal or leather and can also be equipped with the haptic structure of the material. Backlit illumination provided the cabin with an exciting flourish, but perhaps cleverest of all was the animation; a scrolling whoosh would illuminate the side of the cabin when, for example, your car was being overtaken. Think of it as a much more obvious way of delivering blind spot

26 Special Issue

recognition and you get the picture. With such a diverse array of tech on offer, it’s clear that the influence of Panasonic is set to grow in a market where how a car drives could become less important than ever. Heitmann believes that the day could come where some buying decisions are influenced not by the badge of the car, but by who delivers the tech inside. Love your Panasonic TV, for example, and you may be tempted to choose a car with Panasonic tech. “Yes, we are thinking along those lines,” he said. “We have close cooperation with our other divisions, primarily those working in consumer, to take things into the car. “There will always be people who just want to get from to A to B. You can see that already with the younger generation. 30 years ago the car was a symbol of status. Today it is how well you are connected, how good is your smartphone. “We are bringing leading technologies into the car, and one of our success factors is that we can do that as a consumer electronics experienced company.”

“Panasonic Automotive has become the largest group within Panasonic North America”

CES 2017 marked 50 years of the world’s biggest tech show and for the car industry this was the most important yet, with nine makers displaying their vision of the future. The show itself, organised and run by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), now accounts for 2.6 million square feet of exhibition space spread across Las Vegas hotels, parking lots and the huge Convention Center. It began 50 years ago in New York with 117 exhibitors and 17,000 attendees, mainly as a show for manufacturers and retailers. In 2017, there were almost 4,000 exhibitors and more than 160,000 attendees including Government officials, industry executives and media from every corner of the world. Over the last half century, 700,000 products have launched at CES making it the largest innovation event in the world. For car makers, these product reveals at CES have grown rapidly over the last five years. And while automotive products and tech such as car audio or satnavs have always had a place at CES, it’s only now manufacturers are seeing the benefits of the show. That’s driven by the dawn of autonomous vehicles and connected interiors, meaning motoring has never been so closely aligned with technology. Gary Shapiro, CEO of the CTA, said it was a critical transition period for consumer technology and stressed tech and automotive industries were merging together. He told us: “It’s about connectivity in mobility. I think automotive is a part of the story of connectivity and we’re seeing increasingly connected cars. Vehicle technology is making cars safer and more connected and I think car companies and Government are driving to work towards that. Connected cities will be a key focus of CES 2018.”

“Car makers’ product reveals have grown rapidly at CES in the last five years”





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New cars

Visit for the latest new cars and drives

Sam Naylor S

Sam @SamNaylor_AE

THE all-new Nissan Micra impressed us a lot when we drove it in preproduction form late last year (Issue 1,450). Now, we’ve finally tried a finished car on the road – and in good news for potential buyers, it’s grabbed us again. With its sweeping roof and bold shoulder lines, sleek-looking lights and vibrant paint colours, the new Micra is unlike any Nissan supermini that has gone before it. This is a good-looking, modern car aimed at young buyers, with the brand pitching it at ‘conquest’ customers – ones it wants to win over from other makers. Rivals include the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio and Volkswagen Polo – but instead of the Micra simply sitting in the same class as it did before, it’s now worth a long, hard look for anyone who’s in the market for a small, efficient and fun family car. It can easily compete on exterior style, but inside is where it impresses most. Our Tekna test car featured loads of softtouch materials around the cabin, with a large section of the dash and centre console in a customisable colour. There are some scratchy plastics lower down, but they are easy enough to ignore while you’re driving. The seven-inch touchscreen isn’t the crispest

“Driving position is well thought out, with lots of adjustment and decent forward visibility”

28 Special Issue


C 63 S CABRIOLET Behind the wheel as Mercedes-AMG lifts the lid on 503bhp C-Class.


FIRST DRIVE Production model proves supermini is back in contention

display we’ve ever seen, but it looks good and adds to the upmarket feel inside. Meanwhile, the driving position is well thought out, with plenty of adjustment, a comfortable seat and decent forward visibility. Yet while the back has enough space for kids, the low roofline means taller passengers won’t be all that comfortable. The ride felt smooth, but this test was on unblemished Croatian tarmac. In the UK we suspect the car will be less comfortable, but we’ll have to wait a bit longer to discover how this production model fares on our pitted roads. The Micra does improve through corners, though, because the stiffer suspension set-up means it’s good to drive. While the steering is too vague, it is nicely weighted; it’s light enough to feel manoeuvrable around town without being distracting on faster roads. The Nissan is composed in tight bends, and grip is good, too. Active Ride Control governs engine torque and braking for you, while Active Trace

Control brakes the wheels to tighten your cornering line when needed. Both rightly go unnoticed during normal driving. The 898cc petrol turbo is pretty good, and while it’s not as characterful as the best three-cylinder engines in the supermini class, it sounds very quiet from the cabin. Vibrations are minimal, and even at high revs the Micra is hushed inside. At a cruise it’s virtually silent. While its 88bhp is plenty to keep up with traffic, it’s not as punchy as the 1.0-litre units in the Fiesta and Polo. The five-speed manual is a good gearbox with a smooth action – so even having to change down to stay in the powerband isn’t too much of a hardship. With 17-inch wheels and stop/start, the petrol Micra claims 61.4mpg and 104g/km of CO2. There’s also a 1.5-litre diesel promising over 80mpg, although the petrol unit is probably better for the short distances that supermini drivers frequently cover. With 300 litres of boot space, the new Micra is a practical choice. It’s bigger than

before, and has been designed to more easily accommodate common items such as suitcases. That means there’s a large loading lip, though, and the seats don’t fold fully flat. There’s plenty of kit available, with lanedeparture prevention, autonomous braking with pedestrian detection and Nissan’s Around View Monitor all fitted as standard. The last of these really does help make driving in the city easier, and for some buyers it could prove invaluable. Our top-spec Tekna car also gets a rearview camera, 17-inch alloys, a seven-inch touchscreen, two-tone upholstery and automatic air-con. In addition, there’s a Bose speaker set-up, which is one of the better systems available in this class. Finally, Nissan is pushing personalisation with the new Micra. As with the MINI and Fiat 500, there’s an abundance of colour combinations, contrasting bumper inserts and stickers available inside and out. Our car’s questionable bonnet graphics might be a step too far for some, though.


GRAND SCENIC Verdict on Renault’s reborn people carrier in seven-seater form.


Essentials Nissan Micra IG-T 90 Tekna Price: Engine: Power/torque: Transmission: 0-60mph: Top speed: Economy: CO2:

£17,295 898cc 3cyl turbo petrol 88bhp/140Nm Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive 12.1 seconds 109mph 61.4mpg 104g/km

SKODA KODIAQ TSI Diesel is a star. Now we see if SUV adds up with 1.4-litre petrol power.


‘UPGRADED’ DS 3 Performance Line model promises hot hatch look for less. Does it deliver?


PEUGEOT TRAVELLER Van-based eight-seater loads up, and we drive high-spec Allure model.


The Micra name dates back to 1982. In 2005, Nissan even introduced the C+C folding hardtop version


EQUIPMENT As well as a 300-litre boot, Micra offers lots of kit. Top-spec Tekna has auto air-con, Bose stereo and rear camera. All cars get Bluetooth, six airbags and auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection

Tekna features two-tone trim, 17-inch alloys and a seven-inch touchscreen


The more economical dCi diesel claims fuel returns of more than 80mpg

TOUCHSCREEN Seven-inch screen doesn’t look as sharp as rival systems, but it includes Around View Monitor that helps when parking. Quality is good throughout the cabin, with plenty of plush materials


Micra looks striking with its sweeping roof and shoulder lines, plus it offers decent grip

AFTER years of dull cars using the Micra name, Nissan has finally built a genuine competitor for the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo. It’s great to drive, efficient and stylish to boot. Build quality is good and it’s practical, too. This top-spec petrol looks a bit pricey despite coming loaded with kit, but in a cheaper trim the new Micra is definitely worth a look for prospective supermini buyers wanting a funky small family car.

★★★★★ Special Issue 29


Mercedes-AMG C 63 Cabriolet

Essentials Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Cabriolet Price: Engine: Power/torque: Transmission: 0-62mph: Top speed: Economy: CO2:

£72,740 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 petrol 503bhp/700Nm Seven-speed dual-clutch auto, rear-wheel drive 4.1 seconds 155mph 31.7mpg 208g/km


INTERIOR Carbon fibre effect on dials marks out AMG model, but customisable screen in the middle shows digital speed readout and trip info. Elsewhere, quality is excellent, and there’s an 8.4-inch HD nav screen located on the centre console

PRACTICALITY Space in the C 63’s rear

seats is limited, but no worse than in rivals. With the wind deflector in place it’s not too blustery, either. Decent 355-litre boot is compromised with the roof lowered, but there’s enough space for two soft bags

Otis Clay

Rear tyres are wide, but are still easily overwhelmed by twin-turbo V8’s huge 700Nm torque output if you’re too heavy on the throttle Richard Ingram @rsp_ingram

WITH all the recent wet weather, you’d be forgiven for thinking that now is not the ideal time to be testing a 503bhp, rearwheel-drive convertible. And to all intents and purposes, you’d be right. But here we are, with the keys to Mercedes-AMG’s latest four-seat C 63 Cabriolet in esteemed S guise. It has the same engine we know and love from the rest of the AMG C-Class range, but this is the first time we’ve tried it in a drop-top here in the UK. It goes without saying that in the transition from Coupé to Cabriolet, the twin-turbo V8 has lost none of its charm nor character. It’s as brutish as ever, and feels muscular enough to challenge cars costing twice as much in a straight-line drag race. With the fabric roof lowered and the sports exhaust engaged, it sounds like thunder. Take control of the gears with the steering wheel-mounted paddles and – just like in the Coupé, saloon and Estate – throttle response is instant. On dry roads, it allows

30 Special Issue

you to get on the power early, resulting in frankly astonishing slingshots from tight bends. In damp conditions, though, the C 63 S Cabriolet is nothing short of unruly. Mercedes says the 0-62mph sprint time, at 4.1 seconds, is only two-tenths longer than the Coupé’s. But pulling away from junctions quickly becomes an arduous and hesitant affair. Anything less than chip-free tarmac results in plenty of wheelspin – even with the traction control switched on. Floor the throttle with too much haste and you’ll feel the rear tyres letting go even in fourth gear, leaving you to lift off or fight the steering to maintain direction. The wide rubber does its best to preserve traction, butt it’s easily ed – overwhelmed making the C 63 S tricky to drive fast. Let’s not misinterpret these quirky character traits as



Cabriolet carries over controls from Coupé, and it looks just as stylish with top in place ww

Mercedes-AMG C 63 Cabriolet


it British roads for the first time in muscular 503bhp drop-top C-Class failings, though. On the right road, in the right conditions, the C 63 S is an absolute riot. The extra 125kg Mercedes has added to strengthen the Cabrio’s chassis is barely detectable, while the steering offers pinpoint accuracy and plenty of feel. There are the occasional creaks when you lean on it through sharp corners, but it’s certainly no worse than in a BMW M4 Convertible. The brakes are excellent, too. They resist fade well, and you trust them entirely to bring you to a halt time after time. Useful indeed, as that rorty quad-exit exhaust means you’ll find yourself with the loud pedal pressed firmly to the metal at every opportunity. Allcarsfeature Mercedes-AMG Ride Control sports suspension and adaptive dampers – although rough roads can upset the Cabrio where the Coupé remains unflustered. It flows well on twisting tarmac, though, and the ride is compliant at high speeds. There’s a variety of drive modes, too – including an Individual setting. Of course, with the top

up the Cabrio isn’t as quiet as its fixed-roof sibling, but that’s not what this car is about. You’ll never tire of the fact you can lower the hood in 20 seconds to be even closer to that deafening bark – while on a bright and sunny day with the automatic wind deflector in place, progress can be remarkably refined. The interior is lifted almost unchanged from the Coupé, and sets a high benchmark in a fiercely competitive class. It’ll find tough competition from Audi’s yet-to-be-revealed RS 5, but by current standards it’s quite simply one of the best in the business. The material finish is second to none, while the scroll wheel and touchpad are only slightly less intuitive than BMW’s iDrive system. Standard kit is generous, as it should be for nearly £73,000. Our C 63 S had Mercedes’ lavish Premium pack, bringing more exclusive materials, an upgraded Burmester stereo and LED lights, but all cars feature an 8.4-inch screen with HD nav, ARTICO imitation leather and that addictive AMG sports exhaust.


Performance 0-62mph/top speed 4.1 seconds/155mph

Running costs 31.7mpg (official) £76 fill-up

Verdict A COLD, wet and windy afternoon does little to highlight the true appeal of Mercedes-AMG’s new C 63 S Cabriolet – but the model’s brutish, muscle car charm shines through regardless. True, it’s a tricky machine to drive on damp roads, and it demands full and uncompromised attention at all times. But the ability to drop the roof in only 20 seconds for an unrestricted audience with that raw V8 bellow is hard to resist.

★★★★★ Special Issue 31


Renault Grand Scenic

Performance 0-62mph/top spd 11.4 secs/118mph

Practicality Boot (7/5/2 seats) 189/596/1,737 litres


FIRST DRIVE Overhauled five-seat MPV has impressed. Now we try seven-seat version Sam Naylor S

Sam @SamNaylor_AE

WE’VE already tested the five-seat Renault Scenic (Issue 1,450) and came away impressed by the brand’s innovative take on the dull and dreary MPV formula. With fashionable SUVs enjoying unprecedented sales success, Renault’s steadfast people carrier has had a revamp to stay competitive in a dwindling market. Now it’s the turn of the seven-seat Grand Scenic, and while it won’t quite match the sales of its smaller sibling, the two extra seats will make all the difference for many customers. It’s the mid-range 128bhp 1.6-litre diesel in plush Dynamique S Nav trim we test here for the first time. This engine and spec combination is probably your best bet if you’re interested in buying a Grand Scenic, because 61.4mpg economy is impressive for a car so focused on practicality and passenger space. To fit those extra seats in, the Grand Scenic is 228mm longer than a Scenic, with 70mm of that coming from the extended

32 Special Issue

wheelbase and the rest from the longer rear overhang. The third row folds down for 596 litres of space, but keep them in place and there’s still 189 litres. Lowering the seats is easy, thanks to buttons in the boot that flip the backs down without fuss. Renault says total boot space with all the rear seats folded flat stands at an impressive 1,737 litres – and the area is far bigger than in the standard car, which offers 1,554 litres. Seven-seaters often have very limited space in the third row, and the Grand Scenic is sadly no exception. While there’s about as much space as in a Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, it’s so awkward to climb into that only children will feel comfortable sitting in the very back. At least the second row moves fore and aft to add a bit more legroom. Up front, however, the Renault feels just as upmarket as its main competitor, thanks to the good-quality materials and

cool-looking portrait-orientated 8.7-inch touchscreen. It’s not the easiest to use, but there are plenty of features. The black surround is a fingerprint magnet, but looks upmarket when it’s clean. There’s plenty of storage space around the interior, including a sliding centre console – useful if you’ve got a passenger in the centre seat in the middle row, who will appreciate the extra foot space. The front seats are comfortable, and should prove supportive enough on longer journeys. As it has to accommodate those extra seats, the Grand isn’t quite as good-looking as the Scenic, which is one of the most stylish MPVs currently on sale. Still, the flashy 20-inch wheels (a class first), flowing lines and neat light signatures give the seven-seater plenty of flair. Those wheels come as standard on all cars, and give the Grand Scenic an almost

“The flashy 20-inch wheels, flowing lines and neat light signatures give the Grand Scenic flair”

Renault Grand Scenic


Pete Gibson

Essentials Renault Grand Scenic Dynamique S Nav dCi 130 Price: Engine: Power/torque: Transmission:

£28,445 1.6-litre 4cyl diesel 128bhp/320Nm Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive 0-62/top spd: 11.4 secs/118mph Economy: 61.4mpg CO2: 119g/km



Grand Scenic is also available with a pair of petrol engines, as well as an automatic gearbox

EQUIPMENT Stunning 8.7-inch

portrait screen comes as standard on Dynamique Nav models and above, although gloss black buttons down the side tend to attract fingerprints

As well as smart dash design, Renault offers electric seat folding mechanism, operated by buttons in boot

Grand Scenic’s huge 20-inch alloy wheels are a first in the seven-seater MPV class SUV profile. Prospective owners who worry about the cost of replacing such big tyres shouldn’t worry, though, because Renault claims that special rubber has been developed which should cost about the same as a normal set of 16 or 17-inch wheels on rival models. Unfortunately,

they contribute to an unsettled ride, so the Grand C4 Picasso is much more comfortable on UK roads – and quieter inside on the move as well. Few owners will be too concerned about how the Grand Scenic handles, but keen drivers will still be better off with a Ford S-MAX. The Renault isn’t too bad through corners, though, and despite rolling quite a lot, is much more composed overall than you might expect. The steering is light but accurate, aiding parking in busy city centres. There’s a bit of engine noise, with a slight diesel rattle and drone in the cabin. It’s not bad enough that the radio won’t drown it out, though. The six-speed manual box is a bit notchy, and while it’s not exactly fast, the car can keep up with traffic without issue. Those who regularly need to carry heavy loads, or travel seven up on a frequent basis, might find it worthwhile considering the more powerful dCi 160 – although that car is currently only available with Renault’s six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

PRACTICALITY Space with all five rear seats folded is huge – and appreciably bigger than in the smaller Scenic. Legroom in the rearmost row is limited, although the middle seats slide to offer improved versatility

Verdict THE new Renault Grand Scenic is a practical and desirable sevenseat MPV. It closely rivals the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso for style, and is also spacious, well equipped and cheap to run. It’s not as comfortable as its main rival, though, nor is it as refined. Still, we’re glad to see another great seven-seater MPV join the market. Not everyone wants or needs an SUV, and this car is the ideal antidote.

★★★★★ Special Issue 33

Skoda Kodiaq TSI

Newcars Essentials Skoda Kodiaq SE L 1.4 TSI 150 4x4 DSG Price: Engine: Power/torque: Transmission: 0-62mph: Top speed: Economy: CO2:

£30,095 1.4-litre 4cyl turbo petrol 148bhp/250Nm Six-speed dual-clutch auto, four-wheel drive 10.1 seconds 119mph 39.8mpg 163g/km



Running costs 39.8mpg (official) £69 fill-up

EQUIPMENT Skoda’s latest

infotainment system is a joy to use, with plenty of connectivity options, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

FIRST DRIVE Does impressive new SUV make sense with petrol power? Lawrence Allan


PUT off by the ongoing VW Group emissions scandal? Skoda is convinced most Kodiaq buyers won’t be, and that the bulk of models sold will still be diesels. We’ve been impressed by the anticipated best-selling 2.0 TDI (Issue 1,448), but now we’re trying one of three petrols instead. This middling 148bhp 1.4 TSI is likely to be the most popular. There’s also a 123bhp version and a bigger 2.0-litre TSI with 177bhp, plus potential for a hot vRS. Here, the engine is paired to a six-speed DSG auto and four-wheel drive – although a front-drive manual is also available. You might expect a 1.4-litre engine to feel breathless in a big seven-seat SUV, but the Kodiaq isn’t a heavyweight, tipping the scales in this guise at just under 1,600kg. As a result it feels swift enough, revving cleanly and pulling from low in the rev range without too much effort. As we’ve experienced with this engine in other models, it’s punchy right to the red line, too. That was driving with a single passenger, however. We expect the Kodiaq 1.4 to feel notably more lethargic with two adults, five kids and some luggage on board. We’d recommend the DSG gearbox for this tougher job, because while the manual is pleasing to use, the auto box’s responses make it easier to keep the engine in the desired power band. This 1.4 TSI has a couple of aces up its sleeve, however. The first is exceptional refinement. At idle you’d barely know it was turned on – and it only gets raucous past 5,000rpm. The second is that the

PRACTICALITY Rearmost seats

are a squeeze for adults, but no worse than in rivals. And there’s still plenty of space in the remaining five

Interior is neat; Simply Clever design touches include boot light that doubles as torch 148bhp version comes fitted with the VW Group’s ACT cylinder deactivation tech, allowing the car to shut down two cylinders on light throttle to help boost efficiency. It’s not as frugal as the diesel, but it’s expected to cost around the same in company car tax. The rest of the package is unchanged, remaining a seriously impressive allrounder. Our car did without the Dynamic Chassis Control system (an option box we’d recommend ticking), meaning the ride has a slightly firm edge over big bumps. Positive (if light) steering and good wind and road noise insulation top off a well resolved SUV, though. More importantly, the Kodiaq’s interior is as pleasing a place to sit as the Superb hatch’s. The materials are of a similar quality, while there’s a sense of order and logic to the controls.

BOOT SPACE Load area in Kodiaq

offers 270 litres of space behind the third row of seats. Fold all five rear seats for a van-like 2,065-litre capacity

Verdict THE Skoda Kodiaq is an impressive amount of car for the money, and is a smoother performer powered by the 1.4-litre TSI petrol. For city dwellers or those covering low annual mileage, it will be a great fit. Clever technology means it shouldn’t cost too much to run, either, although the torquier, more effortless and considerably more economical diesel is still a better fit for an SUV of this size.

★★★★★ Special Issue 35


DS 3

Essentials DS 3 PureTech 130 S&S Performance Line Price: Engine: Power: Torque: Transmission: 0-62mph: Top speed: Economy: CO2:

£18,735 1.2-litre 3cyl turbo petrol 128bhp 230Nm Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive 8.9 seconds 127mph 62.8mpg 105g/km


PRACTICALITY DS 3’s 285-litre load

space is on par with those of supermini rivals. Fold down seats to increase this to 980 litres – but a sharp step means the area isn’t flat. There’s no five-door version, either, so rivals offer improved versatility

STYLING Coloured wheel centre caps

mark out Performance Line model, along with a black roof and similarly styled mirror caps. Inside, you’ll find sat-nav, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and digital climate control. Trim level is pricey, though Otis Clay

DS3 FIRST UK DRIVE New Performance Line trim adds a dose of spice to supermini, but it’s a pricey package

While turbo is punchy, ride could be more composed and handling trails a MINI for fun

Lawrence Allan


Running costs

0-62mph/top speed

62.8mpg (official)

8.9 seconds/127mph

£58 fill-up


DS may not have launched any brandnew models since its separation from Citroen in 2015, but its trim-level expansion has been going great guns. It’s attempted to keep its ageing DS 3 desirable, with range additions such as the trendy Givenchy Le Makeup and bold Performance Black editions. Now, though, there’s a new Performance Line version, and we’ve driven it for the first time. Performance Line aims to bridge the gap between the regular DS 3 and the 205bhp DS 3 Performance; think BMW M Sport and Ford ST-Line, and you’ll understand where DS is pitching it. This latest car attempts to offer some of the racy design treatment from the hot hatch, but at a more reasonable price point and with lower running costs. As such, you can opt for a familiar range of petrol and diesel turbos in the DS 3 Performance Line, kicking off with the 1.2litre PureTech 110 with a five-speed manual gearbox. We’ve got the fastest option in the range, however, which adds an extra 20bhp and a six-ratio box. Externally, there’s not a

36 Special Issue

lot to mark out the Performance Line trim. DS makes a lot of noise about its success in the Formula E Championship and how that inspires its roadgoing models, but there’s little evidence of that here. What you do get is a fresh colour palette with a choice of seven shades, plus contrasting black roof, alloy wheels and mirrors. DS Performance logos, finished in red, white and gold, are found all over the body and in the centre caps on the alloys. There are no physical bodywork changes to the DS 3, though, with Performance touches such as the lowered suspension, bigger wheels and chunky side skirts notable by their absence. Still, the DS 3 remains an attractive supermini even without the extra garnish. In fact, the most notable change Performance Line brings is inside, with the adoption of new leather and suede-effect Dynamica cloth seats with red and white thread. The contrast-stitched leather also makes its way on to the doors, gear gaiter and wheel, while new badging on the seatbacks and special metallic trim also feature. The additions are subtle

yet smart, although the rest of the interior is now starting to show its age. Unfortunately, those new seat covers don’t alter the driving position, which doesn’t cater at all well for the long legged. Also unchanged is rear headroom, which compared with most modern superminis is tight for adults. Practicality is fairly poor on the whole, with no cup-holders and a nearuseless glovebox. Quality is generally good, but it doesn’t take long to uncover scratchy plastics on the centre console and doors. The touchscreen is also frustratingly fiddly to use. PSA has proven with the new Peugeot 3008 that it now knows how to do user-friendly infotainment – and the DS 3’s set-up feels distinctly out of date as a result. Still, Performance Line models come with a strong equipment tally. Sitting between Elegance and Prestige, all cars have sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, cruise and climate control plus electric mirrors. It is £3,000 more to buy than a base MINI Cooper, however. The DS 3’s driving experience is another area where rivals have caught up. The

Infotainment feels fiddly and out of date


Performance Line trim is also available on larger DS 4 and DS 5 models

DS 3


Tweaks include metallic trim and Performance Line logos. Rear headroom is tight

1.2-litre petrol turbo remains a highlight; it’s flexible, torquey and efficient, and gives the hatch a good turn of pace. The car handles as well as ever, too, because there are no chassis changes to Performance Line models. However, it still isn’t as entertaining or refined as a MINI Cooper, with road noise proving intrusive on long motorway runs. The ride, while not uncomfortable, lacks composure on rough surfaces as well. So although this new trim adds appeal and the DS 3 is a decent enough package, with cheaper and newer rivals consistently upping their game dynamically, DS’s star supermini is falling behind the pack.

Verdict THE Performance Line upgrades don’t live up to the billing. The extra style will make it a more tempting proposition for some, but this makeover is subtle compared with Ford’s ST-Line cars. While there’s plenty of kit, the DS 3 feels its age with a dated cabin and lacklustre ride and refinement. Add in a price that makes the MINI look good value, and it’s getting harder to recommend.

★★★★★ Special Issue 37

Peugeot Traveller


Coming soon AUDI A8 JUNE 2017

Audi says new flagship – based on Prologue concept (left) – will be first truly autonomous production car when it launches this year. SUPERMINIS

Otis Clay

PeugeotTravellerAllure FIRST UK DRIVE Verdict on high-spec van-based eight-seater Tom Wiltshire

SEVEN-seat people carriers are all very well, but for those with even bigger families, nothing can beat the outright carrying capacity of a van. The Peugeot Traveller is the MPV version of the Expert van, and it will carry eight fullsized adults with room to spare. In Allure trim, the Traveller is aimed at buyers who want a little more luxury from their van. Our standard-wheelbase model had plenty of space for six-foot passengers in all three rows. It also offered a 640-litre boot with all eight seats in place. That space is tall and shallow, though, and isn’t as useful as the numbers suggest. Removing the seats isn’t easy, but if you manage to heave them out, you’ll be rewarded with a huge 3,200-litre capacity up to the window line. Entry-level Active cars get plenty of goodies, like dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and a slick seven-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and DAB. Allure adds heated front seats, a panoramic glass roof and xenon headlights. For those without lofty aspirations, however, the lesser model should do just fine. On the move, the case for a more carlike people carrier starts to make sense. The driving position is resolutely upright and won’t suit drivers with long legs. The cavernous interior amplifies road noise, making it fairly noisy at speed, although the soft suspension means it’s comfortable. Performance from the 2.0-litre diesel isn’t sparkling, but it’s got strong in-gear pace. In fact, the Traveller is easy to drive with great all-round visibility. It feels smaller on the road than its size suggests, with a surprisingly tight turning circle.

Audi A1 Ford Fiesta Kia Picanto Kia Rio Nissan Micra Peugeot 208 SEAT Ibiza SEAT Mii X-Perience Suzuki Swift Vauxhall Corsa Volkswagen Polo Volkswagen up! GTI

2018 July summer early 2017 early 2017 2018 summer 2018 mid 2017 late 2018 late 2017 late 2017


Alfa Romeo Giulia Estate late 2017 Alfa Romeo executive saloon 2018 Audi A5 Sportback early 2017 Audi A6 Allroad late 2017 Citroen C3 Picasso late 2017 Honda Civic early 2017 Honda FCV late 2017 Hyundai i30 early 2017 Jaguar XF Sportbrake late 2017 MINI Countryman February Nissan Leaf late 2017 Porsche Panamera estate late 2017 SEAT Leon facelift early 2017 Skoda Octavia facelift early 2017 Subaru Impreza mid 2017 Tesla Model 3 late 2017 Vauxhall Insignia mid 2017 VauxhallInsigniaSportsTourer late 2017 Volkswagen Arteon mid 2017 Volkswagen Golf facelift early 2017 Volkswagen XL3 2019 Volkswagen I.D. 2020 SPORTS CARS

Finish is good, but driving position upright. Diesel is noisy

Peugeot Traveller Allure BlueHDi 150 S&S STD Price: Engine: Power/torque: Transmission: 0-62mph: Top speed: Economy: CO2:

£36,985 2.0-litre 4cyl diesel 148bhp/370Nm Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive 11.0 seconds 106mph 53.3mpg 139g/km


High-spec Allure features touchscreen, but sat-nav is a £240 option

Verdict PEUGEOT has pushed upmarket with the Traveller, and it shows, with a comfortable interior packed full of equipment. It’s spacious as well, and as a high-end executive bus, it’s a strong competitor for the class-leading Volkswagen Caravelle. It also undercuts it in terms of initial outlay, and even comes close for interior quality. Smaller, seven-seat MPVs are better to drive, though, proving sharper and more refined on the move.


Alfa 4C Quadrifoglio mid 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Coupé 2018 Alpina B5/D5 mid 2017 Alpine sports car late 2017 Aston Martin V8 Vantage late 2017 Aston Martin Vanquish 2018 Aston Martin AM-RB 001 2018 Audi A9 2018 Audi RS 4 early 2017 Audi TT Sportback 2018 Audi TTQ 2018 Bentley Continental GT 2018 Bentley Barnato 2019 BMW Z4 2018 BMW 2 Series facelift late 2017 BMW 6 Series 2019 Caterham sports car 2018 Ford Focus RS500 late 2017 Ford GT mid 2017 Honda Civic Type R September Hyundai i30 N early 2017 Jaguar XE R 2018 Kia sports saloon early 2017 Lexus LC 500 spring Lexus LC F 2018 Maserati Alfieri 2018 Maserati Gran Turismo late 2017 McLaren EV 2023 McLaren P14 late 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 late 2017 Mercedes-AMG GT four-door 2018 Mercedes-AMG hypercar 2018 MG TF replacement 2020 MINI JCW Clubman early 2017 Nissan Pulsar Nismo 2018 Peugeot 308 R HYbrid 2018 Porsche Mission E 2020 Porsche Pajun 2018 Renault Mégane RS late 2017 Toyota FT-1 (Supra) 2018 TVR sports car 2018 Vauxhall sports car 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk8 2019 SUVs

Abarth 500X Alfa Romeo large SUV

late 2017 2018

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Aston Martin DBX Audi Q6 Audi Q8 Audi RS Q2 Bentley Bentayga Coupé Bentley Bentayga Speed BMW i5 BMW X2 BMW X3 BMW X7 Citroen C4 Aircross Dacia Duster Dacia Grand Duster DS 3 SUV Hyundai small SUV Infiniti QX50 Jaguar ‘Baby’ F-Pace Jaguar I-Pace SUV Jeep baby SUV Jeep Compass Jeep Grand Wagoneer Kia Rio SUV Kia Niro PHEV Lamborghini Urus Land Rover Defender Land Rover Discovery Mazda large SUV Mazda CX-5 Mercedes-EQ SUV Mercedes-Maybach SUV MG ZS Mitsubishi Outlander Mitsubishi Shogun Nissan Juke Nissan Qashqai facelift Peugeot 2008 Peugeot 5008 Porsche Cayenne Porsche Cayenne Coupé Range Rover coupé Renault Captur Renault Koleos Rolls-Royce Cullinan SEAT Arona Skoda coupé-SUV Skoda Yeti SsangYong Rexton SsangYong XAV Vauxhall Meriva SUV Vauxhall Astra SUV Vauxhall large SUV Vauxhall Viva Rocks Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace Volkswagen T-ROC Volkswagen Polo SUV Volkswagen Touareg Volvo XC40 Volvo XC60

mid 2017 2018 2018 2018 late 2017 late 2017 late 2017 2018 spring 2018 2018 2018 2018 2018 2018 late 2017 mid 2017 2018 2018 2019 mid 2017 2018 2018 late 2017 2018 2018 early 2017 2018 late 2017 2019 2019 late 2017 2020 late 2017 late 2017 mid 2017 2018 late 2017 late 2017 2018 late 2017 mid 2017 early 2017 2018 late 2017 2018 2018 late 2017 2019 mid 2017 late 2017 2020 late 2017 mid 2017 2018 2018 late 2017 2018 mid 2017


Mercedes X-Class Renault Alaskan Tesla Pick-up

late 2017 mid 2017 2018


Bentley Continental GTC 2018 BMW i8 Spyder 2018 BMW M2 Convertible 2018 BMW2SeriesConvertiblefacelift late2017 Honda S2000 2018 Jaguar XE Convertible 2018 Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet late 2017 LUXURY CARS

Audi A6 Audi A7 Audi A8 BMW 5 Series BMW 8 Series Infiniti Q80 Lexus LF FC Lexus LS Mercedes S-Class facelift Rolls-Royce Phantom Volkswagen Phaeton Volvo S90 Polestar

mid 2017 2018 summer February 2019 2018 2020 late 2017 mid 2017 2018 2018 2018

Have your say: What is your car like to own?

Special Issue 39

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100 Volkswagen up!

DEAL Monthly payments


Mercedes E-Class


Renault Mégane


DEAL Monthly payments

DEAL Monthly payments


Kia Sportage



Jaguar F-Pace


Alfa Romeo Giulia



DEAL Monthly payments

DEAL Monthly payments

DEAL Monthly payments

HOW TO GET YOUR NEXT NEW CAR FOR LESS 2017’s best new car ofers in our 29-page special Joe Finnerty @AE_Consumer

Citroen C4 Cactus DEAL Monthly payments

Dacia Sandero

DEAL Monthly payments



THE relentless growth of the new car market has been aided by great deals on some of the finest models on sale – and we’ve hunted down 100 of the best offers around. From superminis to SUVs and compact executive cars to performance models, we’ve dug out deals that either stand out because of low interest rates, affordable monthly instalments, hefty contributions from the manufacturer or just because they’re too good to turn down. We’ve also included aim-to-pay cash prices with the help of sister site, which will give you a realistic target when you’re haggling with the dealer. And if they won’t budge, has this price available online plus its own suite of finance deals with healthy incentives. On top of that, we’ve also produced a jargon-busting guide to car finance so you’re armed with all the facts before signing on the dotted line for your new motor.

Ford Mondeo

DEAL Monthly payments


Porsche 718 Cayman DEAL Monthly payments


Special Issue 41

100 NEW





Vauxhall Viva 1.0i 75PS SL

List price: £9,865 Aim to pay: £9,041 Deposit: £1,677 Deposit contribution: N/A No of payments: 35 APR: N/A Optional final payment: N/A Total amount: £6,192

THIS personal lease deal on the Vauxhall Viva is like renting; there’s no option to own at the end of the three-year term. And it suits the stylish and well priced city car. All versions get electric mirrors and cruise control as standard, and while numb steering and a lacklustre engine make Skoda’s Citigo a better all-rounder, the Viva is a strong choice if you don’t drive much out of town.


Volkswagen up!

Facelift has given up! a fresh look, plus a new turbo engine

Feel, with air-con and a seven-inch touchscreen, is best trim




Move up! 1.0 3dr

RECENTLY revised up! still shares town agility, composure, refinement and a spacious cabin with its SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo cousins, but now comes as a turbo as well as an electric version. Its cabin is broadly the same but more customisable, while high-spec cars have DAB and heated seats. And the VW packs a lowish finance rate, decent deposit contribution and discounted servicing.

42 Special Issue


Citroen C1


1.0 VTi 68hp Feel 3dr List price: £10,025 Aim to pay: £9,542 Deposit: £2,485 Deposit contribution: £500 No of payments: 47 APR: 4.6% Optional final payment: £3,310

Total amount: £10,448

CITROEN is known for its generous deals, but this offer on the C1 trails rivals’. Still, the car boasts cute styling, a colourful cabin and a characterful engine. In fact, unlike its Toyota Aygo cousin, it has a choice of two engines, the larger 1.2 giving stronger motorway pace. Meanwhile, in town, it’s really nippy. The cabin is tighter than a Skoda Citigo’s, but there is a version with a fabric sunroof.

List price: £10,375 Aim to pay: £9,192 Deposit: £1,500 Deposit contribution: £200 No of payments: 36 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £4,251

Total amount: £10,791

Your guide to the best cars and how much to pay






i10 is a fine all-rounder and looks tempting in SE spec


Hyundai i10 1.0 SE

LIGHT but accurate steering, a compact body and good visibility make the i10 great in town, and it’s assured and surprisingly refined on faster, more open roads. Its cabin can seat four adults in comfort, too. There’s a choice of 65bhp and 85bhp 1.0-litre petrol engines, and the former is fine in town. Kit is good and all versions get a five-year warranty. Our featured deal looks irresistible.

Rear-engined layout gives the Twingo a really tight turning circle

Renault Twingo

SCe 70 Expression List price: £8,995 Aim to pay: £8,095 Deposit: £1,700 Deposit contribution: £500 No of payments: 37 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £3,598

Total amount: £9,368

RENAULT’S cash deal saves you £1,550. It’s at odds with the many PCPs on offer, just like the car itself which is rear engined, giving it a really tight turning circle. It has good back seat space, too. But it’s not that much fun. And despite a comfortable ride, it’s not as refined as rivals such as the VW up!. The lesser 69bhp 1.0-litre engine is perfect for town and Play trim, with air-con, is our pick.

List price: £10,620 Aim to pay: £10,182 Deposit: £2,047 Deposit contribution: £1,000 No of payments: 41 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £3,678 Total amount: £9,620 A £1,000 deposit contribution and zero per cent finance add to the appeal of the model crowned Best City Car five times in a row at the annual Auto Express New Car Awards. We rate the Skoda Citigo’s surprisingly spacious cabin, cheeky driving manners and impressively refined cruising ability. And while we prefer the more powerful 74bhp engine, the 59bhp version in the model in our featured deal is perfectly acceptable on most roads. Colour Edition spec brings some nice kit including black alloys and foglights, which give the Citigo a bit of a lift for not much extra outlay.







Aygo x-press has climate control and reversing camera


1.0 VVT-i x-press 5dr

Cash price: £7,995

Citigo Colour Edition is fitted with foglights and black alloys

1.0 MPI 60PS Colour Edition 5dr

WHILE the Aygo is available on zero per cent finance, we’d like to see a deposit contribution, as with its Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108 sister cars. It’s not as capable as rivals but it looks fun, and its quick steering, eager engine and tiny dimensions are great in town. On the open road it’s fairly quiet and composed, while inside there’s just about room for four. Kit is generous, too.

List price: £9,545 Aim to pay: £8,355 Discount: £1,550


Skoda Citigo

Toyota Aygo


Design spec Mii offers LED daytime lights and coloured trim



1.0 12v 60PS Design 3dr List price: £11,935 Aim to pay: £11,120 Deposit: £1,899 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 41 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £4,748

Total amount: £11,935

CLOSELY related to the Skoda Citigo and VW up!, SEAT’s Mii stands out with its super-low deposit, making it a great first-time buy despite steep interest. The car feels mature as well as being a blast around town, with a spacious and practical cabin. The 59bhp and 74bhp petrol engines are economical; the latter is the better all-rounder. Even the basic SE features air-conditioning.

List price: £9,955 Aim to pay: £9,028 Deposit: £140 Deposit contribution: £1,600 No of payments: 47 APR: 6.4% Optional final payment: £3,058

Total amount: £8,650 Special Issue 43

100 NEW





Ford Fiesta

1.0 EcoBoost ST-Line List price: £15,994 Aim to pay: £13,426 Deposit: £3,684 Deposit contribution: £1,600 No of payments: 24 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £6,930 Total amount: £14,394

WITH the current Fiesta due to be replaced, it’s no surprise Ford appears to be clearing stocks with deals like this one. Fortunately, the outgoing model still looks great and offers a class-leading driving experience, even though the interior shows its age and feels cramped. There are lots of engines and trims to choose from, but we’d go for the fun but frugal 1.0T EcoBoost. Zetec trim brings front foglights and alloys, while ST-Line gives a taste of the hot ST.





Baleno is fun to drive, plus practical, and it’s top value on this deal

Suzuki Baleno


1.0 Boosterjet SZ-T

QUITE a conservative deal, but the Baleno can hold its own because it’s comfortable, practical, fun to drive and roomy. In fact, poor refinement is the main drawback – with just five gears, the engine can be noisy, and it suffers tyre and wind noise. Still, it’s nicely built and equipped with alloy wheels, a digital radio and dark tinted windows. The Boosterjet engine is our pick.

44 Special Issue

Current class leader has the edge on quality and driver appeal

Volkswagen Polo


1.0 beats 3dr

List price: £12,749 Aim to pay: £12,749 Deposit: £800 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 48 APR: 2.9% Optional final payment: £4,313

Total amount: £13,705

VW is throwing its weight behind the Polo, as you can see from our deal, and that’s great news; the model is a brilliant all-rounder and was voted Best Supermini at our 2016 New Car Awards. Strengths include great build quality, decent practicality, low running costs and a balanced driving experience. There are loads of engines to choose from; we’d go for the new 1.0 petrol.

List price: £14,215 Aim to pay: £13,219 Deposit: £2,662 Deposit contribution: £1,400 No of payments: 47 APR: 6.2% Optional final payment: £5,199

Total amount: £14,676

Your guide to the best cars and how much to pay SUPERMINIS BEST FEATURE




Plenty of included tech makes the C3 a great buy

Citroen C3


1.2 PureTech Feel GRANTED, it’s not the most generous deal, but the new C3 has the talent to compensate. It signals a return to form for Citroen with comfort, character and ease of use its defining features. There are sharper rivals, but the C3 occupies new ground with its Airbump door protectors, touchscreen and integrated dash cam – standard on top-spec Flair models and a £380 option on this Feel.

Clio excels with modern styling, customisation options and good efficiency

Renault Clio Play 1.2

List price: £13,745 Aim to pay: £10,201 Deposit: £2,081 Deposit contribution: £300 No of payments: 36 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £5,746

Total amount: £14,631

YOU can get the keys to the stylish Clio with zero per cent finance and a decent deposit contribution. The car offers lots of scope for personalisation and efficient engines from the TCe petrols to the 1.5 dCi diesel. And while it trails the class leaders on performance and fun, the fivedoor-only Renault offers easy cabin access, and all but the most basic versions get a tablet-style control screen.

List price: £6,995 Aim to pay: £6,995 Deposit: £798 Deposit contribution: £500 No of payments: 48 APR: 7.9% Optional final payment: £2,762 Total amount: £8,332 THE basic Dacia Sandero is the UK’s cheapest new car. That’s not an honour most manufacturers would relish, but this supermini has certainly struck a chord with motorists who prioritise value and practicality above all else. It’s a tough and roomy hatchback, although in Access trim it doesn’t even have a radio. Thankfully, higher-spec versions get progressively more kit. The driving experience is safe and predictable; it’s noisy and not that much fun, but when it costs so little, who cares?







Fabia can be a bit basic, but higher specs are good value


1.0 MPI Colour Edition

Total amount: £13,415

Sandero is cheap and cheerful, with lots of space

SCe 75 Ambiance

SKODA has always majored on value for money and the Fabia is a no-nonsense car that offers just that. It’s designed to appeal to sensible, practical buyers, so ease of driving, good safety kit, a spacious cabin and low running costs are its priorities. Colour Edition spec brings loads of kit. You then need to choose between the 1.0 and more powerful 1.2-litre petrol engines.

List price: £13,415 Aim to pay: £11,285 Deposit: £3,588 Deposit contribution: £850 No of payments: 24 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £5,881


Dacia Sandero

Skoda Fabia


Stylish looks and handling agility make Mazda a very tempting buy

Mazda 2


1.5 SE-L Nav List price: £13,915 Aim to pay: £12,683 Deposit: £874 Deposit contribution: £2,000 No of payments: 41 APR: 2.9% Optional final payment: £5,060

Total amount: £12,699

ZERO per cent finance and a £750 deposit contribution look tempting on this talented supermini. We rate the Mazda 2 for its stylish design, reasonably roomy cabin and agility. It’s comfortable and refined, too. There’s a choice of 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines; the diesel claims 83.1mpg, but our pick would be the 1.5 90 SE-L petrol. While it’s a bit coarse, it’s quick.

List price: £15,255 Aim to pay: £13,937 Deposit: £2,505 Deposit contribution: £750 No of payments: 36 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £4,837

Total amount: £14,506 Special Issue 45

100 NEW





Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI Match Edition

List price: £20,965 Aim to pay: £15,496 Deposit: £5,110 Deposit contribution: £3,250 No of payments: 47 APR: 6.2% Optional final payment: £7,252 Total amount: £20,117

THAT generous deposit contribution confirms that the current Golf is soon to be replaced. A facelifted version is coming, but this existing Mk7 model has the same core virtues – a smooth ride, great build quality, generous equipment and a wide choice of efficient engines. The 1.4 petrol featured here is the best allrounder, while mid-range Match trim brings plenty of safety kit, including adaptive cruise control and parking sensors all round.





Stylish 308 is punchy and efficient in petrol or diesel guise

Peugeot 308


1.2 PureTech 110 Active

PEUGEOT is giving the 308 a helping hand – and so it should. While the car is stylish, solidly put together and powered by some great engines, it has some shortcomings. Primarily, it suffers cramped rear seats, and the small steering wheel won’t be to all tastes. Still, the boot is a decent size, plus equipment is good, with all models bar the most basic having a colour sat-nav.

46 Special Issue

Long warranty backs up the roomy Cee’d, which now has 1.0 turbo

Kia Cee’d


1.4 ‘1’ 5dr

List price: £19,525 Aim to pay: £16,311 Deposit: £1,500 Deposit contribution: £1,000 No of payments: 36 APR: 1.9% Optional final payment: £6,396

Total amount: £17,256

ZERO per cent finance sweetens this deal on Kia’s Ford Focus rival. The Cee’d comes with the brand’s sevenyear warranty, and while that’ll be of little relevance to someone on a three-year PCP, it suggests the car will be trouble-free. It’s good looking, spacious and powered by a range of efficient engines, including a new 1.0-litre turbo petrol which is a fine alternative to the diesels.

List price: £15,105 Aim to pay: £13,712 Deposit: £3,750 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 36 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £4,949

Total amount: £15,107


Your guide to the best cars and how much to pay FAMILY CARS BEST FEATURE




Stylish Astra is roomy and serves up a fine ride and handling mix

Vauxhall Astra


1.4i Turbo SRi

OUR 2016 Compact Family Car of the Year means business with a £2,000 deposit contribution. If that isn’t enough to hook you, a ride and handling mix tuned on UK roads is among the best in the class, plus there’s a roomy cabin and great looks. The 1.4 is good, but the 1.0-litre turbo petrol model, with its smooth but punchy delivery, in SRi Nav trim, is our top choice.

Mazda is genuinely sporty and scores on kit, too

Mazda 3 2.0 SE

List price: £18,929 Aim to pay: £16,249 Deposit: £2,499 Deposit contribution: £2,000 No of payments: 36 APR: 3.7% Optional final payment: £7,418

Total amount: £18,161

MAZDA is in a generous mood with this deal, but the 3 is different from other hatchbacks. For one thing, it’s truly sporty. You sit quite low, and the sharp handling is combined with supple suspension to make driving a pleasure and ensure you can forgive the car for trailing its rivals on rear space. Engines are on the large side but frugal. The equipment list is impressive, too.

List price: £17,250 Aim to pay: £14,283 Deposit: £5,423 Deposit contribution: £400 No of payments: 24 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £6,651 Total amount: £17,250 THE stylish Mégane is well built and blessed with some very efficient engines. Our favourite model is the 108bhp 1.5 dCi diesel, although the 128bhp 1.2 turbo petrol will suit average-mileage drivers and is a lot cheaper. Ether way, the Renault isn’t as much fun to drive as an Astra, but it is comfortable. It isn’t as roomy, either; designers focused on boot capacity over passenger space. Our top spec is Dynamique Nav with sat-nav, climate control and rear parking sensors.






Leon offers similar agility to its Golf cousin for less money


1.2 TSI SE Dynamic Tech

Total amount: £16,965

Smooth ride and efficient engines help the Mégane stand out

TCe 130 Expression+

THE Leon has had a facelift to keep it fresh, and with this tempting deal, it deserves to do well. It brings many of the qualities of its Volkswagen Golf sister car, including decent cabin space and a comfortable ride, but at a lower price. It also has a brilliant new 1.0-litre petrol engine that promises almost 65mpg. Standard kit includes a five-inch touchscreen.

List price: £18,465 Aim to pay: £16,381 Deposit: £2,274 Deposit contribution: £1,500 No of payments: 36 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £6,447


Renault Mégane



As well being practical and superbly kitted out, Octavia is top value

Skoda Octavia


1.4 TSI SE Sport

List price: £17,950 Aim to pay: £14,621 Deposit: £2,099 Deposit contribution: £2,000 No of payments: 47 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £5,920

Total amount: £17,842

YET again Skoda sets the pace with zero per cent finance and a £2,000 deposit contribution. A Ford Focus is more entertaining, but the Octavia offers a blend of composure, good safety levels and class-leading load space. It’s also well equipped; even the basic S version features alloy wheels and a digital radio. A wide choice of petrol and diesel engines completes the picture.

List price: £20,610 Aim to pay: £18,403 Deposit: £2,108 Deposit contribution: £2,000 No of payments: 41 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £7,523

Total amount: £18,610 Special Issue 47

100 NEW





Audi Q2

1.6 TDI Sport

List price: £25,050 Aim to pay: £25,050 Deposit: £4,218 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 35 APR: 6.3 per cent Optional final payment: £13,890 Total amount: £28,232

THAT interest rate and deposit contribution tell you all you need to know about Audi’s confidence in the new Q2. And it’s not misplaced. The car is spacious, superbly made, has lots of safety kit and offers huge scope for personalisation. Sure, it’s pricey, with the best kit on the options list, plus the ride is firm on larger-wheeled versions. But no competitor has a stronger image.





Peugeot offers plenty of space and comfort in a stylish package

Peugeot 2008


1.2 PureTech GT Line

LIKE the C4 Cactus, the 2008 stands out from the crowd, offering genuine practicality instead of pumped-up looks. It’s spacious, with good headroom front and rear. Higher-spec models have Peugeot’s effective Grip Control system that boosts traction in adverse conditions. The 2008 is comfortable rather than agile, but all engines are efficient.

48 Special Issue

Compact Renault has good mix of power and practicality

Renault Captur


TCe 90 Expression+ List price: £19,615 Aim to pay: £16,406 Deposit: £1,000 Deposit contribution: £625 No of payments: 36 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £8,229

Total amount: £20,173

THE compact Captur sits below the larger Kadjar SUV in the Renault range. It’s a small crossover with car-like handling and low running costs. Like its Clio sister model, it’s not that exciting to drive, but it is comfortable, refined and secure. Cabin and boot space is generous and the back seats slide, which is handy. All trims above basic Expression+ have a sat-nav, too.

List price: £14,945 Aim to pay: £12,808 Deposit: £3,813 Deposit contribution: £750 No of payments: 24 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £7,046

Total amount: £14,945

MINI SUV SUVs s/ Your guide to the best cars and how much to pay CROSSOVERS BEST FEATURE

C4 Cactus stands out with Airbumps, and scores on efficiency, too

‘Magic’ seats enhance the Honda HR-V’s impressive practicality




Citroen C4 Cactus 1.2 PureTech Feel

A HEALTHY deposit contribution helps keep the reasonably priced C4 Cactus competitive in a tough sector. It stole headlines at launch with its innovative Airbump door protectors, and inside, it’s just as inventive thanks to features including a top-loading glovebox. All engines are extremely efficient, with the diesels claiming an extremely impressive 83.1mpg.


Honda HR-V

1.6 i-DTEC SE Navi

List price: £15,885 Aim to pay: £12,849 Deposit: £1,917 Deposit contribution: £1,350 No of payments: 36 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £6,005

Total amount: £14,006

A £555 five-year servicing package is a nice finance incentive, but only if you intend to keep a car beyond the three-year deal. Still, the stylish, practical HR-V will tempt you to do so. Stars of the show are its ‘Magic’ rear seats with their lift-up squabs. The 1.6 diesel is cheap to run, while the car is comfortable and fun to drive. Standard kit includes climate and cruise control.

List price: £13,995 Aim to pay: £13,688 Deposit contribution: £650 Deposit: £1,618 No of payments: 48 APR: 7.9% Optional final payment: £4,797 Total amount: £15,967 THE Duster is a no-frills SUV that prioritises value for money, interior space – there’s plenty of it – a comfortable ride and predictable handling over style and driver enjoyment. Higher-spec versions pile on the toys, coming with air-con and a sat-nav, but down at basic Access level, there’s not even a radio. A three-star Euro NCAP safety rating is a concern, too, but it does have the security of traction and stability control. Our pick is the 1.5 dCi Lauréate with two-wheel drive.







Even basic versions of CX-3 come with plenty of equipment


2.0 (120) SE

Total amount: £25,728

Duster has a roomy cabin and off-road ability for a great price

dCi 110 Lauréate

THANKS to Mazda’s deposit contribution, the CX-3 looks more competitive against class rivals. It’s a talented car on many fronts, though – not least its driving experience. It’s cheap to run, too, thanks to frugal diesel and petrol engines. But the rear seats are cramped and the boot is small, although the kit list is good, with even basic SE having Bluetooth and DAB.

List price: £23,775 Aim to pay: £21,758 Deposit: £6,431 Deposit contribution: £500 No of payments: 36 APR: 5.68% Optional final payment: £11,053


Dacia Duster

Mazda CX-3


It’s based on tiny Vauxhall Corsa, but the Mokka X has SUV space

Vauxhall Mokka X


1.6i Active

List price: £18,465 Aim to pay: £16,570 Deposit: £2,551 Deposit contribution: £1,500 No of payments: 36 APR: 3.9% Optional final payment: £7,087

Total amount: £18,242

THE Mokka was already a good deal, and Vauxhall’s generosity on the deposit makes it more so. Now called the Mokka X, the rugged machine gets improved looks and quality, plus tech from the Astra. It’s a funky, well equipped compact crossover that’s perfect for a small family. The 1.6 petrol featured here is refined, but we’d go for a 1.4-litre turbo petrol, or perhaps the quiet diesel.

List price: £19,469 Aim to pay: £15,627 Deposit: £2,999 Deposit contribution: £2,400 No of payments: 36 APR: 3.7% Optional final payment: £6,634

Total amount: £18,237 Special Issue 49

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Volkswagen Passat 1.6 TDI S

List price: £23,170 Aim to pay: £20,772 Deposit: £6,842 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 47 APR: 6% Optional final payment: £7,980 Total amount: £26,055

THE Volkswagen Passat is as classy as family cars get, this side of BMW and Audi territory. Under the bonnet, the 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesel engines are as good as ever, with excellent economy and plenty of mid-range torque, while the interior is comfortable and smart. The boot serves up 585 litres, which is larger than that of key rivals such as the Ford Mondeo. Although VW doesn’t offer a deposit contribution, it will cover the cost of the first two services.


Vauxhall Insignia

With a new Insignia due, current car is up for grabs at top prices

Hyundai is cheap to buy and efficient to run, claiming 67.3mpg




1.6 CDTi SRi VX-Line

VAUXHALL revealed the first official images of its new Insignia in December, and it’s due in showrooms in the middle of this year. So now is the time to haggle for a great deal on the outgoing model. The current Insignia still has a lot going for it; it’s refined and very well equipped, while the CDTi diesel engines promise 74.3mpg economy at their most frugal.

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Hyundai i40


1.7 CRDi Blue Drive S

List price: £23,498 Aim to pay: £21,793 Deposit: £5,999 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 36 APR: 3.7% Optional final payment: £7,803

Total amount: £24,926

IN terms of list price alone, the entry-level Hyundai i40 is the most affordable family car of our selection. It isn’t expensive to run, either; the 1.7 CRDi Blue Drive model claims 67.3mpg. It also has plenty of kit – even the basic S trim comes with Bluetooth, 16-inch alloys and automatic headlights. There’s also the support of Hyundai’s five-year, unlimited mileage warranty.

List price: £19,995 Aim to pay: £17,995 Deposit: £4,000 Deposit contribution: £1,500 No of payments: 37 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £5,499

Total amount: £20,266

Your guide to the best cars and how much to pay FAMILY CARS BEST FEATURE

Skoda Superb Estate

Superb Estate has loads of space, as well as masses of standard kit

1.4 TSI SportLine

List price: £28,495 Aim to pay: £25,513 Deposit: £3,828 Deposit contribution: £2,000 No of payments: 41 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £10,905 Total amount: £29,288 HAVING been named Best Estate Car at our 2016 New Car Awards, the Superb Estate is the ultimate family transport. The big Skoda’s gargantuan interior, plush ride and top safety record leave pricier rivals shamefaced, and if you plan to put that huge cargo area to use, you’ll find 660 litres of space with the rear seats in place and 1,950 when they’re folded flat. The firm’s £2,000 deposit contribution is extremely generous, and it’s even throwing in £500 of free fuel with SportLine models when bought before 23 January, so move quickly.




Ford Mondeo

Latest Ford is roomier, more refined and hi-tech than ever

2.0 TDCi Titanium

List price: £25,095 Aim to pay: £22,748 Deposit: £7,178 Deposit contribution: £1,500 No of payments: 24 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £11,217 Total amount: £24,140 THE latest Mondeo no longer sets the pace for family car handling as its predecessor did, but it’s bigger, more refined and more technically advanced than ever. Ford is currently offering an above-average-spec Titanium model in its current suite of deals, and this features sat-nav, front and rear parking sensors and automatic lights and wipers on its long list of equipment. The £1,500 deposit contribution and zero per cent APR make for a spectacular deal, too, although the short contract term means a hefty deposit and final payment to match.






With a large deposit and zero per cent APR, 6 looks tempting

Mazda 6


145 SE

A FORMER winner of the Best Family Car crown at our New Car Awards, the Mazda 6 is arguably the most visually striking model in its class. It’s great to drive, while its 2.2-litre SkyActiv diesel engines are powerful and surprisingly economical given their size. Mazda is offering a hefty £2,500 deposit contribution and a zero per cent APR deal, which is a great package.

Kia scores on warranty and spec, and has big deposit contribution

Kia Optima


1.7 CRDi ‘2’ List price: £20,675 Aim to pay: £19,159 Deposit: £2,833 Deposit contribution: £2,500 No of payments: 37 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £6,018

Total amount: £18,434

THE Kia Optima is a left-field choice in the family car segment, but it has always represented good value. In basic ‘2’ spec, it includes sat-nav, cruise control and 17-inch alloys. The 1.7-litre CRDi engine is frugal, too, with economy of 67.3mpg. Kia is currently offering a £1,000 deposit contribution for Optima PCP deals, plus there’s the brand’s excellent seven-year warranty.

List price: £21,495 Aim to pay: £19,500 Deposit: £4,850 Deposit contribution: £1,000 No of payments: 36 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £7,836

Total amount: £22,241 Special Issue 51

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SEAT Ateca 1.6 TDI 115 PS SE

List price: £24,170 Aim to pay: £22,820 Deposit: £3,299 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 35 APR: 4.8% Optional final payment: £11,831 Total amount: £26,515

SEAT’S confidence in the Ateca is evident from its zero deposit contribution. But this capable model is already top value. That’s why we voted it Best Crossover at our 2016 New Car Awards. It has a stylish exterior and a great driving experience. The cabin is roomy, with a high roofline. The interior could be brighter, but there’s a good mix of engines, including a frugal 1.0-litre turbo petrol. Midspec SE (with climate control, rear parking sensors) is the best trim.





Under stylish body, Tucson scores on practicality and kit

Hyundai Tucson


1.7 CRDi 116PS Blue Drive S

HYUNDAI’S impressive five-year warranty is overkill in the context of this three-year deal, but it gives Tucson buyers peace of mind. And this attractive SUV offers lots of kit (16-inch alloys, air-con and Bluetooth), plus a big boot and spacious cabin. The diesels are best, with the petrol engines underpowered. Ride comfort is good and it’s quiet; just don’t expect SEAT Ateca levels of fun.

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New hybrid crossover mixes strong efficiency and practicality

Kia Niro


1.6 GDi ‘1’

List price: £20,845 Aim to pay: £18,708 Deposit: £4,040 Deposit contribution: £1,000 No of payments: 36 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £8,543

Total amount: £21,403

NOT just a tempting deal, but an interesting car, too. The Niro is a petrol-electric hybrid that promises to rival the big-selling Toyota Prius, but in an SUV body. As a first attempt it can’t beat the Prius on efficiency, claiming 74.3mpg and 88g/km CO2 emissions, but the cabin is well built. If you can afford it, upgrade to the ‘2’ model, which features sat-nav and a seven-inch touchscreen.

List price: £21,295 Aim to pay: £19,313 Deposit: £4,800 Deposit contribution: £1,000 No of payments: 36 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £10,463

Total amount: £22,211

Your guide to the best cars and how much to pay BEST FEATURE




Striking looks and great practicality set all-new 3008 apart

Peugeot 3008


2.0 BlueHDi GT Line

THE all-new Peugeot 3008 SUV is a big departure from its MPV-style predecessor – that’s obvious from its jacked-up looks. But there’s real substance here as illustrated by the car’s spacious boot. Best of all, this doesn’t come at the expense of cabin space. As well as being practical, the interior is stylish and packed with kit, including a dynamic i-Cockpit instrument display.

Qashqai is still one of best SUVs around, with solid build

Nissan Qashqai

List price: £28,545 Aim to pay: £28,545 Deposit: £2,000 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 36 APR: 1.9% Optional final payment: £14,490

Total amount: £29,863

WITH its original Qashqai, Nissan started the crossover craze, and the latest model remains one of the best cars in this class. This deal boosts its desirability further. The Qashqai is comfortable, practical, well built and frugal, although it comes up short in terms of rear cabin space. Engines are strong, with the DiG-T petrol our favourite; go for N-tec trim and you get lots of good safety kit.

S-Cross is an agile choice in this class, and turbo is punchy




Suzuki S-Cross

List price: £24,075 Aim to pay: £21,434 Deposit: £3,216 Deposit contribution: £1,500 No of payments: 36 APR: 3.9% Optional final payment: £9,365

Total amount: £24,281

THE S-Cross is already great value, and this deal makes it more so. The 1.0-litre turbo petrol is punchy but light on fuel, while the car feels nippy and agile. Questionable styling and a lack of refinement hold the Suzuki back, but the boot is as big as a Qashqai’s, and the roomy interior looks and feels well made. There’s a new infotainment system on all but the entry-level SZ4.


1.6 GDi ‘1’

List price: £18,499 Aim to pay: £18,436 Deposit: £3,287 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 48 APR: 2.9% Optional final payment: £5,437

Total amount: £19,716

BEST FEATURE All engines in Kadjar serve up strong fuel efficiency




1.0 Boosterjet SZ-T

Sportage has loads of standard kit and a roomy cabin

YOU don’t get the biggest deposit contribution with the Sportage, but there’s a low interest rate. The car impresses with a roomy interior, generous kit and a seven-year warranty. It’s not the most fun driver’s choice, but has lots of grip and decent body control. Again, we’d upgrade over this deal to the punchy but frugal 1.7 CRDi diesel in ‘2’ trim with sat-nav, 16-inch alloys and air-con.

Total amount: £20,104



Kia Sportage

List price: £20,935 Aim to pay: £19,207 Deposit: £4,291 Deposit contribution: £2,250 No of payments: 36 APR: 3.99% Optional final payment: £9,009

Mazda is one of the best drivers’ cars in this market

2.0 165PS SE-L Nav MAZDA’S deposit contribution only adds to the appeal of the CX-5, but this stylish SUV was already a fine choice. It rides comfortably, dealing with corners confidently. While the 2.0-litre engine is refined, the 148bhp 2.2 diesel is our favourite for its strong fuel economy. The impressive petrol unit is much cheaper, though, and whichever you go for, SE-L Nav trim is value for money.


1.2 DiG-T 115 Acenta


Mazda CX-5


Renault Kadjar


TCe 130 Dynamique Nav

List price: £18,000 Aim to pay: £16,689 Deposit: £4,300 Deposit contribution: £500 No of payments: 36 APR: 2.5% Optional final payment: £9,413

Total amount: £19,185

THE Kadjar is related to the excellent Nissan Qashqai, and the Renault has the edge, because it’s a bit better to drive and more comfortable. None of the engines will blow you away, but they are frugal. Match the higherpowered diesel with four-wheel drive and you get a top tow car. The cabin has more rear space than the Nissan and a bigger boot. Dynamique Nav trim is our pick.

List price: £20,845 Aim to pay: £18,295 Deposit: £4,266 Deposit contribution: £400 No of payments: 24 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £11,403

Total amount: £20,845 Special Issue 53


Audi A4


2.0 TDI Ultra 190 Sport List price: £32,695 Aim to pay: £26,764 Deposit: £5,447 Deposit contribution: £2,500 No of payments: 35 APR: 3.9% Optional final payment: £15,896 Total amount: £32,518



FOR proof of how tough this sector is, check out this great offer on the all-new A4. The car may not look too different from its predecessor, but boasts a roomier cabin, more tech and efficient engines. Rivals such as the Jaguar XE are better to drive, but for feelgood factor the A4 is hard to beat. Our favourite engine is the 2.0 TDI 190. Audi’s £450 Virtual Cockpit is a worthwhile option.




Jaguar XE

Generous Jag deposit adds to the appeal of brilliant XE

It has lots of kit and is an exclusive choice, but Q50 is pricey




2.0d 163PS Prestige A HANDSOME £3,170 deposit contribution on our 2016 Compact Executive Car of the Year looks like a deal too good to miss. The XE’s cabin is a little cramped and the boot is on the small side, but in its favour are top-drawer ride and handling and a refined interior. Standard kit includes climate control and rear parking sensors, and engines are punchy but frugal; our pick is the 2.0 diesel.

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Infiniti Q50


2.2 DCT Sport Nav

List price: £30,775 Aim to pay: £27,812 Deposit: £5,999 Deposit contribution: £3,170 No of payments: 36 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £13,446

Total amount: £30,209

INFINITI is Nissan’s upmarket brand, but the slow-selling Q50 has proven it takes more than generous kit, lots of tech and Mercedes-sourced engines to woo buyers. While the saloon looks stylish and is a refined motorway cruiser, the engines are noisy and the driving experience is marred by uncommunicative steering. There’s a hybrid version that makes sense tax-wise, but it’s expensive.

List price: £38,200 Aim to pay: £31,099 Deposit: £5,000 Deposit contribution: £5,000 No of payments: 37 APR: 4.99% Optional final payment: £13,450

Total amount: £41,358

Your guide to the best cars and how much to pay BEST FEATURE




S60 is a fine family choice with long list of safety kit as standard


Volvo S60 D2 SE Nav

THE S60 looks stylish, and scores with its solid build quality and safety kit. But it can’t match rivals for handling fun, with the steering lacking feel, and the ride isn’t especially comfortable. The rear seats are cramped and boot space trails the class leaders’. These flaws detract from its desirability, which is reflected in Volvo’s whopping deposit contribution.

Low running costs and driver appeal keep 3 Series in contention

BMW 3 Series

List price: £28,770 Aim to pay: £26,026 Deposit: £5,399 Deposit contribution: £7,403 No of payments: 48 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £8,335

Total amount: £23,766

AN all-new model on the horizon and newer rivals including the XE, C-Class and A4 have persuaded BMW to sharpen its 3 Series deals, making the class benchmark look even more desirable. It’s roomy in the back, and running costs are low thanks to a range of ultra-efficient diesels. Plus, strong equipment ensures there’s less need to peruse the (expensive) options list.

Total amount: £29,641

Great looks and smooth drive set Alfa apart, as does bargain deal

List price: £30,175 Aim to pay: £26,137 Deposit: £8,694 Deposit contribution: £1,500 No of payments: 47 APR: 6.5% Optional final payment: £9,727 Total amount: £32,474 IF you needed an excuse to buy an Alfa, this deal is it. The £1,500 deposit contribution brings the Giulia within closer reach than ever. It’s worth the stretch since few cars, with the exception of the Jaguar XE, offer such character and spirit. It’s terrific fun to drive, as well as impressively refined, with smooth diesels and creamy petrol engines, while the cabin is spacious and looks just as good as the exterior. There’s no manual option, but the automatic box is good. Alloy wheels and a digital radio come as standard.







C-Class is hard to beat for interior quality and ride quality


C 200 SE

List price: £30,690 Aim to pay: £26,534 Deposit: £5,489 Deposit contribution: £3,493 No of payments: 47 APR: 3.9% Optional final payment: £10,287


2.0 Turbo

MERCEDES clearly means business with this deal. The C-Class is a tempting proposition, since you’ll struggle to find a rival with a stronger image, higher-quality interior and a better ride, at least on versions with smaller wheels. But the car isn’t perfect, its 2.1-litre diesel in particular being gruff and noisy. Standard equipment is good, although options are expensive.


320d Sport

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Mercedes C-Class


Under bold styling, the IS features clever hybrid drivetrain

Lexus IS


300h Sport

List price: £29,190 Aim to pay: £24,768 Deposit: £3,999 Deposit contribution: £5,597 No of payments: 36 APR: 5.1% Optional final payment: £11,150

Total amount: £25,913

LEXUS chips in a generous deposit on the bold IS, but asks for a larger one in return. This is hard to swallow, given the car lacks a diesel option and isn’t as good to drive as rivals. In its favour are tax-friendly emissions on the 300h hybrid – which is the best version in the range – and a comfortable ride. The cabin is roomy and feels top-class, and all but basic SE models get sat-nav.

List price: £32,105 Aim to pay: £28,400 Deposit: £6,344 Deposit contribution: £3,000 No of payments: 42 APR: 2.9% Optional final payment: £11,921

Total amount: £30,824 Special Issue 55

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Mercedes E-Class E 220 d SE

List price: £36,875 Aim to pay: £31,612 Deposit: £5,999 Deposit contribution: £3,945 No of payments: 36 APR: 5.1% Optional final payment: £17,725 Total amount: £36,288

OUR current Executive Car of the Year has one of the best cabins in the business, and the E-Class is well built, extremely refined and about as good a motorway companion as it’s possible to get. The £349 monthly payment on this E 220 d is competitive in this class, although the final £17,725 is a bit high. Mercedes does include metallic paint in the deal, though, and the car is powered by the company’s excellent new 2.0-litre diesel engine.





Hybrid LS is known for it reliability, as with all cars from Lexus

Lexus GS


300h Executive Edition

LIKE your luxuries without the high running costs? This hybrid saloon is the answer, as it emits a mere 104g/km and claims 64.2mpg. Lexus is a regular at the top of our Driver Power satisfaction surveys, so you can be as confident of reliability as you can a swish cabin and plenty of kit. The £1,500 deposit contribution and £349 per month impress, although that’s over 42 months.

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Sumptuous cabin, sleek looks and fine drive set the XF apart

Jaguar XF


Prestige 2.0d 163 manual

List price: £35,605 Aim to pay: £31,506 Deposit: £9,336 Deposit contribution: £1,500 No of payments: 42 APR: 5.9% Optional final payment: £14,445

Total amount: £38,439

JAGUAR’S original XF rocked the exec sector with its sumptuous cabin and sleek looks, and it rivalled the BMW 5 Series for the title of best driver’s car in this market. The second-generation car borrows a lot from the smaller XE, but has a more lavish cabin with decent standard kit and a big boot. At £349 per month the base XF Prestige looks like good value next to its rivals, too.

List price: £32,300 Aim to pay: £29,170 Deposit: £5,999 Deposit contribution: £1,100 No of payments: 36 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £15,676

Total amount: £34,239

Your guide to the best cars and how much to pay BEST FEATURE




A6 scores on value here, and Ultra is the most efficient pick


Audi A6

S line 2.0 TDI ultra 190 man.. THE Audi A6 is the best-value exec here, courtesy of a phenomenal £5,800 deposit contribution, while the price of metallic paint is included in the deal. You get the S line, with racy touches such as 18-inch alloys, lower suspension and a mild bodykit, while the Ultra brings the lowest CO2 emissions and the best economy in the A6 range, starting at 109g/km and 67.3mpg.

EXECUTIVE CARS New 5 Series sets standard for tech and fun; it doesn’t come cheap

BMW 5 Series


520d xDrive M Sport

List price: £37,145 Aim to pay: £30,747 Deposit: £6,914 Deposit contribution: £5,800 No of payments: 35 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £15,406

Total amount: £34,195

THE 5 Series is the most expensive exec of our line-up, but that’s no surprise, because it’s also the newest. We were very impressed with the latest car when we drove it in December, and given its youth, heaps of tech and great handling, over £400 a month is to be expected. The balloon payment is also the costliest here, but conversely, 3.9 per cent APR is the lowest of the lot.

List price: £41,025 Aim to pay: £41,025 Deposit: £5,999 Deposit contribution: £3,551 No of payments: 35 APR: 3.9% Optional final payment: £19,106

Total amount: £40,377

BEST FEATURE Bold S90 has plush cabin that’s packed with safety tech

Volvo S90

D4 Momentum List price: £33,655 Aim to pay: £32,021 Deposit: £5,959 Deposit contribution: £2,687 No of payments: 48 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £14,025 Total amount: £34,816

VOLVO’S latest executive saloon is a world apart from the classic, boxy four-doors on which the company built its reputation. The S90’s suave looks, plush cabin and comfortable ride have brought Volvo bang up to date; it’s also a sublime motorway cruiser and its level of safety equipment is unrivalled. The monthly cost of £309 is the lowest among our selection of executive models, although that’s over a 48-month term compared with the usual 36 months.


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Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d 180 Prestige

List price: £36,960 Aim to pay: £34,002 Deposit: £8,520 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 36 APR: 6.8% Optional final payment: £17,716 Total amount: £41,680

OUR 2016 Car of the Year is brilliant to drive and surprisingly economical for a big SUV, with the two-wheel-drive models claiming 57.6mpg fuel economy and CO2 emissions of 129g/km. The F-Pace is also highly practical, with a large boot and plenty of space for passengers sitting in the back. It isn’t the cheapest SUV on the market due to its premium status and the fact it’s still quite new, but £429 per month for an F-Pace is pretty appealing, and low enough to undercut some prestige rivals.


Mercedes GLC

GLC features a smart and refined cabin to match its good looks

Macan offers sports car performance in an SUV package




220 d 4MATIC SE

MERCEDES’ answer to the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 arguably has the class’s best looking and quietest cabin, while frugal diesels place it among the more affordable SUVs to run, with economy from 56.5mpg for the 250 d. As monthly rates go, £359 isn’t bad for a premium 4x4. However, the final payment looks steep, so buyers should bear this in mind if they plan to keep the car.

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Porsche Macan



List price: £36,675 Aim to pay: £32,854 Deposit: £7,727 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 36 APR: 5.8% Optional final payment: £20,200

Total amount: £40,861

AT first glance, a monthly fee of £465 looks pretty good for Porsche’s mid-size SUV, but there’s a big deposit and final payment involved. The appeal lies in the car’s driving experience; this is the most nimble 4x4 around, and matches it to blistering pace and a sumptuous cabin. The Turbo claims 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds and the diesels promise a relatively frugal 46.3mpg.

List price: £63,245 Aim to pay: £63,245 Deposit: £16,500 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 35 APR: 6.6% Optional final payment: £38,712

Total amount: £71,497


Your guide to the best cars and how much to pay BEST FEATURE




Seven-seat Q7 comes packed with technology as standard


Audi Q7

S line 3.0 TDI quattro 272 tip. p. THE latest-generation Q7 is about as close to a fully autonomous vehicle as you can get; it can accelerate, brake and steer independently at up to 37mph. Aside from being packed with tech, it’s very spacious, plus has a 770-litre boot and a superb ride. A monthly payment of £569 is the highest of any SUV here, but the Q7’s saving grace is the slightly shorter-than-average 35-month term.

Backing up Sorento is seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty


Kia Sorento

KX-1 2.2 CRDi manual

List price: £56,265 Aim to pay: £49,379 Deposit: £10,152 Deposit contribution: £1,750 No of payments: 35 APR: 5.5% Optional final payment: £30,446

Total amount: £60,523

KIA’S seven-seat Sorento seems a bargain among our large SUVs, because it has the second-lowest APR rate of our selection of 4x4s. There’s also bags of space, including a 660-litre boot with the two rearmost seats folded flat. The company provides a £1,000 deposit, which makes for an affordable monthly payment of £322. You even get your first three services for free.

List price: £28,795 Aim to pay: £25,915 Deposit: £6,650 Deposit contribution: £1,000 No of payments: 36 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £12,012

Total amount: £31,257


Hyundai Santa Fe

Santa Fe has loads of kit, and comes with lowest deposit here

SE 2.2 CRDi 4WD 5 Seat

List price: £32,230 Aim to pay: £29,007 Deposit: £5,900 Deposit contribution: £1,000 No of payments: 37 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £13,706 Total amount: £34,534 THE Santa Fe belies the budget status Hyundai used to be associated with by offering a smartly designed interior that scores on comfort and convenience, as well as lots of safety kit. Compared with its Kia Sorento cousin, the car appears a touch pricey, with payments of £403 per month, but it’s worth noting that it has the lowest deposit of any of our large SUVs at £5,900, so it’s arguably the easiest way into a big 4x4. And besides, you get loads of equipment for the cash, with features such as cruise control, Bluetooth and a rear parking camera all included.




Volvo XC90

Hi-tech new XC90 comes with three free services on finance

Discovery Sport seats seven, yet claims strong efficiency




D5 PowerPulse Momentum m

THE latest XC90 (tested on Page 82) is among the smartest and most advanced large SUVs on sale, which is why it was our 2015 Car of the Year. Volvo took an already successful formula and updated it with loads of kit and a much more upmarket cabin, and there’s also a plug-in hybrid. It isn’t cheap and there’s no deposit contribution, but you do get three free services.


List price: £48,050 Aim to pay: £45,846 Deposit: £9,378 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 36 APR: 5.9% Optional final payment: £26,500

Total amount: £53,842

LR Discovery Sport


2.0 TD4 180 SE manual

YOU wouldn’t expect Land Rover’s classy Discovery Sport to have the lowest monthly payments of our large SUVs, but at £299 it undercuts its rivals. It was named Best Compact SUV at our 2015 New Car Awards due to its desirability, space and great handling. The Ingenium diesels make it cheap to run for a 4x4, too; the 148bhp manual model claims 57.6mpg and 129g/km of CO2.

List price: £32,795 Aim to pay: £30,546 Deposit: £9,820 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 36 APR: 6.9% Optional final payment: £16,284

Total amount: £36,868 Special Issue 59

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Renault Grand Scenic TCe 115 Expression+

List price: £23,375 Aim to pay: £19,657 Deposit: £4,039 Deposit contribution: £1,500 No of payments: 36 APR: 3.99% Optional final payment: £7,657 Total amount: £23,180 IF you’re after strong fuel economy, the Grand Scenic (driven on Page 32) has some of the lowest running costs of any MPV. Renault’s 1.5-litre dCi diesels claim up to 70.6mpg, plus CO2 emissions as low as 104g/km – seriously frugal for a sevenseat people carrier. The TCe petrols are also cheap to run, particularly if you do the school run or stick to town. A £1,500 deposit contribution is generous as well.







Strong value, fine ride and great safety credentials set Kia apart

Kia Carens


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SEAT Alhambra


2.0 TDI Ecomotive 150 S

1.6 GDI manual ‘1’ DESPITE its compact proportions, this great-value MPV can seat seven. Larger people carriers are available, but the Kia majors on low cost, a comfortable ride and good Euro NCAP safety scores. You also get a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty. The maker is currently offering £1,000 towards a Carens 3, too; it’s worth seeing if your budget can stretch to this higher-spec model.

Alhambra is solidly built and a really versatile seven-seater

List price: £18,995 Aim to pay: £14,424 Deposit: £4,700 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 36 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £4,982

Total amount: £20,433

A THREE-time winner of the Best MPV title at our New Car Awards, the Alhambra is identical to VW’s Sharan under the skin, so it’s well built and has a versatile layout. The zero per cent APR deal is a cracker, and bags a large MPV for only £205 per month. You also get sliding rear doors and a huge cabin – and SEAT is even offering £1,000 off if you download its winter drive voucher.

List price: £28,155 Aim to pay: £22,969 Deposit: £8,299 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 47 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £10,221

Total amount: £28,155

Your guide to the best cars and how much to pay


Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

Picasso isn’t just roomy; it also looks good inside and out

BlueHDi 120 Feel

List price: £24,990 Aim to pay: £20,255 Deposit: £500 Deposit contrib: £1,350 (until 31 Jan) No of payments: 37 APR: 4.9% Optional final payment: £10,162 Total amount: £26,046 CITROEN’S expertise in people carriers has seen the Grand C4 Picasso being named Best MPV at our New Car Awards for three years in a row. The interior is really well thought out, with bags of space and a 793-litre boot when the middle row of seats is slid forward. It isn’t the best MPV to drive, but it’s comfortable and softly sprung. The engine range is also strong; the highlight is the BlueHDi diesel, which mixes decent performance with impressive efficiency. Now is a great time to buy; while monthly repayments are the highest of our MPVs, until 31 January Citroen is offering a £1,350 contribution, leaving a paltry £500 customer deposit.




Vauxhall Zafira Tourer

Zafira Tourer still scores on flexibility, plus it rides smoothly

1.4i Turbo 140 Energy

List price: £20,440 Aim to pay: £18,013 Deposit: £3,999 Deposit contribution: £1,200 No of payments: 36 APR: 3.7% Optional final payment: £6,802 Total amount: £20,485 UK buyers lapped up the original Vauxhall Zafira, which redefined the people carrier market with its compact proportions and revolutionary Flex7 seating layout. The later Zafira Tourer has taken things further upmarket, adding more space and a much classier cabin, but retaining plenty of storage areas. The MPV is also reasonably good to drive and really majors on a quiet, smooth ride. Its 1.4-litre petrol turbo – which is part of the deal currently being offered by Vauxhall – is brisk and ideal for low-mileage drivers, while the 1.6 CDTi diesel is the best for those who travel further on a regular basis. The brand is currently offering a £1,200 deposit contribution towards the Zafira Tourer, which makes for competitive monthly payments of £269.






Huge S-MAX isn’t as good to drive as it was, but is still spacious

Ford S-MAX


1.5 SCTi EcoBoost Titanium m

IT’S lost a bit of its predecessor’s verve behind the wheel, but the S-MAX is still hugely practical, plus better packaged than before. There’s more room in the rear, and the boot expands from 285 litres to 965 and 2,020 litres with the back and middle rows folded respectively. Even better, Ford’s zero per cent APR deal and £1,500 deposit contribution mean it costs £249 per month.

List price: £27,995 Aim to pay: £25,835 Deposit: £6,263 Deposit contribution: £1,500 No of payments: 24 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £13,896

Total amount: £26,135

Five-seater C-MAX is agile, plus top value on PCP

Ford C-MAX


1.6 125 Zetec

IF you can live with five seats rather than seven, the C-MAX is a great little MPV. As with many Fords it’s good to drive, plus it’s practical enough; its 471-litre boot increases to 1,851 litres when the rear bench is folded flat. Ford’s suite of zero per cent APR deals means the C-MAX represents superb value, while the deposit contribution shaves £2,000 off the cost for PCP buyers.

List price: £19,195 Aim to pay: £17,468 Deposit: £4,154 Deposit contribution: £2,000 No of payments: 24 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £7,785

Total amount: £17,195 Special Issue 61

100 NEW





Porsche 718 Boxster


List price: £42,094 Aim to pay: £42,094 Deposit: £10,800 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 35 APR: 6.6% Optional final payment: £22,901 Total amount: £47,318

THE latest Porsche Boxster may have swapped out the naturally aspirated flat-six to a turbocharged flat-four, but that’s done little to dent its appeal. The added low-end torque from the turbo means the 2.0 and 2.5-litre engines are more responsive at even low revs. Keener drivers will have to stick with Porsche’s 10,000-mile annual limit, as every extra mile will add 18p to the final tally.


Mazda MX-5

Agile driving experience gives MX-5 an edge over rivals

124 Spider is based on the Mazda, but offers more practicality




131PS SE

A MONTHLY fee of £229 isn’t a lot to ask for one of the most fun cars to drive. An agile rear-wheel-drive set-up, great proportions and an affordable price all helped the MX-5 win the Best Roadster title at Auto Express’s 2016 New Car Awards. It comes with a 2.0-litre engine option, but the entry-level, 129bhp 1.5-litre offers the more involving driving experience.

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Fiat 124 Spider


Classica 1.4 MultiAir Turbo List price: £19,165 Aim to pay: £17,207 Deposit: £4,366 Deposit contribution: £500 No of payments: 36 APR: 3.9% Optional final payment: £7,339

Total amount: £19,949

WHILE it shares the same platform as the Mazda MX-5, the Fiat 124 Spider is intended for a slightly different buyer. It’s more practical, and suits everyday driving better. The turbocharged 1.4-litre MultiAir petrol engine doesn’t need to be revved like Mazda’s 1.5-litre petrol to get the most out of it, but the Fiat isn’t quite so thrilling to drive and it’s a more expensive choice.

List price: £20,995 Aim to pay: £18,965 Deposit: £4,359 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 36 APR: 6.9% Optional final payment: £8,895

Total amount: £23,658

COUPES / COUPES Your guide to the best cars and how much to pay CABRIOLETS BEST FEATURE




Rear-driven 2 Series offers BMW fun in small package


BMW 2 Series

218i M Sport Coupé

A FACELIFTED 2 Series will arrive later this year, but there’s still plenty to like about the current model. The rear-wheel-drive chassis strikes a great balance between comfort and fun, making the compact twodoor one of the most entertaining sub-£30,000 coupés on sale. BMW sells the 2 Series with a good choice of diesel and petrol engines.

TT coupé is lots of fun to drive, with fine blend of style and tech

Audi TT

S line 2.0 TDI Ultra 184 List price: £26,370 Aim to pay: £23,742 Deposit: £4,289 Deposit contribution: £765 No of payments: 35 APR: 3.9% Optional final payment: £12,556

Total amount: £27,553

THE Audi TT beat heavyweights such as the Porsche 911 to the title of Best Coupé at our 2016 New Car Awards. And for good reason, because the Mk3 model is huge fun to drive. It’s lighter than before and comes with a wide range of petrol and diesel choices. Another highlight is the modern new interior, which is enhanced by features like Audi’s £1,490 optional Virtual Cockpit.

List price: £34,105 Aim to pay: £29,901 Deposit: £5,654 Deposit contribution: £2,963 No of payments: 35 APR: 5.1% Optional final payment: £16,050 Total amount: £34,278 MERCEDES’ C-Class Coupé does a good job of looking very similar to its stylish bigger brother, the S-Class Coupé, but comes with a much cheaper price tag and a range of engines better suited to everyday driving. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol version is good for 53.3mpg, while the C 300 offers more power to match the revised steering geometry that has better feedback over the standard saloon. Inside there’s a typically high-quality feel, and to start the year off Mercedes has thrown in a £2,963 deposit contribution until 31 March.






Look hasn’t changed a lot, but A5 is now lighter and roomier


S line 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic c

Total amount: £33,391

C-Class not only looks fantastic, it drives better than saloon

C 200 AMG Line

THE Audi A5 is a choice for those who want extra sportiness. An all-new A5 arrived last year and this second-generation coupé is now lighter, despite featuring a bigger boot and improved passenger space. The 2.0-litre TDI engine still offers a remarkable mix of performance and economy, while the interior has been updated to include the brand’s latest technology.

List price: £34,275 Aim to pay: £30,457 Deposit: £6,710 Deposit contribution: £4,500 No of payments: 35 APR: 6.3% Optional final payment: £16,206


Mercedes C-Class Coupé

Audi A5 Coupé


List price: £40,300 Aim to pay: £36,118 Deposit: £8,163 Deposit contribution: £2,500 No of payments: 35 APR: 6.2% Optional final payment: £20,978

Total amount: £42,416

Strong driver appeal and wide engine range mark out 4 Series

BMW 4 Series


420i Sport Coupé

THE BMW 4 Series is now older than its A5 and C-Class Coupé rivals, so it can be had for less money than either. But this adds to its appeal, because the car still comes with a great range of engines, and is as good to drive as you might expect from a BMW. The low balloon payment is made sweeter by the brand contributing nearly £3,000 towards the deposit.

List price: £31,775 Aim to pay: £28,465 Deposit: £5,599 Deposit contribution: £2,786 No of payments: 35 APR: 2.9% Optional final payment: £12,798

Total amount: £30,555 Special Issue 63

100 NEW



Yo Jaguar F-Type 3.0 V6 Coupé RWD

List price: £51,450 Aim to pay: £49,800 Deposit: £10,990 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 36 APR: 5.9% Optional final payment: £24,704 Total amount: £57,258

THE F-Type is one of the best looking cars money can currently buy. Although it loses out to the Porsche Carrera S in driving dynamics and usability, it’s still a striking purchase, especially after the recent facelift (revealed in our news story on Page 17). The entry-level 3.0-litre V6 suits the chassis well, and takes the car from 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds, while the F-Type R’s sonorous 5.0-litre supercharged V8 adds extra oomph.







Cayman is the cheapest Porsche, but it’s still great fun to drive

Porsche 718 Cayman 2.0-litre PORSCHE didn’t only replace the naturally aspirated flat-six with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the Boxster (Page 62); the Cayman got the same treatment under the new 718 name. The entry-level 2.0-litre with a manual gearbox is a proper driver’s car. It’s also now the cheapest Porsche in the range; it can be had for over a £100 less a month than an equivalent Boxster.

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Muscularlooking M2 feeds 365bhp to rear wheels



Coupé List price: £40,233 Aim to pay: £40,233 Deposit: £10,300 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 35 APR: 6.4% Optional final payment: £25,159

Total amount: £45,410

THE M2 may look similar to the 2 Series Coupé, but that’s as far as the resemblance goes. Under the bonnet is a 365bhp twin-turbo straight-six that’s a detuned version of the engine from the M3 and M4. The car’s handling and driving involvement have led many to call it a spiritual successor to the original M3. Such plaudits make £584 a month a small price to pay.

List price: £44,080 Aim to pay: £44,080 Deposit: £7,776 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 35 APR: 5.9% Optional final payment: £20,791

Total amount: £49,005

ur guide to the best cars and how much to pay

PERFORMANCE CARS BEST FEATURE It looks a bit expensive, but AMG GT stands out on the road


Mercedes-AMG GT



CONSIDERING you could have the McLaren 570S for nearly £350 less a month, the AMG GT might be difficult to justify. But the all-new twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 provides plenty of power and is connected to a sevenspeed automatic box. Although it’s a good car to drive, beware: drivers exceeding the 10,000-mile annual limit are then charged an eye-watering 37.2p per mile.

List price: £98,198 Aim to pay: £93,668 Deposit: £11,256 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 36 APR: 5.8% Optional final payment: £51,225

Total amount: £109,998


Turbocharged engine brings new layer of appeal to the 911 Carrera S


Porsche 911


Carrera S


THE 911’s naturally aspirated 3.4-litre engine was replaced by a turbocharged 3.0-litre as part of a midlife update in 2015. And while this didn’t please the Porsche purists, it made the sports car more flexible and usable, with the turbochargers providing more torque at lower revs. Unlike many of its rivals, the 911 can still be had with a manual gearbox, too.






IT says a lot about how crafty today’s finance deals are when you can own a £146,000 supercar for less than £1,000 a month. The 570S is our 2016 Performance Car of the Year and comes with a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 delivering 562bhp and 600Nm. It offers fantastic handling and chassis balance; the only downside is the £97,711 balloon payment at the end to keep the car.

Total amount: £96,589


Class-leading supercar can be yours for under £1,000 a month

McLaren 570S

List price: £86,412 Aim to pay: £86,412 Deposit: £21,700 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 35 APR: 6.1% Optional final payment: £49,489

List price: £146,150 Aim to pay: £146,150 Deposit: £36,626 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 35 APR: 7.9% Optional final payment: £97,711

Total amount: £170,452

Engine is exquisite plus C 63 feels poised and controlled

Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupé MCT THE highlight of any Mercedes-AMG is the engine, and the loud 4.0-litre biturbo V8 in the C 63 Coupé is excellent. It’s urgent at low revs, with fantastic mid-range punch. While earlier generations of this car proved a handful in corners, the current C 63 feels well poised. Mercedes is throwing in a huge contribution, but any miles over the 10,000 annual limit are charged at 24p.

£799 List price: £62,940 Aim to pay: £56,584 Deposit: £6,549 Deposit contribution: £3,769 No of payments: 36 APR: 5.1% Optional final payment: £30,100

Total amount: £65,413 Special Issue 65

100 NEW





Bentley Bentayga 4.0-litre V8 diesel

Lis price: List ric £136,505 Aim to pay: £136,505 Deposi Deposit: £30,372 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 24 APR: 6.2% Optional final payment: £90,891 Total amount: £148,849

LAST year Bentley built its first ever SUV, and it has become a huge sales success for the brand. The Bentayga is also the first car from the company to feature a diesel engine. The 429bhp 4.0-litre twin-turbodiesel V8 suits it well, because it offers a good blend of performance and everyday usability. For those who want more from their Bentayga, Bentley also offers the SUV with a powerful 6.0-litre W12.


Audi A8

It’s soon to be replaced, so A8 is up for grabs at a top price

S-Class sets standard in this sector for quality and tech




SE Executive 3.0 TDI quattro o WITH a new A8 coming this June, it’s no wonder Audi is offering huge discounts on the current car. An amazing £14,900 deposit contribution is made even sweeter by a low 2.9 per cent APR – although luxury rivals from BMW, Mercedes and Jaguar all come with zero per cent finance. But the A8 is a technological tour de force, featuring the latest gadgets and a broad range of engines.

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List price: £64,820 Aim to pay: £51,130 Deposit: £10,002 Deposit contribution: £14,900 No of payments: 47 APR: 2.9% Optional final payment: £16,856

Total amount: £53,140

Mercedes S-Class


S 350 d AMG Line

DEALS don’t get much better for luxury cars than what Mercedes is offering until 31 March. The S-Class comes with a massive £11,992 dealer contribution and zero per cent finance, making it more affordable than ever. It set the standard for luxury saloons when it first arrived, and continues to do so today. The latest car combines efficient engines with class-leading tech and quality.

List price: £70,780 Aim to pay: £55,174 Deposit: £10,999 Deposit contribution: £11,992 No of payments: 36 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £28,025

Total amount: £58,788


Your guide to the best cars and how much to pay BEST FEATURE




7 Series closes gap on S-Class with tech and style


BMW 7 Series

730d M Sport Saloon

FOR years, the 7 Series has sat in the shadow of the Mercedes S-Class – but the latest version, brought out in 2015, brings the two cars closer than ever. It’s brimming with tech; every model comes with navigation, night vision, autonomous parking and gesture control, while BMW offers the 7 Series with a number of engines from the frugal 730d to the M760i.

Jaguar is one of the most attractive cars in the class


Jaguar XJ

Luxury SWB List price: £69,020 Aim to pay: £61,755 Deposit: £10,998 Deposit contribution: £8,999 No of payments: 35 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £29,267

Total amount: £60,021

THE Jaguar XJ received a much-needed facelift in 2015 that brought in new trims and design tweaks. Despite the looks, it falls short of the Mercedes S-Class as it gets less space, while the ride is too firm compared with rivals. Jaguar is offering the XJ on zero per cent finance and contributing nearly £11,000 towards the car.

List price: £58,690 Aim to pay: £51,513 Deposit: £9,996 Deposit contribution: £10,870 No of payments: 36 APR: 0% Optional final payment: £19,860

Total amount: £47,820


Porsche Panamera

Secondgeneration Panamera looks and feels the part

Panamera 4

List price: £69,767 Aim to pay: £69,767 Deposit: £15,500 Deposit contribution: £0 No of payments: 35 APR: 6.2% Optional final payment: £40,486 Total amount: £78,393 WHERE the original Panamera’s styling divided opinion, the all-new, second-generation model has been designed from the ground up to look more like a larger 911. As with its predecessor, the Panamera can be had with diesel, petrol or hybrid units. We’d recommend specifying Porsche’s adaptive air suspension (PASM), a £1,541 optional extra, to get the most out of the chassis, too. The cabin is also a real step forward, with many buttons replaced by a stylish widescreen HD display.







Range Rover still blends luxury with genuine offroad ability

Range Rover


3.0 TDV6 Vogue

DESPITE stiff competition, the Range Rover remains the benchmark for luxury SUVs. It’s getting on in age, however, so the 2017 model will see a host of new updates from self-driving tech to a supercharged V6 petrol engine. If you’re going for an older model, be sure to negotiate a big discount on top of the £3,000 contribution Land Rover is offering until 31 March.

Flying Spur has a special feel, and it’s yours with a big saving

Bentley Flying Spur


Saloon 6.0 W12 List price: £76,350 Aim to pay: £71,384 Deposit: £14,000 Deposit contribution: £3,000 No of payments: 36 APR: 6.9% Optional final payment: £40,985

Total amount: £83,749

THE Flying Spur fills the hole between the expensive Mulsanne and the two-door Continental GT. You can pick between a 4.0-litre V8 or a 6.0-litre W12; the latter is good for 200mph. Although the Mercedes S-Class has the edge on technology, the Spur’s interior feels more bespoke and special. Bentley specialist H. R. Owen is offering a £20,000 discount until 31 March.

List price: £156,075 Aim to pay: £156,075 Deposit: £142,695 Deposit contribution: £20,000 No of payments: 24 APR: 6.3% Optional final payment: £82,280

Total amount: £147,277 Special Issue 67

FINANCE Our simple guide to financing your new car


Unsecured personal loan


PROS: Easy to arrange, not secured against the car, no deposit required

CONS: Will need good credit scores, can be expensive compared with PCP/HP A LOAN from a bank or a lender will let you purchase a car from a dealer right away. An unsecured loan won’t require collateral (such as a house), and the terms are based on your ability to pay back. With a loan, you won’t need to pay a deposit, and because the loan is secured against you and not the car, it means you’re the owner of the vehicle and won’t face mileage or wear-and-tear restrictions. The key thing with a personal loan is to compare the APR rates against other forms of finance. Some lenders will charge you higher monthly interest rates compared with car-specific finance, so it can be more expensive in the long run. It could also take you longer to secure the loan, because banks often require a good credit score and a face-to-face meeting before handing one out.


A top deal can be stumped by the confusing using world of finance. We cut through the jargon rgon Martin Saarinen @AE_Consumer

THE days of saving up for months and clearing out your entire bank account to buy a new car are no longer. Today, around 80 per cent of all new models are bought on some form of finance – a trend the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)

says has helped the UK to reach record high new car registrations. But finance comes in many shapes and forms. Before signing on the dotted line, it’s important to know you’ve got the right deal. To help you decide which plan suits you the best, we’ve drawn up a list of pros and cons on each. Here we explain some of the jargon behind your deal as well.

What kind of finance suits me best?

Financing via a broker or via a dealer? ALL the deals seen over the past 27 pages are official manufacturer offers. With an official brand dealer comes a showroom with knowledgeable sales staff as well as servicing facilities for your car. You’re also able to haggle for the best rates. However, brokers can still save you money, because while manufacturers usually offer the best interest rates on finance for brand new cars, you’ll often miss out on the best list price discounts. In many cases, your monthly payments may be cheaper if you buy a vehicle

elsewhere for a better price, even if the interest rate is a little higher. This is something seen regularly at online seller – sister company to Auto Express – according to its managing director Austin Collins. He told us: “If you’re buying a preregistered or used car, then the interest rates that are offered by your dealer may well be worse than you can get from an independent company. At the very least, it’s worth getting a second quote before making a big finance commitment.”

Glossary Terms you may come across when taking out finance – and what they mean APR: The Annual Percentage Rate includes

DEPOSIT CONTRIBUTION: Amount contributed

all costs of borrowing plus any associated fees. It’s the simplest estimate of the overall cost of the loan throughout its duration. Ensure the APR is fixed; with a variable APR, you might end up paying significantly more.

to the deposit by the lender as an incentive.

you’ve exceeded total mileage allowance, you can be charged between 10p and 25p per mile.

EXCESS MILEAGE: Excess mileage charges apply

GAP INSURANCE: Guaranteed Asset

to PCP and PCH deals. These are annual limits, usually 10,000 miles. If at the end of the contract

Protection will pay any outstanding finance in the event of your car being stolen or written off.

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GMFV: A calculation made by the lender at the beginning of the contract to estimate how much the car will be worth at the end of the contract.

Our simple guide to financing your new car FINANCE Personal contract purchase (PCP)

Hire purchase

Personal contract hire

PROS: Low monthly fees, option

PROS: Easy to obtain, low credit

PROS: Fixed monthly costs,

to hand back the car or buy it back

scores not necessarily an issue

servicing sometimes included

CONS: You don’t own the car, mileage

CONS: You don’t own the car until the last

CONS: No chance of owning

and wear-and-tear penalties

payment, short-term deals can be expensive

the car, excess-mileage charges

WITH a PCP, you pay a deposit and then monthly amounts for the contract’s duration. These are smaller compared with most other forms of finance, because you don’t own the car or pay for it in full. Instead, the monthly payments are calculated to effectively offset the car’s depreciation for the duration of the contract. At the end, you have three choices: hand the car back, make a balloon payment to own it or trade it back in and use whatever equity is left to finance a deal on a new car. The equity is set by the guaranteed minimum future value (GMFV). If this is lower than the trade-in value you can use the surplus towards a new car, but if you walk away, you won’t get the difference back in cash. Downsides? You don’t own the car until you’ve made the balloon payment, and you’ll be charged extra for exceeding an annual mileage limit, plus wear and tear.

A HIRE purchase (HP) is the most basic form of car finance. You pay a deposit and sign up to monthly payments, and at the end of the contract the car is yours to keep. This means the monthly payments will likely be higher than for a comparable PCP deal, but you won’t be faced with a balloon payment at the end, nor will you have to deal with excess mileage or wear-and-tear payments. An HP is also easier to set up compared with a personal loan, because the loan is set against the vehicle and not you. The downside is that you won’t actually own the car until the last payment. A deposit of around 10 per cent will usually be required, and you will often face interest-rate fees – but make sure the rate of interest is fixed so you know exactly how much you’ll pay each month.

A PERSONAL contract hire (PCH) is in effect a PCP deal but with the requirement to hand the car back after the contract comes to an end. These typically run for between two and three years, with set mileage limits plus wear-and-tear policies. You’ll still need to pay a deposit followed by monthly fees but no balloon payment. As with PCPs, general maintenance and upkeep will remain your responsibility, but many contract hire deals come with servicing included. This helps to keep costs predictable, and is one less worry. For certain models the monthly fee may be lower compared with PCPs, as you’re in effect paying for renting the car.

I have a low credit score

I don’t care about owning the car if I can afford the payments

I have no idea what I’m being sold

Special Issue 69

Road tests

Visit for the latest new cars and drives


LIVING WITH A... SKODA SUPERB Our man is learning to stand out on the road with ultra-bright hatch.

Kings of the load Renault’s stylish new Mégane Sport Tourer faces up to its Vauxhall and Peugeot rivals. Which of our trio comes out on top?

Pictures: Pete Gibson Location: Longcross Proving Ground, Chobham, Surrey

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Renault Mégane Sport Tourer

Peugeot 308 SW

Price: £22,350 Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 108bhp 0-60mph: 11.1 seconds Test economy: 49.6mpg/10.9mpl CO2: 96g/km Annual road tax: £0

Price: £23,375 Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 118bhp 0-60mph: 9.7 seconds Test economy: 51.7mpg/11.3mpl CO2: 88g/km Annual road tax: £0 ww


LIVING WITH A... VOLVO XC90 After a year running two different versions of SUV, we give our verdict.

IN a logical world, estate cars would reign supreme. Mixing a standard hatch’s comfort, handling and running costs with plenty of space, they should be king of the family runarounds. Yet the recent glut of trendy SUVs and crossovers has left these traditional load-carriers in the shade. However, Renault is hoping to reverse that trend with its new Mégane Sport Tourer. Based on the desirable five-door model, it’s turned on

the style in an effort to prove that you can buy a sensible estate with your heart and head. It’s not the only compact estate that’s vying to prove big doesn’t mean boring. Vauxhall’s sleek Astra Sports Tourer sets the standard for fun, and is packed with cutting-edge kit and a robust cabin. Then there’s the Peugeot 308 SW, which packs the sector’s biggest boot. We test all three as diesels; which of our great estates tastes victory?

Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer Price: £23,390 Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 134bhp 0-60mph: 8.9 seconds Test economy: 50.4mpg/11.1mpl CO2: 104g/km Annual road tax: £20

Testers’ notes

“The Renault Mégane made its debut in 1995, but the first estate version didn’t arrive until four years later – although this practical machine was never sold in the UK. British buyers wanting a load-lugging estate had to wait until the second-generation model broke cover in 2002. This was also the first version to wear the now-familiar Sport Tourer badge. Since then, an estate has been yo a mainstay of the compact family model’s line-up.”

Jame James Disdale Chief reviewer

Special Issue 71

Road tests

Renault Mégane Sport Tourer vs rivals

MODEL TESTED: Renault Mégane Sport Tourer 1.5 dCi Dynamique Nav S PRICE: £22,350 ENGINE: 1.5-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 108bhp


RENAULT’S latest Mégane made a winning debut in hatch form (Issue 1,433), so the pressure is on for this practical Sport Tourer. Featuring the same engines and trims as the standard car, the spacious newcomer certainly has all the right ingredients. For its first road test assessment, we sample it in expected best-selling £22,350 Dynamique S Nav guise.



THE standard five-door Mégane is one of the most stylish compact hatches you can buy, so it’s no surprise to find this design flair has been carried over to the Sport Tourer. By extending the wheelbase by 43mm and the length by 267mm, Renault’s designers have seamlessly grafted on an estate rear end without spoiling its proportions. Underneath the car’s sleek lines is the same Renault Nissan Alliance CMF CD platform that underpins everything from Renault’s larger Scenic MPV to the Nissan X-Trail SUV. It’s light and strong, and features a simple layout of strut suspension at the front and torsion beam at the rear. The transverse engine layout is standard for the class, as is the six-speed manual gearbox – although the Mégane differs from its rivals here in offering either a six or seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox as an option. Climb aboard and you’ll discover the car feels remarkably upmarket. The wraparound dash is clearly laid out, and features classy TFT dials and Renault’s portrait-style R-link infotainment. High-quality materials are used throughout, and the fit and finish are easily a match for the Vauxhall’s and Peugeot’s. There’s also plenty of equipment, with our Dynamique S Nav featuring sat-nav, climate control, Bluetooth and ambient cabin lighting.




DESPITE its racy-sounding name, the Mégane Sport Tourer’s driving dynamics are geared towards comfort and refinement rather than out-and-out driving excitement. This feeling is underlined by the 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine, which packs the smallest punch in this test, with 108bhp and 250Nm of torque. It’s a smooth and unobtrusive powerplant, but at the track it needed a leisurely 11.1 seconds to complete the 0-60mph sprint. However, thanks to the Renault’s well chosen gear ratios, it put on a stronger display during our in-gear tests, where it had the edge over the Peugeot. And while it doesn’t feel as punchy as the Astra, the Mégane responds eagerly enough and rarely feels as underpowered as its on-paper figures suggest. The emphasis on comfort is underlined by the car’s soft and supple suspension. Severe potholes can send a shudder through the cabin, but for most of the time the Renault effortlessly soaks up bumps. It’s quiet, too, transmitting less wind and road noise into the interior than either the Peugeot or Vauxhall. Of course, the price you pay for this comfort is less assured handling than you get from the taut and responsive Astra. The Renault’s steering is quick and well weighted, plus there’s a decent amount of grip, but the car suffers more roll through bends and the suspension set-up doesn’t control body movement quite as effectively.

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THE Renault falls between the Vauxhall and Peugeot for outright space. For instance, the Mégane’s luggage area will swallow 580 litres, which is 40 litres more than the Astra’s but 80 litres down on the 308’s. Lower the rear bench using the levers in the boot and you liberate a handy 1,695 litres of load capacity. Once again, this is 80 litres shy of the Peugeot’s maximum, but what the Renault lacks in volume it makes up for with versatility. For example, the boot floor features a handy pop-up load divider, plus it lifts to reveal a deep hidden storage area. There are also deep cubbies set into the boot sides, multiple shopping bag hooks and a 12V power supply. The practical theme continues elsewhere, because you’ll discover large door bins, a lidded compartment between the front seats and a handy tray ahead of the gearlever. However, as with the Peugeot, the glovebox has to share space with the fuses.






THIS is one area where Renault has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years. With its improved products and customer service, the brand has clawed its way up our Driver Power satisfaction survey, finishing in a strong eighth place in 2016. However, even this seems like an underachievement when you consider the maker’s garages topped the dealer charts in the same poll, ahead of premium brands such as Lexus. There’s more good news when it comes to safety, because the Mégane was handed a five-star rating by Euro NCAP. All versions get six airbags and stability control, while Dynamique models and above add lane-departure warning and traffic-sign recognition.




AT £22,350, the Renault undercuts its rivals here by nearly £1,000. Yet this saving doesn’t come at the expense of standard equipment on this Dynamique S. The CO2 emissions of 96g/km are shaded by the Peugeot’s impressive 88g/km, but thanks to its lower price the Mégane will cost company car users earning at the lower rate only £7 more a year in Benefit-in-Kind tax in comparison. There’s even better news for private buyers, with Renault offering a four-year/100,000-mile warranty, as well as a pre-paid servicing pack that covers three years of maintenance for a mere £299. And while the car’s predicted residuals of 36.7 per cent are nothing to write home about, this is the strongest return here.


CO2/tax 96g/km £0 or 19%

Practicality Boot (seats up/down) 580/1,695 litres

Performance 0-60/30-70mph 11.1/10.7 seconds



Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 49.9/36.9/10.0m

Running costs 49.6mpg (on test) £57 fill-up



Well chosen gear ratios get best out of the diesel, and as with hatch, Mégane soaks up bumps effectively

Renault Mé

With its sleek body, generous kit and low costs,

BOOT Fold seats and load area grows from 580 to 1,695 litres

Testers’ notes

“Sport Tourer is available with 4CONTROL four-wheel steering, which can turn rear tyres by up to 2.7 degrees, boosting agility and ity It comes only on £27,450 flagship.” stability.

Se Sean Carson Senior staff writer REAR Passengers get central air vents to help keep them cool

Renault Mégane Sport Tourer vs rivals

Road tests


Our guide to which trim level might suit you

Our choice:

Dynamique Nav 1.5 dCi

égane ST


Grip is decent and the steering quick, but body control could be better

, can new Sport Tourer go straight to the top of the estate class?

DIALS Classy TFT instruments form part of clearly laid-out wraparound dashboard

INTERIOR Cabin has an impressively upmarket feel, with fit and finish that easily match those of Vauxhall and Peugeot

CONTROLS As with rivals, electronic

parking brake has tidied up centre console

Special Issue 73

All offers and finance prices correct at time of going to press

THERE are six trim levels to choose from on the latest Mégane Sport Tourer: Expression+, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav, Signature Nav, GT Line and GT. The frugal 1.5-litre dCi is available in all versions apart from the GT. The Expression+ gets essentials such as air-con, cruise control and Bluetooth, and with Renault’s Selections PCP plan a 1.5 dCi will cost you £275 per month. This figure is based on a three-year deal with a 10,000-mile annual limit, a £2,500 deposit and a £2,000 dealer contribution. However, for an extra £31 per month you can get the keys to a Dynamique, which adds climate control, keyless entry and parking sensors. A Dynamique S Nav will set you back another £22 monthly, while a Signature and GT Line will cost £356 and £340 per month respectively.

Road tests

Renault Mégane Sport Tourer vs rivals

MODEL TESTED: Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer 1.6 CDTi 136 SRi Nav PRICE: £23,390 ENGINE: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 134bhp


THE Sports Tourer Estate was the second bodystyle to be launched in the Vauxhall Astra range, and the line-up largely follows that of the five-door hatchback, with power coming from 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrol engines, plus 1.6 diesels. Here we test the £23,390 134bhp 1.6 CDTi SRi Nav, but the car in our pictures is a more luxurious Elite version.



ESTATE cars usually look more plain than their hatchback counterparts, as they have to balance style with the practicalities of a load-carrying body. However, the new Astra Sports Tourer cuts quite a dash, chiefly because it’s based on the smart five-door version. It’s 332mm longer than the hatch, and all of the extra length has been added behind the rear wheels. This means engineers were able to carry over the standard car’s strut front suspension and its compact crank rear axle with Watts linkage. The engine line-up remains virtually the same, as does the choice of five or six-speed manual and optional six-speed automatic transmissions. Climb inside, and apart from the extra distance to the rear windscreen, the interior is identical to the five-door’s. Soft-touch plastics, chrome-trimmed control knobs, high-quality leather for the steering wheel and plenty of gloss-black trim give the car an upmarket feel, while the hi-tech layout looks great. It’s enhanced by the standard IntelliLink infotainment screen, which is much more responsive and intuitive than the Peugeot’s set-up. And while the Astra isn’t quite as well equipped as its two competitors here, it does boast the essentials, including Bluetooth, cruise control and various USB connections. However, SRi models also get black cloth upholstery as standard – there’s no option to upgrade to leather – and that, combined with the gloss-black trim, black plastic and black headlining, makes the cabin feel claustrophobic.




WITH 134bhp and 320Nm, the Astra has the most power and torque of our trio – and at the track the Vauxhall made its advantage pay. For instance, it scrabbled from 0-60mph in 8.9 seconds, which was a healthy 2.2 seconds faster than the smaller-engined Renault. Also, it was the fastest car of our trio in-gear, managing 50-70mph in sixth in only 8.1 seconds, which was 7.7 seconds up on the 308 SW. On the road, these differences aren’t hard to detect, with the Astra responding more eagerly to the throttle than either competitor here. Its performance is aided by a six-speed transmission that benefits from a slick and positive action. SRi models get a firmer suspension set-up than standard, but while the Sports Tourer is a bit less cushioned over potholes than its rivals, the trade-off is more engaging handling with strong grip, fine balance and excellent body control. Still, the ride settles down on the motorway, at which point you can appreciate both the Astra’s low noise levels and its supremely comfortable seats and driving position.

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THE Astra Sports Tourer has a 540litre boot, which is 40 litres bigger than before, but smaller than both the Peugeot’s and Renault’s. At least the load area is square and suffers no wheelarch intrusion, while the curve of the tailgate doesn’t interfere, either. The back seats fold completely flat, but strangely the Vauxhall doesn’t benefit from levers in the boot like the Renault and Peugeot. Also, its 1,630litre maximum capacity is 65 litres down on the Mégane’s and 145 litres less than the 308 SW’s. The boot opening is marginally smaller than the Peugeot’s, but the floor lifts to reveal additional storage for a spare wheel (a repair kit is standard). Elsewhere, cabin storage is the same as in the hatchback, with a big bin between the front seats and a decent glovebox. The Vauxhall also matches its rivals for passenger space, with rear occupants getting generous head and legroom, plus there’s just enough room for three adults across the bench.



£20 or 20%

Practicality Boot (seats up/down) 540/1,630 litres

Performance 0-60/30-70mph 8.9/8.4 seconds





VAUXHALL’S OnStar set-up means you’ve got round-the-clock access to Vauxhall’s concierge service in the Astra, although the brand’s 25th-place finish in our Driver Power 2016 survey is less impressive. Equally disappointing was the performance of its dealers, which could manage only 22nd in the same poll. Still, the Astra has strong safety credentials, having been awarded a five-star Euro NCAP score in 2015. All cars get six airbags and stability control, plus it’s the only model here with autonomous emergency braking as standard. OnStar can also automatically alert the emergency services in the event of a smash.



CO2/tax 104g/km



AT £23,390, the Astra is the most expensive car here, yet it also has the least standard kit. And while many owners will happily pay a premium for the Vauxhall’s extra performance, some might baulk at having to fork out an extra £2,115 to match the Peugeot’s generous kit count. Also, the 104g/km CO2 emissions mean it’s a pricier company car choice, with lower-rate taxpayers stumping up £86 more a year than for the Mégane. The Vauxhall boasts healthy 20,000-mile service intervals, but you’ll still have to visit the dealer once a year, which makes its £636 three-year servicing deal look pricey compared with Renault’s similar scheme. Still, the residuals are only just behind the Mégane’s, at 35.2 per cent, while we returned a creditable 50.4mpg at the pumps.

Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 45.5/35.8/9.9m

Running costs 50.4mpg (on test) £58 fill-up



Sharp throttle response gives Astra edge in terms of performance, but ride is firmer than its rivals’

Vauxhall A Smart-looking Sports Tourer has smallest boot

BOOT Luggage area is square and suffers no wheelarch intrusion

Testers’ notes

“The £1,250 LEDs look pricey next to Renault’s £500 upgrade, but are more sophisticated. Adaptive matrix system automatically alters beam to suit road, conditions and motorists.”

Ja James Disdale Chief reviewer REAR Head and legroom are generous for three adults in back

Renault Mégane Sport Tourer vs rivals

Road tests


Our guide to which trim level might suit you

Our choice: 1.6 CDTi SRi

Astra ST


SRi model’s stiffer suspension delivers engaging handling

but powerful engine and engaging handling give it real appeal

INSTRUMENTS Efficiency read-out

sits between metal-rimmed instruments

INTERIOR Astra isn’t quite as well equipped as rivals here, but hi-tech layout looks great. Leather trim not standard in SRi

ONSTAR Switch gives round-the-clock access to Vauxhall’s concierge service

Special Issue 75

All offers and finance prices correct at time of going to press

THE 134bhp 1.6-litre CDTi is the pick of the line-up and is available in all versions of the Sports Tourer. The entry-level Design and Tech Line are well equipped, with cruise control, alloys, touchscreen infotainment and, in the case of the Tech Line, sat-nav. However, these cars target business users, so aren’t great value on the Flexible PCP deal. Pay a £2,500 deposit and stick to a 10,000mile annual limit, and it costs £379 a month in Design spec and £395 for the Tech Line. Matters improve on the SRi and Elite; Vauxhall contributes £2,000 and cuts the APR from 6.9 to 3.7 per cent. So on the same terms you’ll pay £330 per month for an SRi and £338 for an Elite. Nav versions of these cars each command a £16 monthly premium – which is a lot when you can use smartphone nav with the standard infotainment system.

Road tests

Renault Mégane Sport Tourer vs rivals

MODEL TESTED: Peugeot 308 SW 1.6 HDi 120 Allure PRICE: £23,375 ENGINE: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 118bhp

THE 308 SW is one of the leading contenders in the compact estate class, thanks in no small part to its cavernous boot, low running costs and generous amount of standard kit. The load-carrier line-up mirrors that of the standard hatchback in terms of engines and trim levels, and here we test the mid-range £23,375 1.6 HDi Allure – although the car in our pictures is a lesser Active model.





PEUGEOT has a reputation for building smooth and efficient diesels, and the new 1.6 BlueHDi engine delivers on both fronts. With 118bhp, the 308 falls between the Renault and Vauxhall on power, allowing it to beat the Mégane from 0-60mph with a time of 9.7 seconds. Unfortunately, the six-speed manual box has a more vague shift than the other cars here, while the tall gearing meant it trailed both rivals during our in-gear tests. As with the Renault, the 308’s soft suspension means the emphasis is on comfort rather than driving thrills. The small steering wheel helps boost the feeling of agility and there’s plenty of grip, but the Peugeot isn’t as engaging as the Astra. On the plus side, the soft suspension and small wheels combine to deliver a relatively comfortable cruising ride, but it’s still shaded by the Mégane in this regard.




THE 308 SW’s tailgate is relatively heavy to open, but it reveals a 660-litre boot that’s the biggest in the class. Useful touches include load rails in the floor and seat-folding levers in the boot sides. However, the load cover is fiddly to hook into place, and you remove it by twisting it out of position – a process that doesn’t feel very well

76 Special Issue




AS well as featuring the same elegant styling as its hatchback stablemate, the 308 SW is based on an identical PSA EMP2 platform. However, the SW features longer bodywork behind the rear wheelarches, while the wheelbase has been extended by 110mm as well. As with the standard car, there’s a strut front suspension set-up and a simple torsion-beam rear axle. There’s also a range of petrol and diesel engines, hooked up to six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic gearboxes. Overall, the Peugeot is a handsome design, while our Allure test car’s looks are enhanced by standard LED headlamps – although the small 16-inch alloy wheels that come on the eco-friendly 1.6 BlueHDi appear a little bit lost in the large wheelarches. Inside, the 308 has an attractive dashboard design. The large touchscreen groups together the multimedia and climate controls to leave the centre console uncluttered. As well as looking good, the 308’s interior feels well built, with high-quality plastics present throughout and some subtle metal trim.

engineered. Once taken off, it can be stored in a slot under the boot floor, and you can hold it up using the built-in hook that attaches to the top lip of the tailgate – although again this solution seems a little cheap when compared with the Renault’s floor system. Fold the seats and the bases drop into the rear footwells at the same time to create a completely flat floor. Total capacity of 1,775 litres is 80 litres up on the Mégane’s. While the 308 SW has plenty of luggage room, it provides few practical touches in this area. There’s no underfloor storage, and if you want to use the load rails, you have to add a £150 cargo net to the spec. Also, the 12V socket is mounted above the load cover, so you either have to leave the cover open to charge items in the boot, or cables can get tangled up. Passenger space is similar to the Astra’s, with decent head and legroom for those people sitting in the back.




THIS latest 308 shares its platform with a variety of Peugeot and Citroen models, and so far things are looking good for the new architecture. We’ve heard of some glitches with the touchscreen infotainment system, but a software update will usually result in normal service being resumed. Yet despite the car’s durability, Peugeot finished only 17th in our Driver Power 2016 survey. Fortunately its garage network put on a stronger display, with a top 10 result in our dealer poll. The five-door hatchback model earned a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating, but this was back in 2013 when the test wasn’t as tough as it is now. The 308 comes with six airbags as standard, yet collision alert and city braking are offered only as part of the £450 Driver Assistance Pack.






THE estate range commands a £1,100 premium over the hatch, while our 1.6 BlueHDi Allure costs a hefty £1,025 more than the Mégane tested here. You do get a generous amount of kit for your money, though, with sat-nav, LED headlights and climate control all included as standard; you’ll have to pay an extra £1,655 for the last two of these items on the Astra. We returned an impressive 51.7mpg on test, which was ahead of both rivals, while impressively low CO2 emissions of 88g/km help offset the car’s high price and make it marginally the most cost-effective choice for business owners. However, private buyers will suffer a little; our experts have calculated that the Peugeot will retain a mere 32.3 per cent of its new value over three years.

CO2/tax 88g/km £0 or 18%

Practicality Boot (seats up/down) 660/1,775 litres

Performance 0-60/30-70mph 9.7/9.3 seconds


! Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 49.4/35.4/13.0m

Running costs 51.7mpg (on test) £64 fill-up



Diesel 308 delivers 118bhp and leaves Mégane trailing. and again the suspension is set up more for comfort

Peugeot 30

Massive boot, low running costs and generous k

BOOT Load area biggest in class and has useful practical touches

Testers’ notes

“Standard Allure models get stylish 17-inch alloys as standard, but in an effort to reduce aerodynamic drag and boost efficiency, the 1.6-litre HDi 120 gets smaller 16-inch rims.”

Se Sean Carson Senior staff writer REAR Passengers get lots of room in the back of the Peugeot

Renault Mégane Sport Tourer vs rivals

Road tests


Our guide to which trim level might suit you

Our choice: Allure 1.6 HDi

08 SW


It’s not as much fun as Astra, but Peugeot offers plenty of grip

kit make this one of leading contenders in compact estate class

SUNROOF Panoramic sunroof is a £500 option on all SWs, and gives cabin airy feel

INTERIOR Attractive, well built dash groups together multimedia and climate controls to leave centre console uncluttered

GEARBOX Six-speed manual has vaguer

shift than rivals here, and taller gearing, too

Special Issue 77

All offers and finance prices correct at time of going to press

THE 1.6-litre HDi 120 tested here is a smooth and frugal choice, and it’s available on all trim levels apart from the entry-level Access and flagship GT. Purchase the car through Peugeot’s Passport PCP plan and you can have an Active model on your drive for £294 per month. This figure is based on a three-year deal, with a £2,500 deposit, a 10,000-mile annual limit and a total of £3,000 worth of contributions from Peugeot. For only an extra £9 a month, you can trade up to the Allure tested here, which adds LED headlamps, parking sensors and power-folding mirrors to the Active’s tally of sat-nav, climate control plus automatic lights and wipers. The GT-Line gets all the Allure’s standard equipment, but also adds a racy bodykit, which we’re not sure is worth the monthly outlay of £330.

Road tests

Renault Mégane Sport Tourer vs rivals


R-Link 2



Key features: TomTom, DAB radio, Bluetooth TOUCHSCREEN infotainment is available on the Mégane Dynamique model, but only Dynamique S Nav versions and above get the portrait-style 8.7-inch R-Link 2 set-up. Compared with the units in the Vauxhall and Peugeot, the Renault’s has the crispest graphics, the most userfriendly menus and most responsive screen – which, as with the Astra’s, includes a pinch-and-swipe function. As with its rivals, the screen features a number of tabs that work as shortcuts to the main functions, but on the Renault these are larger and easier to navigate. Connecting your phone is simple, as is programming a destination into the nav – although we found the TomTom-powered unit occasionally missed crucial jams. The R-Link 2 system features a 12-month subscription to the R-Link store, which has a variety of free and paid-for apps, from weather updates and Michelin guides to E-mail and social media. However, there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto option.


Which multimedia system is best for music, sat-nav and connectivity?




Navi 900 IntelliLink

Key features: OnStar, Apple CarPlay, Wi-Fi THE IntelliLink system that features on all Nav-spec Astras is simple to operate and packed with features, but it’s the OnStar concierge service that’s really impressive. This set-up puts you in direct contact with a call centre if you need assistance with directions, has a built-in automatic emergency-response function and comes with a 4G connection that turns your car into a Wi-Fi hotspot – although this service is subject to a subscription after the first year of ownership. Elsewhere, the Vauxhall stands out as the only model here to get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity – these features aren’t even an option on its French rivals. And while the Astra’s eight-inch screen is the smallest on test, it’s fairly easy to navigate thanks to its clear menus and responsive screen. Only the slightly dated graphics let the unit down. Still, it’s easy to programme a destination into the sat-nav, while syncing your smartphone takes just a few moments.






i-Cockpit Satellite Navigation

Key features: Sat-nav, Bluetooth, DAB THIS 9.7-inch touchscreen is standard across the range; it’s an integral part of the Peugeot’s i-Cockpit set-up. Not only does the system control the audio, sat-nav and Bluetooth functions, it also houses the air-con controls. However, while this helps create a minimalist look for the dashboard, it also means you have to enter various sub-menus just to change the cabin temperature, for example. This process is made more frustrating by the fact that the screen doesn’t always respond promptly to your instructions. The system is now more than three years old, which means it doesn’t have the capacity for online connectivity or app downloads. Peugeot Connect Apps give you access to features such as Michelin travel guides and parking info, but there’s no option to mirror your smartphone’s display on the screen. On the plus side, programming a destination into the sat-nav is a doddle thanks to postcode recognition, plus you’ll receive five years of European mapping updates.

Renault’s user-friendly touchscreen displays satnav and lets you adjust the safety settings


Thanks to clear menus and fast responses, the Astra’s eightinch screen is fairly easy to navigate





You can also select chassis modes and access other apps on the screen, which features pinchand-swipe


Big 9.7-inch touchscreen is part of i-Cockpit; dated set-up has DAB yet no online connectivity or app downloads

This is only model here with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; syncing your smartphone is easy, too


You must enter various submenus just to change the cabin temperature; screen doesn’t always respond promptly, either


FOR: Ease of use, handy apps, clear mapping,

FOR: OnStar, impressive connectivity,

FOR: Large screen fitted as standard

AGAINST: No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto,

AGAINST: Not as intuitive as R-Link,

AGAINST: Laggy touchscreen, blocky graphics, limited connectivity, no smartphone mirroring

crisp graphics, most responsive screen

sat-nav traffic alerts occasionally slow

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responsive, syncing phone takes moments graphics look a little dated

across range, five years of map updates


Renault Mégane Sport Tourer vs rivals


Renault Mégane Sport Tourer 1.5 dCi Dyn. Nav S

On-the-road price/total as tested Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000) Depreciation Annual tax liability std/higher rate Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost Servicing costs

£22,350/£24,875 £8,202/36.7% £14,148 £847/£1,694.4 £1,330/£2,216 15/£705/A/£0 £299 (3yrs/30k)

Length/wheelbase Height/width Engine Peak power/revs Peak torque/revs Transmission Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel Boot capacity (seats up/down) Kerbweight/payload/towing weight Turning circle/drag coefficient Basic warranty (miles)/recovery Service intervals/UK dealers Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars

4,626/2,712mm 1,457/1,814mm 4cyl in-line/1,461cc 108/4,000 bhp/rpm 250/1,750 Nm/rpm 6-spd man/fwd 47 litres/foam 580/1,695 litres 1,452/462/1,300kg 11.2 metres/N/ACd 4yrs (100,000)/4yrs 18,000 (1yr)/158 8th/1st 88/87/71/71/5 (2015)

0-60/30-70mph 30-50mph in 3rd/4th 50-70mph in 5th/6th Top speed/rpm at 70mph Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range Govt urban/extra-urban/combined Govt urban/extra-urban/combined Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket

11.1/10.7 secs 4.0/6.2 secs 8.9/11.5 secs 116mph/2,000rpm 49.9/36.9/10.0m 68/42/62/69dB 49.6/10.9/513 miles 68.9/80.7/76.4mpg 15.2/17.8/16.8mpl 153/96g/km/19%

Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/camera Auto box/stability/cruise control/AEB* Climate control/leather/heated seats Metallic paint/LED lights/keyless go Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth

Six/yes/yes/yes £1,200/y/y/£400^ Yes/£1,000/no £545/£500/yes Yes/yes/yes/yes


★★★★ JAN 2017

ENGINE TRIED-and-tested 1.5-litre dCi lacks rivals’ firepower, but it’s refined, while well chosen gear ratios deliver sprightly real-world performance.

DRIVER POWER RENAULT’S rise up the ranks here is remarkable. Dealer performance is a real highlight.

STANDARD KIT OUR Dynamique S Nav model delivers the best blend of kit and value. Keyless entry and reversing camera are both included.



RESIDUAL VALUES NONE of our trio holds its value well, but the Mégane is the strongest. Still, these cars should be used bargains.


Road tests

Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer 1.6 .6 CDTi 136 SRi Nav

Peugeot 308 SW 1.6 HDi 120 Allure

£23,390/£23,390 £8,233/35.2% £15,157 £933/£1,867 £1,309/£2,181 15/£500/B/£20 £636 (3yrs/60k)

£23,375/£23,375 £7,550/32.3% £15,825 £840/£1,679 £1,276/£2,126 21/£823/A/£0 £12.99 p/m (3yrs/35k)

4,702/2,662mm 1,510/1,809mm 4cyl in-line/1,598cc 134/3,500 bhp/rpm 320/2,000 Nm/rpm 6-spd man/fwd 48 litres/foam 540/1,630 litres 1,435/550/1,500kg 11.1 metres/0.28Cd 3yrs (60,000)/1yr 20,000 (1yr)/338 25th/22nd 86/84/83/75/5 (2015) 8.9/8.4 secs 3.3/4.6 secs 6.2/8.1 secs 127mph/2,000rpm 45.5/35.8/9.9m 66/44/62/71dB 50.4/11.1/532 miles 60.1/80.7/72.4mpg 13.2/17.8/15.9mpl 150/104g/km/20% Six/y/£460/£615^^ £1,320/yes/yes/yes £405/no/£355 £555/£1,250/£405 Yes/yes/yes/yes


SIZE AND SPACE ASTRA is the longest car here – but that doesn’t translate into extra room, as boot trails on both size and features.

SERVICING VAUXHALL costs the most here to service, but highmileage drivers will appreciate lengthy 20,000mile intervals.

FUEL ECONOMY GIVEN the Astra’s healthy performance margin over its rivals, its 50.4mpg return is even more impressive.


BY adding a roomy and versatile estate, Renault has further broadened the Mégane’s already impressive appeal. Handsome, roomy, refined, well equipped and cheap to run, it’s a fine alternative to more fashionable crossovers. It’s also supremely comfortable with classleading refinement. As with the hatch, Dynamique and Dynamique S models with the 1.5 dCi are the pick of the bunch.

IF you value driving thrills as much as lugging loads, then the Astra should top your shopping list. It can’t match its rivals here for outright space, plus it trails on kit, but its engaging handling and punchy performance make these issues easier to overlook. Factor in the Vauxhall’s lengthy list of safety kit and OnStar service, and it runs the Mégane very close for victory.

★★★★★ ★

★★★★★ ★

4,585/2,730mm 1,472/1,863mm 4cyl in-line/1,560cc 118/3,500 bhp/rpm 300/1,750 Nm/rpm 6-spd man/fwd 53 litres/space-saver 660/1,775 litres 1,475/425/1,300kg 10.8 metres/N/A 3yrs (60,000)/1yr 16,000 (1yr)/283 17th/10th 92/79/64/81/5 (2013) 9.7/9.3 secs 4.3/6.9 secs 8.4/15.8 secs 121mph/1,600rpm 49.4/35.4/13.0m 66/48/60/68dB 51.7/11.3/603 miles 78.5/88.3/85.6mpg 17.3/19.4/18.8mpl 146/88g/km/18%

BENEFIT IN KIND PEUGEOT is nearly as pricey as Astra, but low emissions of 88g/km make it the most costeffective company car choice.

BOOT SPACE THE 308 easily wins the space race, but it’s a shame this isn’t backed up with family-friendly features.

GEARING SW achieves impressive efficiency with tall gearing. However, this severely blunts in-gear pace, particularly in sixth.

Six/yes/yes/£200 £1,000/y/y/£450^ Yes/£1,500/£1,500** £525/yes/£415 Yes/yes/yes/yes



IT’S a measure of how competitive this class is that a car as capable as the 308 SW takes third place. It still leads the way for space, while Allure trim is loaded with kit. Factor in cosseting comfort and low running costs, and its appeal is clear. However, time is catching up with the Peugeot, and it’s let down by its dated infotainment, weak residuals and lack of family-friendly touches.

★★★★★ ★★

*AEB = Autonomous Emergency Braking. ^As part of adaptive cruise control upgrade. ^^As part of pack.**As part of leather trim upgrade. Insurance quotes from AA (Tel 0800 107 0680 or for a 42-year-old living in Banbury, Oxon, with three penalty points. Residual values provided by CDL VIP Data.

RIVALS Other options in this category...

Ford Focus Estate state 1.5 TDCi ST-Line

Kia Cee’ Cee’d SW 1.6 CRDi GT-Line

THE Ford Focus is getting on a bit now, but racy new ST-Line trim helps boost model’s appeal, ng makes it a top while sharp handling ivers. choice for keen drivers. iesel Frugal 1.5-litre diesel nd engine is smooth and un. costs peanuts to run.

RECENTLY revised Cee’d SW gets sporty makeover with GT-Line m models, while the 1.6-litre diesel engine ma matches the Astra for power. It lacks sophistication of its rival rivals here, but it is great value, well equipped and spaci spacious, too.

PRICE: £22,645 ENGINE: 1.5-litre 4cyl, 118bhp

PRICE: £2 £21,995 ENGINE: 1,6-litre 4cyl, 134bhp

Special Issue 79

Our cars

Skoda Superb

Steve Walker

VISIBILITY is crucial to safety on the roads, especially when winter weather and extra darkness conspire against road users trying to see and be seen. With that in mind, you might think we’d taken a sensible, safety-first approach by specifying our Skoda Superb in hi-vis Dragon Green paint, but no. The outrageous colour scheme and new Sportline trim level actually point to a subtle change of tack for Skoda, which we’re keen to sample. This is a Skoda and yet it stands out like a hi-vis vest. Having driven it around for a few weeks, I can confirm that some £80,000 cars don’t attract as much attention – and that, of course, is precisely the point. Skoda has built its name on practical virtues like interior space, value and build quality, but now wants to add more emotion, appealing to buyers’ hearts and their heads. Enter Sportline trim on the Superb with its gloss black accessories, 19-inch alloys, Alcantara sports seats and, if you’re really brave, exclusive £820 Dragon Green paint. It still boasts all the traits that make the Superb appealing – it’s just more striking. Rear legroom and boot space are particular highlights, with four adults able to sit in executive class comfort and the luggage compartment displaying an almost insatiable appetite for suitcases, shopping bags, pushchairs and golf clubs. Our car is a 1.4 TSI petrol model with Skoda’s seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox. First impressions of the powertrain are positive. The 148bhp 1.4-litre turbo unit shifts the big Superb with vigour and impressive refinement, but you do find yourself missing the extra muscle that would come with the 2.0-litre TDI diesel. The diesel auto’s 340Nm of torque (compared to 250Nm for the petrol) makes for stronger acceleration from low speeds, where the 1.4 TSI can be a little ponderous. However, slide the shifter across the gate into the manual setting, where you can use the steering wheel’s paddleshifters to hold a lower gear, and this issue can be overcome. In general, the car is enjoyable to drive while remaining fluid and relaxed for cruising, even without the optional £750 adaptive dampers. It seems a great compromise so far, with the Sportline trim’s firmer Sport chassis settings and 19-inch wheels adding a bit of extra cornering grip and therefore composure, while staying on the right side of comfortable, even over bad surfaces. However, it’s always going to be the bold greeny yellow colour scheme that

“The Sportline trim’s firmer Sport chassis settings and 19-inch wheels add a bit of extra cornering grip” 80 Special Issue

Skoda Su

FIRST REPORT Retina-scorching hatch DRIVING

The 1.4-litre turbo engine propels Skoda along at a decent rate, at lower speeds the unit feels a little ponderous


As you’d expect, there’s a host of neat touches, including brolly and ice scraper fitted as standard

hits you first with our test car, although once your eyes have become accustomed to the bright paint, it’s the slick, coalcellar interior that really stands out. The dark cabin, with its black headlining, carbon-effect trim and subtle chrome highlights, has a real air of quality about it, to the point that you could almost be in an Audi. The slim ‘super sport’ steering wheel’s dimpled leather feels great while

the controls and instruments have the usual Skoda clarity and simplicity to them. Our car also has the standard LED ambient lighting package that highlights the dash and door inserts with a strip of lights. There are 10 different colours to choose from, and while it might seem a little frivolous, it really adds to what is a genuinely special-feeling environment for a sub £30,000 car.

Skoda Superb

Our cars

Pete Gibson

Essentials Skoda Superb Sportline DSG On fleet since: January 2017 Price new: £28,615 Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl turbo, 148bhp CO2/tax: 118g/km/£30 Options: Dragon Green Special Metallic paint (£820), space saver spare (£100) Insurance*: Group: 20 Quote: £643 Mileage/mpg: 1,455/37.5mpg Any problems? None so far *Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.


In detail Boot space is predictably generous and

h has us reaching for our shades

roomy rear means fitting a child seat is straightforward. Infotainment is a quality package, and offers Android Auto

WE LIKE Loading is simple, while sleek Sportline trim is set off by LED lighting that changes colour depending on driving mode or is user-configurable IT’S

Second opinion

CO2/tax 118g/km £30 or 20%

“Our 1.4 TSI features Active CylinderTechnology that will shut down two of the engine’s four cylinders on the move under light loads to help improve efficiency. It’s a nice unit that revs sweetly, but it doesn’t have the torque of the diesel. The 148bhp 2.0 TDI is the pick of the range as it offers more flexibility. However, the petrol emits 1g/km less than the diesel so is rated three per cent lower when it comes to Benefit in Kind tax, which means it’ll be cheaper for business users.”

James Disdale Chief reviewer Practicality Boot (seats up/ down) 625/1,760 litres

Running costs 37.5mpg (on test) £78 fill-up

WE DON’T Combined with

petrol’s relative lack of torque compared to diesel, DSG box can be hesitant, but knock it into manual and it’s much snappier

Verdict IT’S so far, so good for the Superb Sportline, then, and while Dragon Spo Green might scare off some buyers Gre I’m actually starting to quite like it. If you want to stand out in your Sko Skoda, it does the job. But if you’re sti still not convinced, other, less ext extrovert colours are available...

★ ★★★★★ Special Issue 81

Our cars

Living with a Volvo XC90

Steve Fowler

OVER the past year, I’ve run two different versions of our current favourite large SUV, Volvo’s XC90. First came the D5 diesel; then after six months, I swapped into this T8 plug-in hybrid model. So which is better? Sadly, it’s not clear-cut and depends how you’re going to buy it – or more to the point, who’s going to buy it. If your company is stumping up the cash, then the plug-in hybrid is the one to go for. Thanks to its part-electric, partpetrol powertrain, it claims (emphasis on ‘claims’) 134.5mpg and 49g/km of CO2. However, the outdated and unrealistic official fuel economy tests weren’t designed for cars with plugs, and clearly don’t relate to efficiency in the real world. This is where we all drive – not in a laboratory – and my overall mpg figure was a disappointing 38.2mpg. The official figures for the diesel, on the other hand, are 49.6mpg and 149g/km – or in my hands, only 33mpg. So what does that mean? Those absurd official figures for my T8 R-Design mean that you’ll save a fortune in company car tax. For the current tax year, you’ll pay £1,779 to the Treasury as a higher-rate earner. If you’ve already opted for the diesel, you’d better sit down at this point because your company car tax bill on a D5 Inscription will be £6,015. That works out at an extra £353 per month for business users who choose the diesel. It’s the same as you’d save on the plug-in hybrid – assuming your company is willing to stump up the £12,505 extra for the T8 (and enjoy a tax benefit itself). It’s a saving that’s hard to ignore, but if it’s your money buying the car, I’d save the up-front cash and go for the diesel. As much as the T8 is a delight to drive – it’s quiet, especially for the 21 miles on electric power – the D5 will go further between fill-ups and that list price saving will allow you to

Volvo XC90

FINAL REPORT If you or your employer has the cash, SUV is truly brilliant SPACE

In five-seat form, T8’s boot is 135 litres down on D5 as drivetrain eats into volume; middle-row seats are spacious, but we’ve noticed a rattle back there in recent weeks

“The T8 is a delight to drive – it’s quiet, especially for the 21 miles you can travel on electric power” 82 Special Issue

indulge in plenty of options. In that area, Volvo has learned from its premium rivals. But whichever version you choose, the XC90 remains our pick of the big SUVs; it’s the car the new Land Rover Discovery has to beat, and it’ll have a tough time doing so. Like most owners, I didn’t really test my car over rough terrain, but on tarmac, the car rides comfortably, and there’s plenty of space inside for my family of five. The two

extra seats in the large boot are reasonably adult-friendly and add flexibility, too. Sadly, though, there are bits of Volvo that are still in the past. The dealer handover wasn’t especially impressive, while towards the end of my tenure, the infotainment touchscreen became temperamental and there was a trim rattle in the rear. But whichever version you choose will be a great family SUV, and I’ll miss having one on my driveway. Lots.

Living with a Volvo XC90 Otis Clay


Our cars


Volvo XC90 T8 hybrid R-Design On fleet since: June 2016 Price new: £63,605 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 316bhp, plus 86bhp electric motor CO2/tax: 49g/km/£0 Options: Rear parking camera (£400), Winter pack (£200), Air Suspension (£2,150), Apple CarPlay (£300), Sensus Connect with Bowers & Wilkins Audio (£3,000) Insurance*: Group: 42 Quote: £1,047 Mileage/mpg: 10,199/38.2mpg Any problems? Sluggish indicators, gremlins with infotainment system *Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

Second opinion

“Tech highlights like the Bowers and Wilkins stereo (Issue 1,446) and Pilot Assist autonomous features that steer, accelerate and brake the car make it easy to fall for the XC90.”

Covered load bay swallows spare wheels and tyres for race Escorts Kim tows in L200

Mitsubishi L200

PRODUCTS editor Kim Adams may not spend his working days on a building site, but for fun, he heads to race and rally tracks with his pair of Ford Escorts. His Mitsubishi L200 has proven the perfect weekend competition companion hauling the cars around the country. The rear-view camera that allows single-handed hitching up of the trailer has already come into its own. It’s hard to credit just how useful this is unless you’ve tried hitching up on your own, enlisting a neighbour’s help, or stopping to perform multiple checks to avoid a bent bumper. Our L200 is also fitted with Trailer Stability Assist, but we’ve yet to trouble it as there has been no snaking during several hundred miles of towing. In fact, it’s often hard to detect a loaded trailer at all, as the 178bhp engine is easily up to the task, helped by the smooth auto box. The huge load bay with hard top has also come in handy for carrying spare wheels and tyres, previously stored in the track cars. Trailering cars can be a chore but the L200 makes it easy. Roll on the 2017 season.

Sean Carson

Senior staff writer

Our fleet

INDEX Practicality

Running costs

Boot (7/5/2 seats)

38.2mpg (on test)

262/640/1,816 litres

£59 fill-up

WE LIKE Even those who aren’t audiophiles like me said how good the Bowers and Wilkins audio system sounds. Middle row of seats is pretty roomy, too

WE DON’T Portrait-orientated

touchscreen looks great, but we’ve had a few gremlins – from devices not connecting to volume controls failing. And we’re not alone

Verdict THIS year, the XC90 will face a tough challenge from the new Land Rover Discovery. But living with two different versions of the big Volvo over the past 12 months has shown the seven-seat XC90 still sets the standard for premium, family-friendly SUVs.


SEAT Ateca

SINCE the start of winter, senior staff photographer Pete Gibson has been getting up in darkness to a frosted windscreen on his SEAT Ateca. Our man has been longing for a heated windscreen to speed up the defrosting process and get on the road more quickly. Despite running the SEAT since late last year, Pete didn’t realise it came with such a feature, so he was pleased when he made the discovery. The problem was that the Ateca’s climate control can be set in two ways. Underneath the infotainment screen are three dials – one each side for the temperature, with a central wheel controlling the fan speed. The row of buttons above changes the distribution of the air. However, you can also control the climate system through the touchscreen, which is where the heated windscreen button is located – and even then, it’s not the largest icon. Pete tends to use the physical controls rather than the touchscreen, so he’d never noticed this feature before. Now he’s clear on the subject in more ways than one.

Have your say: What is your car like to own?

Audi SQ7 New arrival BMW M240i New arrival Citroen C4 Picasso New arrival Honda Jazz Issue 1,450 Jaguar XF Issue 1,445 Kia Niro Issue 1,455 Land Rover Discovery Sport 1,409, 1,416, 1,431, 1,440, 1,450 Mazda MX-5 Issues 1,420, 1,432, 1,443 Mercedes GLC Issues 1,441, 1,449, 1,454 Mitsubishi L200 Issue 1,452 Peugeot 2008 New arrival SEAT Ateca Issue 1,453 Skoda Superb New arrival Subaru Outback New arrival Suzuki Baleno Issues 1,432, 1,443, 1,448 Toyota Prius Issue 1,447 Volkswagen Passat Issues 1,422, 1,434, 1,444

Special Issue 83


Visit for our extensive product archive


Kim Adams



Got a query? @AE_Consumer

NEW PRODUCT CTEK CT5 Time To Go battery charger Price: £104.99 Contact:

FOR many drivers, the different modes of battery charging are a mystery, and all they really want to know is when they can start their car. The latest addition to battery charging pioneer CTEK’s range tells you just that. Instead of LEDs and a graphic illustrating the various charging modes the unit is working through, the Time To Go indicates when it is safe to try to start your engine after suffering a flat battery. Plus, there is an LED countdown from eight hours to the point where the battery is 80 per cent charged and ready to go again. The revamped display also indicates when the battery charger has switched to care mode for long-term maintenance. Underneath the new white casing there is a 5 Amp design good for 12V lead-acid batteries (wet, MF, Ca/Ca and gel), much like other products in the CTEK line-up, including the MXS 5.0 which was recommended in our last battery charger test. It has a series of charging cycles and a selectable mode for AGM batteries, which can take a higher charge cond mode, which is a rate. There is also a 15.8V Recond ly discharged batteries. programme for reviving deeply sual choice of flying lead The CT5 comes with the usual ith CTEK accessories, or crocodile clips and works with including a mounting brackett and extension lead.

New charger shows when battery is ready to go, so you needn’t waste a minute


Stereo upgrade for van calls


THE best solution would be to install a head unit with Apple CarPlay. This lets you control certain phone functions, such as calls and contacts, via the head unit. We’ve had good results with the £889.95 Kenwood DNX8160DABS (above, Pioneer also sells a number of excellent CarPlay units.


I DRIVE a Mercedes Vito and am disappointed with the quality of the Bluetooth, plus the fact that the head unit can’t load all of the 2,500 contacts on my iPhone. Is there an alternative? Ted Stainer, E-mail

Spray gun choices explained HAVING recently moved house, I’ve just invested in my first outside hose, which I plan to use to clean my car. I can’t afford a pressure washer yet, but can you recommend a spray gun that will help me to shift grime? Michael Pearson, E-mail KEY for hose guns is a good choice of spray patterns plus some way of controlling the water flow, so overspray can be limited. Our Issue 1,407 mini test found all these in the seven-pattern Draper 76717 gun ( It costs around £7.

Choosing tyres for rain I HAVE 17-inch tyres on my Skoda Octavia, which I’m about to replace. I want the best tyre for driving in wet conditions. Can you advise which is the best set to buy? Trevor Biggs, E-mail WE last tested 17-inch tyres nearly two years ago in Issue 1,375, when the Continental ContiSportContact 5 had a clear advantage over its 10 rivals in the wet. It is still available in the 225/45R17 size tested. The area where it had to give best was the deep-water aquaplaning tests, where the Michelin Sport 3 had the edge.

Special Issue 85


Latest kit rated


news, deals& events

Included in Alloygator’s new kit are wheel cleaner, tyre shine, a fallout remover and wheel wax, as well as two microfibre cloths, a brush and a sponge

New oils launch for hot rods and classics

ALLOYGATOR MOVES INTO WHEEL CARE PRODUCTS NEW PRODUCT AlloyGator Wheel Care Kit Price: £58.80 Contact: 01527 909801,

AS a former Auto Express Product of the Year winner with its rim protectors, AlloyGator knows a thing or two about keeping wheels in tip-top condition. Now, though, the company is lending a hand to those who want their wheels to be as shiny as they are shipshape, because it has launched a specialised cleaning and care kit. The winter months are particularly hard on wheels, and road grime can easily render them filthy just minutes after they’ve been cleaned. That’s why, in partnership with Auto Express car care test winner Angelwax, AlloyGator has put together a suite of products for alloy wheels. AlloyGator says it’s all specially formulated to “return wheels and tyres to a brilliant finish”. The

NEW PRODUCT Ring Filament Style LED bulbs Price: From £12 Contact: 0113 231 0266,

ELECTRICS specialist Ring is claiming a first with its newest products – LED bulbs that look just like the filament originals. There are five options, all designed to replace their filament equivalent, preserving the look of the original. Unlike conventional LEDs, which offer a focused light beam in one direction, these have a much wider output and can be used without the need for reflectors or lenses. Ring claims they last around five times as long as a filament version and resist vibration. Prices start at £12. The bulbs will replace any existing filament bulb, although if outside the car they are not legal for use on the road.

86 Special Issue

kit is also designed to complement AlloyGator’s own wheel protectors, which could be negatively affected by some cleaning solutions because they are made from nylon. Everything you’d expect is included in the package, from a cleaner, wax and tyre shine to a fallout remover to ensure all contaminants are stripped away. It also contains all the necessary cleaning tools – a brush and applicator sponge, as well as two large microfibre cloths. All the products are presented in a branded AlloyGator bag, so keeping everything together is easy whether you store it in the garage or the boot. The AlloyGator Wheel Care Kit costs less than £60 and is available from the company’s website.

EAST Coast Oil and Additive Company has launched a new range – but it’s not for new cars. The additives and oils are aimed at classics, muscle cars and hot rods, and offer modern performance with a retro theme. Included in the line-up are fuel additives and cleaners, plus octane and cetane boosters for petrol and diesel engines. There’s a lubricant additive and semi-synthetic engine oil ideal for classic cars as well. The range comes in classically styled bottles with long filler necks to reduce spillage, and all additives are pre-dosed to save messy measuring and wastage. See the full range at

Protect sat-nav with new TomTom cover A PORTABLE sat-nav is often expensive, and easily stolen or lost. But the new TomTom Extra protection plan will defend your TomTom device from accidental damage, theft or loss. Register your TomTom and you can extend your warranty period up to as much as four years, plus the brand will provide a replacement while your device is missing or under repair. A choice of service levels is available, offering different protection. Find out more at

Classics line up for Monte marathon THE UK leg of the Monte Carlo Classic Car rally takes place on 25 January, as nearly 100 historic cars head on a gruelling 1,300-mile trek from Paisley Abbey in Renfrewshire to Monte Carlo. It’s the rally’s 20th year, and it’s restricted to classic models which would have been eligible to compete in Monte rallies from 1955 to 1980. There’s also a Classique class for older cars. Visit for more. Know an event coming soon? Contact


Mini jump starter arter mini test

books, apps&games



Piaggio Scooters: The Essential Guide

Henry Willis (Veloce, Price: £12.99 Rating: ★★★★

PRICE £97.95 WINNER NightSearcher StarBooster

Price: £97.95 Rating: ★★★★ ★★ Contact: 023 9238 9774,

IF you want an all-rounder to slip in the glovebox for roadside emergencies, it has to be the Sta StarBooster. It matched our test-winning Bakth by attempting 13 starts, and spun the engine over fast enough for it to fire up. It’s bulkier than some we’ve tested, but means you get a magnetic handle to help direct the impressive two light sources. The LED torch delivers 300 lumens with a wide but long throw, while multiple

LED LEDs make up the floodlight. This claims 500 lumens and has a huge spread of light – ideal for working on the car after dark. There’s also a red alert mode. A single USB port charged our Apple kit and the unit comes with a short micro USB lead for other devices. The only downside, apart from the price, is that you can only charge the lithium-ion battery from the mains adaptor.

Under starter’s orders with mini jump packs Kim Adams

DASH cams were 2016’s hot buys, but mini jump starters weren’t far behind. Various models launched in the UK, and we try two of the latest: the StarBooster from NightSearcher and the Suaoki U2. To find the one to keep in your car, we assessed what you get for your money, looking at useful features such as builtin torches and charging options. Our

prices are direct from NightSearcher and the best we could find online for Suaoki. Also rated was how many times each jump starter could fire up a 1,300cc petrol engine. We compared both with our Issue 1,386 Best Buy, the Bakth Car n Jump Starter. Power Mini Multi-function Searcher, while pricey, is very The NightSearcher, ective if car starting iss a priority. The effective U2 is better for reviving electronic kit.

“We rated how many times each starter could fire up a 1,3 1,300cc petrol en engine”

FORMER Auto Express staffer Willis has been busy indulging his passion for scooters by writing this impressive guide. The Piaggio range is popular the world over and this is a great starting point if you’re looking to switch from four wheels to two. With plenty of advice, from buying tips to general maintenance, it covers nearly every Piaggio scooter since the nineties.

Ferrari 250 GTO: The Autobiog. of 4153GT Keith Bluemel (Porter Press, Price: £60 Rating: ★★★★★

POSSIBLY the most beautiful book yet in this great series, this is the story of just a single example of one of Ferrari’s most iconic cars. It’s well written and could take pride of place on any coffee table, with page after page of stunning photos. There’s a reason that 250 GTO models break auction records time after time – they’re gorgeous cars, and this is a book that does them justice.

Speedy Car Available for: Android Price: Free Rating: ★★

WITH fun graphics inspired by the likes of the hit Crashy Road, we were looking forward to Speedy Car, but it didn’t deliver. Stilted gameplay and a massive difficulty level mean it’s tricky to make enough progress for it to be fun. The sound effects are also irritating – although you can turn them off. Still, there are so many good games around, you don’t need to waste your time with this one.

PRICE £5 £59.99 59. 59 9 99 9. NEWCOMER Suaoki U2 Jump Starter

App of the week

Price: £59.99 Rating: ★★ Contact:

ALONGSIDE the NightSearcher tSearcher or Bakth, the Suaoki age. It lacks grunt for starting is a lightweight package. a car. It made just underr half the attempts of its rival nd all were pretty slow. here before giving up, and er the U2 is of limited use, As an emergency starter plus for roadside repairs its LED torch isn’t ideal; it struggled for brightness and reach. Still, the U2 fares

88 Special Issue

better as a power sou source for electronic gadgets. The slimline design weighs just over 200g, so it can even fit your pocket for power away from the car. The 2.4 Amp USB was good for our Apple devices. You charge the lithium-ion battery via the supplied USB cable, but need a 12V or mains adaptor. The U2 makes most sense at the current £29.99 discounted price.

Available for: iOS, Android Price: Free Rating: ★★★★

MOST phone contracts now bring big data allowances, but offline maps make sense for heavy users. offers a slick interface, useful route guidance and promises great multi-region coverage. Top sat-nav apps have more features; this is easier on data.


Multi tools tested


Which of these nine all-round stars is a glovebox essential?

PRODUCT GROUP TEST 18| 1 | 2017 Every week, we extensively test all the latest car kit from tyres to trim cleaners. Log on to to look through our huge online test archive. Martin Saarinen

Gerber MP1 1 Multi-Tool Price: £111.99 Rating: ★★★★★ Contact: 0121 796 0444,

BEST BUY A MULTI tool has to prove good at everything. Th This is exactly what the MP1

does. The high-quality, lightweight design made it easy to use single-handed, while the pliers topped our tests. They ey excell excelled at cutting wires, and were capable of gripping even the smallest items firmly. The screwdriver was the second best on test, and the knife was as good as the Leathermans’. Each tool locks in place, and the MP1 is cheaper than some rivals.

A MULTI tool is one of the best pieces of car kit to drop in your glovebox. These products cut, grip, tighten and remove screws, plus come with other features that are handy when stuck on the side of the road. A multi tool’s benefits won’t stop on the roadside, as they’re handy to have when camping, cycling or hiking, as well as for various tasks around the house. There are many on the market for all budgets. To find out which is the one to come to your rescue, we put nine to the test.

How we tested them WE tried the multi tools over a range of gripping and cutting tests, which included snipping wires and cutting paper and wood. On top of that, we also measured how good they were at turning screws. We looked for high-quality tools that were easy to use and could be operated one-handed. Designs that locked in place were a plus, for safety. Value for money using online prices was the final factor.

VictorinoxSwisstool X Price: £122 Rating: ★★★★ Contact: 020 3734 9264,


IF the Swisstool X had a springloaded action, and felt as ergonomic as the Gerber, it would have won this test. It oozes quality, and its locking blade was by far the best. Sharpness and quality were unmatched, and the two sides can combine to create a 20cm ruler. While its screwdriver trailed the Gerber, it’s still one of the best. We weighed it at 290g, making it the heaviest buy, but it still felt easy to use.

90 Special Issue

Draper Expert 21 Function Pocket Multi-Tool Price: £21.56 Rating: ★★★★ Contact: 0800 689 1015,

DRAPER offers the greatest value on test. The Expert has 10 tools, plus 11 driver heads. It was best at turning screws, and performed well in the grip tests; the large spring-loaded pliers were easy to use one handed and excelled at cutting wire. Although the sharp knife cut and carved well, there’s no locking mechanism, while other tools like the scissors lost out.

Verdict THE quality of the Gerber MP1 simply cannot be matched in this test. It had the best set of pliers, plus a standout knife and screwdriver enclosed in a brilliant overall package that’s priced cheaper than its direct competitors. The Victorinox Swisstool X came a close second with similar features, while the Draper was our choice as the pick of the budget devices. 1. Gerber MP1 Multi-Tool 2. Victorinox Swisstool X 3. Draper Expert 21 Function Pocket Multi-Tool

Multi Mu lti tools tested

Products u

LLeatherman man Rebar Reb

Leatherman Wave ve

Hanwei P Paul Chen Multi Tasker

Price: £84.95 Rating: ★★★★ Contact: 01539 721032,

Price: £129.95 Rating: ★★★★ Contact: 01539 721032,

Price: £9.95 Rating: ★★★ Contact: 033 0300 0400,

ANY product from Leatherman is likely to score well, and that certainly applies to the Rebar. All 10 tools feel like top-quality items, and the design incorporates a ruler. Each tool locks safely in place and the blade deserved particular praise – it was incredibly sharp and capable at cutting and carving. The pliers performed well, but we felt the Gerber had a better set with a spring-loaded pair for one-handed operation.

ALTHOUGH the Wave costs £45 more than the Rebar, it’s easy to see what the extra money buys. It comes with the second-best pair of scissors in the test, along with a small bit screwdriver that no other tool featured. The larger blade was even more precise and capable at cutting through wires and carving wood. The thinner pliers on the Wave scored well, but lost out to the Gerber’s as they don’t feature spring-loaded jaws.

DESPITE the budget price tag, the Hanwei impresses. Instead of a pair of pliers, the tool is centered around a pair of scissors that its rivals had no hope of matching. The pliers are small and flimsy and scored poorly in our grip tests. We liked that the blade came with a gm locking mechanism, and the screwdriver was another plus. The Hanwei felt good to use, but didn’t have the ergonomic ergonomics or the quality of more expensive rivals.

Sealey PK36

Stanley 12-IN-1 12 Multi tool

True UtilitySEVEN T

Price: £34.74 Rating: ★★★ Contact: 01284 757500 757500,

Price: £12.99 Rating:★★★ Contact:

Price: £12.99 Rating: ★★★ Contact: 0844 5678 365,

THE PK36 is one of the best tools to hold. It has soft rubber padding, but this also gives it strong grip. While the pliers are good, they just lose out to the Draper’s larger pair – and the same goes for many of the rest of the tools in the 15-in-1 design. The blade is shorter, doesn’t lock and lacks sharpnesss. The screwdriver performed poorly, and the scissors failed to match the pair in the cheaper Hanwei or the Leatherman Wave.

THIS 12-in-1 tool is lightweight and easy to hold. We liked the pliers, as they made easy work of most wires, although the lack of a spring-loaded mechanism meant it wasn’t the easiest to use single-handed. The blade was good, but doesn’t come with a locking mechanism. The plastic edges on the side help improve grip. While build quality felt better than the Hanwei, some tools couldn’t match its close rival.

THE SEVEN is the smallest multi tool on test. At just 100g, it’s very light and easy to hold, and the clip on the side means it can be attached to work trousers. We found the knife capable, but it didn’t have the length or precision of the best. Plus, while the pliers’ springloaded mechanism made one-handed operation easy, they couldn’t cut or grab wires as well as the best. On top of that, the screwdriver was the worst on test.

Special Issue 91

Buying cars

New and used buying advice




Got any car queries? @AE_Consumer

Renault Captur

YOU TELL US... Crossover rates pretty highly right across the board GOOD

2016 Results

Years: 2013 to present CO2: 95g/km Fuel economy: 76.4mpg (1.5 dCi 90) Best options: Sat-nav, reversing camera,

“I like how adjustable the driving position is. It makes the car very comfortable.�

heated seats, USB and Bluetooth, cruise control

“It gets a lot of compliments about the two-tone colour.�

Prices: From ÂŁ7,500 OVERALL SCORE


Bars show where model finished out of 150 cars in our 2016 survey. The lower the rating the better

150 120




“SUCH a lovely car to drive. I find the automatic gearbox really easy and smooth.�

Captur Factfile


1 24 58 6 65 33 20 36 22 59 60

18 th PLACE

“The Captur’s fuel economy really is incredible, and as an added bonus, mine is tax-free, too.�

“I’D like more power from the 0.9-litre petrol engine, especially when on motorways and overtaking.� “There’s a little too much plastic inside the cabin for my liking.� “The rear seatbelts rattle on the side of the car when not in use. I have to drive with them clicked in.� “I find visibility is poor when reversing.�

“A well insulated car. It’s quiet and refined, even on long drives on the motorway.�

“I think the sat-nav is placed too low. It’s hard to read instructions safely.�

“I have a big family and play golf on the weekends, and the Captur meets all my needs.�

“The Bluetooth loses connection once in a while, and then struggles to reconnect.�

Have your say: What is your car like to own?


How to fix black box errors


IF you’re convinced your driving style hasn’t changed and isn’t aggressive, contact your insurer. Ask it to send a technician to check that the box is still working and that there are no technical glitches causing abnormalities.


AS part of my insurance, I’ve had a black box fitted in my car for the past six months. It’s now saying I’m accelerating and braking very heavily, even though I’m a careful driver. I don’t want my premium to go up. What can I do? Shane Barnes, E-mail

Choosing a broker or dealer I’VE been looking at buying a new Peugeot 3008 on finance. A few of the brokers online are offering me much better monthly deals than my local Peugeot dealer. Why is this and should I be wary of going with a broker? Peter Collins, E-mail THE price differences likely come from varied interest rate charges, deposit requirements and final payments. Read the terms and conditions. Finance in the UK is governed by the Financial Conduct Authority, and any broker has to comply with its standards.

Can I reject my faulty car? I BOUGHT a new car last September, but on 23 November, it had to go back to the garage. I’m now told it needs a new engine. Am I in my rights to reject the vehicle? Kenneth Macmillan, E-mail UNDER the Consumer Rights Act, you can reject a car if it’s unfit for purpose, not as described or of insufficient quality. As the engine was clearly not fit for purpose, you’re entitled to reject the car. But you may incur deductions for mileage or wear and tear.



Special Issue 93

Buyingcars r Richard Dredge

FOR more than a century Ford’s family cars have dominated in the UK thanks to a blend of affordability, availability and choice. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the Focus. After six generations of Escort, the Focus arrived in 1998 and instantly raised the bar for Ford. The Mk2 of 2004 pushed things even further, then the 2011 Mk3 was better again. As before, there was a wide choice of hatchbacks and estates, and six years after its arrival the third-generation Focus is one of the best used family cars you can buy.

History THE Focus Mk3 arrived in spring 2011 with 1.6 and 1.6T petrol or 1.6 TDCi and 2.0 TDCi diesel engines. The initial five-door hatch was joined within weeks by an estate, offering the same engine choices. Initially, the clean 1.6 TDCi emitted 109g/km of CO2; by spring 2012 the ECOnetic had cut this to a mere 95g/km. Soon after, a 1.0T EcoBoost appeared in 99bhp and 123bhp forms, and at the same time, the 247bhp Focus ST went on sale. A facelifted Focus reached showrooms in August 2014, with greater connectivity, 1.5litre petrol and diesel engines, plus revised suspension and steering. A year ago, the first 345bhp RS rolled off production lines; used examples of that car now start at £33,000.

Which one? THERE are no engines to avoid as such, but the regular 1.6 offers little in the way of zest; the turbos (petrol and diesel) are all much more punchy. This includes the 1.0T, which starts at £6,000 – and there are plenty to choose from – but the 1.5T and 1.6T EcoBoost also offer a blend of economy, performance and driving enjoyment. Trim levels are confusing. They start with Studio, then progress through Edge, Zetec, Zetec Navigator, Zetec S, Titanium/Navigator, then finish with Titanium X Navigator. All cars get ESP, air-con, electric front windows and a space-saver spare wheel. Zetecs have alloys, plus a heated screen and mirrors; Titanium adds auto lights/wipers, dual-zone climate control and a multimedia system.

NEED TO KNOW The PowerShift auto is a dual-clutch transmission that’s much more slick than a conventional automatic gearbox.

NEED TO KNOW Rear parking sensors are a must, as visibility out of the back window is poor. They’re part of the Convenience Pack.

BUYER’S GUIDE: Ford Foc FROM £4,500 Third-generation family car offers a winning mix of quality, fun a look at its close relative, the Kia Cee’d. The Volkswagen Golf is the small family hatchback with everything, but you’ll have to dig deeper than if you were to buy an equivalent Focus.


Alternatives OUR current favourite used small family hatchback is the SEAT Leon Mk3, with its smart, roomy interior, excellent practicality, sharp looks and generous equipment levels. It’s also affordable and great to drive. The Mazda 3 is stylish and well built, dynamically excellent and generously equipped as standard. Other key alternatives include the Toyota Auris and Honda Civic, which major on reliability but tend to be priced higher than the Ford. The Hyundai i30 is one of the best allrounders out there. You could also take

94 Special Issue

“As an all-rounder the Focus Mk3 is hard to beat; it was commended at our 2016 Used Car Awards”

SMALL family hatches are the biggest-selling cars across Europe, so the Focus is up against some very stiff competition. And while the more expensive VW Golf is our favourite new car in this sector, it doesn’t offer the value that the Focus does on the used market, and it’s also not as much fun to drive. Indeed, as an all-rounder the Ford is pretty hard to beat, which is why it was commended in our 2016 Used Car Awards, trailing only the Leon. The Focus took gold the previous year, though, because of its fabulous mix of quality, comfort and handling – not to mention some very keen used prices.

Ford Focus Mk3

CERTAIN engines can use coolant – and potentially a lot of it. This is usually because of a leaking thermostat housing, which is easily replaced.

1.0T 100 Zetec 1.5 Titanium 1.6 85 Studio 2.0 ST-2 1.5 TDCi Style 1.6 TDCi 115 Zetec 2.0 TDCi Titanium






£12,895 £14,850 N/A £19,895 £12,995 N/A £15,595

£10,895 £12,550 £9,250 £16,695 £10,895 £11,350 £12,995

£7,995 £9,895 £6,550 £12,895 £8,495 £8,325 £10,495

£6,895 N/A N/A N/A £5,675 £4,895 £10,995 N/A £7,450 £6,575 £7,450 £6,575 £8,150 £7,150

CO2 emissions

Annual road tax

Model 1.0T 1.5T 1.6 1.6T 1.5 TDCi 1.6 TDCi 2.0 TDCi

SOME Focuses have stop/start, which some owners find works erratically or not at all. This is usually down to the car’s battery being on its way out.


Running costs


0-62mph/top speed

47mpg (1.6)


12.3 seconds/116mph

£65 fill-up


and value

10-16 17-21 6-14 19-26 12-16 11-16 19-22

56-65mpg 99-120g/km 51mpg 127g/km 47mpg 136g/km 47mpg 137-139g/km 74-83mpg 88-99g/km 67-83mpg 88-109g/km 56-70mpg 105-129g/km

£0-£30 £110 £130 £130 £0 £20-£110 £20-£110

ALL Mk3s must be serviced every 12 months or 12,500 miles. The 1.6 Ti-VCT FFV needs new oil every 6,250 miles, and PowerShift boxes require a change of fluid and microfilter every three years or third service, at £250. There are minor, intermediate and major services; pricing varies depending on engine. Expect to pay £150-£170, £205-£225 or £260-£290 for each of these. Cars over four years old get a Motorcraft service, with a simple minor or major schedule priced at £125 or £195. All engines have a timing belt that has to be replaced every eight to 10 years or 100,000-150,500 miles. You will pay £340, or £450 with a new water pump, too.


Independent price

£57.60 £142.85 £49.70 £29.95

£19.93 £68.36 £28.49* £37.49



Front brake pads (axle set) Front brake discs (pair) Door mirror glass (electric) Front wiper set

THE Focus Mk3 fell from 65th place in our Driver Power 2015 satisfaction survey to 102nd in 2016. Its best score last year was for handling (38th), although owners rated in-car tech and ride quality highly, too, at 65th and 68th respectively. Build quality and seat comfort were criticised, though; it scored 129th and 125th here.

Dealer prices, for 2012 Focus 1.6, from Startin Ford of Stourbridge, Worcs ( Independent figures supplied by *Price for right-hand side; left £46.99.




REJPAL Kang from Wolverhampton, West Midlands, now owns his second Focus. He said: “I bought it at two years old, and no other car offers so much value. It’s big enough for my family, economical and very well equipped. My four-year-old 1.6-litre petrol car has done 60,000 miles, and is completely reliable and still great to drive. I love it.”

A SUPERB driving position and well stocked dash make long-distance drives a breeze – for those in the front. Space in the back could be better; headroom is fine, but legroom is tight. Boot space isn’t great, either. There are 316 litres with the rear seats up, or 1,101 litres when they’re folded.

Dealer price

Contacts Official Forums

THE Focus Mk2 was the subject of a worrying 17 recalls, generally because of potentially major problems, which started within months of the model’s introduction. These included fuel leaks, failed fans, brake servo issues and hub-retaining bolts working their way loose, plus the risk of fire due to short circuits or leaky power-steering. But the Mk3 has yet to be recalled. With the earliest cars soon to celebrate their sixth birthday, it would seem that development has been much more thorough this time.

Special Issue 95

Insurance group

Fuel economy



14 2014

Running costs

LARGER, 18-inch wheels aren’t unusual and they look great. They don’t seem to harm the ride, but do increase the road noise noticeably.

65 2015

YOU can get into a Focus Mk3 that’s worth having from just £4,500. This buys a 61-plate 1.6 TDCi with 120,000 miles. The cars are split fairly equally between petrol and diesel, but autos account for only one in 10 Focuses, starting at £5,500 for a 70,000-mile 11-plate 1.6 Zetec. Estates also make up 10 per cent of the cars available; they’re priced from £5,000 for an early 1.6 TDCi that’s covered 130,000 miles. Limit the mileage to 60,000 and you can pick up a Focus 1.6 Ti-VCT for £5,500 or £6,000 buys a 1.6 TDCi. Both will be 11-plate Zetecs.

SOME cars have a space-saver spare wheel, while others come with a compressor with sealant. You can buy a full-sized spare though.

Contact 023 8098 6917

66 2016



Thanks to Imperial Car Supermarkets in Hampshire for the loan of the Ford Focus pictured.

How much?

Values courtesy of Glass’s Guide

Premature failure of the clutch and/or dualmass flywheel can be an issue, but it’s not especially common.


Tom Wood




Best buys

Car hunter

£4,500 to spend on a cheap-to-insure first car CARS


Dear Lawrence, My daughter is learning to drive, so I need a reliable small car that’s cheap to insure, safe and frugal. What should we consider for £4,500? David Rhys, Hertfordshire Contact:



Dacia Sandero

Hyundai i10

FOR: Good to drive, refined, loved by owners AGAINST: Measly kit on some models, pricey

FOR: Cheap to buy and own, spacious AGAINST: Cheap cabin, dull looks, handling

FOR: Classy cabin, decent to drive, warranty AGAINST: Lacks character, vague steering

NOT only is it a consistent favourite at Auto Express, Skoda’s Citigo also has its praises sung by the people who buy it in our Driver Power satisfaction survey. Smart styling inside and out is complemented by a good-quality interior, willing engine, strong ride and handling balance and low running costs. Insurance is very cheap, and the Citigo was awarded five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests in 2011. We saw a 2012 1.0 SE with 22,000 miles for £4,399.

THE Sandero is best known for being Britain’s cheapest new car, but don’t think that means you have to make loads of compromises. Although it’s not luxurious or great to look at, the Dacia makes a great first car thanks to its simplicity. There are few distracting gadgets and it’s easy to drive. Running costs are low, and a four-star Euro NCAP rating is good. Our classifieds search revealed a 2014 1.2 Ambiance with 17,000 miles for £4,475.

FORGET Hyundai’s small cars of a decade ago; the i10 is currently one of the very best in the business. Not only is it a lot of car for very little cash, it’s also comfortable and good to drive, even if the steering is a little vague. It’s more practical than you might expect and a classy interior is a bonus, too. The i10 scored four stars in Euro NCAP’s tougher 2014 ratings, and insurance groups are low. We found a 2014 1.0 SE with 47,000 miles for £4,500.

CITIGOS in S-spec are sparsely equipped, so you’ll want at least an SE model or above to get air-conditioning and electric windows. The interior is dark but solid, while there’s a surprising amount of space in the back.

IN base form, Dacia sells the Sandero with hardly any equipment – you’ll need Ambiance spec for electric windows and Bluetooth. Material quality isn’t great, but it’s the roomiest choice for people and luggage.

LIFTING the i10’s ambience are the dashboard and seat trims, which can be had in various colours, while quality is very good and there’s plenty of kit. The Hyundai isn’t huge in the back for passengers, however.

DESPITE its advancing years, the Citigo still finished in an impressive 11th place in our Driver Power 2016 survey. Owners told us they were really impressed by its reliability, running costs and ease of driving.

THE Sandero ranked in a strong 30th position in Driver Power 2016. The main complaints centred around rattly trim, but there have been no big mechanical issues to speak of so far.

IT finished in 38th place in our Driver Power 2016 survey, and the i10 was voted a superb 12th for reliability. Few major problems are known, and if anything does go wrong the five-year warranty provides back-up.


Skoda Citigo

RELIABILITY 96 Special Issue


Used twin test

Raised standards? High-riding rugged estates make great used all-rounders. Here are two of the best Skoda features a sensible layout inside

Neat dash design is carried over from the regular Leon

Skoda Octavia


46.7mpg (on test)

44.6mpg (on test)

£67 fill-up

£61 fill-up

SEAT Leon X-Perience 2.0 TDI

Skoda Octavia Scout 2.0 TDI

Years: 2014 to date Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 148bhp Insurance grp: 20 Official econ/CO2: 57.6mpg/129g/km Why? SEAT Leon X-Perience features a better-finished cabin and is more involving to drive than its rival here.

Years: 2014 to date Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 148bhp Insurance grp: 19 Official econ/CO2: 55.4mpg/129g/km Why? Octavia Scout offers more luggage space than the Leon, but it’s not as well equipped inside.

Prices from:


THE Leon X-Perience was SEAT’s first crossover estate. It follows a standard template, as it features a raised ride height, SUV-inspired body cladding and premium cabin. Under the bonnet is the same flexible and punchy four-cylinder diesel engine as found in other VW Group models, but as is the case elsewhere in the range, it’s rather noisy. For most of the time the X-Perience feels just like the Leon ST from behind the wheel – albeit with a raised driving position. The extra ride height means extra body roll in fast corners, but the XDS electronic diff and four-wheel drive deliver sharp handling and plenty of grip. Roof rails are standard, and the 587-litre boot increases to 687 litres with the floor lowered and 1,470 litres with the seats folded. The cabin also has part-leather trim and plenty of stowage. The regular Leon finished 23rd in our Driver Power 2016 satisfaction survey; down from fourth on its debut in 2015. Owners rated handling and performance, but build quality was ranked 136th.

98 Special Issue

Prices from:

Mix of leather and Alcantara gives SEAT a top-quality feel, plus it serves up lots of grip

Squarer doors make rear easier to access, but softer suspension means Skoda’s body rolls more

1 ★★★★★


AS this pair shares so much, our verdict is drilled down to fine details. The more upmarket cabin, slightly more involving drive and clever boot features help the Leon edge ahead.

THE Octavia Scout is a great crossover estate, and if you need a plush load-carrier with a big boot and four-wheel drive, then it’s well worth considering. Its softer edge will appeal to some.


Skoda Octavia



WHILE SEAT is new to the crossover estate class, sister brand Skoda is a bit of an old hand, and its Octavia Scout is a tough contender. As with the Leon, it’s an upmarket estate with rugged looks. The engine sounds a bit gruff on start-up, but once up to speed it becomes a lot more hushed. Whether you go for this 148bhp model or the 181bhp version, delivery is smooth, and with torque in both kicking in from 1,750rpm there’s plenty of power in any gear. During normal conditions the Scout will remain front-wheel drive, helping economy. Yet when it recognises the front wheels are struggling for grip, it will send power to the rear to boost traction. The 610-litre boot is bigger than the SEAT’s, and even with the seats folded it has the upper hand, at 1,740 litres. The cabin features plenty of handy storage cubbies, too. In Driver Power 2016, the Skoda finished in seventh place and was crowned best compact family car. Practicality and in-car tech were very highly rated, but 111th for ride held it back.


All the action from the world of motorsport

ON A PATH TO GLORY With the World Rally Championship returning this weekend, we speak to Hyundai about its title chances Stephen Errity

THIS weekend sees perhaps the most anticipated World Rally Championship season in years kick off, with the traditional late January visit to the Monte Carlo stages. The withdrawal of the all-conquering VW team and its star driver Sebastien Ogier’s move to Ford, along with new technical rules, the return of Citroen and the arrival of new manufacturer Toyota have all combined to seemingly level the playing field for 2017. VW’s absence and improvements shown by Hyundai have made the South Koreans pre-season favourites for many. The brand’s motorsport president G.H. Choi was very clear at the new i20 WRC launch before Christmas, saying “our learning is done, now we aim to win the championship”. Hyundai’s driver line-up of Belgian Thierry Neuville, Kiwi Hayden Paddon

and Spaniard Dani Sordo is unchanged – continuity that all three welcome. “Stability is always positive – we know we’re able to put a lot of pressure on the other teams, so it’ll be to our advantage,” Neuville told Auto Express when we spoke at the launch. In common with most drivers, Neuville expects the new rules to make the cars faster, but not necessarily more dramatic to watch, as some fans have hoped. “It’ll be quicker and more fun, yes, but whether it’ll be more spectacular from the outside, I don’t know,” he said. “Everything is better: the brakes, aero, stability and engine power.” Paddon added: “On slow gravel rallies, there won’t be much difference, as torque is unchanged; we just have more horsepower. But on faster tarmac like Catalunya we could be up to a second per kilometre quicker.” Neither Neuville nor Paddon agrees that Hyundai is a shoe-in for wins and the title

Hayden Paddon on the new-generation World Rally Cars


MALCOLM Wilson’s M-Sport team has an all-new Fiesta for 2017 – and, in the shape of Sebastien Ogier, a four-time World Rally Champion to drive it. The Frenchman hasn’t been n involved in the car’s development, so much ch will depend on how quickly he gets to o grips with a car that hasn’t been een built to his tastes. The other Fiestas will be driven by rapid Estonian Ott Tanak and Welsh youngster Elfyn Evans.


110 Special Issue

Catalunya we’ll be much quicker – maybe up to a second per kilometre”


Hyundai took a pair of victories with last year’s i20 and wants to challenge for the title

Rallye Monte Carlo RallySweden Rally Mexico Tour de Corse Rally Argentina Rally de Portugal Rally Italia Sardegna

“On faster tarmac rallies like

19-22 Jan 9-12 Feb 9-12 Mar 6-9 Apr 27-30 Apr 18-21 May 8-11 Jun

Rally Poland Rally Finland Rallye Deutschland Rally Catalunya – Rally de Espana Wales Rally GB Rally Australia

29 Jun-2 Jul 27-30 Jul 17-20 Aug 5-8 Oct 26-29 Oct 16-19 Nov

CITROEN IN public, Citroen iss targeting wins in 2017 and titles from 2018. In private, there’s re’s a belief the C3 can be fastest straight away. The man most likely to itle prospects benefit is Kris Meeke, whose title e depend on how patient he can be in unpredictable Monte Carlo and Sweden and scoring well on events where he doesn’t have as much experience. His team-mates will be Craig Breen and Stephane Lefebvre.

World Rally Ch Championship preview


HYUNDAI TEAM (From left) Hayden Paddon, Dani Sordo, Thierry Neuville


THE latest i20 WRC RC looks impressive and Hyundai has kept its strong and stable driver er line-up. Neuville’s le’s form can be patchy, but he’s a formidable competitor when he has a sniff of a result. He will be supported – and at times surpassed – by Paddon, who has the pace to add to

his 2016 Rally Argentina win. And with Sordo’s safe pair of hands in the third i20, it’s small wonder Hyundai is many any pundits’ tip for the 2017 manufacturer’s crown.

TOYOTA FOUR-time world champi champion Tommi Makinen has been ta’s rallying return in given the task of leading Toyota’s uperteam based 2017. He’s created a Finnish superteam er will be Jariin his home village. Team leader spects Matti Latvala and Toyota’s prospects kle will depend as much on his fickle mentality as the development of the Yaris WRC. The second and third drivers are Juho Hanninen and promising youngster Esapekka Lappi.

in the absence of VW. “For me, everything is open again,” said Neuville. “We have a good car and we feel it’s fast, but we don’t know how good the others are. They’ve started from scratch, whereas we’ve based ours on last year’s car and improved, so hopefully this will be an advantage. “On some rallies, we’ll probably be the benchmark, but Citroen’s going to be strong.” Paddon, who broke his WRC duck with a win on last year’s Rally Argentina, reckons Ogier will be as much of a threat at Ford as he was at VW: “It doesn’t matter who or, he’ll still be one of Seb’s driving for, e said. “But I think the fastest,” he it’s very good to have Thierry in my team: he’ss a benchmark that prove myself. I can use to improve “I think Seb and Thierry and [Citroen’s] Kriss Meeke will be the p with. I think three to keep up every team feelss that o 2017 is going to ance, be their big chance, but it’s a lot more open now. “It could be anyone’s title: we have lots of rally-winning

“Stability is always positive – we know we’re able to put a lot of pressure on the other teams, so it’ll be to our advantage” Thierry Neuville on continuity drivers and we at Hyu Hyundai can’t take for granted that we’re in the box seats.” Fans in the UK will find it easier than ever to follo follow the WRC in 2017, due to online coverage cove from Red Bull. There will be high highlights on Friday and Saturday ev evenings, a show including a live sstage on Saturday afternoon an and a rally wrap-up on Sun Sunday evenings. All pro programmes will be ava available to watch on dem demand at once they’ve aired. onc

Ci Citroen’s return to the WRC will be le led by Kris Meeke Special Issue 111


All the action from the world of motorsport

Lowe tipped for Williams move ■ Merc tech chief seeks new challenge ■ Vasseur out at Renault


Lowe (right) is expected to take up a senior technical role at Williams having left his job at Mercedes

Stephen Errity

PADDY Lowe – one of the architects of the Mercedes Formula One team’s current dominance – is expected to move to Williams after parting company with the German manufacturer just before Christmas. Lowe’s departure was officially confirmed by Mercedes last week and he’s expected to take up a technical leadership role at Williams, which has struggled to keep pace with an improving Red Bull and Ferrari since its impressive 2014 and 2015 seasons. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said: “Paddy has played an important part in our success during the past three-anda-half years and we thank him for his

contribution. Success in F1 is not about single individuals but about the strength in depth and technical capability of an organisation. We have the talent in place to continue our success of recent years.” Lowe added: “I’ve had a fantastically successful and enjoyable three-and-ahalf years at Mercedes. I’m now looking forward to taking on a new challenge and wish everyone well at Mercedes.” Williams’ lead driver, Finn Valtteri Bottas, is the top candidate to replace Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, and it’s thought the deal to get Bottas could involve Lowe being allowed to take up his position at Williams immediately without any ‘gardening leave’. Lowe is himself expected to be replaced at Mercedes by the former Ferrari technical

Renault has split with team boss Fred Vasseur

VW to back Solberg in rallycross DOUBLE FIA World Rallycross champion Petter Solberg will link up with Volkswagen for 2017. The Norwegian will drive with Swede Johan Kristoffersen, who finished runner-up in last year’s championship. Solberg will run two Polo rallycross cars through his own PSRX outfit, with backing coming from VW’s Swedish distributor and dealers. Technical support will be provided by Volkswagen Motorsport in Germany. Speaking about the deal, the Norwegian said: “From the start, we are aiming at gold in the championship. My team has worked so hard for many years to be in the position to make this deal, so it’s fantastic. “We have so much potential now, and we also have a lot of work to do – but what an incredible future we’re working towards.”

112 Special Issue


Solberg (above) has been working towards manufacturer support for his World RX effort for several years now

director James Allison, who left Maranello in July and has been on gardening leave since. Elsewhere, Renault has shown its team boss Frederic Vasseur the door ahead of the start of pre-season testing. The Frenchman was instrumental in signing German Nico Hulkenberg from Force India over the winter. A Renault statement said the departure was by “mutual consent” and that both the team and Vasseur are “committed to maintaining the good working relationship that we’ve enjoyed and expect this to take a new form sometime in the future”. Vasseur is not expected to be directly replaced in the team’s hierarchy, with Renault Sport managing director Cyril Abiteboul and team president Jerome Stoll assuming his responsibilities.

Bentley signs Audi star Jarvis FORMER Audi WEC driver Oliver Jarvis (right) has been snapped up by the Bentley works GT team for 2017, following its sister VW Group brand’s sudden withdrawal from endurance racing. Jarvis’ first race for the marque will be the Bathurst 12 Hours in Australia, and he’ll also contest the full Blancpain GT Series with Steven Kane and Guy Smith. Bentley has also indicated recently that it’ll develop a new GT3 car based on the upcoming Continental replacement.

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THE most powerful, productive and provocative individual in the car world in recent weeks? That person has been – and may continue to be – Donald ‘DJ’ Trump. Love or loathe the man who’s inaugurated as US President this week, he’s a master manoeuvrer and a force for change (some good, some bad). The sort of dude who clearly gets it done. He’s achieved much, even before formally clocking on and doing his first proper working day as President. For starters, minutes after he was announced President-elect on 8 November, he made an unbreakable pledge that his incoming regime will spend billions on road, bridge and tunnel works designed Motoring’s most outspoken and to help road users and the American opinionated columnist sounds off construction industry. Firms and workers from other nations need not apply! Trump’s keen on Weeks later, he in effect bullied Ford into putting a stop on building works at preserving roles the company’s now abandoned vehicle in North America plant in Mexico. Not content with this, he’s – well, as long as even warning Toyota (a Japanese firm!) that they’re inside the bit it too must think carefully before ‘exporting’ known as the US US auto workers’ jobs south of the border. Trump is certainly hinting tariffs or financial penalties might be dumped on some cars by GM, Ford and Chrysler/Fiat if they’re built in Mexico, forcing Ford’s decision to abandon its latest Mexican factory/recruitment programme and bring those jobs ‘back home’ to the US. DJ doesn’t like ‘US auto workers’ jobs’ going to Canada, either. Put another way, he’s keen on preserving and creating vehicle production roles in North America – well, as long as they’re inside the bit known as the US. Why should we care? Because DJ’s next nationalistic step might be to object to US jobs being ‘exported’ to, for example, Italy, where Chrysler/ Fiat recently started building ‘American’ Jeeps. And what will he make of Britain, where Ford uses Brits – not Americans – to build millions of engines for itself, Volvo, JLR and others? Might he introduce fines on some Ford-powered Jaguars and Land Rovers being shipped to the US because Ford had the temerity to build those engines outside the States? Never forget, DJ is a nationalist, not an internationalist. He thinks domestically, not globally. This mindset could create major problems for trade, not least with motor manufacturing, which is, and has to remain, one of the most global industries on the planet.

Mike Rutherford

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