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5-11 April 2017 No. 1,467 | £3.20

EXCLUSIVE IMAGES MI M NI tech transforms BMW’s baby

New Micra VS rivals Skoda targets Tesla Can stylish Nissan topple Polo & C3? Model X rival is first of five new EVs


DRIVEN New Volkswagen Golf R and Kia Picanto

Ne w Ib iz a dr iv en Wh sexy SEA Why SEATT rai raises ses the bar foorr sm small all cars ar


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



COVER New BMW 1 Series

MINI tech set to transform next generation of baby Beemer

COVER New Audi A3


COVER Skoda Vision E


Four new SEATs on way


Mercedes-AMG GLC 63


Roadside breakdowns on rise


Stylish hatch leads the pack of rivals set to take on 1 Series Shanghai concept to head up five new EVs on sale by 2025

Boss reveals what’s in store – including brand’s first electric car Storming V8-powered SUV arrives in two body styles And it’s down to the lack of spare wheels on new cars

Features Ten years of the Qashqai

8 Exclusive images of new BMW 1 Series...

We reflect on a decade of success for groundbreaking Nissan

New cars

10 new A3 leads hi-tech rivals it has to beat




Kia Picanto


Volkswagen Golf R


Volkswagen Golf GTE


Bentley Bentayga Diesel


Stylish new Fiesta rival sets the small car standard

Korean city car is a genuine threat to VW up! and Skoda Citigo

Range-topping Golf is a brilliant all-round performance car...

...while plug-in hybrid version of hatch is revamped, too Sensation or sacrilege? Controversial oil-burning SUV driven

30 First drive verdict on new Kia Picanto

22 We mark a decade of Nissan’s Qashqai

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Stylish new supermini takes on Citroen C3 and VW Polo

World’s fastest diesel squares up to electric thriller Updates on the Kia Niro and Peugeot 2008

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Latest kit rated, including a tough new tool kit We assess three. Plus new books and DVDs rated Which is best for the car DIY fan? We put eight to the test

First drive verdict on Countryman JCW

26 We get behind the wheel of new SEAT Ibiza

Skoda plans five new EVs Page 12

THE latest MINI to receive the John Cooper Works treatment is also the largest. And this week we’ll be putting the 228bhp Countryman JCW to the test. Powered by the same 2.0litre turbo and ALL4 four-wheel drive system from the Clubman JCW, MINI claims the crossover can do 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds. Does a performance-focused Countryman really make sense? Or is it a step too far? Head online to read our thoughts as we give our definitive verdict.

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SEAT hasn’t had the best of times in the past. As well as struggling with a lack of identity within the Volkswagen Group, massive losses led to big question marks over the brand’s future. Chatting to SEAT’s charismatic boss Luca de Meo (above) at the launch of the impressive new Ibiza supermini (see Page 26), he revealed the state of affairs the company was in. “Five years ago we were losing ¤400 million a year,” he told me, before smiling broadly to remind me “and we’ve just announced an operating profit of ¤143 million for 2016”. That’s quite a turnaround. De Meo’s vision for his brand is clear, especially how it sits in the VW Group. He told me: “We have the youngest customer base of any car company – we’re the brand for the next generation. Our role is to get people into the [VW Group] system. We need to make the gate as attractive as possible.” With the latest batch of products like the Ateca SUV and new Ibiza (driven on Page 26), de Meo and his team are succeeding – and there’s more to come, with two new EVs, two more SUVs and something else that he promises will be “really special”. Of equal importance to de Meo is his brand’s standing in the Group – and he’s doing all he can to make sure his bosses take notice and continue to invest heavily, which they seem happy to do. That’s why the Ibiza has been chosen to debut the Group’s advanced new MQB A0 platform technology first. Skoda is similarly poised to challenge VW and Audi for the headlines (and sales). As Graham Hope reveals on Page 12, Skoda’s EV ambitions are as big as anyone’s in the Group, with its Vision E set to lead the charge at the Shanghai Motor Show. One thing’s for sure, competition between VW, Audi, SEAT and Skoda is hotter than ever – and that’s good news for us all.

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Top story First for news every week

■ Third-generation 1 Series set to share MINI running gear ■ Rear-drive handling sacrificed in quest for improved efficiency Jonathan Burn @Jonathan_burn

THE BMW 1 Series has been a huge success since it launched in 2004, but BMW is planning a complete rethink for the third generation of its premium hatchback. It’s due to arrive at the end of next year, before going on sale early in 2019, but while our images reveal that it’ll look similar to the model it replaces, a radical revamp under the skin will see rear-wheel drive ditched in favour of drive to the front axle. The new 1 Series will use the UKL platform that features on the BMW X1 and MINI range. While that will affect the way the 1 Series drives, BMW is confident that more people will benefit from the practicality and efficiency the new platform can offer. A longer wheelbase and absence of a propshaft will free up more space for passengers in the back, and also increase boot capacity. The new 1 Series should also be marginally taller and wider. While big changes are going on beneath the skin, the redesign of the 1 Series won’t be as revolutionary. The third-generation hatchback should appear sleeker than the current model; softer body panels and slimmer LED headlights that integrate with the kidney grille, like those seen on the new 5 Series, will be the standout changes. The new platform will bring advantages when it comes to weight reduction and practicality, but fans of the faster M models

are going to be left disappointed. As the UKL platform is only compatible with four-cylinder engines, that means the next flagship M140i will have to ditch its sonorous straight-six engine in favour of a turbocharged four-cylinder. Not only that, but it will also switch from rear-wheel drive to xDrive four-wheel drive. That means it will be a direct competitor with models such as the Volkswagen Golf R (driven on Page 32), Mercedes-AMG A45 and Ford Focus RS. Engines for the rest of the 1 Series range will be adopted from the MINI and X1 lineups. Entry-level cars, likely to be badged 116d, should come powered by an updated version of BMW’s 1.5-litre three-cylinder diesel, while a turbocharged three-cylinder petrol unit should appear in the 118i. Larger and more powerful 2.0-litre fourcylinder petrol and diesel engines will be found in the 120i and 120d respectively. BMW will also use the next 1 Series to launch a wider roll-out of its iPerformance line-up. Joining BMW’s five other plug-in hybrid models will be an electrified 1 Series using a tuned version of the powertrain found in the MINI Countryman Cooper E. Comprising a 1.5-litre turbo and small electric motor, economy of more than 130mpg and CO2 emissions below 50g/km are likely. We can expect new versions of the 2 Series Coupé and Convertible to follow the 1 Series at the end of 2019, and these will also adopt a front-wheel-drive layout.


Front-wheel-drive 1 Series on way OUTGOING MODEL Current rear-wheel-drive 1 Series is a unique offering in the compact hatch class. It offers fun handling and efficiency, but new front-drive model will emphasise the latter 8 5 April 2017


Radical mechanical revamp for BMW’s small hatch

BMW 1 Series

Top story

“A radical revamp will see rearwheel drive ditched in favour of drive to the front axle”


Room for rear passengers will be boosted by a longer wheelbase and the lack of a propshaft

5 April 2017 9


BMW 1 Series rivals

THE RIVALS: The cars the 1 Series has to beat Jonathan Burn

VW Golf Mk8 @Jonathan_burn

BMW isn’t the only manufacturer putting the finishing touches to an all-new premium hatchback. We’ll see rivals from Mercedes, Audi and VW in showrooms by the end of 2019, all boasting new tech, efficient powertrains and autonomous driving. The industry’s focus may be on developing an army of SUVs, but hatchbacks such as the 1 Series are often the best sellers in a premium brand’s line-up. These are the incoming models that the BMW will face, and the cars that the manufacturers can’t afford to get wrong.

Audi A3 2019

THE current A3 is one of the best-selling premium cars in the UK, thanks to its range of body styles and powertrains. Like the Golf Mk8, the new A3 will use the same updated MQB platform. We’ll see a more efficient plug-in hybrid e-tron model, while 48-volt electrics could also feature in standard models to boost efficiency.

Mercedes A-Class Mid 2018

Auto Bild

“We’ll see rivals from Mercedes, Audi and VW in showrooms by 2019”


THE Golf Mk8 is the furthest away from showrooms, but it has already been described as ‘the versatile car’ by VW boss Herbert Diess. It will be based on an updated version of the MQB platform, will shed around 70kg, and be more spacious.





A MORE practical and spacious A-Class will land next year, and it’s likely to set the class benchmark. The new MFA2 chassis should address criticisms of the current model and make the A-Class more engaging to drive. A new range of petrol and diesel engines will also feature.

10 5 April 2017

FORD RANGER Official fuel consumption figures in mpg (l/100km) for the Ford Ranger range: urban 24.8 -38.7 (11.4 -7.3), extra urban 38.7 - 49.6 (7.3 - 5.7), combined 32.1 - 43.5 (8.8 - 6.5). Official CO 2 emission 231 -171g/km.

The mpg figures quoted are sourced from official EU-regulated test results (EU Directive and Regulation 692/2008), are provided for comparability purposes and may not reflect your actual driving experience.


Skoda EVs

OFFICIAL ON ITS WAY Skoda CEO Bernhard Maier has confirmed that production version of the Vision E concept will be on sale by 2020. It’s not yet decided where it’ll be built, though

“We are conscious of our core values, and value for money will be one of them with this car, too” Bernhard Maier Skoda CEO

Vision E to head up five Graham Hope

SKODA has confirmed that its Vision E Shanghai Motor Show concept will preview the first of five allelectric cars from the brand on sale by 2025. And according to boss Bernhard Maier, the production version of the coupécrossover will be in showrooms by 2020. The Vision E will be joined by an array of plug-in hybrid models, with the Superb saloon already slated for 2019. Insiders have confirmed to Auto Express that plug-in versions of the Kodiaq, new Yeti and next Octavia would be feasible, too. The news follows sketches (right) of the Vision E released last week, while a new profile shot of the EV shows its coupé-like silhouette in greater detail. It follows the blueprint of the Tesla Model X as a rakish, high-riding crossover but with clear Kodiaq styling influences, although

12 5 April 2017

■ 302bhp coupé-crossover concept leads Skoda’s EV revolution ■ Four more EVs to follow, with array of plug-in hybrids likely, too the company is keen to emphasise that the model should not be considered a fully fledged SUV. Specific design features such as round wheelarches and horizontal ‘secondary’ headlights will remain the preserve of what Skoda terms its ‘road cars’. The brand’s SUVs, meanwhile, will continue to sport square wheelarches and more vertical secondary lights. Explaining the decision to design a model with such sporty styling, Maier told Auto Express: “This mixture of sporty crossover limousine was the way to go. It also shows our new direction in exterior design, with more emphasis on lighting.” Under the skin, the Vision E is based on the VW Group’s MEB platform, which also underpins VW’s I.D. concept. At 4,645mm long and 1,550mm tall, the Vision E is slightly smaller than the Kodiaq,


but it’s wider and with a longer wheelbase. Suicide doors and a flat floor ensure maximum versatility, while legroom is claimed to be seven per cent greater than in the Octavia. There are four easy-to-access individual seats – although the production model should have five – while the dashboard is dominated by a large 12-inch colour touchscreen, with the most advanced connectivity yet seen in a Skoda. The Vision E is powered by two electric motors with a total output of 225kW

“Insiders have confirmed that plug-in versions of the Kodiaq, new Yeti and next Octavia would be feasible”

Skoda EVs


new all-electric Skodas TRAILBLAZER

Vision E will be followed by four more EVs, likely to be in sectors of the market where Skoda has already enjoyed success

(302bhp), driving all four wheels to give a range of up to 500km (310 miles). As with sister car the I.D., the production model is likely to come with a range of outputs, while it’s possible to be charged to 80 per cent capacity in only 30 minutes. The lithium-ion battery pack is sited under the floor. The concept signals Skoda’s first step into the world of autonomous driving, with level 3 autonomy promised. This means that it can operate independently in traffic and use autopilot on the motorway. And Maier allayed fears tthat such a hi-tech model could pus push prices up to an una unachievable level. “We are conscious of our core values, and value for money will always be one of them, with this car, too.” EVs are set to make up 25 per cent of Skoda sales by 2025.

5 April 2017 13

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SEAT’s future revealed


Electric SEAT on the way as brand plans four new models ■ Big SUV to lead new quartet ■ Next Mii likely to be first EV

“We are part of the biggest R&D sspenders on the planet. We will ccome with EVs on MEB in 2020”

Steve Fowler @stevefowler

SEAT will launch four all-new cars in the next few years that will include the brand’s first electric models. The Formentor large SUV (previewed in Issue 1,466) is one of the four, while another all-new model will also arrive, likely to be a crossover with a design that will “blur categories”, according to SEAT insiders. Chairman Luca de Meo told Auto Express that he’s already using an electric version of the Mii city car (right), based on the VW e-Up!, for his daily commute from the centre of Barcelona to the company HQ in Martorell, on the outskirts of the city. Although de Meo’s car is purely a development car, an updated e-Mii, based on a new version of the city car due in 2019, is likely to be the first of the brand’s electric offerings. Also expected is an all-electric version of the next-generation Leon, based on the e-Golf and its MQB platform, due in 2019. De Meo also confirmed that the new Ibiza’s MQB A0 platform is EV-ready and that, too, could spawn an electric version. Post-2020, the VW Group’s MEB electric car platform will open up new possibilities for SEAT. “We are part of the biggest R&D spender on the planet,” de Meo said. “And we will come with EVs on MEB in 2020”. Although VW’s I.D. is likely to be the first group car to use the new tech, SEAT will have greater freedom to develop its own cars off the platform. “It’s modular and can easily change in length,” design director


OFFICIAL Electric Mii is already being tested as SEAT’s EV programme is accelerated Alejandro Mesonero told us. “It gives us more freedom to do something totally different – something that is pure SEAT. “Because the platform is quite high, due to the batteries, the car will have to be tall, and that means making it thin due to the aerodynamics – we need to

reduce the frontal area and make it efficient, as every extra km of range helps. “But it will have big wheels and we can do a very upright rear end and sloped windscreen. It will be beautiful and very SEAT.” De Meo also hinted that we’d see more extravagant designs in the near future,

All-new Nissan Leaf shaping up

SPIED BOLD FRONT Despite heavy disguise, it’s clear that the next-generation Leaf will take cues from new Micra (tested on Page 36)


NISSAN is well under way with the development of the next Leaf – and our spy photographers caught the electric family hatch sporting a thorough redesign ahead of it being revealed at the end of the year. It’s clear the overall profile of the Leaf will remain similar to the current model, but despite the heavy disguise you can make out its sharper, Micra-inspired front end. Sleeker front headlamps and a more aggressive version of Nissan’s V-motion grille join with an angular rear end to give a more daring design than on the current car. Along with the exterior revamp, Nissan will also significantly increase the Leaf’s electric range, offering larger battery options, which could see range peak at around 300 miles. The Leaf will also be the next model from Nissan to be available with a suite of autonomous driving functions.

including on the car’s interior. He hinted that the forthcoming large SUV, the Formentor, will preview a new design language that will come to life in 2019’s new Leon, a car that will kick-start a regeneration of the whole SEAT range. PAGE 26: First drive of the new Ibiza

Autonomous cars ‘will change lives’ DRIVERLESS cars will transform the lives of six out of 10 people, according to a new study by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The first UK-based study into the impact of connected and autonomous vehicles revealed new tech will offer freedom to the most disadvantaged, including those with disabilities, older people and the young. Automatic braking and parking and the car’s ability to self-diagnose faults were cited as features most likely to reduce stress among all groups. SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes claimed: “The benefits are life changing. The challenge now is to create the conditions that will allow this technology to thrive.”

5 April 2017 15


Mercedes-AMG GLC 63

Rapid new AMG GLC 63 d ■ Rapid SUV and Coupé race in model features 503bhp V8 ■ S mo


James Brodie


MERCEDES-AMG has rolled out a pair new performance SUVs in the shape of the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 and GLC 63 Coupé. Both hot SUVs feature Merc’s advanced 4MATIC+ four-wheeldrive as standard and are powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. The GLC 63 is a fresh rival for the Porsche Macan Turbo, while the Coupé establishes a new segment for high-performance Coupé SUVs. Under the bonnet sits AMG’s trusty hand-built V8 bi-turbo engine, producing 469bhp and 650Nm of torque. That means the new GLC 63 pumps out 35bhp more than the most potent Macan. For those after more punch, however, both the GLC 63 and GLC 63 Coupé will be offered in more powerful S guise, which raises output to 503bhp. Regardless of spec, power is delivered to the 4MATIC+ system via AMG’s new Speedshift ninespeed automatic gearbox. Mercedes has yet to reveal just how fast from 0-62mph the GLC 63 is, but don’t be surprised to see a figure around the four second mark. As ever, top speed is electronically limited to 155mph. The 4MATIC+ four-wheel-drive set-up features the same variable torque distribution as seen on the new AMG E 63. Torque can be split between the front and rear axle to optimise traction in certain driving conditions, but it’s heavily rear biased – the rear wheels are permanently driven, and in most circumstances the GLC 63 is

“Both models are powered by AMG’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8” rear-wheel-drive. It’s possible for the driver to influence the characteristics of the car though, with a range of selectable driving modes. Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual settings modify engine response, suspension set-up, gear shift times, the steering and traction control settings and also the 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system. The GLC 63 stands out compared to the rest of the GLC range with several bold

styling tweaks. At the front is a new grille similar to the AMG GT, with thick, chromed vertical slats, more aggressive front and rear bumpers, plus new side skirts, a new spoiler lip and 20-inch alloys. A performance sports exhaust also comes as standard. Both models will make their debut at this month’s New York Motor Show, before going on sale in June. First deliveries are scheduled for September.

All-new SsangYong Rexton revealed SSANGYONG has pulled the wraps off a new version of its flagship Rexton SUV at its home motor show in Seoul, South Korea. The latest vehicle to carry the Rexton badge – first seen on a SsangYong in 2001 – gets a new body-on-frame structure and a fresh diesel engine and gearbox combination, in a bid to take on everything from the Hyundai Santa Fe to the Ford Edge. The new Rexton is 4,850mm long – about 150mm longer than the Hyundai – but the SsangYong is wider and has a longer wheelbase, too. Its styling takes cues from the Tivoli – notably the crease that falls along its flanks, and the distinctive ‘hump’ above the

16 5 April 2017

rear wheelarch – but it has a more grown-up look at the front end. SsangYong will offer the Rexton in five and seven-seat configurations – all with four-wheel drive and, most probably, a diesel unit. This is likely to be a 182bhp 2.2-litre engine developing 420Nm of torque. A new 222bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol has been launched, but is unlikely to be offered in the UK. Inside, an eight-inch infotainment system will be the starting point on the Rexton, and higher-spec models will get a 9.2-inch display. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity will be offered. The car goes on UK sale in the autumn priced from around £27,000.


New Rexton takes styling cues from Tivoli, including crease on flanks and hump over rear wheelarch

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63

duo at the double

News news inbrief


Aggressive updates mark new AMG models out, including new grille inspired by AMG GT

Undercover debut for new Mégane RS RENAULT has teased its forthcoming Megane RS, after posting a cloaked image of the hot hatch online (above). The teaser gives little away, but does confirm that we’ll see the car for the first time later this year; the Frankfurt Motor Show in September is likely to be the stage for the debut of the new Civic Type R rival. However, it’s not expected to go on sale until early 2018. It’s thought the RS will be front-wheel drive and develop around 300bhp.

Mazda names its price for next CX-5 MAZDA has confirmed its new CX-5 crossover will start from £23,695. Sales are due to begin at the end of June. That buys a 163bhp 2.0-litre petrol model in SE-L Nav trim. Two diesel options will also be available from launch, both making use of the same 2.2-litre engine. The lesser-powered 148bhp version starts from £25,695 in SE-L Nav spec, while a Sport Nav model with 173bhp will go on sale from £31,395.

Insurance shake-up to benefit drivers CHANGES to car insurance renewal documents that came into force last week could save motorists up to £103million a year. As of 1 April, insurers are now obliged to inform policyholders how much they currently pay for their cover when sending out renewal reminders, in order to increase transparency and fairness. Previously, drivers were only told how much they’ll have to pay for the forthcoming year, leading many to pay over the odds by simply auto-renewing. New wording must be clear, accurate and in a prominent place. The new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules also mean insurers have to include a message to those who have been with the firm for four consecutive years or more, stating they may be able to get the policy cheaper if they shop

around. The new rules apply to general insurance products including car and home cover, with the FCA estimating it will save consumers between £64m and £103m per year. Some parts of the

First glimpse of Hyundai’s Juke rival HYUNDAI has confirmed that its Nissan Juke-rivalling crossover will be called the Kona. The new model has been teased with a close-up of the headlight (below), which features a design unlike anything currently in Hyundai’s product range. The name is a reference to the Korean district on the island of Hawaii, while the model will join the manufacturer’s SUV portfolio, sitting beneath the Tucson and Santa Fe. The Kona is scheduled to be revealed in June, before going on sale in October.

industry want regulators to go further, and dictate that insurers advise motorists to shop around every year. GoCompare figures reveal annual savings of £258 are possible.

5 April 2017 17


Breakdown figures revealed

Flat tyres lead breakdow ■ Lack of spare wheels on new cars leaving motorists stranded Martin Saarinen AE_Consumer

SCRAPPING spare wheels from standard kit on new cars, combined with the rise of dangerous potholes on UK roads, has led to roadside breakdowns rising by almost 200,000 last year. The AA recorded 3.63million calls last year, up from 3.45m in 2015. The breakdown provider said much of this was down to the fact more new cars have ditched spare wheels in favour of run-flat tyres or a bottle of tyre sealant. Last year, the RAC and the AA attended nearly 180,000 calls where a motorist had a flat tyre, but had no spare. In fact, a third of new cars today are sold without a spare, as car makers look to save on space and weight. President of the AA, Edmund King told Auto Express he would like to see spares “as at least an option on new cars” to help prevent motorists from being stranded at the roadside. Punctures are becoming increasingly common as motorists battle against failing roads (see opposite). The UK currently faces a 14-year backlog on pothole repairs, with the most recent reports showing a 19 per cent drop in repairs by local councils across England and Wales. A survey of more than 25,000 drivers last year found 39 per cent had suffered tyre damage from hitting a pothole. The AA said the number of tyre-related callouts had steadily been rising, and is currently the top reason for a call-out – usurping battery faults at the top of the charts. To combat

this, the RAC and AA have both developed multi-fit spare wheels that patrols can fit to 90 per cent of cars in an emergency. King added: “Potholes often affect two tyres – front and rear on the same side – so if a car does have a spare, then the patrol’s multi-fit wheel is invaluable.” King also pointed out that even drivers who own cars with a spare tyre aren’t always able to change it by themselves, or don’t have the basic knowledge of how to do it. “Big SUVs, for example, come with a tyre that can be too heavy for some people to lift, and they therefore call us for help,” added King. One potential solution is greater education for drivers on basic car maintenance, like changing a wheel. Neil Greig, policy and research director at IAM RoadSmart, said the skill should feature as part of additional driving tuition for motorists, although he ruled out including it as part of the driving test. He told Auto Express: “Many drivers told us they often don’t know much about how their car works and how to look after it. Changing a tyre is a life skill that can save valuable time sitting on the roadside waiting for help.” Greig also said that there should be more help for motorists to look after their tyres, especially as the condition of UK roads worsens. He added: “It’s difficult today for drivers to properly look after their tyres. Garages and forecourts should offer more free air points so drivers can keep their tyres correctly inflated.”

OPINION Crackers Patel RAC patrolman

PUNCTURE repairs are the most common call-outs alongside cars that won’t start, and they can prove time consuming. A lot of people don’t even know if they have a spare wheel. They have a brand new car, and when you say this model doesn’t have a spare, they roll their eyes. People assume it’s the law to have a spare, but when they go to show you, there’s a moment of realisation. They feel they’ve been ripped off by the dealer, as nobody has told them there’s no spare. Some people will have it happen once, and then with their next car they will specifically ask for a spare, even if it’s only a space saver. If they have a spare, people are more unlikely to attempt to change it these days, because they are scared of something going wrong. Sometimes they’ll come across locking wheel nuts and won’t know what to do. There’s a fear factor, as well as a general lack of knowledge and confidence.

“A lot of people don’t even know if they have a spare wheel”

VWs to bring ‘emotion’ to autonomous design DESIGN bosses at VW Group have told Auto Express there is “potential for huge variety and emotion” in the design of the brand’s future autonomous vehicles, as different models will have distinct purposes. The VW Group has opened up a new Future Centre in Europe, built specifically to develop technology for the company’s range of future autonomous vehicles. Around 130 engineers are based there. Jürgen Michl, head of exterior design research at the facility, revealed that the VW Sedric concept (right) is merely a showcase for one of a wide variety of different body styles that can be made. “We are not just focusing on Sedric – that is a car designed to operate in a city and to be shared by service users, which is why it looks like it does. For other cars doing longer distance trips,

18 5 April 2017

aerodynamics will be more important, with low, sleek shapes possible.” Michl claimed there could be two, four and six-seat models built under several of the VW Group’s brands, and level-five full autonomy will arrive before 2030. Any VW brand, including Audi, Skoda, Porsche and even Bentley can use the new Future Centre (one of three globally) to evaluate which bits of technology they want to use. The new research methods are said to be “totally focused on the user experience,” with projects to offer mobility solutions for the visually impaired also under way.

VW’s Sedric concept is far from the only kind of autonomous vehicle design that its new Future Centre will be working on

Breakdown figures res revealed

wn call-outs OFFICIAL

News e s


Owners usually don’t realise their car doesn’t have a spare until it’s nneeded

James Batchelor

Road conditions at their all-time worst @JRRBatchelor @JRRBatch tchelo elor


NEARLY a fifth of local roads in England and Wales face closure over the next few years unless potholes are filled, a report has warned. Researchers found 18 per cent of local roads are now classed as ‘poor’ – the lowest rating possible – as a result of decades of falling funding, rising traffic levels and bad repairs. The annual Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) report warned these roads had less than five years of life left before their condition deteriorates to a point where they would have to be closed to traffic. Councils spent £102million to fill 1.7m potholes last year, but that’s just a fraction of the total £12billion backlog of work needed. Alan Mackenzie, chairman of the AIA, said: “Our local roads are an asset worth in excess of £400billion but, at present, less than one per cent of their value is spent annually on maintenance. The message is clear: our local roads are failing and it’s time we had a rethink about how to adequately fund them in future.” Risk of skidding on roads in England and Wales is also at an all-time high, according to figures from the Department for Transport. There’s a 26 per cent risk of skidding on a main road, the highest since stats were first recorded a decade ago. London boroughs were worst, with nearly half of roads ‘needing further investigation’.

We take the Vauxhall Insignia on a European road trip and give the Kia Picanto a spin at

On the road with the new Insignia

IT was only revealed a few weeks ago at the Geneva Motor Show, but we’ve already tried out the new Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport. It’s a crucial car for the firm, as it eyes up taking on premium brands for the first time. With this in mind, Steve Sutcliffe went for a road trip from Geneva through Germany and visited the HQs of Audi, BMW and Mercedes to see if the car is a match.

“Local roads have a backlog of repairs costing £12billion”

BMW readies hot M8 super coupé



WHILE the resurrection of the 8 Series coupé is thrilling enough for many BMW fans, our spy photographers have spotted something to get even more excited about; BMW will make an M Division-tuned version of the new 8 Series, which should take on the M8 name and pack M5 levels of performance when it lands in 2018. These spy shots taken at Germany’s Nürburgring afford our first look at the Mercedes-AMG S 63 Coupé rival. They reveal that the new 8 Series will be a very large car, but the setting suggests BMW is hard at work making the performance coupé as agile and dynamic as possible. The car’s design is still heavily disguised, but the rakish coupé profile of the M8 is hard to hide. Up front sits a pair of trademark kidney grilles, positioned above a set of large vents and channels

Kia Picanto has plenty of Seoul

cut into the front bumper, necessary to feed the mule’s powerful engine. It’s more aggressive than the standard 8 Series we’ve already spied, but there’s little else differentiate the faster version

for now. We expect to find running gear from the next M5 under the M8’s bonnet. As such, a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 producing over 600bhp and a rear-biased four-wheel-drive system should appear.

THE city car class is hotting up, and a potential favourite is the Kia Picanto, driven on Page 30. With a spacious interior, long warranty and daring looks, the Picanto could rise to the top. Head over to our YouTube channel to see more of the Korean newcomer. You can watch any of our videos on your phone Simply scan this QR code.

5 April 2017 19

Watchdog We get behind the stories that affect you

Leanne was frustrated at early failure of her Astra’s clutch

Joe Finnerty Finance paperwork is a massive headache. Where is the digital help?

Clutch failure raises questions on warranty ■ CASE STUDY Astra needed new clutch after two years, but reader disputes it was ‘wear and tear’ Julie Sinclair

WHEN you buy a new car, the warranty paperwork will explain some wear-and-tear items simply aren’t covered: the clutch is a good example. A driver could wear a clutch out very quickly if they were determined, so lifespan can vary dramatically depending on your driving style. For that reason, clutches, tyres, windscreen wipers and brakes are typically excluded from a manufacturer’s new car guarantees. But in the case of a clutch, how can you be sure it’s a heavy-footed driving style, and not a rogue manufacturing fault that’s caused premature wear? That’s the question reader Leanne Szutarski of Dagenham, Essex, asked Auto Express, after the clutch in her Vauxhall Astra failed at just under two years’ old and with 22,000 miles on the clock. We told her the only way to be sure is to have the part examined by a dealer, or an independent specialist. But she says local dealer Vauxhall Romford wanted her to authorise a payment of £1,100 before it would even examine the part. That would cover labour and replacement, if the problem was caused by wear and tear. Leanne, who’s an optometry student, had bought the car on a five-year finance deal, and said: “The whole reason I decided to buy a new car was because the monthly

20 5 April 2017


Vauxhall stated that clutch had worn out, but Leanne was surprised this happened in only two years

“Her local dealer wanted to authorise a payment of £1,100 before it would even examine the part” payments on this one were manageable on a budget, and I didn’t want to have to worry about huge, unexpected bills. I just don’t think the clutch should have worn so soon.” We called Vauxhall to ask if it knew why her clutch had failed. Its spokesman simply said: “Vauxhall sent a field engineer out to

inspect the failed part, who deemed the clutch failure to be down to wear and tear. These items are not covered under the terms of Vauxhall’s New Vehicle Warranty.” Leanne decided to cut her losses and take her car to an independent garage in Hackney, east London. She told us: “It said the clutch had worn prematurely, too, but it only charged me £540 to replace the part. That’s half the price Vauxhall was quoting.” She said she ensured the garage only used authorised parts for the repair, which is a requirement of her warranty terms. We also advised her to keep the old clutch, in case she wanted to take her case further.

THE line between vehicles and smartphones is becoming increasingly blurred, as the Internet of Things connects everything around us. And the method of buying or owning these products is aligning, too, as manufacturers offer online options. But there is one anomaly: finance. Monthly contracts, rather than outright cash, now account for eight out of 10 new cars bought. Personal contract hire (PCH) and leasing is increasingly popular as consumers seek competitive monthly prices with no desire to own the car at the end. A report on the 2016 market by also reveals the most popular term length was two years (59.2 per cent) with just one in 10 opting for a four-year deal. It seems we have become so used to refreshing products like phones after just two years that it’s now carrying over into car ownership, too. The idea of buying a vehicle with cash from a dealer is starting to seem old-fashioned. Despite this, car finance is still stuck in the past, with reams of paperwork, rather than easy digital contracts. According to financial technology company Intelligent Environments, half of car buyers are left scratching their heads due to the complex processes they have to go through to apply for vehicle financing. Compare that to smartphones, where I recently had to upgrade and could do so without even speaking to a human, instead using website chat services and online form filling. It’s not for everyone, of course, but it was hassle free. Perhaps this can be the next area where the automotive industry merges with technology to further benefit the consumer. @AE_Consumer

“Car finance is still stuck in the past, with reams of paperwork rather than easy digital contracts“


What do you think?

Contact Martin Saarinen

HOT TOPIC Suzuki Swift driven Underfunding could see road upgrades canned

Poor planning puts road upgrades at risk

FROM: Robbie SUZUKI has a good reputation for reliability and build quality, so £13,750 for a Swift that is fully loaded with kit and gets a mild hybrid engine seems good value to me. How much would you pay for a fully loaded Ford Fiesta or Skoda Fabia?

FROM: MrKash THE Suzuki Swift does have two advantages over its Volkswagen Group rivals: four-wheel drive and super low weight. Apart from the microscopic rear windows, I think the design of this new Swift is okay compared with its rivals, too.


Readers are divided over Suzuki’s allnew Swift

■ An additional £841m is needed to fund Government’s plans Joe Finnerty

MULTI-million pound upgrades to England’s busiest roads could be scrapped, after a financial watchdog said they were not value for money. The National Audit Office (NAO), which scrutinises Government spending, said projects on 16 routes were on hold to make sure they are affordable. The plans were part of an £11.4billion investment announced in 2014. The Five-year Road Investment Strategy featured 112 major projects to begin before 2020, such as smart motorway upgrades and converting single-carriageway A-roads to dual carriageways. The NAO report stated that by August last year, the amount by which forecast costs exceeded available funding had reached £841m. Highways England, which is responsible for major roads, has identified the 16 schemes that could be cancelled, delayed or redesigned, the NAO said. The NAO ruled that many problems were caused by plans being rushed ahead of the May 2015 general election. This meant some were filed in just 17 months, compared with the 30 months spent on similar rail planning. Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “Decisive action needs to be taken before the updated delivery plan is published if shortcomings are not to be carried over into future road investment.”

Useful Contacts



Joanne Lezemore Solicitor

Join the debate at WHEN you buy a car from a trader, you are covered by the Consumer Rights Act, which says the vehicle must be of satisfactory quality and fit for its purpose – and the Act sets out exactly what your consumer rights are, if, for whatever reason, things start to go wrong. But you do not have the same consumer protection when buying a car from an individual – nor do you have the right to go back and get a refund or a repair if the car goes wrong after you’ve purchased it. When you buy privately, it is a case of ‘buyer beware’. The only rights you have is that the car must be as described by the seller, whether that’s verbally or in an advert. If it is not, you do have protection under the Misrepresentation Act, but getting your money back may not be easy – especially if claims are based on verbal promises. It is not a case of never buying from an individual seller, but more a case of making sure you ask lots of questions about the car and its history. If you can, write down the questions and answers, and ask the seller to sign it – that way you will have good evidence if the car does not meet that description and you need to claim.

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: 0345 850 1130 (m) RAC: 0330 159 1446 (m) Which?: 01992 878329 Citizens Advice Consumer helpline: 03454 040506 Local Trading Standards Local Citizens Advice Bureau

■ “Japanese interiors are years behind Europe’s; they don’t seem to understand soft-touch dashboards or premium detailing.” E Monk

■ “I think it looks great overall, but I can’t help thinking the old model looks better from the rear.” What’s my name?

■ “Suzuki has always been conservative with its 0-60mph times. This Swift could probably do it in nine seconds.” Someone

Are dog harnesses for cars safe enough?

Head-up display feels as unsafe as mobiles

FROM: Dan Martindale MANY pet stores sell small, cheap harnesses for dogs that clip directly into the seatbelt. It would be interesting to know how much protection they actually offer, for both the animal and the car, as some look like they would be quite dangerous in an accident.

FROM: Lionel Lewis THE new ‘Navdy’ heads-up display is a step too far for me (Issue 1,463). I can’t believe it’s legal to read your text messages on the HUD while driving. Surely this results in the same loss of concentration as when reading them on your phone?

DS seems promising but needs to improve

Lack of dealerships dampens Alfa appeal

FROM: Jeremy Bingham I WAS interested to read about the new DS 7 Crossback. My father owns a DS 5, and I agree that the brand makes beautiful and easy to drive cars, but it’s missing out on good aftersales care. My father has had quite a few issues with his dealer, and I think this is an area DS needs to work on.

FROM: Richard Evans LIKE many Auto Express readers, I’m very impressed with the new Alfa Giulia. It appears to have everything – good looks, plenty of performance, and it’ll hopefully be reliable. The only thing missing is a big network of Alfa dealers. I’d have to travel quite far for a service if I took the plunge.

Used car inspections AA: 0800 056 8040 RAC: 0330 159 0720 Technical advice AA: 0370 142 0002 (m) Driving licences DVLA: 0300 790 6801

Car registration/history HPI: 01722 422422 AA: 0800 316 3564 DVLA: 0300 790 6802 RAC: 0330 159 0364 Traffic information AA: 0906 888 4322 RAC: 09003 444999 (p)

Problems with dealers The Motor Ombudsman: 0345 241 3008 Consumer Ombudsman: RMIF: 0845 305 4230 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

5 April 2017 21

Insidestory A different take on the world of motoring

Martin Saarinen @AE_Consumer

“IF the ice breaks, you have between 10 and 60 seconds to leave the car before it sinks. If you can’t open the doors, go through the windows or the roof.” These were the stern instructions from the man representing the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations just before we headed out on to the frozen surface of the deepest lake in the world in a Nissan Qashqai. Lake Baikal in Siberia is an odd place to find yourself in a car originally intended for the European market, but when the Qashqai was launched back in 2007, no one could have predicted just how successful the crossover would become, or the remote corners of the world it would end up in. Today, the Sunderland-built Qashqai has moved far outside European borders and is sold in 99 countries around the world, from Antigua to Australia. To coincide with the 10-year anniversary of the Qashqai, and the launch of a new facelifted model later this year, Auto Express took the current, second-generation version into the wildest parts of Russia. Nissan started production of the Qashqai here in 2015, and we were keen to find out how it’s evolved from a European crossover to a car that’s conquered global sales charts in just a decade. Initially the Qashqai wasn’t even the car that Nissan intended to build. Back in 2002, a new version of the Almera was planned, but the company came to the conclusion that the poor-selling family car was unlikely to turn a profit, even with a new look. Around the same time, SUVs were rising in popularity, but some buyers were put off by their large proportions and high running costs. So, instead of a new Almera, Nissan decided to design and build a car that “would break down some of the barriers to SUV ownership”. To do just that, it began incorporating the low running costs, compact dimensions and agile handling of a hatchback with

“Nissan combined the dimensions of a hatchback with the ride height of an SUV to make the first crossover” 22 5 April 2017



It’s now a decade since the Nissan Qashqai revolutionised the car market. To celebrate, we took it to one of the most extreme environments on the planet where it showcased the talents that have made it a top seller the tall ride height of an SUV, creating one of the world’s first-ever crossovers. The UK played a major part in the design, engineering and building of the Qashqai, too. Much of the design work was funneled through Nissan’s Design Centre Europe, which is based in London, while the company’s European Technical Centre in Cranfield, Beds, was tasked with developing the engineering framework – only the second time in its history that the centre had been commissioned by Japan to lead the development of a model from scratch. The company’s Sunderland plant then won the bid to build the Qashqai, with an initial production target of 120,000 cars a year. But there were fears that the crossover would struggle to sell, and that total was optimistic. Would buyers see the car as the best of both SUV and hatchback worlds, or would it fall short of both marks? The worries were unfounded, however, as the crossover quickly proved popular. Nissan had to increase production to 160,000 in the first year, with the Sunderland plant running three shifts a day to keep up with demand. Today, the crossover segment that the Qashqai created – as well as SUVs – account for over a quarter of all new car sales around the world. And our location, deepest Siberia near the Mongolian border, is perhaps the most extreme

Inside story

“In Russia, the Qashqai Mk2 gets higher ground clearance, softer suspension and wider dimensions”


Our reporter Saarinen went to Russia to see how the Qashqai has taken over the global market

example of what the crossover has to cope with on a daily basis. With temperatures easily dropping below -35 degrees Celsius in winter and roads punctured by thousands of potholes, the crossover has to cope with a lot more than the average Sunday supermarket run in Surrey. “We’ve adapted the Qashqai to suit the different driving conditions in Russia,” said Mikhail Vakhrushev, Nissan’s product manager in Russia. Although Russia’s firstgeneration Qashqai was nearly identical to the European model, the second-generation, which is now also produced in Nissan’s St Petersburg plant, was adapted from the ground up to better suit local driving. To deal with the rougher roads, the Qashqai Mk2 was built with 200mm higher ground clearance and softer suspension. It was also made wider to improve stability on poor roads. As we drive through the Siberian town of Irkutsk, we quickly find out why these changes were

5 April 2017 23

Inside story

Qashqai on top of the world


SUNDERLAND isn’t the only powerhouse behind the Qashqai. In 2009, Nissan opened up a new factory in St Petersburg, Russia, to help fill the global order books alongside its UK and Japanese plants. The plant originally built the X-Trail, Murano and Pathfinder, but in 2015, the Qashqai Mk2 was added to the production lines. Today, the 2,000 employees at St Petersburg build 95 per cent of all the Qashqais sold in Russia. Since 2015, 21,450 Qashqais have rolled off the line. In fact, a 2.0-litre Qashqai was the plant’s 250,000th vehicle, with more than 375 million parts, 2,000 tons of paint and 28,300 working hours invested since 2009.

“No more than an hour after the ‘safety’ speech from the Ministry for Emergency Situations did we see our Qashqai fall with the moving ice”

“A 2.0-litre Qashqai was the plant’s 250,000th vehicle” 24 5 April 2017

necessary. The roads appear as if they’ve been abandoned for the last decade with barely any markings visible, while ankle-deep potholes are impossible to avoid due to their sheer quantity. The roads also have a habit of switching from a paved surface to a dirt track unexpectedly. To deal with the inevitable flat tyres, Russian Qashqais come as standard with a full-sized spare wheel. And while nearly every second car bought in the UK is a diesel, just five per cent of all cars sold in Russia are. “The quality of diesel can be quite bad in the country, so people opt for petrol cars instead,” explains Vakhrushev. To cope with the freezing temperatures, all models get a heated windscreen as standard, while those equipped with a parking camera come with a self-cleaning spray to remove muck from the lens that easily accumulates from the many dirt tracks that snake through the Siberian plateau. But roads made of tarmac or gravel aren’t the only place a Qashqai owner might find themselves driving across in Russia, or indeed any of the other Arctic countries the car is sold in. Many of the lakes and rivers freeze in the harsh temperatures and are turned into temporary crossings for motorists. So we found ourselves driving on Lake Baikal, the

deepest and oldest lake in the world. It contains roughly 20 per cent of the world’s unfrozen fresh water, is estimated at 25million years old, and is over a mile deep. Several hovercrafts are spotted crossing the frozen lake, but every now and then you’ll spot a local or two driving across in anything from an old Soviet-era Lada to a new Toyota Land Cruiser. It was no more than an hour after the ‘safety’ speech from the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations that we stopped and parked our Qashqai on the ice. As we stood nearby, we suddenly heard a sound similar to an explosion. Some of the ice sheets had just cracked and as we struggled for balance, we saw our car tip with the moving ice. The raised ride height helped it stay afloat, but it was firmly stuck, so we had to wave for rescue. A four-man team from the Ministry of Emergency Situations arrived in their six-wheeled rescue vehicle, smashed through the cracked ice sheet and winched the car to safety. It just goes to show that while the 10-year-old British-built Qashqai might not have worked out how to conquer nature just yet, it seems there’s no stopping its continued dominance of the global sales charts.

New cars


Visit for the latest new cars and drives

NEW PICANTO Kia’s third-generation city car gets improved looks and technology.


DRIVING On the road, the Ibiza has a grown-up feel that’s been missing from the supermini class

SEAT Ibiza 1.0 TSI 115PS FR Price: Engine: Power/torque: Transmission: 0-62mph: Top speed: Economy: CO2:

£16,630 1.0-litre 3cyl turbo petrol 113bhp/200Nm Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive 9.3 seconds 121mph 60.1mpg 108g/km


DRIVING Ibiza feels extremely grown-up on the road, with excellent refinement. The gearshift is slick and easy, and the steering positive and secure, if lacking in feel. Ride was firm in FR trim, but not uncomfortable

PRACTICALITY Boot space is generous, and beats a Ford Focus from the class above. There’s room in the rear for two big adults or three kids, making longer journeys a doddle

SEAT Ibiza

Running costs 60.1mpg (official) £48 fill-up

Performance 0-62mph/top speed 9.3 seconds/121mph

FIRST DRIVE Rejuvenated supermini leads VW’s small car revolution Steve Fowler @stevefowler

WHO’D have thought it? SEAT, for so long the problem child of the VW Group, is flying. Sales are soaring, thanks in no small part to the brilliant Ateca SUV (with two more SUVs coming in the next 12 months), and now the Ibiza supermini has been chosen to debut the Group’s latest small car technology. This is the first model to use the new MQB A0 platform, with all the lightweight and hi-tech benefits that brings. Yes, Ibiza before VW Polo, Audi A1, Skoda Fabia and a host of SUV spin-offs. That would have been most unlikely a few years ago. However, as SEATs tend to be pretty much as good as their sister cars, but usually with a style and price advantage, what’s not to like? With the new Ibiza, not much. That MQB platform means the car is roomier than before, in spite of being a fraction (2mm)

26 5 April 2017

shorter. It’s 87mm wider and slightly lower than the old car, with the wheelbase stretched by 95mm – great in numbers and pretty impressive in reality, too. The car looks lower, wider and meaner (the previous car was a bit tall and thin), while inside there’s surprising space. Up front there’ll be no complaints about head, leg or shoulder room, while in the back a couple of burly friends or three kids will be very happy. Access is pretty good, too, despite the three-door model being ditched (along with the ST estate version) – leaving just this five-door and the upcoming Arona SUV sharing the same platform. Miraculously, boot space has also been boosted to 355 litres. That makes it roomier than a Ford Focus, and probably much bigger than the soon-to-be-launched Fiesta. The floor can be levelled for easier loading or drop for maximum capacity, too. So all is looking good so far, and things get even better when it comes


SEAT Ibiza


Sharp creases from outside follow through to inside. Dash plastics are hard, but feel okay

SEAT expects buyers to be attracted to the SE Technology model, which comes with a large colour touchscreen and built-in sat-nav offer. The scrimpers have visited SEAT elsewhere – it costs £150 to get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity on all but FR and Xcellence models. Keeping the costs down also means some of the plastics on the dash and door tops don’t have the squishy feel you might like. They look fine, and feel okay to the touch – it’s just when you prod them that there’s no give. For us, it wouldn’t be a reason not to buy this car. The way the car drives, though, is one of the biggest reasons to put the Ibiza on your supermini shopping list. As with every other VW Group MQB car, the Ibiza has a grown-up feel to it that this sector hasn’t seen before. It’s quiet – very quiet. Our car had the 114bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder

turbo engine that’s punchy (0-62mph in 9.3 seconds), frugal (claimed 60.1mpg average) and refined. There’s a bit of a three-cylinder growl if you push hard, but most of the time things are really hushed. At a cruise, you’ll hear the wind rushing past the angular door mirrors, but that’s more due to the overall silence inside rather than excessive wind noise. The gearshift is slick and easy, while the steering is positive and secure, but without much in the way of feel – another MQB trait. The FR trim that this engine comes with in the UK rides slightly firmer than other models thanks to its 17-inch alloys and stiffer suspension, yet it’s not uncomfortable over bumps and it eliminates the tiny bit

“The way the car drives is one of the biggest reasons to put the Ibiza on your shopping list”

of body roll you’ll notice in other versions. There are Normal and Sport settings, too, although in reality you’ll be hard pushed to tell the difference between the two – the FR is very much a mild hatch, bordering on the warm. You’ll eventually be able to get it with a 148bhp 1.5-litre engine, which we also tried. It’s yet to be homologated so there are no performance figures yet – or prices – but it only marginally improves performance, while lacking some of the three-cylinder motor’s charm. Other engine options include 74bhp and 94bhp versions of the three-cylinder engine, while wisely diesels don’t appear on the UK price list. Talking of which, the starting price of £13,130 is a little ahead of Ford’s new Fiesta, but about par for the course. The best seller is likely to be the £15,255 SE Technology model with the 94bhp 1.0-litre engine.


Bold lines make the new Ibiza look much like a scaled-down Leon – but that’s no bad thing

Verdict THE Ibiza sets a new benchmark in the supermini sector and, once monthly finance deals are available to assess, could well achieve a coveted five-star rating. Its refinement, space, quality and range of kit will be talking points, while its sense of style stands out among some pretty dull rivals.


28 5 April 2017




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Newcars Essentials Kia Picanto 1.0 MPI 3

Price: Engine: Power/torque: Transmission:

0-62mph: Top speed: Economy: CO2:

£12,000 (est) 1.0-litre 3cyl petrol 66bhp/96Nm Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive 14.3 seconds 100mph 67.2mpg 97g/km


EQUIPMENT Sharp LED lights are

available as an option for the first time. Customisation will be key to the Picanto’s appeal, with five different interior colour packs to choose from

Performance 0-62mph/top speed 14.3 seconds/100mph

Running costs 67.2mpg (official) £41 fill-up

PRACTICALITY The Picanto’s 255-litre

boot is three litres bigger than a Hyundai i10’s and its square shape is useful. Buyers can choose between four or five seats, with the former helping to reduce CO2 emissions

Richard Ingram @rsp_ingram

THE Kia Picanto was first launched in the UK in 2004 as the brand’s smallest car. Cheap and cheerful was its selling point, and it offered buyers style, kit and space, as well as low running costs. That model was replaced in 2011 by the sporty Mk2, which quickly gained momentum in the city car market. Since then, newer rivals such as the Skoda Citigo, Hyundai i10 and Renault Twingo have stolen the limelight by offering similar value, but with significantly upgraded interiors and more grown-up driving experiences. This new Picanto aims to right the old car’s wrongs, with a spacious cabin, more equipment and improved customisation. Three engines will be offered, including a three-cylinder turbo for the first time. First impressions are good. While it’s still recognisable as Kia’s dinkiest design, the Picanto has been thoroughly updated to

30 5 April 2017


FIRST DRIVE Stylish new city car aims for the front of the pack

bring it in line with the latest Rio supermini and Sportage SUV. It’s an eye-catching car, with a bold tiger nose grille, sharp details and optional LED daytime running lights. Space inside is impressive. While the engineers have only added an extra 15mm to the wheelbase, room in the back is generous. The car is no longer overall, but the extra distance between the front and rear axles allows adults to sit comfortably. The 255-litre boot is also bigger than you’ll find in the Picanto’s rivals. A Ford Ka+ offers a bigger load bay with the seats up, but fold them flat and the Kia trumps it, thanks to its 1,010-litre total capacity. The wheels have been pushed to the corners for a more dynamic look and a tighter turning circle. This is useful around town, where it matches the Skoda Citigo for

ease of use. Visibility is also good, with those short overhangs playing in your favour when parking and manoeuvring. Out on the open road, the Picanto feels solid and refined. We tried the entry-level 1.0-litre non-turbo, which felt a little wheezy but not as slow as the figures suggest. The lack of torque is the Kia’s biggest problem, as it struggles on taller inclines. A Volkswagen up! is more fun, but the new Picanto feels more grown up. On our car’s 15-inch wheels the ride was compliant without being too soft, dealing with rough surfaces well and never losing composure. The 16-inch rims on GT Line cars create a harsher ride, however. Kia’s new 98bhp 1.0 T-GDi isn’t due to arrive in the UK until the end of 2017, but we did try the four-cylinder 1.25-litre car

“This new Picanto aims to right the old car’s wrongs, with more equipment and customisation”

Kia Picanto



Official prices and specs will be announced later this month, and the turbo model will go on sale towards the end of the year


While the Picanto is the same length as before, an extended wheelbase has boosted legroom

Build quality is improved, as are the technology and infotainment systems on an identical route. While it was better suited to the hills above Barcelona, the difference is marginal – unless you regularly travel with four people on board, the 1.0 will be more than acceptable for your needs. Quality is much improved, with relatively plush materials on the doors and dash. Black cloth comes as standard, but optional interior packs add a dash of colour. Our car featured a lairy blue – it won’t be to all tastes, but it certainly stands out. The seven-inch touchscreen on top-spec models (likely grade 3 and above) looks great and is more upmarket than the phone cradle you’ll find in an up!. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both included with the screen, giving the Picanto the tech edge. The big black buttons that flank the display are logically laid out, too. Whether the Picanto sinks or swims will largely come down to costs, and while exact

prices and specs haven’t been revealed, we’re expecting an increase of around £500 spec-for-spec over the old model. That means an entry-level Picanto 1 should cost a little over £9,000, while mid-spec 2 and 3 models will offer impressive kit for a little extra outlay. We’re told a top-of-the-range GT Line with the 1.25-litre petrol engine will start from less than £14,000, with the turbo commanding a premium of around £1,000. For comparison, a five-door Citigo costs £8,845 – and that car is available on some tempting zero per cent finance deals. As a result, Kia will have to pull out all the stops to match its rivals punch for punch. At least the Picanto can challenge it for running costs. The standard 1.0-litre car emits a Citigo-matching 101g/km. However, there are a number of tweaks that affect the car’s CO2 output, and thus its projected fuel economy. If you opt for the four-seater you’ll save 20kg – shaving 10g/km off emissions and boosting fuel economy by 6.4mpg. Pennies make the pounds, after all.

Verdict COST will play a big part in the new Kia Picanto’s success, but early indications suggest it’ll happily compete with its city car rivals when it comes to comfort, quality and ease of use. It’s a more grown-up alternative to the Renault Twingo, and its mature manners should see it give the soon-to-be-updated Skoda Citigo something to worry about. Plusher, more refined and better to drive than its predecessor, the cheap-to-run Picanto is an exciting class contender.


5 April 2017 31


Volkswagen Golf R

Golf R offers searing speed, plenty of grip and a composed ride



Running costs

0-62mph/top speed

40.1mpg (official)

4.6 seconds/155mph

£65 fill-up

FIRST DRIVE Revised range-topping Golf is a brilliant all-round performance car Sam Naylor S

Sam @SamNaylor_AE

AS part of the recent round of updates for the ever-popular Volkswagen Golf, the range-topping R hot hatch has also been refreshed. Since this is a performance car, there’s been an obligatory power boost, and the new car now gets 306bhp from its 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine. That’s a 10bhp boost over the previous Golf R, and contributes to a quicker 0-62mph time, which now takes just 4.6 seconds in this DSG version. Get the R on the road, though, and the numbers soon melt into the background. With fourwheel-drive grip and that musclebound turbocharged engine blasting away up front, the Golf R is searingly quick. The seven-speed DSG gearbox changes up so quickly that you’ve barely had time to enjoy the acceleration before you’re at the speed limit. It doesn’t feel as frantic as a Ford Focus RS; it’s more composed, especially on bumpy roads. The steering could be sharper, but it’s quick enough and impressive in the bends, with loads of grip and strong brakes. For sheer grin-factor, VW’s mega-hatch can’t quite match the outgoing Honda Civic Type R. The engine isn’t as exciting to use and the VW feels heavier, too. But this flagship model is still one of the most impressive hot hatches available – and,

32 5 April 2017

since it’s a Golf, it does all the normal stuff brilliantly as well. The ride is comfortable – more so than the Focus RS – and the well judged driving position and interior layout mean it’ll be easy to live with every day. VW’s quoted 40.4mpg economy is good considering the performance on offer, and the DSG gearbox means driving in heavy traffic is easy. The manual offers more satisfaction on the right road, however. You get a subtle new look with your 2017 Golf R, thanks to LED headlights, redesigned vents on the front bumper and scrolling indicators. VW hasn’t given the car a full overhaul, so you might miss the tweaks. The new 9.2-inch screen on the inside is a significant change. The new system looks great and works much like a tablet, and is much more responsive than the old unit. But as on the standard car (Issue 1,466), there aren’t enough physical buttons, and it’s annoying to operate on the move. You can also use the standard Active Info Display behind the steering wheel, though, which is a great feature that can be customised just the way you want it. The 343-litre boot is smaller than in the standard Golf, due to this car’s four-wheeldrive system, though there’s still room for big cases. Our five-door car is a sensible choice, but an estate is also available. Equipment is good, too, and you get 18-inch alloys, carbon-style interior trim, sports seats and that big touchscreen.

Large 9.2-inch touchscreen is a vast improvement, but is fiddly to operate on the move

Volkswagen Golf GTE

Essentials Volkswagen Golf R 2.0 TSI 5dr DSG

0-62mph: Top speed: Economy: CO2:

£33,935 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol 306bhp/400Nm Seven-speed dual-clutch auto, four-wheel drive 4.6 seconds 155mph 40.4mpg 163g/km


FIRST DRIVE Plug-in hybrid version of hatch goes under the knife, too Pete Gibson

Price: Engine: Power/torque: Transmission:

Newcars Essentials Volkswagen Golf GTE 1.4 TSI Advance

Price: £29,635 (inc Gov grant) Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl turbo petrol/electric motor Power/torque: 201bhp/350Nm Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch auto, front-wheel drive 0-62mph: 7.6 seconds Top speed: 138mph Economy: 156.9mpg CO2: 40g/km



PRACTICALITY Space in the back

VED changes since 1 April mean that the GTE is no longer free to tax. But company car drivers will still see big benefits

is as good here as it is in any Golf, with enough room for adults to get comfy. All models get sports seats, but our car’s Nappa leather is a £2,615 option

BOOT SPACE The 343-litre boot

is marginally smaller than a standard Golf’s, thanks to the car’s 4WD system. Subtle R badges mean this rapid Golf doesn’t shout about its performance

Verdict THE Golf R is one of the best allround performance cars money can buy, with an incredible mix of blistering performance, sharp handling and everyday practicality. However, it’s expensive when compared to the Ford Focus RS, even though it’s arguably a superior allrounder. If you’re dead set on a fast Golf, the evergreen GTI is worth considering, as it’s just as much fun to drive and saves a few thousand pounds, too.


Lawrence Allan


OF the circa 200,000 cars Volkswagen sold in the UK last year, nearly 77,000 were Golfs. Most boasted one of the brand’s petrol or diesel engines, but only a small fraction used electric or hybrid power. It’s not a huge seller, then, but VW’s UK team are hoping the plug-in GTE will rise to around 10 per cent of total Golf sales by the end of 2017. The Government hasn’t made that easy, though: from 1 April, the GTE went from road tax-free to £130 per year. Company car users still benefit from lower rates, but tax avoidance isn’t the only reason to buy the hybrid. Many will be swayed by the promise of up to 156mpg, 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds and a 20-mile EV range. Like other 2017 Golfs, most of the updates are visual, and even those are verging on unnoticeable. There are new LED headlights with the familiar blue strip neatly integrated into the lenses, as well as revised bumpers and lightly tweaked tail-lamps. lamps. There are more change inside. As standard, the GTE now comes mes with an eight-inch infotainment ment system, but our test car featured the new £1,325 Discover Pro system. It gets

Instant torque from electric motor makes GTE great in townn

a 9.2-inch screen like the Golf R’s (left), voice control, a 64GB hard drive and a threeyear subscription to VW’s online services. It’s also the brand’s first model to come fitted with gesture control. It’s a bit of a gimmick to be honest, and not a very impressive one at that. More often than not, it doesn’t actually respond to anything, so you’re better off just prodding the screen. The GTE’s powertrain is unchanged, meaning you get a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine paired with an electric motor, with a combined system output of 201bhp. As before, there are various modes to allow you to save, use or charge the batteries. It’s superb around town, pulling away silently with a wad of on-demand electric torque making it feel nippy in a straight line. However, the powertrain isn’t quite as convincing on the open road. The GTE doesn’t deliver anything like the rev-happy flexibility or sporty sound of a GTI, while the onses in corners. extra weight blunts responses

EQUIPMENT Active Info Display

dials are standard and look great. They flick between battery usage and revs depending on your driving mode


(left), the GTE is front-wheel drive. However, the bulky batteries mean the 272-litre boot is even smaller

Verdict THE recent updates to the Golf range do little to change our impression of the GTE. The extra cabin tech is beneficial, if a little tricky to use, while the same-again styling is unlikely to disappoint. The GTE is no hot hatchback, but it still impresses at lower speeds and is excellent around town. What’s more, if your lifestyle allows, it could be fantastically cheap to run.


5 April 2017 33


Bentley Bentayga Diesel

La Lawrence Allan



A TWO-and-a-half tonne Bentley with a V8 engine that’s capable of over 35mpg? That’s from the land of fantasy, right? In fact that’s reality, as we’ve driven Bentley’s first diesel model in the UK – the Bentayga Diesel. While the idea of an oil-burning Bentley may raise eyebrows, there are good reasons for buying one. Customers who chose the petrol W12 are unlikely to worry that it barely musters 20mpg, nor are many likely to be interested in the diesel’s lower emissions. No, this car’s real selling point is that it’ll manage nearly 600 miles on a tank of fuel. Compare that to the W12, which might scrape 350 miles, and you can see the allure. It means you’ll only have to deal with the undignified affair of refuelling twice on a journey to and from your ski chalet in the Alps, rather than four times in the W12. For those who are still sceptical, take a look at the car’s figures. It uses a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 with a 48V electric compressor to deliver 429bhp. More importantly, there’s a whopping 900Nm of torque on tap from just 1,000rpm, and the engine is mated to an eight-speed auto with four-wheel drive.


If that sounds like the same engine found in the Audi SQ7, that’s because it is. However, Bentley’s engineers claim it has been heavily reworked for the Bentayga, with more emphasis placed on refinement. It’s easily the smoothest diesel we’ve ever encountered, staying fantastically hushed almost all of the time, and only emitting a distant V8 burble under hard acceleration. Don’t think the quest for quietness has dampened the car’s performance, though. The 0-62mph sprint takes 4.6 seconds and top speed is 168mph, so the Bentayga stakes a claim as the fastest production diesel SUV on sale. However, it’s the uncannily relaxed way in which power is delivered that impresses most. The car rears up and fires you towards the horizon with only a touch of wind noise to inform you of your speed. Once you’ve become used to the effortless pace, you’ll find the Bentayga is impressively economical when cruising. We managed an indicated 36mpg on our journey from Crewe to London, and the engine rarely revved past 1,500rpm – even at the speed limit. The new V8 appears to have had little effect on the way the Bentayga rides and handles. For a near-2.5-tonne behemoth, it’s impressively agile, with the Dynamic Ride electric anti-roll bars keeping the SUV remarkably level. It’s no sports car, but is as engaging as a Bentley 4x4 needs to be. The ride is slightly disappointing, though. It’s far from uncomfortable, but even in its softest setting it doesn’t smother surface

“Bentley has reworked the 4.0-litre V8 diesel with more emphasis placed on refinement” 34 5 April 2017

BentleyBentaygaDiesel FIRST UK DRIVE Is this diesel SUV the most contentious Bentley ever built?

Hand-crafted interior offers no clues to diesel power, even when you’re on the move intrusions quite as well as a Bentley should. Head off road, and the car’s ride height can be raised and a variety of terrain control systems tailor the suspension to suit. It’s not quite as all-conquering as a Range Rover in the rough, but the Bentayga has more offroad ability than any owner will ever need. Of course, you still get the same divisive exterior look as the W12. You can decide whether you want a diesel badge or not, while the only other changes are new

exhaust tips and specific wheel designs. The interior is identical to the W12’s, with sumptuous, hand-finished leather and wood, and vast potential for customisation. Our car had £70,000 worth of options, but you could spend even more than that if you tried hard enough. The only major flaw with the Bentayga is its infotainment. It’s an older system than Audi uses in the Q7, so it looks dated, and isn’t particularly intuitive to use.

Bentley Bentayga Diesel


Coming soon

Essentials Bentley Bentayga Diesel Price: Engine: Power/torque: Transmission:

0-62mph: Top speed: Economy/CO2:


£137,055 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo diesel 429bhp/900Nm Eight-speed auto four-wheel drive 4.6 seconds 168mph 35.8mpg/210g/km


Nissan’s premium brand will launch an Audi Q5 rival next year, with a new variable compression turbo petrol engine.


Audi A1 Ford Fiesta Ford Fiesta ST Kia Picanto Peugeot 208 SEAT Ibiza SEAT Mii X-Perience Suzuki Swift Vauxhall Corsa Volkswagen Polo Volkswagen up! GTI FAMILY CARS

SEATING As standard the Bentayga

comes as a five-seater, but you can specify a pair of plush individual rear seats and a centre console. Bentley also offers a third row in the boot for £2,730

Performance 0-62mph/top speed

Alfa Romeo executive saloon Audi A3 Audi A6 Audi A6 Avant Audi A6 Allroad BMW 3 Series Citroen C3 Picasso Honda Clarity Hyundai i30 Tourer Jaguar XF Sportbrake Mercedes A-Class Nissan Leaf Subaru Impreza Tesla Model 3 Volkswagen Arteon Volkswagen e-Golf Volkswagen Golf Mk8 Volkswagen XL3 Volkswagen I.D.

2018 2019 2018 2018 2018 late 2018 late 2017 late 2017 mid 2017 late 2017 2018 late 2017 mid 2017 late 2017 autumn May 2019 2019 2020


4.6 seconds/168mph

Running costs 35.8mpg (official) £102 fill-up

PRACTICALITY A power tailgate comes as standard, but 430-litre boot is smaller than its rivals. Rotary controller and switches adjust the air-suspension and electronics to suit different terrain

Verdict LOVE it or loathe it, the Bentayga is at its best in V8 diesel guise. It’s nearly as fast as the W12, far more economical and just as effortless when cruising. It’s not as expensive, either, giving you more scope to add options. However, a Range Rover offers nearly as much capability and luxury for less, and if you can live without the flying B badge and the plush interior fittings, an Audi SQ7 has the same astonishing powertrain and costs almost half as much.


2018 July 2018 May 2018 July 2018 mid 2017 summer 2018 2018 early 2018

Alfa 4C Quadrifoglio mid 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Coupé 2018 Alpina B5/D5 mid 2017 Alpine A110 2018 Aston Martin V8 Vantage late 2017 Aston Martin Vanquish 2018 Aston Martin AM-RB 001 2018 Audi A9 2018 Audi RS 5 late 2017 Audi TT Sportback 2018 Audi TTQ 2018 Bentley Continental GT 2018 Bentley Barnato 2019 BMW M5 2018 BMW 2 Series facelift late 2017 BMW 6 Series 2019 Ford Focus RS500 late 2017 Ford GT mid 2017 Ford Mustang hybrid 2020 Honda Civic Type R July Hyundai i30N 2018 Jaguar XE SVR 2018 Kia Stinger GT September Lexus LC F 2018 Maserati Alfieri 2018 McLaren EV 2023 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 late 2017 Mercedes-AMG GT four-door 2018 Mercedes-AMG hypercar 2018 Peugeot 308 R HYbrid 2018 Porsche Mission E 2020 Porsche 911 2019 Renault Mégane RS late 2017 Toyota FT-1 (Supra) 2018 TVR sports car 2018 Vauxhall sports car 2019 SUVs

Abarth 500X Alfa Romeo large SUV Alfa Romeo Stelvio Aston Martin DBX Audi etron Audi Q3 Audi Q8 Audi SQ8 Audi RS Q2 Audi RS Q5 Bentley Bentayga Coupé Bentley Bentayga Speed

late 2017 2018 autumn 2018 2018 2018 2018 late 2018 late 2017 2018 late 2017 late 2017

BMW i5 2021 BMW X2 early 2018 BMW X3 2018 BMW X7 2018 Citroen C5 Aircross 2018 Dacia Duster 2018 Dacia Grand Duster 2018 DS 3 SUV 2018 DS 7 Crossback January 2018 Hyundai small SUV late 2017 Infiniti QX50 2018 Jaguar ‘Baby’ F-Pace 2018 Jaguar I-Pace SUV 2018 Jeep baby SUV 2019 Jeep Compass summer Jeep Grand Wagoneer 2018 Kia Rio SUV 2018 Kia Niro PHEV late 2017 Lamborghini Urus late 2017 Land Rover Defender 2019 Mazda CX-5 summer Mazda CX-3 facelift July Mercedes-EQ SUV 2019 Mercedes GLA 2019 Mercedes GLB 2019 Mercedes-Maybach SUV 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross early 2018 MG ZS late 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander 2020 Mitsubishi Shogun late 2017 Nissan Juke late 2017 Nissan Qashqai facelift July Peugeot 2008 2018 Peugeot 5008 late 2017 Porsche Cayenne late 2017 Porsche Cayenne Coupé 2018 Porsche Macan facelift 2018 Range Rover Velar summer Renault Captur mid 2017 Renault Koleos late 2017 Rolls-Royce Cullinan 2018 SEAT Arona late 2017 SEAT large SUV 2018 Skoda coupé-SUV 2018 Skoda Yeti 2018 SsangYong Rexton late 2017 SsangYong XAV 2019 Subaru XV early 2018 Vauxhall Crossland X summer Vauxhall Grandland X late 2017 Vauxhall Monza SUV 2020 Vauxhall Viva Rocks late 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace summer Volkswagen T-Roc late 2017 Volkswagen Polo SUV late 2018 Volkswagen Touareg late 2017 Volvo XC40 spring 2018 Volvo XC60 summer PICK-UPS

Mercedes X-Class Renault Alaskan Tesla Pick-up

late 2017 summer 2018


Bentley Continental GTC 2018 BMW i8 Roadster 2018 BMW Z4 2018 BMW2SeriesConvertiblefacelift late2017 Honda S2000 2018 Jaguar XE Convertible 2018 McLaren 570SSpider late 2017 Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet June LUXURY CARS

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

2018 summer 2019 2018 2020 early 2018 summer 2018 2018 2018

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

5 April 2017 35

Road tests

Visit for the latest new cars and drives


PANAMERA VS TESLA MODEL S It’s the battle of the sporty executives, as diesel takes on electric.

Testers’ notes

“The new Micra has cast off the dowdy image of its predecessor with a sharp and sporty design. However, taking on the Polo and C3 is a serious task, so the Nissan will need plenty of substance under its new skin. The UK loves superminis, and cars from this class routinely make up the bulk of the best-seller lists. This means it’s one of the most fiercely fought areas of the market, and the Micra has a tough challenge to face.”

James Disdale Chief reviewer 36 5 April 2017


LIVING WITH A... KIA NIRO It’s second-time lucky for life with Kia’s hybrid crossover.


LIVING WITH A... PEUGEOT 2008 Our man gets to grips with our crossover’s small steering wheel.


big Pictures: Pete Gibson, Otis Clay Location: Whitgift Centre, Croydon

The new Nissan Micra has lofty aspirations in the supermini class. But does it have the talent to beat the VW Polo and Citroen C3?

Nissan Micra 0.9 IG-T Acenta Price: £15,115 Engine: 0.9-litre 3cyl turbo petrol, 89bhp 0-60mph: 10.8 seconds Test economy: 45.5mpg/10.0mpl CO2: 99g/km Annual road tax: £140

Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI 90 Match Edition Price: £15,090 Engine: 1.2-litre 4cyl turbo petrol, 89bhp 0-60mph: 9.9 seconds Test economy: 43.6mpg/9.6mpl CO2: 109g/km Annual road tax: £140

Citroen C3 PureTech 110 Feel

Price: £15,235 Engine: 1.2-litre 3cyl turbo petrol, 108bhp 0-60mph: 9.7 seconds Test economy: 43.3mpg/9.5mpl CO2: 103g/km Annual road tax: £140

A GLUT of all-new superminis will hit the market this year, and the first one to take on the established contenders is the fresh Nissan Micra. It’s fair to say that the Japanese hatchback has been out of contention for class honours for more than two decades, but Nissan has now repositioned its five-door hatch at the heart of the supermini sector. It means the Japanese firm has a lot riding on this car, with plenty of new tech, a range of downsized turbo petrol and diesel engines and a more premium cabin aiming to win sales in one of the most hotly contested markets. However, Volkswagen has been offering this winning combination for years now with its Polo. It’s the reigning champ in the Best Supermini class at the Auto Express New Car Awards, and although we’ll see an all-new version later this year, the current model is the one the Micra has to beat. Alongside this, the Nissan will have to fend off the challenge from Citroen and its characterful C3. Both the Polo and C3 offer good space, efficiency and kit, but can the Micra edge itself ahead of this talented duo?

5 April 2017 37

Road tests

Nissan Micra vs rivals

MODEL TESTED: Nissan Micra 0.9 IG-T Acenta


PRICE: £15,115 ENGINE: 0.9-litre 3cyl, 89bhp

WE’VE waited a while for a new Micra, but now that the Nissan is a proper small hatchback, rather than straddling the city car and supermini classes like its predecessor, the fight is on. It offers plenty of tech, striking looks and practicality to rival the best in its class. Our pictures show an N-Connecta model, but it’s the £15,115 1.0 IG-T Acenta we test here.



THERE’S no doubt that the new Nissan Micra is a radical departure from its rather bland predecessor. But while the angular design is new, the underpinnings aren’t quite as fresh. This fifth-generation Micra is based on a heavily revised version of the Mk4’s V platform, rather than the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s new CMF-B (Common Module Family – B segment) chassis, which will underpin the next Nissan Juke crossover. It’s a familiar layout, with strut-type front suspension and a torsion beam rear axle, but the Micra has grown. Compared to the car it replaces, it’s 170mm longer and 80mm wider, which makes it comparable with the Polo and C3 in size, and means the Micra is now much more versatile. The stretched, widened and lowered chassis means the Micra now sits in the heart of the supermini segment, rather than straddling this sector and the smaller city car class, as it did before. Now it’s going head-to-head with cars like the Polo and C3 that boast plenty of quality and individuality inside the cabin respectively, the Micra’s interior has undergone as big an overhaul as its new, sharplooking exterior. However, quality is acceptable but nothing more, as there are still plenty of cheapfeeling plastics and a mix of textures. The Micra comes with plenty of kit, though. This mid-spec Acenta model gets the larger seven-inch touchscreen, cruise control, air-con, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and some impressive safety tech.




THE Micra’s IG-T 90 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine has been taken from the Renault Clio, although Nissan’s engineers have recalibrated the unit here. It produces 89bhp – the same as the Polo, but is down on the Citroen’s 108bhp output. Torque is down, too, at just 140Nm and it’s produced relatively high up the rev range. While straight-line performance isn’t the most important factor for a supermini, you have to work the Nissan’s engine harder than in its rivals, which means it’s less relaxing to drive. The Micra sprinted from 0-60mph in 10.8 seconds on test, while that low torque figure meant it trailed the Polo’s in-gear acceleration in fifth between 50-70mph, taking 14.5 seconds (3.6 seconds longer than the VW). On a B-road or even around town you have to work the engine and gearbox more than in its rivals to keep pace with traffic, but the power delivery isn’t as smooth as in the Polo or C3. Compared with the slicker shift in the VW, the Micra’s five-speed unit feels imprecise. The Nissan handles sweetly enough, and all cars get the Active Ride and Active Trace Control

38 5 April 2017



electronic systems from the larger Qashqai. The former applies the brakes over bumps to keep the body tied down, while the latter brakes an inside wheel in corners to help stick to your chosen line. The ride is a little pattery, with a firm edge even on smaller wheels, but it’s refined at speed. However, next to the precision of the Polo and the comfort of the C3, the Micra simply lacks sparkle.


99g/km £140 or 18%


Boot (seats up/down) 300/1,004 litres




Performance 0-60/30-70mph 10.8/10.8 seconds

! Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph



Running costs 45.5mpg (on test)



NONE of these three brands finished very high up the order in our most recent Driver Power satisfaction survey in 2016, but Nissan fared worst in 28th. Safety has been a key focus in the development of the new Micra, and all trim levels come as standard with autonomous braking with pedestrian recognition, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, automatic high beam headlights and traffic sign recognition. On N-Connecta cars, the £500 Vision+ pack adds 360-degree Around View Monitor cameras, moving object detection and blind spot warning. Euro NCAP hasn’t yet tested the car, but with the above safety tech and six airbags, it should score well when compared to the C3 that was tested this year.



THE Micra emits 99g/km CO2, which is the lowest of this trio and drops the Nissan into the 18 per cent company car tax bracket. So while its £15,115 price tag splits the Polo and C3, it’ll be the most cost-effective to run for business users. Lower rate taxpayers will contribute £538 a year to the Treasury, which is a £63 saving over the Polo, and £39 cheaper than the C3.

Micra gets driver aids from Qashqai, but it lacks the sparkle or comfort of its rivals here


SUPERMINIS have steadily grown in size to the point where a 300-litre boot capacity is not far off standard for the class. The Micra offers this much luggage space with its seats up (it matches the C3), so the car’s enlarged dimensions have helped boost practicality. The kicked-up window line at the rear gives the Nissan a sportier look, but it makes it feel a little claustrophobic when you’re sat in the back. There’s less passenger room than in the back of the C3 or even the smaller, but well packaged Polo. Storage is acceptable, as there’s a large tray in front of the gear lever and a shallower one behind it, while the door bins can swallow plenty of items. Visibility isn’t quite so good though. Thank the narrow rear window and chunky C-pillars for that.




£48 fill-up

Nissan Mic

Stylish new looks and larger dimensions mean t

4L SIZE It’s larger inside, but rear space is similar to smaller Polo

Testers’ notes

“Nissan is targeting a younger audience with the Micra, so there are plenty of customisation options. Exterior colour accents for the bumpers, per doors and wing mirrors cost £300.”

Se Sean Carson Senior staff writer BOOT Micra has 1,004 litres of boot space with the seats down

Nissan Micra vs rivals

Road tests


Our guide to which trim level might suit you

Our choice:

Micra 0.9 IG-T Acenta



Radical new look is designed to attract younger buyers

the Micra is now a serious contender in the class

SOUND Nissan offers headrest-mounted

Bose speakers to boost the audio experience

INTERIOR There’s plenty of room, decent tech and the Micra is well built, but there are too many cheap feeling plastics

DESIGN Rear doorhandles are located in

the C-pillars to give the rear a cleaner look

5 April 2017 39

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

THE 0.9-litre turbo petrol engine is available in four of the five trim levels in the Micra range. Our PCP deals focus on this engine, so based on a £1,500 deposit – plus a £1,400 deposit contribution from Nissan – the Acenta trim we test here will cost you £212 per month. Drop down to the more basic Visia+ model and it’ll actually cost you more per month at £261 as there’s no deposit contribution. Plus you lose Apple CarPlay, the larger seven-inch touchscreen and cruise control. N-Connecta trim gets sat-nav, climate control and a DAB radio, but it’ll increase your monthly outgoings to £241 (Nissan’s deposit contribution drops to £1,100). Top-spec Tekna models come loaded with extras such as keyless go, a Bose stereo, rear-view camera and parking sensors, but at £255 per month it isn’t worth the extra outlay.

Road tests

Nissan Micra vs rivals

MODEL TESTED: Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI 90 Match Edition PRICE: £15,090 ENGINE: 1.2-litre 4cyl, 89bhp

THE Volkswagen Polo has dominated the supermini class ever since the facelifted model appeared in 2014. With a blend of refinement, quality, practicality and precision, it’s got all bases covered, which has allowed it to see off a host of newer rivals. Here we sample it in £15,090 1.2 TSI Match Edition guise, which delivers an impressive combination of value, kit, performance and efficiency.





VW’S tried-and-tested 1.2 TSI 90 motor is a little old hat in this company, but it’s an effective performer that’s popular with buyers. With 89bhp and 160Nm of torque, the four-cylinder unit is on a par with the Micra, but trails the more powerful C3. At the track, the eager engine pulled the Polo from 0-60mph in 9.9 seconds, which was two-tenths behind the Citroen, but nine tenths ahead of the Nissan. The Polo consolidated its advantage in-gear, where it was fastest of all in fourth and fifth gear. On the road, the VW feels the most eager, while its engine is smoother and quieter than the three-cylinder units of its rivals. There’s further praise for the five-speed gearbox, which benefits from a slick and precise action. It works in conjunction with the light and progressive clutch to make the Polo the easiest car to drive smoothly, particularly around town. Even though the underpinnings aren’t at the cutting edge, thorough development means the Polo feels assured on the move. It’s not as soft as the C3, but the damping takes the edge off big bumps more effectively. Refinement is also good, with mechanical, wind and road noise kept in check, even at high speeds. It really does feel like a larger car when cruising on the motorway. And the faster you drive the VW, the better it is. Body roll is well checked and there’s bags of grip,

40 5 April 2017




AN all-new Polo based on the firm’s scalable MQB architecture is due later this year, so the current car still uses the older PQ25 underpinnings that the firm has developed over the past decade or so. It’s a conventional layout, with strut front suspension and a torsion beam rear axle, while externally the Polo looks more traditional than the angular Micra and quirky C3. The VW is the only car here to use a four-cylinder engine, although like its rivals it’s linked to a five-speed manual box. A seven-speed twin-clutch transmission can be added for £1,375. If you want the new 108bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder TSI, then you’ll need to fork out a hefty £17,470 for the SEL. Inside, the VW feels the most upmarket choice. Not only is it solidly built from high-grade materials, its design is functional and slick. Better still, it matches the Micra for kit, with air-conditioning, cruise control and parking sensors all featuring. The only black mark is the fact AEB is a £400 option – although this also adds adaptive cruise control. Other options include £910 LED headlights, £360 heated seats, a £245 reversing camera and sat-nav at £700. The Nissan and Citroen don’t have the same scope for upgrades.


while the naturally weighted steering allows you to place the car accurately. The Micra isn’t far behind when it comes to agility and composure, but it lacks the Polo’s dynamic polish and excellent refinement.




£140 or 20%



Boot (seats up/down)

THE VW’s boot is the smallest here at 280 litres, which is 20 litres behind both of its rivals. However, the opening is large and the load bay is reasonably well shaped. It also benefits from a variable boot floor, which allows you to choose between extra space or a totally flat area when the rear bench is folded flat. The Polo’s packaging gives a good level of leg and headroom in the rear, so while it’s not as spacious as the C3, there’s at least as much space as in the Micra. The Polo will comfortably accommodate a pair of adults, its doors open wide for easy access and the large glass area creates a bright atmosphere. There’s also lots of handy storage, including large door bins and a big glovebox, plus a useful cubby ahead of the gearlever that houses two cup-holders, as well as the USB and 12V sockets.




Performance 0-60/30-70mph 9.9/10.2 seconds

! Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph




Running costs


VW will no doubt want to forget its 2016 Driver Power performance, as it finished 24th overall, while its dealer network was ranked 28th out of 31. Even so, these were better results than Nissan could manage. Matters improve for the Polo when it comes to safety, and it has a five-star Euro NCAP rating, but it’s worth bearing in mind that it was assessed in 2009, while the C3 earned four stars under much tougher conditions in 2017. Four airbags, stability control and a driver fatigue monitor are standard on the Polo, but autonomous emergency is an option, while front and rear curtain airbags can be added for £660.


280/952 litres



ALL three cars recorded similar fuel economy on test. The Polo returned a respectable 43.6mpg at the pumps, which was a fraction ahead of the C3. Based on these figures it means there’s just £10 difference in your annual fuel bill, with the Polo coming in slightly cheaper with a total of £1,474. However, the Nissan was even more efficient than the VW and Citroen, returning 45.5mpg. The Nissan emits the least CO2, so it’s no surprise it had an advantage when we worked out the test figures. It’ll only save you £62 a year over the Polo, though.

43.6mpg (on test) £53 fill-up


It’s getting old, but this perennial class front-run

4L REAR Good packaging means smaller Polo is as roomy as Micra

Testers’ notes

“The effects of VW’s Dieselgate scandal are clear to see in the Polo line-up. There’s just one 1.4 TDI on offer, while the ultra-efficient BlueMotion model is now petrol powered.”

Ja James Disdale Chief reviewer BOOT False floor moves to create more space or level loading

Nissan Micra vs rivals


With years of development under its belt, Polo delivers grown-up manners

Road tests


Our guide to which trim level might suit you

Our choice:

1.2 TSI Match Edition

en Polo


Basic design is nearly a decade old, and Polo lacks design flair

nner is still at the top of its game for driving and running costs

GEARBOX Five-speed unit has a slick shift

and helps boost the Polo’s driving enjoyment

INTERIOR Build quality is first-rate, and Match Edition gets kit such as auto lights and wipers and Car-Net connectivity

TRIM Match Edition gets grey cloth seats,

this two-tone finish appears on beats models

5 April 2017 41

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

WHEN it comes to choice, the Polo takes some beating. Buyers can pick from S, S A/C, Match, Match Edition, beats, SEL, R-Line, BlueMotion, BlueGT and GTI versions. However, the 1.2 TSI tested here can only be ordered in Match, beats and R-Line versions. Match gets air-con, parking sensors and touchscreen infotainment, but Edition brings Car-Net connectivity, auto lights and wipers and folding mirrors. With VW’s Solutions PCP scheme you’ll pay £222 a month, which is just £1 more than for the Match. The beats adds a 300W stereo and body decals for an extra £10, while the R-Line is an extra £53 a month, which we think is a lot for a bodykit, different interior trim and LED headlights. All these prices are based on a three-year deal with a £1,500 deposit, £1,400 deposit contribution and a 10,000-mile annual limit.

Road tests

Nissan Micra vs rivals

MODEL TESTED: Citroen C3 PureTech 110 Feel PRICE: £15,235 ENGINE: 1.2-litre 3cyl, 108bhp

THE C3 was a breath of fresh air when it arrived last year. It scaled down some of the quirky design features from the Citroen C4 Cactus crossover to give the supermini plenty of character, helping it stand out from the crowd in a busy sector. Our pictures show the range-topping Flair model, but here we test the £15,235 mid-spec Feel trim with Citroen’s PureTech 110 petrol engine.


LIKE the Micra, the C3’s underpinnings and mechanical make-up stretch further back than you might imagine. The pumped-up supermini body sits on Citroen’s PF1 platform, which is relatively old. However, it’s had plenty of development, so for this third-generation C3 the French brand continued the refinement of the chassis architecture, focusing on comfort. Just like Nissan, Citroen has enlarged the C3’s dimensions to offer even more room inside, so there’s very little to split the two in terms of size. The Citroen doesn’t have the most sophisticated setup dynamically, but with “Citroen Advanced Comfort” it should cater for more people more of the time. This isn’t some clever adaptive damper concept, though. Instead, it’s more of an ethos Citroen’s engineers have employed to return to the French firm’s foundations of a compliant ride. The suspension has plenty of travel, and with MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam rear axle, the layout matches the Micra’s and the Polo’s. To tally with the ride, Citroen Advanced Comfort also extends to the ergonomic seat design, while the interior is clean and simple. Material quality can’t match the Polo’s cabin, but there’s some nice soft-touch detailing on the dash fascia, while the metal inserts and leather door pulls give a modern edge. Elsewhere the plastics aren’t so premium, with plenty of hard material around the gearlever, door bins and glovebox. Like the Micra, Apple CarPlay is standard on the C3 Feel, as is Bluetooth and a seven-inch touchscreen. However, the Citroen also gets a DAB radio, climate control and alloy wheels.




THE C3’s 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo unit serves up 108bhp and a healthy 205Nm of torque from 1,500rpm – 65Nm more than the Micra. It shows why the Citroen was the quickest at the test track, sprinting from 0-60mph in 9.7 seconds. However, while the C3 feels fairly quick, elements of the package, such as the rubbery gear shift, mean it’s not as precise as the Polo to drive. The steering is light but has a natural weight, which makes it easy to drive on tight city streets, but the C3’s size does make it feel like the largest car on test. This is backed up by the least agile chassis – although the trade-off is a good level of comfort. As long as you avoid big potholes, the Citroen’s suspension moves with the road nicely, meaning you can make surprising and relatively relaxed progress. It’s best to drive the C3 using the punch lower down in the range. The PureTech unit gets a little rougher higher up, becoming more vocal with

42 5 April 2017





103g/km £140 or 19%


Practicality Boot (seats up/down) 300/922 litres



AT 300 litres, the C3’s boot matches the Nissan’s. Drop the rear seats, and the 922-litre load bay isn’t quite as big as the Polo’s at 952 litres, or the Micra’s 1,004 litres. However, there’s plenty of room inside. The flat dash and upright fascia give a good feeling of space, helped by an extra 20mm of shoulder room between the front seats, while the C3’s longer wheelbase compared to its rivals means legroom in the rear isn’t an issue. Headroom is good in the back, too, but despite some decent storage, the ergonomics aren’t quite as polished as the Polo’s.



Performance 0-60/30-70mph 9.7/10.5 seconds

! Braking




CITROEN narrowly beat Nissan in our Driver Power survey, taking 26th place. However, whereas Nissan’s official dealer network was criticised by customers and finished in 29th position, Citroen’s result of 18th was the best of these three brands. The C3 gets a respectable level of safety kit as standard. Six airbags, lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition are fitted, but unlike the Micra, autonomous braking isn’t even offered as an option, which is why Euro NCAP only gave the C3 a four-star safety rating this year.



revs. The Citroen doesn’t like to be hustled, and although there’s a respectable level of grip on offer, you can’t lean on the chassis like you can in the VW. The C3 prefers a calmer approach, which fits with the car’s character – that’s why the Citroen is a convincing supermini that delivers comfort and usability with the benefit of decent performance.



THE Citroen has the poorest predicted residuals of this trio, according to our experts. The C3 will hold on to just 33.6 per cent of its value, which combined with its higher price means it’ll lose the most, with depreciation totalling £10,116 after three years. The Nissan is predicted to hold on to slightly more of its value, retaining 37.4 per cent, which equates to depreciation of £9,462 over the same period. It’s clear that, despite the Polo’s age and the firm’s recent Dieselgate troubles, the VW badge is still attractive, and the Polo is expected to hold on to an impressive 42.2 per cent of its purchase price. This means it’ll shed £8,722 over the first three years, so will be worth £6,368 – or £715 and £1,249 more than the Micra and C3 respectively.


70-0/60-0/30-0mph 53.7/38.8/11.2m

Running costs 43.3mpg (on test) £53 fill-up

Citroen C3

Funky looking supermini delivers space and com

REAR Back seats offer the most legroom of these three cars

Testers’ notes

“The Airbumps on the C3’s flanks should help prevent dents in car parks, but they’re only standard on the Flair model. If you want them on Feel trim, you’ll have to pay £290.”

Se Sean Carson Senior staff writer BOOT There’s 300 litres of space, but the load lip is quite high

Nissan Micra vs rivals


Soft suspension means C3 is comfortable to drive, while engine is punchy

Road tests


Our guide to which trim level might suit you

Our choice:

C3 PureTech 110 Feel


Distinctive looks won’t be to all tastes, while Airbumps are optional

mfort, as well as decent running costs

GEARBOX Five-speed has a rubbery

shift that spoils driving enjoyment a little

INTERIOR Upright dashboard has some neat design touches and personalisation options, and build quality is good, too

ROOF Cabin feels spacious, while panoramic glass is a £400 option on Flair models

5 April 2017 43

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

WHILE the C3 is offered in three trim levels, this most powerful PureTech unit is only available on the top two: Feel and Flair. It limits the appeal a little, but Citroen’s finance deals are fairly competitive, which means you get plenty of performance and equipment for your monthly budget. With a £1,500 deposit, Citroen will throw in an effective £500 contribution. Based on a three-year deal limited to 10,000 miles per year, the C3 Feel will cost £254 per month. Upgrade to Flair, and with the same £500 deposit contribution you’ll pay £270 a month. This model gets more kit, such as sat-nav, those quirky Airbumps, a reversing camera and parking sensors. There’s also an auto gearbox available on the top-spec model, which adds another £32 per month. However, Feel trim is the spec that we’d go for.

Road tests

Nissan Micra vs rivals

Inf tainment NISSAN MICRA

NissanConnect Nav £700 option



Key features: Apple CarPlay, traffic info APPLE CarPlay comes as standard on the Acenta model, but sat-nav with traffic information comes as part of the £700 Vision Pack, which adds NissanConnect touchscreen navigation. This is standard on Tekna cars. The smartphone integration is nicely done, with CarPlay giving you access to apps that allow music and entertainment on the move, as well as the ability to use Siri voice control from your smartphone to perform simple local searches using Apple’s Maps app. However, Android Auto isn’t offered, which is a mark against the Micra – although we’re told it’s coming in the future. The seven-inch screen’s graphics aren’t so high resolution. However, with hot keys flanking either side of the display, it’s easy to jump to different sections of the infotainment system. It’s also worth mentioning that Nissan offers a £500 Bose stereo upgrade, which features speakers in the headrests and plenty of power for a supermini sound system.


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




Discover Navigation £700 option

Key features: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto

THE Polo Match Edition gets VW’s Car-Net ‘App-Connect’ system as standard. It’s a £130 option on other models in the range, and brings Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which gives users sat-nav through their smartphone if the £700 optional Discover Navigation system fitted here seems a bit expensive. This Discover system is a sophisticated unit and is operated through a 6.5-inch colour touchscreen, which also combines the radio functions and other car settings, as well as adding a speed limit display. There aren’t too many other notable features apart from this, although VW’s Car-Net ‘Guide and Inform’ service gives a three-year subscription to VW’s online services, beaming traffic info, fuel prices, parking space locations and weather forecasts into your car. Like all of these superminis, this level of connected tech gives a big car feel to some extent, but even without it there’s a level of functionality thanks to good smartphone integration.



The optional Discover system in the Polo has clear maps and it’s easy to input a destination



Key features: Apple CarPlay, live services

A SEVEN-inch touchscreen comes as standard on the C3 Feel, but like the Micra you’ll have to rely on Apple CarPlay for sat-nav, unless you want to spend £500 on the integrated navigation upgrade fitted to our test car. The enhanced infotainment system also includes connected services, including TomTom Traffic, information on petrol prices nearby and weather forecasts, and real-time info on traffic incidents. There’s plenty of functionality, but the touchscreen interface can be a little laggy. It’s the latest generation unit from Peugeot-Citroen, so the graphics are nice and sharp, but the touch-sensitive shortcut keys at either side of the screen aren’t as easy to use as the Polo’s labelled buttons. Smartphone connectivity is reasonable, with CarPlay catering for Apple users. However, if you’ve got an Android phone, you’re stuck with the clunky MirrorLink system, as Android Auto isn’t yet offered – although it will be coming at some point this year.


Citroen has the clearest graphics, but the shortcut buttons aren’t very responsive


If you use an Android phone, you’re stuck with the clunky MirrorLink pairing system

VW adds a comprehensive trip computer, while AppConnect pairs any phone easily

Only Apple CarPlay is on offer, but eco driving trainer will help boost your economy



Citroen Connect £500 option


Handy buttons flank Micra’s display, while 360 camera is offered on high spec models





FOR: Good-sized screen, Apple CarPlay, simple layout

FOR: Slick interface, easy to use, good smartphone connectivity

FOR: Clear graphics, slick-looking

AGAINST: Fuzzy graphics, interface a bit

AGAINST: Pricey, screen could

AGAINST: No Android Auto yet, touchscreen

clunky, Android Auto not yet supported, cost

44 5 April 2017

be larger, graphics lack definition

screen, connected services

can be laggy, layout not as logical as VW’s


Nissan Micra vs rivals

Figures On the road price/total as tested Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000) Depreciation Annual tax liability std/higher rate Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) Ins. group/quote/road tax cost Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service

VW Polo 1.2 TSI 90 Match Edition tion £15,090/£15,090 £6,368/42.2% £8,722 £601/£1,203 £1,474/£2,457 15/£739/£140 £288 (2yrs/20k)

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

3,972/2,470mm 1,453/1,682mm 4cyl in-line/1,197cc 89/4,800 bhp/rpm 160/1,400 Nm/rpm 5-spd man/fwd 45 litres/repair kit 280/952 litres 1,107/531/1,000kg 10.6 metres 3yrs (60k)/1yr Variable (1yr)/223 24th/28th 90/86/41/71/5

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

9.9/10.2 secs 5.0/7.2 secs 10.9 secs 114mph/2,600rpm 51.4/36.9/9.4m 62/50/58/64dB 43.6/9.6/432 miles 47.1/70.6/60.1mpg 10.4/15.5/13.2mpl 150/109g/km/20%

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

Four/yes/yes/£245 £1,375/y/y/£400^ £380/no/£360 £555/£910/no £700/yes/yes/yes

Results ROADTEST ★★★★


RESIDUAL VALUES POLO depreciates the least thanks to VW’s badge appeal. It’s competitively priced, so will be attractive for private buyers. BOOT SPACE THE Polo is 20 litres down on its rivals, but it still offers enough day-to-day practicality. It’s also bigger than the C3 with the seats down.

NCAP RATING AUTONOMOUS braking is available to improve safety, but it’s still worth noting that the Polo’s NCAP rating is from 2009.

FOUR AIRBAGS ONLY four airbags are fitted, but the Polo does get cruise control, parking sensors, DAB and Bluetooth – plus sat-nav via Apple CarPlay.



ITS rivals are catching up, but the Polo is still a polished product that’s great to drive and is packed with tech. It emits the most CO2, but car tax changes mean that’s less important, while economy is on a par. It offers enough boot space for a supermini and clever packaging creates as much room as the larger Micra in the rear. Factor in rock-solid residuals and the VW retains its crown.

★★★★★ ★

Road tests

Citroen C3 PureTech 110 Feel

Nissan Micra 0.9 IG-T Acenta

£15,235/£15,235 £5,119/33.6% £10,116 £577/£1,154 £1,484/£2,474 16/£736/£140 £400/£11pm (3yrs)

£15,115/£15,115 £5,653/37.4% £9,462 £538/£1,076 £1,412/£2,354 3/£555/£140 £159/£249/£159

3,996/2,540mm 1,474/1,829mm 3cyl in-line/1,199cc 108/5,500 bhp/rpm 205/1,500 Nm/rpm 5-spd man/fwd 45 litres/space saver 300/922 litres 1,050/550/600kg 10.9 metres 3yrs (60k)/1yr 20k miles (1yr)/196 26th/18th 88/83/59/58/4 9.7/10.5 secs 4.6/7.7 secs 11.0 secs 117mph/2,500rpm 53.7/38.8/11.2m 74/51/62/70dB 43.3/9.5/429 miles 51.4/70.6/61.4mpg 11.3/15.5/13.5mpl 151/103g/km/19%

POWER C3’s turbo triple is the most powerful on test. Lots of low-down torque means you don’t have to rev it to make progress. GEARBOX THESE three all use five-speed boxes, but the C3’s shift isn’t very pleasant. However, longer gearing helps refinement.

SAFETY TECH EMERGENCY braking isn’t even an option on the C3, which is why it only earned a four-star Euro NCAP score.

Six/yes/£500*/£500* No/yes/yes/no Yes/no/no £495/no/no £500/yes/yes/yes


3,999/2,525mm 1,455/1,743mm 3cyl in-line/898cc 89/5,500 bhp/rpm 140/2,250 Nm/rpm 5-spd man/fwd 41 litres/repair kit 300/1,004 litres 1,082/470/1,200kg 10.0 metres 3yrs(60k)/3yrs 12k miles (1yr)/221 28th/29th N/A 10.8/10.8 secs 5.0/7.2 secs 14.5 secs 109mph/2,900rpm 49.0/34.0/9.2m 71/51/65/73dB 45.5/10.0/410 miles 50.4/76.3/64.2mpg 11.1/16.8/14.1mpl 143/99g/km/18% Six/y/£700*/£700* No/yes/yes/yes £450*/no/no £575/£500/£450* £700*/yes/no/yes


INTERIOR quality lets the C3 down compared to its interesting design. However, it offers the most space and affordable running costs. Factor in the Citroen’s decent level of performance that makes it easy to drive, and its relaxing ride quality, and it edges ahead of the Nissan. You get a good level of kit for the money, but poor depreciation dents its appeal.

★★★★★ ★


SIZE COMPARED with its predecessor, the Micra is much larger and closer to the competition, but there are still some issues.

DRIVER POWER NISSAN was the worst performer of these three brands in our reader satisfaction survey, finishing just four places from bottom.

EMISSIONS VED changes mean the low 99g/km output won’t make the Micra any cheaper to tax, but it’ll be marginally more affordable for business users.


THE reinvented Micra’s styling, fresher interior and improved infotainment bring it up to date. It also offers plenty of efficiency, making it a good choice for business users. However, competition in the supermini sector is fierce, and the Nissan isn’t as good to drive as the Polo or as comfortable as the C3. Some practicality drawbacks and a lack of sparkle see it finish a close third.

★★★★★ ★

^Incl adaptive cruise control. *Part of pack. In red = equipment fitted to our test car. 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.


soon Is it worth waiting for this model?

SEAT Ibiza 1.0 TSI SE Tech

DUE: Summer PRICE: £15,255 ENGINE: 1.0-litre 3cyl, 94bhp

ALL-new Ibiza (driven on Page 26) looks ready to shake up the order. With sleek lines, an upmarket interior, plenty of tech and strong refinement, it has all the ingredients to shine. Eager 1.0 TSI in SE Tech guise is the pick of the bunch.

5 April 2017 45

Road tests

Porsche Panamera vs Tesla Model S

Rapid new diesel takes on electric pioneer in an executive saloon battle THE automotive landscape is changing, with diesel power coming in for some heavy criticism recently. However, in big luxury cars there’s no doubt diesel power still makes sense. Porsche certainly thinks so, as its new Panamera 4S Diesel delivers as much on-paper performance as you could want from a four-seat luxury four-door. In fact, according to Porsche it’s the fastest diesel production car currently on sale. However, in 2017 there’s another option if you want pace, space and grace without the running costs of a large petrol. The facelifted Tesla Model S, tested here in P100D form, proves this, and is one of the world’s fastest electric cars. But in a head-tohead battle between these models, which is best?


Porsche Panamera vs Tesla Model S PORSCHE PANAMERA

Latest Panamera builds on the engaging and agile driving experience of the original, but adds improved looks and more tech inside and out THE four-door Panamera has always been the ugly duckling in Porsche’s line-up, but the German firm has honed the secondgeneration’s design so the proportions are a little less awkward. It looks more like a four-door 911 than ever, while the Panamera inherits some clever tech from top-end versions of its sports car sibling. The new chassis additions to the Panamera mean this four-seat luxury limousine offers incredible agility, while a new V8 turbodiesel under the bonnet ensures it has the power to match.



Porsche Panamera 4S Diesel Price: £93,379 Engine: 4.0-litre V8 turbodiesel Power/torque: 416bhp/850Nm Transmission: Eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic, four-wheel drive 0-60mph/top speed: 3.9 seconds/177mph Test economy: 32.0mpg CO2/tax: 176g/km/£450 Options: Metallic paint (£929), 21-inch Sport Design alloys (£2,465), LED matrix headlights (£1,509), adaptive air-suspension (£1,604), rear-axle steering (£1,536), heated, ventilated and massaging seats (£3,161)

Performance The way this 2,050kg car corners puts some sports cars to shame. Air-suspension and adaptive dampers help, while V8 gives effortless punch.

FOR & AGAINST FOR: Luxury levels of refinement,

impressive interior tech, huge performance

AGAINST: Pricey, expensive options

needed to extract the best, only four seats

46 5 April 2017

Porsche Panamera vs Tesla Model S

TESLA MODEL S With amazing tech, great performance and live software updates, the Model S is the car of the future – but can it keep up with its Porsche rival? THE Model S was facelifted last year, and while this design revision marked a significant point in the car’s history, Tesla has actually been constantly refining and tweaking the car since it went on sale in 2012. Over time, it’s added four-wheel drive, more power, extra range and other functionality (such as autonomous driving) released via over-the-air software updates, to the point where this Model S P100D is the most honed version on sale. The performance figures are mightily impressive, but is it enough to beat the Panamera?


Road tests


Tesla Model S P100D Price: £129,400 Engine: Dual electric motors Power: 603bhp/967Nm Transmission: Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive 0-60mph/top speed: 3.0 seconds/155mph Test economy: N/A CO2/tax: 0g/km/£310 Options: Metallic paint (£1,000), panoramic sunroof (£2,000), 21-inch Turbine wheels (£4,500), Premium Upgrades Package (£3,500), Subzero Weather Package (£1,000)

Torque delivery Huge power from electric motors means rapid acceleration. In Tesla’s Ludicrous mode, it’s more like being fired out of a cannon. Turbinesmooth acceleration is instant.

FOR & AGAINST FOR: Performance, relaxing to drive,

impressive range makes Model S very usable

AGAINST: Pricey to buy and expensive options, not as agile as some big cars, charging infrastructure still lacking

5 April 2017 47

Road tests

Porsche Panamera vs Tesla Model S

1st PORSCHE PANAMERA World’s fastest diesel delivers plenty of entertainment in corners, and is also a refined cruiser

FOR the time being, the £93,379 ,379 4S Diesel is the only diesel-powered Panamera amera in the range. Under the bonnet, the 4.0-litre litre twin-turbo V8 is new and produces an impressive essive 416bhp – more even than a 911 Carrera S. Ass well as plenty of power, it has a healthy 850Nm of torque that’s served up from a lowly 1,000rpm m and doesn’t let up until 3,250rpm. Peak power kicks in just after this, and is sustained until 5,000rpm. ,000rpm. Diesels usually struggle at higher gher revs, but the Porsche’s engine feels so muscular cular and continues revving in a linear fashion hion higher up the range, emitting a muted V8 rumble. With a new eight-speed PDK dual-clutch h automatic gearbox, launch control and four-wheel wheel drive, the Panamera’s performance is stunning. ning. It sprinted from 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds, while hile its in-gear acceleration was similarly spectacular, cular, even compared to the instant torque of the Tesla. There’s so much that’s new about ut this secondgeneration Porsche Panamera that at very little is carried over from its predecessor.. Porsche’s 4D Chassis control system integrates tes all the tech on offer, so the way this 2,050kg four-door ur-door drives is scarcely believable. Our car featured ured Porsche’s £1,604 adaptive air-suspension. The Panamera rides nicely, but with 21-inch alloys, even with the dampers in their softest setting you can still feel niggly wheel movement over small bumps. However, at higher speeds the chassis soaks up the worst the road can throw at it with convincing composure. The slightly firmer edge to the ride is worth putting up with given how agile the car is, though. Our model was also fitted with rear-wheel steering (£1,536), which effectively shortens the Panamera’s wheelbase in slower turns for increased response and lengthens it in faster corners for more stability. The steering has just the right level of weight and feedback, while the grip and traction would embarrass some sports cars. Plus the Panamera has real poise and balance for such a big, heavy car. Taut body control aside, the Porsche switches to a luxury limo when you move from Sport Plus to Comfort mode, and the interior comes into its own. The 12-inch touchscreen is clear and digitally controls the movement of the central air vent. This might seem gimmicky, but the level of connectivity isn’t, with apps and smartphone programmes on offer. The console is no longer festooned with buttons. Instead, the touch sensitive glass panel is flush, adding an even more hi-tech feel combined with the twin high-resolution screens either side of Porsche’s trademark central rev counter.

Verdict ★★★★★

THE Panamera lives up to its promise in the UK. It’s packed full of tech, rides better, is more agile and offers even more refinement then the Tesla. It’ll be more expensive to run, but it’s cheaper to buy, and offers incredible performance and competitive efficiency in a complete package.

48 5 April 2017





APR 2017


The Panamera is defined by its split spl personality. It’s incredibly relaxed and refined on the rel motorway, yet on a country mot road it seems to shed weight roa and handle with control you’d expect from a lighter car. exp

GEARBOX The transmission GE




is smooth and swift, shifting up early in Comfort to maximise ear efficiency. However, this effi means the engine can get mea caught off boost – but it’s quick cau to kick down where the V8 delivers its monster punch. del

RUNNING COSTS R It’s expensive to buy, and even It’ as a diesel it’ll be expensive to run. The Panamera returned 32.0mpg on test, which equates to around £2,068 per year in fuel. The Tesla will cost £570 to charge at home a year.

RANGE While it costs more




to run than the Model S, with a 90-litre tank you’ll only have to fill the Panamera every 630 miles, whereas the Tesla will be out of charge in 381 miles, according to official figures – although 300 miles is a more realistic target.


The Porsche’s heavily raked hatch impacts on boot space, but there’s still 500 litres. Fold the back seats down and this rises to 1,340 litres, offering more practicality.

FOUR SEATS Unlike the

Model S, the Panamera only seats four. However, while headroom is tighter than in the Tesla, there’s lots of legroom and storage is good.

Steering and drive Steering has a balanced mix of weight and feedback, with great grip and traction, too. Car is agile, with a slightly firm edge to the ride

Infotainment Centre console is dominated by Porsche’s 12-inch touchscreen, which boasts clear graphics and connectivity

Design Fiddly buttons are gone, with a clean and logical layout chosen for the Porsche’s interior


CO2/tax 176g/km £450 or 37%

Practicality Boot (seats up/down) 500/1,340 litres





The Porsche’s cabin feels much higher quality than the Tesla’s. The inlays, glass centre console, customisable screens and solid build mean it feels worth every last pound of its price.

3.9/3.4 seconds

Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 45.5/31.5/9.7m

Running costs 32.0mpg (on test) £109 fill-up

What deals are on offer?

INFOTAINMENT This is the most sophisticated multimedia system ever in a Porsche. You can turn the car into a Wi-Fi hotspot, connect to apps, get info on fuel prices and link your Apple phone or watch via CarPlay. However, it’s the slick way in which it all works so seamlessly that’s impressive.







Porsche came seventh in our Driver Power 2016 satisfaction survey, which is good. However, Tesla topped the table, finishing first in every category except for build quality. where it came second to Porsche.

WARRANTY Porsche is known

for reliability in motorsport, and its road cars reflect this. A three-year unlimited mileage warranty is standard.


IF you want a more efficient car than the Panamera 4S or Turbo petrol models, this is the only diesel available so our deals focus on this engine. There is another option for company car users, though; the petrol-powered 56g/km Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, although you’ll really need to plug it in every time you park it up if you want to see real economy benefits over the diesel. The Porsche and Tesla are expensive cars, so a £15,000 deposit might seem steep but isn’t actually that much in percentage terms. Put this down on the Porsche and, on a three-year PCP deal limited to 10,000 miles per year, your monthly payment will come in at £1,097. Unlike some other models, the long-wheelbase Executive version isn’t available in 4S Diesel guise – although you’re not losing out on much, as the standard Panamera offers plenty of legroom and comfort anyway.

Our choice: Panamera 4S Diesel

5 April 2017 49

Road tests

Porsche Panamera vs Tesla Model S


Searing straight-line pace and cutting-edge tech grabs the headlines, but there’s much more to the Model S

IF you’ve not driven an electric car before, then you’ve never experienced the instant power an EV delivers. However, nothing can prepare you for the punch of the P100D’s dual electric motors – you’ll be left stunned at the performance on offer. This most powerful Model S comes with Tesla’s Ludicrous Plus power upgrade, which puts 603bhp hp to the road through all four wheels. However, like the Porsche, it’s the torque that takes your breath away. y. Despite the Model S’s hefty 2,242kg kerbweight, acceleration is rapid, thanks to the 967Nm on offer. fer. In order to extract maximum performance, you have to go through a lengthy process of pre-heating ing the battery pack, which can take up to an hour. Time constraints meant we weren’t able to fully test the car in Ludicrous Plus mode. However, even en in the regular Ludicrous mode, the Model S still sprinted from 0-60mph in 3.0 seconds, helped by the convoluted launch control procedure. The Tesla accelerated from 30-70mph in a startling 2.4 seconds, which was a full second faster than the Porsche, partly because the Panamera has to shift through gears, whereas the Tesla’s electric motors don’t have any ratios. However, the Model S’s mass means it can’t match the Porsche in the bends. The steering is light and doesn’t weight up or offer much feedback, and it also doesn’t grip quite as hard. Even if you delicately squeeze the accelerator out of corners it triggers the traction control, so it actually limits performance until you’re in a straight line. You also feel the car’s weight when braking, and despite the regenerative effect from the motors, it doesn’t feel as stable as the Panamera. Nor does it yield to tricky surfaces as well as the Porsche, thumping over bigger bumps despite its air-suspension. There’s also a lot of road noise. With no combustion engine to drown out wind and road noise, you hear more on the move, but despite a less sophisticated feel to the way the Tesla rides, it still offers a decent level of comfort. No engine brings big benefits for packaging. The cabin is spacious, and with no transmission tunnel there’s plenty of storage below the enormous 17-inch touchscreen – plus, there’s good legroom in the back for the passenger in the middle seat. Like Porsche’s £2,438 InnoDrive autonomous driving system, Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot option will control the car, adapting to traffic around it and keeping the car within its lane. However, its £5,000 price more than cancels out the £4,500 Government Plug-in Car Grant. Even without that option, the top-spec Model S is a hefty £129,400.

Verdict ★★★★★

THE P100D is an engineering triumph, and its performance always staggers. While running costs might rival a hot hatch and its performance a hypercar, it’s not as complete as the Panamera. You get lots of kit, but build quality isn’t as good, and while it’s larger it doesn’t feel as luxurious or refined.

50 5 April 2017





It’s not as nimble or precise as the Porsche, but the Model S feels like nothing else to drive. The surge from the motors does eventually abate, but only well above the speed limit. Acceleration is smooth.

BRAKING You choose the




level of regenerative braking to help top the battery up. In the higher setting you don’t need to use the brake, the effect is so strong. However, one-pedal driving feels natural in traffic, but artificial on twistier roads.


Electric cars attract nine per cent company car tax – the Panamera’s Benefit in Kind rate is 37 per cent. The Tesla will cost £4,656 per year for higher rate drivers, compared to £13,759 for the Porsche.

CHARGING The Tesla will be




cheap to charge, as ownership entitles you to 400kWh (around 1,000 miles) of free electricity every year using Tesla’s Supercharger network. A fast top-up at these locations takes 30 minutes for an 80 per cent increase in range.


The compact drivetrain gives plenty of luggage space. There’s 894 litres on offer, which rises to 1,795 litres if you fold the seats. You can get seven seats for £4,000.

BOOT Capacity quoted above includes 150 litres of space in the nose, but the deep, wide load area in the rear will be more than spacious enough for most of your needs.


Steering and drive


Acceleration is smooth and speedy, but car’s weight means it’s more enjoyable on straight roads than in corners

Huge 17-inch touchscreen dominates the dash, and acts as the car’s control centre


CO2/tax 0g/km £310 or 9%

Practicality Boot (seats up/down) 894/1,795 litres


Some parts of the interior feel plasticky, but leather details and metal inserts add a more luxury feel




Quality isn’t of the same grade as the Panamera’s. Parts feel plasticky, such as the cup-holder and storage tray, but there’s leather, cool metal inserts and lots of tech that feels upmarket.

dominated by its 17-inch touchscreen. This controls all of the car’s functions, from the panoramic roof to Ludicrous mode. It’s a focal point to the cabin with lots of tech – including Internet in the car – but requires a minimum 3G connection to run most functions.

3.0/2.4 seconds

Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 49.7/35.7/10.8m

Running costs 381-mile range 30 mins (80% fast charge)

Which trim level might suit you?

SCREEN The Model S’s interior is







If you have any hang-ups over the Tesla’s battery and motors, an eight-year unlimited mileage warranty should dispel them. The rest of the car is covered under the standard four-year/50,000-mile package.

SAFETY Collision avoidance and

autonomous braking have been added through updates. The Model S got a five-star Euro NCAP rating in 2014.


WITH an identical £15,000 deposit to the Panamera, based on the same 36-month PCP deal limited to 10,000 miles per year, you’ll pay £1,793 per month before any incentives for the Model S P100D. However, unlike the Panamera, there’s more choice. Dropping to the cheaper 100D model will save you £681 per month, and while you lose some performance and range, you don’t sacrifice kit. Besides, the 100D is more than quick enough. The range drops on a sliding scale from here, with the 90D offering less power and range, but costing £1,060 per month. The 75kWh model comes with rear or fourwheel drive, and costs £783 and £870 per month respectively. The 60kWh version costs £671 or £757 per month, but these will be dropped from the line-up on 16 April. Existing 60kWh owners can pay to upgrade their car to the 75kWh version via an over-the-air update.

Our choice: Model S 90D

5 April 2017 51

Our cars

Living with a Kia Niro

Stuart Milne @stuartjmilne

EAGLE-eyed readers will notice that there’s something different about our long-term Kia Niro. That’s because we’ve had to swap the Temptation Red car that made its debut on the Auto Express fleet in Issue 1,455 for an identical car, bar the obvious change to White Pearl metallic paint. The change came as a result of a mystery problem that emerged after just 600 miles in our original Niro, which Kia thought worthy of additional investigation. On starting the car, a whiff of petrol fumes would quickly enter the cabin, and when the engine was cold, it would hesitate under acceleration and had a lumpy idle. Once up to temperature, the problem would go away. This meant a trip to the dealer was necessary, so I booked the car into Essex Auto Group in Southend for the issue to be examined. A faulty oxygen sensor was picked up by EAG’s diagnostic software, but replacing it failed to cure the problem. Even a comprehensive engine stripdown and calls back and forth between EAG and Kia’s technical centre proved fruitless. In the end, Kia asked to take the car back.


I was glad when its replacement arrived. I’m not too taken with the pearlescent paint, but elsewhere, this second Niro is just as easy to drive as the first, and, more importantly, it’s easy to drive economically. This is a hybrid, so it’s all about maximising what the powertrain can offer – which is a lot. The Niro is more willing to drop into EV mode than most other petrol-electric cars I’ve driven, while the combustion engine doesn’t kick in as soon as you go near the accelerator. Try as I might, I’ve not been able to fully deplete the battery’s charge, and as Kia doesn’t publish a battery-only range figure, an electricrange challenge is planned for the future. However, this could be difficult, given there’s no button to force electric-only progress. The Niro behaves like a normal petrol or diesel car when it comes to urban and motorway driving, so it’s more economical on a motorway than in traffic. From past experience I’ve had with a Lexus CT 200h, that’s the opposite of what most hybrids are capable of. It’s obvious that the Niro’s more modern technology brings more electric assistance at higher speeds and for longer, making 60mpg on a motorway run easily achievable. However, during the more common around-town grind I find myself in, the Niro dips into the forties. So far on test, I’ve managed an average of 47.5mpg, but I’m confident I can improve on that easily. Talking of town driving, the Niro’s bluff shape and short overhangs make it an excellent urban car. The turning circle is impressively tight and its boxy shape makes it easy to get in and out of in tight spots. But what’s not so impressive is the boot. For such a large vehicle, the Niro doesn’t make best use of its 373-litre load bay. It’s quite a bit smaller than crossovers like the Nissan Qashqai

52 5 April 2017

Kia Niro

SECOND REPORT We hope it’s second-time lucky for our hybrid crossover BOOT

Rear space feels small compared with some rivals; bike fits only when seats are folded

Driving Aerodynamic design helps improve fuel economy, while short

overhangs and well packaged shape mean Niro is easy to manoeuvre at low speeds

(430 litres), while its roll-back luggage-cover means accessing the boot is a two-step process. Once it’s open, it just doesn’t seem that big; the only way I can carry my threeyear-old daughter’s bike is by folding the rear seats forward, which is a bit disappointing for a family crossover.

“Try as I might, I’ve not been able to fully deplete the battery’s charge”

Living with a Kia Niro

Our cars

Pete Gibson

Essentials Kia Niro 2 On fleet since: December 2016 Price new: £22,795 Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl hybrid, 139bhp CO2/tax: 88g/km/£130 Options: White Pearl metallic paint (£545) Insurance*: Group: 12 Quote: £604 Mileage/mpg: 1,667/47.5mpg Any problems? First car returned to Kia *Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

Interior Bespoke dials behind the steering wheel

give readings about the energy flow and offer eco tips


Running costs



47.5mpg (on test)

£130 or 17%

373/1,371 litres

£52 fill-up


Second opinion

“UNLIKE hatchback rivals such as the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Ioniq, Kia’s first attempt at a petrolelectric hybrid for the UK comes in the form of a crossover, which should combine low running costs and style to boost appeal.The Niro’s design is best described as inoffensive, but those curves and creases are there for a reason – with a coefficient of drag at just 0.29Cd, it can cut through the air with maximum efficiency, hopefully cutting costs at the pumps.”

WE LIKE Despite the lack of a dedicated EV mode, it’s easy to drive around town without the engine kicking in. Fuel economy continues to improve as well

James Disdale Chief reviewer


Hybrid technology works effortlessly and can improve fuel economy up to 60mpg

WE DON’T Recessed boot

release button means it’s hard to open without getting your hands dirty. Load space isn’t as practical as some rivals.

Verdict DESPITE a troubled start to our relationship, the Niro is now settling into life on the fleet well. It’s not only an impressive first hybrid from Kia, but an economical all-rounder that’s proving easy to live with on a daily basis, as long as you’re not carrying bulky items.


5 April 2017 53

Our cars

Peugeot 2008 SECOND REPORT When it comes to steering wheels, size matters Martin Saarinen

WHEN it updated its 2008 crossover, Peugeot tweaked a number of different areas to help keep the car at the top of its game – but one thing it didn’t touch was the car’s controversial i-Cockpit layout. This has been a contentious subject since the concept first launched on its 208 supermini. Having spread to the 308 hatchback and 2008 we’re running on the Auto Express fleet, the small steering wheel set-up has been making waves once

again. The idea of the i-Cockpit, Peugeot says, is that the small, sporty steering wheel is positioned lower down on the dash, with the dials and instruments above, so you peer over the wheel rather than through the gap between the centre and the rim. But as I found out after breaking out the tape measure, the 2008’s steering wheel is actually narrower than that fitted to one of my colleague’s cars, a sporty Caterham Seven. The claim is that this layout means you divert your attention away from the road for less time than with a conventional dash, but I’m not so sure. You see, I don’t feel

comfortable with the wheel down by my knees, and in a higher, more natural position it obscures the dials, so I spend more time bobbing around trying to see what speed I’m driving at. However, while this is a clear drawback to the cabin layout, the narrow diameter wheel brings other benefits, which I’ve been enjoying once I’ve managed to get the 2008 away from the congested streets of south-west London. On twistier roads the small wheel and quick steering give the car genuine agility that most people might not

WE LIKE GT Line trim shows off the 2008’s de-cluttered dash and nicely trimmed cabin well. Glovebox space is tight though, as the fusebox takes up room.

WE DON’T I understand the


Running costs

Boot (seats up/down)

49.4mpg (on test)

360/1,194 litres

£55 fill-up

Second opinion

“This 1.6 diesel GT Line is the priciest model in the range at £21,635, but the extras inside and out make it look sporty without loss of comfort. However, a Mazda CX-3 1.5D Sport Nav is better to drive, comfier and better built for only £560 more.”

Sean Se Carson

Senior Sen staff writer

Essentials Peugeot 2008 1.6 BlueHDi 120 GT Line On fleet since: December 2016 Price new: £21,635 Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 118bhp CO2/tax: 96g/km/£140 Options: Pearlescent paint (£645), Active City Brake (£250) Insurance*: Group: 22 Quote: £655 Mileage/mpg: 10,109/49.4mpg Any problems? None so far *Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

54 5 April 2017

principle behind the small steering wheel, but in practice I’m less convinced. I feel it’s the answer to a question nobody was asking.

Living with a Peugeot 2008

Our cars

Fleetwatch Upright Ignis has distinctive looks that help to deliver a surprising amount of space inside

Suzuki Ignis

WE have a new arrival on the Auto Express fleet, in the boxy shape of a new Suzuki Ignis. Our £13,999 test car is a top-spec SZ5 model with Suzuki’s ALLGRIP four-wheel drive system, and boasts impressive standard kit, including cruise control, autonomous braking, keyless go, rear parking camera, DAB and sat-nav – a lot for an affordable city car. The exterior styling divides opinion. Some love its retro, square-set mini crossover stance and see it as a breath of fresh air in the small urban car sector. However, others are not so keen. One thing custodian and Auto Express art director, Darren Wilson, won’t be debating is the impressive practicality for such a compact car. The interior has already impressed Darren, with the Ignis offering just enough room for four adults. The sliding rear bench means you maximise passenger space or luggage room, too. We’ve got an interesting twist in store for the Ignis as well, so keep look out for its first full report on these pages soon.


The 2008 is agile, but soft suspension means it does roll in bends

Our fleet expect from a compact crossover. In fact, the 2008’s keenness to change direction at normal speeds sometimes takes me by surprise, although the soft chassis set-up means it does roll a little when you initially turn into a bend. This can take some getting used to, but you quickly learn how much lock to add and how the 2008 responds to your inputs. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll ever feel natural or relaxed with that low-down driving position. It’s an issue that continues to firmly divide opinion, but while the 2008 has been updated, it’s important to remember

that this is still i-Cockpit version 1.0 – and as with most things, it’s undergoing a continual process of improvement. Peugeot’s second-generation i-Cockpit made its debut on the 3008 crossover late last year, and with a digital display in place of the analogue dials here – plus a sleeker, more suave cabin overall – the concept makes more sense in the real world and for city driving in particular. There are still a few caveats to the 3008’s improved layout, but following this car and the larger, seven-seat 5008 SUV, it’ll be interesting to see how Peugeot handles the redesign of the next 2008’s interior.

Verdict IT won’t suit everyone, but the small steering wheel makes the 2008 feel more agile than you would expect on the right road. But I’m not that enamoured with the i-Cockpit layout. When you’re driving on normal roads (which, let’s face it, is most of the time), the wheel makes the 2008 feel a little too nervous, and it’s at odds with the otherwise comfortable ride.



Audi SQ7

IT’S fair to say that London isn’t our 429bhp mega-SUV’s natural habitat. It rarely fits in parking bays, and there’s little chance to exploit its sensational 0-62mph time of 4.9 seconds. It also struggles navigating the capital, with editor Graham Hope bemused by some of the sat-nav’s route planning. This was recently highlighted by a journey from Southgate in north London to Beckenham in the south-east of the capital. It’s a trip Graham has made many times in the past year planning a house move. No matter the car, the route has generally been the same – head east on the North Circular, then cut down through east London using the Blackwall Tunnel to cross the Thames. But the SQ7 had its own ideas, directing our man west on the North Circular then plotting him through the centre of London, including Oxford Street (above), Europe’s busiest shopping street. A journey that should take around 70 minutes lasted a soul-destroying two-and-a-half hours. Graham will use his own route planning skills next time.

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

Audi SQ7 Issue 1,458 BMW M240i Issue 1,464 Citroen C4 Picasso Issue 1,459, 1,466 Ford Edge Issue 1,465 Honda Jazz Issues 1,450, 1,461 Jaguar XF Issues 1,445, 1,457 Kia Niro Issue 1,455 Mercedes GLC Iss 1,441, 1,449, 1,454, 1,460 Mitsubishi L200 Issues 1,452, 1,461 Peugeot 2008 Issue 1,460 SEAT Ateca Issues 1,453, 1,462 Skoda Superb Issue 1,456 Subaru Outback Issue 1,462 Tesla Model S Issue 1,463 Toyota Prius Issues 1,447, 1,463 Volkswagen up! New arrival Volvo V40 Issue 1,464

5 April 2017 55


Visit for our extensive product archive


Kim Adams


Got a query? @AE_Consumer



Price: £245 (including professional installation and smartphone mount) Contact: 0844 576 6778,

DAB digital radio adaptors are fast becoming a key accessory, as the UK Government presses on with its plans to replace FM radio with digital frequencies. The latest adaptor to join the market is from Radioplayer, and it claims you’ll never lose signal, because it uses ‘smart’ hybrid technology. Unlike many rivals, the Radioplayer Car doesn’t just tune into DAB. It can switch between FM and digital frequencies, as well as mobile data streaming to ensure you never lose signal. The adaptor is professionally fitted behind the car’s dashboard, and it connects wirelessly to the driver’s smartphone. The device also comes with a smartphone mount and a free app that enables drivers to control the car’s radio via their phone. To help driving safety, a voice control feature allows drivers to switch between stations, with each announced over the speakers. Another key feature is the free wireless updates to both the adaptor and the app, so the device is able to keep up with the latest software on mobile phones. The device also works with Apple’s Siri and Android’s voice control systems, allowing you to check the latest traffic updates, read text messages and answer calls on the move.

“Radioplayer Car can switch modes to ensure that you never lose radio signal”


Q A SMART OPTION Radioplayer Car app is compatible with voice recognition on smartphones, so you can operate it hands-free when on the move

Time for a rubber upgrade COULD you advise me on the best choice of tyre for my Mazda MX-5 Mk3.5 1.8? It has 17-inch wheels and I use the car all year round, not just in the summer. John Brandon, E-mail WE last tested 17-inch tyres in 2015, when the Continental ContiSportContact 5 came out on top. This has now been replaced in some 17-inch wheel sizes by the updated PremiumContact 6 (above). We’ve tried this tyre, and it’s no less sporting than its predecessor, despite the different name.

Fantastic plastic cleaner? MY vehicle has some hard-to-reach places around the switches on the dashboard that have dust in them. I’ve seen a gel keyboard cleaner online: would that be able to remove it? Dave Worrall, E-mail WE’VE no experience of using keyboard cleaners on car plastics. These use a rubberised putty to ‘tack’ dirt off keys, but we’d strongly advise trying it in an unseen place first. The best way to remove dirt from cracks is with an old paint brush, with the metal parts taped up to prevent scratching, and a vacuum to suck up the dust.

Corroded wheel worries I’VE just changed a wheel on my car and had great difficulty removing it because it was stuck to the wheel hub. What causes this and how can I prevent it from happening again? PatrickKiely, E-mail THIS is a common problem, even with new cars, and is caused by electrolytic corrosion between the metal hub and the alloy wheel. To help prevent it happening again, carefully remove all corrosion, then smear the surface around the hub and wheel centre with a thin layer of copper grease.

5 April 2017 57

Products uc

Tool kits

news, deals& events Autophoto Paris tickets now on sale


Chrome vanadium plating ensures that these tools are durable

Price: From £30 Contact: 0845 057 9000,

HALFORDS has launched a new range of tools that come with a lifetime guarantee – so you’ll never have to pay for replacements. Made of chrome vanadium, the Advanced tool sets come as either the modular 26-piece socket set (costing £45 – although currently on offer for £25), and a four-piece pliers set (£30). We rate Halfords’ 200-piece set, too, but this cheaper and more compact option makes sense if you’re short on space – plus pliers are a great tool to have around, because they can do such a variety of jobs when you’re maintaining your car. The tools come in metal trays that are designed to slot into any storage units that you may already have in your garage. The socket set features 1/2-inch sockets in standard and deep form, from 10mm to 34mm,

NEW PRODUCT Valeo HydroConnect wiper blade range Price: from £14 Contact: 01527 838300,

58 5 April 2017


plus extension bars, a universal joint and a ratchet joint. The four-piece plier set, coated in the same chrome vanadium to increase durability, has a pair of eight-inch linesman pliers, a sixinch diagonal cutter, long nose pliers (six inches) and seven-inch curved-jaw locking pliers. Meanwhile, the lifetime guarantee means Halfords will replace any tools if you have problems, and promises there will be “no quibble” and “no receipt required” to do so.

“The lifetime guarantee means Halfords will replace tools if you have problems”

HYDROCONNECT is the new wiper blade range from Valeo. The new designs claim 96 per cent flat blade coverage, and there is a line-up of three products. The HydroConnect Front and Rear wiper blades are designed as replacements for vehicles that were originally fitted with flat blades. As its name suggests, the HydroConnect Upgrade is a set for front wipers that is suitable for vehicles that were originally fitted with conventional wiper blades. All three variants use Valeo’s Easy-Clic system, which allows the switch of a conventional blade to Valeo’s technology in a quick and simple process.

FONDATION Cartier, the art museum in Paris, France, will play host to a new exhibition of automotive photography – Autophoto. Opening on 20 April, the exhibition marks the 30th anniversary of the Hommage à Ferrari show, and will illustrate how the car reshaped photography in the 20th Century. More than 400 works will be displayed, plus a series of models and reproductions. Log on to for info.

Rimmer Bros’ 4x4 catalogue out now OWNERS of Land Rovers and Range Rovers can now get their hands on a new parts catalogue from British specialist Rimmer Brothers. Covering all models from the Series I to the latest Range Rover, the catalogue is a direct line to the authorised Land Rover parts distributor. Anything the company doesn’t have in stock can be accessed directly from Land Rover’s own factory. Visit for the company’s full inventory.

Exclusive watch for Morgan enthusiasts CAR and watch makers collaborating on timepieces is nothing new, but this latest venture requires buyers to be current or previous Morgan owners. The Morgan Motor Company has partnered with Christopher Ward to produce a three-piece collection inspired by the marque’s cars – the Classic, 3 Wheeler and Aero 8. Order books open next month. Prices start from £2,250 and aspiring owners can order from a Morgan dealership or the Christopher Ward website, at Know of an event coming soon? Contact


USB adaptors tested


PRICE £29.99

Nonda Zus

Price: £29.99 Rating: ★★★★ Contact:

THERE’S a quality feel to this diminutive adaptor. It has discreet white lights, and we found that it fitted in places where larger devices couldn’t. The twin angled sockets and reversible outlets help keep things tidy. It pumps out 4.8 Amps maximum, and matched our test winner in the charge test, adding five per cent to our iPad2 in 15 minutes. In the car, the only drawback is the lack of outlets. The Zus app works with Android and iOS devices and was a breeze to pair with the adaptor. As it uses the phone’s GPS it can’t locate your car in a multi-storey car park, but it worked well when left in the open, displaying the car’s position on a map. If you often have to search for your car this is a good solution, but expensive and has limited charging ports.

New USB charger finds its place in the market Kim Adams

THE USB adaptor has become a motoring essential, but one of the latest on the market also has the ability to help you find your car. The Nonda Zus provides two USB sockets and also uses GPS and a smartphone app to help find your parked car – ideal after leaving it a few weeks at an airport. Its main job is to keep your kit charged, though, so we compared it to our Issue 1,455 test winner and the similar thirdplaced all-in-one from Ring. We checked charging speed with an iPad Air 2, socket fit and value for money using online sources correct at the time of writing. The versatile Anker hangs on to its crown, but the Zus works well and is perfect if you find yourself spending lots of time searching for your vehicle in car parks. Purely as a charger, the Ring has the edge, not least thanks to a price that’s half the Nonda’s.

“USB adaptors are a motoring essential, but this new one can also locate your car” 60 5 April 2017

TEST WINNER Anker PowerDrive 5

Price: £14.99 Rating: ★★★★★ Contact: 01604 936200,

UNUSUALLY, this adaptor comes with a plug on a metre-long lead, with the five outlets at the end. Perfect for running through the front seats to kids watching movies or playing games on devices in the rear. The kit includes a sticky pad for permanent fixing in the car. For heavy users with multiple devices to keep topped up it works well, as it has a 10A total output. Its charge rate matched the Zus, but it has a substantial price advantage and three extra sockets. It’s still our choice for those who just need a USB adaptor.


Price: £14.99 Rating: ★★★★ Contact: 0113 213 2000,

WE included this Ring as it’s the closest product to the new Nonda in terms of its compact design. It’s a touch shorter than the Zus, but the sockets come straight out of the end, so it takes up a little more space, particularly when all three are in use. There’s clear marking for all three sockets, with two 2.4A outlets and a single 2A, giving it a 6.8A maximum output. This gave it a slight edge in the charging test, but only by one per cent. The Ring is a decent performer with a good price, so you’d really have to need the Zus’ locating ability to choose it instead.

books, dvds&games You Can Drive A Porsche

Philip Raby (self-published, Price: £4.95 Rating: ★★★★

A STRAIGHTFORWARD title for a fairly concise book which might have you delving into the classifieds looking for a Porsche to buy! With good advice throughout, not everything is Porsche-specific, and a lot of this book’s tips can be applied to any used car purchase. Priced at under a fiver (or free if you’ve got Amazon’s KindleUnlimited), it’s a steal.

Let Them Stare! Michael Hipperson (iStudio21 Publishing, Price: £15 Rating: ★★★★

THIS is a great account of one man’s motoring history, from humble beginnings in scrapyard-ready Vauxhalls right up to incredible supercars like the Ford GT40, Lamborghini Miura and Ferrari 308 GTS. Presented with plenty of pictures, it’s an interesting read, and gives an insight into what it’s actually like to own some of these exotics. Proceeds from the book sales go to charity, too.

Crossroads Crash Available for: iOS (under Crossroads Crack), Android Price: Free Rating: ★★★★★

ANYBODY who’s played one of the many air traffic control games on offer will know about the challenge of juggling several vehicles at once without any collisions, and Crossroads Crash is a simple game which quickly becomes fiendishly difficult. Fun, blocky graphics and smooth gameplay combine to make this a surprisingly great game for casual time wasting.

App of the week

WRC Official App Available for: iOS, Android

Price: Free Rating: ★★★★

THE official World Rally Championship app is an easy way to catch up on the season. With the latest news, videos and photos, plus live reports from the stages, we suspect dedicated fans will be glued to this app if they can’t catch the action live on TV.

Products uc Curver Large Toolbox 157705 Price: £20 Contact: Size (mm)/capacity: 510x260x250/33 litres Rating: ★★★★★

BEST BUY FOR organisers, look no further, because the two removable, lid-mounted boxes here were brilliant. Opaque plastic allowed us to see what was where without opening, and with eight and 13 divisions, there was lots of choice. They slotted into the lid and both featured solid plastic catches. Sized ideally for almost all DIYers, the box was large enough to be useful and small enough to carry. It held our tools easily, and the two smaller sections in the tote tray were ideal for sockets. An average price for a great set of features secured its victory.

Silverline 196114 Price: £25.03 Contact: 01935 382222, Size (mm)/capacity: 580x290x255/42 litres Rating: ★★★★

RECOMMENDED YOU’RE unlikely to ever lose this Silverline box,

because the vivid blue finish shouts its presence clearly. It was unusual on this test in being a composite unit, with the lid and base in polypropylene and the sturdy centre section in steel. There were no organisers in the top of the lid, although the 50mm deep tote tray held all our tools easily, while the four divisions made it simple to keep the sockets separate. Below the tote was a cavernous storage area that swallowed everything with ease. It was the second largest box with the third best price, so it secured the runner-up spot in the test.

Stanley 19in Essential Toolbox Price: £15 Contact: 0845 057 9000, Size (mm)/capacity: 250x480x250/30 litres Rating: ★★★★

RECOMMENDED THE price of this Stanley box was nearly as eye-

catching as its bright yellow highlights. It was the cheapest on test and also offered the second best price per litre. In the top were a pair of solid-lidded organisers, although we would’ve liked more than two divisions inside each, and stronger catches to keep them closed. With a capacity of 30 litres, the Stanley offered a good compromise between size and practicality. Uniquely, the tote tray only measured two-thirds of the box length, so some taller items could be stored underneath in the main box. When full, it was a squeeze to get everything in, which made it tricky to hold the handle properly.

Sealey Tool Box AP535 Price: £20.87 Contact: 01284 757500, Size (mm)/capacity: 495x230x250/28 litres Rating: ★★★

A STYLISH, colourful box from Sealey which coped with our stack of tools, despite only having a 28-litre capacity. The pair of hefty chromed latches could be padlocked individually for extra security. We liked the twin organisers set into the lid which, being opaque, made it easy to see what was in the five compartments. In addition, we had confidence in the strong plastic spring clips that kept their lids closed. We’d have preferred a softer grip on the handle and extra dividers within the tote, which was simply split in two, and overall the tool box lost a few points with its price per litre.

62 5 April 2017

Tool boxes tested



Garage storage doesn’t come much simpler than a tool box


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. Dave Pollard

KEEPING tools loose in your garage pretty much guarantees that you’ll never find the one you want. And leaving them in the boot creates a source of rattles and potential damage to car and kit, too. A tool box is the first step to tidy tools, and plastic versions are ideal. They’re lighter than steel, making them easy to carry, but just as tough with no sharp edges or potential to rust. So which is the one to protect your kit, as well as store handy spares, such as fuses and cable ties? We loaded up eight to find out.

Curver Combination Toolbox XL 155338

Price: £23.45 Contact: Size (mm)/capacity: 580x290x300/50 litres Rating: ★★★

EASILY the biggest here and with a price that made it the cheapest apest per litre. The clear plastic organisers were the same as our test winner’s (opposite), as were the soft-grip handle and tough plastic latches. hes. The 100mm deep tote tray seems good, but filling it made it too heavy to be practical and it robbed space below for our larger tools.

How we tested them

Draper Expert Tool Box TB580 Price: £28.59 Contact: 023 8026 6355, Size (mm)/capacity: 580x265x250/38 litres Rating: ★★★

THE Expert came with an expert price tag, which was the highest on test and per litre. It swallowed our test kit and we liked the solid, quality feel, soft-grip handle and chromed latches. There were no lid organisers, but the tote tray had seven divisions of various sizes. The sculpted ends of the box were useful for lifting when the box was heavily laden.

WE took a selection of popular spanners, screwdrivers, pliers, sockets and ratchet wrenches to go into the upper tote tray (where fitted), with other equipment, such as a torque wrench, hammer, Dremel, WD-40 can and hacksaw beneath it. We checked the balance as the lid was raised – some can tip when laden – and that any organiser boxes didn’t fly open. Points were awarded for overall size balanced against weight, but also clever design touches and practicality. Prices from online sources (correct at the time of writing) were the final factor.

Verdict THE Curver 157705 blends quality and practicality with a great-value price for the win. Silverline’s 196114 is your tool box of choice if you need something larger, while the well priced Stanley narrowly lost out due to a slight lack of practicality in comparison with the top two. 1. Curver Large Toolbox 157705 2. Silverline 196114 3. Stanley 19in Essential Toolbox

Facom BP.C19 Tool Box Price: £21.95 Contact: 0114 291 7266, Size (mm)/capacity: 490x260x250/31 litres Rating: ★★

THE Facom was well sized at 31 litres, although the priceper-litre dropped it points. We liked the two strong, chromed latches, but despite the quoted length, its interior design meant we had to fit the torque wrench diagonally, a feature that hurt its practicality. It featured two organisers built into the lid with just two divisions each and weak plastic catches.

Silverline 450887 S Price: £16.40 Contact: 01935 382222, Siz (mm)/capacity: 470x238x203/22 litres Rating: ★★ Size

THI model used the same plastic and steel construction THIS as its larger brother (opposite) and also shared its design cues, notably a comfortable handle and reassuring steel latches. Its small size and rounded corners are good for carrying it in the car, but its small overall size and lack of organisers or divisions in the tote counted against it.

5 April 2017 63

Buying cars

New and used buying advice




Got any car queries? @AE_Consumer


Skoda Yeti

YOU TELL US... Skoda’s first SUV is still a Driver Power hit GOOD

2016 Results

Yeti Factfile


“IT handles well and feels safe. For an SUV it has good running costs.”

Years: 2009 to present CO2: 128g/km Fuel economy: 51.4mpg (1.2 TSI SE) Best options: Cruise control, DAB, rear parking

“Does a great job for us as a family car, and it’s great to drive, too.”

Prices: From £4,400

“Build quality is exceptional. Thoughtful design makes it easy to live with.”

sensors, heated windscreen, park assist




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

150 120




31 10 62 46 14 76 9 33 27 46

th 16 PLACE

“My second Yeti, if anything it’s smoother than the previous 1.2.” “An awful lot of car for the money and has exceeded my expectations so far.” “Comfortable, well designed, roomy and very easy to drive.” “Does so much so well.”

“THE plastics feel a bit cheap.” “Road noise can be a bit wearing with the back seats folded down.” “The in-car tech is a bit dated and the sat-nav could be a little easier to use.” “The level of road tax for a diesel with reasonable economy is a bit high.” “Skoda advised me both rear discs were scored but said this was not a warranty issue as I must not be braking hard enough.” “It’s only got 500 miles on the clock and it’s been back five times and now needs a new gearbox.”


Little Fiat losing its cool MY 2012 Fiat 500 goes through a full tank of coolant every eight weeks. I haven’t found any leaks underneath the car. Is this normal, or should I be worried? Kirsty Logan, E-mail JUST because there are no puddles under the car, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a leak – if the coolant drips on the hot engine it’ll evaporate. It’s better to pressure test the tank for leaks. Getting through a tank of coolant every eight weeks sounds excessive, though.

Is my gearbox at fault? THE automatic transmission in my Land Rover Discovery Sport holds on to gears for too long, but Land Rover says the car is fine. Have you heard of others experiencing the same, and could the gearbox be faulty? Steve Tomlinson , E-mail THE nine-speed auto is well regarded, although some owners have complained of false neutrals in early cars. Have the vehicle independently inspected to see if a fault exists; you can find someone local at

Clarity on diesel emissions WITH all that’s going on regarding diesel pollution, why aren’t manufacturers revealing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in the same way they do carbon dioxide (CO2)? Roger Tinsley, E-mail CURRENT legislation only requires car makers to publish CO2 output. Euro 6 emissions legislation, introduced in 2015, caps NOx emissions at 80mg/km for new diesels, and new cars cannot pollute above the limit.

HAVE YOUR SAY Rate your new car and dealer at

5 April 2017 65

Buyingcars NEED TO KNOW

Dual-mass flywheels have a habit of failing on cars with a diesel engine and manual gearbox; repairs are costly.

Vauxhall Insignia


Some early dieselengined cars suffered power steering fluid leaks. Dealers know of this, but no recall was issued.


If there’s any juddering or misfiring at high speeds, adding some Redex to the fuel tank periodically can fix things.

BUYER’S GUIDE: Vauxhall Insigni a FROM £3,000 Arrival of new Insignia makes the old car even better value Richard Dredge

EVER since the post-war years, Vauxhall has stood for value-for-money family motoring, and its imminent purchase by PSA is unlikely to change that. When it comes to affordable family transport, few cars provide better value than the Insignia. Sitting in a market segment that’s shrinking, the large family car sector is also dominated by more prestigious German brands, which is why the Insignia has an especially tough time. As a used buyer that plays straight into your hands though, as hefty depreciation means you get more car for your money when buying an Insignia than pretty much any other car on the market. The question is, should you buy one – and which one, if you do?


THE Insignia saloon and hatchback went on sale in January 2009 with 1.8, 2.0T or 2.8T V6 petrol engines, or a 2.0 CDTi diesel in 128bhp or 158bhp forms. The Sports

Tourer estate arrived two months later with the same engine and trim options. In April 2009 the 139g/km 2.0 CDTi EcoFlex appeared, along with the 321bhp 2.8 V6 VXR, with standard four-wheel drive. A 1.4T engine arrived in May 2011, then a facelift in October 2013 brought new multimedia, improved refinement, fewer trims, revised suspension and steering – plus 99g/km 2.0 CDTi and 168bhp SIDI turbo petrol engine options. The high-spec Country Tourer 4x4 pseudo-SUV appeared at the same time, with a raised ride height; a 1.6 CDTi joined the range in July 2015.

Which one?

PETROL-engined Insignias are relatively unusual; as long as you buy one that’s turbocharged it’ll be zesty, but the diesels make the most sense as they’re more plentiful, frugal and muscular. The 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines were offered with four-wheel drive (in saloon, hatch and estate forms with manual

or automatic transmissions) – perfect if you tow. The entry-level ES gets ESP, air-con, cruise control and electrically adjustable/ heated door mirrors. Exclusiv adds climate control while the SE and SRi also feature alloys, electric rear windows and privacy glass. The SRi features sports suspension and 17-inch wheels; the SRi VX-Line comes on 19-inch alloys. The range-topping Elite has front and rear parking sensors, bi-xenon headlights and leather trim.


THE Insignia’s key rival is the Ford Mondeo, which offers everything the Vauxhall does in terms of availability, a wide model range, value and practicality – but it adds a more engaging driving experience to the mix. The Skoda Octavia always does well in our

Driver Power survey thanks to its ease of ownership and usability; prices are higher than for the Vauxhall, though. If value is key, we’d suggest you take a look at the Peugeot 508. You should also consider the Honda Accord, which offers smart looks and decent value, but a narrow model range. The VW Passat is worth a look, but you’ll need deeper pockets to buy one.


IN isolation the Insignia is a competent car, not especially lacking in any one area. Problems appear when you compare it with rivals – many offer more reliability, space or safety. However, while most beat the Vauxhall in a few areas, those that beat it in several invariably cost more – which is why the Insignia is an attractive used buy.

“When it comes to affordable family transport, few cars provide better value than the Insignia”

HAVE YOUR SAY ON YOUR NEW CAR AND WIN Tell us what you like and what you loathe at 66 5 April 2017

Vauxhall Insignia

Electrical glitches can crop up, including the dashboard displays and/or illumination switching off. But such issues are unpredictable.

Contact: 023 8098 6917

1.4T SE 1.6T Elite 1.8 SRi 2.0T Elite 2.0 CDTi 130 SRi 2.0 CDTi 160 SE 2.8i VXR

On some cars the rear brake pads can bind. The pads have been redesigned, but any car with older parts may be suffering from binding brakes.



£12,895 N/A £12,895 N/A N/A £15,695 £25,250

£10,250 £7,995 £6,250 £11,950 £9,575 £7,495 £9,995 £8,250 £5,725 £12,750 £9,995 £7,995 £11,795 £9,450 £6,550 £12,350 £8,975 £6,895 £19,500£14,295£10,950

N/A £5,850 £4,550 £6,475 £5,150 £5,450 £8,395

CO2 emissions

Annual road tax

1.4T 1.6T 1.8 2.0T VXR 1.6 CDTi 2.0 CDTi


Running costs


0-62mph/top speed

42-65mpg (2.0 CDTi 160)


9.3 seconds/132mph

£84 fill-up


15-18 20-23 16-17 26-27 36-38 17-18 16-23

47-53mpg 39mpg 35-38mpg 30-36mpg 25-26mpg 72-74mpg 42-65mpg

124-139g/km 169g/km 169-187g/km 184-219g/km 249-255g/km 99-104g/km 114-175g/km

£115-135 £220 £220-280 £240-305 £520 Free-£20 £20-220

ALL Insignias need to be serviced every 12 months or 20,000 miles. Services alternate between minor and major, priced at £149 and £249, regardless of which engine is fitted (although this excludes VXR models, which have to be quoted for separately). Once over three-years old, prices drop to £149 and £199 for minor and major services. The 1.6 and 1.8-litre petrol engines have a cambelt; so does the 2.0 CDTi. The belt should be renewed every six years or 100,000 miles, at £269. The brake fluid has to be renewed every two years or 40,000 miles at a cost of £45. An air-con service (due every two to three years) costs £99.



Dealer price

Independent price

£67.20 £126 £59.76 £34.14

£33.99 £93.98 £7.99* £21.28

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


THE cabin is comfortable and roomy, and the seats have a wide range of adjustment; the optional Ergonomic Sports Seats are worth seeking out. Rear seat space is good, while boot space is 530 litres seats up, or 1,470 with them folded down (for the hatch; estate figures are 530 and 1,530 litres).


Official Forums

Prices for a 2013 Insignia 2.0 CDTi 160. Dealer prices from Vauxhall UK ( Independent prices from Euro Car Parts ( *Price from


THE first recall came in November 2010 due to a problem with the driver’s airbag. In January 2011 some cars were recalled as the electric window anti-trap could fail. Estates built up to March 2015 were recalled in May 2015 as the tailgate’s gas struts could fail. In July 2016 it was noted that the steering could fail on some cars built in April 2016.

DON’T MISS OUT Win £1000 of Amazon vouchers by telling us about your car and dealer at

5 April 2017 67

Insurance group

Fuel economy



MIKE Hamer, from Leicester, loves the value his Vauxhall represents. He says: “It isn’t fun to drive, but as a used buy it represented spectacular value. It’s comfortable and roomy, plus it costs very little to run. Reliability has been good too – if you’re not a brand snob, it’s the ideal family car.”



Running costs

Big 19 or 20-inch alloy wheels aren’t unusual, but these can spoil the ride and are prone to buckling, leading to annoying vibrations.



WE found more than 5,500 Insignias for sale as we went to press. Of the cars available, four out of five were estates (starting at £3,000), one in five was an auto (also starting at £3,000) and nine out of 10 were diesels. There’s a handful of cars available for under £2,500, but you’ll spend at least this to buy an 09-plate 2.0 CDTi with 150,000 miles. Cap the mileage at 50,000 and for £4,500 a 2009 1.8i SRi could be yours, while £6,000 secures a 2011 2.0 CDTi Exclusiv with 45,000 miles. VXRs start at £10,000 for a 10-plate car with 80,000 miles.

Spare wheel

A SCORE of 136th in the 2016 Driver Power satisfaction survey is no surprise for what’s now an ageing car. However, just one top 100 score is disappointing (67th for practicality). Next came 112th for seat comfort, while the lowest rating was 142nd for ease of driving. Reliability was rated at 141st.





A full-size 20-inch alloy spare wheel will fit in the boot-mounted well. Vauxhall sells spacers to make it all fit; they cost around £24 for a pair.




Bad binding

Thanks to Imperial Car Supermarkets in Hampshire for the loan of the Vauxhall Insignia pictured.

How much?

Values courtesy of Glass’s Guide

Tom Wood

Electric faults



Best buys

Car hunter

£15,000 for a roomy 4WD SUV, but which one?



Kia Sportage

Dear Lawrence, We’re upgrading our VW Golf to an SUV with four-wheel drive, but with dogs it needs to have a large boot. What should we look at for £15k? Jim Dobson, Sussex Contact:



FOR: Smart styling, well equipped, warranty AGAINST: Firm ride, rear seat space

Ford Kuga

FOR: Cheap to buy, comfortable, practical AGAINST: Fiddly dash, reliability

Mazda CX-5

THE Kia Sportage Mk3 was such a big improvement over the car it replaced that it helped to significantly lift the Korean brand’s reputation in Europe. The sharp exterior styling still looks good today, and is matched by a well equipped interior. The Sportage’s 2.0-litre diesel is punchy and the handling is tidy, but it can’t match the Mazda or Ford for ride quality and power. We spotted a 63-plate 2.0 CRDi KX-3 auto with 31,000 miles for £14,499.

FORD’S Kuga became more than a jacked-up Focus for the 2013 model, with a more grown-up feel. The design won’t be to all tastes – particularly the interior with its button-heavy layout – but there’s no arguing with the space on offer. It drives well, too – it’s not as enjoyable as the Mazda, but it soaks up bumps well (on the smaller wheels), and the diesel is refined. In the classifieds was a 2014 2.0 TDCI Titanium 4x4 with 35,000 miles for £14,000

MAZDA’S CX-5 is still one of our favourite crossovers, and for good reason. It looks good inside and out thanks to the brand’s ‘Kodo’ design language, while there’s a hint of the MX-5 sports car in the well weighted controls and its agile feel on the road. The 2.2-litre diesel is punchy, flexible and refined. It’s even pretty economical, and it offers the most space for people and dogs. We saw a 2014 2.2D SE-L Nav 4x4 with 47,000 miles for £14,495.

INSIDE, the Sportage’s cabin isn’t as well styled as its exterior, but it’s less fiddly than the Ford’s. Some of the materials look dated, however, and while the 564-litre boot is good, the Kia lacks rear headroom.

THE Kuga is certainly well equipped, but confusing buttons and a small screen make the infotainment a pain to use. However, the 456-litre boot is well shaped, and rear seat space is better than in the Kia.

DRIVER-focused interior looks smart, while the Mazda’s cabin feels robust and is high quality. It’s a shame, then, that pre-2015 cars have a dated sat-nav system. The 503-litre boot is a useful size and uniform in shape.

SPORTAGES sold in 2010 will have only just gone out of warranty, thanks to Kia’s excellent seven-year coverage. It finished in a strong 46th place for reliability in our Driver Power 2016 satisfaction survey.

WHILE the sheer number of Kugas about doesn’t help, 107th place for reliability in our Driver Power 2016 satisfaction survey isn’t great. Electrical gremlins and Powershift auto gearboxes cause the biggest issues.

THE Mazda finished in a slightly lacklustre 87th place for reliability in our Driver Power 2016 satisfaction survey. Heaters can stop working, while clutches on manual cars don’t hold up to abusive driving well.

FOR: Stylish cabin, good-to-drive, big boot AGAINST: Slightly unsettled ride, price

INTERIOR RELIABILITY HAVE YOUR SAY ON YOUR NEW CAR Tell us what you like (and don’t) about your car at 68 5 April 2017


Used twin test

Quick off the mark

Thrilling four-wheel-drive sports cars go head-to-head

Porsche’s cabin is clean, with soft plastics

Inside, the Jaguar’s dash layout is classy

Porsche 911

Jag F-Type

26.3mpg (on test)

20.9mpg (on test) £84 fill-up

£67 fill-up

Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS PDK

Jaguar F-Type V8R AWD Coupe

Years: 2015 to 2016 Engine: 3.8-litre flat-six, 424bhp Ins grp: 50 Official econ/CO2: 31mpg/212g/km Why? The GTS is one of the best-ever 911s, and as the last non-turbo, it’s a genuine collector’s item.

Prices from:

Years: 2015 to date Engine: 5.0-litre V8, 542bhp Ins grp: 50 Official econ/CO2: 25mpg/269g/km Why? Jaguar is much more affordable on used market than the Porsche, and it’s still great fun to drive.


TO Porsche fans, the GTS badge has a strong pedigree, first appearing on a very successful racing car in the sixties. Now the GTS offers a 911 driving experience inspired by the trackfocused GT3 – yet it doesn’t compromise the qualities that make the 911 usable everyday. The Porsche 911 GTS elevates the standard Carrera S to the next level, and excels in offering a rich depth to the way it serves up its performance. Its chassis is so well engineered that it urges you to push it harder – to levels where it really delivers. The rear-drive GTS with a manual box may prove more involving, but in four-wheel drive auto form, the 911 offers immense all-weather ability. Thread the 911 GTS down a twisty road and the fluidity with which it flows makes you wonder whether you need a car with any more performance or grip. The 911 GTS didn’t rank in our Driver Power satisfaction survey, but Porsche always tops the charts for handling and performance. The brand itself dropped to 14th overall, though.

Prices from:

Few sports cars are as usable as the 911, and the GTS enhances its dynamics

1 ★★★★★

Porsche 911 GTS

IN the world of high-performance coupés, price takes a bit of a back seat to the driving experience – and here it’s the 911 GTS that’s the more capable and special machine.

Looks are stunning, and the Jaguar’s engine is both powerful and tuneful


Jaguar F-Type R


THERE’S no doubting the theatre of the F-Type R, but next to the finesse of the 911, it feels more like a blunt instrument. It costs less to buy, but doesn’t feel as special on the road.


THE F-Type Coupé is a car that wraps up all that’s good about the Jaguar brand – a make that’s on something of a roll in recent years. It’s stunning to look at, thrilling to own, and is boldly breaking down barriers in a premium sports car sector where German rival Porsche has dominated for so long. Brutally loud and incredibly powerful, the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 is the star of the show – and with the throttle wide open, there’s nothing else like it. In our test, when revving, the F-Type’s exhaust peaked at 115dB. In corners, the car is lively, although it’s not a match for the 911. The all-wheel drive flatters most drivers with its ability to get all of that power to the road without drama, while the electric power steering isn’t corrupted in any way – it’s still faithfully responsive. Jaguar finished a slightly disappointing 17th place overall in our Driver Power 2016 poll, a few places behind Porsche – but that was a big drop from second place in 2015.

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND YOUR CAR? Have your say about your car. Fill in our survey 70 5 April 2017



All the action from the world of motorsport


Hamilton, Vettel and Valtteri Bottas made up the top three in Australia

Vettel set to challenge in China Stephen Errity

MERCEDES’ Lewis Hamilton is expecting a strong title challenge from Sebastian Vettel, after the Ferrari driver triumphed at the Formula One season opener last month. Heading into this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, the British triple champion said: “I think this year we’re seeing the best drivers at the top... I’m really grateful to have that fight with [Sebastian], against Ferrari. It’s great. It’s going to be a very hard slog this season. “Racing the best is what Formula One is all about and it makes you work that much harder... I’m looking forward to that.” Vettel added: “[Hamilton] has proven to be one of the quickest drivers on the grid and I’d love to have a close battle. Obviously right now it looks like we have equal machinery. “I hope it stays that way and then we will see how it turns out. It’s obviously a lot of

■ F1 circus moves on to Shanghai ■ Hamilton expecting tough fight fun to race for victories against the best. It’s good to know that we have a great car, but it’s just the beginning: with new regulations and new cars, there’ll be a lot of progress.” For its part, Hamilton’s Mercedes team has promised a swift response to defeat in Australia, with team boss Toto Wolff describing losing to Ferrari as “personality building”. “We will come back stronger,” said the Austrian. “We didn’t have great testing and we didn’t have a great Sunday, but we will leave no stone unturned in order to win more.” The Northants-based squad is said to be focusing on reducing the weight of its W08 car, with an unconfirmed report in the German press saying it was 5kg above a 728kg target weight. Hamilton called on the team to look at how the car is using the new Pirelli tyres.

“Hamilton’s Mercedes squad has promised a swift response after losing out to Ferrari at the season opener in Australia”

WTCC delays ‘joker laps’ PLANS to run rallycross-style ‘joker laps’ at the World Touring Car Championship season opener in Marrakech, Morocco, this weekend have been put on hold, but the concept could still be used at races later in the season. Joker laps take the form of a shortcut that each driver has to take once during the course of a race, leading to tactical decisions about taking it early or late in the running. Problems with government approval for extra building

80 5 April 2017

work due to a political deadlock in Morocco meant the championship organisers and the FIA have decided not to proceed with the idea. They’ll instead look at implementing it for the Portuguese round at Vila Real in late June. Both Moroccan and Portuguese events take place on extremely narrow street circuits that offer very limited opportunities for overtaking, which led to the suggestion of joker laps as a way to improve the spectacle at these races.


Corsica will be the first time this year that Citroen has had three C3 WRCs in action

WRC battle moves to Corsica

ANTICIPATION is high ahead of this weekend’s fourth round of the 2017 World Rally Championship, which takes place on the French island of Corsica. The three rounds of the series so far have been won by three different manufacturers; M-Sport Ford’s Sebastien Ogier holds a lead of just eight points over Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala at the top of the table. Having won in Mexico last time out, Citroen’s chances will be boosted by an expansion from two to three new-generation C3 WRCs. Hyundai, meanwhile, will be looking for its first win of the season, with tarmac aces Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo in particular expected to shine.


Overtaking has proved tricky around Morocco’s narrow street circuit layout

Back chat

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IN 1988, armed with little more than a manual typewriter, Toyota MR2, mullet, and passion for most things motoring, I helped establish and launch Auto Express. Since then I’ve averaged at least one column, feature, road test or news story per week. So I know a bit about the long and glorious history of what’s turned out to be Britain’s biggest-selling weekly motoring magazine and reigning Media Brand of the Year. Who’d have thought it, eh? Take it from me, one of the finest and most important components of Auto Express has been – and will continue to be – its Driver Power surveys. For current or would-be motorists bothered about cars, cash and Motoring’s most outspoken and customer satisfaction (just about everyone), opinionated columnist sounds off the Driver Power process and findings are imperative – not least because manufacturers, Driver Power has dealers and others fear then act on them. I’ve long complained that the high street played an active, retail revolution hasn’t properly filtered healthily provocative through to a lethargic motor trade which role in revolutionising still has too many shoddy showrooms, the car retailing service receptions and workshops. But and repair scene Driver Power’s stepped in to play an active, healthily provocative role in revolutionising the car retailing, servicing and repair scene. True, we should acknowledge and applaud the best manufacturers, products and dealers. But iffy, occasionally dishonest firms, cars and garages still exist. Some stubbornly refuse to improve – and therefore deserve to be outed. We at Auto Express aren’t afraid to name names. Driver Power celebrates the champs, while at the same time exposing the chumps. But we can only do this with help from you – real-world motorists who choose car companies and cars that suit your needs and budgets; who haggle hard in showrooms; who endure happy or miserable times when your vehicles are in for servicing or repairs. Who better than you to relay the pleasant and not so pleasant consumer truths from the motoring frontline? In short, there is nobody better. Playing a valuable role in Driver Power couldn’t be simpler. Just visit and tell it like it is to us and, in turn, the car makers plus their franchised dealers. While you’re at it, inform us of the best and worst aspects of your car, insurer and breakdown firm. Driver Power is about improving the lives, cars, satisfaction levels and finances of the motoring majority. Get involved. Think like an activist.

Mike Rutherford

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Disco vs rivals Premium SUV shoot-out sees Land Rover’s new Discovery face Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7


New Octavia vRS

Our first chance to get behind the wheel of eshed 242bhp hot hatch Skoda’s newly refreshed


Get your car in trim for spring


Our Car Care Special picks out the kit to use to get your car in shape after a hard winter

● News ● Product tests Drives ● Features & Sport

on sale Wednesday 12 April Contents are subject to change

82 5 April 2017



Au to ex pr ess issue 1467 511 april 2017  
Au to ex pr ess issue 1467 511 april 2017