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Newsweek COVER New VW Golf driven...


COVER new GTI verdict


COVER New Citroen C3 Picasso


Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate


All-electric SEAT


Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer


Behind the wheel of updated hatch with new 1.5 petrol engine

Why it’s still the most complete hot hatch on the market

Concept shows how MPV is set to morph into trendy SUV

Storming new 604bhp wagon set for Geneva show debut

Eco model based on Mii will be brand’s first EV Official pictures and details of stylish new estate



20 years of crash tests

We go behind scenes at Euro NCAP to see its effect on car safety

New cars

Es 8 First drive verdict on new Golf, plus GTI and Estate

COVER Honda Civic


Ford Kuga


BMW M760Li xDrive


Smart Brabus ForFour


Abarth 124 Spider


Production version of new hatch put through its paces Facelift aims to keep SUV competitive with newer rivals

Blast-off in mighty 602bhp V12-engined 7 Series

Tuner gives city car a dose of attitude with power hike Feisty roadster driven on UK roads for the first time

30 Behind the wheel of new Honda Civic

14 Sexy Citroen SUV to replace C3 Picasso

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Our cars


The moment of truth for BMW as it faces E-Class and XF

Updates on the Citroen C4 Picasso and VW Passat Estate



74 New BMW 5 Series vs E-Class and XF

Our verdict on new OF CRASH Toyota Prius Plug-in TESTS Page 26

102 HEROES able used ba bargains, from city car to supercars 43 Unmissable

WE were impressed with the Toyota Prius Plug-in when we tried it in the US, but this week we get our first chance to drive it on European roads. As the name suggests, the new model is a plug-in hybrid that can be charged up and run on electric power alone for around 30 miles. That’s twice as far as the previous model. We’ll find out how the rest of the car stacks up on our test drive in Barcelona this week – and whether it’s a better buy than the standard Prius.

For more visit

Waterless washes rated


Rotary multitools tested


Which should you rely on? We assess three top buys All-rounders do a host of DIY jobs, but which is the best?

Buying cars M-Class buyer’s guide

Mercedes SUV is now great value used from only £6,000


Audi A5 vs Lexus NX


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Which is a better second-hand choice? We give our verdict All the info you need before you head to the showroom

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Le Mans countdown under way, plus latest news

How to net a great deal on your favourite magazine

Mike Rutherford reflects on 70 years of Ferrari

Special Issue 5

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IF there’s one person worth listening to on the subject of technology, it’s BMW’s British board member (and Auto Express Brit List winner) Ian Robertson (above). Having launched BMW’s i brand to establish his company at the forefront of electric car tech – which is now paying off handsomely – he’s now at the forefront of BMW’s autonomous push. “We’re building a big resource base in-house to take this forward,� Robertson told us. “We’re building a new campus in Munich and in the second half of this year we’ll put forty 7 Series on the road with the autonomous next steps on board. Over the next four-and-a-bit years we’ll develop the tech and that will be delivered within the next i car.� Another big step was the acquisition of Here from Nokia (with Daimler and Volkswagen). “That’s moving quickly,� continued Robertson. “The reason we did it was to get 20 million vehicles that could give us real-time software updatability. Mapping today is accurate to 6-10 metres – for autonomous driving we need 6-10cm.� “We’ve got systems that are developing the predictability of traffic lights, so it will slow the car as it knows the traffic light is changing so you don’t stop before you get going again. It’s using traffic flow, navigation data and cars communicating where they are and how fast they’re moving.� So the cars are ready, but what about legislation? “We want legislation and technology running in parallel, and I’m not seeing that,� admitted Robertson. “The discussion needs to be open and there; at the moment it’s fragmented.� That’s a worry. Robertson reckons we could end up with cars allowed to drive autonomously in some towns and cities and on some roads, not others – in the same country! Let’s hope governments don’t allow that to happen.

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

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■ Refined yet punchy new 1.5-litre petrol engine impresses ■ Technology includes bigger, higher-res screen, gesture control John McIlroy @johnmcilroy

Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI 150 Price: Engine: Power/torque: Transmission:

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

£20,000 (est) 1.5-litre 4cyl turbo petrol 148bhp/250Nm Seven-speed twin-clutch auto, front-wheel drive 8.7 seconds 136mph 55.4mpg 116g/km

ON SALE May Pete Gibson

THE Golf has been the default family car choice for generations, thanks to its mix of practicality, comfort, performance and efficiency. The current version has been around since 2014, though, so Volkswagen has given it a thorough mid-life overhaul. Ostensibly called the Mk7.5, the new car gets tweaks to its styling, with a revised front bumper and optional LED headlamps, plus LED tail-lights on all editions. It’s still clearly a Golf – but this has always been a car that has evolved in small steps. Indeed, this Golf has the same MQBbased chassis as the outgoing car, so its internal dimensions and boot capacities – 380 litres, or 1,270 litres with the rear seats folded – remain unchanged. More significant are the new tech and engines, which promise to improve the Golf’s appeal in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal.



Even basic models now get an eightinch colour screen instead of a six-inch display, while the range-topping Discover Pro system moves from eight inches to 9.2 inches. Its resolution also improves, offering even more crispness to the display. In addition, VW has tweaked the motion sensor in its biggest screen so now you can use gesture controls as well. You can swipe your hand left or right without touching the screen, plus the whole system can be accessed via a smartphone app. Also added is Car-Net. This system not only rings the emergency services if the airbags are deployed, it can notify you if anyone is trying to break into the vehicle. Plus the real-time information services it offers are precisely the sort of small details Golf owners will find useful. The other new features are focused on driver assistance. That includes everything from semi-autonomy in traffic jams to Trailer Assist, which uses cameras to make it easier to reverse a trailer into a space. The new petrol engine is a 1.5-litre TSI. In our car it produced 148bhp, although a more efficient 129bhp version of the same motor is under development. The more powerful car uses cylinder deactivation tech, while the lower-power version can turn itself off completely to coast and save fuel. Although this variant won’t technically go on sale until the third wave of new Golfs arrives in late spring, you can order 1.4-litre petrols, and 1.6 and 2.0 diesels now. The entry-level model, equipped with an 84bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder motor emitting just 108g/km of CO2, goes on sale in March. As before, there’s also a GTE hybrid, and soon VW will update its all-electric e-Golf to offer around 180 miles on a single charge. The new 1.5-litre is remarkably effective. Power is delivered in restrained fashion – don’t expect diesel-like surge under

8 Special Issue

TECHNOLOGY Gesture control

allows you to swipe between radio stations without touching the screen, but it’s too hit and miss to be really useful. The touchscreen display looks great, though, with hi-res graphics setting the bar in this class

We hit road Verdict as refresh gives Mk7.5 new engines and tech, while retaining old car’s best bits

Volkswagen Golf Mk7.5 driven

Top story

PRACTICALITY Golf remains a class benchmark for space, and the 380-litre boot should be practical enough for most. It’s trumped by the likes of the Skoda Octavia, though

d in VW’s improved Golf INTERIOR Cabin retains the quality of

previous models’, with soft-touch materials and padded fabric on the door armrests

acceleration – but it’s happy to spin freely and smoothly up to 6,000rpm. In everyday use, you won’t need to go anywhere near that point, because there’s plenty of poke. The motor’s star turn, though, is its acoustics. Once you’re up to a cruise it will pull little more than 2,200rpm and, at that point, you won’t hear it. At 80mph, it’s near-

silent. This composure is so impressive that you may even be irritated by wind and road noise. However, it’s hard to think of when a family car has ever been this refined. The rest of the dynamic package is the same sensible compromise that we’ve praised before. The Golf isn’t the last word in agility, but it felt impressively

comfortable over some pretty poor surfaces on VW’s test route in Mallorca. It keeps body roll in check through the twistier stuff, too. The steering is consistently weighted and quick to respond, and while the new sevenspeed DSG gearbox is still prone to the occasional jerky shift, it generally feels as if it’s on your side. The manual is unchanged, and still pleasingly slick. Inside, the upgrades bring a bit of glitz – but we can’t help wondering if some of the usability has been sacrificed. The big shift is in infotainment, and it’s in this area where the Golf scores both hits and misses. Our test car had the 9.2-inch nav screen, and in pure hardware terms, it’s a triumph. The interface is slick enough and quick to respond to inputs. However, the lack of physical buttons makes it harder to use. The pinch to zoom function is fiddly, and gesture control is even less successful. It’s much easier to stab the screen once than wave your hand in front of it.

Verdict THE updated Golf and its new 1.5-litre engine are a strong match, delivering an admirable blend of refinement and performance – and perceived quality is unchallenged in this class. The overall package is still trumped by a Skoda Octavia on space and, potentially, a SEAT Leon on price. But if the deals on the more modest Golfs cut down their monthly costs, we can easily see some of them earning five stars.


PAGE 10: New Golf GTI driven Special Issue 9

Top story

Volkswagen Golf GTI driven

And hot GTI strikes right We also drive iconic new hatch, which offers strong mix of performance, comfort and refinement Jonathan Burn @Jonathan_burn

WHEN the original Volkswagen Golf GTI launched back in 1975, its 1.6-litre engine was churning out a modest 109bhp. Fast-forward 42 years and today’s updated seventh-generation GTI is producing more than double that, with 227bhp from a 2.0-litre turbo. That’s a big increase over the original GTI and 10bhp more than the model this car replaces. In today’s market, the most powerful front-wheel-drive hot hatches have more than 300bhp. But that’s not what the GTI is about. The Golf has always been the middle ground, and a capable one at that. As before, an optional Performance Pack is available, adding a further 15bhp and a limited-slip differential, but the model we’re driving here is the standard version paired with a six-speed DSG gearbox. Before we get on to what it’s like, there are a few other updates worth pointing out. Of course, there are the inevitable exterior styling tweaks – reshaped full-LED headlamps now feature, along with new front and rear bumpers. Inside, you can spec the same gesture-controlled 9.2-inch infotainment system, which proves just as frustrating as in the normal Golf (Page 8). It looks slick but, at £1,325, it isn’t cheap.


Elsewhere, the VW is comfortable and well built. Our test car didn’t come with the Golf GTI’s trademark tartan sports seats, but its leather-lined chairs definitely add that bit of sparkle to the overall design – as does the new digital instrument cluster. Overall, it’s rather sensible, but spend a day wrestling with the screen and seat set-up in a Honda Civic Type R and you’ll be begging for the sanctuary of the GTI. On the move, things are much the same. Low-speed refinement is excellent, control weights are light and the ride is more comparable to that of a Mercedes S-Class than a Renaultsport Mégane. Despite performance being the main agenda for the GTI, these things are almost as important – because in the real world the Golf is likely to spend more time plodding along a congested motorway than it is snaking its way down a sweeping country road. Power delivery from the 2.0-litre turbo is smooth and far less frantic than you’ll find in the Golf’s more potent rivals. A subseven-second 0-62mph time is still quick

■ Turbo ups power to 227bhp ■ GTI retains practicality, too and, in reality, more than you’ll need on most occasions. If pub bragging rights are key, you’ll be better off with a Ford Focus RS. Approach a corner and what the GTI lacks in outright pace it makes up for in control, balance and poise. This standard version does without a proper limited-slip front differential, but the XDS+ system does a respectable impression, mimicking the set-up by nipping the front brakes on turn-in. Push too hard into a corner, though, and you can feel the front end lose grip. Nevertheless, the GTI is alert and it responds keenly to swift changes in direction, while body movement is kept in check if you lock the adaptive dampers into Sport mode. It’s a hugely accurate and rewarding car to drive fast, while the chassis lets you know exactly what the wheels are up to. A lift of the throttle or hint of braking mid-corner gives subtle but predictable movements from the rear end. The six-speed DSG gearbox is precise and quick with its changes, but for maximum involvement it’s the manual box you want – along with the £1,415 saving it brings. There is a slight niggle, though, and it comes from VW itself. As entertaining as the GTI is, we know for a fact that it can be better. Before VW launched this updated GTI, it also rolled out two other variants called the GTI Clubsport and Clubsport S. Both were faster, lighter and more capable. The reality is that you can no longer buy these cars from a VW dealer because they’re sold out – but the point remains that they are better versions of the standard model. Both retain the GTI’s composure, while also upping the ante when it comes to performance and handling. If history is anything to go by, however, the optional Performance Pack will take the GTI up a notch – but we’ll reserve judgement until we drive it. On a practical level, strip away the GTI jewellery and you still have a spacious, comfortable and economical Golf hatchback. The 380litre boot is wide and deep, while a bit of underfloor storage is an added bonus. The five-door model is more practical – and will be the bigger seller, too – but once you’ve squeezed in to the back of the threedoor there is generous knee and headroom. Like in the standard car, sitting three adults across the rear bench is possible, but you wouldn’t want to spend too long back there.

“Power delivery is smooth and far less frantic than you’ll find in the Golf’s more potent rivals” 10 Special Issue

INTERIOR Quality is impeccable, but our car had leather seats, rather than tartan trim

Volkswagen Golf GTI driven

t balance



Volkswagen Golf GTI

THE facelifted Golf is on sale now, with refreshed styling and a more generous kit list. Here’s what you’ll pay.

Price: Engine: Power/torque: Transmission:


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


Top story

£29,280 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol 227bhp/350Nm Six-speed twin-clutch auto, front-wheel drive 6.4 seconds 154mph 44.8mpg 148g/km



New GTI is a joy to drive, with a slick DSG box and excellent roadholding ability

DESPITE Volkswagen claiming an average price cut of around £650, the entry point for the stalwart of the family car market will remain the same, with the threedoor Golf 1.0-litre TSI petrol in S spec costing £17,625. All cars get the same updates as on more expensive Golfs, with LED tail-lights as standard, alongside an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The cheapest diesel in the new Golf line-up will be the 114bhp 1.6 TDI, priced at £19,770. The 123bhp 1.4-litre TSI petrol will cost £20,070 in five-door SE trim. VW has not yet announced prices for the versions due on sale later in the year – including the one driven on Page 8.

EQUIPMENT The GTI comes with

18-inch alloy wheels, full LED front and rear lights, two-zone climate control and front sport seats as standard. Our car’s leather interior is optional

Pete Gibson

STYLING Sporty tweaks mark

out the GTI from lesser Golfs. Black blades (above) intersect front foglights, while GTI badges and red stripes (below) are present and correct


Optional 9.2-inch touchscreen carries over frustrating gesture control set-up from standard car

FROM £20,370

Verdict THERE are plenty of hotter hatches on the market, but the Volkswagen Golf GTI continues its march by offering usable, accessible performance in an economical, practical and hugely capable package. While it’s pricey, few models in this class offer such impressive quality. Rarely do you come across a car that does so much so well, but then VW has been doing this for 42 years – and it knows the GTI game better than anyone else.


FROM £27,865

VW will continue to offer a range of high-performance Golfs, including the GTD, GTI and four-wheel-drive R. The GTI is available either as a three-door (above) or five-door hatchback. It gets a power hike and costs from £27,865. Go for the DSG automatic and you’ll pay £29,280, while the diesel GTD costs from £28,480. Unlike the GTI, the GTD is also available in a more practical Estate form. The range-topping 306bhp R, meanwhile, costs from £31,865, including a 10bhp power hike.


FROM £17,625

THE cheapest Golf Estate you can buy is an S model, which comes with a manual gearbox and a 1.4-litre TSI engine and starts from £20,370. Unlike the hatchback, there’s no 1.0-litre petrol. The spec list then moves up through SE, SE Nav, GT, GTD and GTD BlueLine models. At the top of the range are the rugged Alltrack, from £28,575, and the high-performance R, which only comes with a DSG gearbox and costs from £34,985.

PAGE 12: New Golf Estate driven

Special Issue 11


Volkswagen Golf Estate driven

We size up new Golf Estate, too DRIVEN

Pete Gibson

■ Verdict on roomy load-lugger ■ Same styling and tech tweaks Jonathan Burn @Jonathan_burn

ONE thing you’re not short on with the updated Volkswagen Golf is variety. The range on sale in the UK is made up of 113 variants, so it’s rather unlucky that this particular version driven here – a fourwheel-drive Estate – isn’t on that list. You can have a Golf Estate with 4WD, of course, both as a rugged Alltrack or 306bhp range-topping R, but on a standard 2.0-litre diesel, it isn’t offered to UK buyers. The Estate has been subject to the same round of exterior and interior tweaks as every other Golf, while more on-board tech and safety features have also been added. In any estate, though, practicality is the focal point. Little has changed from the pre-facelift model, but the Golf still scores well. The 605-litre boot puts it ahead of a SEAT Leon ST and just behind the Skoda Octavia Estate. Dropping the rear bench increases space to 1,620 litres, although it won’t fold completely flat. Diesel versions will continue to take up the lion’s share of sales (despite Dieselgate events), but to avoid any other headlines VW has made virtually no changes to the 2.0-litre diesel offered across the range. The four-wheel-drive system fitted to our test car makes it less efficient, but slightly faster off the line than the front-wheeldrive equivalent you can buy in the UK. During everyday conditions, the 4MOTION model acts like a front-wheeldrive Estate, giving us a good idea of how British-registered cars will handle. Like the hatch, the Estate excels in delivering a refined, comfortable and polished driving


Volkswagen Golf Estate 2.0 TDI 150 4MOTION Price: Engine: Power/torque: Transmission:

33,250 Euros (not in UK) 2.0 litre 4cyl turbodiesel 148bhp/340Nm Six-speed manual, four-wheel drive 0-62mph: 8.9 seconds Top speed: 132mph Econ/CO2: 55.4mpg/132g/km

ON SALE Now (not in UK)

PRACTICALITY A 605-litre boot makes the Estate one of the more practical cars in its class, but a Skoda Octavia is bigger still. The seats don’t fold completely flat, either, but there is a handy storage area under the floor Golf Estate’s ride is cushioned and smooth

Verdict THE Golf Estate remains a logical choice for those seeking extra space. The £1,000 premium it commands over the equivalent hatch isn’t too steep, but a Skoda Octavia Estate still offers better value and more room. Our four-wheel-drive test car isn’t available in the UK, although the rugged Alltrack remains.

experience, while the £830 optional adaptive dampers offer Sport, Comfort and Normal driving modes – but in any of the three settings, the ride is cushioned and smooth. It makes for a very comfortable cruiser both in town or on the motorway. At speed, the diesel drone dies away, and while there’s some wind noise from the wing mirrors, it’s not that noticeable.


VW set to pull plug on smaller diesel engines

12 Special Issue

that car. They will have similar fuel efficiency and better acceleration, but have a similar cost or even slightly less.” It’s believed that the micro-hybrid Golf would use a version of the latest car’s 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which has the capability to shut down completely when cruising. This could be linked to a small electric motor, perhaps with as little as 15bhp, that would use the 48V electrics to manage charge levels and assist the combustion engine under acceleration. The Mk8 Golf is not expected to make its public debut until 2020. It will be based on an evolution of the existing MQB platform, but will be the first mainstream VW Group car to get the 48V tech we’ve

already seen on premium models such as the Audi Q7 and Bentley Bentayga. If VW has decided to drop the 1.6-litre diesel from its best-seller, it’s likely to have implications for the Polo h h o, which also uses that engine. Diess declined d d to confirm if the forthcoming Mk6 k Polo, lo, expected by the end of this year, ye would d uld be the last generation to get diesel power, but he admitted ed: “That area of the market is particularly price-sensitive, and a d as diesels get more expensive ve, they really become only relev evant where you regular travel very long distances. And most A0 cars c [superminis like the Polo] travvel about 50km (30 miles) per day ay.””


Golf Mk8, previewed here, will feature 48V hybrids rather than small diesels when it arrives in 2020, says VW boss to k

Auto Bild/Avarvarii B

THE next VW Golf is likely to ditch its smaller diesel engines in favour of micro-hybrids using 48-volt electrics, the company’s boss has suggested. The newly facelifted Mk7.5 Golf is offered with a mix of 1.6 and 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesels, with power outputs ranging from 113bhp up to 181bhp. However, speaking at the launch of the car, VW boss Dr Herbert Diess admitted that the future of smaller diesel engines is now uncertain, because of the increasing costs of cleaning up the technology for ever-tightening legislation. “The next Golf – the Mk8 – will lead a strong roll out of 48V electrics,” said Diess. “I think we will have to substitute some of the diesels for micro-hybrids in


Citroen C3 Picasso

Citroen reveals Picasso’s OFFICIAL


Bright and airy cabin evolves centre console to increase storage space

Richard Ingram @rsp_ingram

THE conventionally styled people carrier is dying, and it looks like the Citroen C3 Picasso will be the latest model to transition from MPV to SUV. Called the C-Aircross Concept, Citroen’s latest crossover will make its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March. The French brand is describing the car’s look as an “internationally oriented bodystyle” – using the bold concept to announce its offensive on the European SUV segment. It takes its styling cues from the new C3 hatchback, as well as the pumped-up C4 Cactus, and offers plenty of hints as to how the final car could look. The maker’s nowsynonymous Airbumps feature on the doors, while raised suspension and body cladding give it a distinctive SUV design. Scuff plates and roof bars offer added style, while the C3’s distinctive LED running lights and double chevron grille also feature. We’ve not seen the rear yet, but Citroen claims the back is just as bold as the front. If the C3’s influence continues to the tail, we can expect rounded LED lights and more black mouldings. Citroen says every surface is designed to improve efficiency, with air inlets all over as well as a rear diffuser to aid aerodynamics. The slatted theme runs to the C-pillars, which, instead of being solid plastic, allow light through small holes – making the interior feel much brighter. And the panoramic roof – as seen on the

■ Concept shows shift from MPV to SUV ■ Production C3 Picasso on sale in 2017 C4 Cactus – offers a feeling of space as per Citroen’s Advanced Comfort philosophy. Elsewhere, the digital dashboard gives a look at Citroen’s bold cabin of the future. Personalisation will be key, with flashes of red throughout, as well as a 12-inch screen and glass head-up display. ConnectedCAM dashcam tech from the C3 hatch also features, as well as speakers in the seat’s headrests. There’s no gearlever, allowing room for a wide centre console with wireless phone charging. Despite ditching its MPV roots, practicality is as important as ever, with compartments dotted around the cabin. The mirrors are replaced by cameras, but these won’t make it on to the production model. Also worth noting is the PSA Group’s familiar Grip Control dial, hinting that the new C3 Picasso will retain the current car’s front-wheel-drive layout. The innovative system directs torque to whichever wheel has the most grip, improving traction on loose surfaces. Engines will be lifted from the C3 hatch, including a range of turbocharged petrol and diesel units. The platform has also been designed for electrification from the outset. This being a concept, we’re unlikely to see the Aircross’s rear-hinged doors translate to the production model. To give an idea of size, the 4.1m body puts it between a Ford Fiesta and Focus – although at 1.63m high it’s almost as tall as a Kuga SUV. The C-Aircross concept will make way for a production model in the summer. It will go on sale in late 2017, with first deliveries before Christmas.

Newcomer will continue to offer the practicality of the current C3 Picasso when it arrives this year Sp ial Issue Is 14 Special

s new SUV look

Citroen C3 Picasso


FROM MPV TO SUV CITROEN isn’t the only manufacturer ditching MPVs for SUVs, with many of its key rivals adopting a pumped up look to capitalise on the trend for bold crossovers...

“Concept takes its styling cues from the new C3 hatchback, as well as the pumped-up C4 Cactus”

Renault Scenic RENAULT hasn’t quite gone the whole hog with its latest Scenic. Despite giving it crossover styling cues such as larger wheels and a raised body, the car remains an MPV at heart. Bosses admit the Scenic will be axed if it doesn’t win over fussy European buyers – but with the Kadjar SUV selling so well, there’s little cause for concern.

Peugeot 3008 SUV CITROEN’s sister brand has totally reinvented its 3008 family car, ditching the frumpy MPV styling in favour of a more desirable SUV offering. The bold front end and raised suspension appeal to a younger market, while the tech-laden but practical interior – including a bigger boot – offers everything the modern car buyer needs.

Vauxhall Crossland X BIG MOVER

Concept car reveals SUVstyle raised suspension and body cladding set to feature on new C3 Picasso

THE Crossland X sits on a platform jointly developed with the PSA Group. Vauxhall is marketing it as a CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle), but its intentions are clear. Replacing the ageing Meriva, the Crossland is a funkier take on the family car formula – with crossover styling, decent interior space and a slightly raised ride height.

Special Issue 15

Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate


E 63 is world’s fastest estate ■ Geneva debut for mega Merc ■ S does 0-62mph in 3.5 secs


Order books open for new model after debut at Geneva Motor Show

James Brodie


HOT on the heels of the new AMG E 63 saloon revealed at November’s Los Angeles Motor Show, Mercedes has now taken the covers off the wagon, which will be the fastest estate car in the world. The E 63 Estate will make its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March, and like the saloon it comes with a 4.0-litre twinturbo V8 and all-wheel drive. Two versions are available: the standard car produces 563bhp and 750Nm of torque, while the uprated ‘S’ model has 604bhp and 850Nm – more than an Audi RS 6 Performance. That means the executive wagon is capable of 0-62mph in as little as 3.5 seconds (the regular E 63 Estate takes 3.6 seconds). Both are limited to 155mph, although they can be optionally boosted to 180mph. At the same time, cylinder deactivation means they’re more efficient than the old E 63, claiming 31mpg. The Estate uses the same nine-speed auto gearbox and air-suspension as the saloon, while the all-wheel-drive system has variable torque distribution and a rearwheel-drive ‘Drift Mode’ setting. Flared wheelarches, a wider track, an AMG bodykit, b dyki

“The S model has 604bhp and 750Nm – more than an Audi RS 6 Performance”


Rear diffuser and quad exhausts mark E 63 out, while cabin gets unique steering wheel

rear diffuser and quad exhausts provide the aggressive exterior clues, while inside there’s a set of AMG performance seats and a bespoke steering wheel. Boot space is unchanged from the regular E-Class estate, with a sizeable 640-litre capacity rising to 1,820 litres with the back seats folded flat. Deliveries get under way in August, with prices set to start from just under £80,000 when the car goes on sale after the Geneva show. A limited-run Edition 1 version will be available with unique interior tweaks and Mercedes’ Night styling package.

503bhp GLC Coupé caught on test


WHENEVER a new Mercedes launches, it’s usually a safe bet that a hardcore AMG version is just around the corner. The GLC SUV is no different – and while we’ve already sampled the V6-engined AMG GLC 43, it’s the full-fat GLC 63 that enthusiasts will be awaiting with bated breath. It’s due later this year – in both regular SUV and coupé (right) bodystyles. Our spy pictures show a modified GLC test mule featuring a wider track, chunky bumpers and bigger air intakes. Larger quad exhausts at the rear are also a tell-tale sign that this is the range-topping V8. As the GLC sits on the same platform as the C-Class saloon and estate, it’s a safe bet we’ll see the 4.0-litre twin-turbo engine from the C 63 under the bonnet. The ‘S’ produces 503bhp and 700Nm of torque – far more than the GLC 43’s 362bhp and 520Nm.


New model will feature twin-turbo V8 from the C 63

Merc to join the auto Uber fleet DAIMLER will join forces with Uber to provide global fleets of self-driving taxis. Mercedes’ forthcoming EQ models (above) are likely to form the basis of the cabs, but won’t operate for some years. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said: “Auto manufacturers are crucial to our strategy as Uber has no experience making cars.” No financial terms have been revealed, but it’s understood the deal is non-exclusive to Daimler.

Special Issue 17


Electric vehicle charging

UK’s EV charging falling behind ■ Number of chargers falling wayy behind uptake of vehicles



80,000 -

Martin Saarinen @AE_Consumer

THE UK’s public charging infrastructure is struggling to keep pace with EV uptake, Auto Express has found. Electric and plug-in car ownership has soared from 2,254 vehicles in 2012 to 85,983 at the end of last year. However, the number of charging points in the UK has only increased from 2,883 in 1,287 locations to 11,736 in 4,243 locations during the same period. The ratio of EVs to chargers has grown from 0.78 to 7.32 in just four years, according to data obtained by charge point database Zap-Map. That means the current car-per-charger ratio is in danger of falling behind European Union targets. The European Parliament has said for EVs to become commercially viable, there has to be at least one charger for every 10 cars on the road. A Committee on Climate Change report previously estimated that by 2020, the UK could have around 700,000 EVs on the road – so an additional 60,000 chargers could be required in the next three years. But despite the Government announcing a £600million boost to promote uptake of electric and plug-in vehicles, Melanie Shufflebotham, director of Zap-Map, estimates the number of chargers will rise to just 30,000 in 12,000 locations by 2022. Yoann Le Petit, Clean Vehicle and Emobility officer at campaign group Transport & Environment, said: “The UK now has good coverage in many areas, but will need to ensure fast charging points continue to be developed throughout the trunk road network, notably between Sunderland and Leeds, and Edinburgh and Newcastle.” But it’s not just up to the Government to invest in the infrastructure. Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, stressed: “Ultimately, public investment in charging


The number of electric and plug-in vehicles in the UK


60,000 -


40,000 -


20,000 -

The number of UK charging locations for EVS




18 Special Issue



| 2,254 | 5,719 | 2012 2013 2014

Ratio of electric vehicles to chargers Year



EV per charger

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

2,254 5,840 20,372 49,076 85,983

2,883 5,719 6,827 8,483 11,736

0.78 1.02 2.98 5.78 7.32 Source: Zap-Map

“For electric and plug-in cars to become viable, there has to be at least one charger per 10 cars”

infrastructure will need to be matched by the private sector.” The Government’s own Go Ultra Low campaign found more than 90 per cent of all EV charging takes place at home, and for those who drive further than the national 10-mile average commute, “charging infrastructure is growing rapidly”.

Honda pulls plug on Civic estate THE outgoing Honda Civic Tourer estate will end production this year, with no direct replacement planned for the future. The news comes just as the brand releases the all-new Civic hatchback into dealers. Speaking at the launch of the model, UK managing director Dave Hodgetts told Auto Express that the decision had been made “not to sell [the Tourer] in this model cycle”. The 10th-generation Civic is being marketed as a global car, and the Europe-only Tourer will be the first model to fall victim to Honda’s international sales strategy. Hodgetts also hinted that the firm’s commitment to diesel engines is under threat, as business decisions are carefully



Honda has no plans to replace current Tourer

considered with the fuel’s long-term future uncertain. While a revised version of the 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel will arrive in the new Civic later this year, Hodgetts suggested this could be the last iteration before the

company focuses on electrification and hydrogen (see right). Honda expects up to 66 per cent of global car sales to feature plug-in or fuel cell technology by 2030. PAGE 30: New Civic hatchback driven

| 2015

| 2016

Shell to offer charge points ELECTRIC car drivers could soon be able to use their local Shell filling station to recharge their cars, after the firm announced plans to introduce battery charging points at some UK outlets. According to John Abbot, a director at Royal Dutch Shell, UK roll-out of charging points could begin “quite soon”. The company has yet to disclose how many of its 1,000 forecourts in the UK will feature plug-in charge points.


HONDA and General Motors have announced fresh details on a joint venture to develop a new ‘advanced’ hydrogen fuel cell system, destined for use in future models from both brands. The companies have revealed mass production of the fuel cell set-up should begin “around 2020”, representing an $85m (£68m) investment, creating 100 jobs at the site in Michigan, USA. The new fuel cell set-up is designed to be cheaper and easier to manufacture, using far fewer precious metals, resulting in a lower cost, smaller and lighter system than at present.





PARKING MODE | allows your camera to carry on recording even when the engine is switched off, ensuring any incidents that occur when you’re away from the vehicle are automatically stored securely for you to view later. SUPER NIGHT VISION | enhances video clarity by up to 1000% using Image Signal Processing technology (ISP). Only available during Parking Mode TIME LAPSE | records 1 frame per second reducing the size of the video file. This allows video recordings in parking mode to continue up to 16 times longer than other dash cams.


X330 / X350



News news inbrief

Milos Dvorak


Mii EV to launch SEAT’s electric charge ■ Brand’s first electric car on sale by 2019; likely to be Mii

Jonathan Burn @Jonathan_burn

SEAT is gearing up to launch its first fully electric car in 2019, and its debut foray into the world of electrification could be a new version of its Mii city car. R&D boss Dr Matthais Rabe told Auto Express that SEAT’s first EV will be based on today’s technology rather than the new MEB electrical architecture the VW Group has developed for its fleet of new EVs. For SEAT to be competitive in this market, a price point of “around 20,000 Euros” would be necessary “if you want to be in

the heart of the European market”, according to SEAT boss Luca De Meo. That points to a Mii-based model using the same basic technology from sister car, the Volkswagen e-up!. But to differentiate it from the VW, SEAT could choose to go down a different route. One option would be crossoverinfluenced styling, as illustrated by our exclusive image. A new bodystyle for the Mii is something that SEAT has clearly been deliberating, as a picture of what appeared to be a Mii X-Perience was flashed up at the Mobile World Congress tech event last year, and an

EV could provide an opportunity for the company to bring it to market. The brand has been weighing up its options as to which hybrid or EV to launch first for some time; a fully electric version of the Mii, a plug-in hybrid Leon, or an all-new bespoke electric vehicle were the options on the table. Following the Mii EV will be another EV, likely to be based on the group’s MEB architecture. “We have to take advantage of the investment the VW Group is making on the battery electric platform. It’s a huge opportunity – you don’t have to start from scratch,” Rabe added.

Low sales could spell end for Toledo

ELSEWHERE at SEAT, the future of the Toledo is in doubt due to rapidly declining sales figures. The brand is said to be keen to drop the slowselling hatchback when its current lifespan ends – by 2019 at the latest. However, Skoda boss Bernhard Maier says the Czech firm remains committed to replacing its Rapid small hatchback – even if its Toledo sister is axed. “We are already heavily invested in deciding the design for the next Rapid,” he told Auto Express. “We have a business case for a new Rapid – even if SEAT doesn’t [with the Toledo]. So we are happy to go it alone.”

SKODA will bring its most powerful Octavia to March’s Geneva Motor Show, in the form of the new vRS 245 (above). It sees the 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol engine boosted to 242bhp – an increase of 15bhp over the previous vRS 230 flagship. Performance is up, with the new car covering 0-62mph one-tenth of a second faster in 6.6 seconds. It sits 14mm lower and, like the standard facelifted Octavia, features a 38mm wider rear track. The vRS 245 is available as a hatch and an estate, and prices will be revealed later this year.

TT range expands with quattro TDI AUDI has expanded its TT range with a new quattro all-wheel-drive version of its TDI diesel sports car. Sitting above the existing front-wheeldrive models, the TDI quattro starts from £34,230 for the Coupé and £35,845 for the Roadster – a £3,055 increase over the standard car. While performance is boosted, fuel economy takes an 8mpg hit across the range. Buyers suffer a CO2 increase, too, so company car users will pay more in Benefit in Kind tax.

The price is right for Kia’s all-new Rio

Clearer fuel tax plan FUEL receipts could be revamped to show just how much drivers are paying to the Government in tax when filling up as part of new laws proposed by a Tory MP. And this is what they could look like (left), Peter Aldous tabled the Vehicle Fuel (Publication of Tax Information) Bill before the House of Commons last week, with backing from the RAC, in a bid to improve transparency of the amount motorists pay to HM Treasury each time they fill up. Fuel prices are at a two-year high – 120.1 pence

242bhp Octavia vRS set for Geneva

per litre for petrol and 122.3ppl for diesel – meaning motorists are now paying an average of almost £10 more per tank than 12 months ago. And with fuel duty set at a fixed 57.95p per litre and VAT charged at 20 per cent, around 65 per cent of each fill-up goes straight to Government – a system that raises £35billion a year. RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “It’s a long-overdue form of transparency that everyone who drives a vehicle ought to be entitled to see.”

KIA has announced official prices and specs of its new Rio (below), with the supermini starting from £11,995 in 1 spec with a 1.25 litre petrol engine. Air-con, Bluetooth and LED running lights come as standard. The cheapest diesel costs £13,495, while the new 1.0-litre turbo petrol model starts at £14,545. Range-topping First Edition cars get a 118bhp version of the 1.0T.


Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer

Vauxhall loads up cool Ins OFFICIAL

■ Wraps off sharp-looking estate ■ Set to star at Geneva show Lawrence Allan


FOLLOWING on from the reveal of the new Insignia Grand Sport late last year (Issue 1,451), Vauxhall has now released the first images and details of its Sports Tourer estate. The Ford Mondeo rival will make its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March before going on sale in the autumn, after the hatchback. The exterior design is broadly similar to the hatch’s from the C-pillar forward, but with a longer rear overhang and more abrupt roofline to accommodate the bigger boot. There are slimmer taillamps and a protruding rear bumper, while the chrome window surround extends to the rear lights. At 4,986mm long, the new Sports Tourer is 73mm longer than the outgoing car, and the wheelbase has increased by 92mm bringing a significant boost in rear passenger space. The overall boot loading length has grown to over two metres, too. Total capacity is 1,638 litres with the rear seats down – 110 litres up on the outgoing model – although the 520-litre capacity with the seats in place is no better than before. The seats themselves can be specced with a 40:20:40 folding mechanism, while an electric tailgate with foot gesture opening is also available. Vauxhall has also made loading easier with a lower load lip. As with the Insignia hatch, a new modular platform means the Sports Tourer is much lighter than the old model – up to 200kg has been shaved off the kerbweight depending on spec. As a result, the engine range is said

to offer improved performance and greater efficiency. And while engine details have yet to be released, Auto Express understands that from launch there will be the same mix of 1.5 and 2.0-litre turbo petrols and 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesels as in the hatch. A choice of front-wheel drive and a sixspeed manual gearbox or four-wheel drive with an eight-speed automatic transmission will be offered. The latter also gets torque vectoring to boost traction and agility. Adaptive dampers are on the options list. The interior features the latest version of Vauxhall’s IntelliLink infotainment system, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity. The brand’s OnStar concierge service and Wi-Fi Hotspot will be available across the range. Prices for the new Insignia Sports Tourer have yet to be announced, although we expect a rise over the existing model considering the extra tech on offer. A starting figure of around £23,500 is likely.

“New platform means Sports Tourer is lighter than before – up to 200kg has been shaved off the kerbweight”

Range Rover Coupé set to be cal Reborn Rangie revealed LAND Rover has announced it will restore 10 examples of its original 1970 Range Rover as part of the Land Rover Classic Programme. This ‘Range Rover Reborn’ is the first model released by the firm – a 1978 two-door in Bahama Gold with a 132bhp 3.5-litre V8. The engine is driven via a four-speed manual box and a lockable differential, with 4WD. The complete restoration is undertaken to original factory specs, with final cars costing £135,000, although base vehicles have to be sourced first.

22 Special Issue

WE were first to break news of a new Range Rover Coupé last year (Issue 1,427) – and now we know it will be called Velar when it arrives in 2018. Determined to not only focus on the past (left), Land Rover is gearing up to launch a coupé SUV to rival the Mercedes GLE Coupé and BMW X6. Jaguar Land Rover has identified a gap in its Range Rover line-up between the popular Evoque, which is priced from £30,000, and the bigger Range Rover Sport, which starts at nearly £60,000. Trademark applications from July last year show that the company is trying to register Velar – a badge last used on a Range Rover prototype in 1969. JLR sources have refused to make an official comment, but are

expected to reveal the name before the Geneva Motor Show next month. Our exclusive image (right) shows the Velar will have a lower roofline than the Sport, and it could adopt a four-seat cabin layout. The new car is thought to sit on Land Rover’s aluminium architecture, which also underpins the Jaguar F-Pace. Number plate checks on Velar prototypes that we have spied out on test have revealed that it will get four-cylinder petrol power – and this means that four-cylinder diesels are also very likely. It’s expected that six-cylinder diesels and an SVR edition with a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 will arrive soon after. Plug-in hybrids with a short electric range are possible, too.



Sleek-looking Velar Coupé gets its name from a 1969 Range Rover prototype

Vauxhall Insignia Spoorts Tourer

signia Sports Tourer SHARP

Dramatic new Insignia estate shares nose of hatch, but has longer overhang at the rear; it’s 73mm longer than old model

News e s

James Batchelor h o.ukk @JRRBatch @ tchelo helor

Videowatch AT this week, we test the Fiat 124 Spider against its sister car, and rate Honda’s Pioneer 4x4.

Fiat 124 Spider vs Mazda MX-5 at last

EVER since Fiat launched its new 124 Spider last year, we’ve been itching to get it on the track against its sister car: the Mazda MX-5. These two-seater roadsters are built in the same factory and share some key components. But which is our favourite? We drive the Abarth Spider on Page 40, and you can see the Fiat version and the Mazda getting sideways in our video.

Boot has a 520-litre capacity with seats in place; that’s the same as before. Fold them flat, and there’s a huge 1,640 litres of space

lled the Velar

World Car nominees named BIG SHOUT


Skoda’s Kodiaq SUV, launched last year and given five stars by Auto Express, is a contender for World Car of the Year


Verdict on Honda’s rugged 4x4 buggy

ASTON Martin, Bentley, Jaguar and McLaren are among the Britbased finalists for the 2017 World Car of the Year awards. The full list of contenders has now been revealed, with the Skoda Kodiaq (above) among the favourites. The reigning Auto Express Car of the Year – the Jaguar F-Pace – is also in with a shout, with a nod for the World Car Design of the Year gong, too. The Bentley Bentayga challenges the BMW 5 Series for World Luxury Car, while the Aston DB11 goes up against the Audi R8 and McLaren 570S for World Performance Car. Winners will be announced at the New York Motor Show in April. See for the full shortlist.

MEANWHILE, I’ve been trying out Honda’s brand new off-roader – and it’s not what you would expect. The Pioneer isn’t what you’d call a conventional 4x4 – it’s a powerful buggy that is open to the elements – but that hasn’t stopped me from taking it on a tough off-road course. You can watch any of our videos on your phone Simply scan this QR code.

Special Issue 23

Watchdog We get behind the stories that affect you

Joe Finnerty Drop in investment in UK car industry is likely to have far-reaching consequences

Daniel Berry was upset at rust on courtesy car after his own Duster was affected

Rusting Dacia Duster takes months to repair ■ CASE STUDY Owner frustrated as nearly new SUV requires major fix and suffering excessive rust Martin Saarinen

IF there’s one thing every car owner dreads, it’s the sight of rust. Even if the car is new and under warranty, rust issues can take months to resolve and repair. Such was the case for Daniel Berry, of Tilbury, Essex, who contacted us after his rusty Dacia Duster had spent over six months in the garage for repairs, with no end in sight. “I bought the car in August 2014. It was first registered by the dealer in November 2013, but it was pretty much brand new when I got it,” Daniel said. Despite being nearly new, the car was far from troublefree, as Daniel soon had to take it in for work on interior lighting and an oil leak. But the biggest issue was rust. “I had to take the car back again in July 2016, as I spotted rust in several places around the car,” Daniel told us. His dealer J Toomey in Basildon later told Daniel the rust was so bad he’d need four new doors under warranty, as well as additional work on the tailgate. Although Daniel was given a courtesy car, he didn’t hear back from the garage for months. By then the courtesy car was also showing signs of rust, so Daniel asked us to help in rejecting his Duster. A Dacia spokeswoman confirmed the company was willing to buy back Daniel’s car, but the sum offered wasn’t quite

24 Special Issue


Dramatic picture shows extent of the problem on courtesy car that Daniel was given

“Dealer said the rust was so bad that his car would need four new doors and work on the tailgate” enough. “I bought the car for around £13,000,” said Daniel. “But I’m only being offered £8,000 from Dacia, and it’d be towards another Dacia. My car’s only done 7,500 miles, so I’m not sure it’s fair.” Instead, Daniel wanted to see his finance through and buy another car. We asked

Dacia whether it was possible for Daniel to get his car back from the garage. A Dacia spokeswoman said: “As we understand Mr Berry does not wish to proceed with the offers made to him by the dealer with regard to changing his vehicle, we are proceeding with the repairs. We will continue to ensure he is kept mobile in our courtesy vehicle until repairs are complete.” But Dacia couldn’t pinpoint when the repair would be done, even though Daniel said the garage now had all the parts. “I was told they have all the parts in the garage, so I’m not sure what the hold-up is. It’s a shame, as I just wanted a car that was trouble-free.”

THE UK Government has pledged almost £10billion to the automotive sector over the next four years as part of its Industrial Strategy announced last month. As part of that, Prime Minister Theresa May committed £4.7billion to research and development, £3.7bn to road improvements and repairs and £740million to develop 5G networks. All good news for business as without future investment, the economy would stall and run the risk of going into recession. It’s great that there’s a willingness among ministers and officials to press ahead and take the lead in technology, especially with autonomous vehicles. But try telling that to the car makers and suppliers, who last year cut investment in the UK automotive industry by nearly a third. Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that investment dropped from £2.6bn to £1.5bn, and this is a worrying trend that has far-reaching consequences for factories in the UK. While manufacturing will continue to grow until 2020, this drop in 2016 will be felt in four to five years’ time. A similar level of investment in 2017 and delays on selecting UK factories for new product could cripple the industry in the future. And the reason? The uncertainty of Brexit. While things are slightly clearer now than six months ago, there’s still a huge unknown with regard to trade tariffs and that doesn’t sit well with global bosses making plans. Those key decisions being made now at Nissan, Toyota and Vauxhall, to name just a few, will shape the UK industry’s future way beyond 2020. @AE_Consumer

“The huge unknown on trade tariffs doesn’t sit well with global bosses trying to make plans”


What do you think?

Contact Martin Saarinen

HOT TOPIC Tesla Model S P100D

Servicing and repair costs are pushing up premiums on EVs, putting buyers off

Drivers put off EVs by fear of high premiums

FROM: Dave THE figures are very impressive from Tesla, although I suspect the [393-mile] range will drastically reduce if you keep putting your foot down for the fastest acceleration. The P100D looks good, but not stunning, and I’m yet to be convinced of the interior styling.

FROM: JayDub I REALLY like the P100D, and although not everyone is a fan of the interior, I like it. Because it’s so simple and minimalist, it will stay modern for a lot longer than interiors stuffed with buttons and tiny screens. This is what makes it so appealing.


Readers have been impressed by blisteringly quick Tesla Model S P100D

■ Figures show motorists are worried by higher insurance costs Joe Finnerty

HIGHER insurance premiums on electric cars and hybrid models are the main factor in putting off drivers from making the switch. Figures from the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) revealed many drivers are concerned about air pollution and see ultra-low emission vehicles as the answer, but nearly three-quarters are deterred by higher annual insurance rates. Insurers charge up to 50 per cent more on some models, mainly due to the higher purchase price of EVs and hybrids and lack of skilled mechanics available to do repairs. To reduce premiums and remove the obstacle for owners wanting to switch from a diesel or petrol car, the IMI is calling on Government to invest £30million in training from the £600m fund it created to promote emission-free vehicles. IMI CEO Steve Nash said: “Millions of taxpayer cash spent on charging points will be wasted if independent garages and the wider industry aren’t helped to keep up with the switch to electric. “Small businesses are uncertain about future demand for work on electrified cars and won’t invest in skills without Government help.” The news comes after the Association of British Insurers said premiums for all cars have hit a record high; an average policy now costs £462. The hike is partly a result of pricey vehicle repairs.

Useful Contacts


EXPERT Andy Barrs

Head of Police Liaison at TRACKER

CONNECTIVITY between devices now allows you to switch on the heating at home from your phone, and the world of motoring is getting in on the act. But these advances also provide more opportunities for thieves to compromise vehicle security. In 2016, tests by German vehicle experts showed 24 cars from 19 different manufacturers were vulnerable to an electronic device. This was backed by a Home Office report which highlighted how organised thieves had adapted well to modern security technology. It’s safe to say criminals quickly learnt how to overcome vehicle immobilisers and keyless entry systems. Although the cost and hassle of buying this tech may deter opportunist car thieves, organised crime will not be put off in 2017. We’ve also seen a rise in the number of vehicles stolen to order and exported. The good news is manufacturers are focusing on improving electronic security of remote access systems. But criminals are always just a few steps behind. Traditional methods of stealing vehicles, such as obtaining car keys through a house burglary, won’t go away in 2017, either. Whether a petty criminal or a pro, their motto remains; where there’s a will, there’s a way.

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

Join the debate at ■ “With Tesla improving year after year, I’m ever closer to switching to a fully electric car. Keep it up, Tesla.” Anthony Woodruffe

■ “I remain unconvinced. When I refuel my current car it takes just minutes. Electric cars still take too long.” Titaka

■ “I love how electric cars are getting faster and faster. It’s not the end goal, but it’s nice to see that EVs can be exciting.” Wiley

Why won’t drivers switch on foglights?

In praise of Ford’s heated windscreens

FROM: Ken Webster DURING the recent bouts of bad weather, I was staggered by the number of drivers failing to put on their headlights when it’s foggy. They seem unaware that other drivers cannot see them when they’re driving with their daytime running lights on only.

FROM: Doug Hall IN response to Donald Taylor’s E-mail in issue 1,456; I’ve enjoyed heated windscreens in my Ford cars for years. They’ve saved me hours of standing in the cold, scraping my windows. It’s a shame this tech has taken too long to reach down to other manufacturers.

Shocked at the high price of Volvo part

Lack of police affects standard of driving

FROM: Brian Moore THE plunger rod of the clutch operating cylinder in my four-year-old Volvo V40 broke recently. I’ve only driven 29,000 miles since buying the car. I was surprised to hear that the small plastic-like part would cost me £340 to replace. I wonder if other Volvo owners have experienced this?

FROM: Roland McCreanor SURELY I can’t be the only driver who thinks that driving standards have fallen badly over the years? Hardly anyone indicates these days, while I see many drivers taking the ‘racing line’ on roundabouts or corners at high speeds. To me the answer is simple: we need more traffic cops.

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

Special Issue 25

Insidestory Tackling the motoring issues that matter

Joe Finnerty @AE_Consumer

THE bonnet crumples, the windscreen shatters, the roof buckles and the steering wheel and dashboard hurtle towards the head of driver. It’s all over in seconds, but the result is sickening. A closer look at the crash aftermath reveals the passenger has suffered severe leg injuries, and the child in the rear seat has slammed their head into the seat in front. It’s a nightmare scene. Fortunately, what we’ve witnessed isn’t a road traffic accident with multiple fatalities, but a controlled Euro NCAP test where a 20-year-old Rover 100 has been smashed into a wall at 40mph with dummies in the seats. While the wreckage makes shocking viewing – even worse on the super slow-motion hi-res replay available in the control booth – the good news is this tragic outcome doesn’t happen any more, thanks to vast improvements in vehicle safety standards. In fact, it was this Rover 100 that brought the issue into sharp focus when it was tested in 1997 as part of the first ever testing programme of Euro NCAP. The one-star rating it received shocked the industry and motorists alike and ultimately led to the 100, based on an eighties Metro design, being pulled from production. And so started the push to try to reduce the number of car occupants dying during crashes. The first test was conducted on 4 February with a Ford Fiesta, followed by a number of vehicles. These highlighted glaring safety flaws in some of the best-selling family cars on the market. And over the two decades since then there has been an evolution of safety, as the number of people killed and seriously injured (KSI) on UK roads has fallen by 182,000, down from 23,000 to 8,500 per year – a 63 per cent drop driven by fewer adult occupant deaths. The crash we saw at the testing lab at Thatcham Research in Berkshire to mark the 20th anniversary was a re-enactment of that Rover 100 crash, alongside a test of a 2015-spec Honda Jazz – the safest supermini currently on sale. The display was of the 40 per cent frontal offset test; just one of four assessments done by Euro NCAP on every new model. There’s a full frontal test, a mobile side impact and a side impact into a pole (to mirror hitting a tree). The seats are tested for whiplash, plus there’s an AEB test run. The frontal offset into the deformable barrier is the most similar to a typical crash in the real world – a car drifting across the centre white line into an oncoming vehicle. The Jazz and Rover 100 weigh roughly the same, and it takes them the same 10 seconds to cover the distance

after the warning klaxon has been sounded before the winch releases them two metres out from the crash block. What follows is a shuddering impact, but the difference between the cars after the 40mph crash is night and day. The Jazz deploys front airbags for both passenger and driver, plus curtain airbags for the side where there’s been an impact. Seatbelt tensioners make sure chest compression is limited, while the structure itself absorbs the energy of the crash and channels it away from people to maintain a safe zone around passengers. It’s essentially lots of tiny, choreographed accidents milliseconds apart to reduce the overall impact. The Jazz is particularly good for this as it features Honda’s advanced compatibility engineering (ACE) body structure; this tech has been researched by the company for 15 years, and is present on everything from this supermini to the CR-V. On the other hand, the Rover 100 has none of this, with the entire bulkhead folding up into itself, crushing the driver and passenger in the process. The children, one dummy in a rear-facing seat, and an older child in a front-facing child seat, don’t fare much better in the back as the front of the car hurtles towards them. The bottom line from all this technology and engineering is that the family in the Rover 100 would most likely be dead. Those in the Jazz would be able to open the door and walk away with some minor neck injuries and bruising to the chest and legs. That in itself is a sobering thought, but it’s startling when you consider that the Rover 100 passed all the necessary crash standards of its day and was legally on sale – and is still legal to drive on the road. This highlights the remarkable progress that’s been made in 20 years, and it’s a journey Euro NCAP and its partners – Thatcham Research is just one of several testers across the continent – are rightly proud of. It hasn’t been plain sailing, though, as originally manufacturers were against it. Matthew Avery, Thatcham’s director of research, explained: “There was a lot of debate in the ninetiess about the need to change nufacturers were crash tests. Vehicle manu u rash tests encouraged to adopt cra on, so but it was a slow adoptio sport the Department for Transp decided to introduce a New N Carr me (NCAP).” Assessment Programme urn of the It wasn’t until the turn urers reallyy century that manufactur started to engage with itt. ers Before then, some make refused to provide cars if


Crash tests and their aftermath are recorded to assess the safety of all new cars

P Gibs Pete bson

“There was a lot of debate in the nineties about changing crash tests. Makers were encouraged to adopt the tests, but it was a slow process” MATTHEW AVERY director of research, Thatcham (right) 26 Special Issue

Inside story ROVER 100

Horrifying results of the Rover 100’s crash test helped to inspire current standards of car safety assessment




Latest Jazz is the safest supermini currently on sale, with raft of tech and body structure set up to protect occupants in the event of impact


TESTS Euro NCAP has been saving lives on the road for two decades. We put cars from 1997 and 2017 to the wall to see the difference it’s made to safety

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Inside story 5-STAR FIRST

Renault Laguna Mk2 set standard in 2001 as first car to get maximum rating

they didn’t want them tested, or supplied cars fitted with test-specific tech. However, the introduction of the Mk2 Renault Laguna in 2001 was a real landmark for Euro NCAP, as it became the first five-star car because it was equipped with load limiters on seatbelts and a curtain airbag. Avery said: “Renault was the first one to say we can do this and sell this safety rating to the consumer.” That was swiftly followed in 2003 by the five-star Volvo XC90 which, after 14 years, still has no recorded occupant fatalities in its three biggest markets – the UK, US and Sweden. From this step change, new tests were introduced, making it harder to achieve the five-star rating – but this only served to push manufacturers to make cars safer and safer. Avery added: “As vehicle manufacturers improve performance, the dummies and tests have improved. Euro NCAP is an evolution of testing as manufacturers continue to supply good safety vehicles and raise the bar.” Such is the improvement that it’s quite rare for a car to receive anything less than four stars. That’s why there was so much surprise when the Ford Mustang was awarded just two stars in January. The result highlighted the difference between regulations across the world; it followed the 1999 Chrysler Voyager, which performed well in left-hand-drive tests but scored poorly when converted to right-hand drive. And while Euro NCAP doesn’t want to impose its own rules on others, more global harmonisation is supported. Avery said: “Combined testing wouldn’t mean just using ours. The breadth of testing is good because it gives you robustness. For example, the UK is the foremost in collision avoidance – the AEB [Autonomous Emergency Braking] test was UK-designed – while Germany has done a lot of work on the offset crash that will be introduced from 2020.” Global difference is just one challenge facing Euro NCAP and manufacturers, with big changes planned over the next five to 10 years. And since 2016, the process has undergone its biggest change in over a decade. ught in The new AEB test has been brought m alongside a two-tier rating system that gives one score for a fully kittted out vehicle and another for the standard entry-level model. Andrew Miller, president of Euro NCAP, said it is important results

VOLVO XC90 (2003)

SUV also scored five stars at launch, led and not one occupant has been kille le in its key markets in 14 years on sale

are correctly advertised and explained to consumers at dealer level. “We were quite open-minded about the two-tier rating,” he explained. “Manufacturers wanted it, so we will see what the future holds. It is about creating consumer information.” This year will also be a busy year for Euro NCAP after a quiet 2016, as manu manufacturers look to push through models on the cu urrent testing cycle before the t latest regulation g ons kick in from 2018. Last year y onlyy 20 cars were tested, but 2017 alrea a ady has 42 on the books with new models from Jaguar Land Rover, Honda and Volvo. The 2018 changes (see our timeline, below) are just the start of many planned unt until 2020. Beyond that

testing will start to focus on selfdriving assessments and autonomy, and that’s not easy, because it means predicting what cars will actually be able to do and what should be tested. Ultimately, though, all of this work has one goal: to reduce the number of people – whether they’re car occupants, cyclists or pedestrians – who die on the roads. After seeing the results of the Rover 100 crash, getting older models off the road quickly could work just as well as any new tests introduced for future models. Avery agrees, and said: “A scrappage scheme to encourage people to buy cars with AEB could stop 2,700 KSIs a year.” Whatever happens over the next 20 years, one thing’s for sure – the days of the Rover 100 and its horrifying crash test scene won’t be repeated; this won’t be allowed. For that, Euro NCAP should be applauded and its 20th birthday celebrated as much as any other motoring landmark.









First results released. Before this, the only test performed was a crash into a wall head-on with no need for a dummy

Seatbelt reminder assessment brought in, and Renault Laguna becomes first five-star car in Adult Occupant Protection test

Introduction of pole impact test

Euro NCAP launches Child Protection Rating

Results released of first Europewide survey of cars with ESC stability control

Testing of pick-ups begins. Euro NCAP releases results of first whiplash tests

New overall star rating including Safety Assist introduced

Euro NCAP begins testing electric vehicles and makes ESC tests mandatory in the star rating

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20 years of crash tests

Inside story

Bulkhead folded into itself in test, showing how little crash protection Rover offers


While a family crashing in Rover would likely be killed, occupants in Jazz would be protected by airbags and tech; they’d walk from scene

Honda engineer Julian Warren talked our man Finnerty through Jazz’s crumple zones


Number of lives saved on UK roads thanks to Euro NCAP


Number of models assessed by independent body since 1997


Volvo S40 became first fourstar car five months after Euro NCAP programme launched


9 OUT OF 10

Tests are carried out with two child dummies – one facing forward in a car seat, and one set backwards in a carrier – to ensure all possibilities are monitored

Cars sold in Europe with rating


Cost of new Thor dummy to be introduced in 2020 – it’s been 20 years in development


Bright paints are used on crash test dummies so that their movements and points of impact throughout the assessment can be tracked on slow-motion cameras


Estimated lives saved over next 20 years with AEB on every new car sold in UK








AEB included in the rating, plus safety tests on Heavy Quadricycles begin

Euro NCAP introduces new full width frontal test

Rating expanded by including AEB technology for pedestrians. Dual rating introduced as well as two new child dummy sizes, representing a six and a 10-year-old child

New AEB test to detect cyclists, more advanced night-time AEB test, plus new lane keep assist assessment

Junction crash test at T-junctions and turn across path test to be introduced

Change frontal offset to mobile collision to encourage manufacturers to make smaller cars stiffer. Thor dummies to be introduced – the last dummy, Hybrid 3, came in during the mid-eighties

Expansion of junction test, plus automated driving and self steering tests

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New cars


Visit for the latest new cars and drives


Does facelift do enough to keep SUV in contention with new wave of rivals?


FIRST DRIVE All-new version of family hatch is better in every way. We see if it’s a class leader Richard Ingram @rsp_ingram

LAST December, Honda built its 100 millionth car. While the CR-V retained its title as the world’s best-selling SUV, of the 4.7m models that rolled off the manufacturer’s production lines in 2016, more than 620,000 wore the Civic badge. Now in its 10th generation, the familyfocused hatchback has come a long way since it was first launched in 1972. Each incarnation has seen various region-specific models come and go, without any real cohesion between what you buy here in the UK and what sells in showrooms across America or elsewhere. With the latest version, however, Honda pooled resources to establish a dedicated team for the very first ‘global’ Civic. A third of the firm’s entire research and development budget has gone into this car, to create a vehicle that large project leader Mitsuru Kariya describes as “solid, sleek and fun to use”. The brand’s Swindon factory in Wiltshire is the international hub for the new Civic. It will be built here, with other countries also offered a choice of four-door saloon and two-door coupé variants. The hatch gets a completely new platform, as well as engines and transmissions. There is loads of fresh technology, while the shape of the Japanese-designed body pulls it into line with the latest HR-V and Jazz models. Styling is subjective, of course, but the

distinctive nose and wide, squat profile give it much more presence on the road. With no diesel engine available from launch, it’s this 127bhp 1.0-litre turbo petrol that Honda bosses reckon will be the biggest seller in this country. Only a third of buyers are expected to stump up the extra in monthly PCP payments and fuel costs for the 180bhp 1.5-litre petrol version. The 1.0 should appeal to both private buyers and company car drivers alike. SE versions emit 110g/km of CO2, but upgrade to the bigger wheels of the SR tested here and those numbers jump to 117g/km. A Peugeot 308 PureTech 130 is more frugal, though, because it emits only 107g/km in big-selling Allure trim. Fuel economy of 55.4mpg leaves the Civic trailing Ford’s established Focus EcoBoost, which claims a more impressive 60.1mpg in 123bhp guise. On the road, the car is unrecognisable from its predecessor. New multi-link rear suspension means body control is good, while comfort on rougher roads makes the hatch an impressive long-distance cruiser. Higher-spec models with the more powerful engine feature adaptive dampers, which offer a choice of drive modes and varying degrees of stiffness. The standard set-up struck a good balance between ride and handling, although we are yet to test the cars on Britain’s battered B-roads, so we’ll reserve final judgement until we’ve tried both variations in the UK. But while it’s better to drive, that new suspension means this 10th-generation


Running costs

0-62mph/top speed

55.4mpg (official)

10.9 seconds/126mph

£55 fill-up

On road, new 1.0-litre offers plenty of punch. Grip is decent as well

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We get behind wheel of BMW’s storming new 602bhp M760Li xDrive.



Verdict on UK roads as tuner gets its teeth into four-door Smart city car.



Our verdict as feisty new drop-top is driven on UK roads for the first time.

Distinctive front end and wider profile give Civic more road presence

Essentials Honda Civic 1.0 i-VTEC SR Price: Engine: Power/torque: Transmission:

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

£20,180 1.0-litre 3cyl turbo petrol 127bhp/200Nm Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive 10.9 seconds 126mph 55.4mpg 117g/km


PRACTICALITY The new Civic comes with plenty of practical touches, including the slimline parcel shelf, which retracts sideways to save space. Big bins and a decent glovebox also feature

INFOTAINMENT Big screen trails rivals from VW and SEAT for functionality, while touch-sensitive buttons are tricky to operate. SR trim level and above get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Rear passengers have legroom to spare, while digital instrument dials are clear Civic loses out on the old car’s innovative Magic Seats. However, customer research suggests few owners used the feature on a regular basis, and by moving the fuel tank to the rear, Honda’s engineers have lowered the front seat hip point, giving the car a much sportier and more involving driving position. There’s plenty of adjustment in both the seat and steering wheel and all of the controls are within easy reach – so even taller drivers should be able to find a position that suits them. The steering is consistently weighted and, although not brimming with feel, it’s

direct. The level of grip is decent, too – on our twisting route through the hills above Barcelona, the new Civic felt planted and controlled, unfazed by tighter bends and uneven surfaces. The short, sharp gearshift adds a pleasing degree of involvement, too, although there will be a CVT version for those in need of an automatic. This entry-level engine is a gem. With 127bhp, it’s one of the more powerful threecylinder offerings in this class, showing its worth with punchy acceleration and impressive in-gear shove. Rev it up and you’ll notice the distinct three-cylinder

thrum, but with little lag there’s not much need to hold on to the gears. At 70mph in sixth the car can feel a little gutless, but a quick switch to fifth ensures you’re never left trailing faster-moving traffic. Our car suffered more in terms of wind and road noise, though, with noticeable roar from its modest 17-inch wheels. Rivals such as the new Hyundai i30 are quieter. The 1.5-litre Civic is noticably quicker than the smaller 1.0 in a straight line, but feels less agile in corners due to the heavier lump over the front wheels. Both are more rewarding than their predecessors,

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xx Honda Civic

DRIVING POSITION As well as the adjustable steering wheel, Civic now features lower seats to give a more involving driving position

PRACTICALITY Cabin boasts a deep central cubby and sizeable glovebox, plus neat wire-tidying clips ahead of the gearlever Otis Clay

however, and bode well for the 300bhpplus Type R hot hatch due later this year. Like the old car, the new Civic should prove practical enough for young families. The 478-litre boot is one litre larger than it was in the old car, with a big well under the floor in place of a full-size spare. The total volume with the rear seats folded is slightly smaller than before (1,267 litres vs 1,378 litres) but it should suffice for the occasional trip to the tip. In fact, the capacities are nearidentical to those of Volkswagen’s recently updated Golf hatchback (driven on Page 8) – a common benchmark for rivals in this class. Yet as the new Civic is a global model, Honda has chosen to ditch its Europe-only Tourer estate at the end of this year, with no replacement planned in the future. Space in the back is good, although the sloping roofline means taller adults might find their heads brushing the ceiling. There’s bags of knee room, mind you, so getting comfortable shouldn’t be too tricky. Our SR-spec test car felt a little dark in the rear due to the black headlining and tinted windows, but models fitted with the opening glass roof feel lighter inside. Thankfully, despite retaining the Civic’s characteristic window-splitting rear spoiler, designers have slimmed the set-up to offer much improved visibility when reversing. Our SR model gets a parking camera as standard, though; this certainly helped when backing into tight spaces. Lane departure warning provides confidence on busy motorways, and is standard across the range. Honda is aiming for a five-star Euro NCAP rating although, at the time of writing, this had yet to be confirmed. The cabin is filled with practical touches, from the slimline removable parcel shelf that retracts sideways to save space to the deep central cubby and large glovebox. No stone has been left unturned in terms of attention to detail, and there are even clips ahead of the gearlever to keep phone cables tidy. Standard kit is generous – our mid-range SR has dual-zone climate control, auto lights and wipers and those 17-inch wheels as standard. It also benefits from a bigger screen than before, as well as Garmin


Higher-spec models come with adaptive dampers, which offer a choice of driving modes and varying degrees of stiffness

sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The touch-sensitive buttons for the volume controls aren’t that responsive, though, meaning the infotainment set-up still trails its VW Group rivals in terms of functionality and usability. But there are plenty of features to keep you entertained. There is an entry-level S model, although Honda is calling this a “homologation exercise” and expects very few buyers to bother with the basic trim. For just £100 more customers can opt for the SE, which comes with Bluetooth, LED daytime running lights and 16-inch wheels. Bizarrely, the faster 1.5-litre uses a different naming structure, with Sport, Sport Plus and Prestige specs. Our SR is roughly comparable with the Sport model, with the larger engine commanding a £2,290 premium. The adaptive dampers are standard on Sport Plus cars, along with keyless entry and a more powerful stereo. Flagship Prestige cars get leather, chrome trim and heated rear seats.

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Verdict HONDA could have revolutionised the Civic simply by fitting new engines. But by basing it on a new lightweight and rigid platform, the brand has created a family hatchback barely recognisable from its predecessor. It’s good to drive, refined and relatively economical, and while it’s not as well finished as a VW Golf, the 10th-generation Civic is now a credible rival to the best in its class.



Ford Kuga

Lawrence Allan


THE problem with selling a car in a popular market segment is that you can struggle to get noticed. The Ford Kuga, for example, only had a handful of competitors when the first-generation model rolled off the line in 2008. But fast forward nine years, and virtually every mainstream car maker has a profitable mid-size SUV ready to poach Ford’s sizeable market share. Our favourite SUVs in this class, such as the slightly smaller SEAT Ateca and Peugeot 3008, have pushed the Kuga down the pecking order. Even the outgoing Mazda CX-5 could show the Ford a fresh set of heels, with its punchy diesel engine. But a facelift can really make a difference – which is why the company has given the Kuga a similar front grille to the bigger Edge, plus restyled lights front and rear, and a reshaped tailgate. The nip and tuck freshens up the design, although we still don’t think it’s as imposing or attractive as its funkier and more youthful rivals. Inside, the changes are more limited. Ford has thrown out the low-res screen and mass of fiddly buttons for the old infotainment system and fitted its latest SYNC 3 set-up. It’s largely intuitive to operate and only occasionally does it fail to respond to your inputs. It’s just a bit odd that the company has recessed the screen into the dash rather than bringing it out at an angle, because this makes the large menu buttons tricky to reach on the move. Cabin quality is a mixed bag, too. There’s a decent amount of soft-touch materials on the dashboard and doors, plus Ford’s trademark squidgy steering wheel. But the revised centre console, which houses the new electronic parking brake, features hard and flimsy-feeling glossy plastic. The hard surround for the infotainment system also looks cheap, while the tiny display for the climate control is difficult to read and really dated. A Volkswagen Tiguan is well ahead in terms of perceived quality, but even a Renault Kadjar has the Kuga licked for design and fit and finish inside. There’s plenty of space for rear-seat occupants, but disappointingly the 456-litre boot is smaller than the Ateca’s, despite the


FIRST UK DRIVE We hit British roads to see whether refresh has brought INTERIOR

Soft-touch materials are appealing, but flimsy, glossy plastics cheapen the Kuga’s cabin

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Ford Kuga Performance 0-62mph/top speed 9.2 seconds/126mph

Running costs 54.3mpg (official) £73 fill-up


Essentials Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi 180 AWD Titanium Price: Engine: Power/torque: Transmission:

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

£28,545 2.0-litre 4cyl diesel 177bhp/400Nm Six-speed manual, four-wheel drive 9.2 seconds 126mph 54.3mpg 135g/km


PRACTICALITY Space remains unchanged, with the Kuga providing decent head and legroom, although the 456-litre boot is smaller than rivals’

EQUIPMENT New SYNC 3 touchscreen

replaces fiddly old system, and is a big step forward. It’s standard on well equipped Titanium-spec models and above


Grille and lights are new, while the tailgate has also been restyled

Titanium model has alloys, voice control and sixspeed manual box as standard; 2017 Kuga also comes in sporty ST-Line trim

SUV back into contention Kuga being a longer car. There’s a decent level of kit, though, with Titanium cars getting SYNC 3 (with voice control, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), partleather seats, ambient lighting, keyless go, auto braking and rear cross-traffic alert. Ford hasn’t just focused on the bits you can see, however. There’s a couple of new engines (although the 2.0 TDCi in our car is unchanged), while new torque vectoring technology has been introduced in a bid to boost traction and stability. The suspension is unchanged, however. Like most torque vectoring systems on mainstream cars, you’ll only notice the effect if you drive the new model back-to-back with the old one, but either way, it’s clear the

Rear seat space is generous, and partleather seats provide a luxurious feel

Kuga is still one of the class’s better drivers’ cars. Body control is pretty good for a small SUV, while the controls are well weighted. The Kuga has been set up for comfort, so the ride is smooth and well damped at speed, yet there’s some jiggling around town. It’s no worse than in most rivals, however. Our flagship 2.0 TDCi 180 diesel feels a lot stronger in the Kuga than it does in the heavier Edge, while it’s flexible and refined even on the motorway. Claimed fuel economy of 54.3mpg is largely competitive for the class, especially since our car has grippy four-wheel drive. Unfortunately, this engine isn’t available as a cheaper and more frugal front-wheel-drive variant. The £28,545 price of this model might appear steep at first, but it’s roughly in line with rivals, while Ford dealers are likely to offer generous monthly payment deals.

Verdict FORD’S changes to the Kuga for 2017 aren’t groundbreaking, but they give the SUV a welcome boost. It’s still good to drive, spacious and comfortable, although a number of rivals have caught up in all these key areas. They also have a better-quality feel and more space, as the Kuga is let down by its average cabin and small boot.


Special Issue 35


BMWM760Li xDrive FIRST DRIVE Luxury flagship is BMW’s fastest ever car. But does it feel it? Steve Fowler @stevefowler

NEVER one to miss an anniversary, BMW celebrates 30 years of V12 engines in its range-topping 7 Series this year – it was back in 1987 that the V12-powered 750i was born. A little tenuous, perhaps, but it does give the brand a neat link to this, its latest flagship, the extensively named M760Li xDrive. Let’s talk through that nomenclature: M because this model is born from the new M Performance line-up; 760 because, well, there’s a 6.6-litre V12 engine under the bonnet (we don’t get that bit, either); L for long-wheelbase configuration; i for a petrol model and xDrive denotes four-wheel drive. Of all those numbers and letters, it’s the M badge that is most important. Especially because of the work BMW’s M team has done on the engine. It’s a beast, producing 602bhp and 800Nm of torque – enabling this car to get from 0-60mph in

36 Special Issue

3.6 seconds. That, officially, makes it the fastest production BMW ever made. Yes, in a long-wheelbase luxury saloon that’s 5,238mm long and weighs 2.2 tonnes. The guys and girls at M have also been hard at work on the dynamics, giving the four-wheel-drive system a rear-drive bias, tweaking the aerodynamics and tuning the sound from the V12. There’s also the latest Executive Drive Pro Suspension with active roll stabilisation to adjust the feel of the car according to the conditions and your mood, plus all the safety, connectivity and infotainment kit you’d expect from a flagship – as well as a few more tasty treats on the options list. But can a car this big and this fast cut it around corners, too? In a brave move, BMW took us to a circuit to try to convince

Performance 0-60mph/top speed 3.6 seconds/189mph

Running costs 22.0mpg (official) £91 fill-up

us. There’s no denying the laws of physics and, in spite of the use of carbon fibre in the body, this is still a big, heavy car that’ll lean a touch through corners and with a natural tendency to understeer in tighter bends. However, using clever electronics and a touch of rear-wheel steering (boosted if you select sport mode – and you should), the M760Li xDrive will surprise you with a degree of agility lacking in other big, fast, luxury cars (Mercedes-AMG’s S-Class models, for example). It’s not an M3, 4, 5 or 6, but it’s still a fun car with enough grip to inspire confidence, even on the slippery mountain roads when we got away from the test track. Through the slalom course laid out for us at the circuit, though, the car weaved in and out of cones seamlessly with steering that’s accurate if not reacting especially fast to

“Using clever electronics, M760Li will surprise you with a degree of agility lacking in its rivals”

BMW 760Li xDrive Luxury flagship mixes impressive cruising with surprising agility

Newcars Essentials BMW M760Li xDrive

Price: Engine: Power/torque: Transmission:

0-60mph: Top speed: Economy: CO2:

£132,310 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 602bhp/800Nm Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive 3.6 seconds 189mph 22.0mpg 294g/km

ON SALE Now Long-wheelbase-only body means plenty of space and luxury in back

INTERIOR Quality is a match for anything else in the luxury class, but subtle badging is only real clue to the performance on offer – we’d prefer a few more sporting touches inside

DRIVE Clever use of electronics gives the car a feel on the road that belies its actual size and weight. Steering is accurate if not full of feel, while engine responses could be a bit sharper

Lavishly equipped cabin features gesture control and Bowers and Wilkins stereo inputs. This is a car that will flow nicely from bend to bend, rewarding a smooth driving style rather than an attacking one. The engine, though, doesn’t really have the punch the title of ‘fastest ever BMW’ suggests. You need to have the car in Sport mode for better throttle response (it’s a little languid in Comfort), but there’s never really the punch that you might expect – it’s more like an aircraft on take-off than that first kick in the kidneys of a rollercoaster. That’s not to say it isn’t fast – it is – but there’s a slight lack of drama and excitement, including the sound, while the gearbox is a little hesitant when you kick down, too. The slightly cheaper Mercedes-AMG S 63L might not match the BMW’s performance on paper, but it actually feels faster in a straight line and sounds a whole lot more thrilling. The

Mercedes doesn’t hide its weight quite as well, though, with the BMW feeling more agile than these cars have a right to. Away from the track – and let’s be honest, we doubt any owners will use their M760Li xDrives as track day specials – the car plays its luxury hand well. On a cruise you’ll enjoy an impressive level of refinement and a plush ride. However, there is an M badge on this car and the interior doesn’t do a lot to remind you of that. Yes, it’s a thing of beauty and quality that’s more than a match for anything else, but it’s similar to any other 7 Series. We’d have liked a few sportier M-style flourishes inside, at least as no-cost options. The exterior is a bit more exciting, though. The 7 is already a great looking luxury car – and you can have it in two flavours: M with a tastefully sporting bent and special 20-inch alloys or Excellence with more chrome and luxury exterior trim that’s aimed mainly at the lucrative Chinese market.

Verdict THE M badge sits well on the big 7 Series, turning it into a fast, fun saloon but without harming the car’s luxury credentials. Its handling abilities will surprise you given the sheer weight of the package, although the V12 engine’s gentlemanly approach to performance is slightly at odds with the ‘fastest ever BMW’ tag – it just doesn’t feel it. It’s still a luxury car, however, and a fitting flagship.


Special Issue 37


Smart Brabus ForFour

SmartBrabusForFour FIRST UK DRIVE Tuning arm has worked its magic on four-door city car. So is it a winner? Lawrence Allan


BRABUS is a German brand with a long and illustrious history of tuning a variety of Mercedes’ most prolific models. Many of them have been extremely fast, loud and expensive, but 15 years ago Brabus surprised us by setting up a joint venture with city car maker Smart. The third-generation Smart Brabus ForTwo is now on sale, while the ForFour you see here is the second four-seat model to emerge from the partnership. It shares much with the new Renault Twingo GT, including the familiar 898cc turbocharged engine – but it’s been tweaked to deliver 107bhp thanks to boosted fuel pressure, a revised air intake and sports exhaust system. There’s also a useful 35Nm of extra torque. Unfortunately (and unlike the Twingo GT) Smart has chosen not to offer a manual gearbox with the Brabus, so you’re stuck with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. Memories of the sluggish and horribly jerky shifts of old auto-only Smarts come flooding back, but thankfully this unit is considerably smoother and quicker than before. There’s decent response from the wheelmounted paddles, while a 40 per cent faster shift and a Race Start launch control function

“Brabus feels more composed than regular car, but loses none of the agility it’s famous for”

give it a sportier edge. The Smart is a breeze to thread around town, although there’s nothing like the sense of interaction you’ll have with a manual gearbox. This isn’t helped by the engine itself. The car is nippy around town, feeling perkier than the standard ForFour, but it never seems fast on the open road. It’s 100kg heavier than the ForTwo, and also appears unwilling to rev, so you have to change up early to make the most of the torque. It retains the characteristic thrum on start-up, but once on the move the sound is disappointingly muted. Unlike in the ForTwo, the new exhaust has very little effect in the four-seat Smart, and at motorway speeds the rev counter is the only indication of how hard the engine is actually working. Our test fuel economy figure of 34mpg shows it’s not that efficient on longer runs, either. This is a shame, because the Brabus additions extend to more than just a power boost. Firmer suspension, recalibrated variable-ratio steering and a slackened ESP system aim to provide more fun. It feels more composed than a standard Smart in fast corners, but loses none of the almost comic agility or that tight turning circle for which the standard car is famous. The weightier steering still lacks any sort of feel, however, and with loads of understeer, there’s still no sense of the ForFour being rear-wheel drive. The ride isn’t as stiff as you’d expect, especially when you take a look at those 17-inch wheels. Nevertheless, this is still a car that crashes into big potholes and bounces over high-speed bumps; and


Smart Brabus ForFour Xclusive Price: Engine: Power/torque: Transmission: 0-62mph: Top speed: Economy: CO2:


Design shares a lot with ForTwo inside. And you can have Brabus badge on smaller two-seat Smart, as well as the Cabrio variant

£20,110 898cc 3cyl turbo petrol 107bhp/170Nm Six-speed dual-clutch auto, rear-wheel drive 10.5 seconds 96mph 61.4mpg 104g/km


INFOTAINMENT Seven-inch touchscreen is standard and comes with MirrorLink technology. There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto option, though


Subtle tweaks mark out sportier Brabus model, including bigger bumpers front and rear, 17-inch alloy wheels and twin exhausts

PRACTICALITY Rear offers seating for only two, and longer journeys won’t be comfortable. Still, access is easy, with the back doors opening to 85 degrees

Barry Hayden

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Smart Brabus ForFour

Rear seats fold to boost the 185-litre boot space, but JBL subwoofer gets in the way even a MINI runs rings around it in this regard. There’s incessant tyre roar, too, and wind noise is a problem at speed. We’ve no complaints about the funky styling, however. Brabus has brought the right amount of sportiness with big wheels, twin pipes and chunky bumpers. Quality is good inside, too, and our Xclusive model comes with plenty of equipment. That’s the least we expect given the price; the Brabus ForFour starts at a hefty £16,815, but our test car cost £20,000-plus before options. For that money you could have your pick of a number of more practical and far faster hot hatches that are nicer to drive.


Verdict THE Brabus ForFour may be characterful, but there’s no getting around its flaws. While the styling upgrades give it real personality, and it’s agile around town, it leaves a lot to be desired against more capable hot hatch rivals. The powertrain is underwhelming, while the handling doesn’t entertain or inspire. This is a not-so-hot city runabout for the price of a well specced Ford Fiesta ST.

★★ ★★★★★


Running costs

0-62mph/top speed

61.4mpg (official)

10.5 seconds/96mph

£42 fill-up

“Ride isn’t as stiff as you expect, especially when you take a look at those 17-inch alloy wheels”

Special Issue 39


Abarth 124 Spider

Antony Ingram

DRIVING enthusiasts have long cried out for a more powerful version of Mazda’s MX-5 sports car, but it’s taken the Italian engineers at Abarth to finally produce one. We love the standard Fiat 124 Spider – so much so that it beat its MX-5 sister car in our Issue 1,440 road test. But when we drove the faster Abarth version in Italy in Issue 1,426, the clunky automatic gearbox left us wanting. Now, we’ve got a manual model in the UK to decide whether the most powerful ‘MX-5’ is in fact the best ‘MX-5’. Initial signs are good. Where Fiat’s standard 124 can look a little awkward from some angles, the Abarth improves on every glance. The matt black bonnet and bootlid – part of the zero-cost Heritage Look pack – are a nod to classic Abarth rally cars, and the 17-inch wheels fill the arches far better than those on the regular Fiat. The stylised red towing eye cover is another neat detail, which matches bright red accents on the front splitter and wing mirror housings. Tick the right option box and you can also have red centres for the standard leather sports seats. Our test car didn’t have this option and it left the cabin feeling a little gloomy – but it’s hard to knock the quality of the Mazdasourced parts. The Abarth gets a chunkier steering wheel rim, stubbier gearlever and Alcantara-trimmed dash and centre console inserts for a welcome lift.


The driving position is good, too. Taller drivers may find the cabin a little cramped and wish for a way of lowering the seatbase, but you get an evocative view down the long bonnet – something that is lacking on its Mazda sibling. The red, central rev counter is an exciting statement of intent, and once settled you’ll find the pedals ideally placed for rev-matching heel-and-toe gearshifts. Press the starter button and the Abarth immediately differentiates itself from its Japanese cousin. The 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine fires up with a growl through the Record Monza exhaust, much like it does in the Abarth 595 hot hatch. Prod the throttle and the revs rise quickly, and there’s an amusing parp from the exhaust. But as in the Mazda, a light clutch and precise gearshift mean it’s as easy to drive as a supermini. A Sport mode slightly increases steering weight and sharpens low-rev throttle response, although the differences aren’t as pronounced as in some of the Abarth’s more conventional rivals. Further differences begin to surface once on the move. The structure instantly feels a little more rigid than the occasionally wobbly Mazda’s, but low-rev throttle response isn’t quite as sharp due to the lag produced from the turbocharged motor. You’ll need more than 2,000rpm before the fun starts (peak torque comes in at 2,500rpm), although from that point the 124 really gets into its stride. Acceleration is always accompanied by the sports exhaust’s aggressive blare, and the mid-range thrust definitely feels stronger than that of the naturally aspirated 2.0-litre Mazda. Peak power is developed at 5,500rpm, but there’s little point exploring that far – and anyway, you’ll enjoy snicking

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FIRST UK DRIVE Souped-up Fiat roadster left us cold with auto box. So now NEED TO KNOW

A six-speed auto transmission is also available for £2,040, but it spoils the experience

“Acceleration is accompanied by sports exhaust’s aggressive blare, and mid-range thrust is strong” between the ratios too much to spend long in any one gear. It’s infinitely better than the frustrating six-speed auto we tried previously. That rigid body means roll isn’t as obvious in the Abarth as in the MX-5, so cornering is even more satisfying. There’s still a shortage of steering feel, which adds a layer of uncertainty to your inputs, but the low, lightweight 124 always has a little more grip than you’re expecting and you quickly

become used to the steering’s rate of response. The brakes are strong and inspire confidence, too. Once you’re keyed in to the Spider’s ways, you’ll have a lot of fun. The MX-5’s sweetly balanced chassis is still present and correct, but the extra torque means it’s even more exploitable. You’ll quickly start to push harder, get on the throttle earlier and feel the chassis moving around beneath

Abarth 124 Spider

Coming soon

Essentials Price: Engine: Power/torque: Transmission:

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

£29,565 1.4 litre 4cyl turbo petrol 168bhp/250Nm Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive 6.8 seconds 144mph 44.1mpg 148/km



Abarth 124 Spider


Facelifted version of the ever-popular SUV will arrive later this year, with more tech and a new look. SUPERMINIS

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

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


STYLING Bright red rev counter sits

in the centre of the instrument binnacle. Matt black bonnet and bootlid are part of a no-cost package, while 17-inch alloy wheels come as standard

Body feels more rigid than MX-5’s, and while steering could offer more feel, there’s lots of grip


Running costs

0-62mph/top speed

44.1mpg (official)

6.8 seconds/144mph

£54 fill-up

Alfa Romeo Giulia Estate late 2017 Alfa Romeo executive saloon 2018 Audi A3 2019 Audi A6 Allroad late 2017 Citroen C3 Picasso late 2017 Honda Civic early 2017 Honda FCV late 2017 Hyundai i30 early 2017 Jaguar XF Sportbrake late 2017 MINI Countryman February Nissan Leaf late 2017 Porsche Panamera estate late 2017 SEAT Leon facelift early 2017 Skoda Octavia facelift early 2017 Subaru Impreza mid 2017 Tesla Model 3 late 2017 Vauxhall Insignia mid 2017 VauxhallInsigniaSportsTourer late 2017 Volkswagen Arteon mid 2017 Volkswagen Golf facelift early 2017 Volkswagen XL3 2019 Volkswagen I.D. 2020 SPORTS CARS

we try manual version on British roads

HANDLING Abarth feels more rigid than its Mazda counterpart, and body roll is less pronounced. The steering isn’t brimming with feel, but there’s loads of grip and it’s great fun to drive

Adam Shorrock

you. Standard stability and traction control prevent things getting out of hand, but even with these safety nets switched off – at the touch of a button – the Abarth 124 is never intimidating. Sweetly balanced slides are there for the taking, and easy to catch with the quick steering, but the real skill is that the car feels fun to drive even at low speeds. Space and versatility remain unchanged, with a small 140-litre boot leaving room for a couple of squashy bags but little else. Cabin storage is also limited – but few people will buy a two-seat roadster for its practicality. Climb behind the wheel and you’ll quickly realise exactly what the Abarth is all about.

Verdict THE MX-5 on which the new 124 Spider is based has a carefully balanced formula for top-down driving fun, and it would have been all too easy for Abarth to upset this. But the roadster takes what makes the Mazda (and its Fiat donor car) great, and builds on it. In fact, it’s arguably the best ‘MX-5’ yet. It comes at a cost, though, with prices starting at an eye-watering £29,565. That makes the Abarth nearly £6,000 more than the equivalent MX-5.


Alfa 4C Quadrifoglio mid 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Coupé 2018 Alpina B5/D5 mid 2017 Alpine sports car late 2017 Aston Martin V8 Vantage late 2017 Aston Martin Vanquish 2018 Aston Martin AM-RB 001 2018 Audi A9 2018 Audi RS 4 early 2017 Audi TT Sportback 2018 Audi TTQ 2018 Bentley Continental GT 2018 Bentley Barnato 2019 BMW Z4 2018 BMW 2 Series facelift late 2017 BMW 6 Series 2019 Caterham sports car 2018 Ford Focus RS500 late 2017 Ford GT mid 2017 Honda Civic Type R September Hyundai i30N summer Jaguar XE R 2018 Kia Stinger GT September Lexus LC 500 spring Lexus LC F 2018 Maserati Alfieri 2018 Maserati Gran Turismo late 2017 McLaren EV 2023 McLaren P14 late 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 late 2017 Mercedes-AMG GT four-door 2018 Mercedes-AMG hypercar 2018 MG TF replacement 2020 MINI JCW Clubman early 2017 Nissan Pulsar Nismo 2018 Peugeot 308 R HYbrid 2018 Porsche Mission E 2020 Porsche Pajun 2018 Renault Mégane RS late 2017 Toyota FT-1 (Supra) 2018 TVR sports car 2018 Vauxhall sports car 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk8 2019 SUVs

Abarth 500X Alfa Romeo large SUV Alfa Romeo Stelvio

late 2017 2018 mid 2017

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

Mercedes X-Class Renault Alaskan Tesla Pick-up

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


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

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

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

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

Special Issue 41




HEROES Britain’s biggest used car g ery budget bargains for every

Ja es Disdale James sd e James Disdale@de

NOTHING beats the excitement of getting the keys to a factory-fresh new car, but bagging a top-value secondhand model comes close – and this sense of satisfaction is heightened if you pay less than half the new price. In our brilliant used car special, we’ve scoured the classifieds to reveal over 100 Half-Price Heroes that are sure to bring a warm glow of money-saving satisfaction. With everything from city cars to SUVs covered, over 11

price categories starting from under £1,000, we’ve got something for every taste and budget. Each price band also features a Joker, which represents a bargain buy for owners who like to live on the wild side. And we’ve also drawn up a list of half price zeros; cars that are cheap for a reason, and best avoided. So sit back and relax as we tell you all exactly how to secure some sensational second-hand savings.

Special Issue 43


WE FOUND: Cooper 1.6 (2001/51-reg, 115k miles)

Price new £11,600 Now £995 Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 116bhp Economy: 42.2mpg CO2/tax: 163g/km/£185 Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2002) Few cars combine the MINI’s mix of talents. Its retromodern looks, compact dimensions, fun handling and classy cabin set new standards in the supermini class when the model arrived at the start of the millennium, and it’s a formula that MINI maintains to this day. The first BMw-era MINIs are closing in on their 20th anniversary, and now could be the time to bag a bargain, before the car ends up in the realms of modern classic territory. There are still plenty to choose from at this age, but it’s better to find one with a full service history to prove it has been looked after, rather than simply opt for the one with the lowest mileage. while the supercharged Cooper S is the most desirable MINI Mk1, you’ll have just as much fun in the standard Cooper. The 2001 model we found had covered a relatively low 7,000 miles per year, and the full service history put it ahead of similar examples.

Best Buys for under £1,000

You don’t have to spend four figures to find a second-hand bargain – in any class

FUN Ford SportKa

SUV Nissan X-Trail

STYLE Toyota Celica

Price new £11,195 Now £800

Price new £19,995 Now £995

Price new £16,980 Now £950

Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 94bhp Economy: 37.2mpg CO2/tax: 182g/km/£230 Euro NCAP: 3 stars (2000)

Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 136bhp Economy: 39.2mpg CO2/tax: 190g/km/£270 Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2002)

Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl, 140bhp Economy: 36.7mpg CO2/tax: 185g/km/£230 Euro NCAP: N/A

Ford has a knack of producing sweet-handling small cars, and the original Ka is no exception. The flagship SportKa has a modest 94bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine, but the crisp five-speed gearbox and lightweight construction ensure this is more than enough power, and the lively handling is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Kas are notorious for rust, so walk away from any model with bubbling paintwork, especially around the fuel filler. We found a 2004 car with 80,000 miles, and this Se version features leather, air-con and a Cd player.

While the trend for crossovers has seen the X-Trail Mk3 turn into a soft-roader, the original was a genuine 4x4. With four-wheel drive on most models, it had more offroad ability than many owners would ever need, and it was more spacious than a Qashqai, too. Mk1 X-Trails have dipped below £1k, but even these feature climate control, electric windows and mirrors and central locking. Sport models added a sunroof and sixdisc Cd changer, and while the torquey 2.2-litre diesel is a bit thirsty, it makes the Nissan a great tow car.

The Toyota Celica was a rallying legend, but by the time the seventh and final T230-generation version arrived in 1999, it had turned into a stylish coupé. The wedgeshaped looks were designed to attract younger buyers, and the straight edges certainly helped it to stand out. But there was more to the Celica than sharp design. Toyota also cut the car’s weight to improve handling, and power came from a rev-happy 1.8-litre petrol engine with either 140bhp or 189bhp. What’s more, this potential future classic also promises near-bulletproof reliability.

WE FOUND: SportKa SE (2004/04 reg, 80k miles)

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WE FOUND: 2.2 dCi Sport (2004/04 reg, 120k miles)

WE FOUND: 1.8 VV-Ti (140) (2001/Y reg, 93k miles)

Best buys for under £1,000

SPACE Vauxhall Zafira WE FOUND: 1.6 Club (2005/55-reg, 120k miles)

Price new £15,195 Now £995

Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 103bhp Economy: 38.7mpg CO2/tax: 175g/km/£210 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2005) IF you’ve got a big family, the car you buy needs to deliver the maximum space, but these days you can even get a decent seven-seater for less than a grand. The Vauxhall Zafira Mk2 is now hitting rock bottom on the used market, and while £1,000 only buys you a basic Club model powered by a 103bhp petrol engine, it still has seven relatively spacious seats. Vauxhall’s Flex 7 seating arrangement was so good that it was carried over unchanged to the current Zafira Tourer, but do make sure the mechanism works in any car you’re looking at before you part with your cash – the seats should fold to leave a completely flat floor.

JOKER Jaguar XJ8

WE FOUND: XJ8 3.2 (1998/R reg, 131k miles)

Price new £36,405 Now £900

Engine: 3.2-litre V8, 240bhp Economy: 23.5mpg CO2/tax: 288g/km/£235 Euro NCAP: N/A


WE FOUND: 1.8T SE (2002/02 reg, 100k miles)

Price new £17,590 Now £785

Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl, 150bhp Economy: 34.0mpg CO2/tax: 199g/km/£270 Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2001)

SALOON cars are falling out of favour in the new car market, and that has a favourable impact on their second-hand price. The Volkswagen Passat is classy, and while you should once again put history before mileage covered, you can find cars with fewer than 100,000 miles on the clock at this price point. The VW Group’s five-valve-per-cylinder 1.8litre turbo engine is more than adequate, and SE models feature equipment such as a CD player, heated seats and climate control.

A SUB-£1,000 luxury car is something of a punt, because running costs will be as high as they were when the car was new. But there are some bargain Jag XJ8s out there, and while its 3.2-litre V8 wasn’t the raciest, its smooth power delivery befits a luxury car. If you’re looking at any pre-2000 example, timing chain tensioners, hesitant gearbox shifts and rust are all signs of poor upkeep, so an example like the one we found, with a full history, is worth investigating.

Special Issue 45

Best Buys £1,000- £3,000 Pay more than banger money, and you can have a luxury car, SUV or hot hatch

Family Ford Mondeo

WE FOUND: Mk3 2.0 Zetec (2007/57 reg, 112k miles)

Price new £17,195 Now £1,450

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 143bhp Economy: 35.8mpg CO2/tax: 189g/km/£270 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2007) PUSH towards the £1,500 mark and you can get a lot of car for your money. That’s exactly what the Mk3 Ford Mondeo offers, because it’s simply huge. Ford took great pride in the fact this version was as wide as a BMW 5 Series, and the result is a vast interior with loads of space for five occupants and their luggage. Yet despite its size, the Mk3 is still as much fun to drive as its predecessors, and it’s as nimble as a Focus on a twisty road. The very earliest Mk3 Mondeos are hitting their 10th birthdays, so prices are low. Choose an unpopular engine, such as the 2.0-litre petrol, and a reasonably well specced Zetec model will cost less than £1,500, with barely any price difference between the hatch and cavernous estate. You could even seek out a hard-to-find saloon; these were sold in tiny numbers in the UK and are barely any less practical than the hatch.

LUXURY Mercedes S-class HOT HATCH Honda Civic WE FOUND: S320 (2002/02 reg, 89k miles)

Price new £49,810 Now £1,990

WE FOUND: Type R (2003/03 reg, 89k miles)

Price new £15,995 Now £2,850

Engine: 3.2-litre V6, 221bhp Economy: 24.6mpg CO2/tax: 276g/km/£295 Euro NCAP: N/A

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 197bhp Economy: 31.7mpg CO2/tax: 212g/km/£295 Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2001)

THERE’S no finer luxury car than the Mercedes S-Class, and the W220 version is now available for a fraction of what it was worth new. Cars at this price are likely to be ex-private hire vehicles, but the example we found had a full service history, which will give added peace of mind. This version of the S-Class brought Distronic adaptive cruise control, and cars from 2002 featured Mercedes’ Pre-Safe collision detection. The COMAND cabin control system made its first appearance, too, so check that all of the technology works on any potential purchase.

IN the realm of the hot hatch, the Type R is guaranteed to set the pulse racing. Honda’s hot models deliver searing pace, and the first Civic Type R to be officially imported into the UK is a car that’s now gaining cult status. The EP3-generation Civic was relatively small compared with rival hatchbacks, and as a result the Type R’s rev-hungry 197bhp 2.0-litre VTEC engine delivers scorching acceleration. There are still plenty of unmodified examples around, while Honda’s famous reliability should see the Type R run and run.

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ECONOMY Skoda Fabia

WE FOUND: 1.4 TDI GreenLine Estate

(2008/08 reg, 87k miles)

Price new £12,690 Now £2,995

Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl, 80bhp Economy: 68.9mpg CO2/tax: 109g/km/£20 Euro NCAP: 4 stars (hatch, 2007)

Best buys from £1,000-£3,000

suv peugeot 4007

WE FOUND: 2.2 HDi SE (2007/57 reg, 95k miles)

Price new £22,790 Now £2,999

Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 156bhp Economy: 39.2mpg CO2/tax: 191g/km/£270 Euro NCAP: 4 stars (Outlander, 2007) THE 3008 marks a new era for Peugeot crossovers, but it’s not the manufacturer’s first SUV. Peugeot launched the 4007 in 2007, and because it was a slow seller there are some great bargains to be had. This car is from an era when there were still question marks over Peugeot’s reliability, but the 4007 (and its sister model, the Citroen C-Crosser) was a badge-engineered version of the Mitsubishi Outlander. Even better is the fact that this practical utility vehicle was available with seven seats.

CROSSOVER Nissan Qashqai

WE FOUND: 1.6 Visia (2007/57 reg, 110k miles)

Price new £13,499 Now £2,990

Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 113bhp Economy: 42.2mpg CO2/tax: 159g/km/£185 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2007) THERE have been lots of changes to the way vehicle tax has been calculated over the years, and the benefits of the CO2-based system will reward used car buyers for many years to come. Take this Skoda Fabia Mk2. The GreenLine version emits 109g/km of CO2, so VED costs £20 per year, and it will stay that way for as long as the car is on the road. Even better, the Estate model has the same emissions as the hatch, making it a hugely practical car that can easily return 60mpg.

THE Qashqai Mk1 set the template for the crossover class. Its off-roader-style looks combined with family car dimensions and running gear set the template for the class, and a decade later no car maker is complete without offering a similar crossover in its line-up. Compared with newer versions, the Mk1 is a bit small – it was designed to replace the Almera hatch and larger Primera – but you still get plenty for your cash. Visia models have sat-nav, air-con and auto lights and wipers, while front-wheel drive helps keep running costs down.

JOKER Mazda RX-8

WE FOUND: 1.3 228bhp (2005/55 reg, 65k miles)

Price new £22,300 Now £1,350

Engine: 1.3-litre rotary, 228bhp Economy: 24.8mpg CO2/tax: 284g/km/£295 Euro NCAP: N/A WANT a sports car that stands out? The Mazda RX-8 could be for you. The rear-wheel-drive coupé has space for four, with rear-hinged half-doors to aid access, while nimble handling makes driving a joy. However, while the rev-happy rotary engine has a relatively modest 228bhp (there was also a 190bhp version), it’s thirsty for fuel and oil. The latter needs topping up every 1,000 miles, and neglecting to do so can potentially lead to engine failure, so be sure that any potential purchase has been well cared for.

Special Issue 47

SUV Hyundai Santa Fe

WE FOUND: 2.2 CRDi GS (2006/06 reg, 90k miles)

Price new £20,995 Now £3,899

Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 148bhp Economy: 34.9mpg CO2/tax: 214g/km/£295 Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2006)

THE Santa Fe has consistently been the model to showcase Hyundai’s next stage of development. The original marked the company’s debut in the SUV class, while the latest Mk3 takes the manufacturer further upmarket than ever. But arguably it’s the Mk2 Santa Fe that really shifted perceptions. This second incarnation ditched the original’s ungainly looks in favour of a rounded profile that was stylish to the point of desirable. Even better was the raft of standard kit, while the option of a third row of seats added a new level of practicality. Today, the seven-seater is the one to go for. Avoid the thirsty V6 petrol; the 2.2 diesel has as much pulling power and far better running costs. The GS is reasonably well equipped, although the higher-spec CDX can be had for a similar price, albeit with more miles.

Best Buys £3,000- £5,000

Keep pushing your budget towards £5,000, and the bargain used buys include a former Auto Express Car of the Year

PERFORMANCE Porsche Boxster

WE FOUND: Boxster 2.7 (2002/02 reg, 90k miles)

Price new £31,450 Now £4,975

Engine: 2.7-litre flat-six, 225bhp Economy: 29.1mpg CO2/tax: 233g/km/£295 Euro NCAP: N/A CLASSIC Porsches – even bad ones – are going for silly money these days, so a Boxster is the sensible choice. First-generation cars are the cheapest, but spend a little more and you can get a later model that should, thanks to the company’s greater experience, be better built. The basic model is nearly as much fun to drive as the more powerful S. Whichever you choose, you’ll get a sweet-handling mid-engined sports car – although do make sure you budget for high maintenance costs.

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Best buys from £3,000-£5,000

BUSINESS BMW 3 series WE FOUND: 320d SE (2008/08 reg, 98k miles)

Price new £26,680 Now £4,950

FAMILY Vauxhall Insignia

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 177bhp Economy: 58.9mpg CO2/tax: 128g/km/£110 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2005)

WE FOUND: 1.8 Exclusiv (2010/60 reg, 86k miles)

Price new £18,295 Now £3,000

Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl, 138bhp Economy: 37.2mpg CO2/tax: 179g/km/£230 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009) THE Insignia is a hero of the used car market. With vast numbers on dealer forecourts, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the sheer variety of cars on sale. As well as five-door hatch or Sport Tourer estate bodystyles, Vauxhall offered a bewildering array of trims and engine options in showrooms when new, so second-hand buyers should find a car to suit their family’s needs. Pick an Exclusiv model and you get climate control, a comprehensive trip computer and cruise control, while the 1.8 VVT petrol engine delivers a decent mix of performance and economy.



Price new £16,999 Now £4,900

Price new £14,570 Now £4,450

WE FOUND: CR-Z S (2010/60 reg, 54k miles)

WE FOUND: 1.2 TSI S (2010/10 reg, 100k miles)

Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl hybrid, 113bhp Economy: 56.5mpg CO2/tax: 117g/km/£20 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2010)

Engine: 1.2-litre 4cyl, 104bhp Economy: 44.1mpg CO2/tax: 149g/km/£145 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009)

CAR makers love to embrace new technology, but alternative fuels are still viewed with suspicion on the used market – just look at the freefall depreciation that electric cars suffer from. Hybrids aren’t hit as badly, though, and tech-savvy buyers can still bag a bargain. The Honda CR-Z was a false dawn for the hybrid performance coupé. It wasn’t that sporty, and it wasn’t as efficient as some other hybrids. Still, it’s now a greatvalue technological showcase, and Honda’s reliability means it should be a safe bet for economical motoring.

THE original Yeti was crowned Car of the Year at the Auto Express New Car Awards back in 2010, and it’s a great used buy, too. There’s plenty of space, while the range of petrol and diesel engines delivers decent running costs and performance. Combine this with sharp handling that belies its boxy exterior, and the Skoda is a convincing SUV. Uncertainty over the emissions of VW Group diesels means you might want to take a look at a petrol version, and we would highly recommend the 1.2 TSI turbo option, which has plenty of power and a slick six-speed gearbox.

IN the battle for one-upmanship in the company car park, a BMW badge instantly gains you kudos over other repmobiles. The 3 Series is a great secondhand choice because it looks the part and, if you go for the right model, you’ll be saving the pennies while still having plenty of fun behind the wheel. The 320d is the bread and butter of the 3 Series range, and we found a prime example that will impress your colleagues. While it was a nine-year-old SE model, it had a full service history covering its 98,000 miles, and the kit list featured all the essentials to keep you amused while pounding the motorway.

JOKER renault fluence ze

WE FOUND: Dynamique (2012/12 reg, 25k miles)

Price new £22,495 Now £3,995

Engine: 70kW electric motor, 94bhp Economy: N/A CO2/tax: 0g/km/£0 Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2011) YES, you could drive a zero-emissions family saloon for the price of a supermini. The Fluence was only on sale for two years, fewer than 100 found homes and crippling depreciation means it really is the unloved EV. Battery rental costs at least £77 a month, but that’s likely to be less than you spend on diesel, while the lease deal means an effective lifetime guarantee. Do your sums and it could prove to be shockingly cheap.

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EV Nissan Leaf ev

WE FOUND: Visia (2014/14 reg, 9k miles)

Price new £26,490 Now £7,500

Engine: 80kW electric motor Economy: N/A CO2/tax: 0g/km/£0 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2012)

THE Nissan Leaf is an electric car pioneer, but the used market doesn’t hold it in such high regard – just look at how much money it loses when compared with a Peugeot 308 of a similar age (below). Still, if battery power fits into your lifestyle, the Leaf is an enticing prospect. For this price, go for a car with a battery lease deal. We found a Leaf in Nissan’s approved used network that had six months of free battery lease included, and the offer of a free home charge point installation. Work out the cost of the lease first to see if it’s really the right choice for you.

ECONOMY Peugeot 308

WE FOUND: 1.6 HDi Active (2014/14 reg, 40k miles)

Price new £19,095 Now £7,500


WE FOUND: 2.0 TDCi Zetec (2010/60 reg, 70k miles)

Price new £22,195 Now £6,975

Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 113bhp Economy: 78.5mpg CO2/tax: 95g/km/£0 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2013)

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 138bhp Economy: 49.6mpg CO2/tax: 152g/km/£185 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2006)

THE latest Peugeot 308 moved upmarket in the family hatchback class. The smart exterior clothed an interior featuring high-quality materials and not many buttons, thanks to a new touchscreen infotainment system. Under the skin, the 1.6 HDi diesel delivered some of the best economy figures of any new car. You might not match Peugeot’s claimed 78mpg average, but emissions below 100g/km mean this 308 is road tax-exempt. Some owners have reported unresponsive touchscreens, but the car ranked 47th for build quality in Driver Power 2016.

IF there’s one car that really fits the Half-Price Hero billing, it’s the previous-generation S-MAX. Ford’s sporty MPV was a hit with private buyers, while the larger Galaxy satisfied the needs of the private hire market. As a result, you’re unlikely to see many high-mileage examples of the former, and it’s nearly as spacious as the Galaxy, too. What’s more, the second-generation S-MAX that launched in 2015 wasn’t that much bigger than the older seven-seater, and it couldn’t match it for driving ability, either – the only real benefit is the extra tech.

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CROSSOVER Suzuki SX4 S-Cross

WE FOUND: 1.6 SZ-T (2013/63 reg, 55k miles)

Price new £17,749 Now £7,000

Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 118bhp Economy: 51.4mpg CO2/tax: 127g/km/£110 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2013) WHILE rival brands have unveiled crossovers with new names, Suzuki repurposed the SX4 badge – and added S-Cross – for its offering in this class. But at launch, this car (only recently facelifted) was a genuine contender. It’s better suited to a family of four because it’s not the biggest car in this market, but the mid-spec SZ-T has lots of kit, including sat-nav, DAB radio, a reversing camera and hill hold. What helps the S-Cross stand out from the pack is that it drives like the smaller Swift supermini.

Best buys from £5,000-£8,000

Best Buys £5,000-£8,000 Another step up in price brings within reach a range of interesting used cars

SUV Dacia Duster

WE FOUND: 1.5 dCi Lauréate 4x4 (2013/63 reg, 48k miles)

Price new £15,495 Now £7,700

Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl, 109bhp Economy: 53.3mpg CO2/tax: 137g/km/£130 Euro NCAP: 3 stars (2011)

THERE’S nothing quite like the Dacia Duster on sale today. It offers no-nonsense family motoring in a car the size of a Nissan Qashqai, yet has new prices to match the Nissan Juke’s. True, it’s not as upmarket as those models, but its basic nature is part of the charm. The Duster uses running gear from existing Renault and Nissan models, and equipment is basic – both factors that help keep costs down. Yet three-year-old Lauréate models, which have alloy wheels, air-con and electric windows, are available for less than £8,000. Do check for rust before you buy. Some models have suffered from it, although because the Duster only went on sale in 2012, all cars are still covered by Dacia’s six-year anti-corrosion warranty.

FAMILY Hyundai i40 Tourer

WE FOUND: 1.7 CRDi Active (2013/63 reg, 50k miles)

Price new £20,355 Now £7,990

BUSINESS Mercedes c-class

WE FOUND: C220 CDI SE (2012/12 reg, 76k miles)

Price new £28,270 Now £7,500

Engine: 2.1-litre 4cyl, 168bhp Economy: 64.2mpg CO2/tax: 117g/km/£30 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009)

THE previous-generation Mercedes C-Class was a handsome and well specced saloon, and there are lots of examples in this price bracket. We’d recommend the C220 over the smaller C200 diesel; it serves up stronger performance, yet its emissions and economy are nearly identical to the smaller-engined model. Even SE models get a reasonable amount of kit, including rear parking sensors, climate control and Bluetooth, plus the first-generation COMAND control system. The higher the spec, the higher the mileage.

Engine: 1.7-litre 4cyl, 114bhp Economy: 65.7mpg CO2/tax: 113g/km/£30 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2011)

FAMILY cars are falling out of favour, as demonstrated by the Hyundai i40. For starters, the Tourer estate is the more popular bodystyle, while cars that have just had their first MoT are selling for less than half the price new. Go for the BlueDrive diesel for its low emissions and £30 road tax, although the 114bhp engine will be strained if you regularly load the car up. But the best bit is that you’ll still have nearly two years of warranty remaining – that’s two years more than most models the same age.

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WE FOUND: 1.2 TFSI SE (2011/11 reg, 49k miles)

Price new £14,115 Now £6,800

Engine: 1.2-litre 4cyl, 85bhp Economy: 55.4mpg CO2/tax: 118g/km/£30 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2010)

LUXURY BMW 7 series

WE FOUND: 730d Sport (2007/07 reg, 95k miles)

Price new £55,045 Now £6,995

Engine: 3.0-litre 6cyl, 228bhp Economy: 34.4mpg CO2/tax: 216g/km/£295 Euro NCAP: N/A

THIS generation of 7 Series gets a depreciation double whammy. The fall in value that afflicts all luxury cars is a given, but the questionable looks of the Chris Bangledesigned E65-generation saloon can make milk curdle. That means a 2008 730d is worth around two grand less than a Mercedes S320 CDI of a similar age and mileage. As a result, the 7 Series gives you a lot of car for your money; the Sport model we found came fully loaded with options, including sat-nav, front and rear parking sensors, heated leather memory seats and a DAB radio.

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A FEW years ago, if you wanted a premium supermini, it was MINI or nothing. Yet that car’s retro looks weren’t to all tastes, so a more modern alternative was only a matter of time. Step forward Audi’s A1. It hit showrooms in 2010, and while it uses the same basic platform and engines as the VW Polo and SEAT Ibiza, Audi’s specific brand of cool, efficient quality is felt throughout the interior. At this price range, you’ll find plenty of three-door A1s – the five-door Sportback didn’t arrive until 2012, so is a couple of grand more – and we’d recommend the punchy TFSI petrol engines over the rattly diesels. With claimed economy of 55mpg, you can’t go wrong with the 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol version of the A1, although main dealer servicing costs will be higher than for its Polo and Ibiza counterparts.

CONVERTIBLE Vauxhall Cascada

WE FOUND: 2.0 CDTi SE (2013/63 reg, 44k miles)

Price new £25,775 Now £7,995

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 163bhp Economy: 54.3mpg CO2/tax: 138g/km/£130 Euro NCAP: N/A

VAUXHALL has a history of producing convertibles for the masses, with drop-top Astras being sold since the eighties. Since then, the affordable convertible baton has been picked up by the Cascada, although under the skin it’s largely the same as the previous Astra. The change in name bumped up prices, but sharp depreciation means a used Cascada is great value. And as it is only sold in SE and Elite trim, the Cascada is well equipped, with reasonable space for two in the rear.

PERFORMANCE Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart

WE FOUND: 2.0 GSR SST (2009/09 reg, 54k miles)

Price new £24,954 Now £5,990

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 237bhp Economy: 27.7mpg CO2/tax: 243g/km/£500 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009)

THE Lancer Evo X gained cult status for its supercarslaying ability, but Mitsubishi also offered a cut-price version in the shape of the Ralliart. It featured a 2.0-litre engine, an SST twin-clutch gearbox and four-wheel drive, like the Evo X, but came in a more practical hatchback body. The 237bhp engine delivered better running costs, although road tax matches the Evo X at £500 per year.

Best buys from £5,000-£8,000

STYLE VW Scirocco

WE FOUND: 2.0 TSI GT (2009/09 reg, 79k miles)

Price new £21,345 Now £7,400

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 197bhp Economy: 37.2mpg CO2/tax: 179g/km/£230 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009) THE Scirocco name has a history that’s as long as the Golf’s, but there was a gap of 16 years between the Mk2 and Mk3 models. The third Scirocco again used Golf underpinnings to deliver fun handling, although it was draped in a close-fitting body hiding a four-seater cabin that’s more practical than many other coupés’. You can get a 2.0 TSI model for around £7,500. GT spec brings a range of desirable extras, while Viper Green paint is a bonus, as it gives the Scirocco the look of the Iroc concept that previewed it.

FUN Mazda MX-5

WE FOUND: 2.0 SE (2010/10 reg, 51k miles)

Price new £17,920 Now £5,950

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 158bhp Economy: 38.2mpg CO2/tax: 177g/km/£230 Euro NCAP: N/A

HOT HATCH Renaultsport Clio

WE FOUND: Renaultsport Clio 200 (2010/59 reg, 52k)

Price new £16,750 Now £5,575

JOKER Bentley Turbo R

WE FOUND: Turbo R (1989/G reg, 93k miles)

Price new £91,756 Now £7,000

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 197bhp Economy: 34.4mpg CO2/tax: 195g/km/£270 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2005)

Engine: 6.75-litre V8, 316bhp Economy: 15mpg (est) CO2/tax: N/A/£235 Euro NCAP: N/A

THERE’S no better time to get your hands on a previousgeneration Renaultsport Clio. The current model failed to live up to this car’s scintillating performance, so it’s well on its way to becoming a modern classic. With prices from £2,800, now is the time to buy before values start rising. A budget of £6,000 will be enough for a post-facelift standard car, or the pre-facelift Clio Cup. We’d go for the former, as it’s not quite as firm as the Cup for everyday use, and has a bit more kit, including climate control.

IF you should happen to have £8,000 spare to splash out on a classic car, an eighties Bentley Turbo R is an experience you won’t forget in a hurry. This sumptuous saloon had a six-figure price tag when new. But to waft around in that glorious interior, powered by a big V8 that you’ll barely be able to hear through the quilted leather and deep pile carpets, is an experience unlike anything else you’ll find at this price.

HOWEVER much you pay for a Mazda MX-5, you’re getting one of the most fun sports cars to drive at any price. And for £6,000, you can have a tidy Mk3 with low miles and decent kit. Go for the soft-top – you only really need the hard-roofed Roadster Coupé if you’re paranoid about vandalism – and the larger 2.0-litre engine, because it comes with the more flexible six-speed gearbox, making the MX-5 a better all-rounder. And at this price, there’s no reason to buy a Japanese import; it will be easier to verify a UK car’s mileage and history, making it less of an unknown quantity.

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Hot hatch Ford Fiesta ST

WE FOUND: ST-2 Mountune (2013/13 reg, 41k miles)

Price new £17,995 Now £8,850

Engine: 1.6 4cyl, 180bhp (standard) Economy: 47.9mpg CO2/tax: 138g/km/£130 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2012) NO other hot hatch on sale can match the Fiesta ST for driving thrills, and if you buy one used you could be getting one of the performance car bargains of the decade. The ST takes the already fun handling of the standard Fiesta and cranks it up to 11, with more direct steering and stiffer suspension. You get a 180bhp turbo fourcylinder, which is paired with a precise sixspeed gearbox, delivering punchy acceleration. There are ST-1, 2 and 3 trims on offer, although the ST-2 offers the best value. It’s worth seeking out a car that’s been given an upgrade by Ford specialist Mountune, or you could have the tweaks carried out retrospectively. They boost power to 212bhp and torque to 320Nm, and the pack, which costs £600, is covered by the existing Ford warranty. However, make sure that any Mountune-badged model you look at has actually had the work done on it.

Best Buys £8,000- £11,000

World is your oyster at this price point; pick from open-air fun, luxury and thrills

Fun Caterham seven

WE FOUND: 1.7 Super Sport (1994/L reg, 6k miles)

Price new £23,500 Now £11,000

Engine: 1.7-litre 4cyl, 135bhp Economy: N/A CO2/tax: N/A/£235 Euro NCAP: N/A

SPECIALIST Caterham has been building its Lotus Sevenbased sports cars for over 40 years, and whichever one you choose, it will put a smile on your face. Lightweight construction ensures that even with a modest 135bhp, the Seven is rapid, while direct steering and a groundscraping ride height mean every journey is exhilarating. A factory-built car will give peace of mind over a homebuilt kit, but buying a Seven gives you access to a world of helpful owners and factory assistance, although you’ll need to be prepared to get your hands dirty keeping it running.

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Convertible BMW 3 series convertible WE FOUND: 320i SE (2011/60 reg, 74k miles)

Price new £32,910 Now £8,995

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 168bhp Economy: 41.5mpg CO2/tax: 159g/km/£185 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2005)

CONVERTIBLES are all about being seen, so don’t expect the open-top 3 Series to deliver the kind of sharp handling that you get from the rest of the range. The car features a three-piece aluminium folding metal roof, which provides the security and refinement of the 3 Series Coupé when it’s in place, and folds in a leisurely 23 seconds. The downside is that the mechanism adds a lot of weight, so go for the 320i for acceptable performance and decent running costs.

SUV Kia Sorento

WE FOUND: 2.2 CRDI KX-2 (2010/10 reg, 78k miles)

Price new £25,570 Now £9,000

Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 194bhp Economy: 38.2mpg CO2/tax: 194g/km/£270 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009)

Best buys from £8,000-£11,000

Business Jaguar XF WE FOUND: 2.2d Premium Luxury

(2011/11 reg, 94k miles)

Price new £37,950 Now £10,995

Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 187bhp Economy: 52.3mpg CO2/tax: 149g/km/£145 Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2011)

IF you want to know about the Jaguar XF ownership experience, look no further than our very own Driver Power survey. XF buyers are a pretty happy bunch, so a used example of the executive car should be on your list. At this price, you can pick up a facelifted XF Mk1 featuring Jaguar’s powerful 187bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine. You can get this in Premium Luxury trim, which adds sat-nav, voice control, Bluetooth, heated leather seats, climate control and a 10-speaker stereo.

LIKE its Hyundai Santa Fe sister car, Kia’s Sorento offers MPV-style practicality in a chunky SUV package. The Sorento doesn’t match its sibling for style, but as with all Kias, it comes loaded with standard kit. Go for a mid-spec KX-2 model, and you get all the goodies you could want, with twozone climate control and heated leather seats. Even better is the seven-seat interior, which has reasonable space in the rearmost row, while the Sorento has a decent amount of off-road ability.

Family Skoda Octavia Estate

WE FOUND: 1.6 TDI Elegance (2014/14 reg, 69k miles)

Price new £22,215 Now £9,350

Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 104bhp Economy: 74.3mpg CO2/tax: 104g/km/£30 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2013)

hybrid Lexus GS

WE FOUND: 450h SE (2009/09 reg, 37k miles)

Price new £42,285 Now £10,500

Engine: 3.5-litre V6 hybrid, 292bhp Economy: 35.8mpg CO2/tax: 185g/km/£220 Euro NCAP: N/A THINK hybrid, and the car that springs to mind is the Toyota Prius. But the Lexus GS 450h established itself as one of the first hybrid luxury cars to go on sale. While the Prius is all about efficiency, the GS 450h is more about performance. It combines a 3.5-litre V6 and an electric motor to offer 292bhp, and has a 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds. Even better is that the GS 450h combines this speed with plenty of luxury. There’s lots of standard kit, with SE models getting climate control, electric leather seats, sat-nav and a reversing camera.

IF you need a family car, but a hatchback simply isn’t big enough, then you can maximise the amount of space for your needs by opting for the Skoda Octavia Estate. The standard hatch has one of the biggest boots in the sector, at 590 litres, but the Estate raises that to 610 litres – which isn’t far behind the much larger VW Passat Estate. If you’re going to be towing, then the 148bhp 2.0 TDI diesel might be a better bet. But the 1.6 TDI is more than powerful enough for most needs, even though it’s a bit rattly. At this price range, you’re looking at a top-spec Elegance model that comes with a host of luxury kit.

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Space Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

WE FOUND: 1.6 HDi VTR+ (2014/14 reg, 43k miles)

Price new £22,210 Now £10,500

Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 113bhp Economy: 70.6mpg CO2/tax: 105g/km/£30 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2013) THE current Grand C4 Picasso is Auto Express’s favourite seven-seater MPV – it has won our best MPV title for three years running, and now the earliest Mk2 models offer some of the top space-per-pound ratios of any used car. The Picasso offers a choice of 1.6 or 2.0 HDi diesels; it’s the former that falls into this price bracket. It struggles a little if you’re carrying a full load of passengers – and you’ll definitely need the bigger engine for towing – but most of the time the 1.6 will be more than capable. Whichever model you go for, you get a set of five fullsized seats in the back of the Grand, and the middle row chairs all slide and fold. There’s also underfloor storage in the middle, and storage compartments up front. The back seats fold completely flat, while boards attached to the seatbacks flip over to cover gaps in the floor when you’re using the full 793-litre boot capacity in two-seat mode.

Luxury Audi A8

WE FOUND: 3.0 TDI SE (2009/59 reg, 92k miles)

Price new £52,990 Now £9,995

Engine: 3.0-litre V6, 245bhp Economy: 33.6mpg CO2/tax: 224g/km/£295 Euro NCAP: N/A

THE A8 is a pioneer for Audi’s cutting-edge technology. Go for the 3.0-litre V6 TDI diesel, and running costs are reasonable, thanks to the extensive use of aluminium in the big saloon’s construction, while all versions come equipped with quattro four-wheel drive. The example we found was a long-wheelbase car loaded with kit. It included advanced xenon lights, heated leather seats all round, four-zone climate control, a Bose stereo, full parking sensors and cameras and more. Plus, its 92,000 miles were verified by a full service history.

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Small DS 3

Crossover Subaru XV

(2013/63 reg, 22k miles)

Price new £24,300 Now £10,250

WE FOUND: 1.6 THP Ultra Prestige

Price new £21,345 Now £8,995

Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 153bhp Economy: 48.7mpg CO2/tax: 135g/km/£130 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009)

WHEN it first arrived, the DS 3 wore a Citroen badge and was a big hit. It offers a tempting alternative to the MINI hatch for buyers who aren’t keen on the Brit’s retro looks. There are plenty of variants around, while the vast choice of personalisation options means there’s lots of variety. At the top of the range is the Ultra Prestige, which was quite a pricey upgrade. As a used buy, its plush two-tone leather seats and long kit list are attainable. With power from PSA’s 1.6 THP petrol engine, it’s a fun drive, too.

WE FOUND: 2.0D S (2013/13 reg, 38k miles)

Engine: 2.0-litre flat-four, 145bhp Economy: 50.4mpg CO2/tax: 146g/km/£145 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2012)

WHILE many crossovers have the looks of an off-roader but none of the ability, the Subaru XV is the opposite. It’s more like a high-riding hatchback with extra plastic cladding than a full-on crossover, but under the skin is a rugged permanent four-wheel-drive system. That gives the XV the kind of off-road talent that most owners are unlikely to ever come close to maximising, and is great for winter. Even the most basic cars are fitted with air-con, heated seats and a four-wheel-drive lock for additional off-road ability.

Best buys from £8,000-£11,000

Performance Style Peugeot RCZ Vauxhall Insignia vxr WE FOUND: 1.6 THP GT (2013/13 reg, 45k miles)

WE FOUND: VXR (2010/10 reg, 68k miles)

Price new £33,670 Now £8,995

Engine: 2.8-litre V6, 321bhp Economy: 24.7mpg CO2/tax: 268g/km/£515 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009) THE Insignia VXR is one of the best-kept secrets of the performance car world. With a 321bhp twin-turbo V6 and four-wheel drive, it had a 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. That puts it in league with models such as the Audi S4, but because of the Vauxhall badge, its depreciation is steep. You can pick up a decent VXR for £9,000, and the Sports Tourer estate adds some versatility. Either way, subtle styling makes the car a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Economy Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion

Price new £24,500 Now £10,250

Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 108bhp Economy: 88.3mpg CO2/tax: 85g/km/£0 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2012)

WE FOUND: GT (2002/02 reg, 68k miles)

Price new £60,950 Now £9,995

Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 156bhp Economy: 44.1mpg CO2/tax: 149g/km/£145 Euro NCAP: N/A

Engine: 3.2-litre V6, 370bhp Economy: 17.0mpg CO2/tax: 370g/km/£515 Euro NCAP: N/A

NOT many sports cars are as stylish as the Peugeot RCZ. With its low-slung bodywork and ‘double-bubble’ roof, it arguably has the measure of the similar Audi TT for style. The lower-powered petrol RCZ looks the part, but has better economy than the faster 197bhp model, while at this price a post-facelift 2013 version is available. This mid-life revamp introduced an updated nose and smaller grille, and makes the car better looking than the original. Go for GT spec, and you get equipment such as sat-nav, climate control and parking sensors.

BUYING an Italian car is less of a risk than it used to be, but if it’s got a Maserati badge on the nose, be prepared to swallow some expensive running costs. The 3200 GT is a classic front-engined, rearwheel-drive 2+2 coupé, so it’s got back seats, although they’re less than comfortable. The issue with the 3200 GT is upkeep. Servicing costs will be at Ferrari levels, but the big bills will be forgotten when you push that turbocharged V6.

WE FOUND: 1.6 TDI BlueMotion (2013/63 reg, 35k miles)

Price new £21,270 Now £8,990

Joker Maserati 3200

THE Mk7 Golf set new standards for quality and luxury in the hatchback class, while the ultra-efficient BlueMotion model raised the bar when it came to efficiency. With claimed economy of 88mpg, it’s one of the most economical cars in any class, but get behind the wheel, and you’ll be hard-pressed to tell that this is an eco-minded special. While older BlueMotion models had miserly levels of standard equipment and long gearing to achieve their mpg figures, the Mk7 BlueMotion features a six-speed box and plenty of toys, including air-con, heated mirrors, Bluetooth and hill hold.

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WE FOUND: i3 (2014/14 reg, 19k miles)

Price new £30,680 Now £14,500

Engine: 125kW electric motor, 168bhp Economy: N/A CO2/tax: N/A/£0 Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2013) ELECTRIC cars are a step into future technology for many buyers, so why not invest in one of the most radical-looking choices out there, and arguably the most convincing EV to date? The i3 is a showcase for BMW’s clean technology, and its quirky looks only help to cement its technological appeal. There are two versions of the car: a pure EV or a range extender (REx) with a two-cylinder petrol motorcycle engine that acts as a generator. Trawl the classifieds, and you’ll that find nearly twice as many REx models are available, but the former is the cheaper option. If you’ve got a charging point sorted, you can get behind the wheel for around £15k, and unlike some electric cars we’ve highlighted elsewhere, the price includes batteries, so there’s no lease contract to sort.

Best Buys £11,000- £15,000 Spend an average new car budget, and you can really broaden your horizons

Pick-up VW Amarok

WE FOUND: 2.0 BiTDI Highline (2013/13 reg, 65k miles)

Price new £29,503 Now £13,990

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 178bhp Economy: 35.8mpg CO2/tax: 209g/km/£210 Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2010)

THE double-cab pick-up market is booming. These trucks are a hit for business users thanks to their favourable tax rates, but most still show their commercial vehicle roots. VW’s Amarok changed that, with a cabin inspired by the brand’s cars, and the road manners of an SUV. Sure, the suspension bounces when there’s nothing in the load bed, but it’s not as bad as rivals, and the well specced cabin has room for a family of four. Hunt down an example with a tonneau cover, which turns that large load bed into an enormous boot.

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Best buys from £11,000-£15,000

fun lotus elise

WE FOUND: Elise 111S (2005/05 reg, 82k miles)

Price new £26,670 Now £13,250

Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl, 156bhp Economy: 38.0mpg CO2/tax: 163g/km/£185 Euro NCAP: N/A

THE Elise is a perennial sports car favourite. It’s not quite as spartan as a Caterham, and it feels more like a real car than a kit, but its lightweight build and nimble handling are true to the philosophy of Lotus founder Colin Chapman. A £15k budget stretches to a Series 2, the sharper-looking model that shared its chassis with the Vauxhall VX220. The standard car had a 120bhp Rover K Series engine, while the 111S featured the variable valve timing version with 156bhp. In 2004 the 111R added a Toyota engine with 189bhp, and this more reliable model is the one to go for.

crossover kia sportage

WE FOUND: 1.7 CRDi 3 (2012/12 reg, 42k miles)

Price new £22,195 Now £11,000

Engine: 1.7-litre 4cyl, 113bhp Economy: 52.3mpg CO2/tax: 143g/km/£145 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2010)

WITH the launch of the third-generation Sportage in 2010, Kia kicked off its current trend for cutting-edge design. The Sportage Mk3 was a world away from the ugly Mk2, but the car didn’t sacrifice practicality. It fitted the crossover template perfectly. KX-badged 4WD models are fine, yet we’d recommend the frontdrive 1.7 CRDi, as it has lower running costs and is nearly as capable as the 2.0-litre diesel. Either way, the Kia will still have some of its seven-year warranty remaining.

SUV Audi Q7

WE FOUND: 3.0 TDI S line (2007/07 reg, 80k miles)

Price new £41,475 Now £11,490

Engine: 3.0-litre V6, 237bhp Economy: 27.0mpg CO2/tax: 279g/km/£515 Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2006)

YOU can’t get much more car for your money at this price level than the Audi Q7. The manufacturer’s first SUV is frankly enormous, and even dwarfs the Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne, both of which use the same basic platform. One advantage the Q7 has over those two in-house rivals is that it’s a seven-seater, while the cabin is built to the same standard as Audi’s A8 limousine. In 2007, a more powerful 3.0-litre diesel was introduced, but only benefited from a modest 7bhp increase, so you’re unlikely to be able to tell the difference between that and the older version. And while quattro four-wheel drive was standard across the range, the Q7 is better on the road than off it.


WE FOUND: IS 300h Luxury (2013/63 reg, 65k miles)

Price new £30,995 Now £13,850

Engine: 2.5-litre 4cyl, 194bhp Economy: 61.4mpg CO2/tax: 103g/km/£10 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2013)

LEXUS no longer sells diesels in the UK; its line-up comprises petrol and hybrid cars only. And the latest IS features petrol-electric power to tempt business users. The IS 300h combines a large-capacity four-cylinder engine with an electric motor and CVT gearbox, and while it’s not as sporty as some of its rivals, it’s relaxing, well equipped and you’ll soon be enjoying the electric drive. Luxury models come generously equipped, with climate control, DAB radio, parking sensors and twin USB ports, while Lexus’s customer service is first class.


WE FOUND: ST-3 (2013/62 reg, 60k miles)

Price new £25,495 Now £11,495

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 247bhp Economy: 39.2mpg CO2/tax: 169g/km/£210 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2012)

THE current battle for hot hatch supremacy has seen the Focus ST sidelined by some formidable rivals – including Ford’s own Focus RS. But you ignore the ST at your peril, because the Mk3 is still a seriously capable machine. With 247bhp feeding the front wheels, it has plenty of firepower, while the standard car’s sharp handling has been honed to perfection. Just £12k will buy you a topspec ST-3, and a couple of hundred pounds extra gets you the ultimate fast family car, the Focus ST Estate.

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PERFORMANCE Porsche Cayman

WE FOUND: Cayman S 3.4 (2006/06 reg, 77k miles)

Price new £43,975 Now £13,250

Engine: 3.4-litre flat-six, 295bhp Economy: 26.6mpg CO2/tax: 254g/km/£295 Euro NCAP: N/A

THE Cayman coupé debuted in 2006, a year after the second-generation Boxster arrived. It uses all the same components as the Boxster Mk2, but adding a roof only made the car even sharper to drive. As a result, the Cayman was crowned our Performance Car of the Year on its debut. It went on to retain its title against a raft of newcomers in 2007, and came second only to the mighty Nissan GT-R in 2008. That performance holds strong today, with steering full of feedback, a nimble chassis and perfect midengined balance. Prices for the first Caymans are now as low as £10k, but a slightly larger budget can bag you the faster Cayman S powered by a 3.4-litre flat-six. We’d recommend looking for a Cayman with PASM adaptive dampers. Whichever car you’re considering, a full Porsche service history is a must.

FAMILY Mazda 6

WE FOUND: 2.2d SE-L Nav (2014/63 reg, 21k miles)

Price new £23,495 Now £11,300

Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 148bhp Economy: 72.4mpg CO2/tax: 104g/km/£20 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2013)

WHEN it launched in 2013, the latest Mazda 6 turned its back on the hatchback body of its predecessor in favour of four doors – and the sharp-suited saloon is one of the best looking family cars in the business. The oldest examples of this 6 are now dipping below £12,000, and an SE-L Nav variant comes with kit including climate control, electric everything and an integrated touchscreen TomTom sat-nav. Even better is that the SE-L has a pliant ride on 17-inch wheels, but they don’t take the edge off the 6’s excellent handling.

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Convertible Mercedes E-class Convertible WE FOUND: E200 SE (2010/60 reg, 58k miles)

Price new £33,595 Now £12,750

Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl, 201bhp Economy: 35.8mpg CO2/tax: 185g/km/£230 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (saloon, 2010)

BUYING a convertible is a choice of the heart, but an E-Class Convertible can also appeal to the head. The soft-top is based on the coupé, which in turn is based on the last-generation E-Class saloon, and there are some bargains to be found in these cold winter months. We spotted a petrol-powered E200 Convertible for just under £13,000 in the classifieds. Although the 1.8-litre engine won’t set the world on fire, it’s enough to propel the Mercedes in comfort while returning lower running costs than more expensive models.

Best buys from £11,000-£15,000

MPV SEAT Alhambra

WE FOUND: 2.0 TDI SE DSG (2012/12 reg, 85k miles)

Price new £27,875 Now £11,990

Estate Skoda Superb

WE FOUND: 2.0 TDI SE DSG (2013/63 reg, 53k miles)

Price new £24,715 Now £11,490

Joker TVR Chimaera

WE FOUND: Chimaera 4.0 (1998/R reg, 76k miles)

Price new £31,700 Now £11,990

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 138bhp Economy: 50.4mpg CO2/tax: 146g/km/£145 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2010)

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 138bhp Economy: 54.3mpg CO2/tax: 137g/km/£130 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009)

Engine: 4.0-litre V8, 240bhp Economy: N/A CO2/tax: N/A/£235 Euro NCAP: N/A

IT’S big, it’s boxy, but the Alhambra makes up for its vanlike proportions with one of the most versatile interiors in the business. There are five full-sized seats in the back, and the ones in the middle row slide and recline individually. All five fold flat into the boot floor, while the sliding side doors and huge tailgate make access easy. If you have small kids, one neat option is the built-in booster seats you can get fitted to the outer middle row chairs – these include specially designed winged head restraints, and mean you don’t need a separate car seat.

FOR maximum space from an estate car at this price, the Superb has to be the only choice. It has a 633-litre boot with the seats in place, while folding the seats liberates a massive 1,865 litres. Rear passengers are well catered for, too – at the car’s launch, Skoda claimed the model was second only to the Audi A8 limo for rear legroom. One thing the Superb has over an A8 is outstanding value. There’s plenty of kit, with SE versions featuring dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, a multifunction steering wheel and cruise control.

THE Chimaera was the grand-touring alternative to the curvy Griffith, so it had softer suspension and a longer wheelbase to improve comfort. What didn’t change was the power supply, which came from the Rover V8, a staple of the British sports car industry at the time. Going for an older TVR like this makes sense, because that engine will be far more reliable than the in-house powerplants TVR developed in later years. And it’s only a matter of time before values rise.

luxury jaguar XJ

Style Nissan 370Z

WE FOUND: 370Z (2009/59 reg, 30k miles)

Price new £27,475 Now £12,795

Engine: 3.7-litre V6, 326bhp Economy: 26.7mpg CO2/tax: 248g/km/£500 Euro NCAP: N/A

BIG, brawny coupés are in short supply in the UK, so the Nissan 370Z really stands out when you see it on the road. With its bulging wheelarches and bulbous curves, it isn’t quite as elegant as the 350Z it replaced, but its wide stance and squat body signify its sports car intent. The 370Z is a decent performer thanks to that big V6 under the bonnet – although it doesn’t sound as meaty as it should – and the handling is sharp for a car that’s relatively heavy. But that big engine has big costs associated with it, while the auto version really numbs the driving experience.

WE FOUND: V8 Premium Luxury (2010/59 reg, 48k)

Price new £74,350 Now £14,950

Engine: 5.0-litre V8, 379bhp Economy: 24.8mpg CO2/tax: 269g/km/£515 Euro NCAP: N/A

IF there’s one luxury limo that’s as much fun to drive as it is to be driven in, it’s the latest Jaguar XJ. The new model arrived in 2010, and the earliest examples have taken a solid hit with the depreciation bat; they’re now selling at prices starting from as low as £13,500. You get a lot of car for your money, so why not treat yourself to an engine that does the sharp chassis justice, in the form of Jag’s 379bhp 5.0-litre V8? Sure, running costs will be steep, but no other limo at the same price will be able to put as broad a smile on your face.

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luxury Lexus LS

WE FOUND: 600h (2007/57 reg, 54k miles)

Price new £81,400 Now £19,985

Engine: 5.0-litre V8 hybrid, 438bhp Economy: 30.4mpg CO2/tax: 219g/km/£285 Euro NCAP: N/A FOR the chief executive who wants to travel incognito, the Lexus LS is absolutely perfect, due to its blend of impeccable refinement and unassuming looks. The flagship Lexus limo costs up to £100k new, but thanks to the brand’s relative lack of prestige in the UK, you can now pick up a 10-year-old example for nearly a tenth of this figure. Pay that, and you’ll be getting a hybrid drive system that delivers lower running costs than most other diesel limos. It also gives the LS 600h impressive performance, and a claimed 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds is impressive for a car with a kerbweight just under two-and-a-half tonnes. What’s more, it’s unlikely to let you down, thanks to Lexus’s cast-iron reliability. Depending on how much has been spent on options, you can get a rear-seat DVD system and electric blinds, while some cars featured a roll-out Ottoman-style back seat, and remote control of the front passenger seat.

Best Buys for£15,000-£20,000 Push towards the magic £20k mark, mark and some of the worlds world’s finest cars come within reach

performance Porsche 911

WE FOUND: Carrera S (2006/06 reg, 85k miles)

Price new £65,860 Now £18,000

hybrid Mitsubishi outlander phev

WE FOUND: GX3h (2014/64 reg, 55k miles)

Price new £33,304 Now £15,000

convertible jaguar xk

WE FOUND: 4.2 Convertible (2007/07 reg, 56k miles)

Price new £66,097 Now £17,900

Engine: 3.8-litre flat-six, 350bhp Economy: 24.6mpg CO2/tax: 277g/km/£515 Euro NCAP: N/A

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl/electric, 200bhp Economy: 148mpg CO2/tax: 44g/km/£0 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2013)

Engine: 4.2-litre V8, 300bhp Economy: 25mpg CO2/tax: 269g/km/£515 Euro NCAP: N/A

THE Porsche 911 has gone down in motoring folklore as one of the greatest sports cars of all-time. But you don’t need a gold account to buy into the 911 myth, because a 997-generation car can be yours from £18,000. We found a bigger-engined Carrera S at this price, so you’re not even looking at the most basic cars. You get a growling flat-six that loves to be revved, and handling that’s engaging. While some variants are being bought as an investment, these cars should simply be driven.

PLUG-in hybrids were nothing new when the Outlander PHEV arrived in 2014, but it was the first plug-in SUV on the scene. It gave the rather uninspiring Outlander a new lease of life, as the car’s super-low emissions of 44g/km meant free road tax and tiny company car tax bills. The car is a sound buy if you can use its electric drive. On petrol power you’ll be looking at 40mpg, but if you have a charging point, there’s an estimated electric range of 32 miles and you could get close to the 148mpg claims.

THE final Jaguar XK was gorgeous, even in Convertible guise. Its sharp lines and canvas roof give it plenty of classy appeal, while the rumbling V8 is refined yet potent. All cars come with a ZF six-speed auto box to make the most of the power on offer, and while the handling isn’t the sharpest, the pliant ride and relaxing cabin make this a classic grand tourer. Kit is generous, too, with sat-nav, climate control, rear parking sensors and heated leather seats all featuring. Just beware those high running costs.

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Best buys from £15,000-£20,000

fun vauxhall vxr8 WE FOUND: VXR8 (2009/09 reg, 89k miles)

Price new £35,275 Now £16,995

Engine: 6.2-litre V8, 430bhp Economy: 18.6mpg CO2/tax: 364g/km/£515 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009)

IF you’re looking for the biggest bang per buck, the Vauxhall VXR8 is hard to beat. With a crackling V8 and rear-wheel-drive handling, this ferocious yet practical four-door will get you grinning. Essentially a rebadged HSV Clubsport R8 from GM’s Australian division Holden, the VXR8 packs a 430bhp 6.2-litre engine, which is paired with either a six-speed manual or automatic – we’d stick with the former for maximum driver involvement. Running costs are steep, with claimed economy of just 18.6mpg. Still, as this rare car is bought by enthusiasts, used models tend to be well cared for.

economy audi a4

WE FOUND: 2.0 TDIe SE Technik

business mercedes cls WE FOUND: 350 CDI SE (2012/12 reg, 27k miles)

Price new £51,250 Now £19,995

Engine: 3.0-litre V6, 252bhp Economy: 46.0mpg CO2/tax: 160g/km/£30 Euro NCAP: N/A

MERCEDES turned the executive car class on its head when it pulled the covers off the original CLS in 2004. Combining sleek looks with practicality and comfort, the head-turning four-door was an instant hit. The second-generation car appeared in 2010 and improved on the winning formula. To many eyes it looks even better, while the E-Class mechanicals deliver a compelling blend of comfort, refinement and agility. Pick of the bunch is the smooth and largely bulletproof 252bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine that claims 40mpg-plus.

(2013/63 reg, 27k miles)

Price new £30,230 Now £15,000

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 134bhp Economy: 65.7mpg CO2/tax: 112g/km/£30 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2012)

WANT any more proof that the latest breed of eco-friendly specials no longer requires you to go for the most basic spec? Look no further than the Audi A4 TDIe. The headline figures are its 65.7mpg claimed economy and £30 annual road tax. It’s a comfortable, spacious saloon that oozes upmarket appeal and is packed with kit. All A4 models come with climate control, MMI infotainment and Bluetooth, while the SE Technik we found boasted sat-nav and leather-trimmed seats.

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suv land rover discovery 4

WE FOUND: 3.0 SDV6 HSE (2009/59 reg, 71k miles)

Price new £47,695 Now £19,495

Engine: 3.0-litre V6, 253bhp Economy: 30.4mpg CO2/tax: 244g/km/£500 Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2006)

hot hatch volkswagen golf r

THE Discovery 4 arrived in 2009, and was essentially the older Disco 3 with thoroughly reworked running gear. That vast body delivers acres of space inside, but the addition of a new engine, gearbox, brakes and suspension improved the car in every area, while the interior had an upmarket revamp in the process. The 3.0-litre SDV6 diesel is a powerful performer that has plenty of towing grunt, although it does mean the Discovery 4 has rather steep running costs. Go for a top-spec HSE model, and you’ll have as much luxury kit as you’d find on a Range Rover, with plush heated leather memory seats, xenon lights, sat-nav and keyless entry. Plus, desirable extras include 360-degree surround view cameras. Try to find a car with a full Land Rover service history, as this should have the latest software updates.

style range rover evoque coupe

crossover bmw x6

WE FOUND: Drive30d SE

WE FOUND: SD4 Prestige Lux (2011/61 reg, 85k miles)

(2008/08 reg, 87k miles)

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 266bhp Economy: 33.2mpg CO2/tax: 199g/km/£270 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2012)

Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 187bhp Economy: 43.5mpg CO2/tax: 174g/km/£210 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2011)

Engine: 3.0-litre straight-six turbodiesel, 231bhp Economy: 34.3mpg CO2/tax: 217g/km/£295 Euro NCAP: N/A

IF you want more performance than a Golf GTI can give, then VW has the answer in the shape of the Golf R. Like the two previous R32 models, the Mk6 version featured four-wheel drive, but it replaced the 3.2-litre V6 under the bonnet with a more powerful version of the GTI’s 2.0 TSI turbo four-cylinder. The R features leather, adaptive xenon lights, climate control and heated mirrors. There’s an even split between three and five-door models, as well as between manual and DSG auto gearboxes.

AT launch, the Range Rover Evoque became an instant smash hit by combining the upmarket appeal of its luxury cars with the dimensions of a crossover. But a new car’s lustre can fade, and now those in-demand early versions are dropping to a more accessible price. The three-door coupé is arguably better looking than the five-door, but there are fewer around, while manual cars outnumber the autos. There’s a mix of models at this price level, and Prestige Lux spec brings lots of kit.

THERE’S no doubt the BMW X6 has controversial looks, but if you want to make an impact at this budget, nothing beats the German brand’s high-riding coupé-SUV. Launched in 2008, and based on the previous X5, the X6 feels remarkably agile and composed. Another bonus is the pace from the turbine-like six-cylinder diesel, which emits just 217g/km of CO2. Ensure there’s a full BMW service history before you buy, but take the plunge and you’ll get a car that attracts attention like few others.

WE FOUND: R 3dr (2011/11 reg, 77k miles)

Price new £31,450 Now £15,300

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Price new £41,005 Now £17,626

Price new £42,390 Now £17,500

Best buys from £15,000-£20,000

Joker chevrolet Corvette

WE FOUND: Corvette (2005/05 reg, 77k miles)

estate volvo v70

WE FOUND: D4 SE Nav (2014/63 reg, 28k miles)

Price new £34,370 Now £15,980

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 163bhp Economy: 62.8mpg CO2/tax: 119g/km/£30 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009)

Price new £59,900 Now £19,989

WITH the arrival of the new Volvo V90, prices for the older V70 have taken a dip. Not that they were high in the first place – the V70 was a pretty old model, and only really sold to diehard fans of big Volvo estates. At this price level, you can get your hands on a car featuring Volvo’s potent yet efficient 2.0-litre D4 diesel. This has plenty of power, especially if you’re going to be towing, yet with CO2 emissions of 119g/km, road tax is cheap. Fuel economy is reasonable as well. It’s a pretty noisy engine, but the V70 is an impressively refined car, even if it’s not the most spacious executive estate on sale.

Engine: 6.0-litre V8, 400bhp Economy: 19.0 mpg CO2/tax: 350g/km/£515 Euro NCAP: N/A THE Corvette is about the biggest slice of Americana you can get in the sports car market. With its fibreglass bodywork and huge V8 under the bonnet, it has the ingredients to deliver fun, although this is more likely to come in a straight line than in corners. One car we found was a US import with all taxes paid, and it had a kit list as long as your arm, as well as offering a targa top for wind-in-the-hair cruising.

space ford galaxy

WE FOUND: 2.0 TDCi Titanium X (2015/64 reg, 25k miles)

Price new £31,345 Now £15,495

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 161bhp Economy: 47.1mpg CO2/tax: 159g/km/£185 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2015)

THERE’S no seven-seat MPV as spacious or as upmarket as the Ford Galaxy – no wonder it’s become the vehicle of choice for many private hire companies. The interior is vast, with five full-size seats in the back, while the three in the middle row fold, slide and recline individually. This price range gets you the best Galaxy Mk1s of the bunch in Titanium X trim, featuring panoramic glass, leather, xenon lights and a power tailgate, while we’d recommend the 2.0-litre diesel over the 2.2-litre; it’s nearly as powerful and costs less to run.

family citroen ds5

LIKE plenty of French luxury cars from the past, the Citroen DS5 has fallen into obscurity. Low sales WE FOUND: Hybrid4 DSport volumes and unconventional styling have conspired (2014/14 reg, 49k miles) to see values plummet. Its overgrown hatchback-style body doesn’t hold the same appeal as a traditional luxury saloon, although there’s no faulting its quality. Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl hybrid, 197bhp Economy: 80.7mpg The DS5 is not without merit. For a while it was the CO2/tax: 91g/km/£0 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2011) only Citroen model to use the firm’s diesel-electric hybrid drive system. Find a Hybrid4 model and you’ll enjoy free road tax, while claimed economy of 81mpg is impressive for such a large car.

Price new £33,660 Now £15,085

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WE FOUND: 3.0 TDI quattro S line (2012/12-reg, 63k)

Price new £49,800 Now £20,000

Engine: 3.0-litre V6, 242bhp Economy: 47.1mpg CO2/tax: 156g/km/£185 Euro NCAP: N/A

HERE’S proof that you don’t have to compromise on practicality if you want a stylish executive car. The Audi A7 shares much of its running gear with the A6 saloon, but it’s a swooping five-door coupé that turns heads wherever it goes. It’s only offered in higher-grade trims, so it couldn’t look downmarket even if it tried, while the sharp angles and frameless windows give it a sporty profile. Inside, it’s a plush and luxurious executive model, while standard automatic gearboxes mean it’s a very relaxing long-distance cruiser. The real draw of cars at this price is that highly specced models don’t carry much of a premium: one car we found had over £6,000 worth of extras, yet its used price was similar to one without any add-ons.

Best Buys £20,000-£30,000

F the For th price i off a new new hot h t hatch, h t h a luxury hatch l or performance performanc f ce car can be b yours

SPACE BMW 5 Series Touring

WE FOUND: 535d M Sport (2013/63-reg, 32k miles)

Price new £50,845 Now £23,250

LUXURY Bentley Flying Spur

WE FOUND: Flying Spur (2005/05-reg, 83k miles)

Price new £134,285 Now £23,990

Engine: 6.0-litre W12, 552bhp Economy: 13.7mpg CO2/tax: 495g/km/£295 Euro NCAP: N/A

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SINCE Bentley joined the VW Group, it has expanded its range to even include an SUV, but the luxury saloons still set the standard for comfort and performance. The Flying Spur is the four-door version of the Continental GT, and features the same 6.0-litre W12 and four-wheel-drive layout, which means, in theory, it’s capable of nearly 200mph. A 12-year-old Flying Spur will still be expensive to run, although as our example was registered before 2006, road tax is only £295, rather than the steep £515 rate you’d pay today.

Engine: 3.0-litre 6cyl, 309bhp Economy: 48.7.mpg CO2/tax: 152g/km/£185 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (saloon, 2010) WHILE an SUV is a popular choice at this budget, a conventional estate is more versatile and cheaper to run. To call the soon-to-be-replaced BMW 5 Series Touring conventional is to do it a disservice, though; it’s spacious, has first-class cabin quality, and is a lot of fun to drive. Under the bonnet of the 535d version is BMW’s higherpowered 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel, delivering 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds. At this price, you’re looking at a later facelifted 5 Series, although you’ll struggle to spot the differences.

Best buys from £20,000-£30,000

SUV Porsche Cayenne

WE FOUND: Cayenne Diesel (2011/11-reg, 90k miles)

Price new £47,273 Now £23,799

Engine: 3.0-litre V6, 237bhp Economy: 38.2mpg CO2/tax: 195g/km/£270 Euro NCAP: N/A

THE Cayenne isn’t the biggest SUV around, but it’s roomy and has the kind of handling you’d expect from Porsche. While it can’t always hide its sheer weight and bulk, the Cayenne is far more engaging to drive than many rivals. At this price level, you can pick up an early Cayenne Mk2 with the 237bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel, which claims 38mpg economy and a 7.8-second 0-62mph time. Recommended options to look for in a used model include sat-nav and heated seats, while Porsche’s PCCM adaptive dampers can transform the Cayenne from luxurious to sporty at the press of a button.

hybrid Lexus RX 450H WE FOUND: F Sport (2014/14-reg, 34k miles)

Price new £51,995 Now £24,250

Engine: 3.5-litre V6 hybrid, 249bhp Economy: 44.8mpg CO2/tax: 145g/km/£249 Euro NCAP: N/A

BY any measure, the Lexus RX 450h is an expensive car, ranking alongside the likes of the BMW X5. But where it steals an advantage is with its running costs. The combination of a V6 petrol engine and a pair of electric motors means it emits just 145g/km of CO2. The five-seater cabin isn’t the most spacious, while the RX’s off-road ability is limited. Still, for less than £25,000 you can have a facelifted 2014 model, and all cars are generously equipped, with F Sport spec bringing sat-nav and sharper looks.

JOKER Aston Martin DB7 Vantage

WE FOUND: V12 Vantage (2002/02-reg, 73k miles)

Price new £95,410 Now £24,995

Engine: 6.0-litre V12, 420bhp Economy: 14.8mpg CO2/tax: 460g/km/£295 Euro NCAP: N/A


WE FOUND: SL 350 (2010/60-reg, 47k miles)

Price new £66,950 Now £20,990

Engine: 3.5-litre V6, 315bhp Economy: 29.1mpg CO2/tax: 226g/km/£500 Euro NCAP: N/A

ONE model that has been a staple of the Mercedes line-up since the fifties is the SL sports car. Shortly after the original 300 SL Gullwing coupé arrived, Mercedes launched a convertible version, and since then, all of its successors have followed the same template. From 2003, the SL gained a folding metal hard-top, and it’s the facelifted version that’s available at prices from around £20,000. The AMG models pack a huge punch, but they have steep running costs to match, so we’d recommend the smaller-engined SL 350.

YOU’D hardly call a small Aston Martin the entrylevel model, but in a way, that’s what the DB7 was. The original car’s supercharged straight-six was joined by the later V12 Vantage, which sourced its engine from Ford. This car delivered 420bhp and was offered with manual or automatic boxes. The latter are cheaper, but that transmission suits the DB7’s grand tourer nature. We’d advise finding a model that has been serviced by an Aston Martin specialist, too.

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SpacE Audi RS 6 Avant WE FOUND: RS 6 Avant (2010/59 reg, 25k miles)

Price new £78,315 Now £34,995

Engine: 5.0-litre V10, 572bhp Economy: 20.2mpg CO2/tax: 333g/km/£515 Euro NCAP: N/A

IF you want the ultimate fast Audi estate, here it is. This version of the RS 6 Avant was the pinnacle of the V10-engined variant, with a supercar-slaying 572bhp on tap and a 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds, while the Quattro-style wheelarch blisters and oval exhaust tips were subtle clues to the car’s potential. On top of that, the RS 6 has just as much boot space as the standard A6 Avant, plus the top-spec model had a raft of kit thrown in for the asking price. On the right road, the RS 6 Avant is as fast as any sports car – just keep an eye on the fuel gauge.

CONVERTIBLE Bentley Continental GTC

WE FOUND: GTC (2007/07 reg, 43k miles)

Price new £132,850 Now £42,750

Engine: 6.0-litre W12, 552bhp Economy: 16.5mpg CO2/tax: 410g/km/£515 Euro NCAP: N/A

STYLE Aston Martin Rapide WE FOUND: Rapide (2010/60 reg, 52k miles)

Price new £144,950 Now £55,950

Engine: 6.0-litre V12, 469bhp Economy: 19.0mpg CO2/tax: 355g/km/£515 Euro NCAP: N/A

IT’S not the roomiest executive limousine on the market, but what the Aston Martin Rapide lacks in space, it more than makes up for with its sheer elegance. And because it’s based on an extended-wheelbase version of the DB9’s platform, it delivers continent-crossing motorway ability, making it the ultimate four-door grand tourer. Power comes from the ubiquitous 6.0-litre V12 engine, so it’s hardly stressed at UK motorway speeds, meaning the cabin is refined as well as comfortable.

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THE Continental GTC is one of the world’s fastest four-seater convertibles, and it’s also one of the most luxurious. It first appeared in 2006, powered by the same huge 6.0-litre W12 as the standard Continental GT, so the extra weight of the folding fabric top hardly troubled the 552bhp unit. If you’re on a track or derestricted autobahn, Bentley claims the GTC has a top speed of 189mph with the roof down, although how your hearing and hairstyle will cope with the noise and wind at speed is anybody’s guess. With the roof up, it will do 195mph, but at sensible speeds the GTC is just as quiet and refined as the coupé on the motorway.

hybrid Mercedes s-class

WE FOUND: S 400 L Hybrid (2014/63 reg, 54k miles)

Price new £74,930 Now £36,995

Engine: 3.5-litre V6 hybrid, 306bhp Economy: 44.8mpg CO2/tax: 147g/km/£135 Euro NCAP: N/A THE latest W222 version of the S-Class has more cuttingedge tech than the USS Enterprise, and it’s not just the gadgets that will wow drivers and passengers. The big Mercedes comes with a variety of drivetrain layouts, and there are hybrid and plug-in versions, too. We’ve picked the S 400 petrol-electric model here, as it delivers similar performance to the diesels, yet CO2 emissions of 147g/km mean business rates are low. You get the same top-quality cabin, while the long-wheelbase S 400 L has acres of space in the back in which to relax.

Best buys over £30,000

Best Buys OVER£30,000 Bl th Blow the bbudget, d t andd you can pushh prestige and performance to the max

SUV Range Rover

WE FOUND: 4.4 SDV8 Autobiography

(2013/62 reg, 125k miles)

Price new £94,720 Now £45,995

Engine: 4.4-litre V8, 334bhp Economy: 32.5mpg CO2/tax: 229g/km/£500 Euro NCAP: N/A

IT’S our pick in the SUV category in this price band, but the Range Rover could easily occupy the luxury car class, too. We found an Autobiography-spec version of the current-shape Range Rover for £46,000, and while the regular model is plush enough, thanks to its standard-fit air suspension and spacious cabin, this version takes things to another level. Massage seats, panoramic glass, a top-end Meridian speaker system, self-closing doors, digital TV and adaptive cruise control are all included, while passengers in the back get their own DVD-based entertainment system with TVs in the rear headrests. The model we found was powered by the 4.4-litre V8 diesel, so you can expect economy of around 30mpg.

JOKER Rolls-Royce Phantom

WE FOUND: Phantom (2008/08 reg, 55k miles)

Price new £265,605 Now £99,980

Engine: 6.7-litre V12, 453bhp Economy: 17.9mpg CO2/tax: 380g/km/£515 Euro NCAP: N/A

PERFORMANCE BMW M5 WE FOUND: M5 (2013/13 reg, 36k miles)

Price new £73,505 Now £32,000

Engine: 4.4-litre V8, 552bhp Economy: 28.5mpg CO2/tax: 232g/km/£500 Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2010)

FOR years, Audi, Mercedes and BMW have been in an arms race to produce ever more powerful saloons. When the last BMW M5 was launched in 2011, it replaced the previous car’s Formula One-inspired V10 with a twin-turbo V8 boasting even more power. There was plenty of tech on board to harness its 552bhp output, including a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox. Still, there aren’t many supercars, let alone saloons, that can keep pace with the M5, while near30mpg economy is surprising for a car of this nature.

IF you’re going to spend almost six figures on a luxury car, why not pick the best? The Rolls-Royce Phantom is gigantic, and that huge grille gives it presence like no other car on the road. Add in neat touches such as automatic rear doors and the luxurious cabin, and it’s clear why this car is held in such high esteem. The Phantom is only just going out of production after 13 years, but low volumes mean even early examples from 2003 still sell for nearly £100,000.

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Aston Martin Vantage S

WE FOUND: V12 Vantage S (2014/14-reg, 38k miles)

Price new £139,145 Now £62,995

Engine: 6.0-litre V12, 565bhp Economy: 17.0mpg CO2/tax: 388g/km/£515 Euro NCAP: N/A

EVEN after 12 years in production, the Aston Martin Vantage is one of the most beautiful cars on the road. And with constant development over the years, it has kept pace with luxury sports car rivals along the way. While the limited-edition GT12 and GT8 pay homage to the brand’s GT racing models, you can have just as much fun with the ultimate production version of the standard car, the V12 Vantage S. This model takes the standard V12 Vantage and gives it a makeover into a more focused sports car, featuring a new V12 engine with 565bhp. This means a 205mph top speed. While the 2014 example we found had a relatively high 38,000 miles under its belt, the car’s main dealer service history means you can buy with confidence.

Be sup

Even some high-octane t

Ferrari 360 Modena

WE FOUND: 360 Modena (2001/Y-reg, 36k miles)

Price new £103,068 Now £50,995

Engine: 3.6-litre V8, 395bhp Economy: 14.6mpg CO2/tax: N/A/£235 Euro NCAP: N/A

Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder

WE FOUND: Gallardo Spyder (2009/09-reg, 38k miles)

Price new £151,660 Now £72,995

Engine: 5.2-litre V10, 520bhp Economy: 16.6mpg CO2/tax: 400g/km/£515 Euro NCAP: N/A

THE Gallardo will go down in history as Lambo’s biggest seller, with over 14,000 built in 10 years of production. There are plenty to choose from, but prices haven’t dipped very far from when it was new. You can get a slightly later post-2006 facelift car for less than £75,000. The Spyder isn’t as common as the coupé, but it’s worth seeking out to hear that 520bhp V10 in full. Most cars get the brand’s E-Gear semi-automatic box, although it takes a special knack to change without any jerkiness.

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Audi R8

WE FOUND: V10 (2008/09-reg, 70k miles)

Price new £99,580 Now £49,495

Engine: 5.2-litre V10, 518bhp Economy: 19.2mpg CO2/tax: 351g/km/£515 Euro NCAP: N/A

ar, IF ever a model could be called the everyday supercar it’s the Audi R8. While the concept-car looks mean it’lll when turn heads wherever you go, it’s as docile as an A3 wh you’re taking it easy. Go for a version with magnetic ride dampers, and it’ll be pretty comfortable, too. ith But bury the throttle, and all hell breaks loose, with the V10 model in particular delivering a hard-edged growl that will send a tingle up your spine. Prices start from £36,000 for the V8 or £46,000 for the V10 featured here, so the choice is yours.

TODAY, it seems any Ferrari can be viewed as ‘investment potential’. Scour the classic ads, and you’ll find vendors demanding over £30,000 for unloved models like the Mondial and 400i. But if you can afford a bit more, then a genuine Ferrari sports car could be yours. The 360 Modena has fallen out of favour, as its blobby looks aren’t as appealing as its F355 predecessor’s. But the screaming mid-engined V8 has plenty of power, and we’d recommend the H-gated manual over the F1-inspired semi-auto box. After a few years, it might even become desirable again and be seen as one of the better Ferraris.

Supercar best buys

st Buys ercars

Jaguar XKR-S

WE FOUND: XKR-S (2012/12-reg, 32k miles)

Price new £97,400 Now £46,950

Engine: 5.0-litre V8, 543bhp Economy: 23.0mpg CO2/tax: 292g/km/£515 Euro NCAP: N/A

thrillers can fall in value significantly

BY the time the XKR-S arrived in showrooms in 2012, Jaguar had transformed itself from a grown-up, sensible luxury car maker to a dynamic and youthful firm. And that couldn’t be better demonstrated with the tyre-shredding last hurrah for Jag’s GT coupé. The supercharged V8 delivered big numbers, with a stonking 543bhp and 680Nm of torque. It was backed up by revised suspension settings, so the XK was more nimble than before. There’s a convertible version available, and we think the XKR-S looks best in the exclusive French Racing Blue paint option.

Joker Ultima GTR

WE FOUND: Can Am (2003/03-reg, 26k)

Price new £80,000 Now £35,500

Engine: 6.3-litre V8, 500bhp Economy: 20mpg (est) CO2/tax: N/Ag/km/£230 Euro NCAP: N/A

Porsche 911 Turbo

WE FOUND: 911 Turbo (2006/06-reg, 53k miles)

Price new £90,360 Now £44,990

Engine: 3.6-litre flat-six, 480bhp Economy: 22.1mpg CO2/tax: 301g/km/£295 Euro NCAP: N/A

THERE are silly prices to be paid for all kinds of fairly ordinary Porsches, but look hard enough and you can still find some decent cars out there at sensible money. A budget of £50,000 will land you a decent 997-generation Turbo, which gets four-wheel drive and was offered with either a six-speed manual box or a seven-speed PDK auto. Yet despite its startling performance, the Turbo is the easiest supercar to live with, thanks to its 2+2 layout, decent boot and good visibility. Full Porsche service history is recommended.

‘WHAT on earth is an Ultima?’, we hear you ask. Well, it looks a bit like a Group C sports prototype from the eighties, while under the skin, the British-built car features a Chevy V8 with as much as 640bhp on tap. In the company’s early years, the Ultima was a kit car, but today, complete models are offered. For proof of its potential, two were used by McLaren when it developed the F1 supercar in the nineties – the balance of light weight and big power was similar to the F1.

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Dodge Caliber

WE FOUND: 2.0 CRD SE (2007/56-reg, 95k miles)

Not every dirt-cheap car is worth buying. Here are some models to steer clear of

Price new £14,280 Now £1,650

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 138bhp Economy: 46.0mpg CO2/tax: 161g/km/£185 Euro NCAP: N/A

ON the face of it, the Dodge Caliber doesn’t make a bad fist of things. For instance, look past its straight-edged styling and you’ll discover a roomy cabin and big boot, plus under the bonnet is Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre TDI diesel. Yet even these positives can’t hide the car’s lacklustre handling and poor refinement. The steering is vague and the gears obstructive, while the soft damping results in a combination of poor body control and an unsettled ride.

Reva G-Wiz

WE FOUND: Reva G-Wiz i (2011/60-reg, 10k miles)

Price new £9,995 Now £4,100

Engine: Electric motor, 17bhp Economy: N/A CO2/tax: 0g/km/£0 Euro NCAP: N/A

IN 2016, Auto Express readers voted the diminutive, electric G-Wiz as the ‘worst car ever’. So it’s no surprise to discover the Indian-built machine is on our list of half-price zeroes. It’s hard to know where to start with the ungainly G-Wiz. Slow, cramped and featuring minimal crash protection, it only really stood out for cashing in on the Government’s financial incentives for zero emissions vehicles. But by saving on tax, G-Wiz owners were forced to put up with a lowly 50mph top speed, a range of just 50 miles and a lengthy eight-hour recharge time. We’d recommend finding any extra cash for a used Nissan Leaf.

Perodua Kenari

WE FOUND: 1.0 GXi (2005/55-reg, 62k miles)

Price new £6,268 Now £499

Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl, 54bhp Economy: 50.4mpg CO2/tax: 136g/km/£130 Euro NCAP: N/A IF you’re looking for nothing more than a box on wheels, then the Perodua Kenari might hold some appeal. However, while its 1.0-litre engine feels eager at first, the brick-like aerodynamics blunt performance and there’s plenty of wind noise. And although you’ll be able to squeeze the car into tight spaces, its side-hinged tailgate means you won’t get anything in or out of the boot.

Cadillac BLS

WE FOUND: BLS Luxury (2007/07-reg, 89k miles)

Price new £25,090 Now £2,490

Engine: 1.9-litre 4cyl, 148bhp Economy: 46.3mpg CO2/tax: 164g/km/£185 Euro NCAP: N/A

CADILLAC has tried to crack the European market many times, and the BLS spearheaded its most recent effort. Aimed at the lucrative compact executive market, the four-door saloon wasn’t quite as American as it looked at first glance. In fact, underneath the brash lines was a Saab 9-3 – already a heavily re-engineered Vauxhall Vectra. This means the BLS was infused with virtually no transatlantic character whatsoever. Buyers weren’t fooled by this badge-engineered lash-up, with fewer than 8,000 examples finding homes during its three-year run.

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Bad buys Hummer H2

WE FOUND: Hummer H2 (2004/54-reg, 41k miles)

Price new £60,000 Now £19,995

Engine: 6.0-litre V8, 326bhp Economy: 16.0mpg CO2/tax: N/A/£515 Euro NCAP: N/A

FEW cars are quite so out of place on UK roads as the lumbering Hummer. The original H1 was a military offroader designed for combat, rather than commuting. Vast dimensions and crude driving dynamics meant that it was never truly comfortable on civvy street. Even this more luxurious H2 model feels like a fish out of water. It’s five metres long and two metres wide, so virtually impossible to park. Factor in the vague steering, left-hand drive only layout and surprisingly cramped cabin, and the Hummer is best avoided.

Daewoo Leganza

WE FOUND: 2.0 CDX-E (2001/51-reg, 86k miles)

Price new £14,995 Now £795

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 132bhp Economy: 26.0mpg CO2/tax: 260g/km/£295 Euro NCAP: N/A

Rover CityRover

WE FOUND: CityRover Solo (2006/06-reg, 60k miles)

Price new £6,500 Now £795

Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl, 84bhp Economy: 37.9mpg CO2/tax: 167g/km/£210 Euro NCAP: N/A

IF there’s one car that neatly sums up Rover’s troubled final days, then it’s the CityRover. Intended as a rival to the likes of the Toyota Aygo, this urban runabout was a rehashed Indica from Indian brand Tata. Rover couldn’t disguise the CityRover’s mediocre underpinnings, and its lack of refinement, composure and quality was painfully obvious. CO2 emissions of 167g/km would look poor on a 250bhp hot hatch.

A COMPACT executive saloon with Italian styling and a leatherlined interior for less than £800 – too good to be true? Even when new, the Leganza’s mix of soggy handling and a crashy ride was way off the pace, so more than 80,000 miles later, matters won’t have improved. There’s lots of space and tech inside, but the combination of a harsh 2.0-litre engine and hesitant automatic gearbox means both lethargic performance and poor efficiency.

Proton Savvy

WE FOUND: 1.2 Street (2006/06-reg, 56k miles)

Price new £5,995

Now £695

Engine: 1.2-litre 4cyl, 75bhp Economy: 49.6mpg CO2/tax: 134g/km/£130 Euro NCAP: N/A

Chrysler Crossfire

WE FOUND: Crossfire 3.2 (2006/06-reg, 65k miles)

Price new £25,040 Now £2,795

Engine: 3.2-litre V6, 217bhp Economy: 27.0mpg CO2/tax: 256g/km/£515 Euro NCAP: N/A

WITH a combination of bold US style and Mercedes underpinnings, the racy Chrysler Crossfire coupé had all the ingredients of a surefire showroom hit. Unfortunately, the reality didn’t quite match the onpaper promise, and the Crossfire sank without a trace in 2008. In a class dominated by the sharp Porsche Boxster, the stodgy Chrysler never stood a chance. The interior was also carried over, but had cheaper materials.

THE irony for Proton’s city car is that savvy buyers on a budget are better off looking almost anywhere else. Launched in 2005, the Malaysian machine promised a low price, lots of kit and a chassis tuned by Lotus. However, while it handled neatly enough, the Renaultsourced 1.2-litre delivered wheezy performance. Inside, the Savvy provides decent space, but the flimsy plastics mean it looks and feels extremely low rent.

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Road tests


wonder New Mk7 BMW 5 Series is out to regain class crown from Mercedes and Jaguar

Mercedes E 220 d AMG Line

Price: £39,170 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 191bhp 0-60mph: 7.3 seconds Test economy: 50.0mpg/11.0mpl CO2: 112g/km Annual road tax: £30

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Jaguar XF R-Sport 2.0d 180 auto

Price: £36,850 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 178bhp 0-60mph: 9.3 seconds Test economy: 47.1mpg/10.4mpl CO2: 114g/km Annual road tax: £30

THE pace is hot at the top of the executive saloon sector. BMW knows it, which is why it’s gone to town with the development of its allnew, seventh-generation 5 Series. A glut of new premium saloons arrived last year, including the Mercedes E-Class, which hit the market with a range of advanced technology, autonomous driver aids, more space than ever and a slick cabin. It’s our current executive champion, and the car BMW will have to beat. However, the 5 Series has traditionally offered a dynamic edge over its rivals, too, so while it will face some stiff competition from the E-Class on everyday issues such as versatility, safety and tech, if it wants to reign as the best-handling saloon in the sector, it will have to outpace the agile Jaguar XF. Here we test the three cars at the centre of the class, all in efficient 2.0-litre diesel form and sportier trim levels, to determine which is the greatest all-rounder in what will undoubtedly be one of the hardest fought and most important road tests of 2017.

Pictures: Otis Clay Location: Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, Leicestershire

Visit for the latest new cars and drives

BMW 520d xDrive M Sport

Price: £41,025 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 187bhp 0-60mph: 7.4 seconds Test economy: 52.9mpg/11.6mpl CO2: 124g/km Annual road tax: £110


LIVING WITH A... CITROEN C4 PICASSO Five-seat MPV joins fleet, and instantly impresses with its big load space.


LIVING WITH A... VW PASSAT ESTATE As estate leaves us, our man reports how much fun it’s been to drive.

Testers’ notes

“The 5 Series has been around for 45 years. The battle for supremacy in this class has been raging for nearly as long and BMW is hoping that adapting much of the technology that makes the flagship 7 Series a success will work in this new seventh-generation 5. All three cars on test bear a resemblance to their respective big brothers and the engineering underneath means they’re now so advanced, they drive like them, too.”

Jam mes Disdale Chief reviewer

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Road tests

BMW 5 Series vs rivals

MODEL TESTED: BMW 520d xDrive M Sport


PRICE: £41,025 ENGINE: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 187bhp with the 5 Series staying fairly flat. Our car was fitted with the £985 Variable Damper Control, which is well worth the extra outlay. The steering is nicely weighted and the rate of response judged just-so, meaning the BMW rarely loses its composed feel.

THE executive saloon sector is fiercely competitive, with cars such as the Volvo S90 and Mercedes E-Class changing the game recently. It’s the latter car this new 5 Series will have to beat. BMW now offers it with four-wheel drive for the first time on right-hand-drive models, and here we test the £41,025 520d xDrive M Sport.



THE 5 Series has always been the drivers’ car in its class, and BMW has adapted its OKL platform that also underpins the 7 Series limousine for this mid-sized family saloon. While the 5 Series doesn’t get the Carbon Core technology from its big brother for cost reasons, there’s plenty of aluminium in the structure, body panels and chassis parts. Suspension at the front is by double wishbones, while there’s a new multi-link set-up at the rear, so it’s fairly standard for the class. The use of lightweight alloys means, depending on spec, the BMW is around 100kg lighter than its predecessor, which bodes well for handling and efficiency. There’s even a system available called Integral Active Steering, which can turn the rear wheels by a few degrees for extra agility at low speed and greater stability at higher speeds. At £995 it’s expensive, but it’s supercar tech in a diesel family saloon, which along with autonomous driving systems is another landmark in the sector. There’s plenty of equipment included as standard, though, with M Sport models featuring heated leather seats, cruise control, all-round parking sensors, sat-nav, Bluetooth and LED lights. Material quality is top notch, while much of the cabin design is reminiscent of the 7 Series. The Digital Cockpit is standard, too, whereas to get both 12.3-inch displays in the Mercedes costs £1,990.




BMW has fitted the 520d with the 187bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine that features across much of its range. On test it offered truly impressive performance, sprinting from 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds and delivering pace to rival out-and-out sports cars such as the Mazda MX-5 and Toyota GT86. Its speed off the line was helped by its xDrive four-wheel-drive system, which offers great traction. However, giving away some power to the Mercedes, it was one tenth slower over the benchmark sprint. With 400Nm of torque, it was on par with the lighter, 430Nm XF for in-gear acceleration, while its superior traction and sharper-shifting gearbox meant it was faster than the Jaguar through the gears. The transmission locks up quicker so the BMW gets off the line better than either of its rivals, and the engine is also the most refined of the three. This refinement extends to the ride. While you do feel a few pattering motions over the worst surfaces, riding on optional 19-inch wheels (with 18-inch rims as standard) bumps don’t send a quiver through the chassis like in the E-Class. In Comfort the 5 Series works with the road rather than reacting to it. In Sport mode, the damping doesn’t feel too much firmer until you enter a corner. Then you notice the tauter body control and greater resistance to roll,

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WITH 530 litres of luggage space, the BMW is 10 litres down on its rivals. And while its boot is also narrower, it’s deep and offers more than enough volume– although there’s no underfloor storage like in the Mercedes. As in all the cars here, the split-fold rear seat is excellent. Despite only a modest increase in size over its predecessor, BMW’s engineers have found a lot more space in the cabin. The 5 Series is easily as vast as the E-Class in the rear, with plenty of head and legroom for six-foot-tall passengers. It feels spacious in the front, too, while the driving position is great. There’s a big storage bin between the seats, with a pair of cup-holders in front of the gearlever. It’s just a shame the tray for the wireless phone charger isn’t larger.






BMW has finished mid-table in our Driver Power satisfaction survey over the past few years, and although its 15th place ranking in our most recent study isn’t disastrous, it’s still the worst result of the three brands here. However, the 5 Series is the most modern car of the trio, so there’s lots of safety kit available. Autonomous braking comes as standard, while there are two assistance packages on offer. The £2,250 Driving Assistant Plus pack includes adaptive cruise, lane change and lane keep assist, a semi-autonomous driving mode like in the E-Class and a new feature called Evasion Aid. This can support and augment your steering inputs if a quick lane change is needed to avoid an obstacle.




DESPITE its four-wheel drive, the 5 Series was the most economical car on test, returning a frugal 52.9mpg, compared with 50mpg for the E-Class and 47.1mpg for the XF. Over a year’s driving you’ll save a small margin, but that’s nothing compared with depreciation. Predicted residuals of 50.7 per cent mean the BMW will drop in value by the least of our trio over three years (£20,225), despite being the most expensive car to buy. The Mercedes (42.0 per cent) will lose £22,734; the Jaguar (43.2 per cent) is expected to shed £20,949.

CO2/tax 124g/km £110 or 24%


5 Series was fast off the line in this test, plus its 187bhp 2.0-litre engine is the most refined

Practicality Boot 530 litres

Performance 0-60/30-70mph 7.4/7.4 seconds

! Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 45.5/32.2/8.2m


Running costs 52.9mpg (on test) £81 fill-up

BMW 5 Ser

Exec has been left behind by new rivals. Can late

4L SPACE Rear is roomy, but boot is 10 litres down on both rivals

Testers’ notes

“The £2,000 xDrive system adds security in slippery conditions, but the two-wheeldrive version is more efficient, matching its rivals’ Benefit in Kind rates of 22 per cent.”

Se Sean Carson Senior staff writer


BMW 5 Series vs rivals

Road tests


Our guide to which trim level might suit you

Our choice:

520d SE



New BMW upholds its reputation as the driver’s choice, with strong agility

est seventh generation go straight to the top?

BRAKES Autonomous braking is standard,

plus 520d offers two hi-tech assistance packs

INTERIOR High-quality cabin has lots of standard kit, including heated seats, parking sensors and Digital Cockpit display

WHEELS Despite riding on optional 19-inch alloys, BMW is composed over rough roads

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

THERE are only two specs on offer from launch on the 5 Series: the entry-level SE and the M Sport version tested here. BMW’s 20d engine is available on both, while an eight-speed auto is the only gearbox choice. With a £4,000 deposit on the 520d xDrive M Sport, a three-year PCP deal limited to 10,000 miles per year will cost £497 per month. This includes a £3,552 deposit contribution from BMW. Going for the SE, which still gets features such as sat-nav and LED lights, will cost £462 per month. With the same deposit BMW’s contribution stands at £3,425. As the xDrive BMW is up against rearwheel-drive rivals here, it’s also worth noting that the two-wheel-drive 520d in SE and M Sport trims (the latter is cheaper than the E-Class) will cost £443 and £479 a month respectively, based on the same deposit.

Road tests

BMW 5 Series vs rivals

MODEL TESTED: Mercedes E 220 d AMG Line


PRICE: £39,170 ENGINE: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 191bhp THE Mercedes E-Class is our current class favourite, thanks to its blend of upmarket appeal and wallet-friendly running costs. It comes in just two trim levels and features a nine-speed auto gearbox. Here, we test the sporty AMG Line version in popular E 220 d guise, which costs £39,170.



LIKE the smaller C-Class, the latest E-Class takes its inspiration from Mercedes’ flagship S-Class. That means it has ditched its predecessor’s sharp-edged looks in favour of a sleeker design. What’s more, our car’s kerb appeal was further boosted by its racy AMG Line additions, which include a subtle bodykit and drilled brake discs that hide behind the 19-inch alloys. Under the skin, the E-Class sits on the scalable MRA platform that’s found on all the brand’s rearwheel-drive saloons and estates. Both the front and rear axles feature independent multi-link set-ups, while adaptive dampers are standard. The engine is Mercedes’ latest 2.0-litre diesel, which is linked to a nine-speed auto box. A 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system can be added to the E 220 d for an extra £1,500. Inside, the E-Class oozes premium appeal, thanks to the extensive use of high-grade materials – although you’ll have to pay £1,595 extra to upgrade the standard man-made Artico leather to the real thing. As you’d expect from Mercedes, build quality is first rate, although the BMW is on par. Our test car featured the twin 12.3-inch displays – the central one costs £1,495 and includes the upgraded COMAND Online sat-nav, while the digital dial pack will set you back another £495. These are expensive options, but they enhance the already refined and luxurious interior.




WITH 191bhp, the Mercedes’ 2.0-litre diesel is fractionally the most powerful engine here, but its 400Nm torque output trails the Jaguar’s by 30Nm. Still, despite similar on-paper figures, the E-Class held a narrow advantage in the 0-60mph sprint; its time of 7.3 seconds was a tenth faster than the 520d’s. The tables were turned during our in-gear assessments, where the E 220 d was consistently slower than both its competitors in this test – although admittedly the margins were small. As a result, in the real world the differences are negligible, with all three cars feeling surprisingly responsive for such big machines powered by such relatively small engines. The Mercedes is refined, too. Work the four-cylinder hard and you still hear a diesel grumble from under the bonnet, but it’s not as gruff as the Jaguar’s. On the motorway the nine-speed auto makes for low cruising revs of just 1,300rpm, but the trade-off is constant downchanges after even light throttle applications. On the plus side, the slippery shape also means there’s virtually no wind noise in the cabin. Our car was fitted with the standard coil springs and adaptive damper suspension, which does a better job of soaking up bumps than the firmer Jaguar, but trails the BMW for ultimate comfort. While it deals with big bumps well,

78 Special Issue



broken tarmac and potholes send the occasional shake and shudder through the floor of the cabin. The E-Class isn’t as agile as its rivals here, and its quick steering lacks feedback, but you can’t fault its grip and composure. Sport+ mode sharpens the throttle and adds weight to the steering, but the car is at its best while cruising in its normal setting.



THE Mercedes’ 540 litres of luggage space matches the Jaguar’s and is 10 litres up on the 5 Series’. The load area has the most usable shape here, but there’s a slight loading lip over which you have to lift cases. In terms of space, the E-Class’s interior matches the roomy BMW, with occupants in the rear getting bags of head and legroom. Cabin storage space is good, too, with a pair of large cubbies between the front seats, large door bins and a decent glovebox. Up front, the Mercedes also matches the BMW in having an extremely wide array of seat and wheel adjustment, which means getting comfortable is a doddle. Both German machines are ahead of the slightly restrictive Jaguar in this regard.






MERCEDES’ executive saloon adopts some technical innovations from the S-Class, including autonomous braking as standard. It also has seven airbags and a tyre pressure monitor, plus you can add blind spot monitoring and active lane keep assist for £595. Euro NCAP recently tested the car, and it will come as no surprise to learn it gained the full five stars. The brand’s reputation is upmarket, but 12th place in our Driver Power 2016 satisfaction survey was six places behind Jaguar. And while its dealers ranked ahead of BMW’s, a result of 20th is disappointing.




BUSINESS users are the target customers for these cars, so it’s no surprise to find our trio are closely matched when it comes to company car costs. Yet while the Mercedes’ CO2 emissions of 112g/km are the lowest here, it falls into the same 22 per cent Benefit in Kind rate as the cheaper Jaguar. As a result, higher-rate earners running the E 220 d face an annual tax bill of £3,428, while an XF driver will pay £3,238. The xDrive-spec BMW costs £3,933, but the two-wheel-drive 520d emits 114g/km, meaning a Benefit in Kind cost of £3,429, which is just a pound more than for the Mercedes.

CO2/tax 112g/km £30 or 22%


E-Class was the fastest car on test from 0-60mph, and is a strong cruiser, but it’s not as agile as its rivals

Practicality Boot 540 litres

Performance 0-60/30-70mph 7.3/6.7 seconds

! Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 49.5/33.0/9.5m


Running costs 50.0mpg (on test) £81 fill-up

Mercedes E

Reigning class leader combines premium quality

4L SPACE There’s plenty of room, and boot is bigger than BMW’s

Testers’ notes

“There are lots of personalisation options, including alloy wheels, paint finishes and trim – although the £645 black and pinstripe pan panels on our car won’t be to all tastes.”

Ja ames Disdale Chief reviewer


BMW 5 Series vs rivals

Road tests


Our guide to which trim level might suit you

Our choice:

E 220 d AMG Line



Mercedes smooths poor surfaces better than Jag, but trails BMW on comfort

y and low costs. The question is whether it’s still the best

STYLING E-Class comes with chrome trim and AMG bodykit to enhance its kerb appeal

INTERIOR Classy cabin features two 12.3-inch displays that add to the luxury feel, although it costs £1,990 to have both

GRIP While steering lacks feedback, E 220 d has plenty of grip and composure at speed Special Issue 79

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

LIKE the BMW, the Mercedes has just two trim options, with buyers limited to the SE and the AMG Line tested here – although there are also a pair of high-performance petrol-powered AMG models. The new 2.0-litre four-cylinder appears in the 200 d and 220 d, but for most buyers our 191bhp E 220 d test model delivers the best blend of performance and economy – and in SE guise it can be on your drive for just £409 per month. This figure is based on a three-year deal with a £4,000 customer deposit and a generous £3,945 contribution from Mercedes. However, the upgrade to AMG Line requires a modest increase of £36 a month, thanks in part to the even healthier £4,269 down-payment from the dealer. Given the improved looks and standard kit, it’s a worthwhile upgrade over the SE.

Road tests

BMW 5 Series vs rivals

MODEL TESTED: Jaguar XF R-Sport 2.0d 180 auto


PRICE: £36,850 ENGINE: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 178bhp FOR a brief period, Jaguar’s XF reigned supreme at the top of the executive saloon sector. Then the E-Class came along and knocked it off its perch last year. So can it still hold its own, or have Jaguar’s rivals moved the game on and out of the XF’s reach? To find out, we test the £36,850 R-Sport 2.0d auto, although our pictures show a Portfolio model.



THE XF uses an “aluminiumintensive” architecture, which means it’s based on the same iQ[Al] platform as the smaller XE saloon. It also shares some of its makeup with Jag’s F-Pace crossover, highlighting the modularity of the exec saloon’s underpinnings. The use of aluminium is important, because it’s lighter than steel, which can help boost efficiency. As the XF makes extensive use of this material in its chassis, it’s no surprise that it’s the lightest car here, which also brings benefits to the handling and ride quality. Together with its near-50:50 weight distribution, double-wishbone front suspension and Jaguar’s own design of advanced multi-link rear, the XF matches the set-ups of its rivals. Yet even though the Jaguar’s dimensions are comparable to the BMW and Mercedes, inside, the packaging doesn’t seem as well thought out. You feel more hemmed in, while the material quality isn’t up to the same standard as its rivals’, either. Equipment specs are closely matched, though; the XF gets Bluetooth, sat-nav, parking sensors, cruise control, xenon lights and heated leather seats as standard. Options such as keyless go (£510), LED headlights (£1,250) and a reversing camera (£365) are all available if you want to upgrade the spec.




GIVEN the poor conditions during our performance tests, it was no surprise that the rear-drive Jag couldn’t match the four-wheel-drive 5 Series’ 0-60mph time, taking 9.3 seconds. However, its in-gear performance was on par due to the XF’s superior 430Nm of torque and lower 1,595kg kerbweight. The eight-speed Jaguar was actually faster than the more powerful BMW from 50 to 70mph in top, taking 15 seconds exactly, while there were only a few tenths’ difference in the other gears. However, when you use the transmission you’ll find it isn’t as slick as the BMW’s eight-speed auto. The two cars share the same ZF-sourced gearbox, with bespoke programming for each model. The Jaguar doesn’t pull away quite as urgently as the BMW and feels more lethargic as a result. While its changes are nicely managed, in manual mode they’re not as snappy or as smooth as in the 5 Series. It’s a similar story when it comes to the ride. Our test car was fitted with the £1,020 optional Adaptive Dynamics system that alters parameters such as suspension damping and throttle response. Even in Normal mode it can’t match the 5 Series or E-Class for comfort, with more vertical body movement over rougher roads. In Sport it’s firmer still, but at least the Jaguar feels agile. Its steering is very fast, which can give it a nervous feel at first. The suspension sometimes struggles to

80 Special Issue



keep up with the speed of direction changes and control the car’s mass, but it’s direct and, once you get used to it, feels alert. However, it does have a tendency to follow cambers and ruts in the road. While the engine is strong, despite a power deficit to its rivals, it’s also noisy – especially when revved right out – so together with the choppier ride it loses out to both the 5 Series and E-Class when it comes to refinement and comfort.



THE Jag’s 540-litre boot is on par with the Mercedes’ and 10 litres larger than the BMW’s, but all three offer more than enough space, so it’s difficult to split them. However, the XF offers less room inside. You sit high up in the front, so headroom is tight even for average height drivers. A big transmission tunnel and chunky steering column also mean there’s less space for your legs, while material quality lower down in the cabin isn’t as classy as the competition’s. There’s a respectable amount of room in the rear, but less headroom and a more claustrophobic feel. Even when it comes to storage the XF isn’t as good, as the door bins and central cubby are small.






JAGUAR slipped from second place to sixth in our most recent Driver Power survey, but that was still six places ahead of Mercedes and nine in front of BMW. Owners rated performance, handling and ease of driving highly, which tallies with the XF’s strongest attributes. Safety is another, because with autonomous braking fitted as standard, the Jaguar is a fivestar Euro NCAP-rated car. Buyers can improve the XF’s safety systems even further with the £840 Active Safety Pack; this brings lane keep assist, a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.




AT £36,850 the XF is the cheapest car to buy outright, and is relatively costeffective for finance buyers (see Through the Range, right). It should also be wallet-friendly to keep on the road, as Jag’s £525 service package covers routine maintenance over five years/50,000 miles. That works out at £105 per year, whereas BMW’s £399 three-year/36,000-mile deal comes in at £133 per year. Both make Mercedes’ £37-per-month offering look expensive, at a yearly cost of £444. The XF’s lower group 28 insurance rating means it will also be cheaper to cover, at £789 for our sample driver.

CO2/tax 114g/km £30 or 22%

XF couldn’t match rivals in terms of straight-line pace, but superior torque helped it keep pace on the road



Boot 540 litres

Performance 0-60/30-70mph 9.3/8.6 seconds

! Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 67.4/45.7/10.7m


Running costs 47.1mpg (on test) £81 fill-up

Jaguar XF

Former favourite still scores on style and driver

4L SPACE Rear has least space, but boot is on par with Mercedes’

Testers’ notes

“While adaptive cruise with queue assist is available for £1,430, you still have to steer to stay in your lane. Both the BMW and Mercedes offer more advanced systems.”

Se Carson Senior staff writer Sean


BMW 5 Series vs rivals

Road tests


Our guide to which trim level might suit you

Our choice:

XF R-Sport


Use of aluminium means lightweight Jag feels really agile

r appeal, and represents a stern challenge here

BRAND XF brings strong badge prestige, and Jag had edge over rivals in Driver Power

INTERIOR While standard kit is generous, material quality doesn’t match up to its rivals’, and cabin isn’t as well packaged

HANDLING Quick steering can take some getting used to, but the car does feel alert Special Issue 81

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

THIS 178bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine with Jag’s eight-speed auto is available in three trim levels. Four-wheel drive is also offered across the range to match the BMW. However, our deals focus on the rearwheel-drive XF, so with a £4,000 deposit (based on a three-year PCP deal limited to 10,000 miles per year) the R-Sport we test here will cost £492 per month – that’s including a £1,125 deposit contribution from the manufacturer as well. If you want a cheaper option, an identical down-payment on the entry-level Prestige model sees Jaguar’s deposit contribution drop to £1,100, while the monthly cost decreases to £447. At the other end of the scale, the well equipped Portfolio version attracts a £1,400 contribution from Jag, while the monthly costs rise to £514.

Road tests

BMW 5 Series vs rivals

Inf tainment BMW 5 SERIES

Professional Multimedia Standard



Key features: Apple CarPlay, Connected app PLENTY of tech in the 10.25-inch Professional Multimedia sat-nav is carried over from the 7 Series, just as it has been with the new 5 Series’ chassis. But more of it is optional on the exec than it is on the luxury saloon. BMW is the first manufacturer to integrate wirelessly connected Apple CarPlay, although this costs £235, while the Connected app allows integration with Android smartphones. This will also send images from the car’s 3D view cameras to your mobile device if fitted. BMW Connected can even link with Amazon’s Alexa service for those using this tech. Online services are standard. Other interesting features include Proactive Driving Assistant, which is linked to the sat-nav, allowing the car to select the right gear for the upcoming road layout. Our model also featured the £1,495 Technology Pack. This brought gesture control – which lets you perform tasks such as change the volume with the swish of a finger in front of the screen – plus wireless charging.


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


COMAND Online £1,495 option



Key features: 12.3-inch screen, CarPlay

THE E 200 d and E 220 d feature Mercedes’ standard Audi0 20 infotainment system, with a relatively modest 8.4-inch screen set into the centre of the dash. There’s also the brand’s COMAND rotary controller, which brings a touchpad for straightforward access to the various functions, including Garmin-powered sat-nav, a Bluetooth connection, voice control and a DAB radio. However, our test car featured the more impressive COMAND Online set-up, which is standard on all sixcylinder petrol and diesel models, but a £1,495 upgrade on other cars. It brings a fair amount for the money, including the largest screen on test at 12.3 inches – although the E-Class’s graphics are much crisper. Other additions include a Wi-Fi hotspot and a concierge service free for a year, after which you pay a subscription. If you’ve added the COMAND set-up, it’s probably worth splashing out on the £495 digital dial pack, as the two displays give the interior a hi-tech feel.


InControl Touch Pro £1,745 option

BMW Connected provides simple access to menus for everything from calendar to weather forecasts. DAB easy to operate

Dynamic Select system gives a choice of modes for the E-Class, which are easy to apply. Wider 12.3-inch screen is ideal for nav



JAGUAR’S upgraded InControl Touch Pro pack features a larger 10.2-inch central touchscreen that supports pinch and swipe gestures, while dials are also replaced by a 12.3-inch digital display. This can show driving data or the sat-nav, depending on how it’s configured. Alongside Bluetooth, the XF offers a decent level of connectivity courtesy of InControl apps, which include contacts for your phone, maps, calendar and a music player. InControl Remote Premium (standard) also allows you to configure the climate control system from your smartphone, while InControl Secure can track your car if it’s stolen. However, this costs another £525, and the car doesn’t have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The standard Wi-Fi hotspot should be more useful, especially if you’re travelling with family, friends or colleagues. The system creates a wireless network in the car to make it easier for passengers to work on the move or tune into the in-car entertainment.


DAB radio stations are simple to select via touchscreen, and 10.2-inch display is wide enough for split screen mode


It’s easy to pair a phone via the Jag’s system, and standard sat-nav works well. Screen can be slow to respond, though

Host of menus can be chosen from via the COMAND dial, and Mercedes includes Wi-Fi hotspot service for 12 months

Display can be expanded to show more menus, while wide 10.25-inch screen makes reading sat-nav maps a breeze



Key features: Wi-Fi hotspot, digital dials







FOR: iDrive interface still great, clever gesture control, touchscreen capability

FOR: Crisp graphics, intuitive rotary controller, online services

FOR: Wi-Fi hotspot, widescreen

AGAINST: You have to pay extra for the system’s more attractive, hi-tech features

AGAINST: Hefty extra cost, no touchscreen capability

AGAINST: Touchscreen slow, basic functions are complex, no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto

82 Special Issue

displays, decent graphics


BMW 5 Series vs rivals


BMW 520d xDrive M Sport

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 band/cost Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service

£41,025/£50,555 £20,800/50.7% £20,225 £1,967/£3,933 £1,261/£2,101 31/£890/D/£110 £399 (3yrs/36,000)

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

4,936/2,975mm 1,479/1,868mm 4cyl in-line/1,995cc 187/4,000 bhp/rpm 400/1,750 Nm/rpm 8-spd auto/4wd 66 litres/run-flats 530 litres/N/A 1,620/705/2,000kg 12.2 metres/0.24Cd 3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs Variable (2yrs)/192 15th/24th N/A 7.4/7.4 secs 3.0/3.4 secs 5.0/6.3/8.3/15.6 secs 144mph/1,600rpm 45.5/32.2/8.2m 68/52/63/69dB 52.9/11.6/768 miles 54.3/64.2/60.1mpg 11.9/14.1/13.2mpl 143/124g/km/24%

0-60/30-70mph 30-50mph in 3rd/4th 50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th Top speed/rpm at 70mph Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph Noise outside/idle/30/70mph Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range Govt urban/extra-urban/combined Govt urban/extra-urban/combined Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket

Six/yes/yes/£375 Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes £675/yes/ £695 Yes/yes/yes/yes

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


RESIDUAL VALUES BMW should hold its price well. While it’s the priciest car here, our experts predict it’ll lose the least over three years. The 2WD car is stronger still.

BOOT SPACE THE load bay is 10 litres down on rivals’, but the new 5 Series is still very practical. Its wheelbase is 7mm longer than before, and the cabin is far roomier.

NCAP RATING EURO NCAP hasn’t yet put the new exec through its paces, although with lots of safety tech we’d expect a strong showing.

ECONOMY ALTHOUGH it’s less efficient on paper, the xDrive 520d returned the strongest fuel economy on test, at 52.9mpg.




IT’S five stars for the 5 Series. BMW’s new exec saloon is comfortably the sharpest car to drive, the most comfortable, and matches its rivals for practicality. While it’s more expensive with xDrive 4WD, it was still the most efficient choice; a reardriven 520d is competitively priced and will be even more cost-effective. Strong residuals round off a convincing win for one of the most complete cars on sale.


Road tests

Mercedes E 220 d AMG Line

Jaguar XF R-Sport 2.0d 180 auto

£39,170/£48,525 £16,436/42.0% £22,734 £1,714/£3,428 £1,334/£2,223 31/£873/C/£30 £37pm (3 services/3yrs)

£36,850/£36,850 £15,901/43.2% £20,949 £16,19/£3,238 £1,416/£2,360 28/£789/C/£30 £525 (5yrs/50,000)

4,923/2,939mm 1,468/1,852mm 4cyl in-line/1,950cc 191/3,800 bhp/rpm 400/1,600 Nm/rpm 9-spd auto/rwd 66 litres/run-flats 540 litres/N/A 1,680/640/2,100kg 11.6 metres/0.23Cd 3yrs (unlimited)/4yrs 15,500 miles (1yr)/147 12th/20th 95/90/77/62/5 7.3/6.7 secs 3.0/4.0 secs 6.0/7.3/9.6 secs/N/A 149mph/1,300rpm 49.5/33.0/9.5m 71/54/64/71dB 50.0/11.0/726 miles 65.7/78.5/72.4mpg 14.5/17.3/15.9mpl 151/112g/km/22% Seven/yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/£1,595/yes £645/yes/£2,795** Yes/yes/yes/yes


REFINEMENT MERCEDES’ 2.0-litre turbodiesel is smooth, but it can’t match the BMW’s unit for refinement, and is noisy on start-up.

GEARBOX NINE-speed auto means Mercedes turns the lowest revs when cruising at the motoring limit. Refinement is much improved at lower rpm.

LOWEST CO2 E-CLASS’S engine is the cleanest here. But a two-wheeldrive 520d almost matches the Mercedes, giving an identical Benefit in Kind tax rate.


THE E-Class is still a great saloon car with an impressive level of tech available. However, its ride is choppier, while expensive options mean you’ll pay more to match the 5 Series’ kit. It’s efficient, spacious and offers good performance, but this isn’t enough to offset the Mercedes’ poorer residuals, high servicing costs and dynamic shortfall compared with the BMW.

★★★★★ ★

4,954/2,960mm 1,457/1,880mm 4cyl in-line/1,999cc 178/4,000 bhp/rpm 430/1,750 Nm/rpm 8-spd auto/rwd 66 litres/£185 540/963 litres 1,595/655/2,000kg 11.6 metres/0.26Cd 3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs 21,000 miles (2yrs)/84 6th/13th 92/84/80/83/5 9.3/8.6 secs 3.1/3.6 secs 5.1/6.4/8.2/15.0 secs 136mph/1,500rpm 67.4/45.7/10.7m* 75/52/63/69dB 47.1/10.4/684 miles 54.3/74.3/65.7mpg 11.9/16.3/14.5mpl 161/114g/km/22%

SERVICING PACK JAG’S five-year maintenance plan is a great deal; Mercedes’ offering is pricier, while BMW’s pack falls between the two.

DRIVER POWER A SIXTH-place finish in our survey means the brand easily eclipsed its rivals when it comes to owner satisfaction.

PERFORMANCE IN-gear times highlighted the Jag’s strong performance, thanks to the combination of the highest torque output and the lowest kerbweight.

Six/yes/yes/£365 Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes £690/£1,250/£510 Yes/yes/yes/yes



IN this company, the XF feels a generation behind the curve. There’s no denying it has a strong engine and an agile chassis, but it isn’t as comfortable or as refined as its German rivals. There isn’t as much tech, either, and despite having a big boot it feels more cramped inside. Still, the XF is attractively priced for cash buyers, even though it depreciates at a similar rate to the Mercedes.

★★★★★ ★

AEB = Autonomous Emergency Braking. In red = equipment fitted to our test car. * = Jaguar braking figures were recorded in the wet. ** = Part of pack. 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.

Audi A6 2.0 TDI S line


DUE: 2018 PRICE: £40,000 (est) ENGINE: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 187bhp

soon Is it worth waiting for this model?

A Avarvarii

AUDI’S next-generation A6 will be based on an all-new platform, and promises a step up in space and tech, with more of an individual design. A revised version of the brand’s 2.0 TDI should deliver strong performance.

Special Issue 83

Citroen C4 Picasso

FIRST REPORT Revised MPV shows its worth as it is pressed into load carrying action immediately Sean Carson

SOMETIMES we might go to a dealer to take delivery of a new test car, talking through its merits and our choice of options with a salesperson so we’re fully up to speed. However, despite a recent facelift, we’re pretty familiar with the Citroen C4 Picasso’s strong points, so we pressed this revised version of the firm’s fiveseat MPV into service straight away. Its credentials as a true multi-purpose vehicle are exactly what I was aiming to explore on a recent trip to the north-east. A family friend’s house move meant they needed to dispose of a barely used sofa, so with an ageing couch looking sorry for itself at my home, I shot off in the C4 up the M1 to Newcastle to pick up a replacement. The Picasso proved it’s good for carrying not just people but all manner of items – and it’s easy to load up, too. Each rear seat slides and folds individually, so

84 Special Issue

with the tug of a cord the backrests folded into the floor quicker than you can say “flat-pack furniture”. With the seats stowed away, there’s a massive 1,851 litres of load space on offer. Or to put it another way, more than enough to swallow a full settee, a coffee table, a chest of drawers, a couple of paintings and a few boxes full of general junk, while still being able to see clearly out of the rear view mirror. If Doctor Who drove a car, it’d be a Citroen C4 Picasso, such are its Tardis-like credentials. Our mid-spec £23,290 Feel model is fitted with Citroen’s 118bhp 1.6-litre BlueHDi 120 turbodiesel engine and a six-speed manual gearbox. The latter isn’t so good, with a notchy, indistinct shift action, but thankfully the motor is brilliant. With 300Nm of torque available from as low as 1,750rpm, in heavy motorway traffic you hardly have to use the gearbox, because the flexible engine pulls from low down when the cars in front clear. It’s

also extremely efficient. Over the past 1,000 miles – more than a third of it carrying a heavy load – the Citroen has returned 51.8mpg. On top of the frugal fuel economy, the car’s soft, forgiving ride makes it a great long-distance cruiser. And there’s plenty of tech on board if you’ve got lots of miles to cover. There’s a good level of smartphone connectivity, with MirrorLink and Apple CarPlay included, as well as the option to turn the Picasso into a Wi-Fi hotspot (more of which we’ll explore in the Citroen’s next report). However, the infotainment and climate control are accessed through a seveninch touchscreen, and while the graphics are clear enough, the system often lags behind your inputs, initiating a frustrating number of wild prods at the screen. The 12-inch widescreen display above this is cool, though, and gives the C4 Picasso’s cabin a futuristic feel. Other options include metallic paint at £520. On a grey January day our test car’s

Living with a Citroen C4 Picasso

Our cars Essentials

Second opinion

“The combination of space, comfort, tech and family-friendly practicality is why the Citroen is still our favourite five-seat people carrier. But while Sean proved it can accommodate lots of stuff, it’s the clever use of space and neat details that make the C4 Picasso so versatile and easy to use. A Ford C-MAX may be sharper to drive, but the C4 Picasso is comfier, and it’s hard to argue rgu with the real-world efficiency.”

Citroen C4 Picasso Feel BlueHDi 120

Jam mes Disdale Chief reviewer MirrorLink allows easy pairing with Sean’s phone Pete Gibson

On fleet since: December 2016 Price new: £23,290 Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 118bhp CO2/tax: 100g/km/£0 Options: Metallic paint (£520), xenon headlights (£750), reversing camera (£200), kids’ pack (£150), bi-tone black roof (£400), Driving assistance package 2 (£800) Insurance*: Group: 20 Quote: £774 Mileage/mpg: 1,320/51.8mpg Any problems? None so far *Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

WE LIKE Easy-fold rear seats make loading up simple, while huge load bay can accommodate nearly as much as a small van. The big hatch reveals a wide opening, too

Our man got the measuring tape out to check sofa would fit



Running costs


Boot (seats up/down)

51.8mpg (on test)

£0 or 20%

537-630/1,851 litres

£67 fill-up

WE DON’T Tech on offer is impressive, but the seven-inch touchscreen can be slow to respond to your inputs. However, it does give a clean, uncluttered look to the facia ON THE ROAD

Turbodiesel engine is a peach, pulling strongly from low revs. Soft Sand metallic paint is a £520 option

paint looks just that, but it’s actually a new colour called Soft Sand that contrasts nicely with the £400 black roof. Along with the revised front end, the two-tone roof and our car’s 17-inch Mamba alloys are new to the C4 Picasso. So is the Wild Blue Ambience interior with fold-flat front seat that came in handy shifting other items in the move. An £800 suite of driver assistance systems, including lane departure warning and blind spot assist, auto full beam lights and radar guided cruise, also keeps a watchful eye over you and your cargo – whatever it might be.


WE’VE already proven that the updated C4 Picasso is truly a multipurpose vehicle. It looks smarter than ever and offers some neat features inside with even more tech available. But Citroen hasn’t forgotten about one of the most important commodities in an MPV: space.


Special Issue 85

Our cars

Living with a Volkswagen Passat Estate

Volkswagen Passat Est FINAL REPORT As load carrier leaves fleet, our man reflects on how much else it had to offer beyond

Darren Wilson

AFTER 10 months on our fleet, it’s time to say farewell to our Volkswagen Passat Estate. I’m certainly going to miss our classy SE Business model, and not just for its obvious load-lugging capabilities. Looking back over previous reports, it occurred to me that I’ve been so focused on the Passat’s practicality, sleek design and calming qualities that I’ve neglected to mention how much fun it’s been to actually get behind the wheel and drive it. Although many of its 5,912 miles have been racked up plodding through city traffic in commuter chaos, when I’ve had the opportunity to hit the open road in the Passat, the size of my smile has increased, just like the fuel consumption in town jams. Given its impressive credentials as a family estate, I’ve been surprised by just how much fun I’ve had zipping along country roads. Part of that stems from the MQB underpinnings that give the Passat its sharp, precise steering, while the 148bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel has plenty of power to match the grippy chassis. The optional Dynamic Chassis Control (£725) offers different driving modes, so I’ve been experimenting with the Sport setting more recently, instead of my usual selection of Comfort. This stiffens the suspension and sharpens throttle response. Yet the Passat is a family car built for ferrying loved ones and their stuff around, so for me, it’s essential that the VW ticks the box of feeling safe when cornering at speed. And it does. Easily. In fact, the combination of security, comfort and connectivity means my boys barely even look up to notice that I’m having any fun. Safety is always high on my list of priorities, so the £1,120 Driver’s Assistance Pack, including high-beam and lane assist, traffic-sign recognition and pedestrian detection, is a security blanket worth

86 Special Issue

“I’ve been so focused on the Passat’s practicality, I’ve forgotten how much fun it’s been to drive it” DRIVE ASSIST

Adaptive cruise is controlled via steering wheel buttons; it takes the stress out of motorway trips


Distance control can be set on the basic display screen between the dials


Rear seating gives plenty of space. Sun blinds and USB port are neat features


Clever cargo system holds items with a retractable belt and adjustable anchor points

Second opinion

“Spending most of its time in the suburbs, Darren’s Passat has averaged around 38mpg. However, longer motorway runs have seen economy rise as high as 49.8mpg. Over 700 miles on a £75 fill-up means running costs are affordable.”

Sean Carson Se

Senior road tester Se

Living with a Volkswagen Passat Estate

t ate


Our cars


Volkswagen Passat Estate SE Business 2.0 TDI

style and practicality Otis Clay


Running costs

Boot (seats up/down)

43.5mpg (on test)

650/1,780 litres

£72 fill-up

On fleet since: March 2016 Price new: £27,135 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 148bhp CO2/tax: 110g/km/£20 Options: Discover Navigation Pro (£845), Vienna leather (£1,845), Dynamic Chassis Control (£725), XDS electronic diff (£185), tyre-pressure monitor (£135), Driver’s Assistance Pack (£1,120), rear view camera (£320), keyless entry with power tailgate (£605), Cargo management system (£300), Advanced telephone connection (£370), rear sunblinds (£90), metallic paint (£595) Insurance*: Group: 21E Quote: £434 Mileage/mpg: 5,912/43.5mpg Any problems? None so far *Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

Stuart’s had several problems with Niro; engine management light now won’t go out, and Kia has taken car back

Kia Niro

CARBUYER editor Stuart Milne’s time with the Niro hasn’t been very smooth. In Issue 1,455, he mentioned the hybrid SUV had developed a fault which caused hesitation when accelerating. The problem grew progressively worse, leading to plummeting fuel consumption, a lumpy idle and a strong smell of fumes in the cabin after a cold engine start. After the engine management light turned itself on, he booked the Niro in at his nearest Kia dealership, Essex Auto Group in Southend, to have it looked at. The helpful EAG staff said the diagnostic system had shown a faulty oxygen sensor, but replacing it failed to solve the problem. The technicians could only analyse the fault before the engine reached operating temperature and the fault subsided. This was compounded by the staff’s relative inexperience with the Niro’s new hybrid powertrain. After a great deal of calls back and forth between EAG and Kia, and a substantial engine stripdown, Kia has decided to take the Niro back and replace it with a new model fresh off the container ship. Watch this space.

Our fleet

INDEX WE LIKE Being able to pack whatever we needed with ease has been a real plus. Composed ride, understated design and sharp chassis have also stood out QUALITY

Material and build quality lift the Passat interior way above the ordinary. It’s a pleasure being behind the wheel

having. I’ve been thankful for it on a few occasions. To go with this, my car also features adaptive cruise control, which includes autonomous emergency braking. It’s easy enough to use, and simplifies driving and removes stress. Adaptive cruise and AEB are standard on SE Business trim, but other options hike the price. My car has more than £7,000 worth of extras – and that doesn’t include a Panoramic sunroof (£945) or the Active info display (£585), both of which I sampled on a Passat Estate Alltrack. The Cargo management system and sound-insulating glass are other additions worth specifying, too.

WE DON’T It’s a real regret we didn’t specify the £585 Active Info display. We were impressed when we tried the 12.3-inch digital dials on a Passat Alltrack

Verdict I’LL miss the Passat’s calming influence and how it simply does everything it’s supposed to on all fronts. There’s no doubt our premium estate is pricey, especially when totting up all the options. However, its quality, practicality and driving dynamics shouldn’t be overlooked.


Subaru Outback

THE latest addition to our fleet couldn’t have timed its arrival better. Few cars are better suited to the wintry conditions than our rugged new Subaru Outback. At the heart of its all-weather appeal is the brand’s symmetrical four-wheeldrive system, which has helped chief reviewer James Disdale feel secure when other drivers start to slip and slide. Another handy safety aid is the EyeSight set-up, which blends lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and autonomous braking. Unlike most radar-based packages, this uses a pair of cameras either side of the rear-view mirror to monitor the road ahead. Under the bonnet is Subaru’s trademark Boxer diesel engine, which is hooked up to the Lineartronic CVT transmission. Even after only a handful of miles it has proven a surprisingly capable combination. At £34,680 the Outback faces some stiff premium competition, and over the coming months we’ll see if the car is up to scratch.

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

Audi SQ7 Issue 1,458 BMW M240i New arrival Citroen C4 Picasso New arrival Ford Edge New arrival Honda Jazz Issue 1,450 Jaguar XF Issues 1,445, 1,457 Kia Niro Issue 1,455 Mazda MX-5 Issues 1,420, 1,432, 1,443 Mercedes GLC Issues 1,441, 1,449, 1,454 Mitsubishi L200 Issue 1,452 Peugeot 2008 New arrival SEAT Ateca Issue 1,453 Skoda Superb Issue 1,456 Subaru Outback New arrival Suzuki Baleno Iss 1,432, 1,443, 1,448, 1,457 Toyota Prius Issue 1,447 Volkswagen Passat Issues 1,422, 1,434, 1,444 Volvo V40 New arrival

Special Issue 87


Visit for our extensive product archive


Kim Adams


Got a query? @AE_Consumer


Price: Free Contact:

FANCY driving a Jaguar F-Type? How about driving it on ice? Well, you can at the French ski resort of La Plagne and, best of all, it won’t cost you a thing. A new partnership between the Alpine ski resort in the Tarentaise valley and Jaguar Land Rover has created the Fun Zone, which gives visitors the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a fourwheel-drive F-Type SVR, powered by a 567bhp V8 engine, on a specially created ice circuit. The Fun Zone, which was opened by Haas Formula One driver Romain Grosjean, provides an instructor for each session so you can learn

to drift and slide. Amazingly it is free to anyone visiting the resort, and runs every Sunday to Friday until 5 March from 10am-4pm. The only condition is that you must be at least 28 years old to take part. And if you prefer two wheels, there are Fatbikes, which have wide, under-inflated tyres to ride down the slopes, with prices starting at 40 Euros (£34). The nearest airport to La Plagne is Geneva, over the Swiss border, which is served by budget airline EasyJet, and the resort offers several levels of accommodation. But a week’s self-catering, for example, costs from 314 Euros (£268).



Under the guidance of a trained instructor, you can glide the F-Type through snow and ice


When do I change wipers? MY friend says there are windscreen wipers that let you know when they need changing. I’ve never seen them. Is he right? Eduardo Nunez, E-mail FRENCH producer Valeo puts a wear indicator on some of its blades. It’s a triangle that changes colour as it is exposed to the environment, and the idea is it matches the changes within the blade. This is useful as a reminder to check them, but the best way to decide when to change is to assess the wipe for lines, or missed patches, and the flexibility when the blade is cleaned.

Taxing issue on classic WHEN clearing out my late father’s garage, I came across an old Hillman Hunter that I wasn’t aware of. I’m not sure what to do with it, but am worried about whether it’s SORNed and whether I need to act before I’m fined. Can you advise? Julian Beesley, E-mail YOU can check the DVLA website to see the current status of the car. If there is no record, it may have been put into storage before SORN came into force in 1997. It may need to be SORNed, but at least it doesn’t have to be renewed annually now.

How to bring battery to life I LEFT my car’s lights on while away on holiday. When I returned my charger simply wouldn’t start to work on the battery. Is there something I can do? Would a smart charger help? Stuart Hutchinson, E-mail AN old-fashioned charger may begin to work if left on for a few hours. If the battery starts to take a charge, it’s likely to be okay. A smart charger can begin to work at voltage levels well below conventional versions; some have reconditioning modes with higher outputs and may provide the answer if the battery has been flat for some time.

Special Issue 89


Round-up of the latest kit

BENTLEY WATCH POWERS IN BREITLING and Bentley have a partnership that goes all the way back to 2003. The high-end watchmaker created the dashboard clock for the Continental GT – the model that relaunched Bentley as a modern manufacturer – and the beautiful timepieces have appeared in models from the British brand since then. Now Bentley has launched its most powerful Continental yet – the 700bhp Supersports – so Breitling has produced a watch to accompany it. The Breitling for Bentley Supersports B55 matches the car, with a carbon fibre dial set into a lightweight titanium case. The face also has two backlit LCD displays, which light at the press of a button or when the case is tilted. And the black rubber strap has a red edge. An advanced electronic connected movement, designed for motorsport, sets the new watch apart. It includes a chronograph, lap timer and electronic tachymeter, plus a Chrono Race function which records splits and calculates average lap times. A Chrono Rally setting can record times from up to 30 stages; a Regularity Rally mode is good for classic road events. Under the carbon fibre dial there’s a smartphone connection. The watch can even link with your phone and share data through a bespoke app. Only 500 Breitling for Bentley Supersports B55 watches will be produced. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but the timepieces will be just as exclusive as the Bentley they’re inspired by.


Breitling for Bentley Supersports B55 watch Price: TBA Contact:

news, deals& events

Folder stores classic car history in style KEEPING track of a classic car’s history can be tricky, with documents dating back decades, but a new file should make life easier for owners, and boost a car’s value and saleability. The new De Bowers car history folder (above) is a smart and simple way to organise and display every piece of paperwork, split into Legal, Technical and Provenance sections. Set to be launched at the Practical Classics Classic Car and Restoration Show at the end of March, the folder is handmade from English leather and will be priced at £285. Click on for more info.

MX-5 gearbox gives classic MGB a boost New limitededition B55 watch has carbon fibre dial set into titanium face, and links to your phone

A COMMON upgrade for the classic MGB sports car is a better gearbox, switching from the standard fourspeed to a more modern five-speeder. And now there’s an official route – a five-speed conversion, offered by transmission specialist Vitesse and approved by British Motor Heritage. It’s taken directly from the Mk3 Mazda MX-5, and will bolt into any MGB built from 1962 to 1980. The box is available from

Art exhibition marks 140 years of Pirelli NEW PRODUCT Toyo Proxes Sport summer tyre

Price: £92.60 (225/45ZR17 94Y) Contact: 01933 411144,

JAPANESE tyre maker Toyo has replaced its popular, but long-running, Proxes T1-Sport with the Proxes Sport. As we saw in our 2014 and 2015 tests the T1 had fallen behind rivals, and the newcomer promises improvements of six per cent in wet braking and 10 per cent in wet grip. Crucially it also claims a 33 per cent cut in rolling resistance, boosting fuel economy by around six per cent. The new tyre features a high silica content compound, as well as grooves and construction which widen the contact patch and stiffen the tread blocks. ons. Its asymmetric tread has a rigid rib to improve grip in all weather conditions. The Proxes Sport comes in 44 launch sizes covering 17 to 20-inch rims,, 2152 275 widths and 30-55 profiles. All sizes have tyre label ratings of B for wet grip and E or F for fuel economy, depending on size. Noise ranges from 71-75dB.

90 Special Issue

TYRE maker Pirelli has a long history, and it’s celebrating 140 years in business with a new exhibition in the Archimede Library in Turin, Italy. ‘Pirelli in 100 Pictures’ displays a look into the brand’s technology, activities and relationships with motorsport and the arts – plus the famous Pirelli Calendar. Divided into six sections, the exhibition is open until 1 May. Admission is free, but you obviously need to get to Turin first. Know an event coming soon? Contact


Waterless wash mini test


books, apps&games

NEW PRODUCT Diamondbrite Waterless Wash & Wax

Price: £7 (£15 with cloth) Size: 500ml Rating: ★★★★ Contact: 01622 815679,

NEW Diamondbrite wash impressed. Like most rivals it needs to be sprayed on and wiped with a microfibre then buffed with a second one. The sweet-smelling cleaner – it resembles fruit drops – goes on in a wide, but fine spray. It took off almost as much grime as our test winner from Meguiar’s, and while there was a touch more drag to the cloth, it was close. It does have a price advantage over our winner here, which some people may consider makes up for the extra effort required. According to Diamondbrite, a bottle is good for around five cars. It’s available alone or as part of a pack with a large, thick cloth for £15. Yet while the cloth is good, two smaller ones would be better for this job. It’s big enough to use different sections for cleaning and buffing, but two cloths make life easier.

Which waterless wash makes cleaning easiest? Kim Adams

THERE’S no doubt drivers appreciate being able to clean and protect their cars at the same time with a waterless wash. These products were once only really useful during hosepipe bans, but they now have a permanent place on the garage shelf, and two new options have been launched to meet the growing demand: Diamondbrite Waterless Wash & Wax and PRO3 No Water. To see how well they work, we put these new choices up against multiple test winner Wash & Wax Anywhere from Meguiar’s. We rated how well they removed dirt and how easy they were to use, as well as value for money, based on makers’ prices. The slightly easier to wipe Meguiar’s product just keeps its crown from the impressive Diamondbrite. PRO3 works well enough, but isn’t so easy to use, plus its price is a definite concern.

“We rated how well each wash removed dirt and how easy they were to use” 92 Special Issue


Price: £7.99 Size: 250ml Rating: ★★★ Contact:

PRO3 has gone its own way with this waterless cleaner, and not just with the graphics and aluminium bottles. Unlike any other products we’ve tried there is no trigger to apply the cleaner and allow it to soak before wiping; instead it goes directly on to the cloth. Care is needed here because it can run straight off again if you try to hurry the process. Once on it works well enough at lifting grime, but the method is clumsy compared with rivals. It buffs well, too, although even if you prefer this approach the high price is hard to ignore.

TEST WINNER Meguiar’s Wash & Wax Anywhere

Price: £15 Size: 768ml Rating: ★★★★★ Contact: 0870 241 6696,

IT was close, but Meguiar’s Wash & Wax Anywhere remains our waterless wash pick. Others try but just fail to match its winning blend of easy wiping and grime shifting. Add in quick buffing to shine and it’s easy to see why it’s been the dominant performer in this sector since its launch. It gives a little away on price to Diamondbrite, but we reckon its claim to clean up to four cars with the big 768ml pack is on the cautious side. A great product that takes another win.

McQueen’s Motorcycles Matt Stone (Motorbooks, Price: £24.99 Rating: ★★★★★

ANYTHING associated with Steve McQueen carries a certain level of cool. And the motorbike icon is brought back to life in this book with superb stories and plenty of emotive pictures. From adventure to misadventure, through McQueen’s life as an actor, racer and motorcycle collector, it’s all here. A great read, and not just one for the bike enthusiasts.

Mercedes-Benz W124 Buyer’s Guide Tobias Zoporowski (Veloce Publishing, Price: £12.99 Rating: ★★★★

ANYBODY who has driven a W124generation Mercedes (or the E-Class, as it was later known) will appreciate its reputation for bulletproof reliability, tank-like build quality and ease of use. But it’s not all plain sailing more than two decades after launch, and this guide tells you exactly what to look out for when buying one. Worth a read for anybody in the market.

Parker’s Driving Challenge Available for: iOS, Android Price: Free Rating: ★★

THOUSANDS of children would have given a leg to take control of one of the Thunderbirds – and the same goes for FAB1, Lady Penelope’s six-wheeled Rolls-Royce. But this game offers very little for fans. Not even the core gameplay is well done – the graphics are lumpy and driving dynamics poor.

App of the week


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

THIS app has been updated to include a new SNAPS feature. It uses your phone’s camera and GPS to let you to take date and locationstamped photos of your hire car, and stop unscrupulous hire firms claiming you caused pre-existing damage. A useful holiday tool.


Rotary multitools tested

Sea aley E5188 Mullti-Purpose RotaryToolSet aryToolSet Price: £41.73 Speeds: 8,000-35,000rpm Contact: 0151 608 8844, Rating: ★★★★★

BEST BUY UNCHANGED from last time, our previous Sealey winner was up against some serious new competitors. The 170W tool was an accomplished performer at low and high speeds, and although the bolt cutting results were almost identical to the X1340’s, it was much quieter and smoother in getting through it. We’d have liked a stand for easier use, but the flexible shaft is a handy addition, plus an incredible 219 accessories are included – the highest number here. The price clinched it.

Dre emel el 40 000 6/128 / Platinum atinum Edition

Price: £161.99 Speeds: 5,000-35,000rpm Contact: 01332 755799, Rating: ★★★★

RECOMMENDED DESCRIBED as Dremel’s “ultimate multi-tool”, this is almost its own

workshop, in a stylish multi-layered, aluminium drawer case. It had 128 accessories and £102 of attachments, including our favourite flexi drive with integrated lock button. The performance beat all rivals with the 175W unit boasting the highest speed span and being quiet right up to 35,000rpm, slicing the bolt in 17 seconds. The price makes it a real investment, but it would probably be the last tool you bought.

94 Special Issue

Powe werPlus lus 180W W Multi t Tooll X1340 4

Price: £49.99 Speeds: 10,000-34,000rpm Contact: 08448 092 592, Rating: ★★★★

RECOMMENDED POWERPLUS doesn’t stint on specification, especially at the price. At 180W, it was the most powerful on test and came with a flexible shaft, adjustable stand, chainsaw attachment, 100 accessories and a three-year warranty. Twin LEDs on its nose were useful and we liked the digital speed readout. It was slow enough to work well with the soft aluminium and it ripped through the steel bolt in 22 seconds. But with plenty of vibration and noise at high speeds, it could be tiring on long jobs.

Pow werPlus l POW1820 OW1820

Price: £24.99 Speeds: 8,000-32,500rpm Contact: 08448 092 592, Rating: ★★★

THE second PowerPlus also leads on value for money, and despite costing less than £25, included a flexible shaft and stand. But a total of 40 accessories was the joint lowest offered, and they came in a simple plastic box. Like the X1340, we found the manual lacked depth. However, the 135W motor spun impressively from 8,000 to 32,500rpm and although less powerful than its sibling, it was smoother and quieter. The 35 seconds to cut the bolt wasn’t bad for the power and it worked well on the aluminium.

Rotary multitools tested

Dave Pollard

A ROTARY multitool has become the equivalent of the Swiss Army Knife for the DIY motorist. It is less cumbersome than a conventional drill, which struggles where space is tight, while you can shape, engrave, grind, clean, sand, polish, sharpen and cut and drill all in one. We review here the more popular mains-powered tools, rather than cordless versions. While they all appear similar, there are differences in the accessories and attachments included, plus the outright performance. All featured spindle locks for easier tool-changing, but we think keyless chucks would be a better addition.



These all-rounders can do a range of DIY car jobs. We pick from eight


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.

How we tested them

Silverline ilverline Multi-Function RotaryTool 249765

Price: £16.88 Speeds: 10,000-32,000rpm Contact: Rating: ★★★

IN the box, there’s just the 135W tool itself and 45 accessories. However, the claimed speeds were more than adequate and the operation conventional, with a simple rotary speed control. We were surprised at the smoothness of its performance and it was pleasantly quiet. Better still, it happily cut through our 6mm bolt in 25 seconds. It’s worth considering for the price.

Draper Storm Force Rotary Multi-Tool Kit Price: £40.56 Speeds: 10,000-35,000rpm Contact: Rating: ★★★

DRAPER’S Storm Force really looked the part, with a soft-touch casing that made it comfortable to use. There were three collets but the 3.2mm one we needed was only suitable for the flexible shaft. In use, it worked well, although the rotary speed control was underneath the device. The bolt cutting time of 40 seconds was still beaten by the other 135W tools.

THE test concentrated on the key jobs for car work – drilling and polishing, cutting aluminium sheeting and timing how long it took to slice through a 6mm steel bolt. We compared the technical specs, including quoted speeds; a soft material needs a lower speed, so the difference between fastest and slowest is important. The number of consumables included was also factored in – wire brushes, grinding wheels, discs etc – but attachments (e.g. flexible drive) cost more, and so scored higher. Extras for home/garden use gained points for versatility, plus we took into account prices from online sources.

Verdict THE Sealey again blended price and performance to win, ahead of the highly featured but brutally potent PowerPlus X1340. Despite its price, the Dremel kit would be an excellent investment for serious users. 1. Sealey E5188 Multi-Purpose Rotary Tool set 2. PowerPlus 180W Multi Tool X1340 3. Dremel 4000 6/128 Platinum Edition

Clarke ke CRT40 40-piece RotaryTool Kit

Price: £35.98 Speeds: 17,500-33,500rpm Contact: 0115 956 5555, Rating: ★★★

WE really liked the Clarke’s clear instructions with lots of diagrams. It was well featured with both a flexi drive and telescopic stand, although the low 40 accessories just came in a plastic bag. Rated at 135W, the machine howled smoothly and dispatched the bolt in just 20 seconds. A lowest speed of 17,500rpm would limit its use on softer materials, though.

Rota acraft a RC 18 Variable V i bl Speed Mini RotaryTool Kit

Price: £29.99 Speeds: 8,000-18,000rpm Contact: 0845 057 9000, Rating: ★★

SUPPLIED in a neat aluminium case, this had the lowest max speed, although its compact size made it easy to handle. At only 18V, it required a heavy transformer. The 60 accessories came in a plastic box, but there were no attachments. The lack of power and speed was clear in the bolt-cutting test, where it took over three minutes to finish.

Special Issue 95

Buying cars

New and used buying advice




Got any car queries? @AE_Consumer

toyota Yaris Mk3

YoU tEll Us... Performance and comfort let down reliable supermini Good

2016 Results

Yaris Factfile

Years: 2011 to present Co2: 75g/km Fuel economy: 85.6mpg (1.5 Hybrid) Best options: Sat-nav, parking sensors, cruise control, lane-departure warning

Prices: From ÂŁ4,000 oVERAll sCoRE


Reliability build quality Running costs PeRfoRmance Road handling Ride quality ease of dRiving seat comfoRt PRacticality in-caR tech

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

150 120




39 89 53 120 98 103 106 122 112 96

99 th place

Not so Good

“MY hybrid Yaris is very fuel efficient, and I love how quiet it is.�

“I’M not impressed by the tech. The radio crackles and the sat-nav is very poor.�

“I like the look of it, and for a small car it comes with great safety features.�

“The interior has a poorquality feel. There’s a lot of plastic, too.�

“I don’t pay road tax and return about 65mpg in normal day-to-day driving.�

“The brake discs develop rust very quickly when left alone for a few days.�

“It’s a great car on the motorway; it feels like a much larger car.�

“My Yaris could have come with more kit, such as interior lights and electric door mirrors.�

“The 1.4 diesel is a good unit. The Yaris is economical and capable of overtaking.�

“The gearchange feels very stiff at times.�

“The Toyota is an easy car to drive every day.�

“The turning circle could be better for such a small car.�

“There’s surprisingly good boot space.�

“It’s a shame the car comes without a spare wheel.�

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


Mitsubishi misdiagnosis


Under the Consumer rights Act, any service has to be carried out with reasonable care and skill. To claim against the garage, you’d have to prove that these repairs were not necessary, nor part of a wider repair issue.

Q a

Q a

MY Mitsubishi Outlander broke down recently. The garage initially diagnosed the issue as a failed starter motor. After fitting a new part the car still didn’t work, so it installed a new battery. Now it suspects something else. Can I be compensated for the misdiagnosis? Ann Lloyd, E-mail

DPF putting me off diesel I’M keen for my next car to be a diesel, but I’m worried about the diesel particulate filter (DPF) clogging up because I cover only about 3,000 miles a year. What do you recommend? Michael Taylor, E-mail IT’S not so much an issue about low annual mileage, but rather about how long you drive once you’re on the road. Modern dPFs actively regenerate themselves as long as the engine temperature is up. If you take your car for a 20 to 30-minute drive every few weeks, that will prevent the filter from clogging up.

Is GAP cover worthwhile? I’M buying my next car on finance, and my dealer keeps asking me if I want to add Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) insurance. He thinks it’s a great idea, but I’m not convinced. Should I buy the cover? Andrew Foster, E-mail GAP insurance is well worth considering when buying in this way, because it will pay any outstanding finance if the car is written off or stolen. You’ll also be covered after the finance deal if you choose to buy the car outright.


Special Issue 97


Mercedes M-Class Mk2

BUYER’S GUIDE: Mercedes M-Class FROM £6,000 It’s costly to run, but SUV offers a lot for the cash Richard Dredge

THE world’s oldest car maker was no stranger to SUVs when it launched the original M-Class in 1998; its G-Wagen had already been in production for more than two decades. However, while the G-Wagen was accomplished in the rough, Mercedes needed a luxury SUV that could compete with rivals including Jeep and Land Rover. The result was the US-built M-Class, or ML, which proved a disappointment in many ways, from the build quality to the driving experience. So when an all-new version arrived in 2005, expectations were high – and this time Mercedes didn’t disappoint. The Mk2 M-Class has stood the test of time pretty well, but there can be pitfalls when buying; here’s how to find a good one.


CODENAMED by Mercedes as the W164 model, the second-generation ML was launched in the UK in September 2005. Initially there were ML 350 and ML 500 petrol cars and an ML 320 CDI diesel, but by spring 2006 an ML 280 CDI had arrived; both diesels displaced 3.0 litres, but from July 2006 there was also an ML 420 CDI with a 4.0-litre V8 diesel engine (rebadged ML 450 CDI from May 2009). At the same time the 507bhp ML 63 AMG went on sale; it could sprint from 0-62mph in five seconds. Of more real-world relevance was the facelift that the ML received in autumn 2008. This brought fresh bumpers and lights and upgraded interior trim, along with extra standard equipment, including a much-improved multimedia system and anti-whiplash head restraints.

Which one?

PETROL-engined M-Classes are rare, but you get more for your money if you take this route. The problem is the high running costs, although converting to LPG can cut these significantly. All M-Classes come

with a seven-speed automatic gearbox; there was no manual option. Although Mercedes was generous with equipment, lengthy options lists mean it’s worth pinning down the exact spec of any potential purchase. We’d also find a car with air suspension; it improves the ride and handling balance, plus refinement. There were three trim levels. Standard cars get climate and cruise control, folding mirrors and powered windows. SE adds leather upholstery, electrically adjustable front seats and posher trim. Sport brings bigger wheels, and sportier seats and trim.


THE Range Rover provides a sense of occasion that the Mercedes can’t match, but running costs can be very high due to big repair bills. The same applies to the Range Rover Sport, which is better to drive but more costly than an equivalent M-Class. Porsche’s Cayenne and the BMW X5 are also great to drive, but again they’re pricier to buy and run. And while the Jeep Grand Cherokee doesn’t have the Mercedes’ build quality, it’s brilliant off road and relatively cheap to buy – if not to run. The Volkswagen Touareg is well equipped and comfortable, and has an excellent cabin and some superb enginess, while the Lexus RX 450h is superbly built, amazingly refined and generously equipped, although not so great to drive.


MERCEDES really dropped the ball with the original M-Class, but the second take on the formula was a huge improvement. It I was so much better that the firm perhaps should have given it a different name. Now that the newest Mk2 M-Class is five years old, values have dropped. However, although reliability tends to be good, running costs can be high because of p. steep parts prices, so look before you leap.


THE M-Class has never appeared in our Driver Power satisfaction survey because it doesn’t sell in big enough numbers. Yet contemporary Mercedes models generally ranked well; the C-Class came 15th and the E-Class finished an impressive seventh place in the 2011 poll, for example.


KEVIN Fearnley from Manchester owns a 2008 ML 320 CDI. He said: “It makes a great tow car – it’s powerful with excellent brakes. But fuel consumption is high and I’ve had issues with the air suspension, gearbox and some of the electrics.”

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sy to liv live e PREMIUM materials, excellent switchgear and a clear layout make the M-Class easy ce is up with. Throw in a big cabin with room for five and you’re on to a winner. Boot space p ’re folded. there with the best, too, at 833 litres with the rear seats up or 2,050 when they’re

www.autoe p k

Mercedes M-Class Mk2

0-62mph/top speed

Running costs


30mpg (ML 320 CDI)




9.3 seconds/126mph

How much? 61

Own a second-hand car in great condition and want it featured in an Auto Express buyer’s guide?Get in touch via

59 58 07 55






N/A £22,250 N/A £15,795 N/A £19,500 £20,405

£11,395 £17,595 £12,995 £13,450 £12,995 £15,995 £17,395

£10,195 £13,450 £10,995 N/A £11,795 N/A £15,595

£8,650 £11,295 £9,195 N/A £9,995 N/A N/A

£6,995 £9,250 £7,650 N/A £8,350 N/A N/A

Model ML 350 SE ML 500 Sport ML 280 CDI SE ML 300 CDI SE ML 320 CDI SE ML 350 CDI Sport ML 420/450 CDI Sport


Official Forums

Values courtesy of Glass’s Guide




THE cheapest M-Classes are down to £6,000 for an early ML 320 CDI that’s done at least 160,000 miles. Most of the cars available are ML 350 CDI editions, which start at £11,000 for a Sport model with around 120,000 miles. Most M-Classes have covered over 80,000 miles; cap the mileage at this and you can secure a 75,000mile 06-plate ML 320 CDI SE for £8,000, or for £12,000 a 57-plate (2007) ML 420 CDI with 60,000 miles – although these V8 diesels are rare. The newest cars can still command £24,000 for a low-mileage ML 350 CDI.

Running costs CO2 emissions

Annual road tax

24-25mpg 21-22mpg 28-30mpg 28-32mpg 30mpg 32mpg 25-26mpg 17mpg

275-279g/km 304-319g/km 249-260g/km 230-240g/km 249-260g/km 240g/km 292-294g/km 392g/km

£515 £515 £500-£515 £500 £515 £515 £515 £515



Under the rear seat is an electronic ontrol unit; spilled fluids (like drinks) co can wreak havoc with key functions.


All M-Classes came with five seats only; anybody wanting seven seats had to buy a GL-Class instead.


The air suspension is generally eliable, but can fail, so make sure the rel ar isn’t sitting low on just one corner. car

ML 350 ML 500 ML 280 CDI ML 300 CDI ML 320 CDI ML 350 CDI ML 420 CDI ML 63 AMG

Front seats

THE front seats can squeak and creak, especially when they’re not being sat in. Permanent fixes can prove frustratingly elusive.

40 49-50 38-42 42-43 38-44 44 47-49 50

EVERY M-Class needs to be serviced every 15,500 miles or 12 months, regardless of whether it’s petrol or diesel. Services alternate between minor and major, priced at £288.26 and £427.96, although monthly payment plans are available. There are no cambelts to change as the engines are chain-driven, but there is a V-belt that needs to be renewed every six years or 60,000 miles, at £139. Fresh brake fluid is required every two years (at £90) and the coolant every 10 years at £171. At 37,000 miles the transmission’s oil and filters should be renewed, and fuel filters need replacing after four years.

Tailgate woes

IF the electric tailgate isn’t perfectly aligned, the motors that power it can burn out because of the added strain. Repairs are costly.

Partwatch Dealer price

Independent price

£78.11 £339.94 £330.60* £33.13

£33.49 £177.98 £17.98** £21.08


Warning g ligh ghts

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

A DASH warning wa llight g illuminat nates if a bulb diies, but fail a to sseat the replaceme p ent bulb proper p perly and the warni ning light will stilll display. d

Prices for a 2011 ML 320 CDI. Dealer figures supplied by Mercedes Worcester ( Independent prices from *Price for offside mirror with auto dimming. **Price from


Trim q quality

www. ww auto p k

Vicky Dredge

TTHE E finishing ttriim around the t side e windows iis a blacck lacquer, which h flakes and the en peels off, and looks quite unsightly.

THE Mk2 ML has been recalled six times. The first affected all cars built up to October 2008, because the engine could shut down while driving. A loss of engine power was behind a November 2008 campaign; the automatic tailgate opening led to another in September 2009. Mercedes launched an action in January 2011 over potential fuel leaks, then in November 2012 and March and July 2013 due to a floor mat in the way of the throttle.

Special Issue 99

Insurance group

Fuel economy


Class toppers

TOP FIVE Best hatchbacks

Best buys Our pick of the most practical and efficient five-doors currently on the market

Vauxhall Astra

Years: 2015 to date Best engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl petrol, 104bhp Insurance group: 11 Economy/CO2: 67.3mpg/102g/km



WHY? Vauxhall managed to transform the venerable Astra from an also-ran into the best car in its class in one generation. The latest model doesn’t exactly look revolutionary from the outside, but it’s lighter, more efficient and better to drive than ever before. Factor in a spacious and high-quality cabin, as well as some impressive technology – including the OnStar concierge system, which can do everything from supply destinations for your sat-nav to call the emergency services after an accident – and the Astra is a really complete package. Our pick of the range has to be the punchy, smooth and efficient 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol version.

From £15,915 (new)

Renault Mégane

Years: 2016 to date Best engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl diesel, 108bhp Insurance group: 15 Economy/CO2: 76.3mpg/96g/km




WHY? Renault’s brand revamp began with the Kadjar SUV and has continued with the new Mégane. Striking exterior looks give it more presence than anything else here, while the interior is more upmarket than ever. The brand has prioritised comfort over handling, so rivals are still sharper to drive, but it runs the Vauxhall close with its refinement, practicality and efficiency.

From £17,200 (new)


Years: 2013 to date Best engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl diesel, 113bhp Insurance group: 15 Economy/CO2: 70.6mpg/107g/km WHY? Auto Express’s Car of the Year back in 2013, the Leon has now been usurped by two newer arrivals. But it remains a very appealing buy, thanks to sharp styling, an interior that’s well made and easy to use (if slightly bland), plus decent levels of practicality. It’s also fun to drive, with sharp handling and willing engines, although the ride is a little firm at times.

From £17,295 (new)


Skoda Octavia

Years: 2013 to date Best engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 113bhp Insurance group: 15 Economy/CO2: 68.9mpg/106g/km WHY? If you’re more interested in practicality than style, then the Octavia is the car for you. It sits on the same underpinnings as the SEAT and VW Golf, but is much bigger inside, with great space for passengers and a huge 590-litre boot. It’s also solidly built, comfortable and good to drive, so while the Skoda is short on character and fun, it still ticks plenty of boxes.

From £17,055 (new)

Mazda 3

Years: 2013 to date Best engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 148bhp Insurance group: 23 Economy/CO2: 68.9mpg/107g/km



WHY? With its bold looks, sharp handling, solid build quality and upmarket interior, the latest Mazda 3 has really taken the fight to rivals. The brand’s excellent SkyActiv technology is standard across the range and even entry-level models are well equipped as standard. On top of that, the 3 is an engaging car to drive in nearly all conditions, with strong grip and nimble handling.

From £17,095 (new) For more of our top cars, visit

100 Special Issue


Used twin test

A cut above the rest?

We take our pick from two high-riding, high-quality petrol SUVs on the second-hand market Futuristic design continues inside NX; it’s solid, too

Classy interior gives the Q5 a premium feel

Lexus NX

Audi Q5

25.5mpg (on test)

29.5mpg (on test)

£71 fill-up

£89 fill-up

Lexus NX 200t F Sport

Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI S line Plus

Years: 2014 to date Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 235bhp Ins grp: 38 Official econ/CO2: 35.8mpg/183g/km Why? Sharp looks are a strong point for the NX, but we’d skip this thirsty 200t in favour of a 300h hybrid.

Years: 2009 to 2016 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 222bhp Ins grp: 30 Official econ/CO2: 39.2mpg/168g/km Why? Audi Q5 is better to drive than its rival here, and it’s cheaper to run as well. We’d pick the diesel, though.

Prices from:


AUDI’s original Q5 was replaced last year, but it’s still a popular choice. Launched in 2009 and facelifted in 2012, this mid-sized SUV offers a premium feel and solid build quality inside, while the brand’s trademark quattro four-wheel drive was standard on every model. All versions of the Q5 are composed and capable on the road, regardless of whether you’re in town or on the motorway, with good body control and well weighted steering. One thing you’ll notice with the Audi is that the ride is a little firm, but the suspension does handle bumps without major problems. The 2.0-litre petrol model here can’t match the diesel versions for economy, but it manages 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds. It’s cheaper to buy than the Lexus, because it was in showrooms for longer, so you’re more likely to find a deal. Even though it had been on sale for seven years, the Mk1 Q5 ranked in our Driver Power 2016 satisfaction survey, finishing 87th. Owners praised its build quality, where it came 11th.

102 Special Issue

Prices from:

Audi impresses with its rear seat space, and while ride is a bit firm, the car is composed

1 ★★★★★ Audi Q5

THE Mk1 Q5 was a clear victor in this test. It’s getting on a bit, but still has first-rate build quality, and it’s better to drive than the NX, with greater cruising comfort and tidier handling in corners.

Sloping roofline eats into rear headroom in Lexus. It’s smooth at speed, but controls are vague


Lexus NX


THAT turbo petrol engine in the NX 200t isn’t the most responsive performer, while the vague chassis and steering mean the Lexus just isn’t very sporty to drive. An NX 300h is a better buy.


THE Lexus NX is a radical-looking SUV which is available with a turbo petrol engine or as a petrol/electric hybrid. Its appeal lies in the space-age styling and Lexus’s brand image, but the NX is also very refined on the move. Featuring bold styling and an upmarket interior, the NX certainly stands out from the crowd. The quality on show is impressive, with plush materials and soft-touch surfaces throughout. The option of a hybrid drivetrain further sets it apart in the premium SUV class. While the ride is comfortable on the motorway, the suspension feels firm around town, and the light controls deliver very little feedback. The 235bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is punchy, although it’s not the most responsive. It’s better used for relaxed cruising than spirited driving, but if that’s your intention the 300h model is a better bet. Owners do love their NXs though, ranking it 17th in Driver Power 2016, plus the car was voted number one for build quality in our poll.


All the action from the world of motorsport

Stephen Errity

TOYOTA aims to step up the pressure on Porsche this year in a bid to make up for its devastating penultimate-lap retirement while leading Le Mans last June. The Japanese brand has announced that it’ll enter three hybrid LMP1 cars at both the 24 Hours itself and the preceding six-hour World Endurance Championship event at Spa in Belgium, reverting to two cars for all the other WEC races. The previously rumoured signing of triple World Touring Car champion Jose Maria Lopez has also been confirmed, with the Argentinian driver joining Brit Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi in one car, while Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima crew the other. Veteran Frenchman Stephane Sarrazin steps back from a full-season campaign to race the third car, with his two co-drivers set to be announced at a later date. Team president Toshio Sato said last week: “Entering three cars for Spa and Le Mans represents a new challenge for our team. We are working hard to be prepared and we’re inspired to win. “I would also like to welcome Jose Maria; I’m confident he’ll fit in well as he is quick, intelligent and a strong team player.” Porsche will have just two cars at all WEC events including Le Mans, due to VW Group cutbacks related to the emissions scandal. Elsewhere, F1 race winner Robert Kubica is also confirmed for Le Mans and the WEC. It’ll be the Pole’s first full year of racing since the 2010 Formula One season with the Lotus (now Renault) team; he’s signed for the German ByKolles squad, which is the only privateer LMP1 entrant in 2017. In the LMP2 class, experienced Brazilian Rubens Barrichello is set to make his Le Mans debut, driving for a Dutch-backed team with Jan Lammers and Fritz van Eerd. Turning to the GT category, Ford will again mount a four-car attack at Le Mans, bringing its pair of US-based GTs over for the main

Three Toyotas for Le Mans 2017

■ WTCC champ Lopez joins squad ■ Barrichello, Kubica also on grid event in June to join the two full-season WEC cars. Highly rated Brazilian Pipo Derani joins Brits Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx in one entry, while the established trio of Olivier Pla, Stefan Mucke and Billy Johnson all stay with the team for 2017 in the other. At Aston Martin, Brit Jonny Adam gets a full WEC season with Darren Turner, while in the other Vantage, Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen will defend their 2016 class title. Ferrari and Porsche complete the GT lineup, with Corvette entered for Le Mans only.


WTCC ace Lopez (far left) joins Toyota; Barrichello and Kubica also set for Le Mans drives

Victory renews Ford WRC interest SEBASTIEN Ogier’s Rally Monte Carlo win could prompt Ford to rethink its approach to the World Rally Championship. The brand pulled the plug on its works rally team in 2012 and Fiesta WRCs have been built and run by M-Sport with backing from commercial sponsors since then. After Ogier’s win at the season opener, Ford Performance boss Dave Pericak told the championship’s official website: “We’re going to make this part of our plan going forward. We’re here having a look at it. “We work with [M-Sport boss] Malcolm Wilson – he’s doing a magnificent job and we’re going to figure out how we can continue to work with him in the future.” This weekend, the WRC heads to Sweden for the only full snow rally of the season.

112 Special Issue

Welshman Elfyn Evans gets airborne in Fiesta WRC on last year’s Rally Sweden

F1 still pushing for Halo in 2018 PLANS to introduce cockpit protection in Formula One are pushing on, despite the move being ruled out for 2017. The FIA is aiming to have a solution in place for 2018 instead, with a majority vote from teams required before 30 April this year for it to be implemented. However, the sport’s governing body could try to force the measure through on safety grounds, regardless of objections from vers. teams or drive The F1 grid is said to be split roughly 50:50 on the idea.


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Join the debate now...

BEST-known brand and badge on planet car? It has to be Ferrari and its prancing horse, no? Countless millions have grown up dreaming of owning one. And although rival firms have done their best to make products equally magical, aspirational and desirable, few – if any – have succeeded. A recently retired employee tells me demand outstripped supply to such an extent that customers for every Ferrari built could be found in a tiny corner of the world: California. These days, with growing armies of ‘new money’ clients, it’s safe to say Ferrari ‘sales’ execs have it easy. Less about selling products to buyers; more of customers being able to sell themselves to prove they are wealthy, Motoring’s most outspoken and worthy recipients of a prestigious model. opinionated columnist sounds off This year, Ferrari’s 70th, will be much like any other. Rich petrolheads who want the With an intentionally cars to drive them, celebs and wide boys craving attention, the mega-rich spoiling low annual production themselves, plus investors who don’t let the figure of around cars see the light of day will all be begging to 8,000 cars, Ferrari buy. With an intentionally low (circa 8,000) sits so comfortably annual production figure (800 UK-bound), the it needn’t try hard firm sits so comfortably it needn’t try hard. A current exec shakes his head when I suggest Ferrari might follow Bentley and Rolls into the SUV sector. His reaction to those who say complacency might be creeping in at the newlook, Sergio Marchionne-led brand? “Not guilty. Ferrari is the bullseye.” He welcomes Audi’s arrival on the supercar scene (with the R8), Honda’s return (new NSX) and McLaren’s latest 570S. They attract a new breed of two-seater customer – and many may well end up buying Ferraris. It’s not all rosy. How much confidence does the swaggering company have left in its troubled F1 team? Sebastian Vettel is one of the best, as he proved in Miami in January with another Race of Champions win. But he deserves much more than a floundering car and a lethargic team-mate. It needn’t and shouldn’t have been like this. I personally witnessed, at Maranello and elsewhere, how hard Michael Schumacher worked behind the scenes and on the front line at Ferrari. I cheekily suggested to former boss, Luca de Montezemolo, he should appoint Michael as his number two. Luca thanked me for my “super, super creative idea”, before adding it could and would never happen. True enough, as Luca has now been ousted from Ferrari, while Michael fights for his life. I wish the very best to both men... and to Ferrari as it celebrates 70 years.

Mike Rutherford

Do you agree with Mike?

Have your say at



issue DRIVEN

New Octavia

Updated Skoda looks sharper, but is it better to drive? We get behind wheel to find out


Rio vs rivals

All-new Kia supermini goes head-to-head with Volkswagen Polo and Suzuki Baleno


New Lexus IS vs Jaguar XE Revamped Japanese contender takes on class leader in compact exec battle

● News ● Product tests Drives ● Features & Sport

on sale

Wednesday 15 February Contents are subject to change

114 Special Issue


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