Paper driving licence to be scrapped from June 2015

Hiring a car after June 8? You’ll need a ‘special code’ from the DVLA

Paper driving licence to be scrapped from June 2015

The paper counterpart driving licence is being axed on June 8 – and organisations are warning that drivers will need a ‘special code’ from the DVLA to hire a car or drive a company vehicle.

Currently, penalty points are displayed on a driver’s counterpart licence, but from June 8 they’ll be recorded on a virtual record which can be accessed online, by phone or post.

Should you need proof of your driving history, motorists will need to get a code from the DVLA to pass on to their employer or hire car company.

This unique eight-digit code can be accessed online through the DVLA’s ‘share your licence’ service, or over the phone.

But the code only lasts for three days – leading to criticism that drivers might be stranded abroad unable to hire a car if they’re unable to contact the DVLA or are simply unaware of the changes.

From June 8, the DVLA is telling motorists to destroy their paper licences as they’ll no longer be valid, but the AA is suggesting otherwise.

AA president Edmund King said: “Not all car rental companies, or indeed traffic police abroad, will be aware of the changes, so a ‘belt and braces’ approach of also taking the counterpart might help.”

James May orders Ferrari 458 Speciale – then Clarkson punches a producer

James May orders Ferrari 458 Speciale – then Clarkson punches a producer

James May orders Ferrari 458 Speciale – then Clarkson punches a producer

James May has revealed that he ordered a Ferrari 458 Speciale to celebrate being on the brink of a new three-year contract with the BBC, before Jeremy Clarkson’s ‘fracas’ ruined it all.

In his column for the Sunday Times, May said the Top Gear trio were about to sign a new contract with a handsome salary, so he decided to treat himself to a new Ferrari.

The star has previously owned two Ferraris, but both were bought secondhand, and this time he wanted to buy brand new, in his specification.

In his column, May said order books for the last naturally-aspirated mid-engined V8 Ferrari were now closed, but the manufacturer agreed to build one more for the Top Gear presenter.

After agreeing to buy one of the last models of the 458, which is soon to be replaced by the turbocharged 488 GTB, May went to Yorkshire to film the last episode of the latest Top Gear series – and ‘everything in the future shattered like the mishandled Christmas bauble’.

Following the incident, May headed to Ferrari’s Maranello factory to specify his dream car. Concerned they might smell a rat following talks of a ‘tastefully austere 458 Speciale’, he opted for a stripe that ‘costs almost exactly the same as a basic Dacia Sandero’, along with luxuries including sat nav, reversing camera and a nose-lift system for speed bumps.

Admitting ‘there’s a cash-flow issue’, May said his order for an exotic Ferrari worth over £200,000 wasn’t a ‘financial disaster’ – more an ‘investment’.

He said: “I could resell it immediately and get my money back, maybe even more.”

The unemployed ex-Top Gear presenter quashed rumours that he, Hammond and Clarkson along with producer Andy Wilman were in talks over a new car show on a different channel.

May added: “Nobody yet knows what is going to happen in the future of Top Gear or its three former presenters. That is the honest truth, despite what you may have read elsewhere. No one has even arrived at a definitive pronunciation of “fracas” yet, so what chance is there that we’d have rescued our careers?”

Aston Martin Britcar 2015

Aston Martin wins Britcar 24 Hours at Silverstone

Aston Martin Britcar 2015The Beechdean Aston Martin Vantage GT4 won the Britcar Dunlop 24 Hour race at Silverstone this weekend after completing 529 laps of the British Grand Prix circuit.

Further success for Aston Martin saw a total of three Vantage GT4s finish in the top 5; the Speedworks Motorsport entry finished fourth and the works #36 car come home fifth.

The latter factory entry was actually driven by Aston Martin’s CEO Dr. Andy Palmer and chief creative officer Marek Reichman, paired with racer Alice Powell and motoring journalist Andrew Frankel.

Dr. Palmer said: “It was a fabulous weekend. My main aim was to understand how a race team works as it’s so intrinsic to our brand. It was of unbelievable proportions with every season imaginable.”

The factory car was a genuine factory entry too, engineered by workers from the Aston Martin Special Projects division that normally works on cars such as the Vantage GT12 and Vulcan.

David King, director of Special Projects commented: “This is a remarkable achievement for the team that specialises not in racing but in designing and building Aston Martin road and track cars.

“They brought with them years of experience in producing world-class sportscars and leave with invaluable data and knowledge for future development.”

Powell added: “The car’s been absolutely outstanding and with three Astons in the top five, it doesn’t get much better. The guys have done an outstanding job and for the level of experience they have, they’ve done brilliantly.”

The team will be out again in less than a month, too: the next big race for Aston Martin is the Nurburgring 24 Hours, on 16-17 May.

Land Rover Discovery Sport Ingenium

New engines already for Land Rover Discovery Sport

Land Rover Discovery Sport IngeniumLand Rover has replaced the SD4 engine in the Discovery Sport with all-new Ingenium TD4 engines – just a year after launch.

The arrival of the Wolverhampton-built 2.0-litre TD4 Ingenium engine range sees fuel economy improve dramatically, with a similarly striking reduction in CO2 emissions.

Offered in both 150hp and 180hp guise, the TD4 Ingenium engine replaces the current 2.2-litre SD4 190 motor; in base TD4 150 guise, it averages 57.7mpg and emits 129g/km CO2 – a massive 25% rise over the 46.3mpg and 162g/km CO2 of the current SD4 190.

These TD4 150 models will carry blue ‘Sport’ badges on the rear, denoting E-Capability status.

Jaguar Land Rover Ingenium engine

The 180hp version is almost as impressive, averaging 53.3mpg and emitting 139g/km CO2.

Land Rover also offers a nine-speed automatic version of the TD4 180 motor: this ups fuel economy and emissions from 44.8mpg and 166g/km CO2 for the current SD4 190, to the same 53.3mpg and 139g/km of its manual sibling.

Price unchanged – AND lowered

Murray Dietsch, Director of Land Rover Programmes, said: “Land Rover’s new family of Ingenium engines is truly class leading. By introducing it to the Discovery Sport, we can now offer enhanced fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions, while improving overall performance.”

The new TD4 180 engine is price-matched to the current SD4 190 motor, so prices will start at £32,395.

The TD4 150 engine is a new lower-power addition to the range and comes with a lower entry price of £30,695. This model will only have five seats though, instead of the 5+2 of all other Discovery Sport.

Ingenium engines will replace the aged SD4 motor in all Euro 6 markets from September 2015 – exactly a year after the 2014 Paris Motor Show launch of the Discovery Sport.

Martin Winterkorn and Ferdinand Piech

Ferdinand Piech resigns as Volkswagen Group chairman

Martin Winterkorn and Ferdinand PiechFerdinand Piech has abruptly resigned as chairman of the Volkswagen Group after openly criticising his CEO Martin Winterkorn.

In a Volkswagen Group statement, it was announced that “Professor Dr. Ferdinand K. Piëch has resigned with immediate effect from his position as Chairman of the Supervisory Board and from all his mandates as a Supervisory Board member within the Volkswagen Group”.

His wife Ursula has also resigned.

The executive committee of the supervisory board of Volkswagen Group – which, as per German business practice, oversees the main management board – today met to discuss what it described as “the situation”.

Its conclusion? “The members of the Executive Committee have unanimously determined that in view of the background of the last weeks the mutual trust necessary ‎for successful cooperation no longer exists.”

Deputy chairman Berthold Huber will temporarily assume Piech’s chairmanship.

Piech’s Porsche roots

Piech is the son of Louise, the daughter of Ferdinand Porsche. A brilliant engineer, he joined Porsche after studying mechanical engineering and, after designing a five-cylinder engine for Mercedes-Benz in the interim, moved to Audi and pushed through models such as the 80, 100 and Ur Quattro.

He succeeded Carl Hahn as chairman of Volkswagen AG, turning around the company and its constituent brands. Audi, for example, developed from a German curio into one of the world’s largest premium car brands under his leadership.

Piech also ‘engineered out’ executives that he deemed failures: Berndt Pischetsreider of Volkswagen and Wendelin Wiedeking of Porsche were all hugely successful industry leaders who nevertheless fell under Piech’s watch.

In a statement, Porsche holding company Porsche SE said: “We have full confidence in the board of management of Volkswagen Group and we deeply regret the developments of the last few days.

“We thank Ferdinand Piëch for his decades of extraordinary and highly successful service to the Volkswagen Group. Our great loyalty to the Volkswagen Group and its 600,000 employees remains unchanged and we assume our responsibility as a principal shareholder.”

Fiat 500X review: 2015 UK first drive

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Fiat pumps up the 500 to create the 500X and may have created the best small crossover in the process.

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith | April 2015

The Fiat 500X is proof that you can make a silk purse out of a silk purse. It was always questionable how many hip and trendy 500 owners would actually want to upscale to the overtly mumsy and aesthetically-challenged 500L, but in the new crossover, Fiat has a good chance of keeping hold of these loyal customers.

And what a customer base it is. Even now – some seven years after the 500 was launched in the UK – sales continue to rise. Last year, Fiat sold 44,005 units, making it the most successful year ever. By the end of the year, Fiat expects to break the quarter of a million mark. If only 10% of these owners go on to buy a 500X, Fiat will be on to a good start.

If you’re one of the 30,000 or so Fiat 500 owners who are coming to the end of your PCP agreement in 2015, be prepared for some heavy targeting. Fiat reckons it can convince 10% of you to order a new 500X. Not that you’ll need much convincing. In the 500X, has a genuinely impressive, potentially sector-leading crossover. It really is that good.

Of course, the Fiat 500X shares more in common with the new Jeep Renegade than it does the 500 city car, but the designers deserve great credit for managing to migrate the 500’s cutesy looks into something altogether larger. As Fiat proved with the 500L and 500MPW, this isn’t an easy task. Not only does the 500X look good, it also hides its dimensions rather well.

For a car that measures 4250mm in length and 1600mm in width, the 500X actually looks much smaller. It’s not until you see it alongside a more familiar car from the B or C segments that you realise just how big the 500X is. This translates into a sizeable cabin, but more on that later.

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By the time the Fiat 500X is up to its full quota of variants later this year, buyers will be faced with a bewildering array of six engines, three transmissions and three different ways of applying power to the road. Tellingly, such is the nature of this fast-growing segment, Fiat outlined the various options, before moving on to the “most important” aspect of the 500X – the infotainment system. Whether it is the most important consideration is up for debate, but you suspect it sits high up on the list of priorities for the typical crossover buyer.

What’s the Fiat 500X like to drive?

Conditions were perfect for the launch of the Fiat 500X. The combination of the majestic Longleat House, the roads surrounding the estate and some unseasonably warm weather meant the crossover could have no excuses if it didn’t deliver. Fortunately it did, but there are a couple of reservations.

Existing Fiat 500 owners will feel right at home in the 500X as it feels every inch the grown-up city car. For absolute driving pleasure – and the closest in spirit to the 500 – you should opt for the 1.4-litre MultiAir petrol engine and switch the Drive Mood Selector to Sport.

The steering weights up nicely and the car feels more playful and alive. It’ll spin its wheels for fun in first and second gear and you’ll have to tussle with the meaty steering wheel to keep within the white lines. Some buyers won’t like this, in which case they can opt for the diesel-engined and/or four-wheel-drive versions, which feel decidedly more mature.

But hopefully the 500 owners will embrace this sense of fun. It’s more in keeping with the 500 brand and feels less like admitting you’re approaching the land of pipe and slippers. Fiat calls the typical buyers ‘spirited adventurers’, although Jeep told us the same about the Renegade. We suspect Renault, Citroen, Nissan and MINI are also chasing the same buyers, although with the segment attracting 50,000 new customers a year, there is plenty of pie to go around.

In all cases, the 500X corners flat and there’s barely a hint of body roll. Sure, the steering could offer more feedback, but will buyers in this segment really care? It also rides well, even on optional 17-inch alloy wheels, with only the most pitted of Wiltshire and Somerset roads managing to unsettle the car. Curiously, it’s the low-speed ride comfort that comes in for the most criticism, potentially making town driving a bit of a pain.

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On the plus side, the six-speed manual gearbox is smooth and satisfying, with the oversized round gear knob a delight to hold. The optional nine-speed transmission is – for the majority of the time – smooth, but it can feel laboured and you’ll find it hunting for the right gear. It’s especially noticeable when traveling downhill or when exiting a corner.

But it’s hard to find any serious cause to complain about how the 500X drives. You sit ‘in’ the car, as opposed to ‘on’ it and there’s plenty of scope for adjustment in the steering wheel and seat. It’s just shame the seats don’t offer more in the way of support.

So is the Fiat 500X the best in the segment?

Sticking our necks out here, we’re tempted to say yes, the Fiat 500X is the best in its class. To us it feels like the Fiat 500 has finished school, been through college and has turned into a fun-loving and well-rounded 20-something. It offers the charm of the C4 Cactus and Captur, the bold styling of the Juke and the premium-feel of the Countryman.

Take the interior, which looks and feels like a bigger and more grown-up version of what you’ll find in the 500 city car. From the chunky steering wheel to the well-positioned 6.5-inch infotainment screen, the 500X provides plenty of subtle, but not overly done, hints of the 500.

It’s also spacious, with enough headroom and legroom in the back for adult passengers. The generous amount of room in the back does come at the expense of boot space, which at 350 litres is hardly class-leading. The high boot lip also means that you need to look elsewhere if load-lugging is high on your list of priorities.

Further criticisms include the cheap-feeling leather on the door cards, some scratchy plastics below eye-level, hard-as-nails head restraints and poor rearward visibility. But the 500X does enough things very well for it to be excused these minor indiscretions.

Crucially, Fiat reckons the 500X will hold its value better than all the other cars in the segment – even the MINI Countryman. Given the strength and appeal of the 500 brand, it’s not hard to imagine this being correct. Time will tell.

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Verdict: Fiat 500X (2015)

We really like the Fiat 500X. It manages to succeed where the Jeep Renegade fails by offering a feel-good-factor and not relying on quirky ‘Easter Egg’ details to ram its message home. Fiat has created a car that enhances the 500 brand, rather than exploits it.

You may have a tough job choosing the right car for you – the range of options is longer than a list of pizza toppings at your local trattoria. Woodya like-a this petrol engine? Or that petrol engine? Diesel? Diesel with four-wheel drive? Manual? Automatic? Twin-clutch transmission? How about the trim – Pop, Pop Star, Lounge, Cross or Cross Plus?

And that’s before you consider the 12 different body colours and eight alloy wheels. Or even the range of personalisation options. Good luck to the dealers who will be tasked with simplifying this for the customers.

There won’t be a shortage of customers. The Fiat 500X is a great car that’s entering a market that’s continuing to grow. It deserves to succeed.

Rivals

1. Citroen C4 Cactus

2. Renault Captur

3. Nissan Juke

4. MINI Countryman

5. Vauxhall Mokka

Right now, we’d put the 500X at the top of the tree. The Cactus trumps it when it comes to quirkiness, but neither that or the Juke can offer the same amount of space in the back. Subjectively, the 500X also looks better than the Captur and is likely to offer better residual values. It also shows MINI that you can put a small car through the photocopier, increase its size and come out with something visually appealing at the other side.

Specification: Fiat 500X

Engines (at launch) 1.4-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol and 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel

Gearbox Six-speed manual and nine-speed automatic transmission

Prices at launch £17,595 – £25,845

Power 120-140hp

Torque 169-258lb ft

0-62mph 9.8-10.5 seconds

Top speed 116-118mph

MPG 47.1-68.9mpg

CO2 109-144g/km

2015 Mazda MX-5

2015 Mazda MX-5 to cost from £18,495

2015 Mazda MX-5

Mazda has announced its new MX-5 will start at £18,495 – with UK deliveries starting later this year.

As standard, the entry-level SE model is powered by the 131hp 1.5-litre engine with a six-speed manual gearbox, air-con, heated door mirrors and an FM radio with auxiliary input and iPod connectivity.

The SE-L (£19,245) gets additional speakers in the driver’s headrest, climate control and DAB radio, as well as a 7-inch infotainment screen and cruise control.

We reckon the £20,095 2.0-litre SE-L could be the sweet spot, though. As well as the 160hp Skyactiv petrol engine, it also gets 17-inch gunmetal alloy wheels and a limited-slip diff.

Sport versions (starting at £21,845) get heated leather seats, a premium Bose sound system and rear parking sensors, while the 2.0-litre Sport (£22,695) gets sports suspension featuring Bilstein dampers.

The MX-5 will make its UK debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in June, and customers who have pre-ordered the new model will have a chance of winning a drive up the hill and access to Mazda’s VIP enclosure.

Mazda Motors UK managing director, Jeremy Thomson, said: “The MX-5 is Mazda’s brand icon and it embodies all that is great about our products. Its fun-to-drive character has strengthened the bond between Mazda and its customers for 25 years, so there’s no better place to showcase the all-new MX-5 than in front of the enthusiastic crowd at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.”

The new model is the lightest MX-5 since the original was launched in 1990. At the time, the 115hp 1.6-litre cost £14,249 – equivalent to over £30,000 in today’s money.

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer – 2015 first drive

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer – 2015 first drive

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer – 2015 first drive

BMW’s first seven-seat MPV is class-leading. But class-leading doesn’t come cheap.

Tim Pitt | April 2015

We Brits love a premium brand, especially when it comes to cars. That’s why the BMW 3 Series now outsells the Ford Mondeo, and why mainstream marques such as Renault are struggling for sales.

However, the concept of a premium people carrier is an odd one. These resolutely practical vehicles are usually bought to serve a purpose – carrying as many passengers as possible – rather than as status symbols.

Don’t underestimate the power of the BMW brand, though. Remember, this is the company that brought us the X6, a 4×4 coupe that was derided at launch but has since been widely imitated. It anybody can make a seven-seat MPV appealing, it’s the team from Bavarian Motor Works.

A practical, premium package

A practical, premium package

The 2 Series Gran Tourer is essentially a stretched version of BMW’s Active Tourer, with 110mm of extra in the wheelbase and a longer rear overhang. The total length of the car is 4556mm.

While other markets can opt for a five-seat Gran Tourer, seven pews are standard in the UK. The second row isn’t split into three individual seats (as in some MPVs), but the bench splits and folds in a 40/20/40 configuration. It’s just about wide enough for three adults to sit abreast.

Alternatively, one of BMW’s static display cars had three child seats installed on the second row – the outer pair via Isofix mountings and the middle one using a seatbelt. Thus you could potentially carry three young children, and have space for a couple of buggies in the boot.

To climb into the third row seats, you pull a lever on the second-row backrest. This folds and slides the bench forward – an easy, one-touch operation.

The rearmost seats are a snug fit for adults, and uncomfortable for anybody over 5ft 10in. But they’re well suited to children, with cupholders, cubbyholes and a 12v socket for the all-important iPad or games console. There’s further stowage space in the hinged compartments under the front seats and underneath the second-row chairs.

The rearmost seats lie flat when not in use and you can fold the second row from the boot at the press of a button. A one-touch electric tailgate is standard on all Gran Tourers, or you can opt for a hands-free sensor – just wiggle your foot under the rear bumper and the boot magically pops open.

With all rear seats folded, luggage space is a cavernous 1,905 litres, more than any BMW ever made. However, it’s disappointing to see that the second-row seats don’t fold completely flat, making it harder to slide in bulky items such as flatpack furniture.

What is the Gran Tourer like to drive?

What is the Gran Tourer like to drive?

So, we’ve established the Gran Tourer is practical. What is it like to drive?

Well, you may remember the furore when the Active Tourer was launched last year. It was based on the Mini Countryman platform and, as such, was the first BMW with front-wheel drive.

Enthusiasts across the land foamed at the mouth and declared that BMW had lost its way. But the fact is that an MPV was never going to be the ‘ultimate driving machine’ (BMW’s former ad tagline) anyway. The Active Tourer drove well for a people carrier and so, unsurprisingly, does the Gran Tourer.

The first thing you notice is that you sit lower than in many other MPVs. The driving position feels snug and reasonably sporty, as befits a BMW. And the ergonomics are excellent, particularly with the optional head-up display, which projects your speed, the speed limit of the road and any sat nav directions into your line of sight.

On the move, the steering feels well-weighted and offers good feedback about what those front wheels are doing. It was difficult to properly assess ride comfort on Croatia’s billiard-table-smooth roads, but it’s clear that M Sport-spec cars are noticeably firmer. Thank stiffer suspension and larger 18in alloy wheels.

The BMW comes with a choice of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines. The petrol line-up at launch comprises 136hp 218i and 192hp 220i. If you prefer diesel, there’s 116hp 216d, 150hp 218d and 192hp 220d.

We started in the rorty 220i petrol (from £28,025), which uses the same 2.0-litre engine as the Mini Cooper S. It’s brisk – 0-62mph takes 7.9 seconds – and fun to drive, although 44.1mpg economy means it won’t be especially popular. The 1.5-litre 218i (from £24,710) is a more sensible choice.

We also sampled the 220d diesel, the only Gran Tourer to come as standard with BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive. This range-topping model is refined, quick (0-62 in 7.8 secs), and reasonably efficient (57.6mpg).

For people who want all-weather traction but don’t need off-road ability, the 220d xDrive feels like a genuine alternative to a 4×4. However, it’s not cheap, at £32,540 – and that’s before you delve into BMW’s long and expensive options list.

What do you get for your money?

 

What do you get for your money?

To be fair, the Gran Tourer isn’t badly equipped as standard. Gone are the days when BMW made you pay extra for a radio.

The entry-level SE has all the equipment you really need, including sat nav, two-zone air conditioning, 16in alloy wheels, electric mirrors and a DAB radio.

Upgrading to Sport adds 17in alloys and sports seats, while Luxury comes with leather upholstery and smatterings of chrome trim. Finally, there’s M Sport, with 18in alloys, lower suspension and a bodykit.

Extra-cost options include an (excellent) eight-speed automatic gearbox, LED headlights, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, and heated seats.

 

Verdict: BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer

Verdict: BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer

Has BMW pulled it off, then? Is the Gran Tourer a genuinely premium people carrier?

We think it is. In terms of driving dynamics and build quality, it’s unquestionably one of the best vehicles in the class. It even looks like a BMW, albeit a rather boxy and frumpy one.

Unfortunately, it also comes at a premium price. BMW charges £2,560 extra for the Gran Tourer over the equivalent Active Tourer and it’s easy to splash out well in excess of £30,000.

For that kind of cash, we think most buyers will prefer the more aspirational 3 Series Touring estate car or X3 4×4. But, if seven seats are a must, the Gran Tourer lives in a niche of its own.

Rivals: BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer

  • Mercedes-Benz B-Class
  • Volkswagen Touran
  • Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
  • Kia Carens
  • Ford C-Max

If you’re set on a premium brand, the 2 Series Gran Tourer has no direct rivals. The Mercedes-Benz B-Class is only offered with five seats, and BMW’s other seven-seater, the X5 4×4, is larger and much more expensive.

Put badge snobbery to one side, though, and the Gran Tourer has plenty of competition. Volkswagen’s forthcoming new Touran is likely to impress, while the quirky Citroen Grand C4 Picasso offers more space for less money.

The Kia Carens is also a strong value-for-money contender, especially when you factor in its seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty. And the Ford Grand C-Max provides similar driver enjoyment, along with practical sliding rear doors.

Specification: BMW 220d xDrive Gran Tourer

Engine 2.0-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder

Gearbox eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive

Price £32,540

Power 190hp

Torque 295lb/ft

0-62mph 7.8 seconds

Top speed 135mph

MPG 57.6mpg

CO2 129g/km

Top Gear

Top Gear producer Andy Wilman quits show

Top Gear

Top Gear producer Andy Wilman has quit the show a month after the ‘fracas’ that led to Jeremy Clarkson being sacked from the BBC.

Wilman, an old friend of Clarkson, worked with the star to rejuvenate Top Gear when it was on the brink of being axed in 2002.

The result was an entertainment show watched by millions and sold to 214 territories worldwide.

A leaked email from Wilman following Clarkson’s sacking suggested he was resigning – but the producer later denied that was the case.

In the email, Wilman said: “For those of you who still rely on it for work, don’t worry, because the BBC will make sure the show continues. Our stint as guardians of Top Gear was a good one, but we were only part of the show’s history, not the whole of it. Those two words are bigger than us.”

The producer was reportedly seen plotting with the Top Gear trio yesterday, after James May said the show ‘wouldn’t be the same’ without Clarkson.

May said: “Me and Hammond with a surrogate Jeremy is a non-starter, it has to be three of us.”

It’s been rumoured that the show will return elsewhere – with Netflix thought to be in pole position.

The threesome will be taking part in a live show later this year, renamed ‘Clarkson, Hammond and May Live’.

The BBC has said the show will continue without Clarkson – but it has not be confirmed who will be replacing him.

Mitsubishi hits out at 'irresponsible' claims that MPG figures are misleading

Mitsubishi hits out at 'irresponsible' claims that MPG figures are misleading

Mitsubishi hits out at 'irresponsible' claims that MPG figures are misleading

Mitsubishi has responded to claims by Which? that manufacturers are misleading buyers with their MPG figures, admitting that the official test is ‘outdated’ and meant for ‘comparison purposes’ only.

Which? claimed that manufacturers use a number of loopholes that lead to unrealistic official MPG figures, with 98% of cars it tested failing to achieve the official fuel economy.

The organisation identified 17 cars that performed the worst compared to claimed figures – with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV apparently overstating its MPG by 120%.

But Mitsubishi Motors UK managing director Lance Bradley disputed the claims.

He said: “The current test regime for emissions and fuel consumption test is outdated and does the industry no favours but the suggestion that we in some way are misleading car buyers is well wide of the mark and irresponsible.”

All manufacturers are required to put their cars through a strict official test, called the NEDC (New European Drive Cycle). This has been around since the 1970s and, Mitsubishi says, makes no account of new plug-in hybrid technology.

As the Outlander PHEV can be driven under electric power alone, it can complete part of its journey (32.5 miles officially) without using any fuel. This affects the official fuel consumption tests.

If the vehicle is used mainly for lots of small journeys between charges it will use very little fuel, meaning it’ll be more efficient than the official 148mpg figure.

Alternatively, if it is used for long journeys without being charged, it’ll use considerably more fuel.

In a statement, the manufacturer said: “Even the 67.3 MPG suggested by Which? is good for a large 4×4 SUV like Outlander.

“Mitsubishi Motors UK has always made real life MPG very clear in its advertising and printed material. At the Outlander PHEV’s launch several top motoring magazines all reported on the ‘refreshing honesty’ with which the company had presented its real life MPG expectations.”

At last month’s Geneva Motor Show, Bradley told Motoring Research that the new ASX crossover, due next year, will be offered with a hybrid powertrain for the first time.