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 that manufacturers are misleading buyers with their MPG figures, admitting that the official test is ‘outdated’ and meant for ‘comparison purposes’ only.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He said: “The current test regime for emissions and fuel consumption test is outdated and does the industry no favours but the suggestion that we in some way are misleading car buyers is well wide of the mark and irresponsible.”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.

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The 20 best first cars

The 20 best first cars

The 20 best first carsIf you’re looking for your first car and you’re able to buy a new car, you’ve got some cracking models to choose from.

Young drivers looking for a cheap new car are spoilt for choice these days, because in recent years the biggest automotive strides have been made in the city car and supermini segments. As a result, the best small cars to buy are safer, quieter, more efficient and more highly equipped than ever before.

Haggle hard and new car discounts can be generous. Buy the right model with a long warranty and you should find that running costs are significantly lower than for a high-mileage used car that may regularly need cash spent on it. Throw in ultra-frugal engines and much higher levels of safety (one to set parents’ minds at rest) and there’s no doubt about it: if you can buy something new for your first car, your driving career is definitely starting on the right road.

Here, we run down the 20 best factory-fresh cars for new drivers, listed alphabetically in order of insurance group. Young driver insurance can be prohibitive but all the cars here have a low insurance group of 1, 2 or 3 – although there is a surprise at the end for three widely-regarded cars for new drivers…

The top 20 best first cars

1: Hyundai i10

The 20 best first cars: Hyundai i10

Prices start at: £8,705 (1.0 S)

Lowest insurance group: 1

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

A group 1 insurance rating car, the i10 is very well equipped even in base 1.0 S guise, the improbably roomy Hyundai i10 is an impressively sophisticated first car in its latest guise. Five doors are standard and although it doesn’t get a full five-star Euro NCAP crash test score, it is to the latest stricter standards so still fares well.

2: SEAT Mii

The 20 best first cars: SEAT Mii

Prices start at: £8,195 (1.0 S 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 1

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 5 stars

The SEAT Mii is a steal: to all intents, it’s a Volkswagen Up, just with a £600 lower list price. OK, it’s very basic (it lacks air con, for example), but the five-star Euro NCAP crash test score is standard and you can’t get a lower insurance group than this.

3: Skoda Citigo

The 20 best first cars: Skoda Citigo

Prices start at: £8,210 (1.0 S 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 1

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 5 stars

The Skoda costs just a few pounds more than the SEAT Mii and, for some, has a slightly cooler image. If this doesn’t steer you in its direction, maybe the locality of the dealer will – otherwise, it’s just like the Mii.

4: Volkswagen Up

The 20 best first cars: Volkswagen Up

Prices start at: £8,765 (1.0 Take Up 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 1

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 5 stars

For some, only the real thing will do. You pay more to get a Volkswagen badge but, because the used car market likes it too, it’ll retain more money – which might make the monthly finance payments similar to the SEAT and Skoda.

5: Dacia Sandero

The 20 best first cars: Dacia Sandero

Prices start at: £5,995 (1.2 Access)

Lowest insurance group: 2

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

You don’t need to be made of money to get a brand-new first car: the Dacia Sandero start from just £5,995. That’s less than some three-year old superminis! OK, it’s basic, but it’s still got a reassuring four-star Euro NCAP safety score, and has a three-year warranty. Stick a small deposit down and the finance monthly payments are minimal: clever stuff.

6: Fiat Qubo

The 20 best first cars: Fiat Qubo

Prices start at: £12,000 (1.4 Active)

Lowest insurance group: 2

Euro NCAP crash test rating: n/a

If your first car has to be big and distinctive, the boxy, blocky Fiat Qubo might be for you: it’s called Qubo for a reason, y’know. OK, it’s a bit pricey, but not much is bigger for such a low insurance group. Embrace the leftfield?

7: Kia Rio

The 20 best first cars: Kia Rio

Prices start at: £10,345 (1.25 1)

Lowest insurance group: 2

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 5 stars

Kias have seven-year warranties: get this just after you pass your test and it’ll be good until your mid-20s. It’s able enough for you perhaps to consider keeping it for that long too: it’s certainly better value (and potentially cheaper to insure) than the Ford Fiesta it competes with for similar money.

8: Peugeot Partner Multispace

The 20 best first cars: Peugeot Partner Multispace

Prices start at: £13,285 (1.6 VTi Urban)

Lowest insurance group: 2

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 3 stars

The Fiat Qubo is massive, but if even that’s not big enough, how about the enormous Peugeot Partner Multispace? We’re amazed this massive beast has such a low insurance group – if you’re a committed dedicate driver, this’ll be a brilliant first car. Just remember to charge them all enough for petrol money – that 1.6-litre VTi’s a thirsty thing.

9: Renault Twingo

The 20 best first cars: Renault Twingo

Prices start at: £9,495 (1.0 Expression)

Lowest insurance group: 2

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

We love the rear-engined Renault Twingo. In its purest 1.0 Expression form, it’s at its best – you don’t need to spend more than this. Putting the engine in the back gives a parent-reassuring four-star Euro NCAP crash test score too.

10: Skoda Fabia

The 20 best first cars: Skoda Fabia

Prices start at: £10,600 (1.0 S)

Lowest insurance group: 2

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 5 stars

The Skoda Fabia virtually defines the perfect small car. Euro NCAP currently hasn’t tested a supermini that’s safer than this, which parents will love; it looks crisp, is great to drive and is swimming in space, which first-time drivers will welcome too. Highly recommended.

11: Vauxhall Adam Rocks

The 20 best first cars: Vauxhall Adam

Prices start at: £13,995 (1.2)

Lowest insurance group: 2

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

The Vauxhall Adam Rocks is a bit of an anomaly. All 1.2-litre Adams have a lowest insurance rating of three – except this one; because it doesn’t have a big glass sunroof and, presumably, a tougher and more impact-friendly body style, it gets a unique group 2 rating. Ideal first-time car stuff – provided you can afford it…

12: Vauxhall Corsa

The 20 best first cars: Vauxhall Corsa

Prices start at: £9,175 (1.2 Sting 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 2

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

A smarter buy to the Adam Rocks is the excellent Corsa Sting. OK, the engine isn’t all that hot, but it’s loaded with kit, looks great and drives way better than you’d ever believe. It’s really surprised us, the 2015 Corsa – you won’t feel stung if a Sting becomes your first car.

13: Fiat Panda

The 20 best first cars: Fiat Panda

Prices start at: £8,945 (1.2 Pop)

Lowest insurance group: 3

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

The pretty Fiat 500 has surprisingly high insurance ratings: the smart first car money is on its roomier, more practical five-door cousin, the Panda. For many, this is the cooler choice anyway – James May owns one too, if celebrity recommendation is important.

14: Ford Ka

The 20 best first cars: Ford Ka

Prices start at: £8,945 (1.2 Studio)

Lowest insurance group: 3

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

The Ford Ka is certainly cheap. And sold by the nation’s biggest dealer network. If you want a four-star Euro NCAP car that won’t cause too many headaches, it’s one choice. But there’s a far better one sitting next to it in the dealership…

15: Ford Fiesta

The 20 best first cars: Ford Fiesta

Prices start at: £10,195 (1.25 Studio 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 3

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 5 stars

The Ford Fiesta is Britain’s best-selling car for good reason: it’s brilliant. Even the base 1.25 Studio feels a million dollars to drive, and if this five-star Euro NCAP car is your first, prepare to be spoiled for life. It’s not the cheapest to insure, but it’s still one of the best out there.

16: Kia Picanto

The 20 best first cars: Kia Picanto

Prices start at: £8,345 (1.0 1 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 3

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

It’s odd that the little Kia Picanto drops into a lowest insurance group rating one higher than the bigger, better Rio. Still, the Picanto makes up for it with much lower list prices – and it still comes with a lengthy seven-year warranty if you plan for your first car to last.

17: Smart Forfour

The 20 best first cars: Smart Forfour

Prices start at: £11,620 (1.0 Passion)

Lowest insurance group: 3

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

The Smart Forfour oddly has a lower base insurance group rating than its new two-seat Smart Fortwo sibling. Maybe car insurers believe peer pressure makes youngsters safer. It’s certainly cool, although not as cheap to insure, or buy, as the similarly cool Renault Twingo with which it shares so much beneath the surface.

18: Citroen C1

The 20 best first cars: Citroen C1

Prices start at: £8,345 (1.0 Touch 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 6

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

We include the next three cars as they’re some of Britain’s best-selling city cars so will be familiar to many as a first new car choice. Sadly, they’re not the cheapest to insure, due to a surprisingly poor group six entry insurance rating.

19: Peugeot 108

The 20 best first cars: Peugeot 108

Prices start at: £8,345 (1.0 Access 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 6

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

Why the Peugeot 108 is rated so much higher than other similar cars in this class is hard to fathom…

20: Toyota Aygo

The 20 best first cars: Toyota Aygo

Prices start at: £8,695 (1.0 x 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 6

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

… And not even the parent car to them all, the Toyota Aygo, can do any better. The Toyota suffers from higher list prices too – one to consider only if you’re able to get a good first insurance policy deal on your first car.

Renault Espace Euro NCAP 2015

Euro NCAP: Renault Espace and Suzuki Vitara star

Renault Espace Euro NCAP 2015Euro NCAP has revealed safety test results for four newly-launched cars – and it’s an even split between five stars and four for them.

Both the Suzuki Vitara and Renault Espace score a full five-star rating, the former giving the Japanese brand a useful safety fillip after its Celerio braking headache earlier this year.

The Renault Espace crash test score is also impressive, which makes it all the more regrettable the stylish MPV-crossover won’t be sold here in the UK.

Two supermini-sized cars score four stars: the Mazda2 supermini and the Fiat 500C crossover. With both, it was a lack of standard Safety Assist features that let them down, rather than any major flaws in vehicle integrity.

Audi makes its own diesel out of water and CO2

Audi makes its own diesel out of water and CO2

Audi makes its own diesel out of water and CO2

Audi’s research centre in Dresden, Germany, has produced its own synthetic diesel using water and CO2 – and used it to fuel a car.

To demonstrate its suitability for everyday use, Germany’s federal minister for education and research, Johanna Wanka, used the synthetic diesel in her official car, a 3.0-litre diesel Audi A8.

She said: “This synthetic diesel, made using CO2, is a huge success for our sustainability research. If we can make widespread use of CO2 as a raw material, we will make a crucial contribution to climate protection and the efficient use of resources, and put the fundamentals of the ‘green economy’ in place.”

The fuel uses CO2 provided by a biogas facility, as well as a portion extracted from the ambient air through direct air capturing.

This reacts with hydrogen, extracted from water by means of high-temperature electrolysis. The result is a liquid known as ‘blue crude’, which is similar to fossil crude oil. It can then be turned into Audi’s e-diesel and can be mixed with regular diesel, or used as a fuel in its own right.

The plant in Dresden opened in November 2014, and is set to produce over 3,000 litres of e-diesel over the coming months.

2015 Shanghai Motor Show: all the cars

From the McLaren 540C to the Geely Emgrand concept, we check out the stars of the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show.

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Vauxhall-Corsa-young-driver-car-insurance

Car insurance still getting cheaper – but it won't last

Vauxhall-Corsa-young-driver-car-insuranceCar insurance premiums fell once again in the first quarter of 2015, reports the AA, with the average policy down £5 to £530.

Over the past year, premiums are nearly 6% cheaper – but it’s not going to last, warns AA insurance MD Janet Connor. Indeed, it’s already happening for older drivers: “We’re starting to see insurers quoting higher prices and I think that’s the beginning of a trend.”

However, she adds, “the rate of increase isn’t going to be turbocharged; the market remains very competitive.”

What’s more, new guidance for assessing whiplash should hopefully kerb “out-of control claims that are now leading insurers to increase premiums”: worryingly, more than 1 in 10 motorists admits they see nothing wrong in making a dodgy injury claim in the event of an accident.

“I hope this will put off those looking for an easy cash win but not discourage those with a genuine injury,” said Connor.

“My greatest fear is that if insurance fraud such as whiplash injury claims isn’t brought under control, and quickly, we will see a repeat of the spiralling premiums of 2010 and 2011 where the cost of the average policy rose by over 40% in just 12 months.”

Vauxhall-Corsa-young-driver-car-insurance

Car insurance still getting cheaper – but it won’t last

Vauxhall-Corsa-young-driver-car-insuranceCar insurance premiums fell once again in the first quarter of 2015, reports the AA, with the average policy down £5 to £530.

Over the past year, premiums are nearly 6% cheaper – but it’s not going to last, warns AA insurance MD Janet Connor. Indeed, it’s already happening for older drivers: “We’re starting to see insurers quoting higher prices and I think that’s the beginning of a trend.”

However, she adds, “the rate of increase isn’t going to be turbocharged; the market remains very competitive.”

What’s more, new guidance for assessing whiplash should hopefully kerb “out-of control claims that are now leading insurers to increase premiums”: worryingly, more than 1 in 10 motorists admits they see nothing wrong in making a dodgy injury claim in the event of an accident.

“I hope this will put off those looking for an easy cash win but not discourage those with a genuine injury,” said Connor.

“My greatest fear is that if insurance fraud such as whiplash injury claims isn’t brought under control, and quickly, we will see a repeat of the spiralling premiums of 2010 and 2011 where the cost of the average policy rose by over 40% in just 12 months.”

Dehydration as bad as drink driving

Dehydration as bad as drink driving

Dehydration as bad as drink driving

Most of us wouldn’t dream of driving while under the influence of drink or drugs – but when was the last time you felt thirsty when behind the wheel?

New research by Loughborough University has found that driving while dehydrated is just as dangerous as driving when you’re over the limit with alcohol.

The study found that drivers who consumed just 25ml of water an hour made more than double the mistakes of those who were hydrated – and about the same as those at the drink/drive limit.

Professor Ron Maughan, emeritus professor of sport and exercise nutrition, who led the study at Loughborough University, told the Daily Telegraph: “We all deplore drink driving, but we don’t usually think about the effects of other things that affect our driving skills, and one of those is not drinking and dehydration.

“There is no question that driving while incapable through drink or drugs increases the risk of accidents, but our findings highlight an unrecognised danger and suggest that drivers should be encouraged to make sure they are properly hydrated.

“To put our results into perspective, the levels of driver errors we found are of a similar magnitude to those found in people with a blood alcohol content of 0.08%, the current UK legal driving limit. In other words drivers who are not properly hydrated make the same number of errors as people who are over the drink drive limit.”

During the tests, participants took part in a two-hour continuous drive on a dual carriageway driving simulator.

On one occasion they were provided with 200ml of water on the hour, and the next day they repeated the test with just 25ml of water every hour.

When the drivers had less water, they were found to make more mistakes than when they were properly hydrated.

These included lane drifting, late braking and crossing the rumble strip.

Driving my first Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Blog-One

The key for the Rolls-Royce Ghost II is about twice the size of an average car key. And that’s appropriate because, as I’m about to discover, the Ghost is about twice the size of an average car.

Job One is to manoeuvre the thing out of the MR car park. Easier said than done, perhaps. This may be the ‘baby’ Rolls (at 56cm shorter than a Phantom), but that iconic chrome grille still juts out well beyond the confines of its parking space.

Thankfully, our Ghost has the optional 360° parking cameras. Thus what could have been a 28-point turn becomes, well… a seven-point turn.

This is the first time I’ve driven a Rolls-Royce and, edging out on to the open road, I am acutely aware of how much this car costs. At £220,000 before options, it isn’t vastly cheaper than my house. Fortunately, it is considerably faster.

Rolls-Blog-2

With clear tarmac ahead, I bury the right pedal deep into the lambswool. The Ghost takes a short breath, then leaps forward with unbecoming haste for a vehicle weighing 2.5 tonnes (0-62mph takes 4.7 secs). Watching the car’s prow – complete with Spirit of Ecstasy ­­– rise gently under acceleration is a unique and special experience.

 Cruising inside a comfortable cocoon

I settle into a steady 60mph cruise, isolated from the outside world in my luxurious cocoon. Ride quality is remarkable, given those steamroller-sized 21-inch wheels. And for something with the aerodynamic properties of a Tudor manor house, wind noise is also muted.

Show this leviathan a few corners and it acquits itself well. There’s less body-roll than you might expect and no shortage of grip. However, you must keep the car’s mass in mind for braking; the pedal needs a decent shove when slowing from motorway speeds.

Rolls-Blog-3

Many Ghost owners will only experience their cars from the back seat, and that’s a shame. In many respects this four-wheeled status symbol is no better than a Mercedes S-class costing half as much. Yet no S-class comes close for sense of occasion.

My time with the Rolls-Royce is brief, but it makes a lasting impression. For one hour, I played at being a plutocrat – and it was fabulous. Now I know what all the fuss is about.