Tyre pressure system is MOT fail

Tyre-pressure-check

A faulty Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) now results in automatic MOT failure – even if your tyres are in good condition and correctly inflated.

That’s the message from Tyresafe, the UK’s tyre safety association, which has produced a video to promote the benefits of TPMS.

Some TPMS systems work differently to others, but all remotely monitor air pressure in the tyres.

Millions of cars in the UK are already fitted with TPMS systems, which became mandatory on all new models last year. They work by monitoring air pressure in the tyres, warning the driver if they are under-inflated or punctured.

TPMS systems are designed to last many years, but may need occasional servicing. The most likely causes of faults are a flat internal battery and corrosion on the sensors.

Beyond a failed MOT, incorrect tyre pressures can have other consequences, including increased fuel consumption, reduced grip and unpredictable handling.

For that reason Tyresafe recommends that drivers don’t rely solely on TPMS, but manually check their tyre pressures at least once a month – and before any long journey.

 

MG6 review: 2015 first drive

MG6 review: 2015 first drive

MG6 review: 2015 first drive

MG means business with its new 6. A revised interior, more standard equipment and a much cheaper price tag mean you should give it serious consideration.

Andrew Brady | April 2015

The MG6 faced a tough challenge when it was launched back in 2010. It was the first car from MG as we know it today, under Chinese ownership.

Built in China and assembled at MG’s Longbridge plant in the UK, the MG6 had a lot to prove. Enthusiasts would need a lot of persuasion – they still mourned the loss of MG Rover and the new MG6 would never be as British as their beloved 75, for instance.

The general public would also take some convincing. While its new owners like to play on MG’s heritage for fun-to-drive open-top roadsters, in its later years MG developed a reputation for failed head gaskets, boy racer hot hatches and, of course, going bust.

So the MG6 would have to be very good, then. Or cheap. And it was neither.

We were greeted by an horrendous interior, stodgy looks, and (until 2012) no diesel engine. And it was priced against D-segment cars such as the Ford Mondeo.

Its sales reflected this. Last year, MG sold just 536 examples. On average, each dealer was selling about one a month. That’s just not sustainable. Serious action needed to be taken. And it’s happened.

MG’s knocked £3,000 off the starting price of the MG6. It now starts at £13,995 – and they’ve axed the petrol engine. You can no longer buy a saloon version either – it’s hatchback only.

The interior’s also been revised, the design tweaked (if you look closely), 75kg of weight removed (resulting in improved fuel economy and CO2 emissions) and extra kit’s now fitted as standard. Drastic changes, even if it looks broadly the same. Will it be enough?

MG6 review: 2015 first drive

What’s the MG6 like to drive?

MGs have always been fun to drive, and the MG6 is no exception. It was one of the few good points of the original model. The steering, although a tad on the light side, provided good levels of feedback and it could be flung about in an enjoyable manner.

MG had a good base for the revised model, then, where handling is concerned. But they’ve added a new electronic differential, which transfers torque between the front wheels and even goes as far as applying brake pressure to avoid spinning up.

The difference is negligible in day-to-day driving, but the MG6 continues to be an enjoyable steer. The suspension is borderline firm – it’s certainly liveable with, but drive a potholed road and you’ll find yourself easing off the accelerator more than you might do in rivals.

The diesel engine is a torquey, if slightly vocal unit. Thanks to its lower weight, it’ll now hit 62mph in 8.4 seconds, half a second quicker than its predecessor.

The clutch has a sharp biting point that might take you by surprise, but the gearchange is slick and encouraging. Not that you need to work the six-speed ‘box particularly hard. Torque is available low down and there’s plenty of poke for overtaking slower traffic.

MG6 review: 2015 first drive

Is the revised MG6’s interior good enough?

It’s rare to find an interior of a car that is simply woeful – but that of the previous generation MG6 really let the car down.

Cheap plastics and a perceived lack of quality meant spending any time in it would make you regret buying one over, say, a Skoda Octavia.

The bad news is they haven’t ripped out the interior and started again. The good news is, they’ve done an admirable job of making it more pleasant.

One key difference is the new app-based navigation system, which is standard on both the mid-range TS and top-spec TL trims. MG tells us this is significantly cheaper than the system it replaces, but we can confirm it’s also significantly better.

As well as navigation, the seven-inch infotainment system offers Mirrorlink, DAB radio, iPod compatibility and multimedia playback – should you wish to watch videos. It’s an intuitive system to use, and far better than the MG6’s previous offering.

For the first time, the MG6 also offers an electronic parking brake. Not a big deal, perhaps, but drivers of the previous model will recall the poorly-designed handbrake that seemed impossible to use without trapping your fingers.

There’s no denying that there’s still quite a lot of cheap plastics in the MG6’s interior, but some nice additions, including a new instrument cluster, take your eye away from the less appealing areas.

MG6 review: 2015 first drive

Verdict: MG6 (2015)

It’s rare that we take a product manager’s opinion of a car with anything more than a pinch of salt, but MG’s product man, Andrew Lowerson, told us in the press conference that “when you sit in the MG6, it won’t be as good as a Skoda Octavia. But it’s £7,000 cheaper than the equivalent Skoda Octavia.”

And that pretty much hits the nail on the head. Where else are you going to buy a diesel car with this level of specification and an enormous boot for £14,000?

We can finally report that the MG6 could potentially be a wise purchase.

It isn’t as good as the likes of the Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra. It isn’t even as good as rivals from Kia, Hyundai or Skoda – but they’re moving upmarket, and their price tags reflect this.

There is room in the market for a genuinely affordable car, and the MG6 is finally that. But that doesn’t mean you’d regret it every time you opened the door and jumped inside.

The interior is heaps better than it was. The driving experience is up there with more expensive rivals. And it’s loaded with standard equipment. Even the base-spec S model comes with heated seats.

MG says it’s operating a ‘no haggle’ policy on the new MG6. That’s commendable – you’re not going to buy one only to find a neighbour’s bought an identical one for less money.

We hope, for MG’s sake, it’s enough to tempt buyers away from mainstream brands.

Rivals

  • Ford Focus
  • Vauxhall Astra
  • Skoda Octavia
  • Hyundai i30
  • Toyota Auris

The Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra are conventional choices in this segment, but the MG6 undercuts them both by some margin. The Skoda Octavia is similar to the 6, in that it offers a huge amount of space (even more than the MG), but it’s no longer the budget buy it once was. The Hyundai i30 (alongside its Kia Cee’d sibling) also isn’t as cheap as you might think, while the Toyota Auris shares the MG6’s starting price.

Specification: MG6

Engine 1.9-litre turbodiesel

Gearbox Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive

Price from £13,995

Power 150hp

Torque 258lb/ft

0-62mph 8.4 seconds

Top speed 120mph

MPG 61.4mpg

CO2 119g/km

Ford Grand C-Max 2015

Ford Grand C-Max review: 2015 first drive

Ford Grand C-Max 2015Ford updates the popular seven-seat Grand C-Max compact MPV with a fresh face, more efficient engines and a revised interior.

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith | April 2015

The Ford Grand C-Max is an MPV in the very traditional sense. Its rather sombre and dowdy exterior does little to lift the mood, while a pair of admittedly useful sliding doors suggest you’ve reached a stage in your life where wipe-clean surfaces and ease of use sit highly on your list of priorities.

Face it, you’re not too far off the age of pipe and slippers now.

As we all know, the Grand C-Max is a slightly longer and taller version of the C-Max, which itself is a slightly longer, taller and wider version of the Focus it is based on. This means the Grand C-Max never quite feels like a highly targeted MPV that’s been built with families in mind. It feels compromised. Which isn’t something you could say about the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso.

Like the z-bed you bring out of the spare room when the in-laws come to visit, the third row of seats are good for occasional use only. Getting to them is hard enough, but once you’re there, the amount of knee, leg and headroom means they’re only suitable for children. Or your least favourite friends when travelling seven-up to the football match.

For the 2015 Grand C-Max, Ford has given it a subtle refresh to bring it in line with the rest of the range, improved the efficiency of the engines and given the interior a much-needed refresh.

The facelift works, up to a point. The new grille, headlights, smoother tailgate and smaller rear lights certainly smarten up the Grand C-Max’s appearance, but it’s not what you’d call a good looking car. On the inside, the simplified dashboard layout is a big improvement, but still a world away from the minimalist approach we’ve seen in other cars.

It does feel more premium than before, but the new adjustable centre console – which replaces the traditional fixed-size cupholders of before – feels flimsy and very cheap. Up front, masses of headroom gives the cabin a cavernous feel and there’s enough seat and steering wheel adjustment for most people to find a comfortable driving position.

What’s the Ford Grand C-Max like to drive?

Ford Grand C-Max 2015

Nobody is going to buy a compact MPV hoping for razor-sharp dynamics and off-the-line pace. And let’s not kid ourselves that the concept of a ‘hot MPV’ is a good idea. Remember the Vauxhall Meriva VXR? Seriously, you were better off buying an Astra and using the cash you had saved to buy a weekend toy.

So the biggest compliment we can pay to the Grand C-Max is that it’s perfectly pleasant to drive. Sure, there’s a fair amount of body roll when cornering hard, but it’s well controlled and predictable. On admittedly silk-like Spanish roads it also rode very well, soaking up bumps and smoothing out all but the worst potholes.

The steering? Yep, that’s absolutely fine, too. Lacking in feel, but for occasions when it matters – i.e. car parks and town centre driving – it’s very good. Mid-range punch is impressive, largely thanks to the 295lb ft of torque available from the 150hp 2.0-litre diesel engine we were testing. This should prove to be useful for overtaking and when on motorways.

Ford has also added a 120hp 1.5-litre diesel engine to the range, which offers an extra 5hp over the 1.6-litre engine it replaces, as well as a 20 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions. The diesel engines are expected to account for the vast majority of C-Max and Grand C-Max sales in the UK, but two versions of the excellent 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine are also available.

By thickening the side glass and carpets, along with adding a huge amount of extra sound absorption materials throughout the Grand C-Max, Ford claims to have reduced the amount of noise entering the cabin. For the most part this works, although there’s still a fair amount of wind noise on motorways and plenty of diesel clatter when accelerating hard.

But in the great scheme of things, we’re nitpicking. The Grand C-Max behaves like a slighter taller and wider Ford Focus. And that’s perfectly fine.

So what will the Ford Grand C-Max really be like to live with?

Ford Grand C-Max 2015

What are the things that matter in a part-time seven-seat MPV? Safety, ease of use, comfort and onboard technology. Probably in that order. And the good news is that the Ford Grand C-Max scores highly on all these factors.

Starting with safety. A number of option packs are available, including the Driver Assistance Pack, which includes Active City Stop, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Aid, Traffic Sign Recognition, Driver Alert and auto high beam. Adaptive Cruise Control and Blind Spot Recognition are available on the Titanium and Titanium X models.

As for ease of use. The sliding doors give it an edge over the five-seat C-Max and the electric tailgate will undoubtedly appeal to parents and children alike. The Grand C-Max is also available with a Convenience Pack, which offers Active Park Assist, front and rear parking sensors, Powerfold mirrors and global closing. Again, these aren’t available on the C-Max, helping the Grand C-Max to mount a strong case for the additional £1,600 required for the extra seats.

Overall, the Grand C-Max is a comfortable car, but it all depends on where you’re sitting. Up front, the seats offer plenty of support and a commanding driving position. The outermost seats on the second row are also comfortable, offering a good level of leg and headroom. These seats can also be folded backwards and forwards, either to provide extra space in the boot or to give the passengers in the third row some much needed legroom.

But the central seat on the second row is good for occasional use only and, as we’ve already mentioned, the third row is only suitable for children or pet monkeys.

Onboard technology is an area where Ford consistently delivers. All models feature a heated windscreen, DAB digital radio, MyKey, hill start assist, air conditioning and a tyre pressure monitoring system as standard. In a canny move, Ford will also offer a Family Pack – which adds rear unblinds, front and rear LED reading lights and seat-back trays – for just £150.

Ford claims the majority of buyers will opt for the entry-level Zetec model, but it’s the Titanium spec which offers the best value for money, adding an excellent – if slightly complex – 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, automatic lights and wipers, dual zone climate control, keyless start, cruise control with active speed limiter, auto-dimming rear view mirror and rear parking sensors.

Verdict: Ford Grand C-Max (2015)

Ford Grand C-Max 2015

For the UK market, Ford has chosen to ditch the tyre repair kit in favour of a return to the use of a mini spare wheel. Good news and a victory for common sense. But be warned, because by doing so, the amount of luggage space drops from 475 litres (laden to package tray) to 448 litres. With all seven seats in place, this drops to a minuscule 65 litres.

Compact MPVs are incredibly popular in continental Europe, but fall behind hatchbacks and superminis in the UK. We haven’t taken them to heart quite like our European cousins. Whether you should go for the full fat Grand C-Max or save the £1,600 and opt for the marginally prettier C-Max comes down to what you want from a car.

There will be a time when you’ll need the additional seats and you’ll be glad you went large. And in Titanium and Titanium X specification, the Grand C-Max does a good impression of more premium alternatives with far higher price tags.

There’s no getting away from the fact that the Grand C-Max does absolutely nothing to set your pulse racing. It tells the world you’re entering middle age and – whilst not quite prepared to accept you’re not as young as you used to be – you do realise it’s time to grow up. And the Grand C-Max is an excellent car to help guide you through this stage of your life.

Rivals: Ford Grand C-Max (2015)

  • Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
  • Vauxhall Zafira Tourer
  • Peugeot 5008
  • Renault Grand Scenic
  • Volkswagen Touran

Cars like the Grand C4 Picasso and Grand Scenic are designed with seven seats in mind and are your best bet if you’re planning to spend most of the time with all seats in their upright position. The Volkswagen Touran has the Grand C-Max trumped when it comes to interior quality, but at least the Ford’s interior feels more exciting. And let’s not forget there’s an all-new S-Max on the horizon. Review to follow shortly.

Specification: Ford Grand C-Max (2015)

Engines 1.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol, 1.5 and 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel

Gearbox Six-speed manual or PowerShift automatic, front-wheel drive

Price from £20,295 – £27,615

Power 100 – 150hp

Torque 125 – 295lb ft

0-62mph 8.8 – 13.7 seconds

Top speed 103 – 129mph

MPG 54 – 64mpg

CO2 113 – 129g/km

Audi A2

Great Motoring Disasters: Audi A2

Audi A2An advanced, lightweight aluminium body structure. A super-slippery silhouette to cheat the wind. A drop-down front panel allowing access to essential servicing items – this sounded like the sportscar of tomorrow.

But the Audi A2 was a five-door hatchback, and a tall one at that, its outline dangerously close to a sensible-shoes people carrier’s, its most powerful engine a 1.6 litre of 110bhp.

It was also brave, brilliant and if you’re thoughtful about design and its functionality, deeply appealing. The A2 was also a car years ahead of its time.

The ultra-aerodynamic Audi A2

Audi A2

That sounds like the copy from an Audi A2 advert, but it really was. The A2 emerged in 1999 (it’s pictured above at launch), but was built around the engineering obsessions of today, namely light weighting, a low drag coefficient, highly efficient engines and a suite of lesser economy boosters ranging from intelligent alternators to low rolling resistance tyres.

None of which obstructed its functionality. Unlike most ultra-aerodynamic cars you didn’t strike your head on the roof when you were trying to get in, its boot wasn’t so tiny that you needed to take a light weighting approach to packing and you could even turn your A2 into a van by extracting its removable rear seats.

Audi A2

Mind you, Audi was rather mean with these, providing only two in the rear as standard, no doubt in the interests of weight-saving, the fifth place being optional. Which was consistent with Audi’s fairly sparse approach to equipment too, much of it extra.

Audi A2

Still, no point in undoing the good work done by the body engineers, who had designed a shell that was 43% lighter than the steel equivalent, enabling the lightest A2 to weigh in at an impressive 895kg (bantamweight in modern car terms).

A Cd (aerodynamic drag factor) as low as 0.25 for the least wind resistant versions – that’s a number only just being reached today – and some economical engines produced the kind of fuel efficiency car companies are chasing now, the 1.4 petrol good for 45mpg, the diesel’s consumption in the 60s.

The 1.4 diesel was a three cylinder, its charming throb also ahead of the times – and for some markets (not ours, sadly) Audi built so called three litre 1.2 version, the three litres referring to the car’s potential 3 litres/100km, 94mpg fuel economy. Its 81g/km CO2 emissions sounded like a number from this decade rather than the last, too.

Power steering and air conditioning were stripped out to save fuel, the three litre’s economy further boosted by low rolling-resistance tyres, direct-injection, an automated manual transmission, stop-start and lightweight suspension, although this high-tech kit made for an expensive car.

‘Disastrous’ for Audi

Audi A2

If the three litre A2’s money-saving economics were dubious for owners, the economics of the entire A2 project were disastrous for Audi. The company is alleged to have lost £4000 on every A2 sold, partly because its light alloy body was expensive to make, but also because the company sold nowhere near the numbers intended.

During its shortened six-year life 176,377 found buyers, this a poor contrast to the one million or so A Classes that Mercedes sold. The A2’s high price didn’t help and nor did its flaws, although there were less of these than the Mercedes presented. And A2s didn’t fall over at the sight of an elk, either.

But the A2 had a few issues, and seeing out of it was one of them. The big distance from the driver’s eyes to the A pillars sometimes made it hard to see past them, while the abruptly curved tailgate glass distorted a rear view further impeded by a spoiler and tinted glass. Water-repellant tailgate glazing didn’t compensate for the missing rear wiper, either.

The A2’s other big issue was its ride, which had you wondering whether you really wanted to save fuel that badly, and whether the A2’s engineers had inflated its tyres to 100psi in a misguided quest for economy. It was expensive to repair after a crash, too, a factor that has sent many to an early rendezvous with the crusher.

An automotive design school thesis

Audi A2

Yet if you’re a lover of rational design, it’s hard not to admire – and even desire – an A2. It might have resembled an automotive design school thesis, but the ridged roof, the single pantograph-action wiper, the lack of any wiper at all at the rear, dent-proof plastic wheelarches, removable rear seats, and maintenance features accessed via the closed-off grille (pictured below) all pointed to a project fashioned by young and slightly naive idealists. All of which adds to its retro-future charm today.

Audi A2

Not that you’d call it pretty, now or then, its university project styling clearly failing to trigger the mass extraction of credit cards from pockets.

Audi A2

But for all that it was a mightily far-sighted car, its emphasis on low emissions, high economy and clever practicality all the stuff of today’s showrooms. And only BMW has dared to pursue a lightweight body structure for a car in this class since, with its i3.

Audi engineering ambition has been a little more cautious since the A2. But failure or not, this car certainly shone a light on the future.