The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds

Cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year oldsCar insurance is getting cheaper, according to a new report, but finding the cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds is far from easy.

Yes, the new “black box” technology can hep reduce premiums, but buying the right car in the first place makes all the difference.

The cheapest cars for teenage drivers aren’t necessarily the ones they want to drive, but not everyone can afford the best new small cars, so we’ve listed the 15 cheapest cars to insure for young male and female drivers. This is based on customers aged 17-18 who quoted on

We’ve only listed cars valued between £600 and £10,000 to prevent the average premium being skewed by extremely cheap or expensive cars.

The average used is the median and we’ve only included cars which at least 1,000 customers have quoted for, so your own quotes may be lower or higher than the figures here depending on your individual circumstances.

The older you are the less your insurance will be, and factors such as being married can help reduce your premium.

20: Citroen C3 – average premium: £2,275

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Citroen C3

The 20th cheapest car to insure is the Citroen C3. Of more than 2,000 people aged 17 – 18 who applied for a quote on the website, the average customer paid a premium of £2,275

19: Citroen C2 – average premium: £2,269

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Citroen C2

The Citroen C3’s sportier three-door sibling, the Citroen C2, costs 50p a month less to insure than the C3. Go on, treat yourself.

18: Nissan Micra – average premium: £2,266

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Nissan Micra

The Nissan Micra is more of a car teenagers’ mums would be proud to see in, but if they can spare their blushes, it will cost them £2266 a year to insure.

17: Suzuki Swift – average premium: £2,238

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Suzuki Swift

The Suzuki Swift is the superbike of the supermini sector: revvy engines, lightweight build and loads of thrills. Let’s hope insurers don’t find out what a blast it is, and push up premium prices.

16: Fiat Seicento – average premium: £2,230

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Fiat Seicento

The Fiat Seicento is now very old and, according to period crash safety tests, far from safe. It’s cheap to insure but is the risk worth it?

15: Daewoo Matiz – average premium: £2,233

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Daewoo Matiz

The Daewoo Matiz isn’t as aged at the Fiat Seicento, but it’s still far from new. even at £2,233 a month, insurance will still cost thousands more than the car.

14: Volkswagen Beetle – average premium: £2,222

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Volkswagen Beetle

The retro Volkswagen Beetle bring a funky interior and Volkswagen-grade integrity without costing a fortune to insure. And if retro isn’t quite cool enough…

13: Rover Mini – average premium: £2,163

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Rover Mini

… The Rover Mini offers genuine old-school style as even models built in the late 1990s dated back to the 50s! Maybe not as cheap to insure as you’d think though, as we’ll see.

12: Hyundai i10 – average premium: £2,141

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Hyundai i10

The boxy Hyundai i10 is no looker but it’s a cheap, reliable motor that doesn’t cost much to insure.

11: MINI One – average premium: £2,101

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: MINI One

How about this – the modern MINI One costs over £50 a year less to insure than the real thing! As it’s bigger, more comfortable, faster, greener, more reliable and easier to drive, maybe it’s the more tempting option for 17-18 year olds?

10: Vauxhall Adam – average premium: £2,089

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Vauxhall Adam

The brand new Vauxhall Adam is cheaper than any other Vauxhall to insure for a year – yes, even baggy old Corsas.

9: SEAT Arosa – average premium: £2,070

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: SEAT Arosa

The SEAT Arosa is a bit of a forgotten citycar these days, but if you can find one, you can be confident it won’t cost a fortune to insure.

8: Suzuki Alto – average premium: £2,018

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Suzuki Alto

Like the Hyundai i10, the Suzuki Alto isn’t very cool but is very reliable – and is pretty cheap to insure too.

7: Kia Picanto – average premium: £2,001

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Kia Picanto

The last car costing more than £2,000 a year for 17-18 year olds to insure is the Kia Picanto. Teens may prefer the second generation one above though, rather than the boxy original.

6: Fiat 500 – average premium: £1,985

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Fiat 500

Dropping in under £2,000 a year to insure for 17-18 year olds, the Fiat 500 is another retro recreation that couldn’t be cooler. See, teenagers, you can argue a case for it to mum and dad!

5: Toyota Aygo – average premium: £1,883

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Toyota Aygo

Mum and dad may prefer to get you a reliable, trustworthy Toyota. No bad thing, even if the second generation car pictured above is far cooler than the slightly anonymous original.

4: Ford Ka – average premium: £1,858

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Ford Ka

The first generation Ford Ka used to be everywhere, but rust is quickly withering them. The second generation car, pictured above, isn’t anywhere near as good, although it is cheap to insure.

3: Citroen C1 – average premium: £1,750

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Citroen C1

Fancy a Citroen C1? It’s a safe bet for insurance, coming in at £1,750 for 17-18 year olds. Come on, Foxes, it’s not that bad a choice!

2: Peugeot 107 – average premium: £1,722

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Peugeot 107

Peugeot obviously attracts safer and more sensible 17-18 year olds: it’s otherwise identical to the Citroen C1, but costs just a fraction less each year to insure.

1: Volkswagen Up – average premium: £1,654

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Volkswagen Up

You need to go Up to put your insurance costs down: the cheapest car for 17-18 year olds to insure by far is Volkswagen’s smallest citycar. That the VW Up is so good to drive, so safe and so smartly engineered is all further icing on the cake.

Land Rover Defender Heritage edition review: 2015 first drive

Land Rover Defender Heritage edition review: 2015 first drive

Land Rover Defender Heritage edition review: 2015 first drive

2015 Land Rover Defender Heritage: Overview

The Land Rover Defender as we know it is ending production later this year. The manufacturer is keeping extremely tight lipped about what, if anything, is set to replace the iconic vehicle. But for now it’s cashing on the car’s heritage by launching a trio of special editions to see off the Defender.

This is the, er, Defender Heritage special edition. Finished in Grasmere Green, the Heritage is the cheapest of the limited-edition trio. Land Rover says it’s a modern interpretation of HUE 166 – the first ever Land Rover ever made back in 1948.

The cynical might call this Land Rover’s attempt at printing money. Many manufacturers introduce special editions as a model nears the end of its lifecycle, with fancy paintjobs and a few extras that’ll tempt punters to part with their cash.

But surely Land Rover doesn’t need to do that with a car as popular as its Defender? Everyone loves a Defender – even the Queen loves a Defender.

2015 Land Rover Defender Heritage: on the road

2015 Land Rover Defender Heritage: On the road

If anything, it’s amazing the Land Rover Defender has lasted this long. Driving a Defender is an experience, to say the least.

If you’ve never driven one before, it’s quite an intimidating experience. The steering wanders about like it has a mind of its own, while the awkward seating position makes everything feel a little odd.

The gears are in the wrong place, you sit far too close to the steering wheel (especially in the Heritage edition hard-top we drove, with its bulkhead preventing the seat being moved backwards). The pedals stick to the original brief that they can be operated by a driver in wellies. In fact, they’re probably best operated in wellies for maximum shoving power.

You probably don’t need us to tell you just how incredible the Land Rover Defender is off-road, though. Even the cockiest of drivers would run out of confidence before the Defender does.

With a bit of time, you’ll get used to the Defender’s character on the road, too. You can’t drive it like you drive an ordinary car, but with 122hp, the 2.2-litre turbodiesel is more rapid than you may expect.

It’s also surprisingly easy to manoeuvre around town. Good visibility, combined with a high-up driving position and lots of right angles, mean it’s easy to judge the situation and squeeze the Defender into tight gaps. Just don’t go expecting a black-cab turning circle – you soon get used to shunting back and forth to fit into parking spaces.

2015 Land Rover Defender Heritage: on the inside

2015 Land Rover Defender Heritage: On the inside

Inside, splashes of Grasmere Green brighten up the Defenders normally dark cabin. There’s extra leather, notably on the steering wheel, while the padded cubby box is a welcome addition.

But don’t go thinking the Heritage is luxurious. There probably isn’t a vehicle that feels further away from the modern SUVs Land Rover also specialises in. The only thing it shares with a Range Rover is that commanding driving position.

The switchgear can be traced back to 1980s Rovers, while the Heritage’s heated seats are little more than a token gesture. But, like most things with the Defender, you quickly accept these quirks as part of its charm. On any other car, it just wouldn’t be acceptable.

2015 Land Rover Defender: running costs

2015 Land Rover Defender: Running costs

Yeah, running costs aren’t the Defender’s strong point, either. In fact, it’s the reason Land Rover is ending production of the Defender after all these years. It’s just not possible to tweak the emissions to bring them under ever-tighter EU regulations.

As such, the 2.2-litre turbodiesel Defender currently emits 266g/km CO2 and returns 28.3mpg. Even petrol 4x4s sip fuel at a slower rate than that these days, so a real-life fuel economy figure of mid 20s at best is poor for a diesel.

But Land Rover will point out that the Defender is eco-friendly in other ways. There’s a figure banding about that 75% of all Land Rovers ever made are still on the road, and most Defender buyers want them for their abilities. Think of it as a commercial vehicle rather than an SUV and it doesn’t look too bad.

2015 Land Rover Defender Heritage: verdict

2015 Land Rover Defender Heritage: Verdict

Journalists, enthusiasts and buyers alike have all been too kind to the Land Rover Defender for far too long. It’s old and outdated and really doesn’t belong in 2015. If you’ve never driven one before, you could well hate it.

But we’re going to let it off. Because we love it. It’s got more character than a country pub. Sure, it’s got its faults, but you learn to overcome them. No arm-room? Wind the window down and adopt the typical Defender arm-out pose. Noisy? Turn the radio up. Awful brakes? Press harder, and slow down using gears like in the olden days.

If you’ve got a spare £30,000 or so sitting in your bank account, go out and buy one. Not only will it be an investment, but it’ll provide as much fun as a supercar costing considerably more. And for heaven’s sake use it – whether it’s for taking the family for days out or finding out just how capable it is off-road. If you don’t, it’s wasted on you. Give it to me instead.

Specification: 2015 Land Rover Defender Heritage Edition

Engines: 2.2-litre TDCI diesel

Prices from: £27,800 (estimate)

Power: 122hp

Torque: 177 – 295lb ft

0-62mph: 14.7 – 15.7 seconds

Top speed: 90mph

Fuel economy: 25.5 – 28.3mpg

CO2 emissions: 266 – 295g/km

We drive Land Rover’s history

Land Rover Defender: meet the ancestors

We drive Land Rover’s history

The Isle of Islay, just off the west coast of Scotland, is home to around 3,000 inhabitants. Accessible from the mainland only by ferry or air, it’s an isolated place. Mobile phone signal is barely existent – and if you can get it, your operator will assume you’re abroad and charge you exorbitant rates.

It’s no surprise then, that Rover managing director Spencer Wilks and his chief engineer brother Maurice liked to escape the West Midlands in favour of their family retreat on the island. Not that getting a mobile phone signal was a concern over 60 years ago.

Although the Isle of Anglesey in North Wales is often considered the birthplace of the Land Rover (it’s where Maurice drew an initial sketch of the car into the sand), Islay is where it really developed as an idea.

So, with Defender production due to end this year, we headed out to Islay to discover the island that inspired an iconic vehicle – and drive a line-up of the Defender’s predecessors.

Series I

Series I

The Series I, or simply the Land Rover as it was known back then, was introduced in 1948.

The example we drove is owned by the Dunsfold Collection. Apparently it’s manager Phil Bashall’s pride and joy, and that’s evident from its simply immaculate condition.

The car is a 1954 Series I 107-inch pick-up – the equivalent of today’s Defender 110 truck cab. There’s little evidence that it’s over 60 years old, but there are little quirks that set it apart from today’s Defender.

The wipers, for example, are manually operated. An interesting concept on a wet Scottish island. And the speedo is set in the middle and bobs around telling you vaguely how fast you’re daring to go – with VMax from its 53hp 2.0-litre petrol engine somewhere around 50mph.

‘Charming’ is the word.

Series II

Series II

Technically, this isn’t a Series II, but a Series IIA. Cosmetically there’s little difference to the II, but at this point a 2.25-litre diesel engine was introduced to the Land Rover for the first time.

The Series IIA on Islay is a 2.25-litre petrol, however. The first vehicle we drive after landing on the island, it’s a quick lesson in driving older cars. With no synchromesh on lower gears, it requires double de-clutching. Combine that with brakes lacking in servo assistance, and we soon discover how difficult it is to slow down an old Land Rover while heading downhill into a cute Islay village.

The steering doesn’t help the experience, either. Driving in a straight line was tricky – something we put down to an ‘old Land Rover’ thing, but actually turned out to be a dodgy steering box.

Still, despite these issues, it’s hard to deny the Series IIA is a lovely vehicle in which to potter around a Scottish island. Made in 1965, it looks like something out of Heartbeat, while its 2.25-litre petrol engine provides adequate power for Islay’s minor roads.

Series III

Series III

This isn’t our first encounter with MJP 936W – a 1980 109-inch Series III. We first got to drive it around Land Rover’s off-road course in Solihull during a visit to the Defender production line.

It’s as terrifying as I remember, with (quite literally) the turning circle of a bus and ancient drum brakes. But it’s also brilliant fun. By now I’m starting to get used to dropping down through the gears rather than relying on the brakes – a technique few of us use in our everyday driving.

It’s got the same 2.25-litre petrol engine as the Series IIA, but with a load of extra mass. It’s certainly more suitable for pootling around than getting anywhere in a hurry.

90 40th Anniversary

90 40th anniversary

The launch of the 90 and 110 in 1983 represented a turning point for Land Rover that some hardcore enthusiasts still struggle to accept. It’s when Land Rover made the switch to coil spring suspension, instead of leaf springs.

Driving this Land Rover 90, it’s hard to argue that leaf springs are better in any way. Not only do the coil springs provide a more comfortable ride, they also give more axle articulation when off-road.

But that’s enough about suspension – what makes this 90 so special? Well, it was produced to celebrate 40 years of Land Rover production in 1988. The plan was to launch a limited run of 40 special editions, all bearing the number ‘40’ on the number plate. However, with the 1980s being a turbulent time for car production in the UK, strike action led to the project being cancelled.

Just two were built. This one was finished in traditional Land Rover Bronze Green paint, with even the wheelarches colour-coded. It was equipped with a khaki soft-top, providing a nod to soft-top models of earlier Land Rovers.

Driving it around Islay, there’s just something about it that feels so right. Possibly the perfect compromise between old and new, it’s easy to drive, but still feels like you’re driving a classic vehicle.

110 V8 County Station Wagon

110 V8 County Station Wagon

The 110 County Station Wagon represents a shift away from farmers’ workhorses to recreational family vehicles. With more comfortable seats than the regular 110, as well as a number of improvements over the years (from exterior stickers to a radio-cassette player), the CSW made the 110 genuinely desirable for the first time.

Powered by a 3.5-litre Rover V8, you’d expect the 110 CSW we drove on Islay to be pretty rapid. But with just 134hp and a weight nudging two tonnes, it’d struggle to keep up with a modern Transit-engined Defender. Still, if you do boot it (and try not to think about the fuel bills if you do), it does at least sound good.

The extra length of the 110 compared to the 90 can also make things tricky off-road – while negotiating a narrow, rocky descent onto a beach, for example, the shorter vehicles were much happier to lift a wheel and get on with it.

Defender 90 Heritage Edition

Launched as a final send-off for the Defender, our first impressions of the Heritage edition are that it looks stunning in its Grasmere Green paintwork.

After driving its predecessors, it even feels modern. And that’s not something we’d expect to write about a Defender.

The 2.2-litre TDCI diesel is quite vocal, but it does have a degree of performance to go with it. By that we mean it’ll keep up with normal traffic.

It’s still definitely a Defender, though. The whole experience is a bit Marmite. However, if you’re of the Defender mindset, you’ll love it.

Read our full Land Rover Defender Heritage edition review

New Morgan ARP4 boasts Cosworth power

New Morgan ARP4 boasts Cosworth power

New Morgan ARP4 boasts Cosworth powerThe iconic Morgan Plus 4 is 65 years old this year. To celebrate, Morgan’s AR Motorsport division has revealed the limited-edition ARP4 – a 228hp Cosworth-powered Plus 4.

Just 50 examples of the ARP4 will be built, each costing £54,995. In addition to a powerful 2.0-litre Cosworth engine, the car features a host of chassis and interior upgrades. The result, says Morgan, is a car that ‘pushes the boundaries of the traditional classic’.

The British sports car maker hasn’t quoted figures yet, but promises ‘significantly more performance than a standard Morgan’. Each car will be set up by an AR Motorsport race technician, with adjustable shock absorbers, upgraded brakes and a different axle ratio to the regular Plus 4.


The ARP4 is still built on a traditional ash-wood frame, but its aluminium panels are left untrimmed for lightness and a suitably sporty look. However, this isn’t a stripped-out track-day special. Morgan has beefed up soundproofing in the hood and throughout the body to reduce road and wind noise.

Other improvements on the ARP4 include a redesigned dashboard (fear not, purists – the retro toggle switches are still present and correct) and super-bright LED lights front and rear – which also give the car a more distinctive face.

The Morgan ARP4 is launched at the Silverstone Classic show on Saturday 25 July.

Drivers more likely to pack a picnic than prepare their car

Drivers more likely to pack a picnic than prepare their car

Drivers more likely to pack a picnic than prepare their car

Barely 1 in 10 drivers of cars aged six years or older will get their car serviced before a long trip – despite 44% saying a breakdown is their biggest worry.

In contrast, 56% of older car owners will prepare a picnic before a long journey.

The figures, revealed (coincidentally) by car hire firm Europcar, reveal that drivers are worrying about breaking down but not doing anything to mitigate it.

With the average age of cars in British roads now topping seven years, that’s a lot of ill-prepared cars for the holiday trips many will be undertaking this weekend.

Even worse, just 1 in 5 hold roadside assistance cover should they indeed break down…

As for motorists who do make pre-journey checks, more than 8 in 10 will check the fuel but barely half will check water coolant, and only a third will check bulbs.

“It’s clear from our research that breaking down is a major concern for drivers, but it seems that many take long trips in older vehicles without doing some of the basic car maintenance checks”, said Ken McCall, Europcar UK Group MD.

“Our research revealed that the top three car checks before a long journey are fuel (82%), tyres (65%) and windscreen wash (64%).

“Checking the engine oil is topped up (63%) came lower than checking the windscreen wash…”

This weekend is set to be one of the busiest of the year on UK roads, so make sure you’re properly prepared.  Here are the top 10 biggest concerns for motorists, according to Europcar.

Top 10 travel worries

  1. Traffic and congestion
  2. Breaking down
  3. Having an accident
  4. Getting lost
  5. Driving in bad weather
  6. Driving when tired
  7. Arriving on time
  8. Keeping the kids occupied
  9. Running out of fuel
  10. Getting back pain
Head to Head: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Nexus 6

Head-to-head: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Nexus 6

Head to Head: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Nexus 6If you’re in the market for the very best Android phone on sale today, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Nexus 6 (made by Motorola in partnership with Google) are going to be high up on your list.

But how are these two titans different? And which one should you be spending your money on?

Screen and display part 1

Head to Head: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Nexus 6

Both phones have received praise for their bright, expansive screens: the Galaxy S6 stretches 5.1 inches corner to corner while the Nexus 6 measures a gigantic 5.96 inches.

That’s 37 percent more screen space, though the Nexus 6 navigation buttons are soft ones on the display rather than physical ones underneath as they are on the Samsung phone.

Screen and display part 2

Head to Head: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Nexus 6

Both phones have a 1,440 x 2,560 pixel resolution, also known as QHD (or Quad High Definition) — as the Samsung display is slightly smaller that means it’s slightly sharper too.

Another area where the handsets match is in their use of AMOLED (Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode) technology, ensuring a sharp, colourful, high-contrast display.

Size and design

Head to Head: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Nexus 6

The Galaxy S6 (143mm x 71mm x 6.8mm) is smaller and thinner than the Nexus 6 (160mm x 83mm x 10.1mm). It’s also lighter (138g versus 184g) and uses more glass instead of plastic in its design.

Both phones benefit from sleek and modern designs though if you opt for the Nexus 6 you should be prepared to have to use both hands to operate it.

Internal components part 1

Head to Head: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Nexus 6

The internal components don’t always tell the full story in terms of a handset’s power but they’re useful to look at nevertheless.

The Samsung phone uses an own-brand Exynos 7420 64-bit octa-core CPU running at 2.1GHz and 1.5GHz; overall, that’s a step up from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 32-bit quad-core 2.7GHz CPU inside the Nexus 6.

Internal components part 2

Head to Head: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Nexus 6

Both phones have 3GB of RAM inside and although the Samsung processor has a slight edge, in reality both phones are blazingly fast and you won’t notice too much of a difference in performance.

The fact that the Samsung Galaxy S6 was released several months after the Nexus 6 is one of the reasons it has a more recent processor.


Head to Head: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Nexus 6

The Nexus 6 sports a 13-megapixel camera on the back and a 2-megapixel camera on the front; meanwhile, the Galaxy S6 has a 16-megapixel camera on the back and a 5-megapixel camera on the front.

Thanks to Samsung’s superior optics, low light performance and wider aperture, the S6 just about edges it in terms of the camera.

Extra features

Head to Head: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Nexus 6

Both phones are available with 32GB or 64GB of on-board storage, but only the Galaxy S6 goes all the way up to 128GB; neither handset offers a removable MicroSD card slot.

The Samsung phone also has a heart rate sensor and fingerprint sensor, which the Nexus 6 doesn’t have, and the Galaxy S6 is available in a wider choice of colours too.

On-board software

Head to Head: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Nexus 6

If there’s one area where the Nexus 6 really wins out, it’s in the stock version of Android, unfettered by extra bloatware and guaranteed to get updates as quickly as possible direct from Google.

Samsung’s TouchWiz take on Android isn’t necessarily bad, but it tends to be overloaded with features and its updates take longer to roll out.

Battery life and charging

Head to Head: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Nexus 6

Both phones offer decent battery life: though the Galaxy S6 battery is slightly smaller (2,550mAh vs 3,220 mAh) it has a smaller screen to power.

Another similarity is the fast charging technology built into the Galaxy S6 and the Nexus 6, and on top of that both these handsets support wireless charging so you can juice them up without cables.

Price and other considerations

Head to Head: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Nexus 6

Price is of course a major consideration, though deals on and off contract change all the time: as the Nexus 6 is older you’re likely to be able to find it for a better price.

Accessories for both phones shouldn’t be a problem as they’re both high profile handsets, but neither have a removable battery, so carrying a spare is out of the question.

The Galaxy S6 Edge

Head to Head: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Nexus 6

If you have some extra cash bouncing around in your pocket then the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is worth considering in place of the original Galaxy S6.

Apart from the higher price, it features a screen with curved edges down the sides and a slightly bigger battery, though all of the other specifications between the Samsung phones are the same.

The rest of the field

Head to Head: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Nexus 6

The other flagship Android phones on the market include the HTC One M9, the Sony Xperia Z4 and the LG G4, and the iPhones are always worth considering as well.

Bear in mind when these phones are going to be refreshed too: there’s expected to be a new Samsung Galaxy phone in March 2016 and a new Nexus handset in late 2015.

Lotus Evora

Lotus Evora 400 review: 2015 first drive

The Lotus Evora has raised its game. Lighter, faster, more efficient and more fun, this British sports car is now a real alternative to a Porsche 911.

Lotus Evora

New Lotus Evora 400 is lighter, faster, more efficient and more fun

New Lotus Evora 400: Overview

Building a car that becomes an icon is not something you can write into your business plan. It happens through a combination of excellent design, an understanding of what the public might want in the future, and a large dose of luck. Every manufacturer wants to do it, but most – even after a blinding success – usually fail the next time around.

And so it has been with Lotus. The 1996 Elise was, and still is, an outstandingly successful small sports car, arguably the purest driving machine you can buy today. The 2009 Lotus Evora has not had the same level of success, with just over 3,000 finding buyers in six years.

However, there’s a new broom at Lotus. Jean-Marc Gales brings a hard-nosed business brain into the Norfolk company and a straightforward mission to ramp up annual sales to 3,000, from a mere 1,200 in 2014.  How will he do that? The primary platforms are a radically revised Evora and a whole lot more dealers.

02_Lotus EvoraThe Evora 400 replaces all the previous models. The vision is to make it not just 50hp faster than before, but a whole lot more agile and dynamic. On the Lotus test track at Hethel, a six-second lap time improvement was the target. A seven-second reduction was achieved. Anyone who follows motor racing will realise just what a giant step that is.

The changes are major, with more than two-thirds of the 400 said to be new. Weight has been added – bigger brakes, an intercooler and a larger oil cooler – and taken out with lighter seats, panels and wheels. The net result is a 42kg saving.

The body has been restyled, with a more scoops, wings and splitters, although it’s still a long way from pretty. The interior gets yet another overhaul. The Evora 400 is priced at £72,000 in the UK.

03_Lotus EvoraNew Lotus Evora 400: On the road

For a moment, let’s forget about road driving and concentrate on the track side of things. The suspension is stiffer both front and rear, which reduces body-roll in bends and gives the Evora 400 a whole lot more directional agility. The tyres – Michelin Pilot Super Sports– are now 285-section at the rear, and whether it is the extra width, the new rubber or the chassis changes (or indeed all three), the car’s cornering speed is simply breathtaking.

The Evora sits flat, the steering is pin-sharp and full of feel, and throttle response is razor-sharp. Yes, you’ll have to forgive the clichés but this Lotus is one of those cars that simply brings them out. It’s so easy to feel quickly at one with this car, making it far easier to drive really fast than an Exige S.

Sport mode is essential for track use, letting the rear of the Evora twitch at times, but with a comforting safety net as soon as the car starts to get out of shape on an 80mph corner. Race mode does the same, but the Evora gets more sideways before assistance cuts in. Or, if you have the ability of a Lotus test driver, you can switch the whole lot off. No thanks.

08_Lotus EvoraThe massive AP Racing brakes help bring those lap times down, while manual cars are aided by a limited-slip differential. This is a first for the Evora, and, for the time being, available only on manual cars.

Does all this translate to a useable road car, though? The worry is that the stiffer suspension might compromise the ride comfort too much. Yet Lotus is a master at the art of suspension design, and it was aided during the development phase by the poor state of many of Norfolk’s country roads.

So yes, the Evora 400 does feel a bit stiffer, but compliance is extremely good, so neither comfort nor directional stability are adversely affected.

More to the point, this Evora feels blindingly fast. The engine responds instantly to throttle movements, while the steering dances about in you hands but always keeps you on the right track. It’s both impressive and fun.

05_Lotus EvoraNew Lotus Evora 400: On the inside

The changes inside the Evora are focussed on customer feedback. So it’s easier to get in and out, with the door opening now 56mm lower, plus narrower door sills. Footwell space has been increased, the seats move further back and there are re-designed rear seats – although it’s still hard to fathom how even kids would squeeze in there.

There’s an upgraded heating and ventilation system that pumped through a good volume of cooled air on a warm July morning. The instruments have a cleaner design and a lot of the switchgear has been moved to the centre console, reducing the risk of pressing the wrong button.

Embracing all this is a real ramp-up in the feeling of quality. The Evora, at long last, feels like a genuine high-end sports car, where it is no longer necessary to forgive small flaws that were occasionally not far below the surface.

06_Lotus EvoraCoupled to that are some excellent new Sparco seats that combine an appropriate level of comfort and cushioning on the road with supreme levels of sideways support when you are cornering at the highest speeds on the track.

The boot, so they say, will take a set of golf clubs, and of course there’s space for more gear on the rear seats. I should mention the noise here, too. A three-inch exhaust system gives a terrific soundtrack, but when you’ve had enough, the only option is to select the least focussed ‘Drive’ setting for the chassis and throttle. We suggested to Jean-Marc Gales that a quiet mode in ‘Sport’ would be useful.

07_Lotus EvoraNew Lotus Evora 400: Running costs

A £72,000 outlay buys you get a pretty well-equipped Evora 400. You’ll want the Leather pack or Alcantara pack at £2,500 apiece, and perhaps the faster-changing automatic transmission, with paddle shifters (£2,000).

Despite the extra power of the Evora 400, Lotus has squeezed the CO2 emissions down by 4g/km to 225g/km. The statutory average fuel consumption figure is 31mpg.

Key to Evora ownership is how well the 400 will hold its value. Prices of used Evoras are buoyant at the moment so although a used Porsche will undoubtedly be easier to sell, the Evora does stand up alongside one.

09_Lotus EvoraNew Lotus Evora 400: Verdict

This is undoubtedly the best road-going Lotus for years. Naturally, the performance is a key aspect, combining visceral excitement with a truly outstanding chassis.

But you already expected that, didn’t you? More to the point is that the Evora 400 ably stands up to its competition in terms of showroom appeal for the first time. No longer is an Evora simply the plaything of the dedicated Lotus enthusiast, who accepts the quirks with equanimity.

The new feeling of quality, inside and out, and the easy nature of the Evora when you don’t want to drive it like a race car, suddenly mean Lotus can find a whole new batch of customers. Let’s hope it succeeds.

10_Lotus EvoraNew Lotus Evora 400: Specification

Engine: 3.5-litre supercharged V6

Price: £72,000

Power: 400hp

Torque: 302lb ft (410Nm)

0-62mph: 4.2 seconds

Top speed: 186mph (300kph)

Fuel economy: 31.0mpg (9.1 l/100km)

CO2 emissions: 225g/km


1993 Mazda MX-5 S-Special: goodbye

1993 Mazda MX-5 S-Special: goodbye

1993 Mazda MX-5 S-Special: goodbye

Have you ever accidentally sold a car? Er, I have.

Just like I accidentally bought my Mazda MX-5, it has now gone to a new owner. That new owner is Bill. Bill is my neighbour and he has had his eye on ‘JOE’ since I bought it in January.

I had been considering selling the MX-5. I get bored easily (ahem, E34, Puma…), and I’d decided there was little point splashing out on upgrading the suspension to expensive coilovers and replacing the ditchfinder tyres when, chances are, something else would soon come up that took my fancy.

The plan was simple. Get it MOTed (it was due in August), give it a really good clean and then advertise it in the middle of summer for top money.

From Seicento to MX-5?

But then I bumped into Bill on the day he’d scrapped his trusty Fiat Seicento. After a good decade or so of use, it had succumbed to an issue that the local garage had deemed not worth fixing, and the scrap man had been to collect it.

“Would you like to buy an MX-5?” I joked, as you do in these situations. Bill didn’t take a great deal of persuasion to jump in the passenger seat and come out for a drive on the nice summer’s evening it was.

By the time we returned, a short test drive later, he was sold. “Can I give you some money?”

I wasn’t ready for selling the car yet. It needed MOTing, and I wasn’t planning to advertise it for a couple of months.

But Bill was insistent. Money needed to be exchanged as a sort of contract between the pair of us. He didn’t want me selling Joe to anyone else, despite my promise that that wouldn’t happen.

We agreed a rough figure, and I said I’d put it through an MOT before the deal happened. But that represented a challenge of its own…

Emissions trouble

1993 Mazda MX-5 S-Special: goodbye

I was confident the MX-5 would pass its MOT. Looking through its history, it had always sailed through. It really must have been one of the cleanest first-generation MX-5s left.

So I chucked it into the local branch of Kwik Fit, agreeing to pick it up an hour later with (hopefully) a clean sheet I could show Bill.

But it didn’t go to plan. The MX-5 failed on two things: the horn (irritating… I knew it could be temperamental but I’d tried it on the way to the test station and it had been fine); and emissions. Oh… that could be costlier to diagnose.

The second I got home with the disgraced MX-5, I did a search online and had a chat with a mate who works at a garage. It started to appear that actually, my MX-5 had been tested wrongly. You see, it’s not actually an MX-5, it’s a Eunos Japanese import. And going by the engine number, higher emission limits should be applied for a vehicle without a cat.

I returned straight to Kwik Fit with my findings. The man at the desk wasn’t satisfied and would do everything he could to prevent me speaking to the MOT tester. I gave up, went home, and researched some more. I discovered this document which said in black and white that an MX-5 with my engine code should be given more leniency.

I returned, again, by which time the MOT tester had gone home. He wouldn’t be back in until Tuesday (this was on a Saturday).

DVSA confirms (eventually): Kwik-Fit had it wrong

So I phoned the DVSA (formerly VOSA) to check. Even they took some persuasion. The first lady I spoke to would barely listen to my case, and when I pointed out the document mentioned above she trotted out the ‘I’ve been doing my job 20 odd years’ line. So I asked to speak to her manager. And he agreed with me.

A strongly worded email was sent to Kwik Fit head office was sent arguing my case. And it turned out to be a case of David and Goliath.

By Tuesday I had a phonecall from the MOT tester. He was very apologetic, and offered to re-test it in his lunch break if I could get it in. I did, and in the meantime I had bodged the horn. It passed.

I was open about the whole situation was Bill, and he was happy. The deal was done. Cash was handed over. The MX-5 is no longer mine.

So what’s going to replace it? Well, something’s lined up. I’ve not seen it yet, but the seller’s delivering it to my parents’ house tomorrow. I’ll be travelling up to Shropshire at the weekend to see it for the first time and bring it home to St Albans. Watch this space…

Selfie-snapping while driving

Selfie shock: 1 in 10 drivers have taken one in the past MONTH

Selfie-snapping while drivingMotorists are using their smartphones behind the wheel to take selfies, make video calls and even watch videos or catch-up TV.

Nearly 10% admit to have taken a selfie while driving in the past month. It rises to 15% of 18-24 year olds and, proving that older drivers know no better, goes up again to 19% of 25-35 year olds.

There’s a clear gender gap too: 5% of women admit to it, compared to 12% of men.

Younger drivers are keener on using Skype or FaceTime, though: 16% admit to it, double the still-worrying national average in the IAM poll of 500 drivers.

7% of drivers have even watched videos or streamed catch-up TV while on the road…


IAM CEO Sarah Sillars said: “It’s shocking to see new trends like taking selfies and making video calls becoming common practice.

“Safe driving is everyone’s responsibility and more must be done to catch drivers using these devices dangerously by increasing the fines and points for smartphone and tablet use at the wheel – there is simply no excuse.”

She is now calling for a national campaign to make smartphone use behind the wheel as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.

Sillars is also keen to rectify another worrying trend: despite such growth in more dangerous ways of using smartphones while driving, prosecutions for mobile phone use behind the wheel fell 40% in 2014.


Taking hay fever meds? Don’t drive, warns Kwik-Fit

The best smartphones of 2015 so far… and still to come

Dial 999 if you see a motorway incident says road safety body

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

McLaren 675LT review: 2015 first drive

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

McLaren has tested the new 675LT against the clock. It’s just half a second slower than the mighty P1. “A bit too close for comfort,” admitted an engineer to us. Before adding, “it’s also faster than those other two hypercars…”.

That’s a mark of this extraordinary car’s might. You may at first glance think it’s just a tuned up 650S Coupe, like us when we first saw it ahead of the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, but we’d be wrong. 33% of it is completely different to the 650S. The 25hp power boost to 675hp comes courtesy of an engine 50% new.

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The McLaren engineering whizzes set out to create something a little bit special, but then engineering enthusiasm kicked in; they’ve actually created some thing very, very special indeed. Welcome to the McLaren 675LT – the new McLaren Longtail.

OK, so the tail of the McLaren 675LT isn’t actually much longer than the tail of the McLaren 650S Coupe it’s derived from. Actually having a ‘long tail’ isn’t the point here: rather, it’s a car that uses the philosophy being the legendary original McLaren F1 GTR ‘Longtail’.

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

Which is? Taking a regular car and tirelessly improving it to create a highly honed special with an extremely hardcore focus sold in strictly limited numbers. Only 500 will be built, each costing £259,500. Money’s proven no object: they’re already all sold out.

Besides, it does look tantalisingly different to the 650S in the flesh. With its broader stance, bigger air intakes, ultra-aggressive front splitter, jaw-dropping wheels, beautiful carbonfibre addenda and, of course, that humungous rear Airbrake, the expert eye won’t miss it.

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

The untrained eye might, until they see the 675LT in action: when raised, the Airbrake, now stretching the full length of the car into (at huge expense) the rear bodywork, looks staggering. It’s enormous. It’s fully active (adjusting its profile as you drive, tucking away when it senses straights to act like F1 DRS) and effective, and will make other motorists swoon when they see it operate before their eyes.

And that’s what McLaren hopes most 675LTs will be doing – driving. It’s the driver’s McLaren which, for a range of cars that already eyeballs Ferrari and Lamborghini, is saying something. See it as McLaren’s Ferrari 458 Speciale – and boy, is it special.

2015 McLaren 675LT: on the road

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

On McLaren’s Silverstone launch, we drove it in two stages – and fittingly, the on-track part came first. McLaren wanted us to find the limits quickly, so we could concentrate on the experience out on the road. It’s a measure of how talented the car is that we were happily doing this within three laps, with sky-high confidence.

This is a serious engineering project: when engineers reveal “there’s some P1 in the front suspension”, you listen. With 40% more downforce to deal with, front suspension is 27% stiffer and the Airbrake-pressed rear is 60% stiffer. “It’s been tuned to be more agile,” they told us. “And the steering is even faster than the P1…”

Despite grippier track-biased Pirelli Trofeo tyres, McLaren’s reengineered the ESP so you can more easily burn them out – there’s even a dedicated Track ESP mode plus, rather surprisingly, a ‘burnout’ mode – the 675LT will lay down long, long lines of black rubber if you so wish. And do donuts. This sounds a seriously unhinged bit of car.

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

Thing is, it’s not wild and crazy. Just very focused and very, very good. On track, with all its grip, agility, direct-connection feel and eye-opening extra bite when the ‘aero’ setting of the Airbrake kicks in, it gives the fantastic feeling of getting better the faster you go.

It’s two or three levels above most supercars, with aspects such as the Airbrake-enhanced brakes, sensuous steering and frankly ridiculous speeds at which you can chuck it about and get sideways if you don’t want to drive it in the purist way you should do with something this capable all combining to deliver a driving experiential whirlwind.

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

On the road, it’s naturally taut, rolling along with a racecar’s attitude and poise. Potent, from the first turn of the is-it-really-this-direct, Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel. But again, it’s not aggressive, doesn’t feel it might chew your arm off. Just egg you into driving very, very illegally.

McLaren’s complicated adaptive suspension keeps the body flat and in control without tearing into B-road intrusions, while the precision you can steer it despite the explosive engine is a step on even from the ultra-accurate 650S. Even the panoramic front visibility helps here: steer it on the nose but also see exactly where you’ve just placed that nose.

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

It’s a breathless experience if you want it to be, because the car’s so much better than you, but still tries to involve you and won’t remain aloof if you’re not up to it. The 675LT also works on the road, though, despite all this track-optimised brilliance, and it’s this combination that will make you chew wasps that they’re only making 500.

The engine? Sensational. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear it’s from a race car; that’s how wild it sounds. The wail at ultra-high revs is incredible and performance is something else: it makes light work of Silverstone’s F1-grade long straights, never mind the roads around it.

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

McLaren has fitted stiffer engine mounts so you can ‘feel’ the engine more, and ignition cut on sport-mode gearchanges, for aggressively, thumpingly instantaneous shifts. The speed is class-leading, the sensations fantastic. The engine even ‘revs up and down’ faster: it’ll change speed at 31,000rpm in a second. Be in little doubt, that makes for a awe-inspiring engine in practice.

Oh yeah, and if you think 25hp more doesn’t sound like much, do also note the 675LT is also 100kg lighter than the 650S…

0-62mph in 2.9 seconds, for the record; 0-124mph in 7.9 seconds, and a 205mph top speed (but that bit’s immaterial, say the McLaren engineers – acceleration’s where it’s at). Faster than you’ll ever need, then – but it’s how it delivers this, and what it then lets you do with it, that’s so fantastic.

2015 McLaren 675LT: on the inside

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

“We didn’t want to create a stripped-out special,” say the McLaren engineers. That would have been the cheaper, easier route. So instead, they’ve again created a highly bespoke interior that’s like a Le Mans racer but also like something posh that will readily swallow a continent or two.

The dashboard is 650S-lite, with extra carbon fibre but fewer heater control dials on the door panels. In the name of weight-saving and simplicity, they’ve been stripped out, with the central touchscreen now multi-funtionally taking their place.

Seats are deep, stiff, Alcantara-trimmed bodyguards of support. It’s a struggle even to get into them if you’re wearing the wrong jeans, and they certainly won’t let you roll about once within them. It may give McLaren some future warranty work in retrimming the side bolsters, mind.

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

Lots of bits are as per 650S; the rev counter is the same but for the 675LT branding. There’s one distinct differentiator though – McLaren’s onboard lap timer infotainment system, called McLaren Track Telemetry. It’s superb. Within a lap, it will detect the track you’re driving on – and then start displaying lap times in real time, just like those we watch during F1 qualifying.

There’s more. String together a sequence and it will show you how far ‘up’ or ‘down’ you are on your best lap. Even better, it will illuminate individual corners on the map in red or green, depending on if you’re faster or slower.

Best of all, you can order a trio of cameras to go with it – one looking ahead, one looking behind, one filming you. This will overlay with the car data and you can download the whole lot to a USB circuit to analyse at home or, more likely, share on YouTube. And how cool is that?

2015 McLaren 675LT: running costs

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

McLaren being McLaren, this hasn’t been overlooked. It emits 275g/km CO2 on the official cycle, and will average 24.2mpg. If you ever see that flashing on the trip computer, though, you’re doing something wrong. Because this isn’t a car for cruising.

That’s why running costs may be, er, a little high. Those Trofeo tyres are not cheap. It will devour fuel on track. Because it feels so much like a bespoke racing car, you’ll want to make sure it’s engineered to a suitable level during ownership, and that also costs.

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

But who cares. The people who’ve bought this have several other cars anyway, and a couple of thousand pounds on the credit card whenever it needs it isn’t going to worry them. Quite right. McLaren’s spent so much time and money creating the 675LT with these people in mind, and it’s the focus on its core customers that’s the reason it’s so great.

Besides, they’re actually a canny bunch. So superb is the 675LT, so pure to its purpose and already iconic, it’s hardly going to depreciate. In today’s exalted supercar climate, that quarter-million price tag is only likely to spiral.

You’ll spend a bit running it, then. But you’ll get that back when you sell it over and over again. If you could ever bear to part with it, that is…

2015 McLaren 675LT: verdict

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

The McLaren 675LT is fantastic. Fast, entertaining and utterly charismatic, it’s a bespoke-tuned version of a mainstream car that has limitless appeal and, with its Airbrake, P1 suspension, track-tuned suspension,F1-grade interior and frankly ridiculous speed, huge allure.

It’s limited to 500, it costs a quarter of a million quid and they’re all sold out anyway. It doesn’t matter. McLaren’s intention with the 675LT was to create a model that will define a new series of cars, offering LT-branded step-up ‘Speciale’ tuning over the standard cars, without straying into P1-style exclusivity.

It’s done this brilliantly. The 675LT is focused, flippin’ fast and flooding-in-sensations fantastic. Far more extreme than a 650S Coupe – which you should note if you’re hopeful of trading up from one (you’ll be stunned by the extra attitude, the sheer intensity) – but that’s what makes it so epic.

Unfair to give a car you can’t even buy, and which costs £259,500, a full five stars? Not at all. The 675LT really does deserve no less.

2015 McLaren 675LT: specifications

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

Engine: 3.8-litre V8 twin-turbo

Price: £259,500

Power: 675hp

Torque: 516lb ft (700Nm)

0-62mph: 2.9 seconds

Top speed: 205mph (330km/h)

Fuel economy: 24.2mpg (11.7l/100km)

CO2 emissions: 275g/km