Lord Montagu

Beaulieu founder Lord Montagu dies

Lord MontaguLord Montagu, founder of Britain’s National Motor Museum and a groundbreaking figure in the classic car world, has died after a short illness. He was 88.

Edward, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, inherited the Beaulieu Estate when he was two years old: it was managed by his father’s widow and trustees until he was 25.

But with an allocation from his inheritance of just £1,500 a year to run the estate, Lord Montagu was faced with a dilemma. “In 1951, to any sensible, rational being, the house was a white elephant,” he said.

“The wise solution was to get rid of it. For me, however – neither entirely sensible nor rational – that was unthinkable.”

He thus decided to open the estate to paying visitors, with an added USP: exhibiting classic veteran cars.

This, he said, commemorated his father’s life – he was a car enthusiast too – but “without it, my life would have been very different and I doubt whether I would have been able to remain as owner and occupier of my ancestral home.”

In 1952, the collection became Britain’s first car museum. By the 1960s, it was attracting half a million visitors a year.

Lord Montagu also created the world famous Beaulieu Autojumble in 1967 – a name he invented and which has long had an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Because it was proving so successful, an all-new 40,000 square-foot museum was built in the early 70s and opened by the Duke of Kent on 4 July 1972: it became the National Motor Museum. It won the title of National Heritage Museum of the Year in 1974 – the same year a monorail was opened to help visitors tour the 7,000-acre estate.

In recent years, the World of Top Gear, displaying cars as driven by Clarkson, Hammond and May in the huge hit show, has proven an ever-popular attraction.

Montagu was also chairman of the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission: one of his early actions as chair was to rename it English Heritage.

Lord Montagu is survived by his wife Fiona, his son and heir Ralph, daughter Mary and second son Jonathan.

In accordance with his wishes, the estate and visitor attractions are continuing to operate as usual.

An estate funeral will be held at Beaulieu, followed by a memorial service at St Margaret’s, Westminster.

Toyota Tundra Grile

The Toyota that transforms into a barbeque

Toyota Tundra GrileHow to showcase the huge bed of the latest Toyota Tundra? If you’re Toyota Canada, by creating THE ultimate mobile barbeque, that’s how.

Earlier this year, the firm partnered with Canadian grill experts Napoleon to create two amazing Tundra ‘tailgating vehicles’.

Amazing, because sliding out the 8.1-foot deck is a massive grille that houses the barbeque to beat them all.

The grille is massive enough to cater for even the pickiest eater. It has no fewer than SEVEN burners, an integrated wood chip smoker tray – even the controls are illuminated for night-time barbeques.

That’s not all: there’s also a preparation area. Even a separate area for condiments, rolls and onions.

Oh, and brilliantly, the cooking grilles have the Toyota logo cut into them…

Toyota Tundra Grile

Toyota says it’s been a showstopper even when it’s not been fired up. When it has, the queues have stretched far. And now the word is out, its forthcoming appearances from September through December may well be even more popular.

“The Toyota Tundra is known for being up to the task for anything Canadians throw at it,” said Toyota Canada vice president Stephen Beatty.

“It has certainly proven to be ideal for this special tailgating vehicle.” Indeed. Hands up who’ll be looking at their Bank Holiday barbeque with a little bit of a scowl now?

Frankfurt Motor Show

2015 Frankfurt Motor Show preview guide

Frankfurt Motor ShowFrankfurt is one of the highlights of 2015 for petrolheads, with many new cars set to make their debut.

Here are the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show stars we know about so far…

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo’s long-awaited Giulia (say it ‘Julia’) will take on the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series when it goes on sale in summer 2016.

The Giulia seen here is the range-topping 510hp Quadrifoglio. This rear-wheel-drive saloon should give the BMW M3 something to worry about.

Audi A4

Audi A4

It might not look much different, but the new Audi A4 is lighter, roomier and more efficient. The most efficient 2.0 TDI Ultra saloon returns 76.4mpg and emits just 95g/km CO2.

Inside is where the A4 scores over its rivals. The (optional) 12.3in digital instrument display already wowed us in the TT and looks just as great here.

Bentley Bentayga

 

Bentayga 1The Bentley Bentayga beats off strong competition from the Renault Kadjar for worst car name of 2015. On sale in early 2016, it is the British brand’s first SUV.

So far, Bentley has only released grainy pictures of the Bentayga in cold-weather testing. It is powered by a 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 engine.

BMW 7 Series

BMW 7 Series

The 7 Series has always lived in the shadow of Mercedes’ more popular S-class limousine. However, it promises to remain the keen driver’s choice in this class.

The latest 7 Series is packed with technology. The latest version of its iDrive media system offers a touchscreen and gesture control. You can twirl your finger to adjust the audio volume, for example.

BMW X1

BMW X1

It’s fair to say that the outgoing X1 wasn’t BMW’s finest hour. The new car is a big improvement, particularly in terms of fuel efficiency.

Most X1s are four-wheel drive. The remainder send power through the front wheels, rather than the rears as previously. Enthusiasts may grumble, but few owners will care.

DS 4 Crossback

 

DS4 1Don’t call it a Citroen! DS is now a separate brand and the new Crossback is part of its push upmarket. As the name suggests, it’s a crossover version of the existing DS 4 hatchback.

The Crossback takes on the Nissan Qashqai with a choice of 130hp petrol or 120hp diesel engines. Apple’s Carplay media system is on the options list.

Ferrari 488 GTS

Ferrari 488 Spider

We don’t know how the Ferrari 488 Spider drives yet, but we almost don’t care. Just look at it. And imagine the sound from its turbocharged V8 engine as it screams to 62mph in 3.0 seconds. Automotive nirvana.

The Spider has a retractable hard-top roof, yet its chassis is just as rigid as the 488 GTB coupe – a remarkable achievement. Gotta love those speedster-style humps behind the headrests, too.

Ford Edge

Edge 1

Bringing some American-style glamour to Europe, the Edge sits above the Kuga in Ford’s SUV line-up. There will also be a Sport model, with gloss-black trim instead of chrome.

Edge buyers can choose from 180hp or 210hp 2.0-litre diesel engines – both with four-wheel drive. Sales start in early 2016.

Infiniti Q30

Infiniti Q30

We first saw the concept version of Infiniti’s Q30 hatchback at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2013. Here is the production car – due later this year.

The Q30 (seen here in concept form) shares many of its underpinnings with the Mercedes A-class and will be built alongside the Qashqai at Nissan’s factory in Sunderland.

Jaguar F-Pace

Jaguar F-Pace

If you have been watching the Tour de France, you will probably have seen this lightly-disguised Jaguar F-Pace supporting the Team Sky riders.

The F-Pace is Jaguar’s first SUV and will take on the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and new Mercedes GLC when it goes on sale in early 2016.

Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage

Here is the fourth-generation Kia Sportage. The compact SUV features a bolder front end than the current model, with high-mounted headlights and ‘ice cube’ LED lights on GT Line versions.

Overall dimensions are similar, but the wheelbase is longer. Kia says the design of the Sportage was inspired by the controversially-named 2013 Provo concept car.

Lamborghini Huracan Spider

Lamborghini Huracan

Again, we don’t have images of the forthcoming Huracan Spider yet. So just imagine this car without a roof. Yep, it’s going to look sensational.

With a 602hp 5.2-litre V10 underneath its rear deck, the drop-top Huracan will provide plenty of wind in your hair. A 202mph wind, to be exact.

Mercedes-Benz S-class Convertible

Mercedes 1

The S-class is often hailed as ‘the best car in the world’. Does that make the new drop-top the best convertible in the world? We shall see…

The S-class is often hailed as ‘the best car in the world’. Does that make the new drop-top the best convertible in the world? We shall see…

MINI Clubman

MINI Clubman

The MINI Clubman is back, this time as a more conventional small estate car. It will cost from £19,995 when it goes on sale later in 2015.

The Clubman no longer has a small ‘Clubdoor’ at the side. But the vertically-split tailgate remains – setting it apart from the five-door MINI hatchback.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe

Mercedes-AMG C63

Here’s the first version of the new C-Class Coupe to be released: the tyre-smoking C63 AMG. Its 4.0-litre V8 engine develops 476hp, or 510hp in S trim. Which should be plenty.

Sharing its engine with the AMG GT sports car means the C63 can sprint to 62mph in 4.0 seconds or less. It also has something called ‘flap technology’ to make the exhausts EXTRA LOUD.

Mercedes-Benz GLC

Mercedes-Benz GLC

We’ve just driven Mercedes’ new medium-sized SUV and came away impressed. The GLC makes its public debut at Frankfurt, then reaches showrooms in October.

The GLC is offered with a choice of two diesel engines in the UK. Other markets get petrol and petrol/electric hybrid versions.

Peugeot 308 R Hybrid

Peugeot 308 R Hybrid

First seen as a concept car at Frankfurt, a production version of the 308 R Hybrid now looks certain. We think that’s a very good thing indeed.

This 500hp plug-in hybrid 308 hits 62mph in 4.0 seconds and emits just 70g/km CO2. Although not at the same time, of course…

Porsche 911 facelift

Porsche 911 2015

As ever, the design of the new 911 is decidedly ‘evolutionary’. To be fair, this is only a mid-life facelift, designed to keep the current ‘991’ model fresh.

The big news for the latest 911, spied here testing at the Nurburgring, is under the skin. More turbocharged engines are on the way, and a smaller, four-cylinder engine is rumoured.

Renault Megane

 

Megane 1The fourth-generation Megane is Renault’s attempt to move upmarket, taking on the latest Peugeot 308 and Volkswagen Golf. The French manufacturer promises a big step up in quality.

Highlights of the new Megane’s interior include a large touchscreen and optional head-up display. A Renaultsport hot hatch will follow at a later date.

Rolls-Royce Dawn

Dawn 1

The elegant Rolls-Royce Dawn is an open-top version of the Wraith coupe. Its maker says it will be the quietest convertible on sale.

Under the Dawn’s long bonnet is a 6.6-litre turbocharged V12. It’s expected to cost upwards of £250,000 when it reaches showrooms in 2016.

Toyota Prius

Prius 1

If we’re being kind, we’d describe the styling of the new Prius as ‘challenging’. Toyota hasn’t released any figures yet, but expect the iconic petrol/electric hybrid to be greener than ever.

Nope, it doesn’t look any better from the back… However, new double wishbone rear suspension should result in sportier handling.

Vauxhall Astra

Vauxhall Opel Astra

Squaring up to the next Renault Megane is the 2015 Vauxhall Astra. The engine line-up includes a super-clean 1.6 diesel that emits just 82g/km CO2.

UK prices for the new Astra will start at £15,295 and standard equipment includes DAB radio, Bluetooth and cruise control. A Sports Tourer estate version follows in spring 2016.

VW Tiguan

Volkswagen Tiguan

Frankfurt 2015 will be a relatively quiet show for Volkswagen. But we should see a concept version of the next Tiguan 4×4. The current car is shown here.

The concept Tiguan will offer big clues to how the new car will look. Hybrid powertrains – as seen in the Golf and Passat GTE – look likely and a seven-seat version is possible.

DVLA

DVLA phone lines jammed by industrial action over pay dispute

DVLA

The DVLA has warned that customers may experience longer waiting times as staff at its Swansea call centre walk out over a pay dispute.

The strike begins today and will last until Sunday – with 650 Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union members taking action.

In a statement, the DVLA said: “It’s possible that DVLA’s Contact Centre may offer a reduced service and you may experience longer waiting times when contacting us by phone or social media.”

PCS said the dispute has been trigged by the DVLA’s decision not to pay an allowance for Saturday working to contact-centre staff recruited since the start of 2015, and a 50% cut for staff who do receive it from 1 September.

You can now tax your car online via the DVLA’s website, and even notify them if you’ve sold a vehicle.

Children in car

Revealed: the disturbing reasons why parents leave kids alone in the car

Children in car

Almost a quarter of UK parents admit to leaving their kids on their own in the car for as long as 27 minutes.

The research, by Kwik Fit Insurance Services, reveals that dads are likely to leave kids alone in cars for longer than mums – despite half of parents saying they’ve returned to misbehaving children as a result.

The most common scene to return to is fighting between siblings (15%), tears (13%) and beeping the horn (13%).

Worryingly, one in six parents admitted to locking their kids in the car as punishment – while more than a quarter said they simply forgot about them.

‘Shocking’

Child behaviour expert Richard Curtis said: “The results of this survey are very shocking.

“While it is not appropriate to take a child out of a car whilst filling up with petrol, there are many other times where the children should go with their parents.

“There are a number of hazards that could pose a risk to children in an unattended vehicle, plus, as this report shows, siblings will often bicker or fight.”

The survey found that the youngest age on average that UK parents leave their children alone in the car is 7 years – dropping to 5 years for younger parents.

Curtis added: “Children left alone in an enclosed space with a sibling will often get bored or frustrated with them, especially left without an activity to do.

“My advice would be to never leave children under the age of 12 unattended if you haven’t got line of sight to them, and even then not for more than a few minutes.

“Whatever parents decide, having some games and activities in the  car is only ever going to be beneficial to keep little people occupied.”

Hyundai Tucson 2015

Hyundai Tucson review: 2015 UK first drive

Hyundai Tucson 2015Around a decade ago, Hyundai launched a compact SUV in the UK called the Tucson. Then came the freshly designed and European built ix35 in 2009 which took away the Tucson name, and sold as many cars in its first year as that original Tucson sold in its entire UK lifespan.

Now, things have come full circle, as Hyundai returns the Tucson name to its C-Segment SUV.

In the six years between this all-new car and its namesake, the C-SUV market has become hugely important, with the ix35 moving itself to being Hyundai’s second best-seller in the UK. Which means nailing the product in this sector is vital for Hyundai’s future plans.

The result is a handsome new Tucson that is very much on trend, with a bluff chrome-covered nose, sharply creased and sculpted sides, and a roofline that curves towards the rear. Extra features such as asymmetric wheel arches, distinctive LED daytime running lights, and twin exhaust tailpipes, means the new Tucson has real visual impact.

There’s also thoughtfulness in the design, such as the lower section of the tailgate being made of plastic so it’s cheaper to replace in the event of an accident. The new car features 51% high strength steel, boosting crash protection and refinement over the departing ix35.

Prices begin at £18,695 for the entry-level S trim car with a 1.6-litre petrol engine, climbing to £32,345 for the top-spec Premium SE 4WD 2.0-litre diesel with 182hp.

The expected best-selling 2WD 1.7-litre diesel SE Nav rolls in at £22,795, undercutting a similarly equipped Nissan Qashqai by £650.

2015 Hyundai Tucson: On the road

Hyundai Tucson 2015

Most of our time on test was spent in the range-topping 182hp 2.0-litre diesel 4WD model, mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. With 295lb-ft of torque it has the most twist of the Tucson range, yet never felt truly capable of the claimed 9.5 seconds 0-62mph time. The engine is at least refined, and the gearshifts smooth if slightly slow.

We also experienced the 1.6-litre T-GDI turbocharged petrol engine, fitted with the seven-speed DCT dual-clutch transmission. With 175bhp, and a kerb weight some 80kg less than the big diesel, the turbo petrol feels more capable of hitting 0-62mph in the 9.1 seconds. It’s no GTI, but offers decent cross-country progress.

Automatic versions do feature a Sport mode, although this seemed to make little difference to overall driving beyond encouraging the gearbox to cling onto a gear for slightly longer. 

Hyundai Tucson 2015

Ride quality is generally good, and whilst the bigger 19-inch wheels fitted to top-spec cars do make you aware of bumps and potholes in the road, the Tucson does an impressive job of isolating you from them.

Body control is also impressive – there’s no sense of the Tucson being a wallowing SUV – with a crisp turn-in to corners. Steering feel is lacking, but Hyundai is hardly pitching the Tucson as sports car, and it doesn’t detract from the ability to place the car accurately on twisty roads. Braking is strong and progressive, without being overly aggressive in initial bite.

Hyundai’s launch route included the use of gravelled forestry tracks to demonstrate the Tucson’s SUV credentials. While most buyers will never venture further off-road than parking on a kerb, the Tucson does offer some ability away from tarmac.

In 4WD models 100% of the torque is sent to the front wheels until they lose traction, after which up to 50% can be sent to the rear axle. There’s also the option to lock the torque split at 50/50 at speeds below 25mph. On the loose gravel surfaces the Tucson maintained the same confident composure as on tarmac, with the 4WD system subtly transferring torque to keep things moving.

2015 Hyundai Tucson: On the inside

Hyundai Tucson 2015

Whilst the preceding ix35 was never praised for its interior, Hyundai has made a leap forward with the new Tucson. Everything is set out clearly and logically, with most functions controlled through the 8-inch touchscreen.

While it’s an obvious improvement in quality, with the Tucson covering such a wide price range, what feels acceptable at £18,000 might not be so well received at £32,000. Hyundai is targeting BMW and Audi customers with the premium Tucson models and whilst the interior certainly doesn’t feel cheap, some buyers might view it as a compromise.

However, the payoff is a standard specification far more substantial than the equivalent German-brand car. DAB radio is standard across the range, along with USB / AUX inputs, Bluetooth connectivity and air conditioning. Moving up the range, SE grade adds rear parking sensors, climate control, heated front seats, and cruise control over the standard ‘S’ specification.

Premium adds more toys in the shape of auto wipers and lights, privacy glass, leather seats and a blind spot warning system. SE Nav, unsurprisingly, adds satellite navigation that features TomTom Live updates, but also includes a useful reversing camera.

Go all out on the Premium SE model, and you’ll benefit from ventilated front seats, a huge panoramic sunroof, keyless entry, heated steering wheel, and an electronically assisted tailgate. This flagship trim level may be expensive, but there is almost nothing extra you could ask for in terms of technology.

Interior room is decent and boot space is above average for the class, with 513 litres with the seats up, expanding to 1,503 litres when the seats are folded. A full-size spare tyre reduces things by 25 litres but we can attest that it’s worth having, after picking up a puncture from a gravelled forestry road.

2015 Hyundai Tucson: Running costs

Hyundai Tucson 2015

The expected best-selling 2WD 1.7-litre CRDi diesel engine features an official combined fuel economy of 61.7mpg, and 119 g/km of CO2.

Depending on the gearbox, drivetrain and horsepower flavour chosen, the 2.0-litre diesel will officially return between 43.5 and 58.9mpg. For reference, we experienced the 185hp version with 4WD and six-speed automatic gearbox, seeing an average of 36mpg.

At the other end of the scale, the 1.6-litre T-GDI turbo petrol with DCT gearbox and 4WD system maintained a steady 28mpg when tested, compared to a claimed 37.7mpg official combined figure. CO2 emissions are high at 175g/km, with the accompanying VED penalty.

The 2WD – and manual gearbox only – naturally aspirated 1.6-litre petrol engine offers up a 44.8mpg average.

Hyundai is proud of the predicted residual values, which are set to offer a 9 – 15% improvement over the outgoing ix35, dependent on trim level. After three years/60,000 miles buyers should see their Tucson holding 42% of its original value. It’s should help Hyundai offer attractive PCP deals to entice customers in, along with the standard five-year/unlimited mileage warranty.

Verdict: 2015 Hyundai Tucson

Hyundai Tucson 2015

The all-new Tucson is a thoroughly competent C-segment SUV, and one that makes a strong case for itself in the UK. While there is no one particular stand out feature, the Tucson manages to do a number of things well to produce an effective overall package.

Up against competitors such as the Nissan Qashqai, Mazda CX-5 and Ford Kuga the Tucson is a real contender and one not to be overlooked by potential buyers. Taking on the likes of Audi and BMW at the top of the Tucson range is another battle, and one where customers may need more persuading to avert their badge snobbery.

But, in much the same way Aldi and Lidl have quietly taken the fight to established supermarkets by offering the squeezed middle-classes better value for money, there’s no reason why Hyundai cannot do the same with the Tucson in the SUV market.

Specification: 2015 Hyundai Tucson

Hyundai Tucson 2015

Engines: 1.6, 1.6 turbo 4-cylinder petrol; 1.7 and 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel

Gearbox: Six-speed manual and six/seven speed automatic; 2WD or 4WD

Prices from: £18,695

Power: 114hp – 182hp

Torque: 119 – 295lb ft

0-62mph: 9.1 – 13.7 seconds

Top speed: 109 – 125mph

Fuel economy: 37.2 – 61.7mpg

CO2 emissions: 119 – 177g/km

TomTom traffic map

14 million extra cars on road for Bank Holiday weekend

TomTom traffic mapThe RAC says up to 14 million MORE motorists may take to the road over the final Bank Holiday weekend of 2015 – and it’s warning drivers to plan ahead and leave as early as possible to try and beat the rush.

The first predicted spike in traffic is already underway: early Friday morning will be busier than usual as 55% MORE people plan an August Bank Holiday this year compared to 2014.

Saturday will actually be the busiest day though, with 2.6 million more cars on the road than normal.

Other traffic spikes will occur on Sunday late afternoon and early evening, and early on Bank Holiday Monday.

It’s all being fuelled by cheap petrol and diesel prices, reckons the RAC. This is encouraging people to plan a road trip and perhaps drive further afield than they otherwise would.

Potential traffic hotspots include:

  • Coastal areas
  • Reading and Leeds (because of the music festivals)
  • Overton, Hampshire (because of Chris Evans CarFest)

As a result of all these journeys, the RAC is predicting a busy weekend for its recovery crews. Engine breakdowns are common, said spokesman Pete Williams, “with many cars suffering from ignition coil, head gasket and cambelt issues, along with radiator cooling and overheating problems due to congestion and extended journey times.

“Punctures are also a common reason for call-outs over the August Bank Holiday weekend as a number of cars no longer come with a spare.”

He also has a top tip for Bank Holiday motorists: “Take a spare car key in case you lock your keys in the boot as many holidaymakers will know all too well….”

Volkswagen Phaeton

New Volkswagen Phaeton is ready – but it's too expensive to build

Volkswagen PhaetonVolkswagen has reportedly finished developing the all-new Phaeton luxury saloon – but is delaying its launch while it works out how to make it cheaper to build.

Bloomberg reports the car is being reworked to lower production and material costs for the hand-built Mercedes-Benz S-Class rival.

The original, launched back in 2002, has been in decline for years. Last year, Volkswagen sold just 4,000 units: Mercedes-Benz sold 100,000 S-Class.

A pet project of Ferdinand Piech, the Phaeton famously offered 186mph motoring in 50deg C heat while maintaining a stable 22deg C cabin temperature.

The new one is likely to push further engineering boundaries – but now Piech has departed Volkswagen, it seems some of his ultra-high targets for the new Phaeton may now be under review.

“There is always the element of the Phaeton being the answer to a question no one ever asked,” said Tim Urquhart, market researcher at IHS Automotive, told Bloomberg.

“It is surprising VW is sticking with model, he said. Given Volkswagen’s renewed focus on saving costs, “it is even more lucky to survive.”

Volkswagen Phaeton

New Volkswagen Phaeton is ready – but it’s too expensive to build

Volkswagen PhaetonVolkswagen has reportedly finished developing the all-new Phaeton luxury saloon – but is delaying its launch while it works out how to make it cheaper to build.

Bloomberg reports the car is being reworked to lower production and material costs for the hand-built Mercedes-Benz S-Class rival.

The original, launched back in 2002, has been in decline for years. Last year, Volkswagen sold just 4,000 units: Mercedes-Benz sold 100,000 S-Class.

A pet project of Ferdinand Piech, the Phaeton famously offered 186mph motoring in 50deg C heat while maintaining a stable 22deg C cabin temperature.

The new one is likely to push further engineering boundaries – but now Piech has departed Volkswagen, it seems some of his ultra-high targets for the new Phaeton may now be under review.

“There is always the element of the Phaeton being the answer to a question no one ever asked,” said Tim Urquhart, market researcher at IHS Automotive, told Bloomberg.

“It is surprising VW is sticking with model, he said. Given Volkswagen’s renewed focus on saving costs, “it is even more lucky to survive.”

Smart Fortwo Cabriolet

Smart Fortwo Cabriolet to debut at 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show

Smart Fortwo CabrioletThe new Smart Fortwo Cabriolet has been revealed ahead of its world debut at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show on September 15.

As before, the Fortwo Cabriolet has a three-stage roof, dubbed tritop: the soft-top section electrically turns from closed to open by sliding fully rearwards to sit just above the rear tail lights…

… But the side roof bars can also be removed and stowed in a special section in the flip-down bootlid, creating what Smart calls the only true cabriolet in the sector.

Smart Fortwo Cabriolet

The roof, which opens in 12 seconds, comes in red, black or an interesting-sounding blue denim.

Using a key on the remote keyfob, it can also be operated from outside.

Smart Fortwo Cabriolet

Smart says the roof is 4% larger than the old car, of which an impressive 220,000 were sold. It’s also been tested to the same standards used by Mercedes-Benz cars.

The firm proudly points to some of the tests it’s undertaken:

  • 20,000-cycle endurance test for opening and closing the roof
  • Functionality between -15 and +80 degrees C proven
  • Abuse test: opening a fully-iced roof at -40 degrees C
  • 500-cycle anti-leak car wash test

The new Smart Fortwo Cabriolet will initially be offered with either the 1.0-litre or 0.9-litre turbo engines from the coupe: a diesel version will follow later.

Following the car’s launch at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, ordering will open towards the end of the year and deliveries will begin in February 2016.