Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 ultra SE

Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 Ultra SE review: 2015 first drive

Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 ultra SEThe Audi A4 has been worrying the BMW 3 Series for 21 years now. From being a compact executive sector outsider, Audi now does battle with BMW and Mercedes-Benz to dominate the market for this type of car. These three brands alone sell four in every five compact execs globally.

The all-new Audi A4 is, rarely, just that: entirely all-new. It’s built on the new VW Group MLB evo platform – currently, only the new Q7 SUV also uses it – and follows the typical Audi story of being technologically leading-edge in every possible way.

Audi’s making a particularly big noise about its onboard tech. No car has this much connectivity as standard, it says, and the plethora of options brings in features that were standout in the A8 limousine sector just a year or two ago.

In base guise, it’s the lightest car in this sector. But the longest, widest and with the longest wheelbase, too – despite being all-steel, not part-aluminium (why is your aluminium so heavy, Jaguar?). It has an engine range that’s up to 25% more powerful and 21% less thirsty, and Benefit In Kind tax figures are down across the board.

Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 ultra SE

With easily the best Cd aerodynamic drag factor in the sector (just 0.23 – thank features such as the ultra-crisp, ultra-hard-to-make bootlid edge pressing), you’d be forgiven for thinking the looks are all-new as well. As we’ve established though, they’re not.

The image above: can you split it from the old A4 at a glance? Audi’s evolutionary styling strikes again, which is why some are perhaps not as excited about the A4 as they should be. We are, though – because our early drive suggested Audi might well have a very good car indeed on its hands.

In a sector buoyed by a heavily revised 3 Series, all-new XE and the ever-present allure of Mercedes-Benz’s pretty C-Class, the Audi has a stern challenge on its hands. Fresh from docking in the UK and ahead of deliveries beginning on November 21, we tried out the volume 2.0-litre TDI on British roads to see just how good the new car is.

2015 Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 Ultra SE: On the road

Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 ultra SE

All-new platform, same familiar Audi feel – but with significant advances across the board. We tested the new A4 in volume 2.0-litre TDI SE guise, with sensibly-sized wheels and non-sport suspension. Unlike the older A4, there’s little to fault here, but a lot to like.

Rolling refinement is outstanding. The A4’s premium, luxury feel on the move is the first thing that strikes you, from the very low levels of road noise to the way bumps are absorbed without audible bangs. It’s a supple car too, with longer-travel suspension blotting out the lumps readily felt in the old one.

It’s stable at speed and the steering is accurate and settled, although if you up the speed on more undulating roads you’ll find the suspension becomes a bit choppier. It’s not as taut as a 3 Series though, or as wallowy as a C-Class can be, and it’s a good deal more able than its rather stolid predecessor.

Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 ultra SE

The A4 isn’t much more exciting to steer through bends, though. As ever, Audi trades BMW and Jaguar-like thrills here for confident sophistication. The steering lacks feedback, it’s not the crispest on turn-in and you’re aware of body-roll when you start to get more energetic.

The 2.0-litre TDI engine, tested here in 150hp Ultra guise, is exceptionally quiet and smooth. Spinning sweetly, it lacks the clatter found in varying degrees in its rivals (the 3 Series is best, the C-Class is worst) and is mated to a vastly improved snick-snack gearchange.

It’s a familiar engine but this is perhaps its best installation yet. It ultimately lacks big-power shove at speed, but responds swiftly enough in town and maintains speed without fuss on the motorway. The 190hp gives you more, but you won’t feel short-changed here if you’re chasing low Benefit In Kind payments.

If you want dynamic involvement, go for a 3 or XE; what the A4 now does extremely well is out-Mercedes the C-Class for luxury car comfort. The ride has made a big step forward but it’s the sheer refinement throughout that really sets it apart. The A4 really will raise eyebrows here – and will make owners really feel like they’re getting a premium product.

2015 Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 Ultra SE: On the inside

Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 ultra SE

Audis are renowned for their superb interiors. But even by the brand’s standards, the new A4 is exceptional. Quality and craftsmanship easily surpass everything else in the sector; it’s better than many executive cars, not to mention some luxury models – that’s how good it is.

Meticulously assembled, the interior is more open-plan than the claustrophobic old car, with the slimline new dash taking cues from the TT’s wing-style design. You can have the TT’s virtual instrument cluster as an option, too. Audi’s really sweated over the choice of materials, from the full-length trim running across the dash to the brushed metal-effect plastic on the centre console.

Whether you look, touch and feel, there are treats. Buttons click nicely. Column stalks feel good. The dials are clear and the screen between them is super-high resolution. Audi’s MMI infotainment system has never been so easy to use. And the three-zone climate control system (standard on all models) has the digital clarity and tactility of an Apple Watch.

Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 ultra SE

Connectivity is a major USP. All new A4s get Audi smartphone interface, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto platforms. We tried CarPlay and it worked exceptionally well – it’s a fantastically appealing addition that may alone convince some to sign on the dotted line.

Because the smartphone interface links into your mobile’s mapping system, Audi doesn’t include sat nav on the standard SE. It doesn’t need to, it says, and we’d agree. Other extras are xenon headlights, rear parking sensors and cruise control – oh, and the 17-inch wheels Brits now consider a bare minimum.

In the rear, Audi matches the firm and supportively comfortable front seats with nicer chairs than any of its rivals. There’s plentiful space, too – enough for an adult to sit behind another. The boot is 480 litres and well-shaped. Needless to say, it’s trimmed in high-quality materials. Here and in other areas, Jaguar could learn a lot from Audi’s approach.

2015 Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 Ultra SE: Running costs

Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 ultra SE

Take that, BMW! Like Jaguar, Audi sells a 2.0-litre TDI A4 that dips under the 100g/km CO2 mark without resorting to EfficientDynamics trickery or limited trim options. You can even have it with 17-inch wheels rather than weedy 16s.

In 2.0-litre TDI 150 Ultra guise, it has a 74.3mpg average fuel economy figure, and Audi’s added some tech to help real-world economy; the stop-start system cuts in as you’re coasting to a halt, for example, rather than waiting for a compete stop. This means the engine is off more often than you may expect in traffic.

Retained values will be strong, albeit not as strong as the surprise leader in this sector – that’s the Jaguar XE. The 163hp 2.0-litre diesel SE holds on to 40% of its list price after three years; the test Audi pairs with the Mercedes-Benz C 200d SE on 39%, with the BMW 320d ED Plus (also surprisingly) trailing on 37%.

2015 Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 Ultra SE: Verdict

Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 ultra SE

Does the new Audi A4 now lead the compact premium saloon sector? No. The BMW 3 Series, in facelifted guise, still gets the nod from us. The A4 is close behind though, and leaps ahead of our other favourite, the Jaguar XE, in the final draw. That’s a mark of how much it has improved.

OK, it still doesn’t thrill behind the wheel. But it does satisfy, with its improved ride, smooth engine and, most of all, its refinement. It does what drivers buying this class of car expect, and makes them feel special. As it’s one of the best-value compact premiums on sale, this is a significant advantage.

It also has a truly outstanding interior, excellent connectivity and infotainment features, a plethora of optional tech and a fair haul of standard functionality included in the price. The exterior won’t turn any heads, but it will please and age well – and running costs will be sharply competitive too.

It’s hard to fault. The BMW is still our choice, but the A4’s strengths, and excellence in key areas, still make it a very strong alternative indeed.

2015 Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 Ultra SE: Specifications

Model tested: Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 Ultra SE

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel

Gearbox: Six-speed manual

Price: £28,465

Power: 150hp

Torque: 236lb-ft

0-62mph: 8.9secs

Top speed: 130mph

Fuel economy: 74.3mpg

CO2 emissions: 99g/km

Most valuable car brands 2015

The world’s most valuable car brands 2015

 

Most valuable car brands 2015Nike beats Honda, but Nissan edges ahead of Gucci. That’s the conclusion of the latest list of the world’s most valuable brands.

The top 100 list was compiled by Interbrand and includes 15 automotive nameplates.

We count down the car companies with the most clout.

MINI: 98th place

Most valuable car brands 2015

MINI finishes 98th in the list. The sub-brand of BMW is valued at £2.8billion.

MINI’s success is partly down to its ever-expanding range of cars. The new 231hp John Cooper Works is the most powerful production MINI yet.

Land Rover: 87th place

Most valuable car brands 2015

British brand Land Rover came 87th, with an estimated value of £3.4billion.

Land Rover’s bestseller is the Range Rover Evoque. But the Defender – seen here in run-out Heritage Edition spec – remains its icon.

 

Chevrolet: 85th place

Most valuable car brands 2015

All-American Chevy is worth £3.4billion, according to Interbrand. That puts it 85th on the list.

Chevrolet recently withdrew from Europe due to poor sales. Promotional shots like this probably didn’t help.

Harley-Davidson: 79th place

Most valuable car brands 2015

OK, so Harley-Davidson isn’t actually a car brand. But the legendary motorcycle manufacturer is worth a hefty £3.6billion.

Harleys are synonymous with rebellion and the open road. This special edition Road King was built to celebrate the brand’s 100th anniversary.

Kia: 74th place

Most valuable car brands 2015

Kia is part of Korean industrial conglomerate, Hyundai (which finishes further up the list). The company is worth around £3.7billion.

Kia has moved away from its bargain-basement roots and now competes head-on with major European and Japanese brands. This is its forthcoming Sportage SUV.

Porsche: 56th place

Most valuable car brands 2015

Porsches aren’t cheap to buy and neither is the company. You’ll need to stump up £5.3billion for this 56th-placed brand.

Think Porsche is all about the 911? Think again – the Cayenne 4×4 is actually Porsche’s bestselling vehicle worldwide.

Nissan: 49th place

Most valuable car brands 2015

Japanese giant Nissan is worth £6.0billion – not least due to the runaway success of its Qashqai crossover, which is built in the UK.

Nissan has a pretty eclectic range of cars, from the humdrum Micra to the hardcore GT-R. It even sells a bonkers 600hp GT-R-engined Juke.

Audi: 44th place

Most valuable car brands 2015

Audi’s progress over the past three decades offers an object lesson in how to build a premium brand. It’s now worth £6.8billion.

The fabulous Quattro is one of the cars that changed public perception of Audi. It’s pictured here with fellow ‘Life on Mars’ star, Philip Glenister.

Hyundai: 39th place

Most valuable car brands 2015

Hyundai’s name is seen on shipping containers, department stores and construction sites. The Hyundai Motor Group alone is valued at £7.4billion.

Like Kia, Hyundai has worked hard to become a credible alternative to established car brands. Its new Tucson is a very capable compact SUV.

Ford: 38th place

Most valuable car brands 2015

At £7.7billion, Ford just edges Hyundai to take 38th place among the world’s most valuable brands.

Much of Ford’s income comes from the F-150 pick-up – America’s bestselling vehicle. In the Land Of The Free, no conventional car comes close.

Volkswagen: 35th place

Most valuable car brands 2015

The well-publicised ‘Dieselgate’ scandal has seen Volkswagen lose 9% in brand value (down to £8.3billion) and drop four places on the index.

The Golf nameplate has now overtaken the Beetle for sheer sales volume. However, the ‘Bug’ was VW’s first car and it remains a symbol of the counterculture.

Honda: 19th place

Most valuable car brands 2015

Honda has recently launched a glut of new cars – perhaps one reason it’s valued at a whopping £15.1billion.

The Japanese marque’s bestselling car is the practical and very reliable Jazz supermini. Here’s the new 2015 model.

Mercedes-Benz: 12th place

Most valuable car brands 2015

The world’s oldest car company is still one of its most successful. Mercedes-Benz finishes 12th, with an estimated value of £24.2billion.

Any excuse to use a picture of the sublime Mercedes-AMG GT S – the German brand’s flagship sports car.

BMW: 11th place

Most valuable car brands 2015

Mercedes will be smarting that arch-rival BMW pipped it by one place. The former aircraft manufacturer is worth £24.5billion.

The quirky i3 electric car shows BMW isn’t afraid to explore new niches. Sometimes it pays to take risks…

Toyota: 6th place

Most valuable car brands 2015

The highest-place carmaker on the list is Toyota, in 6th place. However, even Toyota’s £32.3billion worth pales in comparison to first-placed Apple – valued at £112.7billion.

Toyota’s bestselling car is the Corolla, although we don’t even get the current model in the UK. It’s reliable and utterly inoffensive A-to-B transport, which is evidently what many people want.

Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: Two-Minute Road Test

Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI (2015) road test review

Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: Two-Minute Road Test

We test-drive the all-new Hyundai Tucson compact SUV, powered by a suddenly fashionable non-scandalous petrol engine.

What is it?

The new Hyundai Tucson is a replacement for the old ix35, which itself was a replacement for the original Tucson. All of which means this is the latest arrival in the ever-burgeoning compact SUV and crossover segment. We tested a close to top-spec Premium edition with a suddenly quite-fashionable 1.6-litre petrol engine.

What are its rivals?

Buyers are spoilt for choice in this sector. The Nissan Qashqai is the runaway leader, clocking up 50,000 sales in 2015 alone. Renault’s Kadjar and Mazda’s updated CX-5 are new kid on the block and there are old favourites such as the Ford Kuga. You can understand Hyundai’s decision to dust off the old Tucson name. It gives the car an identity.

Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: which engines does it use?

Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: which engines does it use?

There’s a choice of two 1.6 petrol engines, including the 174hp T-GDI turbocharged unit, as tested here. The 1.7-litre diesel is likely to be the best seller in the UK, but there are also two 2.0-litre diesels to choose from. The 1.6 T-GDI has a top speed of 125mph and will accelerate to 62mph in 9.1 seconds. Performance is perfectly adequate for this type of car.

Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: what’s it like to drive?

Really rather good. The Hyundai Tucson offers a commanding driving position so loved by buyers in this segment. On the road it feels sure-footed and body roll is largely kept in check. We’d stop short of saying the Tucson is great fun to drive, but it corners well and the steering is positive. There’s a needless Sport mode, which adds little, if anything, to the car’s character.

Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: fuel economy and running costs

Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: fuel economy and running costs

Clearly, the diesel engines will be the better option if economy tops the list of your priorities. That said, in light of the diesel emissions scandal, you may be considering a petrol-engined Tucson. The combined 37.7mpg and 175g/km CO2 emissions are respectable. And remember, if many of your journeys are short, a petrol engine will make more sense.

Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: is it practical?

Absolutely. It feels spacious in the front, while rear seats passengers will revel in the amount of head- and leg-room. Thanks to a shallow transmission tunnel, the centre seat is also perfectly acceptable for adults, at least on short trips. There’s 513 litres of boot space, although this drops to 488 litres when the spare wheel (standard on SE and above) is fitted.

Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: what about safety?

Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: what about safety?

The Hyundai Tucson has been awarded a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, scoring 86% and 85% for adult and child occupant safety, respectively. Safety technology is a big thing for Hyundai, so you can expect a full range of active and passive safety devices across the range. Premium and Premium SE models gain autonomous emergency braking (AEB).

Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: which version should I go for?

Prices start at £18,695 for the 1.6-litre petrol in basic S trim. Hyundai expects the majority of UK cars to be powered by the 1.7-litre diesel, which offers the best balance of performance and economy. But don’t rule out the 1.6 T-GDI, which is smooth, quiet, refined and almost car-like. Our test car cost £28,980, which includes metallic paint at £585.

Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: should I buy one?

Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: should I buy one?

Most certainly. We’re very impressed with new Hyundai Tucson, which is more than a match for the ubiquitous Nissan Qashqai. This is a far more impressive compact SUV than the ix35 it replaces, with a premium-quality interior, high-level of specification and a general feel good factor. It’s a car we’d be happy to spend much more time in.

Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: pub fact

Four-wheel drive is available as an option on selected trim levels when powered by the 2.0-litre CRDi and 1.6 T-GDI engines. Although it won’t offer the same off-road prowess of a Land Rover, it’ll be perfectly suited to gravel tracks and grassy car parks. And Hill Descent Control is a welcome addition.

Calls for 20mph limits to reduce NOx emissions

Calls for 20mph limits to reduce NOx emissions

Calls for 20mph limits to reduce NOx emissions

Campaign groups are calling for lower speed limits in urban areas in a bid to reduce the amount of NOx pollutants being emitted from diesel cars.

Research by Imperial College London found that the average Euro 4 compliant diesel (between 1.4- and 2.0-litres) emits an extra 8.2% of NOx at 30mph – 0.81g/km compared to 0.74g/km.

In 2014, 37% of cars on UK roads were diesels – so reducing speed limits in urban areas could lead to a substantial reduction of NOx emissions.

The research is being highlighted by the 20’s Plenty for US campaign group, which says a blanket reduction of speed limits in urban areas will improve safety as well as improving air quality.

20’s Plenty for Us founder and campaign director, Rod King MBE, said: “A 20mph built up limit simply, immediately and effectively reduces dirty fumes. This government should urgently wake up to the air quality gains from 20mph. Lower speeds give so many road safety, active travel and public health benefits.”

The research also suggest that CO2 emissions from diesel cars in urban areas could be reduced by around 1% by decreasing speed limits in town and city centres to 20mph – but it would have the opposite effect on petrol cars, increasing CO2 emissions from these by around 2%.

As a result, the study found that 100 cars (a representative mix of petrols and diesels) would emit 24,591g/km CO2 at 20mph, compared to 24,309g/km  at 30mph. That’s an increase of 282.5g/km CO2.

French autoroute

France to ‘begin move out of diesel’

French autorouteIn a further illustration of the country’s renewed anti-diesel stance, France is to consider phasing out tax breaks for diesel cars by the end of the decade.

French environment minister Segolene Royal told France 5 television: “We need to start preparing our move out of diesel right now.

“We should phase out diesel’s advantage over five years.”

Royal said taxes on diesel cars should be progressively increased, but offset by new tax breaks on clean-fuel vehicles; diesel fuel tax in France is currently €0.15 cheaper than petrol.

France was one of the first countries to really embrace diesel back in the 1990s; today, more than half the cars on French roads are diesel. Home manufacturers PSA Peugeot-Citroen and Renaults helped pioneer the modern diesel with turbocharger and direct injection technology.

But in recent years, French officials has started to fall out of love with diesel, due to concerns over the country’s poor air quality in major cities such as Paris.

Last year, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo revealed plans to ban diesels from Paris by 2020; earlier in the year, French PM Manuel Valls called the country’s reliance on diesel cars “a mistake”.

Now diesel’s image has been further tarnished because of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, it seems the French government is set to respond with an official disincentivisation of diesel.

More on the VW Group scandal on Motoring Research

  • No road tax hike for VWs with illegal software, UK government confirms
  • ‘No collusion’ in car industry over emissions tests says SMMT
  • Realistic fuel consumption tests? Careful what you wish for
  • SEAT: 700,000 cars affected by VW emissions scandal
  • RAC calls for more stringent lab tests following VW emissions scandal
  • Volkswagen emissions scandal: new diesel info website to advise customers
  • Audi: 2.1 million cars contain cheat code software
  • Switzerland bans Volkswagen Group sales
  • VW scandal: Matthias Müller becomes CEO, priority is to ‘win back trust’
  • VW scandal: who is Matthias Müller?
  • Volkswagen: ‘We are sorry. And will put it right.’
  • #Dieselgate: company cars set for a nasty shock?
  • Dieselgate latest: what we’ve learnt – LIVE
  • SMMT says Volkswagen emissions scandal ‘not an industry-wide issue’
  • Volkswagen U.S. boss: ‘we totally screwed up’
  • Volkswagen diesels ‘manipulate US emission testing: VW CEO ‘deeply sorry’
MPG Marathon 2015

Q&A: how do you outperform the official mpg test?

MPG Marathon 2015The Volkswagen emissions scandal has, rightly or wrongly, focused attention on the official fuel economy and CO2 figures released by car manufacturers: many drivers find they’re optimistic at best, blatant lies at worst.

But this week, we proved that you CAN achieve the official combined fuel consumption figure in real world driving: better still, we BEAT it by a few per cent for good measure.

Not only that, THREE drivers returned more than 100mpg, beating their cars’ official claimed fuel consumption by up to 25%!

So let’s look into how we did it and offer some tips on how you can try to do it too…

You beat the official combined mpg figure then, huh?

We did, in an Audi TT TDI.

Hold on, doesn’t that use the scandal-riddled VW Group 2.0-litre TDI engine? You monsters!

Actually, it uses the Euro 6 version of the under-fire motor, so is (officially) almost as clean as can be. Breathe easy, folks.

Fair enough. So what does Audi say you should be getting?

The official combined economy figure is 62.8mpg. Not bad for a cool-looking sports car. In fact, seemingly rather unbelievable for a cool-looking sports car, we grant you.

Did you pack a toolkit to take the wipers off and some tape to seal up all the panel gaps?

Ah, all that’s a myth, the SMMT has said this week. Car manufacturers don’t get up to dirty tricks like that to make their cars look clean.

OK, but how real world is this test you entered?

The MPG Marathon is pretty real-world. It’s run over 370 miles and two days on a random mix of A-roads, B-roads, motorways and city centres. Organisers list waypoints and locations we have to visit: it’s up to entrants to choose the routes they take.

So you just crawl everywhere at 25mph and be done with it?

Speed limits have to be kept up! Average speeds must be 30mph or above: add in the fact we have to drive through city centres and the like, and it’s a more realistic challenge than you may think.

How did you do in the MPG Marathon then?

We drove an Audi TT TDI and averaged nearly 65mpg. The official average is 62.8mpg. So we beat the official average by a good few per cent, despite intentionally driving as normally as we could.

What’s the trick to achieving the official fuel consumption figure?

Looking ahead. If you need to know one thing about eco driving, it’s this. Absorb the road, its challenges, the gaps in the traffic, the potential to lift off and coast rather than using the brakes, the chances to keep rolling through traffic lights as they change green rather than having to stop and start again while they change from red.

Eco driving is all about planning ahead rather than simply driving slowly. Try doing this, and really think about and concentrate on your driving as you do it, and you’ll be amazed at how your fuel economy will improve.

Surely that’s not it?

Of course, you can’t just do that if you want to average the most miles to the gallon. Changing up a gear early will help; today’s cars have so much drive, it’s surprising at how few revs are needed to keep pace with traffic. Letting the stop-start system do its work will save fuel, as will simply taking things ultra-steady when you first start the car up in the morning (when it’s cold, it’s at it’s least fuel-efficient…).

Bloke down the pub says that to save fuel, you must drive up hills no faster than 15mph

Bloke down the pub is wrong. The best way to tackle hills is to use momentum. As you approach it, you may even want to speed up a little, to give yourself a bit more speed – then, be easy on the accelerator as you let this energy take you up, using just enough gas to keep the speed up. Even if you drive up at 15mph, you’re still using fuel, and won’t have the ‘free’ advantage of momentum.

Think how you push a wheelbarrow up a hill – which uses less of your energy; taking a run up or slowly pushing it up?

Weren’t you at your wit’s end after two days of driving like that?

Surprisingly, we were rather chilled by the end of it, and certainly didn’t feel the need to rush out and rev wildly up the road in frustration. We’d made good progress, we’d been smooth and satisfying, we hadn’t ever felt like we were a rolling road block facing a never-ending dreary eternity behind the wheel.

I don’t believe you.

Honest. It’s not so much skill, driving economically, as a mindset. Look ahead, be smooth and steady, think smart, keep everything flowing. It’s a mindset we found rather fulfilling.

Jamie Alguersuari

Former F1 driver quits motor racing for music career

Jamie AlguersuariFormer Toro Rosso has announced his retirement from motor racing at the age of 25 to begin a new career in music – under the stage name Squire.

Alguersuari became the youngest Formula 1 driver ever when he started his first race at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix: he was also the first born in the 1990s to compete in F1. During his three-year F1 career, he scored 31 points in 46 races.

The Spanish former racer also has a title to his name – he was the 2008 winner of the British Formula Three Championship, beating current F1 racer Sergio Perez in the process.

He also raced in Formula Renault 3.5 during 2009, winning a race during the season, although his title challenge was stymied by his concurrent promotion into F1: he finished the year third in the points.

After F1, Alguersuari raced in the Formula E championship in 2014 and 2015 – but missed the final two races of 2015 after fainting at the end of the Moscow ePrix in June; the FIA withdrew his racing licence while he underwent tests.

Now, Alguersuari has officially retired from motorsport – but says it’s unrelated to his health issues. “I’m fine with no illness, but I have decided to stop because it is a time for a change.

“Something tells me it’s time to take another road because I think I have fallen out of love with this bride who has been with me all of my life.”

The accomplished DJ and musician will now focus full-time on his music career, following up the 2011 album he released under the name Squire (which you can listen to on Spotify).

Alguersuari admitted “I have many people around me who do not understand my decision, but I want to live honestly, and that is now how I have felt in motor sport”.

“I do not want more money,” he told Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, “I want to live the truth.” From one type of track to another: all the best, Jamie Alguersuari and Squire.

Smoking in cars with children banned from TODAY

Smoking in cars with children is now BANNED

Smoking in cars with children banned from TODAY

The law banning anyone from lighting up in a vehicle containing passengers aged under 18 comes is now in force – despite concerns that 3.1 million smokers are unaware of the ban.

A survey by Kwik Fit Insurance has found that 22 percent of smokers don’t realise the new law is being introduced, putting them at risk of £50 on-the-spot fines.

The research has found that more than 9 million smokers admit to previously smoking in a car containing children – meaning a whopping £458 million in fines could be raked in if they continue.

But research by the RAC has found that the majority of motorists don’t have enough confidence in the police to enforce the new laws.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “Nine in 10 motorists have concerns about the extent to which the new law is likely to be enforced. This is perhaps well-founded as traffic police officer numbers have fallen by nearly a quarter (23 percent) between 2010 and 2014 across forces in England and Wales, so it is hard to see how people flouting the law are going to be caught.

“The new ban joins a raft of other laws that have been introduced in recent years, such as making it illegal to undertake or hog the middle lane of a motorway. But without sufficient enforcement, there is a real danger that these laws will quickly be forgotten by a large proportion of the motoring population.”

Kwik Fit’s research found the majority of drivers support the ban – both smokers (80 percent) and non-smokers (87 percent). But they disagree about the £50 fines, with more than a quarter of smokers finding it too harsh, while one in five non-smokers claim it’s too lenient.

Stewart Barnett, Marketing Director at Kwik Fit Insurance Services said: “While there are a few differences in opinion on the ins and outs of the new law, it appears that the majority of people, whether they smoke or not, are in agreement that protecting the health of the nation’s children is the most important factor in these new rules.

“Cutting back on smoking has obvious long-term health benefits for all car passengers, not just children. Drivers need to make sure they are fully aware of the new rules in order to make sure they stay on the right side of the law. The added benefit is that the dangerous practice of driving with the distraction of smoking will also be limited.”

The survey also found that many smokers think there should be some leniency around the punishment, with 50 percent saying fines shouldn’t be issued if windows are left open, and 36% thinking having the air-con on should allow them to dodge the penalty.

Interestingly, more than a third of those surveyed – smokers and non-smokers – said they’d report a driver or passenger they saw smoking in the car.