BBC Top Gear

Top Gear: first trailer for all-new Chris Evans-led series released

BBC Top GearThe BBC has released the first trailer of the newly-revamped series of Top Gear, now led by new host Chris Evans – and there’s plenty for car fans to get excited about.

The short one-minute trailer is packed with teasers, including the much-publicised Reliant Rialto 3-wheeler film with Evans and co-host Matt LeBlanc. In true Top Gear style, it seems things may not go entirely to plan.

There’s also a racing driver celeb surprise: McLaren F1 driver Jenson Button (once hotly tipped to himself become a Top Gear presenter) taking a McLaren 675LT to the limit – and beyond.

Evans also gets to sit alongside another new co-host, Sabine Schmitz, although this doesn’t quite go to plan either: cue scenes of Evans being sick. Images of this have been widely printed in tabloid newspapers – it looks as if Top Gear is celebrating rather than ignoring it.

Other cars we can look forward to in the all-new Top Gear include a smoking Ford Mustang, a smoking Aston Martin Vulcan, a Viper racing a fighter jet and a Ferrari F12 tdf getting very sideways indeed. Oh, and an Ariel Nomad getting very airborne indeed.

We’ve yet to see any teasers involving the other new Top Gear co-hosts Chris Harris and Rory Reid though: perhaps they’re still to come (unless it was actually Harris who was taking that Ferrari sideways…)?

There’s also not yet any footage of the scenes filmed recently with Ken Block in central London – these proved controversial with even the Chancellor complaining: Evans has vowed not to show any footage of the ‘Hoonigan’ doing donuts near to the Cenotaph.

Watch the trailer below and let us know what you think – and share your initial thoughts on the new series of Top Gear ahead of its release some time in May.

Ford Capri 280 ‘Brooklands’: Retro Road Test

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These are strange times. In March 2016, a Ford Capri 280 sold at auction for a world record price of £54,000. Think about that for a moment – a 1987 Ford Capri for a tad less than the price of a brand new Porsche Cayman GTS. So what’s the appeal? We borrowed one from the Great Escape Cars fleet to find out for our latest Retro Road Test.

Ford Capri 280: what are its rivals?

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Throughout the 70s and 80s, the Capri faced a number of challengers and was often imitated, but never matched. Ford billed it as the ‘car you always promised yourself’ and it was, to all intents and purposes, the European equivalent of the Ford Mustang.

And much like the American pony car, it was based on a more humble platform. For while the Mustang was a Ford Falcon in a fancy dress, the Capri was little more than a Cortina in a posh frock. But it struck a chord with the British motorist – a blue-badged coupe for the blue collar masses.

By the time the last-of-the-line Capri 280 was rolled out in 1987, the car you always promised yourself was becoming a relic in a changing world. Teenage kicks were being provided by a new breed of young upstarts in the form of hot hatches and the Capri was well past its sell-by date.

Ford Capri 280: what engine does it use?

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In his excellent book Capri: The Development & Competition History of Ford’s European GT Car, Jeremy Walton credits the 2.8-litre fuel-injected engine as prolonging the life of the Ford Capri. It was left to the newly-established Special Vehicle Engineering (SVE) to mate the Capri with the Bosch K-Jetronic V6 engine, first seen in the Ford Granada.

It was a match made in heaven and the 2.8i would evolve from an early four-speed manual into a five-speed 2.8 injection Special, complete with limited slip differential. Ford made no mechanical changes to the 280, so the claimed 160hp remained the official output.

Ford claimed a top speed of 130mph and a 0-60 time of 7.9 seconds for the original 2.8i, but as Walton explains, the heavier injection Special trim, five-speed gearbox and limited slip differential would have blunted the performance.

Ford Capri 280: what’s it like to drive?

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The Capri III was essentially a development of the earlier Capri II, which dates back to 1974, so even in 1987, this Capri 280 would have felt like something from a different era. But it was a suitable last hurrah for a much-loved car.

Ford built 1,038 Capri 280s, each one painted in ‘Brooklands’ green, which is why so many people refer to the car as the Capri 280 Brooklands. The driving position is quite unlike anything else on the road, as you peer out across the Capri’s delightfully long bonnet, complete with central ‘power bulge’.

The Capri rocks from side to side as you blip the throttle, bringing to mind the feeling of being at the wheel of an American muscle car, primed and ready to tame a dragstrip. The grey ‘Raven’ full leather Recaro seats, contrasted by red piping, are both comfortable and supportive.

By today’s standards, the Capri’s performance is timid, verging on lethargic. But it delivers its power with proper grunt and an appropriate soundtrack. This a proper front-engine, rear-wheel drive hero, meaning it’s not hard to get the tail wagging. Naturally, you have to wind down the window (no electric gubbins here) in order to adopt the authentic ‘Capri elbow’ driving position.

Ford Capri 280: reliability and running costs

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The Ford Capri dates from a time when DIY servicing wasn’t a problem and it shouldn’t be too hard to keep a 280 on the road. That said, given the rarity value, not to mention the associated prices, you’ll want to ensure the 280 is kept in a condition faithful to when the last cars rolled off the Cologne production line.

A well-maintained 2.8-litre V6 engine should be reliable, but regular oil changes are essential. Also check the differential, as a whining noise – as evidenced on our test car – could result in a costly rebuild.

As for fuel economy, don’t expect to get anything above 25mpg, but seriously, who cares about fuel consumption when you’re at the wheel of a Capri 280? Just sit back and enjoy the drive. With your right elbow resting on the door…

Ford Capri 280: could I drive it every day?

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You could, but you probably shouldn’t. At the very least we’d recommend running a Capri 280 only during summer months, because corrosion can be a constant menace. The front wings, rear arches and bumpers tend to rust for a pastime, and although pattern parts are available, it’s preferable to maintain some originality.

On the plus side, the 280 has enough power to keep up with modern traffic and the Capri entered the new millennium with its reputation restored. Drive one today and you will turn heads. As we made our way through some quaint towns and villages nestled along the Welsh border, we were greeted with smiles and the occasional thumbs up. This wouldn’t have happened 20 years ago.

Ford Capri 280: how much should I pay?

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This is the million dollar question. The Ford Capri 280 sold by Silverstone Auctions (pictured) was almost factory-fresh, with a mere 936 miles on the clock, but its sale does have the potential to boost the values of other 280s.

Indeed, there’s a rare G-registered 280 on eBay for the mildly ambitious price of £100,000, although the seller openly admits “it’s not worth £100k.” With reference to the G-plate, Ford struggled to shift the 280, not least because the £11,999 price tag was wildly optimistic. But it helps to explain why you’ll find some D, E, F and even G-registered cars.

The Practical Classics price guide values the Capri 280 at anything between £3,000 and £12,500, but you’ll need much deeper pockets to secure a low mileage example.

Ford Capri 280: what should I look out for?

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Aside from the issues mentioned earlier, you’ll need to confirm your Capri 280 is actually a Capri 280. Given the values over standard Capri 2.8 injection Specials, unscrupulous types might be prepared to create a 280 using Brooklands green paint, a leather interior and 15-inch alloy wheels.

The brooklands280 website contains a handy tool enabling you to check your build number using the car’s engine/chassis number. Some Capri 280s were squirrelled away for future investment purposes, so don’t be surprised to find many low mileage examples.

Ford Capri 280: should I buy one?

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Like so many last-of-the-line models, the Capri 280 was a cosmetic exercise, but it always felt like so much more than a marketing special. Many tears were shed when the Capri disappeared from the Ford brochure, so there’s is a great deal of fondness for the European Mustang.

Whether or not it is worth spending the extra cash required to secure a 280 over a standard 2.8i is a matter of opinion. You’ll get just as much enjoyment from a Capri 2.8i, but may have to live without the potential for a huge return on your investment. If we were forced to choose, we’d opt for a mint 2.8 injection Special or an earlier 3.0S.

Ford Capri 280: pub fact

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The Ford Capri 280 was destined to be the Capri 500, until Ford bosses had a change of heart. A run of 500 cars was planned, with Ford even going as far as to create the Capri 500 decals. But when Ford realised it had 1,038 bodyshells left, it decided to build 1,038 Capri 280s.

If you fancy driving this Capri 280 for yourself, get in touch with Great Escape Cars. Chest wig and fluffy dice are not compulsory.

Jaguar XF AWD 2.0d R-Sport: Two-Minute Road Test

Jaguar XF AWD 2.0d R-Sport (2016) road test review

Jaguar XF AWD 2.0d R-Sport: Two-Minute Road Test

You can already get a four-wheel-drive Jaguar F-Type and XE, so it was only a matter of time before the firm offered its XF executive saloon with an on-demand all-wheel-drive system. We drove one back from the French Alps to give it a thorough road test.

What are its rivals?

The XF’s obvious rival is the Audi A6 Quattro. Unlike the Jaguar, the Audi comes with a range of engines, including a powerful 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel – meaning anyone looking for a powerful, 4×4 executive saloon will continue to default to German rivals.

Jaguar XF AWD 2.0d R-Sport: Two-Minute Road Test

Which engine does it use?

If you want an XF with four-wheel drive, you can only get it with the 180hp 2.0-litre Ingenium turbodiesel. This combines with an eight-speed auto ’box to offer 317lb ft of torque.

What’s it like to drive?

Under normal day-to-day driving, it’s difficult to tell the four-wheel-drive XF apart from the regular model, besides from ever-so-slightly blunted performance. The extra 105kg over the rear-drive model is only really noticeable during foot-to-the-floor acceleration (it takes 8.4 seconds to hit 62mph – compared to the standard car’s 8.1 seconds).

During cornering, the two-wheel-drive XF is fairly surefooted, so it’s only when you really start to push it that you notice power shifting between the axles in a bid to keep you on the road. The intelligent 4×4 system, based on that first used on the F-Type, makes for a fun drive – more so than in the A6 Quattro – and gives you a great deal of confidence to make progress. In slippery conditions we’d imagine the XF AWD would be very competent.

Jaguar XF AWD 2.0d R-Sport: Two-Minute Road Test

Fuel economy and running costs

Naturally, the four-wheel-drive version of the XF is going to cost slightly more to run than the two-wheel-drive model. Officially, it returns 57.6mpg compared to the standard car’s 65.7mpg. Meanwhile, it emits 129g/km CO2 compared to 114g/km – equating to £110 a year in tax, compared to £30. You have to ask whether, for your driving, the efficiency penalties for opting for the four-wheel-drive model is a sacrifice worth making – but it’s not appallingly thirsty for an executive saloon.

Is it practical?

While Audi is generally seen as the master of upmarket interiors within this segment, Jaguar has done an excellent job of making the XF feel genuinely special. The seats are extremely comfortable (we put more than 800 miles on our test car in less than 24 hours), and there’s plenty of space in the front and rear. There’s 540 litres of boot space, too – that’s marginally better than rivals from Mercedes, Audi and BMW.

Jaguar XF AWD 2.0d R-Sport: Two-Minute Road Test

What about safety?

The latest Jaguar XF scored a solid five stars when it was tested by Euro NCAP last year, and the extra security of its four-wheel-drive system means the XF AWD is one of the safest cars you can use for carrying your family.

Which version should I go for?

Our test car was the R-Sport version, meaning it gains figure-hugging sports seats and unique exterior body styling but, unlike the two-wheel-drive version, goes without the firmer sports suspension. If budget allows, we reckon the more luxurious top-of-the-range Portfolio model might be better suited to the relaxing nature of the 180hp diesel engine and four-wheel-drive setup.

Jaguar XF AWD 2.0d R-Sport: Two-Minute Road Test

Should I buy one?

We really rate the Jaguar XF, and the four-wheel-drive version makes sense if you need a car that’s capable in slippery conditions such as snow. It’s a shame that you can’t spec the AWD model with the more powerful 3.0-litre diesel, so if you’re wanting performance, you’ll have no choice but to look at the Audi A6.

Pub fact

The Jaguar XF AWD benefits from Land Rover’s off-road know-how. Developed from Land Rover’s Terrain Response, the XF’s Adaptive Surface Response (AdSR) technology optimises the mapping of the throttle, automatic transmission and DSC system to suit the type of surface the car’s being driven on.

Volvo autonomous driver

1 in 2 new cars already have autonomous tech

Volvo autonomous driverDriverless cars may sound like tech for the future but new research from the SMMT has revealed 1.5 million new British cars are already fitted with semi-autonomous ‘driverless’ technology.

Such autonomous safety tech, which includes collision warning, adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking, takes over from the driving in safety-critical situations – and the tech behind it is also the same used by fully self-driving cars.

The new research thus shows the building blocks of the driverless car is already sitting on the driveways of 1.5 million new car owners. And uptake continues to grow.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “Fully driverless cars are still a long way off from everyday use, but this data shows advanced autonomous technology is already making its way into the majority of new cars.

“Connected and autonomous cars will transform our society – vastly improving safety and reducing congestion and emissions – and will contribute billions to the economy.”

Driverless car boom

Uptake of autonomous new car tech is rapidly growing. Five years ago, less than 7% of new cars sold featured a collision warning system either as standard or a fitted option. Today, that figure has grown to more than 58%.

More than 1 in 3 new cars has blind spot monitoring and more than 30% have adaptive cruise control.

Such autonomous safety tech will have a big impact on road safety. Research by the SMMT suggests that serious accidents could fall by 25,000 a year by 2030 – and 2,500 lives could be saved every year.

Autonomous tech will also give a huge boost to the economy, predicts the SMMT: the annual saving to consumers could be as high as £40 billion, it believes.

World Car Awards 2016: the winners

World Car AwardsAfter months of judging, the 2016 World Car Awards have been announced in a glittering ceremony at the New York Auto Show.

The elite of the world’s top auto manufacturers were in attendance, fingers crossed, to see if their model scooped one of the five prizes on offer – including the prestigious overall World Car of the Year Award. We were there too – here’s the winners, revealed.

73 judges pick from 23 cars

 

All cars in the 2016 World Car Awards were launched on at least two continents between 1 January 2015 and 31 May 2016. A 73-strong team of jurors choose an initial entry list of 23 vehicles, which was narrowed down to a shortlist of 10. More recently the ‘Top Three in the World’ list was released, giving the finalists that brings us to the New York Auto Show awards ceremony. So, without further ado…

World Performance Car 2016: the finalists

The headline-grabbing World Performance Car 2016 was fought between three high-power halo cars: the Audi R8 Coupe supercar, Honda Civic Type-R hot hatch and the Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupe.

World Performance Car 2016: Audi R8 Coupe

Performance cars should be thrillers: desirable cars that are a joy to drive. The most powerful Audi ever built, the judges decided that the R8 Coupe is the car that provides the biggest performance buzz in 2016.

“We are delighted that the Audi R8 has been voted as the 2016 World Performance Car,” said Dietmar Voggenreiter, Board Member for Sales and Marketing at Audi AG. “The R8 is one of the strongest calling cards for the four rings and is the flagship car from Audi Sport. The first generation of the R8 paved our way toward becoming a premium brand and raised the aura of Audi to a new level. The new R8 will continue this success story and further accelerate the growth strategy of Audi Sport.”

World Luxury Car 2016: the finalists

In the running for World Luxury Car 2016 were the Audi Q7 SUV, BMW 7 Series sedan and Volvo XC90 SUV.

World Luxury Car 2016: BMW 7 Series

Luxury cars should push boundaries and set standards for high-technology features that can filter down to the rest of the range, believe the World Car Awards jurors. The BMW 7 Series, with no fewer than 25 all-new innovations, thus scoops the prize for 2016.

“We are delighted and honoured that the BMW 7 Series has been recognised as the World Luxury Car of the Year,” said BMW in a statement. “Since it launched last autumn, the response from both the media and our customers has been extremely positive. There can be no doubt that the new BMW 7 Series is an outstanding flagship for the brand, setting new standards in its class.”

World Car Design 2016: the finalists

The World Car Design 2016 is a two-brand race: the Mazda CX-3 crossover SUV and MX-5 roadster went up against the Jaguar XE mid-size sedan. Six famed design experts from around the world decided the overall winner – which was..?

World Car Design 2016: Mazda MX-5

The judges decided that Mazda’s reinterpretation of the classic MX-5 roadster deserves the overall World Car Design award for 2016. A car that looks way better in the metal than in images, the judge’s experienced eyes rated it top in 2016.

“While I accept this award on behalf of the company, I do so representing every Mazda employee, retail partner and customer around the world who has ever felt the joy of driving a pure roadster,” said Masahiro Moro, president and CEO, Mazda North American Operations, and Managing Executive Officer, Mazda Motor Corporation. “We say ‘Driving Matters’ in our advertising, and we prove it in our cars.”

World Green Car 2016: the finalists

World Green Car 2016 was also a two-brand affair. The second-generation Chevrolet Volt range-extender hybrid was pitched against the Toyota Prius hybrid and Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell. Three very different technologies – which did the judges go for?

World Green Car 2016: Toyota Mirai

The judges went for easily the most innovative of the trio, the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell. The world’s first mass-production hydrogen fuel cell car, it’s a trailblazer that simply too significant and too much of a groundbreaker to ignore.

“Just as Prius changed the world nearly 20 years ago, the hydrogen-powered Mirai is ready to make history,” said Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager, Toyota Division. “With a range of over 300 miles per tank, a refueling time of under five minutes, and emissions that consist only of water vapor, Mirai is leading the world forward toward a more sustainable future.”

World Car of the Year 2016: the finalists

The overall World Car Award 2016 this year saw the Audi A4 Sedan, Mazda MX-5 roadster and Mercedes-Benz GLC mid-size SUV all go up against each other. This is the big prize all makers want to win: last year, it was Mercedes-Benz, with the C-Class. This year, it is…

World Car of the Year 2016: Mazda MX-5

To cheers throughout the room, Mazda’s MX-5 was crowned World Car of the Year 2016 at the New York ceremony. The glittering prize was received with immense delight by the project team, who’d flown in specially from Japan when they heard they’d been shortlisted… even becoming a Top Three in the World was big news – winning World Car of the Year is simply enormous for this proud, enthusiastic Japanese company.

“What a wonderful honor, to have the Mazda MX-5 named World Car of the Year,” said Masahiro Moro, president and CEO, Mazda North American Operations, and Managing Executive Officer, Mazda Motor Corporation. “As our iconic MX-5 roadster approaches one-million units of production, this award is proof that it is as young, vibrant, fun and relevant as ever.” And now to the rest of the prizes in the World Car Awards 2016.

Vauxhall Chevette HS: Retro Road Test

Vauxhall Chevette HS: Retro Road Test

Vauxhall Chevette HSSay ‘homologation’ to a non-petrolhead and they’ll probably reply ‘bless you’ and pass the Kleenex. Yet this process of building road-going versions of racing cars has produced some of the greatest driving machines ever. Ferrari 250 GTO, Lancia Delta Integrale, BMW E30 M3, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Ford Escort RS Cosworth… the list goes on.

Bred for rallying, then offered for sale to the public in 1978, the Vauxhall Chevette HS is less well-known than most of its contemporaries. Make no mistake, though, this raucous hot hatchback is a bona fide homologation hero.

We borrowed Vauxhall’s immaculate heritage HS for a blast through the Hertfordshire countryside. How does it stack up today – and should you consider buying one?

Vauxhall Chevette HS: rivals

What are its rivals?

The Chevette HS was born in 1976, the same year as Volkswagen launched its iconic Golf GTI. Contrary to popular perception, the Golf wasn’t the first hot hatch; the Renault 5 Gordini (5 Alpine in Europe) actually beat it to the title. Later turbocharged versions of the 5 upped the ante in terms of performance, and – like the Chevette – competed in rallying.

Rallying pedigree, however, doesn’t come any finer than the Mk2 Ford Escort – probably the most successful rally car of all time. The Escort RS2000 was the Vauxhall’s closest rival on the road. Lastly, we shouldn’t forget the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus. With 150hp from its Lotus twin-cam engine, it’s the only car here with more power than the 137hp Chevette.

Vauxhall Chevette HSWhat engine does it use?

The Chevette’s 2.3-litre four was Vauxhall’s first 16-valve engine, and it drives the rear wheels through a five-speed Getrag gearbox. In true homologation style, first gear is on a dog-leg (where you’d often find reverse) – the idea being that competition cars only need first once, at the start of the race.

With 137hp, the HS sprints to 60mph in 8.8 seconds and has a top speed of 118mph.

Vauxhall Chevette HSWhat’s it like to drive?

This isn’t a car that likes going slowly. There’s that awkward dog-leg first gear for starters, and the peaky 16v engine doesn’t really wake up until you get past 4,000rpm. Luckily, very short gear ratios (just 19mph per 1,000rpm in fifth) mean it doesn’t take long to get there.

The dished steering wheel constantly writhes in your hands, telegraphing everything about what the front wheels are doing. And the Chevette changes direction with impressive agility. It will understeer if pushed hard, but lurid oversteer is never more than an injudicious prod of the throttle away. This is a rear-wheel-drive hot hatch, remember?

Like all old cars, the Vauxhall’s brakes take some getting used to. The front discs look tiny, while the rear wheels use old-fashioned drums.

Despite being the forerunner of the Astra, the Chevette is shorter and narrower than a current Corsa. So it feels wonderfully compact, with excellent visibility thanks to stick-thin roof pillars. Best not to think about the implications for crash-safety…

Vauxhall Chevette HSReliability and running costs

The highly-strung Chevette probably won’t be as reliable as, say, a Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI. With only 450 made – the HS was only sold in the UK, there was never an Opel-badged version – finding parts could be trickier, too.

Vauxhall quotes fuel economy of between 18.3mpg and 25.5mpg. That’s pretty poor for a car that weighs just 1,014kg. But few, if any, HS owners will drive their cars every day.

Vauxhall Chevette HSCould I drive it every day?

Which brings us neatly to our next question. Yes, you could drive a Chevette HS every day, but it would be a shame to.

This is a car for sunny Sunday mornings, not Friday-night commuting drudgery. Its heavy, unassisted steering is a (literal) pain around town, and its frantic engine will give you tinnitus on a long motorway run. You can have too much of a good thing.

Vauxhall Chevette HSHow much should I pay?

Only 450 HS Chevettes were made, and DVLA data indicates that just 108 are left in the UK. Of those, only 31 are actually registered for road use.

So actually finding an HS will be your biggest problem, and prices are very much dependant on condition. You may find a ratty example for four figures, while a tidy HS with 68,000 miles on the clock was recently advertised for £16,000.

The good news is that, despite being rarer than the equivalent Escort RS2000, the Vauxhall is considerably cheaper.

Vauxhall Chevette HSWhat should I look out for?

The mortal enemy of any car from the 1970s is rust. Look carefully around the wheelarches, door-bottoms and the scuttle panels, using a magnet to check for filler.

Exterior and interior trim may be cosmetic, but missing or damaged parts may be near-impossible to replace. We doubt your local Vauxhall dealer keeps a spare roll of tartan seat trim in stock. Remember, originality is key when it comes to classic cars.

Mechanical issues should be simpler and cheaper to fix (no electronic systems to worry about here), but check the engine hasn’t been pre-warmed before you drive it and look for smoke from the exhaust on start-up.

Vauxhall Chevette HSShould I buy one?

There’s something very special about homologation cars. Forged in the heat of competition, they seem slightly feral – like they’ve only been partially tamed for the road. They’re usually fast, rare and cool-looking, too.

The Chevette HS ticks all those boxes. It looks brilliant in a Max-Power-meets-the-1970s kind of way and it’s riotously good fun to drive. Also, while you’ll struggle to find an E30 M3 for less than £30,000, a nice HS costs less than half as much. As a classic car you can enjoy driving, it’s definitely worth a look.

Vauxhall FirenzaPub fact

The Chevette was part of the Dealer Team Vauxhall (DTV) programme – a race/rally operation that was backed by a selection of London Vauxhall dealers, rather than the factory itself.

Other Vauxhalls raced by DTV were the Victor, Magnum, Viva and Firenza (above). Famous drivers for the team included Pentti Airikkala and Jimmy McRae (father of Colin).    

2016 Audi R8 Spyder

2016 Audi R8 Spyder V10 revealed in New York

2016 Audi R8 SpyderThe new Audi R8 Spyder V10 has been revealed at the 2016 New York Auto Show, ahead of the brand’s official press conference later this afternoon.

The new R8 Spyder is on full display on Audi’s New York stand, sitting alongside an R8 coupe and a racing R8 sportscar.

Gallery: Audi R8 V10 Spyder

Resplendent in bright yellow, the new R8 Spyder V10 has cleaner lines and a much more neatly integrated rear deck than the original. The strong rear haunches are more muscular and the entire car looks like one designed to be an open-top model from the start, rather than a later conversion.

The rear deck is particularly striking, with twin polished metal power bulges sitting within a carbon fibre panel. It’s flatter and bulges less than the original, giving the new R8 Spyder V10 a more open appearance.

The open appearance of the new car itself also took many by surprise: usually, car manufacturers leave world show debuts tightly under wraps until their press conference. Maybe the amount of leaks around the R8 Spyder over the past few weeks has encouraged Audi to take a different approach.

Come back later to Motoring Research for more on the new Audi R8 Spyder V10

Nissan GT-R MY17

570hp Nissan GT-R 17MY at the 2016 New York Auto Show

Nissan GT-R MY17Nissan has revealed a facelifted 2017 model year GT-R 17MY at the 2016 New York Auto Show. At first glance, it looks like a simple facelift, but there’s more at work here than first meets the eye – and we don’t just mean that striking new bright metallic orange colour…

Why has Nissan introduced the GT-R 17MY?

The current-shape GT-R is not the freshest car around: it was launched almost a decade ago, and Nissan hasn’t really evolved it much since. Because it’s looking unlikely we’ll get an all-new version much before 2020, the Japanese firm has thus taken the knife to the current car, to both make it look more modern and address customer demands for a bit more performance but a lot more comfort.

The 17MY Godzilla is still extreme, but it’s a bit more plush and cosseting along with it…

Nissan GT-R 17MY: in the metal at New York

The 17MY GT-R looks… familiar. That’s because it is – this is a facelift of a car that’s been around since 2007, remember. But saying that, there is enough in the metal to interest the performance car enthusiasts this car attracts so strongly, not least the introduction of Nissan’s new ‘V-motion’ matt-finish design signature grille. It’s bigger to provide more engine cooling, while an all-new bonnet boasts extra reinforcement to improve high-speed handling. Downforce-inducing front spoiler lip and bumper finish add yet more aggression to Godzilla.

There’s a lot more going on at the rear too. New bodywork improves airflow and there are now side air vents next to the quad exhausts. Nissan says this cleverly creates less drag without affecting downforce generation. Also check the greater use of matt black in the lower body, making the car look wider and more modern. Fancy new Y-spoke 20-inch alloys complete the facelift.

Inside the Nissan GT-R 17MY in New York

Nissan GT-R 17MY

In images, the Nissan GT-R 17MY doesn’t look like it’s been transformed, but believe us, it has. The dashboard and instrument panel are all-new (despite looking similar to the old one) and are now covered in in TAKUMI precision-stitched leather. The new fascia is driver-orientated and, interestingly, has a ‘horizontal flow’ to its shape that Nissan says gives a sense of increased stability for front-seat passengers.

Infotainment is all-new, paddleshifters are now mounted to the steering wheel and the number of buttons has been seriously reduced – from 27 in the old car to 11 in the 17MY variant. Oh, and both paddleshifters and ventilation control ‘sound’ better when used.

Even better infotainment

The gadget-packed infotainment screen of the old GT-R, with its multitude of functions, gauges and displays, was always a highlight. Nissan’s kept this feature-packed excitement but fitted a better, bigger eight-incou touchscreen that now has large icons on the display screen so it’s easier to operate.

There’s a new display command control on the carbon fibre centre console that further helps ease of operation.

Katsura Orange multi-layer paint option

Nissan GT-R 17MY

Nissan has introduced a new paint option for the 17MY GT-R: Katsura Orange, which can be seen on the NYIAS show car. A multi-layer paint finish, it gives a particularly rich and deep look that, with the GT-R’s enhanced front end and crisp black lower body sections, ensures it really stands out despite its familiar profile.

There are more colours inside as well: a new tan option joins red, ivory and black.

Engines: 570-horsepower for the TAKUMI-built 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6

Nissan has retained the familiar GT-R 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 that’s hand-built by a single TAKUMI master technician. Despite expectations, it hasn’t been power-boosted to the round 600-horsepower of the GT-R Nismo, but to a lesser (but still potent) 570-horsepower.

Nissan’s not released performance figures yet but says the boost will be felt most at mid- to high-range engine speeds, although the enhanced sound from a new titanium exhaust should be delivered all the time. The six-speed dual-clutch transmission is also now smoother and less noisy.

Tech: handling honed, ride smoothed

Nissan says suspension has been further honed and the bodyshell has been stiffened, which means the GT-R 17MY will be able to corner at higher speeds and be more stable through switchback transitions. It’s done this while improving comfort at the same time: ride quality is much smoother, reckons Nissan, whole new sound absorption materials mean the cabin is quieter at higher speeds.

It’s “the most comfortable model to date, with a new sense of elegance and civility that one would rarely find in such a high-performance supercar,” says GT-R chief product specialist Hiroshi Tamura. It is, he feels, “the ultimate GT that possesses amazing performance, newfound civility and a rich racing history”.

When does the Nissan GT-R 17MY arrive in showrooms?

The revised Nissan GT-R 17MY will be available in the autumn, says Nissan. Prices are to be announced but shouldn’t be too far removed from today’s levels – it’s not an all-new car after all…

Mazda MX-5 RF 2016

2016 Mazda MX-5 RF ‘targa-top’ wows New York

Mazda MX-5 RFMazda has revealed an alluring targa-top new MX-5 RF ‘Retractible Fastback’ hard-top variant on the eve of the 2016 New York Auto Show, wowing onlookers with its unexpected take on a second-generation folding hard-top MX-5.

Replacing the previous MX-5 RC, a model that in the UK accounted for the vast majority of sales, the new MX-5 RF is a much more unique proposition than its similar-to-the-roadster predecessor.

Mazda MX-5 RF 2016

Its key feature is a new fastback-style rear end, with voluminous flying buttresses and a fixed glass rear window. The hard-top roof sits above the occupants and, because the rear deck is retractible, can be electronically stowed above the load bay – with no loss of luggage space.

Mazda MX-5 RF 2016

The whole operation is swift and can be conducted at speeds of up to jogging pace: ideal for when the traffic lights turn green.

Mazda’s pitching the MX-5 as a more mature alternative to the racy roadster: as such, the likely-more-refined interior will be boosted by premium trims and upmarket spec levels. Mazda will, unlike the soft-top, also offer the RF with a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Both 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre petrol engines will be available.

Mazda MX-5 RF 2016

Mazda’s even developed some expensive-looking new colours for the MX-5 RF, including a three-coat Machine Grey finish that uses the same advanced paint techniques as the Soul Red colour.

The firm revealed the MX-5 RF at an event ahead of first press day for NYIAS 2016: Mazda’s press event is actually on the second day (24 March): Motoring Research will be there and bring you more news on the wonderful-looking new fastback MX-5.

Mazda MX-5 RF 2016

In the meantime, share your thoughts with us – and let us know what you’d like us to find out when the car’s revealed in New York.

Lamborghini Centenario

Lamborghini Centenario is cover car of next Forza Motorsport

Lamborghini CentenarioThe Lamborghini Centenario will be the cover supercar of the next Forza racing game – and, when it’s revealed in June 2016, gamers will actually beat Lamborghini owners in getting behind the (virtual) wheel.

Available to millions of racing fans ‘first in Forza’, the Centenario news is the latest move in a successful relationship between Microsoft and Lamborghini.

It’s all the more significant as the limited-to-40, £1.7 million, already-sold-out Centenario is Lamborghini’s prized special edition to celebrate 100 years of founder Ferruccio Lamborghini’s birth.

Lamborghini Forza

“We’re excited to continue our long history of working with Lamborghini and to be part of their 100-year anniversary by celebrating the Centenario as the featured cover car of the next Forza game,” said Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox.

But the figures speak for themselves in explaining why it’s honouring Ferruccio on its latest headline video game, added the tech giant: Lamborghini is the most popular brand in the Forza stable and more than five million gamers have now spent nearly 60 million hours racing them.

That’s why the 770hp Centenario is debuting in Forza rather than on the road: in doing so, it joins 14 other Lamborghinis featured to date in the Xbox One Forza franchise.

As for the game itself, developed by Microsoft partner Turn 10 Studios, the figures are again clear: it’s the best-selling racing franchise of today’s video games console generation, boasting a staggering 10 million unique fans.

And if but a handful of them go on to buy a Lamborghini when they can afford one, well…