Smart car keys could prevent you driving while drunk

Honda’s smart key could stop you driving while drunk

Smart car keys could prevent you driving while drunk

Honda has been working with technology firm Hitachi to create a smart key which tests the driver’s breath before allowing them to start the car.

The ignition interlock technology can accurately test alcohol levels within three seconds, the manufacturers claim, and prevent the vehicle from starting if it detects the driver is over the limit.

Although the technology isn’t new, it’s much more precise and accurate than current ignition interlock tech, thanks to sensitive new miniaturised sensor technology as well as the use of multiple semiconductor gas sensors. This means the device can detect alcohol levels as little as 0.015mg/L – much lower than the UK’s limit of 0.40mg/L.

While other systems require drivers to perform breath tests from the driver’s seat once inside a vehicle, this device allows them to measure their alcohol level from anywhere prior to entering their car. Once in the driver’s seat, an alert indicator displays the breath test results on the vehicle’s display panel.

Hitachi and Honda will unveil the prototype device at next month’s SAE 2016 world congress, and have said it could be commercially available in the near future.

Smart car keys could prevent you driving while drunk

Honda's smart key could stop you driving while drunk

Smart car keys could prevent you driving while drunk

Honda has been working with technology firm Hitachi to create a smart key which tests the driver’s breath before allowing them to start the car.

The ignition interlock technology can accurately test alcohol levels within three seconds, the manufacturers claim, and prevent the vehicle from starting if it detects the driver is over the limit.

Although the technology isn’t new, it’s much more precise and accurate than current ignition interlock tech, thanks to sensitive new miniaturised sensor technology as well as the use of multiple semiconductor gas sensors. This means the device can detect alcohol levels as little as 0.015mg/L – much lower than the UK’s limit of 0.40mg/L.

While other systems require drivers to perform breath tests from the driver’s seat once inside a vehicle, this device allows them to measure their alcohol level from anywhere prior to entering their car. Once in the driver’s seat, an alert indicator displays the breath test results on the vehicle’s display panel.

Hitachi and Honda will unveil the prototype device at next month’s SAE 2016 world congress, and have said it could be commercially available in the near future.

Mahindra e2o

Mahindra to launch affordable electric car in April 2016

Mahindra e2oIndian multinational Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd is to launch a new budget electric city car called e2o in the UK next month, promising to close the price gap between normal cars and EVs.

The Mahindra e2o has been optimised for city centre use: indeed, the firm is set to champion the benefits of zero-emissions cars in talking UK city air pollution following its April launch.

Likely to be priced at a similar budget level to the Renault Twizy EV, some are speculating whether Mahindra has a list price surprise in store: it won’t be as cheap as the £7,000 Renault Twizy but it’ll certainly cost many thousands less than the £18k Renault Zoe. How much less? We’ll find out next month when prices are revealed.

The proviso is the fact this isn’t a conventional car but, like the Twizy, a lightweight quadricycles. Safety standards for these cars are lower, they’re less refined and, hopefully not ominously, they’re the same regulations that brought an earlier EV pioneer to London – the much-derided G-Wiz.

Hopefully the e2o is a big step on…

Mahindra says buyers can expect fuel costs of £10 a month – even if they regularly cover the UK average annual miles of almost 8,000 miles a year: that’s more than 20 miles a day.

To be sold fully online, owners will use the mahindrauk.com website to choose a spec, book a test drive, pay a deposit and track the delivery status of their new car. There may even be a Mahindra e2o smartphone sales app.

Its sole UK base will be its HQ in Chiswick, West London, which will be open seven days a week; test drives will be based there.

Aftersales service and maintenance will be handled by a mobile service team.

Pravin Shah, president & chief executive at M&M Ltd, said: “In the face of issues such as environmental degradation, pollution-related concerns, climate change and energy security, all of which plague communities globally, the e2o is a smart choice for the UK’s urban multi-car households.

Mahindra EV division leader Arvind Mathew added: “The Mahindra e2o is a savvy electric car that redefines sustainable urban driving. We designed the e2o, as well as our complete sales and service model, to be more convenient and flexible in keeping with the way our UK customers live and work.”

And while Mahindra may not be the biggest name in UK motoring, it’ll be familiar to motorsport fans: the Mahindra Racing team is currently running in the FIA Formula E championship.

You can bet this motorsport link won’t be lost on potential Mahindra e2o customers when the launch gets underway next month…

Peugeot 208

Peugeot Just Add Fuel for 18 year olds extended to 208, 2008

Peugeot 208Peugeot has extended its Just Add Fuel telematics insurance deal for 18 year olds to the 208 supermini and 2008 crossover range – meaning teenagers can now drive one of the firm’s most popular models for a one-off, all-inclusive fee.

First introduced for 18 year olds on the 108, the telematics-based Just Add Fuel deal has already seen an increase in teenagers signing up for a new Peugeot, report dealers: broadening it to the firm’s highest-volume cars will accelerate this further.

The full range of 208 and 2008 models are available too with the obvious exception of the fruity 208 GTi hot hatch variants. The offer is also now available in Northern Ireland.

It’s the latest step in the Just Add Fuel ‘retail car lease’ scheme that, since its launch in 2010, has got more than 30,000 Brits into a new Peugeot for a fixed-payment three-year term (with a 4.9% APR rate).

Servicing, road fund licence and roadside assistance are all included – as is car insurance. It’s the addition of telematics insurance to Just Add Fuel that’s made it possible for Peugeot to offer it to higher-risk teenage drivers.

It doesn’t mean teenage Peugeot Just Add Fuel drivers have a free pass though: because telematics monitors and stores driving activity, it’s able to keep an eye on how safely the driver is.

If the score falls below a pre-agreed level, the driver gets a warning. Receive four warnings in a year and the insurance policy is cancelled. You have been warned…

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).    

Nissan GT-R MY17

New York Auto Show 2016: all the key cars

All the big announcements and key cars of the 2016 New York Auto Show

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Mercdes-AMG GT S

Mercedes-AMG GT R to debut at 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed

Mercdes-AMG GT SMercedes-AMG will launch a range-topping GT R halo car at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed in June, AMG boss Tobias Moers has confirmed to us at the 2016 New York Auto Show.

The new  GT R will be “the highest-performance model we have ever done,” he added – with lap times faster than the Mercedes-Benz SLS Black Series.

‘The current GT S isn’t far off but it doesn’t beat the SLS Black. This car will.”

The range-topping GT R (trademark lawyers from Nissan will be watching very carefully the spacing of the letters and use of hyphens, we’re sure…) will have a full performance upgrade, with bespoke suspension, brakes, tyres and even more engine power.

There’s speculation it may also introduce a four-wheel steering system to the GT line: Moers says AMG engineers ‘punch above their weight’ for their ability to fully engineer custom chassis setups.

“The GT R will be an ambassador model for the brand,” he added, “although we will not take it to the level of Porsche with thigns such as limited availability (the 911 R is restricted to 911 vehicles, for example)”.

“We will also not sell cars for less than the cost of production,” he added…

The confirmation that Mercedes-AMG’s new halo car will launch at Goodwood is a major fillip for the motorsport festival, and AMG will be certain not to disappoint. Now its launch date is confirmed, watch this space for more news on the Mercedes-AMG GT R.

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