Tesla Elon Musk

Tesla Master Plan part 2: solar, sharing, trucks, buses and better autonomy

Tesla Elon MuskTesla will launch a truck, a bus, a “beautiful” solar roof battery storage product, autonomous vehicles that are 10 times safer than normal cars and an app that will let you share your Tesla with others (and get paid for it).

The plans are detailed in Tesla founder Elon Musk’s second ‘master plan’, which he rolled out overnight to focus the company’s next decade.

It’s part of his ambition to accelerate the viability of sustainable energy “so that we can imagine far into the future and life is still good.

“It’s not some silly, hippy thing – it matters for everyone.” Because if we don’t achieve a sustainable energy economy, “we will run out of fossil fuels to burn and civilisation will collapse.”

Musk therefore has four far-reaching goals over and above the volume development of Tesla’s passenger cars (the mainstream Model 3 is still due in 2018).

On sustainability, Musk wants to develop a solar roof product that’s linked in with a battery storage system that will turn everyone into their own utility company. It will be simple to order, simple to install, have a simple utility contract and be linked to a simple smartphone app: a fully integrated energy generation and storage solution.

That is why, says Musk, Tesla has been joined up to one of his other companies, SolarCity.

But Musk also has big plans for Tesla motors.

More Tesla models

Tesla wants to make more vehicles. Musk reckons he has the passenger car segment covered – “a lower cost vehicle than the Model 3 is unlikely to be necessary” – and will broaden the lower end of the range with a better, smarter Tesla bus.

A Tesla bus would be smaller, smarter, comfier and autonomous: it would match acceleration and braking to other vehicles. It would take wheelchairs, strollers and bikes. There would be no centre aisle. It would take people all the way to their destination.

A big Tesla semi-trailer truck, promises Musk, would be cheaper to use, safer and “really fun to operate”. Both will be unveiled in 2017 (they’re under development now, confirmed Musk).


The controversial Tesla Autopilot function is being deployed now despite some arguing it’s not ready and thus not safe. Musk says Tesla is doing it now because “when used correctly, it is already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves.”

Boldly, he claims it would be “morally reprehensible to delay release simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability.”

At the moment, Tesla Autopilot is officially in the beta stage. As part of Musk’s master plan, that beta tag will one day be removed – that will be when it is “approximately 10 times safer than the US vehicle average”.

So there you go: Tesla wants to make cars 10 times safer than normal cars, and fully roll them out in the next 10 years.


Musk wants to “enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it”. This will be dependent on true self-driving being approved by regulators: then, Tesla will let you add your car to a Tesla shared fleet via the smartphone app and have it make money for you.

“Since most cars are only in use by their owner for 5% to 10% of the day, the fundamental economic utility of a true self-driving car is likely to be several times that of a car which is not.”

What’s more, Tesla will also take on cab operators and Uber: where there’s lots of demand for self-driving taxis, “Tesla will operate its own fleet enduring you can always hail a ride from us no matter where you are”.

Musk revealed his new master plan as part of a fascinating blog post on the company’s website (which is now under tesla.com rather than teslamotors.com…). The scope and ambition of it is enormous. Read it in full and let us know what else you think Musk may be planning to do…

Tesla Master Plan part 1

Musk reminded us of his first master plan, devised a decade ago. He said it “wasn’t all that complicated” and consisted of:

  1. Create a low volume car, which would necessarily be expensive
  2. Use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower price
  3. Use that money to create an affordable, high volume car
  4. Provide solar power

The last point he stressed: “no kidding, this has literally been on our website for 10 years”.

Explaining the first master plan, he said he started off with point 1 because “it was all I could afford to do with what I made from Paypal”. He admitted he thought the chances of success were low, hence starting with his cash rather than someone else’s.

“Starting a car company is idiotic and an electric car company is idiocy squared.”

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

Depreciation, or loss in value over time, is usually the single biggest running cost when you buy a new car. Even on a family hatchback, it can add up to many thousands of pounds over a typical three-year/30,000-mile ownership period.

We’ve teamed up with the experts at CAP HPI to reveal the 25 cars that shed the smallest percentage of their value. Prepare to be surprised…

Vauxhall Viva

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

Vauxhall’s back-to-basics Viva is cheap to buy and run. The sub-Corsa city car retains 73.5% of its value, according to CAP HPI. That means it will lose £2,258 over three years and 30,000 miles.

Mazda CX-3

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

Smart styling, agile handling and a practical cabin have won the CX-3 plaudits from UK motoring media. And buyers seem to agree; Mazda’s crossover retains 73.7% of its initial purchase price, costing £5,170 in depreciation.

Subaru Outback

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

Choice is limited for buyers who want the all-weather capability of four-wheel drive without opting for the default SUV. Subaru’s rugged 4WD estate fills that void, and holds onto an impressive 73.8% of its value in the process. An Outback will cost £7,810 in depreciation over three years and 30,000 miles.

Mercedes-Benz V-Class

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

The V-Class is a people carrier based on the Vito van, and a firm favourite with the private hire trade. Over three years, a diesel version will lose around £11,561 – retaining 74% of its showroom price. An uber-good result for Mercedes-Benz (see what we did there?).

Ford S-Max

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

The Ford S-Max is another people carrier in high demand with used-car buyers. It trumps the V-Class on styling, driving dynamics and price – if not outright space. Expect an S-Max to retain 74.1% of its value and lose £7,380 over a three-year period.

Mercedes-AMG CLA 45

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

With sleek ‘four-door coupe’ styling and a rumbling, deep-chested soundtrack, the hottest CLS certainly ticks our boxes. It’s more sought-after than the equivalent A45 AMG hatchback, holding onto 74.1% of its price. That equates to £11,174 in depreciation.

Lamborghini Huracan

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

Speaking of soundtracks, nothing prepares you for the feral scream of the Huracan’s 610 hp V10. Of course, a Lamborghini is hardly a car to save you money; you will lose a not-insignificant £46,570 over three years and 30,000 miles. Nonetheless, it’s a slow depreciator, retaining 74.2% of its initial cost.

Jaguar XF

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

Now for something a little more sensible. The Jaguar XF is an accomplished executive saloon, with strong engines and best-in-class handling. Diesel versions retain 75.3% after three years, costing £9,091 in depreciation. Petrol models do even better, says CAP HPI: 77.3% and £11,200.

Mercedes-AMG GT

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

The bombastic Mercedes-AMG GT left an indelible impression after we drove it last year. It also left some tyre tracks in the MR office car park, but that’s another story… This 911 Turbo-rivalling supercar keeps 75.7% of its value, costing the first owner £28,087.

Lamborghini Aventador

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

OK, consumer advice time. If you’re interested in saving money, don’t buy a Lamborghini Aventador. This V12-engined monster will cost £65,535 in depreciation over three years and 30,000 miles. But you can justify it to your husband/wife/bank manager by pointing out a strong retained value of 76.3%.

Range Rover Sport

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

The Range Rover Sport seemingly never goes out of fashion. Indeed, its sales success threatens to usurp the full-sized Range Rover altogether. A diesel-engined Sport will hold 77.3% of its value and cost £15,519 over our typical three-year ownership cycle. The hybrid version is slightly more prized, retaining 77.8% and losing £18,825.

Lexus NX

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

Clearly, being endorsed by Will.I.Am has done this sharply-styled SUV no harm. The petrol-powered NX 200t is unloved, but the hybrid petrol/electric NX 300h is a noted depreciation-buster. You can expect to lose a modest £8,436 over three years, thanks to a retained value of 77.3%.

Jaguar XE

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

Jaguar’s critically-acclaimed answer to the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series slightly outperforms its big brother, the XF, when it comes to depreciation. A typical XE is worth 77.8% of its purchase price after three years/30,000 miles. That equates to a bill of £7,320.

Alfa Romeo 4C

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

Reviews have been more mixed when it comes to the Alfa Romeo 4C – a compact sports car that rivals the Porsche Cayman. Still, many great Alfas have been flawed gems, and the 4C’s relative rarity keeps values high. Its retained value is 78.8%, with depreciation of £10,515.

BMW Alpina D4

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

Alpina is the semi-official tuning arm of BMW. Unlike many modification specialists, however, its cars major on comfort rather than Nurburgring-bashing performance. The highly-desirable D4 is based on the BMW 4 Series and holds 79.3% of its value, losing £10,510 in depreciation. Figures for the convertible version are 79.0% and £11,515 respectively.

Honda HR-V

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

Honda’s reputation for reliability means its cars are usually highly valued by second-hand buyers – and none more so than the HR-V. This family-sized crossover holds onto 79.5% of its showroom price, costing just £4,284 in depreciation. The diesel version tops even that, with 80.6% and £4,261.

Volvo XC90

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

The seven-seat SUV that spearheaded Volvo’s renaissance is already a star of the used-car market. Buyers can expect a retained value of 79.6% for petrol models, 80.9% for the T8 ‘twin-engine’ hybrid and a whopping 82.9% for the 2.0 D5 diesel. The diesel loses around £8,250 over three years and 30,000 miles – not bad for a £50k car.

Land Rover Discovery Sport

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

Another 4×4 that’s selling as fast as they can build them, the Land Rover Discovery Sport combines the low-slung looks of the Evoque with a cabin that seats seven. What’s not to like? Diesel versions are best when it comes to depreciation, retaining 80.3% and setting you back £7,255 over three years.

Lotus Exige

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

It’s no spring chicken, but there’s still lots of love for the Lotus Exige. Spend five minutes behind the wheel of one and you’ll discover why – it’s an absolute joy to drive. Take the plunge and you can expect to see an 81.1% retained value, along with depreciation of £8,320.

Audi RS3

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

The latest RS3 is one very hot hatchback. It boasts 367hp and will hit 62mph in 4.3 seconds. That’s quicker than a Porsche 911 GTS. Depreciation, however, is a much slower affair. It retains a whopping 83.1% of its value, losing just £6,650 after three years and 30,000 miles.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

What a way to make an entrance. The gullwing-doored SLS AMG is a most-wanted car, outperforming even the newer AMG GT when it comes to residual values. If you’d bought one three years ago, it would still be worth 85.2% of what you’d paid. You’d have lost £25,490, but that’s pocket change when it comes to supercars, right?

Porsche Macan

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

The Macan is the first of three Porsches in the top four of CAP HPI’s slowest depreciating cars – no mean feat for the German brand. The petrol-engined version keeps 87.9% of its value and loses £5,875 over three years. The Macan diesel manages 88.5% and £5,043. It’s practically a free car.

Ferrari 488 GTB

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

Talking of free cars, the top three aren’t actually depreciators at all. These sports cars (and they are all sports cars) should actually go UP in value over three years and 30,000 miles of ownership. First up is the Ferrari 488 GTB. A 101.7% retained value means you could sell for £3,091 more than you bought it for – so keen are buyers to jump the lengthy waiting list.

Porsche 911 GT3 (997)

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

The previous (997) generation of Porsche’s hardcore 911 GT3 was the last to boast a manual gearbox and hydraulic power steering. That makes it lusted-after by enthusiasts, with a corresponding premium for buyers. A residual value of 102.8% means lucky 997 GT3 owners could make a £2,515 profit.

Porsche Cayman GT4

The 25 slowest depreciating cars

Here we have it: Britain’s slowest depreciating car. The limited-run Porsche Cayman GT4 turns conventional car market economics on its head, holding onto to a crazy 121.6% of its list price. In other words, you could drive this for three years and 30,000 miles, then make £13,949 for your trouble. If only we could afford one in the first place…


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Ford Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

Ford Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

Ford Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite carThe humble Ford Fiesta holds a special place in many of our hearts. Whether it was the car we learned to drive in, or our first brand new car, or even the first hot hatch we owned, many of us will have some special connection with the hatchback originally codenamed ‘Bobcat’.

Launched in 1976, the Ford Fiesta is 40 years old this year. Over that time, Ford has sold more than 4.3 million Fiestas in the UK alone – with more than one in every 20 cars sold during that time being a Fiesta. Every month for the last seven years it has topped the charts as the UK’s most popular car. And in 2014, it replaced the Escort as the UK’s best-selling car ever.


Convoy!Ford Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

It’d be wrong for a significant birthday of the UK’s favourite car to pass by unnoticed, then. So Ford arranged a special shindig, in the form of a convoy (of 40 Fiestas, natch) from its Dagenham plant in East London, to this year’s Ford Summer Festival, held at Brighton Racecourse. A Fiesta fiesta, if you will.

DagenhamFord Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

Ford invited us along, with the promise that they had something extra special lined up for us to drive on the run. We’ll come to that in a moment, but first a bit about Dagenham, where the run was starting. Although the plant no longer produces cars, more than a million engines are made there every year. It’s the largest producer of Ford diesel engines in the world.

Going homeFord Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

Although the Fiesta has been built at several plants around the world, it’s been a constant at Dagenham. In fact, it was the last car made there, with the final one rolling off the production line in 2002. For many of the cars on Saturday’s run, they were going ‘home’.

Fiesta enthusiastsFord Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

So, back to the run. A total of 40 Fiestas gathered at the site, from original Mk1s to brand new sixth-generation models, fresh off the production line. Although some were owned by Ford, many were driven there by enthusiasts, keen to take part in the Fiesta’s birthday celebrations.

EntourageFord Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

We’ll get to the Fiestas taking part in the run – of which there were some very special examples. But first, check out the entourage: from a rare two-door Corsair to a near-mint Ford Scorpio Cosworth.

Our steedFord Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

This was our steed for the run. It’s a 1981 Mk1 Ford Fiesta Popular, part of the manufacturer’s heritage fleet. Finished in fetching beige, this Fiesta would have been the cheapest way into Ford ownership when it was new. You could have parked one on your driveway for just £1,856 – as long as you could manage without such luxuries as carpet and a passenger door mirror.

Engine and performance (or lack of)Ford Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

Powered by a 950cc engine, the entry-level Fiesta packed 45 hp when it was new, and would return 47.9 mpg at a constant 56 mph. Restored by Ford after it was donated by the widow of former Fiesta GB Club secretary, Andy Steele, today’s it’s in near-mint ‘as new’ condition.

Leaving DagenhamFord Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

Heading out of Dagenham towards the A13 dual carriageway and eventually the M25, the convoy of Fiestas received an awful lot of respect. In an area where van drivers are usually urging you out of the way at every opportunity, the Fiestas got nothing but smiles and thumbs up. There’s a lot of love for this little car.

Onto the M25Ford Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

Following Autocar’s Steve Cropley in a Fiesta XR2i, the beige mean machine has no trouble settling into a cruise of around 60mph on the M25.

BreakdownsFord Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

On the entire route there’s only one temporary breakdown: a Mk5 Fiesta Zetec S was spotted stranded in roadworks early on in the route. I later discovered it was diagnosed as a faulty air-con compressor, so turning the A/C off cured it. Maybe they’d feel some sympathy for me in the air-con-less Mk1.

Ford Fiesta XR2 FlyFord Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

Other highlights include this XR2 ‘Fly’, a rare convertible created by Crayford. With a list price of more than £8,000 when new, it sold in very small numbers – making it very desirable today.

Belgian Mk1Ford Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

This stunning bronze Mk1 was driven all the way from Belgium for the event.

Ford Fiesta Bravo 2Ford Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

As special editions go, this certainly ticks the ‘special’ box. Based on a Fiesta L, the Bravo 2 added chrome window surrounds, a silver grille and wheel centre caps and, of course, the two-tone paint job. ‘Bound to make you feel good,’ the brochure claimed in 1983. We can’t dispute that.

Ford Fiesta GhiaFord Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

The Mk2 everyone wanted: a Ghia! With its crushed velour interior and plastic side mouldings protecting the exterior, the world knew you were doing well if you bought a Fiesta Ghia.

Ford Fiesta SupersportFord Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

The 1.3-litre Ford Fiesta Supersport arrived ahead of the XR2, effectively testing the market for a hot Fiesta. Based on the 1300 Sport, just 3,000 were built. It’s very desirable today.

Ford Fiesta ST200Ford Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

It wasn’t all old Fiestas: Ford was showing off its hot new ST200 on the run. We had the pleasure of driving it for the return journey.

Ford Summer FestivalFord Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

On arrival at Brighton Racecourse, the convoy was ushered into the show where the cars were on display for the public to enjoy.

Birthday cakeFord Fiesta at 40: happy birthday to the UK’s favourite car

There was even a birthday cake cut to celebrate 40 years of the Fiesta.

More weird things car brands also make

More weird things car brands also make

More weird things car brands also makeFrom Christmas baubles to polo saddles, carmakers will do anything to lighten your wallet. Check out our handpicked range of exclusive items you can buy if you want to show the world what fine taste you have. Here are some of the weird and wonderful things can brands also make.

Toyota Energy Observer

A fresh update to this list comes with Toyota’s sponsorship entanglement with the Energy Observer hydrogen research vessel. A curiously amusing means to a noble end. Toyota is known for its endeavours in alternative energies with the Toyboata being the latest.

Lamborghini Tauri 88 SmartphoneMore weird things car brands also make

At around £4,000, the Lamborghini Tauri 88 smartphone it’s a bit pricey, but it does have a 5-inch HD touchscreen, more memory than most laptops and a 20-megapixel camera. You can choose from four colours, too, but only 1,947 will be made. So you’ll have to act fast.

Bristol Cars merchandiseMore weird things car brands also make

Carmakers like to cash in on their brand’s heritage by making weird and wacky items designed to appeal to the discerning enthusiast. Take British luxury car manufacturer Bristol, which launched a range of luxury merchandise. You’ll be able to buy branded clothing, scale models and even leather bags and wallets designed by Paul Smith.

Alfa MiTo by Marshall concept carMore weird things car brands also make

Carmakers will do anything to breathe new life into a car nearing the end of its product lifecycle – and Alfa Romeo turned the MiTo into a four-wheeled amplifier. It’s called the Alfa MiTo by Marshall concept car and it “draws inspiration from the look and feel of Marshall’s iconic amplifier equipment”, featuring a 50w amp head and two 12-inch 75w speakers in the boot. It’s even powered by its own battery system.

Maserati and La Martina luxury polo saddleMore weird things car brands also make

We’re tempted to ask the horse, why the long face? It’s clearly not impressed with the one-off La Martina and Maserati polo saddle on its back. In a statement, the horse, which received only a couple of sugar lumps and a polo mint for its troubles, said, “Happy 100th birthday, Maserati, but I still can’t forgive you for putting a diesel engine in the Ghibli”.

Maserati aluminium diceMore weird things car brands also make

Now we don’t know about you, but after a hard day in the office, we like nothing more than getting dressed up and heading to our local multi-storey car park. Whilst some may be tempted to take advantage of the empty car park in their expensive Italian four-door saloon, we like to chuck dice about for a few hours. Maserati aluminium ones, obviously. The fun never stops.

Lamborghini ceramic baublesMore weird things car brands also make

These aren’t just Christmas baubles… These are Lamborghini ceramic Christmas baubles, finished in a special orange glaze and available as a set of three. Proof that you can take the bull out of the Lamborghini logo…

Peugeot pepper millMore weird things car brands also make

The Peugeot brand dates back to 1810, when it made its first tool: a saw blade, using high quality laminated steel. The brand also developed a reputation for delivering the very best salt and pepper mills, something it continues to this very day. Peugeot estimates that it has made tens of millions of mills for grinding salt, pepper and coffee, which includes over 900 different variants. Next time you’re in a restaurant, turn the salt and pepper mills upside down to see if they’re Peugeot-branded.

Porsche ice cube trayMore weird things car brands also make

It’s impossible not to love this Porsche ice cube tray. We’re tempted to say it’s the coolest piece of car-branded nonsense we’ve ever seen…

Ferrari golf collectionMore weird things car brands also make

The Ferrari Golf Collection could be the name given to Ian Poulter’s own private collection of Ferrari cars. But no, the Ferrari Golf Collection is a range of official licensed products, from clubs, to footwear and from clothing to accessories. You can even buy a Ferrari-branded driver with improved aerodynamics and a reduced drag coefficient.

Lotus 108 bicycleMore weird things car brands also make

The Lotus Type 108 bicycle could never fall into the nonsense category. In fact, the Lotus 108 was a trailblazer – the bike that helped Chris Boardman achieve greatness and lay the foundations for years of British cycling success. And to this day, it’s arguably the best looking bicycle ever created.

Bentley Home CollectionMore weird things car brands also make

The press release for Bentley’s Home Collection at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano includes terms such as “rigorous aesthetic sensibility”, “sophisticated velvets”, “pastel nuances” and “exquisite taste”. Which all sounds rather lovely. Yes. It is basically a range of Bentley furniture.

Bugatti hookahMore weird things car brands also make

Well if you were going to drop another million pounds on yet another “final edition” Bugatti Veyron, you were probably smoking something. Allegedly. Which may go some way to explaining the $100,000 (£76,000) Bugatti by Desvali luxury shisha pipe. Personally, we’d rather spend the money on a Porsche 911 Carrera and use the leftover cash for a second set of tyres. Smoking!

Porsche bobsleighMore weird things car brands also make

And speaking of Porsche, how about this – a Porsche bobsleigh. Apparently its designed for children. Which can be used as justification for buying one next Christmas.

Jeep strollersMore weird things car brands also make

Carmakers will often speak about customer lifetime value. In short, a 20-year-old has the potential to buy more cars in their lifetime than a 70-year-old. But surely the Jeep stroller is taking things too far? What next, Audi-branded four-wheel drive cots? Quick, get the head of product planning on the phone – untapped niche alert.

Peugeot Design Lab pianoMore weird things car brands also make

If we were to review this Peugeot and Pleyel piano, we’d probably complain about the pedal arrangement, the lack of seat support and the limited amount of boot space. On the plus side, the soundtrack is pretty spectacular.

Audi R18 Ultra ChairMore weird things car brands also make

This is the Audi R18 Ultra Chair. For best results at dinner parties, position it really close the person sat next to you and shine a torch into their eyes until they move aside. Works every time.

Bentley aftershaveMore weird things car brands also make

In fairness to Bentley, we could have picked on any number of car manufacturers for this one, including Ferrari, Lamborghini, Jaguar or even Hummer. The question is, why would you want to smell like a car? Most interiors smell like Magic Tree air fresheners and old socks.

Audi Q3 camping tentMore weird things car brands also make

The Audi Q3 Camping Tent has a wind load rating of 43 mph. But even so, we’d recommend dismantling it before you make your way out of the camp site.

Bentley barbers’ chairs for PankhurstMore weird things car brands also make

The Pankhurst men’s grooming store is apparently the finest barbershop in London. Which is why Bentley was keen to supply six barbers’ chairs.

Jaguar Concept SpeedboatMore weird things car brands also make

The Concept Speedboat was designed to demonstrate the diverse and active lifestyle enjoyed by owners of the Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Check out the fin on the teak decking. It’s offset in a nod to the Jaguar D-Type. Something that will impress your boating chums down at the marina.

Revealed: the once popular cars vanishing from our roads

Revealed: the once popular cars vanishing from our roads

Revealed: the once popular cars vanishing from our roadsIn the long term, popular cars are the victims of their own success. Huge sales figures and a swollen market leads to depressed values and a spiralling decline into oblivion. What’s cool today might be so incredibly dated tomorrow. Allow us to take you on a drive down memory lane as we remember a selection of popular cars, predominantly from the 80s and 90s, that are seemingly vanishing from our roads. The data has been sourced from the DVLA and refers to cars actually taxed and on the road. There will be others languishing in garages and back gardens up and down the land.

Vauxhall CavalierRevealed: the once popular cars vanishing from our roads

Number on the road: 3,857

Compared to some of the other cars on this list, the number of surviving Vauxhall Cavaliers is relatively healthy. But when you consider that some 1.8 million Cavaliers were sold across a 20-year period, you can appreciate why this is, relatively speaking, such a tiny amount. The majority of the survivors will be the later Mk3 models.

Ford CortinaRevealed: the once popular cars vanishing from our roads

Number on the road: 3,619

There was a time when, even if your dad didn’t drive a Cortina, you could almost guarantee that your best mate’s dad did. Over the course of 20 years, the Ford Cortina pulled up a chair and established itself as part of the British furniture. There was a Cortina for all: from a basic ‘my first company car’ special to a blistering Lotus version.

Ford SierraRevealed: the once popular cars vanishing from our roads

Number on the road: 3,182

Nearly 3.5 million Ford Sierras were built in the 1980s and early 1990s, but it didn’t get off to the best of starts. The space-age styling sent buyers fleeing to the Vauxhall Cavalier by way of a protest. But once the nation had come to terms with the ‘oddball’ looks, the Sierra became a firm favourite for fleet buyers, families and fans of fast Fords.

Fiat UnoRevealed: the once popular cars vanishing from our roads

Number on the road: 367

The Giugiaro-penned Fiat Uno was once a familiar sight on the roads of Britain. This should come as no surprise given that 8.8 million Unos were produced in its lifetime. Today, fewer than 400 are still enjoying active service on UK roads. Sadly, a mere two-dozen are the wonderful Turbo versions.

Skoda FavoritRevealed: the once popular cars vanishing from our roads

Number on the road: 294

The Favorit was Skoda’s first front-wheel-drive car and the last one it produced before the takeover by Volkswagen. At the time it was arguably the best car to emerge from Eastern Europe, which is why close to 50,000 of them found homes in the UK. It was replaced by the Felicia, which in turn became the Fabia.

Austin/Rover Montego (including MG)Revealed: the once popular cars vanishing from our roads

Number on the road: 190

Once upon a time, the Austin Montego was the choice of the patriotic sales rep. Based on the Maestro hatchback, the Montego was actually pretty good. Today, not enough people care about it, which is why fewer than 200 remain on the road.

Citroen CXRevealed: the once popular cars vanishing from our roads

Number on the road: 137

In 2014, the Citroen CX celebrated its 40th anniversary. First unveiled at the 1974 Paris Motor Show, the Citroen CX would go on to sell 1.2 million units across the globe. There are fewer than 150 on Britain’s roads today.

Toyota Space CruiserRevealed: the once popular cars vanishing from our roads

Number on the road: 76

The Toyota Space Cruiser boldly ventured where few other vehicles had been before – into the fledgling MPV sector. Back in the day, people carriers were rather crude, van-based affairs, but they did help to establish a hugely successful sector.

Alfa Romeo 33Revealed: the once popular cars vanishing from our roads

Number on the road: 45

The Alfa Romeo 33 arrived a decade after the launch of the Alfasud – the car it was designed to replaced. Sadly, despite early promise, the 33 failed to capture the magic of the ‘Sud, although just under 900,000 were built before production ceased in 1994.

SEAT MalagaRevealed: the once popular cars vanishing from our roads

Number on the road: 1

One?! Just one SEAT Malaga? Can it be true? Let us know.

All information is based on the DVLA data as of June 2016. Numbers do not include cars registered with the DVLA as off the road. Numbers should only be taken as a guide.

Vauxhall Zafira B

Parliament to quiz Vauxhall on Zafira fires

Vauxhall Zafira BVauxhall has been summoned to Westminster by ministers on the Transport Select Committee so they can quiz the firm about the spate of Zafira B vehicle fires.

Peter Hope, customer experience director at Vauxhall, will face ministers this morning (Tuesday 19 July) at Portcullis House to answer questions about the firm’s response to the Zafira B fires.

> More car news on Motoring Research

The Vauxhall Zafira B, pictured above, was built between 2005-2015.

A senior GM chief, Charles J Klein, will face ministers as well: he is engineering executive director of global CO2 strategy and energy centre at GM – but he’s also recently been vice president of vehicle engineering in Europe, the GM division that engineered the Zafira B compact MPV.

The Transport Select Committee is particularly interested in the Zafira B vehicle recalls issued on December 2015 and May 2016.

The meeting starts at 11.05am and also giving evidence will be representatives from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, the government body that handles vehicle recalls in the UK.

Gareth Llewellyn, chief executive at the DVSA, will give evidence, along with acting operations director Peter Hearn and head of customer and business operations Andy King.

The Transport Select Committee has previously grilled Volkswagen executives about the dieselgate emissions scandal where chair Louise Ellman MP and her colleagues have proven to be  particularly combative questioners.

Vauxhall has set up a special customer information page for those concerned about the risk of Zafira B fires, with the latest recall action occurring in May 2016.

Reports of Vauxhall Zafira fires first emerged in October 2015 and the issue has spiralled since: it’s even led a concerned London Fire Brigade to comment on the issue via Twitter.

Watch: Vauxhall quizzed in parliament on Zafira B fires

Hot dogs in cars heatwave safety warning

Heatwave warning: dogs die in hot cars

Hot dogs in cars heatwave safety warning

As temperatures rise for Britain’s latest summer heatwave, pet owners are being warned dogs can die in a hot car in just 15 minutes.

GEM Motoring Assist is thus reminding owners not to leave dogs unattended in cars even for just a few minutes: because they can’t cool down as easily as humans, it doesn’t take long for a dog to become seriously ill if left in a hot car.

> More car news on Motoring Research

Indeed, even if you’re comfortable in the car, your dog may not be, particularly as it can often be hotter in the front of the car, near the cooling vents, than it is in the back.

Road safety officer Neil Worth thus advices dog owners to keep a careful eye on their pet as they travel, and use sunblinds where possible to keep the sun’s heat off them.

But while he advices opening a window, don’t open it fully – “they need to be kept secure in the car” and so having their head out the window is a no-no. It’s also not advisable not have a dog sitting on someone’s lap, both because of the safety dangers but also because someone’s body heat will make the dog even warmer.

If you have to park up, advises Worth, try to find a shaded area… but he strongly advises not to leave your dog in the car even for a short period. “Even leaving your dog in the car while you nip into a motorway service station for a sandwich and a loo visit can cause danger to your pet.”

Be alert for dogs in danger too: if you do see a dog in a car that you’re concerned about, first try to alert the owner but also consider calling the police. The RSPCA also has a 24-hour helpline: 0300 1234 999.

INEOS Land Rover Defender

Chemical giant hopes to revive the Land Rover Defender

INEOS Land Rover Defender

Jim Ratcliffe — the billionaire owner of chemical giant INEOS — is a man with a thought. A thought that the Land Rover Defender “can be upgraded to be the world’s best and most rugged off roader”.

Does this mean the iconic Defender could rise again? One thing’s for certain, INEOS doesn’t lack the financial clout required for such an ambitious project. Its website boasts of sales totalling $40 billion, with over 17,000 employees and activities across 65 sites and 16 countries. Make no mistake: Ratcliffe is a man who knows how to make friends and influence people.

Or rather, influence organisations. Today, INEOS has issued a press release saying it “has commissioned a full feasibility study into resurrecting the Land Rover Defender and held exploratory talks with Jaguar Land Rover”.

> More car news on Motoring Research

Is the Defender a national treasure – a car that should be left alone and consigned to the history books? INEOS believes not, claiming that while the exterior shape should be treated “like a listed building”, it can be made better, referencing the Toyota Land Cruiser’s reliability and Defender’s “superior off-road qualities”.

Could this signal an end for the gag about driving into the jungle in a Defender and driving out again in a Land Cruiser? Time will tell.

“I am a great admirer of the Land Rover Defender”, claims Jim Ratcliffe, who goes on to say: “Whilst it is early days, our plan has already attracted a huge amount of support from third parties across the globe.” With one eye on the export opportunity, INEOS hopes to build the new model in the north of the UK, preferably near a port.

Ratcliffe adds: “I am a passionate advocate of UK manufacturing and the Land Rover Defender has been a part of the British motoring scene for over sixty years. We want to breathe new life into it and make it even better than before.”

Last week, a Land Rover spokesperson told Autocar: “There is no way this is happening. We’re not going to let anyone build our Defender.”

Anyone except billionaire Jim Ratcliffe? A spokesperson told Motoring Research: “Defender will always be Land Rover’s icon. Jaguar Land Rover have stated our intention to continue the Defender lineage with an all-new model. There is nothing further to add at this time.

“It is too early to start talking about the new Defender at this time. The Defender remains a key part of our future product strategy, and with a growing portfolio of models Jaguar Land Rover is confident we have the breadth of models to meet the demands of our global customer base.”

We suspect there will be a few twists, turns, ruts and fords in this tale. One to watch.

10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternativesIn the ideal world, we’d all drive brilliant cars – but that’s not always possible. Perhaps a car is financially out of reach or maybe so few were made, you’ve got little chance of actually owning one. With this in mind, we’ve assembled a list of brilliant cars and then presented a cheaper alternative. You can thank us later.

Range Rover Evoque Convertible10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

In the case of the Range Rover Evoque, less is definitely more. Removing the roof to create the Evoque Convertible has transformed one of the most fashionable cars on the planet into something so hot you can barely touch it. You may not like the idea of a topless SUV, but there are thousands of willing punters ready to part with upwards of £47,500.

Land Rover Freelander SoftBack10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

But do you want to spend circa £50,000 on something that resembles Barbie’s chariot, when you can drop a few hundred notes on a Land Rover Freelander SoftBack? Sure, it won’t turn heads quite like the Evoque and it’s only your rear seat passengers who will enjoy the effect of wind-in-the-hair motoring, but it’s cheap.

Mercedes-Benz SLC10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

Don’t be fooled by the name, because the Mercedes-Benz SLC is little more than a facelift of the old SLK. Time has moved on and the Merc roadster no longer feels like the freshest option in the segment, but that’s not to say it doesn’t hold appeal. The simple act of lowering or raising the roof is pure theatre and can even be completed at speeds of up to 25 mph, providing the sequence is initiated below 3 mph.

Renault Megane Cabriolet10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

But if you’re after theatre, the original Renault Megane Cabriolet has it in abundance. Prices start below £500, which is a small price to pay for a roof sequence that could rival a breakdancing Optimus Prime. You’ve just got to ensure the roof still works, otherwise you’re simply splashing out on less practical and probably leaky Renault Megane Coupe.

BMW M210 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

Peer through the tyresmoke and you’ll have seen Chris Harris enjoying himself behind the wheel of a BMW M2 whilst filming for Top Gear. It might look like a pumped up M235i — not that this is a bad thing — but it borrows much of its hardware from the M3 and M4. £44,080 might seem like a lot, but spending £13,000 more on an M4 coupe won’t necessarily result in more smiles.

BMW E46 M310 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

We think the M2 is the best BMW M-car since the E46 M3. Introduced in 2000, the E46 is recognised as one of the greatest M-cars of all time, boasting a glorious 3.2-litre straight-six engine and one of the finest chassis of the new millennium. The M2 might be a future classic, but the E46 M3 is a cast-iron modern classic.

Ford Fiesta ST10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

Regular readers will know that we, along with the rest of the motoring media, adore the new Ford Fiesta ST. It’s brilliant, so it slots neatly under our title, but it’s also a bargain, so, er… we may need some help here. At £17,395, it’s hard to find a more enjoyable car for so little money…

Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost 12510 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

To be honest, when we look at the prices of other Fiestas in the range, it only serves to cement our feeling that the ST is one of the bargains of 2016. But don’t rule out used examples of the current Fiesta, which are the sweetest handling superminis you can buy. And the 1.0-litre EcoBoost 125 engine is both punchy and economical.

Land Rover Defender10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

The final Land Rover Defender as we know and love it may have rolled off the production line, but don’t run away with the idea that it’s the last of the old-school 4x4s…

Suzuki Jimny10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

On the contrary, the Suzuki Jimny is able to punch well above its weight when it comes to venturing off-road, and you can still buy one new. It may not be great on the road, but it’s terrific fun off it.

Peugeot 205 GTI10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

The Peugeot 205 GTI was recently voted the greatest hot hatch of all time and prices appear to be on the up.

Peugeot 205 XS10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

So you might be better off opting for the 205 XS instead. Think of it as the 205 GTI’s little brother – just as willing on a B-road and very eager to impress. The later cars shared the same 1.4-litre engine found in the Citroen AX GT.

Peugeot 309 GTI10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

Not convinced by the 205 XS? There is an alternative. Don’t be fooled by its relatively frumpy appearance, because the 309 GTI is every bit as good as the 205 GTI, if not better. Best of luck finding a good one.

Bugatti Veyron10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

Let’s face it, only the privileged few can afford to buy and run a Bugatti Veyron. But what if we told you it was possible to get your hands on half a Bugatti Veyron? Better still, you only need to fork out around £2,500.

Volkswagen Passat W810 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

Wonderful, isn’t it? The Passat W8 features a 4.0-litre W8 engine, precisely half the 8.0-litre W16 engine you’ll find in the record-breaking Veyron. Go for the wagon version and you can even take the dog.

Citroen C4 Cactus10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

It may have been on sale 18 months, but the Citroen C4 Cactus still manages to turn heads. We suspect you’ll either love or hate the Airbumps, but they certainly help to make the Cactus stand out amongst the crowd of crossovers. Prices start from £12,990.

Rover Streetwise10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

Alternatively, you could opt for the Rover Streetwise and save yourself around £12,000. Believe it or not, this was Rover’s attempt to appeal to a younger audience. Because kids love urban on-roaders.

Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk210 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

The Volkswagen Golf GTI, in either Mk1 or Mk2 guise, was one of the greatest hot hatches of the 1980s. But prices are high, so bargains are thin on the ground.

Volkswagen Jetta GTI 16v10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

But there is another way. When it was new, the Jetta GTI 16v was actually cheaper than the equivalent five-door Golf GTI, so it has always been a bit of a bargain. Furthermore, it features a sizeable boot and classic, understated styling. Shame so many have been sacrificed or modified.

BMW M510 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

The E39 M5 is arguably the best BMW M5 ever made and up there with the very best four-door saloons of all time. The star of the show is undoubtedly the 400hp 5.0-litre V8 engine, which makes a noise reminiscent of Thor gargling on chilli-flavoured mouthwash. But we don’t want to give you the M5…

BMW 540i10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

Instead, help yourself to the 286hp BMW 540i, complete with a glorious 4.4-litre V8. Oh sure, you don’t get the advantages of the full-fat M badge, but there’s also none of the disadvantages. Find one with a manual gearbox and you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank (on your favourite B-road).

Toyota, MR2, review, Mk1, Mk3, Series 1, Series 3, buying guide, Retro Road Test

Toyota MR2: Retro Road Test summer special

Toyota, MR2, review, Mk1, Mk3, Series 1, Series 3, buying guide, Retro Road TestSummer has finally arrived and now is a good time to treat yourself to a set of weekend wheels. If your budget is limited to around £5,000, you could do much worse than looking at Toyota’s ‘midship runabout 2-seater’. In a Motoring Research Retro Road Test special, we’ve driven a first- and third-generation MR2 from Toyota UK’s heritage fleet to find out which one you should spend your money on.

Mk1: What are its rivals?Toyota, MR2, review, Mk1, Mk3, Series 1, Series 3, buying guide, Retro Road Test

Launched in 1984, the original MR2 was intended as a fun-to-drive car that was cheap to run. It was unusual in its mid-engined layout, but its compact dimensions complied with strict Japanese regulations. It arrived around the same time as the Fiat X1/9, Volkswagen Scirocco and Honda CR-X.

Mk3: What are its rivals?Toyota, MR2, review, Mk1, Mk3, Series 1, Series 3, buying guide, Retro Road Test

The third-generation MR2, launched in 1999, was a bit different to its predecessors. While it stuck to the mid-engined layout, it was a proper convertible and closer to the Mazda MX-5 and (also mid-engined) MG F.

Mk1: Which engines does it use?Toyota, MR2, review, Mk1, Mk3, Series 1, Series 3, buying guide, Retro Road Test

The original MR2 shared a naturally-aspirated, 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with the more mainstream Corolla. It produced 128hp in the UK and could hit 62mph in less than 9.0 seconds – quick for its time, and faster than its peers.

Mk3: Which engines does it use?Toyota, MR2, review, Mk1, Mk3, Series 1, Series 3, buying guide, Retro Road Test

By the third-generation model, the MR2 used a 1.8-litre four-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine. Like its predecessors, it used dual overhead camshafts and 16 valves – while the camshaft timing was adjustable using Toyota’s VVT-i system. The car’s low kerb weight meant it could hit 62mph in between 6.8 seconds and 8.7 seconds, depending on transmission (five- and six-speed manuals were available, as was a five-speed sequential ’box).

Mk1: What’s it like to drive?Toyota, MR2, review, Mk1, Mk3, Series 1, Series 3, buying guide, Retro Road Test

The 1987 example we’re testing here still feels incredibly sprightly, even though it’s probably lost a few horses over the years – and isn’t, by Toyota’s admission, the best example just yet. With the engine’s weight sitting close to the rear wheels, it’s clear from the start that the original MR2 offers extraordinary levels of grip. Give it the beans from a standstill, for example, and you have to be very clumsy with the clutch for the wheels to (briefly) spin up.

Despite a shortage of power assistance, the steering is light (perhaps overly so) when you increase the speed – something that’ll happen soon as you work the twin-cam engine up through the gears, changing close to the 8,000rpm redline. It has an appetite for being driven hard and encourages you to do so.

While the old Toyota won’t see which way a modern hot hatch went, it still provides one of the most enjoyable driving experiences you’ll get for the money. The sound, steering feel and unusual driving position combine to make it feel like a wonderfully analogue experience.

Mk3: What’s it like to drive?Toyota, MR2, review, Mk1, Mk3, Series 1, Series 3, buying guide, Retro Road Test

After driving the first-generation MR2, the Mk3 feels a little bland on first impressions. The interior is very dull in comparison – while the Mk1 is wonderfully 80s, the recent model is as we’ve become used to from Toyota. Lots of black plastics, and nothing particularly exciting.

But spend some time getting to know the third-gen MR2, and it’s equally likeable in a different way. Just like its predecessors, its mid-engined handling provides oodles of grip, while its diminutive dimensions give you lots of confidence for threading it down rural roads. While it’s not as playful as an MX-5 (if you get the rear out, you’ll probably need more than a dab of oppo to get it back in), it feels more agile. Turn into a bend and it’ll shrug off any thoughts of understeer.

Mk1: Could I drive it every day?Toyota, MR2, review, Mk1, Mk3, Series 1, Series 3, buying guide, Retro Road Test

We quite often say this in Retro Road Tests: you could drive the Mk1 MR2 every day, but it’d be a bit of a shame to. Its lack of storage space, general shortage of refinement and the potential to break down (yes, it’s a Toyota – but a very old one now) means you’d probably start to hate it fairly quickly. Save it for the weekend and you’ll relish every mile behind the wheel.

Mk3: Could I drive it every day?Toyota, MR2, review, Mk1, Mk3, Series 1, Series 3, buying guide, Retro Road Test

If you’re looking for a daily drive, the Mk3 MR2 is much more realistic. It feels like a modern car inside, but don’t be fooled into thinking its practical. The boot space is… lacking, even for a couple of weekend bags. You have to take it very easy in inclement weather, too.

Mk1: How much should I pay?Toyota, MR2, review, Mk1, Mk3, Series 1, Series 3, buying guide, Retro Road Test

Prices for the Mk1 MR2 are strengthening, and it’s definitely one of those cars where it pays to spend more money on a cherished example than be tempted by one at the cheaper end of the market. You can pick one up for less than £2,000, but it’ll probably need some bodywork in the near future and there’s no shortage of parts that could need replacing to make it drive as well as it did when it was new: bushes, droplinks, shocks and springs all wear with age.

Mk3: How much should I pay?Toyota, MR2, review, Mk1, Mk3, Series 1, Series 3, buying guide, Retro Road Test

Prices for the Mk3 are pretty similar to the Mk1. You can buy one for less than £2,000 now, but they tend to be for leggy examples that have been owned by an unenthusiastic owner who may have skimped on maintenance. Ideally, we’d be looking to spend at least £3,000 on a 2003 or later model.

Mk1: What should I look out for?Toyota, MR2, review, Mk1, Mk3, Series 1, Series 3, buying guide, Retro Road Test

Rust is the big issue with Mk1s. They rot everywhere: the wheel arches, wings, B-pillars, A-pillars, sills. Fibreglass skirts make it easy for rust to be hidden, so make sure you get underneath the car and have a poke in every nook and cranny. Other than that, the engine is fairly robust – but you’ll want proof of regular servicing. Listen out for a tappety engine, not a huge concern, but a sign that it might not having maintained as well as you’d like. And watch out for smoke coming out of the exhaust.

Mk3: What should I look out for?Toyota, MR2, review, Mk1, Mk3, Series 1, Series 3, buying guide, Retro Road Test

In the first instance, look out for signs of how well the car’s been treated. Has it got many marks on the body, are all the tyres a good brand with plenty of tread, and does the owner have a folder full of paperwork? Earlier models can often face excessive oil consumption, while abused examples that have been thrashed from cold can suffer from the pre-cat breaking up and being sucked into the engine. Costly.

Although the third-generation model doesn’t suffer from rust as much as older examples, the rear crossmember is known to corrode – and it’s usually disguised by an undertray, meaning it won’t be picked up by the MOT.

Which one should I buy?Toyota, MR2, review, Mk1, Mk3, Series 1, Series 3, buying guide, Retro Road Test

In reality, whether you should buy a Mk1 or Mk3 depends largely on what you want from a car. If you want a project that will attract admiring glances and attract comments at a classic car show, but will need regular maintenance to keep it on the road, you should definitely invest in a Mk1 while you still can.

The Mk3, despite its limitations in a practical sense, is a much more usable buy. If you pack light and want to take it on a European road trip, you can feel pretty reassured it’ll get you there – and in more comfort than the Mk1. A tidy one is probably a good investment and you’ll love every minute behind the wheel.

If you gave this reviewer £5,000 and told him to buy a Mk1 or Mk3 Toyota MR2? I’ll take the original, thanks.

Pub factToyota, MR2, review, Mk1, Mk3, Series 1, Series 3, buying guide, Retro Road Test

The third-generation model we tested here was actually one of the last off the production line. One of 300 special editions, it’s badged ‘TF300’ and would have cost £18,015 when new in 2006. Each model came with custom leather and Alcantara upholstery, a twin sports exhaust and a dedicated vehicle number stitched into the seats.