JLR autonomous roadwork assist

Jaguar Land Rover to start UK real-world autonomous car trials

JLR autonomous roadwork assistJaguar Land Rover will this year begin public road trials of ‘driverless’ autonomous vehicles as part of a four-year real-world test.

The news means JLR will beat premium rival Volvo in commencing a public-road UK driverless car trial – the Swedish brand confirmed earlier this year it’s beginning an autonomous car test in London from 2017.

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The first JLR research cars will drive on a 41-mile autonomous car test route around Coventry and Solihull, with a fleet of more than 100 research vehicles eventually taking to public roads.

The test route will include both motorways and urban roads, initially involving trials of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications tech that’s going to help make autonomous cars viable.

Future test vehicles will become progressively more autonomous, even allowing driverless operation through challenging sequences such as roadworks.

JLR will also develop more comprehensive connected car tech that it says will allow streams of traffic to talk with one another, improving traffic flow and safety.

But the firm famous for its engaging-to-drive cars isn’t planning to let the machines take over entirely, stresses head of research Tony Harper. Drivers are “able to choose how much support and assistance they need”.

They may, he says, pick full autonomy in boring motorway runs or stressful traffic, but still take over to enjoy twisty backroads – even though “the new technology we are creating will still be working in the background to help keep them safe”.

JLR autonomous innovations

JLR Roadwork Assist

Jaguar Land Rover engineers have today revealed some key technology innovations they’re working on, that they say will not only help make autonomous cars safer, they’ll also be safer and more reassuring to live with.

  • Roadwork Assist: a 3D camera uses image processing software to decipher the road ahead. It can plot a route through fiddly sequences of cones, helping centralise the vehicle safely through narrow sections
  • Safe Pullaway: if the driver goes to accelerate but the car ahead hasn’t moved, brakes are auto-applied. Good for roundabouts where the car behind goes for a gap the one in front does not…
  • Over the Horizon Warning: uses radio communications to alert drivers about incidents over the brow of a hill; a stopped car beams a ‘Hazard Ahead’ warning to nearby vehicles
  • Emergency Vehicle Warning: reduces the stress of hearing sirens but not seeing the emergency vehicle by telling drivers which direction the vehicle is coming from and how far away it is

“Our connected car and automated technology could help improve traffic flow, cut congestion and reduce the potential for accidents,” said Harper.

“Proving the right information at the right time will enable better and safer decision-making, whether the car is driven by a human or is autonomous.”

Should drivers be given bigger insurance discounts for using dashcams?

Should drivers be given bigger insurance discounts for using dashcams?

Should drivers be given bigger insurance discounts for using dashcams?

Drivers are demanding greater discounts on their car insurance for fitting devices such as dashcams and parking sensors.

Research by leasing company Flexed.co.uk reveals that three quarters of drivers don’t feel their insurance premiums reflect their investment in safety – with many only saving around £30 a year for having a dashcam installed.

One respondent, Dave from London, said: “I’ve got a good quality dashcam fitted – front and back-facing – but I’m told it’s only worth £30 off my insurance. If someone goes into the back of me, I’ll be saving the company thousands. It’s a con.”

Other drivers said they felt they should be given greater discounts for paying extra for parking sensors, adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance systems.

Flexed.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall said: “Motoring technology is coming on leaps and bounds in the fields of driver assistance and safety. Just five years ago, the dashcam was the preserve of the police car, and now they’re accessible to all.

“However, drivers are telling us that insurance companies aren’t offering a sufficient award for making their life easier. £30 isn’t much compared to the fortune that dashcam technology is saving them.”

Dashcams are available for less than £10 and can provide concrete evidence in the event of a crash, while other safety kit can prevent a collision in the first instance.

Hall added: “Dashcams and other car safety gadgets are changing our roads, and new technology is emerging every year to make cars safer and to make drivers think more about their behaviour.

“But there’s a strong feeling from drivers that they’re not being treated fairly by insurers, even after they’ve gone to these expensive lengths to reduce risk on the roads.

“Even relatively little extras like parking sensors save insurers money on minor dings, bumps and scratches, but they don’t appear to be reflected in premiums.”

Ecotricity blames £6 charge on Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs ‘clogging up’ network

Ecotricity blames £6 charge on Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs ‘clogging up’ network

Ecotricity blames £6 charge on Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs ‘clogging up’ network

A £6 fee for a 30-minute rapid charge at motorway service stations across the UK is being rolled out from today – with the firm responsible pointing the figure at the success of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

Mitsubishi sold 11,786 Outlander PHEVs in the UK last year, making it the country’s best-selling plug-in vehicle. It works by running on electric-power when it’s charged, with an official range of up to 32 miles. When its runs out of battery, or when extra power is required, the petrol engine kicks in.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2016): long-term review

Ecotricity hits EV drivers with £5 fee for 20 minute charge

Opinion: Ecotricity’s £6 charging fee could be a huge blow for electric cars

Speaking to Motoring Research, Ecotricity spokesperson Max Boon said: “The vast majority of complaints we receive are about PHEVs clogging up chargers. We want to encourage electric car use and if we can do that by discouraging plug-in hybrids from using our network, that’s a good thing.”

Interviewed for Radio 4’s You and Yours programme earlier today, Ecotricity’s owner Dale Vince defended his company’s decision to charge £6 for a 30 minute charge (a pound more than when it was announced on Friday) – and pointed the finger at drivers of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

He said: “We’ve changed our plan over the weekend following feedback from our drivers. It’s now going to be a 30 minute charging session for £6. So that’s a 50% increase in time and a 20% increase in cost. We’ve done this to reflect that most EV drivers have said that they need 30 minutes to get the ideal 80% battery charge.”

Responding to a question from a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV owner, Vince added: “[It] is not designed to be used on electric power for long journeys. It’s designed for running around town on its very small electric battery, filling up at home or at your destination over a period of several hours.

“It’s an inappropriate use of a fast charger at motorway services.”

Motoring Research is currently running a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV on long-term test and recently questioned the etiquette around using public electric car charging points when other users might need them more urgently.

Ecotricity: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is ‘a compromised car’

After Radio 4 presenter Shari Vahl pointed out that not all plug-in hybrid cars sold are Mitsubishi Outlanders, Vince commented: “It is only the Mitsubishi that can plug into a fast charger – all of the others just plug into a type-two or three-pin socket over a period of several hours.

“The [Mitsubishi Outlander] hybrid is essentially a compromised car. It’s an electric vehicle with a very small battery and a petrol engine so that you have the back-up of the petrol engine for long journeys.

“It’s designed to use its petrol engine for long journeys. It takes half an hour to charge on a fast charger, and then you can travel 20 to 25 miles, and then you have to stop for another half an hour. It’s just not practical.

“The point of a hybrid is that they don’t have to charge. They have a petrol engine for a long journey, that’s the whole point of them. It’s just been an anomalous use of our network and our fast charge technology… it’s only happened within the last 12 months.”

Defending the charges, Ecotricity points out that its home energy customers will continue to be able to use the motorway charge points at no extra cost. The renewable energy firm generates 100% of its power from renewable sources, and has so far powered 30 million miles using electricity for no cost.

Speaking to Motoring Research, Boon added: “This hasn’t been an overnight decision. We’ve known since we launched that we would have to start charging one day.”

Mitsubishi: Ecotricity’s announcement is a ‘retrograde step’

Mitsubishi has branded Ecotricity’s comments a ‘retrograde step’ for the electric car industry.

A spokesperson told Motoring Research: “We don’t understand why the only supplier of charging points in the UK’s motorway services would want to deter the drivers of the UK’s most popular zero emission capable vehicle from charging.

“For an organisation whose vision is of a ‘Green Great Britain’, the decision of imposing a £6 per charge fee hampers the promotion of electric miles.

“In a growing sector, with a diversity of pure-electric vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles, we believe that consumers should have a choice. A reasonable nationwide strategy would be to have the same charging facilities to match everyone’s requirements.

“The Outlander PHEV is the first 4WD plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and offers a widespread consumer base uncompromised access to ultra-low emission motoring. Being able to cover the majority of journeys under electric power whilst having the security of a petrol engine as back up for longer trips is a key factor in its success.

“This announcement is more than disappointing – it seems to be a retrograde step not just for us but for the whole industry.”

On days like these: 50 years of the Lamborghini Miura

On days like these: 50 years of the Lamborghini Miura

On days like these: 50 years of the Lamborghini Miura

There are many film stars celebrating the ‘big five-o’ in 2016, including Helena Bonham Carter, Kiefer Sutherland, Adam Sandler, Patrick Dempsey and Halle Berry. But we doubt many Hollywood legends spent their 50th birthday in the Alps. However, that’s exactly how the iconic Lamborghini Miura supercar celebrated its 50th anniversary…

The Italian Job

Anyone familiar with The Italian Job movie will understand why Lamborghini chose the Alps as party central. The red, white and blue Minis might be more synonymous with the 1969 comedy caper, but an orange Miura was the star of the opening sequence. Sadly, in the film at least, the Lamborghini Miura made a rather sudden exit from the movie.

On Days Like These

To the backdrop of Matt Monroe’s On Days Like These, the Lamborghini Miura snaked its way along the Great St. Bernard Pass, creating one of the most iconic title sequences of all-time. After a run-in with a bulldozer, the wrecked Miura was unceremoniously pushed off a mountain, falling into the river below.

Bulldozers and tunnels

Bulldozers and tunnels

Lamborghini’s celebratory road trip passed without any incidents involving bulldozers, tunnels or the mafia, leaving us to drool over some of the most spectacular photographs you’ll see this year. We thought it was only right to share these images with you. After all, the Miura is considered to be one of, if not the, most beautiful cars ever made.

All-star cast

Michael Caine and Noël Coward were the headline acts in The Italian Job, but Lamborghini assembled an all-star cast of its own to create the Miura. Legendary designer Marcello Gandini was responsible for the styling, which would make its debut at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show. Here’s the man himself, alongside what must surely be his greatest creation.

Fill your boots

The Miura was based on a chassis known as the 400 TP, developed by Gian Paolo Dallara (seen here second from the right), Paolo Stanzani (stood on the left) and Bob Wallace. At the time, Marcello Gandini was working at Bertone in Turin. Having seen the chassis, Nuccio Bertone reportedly said to Feruccio Lamborghini: “I’m the one who can make the shoe to fit your boot.”

Gian Paolo Dallara

Gian Paolo Dallara

Gian Paolo Dallara joined Lamborghini in 1964 and worked on the chassis development of the Espada and Miura. Later he would design race cars for Frank Williams before establishing Dallara Automobil, which would enjoy great success in Formula 3 and IndyCar racing.

Paolo Stanzani

Legendary supercar engineer Paolo Stanzani played a key role in the development of the Miura. In the book, The Lamborghini Miura Bible, Stanzani said: “The Ford GT40 was the reference point for the Miura because of its height. With regard to the engine itself, the Mini was also a reference because of its transverse layout and the fact the gearbox was integrated with the engine.”

An Italian success story

Even Signore Lamborghini himself never expected to sell more than 50 units, but the Miura was an instant success. It evolved from the original 350 hp 3.9-litre V12, through to the 370 hp Miura S and the iconic 380 hp Miura SV. To many, the Lamborghini Miura SV is the definitive version – the best of breed.

Sant’Agata Bolognese

Sant’Agata Bolognese

The ultimate road trip started at Sant’Agata Bolognese, home of the Lamborghini factory and museum. Lamborghini’s first car was the one-off 350GTV, before the Italian firm launched the 350GT in 1964. The 400GT was an extended version of the 300GT, featuring a pair of rear seats.

The sound of V12

Lamborghini sent two Miuras along for the drive, which were joined by a selection of current V12 models, including the Aventador Coupe, Aventador Roadster, Superveloce and Superveloce Roadster. The hills were alive with the sound of V12…

Great St. Bernard Pass

Vehicles from Anas, the government-owned Italian company that builds and maintains roads, along with the Polizia Stradale, escorted the cars up to the Great St. Bernard Pass, which was opened on a one-time basis for the event. If you happen to be Lamborgini, such privileges are extended to you. Especially in Italy.

Lamborghini PoloStorico

Lamborghini PoloStorico

On display was the Miura chassis number #4846 – the first car to be restored by Lamborghini PoloStorico. This fledgling part of the business opened its doors in 2015 and was established to support Lamborghini in four main areas, namely: restoration, archiving, spare parts and certification.

Verde Metallizata

This was the original Lamborghini Miura SV shown at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show – a car that won the Trofeo BMW Group Italia award at Concours d’Elegance Villa D’Este in 2016. It was treated to a nuts and bolts restoration before being finished in the stunning metallic green Verde Metallizata.

Lamborghini Miura S

The Lamborghini Miura S was launched at the 1968 Turin Auto Show and answered many of the questions surrounding the original car. Power was increased to 370 hp, up 20 hp on the original, while the new car also benefited from a more luxurious interior.

Plush interior

Plush interior

Upgrades included electric windows, air conditioning and leather upholstery. With the S, Miura owners could enjoy a few creature comforts to go with the car’s prodigious talent.

Lightning bolt

On the outside, the Miura S featured additional chrome detailing, along with the metal S badge on the tail. It was styled to look like a lightning bolt.

Lamborghini Miura SV

According to Ferruccio Lamborghini, the SV was the “definitive and absolute version of the Miura” so if you’re after a slice of Italian exotica, this is the one to go for.

Overshadowed by the Countach

Overshadowed by the CountachRemarkably, its launch was overshadowed by its replacement – the Lamborghini Countach. The Miura SV was unveiled alongside the Countach L500 prototype at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show, but the Countach stole the show. The sorcerer being upstaged by the apprentice?

Sprinto Veloce

The SV — or Sprinto Veloce — was a fitting swansong for the Miura – a last hurrah before it made way for a new icon. This was the Miura the world had been waiting for – the ultimate incarnation. Note the SV logo on the tail.

Wider, fatter, better

Power was increased to 380 hp, while Lamborghini also improved suspension. Aside from the SV badge, you can spot a Miura SV thanks to the wider rear arches and new taillights.

No eyelashes

No eyelashes

The Miura SV also signalled the end for the ‘eyelashes’ – one of the car’s most iconic features. Here you see the new lights on the Miura SV…

Eyelashes

While, the earlier Miura S features the famous ‘eyelashes’ around the headlights.

Special order only

The Lamborghini Miura SV was available via special order and a total of 150 units were built by the factory. Ten years ago, when celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Miura, Lamborghini unveiled the Miura Concept. It was like rebooted version of a masterpiece.

Miura: perfection?

Miura: perfection?

Naturally, it lacked the impact and elegance of Gandini’s masterpiece, But how do you improve on perfection?

The Italian Job

As for The Italian Job Miura, you’ll be pleased (if unsurprised) to discover that the car sent tumbling off the side of a mountain was merely a shell. That said, the car used during the driving sequences was feared lost.

Lamborghini Miura S

It had been sold shortly after filming had finished – before later turning up in an underground car park in Paris. It had covered a mere 11,800 miles and showed no signs of a brief encounter with a bulldozer. The Miura S taking part in the 50th anniversary drive also made it back to the factory without incident.

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

The Miura name is thanks to Eduardo Miura, a breeder of Spanish fighting bulls. He was also responsible for designing the famous Lamborghini badge.

Great St. Bernard Pass

The Great St. Bernard Pass is the third highest road in Switzerland, connecting the Swiss town of Martigny with Aosta in Italy. It represents an important route between Geneva and Turin, but if you fancy recreating the drive for yourself, it’s worth noting the road is closed from November to June. Unless you happen to be Lamborghini.

Sant’Agata Bolognese

Production at the Sant’Agata Bolognese factory continues, but while the Miura represents Lamborghini’s past, the Huracan and Aventador represent its present and future.

Opinion: Ecotricity’s £5 charging fee could be a huge blow for electric cars

Opinion: Ecotricity’s £6 charging fee could be a huge blow for electric cars

Opinion: Ecotricity’s £5 charging fee could be a huge blow for electric cars

Between January and March 2016, 11,755 new ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) were registered in the UK – an increase of 31% over the same period in 2015, and 508% on two years previous.

These figures were released last week as part of a report by the Department for Transport looking into attitudes towards electric vehicles. But that’s about as far as the good news for EV manufacturers goes.

While sales are on the up, public perception of electric cars is seemingly stuck in 2013. More than half (55%) of drivers surveyed by the government revealed they hadn’t even considered a plug-in vehicle. A further 16% have and decided against it, while just 5% said they’d think about an electric car in the future.

Crucially, those stats are ‘not significantly different to those in 2014 and 2015’. So, despite Government-led incentives, an increased amount of plug-in vehicles on the market and the ongoing bad publicity for diesels, we’re apparently no more likely to buy an electric car.

The biggest electric car turn-off cited by members of the public were concerns around recharging (45%) – such as the availability of public charge points – and the distance travelled on one charge (40%).

There’s a lot of PR work to be done, then, to convince members of the public that you don’t need to be an ‘early adopter’ to drive an EV – and you can realistically use them on a daily basis without being left stranded with an empty battery.

Organisations such as Go Ultra Low are working hard to promote EVs (did you know, for example, that the average UK driver travels just 25 miles a day – meaning they could go a whole week between charges?).

But that good work has been dealt a huge blow by Ecotricity – the firm responsible for 300 rapid chargers at service stations across the UK motorway network.

The firm, which holds a monopoly on motorway EV chargers, has announced it will charge £6 for a 30 minute top up from today. Previously it was free (and, breaking news, this itself is a 20% increase on Ecotricity’s announcement last week that it would charge £5 for a 20-minute fast-charge: Ecotricity founder Dale Vince made the announcement this lunchtime on BBC Radio 4 You and Yours).

What does Ecotricity’s £6 charge mean for EV drivers?

What does Ecotricity’s £5 charge mean for EV drivers?

To put that into context, the driver of a 24kWh Nissan Leaf will be able to cover roughly 100 miles from a £6 30 minute Ecotricity charge. That’s roughly the same distance a careful driver of a diesel Volkswagen Golf will be able to travel on £6 worth of fuel – and they won’t have to hang around for 30 minutes waiting to fill up.

While previously electric car drivers have had the luxury of being able to travel across the UK, stopping every 100 miles or so to recharge for free, they’ll now have to pay £6 each time. That’s almost as expensive as running as combustion-engined car with added inconvenience.

Then there’s plug-in hybrids. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has enjoyed huge success in recent years, continually topping the charts as number one best-selling plug-in vehicle. We’re currently running one as a long-term test car – and when it’s charged, it’s great.

But that charge doesn’t last long (Mitsubishi quotes an official electric-only range of up to 32 miles). And that means you’ll save less than a fiver by stopping to charge on a long journey – so, by the time you’ve paid Ecotricity and bought a cup of coffee in the services, you’ll be left out of pocket compared to driving straight past the services. And under petrol power, without charging, the Outlander’s fuel economy is… well, as you’d expect for a heavy, petrol SUV.

We asked Mitsubishi UK’s managing director Lance Bradley what he thought of the charge. He had this to say:

That second tweet raises an interesting point. Most people would accept that Ecotricity has to charge for the service it provides. It’s a company, after all, and there are quite significant costs associated with installing rapid chargers at motorway service stations. But how much would people be happy to pay?

We ran a quick online poll on our Twitter account over the weekend. 68% of those who voted said they’d happily pay £1-2 every time they used a rapid chargers – while a further 10% would pay £3-4. But no one thought the £5 charge was fair.

We have yet to go back to them to get their thoughts on the increased-by-20% £6 charge.

Is it really the end of the road for EVs?

Is it really the end of the road for EVs?

There are two sides to the argument, of course. Some point out that, in fact, with so many of us only using our cars for short journeys, rapid electric car chargers are only there for rare occasions.

One of the people on that side of the fence is LeasePlan UK’s account director Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as GreenFleet EV Champion, Judith Eadie. She points out that people are increasingly used to paying more for a ‘rapid’ service – think paying more Amazon Prime next day delivery, for example, or for EasyJet’s speeding boarding.

She said: “As technology advances, we expect to see vehicles directing drivers to free-of-charge charge-points as well as rapid chargeable charges should they need to use them.”

Just like week, Milton Keynes, one of the UK cities award a Go Ultra Low City status, announced it had designated 15,000 free parking spaces to electric vehicles.

Eadie added: “The Green Parking Permit is just one part of a £40 million funding pot to encourage exciting and innovative ideas that will encourage drivers to choose an electric vehicle. While drivers may be concerned with range anxiety, they can be assured that infrastructure and attitude is changing to support and encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.”

So, no, Ecotricity’s extortionate £6 charge for a 30 minute charge shouldn’t kill the electric car market. They still make sense for a lot of people. But, when we broke the story last week, someone on Twitter pointed out: “[it’s] far too early in the introduction of EVs and PHEVs to start giving people reasons not to bother.”

And that hits the nail on the head. While numbers of electric cars on our roads are increasing, they’re still a long way off being mainstream. The public perception of the electric car is it’s too expensive, too inconvenient – and now, unless you do all your miles within a short radius of home, too costly to run.

Will we see a downturn in EV sales? Time will tell.

Motorway electric car charging now more expensive than petrol

Ecotricity hits EV drivers with £5 fee for 20 minute charge

Motorway electric car charging now more expensive than petrol

The company behind the UK’s ‘electric highway’ and sole provider of electric car chargers at motorway service stations has announced it’s going to start charging a fee for charging your electric car.

Ecotricity has revealed that it plans to roll out a £5 fee for a 20 minute charge at its 300 fast-charging stations across the country.

A 20 minute charge in our Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV long-term test car will fill the battery by around 50%. At most, that provides enough power for around 15 miles of electric-only driving. Without charging, the same distance will cost around £2 in petrol.

In an email sent out to its users, Ecotricity said: “When we began in July 2011, there was a bit of a chicken and egg situation – people were reluctant to buy electric cars because there were no charging facilities being built, but nobody wanted to build those facilities while there were still so few cars on the road. That’s when we jumped in to help kickstart the electric car revolution in Britain.

“And that’s going pretty well: today there are over 40 models to choose from and 64,000 plug-ins on the road. The Electric Highway itself comprises almost 300 electricity pumps – of the fast charging variety.”

The move renders it almost pointless to charge plug-in hybrid vehicles at motorway service stations – a significant change as more manufacturers introduce plug-in hybrid cars. Hyundai launched its new Ioniq this week – with a plug-in hybrid version set to follow next year.

Drivers of electric cars, which rely solely on being charged regularly, may have no choice but to pay the £5 fee to complete long journeys. They will still be able to charge at home and at public (non-Ecotricity) chargers, and Tesla drivers will continue to use the company’s supercharger network at no cost.

A 24kWh Nissan Leaf will be able to cover roughly 75 miles from a £5 20 minute Ecotricity charge. In a petrol-powered car, that would equate roughly to 75.0mpg, meaning EV drivers will generally continue to be better off than those driving petrol or diesel cars. This doesn’t take into consideration purchase or battery lease costs, however.

It comes as figures released today by the Department for Transport reveal that 45% of drivers are put off buying an electric car due to concerns over charging.

Ecotricity added: “The combination of more cars on the road and faster charging means we’re now delivering two million miles of clean driving each month – all powered from the wind and sun. That’s a great result. It’s also a growing cost. And to keep pace with demand, we need to build more electricity pumps – at existing and new locations.

“So the time has come for us to charge – for charging. We’ve taken a lot of feedback from EV drivers in order to arrive at the right pricing model. We’ve decided that a simple flat fee of a fiver for a 20 minute fast charge strikes the right balance.”

EV drivers who wish to continue to use the Ecotricity stations will have to download the company’s mobile app, which will show available chargers and allow them to pay online.

The ‘pay-for’ system is being rolled out across the network from Monday 11 July, and is expected to be completed by Friday 5 August.

Update: 11.07.16

Speaking on Radio 4’s You and Yours, Ecotricity boss Dale Vince said: “Following reaction from our customers, over the weekend Ecotricity has decided to provide a 30 minute charge for £6. This is following feedback from drivers of plug-in hybrids who say they can get a full charge in half an hour.”

Charging for charging: reaction

We contacted Mitsubishi Motors UK managing director Lance Bradley for his thoughts on the change. He responded that he was ‘disappointed’.

And he’s not the only one. A number of Twitter users are frustrated by the announcement, with some even considering cancelling their electric car orders.

RUF GB

RUF Porsche now officially on sale in UK

RUF GBHigh-performance Porsche specialist RUF has opened its first official sales outlet in the UK, in association with Kent-based brokerage thecarspy.net.

Part of RUF’s expanding international network, founder Estonia Ruf says entry into the UK market comes at an important time “because our range of cars is now the strongest it has ever been”.

> RUF Automobile UK

RUF has been tuning Porsches for four decades now, building an envied reputation for its super-fast models that has helped it expand internationally into the USA, Canada, Singapore, Japan, China, Thailand, Taiwan and Chile.

RUF

Now the UK is the next overseas market to gain official recognition and will now sell the full range of RUF Porsches (of which every one is capable of more than 200mph), plus custom bespoke-build classic models of which the firm has an even broader choice.

The RUF Porsche 2016 new car model range comprises:

  • RUF RtR (it has 802 hp: because RUF thinks the regular Porsche 911 Turbo is too slow)
  • RUF RGT (RUF’s extreme 525hp non-turbo 911 is for those who think the GT3 RS is too subtle)
  • RUF Turbo Florio (the 645hp hyper-power turbocharged Targa)
  • RUF CTR3 Clubsport (RUF’s amazing 777hp bespoke-build Porsche Carrera GT-style mid-engined supercar)
  • RUF 3800S (RUF’s take on the Porsche Boxster and Cayman, compete with 420hp)

Mark Sekula is the new co-director of RUF Automobile UK, after being friends with the Ruf family for many years.

“Knowing what RUF is capable of producing, we are very excited to be a part of the expanding international presence. The UK has tremendous potential for RUF cars and it will be our task to establish a sound base for both pre and post-sales support for customers in this country.

“We feel that now is the perfect time for us to satisfy the needs of the high-performance and luxury sector based on our own current market experience here in the UK.”

> More car news on Motoring Research

MINI JCW Challenge

2016 MINI John Cooper Works Challenge review: first drive

MINI JCW Challenge

For all its claimed Britishness, most MINI design and development is carried out in at BMW’s huge FIZ technical centre in Germany.

Sure, the company has proven to have an innate understanding of MINI, and has turned the oh-so-English minicar into a truly global brand… but it’s still not fully as authentically British as it purports to be.

But at the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed, that so very British of motoring events, MINI had a surprise for us. The new MINI John Cooper Works Challenge, a limited-to-100 edition that’s not only just for Brits, it was developed by Brits, in Britain, to boot. It’s a little bit of taking MINI out of Europe and seeing what we do with it on our own.

And nobody’s upset by this ‘Brexit’.

Developed in secret with MINI Plant Oxford’s ‘Building 71’, a small lock-up on the massive manufacturing site that houses the factory MINI Challenge race team, this genuinely is a project that BMW approved but acted only as facilitators on: all the decisions and all the development was carried out in Britain, with final honing done in conjunction with performance car magazine Evo.

Fresh off the line for its first-look opportunity, we were there to find out more, both from MINI and Evo – and, more importantly have our first drive of the MINI that Britain made.

It has parts from racing cars – literally

MINI JCW Challenge Goodwood 2016

The same component suppliers for the MINI Challenge racing cars are neatly used for the MINI Challenge road car: Nitron suspension, Mintex brakes, Quaife limited-slip differential, Team Dynamics wheels.

MINI hasn’t just bolted on racing car components though. Although they’re ultra-exotic precision-built, they’re not necessarily fine for the rigours of road use. So BMW has worked with the suppliers to make sure all these fancy parts pass the longevity and refinement tests all components fitted to BMW Group cars have to meet. A detail-engineering job that’s hardly the work of a moment.

It’s Evo-approved

MINI JCW Challenge Goodwood 2016

An expert team from Evo magazine was involved in this project from the start. Initially, they told MINI what they’d like a bespoke fast-road MINI to be like and, later on, spent two days with the engineers testing different settings and configurations.

Sounds to us like a dream road test: offer your input and, if there’s something you don’t like, tell them to change it until it’s right. “Happily, both us and the MINI guys were on the same page,” the magazine’s Stuart Gallagher told us.

It’s fully adjustable

MINI JCW Challenge

Not only is the suspension uprated, it’s also adjustable – not by pressing different settings via a dash dial, but by getting beneath the skin and adjusting the ‘clicks’ on the damper units themselves. Camber and castor are also adjustable; the Challenge has adjustment plates on the front axle to increase negative camber, itself already set to two degrees’ negative front and rear: more negative camber means more cornering grip.

It has no more power than standard because it’s not about that

MINI JCW Challenge

The MINI John Cooper Works sees the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine tuned up to 231hp and the Challenge does not alter that. “It’s not about ultimate speed, but how much fun you have between them,” says MINI complex problem resolution group leader (great job title) James Loukes. “We think there’s enough power as standard.”

He’s not wrong. Even at ultra-fast Goodwood, 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds is fine for a little front-drive sports hatch like this. Sticky Michelin rubber makes full use of it and the ride exhaust on the back sounds suitably naughty: the MINI is a short car so you’re sat not far away from the tailpipes, which emphasizes their rorts, crackles and pops.

It’s all about the corners

MINI JCW Challenge

The MINI Challenge feels immense the moment you turn the wheel. Initial steering response is alert and confident; the car turns as your fingertips turn, with no unclear grey area while slack and body roll are taken up. This alone helps make the Challenge feel more accurate and easy to position.

Grip levels are high (those tyres are immense) and the balance is altered over the standard car – it’s a bit looser on the rear, so feels a bit more rear-led and dynamic. This ups the feeling of chuckability, with control coming from the greater confidence you have in it; the perfect combination.

You can charge into slower corners hard on the brakes as these too have more power and feel. Like the steering, they’re very progressive and easy to modulate. And, back out of bends, the Quaife differential helps put power down efficiently and also ‘energises’ the steering with a touch of squirmy tenseness that itself is exciting to feel.

It’s the perfect fast British MINI

MINI JCW Challenge

We’re yet to drive the MINI John Cooper Works Challenge on the road but are confident it will be a great fast road hot hatch. Unlike modern super-smooth race circuits, Goodwood is fast, undulating, rippled and dramatic, so if a road car copes with this and is still amusing, it should be good on typically British public roads as well.

What’s so great is that the MINI team, a bit like when Renault Sport does its Trophy cars, haven’t bothered about the engine, or doing too much with the styling, or trying to make it fancy and overblown. All the development’s gone into the chassis, and this is what 100 people will pay the premium for. It’s just the sort of car you know well-informed enthusiasts would create.

If this is a success, there may be more British MINI projects

MINI JCW Challenge

Loukes says this project was an experiment, to see if a British-honed MINI could successfully be created away from Germany. Not just the car itself either, but the supporting business case around it, as well as seeking all approval and verification for reliability, crash safety and so on. All challenges for the Challenge: passed.

The final test is how the market reacts but, as the initial reception has been overwhelmingly positive, and the car itself is a riot, this also seems to be sorted. Team MINI is saying nothing at this stage, but don’t be surprised if more bespoke MINIs, perhaps to a higher volume (and lower price), are launched in coming years…

Verdict: 2016 MINI John Cooper Works Challenge

MINI JCW Challenge

We think the MINI John Cooper Works Challenge is a corker. It’s very special to drive, with componentry directly derived from racing cars giving it a quality, purposeful, high-ability attitude on the road. The engine is no more powerful than a regular JCW, but this doesn’t matter: it’s plenty fast enough and, like all good Minis since 1959, it’s the chassis that does the work.

Plant Oxford and Evo have done a great job – so much so, this surely can’t be just a one-off. Here’s to more Engineered by Oxford MINIs in the future. Hopefully with slightly greater availability and slightly less eye-watering pricing than this one.

For:

Brilliant handling makes you feel like a racing driver

Highly bespoke feel and engineering

A genuine British MINI

Against:

There’s only 100 of them

It costs £32,000…

… And a regular MINI JCW costs £9,000 less!

2016 MINI John Cooper Works Challenge: specification

Price: £32,000

Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol

Gearbox: six-speed manual

Power: 231hp

Torque: 236lb-ft

0-62mph: 6.3 seconds

Top speed: 153mph

Fuel economy: 42.2mpg

CO2 emissions: 155g/km

MINI John Cooper Works Challenge extras

  • Nitron BTR R1 adjustable suspension
  • Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres
  • Team Dynamics lightweight alloy wheels
  • Quaife limited slip differential
  • Brembo brake calipers with Mintex brake pad upgrade
  • Bespoke body kit

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Porsche turbo history

Porsche’s turbocharged street car saga

Porsche turbo history
In the 1990s, due to regulations and increased performance, Porsche made the move – an unfavorable one by many Porsche aficionados – to go from air-cooled to water-cooled engines on all 911s.

Now, due to similar circumstances, Porsche’s standard engines are, once again, entering a new era as they will all be turbocharged; first the 911, and now the 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman.

But turbocharging is nothing new to Porsche as it has been playing with the force induction devices since the early 70s. Porsche’s inaugural venture in turbocharging began with its motorsports program.

In order to challenge the dominating McLarens of the Can-Am, Porsche engineers were pushed to adapting a turbo to its Type 912 engines used in its 917 racecars.

From the track to the road

Porsche turbo history

Turbos elevated Porsche’s motorsports program and company chairman, Ernst Fuhrman, believed they could also enhance the performance of the production cars. The 911 Turbo – the first production turbocharged Porsche – was introduced as a prototype in 1973 before officially launching in 1975.

The 911 Turbo

Porsche turbo history

Iconic 930 body – with ‘shark-fin’ fender covers and large ‘whale-tale – on the outside. 3.0-liter turbocharged flat-six on the inside. The first 911 Turbo, for the time, impressively produced 260 hp. Five-hundred models were initially to be produced, but due to immense demand over 1,000 ended up being sold.

Expanding turbocharger utility

Porsche turbo history

Porsche’s entry-level model, the 924, was in need of a variant which could bridge the gap between a base 924 and base 911. To fill the vacancy Porsche took inspiration from the 911 Turbo and added a turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 to the front-engine sports car.

Entry-level turbo Porsche

Porsche turbo history

Introduced as a 1978 model, the 924 Turbo produced 170-horsepower – 10-horsepower off of the 911 SC – and featured a NACA duct in the hood and air intakes in the nose to help distinguish the base 924 from the Turbo. In its short production run the 924 Turbo say minimal changes before its end.

Upgraded 911 Turbo

Porsche turbo history

In 1978 the 911 Turbo’s engine’s displacement increased from 3.0-liters to 3.3-liters, giving the car a 40-horsepower jump over the last. Unfortunately for the U.S. in 1979 the 911 Turbo would no longer be available due to an energy crisis, and would not return until 1986.

New front-engine turbo

Porsche turbo history

Before the 911 Turbo returned to the U.S. the 924’s replace, the 944, arrived with a turbo variant. The turbo produced 217-horsepower and had a recorded 0-60mph time of 5.9 seconds.

Advanced 944 Turbo

Porsche turbo history

In 1988 a 944 Turbo S was revealed. Improved suspension, clutch, transmission, rear-end, and engine and clutch combination, helped make the Turbo S the fastest production four-cylinder car of its time. With 247-horsepower and 258ft-lb of torque, the Turbo S could go from 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds.

Superior supercar

Porsche turbo history

While the 911 Turbo returned to the U.S., something much more menacing and paramount was leaving Stuttgart at the same time – the Porsche 959. Powered by a bi-turbo flat-six, the 444-horsepower all-wheel-drive super-Porsche could reach 195mph, making it the world’s fastest street-legal production car for its time.

Next generation 911 Turbo

Porsche turbo history

Not until 1990 would the second generation 964 911 Turbo be released. It retained the same 3.3-liter flat-six from the last generation, but retuned to 320-horsepower. A Turbo S variant was released in 1992 with improved suspension and a power increase to 376-horsepower.

Improving the 964

In 1993 Porsche replaced the 3.3-liter engine with a new 3.6-liter flat-six pushing 360-horsepower with the Turbo variant. Only 1,500 3.6-liter Turbo 964s were produced, making it almost as sought after as the 959.

New 911 features

When the 993 generation of the 911 Turbo was revealed in 1995 it was equipped with two never-before-seen features on a 911 – twin turbos and an all-wheel-drive system. The twin-turbo 3.6-liter flat-six produced a whopping 402-horsepower, and combined with the new aerodynamic body the 993 Turbo launched from 0-60mph in a blistering 3.8 seconds. The Turbo S even faster with 424-horsepower.

The apotheosis of the 993 911

The GT2 name presents a sense of nobility. And when placed next to another dignity name, 911, everything you need to know about the car is represented in six characters. Bestowed with 430-horsepower – 450-horsepower on the upgraded edition – widened plastic fenders, larger rear spoiler with air scoops in the struts, six-speed transmission and rear-wheel-drive, the GT2 was truly a street-legal 911 racecar.

First water-cooled 911 Turbo

Diehard air-cooled 911 fans were thrown a curve ball with the launch of the new water-cooled 996 model 911. But the 911’s new feature in no way hindered the Turbo model’s performance. Its 3.6-liter flat-six is derived from the 1998 Le Mans winning GT-1 car and produced 415-horsepower at 6,000rpm.

996 generation GT2

Despite how enthusiasts felt about water-cooled 911s, there was no denying the pertinence of a 911 GT2. And the 996 GT2 did not disappoint. Two large turbochargers assisted the 3.6-liter flat-six in producing 476-horsepower, and according to reports of the time, the GT2 hardly suffered any dreaded turbo lag.

Turbocharged SUV

Porsche entered uncharted territory in 2002 with the development of a SUV. But in typical Porsche fashion, the Cayenne had superb handling and a line of strong motors – including a turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 – and quickly became the company’s best-selling vehicle. The Cayenne has a Turbo and Turbo S variant with the current Turbo S producing 560-horsepower.

Growing line-up

Porsche continued to grow its lineup with the Panamera – a full-sized luxury sedan. Like the Cayenne, a Turbo and Turbo S variant of the Panamera was made available with a turbocharged 4.8-liter V8. The current Panamera Turbo S is the most power mass production Porsche producing 570-horsepower.

997 generation turbos

While it was no surprise to see new turbo editions with the launch of the 997 generation 911, what was new was the first time use of BorgWarner VTG turbos. The new turbos cut lag and increased power with the 911 Turbo producing 473-horsepower and the mighty GT2 producing 523-horsepower.

997 generation two

For the 2008-09 model years of the 997 911 there were a few updates including revised suspension, PDK 7-speed transmission option, slightly altered front fascia and a couple other minor details. This didn’t have a major effect on the Turbo variants, but there was the addition of a new Turbo S and a staggering 612-horsepower twin-turbo GT2 RS.

Crossover endeavor

Porsche continued to work on increasing its audience by jumping on the crossover bandwagon with the launch of the Macan in 2014. There is a Turbo variant of the Macan, but a unique feature of the Macan is all of its engine options include a turbo. The base Macan and diesel models house a single turbo while S, GTS and Turbo models house twin-turbos.

991 generation 911

With the new 991 generation 911 came the end of the 3.6-liter flat-six. Now all Turbo models would be powered by a twin-turbo 3.8-liter flat-six. The Turbo now produced 513-horsepower, while the Turbo S produced 552-horsepower.

The 911 blows into another new era

Mid-generation updates usually include minor revisions, but this time the facelifted 991.2 sees all Carrera models sporting a 3.0-liter turbocharged engine. Aside from GT models, no longer can you go to a Porsche dealer and purchase a new naturally aspirated 911.

991.2 Turbo models

The Turbo and Turbo S models will still exist and will be the most powerful editions. Both all-wheel-drive with a twin-turbo 3.8-liter flat-six, but the Turbo will produce 540-horsepower with an estimated 0-60 time of 2.9 seconds, while the Turbo S will produce an incredible 580-horsepower with an estimated 0-60 time of 2.8 seconds.

Increasing its turbo line-up

New emission regulations are pushing manufacturers to adapted turbocharging technology to their lineups, and for Porsche this doesn’t stop with the 911. As of 2016, the Boxster and Cayman, now named 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman, have been given the turbocharged treatment coming standard with a turbocharged flat-four.

Boost or bust?

Now, Porsche’s entire line-up is turbocharged. The exceptions will be super-raw road-going racers such as the 911 GT3 RS. Like it or not, if you’re a fan of Porsches, you now need to be a fan of turbochargers. Not all the die-hard enthusiasts are happy, but such is the march of progress. Besides, as we’ve now seen, Porsche’s history with the turbo goes back decades. If anyone can lay claim to being an authentic turbo car maker, it’s Porsche…

Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe

Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe: Retro Road Test

Shelby Daytona Cobra CoupeThe fearsome AC Cobra dominated sports car racing in the 1960s. Except, that is, at high-speed circuits such as Le Mans. Why? Because, while monstrously powerful, it was also far from aerodynamically sleek. The answer? Make a slipperier coupe version of the blunt roadster. Enter the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe.

To say it did the job is putting it mildly. It toppled Ferrari to take the 1965 FIA Sports Car Championship title. To say it’s rare today is also putting it mildly. They only built six and the last one to sell went for $7.25 million. The answer? Make a recreation of the famous legend. Enter the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe CSX9000 Series, now imported into the UK by UK agents Le Mans Coupes Ltd. And we’ve driven it.

What are its rivals?

Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe rivals

Some are sniffy about so-called replicas, but it depends on how well they’re done. This is a very well-done replica, built by Hi-Tech Automotive Services in South Africa – and the project was officially sanctioned by Carroll Shelby himself before he died. Today, it’s an official Shelby product. Consider it a fully-sanctioned continuation of the original.

So its rivals are broad. As it’s a new car, it could be a period-style alternative to big-engined GTs like a Mercedes-AMG GT or a Jaguar F-Type V8. Perhaps even something to consider instead of a Morgan Plus 8? You could try a period TVR, or maybe a last-of-line 2000s TVR, or even the new TVR that’s coming soon. Then there are other ‘evocation’ replicas of original legends: Le Mans Coupes will happily sell you a ‘new’ Ford GT40…

Read our review of the Superformance GT40

What engine does it use?

Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe

You can have various engines with your Daytona Coupe – all V8s, from either Ford (like the original) or GM-Chevrolet. We tested the less period but more modern Corvette LS3-engined model, producing a healthy 520hp. This is the same engine that was fitted to Corvettes up to 2013, and is also used today by the Vauxhall VXR8. And it’s installed in a car weighing just 1,250kg.

What’s it like to drive?

Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe

Getting in, lots feels different to modern cars: the spongy, retro seats, the humongous transmission tunnel, the clock-packed, toggle-laden dash and upright windscreen. Oh, and the glorious view down the bonnet. The engine roars vocally and menacingly into life, the gearbox is heavily no-nonsense and even the pedals are stiff. It’s intimidating at first alright.

But then you realise the capabilities of the car – light and reasonably accurate steering, compliant ride, well-telegraphed handling and, above all, that fantastic engine. It’s astonishingly torquey and just pulls, pulls, pulls. Just put your foot down and go. Free-breathing, it responds instantly and feels like it will never let up. Simply wonderful.

Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe

It’s a bona fide muscle car that will give you a workout. But the notoriety that bedevilled the original AC Cobra is, if you’re level-headed, kept at bay in this honed recreation, so you can drive it without fear of being bitten. Upping the addictiveness accordingly.

Reliability and running costs

Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe

This is a simple car made from solid components, including a near-bulletproof GM crate engine. It’s also hand-built by technicians with decades of experience of, and total emotional commitment to, the product. All of which bodes well for reliability.

Running costs will be dominated by the V8’s thirst (although Le Mans Coupes tell us the long-striding sixth gear helps make it relatively decent on a long run). Servicing won’t be too fearsome either – Le Mans Coupes are happy to help there. You should be able to strike a deal for insurance and the quality of this recreation should keep retained values manageable. A scan of US prices suggests they often sell second-hand for a similar price to a new one – perhaps even more.

Could I drive it every day?

Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe

It has air con. A radio. Power steering, electric windows and central locking. A cushioned ride. So much torque, you almost never need to change gear. Sure, there are compromises, such as the period ergonomics, manly gearbox and brakes, total lack of electronic infotainment gadgets, safety aids and any sort of NCAP crash safety for that matter, but the sheer usability of the Daytona Coupe against expectations may surprise. The coupe rear even gives it a decent boot.

Certainly it’s not a car you’ll only save for high days and holidays. It’s such a grin-inducer, any excuse to take it out should be grabbed, safe in the knowledge you won’t have to fry in a pool of sweat for your efforts.

How much should I pay?

Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe

You have to pay £123,000 to get a Le Mans Coupes Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe. But it will be built from scratch to your very own spec; if you want to spend more, there’s a whole host of options to tailor it, from the engine up.

What should I look out for?

Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe

The cheery, friendly people at Le Mans Coupes will take you thought the full process of considering and buying a Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, including everything you need to look for. If it’s not for you, they’ll tell you: the build process takes months so they don’t want anyone to have any nasty surprises half way through.

The key thing to be aware of is that this is a modern-built classic car. It’s had modern things added on, but it’s still a pure 1960s design – lack of modern car electronic gadgetry and all. A Mercedes-AMG GT is far more refined, advanced, easy to use, practical and all that. But is it as charismatic and as fun?

Should I buy one?

Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe

Looking for a head-turner that will cheer others as much as it delights you? This beautiful machine might just be for you. It’s a tantalising collectable that is packed with character yet has abilities and long-striding comfort that may well surprise. It’s undoubtedly a challenge, of course, but far from insurmountable and, as a possession to have in your garage, is seriously tempting for any committed petrolhead.

One more reason to buy one: it’s incredibly well finished. Paint quality is gorgeous and panel fit is ultra-precise, while the bodywork and interior are both also to a high standard. You’ll get a huge amount simply from staring at it, and that alone may be reason enough for some to buy one.

Pub fact

Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe

There are only six original Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupes because that’s all the company could afford to build. It was created by star designer Peter Brock and was very much a leap of faith; not many people understood sports car aerodynamics in those days (contemporary engineers snorted at Brock’s Kamm tail, for example). Impressively, Brock was involved in designing this recreation model, too – along with original chassis designer Bob Negstad.