Watch: impatient drivers shamed by dashcams on bin lorries

Watch: impatient drivers shamed by dashcams on bin lorries

Watch: impatient drivers shamed by dashcams on bin lorries

Bin lorry crews in the West Midlands have got so fed up with impatient motorists driving recklessly, their bosses are now fitting dashcams and handing footage of dangerous driving to the police.

As part of its Driving Recklessly on Pavements (DROPS) campaign, an average of three near misses are reported every day to Staffordshire Police by Biffa Waste Management.

Police review the footage and, if it’s serious enough, the driver could be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention.

However, most motorists are offered a place on a Driving 4 Change education course, which costs them £80. Since the campaign was introduced in summer, 60 have completed the course and 40 are waiting to complete theirs.

Biffa’s Head of Health and Safety, Lawrence Emerson, said: “The issue is far, far greater than the industry, or the public, could ever possibly imagine.

“I joined Biffa in 2015 from an aviation background, so I am used to high risk workplaces. When I went out with our crews on their collections, my jaw was on the floor – I could not believe what I was seeing and the danger the crews were facing every day due to reckless drivers.

“The careless behaviour of drivers has been accepted by our staff as ‘part of the job’. Up until recently, they rarely reported such incidents to their managers, let alone the police.”

The firm has released a video showing examples of dangerous driving caught on camera. It includes motorists speeding along pavements in a bid to get past bin lorries, and crew members jumping over walls to avoid being hit by cars.

The Royal Society for Prevention of Accident (ROSPA)’s occupational safety and health policy adviser, Karen McDonnell, said: “Driving on the footway (or pavement) is an offence under section 72 of the Highways Act 1835 and is also prohibited by rule 145 of the Highway Code.

“The proactive approach taken by Biffa to tackle this issue is to be commended. RoSPA would encourage Biffa to share the learning from this initiative with the wider world of work.”

The safest new cars of 2016

The safest new cars of 2016

The safest new cars of 2016In February 1997, the first Euro NCAP safety results were presented at a press conference. Since then, the five-star safety rating has continuously evolved as technology matures and new innovations are developed.

With this in mind, we’ve created a list of the cars awarded four- and five-star safety ratings in 2016. If you put safety first, these are the cars you need to consider.

Alfa Romeo Giulia: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

From the beginning of the year, Euro NCAP applied a ‘Dual Rating’ scheme, awarding a default rating based on standard safety equipment across the range. Carmakers are able to apply for a second rating, showing the additional safety provided by an optional pack.

Not that the Alfa Romeo Giulia needed to fall back on a second rating. Back in June, the Italian saloon was awarded the maximum five-star rating, with Euro NCAP noting that it comes with “superior standard safety equipment as standard throughout Europe”. Indeed, the Giulia scored an impressive 98% for adult occupant safety: the highest mark of 2016.

Audi Q2: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

Speaking about the ‘Dual Rating’ scheme, Euro NCAP secretary general, Michiel van Ratingen said: “It is good to see the dual rating scheme being used as it encourages vehicle manufacturers to develop advanced technologies for their vehicles, even if pricing of the product does not allow it to be standard across the range.”

The Audi Q2 received the maximum five-star rating for safety with standard equipment. Audi’s new compact crossover – likely to be one of the most popular cars of 2017 – scored an impressive 93% for adult occupant safety and 86% for child occupant safety.

Ford Edge: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

Euro NCAP dished out no fewer than 14 five-star ratings in 2016, with the Ford Edge one of the beneficiaries. Look beyond the five stars and you’ll discover that Ford’s large SUV received the highest mark for safety assist technologies.

Commenting on the Edge, Euro NCAP said: “Its standard-fit autonomous emergency braking system showed good performance in test of its functionality at highway speeds, with complete avoidance of the target in some of the test scenarios. The Edge also has a lane assistance system that warns the driver when the car is drifting towards a lane marking and gently steers the car back to its path.”

Hyundai Ioniq: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

In 2016, Hyundai challenged the dominance of the Toyota Prius by launching the new Ioniq. In all four categories – adult occupant, child occupant, pedestrian safety and safety assist – the Pirus out-performed the Ioniq, but Hyundai won’t be too disappointed with a five-star rating.

Thomas A. Schmid, chief operating officer of Hyundai Motor Europe, said: “State-of-the-art active safety features are fitted as standard in all versions making the Ioniq one of the safest cars in its segment and a safe and accessible e-mobility choice for customers.”

Kia Niro: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

For 2016, Euro NCAP made some subtle tweaks to its tests. The assessment of child occupant protection is now based on larger dummies, representing a six-year-old and a ten-year-old, rather than the smaller 18-month and three-year-old dummies.

The Kia Niro was tasted under the new ‘Dual Rating’ system, achieving a four-star rating with standard safety equipment. With an optional safety pack fitted, the Niro achieves the maximum five-star rating.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

Also in 2016, Euro NCAP introduced a new layer to the pedestrian protection test, with cars that perform well in the standard tests able to score additional points if they have an autonomous emergency braking system that recognises pedestrians.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class scored well across three areas: 95% for adult occupants, 90% for child occupants and 77% for pedestrian safety. The E-Class is fitted as standard with a ‘Pre Safe’ system, which senses when an accident is about to occur and primes the restraint and protection systems.

Peugeot 3008: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

Electronic stability control is no longer part of the safety assist rating, as all cars must have such a system fitted by law. Euro NCAP is quick to point out that 2016 ratings should not be directly compared with earlier years.

The Peugeot 3008 scored 58% for safety assist, one of the lowest scores of 2016, yet still managed to drive away with a five-star rating. We say ‘drive’, although this is unlikely once Euro NCAP has finished with a car.

Renault Scenic: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

In 2001, the Renault Laguna became the first car to be awarded five stars for occupant protection, some four years after the very first Euro NCAP results were released.

The new Renault Scenic mirrors the result of the old Laguna with a maximum five-star rating. The new Scenic looks and feels a world away from the car it replaces, with a more SUV-like approach.

SEAT Ateca: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

SEAT’s first SUV received a maximum five-star rating back in the summer, with the Ateca receiving particularly good scores for adult and child occupant safety.

The Ateca is equipped with seven airbags as standard, including driver’s knee airbag, as well as seatbelts with pretensioner and load limiter in the front and rear seats. Other safety systems include blind spot detection, cross traffic alert, 360-degree view and tiredness recognition system.

Subaru Levorg: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

In August 2016, the Levorg became the fifth Subaru to score a maximum five-star rating. Later, Subaru added the clever EyeSight technology to every Levorg ordered in the UK. Data from Japan revealed a 61% reduction in crashes for vehicles equipped with EyeSight, compared to those without.

EyeSight features six technologies: pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management, adaptive cruise control, lane departure and sway warning, pre-collision steering assist, and lead vehicle start alert.

Suzuki Ignis: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

Another ‘Dual Rating’ here, with the Suzuki Ignis receiving a three-star rating when tested with standard safety equipment, but a maximum five stars when tested with a safety pack.

The Ignis SZ5 model is fitted with Dual Camera Brake Support (DCBS) and is the difference between a three and five-star rating. DCSB incorporates stereo cameras that function in a similar way to the human eye, detecting objects and alerting the driver with full braking if necessary.

Toyota Hilux: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

On the face of it, a maximum five-star rating for the Toyota Hilux is a tremendous result, making it the safest pick-up you can buy. The only other pick-up to receive a five-star rating was the Ford Ranger, but that was way back in 2012.

However, remove the optional Toyota Safety Sense and the rating drops to three stars.

Toyota Prius: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

It’s an excellent set of results for the Toyota Prius, with a score of 85% for safety assist technologies – the second highest rating of 2016.

Toyota’s Safety Sense is fitted as standard and includes autonomous braking, a lane assistance system and a camera-based speed assistance system.

Volkswagen Tiguan: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

The Volkswagen Tiguan is the last car on our list to receive the maximum five-star rating. A 96% rating for adult occupant safety is the second highest score of 2016, while an 84% rating for child occupant safety is similarly impressive.

The Tiguan features an emergency braking system and – as a first in the Tiguan – a pedestrian detection function.

Fiat Tipo: four starsThe safest new cars of 2016

In standard form, the Fiat Tipo was awarded a middling three-star rating, although the fitment of an optional safety pack helped it to achieve an improved four-star rating. The result prompted Euro NCAP to issue a press release with the headline of “Fiat Tipo – it’s cheap, but is it safe?”

Michiel van Ratingen said: “The Tipo is marketed as a functional car which maximises value for money. However, to maximise safety, and to bring the car up to the protection levels offered by its biggest rivals in this segment, consumers should not pass over the safety pack.”

SsangYong Tivoli: four starsThe safest new cars of 2016

The SsangYong Tivoli is another car to benefit from the Euro NCAP ‘Dual Rating’ system, with the crossover receiving a four-star rating when fitted with an optional safety pack.

Study the percentage ratings and you’ll discover the real difference a safety pack can make. Adult occupant safety up from 74% to 82%, pedestrian safety up from 55% to 65%, and safety assist up from 25% to 43%.

SsangYong Tivoli XLV: four starsThe safest new cars of 2016

It will come as no surprise to discover that the SsangYong Tivoli XLV received identical scores to those awarded to the Tivoli. The XLV is a larger version of the Tivoli, boasting a massive 720 litres of cargo space.

Suzuki Baleno: four starsThe safest new cars of 2016

Euro NCAP introduced the ‘Dual Rating’ system in April 2016, making the Suzuki Baleno the first car to benefit from the new approach.

In standard form, the Suzuki Baleno received a three-star rating. Add the radar brake support system and the star rating jumps to four.

Quadricycle safety at a standstillThe safest new cars of 2016

Also in April, Euro NCAP issued a damning critique on the safety of quadricycles, arguing that the results show little improvement since the last tests performed in 2014. Quadricycles are not subject to the same legislation as passenger cars, but they look like city cars and are likely to compete for sales. You have been warned.

Vauxhall Corsa fires investigation launched

Vauxhall Corsa fires investigation launched

Vauxhall Corsa fires investigation launched

An investigation by The Sun newspaper has discovered that the widely-reported Zafira fires issue could also cause Britain’s second-best-selling car, the Vauxhall Corsa, to burst into flames.

Vauxhall recalled 220,000 Zafira Bs in the UK last year following a series of fires. However, it’s now claimed the same issue, triggered by dodgy heater wiring, could be starting fires in Corsa D and E models built since 2006.

An engineer’s report commissioned by the tabloid said: “The resistive heating associated with Zafira B failure mode 2 has also been identified in the heater wiring harnesses of Vauxhall Corsa D models.

“A fire damaged Corsa D, with a history of wiring harness damage, was examined to reveal an origin of fire in the region of the heater system.

“The wiring harness and the failure mode identified in Corsa D models appears similar to those of GM vehicles Hummer H3 where a risk of fire led to recalls in 2015.

“I recommend that Vauxhall consider that the resistive heating that affected the Hummer vehicles produced by its parent company General Motors is also occurring in its UK Corsa model.”

The issue will be investigated by the BBC’s Watchdog programme at 8pm this evening, where a number of Corsa owners whose cars have gone up in flames will tell their story.

Julie Reynolds, from Chatham, told the BBC of the moment her Vauxhall Corsa D set alight in 2013. She arrived at work, where her manager told her to get out moments before “the whole car went up”, she said.

“The worst thing is my son could have been in that car. I wouldn’t have got him out in time.”

“There was one big explosion. All the windows went in. And then a next explosion. And then another explosion. And the engine fell to the ground. I was just in shock. I was just crying.”

Vauxhall Corsa fires investigation launched

A Facebook group has been established for owners of Vauxhalls that have set alight – with drivers of a number of models coming forward.

Bee Treena posted: “Today my new eight-week-old Vauxhall Mokka set alight while I was in traffic.”

Another person posted pictures of her burnt-out Vauxhall Adam Rocks.

The car manufacturer admits it has found faults with a small batch of 1.4-litre turbocharged Corsa models, but the BBC claims owners of other Corsas have come forward. Vauxhall denies these claims, saying: “We have no Safety Recalls related to fire for Corsa D derivatives other than that for the 1.4 Turbo.”

The company has recalled 2,767 1.4-litre turbo Corsa D models – but the recall only related to Black Edition models and a small number of SE and SRi variants.

These were all produced at the firm’s Eisenach assembly plant – with the majority being Black Edition models, identified by their five-spoke bi-colour alloy wheels. Only 46 SE and SRi models are said to be affected.

Vauxhall says that all affected customers have been written to using address data from the DVLA and so far more than a third of those customers have had the repair work completed. For those customers who have not had the repair work completed, reminder letters have also been sent out.

If you believe your car is eligible for the recall, you can contact Vauxhall on 0800 026 0867.

Vauxhall Corsa fires investigation launched

DVSA considering ‘further action’

The government’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has added pressure on Vauxhall to recall any vehicles which could potentially feature dangerous faults.

DVSA chief executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said: “DVSA’s first priority is to protect everyone from unsafe vehicles and drivers.

“We are investigating reported faults with Vauxhall Corsa D and E models. Anyone who finds a serious safety defect with their vehicle should report it to us.

“We’ve also made it clear that it’s vital that Vauxhall should be doing everything possible to ensure the safety of its customers and their families. We’re also working with the Department for Transport to consider further action.”

Corsa fires: Vauxhall’s full statement

Customer safety is of the utmost importance and we take any report of fire very seriously.

Fires can occur for a wide variety of reasons and it’s worth noting that, on average, there are 18,000 vehicle fires a year across all manufacturers in the UK.

Vauxhall Corsa D is one of our most popular models, with over 700,000 sold in the UK between 2006 and 2014. Earlier this year we identified a potential fire related issue with a specific Corsa D variant equipped with the 1.4 Turbo petrol engine. Nine cases had previously been reported to us, which we investigated, two of these had resulted in a fire. A Safety Recall to address this issue was initiated in April 2016 for the 2,767 vehicles affected.

When customers report a fire to us we explain that an inspection may be necessary but that we need the permission of their insurance company before we can proceed. This avoids the risk of the customer’s insurance policy being invalidated.

Our preference is to conduct a joint investigation with the customer’s insurer but for a variety of reasons this is not always possible. For example, in some cases the insurance company has already conducted an investigation, in other cases the vehicle may have already been scrapped.

Following the Zafira B issue we strengthened our processes but even so it is not always possible to arrange an inspection.

When an inspection is possible the destructive nature of fire can make the process of identifying a pattern of fires with a common root cause very challenging.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that manufacturers frequently do not get to hear about fires in their vehicles. We found with Zafira B, for example, that many cases only emerged after media reports in October 2015. Some of these dated back several years.

Better access to vehicle fire data could help manufacturers with early detection of safety issues. We are therefore working through our industry body to understand how manufacturers can gain access to data in order to build a more complete picture of potential issues.

Vauxhall will be looking to take on the Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb with the smart-looking new Insignia Grand Sport. First drives are expected in spring 2017.

New 2017 Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport revealed

Vauxhall will be looking to take on the Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb with the smart-looking new Insignia Grand Sport. First drives are expected in spring 2017.

Vauxhall will be looking to take on the Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb with the smart-looking new Insignia Grand Sport. First drives are expected in spring 2017.

Vauxhall has released these pictures of its all new Insignia – now dubbed the Grand Sport – ahead of its official debut at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show.

Increased standard spec combined with lower running costs will make Vauxhall’s Mondeo-rival even more desirable to company car drivers – along with extra connectivity and increased comfort, says Vauxhall.

The extra efficiency is helped by its turbocharged engines – although exact technical details are yet to be announced – while 175kg has been shaved off its kerb weight compared to the outgoing Insignia.

Expect the engine-range to include its predecessor’s 1.4-litre petrol turbo, along with a choice of turbodiesels.

A new eight-speed automatic gearbox will also be offered, as will a four-wheel-drive system featuring torque vectoring. This transfers the power between wheels to aid cornering – perhaps paving the way for a hot VXR version, however this is said to be unlikely.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Vauxhall’s ‘Flexride’ adaptive suspension allows drivers to flick between ‘standard’, ‘sport’ and ‘tour’ modes, adjusting the dampers to offer a firmer or more comfortable ride, as well as sharpening up the steering and tweaking the shift points on the automatic gearbox.

The Insignia Grand Sport takes elements of its design from the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show Opel Monza concept. A longer wheelbase combined with a lower roofline and wider track gives it a more purposeful look than its predecessor – although, in our eyes, it does look a bit Mondeo.

A result of the sleeker looks is a drag factor of 0.26, contributing towards its reduced running costs.

This picture suggests improvements have been made inside – following in the path set by the much-improved Astra, released last year.

The cabin is more driver-focussed, says Vauxhall, with the driver sitting 3cm lower than before. With a centre console and instruments facing the driver, the manufacturer says it provides “a [driving] position similar to the one provided in a competition touring car.” Right…

Tech highlights include the integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity systems, along with wireless mobile phone charging – as seen on the Astra. It will also get Vauxhall’s OnStar concierge service and an on-board WiFi hotspot.

Clever driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and rear cross traffic alert.

More information on the new Vauxhall Insignia, including pricing and an on-sale date, will follow at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. Motoring Research will be there reporting live.

The top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

The top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

The top 20 Retro Road Tests of the yearThey say nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. But pressing rewind on a year of driving fabulous old cars certainly gives us that warm, fuzzy feeling. The MR Retro Road Test is published every Thursday, and 2016 has seen us cover the full spectrum of classic cars – from a Vauxhall Nova to the £200,000 Porsche 911S pictured above. Join us as we round-up the highlights.

Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1The top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

Launched in 1976, this outwardly-humble hatchback continues to influence car culture. Just look at the latest, seventh-generation Golf GTI: its tartan seats and red go-faster stripes are a direct homage to the classic Mk1. Richard, who owns a tidy Mk2 GTI, went to see what all the fuss is about.

Richard said: “If you want one, find one and can afford it, absolutely buy it. You’ll regret it if you don’t, and won’t be disappointed if you do. The Golf GTI Mk1 is a bona fide classic and fully lives up to the hype of being a legend. As hot hatches become ever more powerful and sophisticated, its delightful blend of simplicity, purity and performance shines ever brighter. It’s a lovely reminder of where the idolised hot hatch lineage started.”

Read the Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1 Retro Road Test

Mercedes-Benz W123

The top 20 Retro Road Tests of the yearComfortable, understated and beautifully-built, the 1976 W123 may be the greatest Mercedes-Benz ever made. One man keen to make that case is MR’s Gavin, owner of the gold 1982 230E auto seen here. Is he biased? Possibly. But Gav has owned more old cars than most, and the W123 is a classic he recommends unreservedly.

Gav said: “It might not be the most expensive, the cheapest, the quickest or the most beautiful car we’ve ever bought, but it’s arguably the best. Spend some quality time with the W123 and evidence of the craftsmanship will shine through. Few cars offer such a supreme blend of charm and classlessness. Be warned: once you’ve own a W123, all other cars might seem rather ordinary.”

Read the Mercedes-Benz W123 Retro Road Test

Ford Sierra RS CosworthThe top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

Our Tim had two passions in the 1980s: Erika Eleniak (of Baywatch fame) and the Ford Sierra RS Cosworth. Erika, sadly, never reciprocated, but Tim finally met Ford’s winged wonder in Dagenham this year. Could the squared-jawed Sierra possibly live up to the legend?

Tim said: “Like shoulder pads and Shakin’ Stevens, the Sierra Cosworth is a product of its time. Drive one today and it’s fun, but ever-so-slightly underwhelming: a little bit baggy and not outrageously fast. Does that matter? Probably not. The Cossie remains one of the coolest cars ever made. If, like us, you grew up reading Max Power and lusting after hot hatchbacks, it’s still the daddy.”

Read the Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Retro Road Test

Vauxhall NovaThe top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

There was once a Vauxhall Nova on every street in Britain. Now, as Andrew points out, there are less than 1,800 left, which makes these endangered superminis worth saving. Andrew spent a week with the Nova seen here – a 1.2 Merit borrowed from Vauxhall’s heritage fleet – and compared it with the Austin Metro he owned at the time.

Andrew said: “Not everyone will understand the appeal of a 1.2-litre Nova. But as an affordable, cheap-to-run retro car, there’s a lot going for it. There’s a pure, simplistic pleasure to pootling around in a simple supermini such as the Nova. Just look after it more than you might have done as a 1990s 17-year-old.”

Read the Vauxhall Nova Retro Road Test

Porsche 964 Carrera RSThe top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

Here’s one for the fantasy garage. The lightweight 964 RS was the first 911 to wear the ‘Rennsport’ badge since the iconic 2.7 RS of 1973. Its 3.6-litre flat-six had a lightened flywheel and close-ratio five-speed gearbox, while 40mm-lower suspension sharpened the chassis. Tim was lucky enough to get behind the wheel.

Tim said: “The 964 Carrera RS is the Porsche 911 in one of its purest forms. Raw and unfiltered, it distils all that’s great about Germany’s sports car into a shot of pure petrolhead adrenalin. It’s a car you’ll ache to spend time with, to learn its quirks and exploit its talents. The buzz of driving it stayed with us many hours after we reluctantly handed back the keys.”

Read the Porsche 964 Carrera RS Retro Road Test

Bentley Turbo RThe top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

In 1985, the Bentley Turbo R was the fastest saloon money could buy. With a 6.75-litre V8 producing around 300hp, it reaches 60mph in 6.6 seconds: pretty respectable for something that weighs 2.4 tonnes. Andrew captained the Turbo R to ‘slightly illegal speeds’ and came away charmed – and thoroughly relaxed.

Andrew said: “A Bentley Turbo R would be a lovely thing to drive every day. Even the fanciest massaging seats of today’s super saloons can’t compete with the huge, cosseting leather of the Turbo R for pure stress relief after a tough day in the office, while the V8 engine will never get boring. There’s a line of thought that suggests the Turbo R much prefers regular use to being left standing, but you’ll have to have deep pockets to run one as a daily-driver.”

Read the Bentley Turbo R Retro Road Test

Sinclair C5The top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

Sir Clive Sinclair pitched his C5 electric trike as the future of commuter transport, but safety concerns and a distinct lack of weather protection meant it became little more than a historical footnote. Today, the C5 has a cult following, particularly among electric car fans. Richard Gooding wrapped up warm and clambered in…

Richard said: “The C5 is such a recognisable and symbolic piece of motoring folklore, due to both its promise and failure, that it will always be a talking point. ‘Driving’ a C5 in the UK is mostly a cold and draughty experience. And we’d dispute the ‘extremely safe’ claims, too. We certainly wouldn’t want to have an accident in one, however minor.”

Read the Sinclair C5 Retro Road Test

Ford Fiesta Mk1The top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

Amidst all the hype about the new, eighth-generation Ford Fiesta, we quietly published a Retro Road Test of the 1976 original. And guess what? The response was fantastic. Ford fans on social media got in touch to share their photos and wax lyrical about this simple small car. Andrew was somewhat smitten, too.

Andrew said: “It’s an absolute delight to drive. You forget how small superminis were 40 years ago, yet the interior manages to be surprisingly spacious, while the large windows and tiny windscreen pillars mean visibility is much better than modern cars. There’s a sense of vulnerability, though, which brings out an element of cautiousness. But once you get into the groove of the first-gen Fiesta, it’s a really fun little car.”

Read the Ford Fiesta Mk1 Retro Road Test

Toyota Corolla GT AE86The top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

Most people would look at the picture above and see an old Toyota Corolla. A remarkably rust-free example, sure, but an old Corolla all the same. Yet to fans of drifting and hot Japanese cars in general, the rear-wheel-drive AE86 is close to the Holy Grail. Tim grabbed the keys and went in search of wet roundabouts.

Tim said: “It just looks so cool (especially to in-the-know petrolheads), and that analogue driving experience can’t fail to make you grin. We’d have one in our dream garage, no question. Back in the real world, though, a nearly-new GT86 offers similar thrills with all the convenience and reliability of a modern car. And it’s a guaranteed future classic, too. Alternatively, you could pick up an original MR2 for around a third of the price.”

Read the Toyota Corolla GT AE86 Retro Road Test

Shelby Cobra Daytona CoupeThe top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

We bent the rules a little here, as the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe is actually a new car. This beautifully-detailed Daytona replica is built in South Africa and was officially sanctioned by Carroll Shelby himself before he died. Powered by a 520hp Corvette LS3 V8, it’s the automotive equivalent of raw rib-eye. Richard was the man wearing the brave pants.

Richard said: “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.”

Read the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe Retro Road Test

Peugeot 205 GTI 1.6 vs Peugeot 205 GTI Mi16The top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

The first rule of motoring journalism states: ‘thou shalt not question the greatness of the Peugeot 205 GTI’. But can the original GTI be bettered – perhaps with the addition of a more powerful Mi16 engine? Richard and Andrew compared a 1.6 GTI – the hot 205 in its purest iteration – with a modified Mi16 built by Peugeot apprentices.

Andrew picked the standard car as his winner, saying: “As a car to truly enjoy, the light and nimble 1.6-litre 205 GTI is hard to beat.” Richard preferred the Mi16, however. His verdict: “It’s the greatest GTI that never was. It takes all that’s wonderful about the regular car and builds upon it with a searing, exotic, race-bred engine”. Tough call.

Read the Peugeot 205 GTI Retro Road Test

Mazda MX-5 Mk1The top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

The world’s best-selling sports car seems a fitting subject for a Retro Road Test. As a former owner, Andrew knows the original MX-5 better than most, yet familiarity hasn’t blunted his enthusiasm. The car tested has the 130hp 1.8-litre engine, introduced in 1993, and little in the way of luxuries. It’s all you need for back-to-basics driving fun.

Andrew said: “There’s a reason why the original MX-5 is so popular. It’ll be a while before it draws crowds at classic car shows, but for a sunny weekend nothing will make you smile as much for the money. Find the elusive rust-free example while you still can.”

Read the Mazda MX-5 Mk1 Retro Road Test

Honda NSXThe top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

The NSX gave Ferrari a bloody nose, proving that mid-engined supercars don’t need to be unreliable or difficult to drive. It looked sensational (try to ignore the ‘1990s Honda Civic’ interior) and was laugh-out-loud thrilling to drive. Andrew, ahem, quite liked it.

Andrew said: “The NSX is incredible. It feels like a supercar should – how we’d want a supercar to drive if we could go back to a time when manufacturers weren’t pandering to ever-more-stringent emissions and safety regulations. The engine is out of this world. It wails like a nymphomaniac on acid. You hit the redline at 8,000rpm, but before you get to that point the VTEC variable valve timing kicks in and you surge down the road in a much more satisfying way than a modern turbo engine could manage.”

Read the Honda NSX Retro Road Test

Audi ur-QuattroThe top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

“Fire up the Quattro!” Forget Philip Glenister, the undisputed star of Life On Mars was a Tornado Red Audi ur-Quattro. Boxy, butch and brilliant, the four-wheel drive Quattro redefined the performance car – not least for a young and impressionable Gav. Years later, on rural Welsh B-roads, he met his childhood hero.

Gav said: “This is a bona fide legend of road and track, so you’re unlikely to lose any money if you buy a good one. Given the prices being asked for certain fast Fords and a particular hot Pug, we think £20,000 is a small price to pay for a car that changed the fortunes of an entire car company and revolutionised world rallying. In fact, we think it’s a bit of a bargain.”

Read the Audi ur-Quattro Retro Road Test

Renault Clio V6The top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

The Clio V6 is an unholy alliance between supermini and supercar. Following the template of the original 5 Turbo, Renault stuffed a 3.0-litre V6 behind the front seats, creating an instant classic. Andrew found out if this mid-engined monster is as wild as it looks.

Andrew said: “A budget of £35,000 buys you a lot of car. You could treat yourself to the brilliant Ford Focus RS, fresh out of the factory, and have a couple of grand left over. Or, on the secondhand market, how about a mint Lotus Exige, a more useable Porsche Cayman, or even a three-year-old BMW M3? None of these have the novelty factor of being an ageing French supermini from a time when Renault was bonkers enough to use a mid-engined V6. Do you want to be different that much? Only you can make that call.”

Read the Renault Clio V6 Retro Road Test

Toyota MR2 Mk1 vs. Toyota MR2 Mk3The top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

A visit to Toyota’s heritage collection gave Andrew a chance to sample both Mk1 (1984) and Mk3 (1999) iterations of the MR2. They’re both mid-engined and very impractical, but the similarities end there. Which proves more appealing as a budget classic sports car?

Andrew said: “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. But if you gave this reviewer £5,000 and told him to buy a Mk1 or Mk3 Toyota MR2? I’ll take the original, thanks.”

Read the Toyota MR2 Retro Road Test

Fiat 500The top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

The inspiration for one of motoring’s most successful retro-remakes, the original Cinquecento is a car even non-petrolheads recognise. It’s as cute as it is slow (this 500F develops 18hp) and driving one can’t fail to make you smile – as Richard Gooding discovered.

Richard said: “As with almost all classic cars, there’s characterful appeal to the 500 that rubs off on you as you drive it. A happy little car with plenty of personality, for retro-chic appeal, a Nuova 500 beats the current Fiat 500 hands down.”

Read the Fiat 500 Retro Road Test

Ford Fiesta XR2The top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

The Fiesta XR2 has always lived in the shadow of other 1980s hot hatches, such as the 205 and Golf GTIs – and perhaps deservedly so. But there’s still lots to love about this underdog 97hp fast Ford, as Tim discovered on yet another trip to Dagenham.

Tim said: “Of all our Retro Road Tests so far, this one surprised us the most. We approached the XR2 with low expectations and it resolutely won us over. Its engine is rough, performance is mediocre and it’s hardly the last word in dynamic finesse. But the XR2 is also a car that you can wring every last horsepower from. It connects you to the road in a way that few modern cars can.”

Read the Ford Fiesta XR2 Retro Road Test

BMW Z1The top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

That’s ‘Z’ for ‘zukunft’ – the German word for ‘future’. And yes, the future looked pretty damn good in 1986, even if we didn’t all adopt disappearing, drop-down doors. The Z1 is one of the bravest BMW designs ever to make production, and now a fast-appreciating classic. Richard borrowed one for his journey to Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Richard said: “Very few Brits know what the BMW Z1 is. Most were sold in Germany and its lack of official right-hand status here affords it an exclusive image. This makes it a genuine modern-classic BMW curio, one that you can pick up for similar-to-E30 M3 money and turn far more heads. It’s not as thrilling to drive as an M3 but it’s surely a bona fide classic that, so long as you’re careful with it and keep it in tip-top condition, will surely only go up in value in years to come.”

Read the BMW Z1 Retro Road Test

Porsche 911SThe top 20 Retro Road Tests of the year

We finish with this beautiful Blood Orange Porsche 911S, one of our most exquisite (and expensive) Retro Road Tests yet. A lifelong 911 fan, Tim jumped at this one – and he wasn’t disappointed. The classic Porsche was a feast for the senses, a car that commands respect and admiration in equal measure.

Tim said: “The 911S is so much more than a set of figures on a balance sheet. I loved every minute of driving it – climbing back into a modern car seemed desperately dull by comparison. Sadly, I’m firmly in the ‘dreamer’ category when it comes to cars of this calibre. But if my numbers came up…”

Read the Porsche 911S Retro Road Test

The best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

The best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

The best new cars we’ve driven in 2016It’s been a vintage year for new cars, highlighted by the fact that we’ve awarded a maximum five-star rating to no fewer than 17 new cars. With this in mind, we figured it was time to assemble our favourite new motors from 2016, summarised using a quote from the review posted on the Motoring Research website.

Initials: RA (Richard Aucock), TP (Tim Pitt), AB (Andrew Brady), PB (Peter Burgess), GBS (Gavin Braithwaite-Smith).

Aston Martin DB11: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“The Aston Martin DB11 is a hugely accomplished car. It needed to be a two-generation step on: it is. The DB11 isn’t a radical diversion for Aston Martin, because one wasn’t needed. We simply needed a newer, better GT car. With the DB11, we’ve got that. Aston hasn’t missed with this one.” RA

Read the Aston Martin DB11 review on Motoring Research

Audi R8 Spyder: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“If you’ve got a spare £130,000 to splash on a two-seat soft-top, we’d be heading straight to our nearest Audi dealer. Sure, the Porsche badge might have a little more cachet, but the incredible capability of the R8 Spyder, combined with its usability, means we’d be very happy to give one a home.” AB

Read the Audi R8 Spyder review on Motoring Research

Bentley Bentayga: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“We shuddered at the thought of a Bentley SUV a few years ago, and the 2012 concept looked set to confirm our worst fears. But the Bentayga has confounded all our fears. A cosseting, rapid and satisfying to drive luxury SUV, it’s a true Bentley – the best car the firm makes. Without doubt, one of the best premium SUVs you can buy, full stop.” RA

Read the Bentley Bentayga review on Motoring Research

BBR Mazda MX-5: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“Buy a top-of-the-range MX-5, take it to BBR and give them a blank cheque, and you’d still struggle to spend more than £30,000. For that money there is nothing else you can buy new, this side of a Caterham, that would be as fun to drive. And, unlike a Caterham, a BBR-tuned MX-5 is still useable every day and for long journeys. We had more fun on rural Northamptonshire B-roads in this than we’ve had in sports cars costing twice as much.” AB

Read the BBR Mazda MX-5 review on Motoring Research

BMW 330e: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“Spend your own money on one? The £33,935 start price (before Government grant) is a lot of money. But as a company car, it makes so much sense. There’s a reason why fleet users crave a 320d to cover the miles, and this is nicer to drive and will get fewer scowls as diesel resentment builds. We’re surprised BMW is only expecting to sell just over 1,000 in the UK in the first year.” AB

Read the BMW 330e review on Motoring Research

BMW M2: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“After several disappointments, the latest M3 and M4 among them, M GmbH has come up trumps. The new M2 is fantastic – a car dominated by its superb chassis, such as we haven’t seen since the 2000 (E46) M3. Finally, a BMW that feels worth of the old ‘ultimate driving machine’ tagline.” TP

Read the BMW M2 review on Motoring Research

Ford Fiesta ST200: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

You’ll absolutely love the ST200. It’s the ultimate Fiesta ST, which itself is the ultimate affordable hot hatch (and arguably more fun than bigger hot hatches such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI). It looks great in Storm Grey, and you’ll be given a great deal of kudos turning up at fast Ford meets in one. You could almost look at it as an investment.” AB

Read the Ford Fiesta ST200 review on Motoring Research

Ford Focus RS: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“For our money, though, nothing this side of BMW M135i matches the dynamic panache of the RS. And the BMW is £2,500 more expensive and markedly less practical. The Focus has grown-up… a little. But it’s still one of the quickest, most visceral and most downright exciting cars on the right side of £50,000. And your mother still won’t like it. Amen to that.” TP

Read the Ford Focus RS review on Motoring Research

Honda NSX: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

The new Honda NSX is a very ‘Honda’ type of supercar and thus an authentic successor to the mighty original. It’s as much of a technological step on as the 1989 car, but this hybrid/electric/computers-laden tech is used to add to the driving dynamics, not take anything away from the driving experience. Certainly, it does things most other more ‘analogue’ sports cars can’t do and is a unique slam-dunk because of this. If the purity of a McLaren 570S or familiarity of a 911 isn’t for you, the space-age NSX may well be.” RA

Read the Honda HSX review on Motoring Research

Jaguar F-Pace: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

By Motoring Research star rating logic, it’s a five-star car: it’s the best car in its sector, the most appealing all round, and certainly the best looking. Jaguar’s biggest challenge now may be making enough of them, but what a nice problem to have.” RA

Read the Jaguar F-Pace review on Motoring Research

Lamborghini Huracan: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“We can’t imagine ever getting bored of the Huracan. It’s a car that constantly stimulates the synapses. As personal transport turned up to 11, there’s little to touch it. And for many, that’s what supercars are all about.” TP

Read the Lamborghini Huracan review on Motoring Research

Lotus Evora Sport 410: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“At such a huge chunk of money for a car without a radio as standard, only the most serious of enthusiasts will be able to justify a Lotus Evora 410. If you’re after a daily driver, or a car for cross-continent road trips, the lesser Evora 400 or a rival (ahem, Porsche) will be a wiser bet.

“However, if you’ve got the cash to spend on an extremely competent track car and B-road blaster, the Evora 410 is one of the most satisfying cars serious drivers can buy. And you’ll still be able to use it for the odd weekend away. We’d approve.” AB

Read the Lotus Evora Sport 410 review on Motoring Research

Lotus Exige Sport 380: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“This Lotus is a hand-built, richly-honed bargain. It delivers an exotic-level driving experience for relatively attainable prices. A car as satisfying to drive as a six-figure supercar, for a decidedly five-figure ticket. It’s a genuine thoroughbred. Lotus has had a great year in 2016. With the Exige Sport 380, it’s saved the best until last.” RA

Read the Lotus Exige Sport 380 review on Motoring Research

McLaren 570GT: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

The McLaren 570GT is the best definition of McLaren’s Sport Series models. It’s very McLaren, so is all fantastic design, exotic engineering, ultra-precision drive and mind-warping speed. But this is McLaren blended more to the (relative) everyday: you could use it to commute in if you wanted to, and the refined extra comfort that makes it such a good GT car will also make it good for the M25 grind and inner-city jams McLaren’s entrepreneurial customers may choose to use it in.” RA

Read the McLaren 570GT review on Motoring Research

McLaren 675LT Spider: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“If you fancy a 675LT Spider in your garage, expect to pay upwards of £400,000. No wonder we felt a mild sense of relief when handing back the keys, followed by an overwhelming urge to drive it again. The car’s immediate appreciation in value shows the esteem in which it is held – and represents a tidy profit for first owners, of course. Still, even £400k looks decent value compared to the £10million you’ll need for a McLaren F1.” TP

Read the McLaren 675LT Spider review on Motoring Research

Porsche 718 Boxster: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“The new 718 Boxster is, without question, superior to the model it replaces. It’s faster, better balanced and more economical. Cutting to the chase, we think it’s still the finest roadster on sale – and a five-star car.

“The Boxster has always been defined by its chassis, rather than its engine. However, something has certainly been lost by lopping off two cylinders. The Subaru soundtrack is a bit of a sore point, but we’d get used to it. However, the visceral top-end rush of those naturally-aspirated sixes will be missed. That’s the price of progress.” TP

Read the Porsche 718 Boxster review on Motoring Research

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

This is the fastest and most capable Golf GTI ever, but it’s still a Golf GTI. And it’s this approachability, combined with its speed and engagement, that makes it such an impressive achievement. It’s quite the 40th birthday celebration for the original hot hatch, that’s for sure.” RA

Read the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S review on Motoring Research

Ferrari LaFerrari

Final LaFerrari makes £5.5 million for charity

Ferrari LaFerrariThe 500th and final LaFerrari ever to be built has sold for a staggering £5.5 million at an auction in Daytona Beach, Florida – with all proceeds going to help reconstruct the Central Italy region devastated by 2016’s earthquakes.

That’s five times more than the other 499 LaFerraris cost when new.

Ferrari worked with RM Sotheby’s in the auction, and the two partnered with the National Italian American Foundation’s Earthquake Relief Fund.

The Italian firm announced back in August that it would donate the LaFerrari, previously part of its own collection, to the cause. RM Sotheby’s subsequently donated its services to sell the car for the highest possible price.

It’s a LaFerrari finished in a unique specification, too. It has a red exterior with white featureline, an Italian flag on the nose and, as a result of making so much for the earthquake relief fund in the special sale, will now have a commemorative plaque installed.

In selling for $7 million, it has become the most valuable 21st century car yet sold at auction.

Motorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

Motorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

Motorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

As the motorsport season draws to a close, manufacturers will be thinking about how best to capitalise on their success to sell more cars. Some, however, will be looking to go further, building special editions to show just how good they, or their drivers, are on track.

2015 Mercedes-AMG A45 4Matic Petronas Edition

Motorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

With three F1 titles in three years, Mercedes-Benz has a lot to shout about when it comes to motorsport. This was its effort in 2015: an AMG A45 hot hatch, with an F1-inspired silver and turquoise colour scheme. Note the bright green wheel rims. Not one for shy, retiring types.

2014 Mercedes-AMG SL 63 World Championship Collector’s Edition

Motorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

Possibly sensing the tension that was to come, in 2014 Mercedes let Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg design their own SL 63 roadsters. Hamilton opted for matte black and gold, while Rosberg favoured luxurious white. Only sold in pairs to specially selected customers, the price for a matching set was more than £500,000.

2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR Stirling MossMotorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

Proving that special editions don’t always have to celebrate F1 championship wins, in 2009 Mercedes got extreme with the SLR in honour of Sir Stirling Moss’s Mille Miglia record. Ditching the roof and windscreen created a speedster capable of a – very windy – 217mph. You had to already be an SLR customer to be considered, with just 75 examples produced at £660,000 each.

2014 Caterham Seven Kamui EditionMotorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

He might not have won races or titles, but Kamui Kobayashi proved to be popular during his time in F1 with Caterham. Helpfully, Japan is a big market for the Caterham Seven, so selling a run of ten Kamui editions should have been fairly easy. There’s only one seat, an anodised green key and a dashboard with Kamui’s name inscribed into it. Power isn’t quite F1-like, though – with just 123hp from a 1.6-litre Ford engine.

2001 Fiat Seicento Sporting Schumacher EditionMotorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

How do you celebrate Ferrari’s first F1 World Drivers’ Championship in more than 20 years? By sticking the name of your successful driver on the boot of a 54hp city car, of course. While Michael Schumacher may have gone on to become Ferrari’s favourite son, things started out with just 1.1 litres and a top speed of 93mph.

2005 Fiat Stilo Schumacher GP VersionMotorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

Things got slightly better for Schumacher in 2005 when, after clinching his fifth title in row the year before, he was rewarded with this. The special ‘GP’ Stilo was produced for the UK, and featured tuning by Prodrive, which added 18-inch alloy wheels, uprated suspension and a stainless steel exhaust system. Power was unchanged, with the 2.4-litre 5-cylinder engine making 170hp – an output slightly more respectable than the Seicento.

2017 Ferrari 488 GTB ‘The Schumacher’Motorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

As part of Ferrari’s 70th anniversary in 2017, the Italian brand is planning a range of 70 special editions celebrating key models and liveries. Naturally, Michael Schumacher features on Ferrari’s list, and this time his name will grace a range of performance cars befitting his name. This livery is inspired by the F2003-GA F1 car, which Schumacher took to championship victory in 2003.

1993 Renault Clio WilliamsMotorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

In the early 1990s, Williams-Renault was a dominant force in Formula 1, with Constructors’ titles in 1992, ’93 and ’94. The first-generation Clio was also enjoying success as the 1991 European Car of the Year. Combining the two, and adding a 150hp 2.0-litre engine and gold Speedline wheels, produced an iconic hot hatch. The original 390 cars sold in the UK now attract a cult following.

2005 Renault Megane Renaultsport 225 F1 Team

Motorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

As a contender for the longest name on our list, Renault’s celebration of both 2005 Drivers’ and Constructors’ F1 Championships is a contender. Ultra Blue paintwork, matched with very bold decals and black alloy wheels, made the 225 F1 Team visually impressive. Under the bonnet lurked the same 2.0-litre turbo engine from the regular RS Megane.

2006 Renault Megane Renaultsport 230 F1 Team R26Motorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

In order to celebrate back-to-back title successes, Renault made the name for the 2006 special edition Megane even longer. Along with crazier graphics and a wider choice of colours, Renaultsport also added 5hp and a limited-slip differential. The latter made it popular with those fond of track days – and arguing on internet forums about which Megane is best.

2013 Renault Sport Megane Red Bull Racing RB8Motorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

Ah, how fondly Renault must look back on 2013. As the supplier of the V8 engine in Red Bull Racing’s hugely successful F1 cars, Renault could lay claim to having played a part in four continuous Constructors’ and Drivers’ F1 titles. Enter the Megane RB8, with Twilight Blue paint, Recaro seats and Red Bull logos everywhere. Just don’t mention what happened in 2014, when new F1 engine regulations were introduced…

2013 Infiniti FX50 Sebastian Vettel EditionMotorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

Much like Renault, Sebastian Vettel was riding the crest of a wave in 2013. He was racking up wins on track with consummate ease, thanks to his Red Bull Racing F1 car. For 2013, RBR’s title sponsor was Infiniti – somewhat confusing when Renault was the engine supplier. Matte white paintwork, an F1-inspired bodykit and a 420hp 5.0-litre V8 made for a tenuous motorsport link when applied to luxury SUV. A retail price of more than £100,000 in the UK meant you really had to be a Vettel fan to want one.

2015 McLaren P1 Alain Prost EditionMotorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

Alain Prost courts controversy amongst F1 fans, due to his infamous rivalry with Ayrton Senna. Created for the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed, the McLaren P1 Prost Edition featured a unique red, white and blue livery, based on the Frenchman’s helmet design. Prost won three F1 titles with the Woking-based team, garnering the attention of the McLaren Special Operations outfit.

1989 BMW E30 M3 Cecotto and Ravaglia EditionsMotorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

Proving that special editions don’t always have to be F1-themed, BMW went to town with the success of the E30 M3 in touring car racing. Venezuelan Johnny Cecotto took many of those victories, so was honoured with a limited edition version of the M3 road car. The UK market received an even rarer version, named after Italian driver Roberto Ravaglia, who had claimed four championships with the M3.

1991 BMW E34 M5 Cecotto and Winkelhock EditionsMotorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

Johnny Cecotto proved to be a lucrative marketing device for BMW as, in 1991, his name was also added to a special version of the E34 M5. Cecotto picked his own colour combinations and interior trim for a limited-run super saloon. Joachim Winkelhock, winner of the 1990 and ’91 Nürburgring 24 Hours for BMW, also got to specify his dream lightweight M5, with reduced sound deadening and Recaro seats.

2016 BMW M4 DTM Champion EditionMotorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

Proving that BMW is still keen to use motorsport to sell cars, Marco Wittman’s victory in the 2016 DTM series gave the firm a chance to bust out the stickers again. Although you might not have heard of Wittman, this DTM special is a actually a thinly disguised version of the sold-out M4 GTS. With 500hp and a giant rear wing, you probably won’t care about explaining who your car is meant to be honouring.

2013 Audi A5 DTM Champion Edition

Motorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

The DTM series has a track record for inspiring celebratory limited editions. Back in 2013, Audi used Mike Rockenfeller’s championship win to produce 300 special examples of the A5. Sadly, there was no thumping race-car-derived V8 underneath the bonnet, but a 2.0-litre diesel instead. It didn’t come to the UK, but we’re not too sad about that…

2007 Citroen C2 by LoebMotorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

When a height-adjustable driver’s seat counts as a feature in a press release, expectations are correspondingly low. Yet, that was a key feature for Citroen’s special edition of the C2 supermini in hour of Sebastien Loeb’s four WRC titles from 2003 to 2006. A choice of red or black paintwork, and the option of a SensoDrive robotised manual gearbox were as good as it got for the C2 by Loeb.

2007 Citroen C4 by LoebMotorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

While Loeb would use a Citroen C4 in his (successful) assault on the 2007 World Rally Championship, the road car was not a flame-spitting replica. Nope, there’s no 4WD or big turbo engine to be found here. A 180hp 2.0-litre 16v petrol was the quickest engine on offer, but then we’re pretty sure Loeb’s work machine didn’t come with a leather-trimmed armrest or cruise control as standard. Swings and roundabouts, as they say.

1999 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI Tommi Makinen EditionMotorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

Before Sebastien Loeb there was Tommi Makinen, a Finn who dominated rallying with four WRC championships for Mitsubishi between 1996 and 1999. Thankfully, the Lancer Evo was a genuine rally replica, so the addition of a bespoke bodykit, uprated turbocharger and lowered suspension only made it even quicker and cooler.

1995 Subaru Impreza Turbo 2000 Series McRaeMotorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

Subaru produced many special motorsport editions of the first-generation Impreza, but the Series McRae cars from 1995 are particularly special. In honour of the late Colin McRae’s impressive rallying ability, 200 cars received Rally Blue paint with gold 16-inch Speedline alloy wheels. Recaro seats and an individually numbered plaque completed the transformation.

2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STI WR1Motorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

Norwegian Petter Solberg took the 2003 WRC title fight down to the wire, and emerged victorious over that pesky Sebastien Loeb by one point. To say well done, Subaru produced 1,000 examples of the WRX STI in a special Ice Blue colour scheme. With power increased to 320hp, plus lowered suspension springs provided by Prodrive, the WR1 had bark to match its visual bite.

2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI RB320Motorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

Richard Burns is the only Englishman to be a World Rally Champion, and he did it with Subaru in 2001. Tragically, he died from a brain tumour in 2005 at the age of only 32. To commemorate his championship victory and WRC legacy, Subaru built the RB320, which was available only in Obsidian Black. The first car produced was auctioned, with proceeds going to the Richard Burns Foundation.

2002 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Dale Earnhardt Signature EditionMotorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

Dale Earnhardt was a giant of NASCAR racing, taking seven Winston Cup titles and earning the nickname of ‘The Intimidator’ for his aggressive driving style. This made his death, in a final-lap accident during the 2001 Daytona 500, even more shocking to the NASCAR community. In his memory, 3,333 Monte Carlo SS models, featuring a colour scheme based on his iconic NASCAR racer, were built. Today they prove to be desirable collectors’ items for stock car fans.

1994 Ducati 916 Senna and 2014 Ducati 1199 Panigale S SennaMotorsport special editions: win on Sunday, sell on Monday

Ayrton Senna is revered as being one of the most talented drivers to grace the F1 stage. His tragic death in 1994 created a shockwave through the sport and beyond. Senna had signed off on a special edition Ducati 916 shortly before his untimely death, with production completed in his honour. Twenty years later, Ducati recreated a Senna version of the 1199 superbike, with proceeds from the sale of the 161 examples being donated to the Senna Foundation.

Ford Fiesta: Retro Road Test

Mk1 Ford Fiesta review: Retro Road Test

Ford Fiesta: Retro Road Test

The nation’s favourite supermini celebrated its 40th birthday in 2016, and you’ve no doubt noticed all the hype around the eighth-generation Fiesta, which has just been revealed. For this week’s Retro Road Test, we’ve gone back in time to 1977 to drive this delightful Fiesta L.

What are its rivals?

The Fiesta was launched at a time of high fuel prices, when everyone was wanted smaller, more efficient cars. It competed in the new ‘supermini’ class against the likes of the Volkswagen Polo, Renault 5 and Vauxhall Chevette. The Fiat Uno, Austin Metro and Peugeot 205 followed a few years later.

What engine does it use?

In the early days of the Fiesta, buyers got a choice of an entry-level 1.0-litre petrol engine or a 1.1-litre fitted to higher-spec models. The engine fitted to this Fiesta L is the former, producing 41hp.

What’s it like to drive?

What’s it like to drive?

It’s an absolute delight to drive. You forget how small superminis were 40 years ago, yet the interior manages to be surprisingly spacious, while the large windows and tiny windscreen pillars mean visibility is much better than modern cars.

There’s a sense of vulnerability, though, which brings out an element of cautiousness. But once you get into the groove of the first-gen Fiesta, it’s a really fun little car. The steering is direct, but also surprisingly light (once it’s rolling – no power steering here), and the four-pot engine is sweet once it’s warmed up to temperature.

Most of our drive of the plucky little Fiesta was on the urban roads around Ford’s Dagenham plant, and we’ve no doubt we’d prefer a 1.1-litre if we wanted to do much out-of-town cruising. However, around Dagenham, the 1.0-litre is easily sprightly enough.

Reliability and running costs

The original Fiesta is brilliantly simple. A monocoque construction combined with a small pushrod engine powering the front wheels and none of the fancy electronics you’ll find on the new Fiesta mean the original should be fairly robust, even close to 40 years down the line.

Reliability aside, a Mk1 Fiesta should be affordable to run. It’s easily cheap enough for classic insurance, and fuel consumption should be marginal (just don’t expect the 65.0mpg of a modern Fiesta).

Could I drive it every day?

Mk1 Fiestas spluttering into life ahead of a day running errands were commonplace back in the late 70s and 80s. The mere thought of a Fiesta not being up to being driven every day would have been laughable.

Today, though, the idea of having to use choke to start a reluctant engine in the morning, along with zero creature comforts and little in the way of safety features, mean you’ll have to be very dedicated to drive a Mk1 Fiesta every day. If you do, keeping it protected from corrosion will be a challenge.

How much should I pay?

How much should I pay?

Like most old Fords, early Fiestas have a serious following – so don’t expect to pick one up as cheaply as any of its period rivals. Specialist dealers are snapping up tidy ones and offering them for extortionate money following a good valet. But if you’re lucky, you might find a cared-for, original example for around £4,000.

What should I look out for?

Mechanically, the Mk1 Fiesta is fairly robust, but rust is a killer. Get down on your knees and check the sills for signs of bubbling, as well as inside the wheelarches and inner front wings. An online search of a car’s MOT history can reveal wonders about how well it’s been looked after – have previous issues been fixed properly or bodged? Previous failures for corrosion-related issues should have you asking questions.

Other than that, we’d favour an original example over one that’s been modified to look like something it’s not. Many of those left have covered low miles, usually with a now-elderly owner or two, and have been stored in a garage. While this is generally a good thing, lots of short journeys won’t have been easy on the engine or the clutch. Be wary if it’s hardly been used for a number of years, too.

Should I buy one?

Find an well-kept example that’s not showing signs of the dreaded tin worm and you’ll have a lovely classic car that’s sure to attract lots of comments at classic shows. Early examples are approaching 40 years old, though, and with prices heading in the direction they are, it’d be criminal to run a Mk1 Fiesta into the ground.

Pub fact

Pub fact

Ford has created lots of cool Fiesta concepts over the years. The Ford Ghia Corrida, pictured here, was a concept car revealed at the 1976 Turin Auto Show. It featured brilliant, hydraulically-powered gullwing doors.

Driven: James May's Rolls-Royce Dawn

Driven: James May’s Rolls-Royce Dawn

Driven: James May's Rolls-Royce Dawn

If this Rolls-Royce Dawn looks familiar, that’s because it starred in episode three of The Grand Tour. “Captained” by Captain Slow, James May, it was driven around Tuscany where Clarkson tried to convince May that it’s little more than a BMW 7-Series in a fancy suit. It comes after Matt LeBlanc drove the very same car in the latest series of Top Gear.

Our road test of this unreasonably-priced car (£264,000, since you’re asking) is going to be a more conventional affair. No townsfolk will be asked for their opinions and at no point will we elect to “settle this with a race”. That’s simply not the Dawn’s style, as we soon discover…

What are its rivals?02_Dawn

Tell Rolls-Royce its car is a rival for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet or Maserati GranCabrio and be prepared for a withering look worthy of the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey. Rolls draws a distinction between ‘premium’ and ‘luxury’, with the Dawn falling very firmly into the latter category.

As such, its closest rival is the Bentley Continental GTC, although Sir might also consider the Ferrari California T if Sir fancies something sportier.

What engines does it use?03_Dawn

With 571 hp, the Dawn is actually more powerful than Rolls-Royce’s flagship convertible: the Phantom Drophead Coupe. Its mighty 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 blasts this 2.6-tonne land yacht to 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds, plus a limited top speed of 155mph.

“There are a lot of numbers I could quote on this car,” says James May on The Grand Tour, “but I’m not going to because that would be, frankly, uncouth.” Let us be uncouth for a moment: it produces 571hp, will hit 62mph in 4.9 seconds and is limited to 155mph.

Driving the Dawn in rural Tuscany, May describes the Dawn as “serene”. We concur, although our detour through the traffic-clogged lanes of south-east England was somewhat more stressful. It’s difficult to ‘make progress’ (as driving instructors say) when your car takes up more than half the road…

What’s it like to drive?04_Dawn

Inevitably, the Dawn’s sheer size has an impact on how you drive it. Put simply, it’s an incredibly relaxing way to travel… until you have to park. Yes, our car had the optional 360-degree camera system, it’s still no easy task.

The Dawn isn’t as sporting as Rolls-Royce would have you believe. Its strength lies in cosseting comfort, with light controls, effortless performance and a pillowy ride – even on optional 21-inch wheels. The sense of occasion as you follow that – solid silver – Spirit of Ecstasy down the road is unmatched.

Fuel economy and running costs05_Dawn

You do know this is a 571 hp V12, right? Besides, enquiring about running costs seems a touch vulgar here. If you have to ask, darling…

Fittingly, James May made no mention of the Dawn’s appetite for super unleaded in his review. Us? We couldn’t even scrape the official 20mpg, despite a varied test-route that included plenty of motorway cruising. CO2 emissions of 330g/km put the Rolls in the top bracket for car tax, meaning you pay £1,100 in the first year and £505 a year thereafter.

Is it practical?06_Dawn

Rolls-Royce owners typically own seven or eight cars already, so nobody will use a Dawn as their only means of transport (even if there is something delightfully decadent about that idea).

The cabin is faultlessly-finished, although the ‘Arctic White’ leather is hardly the most practical choice. Definitely more Hermosa Beach than Henley-on-Thames. There’s genuinely enough space for six-footers in the back, with easy access through the rear-hinged doors. Unfortunately, the boot isn’t so suited to grand touring. It has a narrow opening and its 295-litre capacity is less than some superminis.

What about safety?07_Dawn

Size matters when it comes to crash-safety, so you’re unlikely to have any worries here. Apart from the repair bill, obviously. The Dawn’s exclusivity means it hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP, but you have the full suite of BMW safety systems at your disposal, including hydraulic brake assist and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.

And don’t worry about the Spirit of Ecstasy – it retracts quickly behind the grille if needed – or if a potential accident is detected.

Which version should I go for?08_Dawn

So, petrol or diesel, automatic or manual, SE or SRi? The Rolls-Royce Dawn buyer faces none of these conundrums, although they can opt for the fixed-roof version in the shape of the Wraith coupe.

Instead, there’s a long options list, including everything from an uplit Spirit of Ecstasy to whitewall tyres. With enough time and money, you can customise every aspect of the Dawn to your own personal taste – or lack of. To make your job easier, Rolls-Royce also offers a range of off-the-shelf option packs.

Should I buy one?09_Dawn

There’s no rational case to be made for buying a Rolls-Royce Dawn. The aforementioned Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet is a better car in many respects – and at least £70,000 cheaper.

However, for the ultimate in open-air luxury, nothing quite matches the Dawn. It turns heads like a lime-green Lamborghini, yet you can also put the hood up and waft along in isolated silence. And it transforms every journey into a special event, with qualities that transcend its high price.

Pub fact10_Dawn

The first Rolls-Royce to carry the Dawn name – albeit unofficially – was this special edition Silver Ghost. Built in 1908, the ‘Silver Dawn’ was originally the property of one Charles H. Angus, and spent the first part of its life in Australia.

In 2013, after a full restoration, the car took part in the gruelling 1,800-mile Centenary Alpine Trail. It was then put on display at Rolls-Royce HQ in Goodwood.