2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On review

2017 BMW 5 Series: Hands-On Review

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On reviewThe BMW 5 Series is the Munich firm’s longest-running model line. It is also the most-recognised BMW globally. After revealing it in the summer, BMW is now readying the all-new 5 Series saloon for its showroom launch in February 2017.

Built on an all-new platform shared with the 7 Series, it carries over much of its technology, including semi-autonomous drive technology and a new touchscreen infotainment system with gesture control. Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz dominate this profitable car sector: with the new 5 Series, BMW is aiming to rule it.    

From the car’s media presentation in Portugal, I spent two days with the new 5 Series to find out how BMW will do this.

Design and interior

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

Evolution is the name of the game here. This car has the 5 Series look, with a longer nose and more rearward-weighed cabin than the more dynamic 3 Series. New headlights are bigger than ever, blending into the grille for the first time, and rear lights are substantial. The profile is proudly three-box, albeit with a bit more of a coupe sweep to the roofline at the rear.

What marks out the new 5 Series is the precise attention to detail. Panel fit is exemplary and the complexity of the lines is an impressive manufacturing feat. The ribbon-like twist in the side featureline which passes through the doorhandles is clever, and the lower sides are more sculptural.

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On review

BMW interiors have in recent years been rather formulaic and not as richly-finished as an executive car should be. The new 5 puts that right. All models have leather, fancy ceramic is used for the header and iDrive controller, and the aluminium dash trim is measured and matched by lasers on the production line so the fit is perfect. It’s angled more towards the driver than its predecessor. 

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On review

Virtual dials are standard, as is a 10.25in infotainment screen. Reflecting the new 5’s diet, the dash is lower and less bulky, the central widescreen now freestanding. It feels much more plush than the old 5, with 7 Series substance (the two probably share multiple parts). BMW has responded to customer feedback here.

Infotainment

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

Sat nav is standard on every new BMW you can buy: even better, widescreen sat nav is included in every new 5 Series. Unlike rivals, BMW doesn’t charge thousands extra to enjoy the umpteen features I sampled on the launch cars. This alone is a very big deal.

The BMW Professional Multimedia system includes standard Real Time Traffic Information, and BMW Connected Music, which accesses 40 million songs via either Deezer or Napster; a 12-month subscription comes with all new cars. You can call a BMW Concierge Service too, but Brits will probably prefer to put the £200 cost towards the Bluetooth, wireless charging and wifi package to find out things for themselves.

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On review

There’s a BMW Connected App as well, which auto-learns frequent journeys and will list them when you’re most likely to drive them. It will also push ‘time to leave’ alerts to your smartphone or Apple Watch if it detects traffic on the way that would otherwise make you late.

BMW is the first auto maker to offer Microsoft Exchange email. For £150, you can connect Office 365 to your car, to control your inbox and sync your calendar. If there’s a meeting address in the calendar entry, it’s easy to put that into the sat nav. It will read out emails, and let you dictate replies. If you’re running late for a meeting, you can auto-push alerts to everyone invited to it, with your ETA. It’s comprehensive and takes some learning, but is a superb efficiency tool.

Tech highlights

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On review

For the first time in a BMW, the infotainment display is a touchscreen. The dash panel below it has been shaped for palms to rest on it, and the screen is crisp and responsive, like an iPhone (unlike in some other cars, you don’t have to jab it hard and the glass screen is precise). You can configure the display, with functions shown in live tiles. Traditionalists can easily switch between the iDrive rotary wheel, steering wheel controls and the touchscreen.

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On review

Gesture Control comes to the 5 Series: you can wave your hand to adjust the audio volume, accept phone calls (or bat away ones you want to ignore) and run several other defined functions. Currently it’s a bit of a gimmick but it only costs £200.

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On review

The BMW Display key costs £195. This has a touchscreen display, through which you can precondition climate control, lock and unlock the car and run other remote functions. It is also extremely cool and thus a must-have.

The head-up display is 70% bigger than before, and the multi-colour display is genuinely useful. It’s far more neatly integrated into the dashboard than any Audi. Choose the £1,495 Technology Package and it’s yours, along with Display Key, Gesture Control and wifi. 

The one oddity is Apple CarPlay. It’s available, but costs £235. Why isn’t it standard?

Quality and details

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On review

BMW quality has taken a hit in recent years, evidenced by this car’s smaller sibling, the 3 Series. That special feel returns to the new 5 Series. Controls have a more precise, well-oiled feel, leather is rich and smooth, plastics are thick, not shiny. The action of the doorhandle could be from a Rolls-Royce; the soft rubber finish in the inside door pull feels nice when you close it.

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On review

The colour display for the climate control is an attractive feature, and the extended displays within the instrument panel display multiple functions. I liked how the miles remaining display was shown within the fuel gauge, the analogue-style clock in the centre and how the numbers on the rev counter were spotlighted as the needle approached. Like a Lexus, they disappear when the ignition is off.

BMW now fits conventional stalks, rather than the old, confusing ‘return to centre’ electronic stalks.

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

Interior ambient lighting is standard and offers umpteen colour choices: I liked green on green, but you can also pick from yellow, orange, blue, violet and white. LED headlights are piercingly bright, giving the road ahead brilliant clarity at night.

Space and comfort

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On review

The 5 Series feels more spacious in the front because the dashboard is less bulky. It makes it feel lighter and airier. Rear seat space is OK, but foot space is a fraction tight beneath the front seats, and the bottom of the door opening could be bigger – those with big feet might find their shoes getting stuck.

The boot is big and comes with electric operation (for £430). This has its own form of gesture control – swing your foot under the rear bumper and it pops open. A feature from the luxury car class comes to the 5 Series: pay £435 for soft-close doors, when you pull them to and motors do the noisy, heavy door-slamming part.

Verdict

The new BMW 5 Series is a quality machine. It’s a big step on from the current car inside, with appealing new technology and several sector-unique gadgets. The premium feel has been improved considerably and it’s pretty likely this new 5 will become the executive car to beat when it launches in the UK. Prepare to be impressed. 

Price and release date

Prices start at £36,025 for the BMW 520d SE, with M Sport spec costing £3,000 extra. The 530d costs from £43,835, with xDrive adding on £2,130. Petrol models cost from £40,120 for the 530i SE and £46,645 for the 540i xDrive SE. 

The new BMW 5 Series arrives in dealers from February 2017.

>Now go configure a new BMW 5 Series

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

2017 BMW 5 Series: Hands-on Review

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On ReviewThe BMW 5 Series is the Munich firm’s longest-running model line. It is also the most-recognized BMW globally. After revealing it in the summer, BMW is now readying the all-new 5 Series sedan for its showroom launch in summer 2017.

Built on an all-new platform shared with the 7 Series, it carries over much of its technology, including semi-autonomous drive technology and a new touchscreen infotainment system with gesture control. Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz dominate this profitable car sector: with the new 5 Series, BMW is aiming to rule it.    

From the car’s media presentation in Portugal, I spent two days with the new 5 Series to find out how BMW will do this.

Design and interior

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

Evolution is the name of the game here. This car has the 5 Series look, with a longer hood and more rearward-weighed cabin than the more dynamic 3 Series. New headlights are bigger than ever, blending into the grille for the first time, and rear lights are substantial. The profile is proudly three-box, albeit with a bit more of a coupe sweep to the roofline at the rear.

What marks out the new 5 Series is the precise attention to detail. Panel fit is exemplary and the complexity of the lines is an impressive manufacturing feat. The ribbon-like twist in the side featureline which passes through the doorhandles is clever, and the lower sides are more sculptural.

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

BMW interiors have in recent years been rather formulaic and not as richly-finished as an executive car should be. The new 5 puts that right. All models have leather, luxurious ceramic is used for the heater dials and iDrive controller, and the aluminum dash trim is measured and matched by lasers on the production line so the fit is perfect. It’s angled more towards the driver than its predecessor. 

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

Virtual dials are standard, as is a 10.25in infotainment screen. Reflecting the new 5’s diet, the dash is lower and less bulky, the central widescreen now freestanding. It feels much more plush than the old 5, with 7 Series substance (the two probably share multiple parts). BMW has responded to customer feedback here.

Infotainment

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

Sat nav is standard on every new BMW you can buy: even better, widescreen sat nav is included in every new 5 Series. Unlike rivals, BMW doesn’t charge thousands extra to enjoy the umpteen features I sampled on the launch cars. This alone is a very big deal.

The BMW Professional Multimedia system includes standard Real Time Traffic Information, and BMW Connected Music, which accesses 40 million songs via either Deezer or Napster; a 12-month subscription comes with all new cars. You can call a BMW Concierge Service too, but you’ll probably prefer to put the cost towards the Bluetooth, wireless charging and wifi package to find out things for yourself.

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

There’s a BMW Connected App as well, which auto-learns frequent journeys and will list them when you’re most likely to drive them. It will also push ‘time to leave’ alerts to your smartphone or Apple Watch if it detects traffic on the way that would otherwise make you late.

BMW is the first auto maker to offer available Microsoft Exchange email. You can connect Office 365 to your car, to control your inbox and sync your calendar. If there’s a meeting address in the calendar entry, it’s easy to put that into the sat nav. It will read out emails, and let you dictate replies. If you’re running late for a meeting, you can auto-push alerts to everyone invited to it, with your ETA. It’s comprehensive and takes some learning, but is a superb efficiency tool.

Tech highlights

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

For the first time in a BMW, the infotainment display is a touchscreen. The dash panel below it has been shaped for palms to rest on it, and the screen is crisp and responsive, like an iPhone (unlike in some other cars, you don’t have to jab it hard and the glass screen is precise). You can configure the display, with functions shown in live tiles. Traditionalists can easily switch between the iDrive rotary wheel, steering wheel controls and the touchscreen.

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

Gesture Control comes to the 5 Series: you can wave your hand to adjust the audio volume, accept phone calls (or bat away ones you want to ignore) and run several other defined functions. Currently it’s a bit of a gimmick but it only costs a few hundred dollars.

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

The BMW Display key is an available extra. This has a touchscreen display, through which you can precondition climate control, lock and unlock the car and run other remote functions. It is also extremely cool and thus a must-have.

The head-up display is 70% bigger than before, and the multi-color display is genuinely useful. It’s far more neatly integrated into the dashboard than any Audi. Choose the available Technology Package and it’s yours, along with Display Key, Gesture Control and wifi. 

The one oddity is Apple CarPlay. It’s available, but costs extra. Why isn’t it standard?

Quality and details

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

BMW quality has taken a hit in recent years, evidenced by this car’s smaller sibling, the 3 Series. That special feel returns to the new 5 Series. Controls have a more precise, well-oiled feel, leather is rich and smooth, plastics are thick, not shiny. The action of the doorhandle could be from a Rolls-Royce; the soft rubber finish in the inside door pull feels nice when you close it.

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

The color display for the climate control is an attractive feature, and the extended displays within the instrument panel display multiple functions. I liked how the miles remaining display was shown within the fuel gauge, the analogue-style clock in the centre and how the numbers on the rev counter were spotlighted as the needle approached. Like a Lexus, they disappear when the ignition is off.

BMW now fits conventional stalks, rather than the old, confusing ‘return to centre’ electronic stalks.

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

Interior ambient lighting is standard and offers umpteen color choices: I liked green on green, but you can also pick from yellow, orange, blue, violet and white. LED headlights are piercingly bright, giving the road ahead brilliant clarity at night.

Space and comfort

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

The 5 Series feels more spacious in the front because the fascia is less bulky. It makes it feel lighter and airier. Rear seat space is OK, but foot space is a fraction tight beneath the front seats, and the bottom of the door opening could be bigger – those with big feet might find their shoes getting stuck.

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

The boot is big and comes with available electric operation. This has its own form of gesture control – swing your foot under the rear bumper and it pops open. A feature from the luxury car class comes to the 5 Series: pay extra for available soft-close doors, when you pull them to and motors do the noisy, heavy door-slamming part.

Verdict

2017 BMW 5 Series Hands-On Review

The new BMW 5 Series is a quality machine. It’s a big step on from the current car inside, with appealing new technology and several sector-unique gadgets. The premium feel has been improved considerably and it’s likely this new 5 will become the executive car to beat when it launches in North America. Prepare to be impressed. 

Price and release date

Prices should start from around $50,000 for the four-cylinder 2.0-liter 530i, and $60,000 for the six-cylinder 3.0-liter 540i. The new sedan is expected in showrooms from the summer, with ordering due to open in the spring.

Dream cars for the price of new Dacia

Dream cars for the price of a new Dacia

Dream cars for the price of new Dacia

Renault’s budget brand, Dacia, produces some of the cheapest new cars currently sold in the UK. From its no-thrills Sandero supermini, starting at £5,995, to its £9,495 Duster crossover, there’s an affordable Dacia for everyone. But if you’re willing to buy second-hand, you might be surprised at the kind of cars you can pick up for the price of a new Dacia. We’ve hit the classifieds…

Porsche 911

Porsche 911

“Can you buy a Porsche 911 for the price of a new Dacia?” we asked ourselves. Well, yes, sort of. If you’re in the market for an entry-level Dacia, we’re sorry to tell you a used Porsche 911 isn’t within reach. If, however, you’re looking at Dusters, you might be pleased to hear you can indeed afford a used 911 of the 996 variety.

We’ve found this example at a dealer in Derbyshire. It’s not the most desirable spec – with a blue interior and an automatic gearbox. It’s also covered 134,000 miles, but apparently comes with full service history, which should put your mind to rest a little. No, it won’t be as cheap to run as a Dacia, but it’s a Porsche…

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Porsche Boxster

Porsche Boxster

If you are on a Sandero budget, there’s quite a wide choice of Boxsters available for sub-£6,000. Yes, some will scoff that you couldn’t afford a 911, but there’s a lot to like about the Boxster. Indeed, our budget gets us a 3.2-litre Boxster S, boasting 256hp and a 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds.

We’ve hunted out this tidy-looking example from 2000, with 74,000 miles and a comprehensive service history. Do your research first, though. They’re known to suffer from engine issues which could hit you hard in the pocket.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Mercedes-Benz CLS 500

Mercedes-Benz CLS 500

A £6,000 budget goes a long way in the world of the bargain barge. You’ll love or hate the way the Mercedes CLS looks, and the 500 has always lived in the shadow of the supercharged CLS 55. But the naturally-aspirated V8 makes for effortless progress, and we think it’s a bit of a used car bargain. OK, you might have put the lease price of a new Dacia aside each month for fuel alone, but it’ll be worth it.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Jaguar XJ

Jaguar XJ

If you want to fly the flag for Britain, this Series II Jaguar XJ will make you look like a member of the royal family for less than £5,000. The seller doesn’t mention whether it’s got an MOT, which is a bit of a worry, but it’s a very pretty thing to look at, nonetheless. Under the bonnet is a lovely 5.3-litre V12. Whether it runs is another matter.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Rolls-Royce Silver Spur

Rolls-Royce Silver Spur

Yes, you can even buy a Rolls-Royce for less than an entry-level Dacia Sandero. This Silver Spur looks rather smart in gunmetal grey, although the owner does admit it has a few minor issues. Its MOT history suggests it’s hardly been used in recent years, which could prove problematic. But it’s a £6,000 Roller, so who cares?

Buy this car on Auto Trader

BMW 7 Series

BMW 7 Series

If you’re after something newer, this 2005 BMW 7 Series is a very tempting buy at £5,994. And, in 750i guise, it’s powered by a 4.8-litre V8 producing 367hp. Combined economy of 24.8mpg could hit the wallet, and it could also produce some painful maintenance bills if you don’t buy carefully. The MOT history of this particular example looks fairly clear, suggesting it’s led an easy life.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

BMW X5

BMW X5

Alternatively, how about one of the first true performance SUVs? The BMW X5 4.8is boasts 352hp, hitting 62mph in 6.5 seconds. That’s still impressive for an SUV today: it was incredible when it was launched in 2002. This 2003 model we’ve found comes with an LPG conversion, which will help make the 18.9mpg more manageable. Make sure it’s been converted properly, with the correct paperwork, and functions as it should.

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Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta

Right, sensible shoes for a moment. You can buy two Dacia Sanderos for the price of a new Ford Fiesta but, as Britain’s best-selling car, there are plenty of good examples in the classifieds. For less than £6,000, we found this three-year-old Fiesta Zetec at a Ford dealer in Derbyshire. It’s powered by the popular 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Nissan Qashqai

Nissan Qashqai

Now, back to looking at what you can buy for entry-level Duster money. Dacia’s crossover starts at £9,495, undercutting mainstream rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti by more than £7,000. But if you’d prefer something a little trendier, depreciation is your friend. The first-generation Nissan Qashqai was an excellent car, and a budget of £9,500 will pick up one of the last from 2013.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Vauxhall VX220

Vauxhall VX220

The Lotus Elise is one of the purest sports cars money can buy. However, it is going up in value, meaning good ones are out of our £9,500 budget. But there are a number of affordable Vauxhall VX220s about. They’re very similar to the Lotus, built at the firm’s Hethel factory, but are powered by Vauxhall’s (more reliable and less rev-hungry) 2.2-litre engine. Just check for abuse: many have been used on-track.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Mitsubishi Shogun

Mitsubishi Shogun

If you’re looking at a Dacia Duster because you’re after practicality, or the SUV lifestyle appeals, consider a Mitsubishi Shogun. They offer excellent reliability, genuine off-roadability and loads of space for the cash, with 2008 long-wheelbase models available within our budget.

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Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler

Alternatively, if you want maximum kudos when turning up at a campsite in the woods, look at America’s answer to the Defender: the Jeep Wrangler. There are plenty available for less than £9,500. Just watch out for off-road damage. Most will have been used as Chelsea tractors, however.

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BMW M3 convertible

BMW M3 convertible

Now is a good time to buy a convertible and, with four seats, the BMW M3 is every bit the practical family car the Dacia Duster is. Convinced? Watch out for cracked subframes and make sure it’s been serviced regularly.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Skoda Superb

Skoda Superb

Right, time for another one of those rare sensible moments. If you want a genuine load-lugger that offers low running costs and excellent value for money, the Skoda Superb is a brilliant buy in estate guise. A budget of £9,500 will get you a three-year-old model with the efficient 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Range Rover

Range Rover

If the Dacia salesman convinces you to spend close to £17,000 on a top-of-the-range Duster Prestige Dci 4×4, a whole world of options opens up on Auto Trader. If 4×4 is a must, how about this Range Rover with the brilliant TDV8 engine? It’s been given the Overfinch treatment, which won’t be to everyone’s taste, but we like the bodykit and bling alloys.

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Land Rover Defender

Land Rover Defender

If you’re after something a little more hardcore, how about a Land Rover Defender? Production of the iconic Landy finished in 2016, meaning a good example could be a very sound investment. Make sure you take a test-drive before parting with your hard-earned, however: they’re a tad agricultural to drive. We’ve found a tidy-looking 2002 Defender County Station Wagon for £15,995.

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Bentley Turbo R

Bentley Turbo R

If your circumstances don’t dictate that you need a 4×4, well, the world (or at least Auto Trader) is your oyster. How about this 1997 Bentley Turbo R, with just 47,000 miles on the clock? With the help of its turbo, its hand-crafted 6.75-litre V8 engine produces 300hp, meaning it’ll hit 60mph in 6.6 seconds.

As this model is the long-wheelbase version, there’s potential to make extra money as a chauffeur at the weekends. You might need help with the running costs, after all…

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Nissan Qashqai

Nissan Qashqai

Or, yeah, if you’re trying to be sensible… how about a nearly-new Qashqai? That £17,000 you could spend on a high-spec Duster buys a 2016 Qashqai 1.5-litre diesel in mid-range N-Tec+ trim. They’re popular, but there’s a reason for that. And, having covered just 13,000 miles, this example should be in as-new condition.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Toyota GT86

Toyota GT86

If you’re looking for a car that’s fun but also a fairly sensible ownership proposition, the Toyota GT86 is within our £17,000 budget. This 2014 example at a dealership in Twickenham has covered less than 9,000 miles. There’s a catch… it’s an automatic.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Chris Rea is driving home for Christmas in a Caterham

Chris Rea is driving home for Christmas… in a Caterham

Chris Rea is driving home for Christmas in a Caterham

Ever wondered what the ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ singer is driving in his 1986 seasonal hit? Wonder no more… Chris Rea has just bought a brand new Caterham Seven 620S.

The British sports car manufacturer uploaded these pictures to Facebook showing Rea picking up his 620S from its flagship dealership in Crawley, West Sussex.

The Caterham Seven 620S is the slightly more user-friendly version of the hardcore 620R. It packs 310hp from a 2.0-litre supercharged Ford Duratec engine, hits 60mph in 3.4 seconds and has a top speed of 145mph.

Chris Rea is driving home for Christmas in a Caterham

The total price before options is £45,495 – no doubt Rea is cashing in on royalties at this time of year.

Rea was born in the North East of England and wrote Driving Home for Christmas when his wife was driving him home to Middlesbrough from London in her Austin Mini.

The star posed for these pictures in front of a Christmas tree in Caterham’s showroom – and even signed three 2017 Caterham calendars.

Inside London’s most exciting supercar showroom

Inside London’s most exciting supercar showroom

Inside London’s most exciting supercar showroomTucked away on a nondescript industrial estate in Uxbridge, near Heathrow, is GVE London: a gleaming white showroom that houses the capital’s most exotic collection of supercars. From classic RS Porsches to new McLarens, it’s a veritable paradise for petrolheads. Join us for a guided tour…

Lamborghini Aventador SVInside London’s most exciting supercar showroom

We start with a car that isn’t actually for sale. This Lamborghini Aventador SV belongs to GVE owner, David Rai. At 32, Rai is a self-made millionaire who quit his job in the City to set up a business exporting supercars. The first GVE showroom opened soon afterwards, in 2012.

The SV – or Superveloce – is the lightest, most powerful version of Lamborghini’s flagship. Powered by a 750hp 6.5-litre V12, it hits 62mph in 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 217mph. It also looks like it’s doing 200mph standing still.

Porsche 911 (991) GT3 RSInside London’s most exciting supercar showroom

Fancy something (slightly) more subtle? How about a Porsche 911 GT3 RS in rare ‘Ultra Violet’ purple? This hardcore 911 has just 1,600 miles on the clock and is for sale at £229,900 – around £100,000 more than it cost when new.

The GT3 RS packs a 500hp flat-six, driving the rear wheels through a seven-speed PDK automatic gearbox. Buyers wanting a manual ’box could opt for the limited-edition 911R.

Porsche 911 (996) GT3 RSInside London’s most exciting supercar showroom

The value of any Porsche with an RS badge has gone supernova in recent years. Even the previously-unloved 996 (1999-2004) model isn’t immune, as a £199,900 sticker price for this GT3 RS confirms. We’re big fans of those side-stripes and red alloys, which evoke the iconic 2.7 RS.

With a rollcage and Recaro race seats fitted with five-point harnesses, this 911 is ready to destroy all-comers at your local track day. And it has a good ol’ manual gearbox, which should keep the purists happy.

McLaren 650S SpiderInside London’s most exciting supercar showroom

Much of GVE’s business comes from McLarens, especially the 12C and 650S. The company even has an example of the mighty P1 hypercar in stock, but it was on loan to McLaren’s Knightsbridge showroom at the time of our visit.

This open-top 650S Spider has special-order Aurora Blue paint and lots of carbon fibre accessories. With 3,890 miles on the clock, it’s priced at £179,900.

McLaren 675LTInside London’s most exciting supercar showroom

The 675LT is a more extreme, track-oriented version of the 650S. Its ‘long tail’ bodywork (the ‘LT’ in its name) pays homage to similarly-stretched racing versions of the McLaren F1.

This 675LT is owned by David Rai himself and has covered just 500 miles from new. It’s priced at £339,900, meaning the car has appreciated around £80,000 in a year. Not a bad investment, if you can afford one in the first place…

Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SVInside London’s most exciting supercar showroom

Mad, bad and dangerous to know, this Lamborghini Murcielago is, at £349,900, the most expensive car in the GVE showroom. Widely regarded as the last of the ‘old school’ Lamborghinis (although it was developed under Audi ownership), only 186 SVs were made.

You want stats? How about 670hp, 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds and 209mph flat-out? On a more practical note, this SV has an electric lift-kit for clearing speed humps.

Ferrari FFInside London’s most exciting supercar showroom

Speaking of practical, how’s this for the ultimate family car? The four-seat, four-wheel-drive Ferrari FF was recently replaced by the GTC4 Lusso and looks downright stealthy in ‘Nero’ black with a black interior.

This 2014 FF is very high-spec and comes with a long list of carbon fibre accessories. Oh, and red seatbelts – like an MG Maestro. With 9,900 miles on the clock, it’s priced at £189,900.

Tesla Model S P90DInside London’s most exciting supercar showroom

A ‘standard’ Tesla Model S isn’t slow, but the tuned P90D version is excrement-off-a-shovel quick – particularly when it has the ‘Ludicrous’ upgrade like the car here. This family-sized four-door saloon will hit 62mph in just 2.8 seconds.

At £95,900, this 2015 P90D isn’t cheap. However, low running costs and free car tax sweeten the pill, as will driving one of the coolest Q-cars on the road.

Bentley Continental SupersportsInside London’s most exciting supercar showroom

If you want to experience supercar pace in a tastefully-appointed drawing room, the Bentley Continental Supersports fits the bill. By removing the rear seats and boosting its 6.0-litre, twin-turbo W12 to 630hp, Crewe created a car that can hit 60mph in 3.7 seconds.

In fact, GVE’s Supersports – priced at £84,900 – has the ‘Comfort Seat’ option, meaning the rear seats have been popped back in. It also boasts carbon ceramic brakes and a device for opening your electric gates. But of course…

Ferrari 328 GTSInside London’s most exciting supercar showroom

One of the prettiest Ferraris ever made, the 328 also ranks among the most affordable. Even if, at £129,900, ‘affordable’ is a relative term. The GTS was on sale from 1986-1989, and has a removable targa top that stows behind the seats.

Finished in classic ‘Rosso Corsa’ red, this late-model 1988 GTS comes with anti-lock (ABS) brakes – the only electronic driver aid you got back then. Its 3.2-litre V8 punches out 274hp: good for 60mph in 5.5 seconds.

Ferrari 360 ModenaInside London’s most exciting supercar showroom

This 360 Modena also floats our boat, not least because of its unusual ‘Fjord Blue’ paintwork. The original owner also specified ‘Challenge’ front and rear grilles – like the cars in Ferrari’s one-make race series.

The 360 Modena hasn’t yet attained full classic status, which means you can buy this 2002, 9,850-mile example for £84,900. Look after it and the values will only go one way…

Porsche 911 (964) Carrera RSInside London’s most exciting supercar showroom

We’ve saved our favourite car in the GVE showroom until last. The 964 RS is essentially a roadgoing version of the Carrera Cup racer. With a 264hp air-cooled six atop the rear axle, it’s uncompromising, uncomfortable and utterly brilliant.

This 964 is finished in classic Guards Red and comes with a rear rollcage and uprated 911 Turbo brakes. The price is ‘on application’, but a similar car we drove at Autofarm earlier this year was valued at £168,000.

The 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

The 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

The 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worthThe classic car market is celebrating a buoyant end to the year, that’s according to data released by insurance firm Hagerty. Using data from the cars that generate the most enquiries, we present the 10 cars in reverse order. If you sold a Peugeot 205 GTI or Audi Quattro at the beginning of the year, you might want to look away now.

10. Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC: 21.4% increase

2016 value: £10,200

2015 value: £8,400

The 5.0-litre 450SLC was built to allow Mercedes-Benz to go racing in the 1978 World Rally Championship. Of all the cars featured on the Hagerty list, we think this one offers the best value for money. Just over £10,000 to secure what is undoubtedly far more interesting than anything offered by Mercedes-Benz today.

9. Citroen SM: 26.5% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £34,125

2015 value: £26,975

Speaking of things far more interesting… Values of the Citroen SM continue to head north, as the market wakes up to the fact that this was one of the coolest creations of the 1970s. Part Citroen, part Maserati, the SM was a victim of circumstances beyond its control.

8. Ford Capri 2.8i: 28.0% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £13,950

2015 value: £10,900

We remember a time when you couldn’t give a Ford Capri away. Today, even the lowly four-cylinder cars command a sizeable premium, but six-cylinder Capris attract the most interest. In March 2016, a Ford Capri 280 ‘Brooklands’ sold at auction for £54,000…

7. Porsche 944 Turbo: 31.0% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £21,875

2015 value: £16,700

As 911 values continue to spiral out of control, it’s logical that some magic dust would be sprinkled over other Porsche models. Not too long ago, you could secure a 944 for a nominal amount. Today, the 944 Turbo has broken the £20,000 mark.

6. Jensen Interceptor III: 36.9% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £51,250

2015 value: £37,425

Meanwhile, this Anglo-Italian grand tourer has enjoyed a remarkable 2016, with values shooting up from £37,425 to £51,250. That’s an increase of 36.9%.

5. Porsche 928 GTS: 67.6% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £33,850

2015 value: £20,200

Hagerty says: “Front engine Porsches have been rising rapidly across the board for the last 18 months. The 928 is just starting to be considered for the superb sports that it is – a huge commitment by Porsche to their support and restoration has helped this.”

4. BMW 3.0 CSL: 70.8% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £83,800

2015 value: £49,050

Wow. Just wow. A year ago we were reporting a 1.1% increase in values, but a further 70.8% increase has seen the 3.0 CSL break through the £80,000 mark and on its way to six figures.

3. Aston Martin Lagonda S1: 71.6% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £62,725

2015 value: £36,550

Not to be confused with the wedge-tastic Lagonda S2, the Aston Martin Lagonda S1 was a four-door version of the Aston Martin V8 (pictured). Only seven were ever built, so we’re surprised to discover that Hagerty receives so many enquiries about this limited-run car.

2. Peugeot 205 GTi 1.6: 84.8% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £11,275

2015 value: £6,100

Hagerty says: “Over the summer of 2016, Peugeot 205 GTIs rocketed in value, with exceptional examples achieving over £30,000. The difference between fair and concours examples is huge.”

1. Audi Quattro RR: 151.2% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £47,925

2015 value: £19,075

Congratulations if you bought an Audi Quattro at the start of the year. Values of the desirable 20v RR model have skyrocketed over the past 12 months, up a massive 151.2%. Fire up the appreciator…

Ferrari J50

Special edition Ferrari J50 unveiled in Japan

Ferrari J50Stunning, isn’t it? You’re looking at the Ferrari J50 – a limited-run special edition built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ferrari in Japan.

Well, what did you expect? A lavish do and a few friends over for dinner? No, when Ferrari celebrates an anniversary, it does it in style. There’s just one catch: only 10 examples of the J50 will be built. And we suspect that – if history tells us anything – each one has been snapped up.

 

Based on the Ferrari 488 SpiderFerrari J50

Based on the already-quite-lovely 488 Spider, the Ferrari J50 is a two-seater, mid-rear-engined roadster that, according to Ferrari, “marks a return to the targa body style evocative of several well-loved Ferrari road cars of the 1970s and 1980s.”

Each one will be created by the Ferrari Special Projects department and designed by the Ferrari Styling Centre team in Maranello. The launch car is finished in a special shade of three-layer red with a red-over-black interior trimmed in leather and Alcantara. Naturally, each customer will be invited to stamp their own mark on the Ferrari J50. That’s a scary thought.

“Futuristic design language”Ferrari J50

Ferrari claims the bodywork is ‘‘all new and heralds a radically futuristic design language”. Note the slanted top edge of the side window, continuous with the windscreen, and the raked black swage line that appears to vanish into the air intakes.

The ‘helmet visor’ effect is said to be reminiscent of Ferrari’s open competition barchettas going back as far as the 1950s, while the black dividing line is a nod in the direction of iconic Ferraris such as the GTO, F40 and F50.

AerodynamicsFerrari J50

The front-end is suitably aggressive and dominated by a pair of full LED headlights. In comparison, the Ferrari 488 Spider looks a little meek and mild.

But it’s not all about the styling. Ferrari has spent time on the aerodynamics, going as far as positioning the radiators closer together and completely redesigning the front bumper. Meanwhile, the windscreen header rail has been lowered to allow more airflow over the aerofoil.

Not unlike the Ferrari SergioFerrari Sergio

To our eyes, the Ferrari J50 doesn’t look too dissimilar to the achingly pretty Ferrari Sergio. It was built to celebrate the 60-year partnership of Ferrari and Pininfarina and was based on the 458 Spider.

The Ferrari J50 is based on the 488 Spider and, as such, is powered by a 3.9-litre V8 engine. However, Ferrari has added an extra 20hp to the standard 670hp, which should shave a little off the three-seconds-dead 0-62mph time.

Transparent engine coverFerrari J50

The engine is framed by a transparent polycarbonate cover, shaped to provide a visual link to the pair of hoops protecting the heads of the driver and passenger.

A transverse aerofoil provides a bridge between the hoops, a subtle tip of the hat – or Ferrari baseball cap – in the direction of Ferrari sports prototypes of the 1960s.

Jet engine afterburnersFerrari J50

Assuming the lucky owners actually drive their prized possessions, the rear of the Ferrari J50 is probably the view you’ll need to get used to.

The quad taillights hark back to icons such as the F40 and 288 GTO, while the rear diffuser “features an extractor shape inspired by jet engine afterburners”. Fancy.

20-inch alloy wheelsFerrari J50

You won’t have seen those 20-inch alloy wheels before, as they’ve been created specifically for the J50.

Expect ‘authentic replicas’ to start appearing in a car accessories catalogue near you soon.

Two-piece targa topFerrari J50

Inside, you’ll be able to create a cabin of your choice. Specific trim adorns the sports seats and echoes the design of the rear bonnet contour.

Meanwhile, carbon fibre targa top is divided into two pieces and can be stowed behind the seats.

For Japan onlyFerrari J50

As for price, if you have to ask…

Besides, the Ferrari J50 is available for Japan only and – even if you jumped on a plane to Tokyo – we suspect you’d be too late.

Revealed: the 8 most disappointing cars we’ve driven in 2016

Revealed: the most disappointing cars we’ve driven in 2016

Revealed: the 8 most disappointing cars we’ve driven in 2016

This has been a great year for cars: we’ve driven some five-star corkers, including the new Ford Focus RS, Bentley’s Bentayga SUV and the new Honda NSX. And while it’s true there aren’t many bad cars being made today, we have driven a few recently that have left us feeling a little flat.

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

Volkswagen Beetle Dune

Volkswagen Beetle Dune

Gold alloys only look good on Subaru Imprezas and the Renault Clio Williams. Fact. Unfortunately, the Beetle Dune also boasts gold paintwork, a gold dashboard and gold stitching on the seats. It’s the four-wheeled equivalent of Donald Trump’s private elevator.

Even if you like the Dune’s looks, it’s an oddly pointless special edition. The name pays homage to Baja dune buggies, yet it lacks four-wheel drive and ground clearance is only 10mm more than the standard Beetle. It’s also expensive: £24,910 could buy you a MINI John Cooper Works, one of the finest hot hatches on sale. Our fully-loaded test car clocks in at £31,225. We’d expect it to be genuinely gold-plated for that. TP

Kia Niro

Kia Niro

The Kia Niro is everything the 2016 motorist wants in a car. It’s an easy to drive, ultra-efficient (hybrid) crossover that doesn’t cost a fortune to buy and comes with a seven-year warranty. But boy, is it dull. They’ve tried to give it some eco quirks to make it interesting  such as an “energy flow meter” in place of a conventional rev counter  but in truth it’s little more than an appliance. How depressing. AB

Toyota C-HR

Toyota C-HR

We’ll skip over the angular styling of the Toyota C-HR. Design is subjective, after all, and there’s a trend among Japanese SUVs to appear, erm, challenging. What disappointed us about the C-HR are the poor powertrains on offer: a hybrid system using a horrible CVT gearbox or a weak 1.2-litre petrol. The interior is nothing special either, and it falls short on practicality. AB

2017 Toyota C-HR review: a trendy crossover from an untrendy company

Renault Megane

Renault Megane

Sorry, pretty Renault Megane. You’re not fooling me with your fancy Tesla-style touchscreens and swish configurable instruments. Because you’ve overlooked the big stuff, such as rear passenger space. Not-grim steering. Driving sparkle. And what’s with that massive patch of unswept windscreen the wipers don’t reach on the driver’s side? Unforgivable. This is a car that’s been developed 75% of the way there, then launched. Not good enough. No matter how pretty it is. RA

Renault Megane 1.6 TCE 205 GT Nav (2016) review

Nissan Pulsar

Nissan Pulsar

Oh, what a coincidence. The Nissan Pulsar is related to the Renault Megane. So it feels similarly not-quite-finished. Seriously, Nissan, you need to offer family hatchback buyers something better than this to stop them moving into the crossover segment. Or perhaps this lame effort is intentional, given how your Qashqai is a top-10 best-seller in the UK. You finished that one marvellously well. Pity you didn’t with this one. RA

Nissan Pulsar: Two-Minute Road Test

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

We spent six months with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. While it was great freshly-charged, that only lasted for around 20 miles before it needed plugging in again. This was more hassle than you might think: drivers of ‘full’ EVs don’t like plug-in hybrids using ‘their’ public charge points, and the company behind motorway chargers even had a dig at PHEV drivers when introducing new fees for customers. Politics around plugging in aside, the Outlander was a rather average car, with a disappointing interior and uninspiring dynamics. It’s practical, though. AB

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2016): long-term review

Hyundai i20 Active

Hyundai i20 Active

A lifestyle version of one of our favourite superminis  what’s not to like? Er, well, you can’t buy an i20 Active with the more powerful 120hp turbocharged three-cylinder engine. It feels a bit flat with just 100hp, and you’ll fork out an extra £1,200 for that body cladding and increased ride height. There’s no reason to buy one, and we’d much rather have the i20 Turbo Edition. AB

Hyundai i20 Active: Two-Minute Road Test

Infiniti Q30

Infiniti Q30

There was a lot of hype around the Infiniti Q30 after its reveal at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, but the Mercedes-Benz A-Class-based car just isn’t special enough to tempt buyers from an Audi A3 or BMW 1 Series. Despite fancy interior choices such as ‘Cafe Teak’ and ‘City Black’, it just isn’t the car to bring Infiniti into the mainstream. AB

Infiniti Q30: Two-Minute Road Test

Best first cars for new drivers

Best first cars for new drivers

Best first cars for new driversResearch from HPI discovered that 21% of UK drivers have paid more for a car than its true value. However, that figure was markedly higher (30%) among 18-24 year olds, with 17% of that demographic admitting they rushed the purchase of their first car out of eagerness to get on the road.

Helpfully, HPI has also compiled a list of the cheapest new cars to run, to make that decision process a little easier. The data takes into account price, depreciation (loss in value over time), insurance, fuel economy and, tax. Join us as we count down the top 10 cars.

10. SEAT Ibiza Sport CoupeBest first cars for new drivers

In at number 10 is the SEAT Ibiza Sport Coupe 1.0 E petrol, a stylish supermini based on the Volkswagen Polo. The more practical five-door Ibiza is only marginally more expensive to run.

Over a typical three-year/60,000-mile ownership period, the Ibiza would cost £261.60 a month, or 31p a mile. The total cost of ownership works out at £9,417.56.

9. Nissan NoteBest first cars for new drivers

Nissan is actually phasing out its Note mini-MPV in favour of the more upmarket new Micra. So if you want one, you’ll need to be quick.The 1.2 Visia petrol has the lowest running costs.

The practical Note will cost you £9397.25 over three years and 30,000 miles of motoring. That equates to £261.03 a month and 31p a mile.

8. Suzuki SwiftBest first cars for new drivers

Choose the Swift with a 1.2-litre petrol engine and this supermini struggles to live up to its name. However, it is very cost-effective to run, with the SZ2 version offering the most for your money.

The cost of running a Swift over three years ducks under £9,000 – at £8,949.02. Your total monthly bill should be £248.58, or 30p a mile.

7. Nissan MicraBest first cars for new drivers

We’re not big fans of the outgoing Micra, but it is cheap to run. As with the Nissan Note, the 1.2 Visia petrol is the cheapest version for new drivers.

You could be driving a Nissan Micra for £228.81 a month all-in. Over three years and 30,000 miles that means a total bill of £8237.02 – a modest 27p a mile.

6. Citroen C1Best first cars for new drivers

The sixth-placed Citroen C1 is twinned with the Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 108 city cars, both of which appear slightly further up this list.

Choose the C1 and running costs are almost identical to the Micra, at £228.42 and 27p a mile. Your total outlay over three years and 30,000 miles would be £8222.97.

5. Toyota AygoBest first cars for new drivers

We’d have an Aygo 1.0 over the equivalent C1. It’s funkier-looking and the Toyota badge probably boosts resale values. The Aygo retains 40% of its original purchase price after three years and 30,000 miles, versus 38% for the C1.

Your total bill for driving an Aygo adds up to £8,123.97, which breaks down as £225.67 a month and 27p a mile. But there are four new cars that are cheaper still…

4. Dacia Logan MCVBest first cars for new drivers

Up until this point, every car on our list has been a small hatchback. But you can run a versatile estate car on a tight budget, too. Meet the Dacia Logan MCV (that’s ‘Maximum Capacity Vehicle’, in case you were wondering).

Interestingly, the most cost-effective Logan is the 1.5 dCi – the first diesel in our list. Getting some Maximum Capacity into your life will set you back a modest £223.30 a month, or 27p a mile. The overall, three-year bill is £8,038.70.

3. Peugeot 108Best first cars for new drivers

Here’s the last of the C1/Aygo/108 – and the Peugeot takes the title as the cheapest to run. The best 108 to go for is the 1.0 Access, which finishes third in HPI’s list.

While both the Citroen and Toyota will cost you 27p a mile, the 108 comes in at just 25p – thanks in part to a strong 45% retained value after three years and 60,000 miles. The monthly cost is £212.42, while the overall figure is £7,646.97.

2. Dacia SanderoBest first cars for new drivers

In entry-level Access spec, the Dacia Sandero is Britain’s cheapest new car. However, stronger resale values for the Sandero Ambiance mean this plusher version works out cheaper overall. As with the Logan MCV, the 1.5 dCi diesel is the engine to go for.

It won’t make your neighbours jealous, but after three years/60,000 miles the Sandero will owe you just £7,212.17. Not bad for three years of driving in a brand new car. That cost breaks down as £200.35 a month and 24p a mile.

1. Suzuki CelerioBest first cars for new drivers

The Celerio blotted its copybook early with a highly-publicised brake test failure. Thankfully, those issues have now been resolved and this likeable city car redeems itself with first place in the HPI list.

A Celerio makes an excellent first car for drivers on a tight budget. Opt for the 1.0 SZ2 and you’ll pay £7,099.95 over three years and 30,000 miles. That equates to £197.22 a month and a mere 24p a mile. It’s cheaper than walking… almost.

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.”