DS 7 Crossback

DS 7 Crossback premium SUV revealed

DS 7 Crossback

DS 7 Crossback

The new DS 7 Crossback SUV shows the French premium brand wannabe is about to get serious with a high-end crossover SUV that’s gunning for the Range Rover Evoque. Set to launch at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, the firm has revealed it in full ahead of the Swiss spectacle. 

Styled under the leadership of DS design director Thierry Metroz, the new DS 7 Crossback is less wilfully odd than previous DS models, and more in tune with the sort of cars buyers are seeking. The firm’s also gone big on high-end detailing, in an attempt to further its promise of offering French luxury in the premium car class.

DS 7 Crossback

DS 7 Crossback

Lights are a particular focus here. The original DS 3 made great play of its signature LED lighting and the DS 7 Crossback continues that. Full LED headlights perform fancy start-up tricks and the LED running lights now form vertical beads. At the rear, laser-engraving tech has been used to create striking illuminated units. 

DS 7 Crossback

DS 7 Crossback

Inside, the quality lift evidenced by the Peugeot 3008, whose platform the DS 7 Crossback shares, is very much in evidence. Again, it’s a unique interior, with twin 12-inch screens: one in the centre of the dash and one in the instrument binnacle. DS claims the centre one is a sector-first, controlling navigation, DS Connect, MirrorScreen and multimedia. 

There are endless interior trim options, or ‘ambiences’, too. Reflecting (it says here) owners’ lifestyles, buyers can choose from Bastille, Rivoli, Opera or Performance Line. All boast their own Haute Couture trimmings and the ‘obsession with detail’ DS is keen to become characterised by. 

DS 7 Crossback engine tech

DS 7 Crossback

DS 7 Crossback

A headline powertrain for the DS 7 Crossback is a plug-in hybrid petrol set-up, boasting 300 hp, four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It has a 1.6-litre THP 200 engine, two electric motors and can do 37 miles on electric power alone. 

Other engines are more familiar. There are 1.2-litre PureTech 130 and 1.6-litre THP 180 turbo petrols, plus 1.6-litre BlueHDi 130 and 2.0-litre BlueHDi 180 diesels. Pick from a range of gearboxes – the eight-speed EAT8 sounds preferable to the older EAT6. 

DS 7 Crossback

DS 7 Crossback

DS is promising clever driving tech to smooth out the DS 7 Crossback’s ride. Active Scan Suspension comprises adaptive damping that uses a camera in the windscreen to monitor the road ahead. It’s linked up with chassis sensors to fine-tune the suspension in real time. Bringing the traditional Citroen ride quality into the 21st century? Here’s hoping. 

In pictures: DS 7 Crossback

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Geneva Motor Show 2017 preview

Geneva Motor Show 2017 preview

Geneva Motor Show 2017 previewThis year’s Geneva Motor Show throws open its doors to the public on 9 March, by which time we’ll have delivered all the latest news, photos and views. In the meantime, we’ve compiled a preview of the top 20 cars expected to make their debut at Geneva’s Palexpo.

Range Rover VelarGeneva Motor Show 2017 preview

It’s one of the biggest reveals of the Geneva Motor Show, but it’s not the biggest Range Rover. The new Velar will slot into the gap between the Range Rover Evoque and Range Rover Sport, going head-to-head with the Porsche Macan. The global debut will take place on 1 March, before the Velar goes on show in Geneva.

Vauxhall Insignia Sports TourerGeneva Motor Show 2017 preview

It’s lighter, longer and far more attractive than the car it’s replacing, but will this be enough to inject some much needed flair into the Vauxhall Insignia? The Sports Tourer will be launched alongside the Grand Sport hatchback and promises to be packed with features, including Vauxhall’s OnStar concierge service. A case of ‘move over BMW 5 Series’? We’ll see.

Honda Civic Type RGeneva Motor Show 2017 preview

All eyes will be on the Honda stand, where the next generation Civic Type R will be unveiled. Production of the Swindon-built hot hatch will start in the summer and it’s the first time a Honda-badged Type R has been sold in North America. If the styling is anything to go by, this will be no shrinking violet.

Ferrari 812 SuperfastGeneva Motor Show 2017 preview

The 812 Superfast is “the new benchmark in the mid-front-engined sports car segment,” says Ferrari, not to mention the most powerful front-engine car it has produced. Not a bad way to celebrate 70 years of the Prancing Horse. The new 6.5-litre V12 engine produces 789hp and will hit 62mph in 2.9 seconds.

Mercedes-Maybach G650 LandauletGeneva Motor Show 2017 preview

From the sublime to the, er… ridiculous? Not in our wildest dreams did we think that Mercedes-Maybach would be launching an open-top G-Class. And yet, here it is, the “strictly limited” G650 Landaulet. Strictly limited, we suspect, because few people would need/want a luxury off-roader with a V12 engine and rear seats in the open air. Production is limited to 99 units.

McLaren 720SGeneva Motor Show 2017 preview

The second-generation McLaren Super Series – rumoured to be called the 720S – will be unveiled in Geneva. McLaren claims the replacement for the 650S will “redefine expectations of supercar capability with phenomenal stopping performance equal to its extreme acceleration. Reaching 124mph in 7.8 seconds, McLaren’s new supercar can then brake to a standstill in just 4.6 seconds and 117 metres.” McLaren has also worked with Pirelli to create a bespoke P Zero Corsa tyre.

Lamborghini Huracan PerformanteGeneva Motor Show 2017 preview

Lamborghini is expected to unveil a new lightweight, track-focused version of the Huracan (pictured). Spy shots have shown the Huracan Performante being given a workout on the famous Imola circuit, along with a video hinting at a very fast Nurburgring lap time, possibly a new lap record.…

Italdesign Automobili SpecialiGeneva Motor Show 2017 preview

Well, this one has divided the internet. The Italdesign Automobili Speciali is a carbon-bodied supercar powered by a 5.2-litre V10 engine and capable of hitting a top speed of 205mph. As for the styling: some folk claim that it looks like a Chinese copy of a Lamborghini, while others think that it looks like something you’d find in a PlayStation game. Others are less positive…

Aston Martin AM-RB 001Geneva Motor Show 2017 preview

The Aston Martin AM-RB 001 will make its European debut in Geneva, which is set to be a busy show for the Gaydon-based carmaker. The hypercar is powered by a mid-mounted non-turbocharged V12 engine and will have a 1:1 power-to-weight ratio. In other words, 1hp per kilo of weight. A maximum of 150 road-going versions will be built, along with 12 track-only specials.

Suzuki SwiftGeneva Motor Show 2017 preview

From one car you probably won’t drive to one that you might. The current Suzuki Swift is one of our favourite modern superminis, so we’re a little excited about the prospect of the new one. You can expect the next-generation to be larger than the outgoing version and packed with an array of safety kit and tech. We’ll be driving the new car in March, so stay tuned for our first drive review.

Toyota Yaris GRMNGeneva Motor Show 2017 preview

Do not adjust your set: this is indeed an exciting Toyota Yaris. Inspired and influenced by Toyota’s return to the World Rally Championship, the Yaris GRMN looks like it has spent a few days in a gym, consuming nothing but energy drinks. With a 1.8-litre supercharged engine, this Yaris produces in excess of 200hp, making it more powerful than the Fiesta ST200. Bring it on.

Volkswagen ArteonGeneva Motor Show 2017 preview

Volkswagen is set to unveil an “avant-garde gran turismo” in the form of the new Arteon. Think it of as a replacement for the CC model, which will sit above the Passat in the Volkswagen range. The German firm is promising an “exceptionally spacious” interior and driver assistance systems usually reserved for luxury cars.

Alpine A110Geneva Motor Show 2017 preview

The production Alpine A110 will look almost identical to the Alpine Vision Concept of 2016, which is no bad thing. The mid-engined sports car gives a subtle nod in the direction of the original Alpine A110 and is likely to go on sale later this year. Still want that Porsche 718 Cayman?

Aston Martin Vanquish SGeneva Motor Show 2017 preview

This is the global motor show debut of the new Vanquish S – the most powerful version of Aston Martin’s Super GT. The 6.0-litre V12 engine produces 600hp, enough to propel the GT to 62mph in just 3.5 seconds, before reaching a top speed of 201mph. We’ve driven it and concluded: “It asserts the Vanquish’s range-topping status in the face of such stiff internal competition from the brilliant DB11”.

Citroen C-AircrossGeneva Motor Show 2017 preview

The Airbump is spreading! First the C4 Cactus, then the C3 supermini and now this: the Citroen C-Aircross. At this stage it’s merely a concept, but it provides a hint of what the replacement for the C3 Picasso will look like when it arrives later this year. Don’t be fooled by the SUV styling: we expect the production version to be front-wheel drive.

Ford Fiesta STGeneva Motor Show 2017 preview

How do you follow a modern great? You can’t accuse Ford of playing it safe, as the 2018 Fiesta ST is likely to be entirely different proposition. Gone is the turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, replaced by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo, producing the same amount of power as the outgoing ST200. A three-cylinder hot hatch: it’s like a Daihatsu Charade GTti for a new generation.

Jaguar XF SportbrakeGeneva Motor Show 2017 preview

Proof that there’s life after the F-Pace, Jaguar will unveil a new XF Sportbrake in Geneva. It’ll share its engines with the standard XF (pictured), meaning a choice of 2.0 and 3.0-litre petrol and diesel units.

Kia PicantoGeneva Motor Show 2017 preview

The all-new Kia Picanto has already been unveiled, but this is the first time the city car has been shown to the public. Kia is promising a quieter, more spacious cabin, along with the largest cargo capacity in its class. Other highlights include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, the Picanto’s first ever turbocharged petrol engine, plus torque vectoring.

Mercedes-AMG E 63 S EstateGeneva Motor Show 2017 preview

The Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Estate: the performance car your dog has been waiting for. The 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine develops 612hp, enough to propel this superfast wagon to 62mph in just 3.5 seconds.

Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster Edition 50Geneva Motor Show 2017 preview

Meanwhile, Mercedes-AMG will celebrate 50 years of the performance brand from Affalterbach with a series of special editions. The aptly-named GT C Roadster Edition 50 is the standout model and will be available in a choice of two colours. Production is limited to 500 cars worldwide.

Alpine A110

Official: Alpine A110 sports car revealed

Alpine A110

Alpine A110

Renault has officially revealed the new Alpine A110 sports car, ahead of its global debut at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show next week. The new production car is the latest step in the rebirth of the famous Renault-owned Alpine brand.

No technical details are being revealed at this stage, but Renault has confirmed the new Alpine A110 will be constricted fully from aluminium – both the platform and upper body are made from it, for “optimum weight saving and agility”. All part of being an authentic ‘Berlinette’, says the brand.

Alpine A110

Alpine A110

More specs will be revealed during the press conference at Geneva, scheduled for 1215h UK time on 7 March, meaning we can for now instead savour the images of Renault’s new sports car rival to the Porsche 718 Cayman and Audi TT. It’s clear from the images this is going to be a compact car; the front end has the classic Alpine face and its curves are a nice mix of modern and traditional: we love how the tail gently falls away, for example, and the wraparound rear screen is neat.

There’s some smart detailing at work. The classic Alpine round driving lamps have been reinterpreted with modern LEDs. The French flag in the rear pillar is cute and, behind it, cooling inlets for the engine reside. Also note the Alpine logo on the front wing and, at the rear, what looks like a substantial diffuser just poking out the bottom of the bumper.

As for its sports car credentials, it’ll be a mid-engined design, with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, so hopes are high. There’s talk of 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds plus the sort of handling you expect from a Porsche rival – expect it to be more driver-focused than a TT, for example. Remember, the crack Renault Sport team will have been working hard on this…

We like the fact Renault has stuck with the traditional A110 name too, harking back to the 1961-1977 original. There was speculation this new car would carry the A120 name, but today’s announcement debunks that: A110 it is.

This car has had something of a complicated birth. It was back in 2012 when Renault first announced it was teaming up with British sports car maker Caterham to co-develop a new model. By 2014, Caterham was out, leaving Alpine to go it alone. In 2016, we saw the Alpine Vision concept, confirming they were making good progress: finally, at Geneva 2017, we’ll get to see the final production car.

Homologation heroes: 80s race cars tamed for the road

Homologation heroes: 80s race cars tamed for the road

Homologation heroes: 80s race cars tamed for the roadMotorsport often requires that manufacturers base their racers on regular road cars. As with any sport, competitors are always looking to steal an advantage, and liberal interpretation of these ‘homologation’ rules is often the best way forward. So although these cars are all road legal, cruising the streets was far from the minds of engineers and designers.

1980 Talbot Sunbeam LotusHomologation heroes: 80s race cars tamed for the road

Hot on the heels of the Chevette HS was the Lotus-developed rally version of the Talbot Sunbeam. Most significant was the ‘type 911’ 2.2-litre four-cylinder engine, which was a bespoke Lotus unit developing 250hp in competition trim. The road-going model was 100hp down, but still benefited from the same stiffened suspension and uprated anti-roll bar. Success came with a 1980 RAC Rally win for Henri Toivonen, plus a Manufacturers’ title in the 1981 World Rally Championship.

1982 Lancia Rally 037 StradaleHomologation heroes: 80s race cars tamed for the road

Rallying was evolving quickly, and the Group B regulations for 1982 would push the sport to its limits. Lancia was one of the first to take advantage of new homologation requirements with the Rally 037. A 2.0-litre supercharged four-cylinder engine was mounted in the middle, and pushed out 325hp at its peak. The 200 road cars had just 205hp, though, and weighed some 200kg more than the rally machine. A 1983 WRC title win for the Rally 037 would be the last time a rear-wheel-drive car would take the championship.

1984 Audi Sport Quattro

Homologation heroes: 80s race cars tamed for the road

Audi would dominate the WRC during the mid-1980s, and the Quattro was the icon that made it happen. Under pressure from Lancia and Peugeot, Audi introduced the Sport Quattro in 1984, with a shorter wheelbase, carbon-kevlar bodywork, and a 2.1-litre five-cylinder turbo engine making 302hp in road-going specification. Contemporary road tests recorded a 0-60mph sprint of 4.8 seconds, aided by Quattro 4WD. Only 164 examples were built, making them highly desirable with collectors. Prices can top £400,000 today.

1984 Peugeot 205 T16Homologation heroes: 80s race cars tamed for the road

Demonstrating just how wild Group B regulations allowed manufacturers to be is the 205 T16. Peugeot took a front-wheel-drive hot hatch, moved the engine to the middle, and made it four-wheel drive. It also worked hard to make the T16 look as close to a regular 205 as possible. The plan worked, and Peugeot Sport took the 1985 and 1986 WRC titles. An output of 197hp for the 200 road cars is barely hot hatch-spec today, but the full-fat rally cars were capable of delivering up to 550hp.

1985 Ferrari 288 GTOHomologation heroes: 80s race cars tamed for the road

Group B was not all about 4WD rally machinery. Ferrari began development of the 288 to go racing in the FIA GT Championship, and took the GTO name from the 250 of 1962. But before the 288 could compete, the FIA abandoned Group B due to several fatal accidents. This left Ferrari with a car but no championship to race it in. However, the market for supercars in the 1980s was sufficient for Ferrari to actually sell 272 examples of the 2.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 car, rather than just the 200 required for homologation. Prices today fetch over £2.2million – a sizeable return on the £70,000 initial asking price.

1986 Porsche 959Homologation heroes: 80s race cars tamed for the road

The 959 was an evolution of the 911 sports car designed for rallying and off-road use. It was also the fastest production car in the world when offered for sale in 1986, with a top speed of 195mph. The 2.8-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six engine made 444hp as standard, and was combined with 4WD and active aerodynamics. A total of 337 examples of the 959 were built in total, with Porsche reported to have made a loss on every car sold. Microsoft founder Bill Gates had his 959 held in storage by US customs for 13 years, before a law change allowed him to officially import it.

1986 Ford Sierra RS CosworthHomologation heroes: 80s race cars tamed for the road

After Group B came Group A, covering both rally and touring cars. The FIA hoped manufacturers would concentrate on milder production-based machinery, with higher homologation requirements of 5,000 road cars. Ford took the three-door hatchback Sierra and turned it into an unstoppable force in touring car racing, with 15 major championship wins. Over 5,000 road cars were produced, featuring a 2.0-litre turbocharged Cosworth engine making 204hp. A later RS500 evolution model would offer even more power and extra tweaks to keep the Sierra competitive.

1987 BMW E30 M3Homologation heroes: 80s race cars tamed for the road

Built for Group A touring car racing, the E30 M3 would also find itself competing in tarmac rallying. Victories in 18 championships across the globe demonstrated its capability on track, but it also had a lasting legacy as a road car. Initial E30 M3s featured a 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine sending 192hp to the rear wheels. Later Evolution cars would boast up to 235hp, with even wilder bodywork. A total of 16,000 examples were produced in total, with demand remaining strong today.

1989 Volkswagen Rallye GolfHomologation heroes: 80s race cars tamed for the road

Although many of the cars on this list are well known, the Rallye variant of the Mk2 Golf is somewhat more obscure. Made to Group A regulations, with 5,000 production models built in Belgium, the Rallye used Volkswagen’s G60 1.8-litre supercharged four-cylinder engine and Syncro 4WD system. It only competed in three WRC rounds during 1990, with its best result being third place in New Zealand. The street machine had 158hp, and weighed in at almost 1,200kg, making it barely quicker than the contemporary GTI – despite costing almost twice as much.

 

Update 2: Everything we rate (and hate) about the Kia Optima SW

Kia Optima Sportswagon 1.7 CRDi GT-Line S estate (2016): long-term review

Kia Optima Sportswagon 1.7 CRDi GT-Line S estate (2016): long-term review

Wagons are cool, right? There’s a definite trend towards practicality among new car buyers in the UK. Just look at the success of crossovers, and we’re increasingly buying more estates than conventional D-segment saloons.

But, until now, Kia has never sold an estate version of its Mondeo-rivalling Optima. And that might go some way towards explaining why it’s never sold particularly well.

Having cashed in on its seven-year warranty and exceptional value for money, Kia (along with sister brand Hyundai) is gradually attempting a move upmarket. When it revealed its Sportspace concept, it was clear change was on the horizon.

Not only was the Optima-previewing concept absolutely drop-dead gorgeous (something the Optima has never previously been), it was also shooting brake in shape.

When Kia revealed the new Optima at Geneva 2016, it was no surprise, then, to see an estate (or ‘Sportswagon’ in Kia terminology – SW for short) in the line-up. In fact, the firm says it expects around three quarters of all Optimas sold in the UK will be the wagon.

The new Optima SW certainly looks the part, but should you buy one over a rival such as the Ford Mondeo or Skoda Superb? We’re spending six months putting it to the test.


Report 2: everything we rate (and hate) about life with the Kia Optima SW

Update 2: Everything we rate (and hate) about the Kia Optima SW

I’ve done a lot of miles in the Kia Optima since I introduced it to the MR long-term test fleet. I could write a lengthy piece about how good it was for driving to Wales for Christmas duties (hence the picture of it looking filthy above), how a Nordic Fir slotted into the boot and how it copes brilliantly with the daily grind, but you probably know all that. So I thought I’d do one of those trendy listicles about what I like and dislike about the Optima SW.

Good things about life with the Kia Optima SW

Good things about life with the Kia Optima SW

The seats are brilliant

OK, it might sound like a silly, minor thing. All cars have relatively comfortable seats, right, especially if you spend more than £30,000 on the top-spec leather-trimmed GT-Line variant? Well, yeah, but I eternally find myself aching after a long stint in pretty much any Volkswagen Group product (I think I’m the wrong shape for German seats). In the Optima, I’m as fresh as the proverbial daisy even after a slog of several hundred miles.

My mates like it

Yeah, this is an odd one. I’m a 20-something car writer type whose mates should appreciate Civic Type Rs and other hooligan specials. But, without fail, they love being driven about in the Optima. That’s probably because it feels safe and I don’t even bother trying to drive it fast. Also…

The sound system is really good

I’m no audio snob, but all grades of the Optima SW from the ‘3’ up feature a Harman Kardon sound system. The speakers (eight in total) do a commendable job of mimicking a premium car’s sound system. Combine this with Spotify through my phone (we’ll come onto that shortly…) and the Kia becomes a mobile disco.

The gearbox is slick

While rivals such as the Mazda 6 and Vauxhall Insignia stick with conventional automatic gearboxes, the Kia Optima gets a more upmarket dual-clutch transmission. This makes for faster gear changes – and it works brilliantly. Just don’t bother with ‘eco’ mode unless you’re motorway cruising (another thing I’ll come onto shortly).

It looks great

Finally, look at it. This doesn’t look like a downmarket offering – it attracts loads of admiring glances, especially in Temptation Red. While I’m not sure about the chintzy grille, the rest of it looks great – particularly from the rear.

Bad things about life with the Kia Optima SW

Bad things about life with the Kia Optima SW

It likes a beep

Turn the ignition on without putting your seatbelt on and it beeps. Run low on washer fluid and it beeps. Drive in cold conditions and it beeps. Stand near the boot and it beeps (before the electronic tailgate, standard on the GT-Line S, starts opening). I find beeps infuriating yet Korean and Japanese cars love them.

The reversing camera gets muddy easily

At this time of year, cars get filthy pretty quickly. Normally I’m the sort who doesn’t bother cleaning their car over winter (what’s the point when it gets dirty again so soon), but the Optima’s reversing camera (standard on all models) and clever 360-degree around view monitor (standard on the GT Line S) means I’m having to clean the Optima almost weekly. The cameras get covered in the dirt extremely easily, and there’s no washer system like on some models.

The steering is too light

No, I don’t expect super-direct steering, but the Kia Optima’s steering is so light just keeping it on the straight ahead is a bit of an effort. Feedback is non-existent, while putting in sports mode makes things heavier but not particularly communicative. Talking of which: sports mode holds onto the revs for too long, while eco mode is frustrating – roundabouts particularly (“are you sure you want to pull out rapidly,” the car says, “think of the trees!”). Why can’t I have ‘normal’ mode with slightly heavier steering?

It has a puncture repair kit

I recently got a puncture in the Optima. I can’t really blame the Kia for that, but I can blame it for having a rubbish ‘tyre mobility kit’ that only worked long enough for me to limp seven miles to my nearest ATS Euromaster. Said ATS Euromaster were too busy to fit me in for a couple of days, meaning I had to abandon the Kia in their car park and get the train. Give me a full size spare any day.

There’s no Apple CarPlay… yet

I’m a huge fan of Apple CarPlay, and if I was a company car driver looking for an estate car to cover long distances, CarPlay would be high on the list of priorities. Curiously, the Optima Sportswagon is available with Android Auto but not Apple CarPlay. It’s on its way, apparently, but I do miss it on our long-termer.


Introduction: Kia Optima SW 1.7 CRDi GT-Line S estate

Introduction: Kia Optima SW 1.7 CRDi GT-Line S estate

Car company bosses often seem ashamed to admit that they’re targeting company car drivers with a new model. The suggestion that private buyers won’t be stumping up their own cold, hard cash upfront for a car is frowned upon.

Kia’s different. It accepts that business users make up the vast majority of buyers in this segment – no one buys a new Ford Mondeo for themselves. More than 80% of Optima buyers will be business users, and that’s why it’s kept things simple, offering just two efficient engines.

You can pick from a 1.7-litre diesel (emitting 113g/km CO2, meaning 19% company car tax), or a plug-in hybrid (37g/km CO2). There’s no petrol, for now – although a high-performance GT is set to follow in 2017.

We’ve opted for the diesel and, out of the four models on offer, we’ve chosen the top-spec GT-Line S. This comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox as standard (resulting in a rise in emissions to 120g/km). With a £30,595 price tag, is it an overpriced Korean estate or a genuine premium go-getter?

Introduction: Kia Optima SW 1.7 CRDi GT-Line S estate

First impressions suggest this could be the car for shedding Kia’s ‘Asda Price’ image – it’s absolutely loaded with kit. Highlights include 18-inch alloys, an openable panoramic sunroof and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system incorporating sat-nav and Android Auto connectivity (but not Apple CarPlay, yet). It even has a wireless phone charger.

Oh, and there are plenty of comforts to make the upcoming winter months more bearable: think heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats (er…), and leather upholstery with red stitching.

While the inside certainly does a good impression of a premium vehicle, the exterior makes many rivals look bland. With more than a passing resemblance to the concept on which it’s based, we’ve already noticed passers-by taking a second glance. That wouldn’t happen in a Skoda Superb.

Will our positive first impressions continue as we spend more time with the Kia Optima? We’ll be living with it for six months to find out.

Retro Road Test: I’ve bought one

Retro Road Test: I’ve bought a Toyota MR2

Our man puts his money where his mouth is and buys a third-generation Toyota MR2 after last year’s Retro Road Test summer special

London Classic Car Show

In pictures: highlights from the London Classic Car Show 2017

London Classic Car ShowThe London Classic Car Show – the self-proclaimed ‘capital city’s premier showcase for the thriving classic car community’ – is now in full swing. Last year, some 33,000 people walked through the doors of Excel London, and a similar number is expected this weekend.

The doors opened on Thursday, but you have until 5pm on Sunday 26 February to feast your eyes on the array of expensive and exotic classic cars. To whet your appetite, we have the highlights from the opening day.

Derek Bell and Emanuele PirroLondon Classic Car Show

The show was opened by Le Mans legends Derek Bell and Emanuele Pirro. Both drivers won the 24-hour race on five occasions, and were on hand to declare the London Classic Car Show open at 3pm.

Jacky Ickx and Derek BellLondon Classic Car Show

Earlier, six-time winner Jacky Ickx – seen here on the left – had opened the show’s sister event, Historic Motorsport International. A special display included a Porsche 956 that he shared with Derek Bell at Le Mans. “Seeing these cars here brings back so many memories. Good times,” he said.

Dario FranchittiLondon Classic Car Show

Providing the proof that you can never have too many show openings, Dario Franchitti cut the ribbon on a Ferrari Tribute featuring 21 iconic Ferrari roads cars worth an estimated £120 million. The display, curated by Ferrari specialist dealer Joe Macari, brought together Ferraris old and new, from the 375 MM of the early fifties to its latest hypercar, LaFerrari.

Ferrari F40London Classic Car Show

Arguably one of the finest, but undoubtedly one of the most famous Ferraris of all-time, this is the iconic F40 blazing a trail along the Grand Avenue and under the lights of Excel.

Dino on the Grand AvenueLondon Classic Car Show

Event director Bas Bungish said: “With these spectacular machines on display, the centrepiece of the London Classic Car Show will be a veritable ‘red sea’ of Ferraris showing the evolution of the marque over its seven decades.” Not that this Dino contributed to the sea of red.

Lamborghini MiuraLondon Classic Car Show

Given that Ferrari is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2017, it has every right to take centrestage at the London Classic Car Show. Meanwhile, the Lamborghini Miura – which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1960 – is perhaps the most beautiful car on display at Excel London.

The Grand AvenueLondon Classic Car Show

Unique to the London Classic Car Show, the Grand Avenue runs through the centre of the exhibition hall. This year’s theme is ‘The Perfect 10’, where the best examples of classic cars in 10 different body styles are paraded on the ‘catwalk’. This MG Metro 6R4 is representing the hatchback.

Ford Capri 3000 GXLLondon Classic Car Show

Meanwhile, this Ford Capri 3000 GXL is representing the coupe. The ‘car you always promised yourself’ was launched in 1969 as the European version of the Ford Mustang. According to the DVLA, this 1973 car – complete with a rather apt registration mark – has just 4,897 miles on the clock. If you’re a fan, Corgi produces a model version the same number plate.

Aston Martin LagondaLondon Classic Car Show

Sadly, the show’s organisers have failed to include a ‘wedge’ category, leaving this Aston Martin Lagonda to represent the saloon. Other cars in this category include the rotary-engined NSU Ro80 and Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9.

Ford EscortLondon Classic Car Show

Not all saloon cars are created equal, as demonstrated by this ex-works Ford Escort. Seven works Escorts were built for the gruelling 1970 London to Mexico Rally, four of which were prepared at Boreham. ‘FEV 1H’, driven by Hannu Mikkola and Gunnar Palm, emerged victorious in the 16,000-mile test of endurance and reliability.

Land Rover: shooting brake?London Classic Car Show

What is a shooting brake? As far as we’re concerned, it should be a sporting two-door estate car, built for the country gent. That the London Classic Car Show features an Audi RS2, Morris Mini Traveller and Land Rover suggests that the organisers don’t agree with our definition.

Austin Healey 3000London Classic Car Show

No debating the Austin Healey 3000’s slot in the sports car category. Also under this banner you’ll find a Lotus Elan and its modern equivalent: the Mazda MX-5. The model on display is the Le Mans special edition, built to celebrate Mazda’s victory at the Le Mans 24-Hour race in 1991.

Crosslé Car CompanyLondon Classic Car Show

Established in 1957, Crosslé claims to be the world’s longest-established race car manufacturer, building cars from its factory in Northern Ireland. The Crosslé Car Company was founded by former champion motorcyclist John Crosslé. The grin suggests he knew a thing or two about sports cars.

Ferrari 250 GTOLondon Classic Car Show

Away from the Grand Avenue, this Ferrari 250 GTO is the star attraction on the Ferrari Tribute stand. At £45 million, it’s the most valuable car at the London Classic Car Show. No surprise to find it cordoned off, safe from sticky fingers. Touch with your eyes only, etc.

Jaguar XJR-9 LMLondon Classic Car Show

In 1988, this Jaguar XJR-9 LM finished first in the Le Mans 24-Hour race. Powered by a V12 engine and driven by Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries and Andy Wallace, the car finished ahead of Porsche, completing 394 laps in the process.

Jaguar E-TypeLondon Classic Car Show

The E-Type is another icon of Jaguar’s past, but this one is in need of attention. That said, even in this condition, the E-Type retains a level of beauty many cars cannot reach.

Lotus 21 ClimaxLondon Classic Car Show

This Lotus 21 was only ever raced by Jim Clark and was involved in a tragic accident at Monza when a Ferrari driven by Wolfgang von Trips clipped its rear wheel and was launched into the air. The German driver was killed, along with 15 spectators, and the Lotus was impounded by Italian authorities.

The London Classic Car ShowLondon Classic Car Show

The 2017 London Classic Car Show continues throughout the weekend, with doors open from 10am on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost £20 for children and £27 for adults when paying on the day. For more information visit www.thelondonclassicarshow.co.uk.

Autofarm

Porsche owners: join us for an open day at Autofarm

AutofarmIf you love Porsches, Autofarm is your dream garage made real. The Oxfordshire specialist has been repairing and restoring Stuttgart’s finest since 1973, and its converted barns are a treasure-trove of rare and exotic cars. The last time we visited, there were no less than five examples of the legendary 911 Carrera 2.7 RS on-site.

Sound good? Well, Autofarm is having an open day on Sunday 30 April in conjunction with Motoring Research – and you could be there. Our second Retro Road Test: Live event is your chance meet other enthusiasts, show off your Porsche and get a guided tour of the amazing Autofarm workshops.

Your car (and you, if you wish) will also be photographed for a special feature on MSN Cars and Motoring Research. Our previous Retro Road Test: Live article on Ford owners at the Dagenham workshop shows how it could look.

All you need to do to enter is send us a picture of your Porsche. Whether you own a classic 911 or a modern Cayenne, anything goes, but there’s a limit of 25 cars on the day.  

You can share your photo with us through Facebook (comment on this post), by tweeting us @editorial_MR, or tag us in a picture on Instagram (@motoringresearch). Alternatively, send it by email to tim@motoringresearch.com.

Remember, the event will take place on the morning of Sunday 30 April – so make sure you’re free then. We can’t wait to see you there.

Range Rover which George Michael crashed into Snappy Snaps now on eBay

Range Rover which George Michael crashed into Snappy Snaps now on eBay

Range Rover which George Michael crashed into Snappy Snaps now on eBay

A Range Rover which George Michael famously crashed into a branch of Snappy Snaps has gone on sale on eBay.

The V8 L322 shape Range Rover from 2002 has attracted 130 bids so far – and looks set to break the £50,000 barrier. When new, it would have cost around £60,000 before options.

The advert for the 4×4 explains that it’s had three owners from new. The first was believed to be George Michael’s dad, before it was passed onto the singer. The current owner says it’s been kept in storage since he bought it from Michael’s Highgate home in North London in 2015.

It’s described as being in ‘good [but] used condition’, with a few scratches believed to have been left from the Snappy Snaps incident. The crash happened when Michael was driving while under the influence of drugs in July 2010, and led to him being jailed for eight weeks and given a five-year driving ban.

Range Rover which George Michael crashed into Snappy Snaps now on eBay

At the time, the star apologised to the manager of the Hampstead branch of Snappy Snaps saying: “I’m genuinely and sincerely sorry for smashing into your shop.”

Michael was no stranger to road incidents, having collided with a lorry in another Range Rover in 2009 – while in 2013 he was treated for head injuries after falling from a moving car while on the M1 in Hertfordshire.

The auction for the Range Rover, which is located in St Johns Wood in London, ends on Saturday evening and could go for considerably more than its current bid of £49,600. With less than 80,000 miles on the clock, the SUV has covered slightly more than 5,000 miles a year – well below average.

Range Rovers of this age usually sell for around £6,000 with many concerned about their high running costs and reputation for unreliability.

Range Rover which George Michael crashed into Snappy Snaps now on eBay

Toyota Prius Mk1 review: Retro Road Test

Toyota Prius Mk1 review: Retro Road Test

We drive the unassuming little saloon that kick-started the hybrid car revolution: meet the original 2000 Toyota Prius