Car industry welcomes government UK Air Quality Plan; Greenpeace calls it ‘half-baked’

London trafficThe Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has welcomed new government proposals for a UK Air Quality Plan, particularly the recognition that “new Euro 6 diesels which have been on sale for the past two years will not face any penalty charges anywhere in the UK”.


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Greenpeace has, however, called the plan a “hodge-podge of vague proposals [that] offers little help and no justice to drivers duped by car companies and people breathing toxic air pollution.

“The only real winners here are the car makers who, despite misleading customers about their cars’ real emissions and causing this mess in the first place, are getting off scot-free.”

National road safety charity Brake has gone further, accusing ministers of an “abdication of responsibility”. Its campaigns director Gary Rae said the organisation “will study the details in the plan, but the headlines give us cause for concern. It appears the government has abdicated responsibility for reducing air pollution to local authorities. If any issue needs tackling on a national – and international – level, it’s this one. We have a national health emergency, and the government is kicking the issue into the long grass.”

Greenpeace says the government “accepts that diesel is at the root of the problem, and that phasing it out is the most effective solution”. The SMMT disagrees, by stressing the fact Euro 6 diesels face no threat of charges as part of the plan. Greenpeace says “a plan to help drivers swap polluting diesel for electric cars would be a good idea,” but the SMMT believes it is more important to accelerate rollout of the car industry’s multi-billion pound investment in existing low emissions vehicles.

The SMMT adds that any proposed diesel car scrappage scheme should deliver clear environmental benefits. It is also “encouraged that plans to improve traffic flow and congestion, as well as increased uptake of electric hybrid vehicles, will be prioritised in towns and cities.”

Consultation is now underway on the government’s draft UK Air Quality Plan. The final report will be published by 31 July; consultation closes on 15 June.

The Royal College of Physicians estimates UK air pollution is linked to around 40,000 premature deaths a year.

2017 London Motor Show: all the cars

The 2017 London Motor Show is the second running of the new British Motor Show alternative.

Once again choosing the leafy location of Battersea, the boutique event doesn’t aim to take on the international big boys such as Frankfurt or Geneva, but still offer Londoners (and tourists) a chance to see the latest metal all in one place. It’s running all weekend – and here, we’re showcasing some of the treats in store for visitors.

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The Toyota Prius is Britain's fastest-selling used car

The Toyota Prius is Britain's fastest-selling used car

Figures revealed this morning show a decline in new car registrations for hybrid vehicles – but data released by Auto Trader suggests eco-minded buyers are now turning to secondhand cars in a bid to dodge new tax rules.

New VED (vehicle excise duty) bands introduced on 1 April will see all alternatively-fuelled cars (including hybrid models but not pure-electric cars) charged a flat rate of £130 a year road tax. Cars registered before then with CO2 emissions below 100g/km (including hybrid models) continue to be eligible for VED exemption.

While sales of new alternatively-fuelled cars dipped by 1.3% in April, Auto Trader says the popular Toyota Prius hybrid car was the fastest-selling used car on its website last month. On average, a 2014 Toyota Prius took 14 days to sell.

“2017 has been a strong year so far for Toyota,” said Auto Trader’s retailer and consumer products director, Karolina Edwards-Smajda. “Both the Prius and the Yaris have excellent reputations for reliability and fuel economy, ensuring a healthy demand in the used car market and a dependable investment for dealers.

“As we can see from the range of vehicles making up the top 10 lists across the UK, there remains a healthy demand for all fuel types of used cars. Coupled with personal sales experience, data can be an effective tool in identifying which vehicles are the most desirable in your area. It can also tell you how much they should be priced based on the live retail market, helping you to build trust with your customers, and importantly, helping you to sell more cars more quickly.”

The Toyota Prius is Britain's fastest-selling used car

The Toyota Yaris also sells quickly, reports Auto Trader, with a 2012 petrol model taking 19 days on average to sell.

Toyota GB’s sales director, Mark Roden, added: “It’s great to hear that the huge surge in hybrid sales we’re seeing in new cars across the range is also helping sell pre-owned Toyotas too. It’s very clear the public are embracing hybrid as the solution not only to air quality issues, but also fuel economy and enhanced cabin ambience.”

The data also reveals that Ford models often prove popular on the used market, with the Fiesta (Britain’s most popular new car), Mondeo, Galaxy and Kuga all taking less than three weeks to sell on average.

Ford Fiesta

UK new car registrations down 20% as VED changes introduced

Ford Fiesta

New car registrations plummeted by 19.8% in April as new car tax rates were introduced.

That’s according to data released this morning by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) which shows 152,076 new cars were registered last month – making it the worst April since 2012.

The new VED rates, which were brought into force on on 1 April 2017, introduced a flat-rate of £140 for all petrol and diesel vehicles after the first year, compared to the CO2-based system used previously.

While electric cars continue to be tax-free, alternative-fuel vehicles including hybrid and plug-in hybrid models face a £130 yearly fee. This has resulted in the first downturn in alternatively-fuelled car registrations in nearly four years, as registrations dropped by 1.3% compared to April 2016.

“With the rush to register new cars and avoid VED tax rises before the end of March, as well as fewer selling days due to the later Easter, April was always going to be much slower,” said SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes. “It’s important to note that the market remains at record levels as customers still see many benefits in purchasing a new car. We therefore expect demand to stabilise over the year as the turbulence created by these tax changes decreases.”

Registrations by private buyers were down by 28.4%, while businesses and large fleets also registered fewer cars (-21.0% and -12.3% respectively).

Despite the substantial hit in April, the SMMT says the overall new car market remains ‘strong’, with registrations over the first four months of 2017 up 1.1% compared to 2016.

April 2017 best sellers top 10

  1. Ford Fiesta: 4,957
  2. Nissan Qashqai: 4,430
  3. Mercedes-Benz C-Class: 3,777
  4. Mercedes-Benz A-Class: 3,608
  5. Ford Focus: 3,421
  6. Vauxhall Astra: 3,346
  7. Volkswagen Golf: 3,223
  8. Audi A3: 3,000
  9. Volkswagen Polo: 2,800
  10. BMW 1 Series: 2,740

New Audi RS5 2017 price from £62,900, 0-62mph cut to 3.9sec

2017 Audi RS5The all-new Audi RS5 Coupe will cost from £62,900 when UK ordering opens later this month. Deliveries of the 450hp 2.9-litre biturbo V6 car that will run 0-62mph in 3.9sec and reach a top speed of up to 174mph begin later in the summer.   

The new RS5 version of Audi’s latest A5 Coupe is a car Ingolstadt is rather excited about: it compares the engine’s noise to that of the original B5 Audi RS4 and has gone as far as offering optional carbon fibre roof and fully-milled forged alloy wheels. Select them both and you’ll have a full 60kg weight saving over its predecessor.


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The all-new engine, which Audi insists (with a wink) is absolutely not related to the 2.9-litre V6 turbo in the Porsche Panamera, puts out a whopping 442lb ft of torque; fully 125lb ft more than the old car. Yet it also averages 32.5mpg and emits less than 200g/km CO2, making it 17 percent more efficient than before.

Not only that, Audi’s insisting the new RS5 is better to drive than its rather lead-footed predecessor. Five-link front suspension is reworked, the all-new five-link rear is bespoke to the RS and quattro all-wheel drive gets a quattro sport differential (the one that can split torque between rear wheels) as standard in the UK. Drift-tastic, Audi’s press image seems to suggest.

2017 Audi RS5

Want to go further? Pick the Audi Sport RS sport suspension kit: this includes Dynamic Ride Control, dynamic steering and carbon ceramic brakes. 19-inch wheels as standard are likely to be a rarity in the UK, when 20-inch wheels are available on the options list.

Visually, the new Audi RS5 Coupe gets proper quattro-blistered wider wheelarches, oval exhaust tailpipes, honeycomb grille and standard LED headlights. Inside, RS sports seats get Nappa leather and Audi fits a bespoke Virtual Cockpit digital binnacle as standard. Entertain yourself with new readouts for torque, g-forces and tyre pressures.

And if all this driving engagement is too much for you, Audi proudly says it’ll sell you “as many as 30 driver assistance systems… to help the RS5 remove even more layers of stress from every journey”. Some things never change.

New 2017 Audi RS5: in pictures

Classics in the classifieds: dream cars for every budget

Classics in the classifieds: dream cars for every budgetFrom a slice of retro Japanese heaven for £500 to an Aston Martin for £1.25m, we’ve got a classic car to suit every pocket. Having scoured the online pages of Auto Trader, we’ve selected two cars per price bracket, providing an overview of what’s available to buy right now.

As usual, inclusion doesn’t represent an endorsement and cars are available at the time of writing.

Under £500: Mazda 323F – £499Classics in the classifieds: dream cars for every budget

While we accept that a 1989 Mazda 323F won’t be many people’s idea of a ‘dream car’, at this end of the market beggars can’t be choosers. Besides, it has pop-up headlights, which, being a Mazda, probably work.

The car has covered a mere 31,000 miles and, as the seller points out, there’s very little to go wrong. Stop dreaming, start driving.

£500 – £1,000: Toyota Celica – £999Classics in the classifieds: dream cars for every budget

Ah, this is more like it. The sixth generation Toyota Celica (ST200) was introduced in 1993 and is likely to be one of the most reliable coupes you can buy for £1,000. It might have been front-wheel drive, but in 2.0 GT guise it remains a thoroughly decent driver’s car.

This one has covered 169,000 miles, but the previous owner bought it brand new from Toyota.

£1,000 – £2,500: Audi Cabriolet – £1,695Classics in the classifieds: dream cars for every budget

If it’s good enough for Princess Diana…

In truth, this 1995 Audi Cabriolet doesn’t look as polished as Lady Di’s 2.3E, but then it’s not being offered with a royal price tag. In fact, about a grand and a half should secure this timeless – and classless – classic.

£2,500 – £5,000: Renault 4 – £3,250Classics in the classifieds: dream cars for every budget

Renault’s answer to the 2CV was actually more successful than the Citroen, thanks mainly to its practicality and huge opening tailgate. More than eight million Renault 4s were built before production ceased in 1992.

The fact that this 1984 example is accompanied by almost every invoice from new makes it rather appealing, as is the fact that it’s not immaculate. This means you can use it every day, safe in the knowledge that you’re simply adding to its patina.

£5,000 – £10,000: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III – £7,995Classics in the classifieds: dream cars for every budget

In 1995, Mitsubishi introduced the Lancer Evolution III, complete with a new 16G turbocharger. This meant the Evo III could call upon 270hp and 228lb ft of torque.

This GSR looks in great shape, although the MOT history suggests that it was off the road from 2011 until 2016. That would be worth investigating.

£10,000 – £15,000: Mercedes-Benz 350 SL – £14,990Classics in the classifieds: dream cars for every budget

R107 SL prices are only going one way, so now is the time to buy. Introduced in 1971, the R107 lived on until 1989, making it the second longest single series Mercedes-Benz ever built.

The yellow paint and brown interior is a classic 1970s combination, while the 3.5-litre V8 engine will provide effortless cruising potential.

£15,000 – £20,000: Bentley Turbo R – £14,950Classics in the classifieds: dream cars for every budget

The Turbo R was introduced in 1985, with a new Bosch fuel injection system helping to deliver more power than the outgoing Mulsanne Turbo. The Turbo R was also more of a driver’s car, encouraging owners to sit in the front, rather than relaxing in the back.

As a 1995 car, this Turbo R is one of the last off the line and benefits from the facelift of 1992. The 6.8-litre long-wheelbase Bentley is yours for little more than the price of an entry-level Kia Cee’d.

£20,000 – £25,000: Aston Martin DB7 – £24,995Classics in the classifieds: dream cars for every budget

If you’re looking to spend £25,000 on a good, useable Aston Martin you have two choices. Either buy a Cygnet or invest in a DB7. We know which option we’d take.

This 1995 DB7 benefits from a full Aston Martin service history and a manual gearbox.

£25,000 – £50,000: Ferrari Mondial 8 – £34,995Classics in the classifieds: dream cars for every budget

From a £25k Aston Martin to a £35k Ferrari. OK, so the Mondial 8 won’t top the shopping lists of many lottery winners, but it represents an affordable point of entry to the world of Ferrari.

We think that time has been kind to the much-maligned Mondial 8, not least because the Pininfarina styling is so of its day. This 1982 example comes complete with receipts totalling £30,000, which may or may not be a good thing.

£50,000 – £100,000: BMW 3.0 CSi – £59,995Classics in the classifieds: dream cars for every budget

The first of the BMW E9 coupes was the 2800 CS, but the model came of age in 1971 with the arrival of the fuel-injected 3.0 CSi. With 200hp on tap, the CSi could boast a top speed of 135mph and a 0-60mph time of sub eight seconds.

This looks like a fresh import, with the number plate surround suggesting that it has arrived from its native Germany. We’ll readily admit that we’re a little in love.

£100,000 – £250,000: Porsche 993 Turbo – £179,950Classics in the classifieds: dream cars for every budget

The Porsche 993 Turbo was a line in the sand moment for the 911, being the first of its kind to use twin-turbochargers and the first Turbo model to feature all-wheel drive. At launch, the 3.6-litre twin-turbo engine developed 408hp, although this was increased to 430hp in 1995 and 450hp in 1998.

This 1995 example has just 27,700 miles on the clock and has been owned by the same person since it was delivered new via Road Range in Liverpool. This is probably one of the most sought-after cars for sale on Auto Trader.

£250,000 – £500,000: Ferrari 512 BB – £349,950Classics in the classifieds: dream cars for every budget

The Ferrari 512 BB of 1976 was an evolution of the 365 GT4 BB, with a number of small details marking it out from its predecessor. There was also the small matter of a 4.9-litre 12-cylinder boxer engine developing 360hp.

The 1981 example for sale here is one of the last 512 BB models built before it made way for the less powerful 512 BBi. It has covered 21,000 miles and is available for just shy of £350,000.

£500,000 – £1,000,000: Ferrari F40 – £925,000Classics in the classifieds: dream cars for every budget

It needs no introduction, does it? This Ferrari F40 was the pin-up for a generation and remains one of the most important supercars of the 20th century.

None other than Eric Clapton owned this 1991 example, which has covered the equivalent of 6,750 miles.

£1,000,000+: Aston Martin DB4 – £1,250,000Classics in the classifieds: dream cars for every budget

In this age of super-expensive cars, we’re a little surprised to find just one £1 million car on Auto Trader. And it’s this: a 1963 Aston Martin DB4.

The DB4 convertible was unveiled at the 1961 London Motor Show and only 70 were ever built.