McLaren 570S Spider

New McLaren 570S Spider first look video

McLaren’s new drop-top is here in time for summer.

Festival of the Unexceptional

Festival of the Unexceptional: in pictures

Festival of the UnexceptionalIt is the very antithesis of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, but that doesn’t make the Festival of the Unexceptional any less interesting. In fact, we’d politely suggest that the cars on display on the manicured lawns of Stowe House have touched the lives of more people than any of the priceless wonders hurtling up the hill in Sussex.

Grab your drip trays as we take a tour of some of the nation’s most brilliantly unexceptional and unexceptionally brilliant cars.


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Award winnersFestival of the Unexceptional

Some cars are more unexceptional than others. Here we see Richard Holness and his DAF 33, Mark Ashbridge and his Datsun Sunny and Colin Corke alongside his Austin Allegro. The Sunny was named as the most unexceptional car at the show (which is a good thing), the DAF finished second, while the Allegro was named People’s Choice.

Exceptional settingFestival of the Unexceptional

The Festival of the Unexceptional is open to ‘ordinary’ classic cars and commercial vehicles of the late 60s, 70s and 80s. Exchange the lake for the Goodwood hill and the exhibits for exotic supercars and this could pass as a scene from the Festival of Speed. It’s like a car boot sale, circa 1989.

Stone, Tempra, no pilotsFestival of the Unexceptional

A Fiat 128 estate, Vauxhall Firenza, Austin Montego and a Fiat Tempra: it could only be the Festival of the Unexceptional. There are fewer than 20 Fiat Tempras on the roads of Britain, making it an exceptionally rare sight. Fair play to owner Gavin Bushby for keeping the Tempra legend alive.

Life on MarsFestival of the Unexceptional

Unexceptional cars of the past are often required to act as props in period movies and television series. Peter Bell’s Renault 12TL made an appearance in the time-travelling drama, Life on Mars.

No More HeroesFestival of the Unexceptional

Volvo 740, Austin Princess, Mk1 Vauxhall Astra, Peugeot 505 and Renault 12: all once familiar sights, now in serious danger of extinction. We should salute the owners for keeping these mundane heroes alive. Simon Martin, owner of the Volvo, was named best dressed man at the festival.

Ford SierraFestival of the Unexceptional

When the Ford Sierra arrived in 1982, its space-age styling was deemed to be too radical for conservative Britain. There were no such issues for the Giugiaro-designed Renault 19, but the pair are overshadowed by the lesser-spotted Clan Crusader.

Visitor car parkFestival of the Unexceptional

More than 2,000 exceptional people descended on Stowe House for the unexceptional display, with the car park no less interesting than the main event. A Fiat Cinquecento, Vauxhall Nova and Nissan Patrol are just three of the highlights.

Italian, French and DutchFestival of the Unexceptional

Further along the line we find a Fiat X1/9, Peugeot 406 Coupe and a DAF 55. The Dutch-built car has around 48,000 miles on the clock and is a Deluxe model. Trim levels were far easier to understand in the early 70s. Deluxe = posh. Well, poshish.

Porsche 944Festival of the Unexceptional

You know you’re at the Festival of the Unexceptional when a Porsche 944 looks overdressed and out of place. The Wolseley Six ‘Landcrab’ looks far more at home, while on the right you’ll find a Beetle, Bluebird and Figaro.

Hillman AvengerFestival of the Unexceptional

The Hillman Avenger was Britain’s car to take on the world, but very few remain on the road. This 1973 Avenger GLS is owned by Robert Nutter and appears to have caught the eye. Note the vinyl roof: once a must-have car accessory.

Citroen 2CV BeachcomberFestival of the Unexceptional

The Citroen 2CV was anything but unexceptional, with its simple, low-cost construction helping to mobilise an entire nation following the end of the Second World War. This 1983 Beachcomber special edition is far removed from the 1948 original.

Fiat PandaFestival of the Unexceptional

Another triumph of construction and packaging, the Fiat Panda is a true Italian great. The original was launched in 1980 but remained in production until 2003. It’s eccezionale, as they say in Italy.

Feast of the UnexceptionalFestival of the Unexceptional

Sponsors Hagerty awarded a prize for the ‘Feast of the Unexceptional’, or best picnic at the event. It was won, not by these ladies in the back of a Land Rover, but John Usher, the owner of an Austin Maestro. His Rubik’s Cube Battenberg cake pink sponge fingers were named as the dish of the day.

Childhood memoriesFestival of the Unexceptional

Angus Forsyth, managing director of Hagerty International, said “Our Festival of the Unexceptional celebrates the cars that were the workhorses of their day: the base model saloons, hatchbacks and estates that were sold in their millions between roughly 1968 and 1989, and are now so rare. I just love overhearing enthusiasts at this unique concours d’ordinaire event commenting that they haven’t seen one of those in years, the cars that we all remember from our childhoods.”

2018 Festival of the UnexceptionalFestival of the Unexceptional

The date of the 2018 Festival of the Unexceptional will be announced early next year, but Hagerty has confirmed that it will return for a fifth time. Time to prepare your own unexceptional motor?

Confirmed: Suzuki Swift Sport will be revealed at Frankfurt

Confirmed: Suzuki Swift Sport will be revealed at Frankfurt

Confirmed: Suzuki Swift Sport will be revealed at Frankfurt

Good news for back-to-basics hot hatch fans on this dreary Monday morning: Suzuki is taking a bright yellow Swift Sport to Frankfurt.

The firm has released this picture of its new Swift Sport and, well, not much else ahead of its reveal in September. But that’s enough to get us excited.


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“The ingredients are there for yet another terrific junior hot hatch,” we concluded when we drove a regular version of the new Swift earlier this year. The Swift Sport has always sat in a kind of niche of its own – sub-Fiesta ST, arguably as a rival to the likes of the Renault Twingo GT and Smart Brabus Forfour but so, so much better. It’ll also have a new rival in the form of the Volkswagen Up GTI when it goes on sale next year.

Purists will be disappointed to read that the new Swift Sport is likely to go down the turbocharged route (strikes us as a good excuse to grab an ex-demo of the outgoing model while you still can), but the exact engine is yet to be confirmed. As the sporty(ish) Suzuki Vitara S is powered by a 1.4-litre four-cylinder Boosterjet engine producing 140hp, it’s fair to guess that this could be making its way into the Swift.

While 140hp means the new Swift Sport won’t trouble the likes of the Ford Fiesta ST, it’ll be plenty of power for the Swift Sport’s traditional audience – especially considering the standard car’s low kerb weight.

Prices are yet to be confirmed, but it’s unlikely to be much more than the outgoing model’s £14,149 price tag. We’ll be reporting live from the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show when the new Swift Sport makes its debut on September 12th. Watch this space…

BMW 7 Series 40 Years Edition

BMW 7 Series Edition 40 Jahre unveiled ahead of Frankfurt debut

BMW 7 Series 40 Years Edition

When will carmakers learn that putting high-definition new metal alongside the Kodachrome-richness of past heroes is never a good idea? Even after whipping off our rose-tinted spectacles and wiping the haze of nostalgia from our eyes, we can’t help but feel that the BMW 7 Series Edition 40 Jahre is a little overshadowed by its elegant and clean-cut forebear.

The current 7 Series might be the automotive equivalent of the Consumer Electronics Show, with a Las Vegas price tag to match, but it lacks the subtlety and shark-nosed presence of the original. It helps that the E23 was based on the timeless E24 6 Series, launched a year earlier.

To the 7 Series owner who dropped circa £10,000 on BMW’s flagship saloon back in 1977, Laserlight was something held by Luke Skywalker and Gesture Control was something he might have witnessed from the driver of a Cortina with an inferiority complex. Back then, central locking and electric door mirrors were enough to give you bragging rights over the other motorists crawling along the Hammersmith Flyover on a Monday morning.


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The BMW 7 Series Edition 40 Jahre will make its debut at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, with a mere 200 units being produced, each one tailored to individual customer desires. For a limited edition 7 Series, it’s a case of for the few, not the many. Standard or long-wheelbase versions will be available, with a complete suite of engines to choose from. However, it may not come to the UK.

Not that you can be too expressive with the colour: buyers can select from Frozen Silver or Petrol Mica, both of which are “applied in a particularly elaborate process”. No under-the-arches bodyshop for the Edition 40 Jahre, then?

The M aerodynamics package, high-gloss Shadow Line and 20-inch V-spoke alloy wheels complete the look, along with the obligatory special edition badges, located on the B-pillars and door sills.

Inside, the 7 Series is swathed in leather, with an Alcantara roof liner and a choice of trim, depending on the upholstery colour. A pair of smoke white ‘comfort cushions’ join the headrests and floor mats in bearing the Edition 40 Jahre logo. You and your fellow passengers – we doubt many owners will actually drive their 7 Series – should be left in no doubt that you’ve splashed the cash on a limited edition.

Back-seat drivers

BMW 7 Series Edition 40 Jahre

In fairness, the BMW 7 Series has long been the flagship motor to be enjoyed from the front and the rear. The E23 wasn’t perfect – contemporary reviews criticised its lack of cabin space and build quality – but dynamically it had the edge over its German, British and French rivals. Today, while remaining a car for backseat drivers, the 7 Series is a car to be enjoyed from the front, if only to revel in the jaw-dropping arsenal of tech.

Remote parking, Gesture Control, remote 3D view, laser headlights, adaptive dynamics and lane guidance would seem otherworldly in a world staring slack-jawed at Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Frankly, not even Lucas and Spielberg could have foreseen just how far the 7 Series would travel in 40 years, both figuratively and literally.

So, yes, we should celebrate four decades of the 7er. Check Control system (1977), the first 12-cylinder engine in a German post-war car (1987) and the first integrated sat-nav in a European production model (1994) are just three of the milestones in an impressive journey. But while the 7 Series will continue to premiere the technology of tomorrow, it will forever be overshadowed by Paul Bracq’s elegant masterpiece of yesterday.

The cost of the BMW 7 Series Edition 40 Jahre is yet to be announced, but prices start from £65,300 for the standard saloon, rising to £135,340 for the M760iL xDrive. You can expect to pay a hefty premium when the anniversary edition goes on sale in October.

Man steals Aston Martin DB11 from factory after night out with friends

Man steals Aston Martin DB11 from factory after night out

Man steals Aston Martin DB11 from factory after night out with friends

A man walking home from a night out with friends stumbled across Aston Martin’s headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire – and managed to walk straight into the factory without being stopped by security.

Forty-five-year-old Jason Boon says he found himself in ‘heaven’ when a fault with the factory security system meant he was free to walk around the firm’s futuristic HQ. He then took it a stage further, finding a stash of keys and an unattended DB11 – which he decided to borrow for the journey home.


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“The facts of this case are highly unusual,” said record Alastair Smith during Boon’s sentencing at Warwick Crown Court on Friday.

“Having been left by some friends following an argument, you walked towards some buildings. These, it transpired, were the Aston Martin factory where, due to an error in their security system, the doors were opening independently. You were able to go inside to an area where cars were being given final adjustments before sale.

“There was no-one around, and the keys were readily accessible. You drove one of the vehicles around, and the doors of the warehouse opened, allowing you to drive out of the factory and out of the compound.”

Although Boon had previously lived in the United States and driving the left-hand-drive DB11 caused him little difficulty, the car was found to have to have minor damage to its bodywork and wheels when it was rescued from his home five miles away in Southam.

“Had I come to the view that this was a targeted operation to steal a valuable vehicle, you would have been facing a substantial custodial sentence,” added Smith.

Instead, Boon was given 10-month sentence suspended for two years after admitting burglary, aggravated vehicle taking and driving without insurance.

BMW 'categorically rejects accusations' of diesel emissions cheat

BMW 'categorically rejects accusations' of diesel emissions cheat

BMW 'categorically rejects accusations' of diesel emissions cheat

BMW has released a statement rejecting accusations that it colluded with Volkswagen Group and Daimler in a bid to cut costs at the expense of lowering harmful emissions from diesel vehicles.

A report by Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine suggested the three big German car firms have been meeting in private since the 1990s to discuss a range of subjects – from parts prices and suppliers to technology used.


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One allegation in the article related to AdBlue, the solution used in modern diesel cars to neutralise emissions. The car manufacturers allegedly agreed to use small AdBlue tanks in their cars in a bid to save money. While larger ones would have done a better job, they would have been more expensive.

“Due to current media reports, the BMW Group considers it has become necessary to make its position regarding recent allegations clear,” said BMW in a statement released over the weekend.

“As a matter of principle: BMW Group vehicles are not manipulated and comply with respective legal requirements. Of course this also applies to diesel vehicles. Confirmation of this is provided by the results of relevant official investigations at the national and international level.

“The BMW Group categorically rejects accusations that Euro 6 diesel vehicles sold by the company do not provide adequate exhaust gas treatment due to AdBlue tanks that are too small.”

It adds that its technology is ‘clearly differentiated’ from that used by other manufacturers, and that there would be no need to recall its Euro 6 vehicles. BMW has said it will issue a voluntary software upgrade for Euro 5 models using “knowledge gained in the field over the last years to realise further improvements in emissions”.

Last week, Audi announced it was issuing a voluntary recall for 850,000 of its EU5 and EU6 V6 and V8 diesels.

BMW 'categorically rejects accusations' of diesel emissions cheat

BMW ‘categorically rejects accusations’ of diesel emissions cheat

BMW 'categorically rejects accusations' of diesel emissions cheat

BMW has released a statement rejecting accusations that it colluded with Volkswagen Group and Daimler in a bid to cut costs at the expense of lowering harmful emissions from diesel vehicles.

A report by Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine suggested the three big German car firms have been meeting in private since the 1990s to discuss a range of subjects – from parts prices and suppliers to technology used.


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One allegation in the article related to AdBlue, the solution used in modern diesel cars to neutralise emissions. The car manufacturers allegedly agreed to use small AdBlue tanks in their cars in a bid to save money. While larger ones would have done a better job, they would have been more expensive.

“Due to current media reports, the BMW Group considers it has become necessary to make its position regarding recent allegations clear,” said BMW in a statement released over the weekend.

“As a matter of principle: BMW Group vehicles are not manipulated and comply with respective legal requirements. Of course this also applies to diesel vehicles. Confirmation of this is provided by the results of relevant official investigations at the national and international level.

“The BMW Group categorically rejects accusations that Euro 6 diesel vehicles sold by the company do not provide adequate exhaust gas treatment due to AdBlue tanks that are too small.”

It adds that its technology is ‘clearly differentiated’ from that used by other manufacturers, and that there would be no need to recall its Euro 6 vehicles. BMW has said it will issue a voluntary software upgrade for Euro 5 models using “knowledge gained in the field over the last years to realise further improvements in emissions”.

Last week, Audi announced it was issuing a voluntary recall for 850,000 of its EU5 and EU6 V6 and V8 diesels.

New Range Rover Velar first drive

New Range Rover Velar first look video

See the new Range Rover Velar in action from its launch in Norway.

Visit the showroom where you can test drive every electric car

Visit the showroom where you can test drive every electric car

Visit the showroom where you can test drive every electric car

Yet to be convinced that electric cars are the future? EV stalwarts are hoping this unique ‘experience centre’ located in a shopping centre in Milton Keynes could be the encouragement you need to swap your diesel for a plug-in – and we’ve been for a behind-the-scenes look at the showroom which is being described as a “landmark moment”.

The EV experience centre is operated by Chargemaster using Government funds through Milton Keynes’ Go Ultra Low City status. It’s not a pop-up dealership – there’ll be no hard sell, just experts on hand to talk people through electric cars and advise about whether they’ll fit into their lifestyle.

“[There’s] a series of myths people have about electric cars,” transport minister Jesse Norman told Motoring Research during our preview of the EV experience centre.

“They think about whether they might be expensive or whether they’re hard to charge, and how long that takes. An experience centre that actually gives a person the experience of actually sitting behind the wheel or potentially driving it, that just knocks down a whole series of these myths and that makes it much easier to think about buying one.”

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The showroom, located in Centre:MK, is multi-brand, displaying cars from partners including Renault, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Nissan, BMW and Kia. The experts on hand won’t be on commission and will be able to give independent advice on which – if any – electric car suits a particular person’s needs.

If an electric car won’t fit a person’s lifestyle, they’ll be honest that they’re better suited to a conventional petrol or diesel car – while, although Tesla isn’t a partner, a visitor with a big budget after a long range and high performance will be pointed in the direction of a Tesla dealership.

“With 17 million people a year coming into this particular shopping centre in Milton Keynes, that’s potentially an awful lot of people who are potentially going to be impressed by it,” added Norman.

Find out what else Jesse Norman said in our video below – including whether you should swap your diesel for an EV

A range of cars will be parked at nearby charge points, ready to be test driven by anyone considering an electric car. The centre will be happy to let visitors trial a variety of electric cars back to back – something which single-brand dealerships aren’t able to offer. If the customer is seriously interested, they’ll be offered a seven-day test drive for a fee – and if they remain keen after an extended test drive, their details will be passed onto the relevant dealer. If they buy a car, their test drive fee will be refunded.

The centre isn’t just a place for potential EV drivers to visit, either. Like Apple customers will visit an Apple Store for advice and help troubleshooting, experts will be on hand to give current electric car owners on guidance on how to use features of their car as well as how to access charge points around the country.

The AA Trust, a partner of the centre, will also be offering lessons with AA instructors. These will show motorists how to adapt their driving for electric cars, using features such as regenerative braking to reduce wear and get the most range from a charge.

One million electric cars on UK roads by 2022

One million electric cars on UK roads by 2022

Speaking ahead of the opening of the centre, Chargemaster chief executive David Martell announced predictions that the number of electric cars on UK roads could hit one million within five years. Allowing for a modest increase in adoption, this projection is based on a growth in electric vehicles of just over 7% of new car registrations.

Around 21,500 plug-in cars (including pure electrics and plug-in hybrids) have been registered so far in 2017 – a change of 14.8% compared to the same time last year.

“We have seen tremendous growth in the uptake of electric cars over the past five years, as they’ve become more competitive in terms of costs, and more practical in terms of range,” said Martell. “The number of EVs on UK roads has increased from fewer than 2,000 in July 2012 to more than 100,000 today. We expect the UK electric vehicle parc to rise to more than one million by the middle 2022, but it could grow to as much as 1.4 million.

“Over the next five years, a significant number of new models will have a range of more than 200 miles, with a lower purchase price than their earlier vehicles. Consumers will also be able to choose from larger range of electric vehicles, from manufacturers including Audi, BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Volvo, as well as significant new models such as the Jaguar I-PACE and Tesla Model 3.”

In May, Chargemaster celebrated the 100,000th plug-in car being registered by driving a fleet of 25 electric vehicles from Greenwich to Milton Keynes.


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Modern luxury cars are the most likely to breakdown

Luxury cars are the most likely to break down

Modern luxury cars are the most likely to breakdown

The most expensive new cars on the market are the most likely to go wrong within three years, a survey by consumer group Which? has found.

As part of its annual Which? car survey, drivers revealed that more than a third (36%) of luxury cars require a trip to the garage within the first three years. That’s despite the average luxury car buyer spending more than £49,000 on their new motor.

The faults are likely to be caused by the complicated technology used in luxury cars – with complex infotainment and sophisticated safety systems likely to cause big bills when out of warranty.

City car drivers, meanwhile, spend the least on their car (£10,108 on average) – but only a quarter go wrong within three years, making them the most reliable cars available.

The survey revealed the most reliable luxury car you can buy is a Tesla Model S, although even this is plagued with faults, scoring only three stars out of five for reliability.

Nearly a third of Model S owners reported issues, most commonly to do with handles or locks for the boot or door. Which? also says it’s heard of issues with seat belts and rainwater seals on the Tesla.

Not that this seems to deter the cars’ owners. “It is quite simply the best car I have ever driven. It is economical, efficient, smooth and effortless to drive,” said one Tesla owner.


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Although the latest Jaguar XF has only been out two years, Which? says 42% of owners that took part in its survey have had issues with their car, making it the least reliable luxury car available. One owner said: “A car of its price that leaks water into the door and one of the exterior door seals peels off. [It indicates a] poor quality build.”

As part of the survey, the organisation questioned 44,794 owners about 50,742 cars.