Volkswagen Golf 2017

Ford Fiesta dethroned by VW Golf as new car sales decline in June 2017

Volkswagen Golf 2017The Volkswagen Golf has ended the Ford Fiesta’s long run as the UK’s best-selling car by marginally beating the Ford supermini by just over 200 units in June 2017 – while the new car market itself declined for a third consecutive month: it fell 4.8 percent compared to a year ago.

The Fiesta still managed to score second place in the new car registration charts though, despite currently being on runout: Ford is in the process of launching an all-new Fiesta, which Motoring Research has already driven.

The Ford Focus came in third place, leaving three cars closely matched at the top of the registrations chart, some way clear of the fourth-place Vauxhall Astra. 

Ford Fiesta

The Ford Fiesta is still the best-selling car in Britain year-to-date though, with a safety margin of over 19,000 cars ahead of the next-best Ford Focus…

June 2017 ‘stabilises’

Following a significant uplift in new car registrations in early 2017, monthly figures have fallen away sharply. This is because car buyers were bringing their delivery dates forward to dodge the controversial new VED car tax rules. 

As the effect of this change fades, the market is starting to fall back in line with forecasts, while SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes says the first half of 2017 is still the second biggest on record. 

“Provided consumer and business confidence holds, we expect demand to remain at a similarly high level over the coming months.”

The growth of alternative fuel vehicles continued: they commanded a 4.4 percent market share in June – up 29 percent on 2016. The decline of diesel continued as well, with registrations falling 14.7 percent. Diesel now takes just 42.5 percent of the overall sales mix, compared to 47.5 percent just one year ago. 

10,721 alternatively-fuelled cars (models such as EVs and plug-in hybrids) were registered in June, up from 8311 a year ago. This compares to 103,564 diesel cars and 129,169 petrol cars. 

Hawes called for more government aid to help the roll-out of more alternative fuel cars. It’s encouraging to see alternatively fuelled vehicles experiencing rapid growth,” he said, “but adoption is still at a relatively low level and more long term incentives are required if this new generation of vehicles is to be a more common sight on British roads.”

UK top 10 best-selling cars: June 2017 

1: Volkswagen Golf (8808 cars)
2: Ford Fiesta (8601 cars)
3: Ford Focus (8283 cars)
4: Vauxhall Astra (6977 cars)
5: Mini (6630 cars)
6: Vauxhall Corsa (5739 cars)
7: Nissan Qashqai (5103 cars)
8: Volkswagen Polo (4705 cars)
9: BMW 3 Series (4264 cars)
10: Mercedes-Benz C-Class (4102 cars)


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Ford Mustang Frontal Offset Impact crash test 2017

Ford Mustang Euro NCAP improves to three stars

Ford Mustang Frontal Offset Impact crash test 2017Ford has responded to its lowly two-star Euro NCAP crash safety score for the Mustang sports car by resubmitting an improved model featuring extra safety kit for testing – a move that has earned the Mustang an extra star.

The new three-star Ford Mustang Euro NCAP score comes courtesy of Ford standardising a suite of active safety tech: pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking and a lane-keeping aid. 

Ford engineers have also fixed a dangerous fault with the driver’s airbag that saw the dummy’s head still able to strike the steering wheel, despite its deployment. 

The improvements came after the Mustang scored just two stars in Euro NCAP testing back in January. This was the first time since back in 2008 that a car had scored just two stars. 

UK crash test organisation Thatcham Research says the improved result underlines the sheer power of the Euro NCAP crash test programme: “In just a few months, Ford has responded to improve on the initial low safety rating given to the Mustang,” said Thatcham research director Matthew Avery. 

“Our advice to buyers is to always to opt for a Euro NCAP five star car, so a three star Euro NCAP rating is never a cause for celebration. However, Ford’s rapid addition of a suite of standard-fit safety tech and its prompt updates to improve the performance of the airbags and restraints is to be applauded.

“We will continue to apply pressure on carmakers to ensure UK drivers have the safest possible cars.” 

Five-star ‘gamechangers’

Seat Ibiza Frontal Offset Impact crash test 2017

The latest Euro NCAP crash tests assessed other newly-launched cars as well – and Avery says the five-star new Seat Ibiza has “set a new benchmark in safety for the supermini price-point category”. It has both standard autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and also pedestrian-detecting AEB. “The safety game is now on for carmakers in this category.”

Other five-star cars tested this month include the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Hyundai i30 and Volkswagen Arteon.

Surprisingly, the new Honda Civic only scored a four-star rating. Euro NCAP says this is because the rear passenger dummy’s head recorded a high impact reading through the side curtain airbag.

Jaguar E-Pace testing Walters Arena

Jaguar E-Pace SUV 'testing for 25 months'

Jaguar E-Pace testing Walters ArenaThe new Jaguar E-Pace baby SUV will be revealed next week (13 July) and ahead of the debut, some of the firm’s 150-strong prototype test fleet have been shown in action. 

Jaguar says it has been testing the new E-Pace, a rival to the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, for more than two years and its engineers have conducted trials on four continents. It’s all to ensure the new baby Jag SUV hits the ground running, free from faults and gremlins. 

This is important: some are suggesting the new E-Pace could in time become Jaguar’s best-selling model.


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Plentiful miles have been conducted at the Nürburgring (engineers have counted more than 400 laps) to nail the handling and help Jaguar achieve its aim of creating a dynamic, entertaining driver’s SUV. But it’s also been driven in -40 degrees C and +48 degrees C during more than 120,000 hours of testing. Over 500 engineers have worked on the Jaguar E-Pace test programme. 

“Our team of world class engineers and dynamics specialists have meticulously tuned and developed a true Jaguar,” said Graham Wilkins, Jaguar E-Pace chief product engineer. He says the firm has delivered “a compact performance SUV that is true to Jaguar’s performance DNA”. 

Jaguar’s conducted durability as well as dynamics tests. One challenge consisted of driving an E-Pace into the middle of a 0.5m deep pool of water, turning off the engine and opening all the doors. The car was then left for an hour… before being stated back up and driven out. 

Watch the video for an early dynamic look at disguised prototype Jaguar E-Pace. Want to see the real thing? Come back at 8pm next Thursday, 13 July, for the car’s full global reveal in London. Motoring Research will be there and bringing you all the action – live. 

Video: Jaguar E-Pace SUV prototype testing

Jaguar E-Pace testing Walters Arena

Jaguar E-Pace SUV ‘testing for 25 months’

Jaguar E-Pace testing Walters ArenaThe new Jaguar E-Pace baby SUV will be revealed next week (13 July) and ahead of the debut, some of the firm’s 150-strong prototype test fleet have been shown in action. 

Jaguar says it has been testing the new E-Pace, a rival to the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, for more than two years and its engineers have conducted trials on four continents. It’s all to ensure the new baby Jag SUV hits the ground running, free from faults and gremlins. 

This is important: some are suggesting the new E-Pace could in time become Jaguar’s best-selling model.


More Jaguar news on Motoring Research: 


Plentiful miles have been conducted at the Nürburgring (engineers have counted more than 400 laps) to nail the handling and help Jaguar achieve its aim of creating a dynamic, entertaining driver’s SUV. But it’s also been driven in -40 degrees C and +48 degrees C during more than 120,000 hours of testing. Over 500 engineers have worked on the Jaguar E-Pace test programme. 

“Our team of world class engineers and dynamics specialists have meticulously tuned and developed a true Jaguar,” said Graham Wilkins, Jaguar E-Pace chief product engineer. He says the firm has delivered “a compact performance SUV that is true to Jaguar’s performance DNA”. 

Jaguar’s conducted durability as well as dynamics tests. One challenge consisted of driving an E-Pace into the middle of a 0.5m deep pool of water, turning off the engine and opening all the doors. The car was then left for an hour… before being stated back up and driven out. 

Watch the video for an early dynamic look at disguised prototype Jaguar E-Pace. Want to see the real thing? Come back at 8pm next Thursday, 13 July, for the car’s full global reveal in London. Motoring Research will be there and bringing you all the action – live. 

Video: Jaguar E-Pace SUV prototype testing

Jaguar E-Pace testing Arjeplog

Jaguar E-Pace SUV 'hell and high water' extreme testing

More than 150 Jaguar E-Pace baby SUV prototypes have been put to extremes such as this… 

Jaguar E-Pace testing Arjeplog

Jaguar E-Pace SUV ‘hell and high water’ extreme testing

More than 150 Jaguar E-Pace baby SUV prototypes have been put to extremes such as this… 

Volvo Cars electrified range

Every new Volvo will be electrified from 2019

Volvo Cars electrified rangeVolvo has announced every new car it launches from 2019 will feature an electric motor, a move it says heralds the “historic end of cars that have only an internal combustion engine”. Volvo’s commitment will see a range of electrified cars offered, including full EVs as well as hybrids and plug-in hybrids. 

The commitment means that in the future, as older cars are phased out, no Volvo car will be sold without an electric motor.

Volvo believes the move will see it offer one of the broadest range of electrified cars in the world. “People increasingly demand electrified cars,” said Hakan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars. “We want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs. You can now pick and choose whichever electrified Volvo you wish.”

The technology will include petrol and diesel-engined plug-in hybrids, advanced 48-volt mild hybrids and full EVs. Volvo Cars will launch five fully electric cars between 2019 and 2021: three Volvos and two performance Polestar EVs.

It’s part of Volvo’s previously-stated commitment to have sold 1 million electrified cars by 2025. “When we said it, we meant it,” said Samuelsson. “This is how we are going to do it.”

Volvo believes the announcement is one of the most significant moves yet in the car industry to phase out pure internal combustion engine cars in favour of zero emissions-capable electrified cars. “Electrification is paving the way for a new chapter in automotive history,” says Volvo.

Volvo’s current electrified range includes T8 Twin Engine versions of the S90 and V90, plus XC60 and XC90 SUVs. This tech combines a high-performance 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine with plug-in hybrid tech. It provides around 30 miles’ zero-emissions fully electric running with an extended range under petrol power when the batteries run flat.


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Cars at the Palace 2017

Supercars blast into Blenheim Palace

Cars at the Palace 2017The grandiose courtyards of Blenheim Palace echoed to the sounds of supercars as Winston Churchill’s former home played host to Cars at the Palace 2017. More than 100 Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, Aston Martins and other exotics gathered in the summer sunshine, their owners chatting with enthusiasts and camera-toting tourists. The event is a forerunner to Blenheim Palace Classic & Supercar on Sunday 3rd September – and we’ll be there, too.


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Jaguar F-Type Project 7Cars at the Palace 2017

First on our list of highlights is a Jaguar F-Type Project 7 – one of just 250 made. This skunkworks special was the first car from JLR’s fledgling Special Vehicle Operations, since responsible for hardcore, SVR-branded versions of the F-Type and Range Rover Sport. Its hump-backed bodywork evokes the classic D-Type, while its 5.0-litre supercharged V8 is tuned to 575hp. At launch, the car commanded a hefty £43,000 premium over the regular V8 R roadster.

Porsche Carrera GTCars at the Palace 2017

Cars don’t come much more ‘super’ than this. The 2003 Carrera GT was Porsche’s long-awaited follow-up to the 959, and boasts a carbon fibre chassis and racing-style inboard suspension. Let’s not forget that mid-mounted, F1-derived V10 either. It develops 612hp at a screaming 8,000rpm – good for 60mph in 3.5 seconds and a 205mph top speed. The 887hp 918 Spyder that followed would go even faster, but the Carrera GT is a purer driving machine.

Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0Cars at the Palace 2017

Speaking of driving machines, those in ‘the know’ rate Porsche’s 911 GT3 RS 4.0 as one of the finest ever created. This was the last hurrah for the 997 GT3 and its race-derived ‘Mezger’ engine, and Porsche celebrated with 600 of these sought-after specials – offered to existing customers only. We’re not fans of the stickers, but we’d gladly look past those for 500 horses and a tacho that doesn’t call time until 8,500rpm. The ultimate 911?

Ferrari F12 TDFCars at the Palace 2017

Go-faster special editions? Ferrari does those, too. The F12 Tour de France – named after the sports car race, not the cycling event – is a track-focused take on Ferrari’s outgoing V12 flagship (just replaced by the aptly-named 812 Superfast). Its 6.3-litre V12 sends a mildly terrifying 780hp to the rear tyres – sufficient for 62mph in 2.9 seconds. On a dry road, obviously. Supercar spotters can identify a TDF by the three vents on its rear haunches.

Ferrari 458 SpecialeCars at the Palace 2017

The even-faster 458 arrived in 2013, badged ‘Speciale’ and with power increased to 605hp at 9,000rpm. Active aerodynamics and a re-calibrated E-Diff mean it laps Ferrari’s Fiorano test-track 1.5 seconds quicker than a standard 458 Italia – and make it more rewarding on the road. This Rosso Corsa example, parked at the entrance to Cars at the Palace, belongs to one of the event organisers: Andrew Bagley.

Lamborghini Huracan SpyderCars at the Palace 2017

This was the first Huracan Spyder we’ve seen and, in the name of actionable consumer journalism, we can confirm that it looks knee-tremblingly gorgeous in the metal. The lack of a roof also means your eardrums get unfettered access to Lamborghini’s feral 610hp V10, in all its snarling, exhaust-popping glory. That’s almost worth the £200k price of entry alone.

Aston Martin DB11Cars at the Palace 2017

Nestled among the Aston Martins was this new DB11. Its evolutionary styling traces its roots back to the 1994 DB7, but nobody can deny the inherent ‘rightness’ of Marek Reichman’s design. It’s a subtle supercar, and none the worse for that. There’s nothing subtle about the DB11’s performance, however: a 608hp 5.2-litre V12 means 60mph in 3.9 seconds and 200mph flat-out.

MG XPower SV-RCars at the Palace 2017

Here’s a rather different take on the British supercar. And subtle it ain’t. The X-Power SV started life in Italy as the Qvale Mangusta, then MG bought the company and Peter Stevens (he of McLaren F1 fame) provided an aggressive new look. Only around 82 cars were made. This is uprated SV-R version, with a 390hp 5.0-litre Ford V8. Spot the Fiat Punto headlights, too.

KTM X-BowCars at the Palace 2017

KTM is best known for making motorcycles: the X-Bow (say it ‘Crossbow’) is the Austrian company’s first full-size four-wheeler. As you expect from its function-over-form styling, this is very much a road-legal track machine, with pushrod suspension, carbon fibre bodywork and a lap timer atop the steering wheel. It’s powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged Audi engine – enough to keep pace with most of the supercars here.

McLaren 650SCars at the Palace 2017

There was one solitary McLaren at Cars at the Palace this year – a sign, perhaps, that it’s still early days for this fast-evolving British brand. The 650S is a development of McLaren’s original 2011 MP4-12C, and has just been replaced by the 720S. With 650hp (hence the name), it’ll reach 62mph in 3.0 seconds, plus a VMax of 207mph.

Porsche 911 GT3 RSCars at the Palace 2017

Any Porsche with a Rennsport badge gets enthusiasts salivating, even when it lacks a manual gearbox. Use the Launch Control and you can blast to 62mph in 3.3 seconds, accompanied by the ferocious howl of that 4.0-litre flat-six behind the rear wheels. More commonly seen in its trademark Lava Orange, the 991 GT3 RS looks equally eye-catching in Ultra Violet – or ‘purple’ to you and me.

Lamborghini Aventador SVCars at the Palace 2017

We were lucky enough to drive this very Aventador SV, which also belongs to Andrew Bagley, earlier this year. At the time, we described it as “awe-inspiring and magnificent; it’s the supercar turned up to 11 – a double Sambuca washed down with a Red Bull”. However, even this 750hp V12 missile looks relatively low-key compared to the modified SV alongside it…

Porsche 911 SC 3.0Cars at the Palace 2017

This Martini-liveried 1977 911 is a project car for Private Motor Club magazine. Owner Tim Hutton drives it to numerous events. “One of the most exciting prospects is taking the time to learn how to drive the car well. Unlike a modern car the clutch is tricky, the gearbox requires firm confident changes and there is very little adjustment in the driving position, “ he explained.

Alfa Romeo GT 1600 JuniorCars at the Palace 2017

One of our favourite cars at Blenheim was actually in the car park outside. This delightful Alfa 1600 Junior is much rarer than the 1300 version – particularly so today, as most have rusted away. Period modifications include spotlamps, bullet mirrors and a chrome luggage rack on the boot.

Car dealer sale to customers

Undercover PCP investigation exposes ‘reckless loans’

Car dealer sale to customers‘Ruthless’ salesmen are being accused of irresponsible lending after a newspaper reporter who said he was 24 and unemployed was offered a loan for a £15,000 Audi A1 – with no need to fork out for a deposit. Another reporter was offered a deal on a £15,000 Seat, again with no deposit.

The investigation by the Daily Mail accuses dealers of luring young drivers into “massive debt” with the no-deposit PCP deals. Reporters say drivers on low wages and poor credit ratings are still being accepted for loans – amid fears that irresponsible lending by car dealers is tempting people into “dangerously high levels of debt”.

There are worries that lending to people with no jobs or poor credit histories could, “in a chilling echo of the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2007”, lead to a financial crash. UK motorists currently owe £58 billion on car finance, says the Bank of England, a figure that’s risen 15 percent in a year.

Both Vauxhall and Suzuki have since told the Daily Mail they will launch their own investigations into the conduct of their dealers: one Vauxhall dealer offered a £8600 loan to a person who suggested they had a bad credit rating.

In total, Daily Mail reporters visited 22 car dealers in England and Scotland. Each time, they posed as someone in their early 20s, either unemployed, on low earnings or having poor credit ratings. Half of the dealers offered “a brand new car without paying a penny up front”.

MPs and campaigners are now calling for “an urgent crackdown on the ‘reckless’ lending'” says the newspaper, while the Financial Conduct Authority is already running an investigation into ‘irresponsible lending’ in the car industry.

PCP popularity

Seven in 10 private new cars are now bought on PCP car finance schemes. They help lower monthly payments by deferring a payment until the end of the car loan; it’s usually called the ‘minimum guaranteed future value’, and is the expected retained value of the car at the end of the loan.

Buyers can either hand the car back with nothing to pay, settle the remaining loan amount or take out a loan on a new car – deals are often configured so a small amount of ‘equity’ remains in the loan to use as deposit for a new car.

Because monthly payments are lower, it’s easier for people to pass credit checks: providers generally offer loans of up to a quarter of take-home pay. That means someone earning £8,200 a year could theoretically get a loan on a £12,500 car, claims the Daily Mail.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney recently warned that lenders seem to be ‘forgetting the lessons of the past’. James Darley of Fairer Finance concurred, telling the Daily Mail that “none of the lessons coming out of the 2008 financial crisis have been learned”.


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Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 deliveries to begin on 28 July

Tesla Model 3The Tesla Model 3 is almost here: company chief Elon Musk tweeted last night the very first deliveries will commence on 28 July in a special handover party for 30 customers. It’s a significant milestone for the electric car company, which has already taken almost 500,000 $1000 preorders (£1000 in the UK) for the family-sized new electric car. 

The first production Model 3 will roll off the line this Friday (7 July). 


More Tesla news on Motoring Research


Tesla’s most affordable car ever, the £35,000 Tesla Model 3 will rival the Nissan Leaf and significantly increase Tesla’s model sales. The firm plans to build around 10,000 Model 3s a week by 2018: that’s more than half a million cars a year. 

Production will rapidly increase once initial deliveries commence, added Musk: August deliveries will total around 100 cars, quickly rising to more than 1500 cars in September. 

By the end of the year, the production line will really be pumping out the Model 3s, reckons Musk.

The Model 3 is a make-or-break car for Tesla, which aspires to become the world’s leading producer of zero-emissions electric cars. The new car will see build volumes skyrocket and take on electric car leaders such as Nissan, a firm that recently celebrated selling 20,000 Leafs in the UK.

Tesla’s ambition is to build and sell 20,000 Model 3s every four weeks…

The Tesla Model 3 will have a 215-mile electric range, seat five adults, boast Autopilot hardware and accelerate from 0-60mph in less than 6.0 seconds. It will also be able to use the Tesla Supercharger fast-charge stations that are increasingly being seen across the UK, albeit at extra cost