LA Auto Show 2017

LA Auto Show 2017: the star cars

LA Auto Show 2017The LA Auto Show is a feel-good show. Local hotels and restaurants are putting out the Christmas decorations, despite the sunshine and 25-degree temperatures outside, and the just-right size and just-so layout of the stands means it’s a show it feels churlish to gripe about.

Manufacturers reward it by showing some interesting cars, and bringing along Grade-A execs to present them. Sure, the list of genuine world-firsts is slight, but this doesn’t stop LA having its own share of surprises – this year, there were certainly some prominent ones on the roster that proved its status as serious car show. Such as? Let us be your guide…

Alfa Romeo Stelvio QVLA Auto Show 2017

America is back in love with Alfa Romeo. The Giulia was the warm-up: now, the Stelvio SUV is the car winning over hearts, few more so than the potent-looking QV version. Its V6 turbo engine produces 510hp and has, literally, more than a whiff of Ferrari about it, while the gorgeous Alfa red paint of the show stand car couldn’t help but draw onlookers. Your writer remembers when Alfa was relegated to a corridor at LA, merely in the way of the other big brands. Not anymore.

Aston Martin VantageLA Auto Show 2017

Aston Martin wasn’t there in person, probably because it was still giving itself high fives over the successful UK launch of the new Vantage. That didn’t stop massive local dealer Galpin Motors convincing the firm to ship over one of the first models for it to display on its incredible hall-of-its-own stand. In what other colour, but vivid lime green? Perfect.

BMW i8 RoadsterLA Auto Show 2017

BMW has been chopping the roof off the i8 almost as long as it’s been making the i8. But only now is it an official production car, as opposed to a concept. And it looks even better than we ever imagined. The i8 Coupe, as it’s now called, is a cool car, but don’t be surprised if the majority of buyers choose the i8 Roadster instead.

Corvette ZR1LA Auto Show 2017

Monster power from a monster Corvette. But also a dinosaur. This is a last hurrah for the front-engined Corvette: its replacement will have an engine in the middle, one producing even more power than this ludicrous powerhouse. If that’s progress, hang the history: we’re all for it.

Infiniti QX50LA Auto Show 2017

This is the most important Infiniti there’s ever been. Sure, it’s an SUV; god knows, how could it not be? It replaces a similarly-sized SUV that was forgettable. This one won’t be, though. Because it’s powered by the first production-ready variable compression engine in the world. A colossal breakthrough two decades in the making, that means it’s as economical as a diesel but as powerful as a V6. Infiniti’s so confident in the merits of this engine, it’s not offering the pretty new QX50 with any other motor. How rival makers must be stomping their corporate feet at the Japanese premium brand’s potential engineering-led big break into the big time.

Jaguar Project 8LA Auto Show 2017

It costs £150k, but for good reason. Very little of a regular XE is actually left. And the reward for Jaguar indulging its SVO engineers with this wild flight of fantasy? A record-breaking Nürburgring lap time. No four-door production-spec car has lapped the Green Hell more quickly than this. It’s 11 seconds faster than the previous record holder, the Alfa Romeo Giulia QV. Dammit, it’s even faster than a Ferrari Enzo. £150k, you say? Bargain.

Mercedes-Benz CLSLA Auto Show 2017

The Mercedes-Benz CLS. First one, great. Second one, not so. Here’s that tricky third album, make or break for the CLS. The initial signs are good, with a sexy body shape drawing back to the reason why people loved the original, and steered clear of the ham-fisted second one. Will it sell, for upwards of £55k at a minimum? We’ll see. But we hope so. Not everything needs to be SUV-shaped these days. There’s still room for a bit of beauty.

Porsche 911 Carrera TLA Auto Show 2017

The Porsche 911 Carrera T has already gone on sale in the UK, and if you’re one of the people who have placed a deposit on the £85,576 stripped-back 911, you can expect to take delivery in January. That’s one way to chase away the new year blues. Speaking of which, we’d take ours in optional Miami Blue, a snip at £1,877.

Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport TurismoLA Auto Show 2017

This is a formidable machine. With a combined output of 680hp, the all-wheel drive Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo will sprint to 62mph in just 3.4 seconds, before reaching a top speed of 192mph. Driven carefully – some chance – you can expect an electric range of 15 to 30 miles. The price: £139,287, before options.

Range Rover faceliftLA Auto Show 2017

The Range Rover’s facelift is subtle, but the big changes lie under the skin, most notably the arrival of a new plug-in hybrid version. The P400e boasts a 31-mile electric range, 101mpg NEDC fuel economy and total power output of 404hp. Prices start from £86,965, but you’ll pay £105,865 for the Autobiography.

Volvo XC40LA Auto Show 2017

The original XC90 and XC60 were hugely successful in North America, and we expect the XC40 to follow suit. We’ve driven the compact SUV and can confirm that it’s every bit as good as it looks. We had no hesitation in giving it a maximum five-star rating, and the word on the floor in LA is that Volvo has another hit on its hands.

>NEXT: Chevrolet Corvette: 65 years in the making

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS

New 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS revealed in LA

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLSA pioneer is now part of the establishment. Back in 2003, the idea of an executive-sized four-door coupe was beautifully novel. Today, no self-respecting premium car brand can do without one. The Mercedes-Benz CLS was a trend-setter – and now, it’s been revealed at the 2017 LA Auto Show in third-generation guise, ahead of going on sale in March 2018.

The original was lovely. The outgoing second-generation model, a bit more ‘meh’. This all-new one looks to be a return to the first car’s elegance, all clean and flowing lines, simple surfaces and lack of fuss. The roof is low, the waistline arches gracefully, the side windows are flat and, with a Cd of 0.26, it’s extremely aero-efficient for one so large.

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS

Mercedes-Benz goes further, saying the new CLS debuts its latest ‘design idiom’, apparently focused on clear reductionism. The front end slants forward, the grille gets wider towards its base (like on the Mercedes-AMG GT), headlights are wide and low, while the designers are also chuffed with the two-section tail lamps.

‘Erotic’

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS

“The new CLS is a design icon as the archetype of the four-door coupe,” says Daimler AG chief design officer Gorden Wagener. “In line with our ‘hot & cool’ design philosophy, we have reduced its DNA to an extremely puristic level while emotionally charging it with an almost erotic beauty.”

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS

The bonnet is fully inset, which apparently accentuates the forward-leaning shark-nose effect. And at the rear, Mercedes-Benz coupe cues abound: reflectors and registration plate in the rear bumper, plus a Mercedes star slap-bang in the middle of the bootlid.

Inside, the interior is derived from the E-Class saloon, but that’s no bad thing, as it’s still very rich and striking. Sixty-four-colour ambient lighting reaches new levels of intricacy and, in CLS tradition, there’s a choice of open-pored or high-gloss wood. You can have two 12.3-inch TFT displays as well, plus a load of S-Class-grade optional active safety tech and autonomous driver aids.

Four doors, five seats

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS

Mercedes says the seats are bespoke CLS chairs, with the two outer ones in the rear looking just like those in the front – but with a fifth pew in between them for the first time in a CLS.

Behind, there’s a 520-litre boot that can extend further by folding the rear seatbacks 40:20:40. With every passing generation, the svelte CLS discovers newfound practicality to broaden its appeal (and take away excuses for E-Class owners not to consider one).

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS

Even the engines are all-new: in-line six-cylinder and in-line four-cylinder, both offered in diesel or petrol guise. The four-pots will come later – it’s launching with six cylinders, with a 286hp CLS 350 d 4Matic, a 340hp CLS 400 d 4Matic, and a 367hp CLS 450 4Matic. The latter is the one we have our eye on: an in-line six-cylinder petrol, like the ones Mercedes-Benz used to do so well in the 1980s.

A special mention for the headlights, too. The Multibeam LED units produce, literally, “the maximum light intensity permitted by law” – you can’t legally buy headlights brighter than this. Such brightness extends over 0.4 miles ahead and, just for good measure, Mercedes-Benz chucks in the fact the new CLS is all set for ‘Car-to-X’ communications, too.

We’re currently checking it out LIVE at the 2017 LA Auto Show. Come back later for first impressions of Merc’s new third-gen four-door coupe.

In pictures: 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS

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>NEXT: 2017 LA Auto Show preview in pictures

2018 BMW i8 Roadster

BMW has finally revealed the i8 Roadster in LA

2018 BMW i8 RoadsterAfter years of teasing us with the i8 Spyder concept, BMW has at last introduced open-top i8 Roadster at the 2017 LA Auto Show. It joins the range as part of the facelifted 2018 i8 line with prices for the i8 Coupe starting from £112,730 and the new i8 Roadster priced from £124,730.

A fact we didn’t know: the i8 has been the world’s best-selling hybrid sports car since it was launched in 2014, something BMW aims to continue with the 2018 revisions. Something that benefits both Coupe and Roadster buyers is a boost to the battery; cell capacity is up, taking cross emergency capacity from 7.1kWh to 11.6kWh. This gives more energy to the motor and boosting EV power by 12hp to 143hp.

2018 BMW i8 Roadster

It’s thus faster, with system total power going up to 374hp for 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds with the Coupe, 4.6 seconds for the Roadster. But the EV range is greater too – now 34 miles for the i8 Coupe and 33 miles for the i8 Roadster. That’s a hefty 50 percent boost for the Coupe.  

Economy? Take the official figures with a pinch of salt – 149.8mpg for the Coupe and 134.5mpg for the Roadster, with respective CO2 emissions of 42g/km and 46g/km. Instead, note BMW’s claim that fuel economy is typically 50 percent better than other sports cars with similar power…

There’s a new headlights option – ‘non-dazzling laser headlights’ with a high-beam range of 600 metres, double that of the LED headlights fitted as standard to the i8. And there’s a new pedestrian warning system: at speeds of up to 18mph, the i8 is so quiet, BMW’s been encouraged to fit an acoustic system to alert those whose heads have not already been turned.

Other upgrades include fresh infotainment systems with touchscreen functionality, BMW ConnectedDrive tech and upgrades to the electric battery’s charging tech.

BMW i8 Roadster: in detail

2018 BMW i8 Roadster

The fabric soft-top roof on the i8 Roadster is fully electric and folds down in 16 seconds, at speeds of up to 31mph. It ingeniously stows perpendicular, so doesn’t take up much space: BMW says this leaves an extra 100 litres between the roof box and seats, enhancing the tiny 88-litre rearmost boot.

2018 BMW i8 Roadster

Cleverly, the ‘gullwing’ doors of the i8 Coupe remain, and the rear deck is a work of sculptural art. There’s a rear window that doubles up as a windbreak and the C-pillars gain ‘Roadster’ badges: the Coupe thus gets its own badges too.

As if the design of the car wasn’t enough, BMW’s introduced some flashy new colours – E-Copper metallic and Donington Grey metallic (nice to see the East Midlands racetrack getting a namecheck by BMW there). And there are some new ultra-lightweight alloys, each weighing 1kg less than the outgoing car’s rims.

2018 BMW i8 Roadster and i8 Coupe: in pictures

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>NEXT: 2017 LA Auto Show preview in pictures

You can buy this gold Rolls-Royce for just 14 Bitcoin

You can buy this gold Rolls-Royce for just 14 Bitcoin

You can buy this gold Rolls-Royce for just 14 Bitcoin

As the price of Bitcoin surges, one entrepreneurial Rolls-Royce owner is selling his flashy gold motor – and only accepting the virtual currency to buy it.

The Rolls-Royce Ghost is currently advertised on Auto Trader with an asking price of £117,995. As the price of Bitcoin continues to shoot up, that equates to around 14 Bitcoin.

The luxury Roller is powered by a 6.6-litre twin-turbocharged V12 engine. It features a fridge with champagne flutes as well as a personalised plate and a television.

The vehicle’s owner, based in Greater Manchester, said: “Why not trade in Bitcoin? I treat it in exactly the same way as normal currency these days. It’s safe, convenient and incredibly valuable right now so, to me, it makes sense to trade my car this way. It’s the future.”

But Auto Trader insists that it’s not looking to encourage sellers to accept Bitcoin for their used motors.

“With the meteoric rise in popularity and value of Bitcoin in recent years, it comes as no surprise that sellers are now attempting to trade this way,” said Auto Trader’s editorial director, Erin Baker. “It’s a huge trend and currently holds a high value. That said, Auto Trader won’t be releasing a ‘search by Bitcoin’ function anytime soon.

“Our focus is very much on our ‘search by monthly payment’ product that launches next month for car buyers.”

What is Bitcoin?

An unknown computer whizz created the virtual currency in 2009. It’s created by computer code, with the total value of all Bitcoins now exceeding £124 billion.

Critics point out that its almost entirely unregulated, with no individual government backing the currency and no requirement for Bitcoin users to use their real name.

Although business are slowly beginning to accept the currency in certain parts of the world, JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon suggested it’s only fit for use by drug dealers, murderers and people living in places such as North Korea.

The dramatic rise in Bitcoin’s use has been attributed to increasing demand in China, where authorities warn it is used to channel money out of the country.

In pictures: the gold Rolls-Royce you can buy with Bitcoin

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>NEXT: Buy Britain’s best used cars on Auto Trader now

Shocking images reveal why you should slow down past motorway breakdowns

Shocking images reveal why you should slow down past breakdowns

Shocking images reveal why you should slow down past motorway breakdowns

The RAC has released these horrifying pictures showing the aftermath of a crash involving one of its vans on the hard shoulder.

RAC patrol Andrew Barrett was changing the wheel on a member’s car on the M4 motorway last Thursday evening when a vehicle struck his van at around 70mph.

No one was seriously injured in the incident, although the RAC says that two roadside operators have been killed so far this year – one on the M25, and one on the M69.

It’s led to the motoring organisation launching a campaign to encourage drivers to reduce their speed and increase their gap between their car and any vehicle on the hard shoulder.

“The RAC is calling on drivers to ‘slow down, make space and move on’ when passing motorway breakdowns leaving plenty of space between their car and any vehicles and people on the hard shoulder,” said the RAC’s health and safety consultant, Steve Robinson.

“With traffic volumes rising and several recent serious accidents involving roadside assistance patrols and breakdown contractors we need motorists to consider a new approach to how they drive past stricken vehicles, drivers and passengers, and those working in vulnerable locations.

“By following this simple message we can significantly reduce the risk of a collision and, importantly, the fear factor for those standing or working at the side of the motorway.”


The RAC’s top tips for passing a motorway breakdown

    • Slow down – take care when passing any vehicle and people on the side of the motorway, reduce your speed and reduce the risk
    • Make space – widen the gap between your car and the broken-down vehicle and roadside workers. Use all of your lane by moving over to the right, only change lane if it is safe to do so
    • Move on – get safely past the breakdown situation and avoid ‘rubber-necking’, or the temptation to stare at someone’s else’s misfortune – it’s an unnecessary distraction from your focus on the road ahead

Speaking about the latest incident, Andrew Barrett, who’s been a patrolman for 14 years, said: “It was horrific. One minute I was changing the customer’s front wheel, the next I heard an almighty crunch and looked up to see my van rolling over towards us and the car spinning into the live lane. It was not an experience I want to repeat and it certainly shows you can never be complacent when attending a motorway breakdown.

“I want to thank all those who assisted from the off-duty nurse who was first on the scene and swiftly joined by two off-duty paramedics and to the fire brigade, police, highways and the ambulance crew who were all brilliant.”

Shocking images reveal why you should slow down past motorway breakdowns

The crash caused the three-tonne RAC patrol van to be rolled as it was pushed along the hard shoulder. The RAC member struck his head and was knocked unconscious as he moved out of the way. The driver of the car which struck the patrol van, although injured, was able to climb out of his vehicle.

The westbound carriageway of the M4 was closed for approximately an hour and a half while police, fire and ambulance crews attended the scene.

Robinson added: “It is a wonder that nobody was killed. This incident serves to show how dangerous it can be for anyone who has to stop on the hard shoulder of a busy motorway. We have released these shocking photographs of the RAC patrol van as they clearly demonstrate the need for a new way of thinking when drivers encounter stricken motorists and breakdown operators at the roadside.

“Until you find yourself stood or working on the hard shoulder it’s impossible to comprehend just how frightening it can be and what it feels like when cars and lorries are passing you at high speeds. Anyone who has experienced it will understand how vulnerable it can feel and why it makes sense to slow down and move over when passing anyone – whether broken down or working at the side of a live lane.”

>NEXT: This is why you should leave your car after a breakdown

 
Buy Britain’s best used cars on Auto Trader now

Buy Britain’s best used cars on Auto Trader now

Buy Britain’s best used cars on Auto Trader now

Britain’s best used cars have been revealed at the What Car? Used Car of the Year awards, with the Seat Leon beating the 14 other category winners to drive away with the top prize. Feeling inspired, we fired up Auto Trader and went in search of the category winners. Here’s what we found.

Overall winner: Seat Leon (2013-present)

Overall winner: Seat Leon (2013-present)

What Car? said: “It takes a special car to stand out in the hugely crowded used family car market. But the Leon does so while also offering the sort of value for money that causes you to do a double take. For that reason, it is our Used Car of the Year for 2018.”

You’ll have no trouble finding a good value, low-mileage Seat Leon on Auto Trader. At the time of writing there were around 2,500 for sale, with prices ranging from £4,500 to £30,000. This 2014 example has covered just 12,398 miles and is up for £8,980.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

City car winner: Hyundai i10 (2014-present)

City car winner: Hyundai i10 (2014-present)

What Car? said: “The lively 1.2-litre petrol engine is our pick, because of the way it provides enough mid-range grunt for most situations yet can still average nearly 50mpg in the real world. Plus, its servicing and maintenance costs are among the lowest in this class.”

This looks like a terrific deal: a 2015 example in desirable Premium trim and with just 5,500 miles the clock. It also has the remainder of Hyundai’s excellent five-year warranty.

Small car winner: Ford Fiesta (2008-2017)

Small car winner: Ford Fiesta (2008-2017)

What Car? said: “Its comfort actually matches that of much larger cars, yet it handles more like a hot hatch than a humble shopping car. Overall, it’s a delight to drive, with a great driving position, well-weighted controls and a slick gearshift.”

This 2014 example has a lot going for it, including the peppy and economical 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine, one owner from new, and 3,870 miles on the clock. Yours for £8,000.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Family car winner: Seat Leon (2013-present)

Family car winner: Seat Leon (2013-present)

What Car? said: “There are few other rivals that can challenge the Leon in this age group. Yes, the Ford Focus is a little more enjoyable to drive, but its ride comfort, interior quality and space are off the pace, plus it isn’t noticeably cheaper. And while the Vauxhall Astra is, we’d happily pay the premium required for the Leon’s sharper handling and smarter interior.”

Right now, this is the cheapest post-2013 Seat Leon for sale on Auto Trader. It’s a one-owner wagon with 142,610 miles on the clock, and it could be yours for £4,500.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Small SUV winner: Nissan Qashqai (2006-2013)

Small SUV winner: Nissan Qashqai (2006-2013)

What Car? said: “Even entry-level Qashqais come with a decent amount of standard equipment, but Tekna trim level is very impressive, providing you with heated front seats, leather upholstery, cruise control, dualzone climate control, sat-nav, an upgraded sound system and a panoramic glass roof.”

This is the cheapest first-generation Qashqai in Tekna trim that we could find. Excellent value at £4,331.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Large SUV winner: Mazda CX-5 (2012-2017)

Large SUV winner: Mazda CX-5 (2012-2017)

What Car? said: “When it comes to speccing the CX-5, we’d go for a model with the 2.2-litre 150 diesel engine in SE-L Nav trim, blending economy with a good amount of standard kit. Prices for the CX-5 start at around £9000 for a 2013 car with 100,000 miles or more on the clock, but we think you’d be better off spending around £12,000 to get a car with an average mileage for the year.”

And this is what you get for £12,000. It’s a 2014 CX-5 2.2-litre diesel in SE-L Nav spec, with 68,901 miles on the clock.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Luxury SUV winner: Audi Q7 (2015-present)

Luxury SUV winner: Audi Q7 (2015-present)

What Car? said: “Its advances are just too great to ignore, its sense of quality too satisfying and its road manners too delightful. It is, without a doubt, the best used luxury SUV you can buy.”

Not everybody ordered their Q7 in S-line trim, as demonstrated by this SE. Yours for £42,000.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

MPV winner: Citroen C3 Picasso (2009-2017)

MPV winner: Citroen C3 Picasso (2009-2017)

What Car? said: “The interior is attractively styled, with quality improving from the 2013 facelift onwards. You sit quite high up, so the driving position gives you a great view. The car is also well equipped, with our recommended VTR+ specification getting air conditioning, cruise control, side airbags, 16in alloy wheels and front foglights.”

As recommended, this is a post-facelift VTR+ with just 48,321 miles on the clock. Yours for £6,000.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Estate car winner: Ford Mondeo (2007-2015)

Estate car winner: Ford Mondeo (2007-2015)

What Car? said: “The starting price for a 2008 Mondeo Estate is around £3000, but up the money to £5000 and you should get a good, clean 2009 2.0 TDCi Zetec, which would be our pick.”

We searched for a Mondeo using the precise criteria laid out by What Car? and this was the only example we could find. You’ll have to haggle to achieve the £5,000 price tag.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Hot hatch winner: Ford Fiesta ST (2012-2017)

Hot hatch winner: Ford Fiesta ST (2012-2017)

What Car? said: “It has only a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, but the Fiesta ST can keep up with far more expensive performance cars. Coupled with a smooth six-speed manual gearbox, the car is a delight to drive at any speed.”

If you’re going to buy a Ford Fiesta ST – lucky you – why not opt for the limited edition ST200? A future classic in the making for £15,000.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Convertible winner: BMW Z4 (2009-2017)

Convertible winner: BMW Z4 (2009-2017)

What Car? said: “The Z4 wins this award overall because it fulfils the role of a classic convertible sports car better than any other in its class. Later versions succumbed to engine downsizing to please official fuel economy tests, to the detriment of character, which is why we chose the car in the 7-10-year category.”

A decent level of kit and a recent service at the BMW dealer in Sunningdale make this 2010 Z4 stand out amongst the hundreds of other Z4s on sale. It has only done 20,500 miles, but it could be yours for around £10,000.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Coupe winner: Audi TT (2006-2014)

Coupe winner: Audi TT (2006-2014)

What Car? said: “Residual values have always been strong, but the relatively modest prices for new cars means that used examples now look very attractive. Entry into the TT world in this age bracket starts at around £10,000 for a neat and tidy 2011 car.”

This 2011 car is a little over the £10,000 mark, but the S-line kit and Bose audio system should sweeten the deal. If the MOT history is anything to go by, it was recently treated to a new set of tyres.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Sports car winner: Audi R8 (2007-2015)

Sports car winner: Audi R8 (2007-2015)

What Car? said: “Good, early R8s with the V8 engine are now available for less than £40,000, while a V10 model can be had for well below £60,000.”

There are so many delightful Audi R8s for sale on Auto Trader, it’s hard to know which one to choose. While our heart says go for the V10, it’s difficult to resist the charms of a V8 for £40,000.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Green car winner: Renault Zoe (2013-present)

Green car winner: Renault Zoe (2013-present)

What Car? said: “Pick a model built before June 2015 and you’ll be getting a Zoe with a 22kWh battery that delivers a real-world electric range of 60-90 miles and a charging time from empty to 80% in less than an hour from a fast charger – and priced from as little as £5000.”

Even taking into account the battery lease – which will cost a minimum of £49 per month – we think a £5k Renault Zoe represents exceptional value for money. If town driving and short trips are your things, the Zoe makes a lot of sense.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Executive car winner: BMW 3 Series (2012-present)

Executive car winner: BMW 3 Series (2012-present)

What Car? said: “It has the best combination of class, comfort, quality and driving involvement. And yet it doesn’t cost the earth, even compared with its less upmarket rivals.”

Look, there are thousands of current 3 Series models out there, so selecting one for this feature is difficult. If you don’t like this 318d Sport with 4,332 miles on the clock, there are plenty of other options out there.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

Luxury car winner: BMW 5 Series (2010-2017)

Luxury car winner: BMW 5 Series (2010-2017)

What Car? said: “There are plenty of cars from 2014 and onwards for around £10,000, which seems like very respectable value, especially given the 5 Series’ premium feel. Up your budget to £20,000 and you can choose from lots of barely run-in examples.”

It might have been replaced by a newer version, but the old 5 Series still cuts a mean figure. This 520d M Sport is up for £19,995.

Buy this car on Auto Trader

>NEXT: The most popular used cars in 2017

Lynk & Co 01 goes on sale - and sells out within minutes

Lynk & Co 01 goes on sale – and sells out within minutes

Lynk & Co 01 goes on sale - and sells out within minutes

Shock: an unconventional car being sold by an unconventional manufacturer that isn’t Tesla has sold out within minutes of going on sale.

It’s the kind of hype that traditional car makers can only dream of. When the Lynk & Co 01 went on pre-sale online in China last week, its 6,000-strong allocation sold out with two minutes and 17 seconds. Putting a PR spin on it, that makes it “the world’s fast selling car”, says the firm.

While Lynk & Co won’t arrive in the UK until 2019, post-pre-sale orders are now being taken for the 01 SUV in China. Prices start at RMB158,800, rising to RMB202,800 (approximately £18,000 – £23,000).

The firm snubs conventional dealerships in favour of online sales and company-owned (rather than franchise) stores. A total of 150 ‘brand boutiques’ and stores are being opened across China, incorporating children’s play areas, cafes and even a cinema.

“We announced the birth of Lynk & Co almost exactly one year ago,” said Lynk & Co’s senior vice president, Alain Visser. “Now, just 12 months later, we start sales of our connected and shareable 01 SUV in record fashion. Whether you choose to join online or in store, we promise a unique and enjoyable experience.

“Online, it couldn’t be more simple, we have replicated the in-store experience and simplicity of choice with our unique ‘explorator’ carousel. Just stop on the car you like and subscribe online – it’s as simple as that, as Chinese customers have proven during our pre-sale event.

“We are immensely proud at the speed and scale of our launch. We promised to disrupt and shake things up, and now, the journey really begins.”

What is Lynk & Co?

Lynk & Co was launched last year by Geely, the Chinese firm that bought Volvo in 2010. Its aim is to be an unconventional car manufacturer, offering access to its cars through subscription services and car sharing schemes. Lynk & Co likens its subscription services to Spotify or Netflix: pay a flat all-inclusive monthly fee and you’ll be able to drive a new Lynk & Co model for as long as you want. Rather than being tied into a contract, like a traditional lease deal, you can hand the car back when it suits. You can also upgrade to different models within the range, once they arrive, should you need to for short periods.

Curiously, the firm is also offering a groundbreaking lifetime warranty on its cars. Details are thin at the moment, but it suggests customers will only have to pay for consumables – and even that it is only if they buy the car outright. Most buyers won’t.

The firm’s first car, named the 01, has been designed and engineered in Sweden with help from Volvo. It shares a platform with the Volvo XC40 and, currently, is available with a choice of petrol engines also sourced from Volvo. By the time it arrives in Europe, however, the only choice will be whether you want a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully-electric model.

Information on future models is sketchy, but Lynk & Co revealed its 03 concept earlier this year.

>NEXT: Everything you need to know about Lynk & Co

Traffic police

Opinion: crash scene tweets reveal a dark insight into modern policing

Traffic police

You’re a traffic officer dealing with the nasty job of sweeping up a crash when a member of the public approaches and asks – what you perceive to be – a stupid question. It takes a great deal of restraint not to tell said member of the public to, let’s be frank, do one.

But you’re a police officer. You smile, answer their query and get on with doing your job – no matter how challenging that job is.

Or that’s how it should be. But today, there’s the temptation of using social media to vent your frustrations. Doing so would be extremely unprofessional, right? Especially using an official police Twitter account do to so.

Oh. You might think that @roadpoliceBCH (the account of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Road Policing Unit) makes a good point here. Call me old fashioned, though – I think it’s part of a police officer’s job to help the public when there’s a road closure. The circumstances around the tweet aren’t clear, and if the police officer was desperately trying to deal with life or death injuries, I fully understand their frustration. I would still politely suggest that it’s unprofessional to vent their annoyance on Twitter.

I raised my concerns and whoever is behind the Twitter account took the time to respond back.

Fine. That clarifies the situation. But… and feel free to call me a snowflake: am I right to expect conversations with my local traffic policing unit to be a little less, well, sarcastic?

This isn’t the only occasion when I’ve seen things posted by the police that I don’t think have a place on Twitter. I posted an opinion piece last year saying that I didn’t want to see pictures of car crashes on Twitter. Long story short: I know someone who was seriously injured in a crash. Before the police could notify the family, they’d seen pictures of the incident on Twitter. These weren’t posted by rubbernecking members of the public, either. They were posted on official police Twitter accounts and picked up by the local newspaper. They thought it’d be OK because the number plate of my mate’s distinctive yellow car had been blurred out.

And then there’s tweets like this, posted by Greater Manchester Police’s traffic division.

Would they have posted a similar picture had the incident involved a Fiat Punto? Probably not. Should they be encouraging ‘trial by Twitter’? I don’t think so. Should they be doing their best to reduce the congestion by stopping the rubbernecking that’s clearly happening in the background? Yes.

Incidentally, it later emerged that the Ferrari driver tested positive for cannabis – but not until after the sarcastic tweet suggesting the driver was speeding. I’d rather the police didn’t publicly jump to conclusions before being in possession of all the facts.

None of us get it right all of the time, and I can’t stress enough that I’m very appreciative of the job that the police do. But Twitter shows an ugly insight into a police service that should be setting an example – and that includes thinking twice before tweeting live from crash scenes.

>NEXT: We drive a Volvo V90 police car

Towing tips

In at the deep end: hints from learning to tow for the first time

Towing tips

I’m sitting in a £60,000 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain, with an imposing twin-axle horse trailer attached to the tow bar. Facing me, on a narrow muddy track, is an identical E-Class All-Terrain with a matching horse trailer. The only good news is that our trailers don’t contain real horses, just ballast to replicate their weight. One of us needs to move to sort the gridlock.

I try to reverse, and the horse box decides it doesn’t want to play ball. No amount of steering wheel-twirling, or the calm reassurance of Dave the instructor, is going to fix this.

Instead, Dave suggests we tackle the daunting track to our left, climbing up a hill and with trees lining the deeply-rutted route.

This turns out to be less intimidating than it might sound. The E-Class All-Terrain isn’t fazed by the slippery hill, despite the trailer and hefty imitation pony inside it, and hauls itself up with ease. It’s the same coming back down, with the E-Class surefooted despite the weight pushing behind it.

The Mercedes certainly helped flatter my abilities, with a host of cameras and sensors making towing far easier. Having a qualified instructor alongside was perhaps the biggest advantage, saving us and the hypothetical horse from any danger.

First-time dramatics aside, towing doesn’t need to be difficult or challenging, and offers up a range of options. Be it holidaying with a caravan, moving horses around, or even lugging a race car to the track, there are plenty of reasons to start to tow.

Before you think about hitching up something extra to the rear of your car, there are a few things to consider first. Nobody likes a baptism of fire, especially when it might actually involve your own expensive trailer or caravan.

Towing tips

Towing tips

Licenses

Possibly the most important thing to check before towing is your driving licence, with a range of restrictions based on when you passed your driving test.

For those who gained their licence before the 1st January 1997, a Category B licence will entitle you to tow any combination of car and trailer/caravan up to a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of 8,250kg.

Obtaining a licence after the 1st January 1997 restricts drivers to a vehicle with a MAM of 3,500kg, towing a trailer of up to 750kg. Drivers can also tow a trailer or caravan in excess of 750kg, providing the overall MAM of the combined outfit does not exceed 3,500kg, or have the trailer weigh more than the unladen weight of the towing vehicle.

To tow anything above these weights will require taking additional driving tests, with the GOV.UK website having more information, along with guidance on how to determine the relevant vehicle weights.

Lessons

Regardless of what it says on your driving licence, investing in a training course designed to teach the basics of towing is money well spent.

Both the Caravan and Motorhome Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club offer bespoke courses, tailored to varying levels of caravanning experience. These cover the basics of health and safety, along with lessons in the art of reversing with a caravan attached.

If you’re looking to tow a trailer, the National Trailer and Towing Association will be able to help you find local driving schools offering lessons and coaching.

Speed

Going fast with a hefty caravan attached to the back of your car might be the least of your concerns, but powerful modern machinery can making towing seem relatively effortless.

As such, it’s important to remember that when towing a maximum speed limit of 60mph applies on dual carriageways and motorways, with 50mph on single carriageway routes. Towing also prevents you from using the furthest right-hand lane of a three-lane motorway.

Try to be courteous to other road users if you develop a queue of traffic behind while towing. Finding a safe place to pull over and let others pass is good practice.

Car considerations

Distilling the best car to tow with requires considering a number of different factors. From matching the permitted towing weight with your intended caravan or trailer, to ensuring that it’ll have enough power and torque to enable the whole outfit to move at a reasonable pace.

Diesel-engined 4×4 SUVs have become the preferred choice for caravanning in recent years, matching sizeable towing capacity with the ability to escape from a muddy campsite. It might explain why SUVs took almost every prize in the latest Towcar of the Year Awards, with the Skoda Kodiaq taking the top prize.

If you’re concerned about buying a diesel, however, there are alternative options. Both the plug-in hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and electric Tesla Model X are capable of towing a caravan.

Buying a car with a reversing camera, especially one with bespoke modes for helping hitch a trailer, may also influence your decision making. A number of manufacturers, such as Volkswagen and Land Rover, also offer ‘Trailer Assist’ features that use semi-autonomous tech to make reversing easier.

Adding a tow bar

 

Towing tips

With so much technology loaded into modern cars, adding a tow bar is not a simple case of bolting on the first one you find. There is also legislation to take into account at present if you own a vehicle registered after the 1st August 1998, which must use an EC type-approved tow bar.

Most car manufacturers offer tow bars to fit their own specific models, and can even offer factory-fitted versions if ordering a car from new. Retractable or removable tow bars are popular, leaving a neater appearance to the rear of the car when not being used. A wealth of aftermarket suppliers also exist for those wanting to avoid dealership pricing.

Security and insurance

Towing tips

Thefts of trailers, particularly in rural areas, are endemic and often combined with the theft of plant and construction machinery. The fact they can be easily attached to the back of a car and driven away makes them an easy target. Caravans are also desirable, with estimates suggesting up to 3,000 are stolen every year in the UK.

All new caravans produced since 1992 have been registered with the CRiS database, making it easier to track and trace them if stolen. RFID tags are also used to allow easier identification by the police, even if criminals alter visible chassis numbers.

Heavy-duty wheel clamps, hitchlocks, and anchor posts can all be used to make it harder to steal your caravan or trailer. Just like with a car, alarms and tracking devices can also be fitted.

Most importantly, don’t forget to insure your trailer or caravan, even though it is not a legal requirement. Cover is recommended for protection should your latest purchase be stolen, or damaged whilst being towed. Most car policies do not automatically cover either trailers or caravans when being towed, or will have restrictions on cover. Check with your insurer, or speak to a specialist broker.

>NEXT: The best cars for towing your caravan

The Grand Tour Mayhem Hall Pub

The Grand Tour has opened a pub in LA

The Grand Tour Mayhem Hall PubThe second season of The Grand Tour is almost upon us, and to ensure the world’s media don’t overlook this, the boys have opened a pop-up pub at the 2017 LA Auto Show, serving free tea, scones… and beer.

The Mayhem Hall Pub has just a few rules: you shall not say the name of the show that must not be named. You shouldn’t drink from a pint of Guinness before it has settled. But you should use the hashtag #TheGrandTour because the producers are giving away money to Oxfam for every photo shared through the pub’s whizzy selfie booth.  

Yes, we did.

The Grand Tour pub selfie

As PR stunts go, it’s brilliant. The pub has bar snacks. A dartboard. A hot food counter, complete with bright lights perfectly angled to dry out food. The tables and chairs are as authentically old-fashioned British boozer as it’s possible to be.

We did a double-take, because we actually thought it was a real pub. We’ll let you know what the beer’s like tomorrow, after the show. But not just yet: we’ve got a car show to cover, and drink and cars just don’t mix.