2018 Bentley Continental GT

2018 Bentley Continental GT makes UK debut

2018 Bentley Continental GT

We first saw the new Bentley Continental GT at the Frankfurt Motor Show – but now it’s been launched in the UK at a glitzy event in London.

Customers, journalists and VIPs descended on the Jack Barclay showroom in Mayfair to get their first glimpse of the 2018 Bentley Continental GT on UK soil. Designed and engineered at the firm’s Crewe plant in Cheshire, Bentley is hoping the new Continental GT will follow the success of its Bentayga SUV.

Underpinned by VW Group’s MSB platform, the Continental GT is closely related to the latest Porsche Panamera. Bentley’s 48-volt electric Dynamic Ride system powers active anti-roll bars in a bid to improve handling without comprising comfort.

Power, all 635hp of it, comes from a revised version of Bentley’s 6.0-litre W12. It’ll hit 62mph in 3.7 seconds, and 207mph flat-out. Cylinder-deactivation tech combined with a new dual-clutch transmission means it’s more economical than before – emitting just 278g/km CO2 and returning 23.2mpg on the combined NEDC cycle. A V8 will follow, while a hybrid version is also rumoured.

A new 12.3-inch digital display appears from the dashboard when the engine starts, while the rest of the interior is an impressive brand of British craftmanship and new technology.

“Today is a defining moment for Bentley Motors,” said former Bentley CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer at the Continental GT’s Frankfurt reveal. “Today we build on our recent success story and look to the future with a new car that will set new standards in luxury grand touring. Today we introduce a car that is the ultimate in extraordinary design, technology and innovation.

“When Bentley launched the original Continental GT in 2003 it established an entirely new market segment – the modern luxury grand tourer. Today, I’m convinced that we are redefining this segment again. It is an honour to replace a car that has – for 14 years – been the benchmark against which all other grand tourers are judged.”

Prices are yet to be confirmed, but Bentley dealerships are already taking deposits for the new Continental GT. Deliveries will begin early in 2018.

Watch: 2018 Bentley Continental GT revealed in London

In pictures: 2018 Bentley Continental GT

>NEXT: 2018 Bentley Continental GT revealed – the world’s most luxurious GT car?

Aston Martin Vantage Teaser

The new Aston Martin Vantage will be revealed on 21 November

Aston Martin Vantage TeaserThere’s a new Aston Martin Vantage due in 2018 – and the firm has today announced it will be fully revealed on 21 November.

Nothing more is confirmed about the new model yet, although we can expect more teasers in the build-up to the reveal event. Following the all-new and highly-acclaimed Aston Martin DB11, the new Vantage is the second car in the firm’s ‘Second Century’ strategic plan and, like the DB11 V8, is expected to use a Mercedes-AMG V8 engine. In the Vantage, it’ll produce around 450hp, transferred to the rear wheels via an eight-speed ZF gearbox. A new aluminium chassis will result in a lower kerbweight than its predecessor.

Previous teasers suggest the new Vantage will very much look like a shrunken DB11 – from the flanks around the front arches to the narrow rear lights.

The two-seat sports car is Aston’s answer to the Porsche 911, and is the entry-level model in the Gaydon firm’s range. The current Vantage was launched back in 2005 and although it has evolved over the years, is now showing its age. Hence the anticipation for this all-new one.

Prices will be confirmed after the Vantage is finally revealed later this month. With the current V8 Vantage starting at £94,995, expect a small increase for its much-awaited replacement.

>NEXT: 2018 Aston Martin Vantage – the James Bond car coming soon

Vauxhall Grandland X

Vauxhall plans to make money again by 2020

Vauxhall Grandland XThree months after the takeover of Vauxhall and Opel by PSA, the firm has revealed plans to once again become profitable as part of a new corporate strategy called ‘PACE!’.

Its targets are realistic to begin with: a small margin of 2 percent by 2020. But by 2026, it wants to be making 6 percent margin on its cars – and extensive sharing of technology with Groupe PSA Peugeot-Citroen will help it achieve this.

The firm wants to become “a European CO2 leader”. Every model line will offer an electrified variant by 2024, and Vauxhall will launch a fully-electric version of the next-generation Corsa. Even by 2020, there’ll be four electrified models on sale.

Intriguingly, part of the strategy also states a lowering of the financial break-even point to 800,000 cars, “creating a profitable business model whatever the headwinds may be”. The statement does not reveal any sales targets. This number is around 30 percent fewer cars than it sells today.

All Vauxhalls and Opels will be based on PSA platforms by 2024. The ageing Corsa will finally be replaced in 2019 with one derived from the Peugeot 208/Citroen C3 architecture, and the firm is promising one make launch every year – and says it will launch nine new models by 2020.

Vauxhall is currently launching the Peugeot 3008-derived Grandland X in the UK; the next model to be derived from a PSA platform will be the new Combo van in 2018. The move will see the number of different Vauxhall platforms reduced from today’s nine down to just two – and 10 different engine families will be cut to four.

Relief for Ellesmere Port?

The statement does not reference Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant in the UK, which currently produces the Astra, and is the sole global production site for the Astra Sports Tourer estate. The firm simply states: “Improved competitiveness of the manufacturing plants will lead to new vehicle allocations that will provide a better utilisation rate for the next decade”. PSA’s two car platforms, CMP and EMP2, will be used in all Opel and Vauxhall plants; the Astra is currently built on a GM platform.

Encouragingly though, “the plan is designed with the clear intention to maintain all plants and refrain from forced redundancies in Europe.

“The necessary and sustainable reduction of labour costs shall be reached with thoughtful measures such as innovative working time concepts, voluntary programs or early retirement schemes.

Vauxhall is already starting to do this at Ellesmere Port: it recently announced plans to cut the workforce by 25 percent and move from two shifts down to one in order to improve the viability of the plant.

“PACE! will unleash our full potential,” said Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller. “This plan is paramount for the company, to protect our employees against headwinds and turn Opel/Vauxhall into a sustainable, profitable, electrified, and global company.

“Our future will be secured and we will contribute with German excellence to the Groupe PSA development.” Lohscheller, however, made no reference to the Britishness of Vauxhall.

NEXT> Built in Britain: UK automotive from A to Z

The retro bargains you can drive to the NEC Classic Motor Show

The retro bargains you can drive to the NEC Classic Motor Show

The retro bargains you can drive to the NEC Classic Motor Show

This weekend, thousands of classic car fans will descend on the NEC for the Classic Motor Show. Around 2,500 classic cars and motorcycles will be on display in an area the size of 12 football pitches. But why turn up in something modern when, for less than the price of a deposit on a PCP deal, you could rock up in something retro? We’ve scoured Auto Trader to bring you the best options for less than £1,500.

Ford Mondeo: £300

Ford Mondeo: £300

To be included in our round-up, a car must have a current MOT, be built between 1970 and 1995, and be available for less than £1,500. There will be some who claim the Ford Mondeo has no right to appear in a feature of retro classics, but we beg to differ. This was a game-changing vehicle for Ford, and it even inspired its own ‘Mondeo Man’ tag. This 77k-mile example looks tidy, but it has a short MOT. Worth a punt for a retro rep-inspired road trip?

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Renault Safrane: £325

Renault Safrane: £325

This is an awful lot of car for the money, but we appreciate that for some people it’s simply an awful car. But while large French barges have never been hugely popular in the UK – #depreciationdisasters – there’s a lot to like about the Renault Safrane. It will be comfortable, while the interior looks in good shape, even with a pair of ripped jeans lowering the tone. The heater blower isn’t working and the oil level gauge “has a mind of its own”, but you’d expect a few gremlins on a French car of this age and budget.

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Mazda 323F: £350

Mazda 323F: £350

A subhead of “Pop Up Headlights” suggests that this seller knows how to tug at the heartstrings of a wannabe retro car owner. Whether they ‘pop down’ again is another matter, but for £350, do you really care? Sadly, these things don’t drive as well as they look, but pop-up headlights will earn you some kudos points in the NEC car park.

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Peugeot 306: £450

Peugeot 306: £450

The Peugeot 306 might not have passed into classic status, but we doubt you’ll find a more honest example than this, especially for £450. The MOT history makes for excellent reading, while the fact that it has been owned by the same lady for 13 years is encouraging. Revel in what looks like an as-new interior and reminiscence about the days when Peugeot built terrific driver’s cars.

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Citroen ZX: £500

Citroen ZX: £500

If the Peugeot 306 doesn’t appeal, you’re unlikely to fall head over heels in love with this Citroen ZX, but just look at it! A one-owner car with just 63,200 miles on the clock, and a 1.9-litre diesel engine that could transport you to and from the NEC from just about anywhere in the UK on a single tank of fuel. Few £500 cars offer such a terrific blend of ride comfort and sharp handling.

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Ford Escort: £649

Ford Escort: £649

By the time this car arrived in 1995, the old Orion name had been gone two years, with the family saloon falling under the Ford Escort umbrella. We admit that this Escort – neé Orion – is about as exciting as a drizzle sandwich, especially in ‘John Major grey’, but it fits the retro tag. Just.

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Austin Metro: £700

Austin Metro: £700

A sensibly-priced low-mileage retro classic, whatever next? We think £700 is a fair price for a slice of British motoring history, especially when it has just 24,844 miles on the clock. A bit of TLC will have this Austin Metro City looking show-ready in no time at all. As for the sun-damaged rear seat – simply throw a rug over the top. Sorted.

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Audi 80: £750

Audi 80: £750

Built at a time before Audi’s image hit an upwards trajectory, the 80 was well-engineered, safe and dependable. In fact, this 1993 example could be used daily without a problem, with 200,000+ miles no issue. The best bit: there isn’t a single advisory listed on the MOT history.

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Volvo 740: £900

Volvo 740: £900

If you’re hoping to purchase some parts from the UK’s largest indoor autojumble, you could hire a van. Alternatively, why not hire the ultimate load-lugging estate? This Volvo 740 looks a little tired but appears to have done 48,974 miles. A new engine, perhaps? Certainly worth checking.

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Volvo 440: £999

Volvo 440: £999

Look. At. This. A one-owner from new, full Volvo service history, Volvo 440 with just 57,000 miles on the clock. Last serviced by Volvo just 300 miles ago, you can almost guarantee that it will come with a folder full of receipts and old MOTs. Brilliant.

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Mazda MX-6: £1,000

Mazda MX-6: £1,000

Cars such as this Mazda MX-6 won’t stay around for long. In fact, in the process of preparing this list, three cars have been sold in the time it has taken to complete the job. The understated and elegant styling of the Mazda MX-6 is ageing very well, perhaps more so than its sibling, the Ford Probe. Yours for a ‘bag of sand’.

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Citroen XM: £1,000

Citroen XM: £1,000

Some would argue that the XM of 1989 was the last true Citroen: a technologically-advanced replacement for the CX. In truth. It was little more than a glorious failure, certainly in the UK, and was hampered by electrical gremlins and quality issues. The MOT history suggests that the milometer stopped working from 2007 to 2012 so the mileage might be higher than described.

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Vauxhall Nova: £1,195

Vauxhall Nova: £1,195

Described as a “much loved Vauxhall Nova,” does this prove Rihanna’s theory that it’s possible to find love in a hopeless place? Let’s not be too beastly to the humble Nova, because this little car provided transport to students, parents and old folk across the land. And it looks a damn sight more appealing than a new Corsa. The MW/LW push-button will provide the cracking and crackling tunes as you make your way up the M40.

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Mazda MX-5: £1,395

Mazda MX-5: £1,395

Finding good examples of the original Mazda MX-5 is growing increasingly tough, especially at this price point. This 1991 example has covered an impressive 181,000 miles and is seemingly in great condition. That said, it’s the second Mazda to leave us wondering if the headlights are stuck in their raised position.

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Toyota Supra: £1,400

Toyota Supra: £1,400

The Toyota Supra divorced from the Celica in 1986, with the former gaining more power and the latter going off in search of a new front-wheel drive future. In standard 3.0i form, the Supra is more grand tourer than sports car, but for a high-speed cruise to Birmingham, this £1,400 example holds strong appeal. Gold medallion and chest wig sold separately.

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Nissan QX: £1,484

Nissan QX: £1,484

You only need to take one look at this Nissan QX to know that it has been owned by a loving and fastidious owner. The 2.0-litre V6 has covered a predictably leisurely 58,000 miles, with the previous custodian enjoying a smooth and squishy ride behind the wheel of this flagship Nissan. It even comes complete with the original ‘Fred Coupe’ dealer number plates.

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Seat Ibiza: £1,495

Seat Ibiza: £1,495

“An absolute time warp classic presented in stunning Seat Indigo Blue, this is a beautiful 30,000-mile example, it’s in stock condition throughout and has been owned by the same lady all its life, so you can imagine how lovely it is.” Not our words, Lynn, but the words of the Volkswagen restorer selling this Mk1 facelift Seat Ibiza. What a gem.

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Honda Legend: £1,495

Honda Legend: £1,495

If a Lexus is too obvious and the aforementioned Nissan QX too subtle, have we got a treat for you. No, really, we have. This Legend is Honda’s answer to the ‘Japanese Mercedes’ formula, offering a big, lazy V6 engine, superb cruising potential and probably-shouldn’t-mention fuel economy. The ‘49 MS’ number plate now adorns a 2016 Peugeot 308.

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Ford Fiesta: £1,495

Ford Fiesta: £1,495

Remember when these were two-a-penny? The sheer number of Mk3 Fiestas sold means you won’t struggle to find a used example, but cars in this condition and with such low mileage will become increasingly rare.

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Peugeot 309: £1,495

Peugeot 309: £1,495

The British-designed Peugeot 309 was destined to be the Talbot Arizona before the bosses had a last minute change of heart. We can’t remember the last time we saw a 309, let alone one in such wonderful condition. It’s for sale at a dealer in Taunton and, judging by the number plates, it has spent its entire life in Somerset.

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>NEXT: Are these Britain’s best classic cars?

2018 Bentley Continental GT

2018 Bentley Continental GT makes London debut

Posh Bentley dealer HR Owen has shown the all-new Continental GT supercar GT in style…

RM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Ultimate Porsche 911 could break auction record

RM Sotheby’s Icons auctionIt’s being billed as “the most unique auction of its kind,” with RM Sotheby’s presenting a “roster of iconic automobiles from the world’s most admired marques.” Think Porsche, Ferrari and Mercedes, with some eye-popping pre-auction estimates chucked in for good measure. We’ve selected 20 of the best.

Porsche 911 GT2RM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $1.1m – $1.4m (£837,000 – £1.05m)

Last year, a 1995 Porsche 911 GT2 smashed its pre-auction estimate and sold for a staggering £1.85m at the RM Sotheby’s London sale. The one-owner car had covered a mere 12,730km from new. The New York auction star has travelled just 11,470km in its 22-year life, which suggests the pre-auction estimate might be wildly pessimistic. This is, after all, the definitive and most collectible Porsche 993.

Porsche 918 Spyder ‘Weissach’RM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $1.7m – $1.9m (£1.3m – £1.4m)

The 911 GT2 might be the most collectible Porsche at the RM Sotheby’s sale, but it’s not the most expensive. This 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder is fitted with the optional ‘Weissach’ package, which essentially means less weight and a more hardcore experience. Amazingly, there are just 270 miles on the clock, making it one of the lowest mileage 918s in the world.

Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet SIIRM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $1.5m – $1.8m (£1.1m – £1.35m)

For this stunning 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series II, it’s a case of coming home, because the car was delivered new to Luigi Chinetti Motors in New York. It remained in the United States before being sold to a collector in Japan in 2004, returning to the US in 2010. It’s number 150 of 200 examples built, with only 600 miles completed since a full restoration.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL ‘gullwing’RM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $1.3m – $1.5m (£990,000 – £1.1m)

An icon in the very truest sense, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was the ultimate accessory for the great and the good in the 1950s. You can thank New York dealer Max Hoffman for its existence, for it was he who convinced Mercedes that a road-going version of the W194 race car would have merit. Around 80% of the 1,400 SL gullwings ever built were sold in the US, with this example shipped to the distributors in New York in 1955.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL RoadsterRM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $1.25m – $1.5m (£950,000 – £1.1m)

The 300 SL Roadster arrived three years after the Coupe, but although it lost its iconic ‘gullwing’ doors, it was a far nicer car to drive. It also outlived the coupe version by several years. This 1958 example is offered without reserve and is described by RM Sotheby’s as “exceptional… in every respect”.

Ferrari F40RM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $1.2m – $1.4m (£915,000 – £1.05m)

“In any discussion of automotive icons, the Ferrari F40 is surely amongst the first cars to be mentioned by anyone under the age of 40,” says RM Sotheby’s. It went into battle with the Porsche 959 for supercar supremacy – both on the track and in the fight for bedroom wall space – but while the 959 was a look into the future, the F40 felt more of its time. This 1990 example has covered a mere 8,100 miles.

Ferrari F12tdfRM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $1.1m – $1.4m (£840,000 – £1.065m)

How’s this for inflation? New, you could have spent £340,000 on a Ferrari F12tdf, but this 398-mile example is expected to fetch more than $1m (£760,000) at the New York sale. This is one of 799 built, with the first owner ticking just about every optional extra box. We wonder if it’s being sold to fund the purchase of a Ferrari 812 Superfast?

Bentley R-Type Continental FastbackRM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $1m – $1.3m (£760,000 – £990,000)

This is one of only three Franay-bodied Bentley R-Type Continentals of this design and is the only left-hand drive, centre-gearshift manual example. In total, five Continental chassis would be bodied in France, three of which were crafted by Marius Franay in the Parisian suburbs. A quintessentially British car with a touch of French elegance: yours for around $1m.

Chrysler D’EleganceRM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $900,000 – $1.1m (£685,000 – £840,000)

In 2011, this Chrysler D’Elegance sold at auction for $946,000. The one-off Chrysler-Ghia creation is expected to fetch a similar amount in New York, an apt location for a car based on a Chrysler New Yorker. If it looks familiar, the design of the D’Elegance lived on in the form of the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, which made its debut in 1955.

Cadillac Series 62 CabrioletRM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $850,000 – $1.1m (£650,000 – £840,000)

From the RM Sotheby’s auction catalogue: “That it did not look American at all, aside from the dashboard and ‘sombrero’ wheel covers, was beside the point. It was big, extravagant, and aimed right at the newly affluent Yankee.” This is one of two coachbuilt Cadillac Series 62 created by Carrosserie J. Saoutchik, purchased new by New York furrier, Louis Ritter.

Porsche Carrera GTRM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $775,000 – $850,000 (£590,000 – £650,000)

Porsche planned to build 1,500 Porsche Carrera GTs, but production ceased at 1,270, of which around 50% were exported to the US. The 5.7-litre V10 engine was derived from an aborted Le Mans project and produced a mighty 603hp, enough for a top speed of 205mph. The most amazing thing about this auction car: the fact that it has covered just 695 miles.

Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Riviera Town CarRM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $500,000 – $700,000 (£380,000 – £535,000)

Of the ten Riviera bodies produced by Brewster & Co, this is believed to be the only example built on the Silver Ghost chassis. It was delivered new in 1929 to New York industrialist Augustine Leftwich Humes, who commissioned details such as embroidered upholstery and Venetian mahogany. It won ‘Best in Class’ at the 2012 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

Dino 246 GTSRM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $500,000 – $600,000 (£380,000 – £460,000)

Named in honour of Enzo Ferrari’s late son, the Dino 246 GT was unveiled at the 1969 Paris Motor Show. The targa-topped GTS arrived in 1972, with both cars remaining in production until 1974. This late example was sold new to an owner in Daytona Beach, with the current owner spending $100,000 to make it ‘concours-correct and exquisite’. Yours for around half a million dollars.

Austin-Healey 100-6 ‘Goldie’RM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $350,000 – $550,000 (£265,000 – £420,000)

The ‘Goldie’ was the result of a collaboration between Austin-Healey and the Daily Express, with the newspaper purchasing the car to be used as a grand prize in a contest. The 100-6 was shown at the 1958 Earls Court Motor Show, with the prize winner selling the car almost immediately. Eventually, after changing hands a number of times, it made its way to the United States.

BMW Z8RM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $300,000 – $400,000 (£230,000 – £305,000)

Apple founder Steve Jobs purchased this BMW Z8 in October 2000, driving it regularly before selling it to the Los Angeles-based current owner. It comes with an original BMW-branded Motorola flip-phone, something Steve Jobs is reported to have hated. The California license plate reads ‘JOBS Z8’.

Ferrari TestarossaRM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $250,000 – $325,000 (£190,000 – £250,000)

This is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to know what it felt like to buy a supercar in the late 80s. It’s a 1989 Ferrari Testarossa with just 585 miles on the clock, and the original protective covers marked ‘dealer must remove’ in the footwells. Just add some Hiroshi Kawaguchi tunes for that authentic OutRun experience.

Jaguar E-Type S1RM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $250,000 – $325,000 (£190,000 – £250,000)

Another classic auction, another Jaguar E-Type, or XK-E, as it was known in the United States. The punchy pre-auction estimate reflects the car’s ‘triple black’ nature, so-called because it features special-order black paint with a matching interior, soft-top and factory hardtop.

Lamborghini Countach 25th AnniversaryRM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $200,000 – $250,000 (£150,000 – £190,000)

There will be many who point to the effortless simplicity of Marcello Gandini’s original design as the greatest incarnation of the Lamborghini Countach, but try telling that to anyone who grew up in the 1980s. The 25th Anniversary is of its time, loaded with excess and pumped up to the max. And the white paint and white leather combo simply screams the 1980s.

Lancia Delta HF Integrale EvoRM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $175,000 – $225,000 (£130,000 – £170,000)

Only 400 ‘Giallo Ferrari’ versions of the Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione were ever built, but that’s not the only reason for the eye-watering pre-auction estimate. This Italian-delivered 1992 example has covered a mere 4,030 miles from new and is in a 100% original and unmodified condition.

DeTomaso PanteraRM Sotheby’s Icons auction

Estimate: $125,000 – $175,000 (£95,000 – £130,000)

This 1973 DeTomaso Pantera was a Ford Motor Company test car that was subsequently sold to an executive “out of the back door.” If you fancy placing a bid on this or any of the other cars in the New York Icons auction, the RM Sotheby’s sale takes place on 6 December 2017.

>NEXT: Lamborghini and university boffins create futuristic electric supercar

There could be 200,000 electric cars on UK roads by 2019

There could be 200,000 electric cars on UK roads by 2019

There could be 200,000 electric cars on UK roads by 2019

Electric vehicle charging firm Chargemaster predicts that the number of electric cars on UK roads could hit as many as 200,000 by the end of 2018.

It comes as the number of diesel car registrations shrank by nearly 30 percent in October while the plug-in car market grew by 47.5 percent.

New car registration data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveals that plug-in hybrid registrations increased by 46.9 percent last month compared to October 2016. Sales of pure electric cars increased by 70.6 percent – more than any other type of car.

“We will probably end this year with 45,000 new plug-in cars having been registered, and we expect to see around 70,000 registered in 2018,” said Chargemaster CEO David Martell. “By the end of the year, we estimate that there will be 200,000 electric cars on UK roads, rising to 500,000 by the end of 2020 and to one million by the end of 2022.”

“Recent consumer research shows that the majority of people have already considered switching to an electric car, and the speed of adoption that we will see over the next five to 10 years could surprise many consumers, as well as a few industry pundits.”

Speaking at the opening of the EV Experience Centre in Milton Keynes earlier this year, Martell said the number of electric vehicles on UK roads could hit a million by 2022.

He added: “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.”

>NEXT: Visit the showroom where you can test drive every electric car

Volvo XC60 side crash test November 2017

Eight cars get five stars for safety in latest tests

Volvo XC60 side crash test November 2017Euro NCAP has handed out eight full five-star ratings in its latest round of safety crash testing – including an “almost-perfect” 98 percent overall score for the new Volvo XC60 premium compact SUV. 

UK research experts Thatcham Research, which carries out a lot of testing for Euro NCAP, said the Volvo had “aced” the ever-tougher test protocols. Its director of Research, Matthew Avery, admitted “it’s exceedingly rare for a vehicle to score so favourably across the board. The adult occupant protection result for the Volvo XC60 is one of the best on record.

“But it’s in active safety that Volvo is really maintaining its lead. The XC60’s standard-fit safety technologies are excellent – or rather those that we were able to test, as its Turn Across Path and Run Off Road systems are not yet a feature of the Euro NCAP programme.”

Its Safety Assist score of 95 percent was a full 40 percent higher than the average of all the cars tested in 2017. “That’s how high the Volvo XC60 is above the bar set by Euro NCAP,” said Avery.

The new XC60 duly becomes the best car yet tested by Euro NCAP in 2017, although it wasn’t the only five-star SUV to be crash-tested. The Citroen C3 Aircross, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, Seat Arona, Skoda Karoq, Vauxhall Crossland X and Volkswagen T-Roc also earned a full brace of stars, as did the Volkswagen Polo – the only non-SUV model to be tested. 

Avery reckons the Polo could be a late runner to snare the title of safest supermini in 2017 from the Seat Ibiza. “It’s great to see the VW Polo, a likely top seller, not only performing so well in impact testing, but also coming off the forecourt with standard-fit AEB and Lane Assist systems.”

But while the latest round of five-star cars is impressive, Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen warned car makers things are to get even harder for 2018. “Next year will see new tests and even tougher requirements for five stars.”

Even so, he praised Europe’s big-selling brands for their advances in crash safety. “It is the high-selling mass-market vehicles that will really influence road safety in the future and manufacturers like Nissan, Ford, Seat and VW are to be congratulated for democratising safety.”

NEXT> Revealed: the safest used cars for first drivers

2018 BMW M3 CS

New BMW M3 CS is an £86,380 evolution special

2018 BMW M3 CSBMW has revealed the M3 CS, a limited-to-1,200 runout special that boasts an extra 10hp and goes on sale 30 years after the original E30 BMW M3 Evolution factory development model was released. Prices start from £86,380.

The 460hp 3.0-litre M TwinPower Turbo motor (aided by the standard M DCT paddleshift gearbox) will now do 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds, supercar-like acceleration for the four-door saloon, and a standard M Driver’s Package takes the top speed limiter up to 174mph, and pulling power gets a 37lb ft boost to 442lb ft.

It sounds more potent too, thanks to a standard sports exhaust compete with bespoke quad tailpipes. There’s also a new bright red starter button, just to add a bit of anticipation to the start-up procedure.

2018 BMW M3 CS

Suspension is taken from the M3 Competition Package, the later addition to the M3 and M4 Coupe range that so transformed the drivability and appeal of the cars. It boasts forged aluminium front and wheel links and wheel carriers, and special DTM-style light alloy wheels; 19-inch on the front, 20-inch at the rear.

Adaptive M suspension is standard and, like the stability control and Active M Differential settings, has been given a custom M3 CS tune. BMW’s also revised the steering mapping, and dropped on semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. If they’re too much, Michelin Sport road tyres are a no-cost option, but really, why would you?

Visually, the M3 CS gets a wonderful new design of Gurney spoiler lip, which BMW says is balanced with the carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) front splitter and rear diffuser. The bonnet and roof are also made from CFRP. It all saves 10kg over the standard M3.

Standard M compound brakes with four-piston front calipers are fitted: the bright yellow calipers contrast rather wonderfully with the matt-finish Orbit Grey wheels.

Inside, BMW’s lavished it with two-tone leather and Alcantara, including a CS-branded Alcantara dash section, and there’s ample use of the M tri-colour stripes on the steering wheel, head rests, even the seatbelts.

Ordering? That opens in January 2018, with production beginning in March. Curiously, BMW says production will be limited to “approximately” 1,200 units (rather than ‘exactly’), and if you want one, don’t hang around: there’s an all-new BMW 3 Series due next year, so it won’t want to keep this F30 model running through the production lines for long…

Winter driving safely

Thanksgiving road trip? Be prepared!

Winter driving safelyThe holidays are right around the corner, and with them, all the family trips to Grandma’s for pumpkin pie. It’s such a shame that Grandma chooses to live in upstate New York (for oh so many reasons) and that every road to her house is an icy skating rink of death from Halloween to Mother’s Day.

At the first sign of snow or ice, the safest thing to do is, of course, not drive. Barring that, never utter the words, “Oh, I think we can make it.” According to a study done by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, more than 800 people die every year as a result of winter driving accidents, ether from injuries or exposure. By steeling both yourself and your vehicle against the murderous tendencies of Jack Frost, these trips can end in a safe and sane turkey-induced coma instead of a fireball at the bottom of a ravine.

The number one safety feature of any vehicle is the driver

Winter driving safely

The importance of staying focused and aware in any driving situation can never be overstated, and that goes triply so in wintry conditions. Training and experience are the keys to staying safe, yet most American drivers only take one class in car control and traffic safety in their entire lives, Driver’s Ed, taken in high school around age 16. While undoubtedly you were a studious angel at that age, the rest of us were discovering sex and remember absolutely nothing else until well after college, and certainly not which way to turn the wheel in case of an icy skid.

It’s time to change that. Ask your insurance company, licensing agency, or state department of transportation about local winter driving courses. Learning car control as an adult is one of the most rewarding ways to spend the day imaginable. As part of the instruction, it’s necessary to slide the car sideways, swerve erratically, slam on the brakes, accelerate idiotically, and do all the other fun things your high school Driver’s Ed teacher would have a coronary over, and the police certainly would certainly frown upon now.

Learning emergency maneuvers in controlled conditions is more than just fun, though; it could save your life. More importantly, it could save the life of your passengers, including the two small ones in the back seat who call you Dad.

By the time four-wheel drive is required, the mistake has already been made

Four-wheel drive

Four- and all-wheel drive vehicles neither stop nor steer any better on ice than their two-wheel drive counterparts. Yes, they do indeed have an advantage in low-traction situations and will continue to move the car forward while lesser vehicles get stuck. However, the moment traction runs out, the vehicle will continue on in whatever direction it was headed until something stops it, like another vehicle, a tree, or perhaps jagged rocks at the bottom of a cliff.

A general rule of thumb for street vehicles in winter is: if four-wheel drive is required to get there, you shouldn’t go there. Stick to the road, stay out of deep snow, avoid hills, and keep off unplowed thoroughfares. All of this applies to four- and all-wheel drive vehicles.

If you still insist that your 4×4 will take you where snow angels fear to tread, remember the old adage, “With two-wheel drive you get stuck. With four-wheel drive you get damned stuck.” Bring recovery gear, such as tow straps, a shovel, a high jack, additional traction devices, and hopefully a winch, as well as all the instruction books that came with all that gear. Know how to use it before you set out and, again, bring warm, stout gloves; leather ones if you’re using a winch.

And again, there is no substitute for training.

Do I really need winter or snow tires?

Winter tires

For drivers who can reasonably expect a period of slick, icy roads, the answer is yes. Winter and snow tires are designed to remain flexible at lower temperatures, allowing them to conform to the road for better grip. Deeper tread depth and special patterns allow the tires to bite through the snow and slush, but still remain free of icy buildup. They also expel water at an increased rate, allowing the rubber to grip the ice through the slippery, sloppy surface layer.

According to Bridgestone Tire, “Mounting winter tires isn’t an over-the-top precaution, it’s an essential safety measure that could save your life.” We agree.

All-season tires are probably fine for drivers who only see a few flurries a year and for whom icy roads are a fluke. Even so, make sure your tires are ready for colder and wetter weather.

And lastly, the change over to winter, all-season, or wet weather tires is a great time to ensure your spare tire and jack are in working order.

Have a plan for additional traction


Even with appropriate tires, it’s necessary to have a plan for additional traction. Tire chains are the usual favorite, but shockingly few people have ever thought about how unbelievably awful it’s going to be when the chains are actually needed and the package is opened for the first time. In the snow. On the side of the road. In sub-freezing temperatures. Probably at night, because it’s colder then and more likely to snow. In short, read the instructions before you leave the house and make sure all the pieces are there. Practice putting the chains on in the warmth and safety of the garage, or even in the relative calm of the auto parts store lot. And add a pair of warm, stout gloves to the package, while you’re at it. You will absolutely need them.

Additional traction solutions like sand, traction mats, or even kitty litter can help to get a stuck car moving again. It’s best to research heavily or already be familiar with these options before setting off.

When driving in snow or wintry conditions, it’s a good idea to have a shovel in the car. Small collapsible models are available. If the car does need to be dug out, your hands are terrible tools for the job, and being cold and wet is the direct opposite of fun. Even if you never need it, someone stuck on the side of the road might. Also, impromptu toboggan.

Winter driving tips you’ve ignored before but will totally listen to now

  • Slow down
  • Stopping may take much longer on icy roads, and might not even be possible
  • The bigger the car, the longer the stopping distance
  • Leave extra room between cars. Loads. Yes, even at low speed
  • Do not mash the gas. Yes, we know it’s fun
  • Do not slam on the brake. Yes, we know it’s fun
  • Slow down
  • Do not use cruise control
  • Bridges, offramps, and shady spots might be extra slippery. Prepare for that
  • Slow down and approach intersections with caution. This is the most likely place for other drivers to be careening out of control
  • Be extra cautious near chainup or removal areas; people are out of their cars
  • Give snowplows extra room. Never pass a snowplow
  • Learn what traction advisories are active along your route
  • Slow the hell down. Yes, really
  • And Seattleites, we’ve all seen the videos. If it snows even one single flake, please don’t drive

Your wintry windshield and you

Winter windshield

Check windshield wiper blades at the beginning of the season to ensure they’re in good working order. There are now also winter blades available that flex more in cold weather and slide easier across frosty or muddy windshields.

Be sure to keep the windshield washer fluid reservoir full of actual windshield washer fluid. It contains antifreeze properties that soapy water just doesn’t have. Keep an extra bottle in the trunk, as well. Being able to see things is the first step in not running into them.

Make sure the windshield scraper is still in the car, and throw a good pair of gloves into the glovebox to go with it. They are a godsend on chilly mornings, and a necessity in emergencies.

Add a snowbrush to your kit. It’s the proper tool for the job and puts distance between the snow and your hands, keeping you warm and dry. Even if it’s rarely needed, it just makes life so much easier when it is.

The half-tank rule

Half-tank rule

The half tank rule is simple: if the fuel level in the car drops to half a tank, fill ‘er up. Should the car get stuck on a snowy, deserted mountain road, keeping the car running and the heater going can mean the difference between life and death.

Emergency preparedness


Speaking of ways to avoid freezing to death by the side of the road, every car should carry an emergency kit during winter months. Things to have in the car:

  • Cell phone. The most important thing to do in an emergency is call for help
  • Cell phone charger
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Snacks and water
  • Emergency poncho
  • Reflective safety vest
  • Spare socks and other clothing items that might get wet
  • First aid kit
  • Blanket
  • Two pairs of gloves, one leather and one latex
  • Rags or paper towels
  • Matches or lighter
  • Whistle
  • Toilet paper
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables
  • Flares
  • Spare tire

Don’t Panic

Don't panic

The most important winter driving rule of all, of course, is don’t panic. If you find yourself stuck or stranded, stay in your car, put on your flashers, call for help, and wait until it arrives. After all, you’ve prepared for this. Wrap yourself in your emergency blanket, turn up the heat, and have a granola bar. You’re fine.