2018 World Car Awards finalists revealed

What is 2018’s best new car in the world? We’re now a step closer to finding out as the finalists for the 2018 World Car Awards are revealed.

From a longlist of more than 30 vehicles (which included a lot of SUVs), 10 of the best newly-launched models will now go forward into another round of voting to decide the best of the best. Contenders for the World Urban Car, World Luxury Car, World Performance Car, World Green Car and World Car Design of the Year will also be voted on.

The results will be announced at the 2018 New York International Auto Show in April. Between now and then, the jurors need to decide: which of these cars deserves a 2018 World Car Awards gong?

The big prize is the World Car of the Year trophy. This year, 82 jurors from across the planet will decide the winner – it genuinely is a ‘world car’ prize. All cars must be on sale in at least two regions across the globe.

Last year, the Jaguar F-Pace was awarded the 2017 World Car of the Year prize. Since then, F-Pace sales have rocketed: car manufacturers see this award as one of the biggies, given its global recognition.

Which of these 10 cars deserves to win in 2018 though? Read on to see the contenders – and, as a World Car Awards Juror, also see my thoughts on why I think each car is in with a shot.  

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa’s sporty four-door rival to the BMW 3 Series is increasingly looking like a bit of a star player for the Italian firm. One of the keys to its big relaunch in the U.S., the Italians needed this car to be competitive, and it is. But can it go one better and win the overall 2018 World Car of the Year prize?

My thoughts: MiTo, Giulietta, 4C. Three contemporary Alfa Romeos, all of which are disappointing. The Giulia is different – a car that’s more than a match for its able German competition. Such is the emotional appeal of the brand, it’s in with a shot of a WCOTY gong. Just imagine Alfa’s cheer if it won…

BMW X3

The first X3 looked good but had a cheap interior and intolerable ride quality. The second one was forgettable. At last, BMW’s got the X3 right, with all-round appeal making it a very strong family SUV contender. Third time lucky.

My thoughts: The new X3 is a commendable all-rounder, and the xDrive40i – the first ‘hot’ X3 – is a fun thing. There’s an all-electric version coming too. I just wonder if BMW couldn’t have been braver still with the styling.

Kia Stinger

A quite extraordinary Kia surprise, one filling a niche normally occupied by cars such as the Audi A5 and S5 Sportback. Kia’s big four-door coupe looks smart, has a cracking interior and, in V6 turbo guise, drives with real verve. It’s a car that’s hard to fault, and one that’s certainly in with a shot of winning the WCOTY 2018 prize.

My thoughts: The Stinger didn’t disappoint. It’s as fun to drive as it is ravishing to look at. Kia paid big money to get the guy who used to make BMW M cars handle. His influence on this car is obvious and very, very welcome.

Land Rover Discovery

The big Land Rover Discovery has, for 2018, found some newfound Range Rover-like style. It’s now even more ferociously capable off road, and the classy interior is worlds apart from the old one. Practical enough for seven people, it’s just a pity aspects of the styling have proven controversial.

My thoughts: The new Land Rover Discovery provides a timely lesson to Land Rover. It replaced the boxy old Discovery 4 (LR2 in the U.S.) and immediately confused some with its softer styling and offset rear licence plate. It’s far from cheap either, although its all-round abilities go some way to justifying this.

Mazda CX-5

The previous Mazda CX-5 didn’t strike many people as a car in need of replacement. That didn’t stop the car-loving Japanese doing just that though, giving us a CX-5 even sharper, roomier, more refined and more fun to drive than before. No matter what continent you’re on, the CX-5 is a great five-seat mid-size SUV.

My thoughts: I drove it in LA and was impressed by its engaging handling, stylish looks and practical interior. Then I came back to the UK and swapped the North American petrol engine for a turbodiesel. It was, if anything, better still. This one’s definitely a contender.

Nissan Leaf

One of the most important new cars to launch this year, full stop. Nissan launched the affordable electric car sector with the original Leaf, and this second generation one aims to address everything it’s learnt about EVs to further extend its lead over rivals. The firm looks to have done just that, and more.

My thoughts: The original one had quirky, oddball styling. This one looks much more normal, with a crisp exterior and appealing cabin. The range is longer, it drives with greater engagement, is faster, charges up faster, has a bigger boot – yet somehow costs even less than the original. Bravo, Nissan.

Range Rover Velar

A Range Rover surprise. We didn’t expect the firm to launch an all-new model last year, but the Velar has slotted in neatly between posh Evoque and entry-level Range Rover Sport. The standout is how it looks, both outside and in, but it drives with easygoing elegance as well, with the refinement to back up its classy style.

My thoughts: Land Rover calls it a ‘white space car’. But it’s no mere white goods transport. OK, it doesn’t quite have the sparkle of the related Jaguar F-Pace behind the wheel, but its ultra-contemporary styling and brilliant interior makes up for this. Pity about prices that very quickly get very, very expensive indeed…

Toyota Camry

The North American best-seller gets a radical new look that gives it newfound attitude. The Camry backs it up with a tight drive as well, all enjoyed from a nice cabin.

My thoughts: The Camry’s done good. It’s no longer dull, formulaic three-box transport for those bored by anything to do with cars. But will its obvious focus on North America restrict its appeal in the rest of the globe?

Volkswagen T-Roc

Volkswagen’s SUV frenzy continues. Fitting in below the Tiguan, and above the Golf, is the new T-Roc, a crossover billed as the modern-day SUV-themed interpretation of the original Scirocco coupe. It looks fantastic, has a typically sound VW interior and is an accomplished machine to drive.  

My thoughts: I like the T-Roc, a lot. It’s not the biggest of family-sized SUVs, but should still be big enough, and the fact this has helped keep prices in check means I expect it to be a top-10 best-seller in key markets sooner rather than later. It’s that good.

Volvo XC60

The replacement to the original and very long-running XC60 is a car designed very much in the modern Volvo way. But looking like a downsized XC90 is no bad thing, not least when it means you can charge more attainable prices so more people might be able to consider one.

My thoughts: Tight looks, a brilliant interior, family-friendly space for five and a drive that’s up there with the best of them, it’s not hard to see the appeal of the XC60. It’s a formidable challenger to an arch-rival that also appears in this top 10, the BMW X3. Any bets on which will come out on top?

But what about the other awards? Here are the finalists in the other World Car Awards gongs up for grabs. 

2018 World Urban Car

The World Urban Car was a new award for 2017. It’s focused on compact, practical, city-friendly all-rounders that are small but not too small, wieldy for the town but still decent on a longer run. This year’s shortlist sees regular supermini small cars do battle against B-SUV crossovers.

  • Ford Fiesta
  • Hyundai Kona
  • Nissan Micra
  • Suzuki Swift
  • Volkswagen Polo

2018 World Luxury Car

We can’t all be lucky enough to sit in a decadent Bentley, but some of us are still able to afford our own luxury car. Which are the top new arrivals in 2018? Here are the five contenders for the World Luxury Car prize.

  • Audi A8
  • BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo
  • Lexus LS
  • Porsche Cayenne
  • Porsche Panamera

2018 World Performance Car

For many, this is the most exciting category of all. Car makers are forever pushing the boundaries of performance and the front-runners for the 2018 prize are typically all machines that no enthusiast would turn down…

  • Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
  • Audi RS 3 Sedan
  • BMW M5
  • Honda Civic Type R
  • Lexus LC 500

2018 World Green Car

The importance of good green cars grows with every year. And so does car makers’ ability to build ever-more accomplished ones. Here’s what’s in the running for the 2018 World Green Car prize.

  • BMW 530e iPerformance
  • Chevrolet Cruze Diesel
  • Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
  • Nissan Leaf

2018 World Car Design of the Year

The World Car Design of the Year is judged from a shortlist of five cars picked by a panel of renowned car designers. In the running this year are five standout new car designs.

  • Citroen C3 Aircross
  • Lexus LC 500
  • Range Rover Velar
  • Renault Alpine A110
  • Volvo XC60

What’s next?

Jurors now head into another round of voting, based upon more detailed testing of the finalists. The top three finalists in each category will be announced at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show in March, before the winners being revealed at NYIAS in April.

Lancia Thema 8.32

Lancia Thema 8.32: the most Italian performance saloon

Lancia Thema 8.32

Make no mistake, the Lancia Thema 8.32 was an extraordinary car. Let not the flow of wisdom and common sense convince you that a Thema Turbo would deliver many of the benefits without some of the inevitable headaches, because the 8.32 is a car devoid of levelheadedness and logic. Instead, let us celebrate the fact that Lancia – the self-proclaimed ‘Most Italian Car’ company – had the vision to build it.

More specifically, we can thank Vittorio Ghidella for the ‘four-door Ferrari’. The former Fiat boss – a man credited with rescuing the company from financial ruin and described as “a car man through and through” – created a separate production line at the San Paolo plant, where the 8.32 was built alongside the regular Thema.

£100,000 in today’s money

At its heart was the 2927cc, 32-valve V8 engine, cast by Ferrari in Maranello, assembled by Ducati, and shipped to Lancia in Turin. It was the same unit found in the Ferrari 308 Quattrovalvole but revised and detuned for its unlikely appearance in the four-door saloon.

So while the 308 QV developed 240hp, the 8.32 offered a more saloon-like 215hp at 6,750rpm and 209lb ft of torque at 4,500rpm. Respectable figures, but not enough to keep up with the contemporary BMW M5 or Sierra Sapphire Cosworth, even if the lighter Ford was down on power.

It wasn’t exactly cheap, either. In 1988, the Thema 8.32 would set you back £37,500, almost double the price of the go-faster Sierra. It was also £500 more than a Maserati 430, and more expensive than the Audi Quattro and M5.

More context is provided by the Thema range starting price, which kicked off at £12,495 for the 2000ie, with the 135mph Turbo LX available for £17,500. In today’s money, an 8.32 would nudge six figures. And you thought they were asking a lot for the Alfa Romeo Giulia QV, also known as today’s ‘four-door Ferrari’.

Madness, you might think, but there was no shortage of suitors for this elegant Italian. Lancia was basking in the warm glow of success on the world rally stage, with the Delta Integrale, 037 and Stratos HF injecting the kind of motorsport pedigree other brands could only dream of.

It didn’t matter that the understated Italdesign styling was mostly unchanged – this was part of the appeal. A Thema 8.32 could blend into its surroundings with consummate ease, with little to suggest there was a ‘Lancia by Ferrari’ engine sitting beneath the bonnet.

The cover would soon be blown if the driver took the Thema to its 149mph top speed, while the mellow chatter of the V8 would provide a more audible clue to the car’s potency. That said, it remains one of the greatest Q-cars of all-time: the ultimate Lupo vestito da Pecora.

Other giveaways included the stainless steel radiator grille, the small yellow 8.32 badges, the sill skirts, front air dam with integral fog lights, five-spoke alloy wheels and a retractable rear spoiler, which would appear from within the boot lid when driven at speed.

A different lira

Lancia Thema 8.32

Inside, the changes were more elaborate but far from ostentatious. Satin-finish walnut adorned the dashboard, the tops of the doors and the ashtray, having arrived in crates at the Turin factory.

The rest of the interior was swathed in the most exceptional Poltrona Frau leather or velour, giving buyers a hint of a time when Lancia could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the luxury elite. As a monument to mark the subsequent decline of this once great marque, the 8.32 is almost without peer.

Even at £37,500, it’s doubtless that Lancia would have raked in the lira on this halo model. The front-wheel drive Thema was developed alongside the Saab 9000, Fiat Croma and Alfa Romeo 164 as a European four-door family saloon. Nobody in their right mind would have raised the prospect of crowbarring a Ferrari engine beneath the bonnet when the Type Four platform was first discussed.

It was a snug fit. The engineers were forced to create a removable inner panel within the right-hand wheel arch simply to allow for access to the belts for the power steering pump and alternator.

Other upgrades included a damper control system – allowing for ‘comfort’ and ‘sport’ driving modes – huge ventilated front brake discs, a reworked five-speed gearbox, Goodyear Eagle tyres, and suspension upgrades.

A comprehensive package, then, but not enough for the 8.32 to out-muscle a BMW M5 or Audi Quattro, both of which were cheaper and offered more for the enthusiastic driver. But to label the 8.32 as a mere also-ran in the battle for contemporary performance car supremacy would be to miss the point. The Thema 8.32 was about so much more than speed and cornering prowess.

It’s about the finer details, like the gold and yellow pinstripes, handpainted by a Torinese worker with incredibly steady hands, possibly before a typically Italian lunch. Also, note the range of instruments inset behind the lavish walnut dash. At night, the illuminated dials create a wonderful spectacle, assuming no troublesome warning lights are on display. Buyers could also order a car telephone, along with stereo headphones for rear passengers, presumably if they’d had enough of listening to the redolent sound of the Ferrari V8.

The Thema 8.32 was, if you like, Lancia at its bonkers best. Not as bombastic as the rallying heroes, and perhaps not as well-appointed as cars from Lancia’s luxury heyday, but as a demonstration of what we know and love about the marque, it’s unquestionably up there with the very best.

Thema 8.32: if it’s good enough for Mr Bean…

Lancia Thema 8.32

Which is why the presence of Rowan Atkinson’s 1989 example at the forthcoming Race Retro Classic Car Sale should set hearts a fluttering and the sudden urge to check on the progress of your ISA. The auction star – for which there is no reserve – has barely turned a wheel in the seven years Atkinson has owned it and is thought to be one of 20 registered and taxed in the UK.

According to Silverstone Auctions, the actor has “spent a considerable sum maintaining and improving the car”, with a history file showing closing to £20,000 in bills. This figure will either encourage you or send you scurrying back to the sanctum of auction 205 GTis and fast Fords.

But an 8.32 should be no more troublesome than a Thema Turbo, and the low-stress V8 should actually be more reliable if it has been maintained to a high standard. And you’re hardly going to use it daily, which means the fuel economy is unlikely to be an issue.

Perhaps, like Rowan Atkinson, you have a cunning plan to purchase the car, merely to say you own a Lancia Thema 8.32. And why not: we would happily while the away the hours in those rich and sumptuous velour seats.

An extraordinary vehicle from the most Italian car company on earth. They don’t make them like they used to. And boy, do we miss Lancia.

Photos © Silverstone Auctions

Read more:

Range Stormer

How the Range Stormer prepared the world for the Range Rover Sport

Range Stormer

Land Rover buyers in the early 00s were a fairly conservative bunch. They’d just got over the shock of the Freelander arriving, while the Discovery could trace its roots back to 1989. The third-generation ‘L322’ Range Rover arrived at the end of 2001, conceived under BMW ownership and launched following Ford’s takeover.

While the L322 was a fairly dramatic change for the brand – it was all-new, with an aluminium body and the Rover V8 was finally banished in favour of BMW engines – it was also exactly what one might expect from a Range Rover developed under BMW ownership. Class-leading, luxurious, expensive… yes, all of those. Controversial? No more so than its P38 predecessor – in fact, probably less so, as many saw the P38 as an insult to the memory of the original Range Rover.

By 2004, Land Rover was wondering how it was going to introduce its Discovery-based Range Rover Sport to the market. This was a car that put style above all else – although, admittedly it was still capable off-road and was surprisingly good on it. Simply launching it out of the blue would have caused outrage among enthusiasts and confusion elsewhere.

Under Ford ownership, Land Rover particularly wanted to go for the North American market with its Range Rover Sport. An idea was formed: why not develop a concept car, previewing the Sport, that could be revealed at the NAIAS Detroit Auto Show in 2004?

The bizarre thing was that, with the Sport set to be revealed later that year, development was almost entirely finished before a team got around to designing the Range Stormer that previewed it. Ordinarily, a concept car would provide a vehicle for engineers and designers to experiment with bold ideas ahead of working on a production model, but the Range Stormer was nothing more than a marketing stunt.

Its creators started off with a platform from the aforementioned P38 (which, conveniently, featured the same 108.1-inch wheelbase as the upcoming Sport), along with the P38’s 4.6-litre V8 engine and four-speed automatic gearbox.

While fundamentally old-school in its mechanics, the same couldn’t be said for its design. Finished in bright orange (which was available, briefly, as Vesuvius Orange on the First Edition models of the production Range Rover Sport), with huge 22-inch wheels and a three-door body, it looked like nothing ever produced by Land Rover before. A marketing stunt, perhaps, but an impressive one.

And it wasn’t all bling. Anyone who caught a glimpse inside the Range Stormer’s cabin at Detroit would spy a rotary control which would, in the production car, control Land Rover’s trick Terrain Response system. It wasn’t actually connected to anything in the Range Stormer, but it was a sign of what was to come.

Other clever features included swivelling bi-xenon adaptive headlights (which later appeared on the Sport and the Discovery 3) not to mention doors which split in two, with the lower half forming a step and the upper raising upwards gullwing-style (which, er, didn’t).

With hindsight, the Range Stormer did a superb job of preparing North America (and, indeed, the world) for the Range Rover Sport. But to simply describe it as a preview of the forthcoming car is also an injustice. Even looking at it today, we can see hints of Velar – and the upcoming Range Rover SV Coupe will no doubt bear a resemblance, too.

In the classifieds

Range Rover Sport

OK, you can’t actually buy the Range Stormer concept car. If you want to see it up-close, however, it’s currently on display at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, Warwickshire.

The closest thing you can actually buy is a Range Rover Sport – ideally a First Edition finished in Vesuvius Orange. Only around 250 were made in Vesuvius Orange, making it rare today, especially with early Range Rover Sports now at the age when repair bills can be more expensive than they’re worth, leading to numbers decreasing.

At the time of writing, a search on Auto Trader reveals one genuine First Edition Vesuvius Orange Range Rover Sport for sale. It needs a bit of TLC – we’d prefer the original 20-inch alloys and ditch the chrome mirror caps – but at £7,995 it doesn’t strike us as bad value. Admittedly, it might not prove to be the epitome of reliability, but at least an LPG conversion should take the edge off the fuel bills generated by the 4.2-litre supercharged V8 engine.

In pictures: Range Stormer concept

Read more:

Range Rover SV Coupe interior

Range Rover SV Coupe announced for Geneva 2018

Range Rover SVCoupe interior

Land Rover has announced plans for a luxury SUV coupe to take on the likes of the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE.

Set to be launched at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, the SV Coupe will be “a dramatic addition to the Range Rover portfolio”, says Land Rover.

The ‘SV’ in its name is short for Special Vehicle Operations, the team at Land Rover that recently gave us the £150,000 Defender V8.

The Range Rover SV Coupe will be hand-assembled at the SV technical centre in Warwickshire, with production limited to just 999 for worldwide distribution. Going by the Defender V8’s price tag and the SV Coupe’s limited numbers, we reckon it might be a fair bit pricier than the likes of the BMW X6. Indeed, with the SVAutobiography starting at £167,850, could the coupe even take on the Lamborghini Urus?

Of course, Land Rover is keen to emphasise its heritage with the new SV Coupe. The Range Rover was originally available as a three-door model in 1970, and the more recent Range Stormer concept of 2004 was a three-door.

“Land Rover created the luxury SUV sector with Range Rover almost 50 years ago,” said Land Rover’s Special Operations managing director, John Edwards. “In launching the new Range Rover SV Coupe, we will offer clients an alluring combination of peerless luxury and rarity. Unveiling this special vehicle at Geneva International Motor Show in March, during Land Rover’s 70th Anniversary year, will be a defining moment for Land Rover, the Range Rover portfolio and Special Vehicle Operations.”

The only teaser pic revealed of the Range Rover SV Coupe so far shows a luxurious four-seat cabin, with an upmarket wooden centre console running alongside the transmission tunnel.

Design chief Gerry McGovern said: “The Range Rover SV Coupe is a highly compelling design with peerless refinement and uncompromised sophistication from its breathtaking exterior proportions to its sumptuous, beautifully appointed, interior. This is a vehicle that will resonate on an emotional level.”

We’ll see the Range Rover SV Coupe in the metal for the first time at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, which kicks off on 6 March. Motoring Research will be reporting live.

Read more:

How to prevent your car being stolen using keyless entry scam

BMW and Ford drivers most likely to have their car stolen or written-off

How to prevent your car being stolen using keyless entry scam

BMW and Ford drivers are most likely to have their cars stolen or written-off, according to a study by Warranty Direct. The findings also show that claims for write-offs have risen by 55 percent since 2014, with some cases costing as much as £15,000.

The analysis has been carried out by the warranty company’s GAP insurance division, which can cover the shortfall that might arise from an insurer’s comprehensive policy settlement. It found that BMW and Ford each accounted for 17 percent of overall GAP claims, followed by Mercedes-Benz (11 percent), Vauxhall (11 percent) and Audi (4 percent).

But while BMW and Ford account for the highest proportion of cases, the most significant claims were made by Mercedes drivers, with an average claim value of £5,165. Meanwhile, Audi drivers claimed an average of £4,905 and BMW drivers £4,286.

Car crime had started to decline, but criminals are finding new ways to bypass the latest security technology, with vehicle-related theft up 30 percent between 2013 and 2016 in England and Wales.

Simon Ackers, chief executive of Warranty Direct, said: “It’s clear from the recent steep rise in vehicle-related thefts and write-offs that advances in vehicle manufacturing and technology cannot always prevent irreparable damage.

“The motoring industry must continue to adapt and encourage consumers to guard against potential loss with GAP insurance and visual deterrents such as steering wheel locks and alarms, which could help protect vehicles from theft.”

How to avoid a ‘relay attack’

Figures released by vehicle tracking specialists, Tracker, showed that 96 percent of motorists are at risk of having their car stolen using a ‘relay attack’, in which two criminals work together using electronic signal relay devices.

One criminal uses a device to receive the key signal from inside the home, transferring the signal to a second box, placed close to the car. This tricks the car into ‘thinking’ the key is present, allowing the thieves to unlock it and drive away.

To avoid being a victim of a ‘relay attack’, motorists are advised to place the car keys in a metal box, a signal blocking wallet or a microwave oven.

Read more

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

Used SUVs for less than £200 a monthAuto Trader has launched a new online tool, allowing car buyers to search for their next car based on their ideal monthly budget. Given the popularity of PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) plans, this should benefit the majority of people who visit the classifieds website. With this in mind, we’ve been on the hunt for SUVs and crossovers for less than £200 a month.

To focus the results, we narrowed the search to cars up to five years old with no more than 100,000 miles on the clock. We also used a range of deposit options, from zero to £2,500.

£0 deposit: Nissan Juke

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

Once upon a time, an SUV meant tank-like styling and driving dynamics, four-wheel drive, and running costs to rival the national debt. Today, the lines between SUVs, crossovers and hatchbacks have become rather blurred, but to keep things simple we’ve used Auto Trader’s own filters to find a selection of SUVs for £200 a month. Like this Nissan Juke, which could be yours for £173.33 a month, with no deposit and an optional final payment of £3,474.58.

£0 deposit: Kia Sportage

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

This one-owner Kia Sportage has covered 49,100 miles and is on sale for £9,779. Alternatively, you can drive away with no deposit and £199.74 a month over three years. The optional final payment is £4,471.50, with a fixed rate of interest of 3.97%.

£500 deposit: Hyundai ix35

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

Increasing the size of the deposit from zero to £500 should, in theory, either lower your monthly payments or allow you to purchase a newer vehicle. This 2014 Hyundai ix35 has covered just 13,061 and is up for £9,950. With a £500 deposit, that works out at £199.97 a month, with an optional final payment of £4,649. You’ll pay nearly £2,400 in interest, mind.

£500 deposit: Dacia Duster

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

The Dacia Duster is a refreshingly honest SUV, and this 2014 example even benefits from four-wheel drive. The 1.5-litre dCi engine delivers a reasonable amount of poke and low running costs, while the black lower bumpers and steel wheels mean you won’t cringe when you hit the odd rock or tree stump. Yours for £199.77 a month, with an optional final payment of £2,655.

£1,000 deposit: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

Remember, these examples are for illustrative purposes only, and you can spend a few minutes fine-tuning your search criteria. If you fancy a shorter term and a larger deposit, simply adjust the settings. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a popular new car, so used examples are likely to be in-demand. Up the deposit to £1,000 and you can drive away in the plug-in hybrid SUV for £199.93 a month, with an optional final payment of £6,335.

£1,000 deposit: Volkswagen Tiguan

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

Such is the popularity of the Volkswagen Tiguan, we doubt this 2013 example will be available for long. The S trim is hardly lavish, but this one-owner example does benefit from 4Motion four-wheel drive and that all-important VW badge. Pay £1,000 and it’s yours for £199.55 a month, with an optional final payment of £4,331.50.

£1,500 deposit: Jeep Renegade

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

Increasing the deposit to £1,500 opens up a new world of opportunities, including some much newer vehicles. The Jeep badge gives the Renegade justification for the ‘SUV’ tag, even if this 2016 example is front-wheel drive. You’ll pay £199.98 a month, with an optional final payment of £6,075.

£1,500 deposit: BMW X1

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

Given the choice between spending £200 a month on a brand new supermini or a used BMW crossover, many will be lured by the premium badge of the X1. This front-wheel drive example dates from 2013 and has 47,688 miles on the clock. The monthly repayments are £184.05 after a £1,500 deposit. You’ll need to find £4,680 if you decide to keep it in 2021.

£2,000 deposit: Peugeot 2008

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

We’ve upped the deposit again, this time to £2,000, which is enough to secure this 2016 Peugeot 2008 with 9,100 miles on the clock. The spec includes cruise control, dual-zone climate control, 16-inch alloy wheels and rear parking sensors, while the monthly payments are £199.98. Optional final payment: £5,310.

£2,000 deposit: Vauxhall Mokka X

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

With just 7,702 miles on the clock, this 2017 Vauxhall Mokka X is practically new and benefits from a 7-inch touchscreen, front and rear parking sensors, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cruise control and dual-zone climate control. You’ll pay £199.95 a month, with an optional final payment of £6,231.39.

£2,500 deposit: Nissan Qashqai

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

With 4,092 miles on the clock, this Nissan Qashqai is practically brand new, even though it was registered in 2015. It begs the question: what has it been doing for the best part of three years? Predictably, it looks blemish-free, and it could be yours for bang on £200 a month. The optional final payment is £7,022.75.

£2,500 deposit: Audi Q3

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

We conclude with this 2014 Audi Q3 SE Quattro with 19,000 miles on the clock. Spend £2,500 on a deposit and you’ll pay £199.63 a month, with an optional final payment of £8,142.73. Contact the local dealers to discover more about the cars mentioned here, and be sure to take a test drive before signing up for a PCP deal.

Read more

Renault Clio Urban Nav 2018

Renault Clio Urban Nav special costs from £149 a month

Renault Clio Urban Nav 2018Renault has launched a new special edition Clio called the Urban Nav. It’s based on the popular Dynamique Nav model, so includes TomTom sat nav as standard, but also adds 16-inch grey alloy wheels, full LED headlights and rear parking sensors.

The Urban Nav is finished in a special body colour called, fittingly, Urban grey.

Renault Clio Urban Nav 2018

Prices start from £16,225, which is £575 more than a Dynamique Nav – but Renault calculates the extra equipment is worth £1,265.

There’s more. Renault’s also pulled together a 0 percent finance PCP package; in return for a £5,030 deposit, customers can pay £149 a month for three years, with a final payment of £5,831. If they’re aged 21-75, they’ll also get a year’s free insurance.

The Urban Nav is available with a 0.9-litre TCe 90 turbo petrol engine for the £16,225 starter price. The 1.5-litre dCi 90 costs £17,625, and if it wasn’t for the fact it was also available with an auto (for, deep breath, £18,995), we’d question Renault’s logic in offering it at all.

Few people buy diesel superminis, yet alone in the current down-on-diesel climate. Besides, even the petrol does 60.1mpg.

Deliveries of the new Urban Nav begin in March – just in time for the new 18-plate registration.

Read more: 

Wayne Rooney forced to flog supercar after drink-drive ban

Wayne Rooney forced to sell supercar after drink-drive ban

Wayne Rooney forced to flog supercar after drink-drive ban

Former England football captain Wayne Rooney has been banned for driving for two years after being caught at nearly three times over the legal alcohol limit.

This has led to the Everton FC star – who described his actions as a ‘lack of judgement’ – returning his BMW i8 hybrid supercar to his local dealer and asking them to sell it on his behalf. It’s believed that the i8 could be one of a number of cars being sold by Rooney following his driving ban.

Auto Trader’s most popular hybrid cars (December 2017)
Toyota Auris Hybrid
Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Toyota Prius
Mitsubishi Outlander
Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Toyota Yaris Hybrid
Lexus IS300h
BMW 3 Series
Lexus CT200h
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The silver BMW i8 is listed on Auto Trader for £64,995 at a BMW dealership in Blackpool. It’s showing less than 8,000 miles on the clock, meaning Rooney’s averaged less than 3,000 miles a year since it was bought new in 2015.

“It’s refreshing to see a footballer driving a hybrid, rather than a Chelsea tractor or gas-guzzling supercar, and even more so to see a footballer’s car in a sober colour,” said Auto Trader’s editorial director, Erin Baker.

“The trend with more premiership stars plugging-in also reflects the wider UK car market. On Auto Trader’s marketplace in December searches for electric vehicles increased by 56 percent year-on-year – with hybrid vehicles also showing a substantial 50 percent rise from buyers exploring newer fuel types.”

The BMW i8 – which will have cost around £112,000 when new – combines a downsized turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine with two electric motors. It can hit 62mph in 4.4 seconds

Leicester City FC made the news in 2016 when its chairman famously bought its championship-winning team their own fleet of BMW i8s.

Video: BMW’s amazing car collection

Read more:

Audi RS2

Audi RS2 review: driving the original ‘practical Porsche’

Audi RS2With the exception of BMW’s E34 M5 Touring, the genuinely fast enthusiast-aimed estate car was conspicuous by its absence up until the early 1990s. And then Audi’s RS2 sped into view and kickstarted the performance load-lugger genre.

And it certainly was conspicuous when painted RS Blue Pearl (a dozen less attention-grabbing colours were also available). Launched in 1994, the RS2 was based on the B4 80 Avant, and packed a 315hp, 144hp-per-litre punch.

Powered by a 2.2-litre, 20-valve, five-cylinder engine borrowed from the 230hp S2 Avant, the RS2 boasted a KKK turbocharger that was 30 per cent larger, running 1.4 bar of boost. A six-speed manual gearbox sent power to all four wheels, while a manually-operated locking differential was employed on the rear axle.

Audi RS2

Sound good? We haven’t told you the best bit yet. The £45,705 RS2 was a collaboration with Porsche, and as well as the engine upgrades, Audi’s Stuttgart bedfellow added 968 Clubsport ‘Cup’ wheels, tyres and brake calipers. Yep, that’s right, those red anchors peeping out from the rims have genuine sports car pedigree.

There are also the shapely 968/993 door mirrors, 993-style bumpers and blink-and-you’ll-miss-them badges that bear the ‘RS2 Porsche’ legend. And the bright red ‘prismatic’ light strip which runs the whole width of the RS2’s stubby rear end – a nod to the 911 Carrera 4. All in all, a comprehensive makeover, but one which remains on the delicious side of subtle.

How does it drive?

Audi RS2

The RS2’s athletic going over continues inside. The Recaro sports seats envelop you, their lurid blue Alcantara trim signalling sporting intent. Ahead of you sit a quartet of white-faced dials – including a 180mph-calibrated speedo – while the centre console houses three further gauges showing oil pressure and temperature, as well as battery voltage. Aside from a three-spoke, leather-wrapped and RS2-branded steering wheel, it’s all standard early 1990s Audi 80, which means bank-vault-solid build quality and no-nonsense slabby style.

With smaller dimensions than estate cars of 2018, it’s easy to place the RS2 on the road, made even easier by excellent all-round visibility. At low speeds it’s as docile and unspectacular as other contemporary 80 Avants, but bury your right foot and you soon realise the RS2 is more of a monster. Hang on, wait a few seconds… there it is!

The RS2 takes time to spool its turbo, but once it does, its pace is ferocious. Audi quoted a zero to 60mph time of 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 163mph, and the RS2 easily feels that quick. So shocking was its pace when it was launched, Autocar & Motor recorded a 0-30 mph time of just 1.5 seconds. At the time, that was faster than both the McLaren F1 and Jacques Villeneuve’s Formula 1 car.

Although its aural output is muted at lower revs, the engine warbles wondrously ahead of you in the only way an Audi five-pot can, and you really have to wake it to extract its power.

Audi RS2

Below 3,000rpm not much happens, then you ride the 302lb ft wave of torque and by 7,000rpm it’s more or less all over. Stay in the middle ratios to keep the engine on the boil and the RS2 just keeps on finding more speed. It’s both intoxicating and intimidating, and all the time you’re aware this is an estate car – an estate car with up to 1,200 litres of luggage space. Unbelievable.

As is the RS2’s cross-country capability. The Quattro four-wheel drive system means the all-pawed Audi sticks to the road spectacularly, not even relinquishing grip in the pouring rain that dogged our drive. It’s so fabulously capable, standing water proves no deterrent and the RS2 just powers through it, its wonderfully compliant suspension soaking up the bumps with little jarring.

Sensation-wise, the RS2 feels very of its time. The nicely-weighted steering is sadly devoid of any meaningful feedback, and although there is some body lean, it stubbornly slingshots its way out of corners with no fuss, ready to soar up the straight and devour the next apex. The uprated Porsche brakes offer progressive retardation, which is just as well, as Audi UK’s precious heritage press fleet car has under 3,000 miles under its original Dunlop SP Sport 8000 245/40 ZR17 tyres.

Tell me about buying one

Audi RS2

The hand-built RS2 was a performance car hero the moment it left the Porsche production line, and values have never been bargain-basement low. That’s partly due to its Stuttgart and Ingolstadt parentage – it’s amazing what a seven-letter word beginning with ‘P’ can do for values. It’s also because it was a leftfield car that hid its performance under what some consider a frumpy 80 Avant body. Lastly, values are buoyed because only 2,891 were made in 18 months, with just 182 official UK right-hand-drive cars.

RS2s, therefore, are pricey. High-mileage cars are obviously worth less than pristine examples with few miles, but left-hand-drive European imports offer more choice. Mechanically, the cars are relatively bombproof when it comes to the engine and 4WD system, and they can handle high mileages with little issue.

The main problems lie with the gearbox, which has a reputation for being weak, as well as coil packs that let go. The handbrake cable can also stretch, while spark plugs should be replaced every 20,000 miles. Suspension top mounts need to be renewed every 40,000 miles, the cambelt every 80,000. Parts and servicing aren’t as costly as you might think, but with the car’s increasing age and provenance, some bits are hard to come by.

The cheapest, earliest and highest-mileage RS2s kick off at a shade under £28,000. Most hover around the £40,000 mark, and have just over 100k miles under their iconic Porsche Cup wheels. Properly nice sub-100,000-mile cars fetch anything between £50,000 and £60,000, not far off the £62,175 Audi asks for a brand-new RS4.

Verdict

Audi RS2

The RS2 was pivotal in giving an Audi a whole new line of performance cars and is perhaps the most inspirational (and aspirational) car in its rich history behind the original Quattro. Its pioneering legacy can still be felt with the current line-up of hot RS-badged Audis, and its retro-cool cachet guarantees its appeal today. It also underlines its importance in being the first Audi RS machine.

But, that lure would be pointless if the drive didn’t match up to its looks. Thankfully it does, and the fact that the RS2 marries supreme pace and a sense of occasion to staggering all-round ability and good, old-fashioned practicality seals the deal. It’s a modern classic and practical performance car icon for very good reason. That’s why it has so many admirers, and why we count ourselves among them.

In pictures: Audi RS2

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read more

2018 Audi RS4 Avant

2018 Audi RS4 Avant review: the 174mph family estate

2018 Audi RS4 AvantBefore we start, an apology: that headline is slightly misleading. The RS4 is a 174mph car, but only if you spend an additional £1,450 to delimit its top speed. Given this is presumably just a software tweak, it must be the most profitable – and least necessary – item on Audi’s options list. So, meet the new RS4 Avant: the 155mph family estate.

Whichever spec you choose, this fourth-generation RS4 is still ballistically fast. Its 450hp twin-turbo V6 serves up 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds: 0.6sec quicker than the old one. And Quattro four-wheel drive, plus a standard-for-the-UK ‘sport differential’, mean you can deploy more of that power, more of the time.

As well as going faster (natch), Audi’s goals for this 2018 RS4 were reduced weight, improved efficiency and better driving dynamics. It has delivered on the first two; weight is trimmed 80kg to 1,715kg, while fuel economy is up 21% to 32.1mpg. The handling? I’ll come to that.

The RS4 is only available as an estate (‘Avant’ in Audi-speak), so its sole direct rival is the Mercedes-AMG C63 wagon. However, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio and BMW M3 Competition Package – both four-door saloons – are in the same ballpark for price and performance.

UK sales begin in March, at £62,175 for the standard car or £72,175 for the Carbon Edition. The latter is essentially a cosmetic upgrade, with 20-inch milled alloy wheels, LED headlamps, tinted glass, RS Sport exhaust and more stick-on carbon fibre than a Saturday night cruise in Southend.

How does the new RS4 stack up on British roads? I travelled to Milton Keynes, home of Audi UK and many, many roundabouts, to find answers.

First impressions

2018 Audi RS4 Avant

Photos don’t do this car justice. Longer, wider and lower than the B8 model it replaces, it looks downright menacing in the metal. And let’s face it, there’s something curiously cool about a hot wagon.

The RS4’s front and rear wings have been stretched by 30mm each side, and their squared-off profile evokes the blistered wheelarches of the iconic ur-Quattro. Bumpers peppered with air intakes, oval tailpipes and a just-so stance are further clues this is no repmobile A4. Shame the vents flanking the front and rear lights are fake.

I browse the spec sheet for my Misano Red test car, which includes a whopping £17,000 of extras. Thankfully, it does without Audi’s divisive variable-ratio Dynamic Steering, but does have Dynamic Ride Control (£2,000) – a McLaren-style system of hydraulically interlinked dampers intended to quell body pitch and roll.

Other extras of note include 20-inch wheels (£2,000), the RS Sport exhaust (£1,200), a panoramic sunroof (£1,250) and those all-important red brake calipers (£400). Looking premium certainly comes at a price.

First seat2018 Audi RS4 Avant

Leafing through the book of automotive journalist clichés, I conclude the RS4’s cabin is ‘a nice place to be’. Did I mention that ‘all the controls fall easily to hand’? Or that ‘there’s enough boot space for trips to Ikea’? Consider it done.

Facetiousness aside, the A4 still has the best interior – and, for my money, the best infotainment system – of any compact executive car. The RS4 only improves on that, with honeycomb-stitched massage seats, standard MMI Navigation Plus and RS-specific displays for the Virtual Cockpit: Audi’s fully-configurable digital instruments. You’ll wonder how you ever coped without a G meter, lap timer or real-time torque display.

The driving position offers a huge range of electric adjustment, while the rear bench will accommodate three lanky teenagers. The family dog, meanwhile, will be pleased to find 505 litres of boot space (fractionally more than the C63 estate), or 1,505 litres with the rear seats folded.

Lastly, everything you touch, from the Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel to the cupholders, feels beautifully engineered and built to last millenia. The Alfa and BMW don’t even come close.

First drive

2018 Audi RS4 Avant

There’s one statistic that defines how the RS4 drives: 443lb ft of torque at 1,900rpm. With so much low-down wallop, it feels ferociously fast from a standstill, out of corners, and indeed everywhere else.

An eight-speed Tiptronic torque converter auto is the only gearbox option, but is fast and intuitive enough that you won’t miss the old dual-clutcher. With the RS Sport exhaust fitted here, shifts are soundtracked by characterful crackles that seem more ‘authentic’ than those of the smaller RS3. Plant your right foot and the baffles – clearly visible inside the tailpipes – swing open, transforming the Audi from calm cruiser to snarling sports car.

The Quattro four-wheel-drive system has a 60 percent rearward bias, but can divert up to 85 percent of torque to the front wheels or 70 percent to the rears as needed. Working with the sport differential, which juggles traction between the rear wheels, it slingshots the car between bends with astonishing speed and no drama. The contrast with the lairy, tyre-smokin’ C63 AMG couldn’t be more apparent.

2018 Audi RS4 Avant

Indeed, on dry tarmac, the Audi feels more or less unstickable; few cars corner with such arm-around-a-lamp-post assurance. Dynamic Ride Control banishes body-roll almost entirely, while the RS4’s relatively compact dimensions make it equally fast on real roads as the larger, 560hp RS6.

If you’re waiting for a ‘but’, here it comes. For all its pulverising pace, the RS4 isn’t the last word in driver involvement. Its steering is quick and accurate, but doesn’t communicate a great deal about what the front wheels are doing. And that feeling of aloofness is exacerbated by Dynamic Ride Control, which makes it harder to judge where the car’s limits are.

Even so, it’s vastly better than fast Audis of old, and genuinely enjoyable on a cross-country blat. I should add that ride quality is much-improved over the previous RS4, too. Switch the drive mode to Comfort and it’s surprisingly pliant, even on 20-inch wheels.

First verdict

2018 Audi RS4 Avant

R8 supercar excepted, the new RS4 is the pick of the 18-strong Audi Sport (formerly Quattro GmbH) range. It’s a consummate all-rounder: comfortable and classy, fast and fun. As a means of swiftly shifting your golf clubs/suitcases/labradors (delete as applicable), it’s almost without equal. And way cooler than any hotted-up SUV.

That said, my money would still go on the RS4’s only real rival: the bombastic Mercedes-AMG C63. Objectively, it’s an inferior car – slower point-to-point, less efficient and harder to live with – but it offers a sense of heady, high-octane theatre the Audi simply can’t match.

Star rating verdict: 4.5

Five rivals

  • Audi S4 Avant
  • BMW M3
  • Jaguar XE S
  • Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate
  • Volkswagen Golf R Estate

Prices

  • RS4 Avant: £62,175
  • RS4 Avant Carbon Edition: £72,175

Specifications

  • Power: 450hp
  • Torque: 443lb ft
  • 0-62mph: 4.1sec
  • Top speed: 155/174mph
  • Fuel economy: 32.1mpg
  • CO2 emissions: 199g/km
  • Length/width/height: 4,781/1,866/1,404mm
  • Boot capacity: 505 litres

Read more