Car crash

Car insurance prices rise 35% in five years

Car crashCar insurance premiums have been rising almost non-stop for the past five years, with one price comparison website putting the increase at 35 percent – that’s almost a £200 rise in the cost of the average annual car insurance premium since 2012.

The average price paid back in winter 2012 was £559, reveals Comparethemarket.com. During the last three months of 2017, this had rocketed to £758 – and there may yet be more increases in store, warns the firm’s director, Stuart McCulloch.

A big factor behind increasing premiums is multiple rises in Insurance Premium Tax, or IPT. In March 2015, it stood at six percent; today, it’s doubled to 12 percent. The so-called ‘Ogden rate’, or Personal Injury Discount Rate, was also altered, resulting in higher costs for personal injury claims.

Immediately following the change in the Ogden rate back in March 2017, premiums rose by £20 in just one month – and by November 2017, the average car insurance premium was £50 dearer than it had been back in the spring.

The one silver lining is an expected further revision (or, following pressure from the car insurance industry, a ‘correction’) in the Ogden rate, which may ease car insurance premium inflation.

Regardless, said McCulloch, British motorists “still face ever increasing premiums”. December 2017’s average price still has to be calculated, but analysts at the firm warn it is likely to be even more expensive, possibly exceeding the £800 mark (others suggest we could see average premiums reach £1,000 in 2018).

McCulloch added the gap between the average and cheapest premiums is now at record levels, averaging £129. It shows the savings that could be made by switching car insurance providers. Admittedly, given his position, he perhaps would say that, but if you’re looking to make some new-year savings, this could still be worth investigating…

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RM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Yearning Japanese: rare Toyota 2000GT up for auction

RM Sotheby’s Arizona saleAs one of the first major auctions of the year, the RM Sotheby’s Arizona sale will set the tone for the classic car market in 2018. We’ve selected a sublime Toyota 2000GT as our auction star, along with an exceptional Tucker 48 and a selection of more left-field choices. Read on to discover more about the 19th annual Arizona sale.

Toyota 2000GTRM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $600,000 – $700,000 (£445,000 – £515,000)

You’ll have read about how the Jaguar E-Type wooed the crowds at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show, but the Toyota 2000GT’s grand entrance at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show was no less dramatic. Almost everything about the 2000GT was otherworldly, including the styling, which was quite unlike anything previously produced in Japan.

This 1967 example was delivered new to the US and is one of six 2000GTs finished in Bellatrix Yellow.

Tucker 48RM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $1,250,000 – $1,500,000 (£925,000 – £1,105,000)

If you’re looking for a barometer for the state of the classic car world, look no further than this Tucker 48. At the RM Sotheby’s Arizona sale 12 months ago, Tucker 48 number 1044 sold for $1,347,500. A year on, number 1029 should fetch a larger sum. Why? The keyword is provenance.

Number 1029 was Preston Tucker’s own private vehicle until 1955 and the star of the 1948 promotional film: Tucker: The Man and the Car. Forty years on, it was one of 22 Tuckers supplied for the production of Tucker: The Man and His Dream, starring Jeff Bridges. If that’s not enough, number 1029 was also tested at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

BMW Alpina V8 RoadsterRM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $200,000 – $250,000 (£150,000 – £185,000)

The BMW Alpina V8 Roadster is a rare beast, with the vast majority of the 555 examples sold in North America. All were left-hand drive, each one powered by an E39 B10-sourced V8 engine delivering 375hp, enough for the Z8 to sprint to 62mph in 4.7 seconds, before reaching a top speed limited to 155mph.

Car number 419 was delivered new to an owner in Florida and has covered a mere 38,000 miles. According to Harry Metcalfe, who drove one for Evo magazine, the Alpina has a “more relaxed character” than the standard Z8, lacking the “bite of the snarling M5 engine”.

Bugatti EB 110 GTRM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $750,000 – $950,000 (£555,000 – £700,000)

In 1991, precisely 110 years after the birth of Ettore Bugatti, the famous name returned in formidable style. The EB 110 featured a quad-turbocharged V12 engine, permanent four-wheel drive and the world’s first carbon-fibre chassis. It was also mind-blowingly expensive, which is less than ideal when the global economy is in a deep recession.

According to RM Sotheby’s, this single ownership, 4,540km example “could very well be the best of its kind,” hence the pre-auction estimate knocking on the door of a million bucks. Cooler than a Chiron? It’s certainly more attainable.

Porsche 959 KomfortRM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $1,000,000 – $1,250,000 (£740,000 – £925,000)

As the world’s fastest production cars, the Porsche 959 and Ferrari F40 were often pitched head-to-head, but in reality, they were very different animals. The Ferrari was relatively simple but devastatingly effective, while the Porsche was sophisticated and futuristic. “It’s too good to be a normal car,” said Gavin Green in 1987, before going on to say “It is unlike any other ever made. It does things cars can’t do.”

This 1987 example is offered in fully road-legal and roadworthy condition, having a received a recent service at an eye-watering and wallet-emptying cost of $42,000. Total mileage is just 8,900 miles, although the odometer shows 2,635 miles, as the odometer was changed to an MPH unit when the 959 first arrived in the US.

De Tomaso Pantera LRM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $110,000 – $140,000 (£81,000 – £103,000)

It’s a match made in heaven: the combination of Italian styling and American V8 muscle. That the De Tomaso lived in the shadows cast by contemporary rivals from Ferrari and Lamborghini hardly seems to matter, because the Pantera offers a level of coolness that is off the scale.

US imports began in 1971, with Panteras sold through Ford’s Lincoln-Mercury dealers. But when Ford pulled out in 1975, Pantera was forced to go it alone. Amazingly, the Pantera lived on throughout the 1980s, finally bowing out in 1991. This is a 1973 model, complete with federalized bumpers.

Aston Martin V8 VantageRM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $225,000 – $275,000 (£165,000 – £205,000)

The Aston Martin V8 Vantage was unveiled in February 1977, with 40% more power and 10% more torque than its predecessor. The ZF manual gearbox remained, although a three-speed automatic transmission was available as an option. Top speed was quoted at 170mph, with a 0-60mph time of 5.3 seconds.

This 1978 example is an ‘Oscar India’, so called because it was introduced in October, hence the OI of the phonetic alphabet. It is one of 12 original factory left-hand drive models delivered new in North America.

BMW 2002 TurboRM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $110,000 – $140,000 (£81,000 – £103,000)

BMW waited a while before fitting a turbocharger to a production car, first equipping a turbo in the European Touring Car Challenge of 1969. The race-going 2002 Turbo was successful, humbling the likes of the Porsche 911, so it was no surprise when turbocharging was delivered to the man on the street.

In a field of rivals including the Triumph Dolomite Sprint, Ford Escort RS2000 and Alfa 20000 GTV, the ‘standard’ 2002 tii was already the class-leader, but turbocharging propelled the two-door saloon into a different league. Recently, this 1974 example was treated to a full restoration, with invoices totalling CAD 49,000.

Aston Martin DB AR1 ZagatoRM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $300,000 – $350,000 (£220,000 – £260,000)

The US market was denied the pleasure of the DB7 Zagato, but this was Aston Martin’s response. The DB AR1 – that’s ‘DB American Roadster 1 – was built using a standard DB7 Volante chassis, styled by Zagato, with final assembly completed in Gaydon.

Power was sourced from a 6.0-litre V12 engine, but no roof or roof covering was ever fitted. Instead, Aston Martin supplied a rain cover to protect the leather interior when parked. This example is number 20 of 99 produced and is finished in Mendip Blue.

Ferrari 212 Inter by GhiaRM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $1,600,000 – $2,000,000 (£1,200,000 – £1,500,000)

The Ferrari 212 was unveiled at the 1951 Brussels Motor Show and available in two flavours: Inter for road use and Export for racing. The former was available in a number of different body styles, along with bespoke versions created by European coachbuilders. One such example is this one-off Inter, produced by Ghia and displayed at the 1952 Paris Motor Show.

It was spotted by Juan Peron, President of Argentina, who took delivery via an intermediary in Rome. In 1973 it was purchased by an Italian living in Buenos Aires before it returned to Europe in 1987. A little research reveals that it was treated to a complete restoration in the early 90s, at the cost of $700,000.

Shelby GT350RRM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $1,000,000 – $1,200,000 (£740,000 – £885,000)

In 1965, frustrated by the lack of attention and PR provided by Ford after winning the GT Championship, Shelby took six cars on a 12-city tour of the US. The so-called Cobra Caravan featured six cars, including this GT350R.

It was more powerful, lighter, faster and more expensive than the regular GT350, capable of hitting 60mph in just 5.5 seconds. Following the tour, it made its way to Peru, where it was subjected to a series of gruelling events. Amazingly, it survived intact and was exported back to the US in the mid-80s. Having been restored, it has since won numerous Concours awards.

Ferrari 512 TRRM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $220,000 – $250,000 (£162,000 – £185,000)

It’s not the most expensive or exotic car in the RM Sotheby’s sale, but we’ll admit that we’ve been seduced by the photos. The 512 TR was unveiled at the 1992 Los Angeles Auto Show, featuring the same 4.9-litre 12-cylinder engine as the Testarossa, but with power increased to 428hp.

This 1992 example is finished in black over maroon Connolly leather and has a mere 10,000 miles on the clock.

Jaguar D-TypeRM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $12,000,000 – $15,000,000 (£9,000,000 – £11,000,000)

OKV 2 was the second works Jaguar D-Type to roll out of the Coventry factory in 1954 and handed to Stirling Moss and Peter Walker. At Le Mans, Moss set the fastest time, establishing a new record speed of 172.97mph on the Mulsanne Straight.

The pre-auction estimate reflects the history of what is arguably one of the most famous and iconic race cars of all-time. OKV 2 has been piloted by new fewer than six Le Mans winners and was Jaguar’s development car for the 1955 season. All this for the not-so-small matter of £10m.

Alfa Romeo G1RM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate available upon request

Fancy a rather large slice of Alfa Romeo history? The G1 was the first car to be built by Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, and just 52 were ever produced. This is the only known survivor, making it the oldest Alfa Romeo in the world.

Alfa exported all 50 production models to Australia (the other two were prototypes), and chassis number 6018 was purchased by a Queensland businessman. When the gentleman was declared bankrupt, the G1 was hidden on a farm in the Outback, where it remained undiscovered for 25 years. Cutting a long story short, it was acquired by an art dealer in 1995 and treated to a complete restoration.

Shelby 427 Cobra S/CRM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $2,000,000 – $2,400,000 (£1,200,000 – £1,800,000)

At the time, the Shelby 427 Cobra S/C – or Semi-Competition – was the fastest road-going car in history. It was built to go racing, but Carroll Shelby had finished just 51 of the 100 required for homologation when the FIA inspectors arrived at his premises. Denied approval, Shelby completed the cars for the road.

The 427 Cobra S/C was built to be driven hard – and many were – but a few, most notably number 3040, led a more sheltered life. It spent time in California, England and Australia, before returning to the Golden State.

International Scout IIRM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $70,000 – $90,000 (£52,000 – £66,000)

The Arizona sale is littered with the cars you’d expect to find at a classic auction, but rather than focus on the usual suspects, we’ll conclude this preview with five of the more left-field lots. Starting with this: the International Scout II.

This 1977 Traveler is powered by a mighty 6.0-litre engine and features a roof rack, front bumper rocker guards, a winch, and a swing-out tyre carrier. It is, quite possibly, the coolest thing on sale in the RM Sotheby’s sale, and it could be yours for the price of well-specced Land Rover Discovery. The key difference: the Scout II looks great with an offset number plate.

Toyota Land Cruiser FJ43RM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $80,000 – $100,000 (£59,000 – £74,000)

The FJ43 was longer than the FJ40, offering more interior space and seating for up to nine passengers. Both models were almost unstoppable off-the-road, but production ceased in 1984.

This 1979 example was delivered new in Colombia but has since been restored to a “better-than-new” condition. Seeing this makes us realise how much we miss proper, old-school 4x4s.

Mercedes-Benz O 319RM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $175,000 – $200,000 (£130,000 – £148,000)

The O 319 was the minibus version of the Mercedes-Benz L 319 light commercial vehicle of the 50s and 60s. While it might look original and authentic, this 1959 bus has been treated to a modern fuel-injected petrol engine and air suspension. Perfect for a run to the sun this summer, it comes complete with a double bed, sink and stove.

Riva Ferrari 32RM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $125,000 – $175,000 (£92,000 – £130,000)

One of only 40 built, this Riva Ferrari 32 was the brainchild of Riva chairman Gino Gervasoni and Enzo Ferrari. Note the Testarossa-style air intake alongside the classic Riva lines. Equipped with twin 390hp Vulcano V8 engines, the 32 is capable of speeds of 54 knots (62mph).

Meyers Manx DualSport SRM Sotheby’s Arizona sale

Estimate: $45,000 – $60,000 (£33,000 – £44,000)

And finally, how about a Meyers Manx DualSport S, created by Mendeola Motors? It’s powered by a 330hp Subaru six-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed transmission. The perfect West Coast accompaniment to the Mercedes O 319? We think so.

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2018 Mazda2

2018 Mazda 2: we take a small car on a big drive

2018 Mazda2Relentless development in the world of the automobile means if you stand still for five minutes you’ll be overtaken by the hoard at your heels – or, in this context, rear bumper. Mazda’s current Mazda2 supermini was launched only in 2015 but by mid-2017 it had undergone a nip and tuck to freshen it up, ready for the onslaught of the latest Fiesta, Polo and a dozen others.

Lots has been tweaked to make this good little car better still, though beyond the new seat fabrics, lights and mirrors, you’d might be hard pushed to tell. Yet this Mazda2 does have a more contemporary look about it, and it’s still stand-out handsome in a world of dull conformity.

The Mazda2 drives better, too. The diesel engine has been dropped (diesels in small cars was always a crazy idea), and the chassis and steering have been fine tuned to make the Mazda2 drive better in greater comfort.

Mazda says it’s a small car even better equipped to take on big drives. Challenge accepted: we went to the Azores with Mazda to try it out on this scenic, mountainous, mid-Atlantic island. With its 1.5 litre petrol engine, devoid of turbo-chargers, the Mazda2 proved a terrific companion – light, nimble and eager to dash around the winding roads, yet comfortable when you just wanted to pootle about.

Take a look at the MR video to get more of a flavour.

Volkswagen Up

Volkswagen built 6 million cars in 2017 alone

Volkswagen UpSome predicted the dieselgate emissions crisis would be the undoing of Volkswagen. Instead, it’s proving to be the making of it: in 2017 alone, it produced a staggering six million vehicles, setting an all-time new record for the Wolfsburg-based firm.

The world’s favourite Volkswagen-badged cars in 2017 include the Jetta, Golf, Santana, Passat and Polo; these and other cars are built in 50 factories across the globe, in 14 different countries. Last year’s six million vehicles mean total Volkswagen production now exceeds 150 million vehicles since the first Beetle was built 72 years ago.

And on top of this are additional sales from the myriad Volkswagen Group brands such as Audi, Skoda and Seat.

But despite this success, it’s not going to get complacent again, promise Volkswagen bosses. As part of the Transform 2025+ strategy, there are plans to up electric car sales to one million vehicles by 2025 – the first electric Volkswagens will arrive in 2020, and include the I.D., I.D. Cross and I.D. Buzz.

The focus isn’t fully on dieselgate-offsetting EVs, either. Today’s car buyers are clamouring for SUVs and Volkswagen will offer no fewer than 19 of them by 2020, upping the SUV share of its overall product line to 40 percent.

Volkswagen sales are proving particularly strong in the UK, where some months saw the Golf become the UK’s best-selling car, despite high-profile incidents such as Greenpeace boarding a container ship carrying brand-new VWs. (The campaign wasn’t a complete success, it turned out…)

As the 2017 production figures prove, for Volkswagen customers, it seems it’s a case of ‘what emissions scandal?’…

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Mini Yours Customised

Fit automaker-approved mods with Mini Yours Customised

Mini Yours CustomisedAs if the multitude of customisation options for the freshly-relogo’d Mini range wasn’t enough, the British auto brand is now taking it a step further with the launch of Mini Yours Customised, which it claims is the first large-scale customer-created automotive personalization initiative yet seen.

It’s a scheme that lets owners personalize bespoke parts for the side scuttles, dashboard trims, door sills and even the LED door projector lights. Yes, Mini fans, you too can have your own signature projected from the door mirror lamps of your ride. A new Online Customiser takes owners through every step of the modification process; they’re shipped to the customer within a few weeks.

More Mini news: 

Mini’s using high-tech, low-volume manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing and laser lettering to create the parts. This is how it’s able to so precisely personalize the parts – by, for example, including a customer’s name on the dash inlay, or their signature within the LED projector light. And if they don’t want to fit the bits themselves, they can ask their local dealer to do it instead.

Naturally, the process is reversible, for when the owner later sells the car…

Mini says the new Yours Customised initiative makes it “a pioneer and trendsetter in the area of customer orientation, expansion of digital services and the establishment of innovative production processes”. Those in the Mini community love individualization and this takes it a step further by allowing owners to customize OE-grade parts in ways such as:

  • Colours
  • Patterns
  • Surfaces finishes
  • Icons
  • Texts and signatures

Special production facilities in Germany are used to create the parts. BMW Group has, for instance, configured 3D printers in association with Hewlett-Packard Inc, Caron Inc and EOS GmbH to make the components – the first time the companies have been able to supply automotive-grade plastics for low volume use.

The auto firm is thus guaranteeing the Mini Yours Customised parts conform to all the same form, functionality, safety and quality guidelines as regular parts.

Naturally, there’s a social element too. For those who want to create their own parts in the Online Customiser but don’t want to actually then buy them, Mini allows the designs to be screen-shot for sharing on social media. Indeed, it adds, “this is how additional inspiration is created within the Mini community…”

In pictures: Mini Yours Customised

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Mini Yours Customised

Mini Yours Customised launched

Design your own Mini parts online for them to be 3D-printed and mailed to you…

2018 Renault Koleos Initiale Paris

Ultra-posh Renault Koleos Initiale Paris SUV launched

2018 Renault Koleos Initiale ParisThe 2017 launch of the Renault Koleos large five-seat SUV effectively marked the return of the range-topping Renault. Now, for 2018, the firm’s completing the luxury-line emphasis with the roll-out of a decadent range pinnacle called Initiale Paris. Ordering is open now from £36,700. Read more

Kia Sorento 2018

Kia adds sporty GT-Line models to its Sorento SUV seven-seater

Kia Sorento 2018The main focus of Kia’s UK SUV range is the top-selling Sportage mid-size and, increasingly, the Stonic small crossover. But the firm does sell a third SUV, the range-topping Sorento large SUV seven-seater. And, to give it a boost for 2018, it’s bringing in a sporty-look new GT-Line Series.

Offered in GT-Line and GT-Line S guise, the fancy new Sorentos have 19-inch alloys and red brake calipers, Kia’s distinctive ‘ice cube’ foglights, twin exhausts and either GT-Line projection headlights or, on the S, full LED lamps.

Both cars also have black leather seats with contrast grey stitching, perforated leather steering wheel and a GT-Line leather gearshifter for the eight-speed auto. Yes – an eight-speed auto, which keen Sorento watchers will know is two more gears than before.

This new eight-speed gearbox improves average fuel economy of the 2.2-litre CRDi turbodiesel to 43.5mpg combined, with a subsequent (small) cut in CO2 from 174g/km to 170g/km. Unlike many who offer eight-speed automatics, this isn’t ZF-sourced technology, but is an in-house Kia-Hyundai design.

You even get standard paddleshifters on the new GT-Line models.

If you don’t mind a bit of physical input, the six-speed manual alternative averages up to 49.6mpg and emits as low as 149g/km CO2; all Sorentos use the same 197bhp CRDi motor.

Changes elsewhere are more limited, with KX-1, KX-2 and KX-3 models continuing with the same equipment lines, including standard all-wheel drive. Kia has, however, added standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to all models, to the undoubted delight of smartphone users.   

2018 Kia Sorento prices

2.2 CRDi KX-1: £28,995

2.2 CRDi KX-2: £32,695

2.2 CRDi KX-2 auto: £34,695

2.2 CRDi KX-3: £36,695

2.2 CRDi KX-3 auto: £38,695

2.2 CRDi GT-Line auto: £36,495

2.2 CRDi GT-Line S auto: £41,995

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