McLaren F1 GTR '25R'

McLaren F1 Certified: new ‘seal of approval’ for the ultimate supercar

McLaren F1 GTR '25R'McLaren has launched a certification scheme for its iconic F1 supercar. F1 Certified aims to document the originality, service record, competition history and condition of the 106 F1s – 64 road cars and 28 racers – built between 1993 and 1998.

The first car to get factory-approved sign is the one-off F1 GTR ‘25R’, revealed today at London’s Concours of Elegance. Restored to ‘as new’ condition by McLaren Special Operations (MSO), it will be on display at Hampton Court Palace until 2 September.

Each F1 Certified car gets a certificate of authenticity, confirming its provenance with reference to the factory archives. Owners also receive a bespoke illustrated book documenting their particular F1. Much like Ferrari’s Classiche scheme, having the official thumbs-up from McLaren should boost the car’s value, too. 

“Even among F1 GTRs, this car, designated ‘25R’, is unique – and now it is as near to being new as we can make it,” said Ansar Ali, Managing Director, MSO. “The car is the exemplar of everything that the new certification programme stands for and we are proud to have 25R as the very first McLaren F1 Certified car.”

The 25R F1 GTR Longtail was the last F1 to compete in-period and has a rich racing heritage. Its highlight was the 1997 Le Mans 24 Hours, where it was driven by Ray Bellm, Andrew Gilbert-Scott and Masanori Sekiya. Sadly, 22 hours in, its race ended in retirement after an oil leak and subsequent fire. 

MSO has painstakingly returned the car to the exact same specification – including Gulf Racing livery – as that 1997 Le Mans race. This includes tall Le Mans gearing for high speeds on the Mulsanne straight, plus blue roof identification lights that were originally fitted to an aircraft wing.

McLaren F1 GTR '25R'
The 25R was later sold to a team in Japan where it raced until 2005. At the Fuji Speedway that year it was the last F1 GTR to compete in a contemporary (non-classic) race series.

After years sitting idle in a Japanese car collection, it returned to the UK in 2016. The subsequent restoration included old-stock GTR parts ‘stored at the factory in containers last opened 20 years ago’.

“McLaren cherishes its rich heritage of iconic and world-beating cars such as the F1,” said CEO, Mike Flewitt. “Maintaining the integrity of these historically significant cars is paramount and F1 Certified will play a big role in allowing us to do that for the peace of mind of owners today as well as preserving a wonderful heritage for future generations of car lovers.”

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Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

Video: hardcore Lamborghini Aventador SVJ revealed

Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

Last month, the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ claimed a new Nürburgring lap record. Today, in more sedate surroundings at Blenheim Palace, the flagship supercar made its European debut.

The SVJ is the ultimate Aventador and, potentially, the last naturally-aspirated V12 Lamborghini. Its SuperVeloce Jota name harks back to the near-mythical lightweight Miura of 1970.

Cutting kilos is one way Lamborghini achieved that 6:44.97 Nordschleife lap (2.3 seconds quicker than the Porsche 911 GT2 RS). Prolific use of carbon fibre, aluminium wheels and a shortened exhaust system contribute to a dry weight of 1,525kg – 50kg less than a ‘standard’ Aventador S.

Video: Lamborghini Aventador SVJ at Salon Privé

Naturally, there’s also more power. Lurking beneath a new, quick-release engine cover, the 6.5-litre, dry-sumped V12 develops 770hp at 8,500rpm. Peak torque is 531lb ft at 6,750rpm. Driving all four wheels through a seven-speed paddleshift ’box, it reaches 62mph in 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 217mph. Just don’t mention fuel economy of 14.4mpg.

Active ‘ALA 2.0’ aerodynamics are the third weapon in the SVJ’s arsenal. A new bi-plane front splitter, larger underbody diffusers and that Airbus-sized rear wing boost downforce by 40 percent on both axles versus the Aventador SV. The system also simulates torque vectoring by opening or closing flaps on either side of the car when cornering.

Other notable tech includes racing-style pushrod suspension with magnetorheological dampers that actively resist body-roll, keeping the car as flat as possible for maximum aero efficiency. Lamborghini’s controversial variable-ratio Dynamic Steering is fitted, too, along with rear-wheel steering for improved low-speed manoeuvrability and high-speed stability.

“From a space ship to a jet fighter”

Whether on-track or lapping Harrods, there’s no mistaking the SVJ for anything else. New nostril air intakes, bare carbon side skirts, shotgun-style tailpipes and, of course, that preposterous wing all ramp up the aesthetic aggression. Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali says the design “draws on every inspiration from a space ship to a jet fighter”.



Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

At Salon Privé, the exclusive supercar show where the SVJ was revealed, the assembled journalists were also treated to a start-up and some gratuitous – and glorious – engine revving. Watch our video for the full effect, but rest assured the V12’s bark sounds every bit as brutal as its bite…

Even at “more than £360,000” the SVJ looks a safe bet for future investment. But you’d better be quick: only 900 cars will be made, and most have already found buyers. There will also be a “special edition of a special edition” SVJ 63, with more carbon and ‘63’ graphics that celebrate Lamborghini’s year of birth. All were pre-sold.

Check out our gallery to see more pictures of the Aventador SVJ – and other highlights from Salon Privé.

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Aurus Senat

The Aurus Senat is Russia’s answer to a Rolls-Royce

Aurus Senat

When is a Rolls-Royce Phantom just a little too subtle? When you’re the president of Russia, for starters. Vladimir Putin has been enjoying the services of his Aurus Senat limousine for a few months now, but this height of Russian automotive luxury will soon be available to all.

Aurus (not to be confused with Toyota’s now-discontinued family hatch, the Auris) is a new marque set up and run by Russia’s snappily-titled Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engine Institute.

Aurus Senat

Its new car is no pale imitation of the Roller, either, with a stately front end and confident profile, plus interior design and technology to rival the very best.

A digital instrument cluster, up-to-the-minute infotainment and swathes of wood, metal and leather maintain the best standards of luxury. You also get reclining rear seats, a fridge, fold-out tables and crystal drinking glasses.

Under the bonnet, things get a little mad. There are two engine options: a V8 and a V12. The V8 is a 4.4-litre attached to a hybrid system, good for 590hp. The V12 displaces 6.6 litres and puts out a titanic 848hp. That might seem excessive but you’ll need it if you’ve opted for the 21.7-foot long-wheelbase Senat. That’s a full two feet longer than an Extended Wheelbase Phantom.

Aurus Senat

Unlike the big Rolls, power is sent to all four wheels rather than just the rears. It does get quite snowy in Moscow, after all.

If you’re chomping at the bit to get hold of an Aurus Senat, you’ll have to wait until next year. No, it isn’t Russia-only: the car is confirmed for international markets. As for the price? We’ve no hard numbers yet, although a 20% saving versus an equivalent Rolls-Royce or Bentley was allegedly targeted.

Fingers crossed we get to do a twin test…

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Gran Turismo Sport

Gran Turismo Sport game update brings Red Bull Ring and eight new cars

Gran Turismo Sport

Gran Turismo Sport has received a free 1.25 version update, which includes the Red Bull Ring circuit, as well as eight superb additions to the cars available to race.

The list of cars in the update is a tribute to the variety that gamers love in Gran Turismo. Which other title bundles a JDM Amuse Honda S2000 tuner special in with a Shelby Daytona Cobra? 

The historic racers

We get a hot and heavy dose of classic American racing power in this update, with the Shelby Daytona Cobra coupe and the Le Mans-winning Ford MKIV. Both are just as at home ripping their way up the Mulsanne straight as they are sat pretty on a concours lawn. You can drive both in the new Nostalgic 1979 historic racing league.

The iconic classics

The original Mini and VW Beetle are joined by… a Bertone-bodied Abarth 1500 Biposto. Yup, this coachbuilt classic probably won’t be up to much as a racer, but we can’t think of many prettier cars to fully take advantage of Gran Turismo Sport’s stunning graphics and epic photo mode. You can race the Beetle in the new ‘Beetle and Samba Bus Fest’ event, which comes with the update.

The Italian hot hatches

Granted, they come from two very different eras and were forged in very different fires. Nevertheless, the Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione and Abarth 500 share that Italian fizz that is so hard to quantify.

The monster JDM tuner

Gran Turismo Sport

The odd one out has no fear of solitude as, for many, it’ll be the star of the show. The Amuse S2000 GT1 Turbo is an animalistic refugee of the mad Japanese tuner era. Be-winged and boosted up to the eyeballs, this S2K turbo is a tōge-destroying monster. A proper Gran Turismo car.

Other new game features

As well as the aforementioned Nostalgic 1979 and Beetle and Samba Bus Fest, the Group 3 Cup adds to the line-up of new events.

A ‘Sport mode’ archive and internet connection quality check are two new facilities added, while Cuba has been added to the special featured section (Delta HF pictured there above).

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Top seasonal car repairs revealed

What are the most common seasonal car repairs?

Top seasonal car repairs revealedEven with diligent automotive maintenance, mechanical failures happen. According to a recent report released by online car repair scheduling service, “Eventually something will break. It is less a matter of if, but when.”

The best way to avoid costly repairs and inconvenient breakdowns is, of course, following the recommended maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual. Issues can be spotted during service before they become catastrophes.

Wheeler Dealers: all the cars from the 2018 season

But the time of year also weighs heavily on cars.

Different seasons can stress different systems, or make a problem more noticeable. For example, constant use of air conditioning during warm summer months might reveal a compressor problem. In fall, problems with the heating system may become apparent.

Top seasonal car repairs revealed

YourMechanic has now identified the problems most likely to rear their heads at any time of year. It’s done this by keeping monthly track of the larger pool of repair quotes, rather than less frequent repair bookings.

Let’s take a closer look by season.


Top Seasonal Repairs in Fall

After a summer filled with road trips and outdoor adventure, suspension repairs top the list in fall. AAA found that 79 percent of respondents polled took their vacations on the road, helping to explain the result.

Heater problems sneak into the top five rankings as folks fire up the furnace on the first frosty mornings, only to discover the pilot’s gone out.

Window problems appear along with distributor and timing cover gasket issues, likely caused by the wear and tear of summer driving.


Top Seasonal Repairs in Winter

The icy teeth of winter dictate heavy reliance on the heater and, unsurprisingly, that passenger comfort mainstay tops the list of winter repairs.

Headlights and windshield wipers are in near-constant use, adding stress to bulbs and systems needed for visibility.

Interestingly, lines for oil coolers and washer fluid fail. When the temperature drops, fluids thicken and place increased stress on these parts.


Top Seasonal Repairs in Spring

Springs lightly turns one’s fancy to thoughts of fresh air, and finally rolling the windows down after a long dark winter can sometimes reveal that they will no longer roll up again.

Pothole season can inflict damage on otherwise robust wheel sensors, and many drivers want the peace of mind of knowing their suspension and braking systems survived the cold season and are ready for summer trips.

Timing chains seem to prefer to be changed in spring, perhaps as a result of increased dust and grit being ingested by the engine.


Top Seasonal Repairs in Summer

Summer heat stresses the very systems designed to keep us and the car cool. Air conditioning failures top the repair list, followed by the fan used to keep the engine cool and the clutch used to engage it.Window problems persist as we roll them up and down in an attempt to find the perfect balance of breeze and climate control.

Timing chain repair drops a place on the list, but increased mileage and trip planning necessitate maintenance.

Aston Martin Gaydon manufacturing

Brits bought 35% fewer British-built cars in July

Aston Martin Gaydon manufacturingLatest UK car manufacturing data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows a dramatic 35 percent decline in the amount of British-built cars purchased by Brits in July 2018.

Export figures slipped slightly too, by 4.2 percent, resulting in an 11 percent drop in British-built cars in July.

The SMMT blames model changes and preparation for the upcoming new WLTP fuel economy regulations.

As for the UK decline, the SMMT points to “a particularly strong July in 2017”. This time last year, several new model introductions saw monthly figures grow by 17.7 percent. 

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes also warned people not to be too alarmed by the July figures. “While the industry is undoubtedly feeling the effects of recent uncertainty in the domestic market, drawing long term conclusions from monthly snapshots requires a health warning.

“The bigger picture is complex and month by month fluctuations are inevitable as manufacturers manage product cycles, operational changes and the delicate balance of supply and demand from market to market.”

The decline in Brits buying home-built cars is still striking though: the July total fell to less than 20,000 cars, compared with exports of over 101,000 models. 

Exports now make up 84 percent of overall British car production, with more than 8 in 10 going to Europe.

Because of this, Hawes sounded another warning to UK politicians. “To ensure future growth, we need political and economic clarity at home, and the continuation of beneficial trading arrangements with the EU and other key markets.”

Year to date, just under 1 million cars have been built in Britain, a 4.4 percent decline over this time last year.

The UK car industry, added the SMMT, “remains broadly on track to meet 2018 expectations”. 

EV power

Will electric cars outsell diesel by 2020?

EV power

It will only be a matter of time before electric cars comprise a significant proportion of the new car marketplace. How long that would take has been very much up for debate… but one organisation has conducted a survey – and the surprising findings suggests the time may come sooner than you think.

Leasing company Leasing Options quizzed 2,000 people, who said they expect electric cars will outsell previously dominant diesel-powered cars by as soon as 2020. 

Yes, 2020, for EVs (full EVs, no less, rather than electrified plug-in hybrids) to outsell diesel cars. Seems remarkable, no?

Of course, the sudden fall from grace of diesel, rather than exponential growth in EVs, is a major factor in the predictions: SMMT new car registration data is, month after month, proving damning for oil-burners.

An overall new diesel car sales slump of 37.2 percent last year isn’t helped by the fact that manufacturers have been swift in slashing diesel-powered options, in some cases to nought.

Meanwhile, government policy and support of Alternative Fuel Vehicles, including buyer incentives, have supercharged AFV uptake in recent months and years. Pure EV sales increased 5.7 percent last year; AFV sales, including hybrids and plug-in hybrids, increased almost 35 percent.

The survey also quizzed drivers to find out where buyers’ faith and loyalties lie. Once again, it doesn’t look good for diesel. Around half said they believe diesel is actually a danger to the environment, while 56 percent said they were less likely to buy diesel than they were five years ago.

Diesel power

EVs still have some way to go in terms of public opinion, however, with over half of those surveyed suggesting they don’t know enough about them.

A whopping 63 percent fear EVs are too expensive for them, and good old range anxiety rears its head, with almost three in four worrying about the charging network.

Nevertheless, half of those surveyed still said they’d consider electric power if it was demonstrably as convenient and as cheap as fossil fuels. Over half suggested they’d buy into EVs as and when they became the norm.

Based on this survey, it seems that both the decline of diesel, and the rise of EVs, will be all but exponential going forward.

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Golf Mk1

New E10 petrol could damage thousands of older cars

Golf Mk1 engines not compatible with new petrol

A new ‘E10’ blend of petrol arrives on UK forecourts soon – but could damage thousands of older cars. E10 contains a 10 percent mix of biofuel, compared with five percent in current 95 RON E5 petrol. 

The RAC Foundation has highlighted that by June 2020, as many as 634,000 cars not compatible with the new fuel could still be on the road.

Vehicles on that list include bona fide classics like the Morris Minor and MGB, but also many we still consider contemporary, such as Volkswagen Golfs, Nissan Micras and Mazda MX-5s. These, among others, join the 868,000 cars still on the road as of June 2017 that are incompatible with the new petrol.

The rollout of biofuel into petrol supplies is part of the targets set under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO).

Early MX-5 engines not compatible with new petrol

Should owners of older cars be worried?

Panic not, early MX-5 owners. The government is still in consultation about how best to roll out E10 onto forecourts. A Department for Transport consultation proposes that any large retailer selling E10 petrol should also stock ‘normal’ E5 for the time being.

It’s feared by ministers that, without the obligation, vendors will only stock marked-up ‘Super’ grade E5 petrol. The goal is to avoid backing less wealthy motorists into a financial corner – i.e. not being able to afford a newer car, or the fuel to put in their older car.

“As and when E10 appears on the forecourts, drivers need to know whether their cars can use it without being damaged” said Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation.

“The good news is both that the vast majority of cars on our roads are able to run on E10 and that Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has recognised the need to protect the users of those older vehicles that are not E10 compatible.”

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Vespa Elettrica

The famous Vespa scooter is going electric

Vespa ElettricaVespa has been making scooters since 1946 and is arguably the world’s most famous manufacturer of iconic urban motorcycles. 

Now, it’s taking the retro machine into the 21st century with the launch of a zero-emissions, all-electric scooter called the Vespa Elettrica. 

Boasting a range of 62 miles and better performance than the 50cc petrol-powered alternative, Piaggio, makers of the Vespa scooter, says it’s tailor-made for urban riding. 

Vespa Elettrica

What’s more, with a remarkable torque figure of 147lb ft, it has pulling power the equal of a 125hp Ford Fiesta 1.0-litre Ecoboost, giving “brilliant” response and acceleration away from the line.

When riders slow down, it recharges the battery – Vespa’s calling it an F1-style KERS system, but really it’s just a regular battery-electric regen function.

Because the scooter is so lightweight, it can get away with using a tiny 4.2 kW lithium ion battery. Even using a regular domestic socket, the charge time is four hours: it will be faster still with higher-capacity public chargers. 

Vespa says the battery should remain in peak condition for 1,000 full charging cycles, which equates to around 43,000 miles or 10 years of use. Even then, it will still have 80 percent of its capacity remaining. 

The battery is located beneath the helmet compartment, so the Vespa Elettrica can still swallow a helmet safely when parked up.

Vespa Elettrica X

Vespa Elettrica

That’s not all. If you do need more range, the firm’s revealed a range-extender scooter, called the Vespa Elettrica X.

This combines a tiny petrol-powered generator, a three-litre fuel tank and a smaller battery pack: it will do 31 miles under full electric drive, then another 93 miles with the generator, giving a total range of almost 125 miles.

It’s “ideal for out of town riding,” says Vespa.

Both scooters come with a 4.3-inch TFT colour display, including a multimedia system that connects to smartphones. Vespa’s also developed a smartphone app that riders can use to see incoming calls and messages within the display.

The new Vespa Elettrica scooter range will go in sale in October, initially in Italy, before expanding to Europe. Sales will then expand to North America and Asia from early 2019.

Prices? Still to be confirmed. But don’t expect a retro price tag for this all-electric Vespa scooter…

Jaguar I-Pace

Most Brits will wait almost 10 YEARS before buying an electric car

Jaguar I-PaceThe emphasis on the transition to alternative fuel vehicles is intense. With diesel all but circling the drain, and talk of the 2040 combustion engine ban in the air, we all have to ask ourselves when we’ll take the leap into an electric car.

For many of us, that moment isn’t going to arrive any time soon.

That’s according to research conducted by Auto Trader. It found that drivers say they plan to wait an average of nine years before buying an electric car.

The research also discovered that motorists fall on both sides of the fence as to whether that 2040 ban is a good thing. While 20 percent were undecided, the remainder of the sample was evenly split in favour and against.

However, shockingly, nearly three quarters were not aware of the government assistance packages for buyers of electric cars and hybrids, such as the money-saving Plug-in Car Grant.

As for the recently-released Road to Zero report, over a third think it’s unrealistic to expect 50 percent of new cars sold to be electric by 2030.

The perceived price premiums, and what is seen as the inadequacy of the charging infrastructure, are why only one in four drivers would consider an EV or a hybrid for their next car.


So what’s needed to convert buyers? In short, awareness, education, incentive and reassurance. We need to know what’s available, know that it’s viable and have good reasons to buy over what we’re used to.

The UK’s charging infrastrucutre needs to be improved, and confusing electric car terminology eliminated. 

“There’s no doubt that electric vehicles are the future,” said Auto Trader editorial director Erin Baker.

“However, our research indicates that there are still significant barriers to adoption, with greater investment in infrastructure and technology needed.

“It’s also crucial that car manufacturers and the government alike ensure that language to describe electric cars is clear and accessible, rather than laden with technological jargon that consumers may find alienating.”

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