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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Volkswagen T-Cross

New Volkswagen T-Cross small SUV claims ‘I am cool’

Volkswagen T-CrossEvery urban SUV wants to be considered cool, but the upcoming new Volkswagen T-Cross small SUV is going one step further, proclaiming in a pre-launch campaign that, yes, ‘I am cool’.

It’s part of the spring 2019 launch countdown, says VW, which will see the T-Cross also say ‘I am practical’, ‘I am intuitive’ and ‘I am safe’.

Clearly, it’s a bold campaign for a bold new rival to the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur, then.

Volkswagen T-Cross

The firm has released a few more teaser sketches of the new car though, which we’ll see this autumn, probably at the 2018 Paris Motor Show in October.

Identifiers include a bold T-Roc-inspired front end, with a wide radiator grille that incorporates the headlights. At the rear, there’s a full-length reflector strip, plus 12 different paint options that can be further spiced up with bi-colour choices.

Inside, the brightly coloured dash pads first seen in the T-Roc are also heading to the T-Cross, adds VW.

Volkswagen T-Cross

There’ll be a big, wide infotainment screen and integrated Beats audio system, although Volkswagen says it hasn’t forgotten the sensible stuff such as space and ergonomics.

Designers have, apparently, been immersing themselves in augmented reality to make sure it’s as practical as possible.

Expect to hear more about Volkswagen’s version of the Seat Arona in the build-up to its full reveal. Where we’ll be able to make a call on just how cool the new T-Cross really is.  

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Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/3

Rare Alfa Romeo rebuilt with 3D printer for Goodwood Revival

Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/3

An ultra-rare Alfa Romeo racer has been repaired using 3D printing technology – ahead of its debut at Goodwood Revival next week. 

The Alfa is one of just 12 Tipo 33/3 models made and previously featured in the Steve McQueen film, Le Mans. Resplendent in Italian racing red, it has been “digitally restored” by Brackley-based KW Heritage.

The main issue was the Tipo’s front engine cover, which had deteriorated over time, causing ignition problems. A replacement part simply didn’t exist, so the company created one from scratch using “additive manufacturing” – also known as 3D printing.

Revived for Goodwood Revival

Using Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 3D scanning programs, KW Heritage created a digital picture of the engine cover, which was then built up using a 3D printer. The whole process of redesigning and prototyping took just a few days, and the finished part is FIA-certified.

The Tipo 33/3 raced successfully at Brands Hatch, Buenos Aires and Sebring in 1971 and is now owned by Martin Stretton Racing. It will be displayed on the KW Heritage stand (unit 294) at Goodwood Revival, where the firm will offer live demonstrations of 3D scanning technology. 

Edward Smith of KW Heritage said: “By working closely with teams, restorers, collectors and vehicle owners, we are helping enthusiasts strike the perfect balance between old and new, with modern engineering techniques keeping the cars of yesteryear on the road for longer.”

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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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Lexus RC sports coupe updated for 2019

Lexus reveals 2019 RC coupe updated for Paris Motor Show

Lexus RC sports coupe updated for 2019

Details of the mid-life facelift for the Lexus RC coupe have been announced in advance of a full reveal at October’s Paris Motor Show.

With the bigger LC coupe having garnered a lot of recent attention, the smaller Lexus RC has been left somewhat in the shadows. The luxury brand hopes these refinements will remind the world what the sportier RC can offer.

Clearly Lexus remains rather satisfied with the original overall design of the RC, which was first launched in 2014. Spotting the styling changes to the 2019 RC will require some serious observational skills.

Up front, new headlight units incorporate L-shaped LED elements, with the mesh design used for the grille also updated on non-F Sport cars.

At the rear, the LC influence comes into play, with the light clusters gaining a more prominent L-shaped design. The rear bumper also benefits from the addition of new air ducts, claimed to help improve handling and enhance driving stability.

Inside also sees the tiniest of alterations. The biggest news comes in the form of a brushed metal finish for the trim surrounding the audio and heater controls. Centre console changes are said to have opened a greater feeling of space, whilst a new analogue clock is taken from the LC model.

Extra trim finishes take the interior choices up to seven, paired with a total of eleven different exterior paintwork options.

More substantial than the minor styling titivation are the changes beneath the surface. Lexus promises that the RC will be ‘thoroughly fun to drive’ with lessons learned from the larger LC.

Stiffer suspension and enhanced aerodynamics are said to endow the RC with sharper handling and even a more controlled ride. New 19-inch wheels are also part of the deal, with Lexus undertaking real-world testing to ensure the overall package delivers. Engine and drivetrain choices remain as present. 

Final specification details will be announced on the 2nd October at the Paris Show. We’ll have to wait and see if these are enough to push the RC back into the limelight.  

Personal plates

Cars with personal plates are TWICE as likely to be stolen

Personal plates

Another September, another number plate switchover. The ’68’ registration will arrive on forecourts very soon, but what do certain plates say about you? Are you a show-off? Are you better off? Are you more likely to have your car stolen? According to MoneySupermarket, the latter holds true.

A survey of 2,000 people conducted by the price comparison website also reveals how many of us like a plate with a personal touch, and what we think of those who have personal plates.

Firstly, the thefts. The data shows that cars with personal plates on them are a whopping 50 percent more likely to be stolen. The logic follows that a car with an expensive personal plate on it can look like a double score to a passing thief. Other factors could be at play, too, though.

For instance, Londoners are most likely (46 percent) to have a personal plate, compared with the country as a whole, where 20 percent have personal plates. East London ranks seventh on the top 10 most targeted areas for car theft. A high-risk area with more cars that happen to have personal plates could be a factor.

Personal plates

MoneySupermarket found that personal plates are the most popular with younger drivers, with 25-34 year-olds and 18-24 year-olds taking the top demographic spots, at 36 and 24 percent respectively.

Mercedes-Benz was the most popular marque, accounting for 12 percent of all personal plates on the road. The survey concludes that so-called ‘vanity’ plates still have a negative image, with 32 percent dismissing owners as poseurs.

Can having a personal registration increase your insurance premium? If it legitimately increases the chances of car theft, we expect so. Regardless, your insurer needs to know.

“You need to ensure that your insurer is aware of your new plate details, so it can be reflected in your policy. Your cover could be invalidated otherwise” said Kevin Pratt, consumer affairs expert at MoneySupermarket.

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Fiat dealer

Opinion: Buying a new car – a tale of two dealers

Fiat dealerLooking forward to taking delivery of your new 68-plate car this weekend? Here’s hoping your experience was a little more straightforward than ours…

Our old car was a Fiat Panda. The original three-year PCP deal was amazing. I saw it on the back of a bus and still couldn’t believe it was true even as we signed the contract.

The best 0% car finance deals right now

Another great thing about PCPs is that you often get into positive equity well ahead of your contract ending. Which means you have the option of trading into a new car early.

We got the letter this summer. Mrs A has always loved the Fiat 500 and, now the kids are out of baby seats (meaning a five-door wasn’t imperative), we felt it the perfect time to get the car she’s hankered for.

It should have been easy. We visited the dealer, thought we’d found a PCP deal from reading the signs in the windscreen, made contact with a salesperson to do the simple transaction bit. We didn’t even need a test drive – a 500’s a 500… which, deep down, is a Panda.

We were a little surprised, then, when they said we’d have to put aside a couple of hours to do it. The kids were already getting twitchy, so we agreed to meet the following week – at 2pm. Email address and telephone number in the dealer system, we left slightly deflated (we’d expected to buy a new car that day), but excited about next week.

You can almost guess what’s coming next, can’t you?

Finding a Fiat

The following week, we turned up early (we sure were excited) and booked in with the person at reception. The salesperson was dealing with someone, but that’s fine, we thought. We hung around in the waiting area for a bit, occasionally glancing over to them. We sat in a 500. An Abarth. A 500X. A Jeep Renegade. Even a Compass, for heaven’s sake. Our 2pm time slot was long gone.

Then, the other couple departed. We wandered over. Too late. They’d pounced on another couple. They took them over to their desk. Still we weren’t acknowledged. So they didn’t see our disbelieving faces.

Half an hour after arriving, we once again left a dealer after walking in ready to buy a car. Literally, no selling was required – yet still we couldn’t get someone to take our money!

Naturally, Mrs A was fuming. I was in disbelief. It was harder for them not to make a sale, yet they still managed it… twice.

So, what to do? Pick another small and compact city car, one ideal for squeezing into the spaces at the school Mrs A works at. Which offers the best combination of ability and value right now? The Suzuki Ignis, I reckoned.

Seeking a Suzuki

2018 Suzuki Ignis

I wasn’t sure if the quirky styling would pass the test. But, next day, when we wandered into the local Suzuki dealer, she loved it. And the deals were sharp. Winning so far (but so too was Fiat dealer by this stage, too).

A salesman came over. Know what? He was brilliant. He listened to what we wanted, walked us round the Ignis, offered us a test drive, then sat down with us to talk through what he could offer. He valued the Panda, pulled together a package, and we were sold.

In well under an hour, he’d sold a car, and we left delighted. 

Sealing the deal

It was painless, enjoyable and, when we picked up our brand new, metallic blue Ignis later the very next week, left us both committed evangelists of the dealer, Suzuki Autosales. This is how it should be done. This is how dealers like Autosales do such good business on word of mouth.

2018 Suzuki Ignis

How hard can it be to sell a car to people who really want to buy a new car? If you’re good, not very hard at all. Which rather makes you wonder how others can make it so hard…

Do you have a similar tale of trying, and failing, to buy a new car? Share your stories here…

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Lada 4x4 Vision

Lada 4×4 Vision Concept could preview a new Niva

Lada 4x4 Vision

“We are preparing the future of Lada” says Lada Director of Design, Steve Mattin. That’s the task the 4×4 Vision Concept faces after its debut at the Moscow Motor Show. The Russian company is roaring into the 21st century with a concept car that – we hope – previews the next Niva.

There are hints of Ford Ranger and Range Rover in its snout, combined with the stature of a Defender and the blistered wheelarches of a Dacia Duster, all while staying within the dimensional footprint of the latter. The distinctive ‘X’ graphic at the front and sides, however, is trademark Lada. 

Lada 4x4 Vision

Inside, it’s not very Niva-like at all, with funky orange accents, a crisp retro-futuristic instrument binnacle and a smart infotainment screen. Everything looks chunky and retro-modern – enjoyable but a bit gimmicky.

The car features an automatic gearbox with high and low ratios, as well as good ground clearance and tight overhangs. That gives it potential for serious off-road chops.

“With the 4×4 Vision, we demonstrate the potential of a unique, expressive, bold and energetic design in a new SUV, drawing inspiration from the legendary Lada 4×4 Niva”, said a spokesman.

Lada 4x4 Vision

The original Lada Niva has been around in some shape and form since 1977, so it’s well due a replacement. Yet, like the incoming Defender successor, whatever replaces the Niva has big, rugged shoes to fill.

That’s not to mention the task Lada as a company faces. Now a part of Renault Group, a staple SUV will be no small part of an ongoing recovery plan. It aims to climb back above 20 percent Russian market share.

Although Lada has big export ambitions, there are no plans for the marque to enter the UK market. If a production SUV comes out that isn’t too far from the 4×4 Vision, that’ll be a great shame.

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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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