MINI Clubman City

The Mini City is back – as a £20k Clubman family hatch

MINI Clubman CityMINI has plundered its back catalogue of names once again to revive the Mini City. But this time, instead of being a stripped-out budget city runabout with plastic seats and garish logos, the new MINI Clubman City is a fleet-focused special – priced from £19,995.

And as a result, there’s not a cheap-looking ‘City’ stick-on logo in sight.

Derived from the regular base-spec MINI Clubman One, the MINI Clubman City comes with either a 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine, or a 1.5-litre turbodiesel.

MINI Clubman City

The petrol is the slowest, and only dips into the target 130g/km CO2 band if you choose an automatic, which takes the price up from £19,995 to £21,555. Ouch.

But it’s double ouch if you look to the diesel – because that only comes as an auto, and is priced from a whopping £23,855. Then again, it does average 68.9mpg and emits just 109g/km CO2, the lowest-ever figure for a current MINI Clubman.  

All fuel economy and CO2 figures are measured to the latest WLTP test standards, and the diesel meets Euro-6 TEMP legislation, so will not be penalised from actually driving into the cities it’s named after for many years to come.

City slicker

MINI Clubman City

All MINI Clubman City come with standard air con, sat nav, 6.5-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth and DAB. Jam-busting Real Time Traffic Information (RTTI) is included, as are rear parking sensors.

The City Clubman also gets a sports steering wheel cruise control and slightly malnourished-looking 16-inch wheels. 17-inch wheels are a no-cost option, but they will push up CO2 and nibble away at overall economy.

Run-flat tyres are optional if a stiff ride over city roads isn’t an issue.

MINI Clubman City

Unlike the original Mini City, the MINI Clubman City is a five-seat car with family hatch levels of interior space, albeit within a smaller exterior package than models such as a Volkswagen Golf.

It keeps the Clubman’s famed barn doors at the back, and MINI corporate sales boss reckons it’s a great all-rounder for “commuting, travelling with the family or using for leisure purposes”.

Ordering is open now; deliveries should begin from next month.

2018 MINI Clubman City prices

  • MINI Clubman City petrol: £19,995
  • MINI Clubman City petrol auto: £21,555
  • MINI Clubman City diesel auto: £23,855
BTCC

The BTCC is going hybrid in 2022

BTCC

With rule changes on the horizon starting from 2020, how racers in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) are going to look, sound and go is beginning to take shape. The latest and most dramatic development is that they will be hybridised from the start of the 2022 season.

That’s right… series organiser TOCA has confirmed that the BTCC, one of the more down-to-earth motorsport series, is looking at electrification, joining the upper echelons of WEC, Formula 1 and obviously, Formula E.

That’s not to say that the cars themselves will change very much. The implementation of the technology should be on a base spec level. That means every car will get a standard power unit to complement the internal combustion engine. How and when that power unit is used to boost the cars throughout the race will become a part of each team’s race strategy.

BTCC

Alan Gow, BTCC Series Director, outlined the extent of the changes to the current cars: “Different to hybrid development within the likes of Formula 1, this certainly shouldn’t – and won’t – be an ‘extreme’ technical exercise, but rather will be one which we will introduce within our NGTC technical regulations relatively seamlessly and very cost-effectively.

“Just as importantly, by incorporating hybrid it keeps the BTCC absolutely relevant to manufacturers, sponsors and the public… with the added benefit of further enhancing our great racing.

Watch a Volvo ESTATE race in the BTCC!

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“Drivers will have a given reserve of additional hybrid power to use during each race, which will provide an extra element of race-craft and excitement to the fantastically close and entertaining racing that is the hallmark of the BTCC.”

While this general outline is good to go, the minutiae of the technical specifications is still to be decided, with the BTCC Technical Working Group (TWG) set to go over the detailed engineering over the course of the next 12-18 months. Some of the current cars should have such systems engineered in during 2020 and beyond for testing purposes, ahead of the full grid going hybrid from 2022.

How hybridisation will effect manufacturer perceptions of and involvement in the sport will be interesting to see…

Read more:

Audi RS6 Avant

Prince Harry’s Audi RS6 Avant for sale on Auto Trader

Audi RS6 Avant

Like mother, like son. Princess Diana caused quite a stir when she ditched her British wheels for something German – most famously an Audi 80 Cabriolet – and her youngest son has certainly followed in his mother’s footsteps.

Scan the gossip columns and you’ll spot Prince Harry behind the wheel of a number of Audi models, including this: a 2017 RS6 Avant. It was used by Harry and Meghan Markle on the way to Pippa Middleton’s wedding reception last year, and now, it could be yours.

For sale on Auto Trader for a not unreasonable £71,900, the superfast wagon comes with £11,330 worth of options and 4,464 royal miles on the clock. Factory-fitted accessories include a panoramic sunroof, privacy glass, night vision and – because Harry is a lad – a speed limiter removal.

Well, you need to get a wiggle on if you’re being hunted by the paparazzi.

Refreshingly, the dealer doesn’t appear to be charging a premium for the connection to the Duke of Sussex, and is offering “excellent funding solutions to suit your needs.” Needless to say, Harry wouldn’t have struggled for funding when he took delivery of the Audi, even if he was saving for a rather lavish wedding.

A ‘roaring exhaust’

Erin Baker, Auto Trader’s editorial director, said: “This is a smashing car perfectly suited to any aspiring Royal. The Audi RS6 Avant is one of the fastest estate cars on the market doing 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds, and it has a roaring exhaust to excite any petrol head.”

“The car boasts a 17 reg and low mileage, so it begs the questions why is the Prince selling so soon?”

While you spend all of four seconds pondering that question, we’ll leave you with a warning against buying the RS6 in the hope of making a quick dollar. In 2014, independent dealer Baron Cole paid over the odds for Harry’s old Audi RS3, before selling it to another dealer without making a profit.

We suspect Baron was royally flushed with embarrassment and he won’t be going anywhere near this RS6. You, on the other hand, can view the advert on Auto Trader here.

Vauxhall GT X Experimental

The Vauxhall of 2025 will be ‘inspired by Apple’

Vauxhall GT X ExperimentalTo mark being part of Groupe PSA for one year – in which it has returned to profitability after years of posting losses – Vauxhall has given a first early tease of the forward-looking GT X Experimental concept car it’s going to uncover later in 2018.

Previewing the Vauxhall of 2025, it will be the first car to wear Vauxhall’s new ‘face’. This is, we’re told, based around the ‘Vauxhall Compass’, where two axes intersect the Griffin badge; that’s the centre crease of the bonnet, and the wing-shaped LED daytime running light signature.

Vauxhall Compass

But there’s more. The headlights and running lights, plus the various cameras and sensors needed for driver assistance systems, are all packed into a central frame that Vauxhall reckons looks like the eye slot of a motorcycle helmet.

It’s thus dubbed this styling cue the ‘Vizor’. Future new Vauxhalls will all get their own take on the ‘Vizor’, which the firm hopes will make them bolder, more pure and distinctive-looking.

Vauxhall: ‘inspired by Apple’

Vauxhall’s vice president of design is a Brit called Mark Adams. “Design will be at the heart of everything that we do in future,” he said.

“It will truly differentiate the Vauxhall brand, and make it sharper and more relevant to our core values. We are a proud British brand and design inspiration is all around us in the UK – from the bold ingenuity of James Dyson to the pure designs of [Apple chief designer] Jonathan Ive – and this concept will embody that.’

Vauxhall Apple CarPlay

Adam has even drawn up a set of characteristics that all future Vauxhalls will showcase: British, Ingenious, Progressive and Approachable.

Whether this means Vauxhall designs will now deviate a little more from their European Opel counterparts, which presumably will have their own characteristics, remains to be seen.

2019 Mazda MX-5

2019 Mazda MX-5 range priced from £18,995, on sale September

2019 Mazda MX-5The revised-for-2019 Mazda MX-5 range will go on sale from 1 September 2018 with prices starting from £18,995. All models are now compliant with the new WLTP fuel economy test and the range-topping 2.0-litre variant has received a power boost to 184hp.

And while there are few visual changes, Mazda has sweated on the details to make the MX-5 more appealing. All models now get telescopic steering wheel reach adjustment, for example, and the seat slide mechanism has been improved so drivers sit lower and more comfortably.

The biggest change on the surface are new designs of 16-inch and 17-inch alloy wheels.

2019 Mazda MX-5

The model range comprises SE+, SE-L Nav+, Sport Nav+ and GT Sport Nav+ variants. Sport Nav+ and GT Sport Nav+ models now have more standard safety kit, with autonomous emergency city braking, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and driver attention alert now standard. (As if you’d need a driver attention warning in an MX-5…)

GT Sport Nav+ models have adaptive LED headlights, reversing camera and blind spot monitoring as standard; this safety pack is optional on the Sport Nav+.

The £18,995 car is an SE+ convertible soft-top; the hard-top RF range starts from £22,595 for the SE-L Nav+. Both entry-level cars come with a 132hp 1.5-litre engine.

2019 Mazda MX-5 engines

2019 Mazda MX-5

In updating it to WLTP/RDE fuel economy test compliance, Mazda’s given the 1.5-litre a slight power boost to 132hp, and torque is also marginally up, to 112lb ft. The 2.0-litre engine has received more changes, though, which even passers-by will be aware of: the exhaust now delivers a “cleaner, more powerful engine note”.

Key to the 2019 2.0-litre is its higher redline, up from 6,800rpm to 7,500rpm. Lighter pistons and conrod help deliver this, and there have also been updates to the camshafts, exhaust valves, fuel injectors, throttle valve and air intake.

The result is a healthy power boost from 160hp to 184hp, which takes the convertible’s 0-62mph time down by a significant 0.8 seconds to just 6.5 seconds.

Surprisingly though, CO2 emissions are lower than the slower 160hp car, thanks to the addition of Mazda i-Eloop and i-stop engine stop-start technology.

Mazda UK MD Jeremy Thomson said: “When it comes to driver engagement, the current generation MX-5 has already established itself as a benchmark sports car, so with extra power, improved performance, more revs to enjoy and a sweeter exhaust note, the 2019 2.0-litre MX-5 will be more exciting and satisfying to drive than ever before.

“And with telescopic steering adjustment now standard across all models, we’ve listening to feedback from our customers to make sure driver comfort is also enhanced.”   

2019 Mazda MX-5 pricing

SKYACTIV-G PetrolRetail Price

 

CO2 Difference in CO2 from old MX-5
Mazda MX-5 Convertible   
Mazda MX-5 1.5 132ps SE+£18,995143+4
Mazda MX-5 1.5 132ps SE-L Nav + £20,795143+4
Mazda MX-5 1.5 132ps Sport Nav +£23,295143+4
Mazda MX-5 2.0 184ps SE-L Nav + £22,295156– 5
Mazda MX-5 2.0 184ps Sport Nav +£24,795156-5
Mazda MX-5 2.0 184ps GT Sport Nav+£25,795156-5
Mazda MX-5 RF   
Mazda MX-5 RF 1.5 132ps SE-L Nav + £22,595143+1
Mazda MX-5 RF 1.5 132ps Sport Nav +£25,095143+1
Mazda MX-5 RF 2.0 184ps SE-L Nav + £24,095156-5
Mazda MX-5 RF 2.0 184ps Sport Nav +£26,595156-5
Mazda MX-5 RF 2.0 184ps Sport Nav + Auto£27,995157-10
Mazda MX-5 RF 2.0 184ps GT Sport Nav +£27,795156-5
Mazda MX-5 RF 2.0 184ps GT Sport Nav + Auto£29,195157-10

 

Free EV charge points

Hotel and B&B owners offered free EV charging points

Free EV charge points

Around 4,000 hotel and B&B owners are being offered the opportunity to have electric vehicle charging points for free as part of a strategic partnership between the AA and Chargemaster.

The UK’s leading provider of EV charging infrastructure will work with any AA-inspected establishments interested in taking up the offer to determine the best charging points for their location. A rapid charger would be most suitable for hotels along busy routes, while destination chargers are ideal for visitors looking to charge overnight.

The Sandford Springs Hotel in Hampshire is the first establishment to benefit from the offer, with guests and visitors able to call upon a 50kW rapid charger, which is available for any EV driver to use on the Polar network.

Edmund King OBE, president of the AA, said: “Alongside our automotive heritage, the AA has been involved in the hospitality industry since 1908. We know that when EV drivers are looking for hotels, they will actively seek out those with charging points.

“We have witnessed enormous changes in both the automotive and hotel sectors over the last 110 years, and we are delighted that our AA recognised hospitality businesses can benefit from this tremendous offer.”

‘Competitive advantage’

David Martell, chief executive of Chargemaster, added: “We believe that within the next five years, all hotels will offer EV charging, just like they provide wifi today. Our offer for AA hotels is a great opportunity for hotel owners and operators to get a competitive advantage with a facility that could attract hundreds of thousands of customers in the coming years.”

Chargemaster, which is now part of BP, operates Polar, the largest electric vehicle charging network in the UK, with more than 6,500 public charge points.

Oil giant BP bought Chargemaster in a deal described as “an important step to scaling up and deploying fast and ultra-fast charging on BP’s UK forecourts”. Luton-based Chargemaster will be renamed BP Chargemaster as part of the deal.

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera review: turning the DB11 up to 11

We drive Aston Martin’s new ‘Super GT flagship’ – the 725hp DBS Superleggera. Is it sufficiently special to justify a £225,000 price tag?