Prince Charles

Prince Charles has bought a Jaguar I-Pace (with his own money)

Jaguar I-Pace

Prince Charles is well-known as a committed environmentalist, and his new car reflects this ethos. He’s bought an all-electric Jaguar I-Pace.

We say “bought”, because he actually has. It’s reported he’ll be leasing the £60,000 electric Jaguar SUV out of his own pocket.

It wouldn’t be a royal car without a few special touches, though, so HRH’s I-Pace will arrive in custom ‘Loire Blue’ paint – the only car finished as such. Ahead of his acquisition later this week, Charles has already had his Clarence House home prepared for EV ownership, with the installation of a fast charger.

Prince Charles

The prince is no stranger to electric cars, either. He also test-drove a Tesla Model S, with a view to buying one, but preferred the handling of the Jaguar.

And Charles isn’t the only royal to have shown a keen interest in alternative-fuel vehicles. In front of millions of TV viewers, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrived at their wedding in an all-electric Jaguar E-type, the E-Zero.

The I-Pace will join an impressive garage of classic and luxury vehicles, including a biofuel-converted Aston Martin DB5.

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Abarth 124 GT Rockingham

Video: Abarth 124 GT roadster driven on track

Abarth 124 GT Rockingham

Abarth is no longer simply about go-faster versions of the Fiat 500. Since 2016, the Turinese tuner – treated as a standalone manufacturer within the Fiat-Chrysler group – has also sold its own sports car: the Abarth 124 Spider.

For the uninitiated, the 124 Spider is a faster, more focused take on its Fiat cousin (itself based heavily on the Mazda MX-5). Power climbs to 170hp for 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds, while stiffer suspension and a strut brace sharpen the handling.

Now, there’s a new GT version of the 124, and we were among the first to drive it. The key difference is a removable hard-top roof: a homage of sorts to the 1972 Abarth 124 Rally. Made of carbon fibre, it weighs just 16kg.

That modest weight gain is good news, as the standard fabric soft-top remains hidden beneath the rear deck. It’s there for when it rains and you’ve left the roof at home, making the GT the best of both worlds – apart from its £2,000 price premium.

Even with the hard-top in place, the 124 sounds brilliant, its snarling, quad-tailpipe exhaust echoing off the concrete walls of Rockingham circuit. Lively steering, a snappy gearshift and a revvy engine complete this fast and fun package.

Check out our video to see the Abarth 124 GT in action, plus other highlights from the Abarth range: a 595 Competizione, 695 Rivale and 695 Biposto Record – the latter with a dog ring gearbox from the Assetto Corse racer.

In pictures:

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Can you drive your car after an MOT fail if the old test hasn't expired?

Can you drive your car after an MOT fail if the old test hasn’t expired?

Can you drive your car after an MOT fail if the old test hasn't expired?

The government has updated its guidelines warning motorists that they face prosecution if they drive their car following an MOT failure – even if its previous test hasn’t expired.

Some drivers put their car in for an MOT early to find out if any faults need repairing, mistakenly thinking they can use the vehicle until the old test runs out.

A lot of speculation exists around the topic online, with a number of sites claiming that drivers are within their rights to continue using a car with an in-date MOT certificate, even a tester has since deemed it unroadworthy.

But now the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has updated its guidelines, saying: “You must not drive the vehicle on the road if it fails the test, even if the MOT hasn’t run out.”

It adds that the only exceptions are to drive to have the defects fixed, or to a pre-booked MOT appointment.

If you’re caught driving a car in a dangerous condition, you could face a fine of up to £2,500, a driving ban and three penalty points.

Update: February 2016

Since running this story, the DVSA has updated its website again – to say the complete opposite of what it originally said.

It now states: “You can take your vehicle away if your MOT certificate is still valid.”

Beware, though – if you do drive your car away it is technically unroadworthy. If you were to be caught driving a dangerous vehicle, you could be prosecuted – and you definitely can’t plead ignorance if you have an MoT fail sheet informing you of this.

Update: September 2018

The situation as it stands is as follows: an MOT fail before the previous MOT certificate elapses does not necessarily mean you can’t drive it away, unless there is a “dangerous” problem listed on the certificate and the minimum standards of roadworthiness aren’t met.

A Pistonheads forum user queried whether an MOT tester had a right to detain their car, even if it failed on a non-dangerous fault. The answer? In no circumstances, or with the car in any condition, can a tester keep the car if you don’t want them to.

Speaking with an operative at the DVSA, we were told that “no MOT station can impound a car, even if they find a dangerous defect. You are within rights to get the car towed elsewhere for work”.

However they went on to stress “it’s a grey area regarding dangerous and non-dangerous defects. Ultimately if you drive the car away and something happens, you’re still liable”.

From the DVSA site: “You can be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get 3 penalty points for driving a vehicle that has failed its MOT because of a ‘dangerous’ problem”.

The conclusion?

You can drive your car away from a failed MOT, if the previous certificate is still valid and if the car did not fail with a “dangerous” fault.

The usual rules still apply, though. Get it fixed and get it tested and passed in time.

Commuter traffic

Commuters can save an hour a week by starting and finishing work later

Commuter trafficCommuters who start and finish work later could speed up their drives to and from the office by 10 miles per hour – cutting a full hour a week from the time they spend on the road.

The new research has been revealed by Highways England, which monitored a nine-mile stretch of the M62. This links the M6 near Warrington to the M60 near Manchester.

It is used by 120,000 vehicles every day, so there was no shortage of data to carry out the survey.

Highways England: ‘Our road bridges are safe’

The headline finding is that those who leave for work after 9am get there much more quickly than those who travel between 7am to 9am.

At the other end of the day, drivers who leave the office at 6pm will travel 10 miles per hour faster than those who leave at 5pm. And if they can wait until 7pm, they’ll travel 20 miles per hour faster.

This could cut the average commuter journey time by a third.

Highways England reckons, for an average 20-mile journey, someone working from 9am to 5pm could spend an extra hour a week on the road, compared to someone working 10am to 6pm.

“It’s surprising that shifting our working days by just one hour could have such a significant impact on journey times,” said Mike Bull from Highways England.

He admitted that some may have no choice what time they work, “but if some are able to start and finish work an hour later, it could benefit everyone – and save some drivers an hour each week.”

The findings came as part of Highways England’s monitoring of traffic speeds during the M62 upgrade. It’s being converted to a smart motorway, which will add a third to its capacity.

It’s a much-needed upgrade: before the work, the average speed between 5pm and 6pm was just 36 miles per hour…

DVLA Driver Eyesight Tests

Did you know you legally need to check your eyesight to drive?

DVLA Driver Eyesight Tests

This summer’s heatwave might have had drivers reaching for their sunglasses, but prescription eyewear might be more appropriate for some.

The DVLA is seeking to remind drivers that they need to meet the minimum eyesight standards at all times. To do this, a campaign throughout the summer will aim to raise awareness, and remind drivers of the basic level their vision must meet.

Worryingly, some 50% of UK drivers are not even aware of the standards they are expected to meet for eyesight whilst out on the roads. Many may not have bothered to check since passing their driving test – potentially decades ago for some of the 48 million drivers on the road.

For those in need of a reminder, the basic test for drivers is if they can read a standard car number plate from 20 metres (65 feet) away. For those who don’t carry a tape measure around with them at all times, this is equivalent to around five car lengths.

DVLA figures show that 50,000 drivers having had their driving licence revoked or refused between 2012 and 2016 due to their eyesight. Some 3,000 accidents a year have also been linked to vision impairment.

Drivers can potentially be prosecuted for failing to meet those minimum standards. As such, the DVLA is encouraging drivers to see an optician should they be worried about their vision.

Furthering the message is the Driving Blind campaign, backed by road safety organisations including the FIA and GEM Motoring Assist.

This includes a petition to press for legislation to require drivers to undergo eye tests every ten years, along with a field of vision assessment.

Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

Our car week review: Hardcore Lambo Aventador SVJ

Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

Many feared that Lamborghini under the control of the Volkswagen Group, and Audi in particular, would see the Italian brand neutered and normalised. With the launch of the new Aventador SVJ, it’s clear that the Sant’Agata firm is still crazy beneath the corporate veneer. Two decades of Audi ownership have made the firm financially secure, and capable of producing special models like this SuperVeloce Jota

We got up close with the new Aventador SVJ at the European launch event, and you can check out all of our exclusive photos and video right here

This week has also seen the return of the Toyota Corolla to Europe, big money go under the hammer in Monterey, and made us realise that buying a new car can be harder than it looks. 

Car News

Lamborghini Aventador SVJ
Video – Lamborghini Aventador SVJ makes European debut
A Lamborghini Aventador is already a hardcore proposition. But the new SVJ versionturns everything to 11. No, it’s not discreet, but would you want it any other way?

2019 Toyota Corolla
Toyota Corolla makes a comeback for 2019
If you’ve been unhappy at the Auris nameplate since Toyota started using it in 2006, now is your time to celebrate. Next year will see the return of the Corolla badge.

Electric car on-street charging
Waiting game – British buyers still cool on electric car plans
Although the clock is ticking on plans to ban petrol and diesel-powered cars by 2040, an Auto Trader survey suggests British buyers will wait a decade before going EV.

Features and opinion

1966 Ford GT40 Mk II
Monterey millions – biggest sellers at the 2018 RM Sotheby’s sale
Exquisite cars went under the hammer for the RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale. Records were broken, with an astonishing total of nearly $160 million amassed by the end.

McLaren F1 GTR '25R'
McLaren F1 Certified programme launches
Exquisite cars went under the hammer for the RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale. Records were broken, with an astonishing total of nearly $160 million amassed by the end.

Fiat dealer
Buying a new car: how hard can it really be?
New car sales figures tell a story of buyers playing safe. Perhaps it’s just that dealerships don’t want to actually sell cars, given the difficulties Richard hadwhen buying one recently.


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