2019 Volkswagen T-Cross

New Volkswagen T-Cross is a baby SUV with big ambitions

2019 Volkswagen T-CrossThe Volkswagen T-Cross baby SUV is the firm’s long-awaited rival to the top-selling Nissan Juke and Renault Captur. The firm’s smallest SUV is a crucial car for the firm and goes on sale in early 2019.

The T-Cross ‘Polo SUV’ joins a sector that Volkswagen predicts will double in the next 10 years. Already, the Renault Captur outsells the Clio in the UK; don’t be surprised if the T-Cross does the same.

120mm shorter than the Volkswagen T-Roc, the new T-Cross is related to the Seat Arona, and the same underpinnings will spawn Skoda and Audi small SUVs in time too.

2019 Volkswagen T-Cross

Volkswagen wants its T-Cross to be the most appealing though, so has given the new baby SUV a distinctive, edgy look that’s easily as bold as the larger T-Roc. The firm’s designers seem to be relishing the opportunity to go a bit more out there these days, and the T-Cross is certain to stand out in a sector that likes its designs distinctive.

2019 Volkswagen T-Cross

There’s a flat-look, contoured, 4×4-influenced bonnet, with castellations at the end that just hint at a Range Rover. The grille is broad, headlights integrated into it, and the side feature lines that mark out the new Polo are even more pronounced here.

2019 Volkswagen T-Cross

A tall car – it’s 112mm higher than a Polo (and 54mm longer) – the T-Cross had futuristic-look darkened rear lights, although the back end is rather upright. That’s perhaps because Volkswagen reckoned small SUVs must be practical as well as stylish (is it looking at you, Nissan, and your compromised Juke?).

2019 Volkswagen T-Cross

The T-Cross is thus a genuine four-seater, five at a push, and has a boot that beats a Golf even with the seats up – and 385 litres expands to 455 litres if you slide the rear bench seat forwards. Maximum capacity is 1,281 litres, while all passengers have an elevated seating position: rear passengers sit higher than those in the front (similar to the ‘stadium’ seating all Land Rovers come with).

Presumably it will be a little smaller if you choose the optional 300-watt Beats audio system with eight-channel amplifier and separate subwoofer… mounted in the boot.

2019 Volkswagen T-Cross

Inside, it’s a little more generic VW, but livened up with some smart dash trims and a large glass-look central screen. Volkswagen says it’s “cool” and “sporty”, and there are numerous 3D-look decors for the trim panels and even the seats: pick from black, ‘energetic orange’ or ‘bamboo green’.

The T-Cross is certain to drive well as it’s derived from the same MQB platform used in umpteen VW Group cars, most notably the Polo and Golf. The engine range will be focused around petrol, with 95hp or 115hp 1.0-litre TSI or a 150hp 1.5-litre TSI. There’s also a 95hp 1.6-litre TDI and five- or six-speed manual gearboxes or a seven-speed DSG auto.

2019 Volkswagen T-Cross

In Germany, the T-Cross will be priced from around £16,000. It’s almost certain to cost more by the time it arrives in the UK: a Seat Arona costs from £17,000 and the VW is bound to be pricier. Our guess is £18,000, to slot it neatly below the £20,620 T-Roc.

Admirably, given its city focus, all T-Cross come with the Front Assist system that monitors for pedestrians and auto-brakes when it detects a low-speed collision. The sliding rear bench seat is standard too, and UK cars are likely to add in air con, 16-inch alloys and all-round parking sensors. Because Brits like their cars well-kitted. 

Don’t expect strong prices to daunt the prospects of the new T-Cross, though. It could be just the machine Volkswagen needs to help it get out of its WLTP-influenced sales slump when it arrives early next year.

New Volkswagen T-Cross: in pictures

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Tesla Model 3

Elon Musk says the UK Tesla Model 3 is due in mid-2019

Tesla Model 3Tesla buyers in the United Kingdom could expect their Model 3s to start arriving as soon as mid-2019, according to Elon Musk on Twitter.

It seems Musk’s Twitter has become our best source on Tesla news of late… and this time, it’s positive news for Brits, particularly those who have placed a £1,000 deposit and have been waiting patiently for news. 

Many claims were made about this car when it was revealed, and some inevitably are yet to be delivered. A $35,000 base car and mainstream availability in other markets continue to elude us. However, a new mid-level car was revealed last week, with the promise of the base car soon to follow.

Now, Elon Musk has confirmed right-hand drive Model 3s are on their way to the UK and Australia. We reckon the quality control issues ought to be in hand by then, too. Once an entry-level Model 3 lands on a UK driveway, the Model 3 should be a fully resolved and matured, mainstream production car.

Tesla has even posted a $311million profit recently, prompting a pleasing share price rise for the company. It’ll make even more if it can get some right-hand drive Model 3s into the hands of UK and Australian customers in the not-too-distant future…

Read more:

2018 Mecum Chicago McDonalds Collection Auction

At the drive-in: McDonald’s classic car collection up for auction

2018 Mecum Chicago McDonalds Collection Auction

Forget the cars you might expect to see outside your local McDonald’s. This collection going under the hammer is altogether classier than usual.

In fact, the four cars for sale were previously part of the Store No.1 Museum – built to commemorate the original McDonald’s restaurant location.

Officially founded in 1955 by Ray Kroc, the restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois marked the first in a chain which would become a global phenomenon. Although the original building was demolished in 1984, the McDonald’s Corporation created a museum on the same site to highlight the impact the chain had.

2018 Mecum Chicago McDonalds Collection Auction

A key feature of the Store No.1 Museum were the four cars now up for sale. With chrome galore and bright paintwork, the collection was intended to demonstrate the optimism of the time.

The museum itself was closed to the public in 2008, following deterioration in the structure of the building. However, the cars were still cared for, allowing them to go under the hammer at the Mecum sale in Chicago this week.

1955 Chevrolet Bel Air

2018 Mecum Chicago McDonalds Collection AuctionEasily one of the most recognisable American cars of the 1950s, no classic collection from the era would be without a Chevrolet Bel Air. This one is powered by a 265-cubic inch (4.3-litre) V8 engine, mated to an automatic gearbox.

Finished in a two-tone red and white paint combination, the matching interior for the Bel Air certainly packs a ‘50s vibe. Masses of chrome, and whitewall tyres, leave no doubt as to the era it is from.

1955 Chrysler New Yorker St. Regis

2018 Mecum Chicago McDonalds Collection AuctionDespite being one of the longest-running nameplates in the American car industry, the New Yorker is less discernible. Built between 1940 and 1996, the car up for auction is the fourth iteration of the New Yorker.

Featuring a Hemi V8 engine, the St. Regis model marked was top of the New Yorker range in 1955. The white and gold interior stands out as something of an acquired taste.

1955 Oldsmobile Super 88

2018 Mecum Chicago McDonalds Collection AuctionProduced for 50 years between 1949 and 1999, the Oldsmobile 88 was a perennial fixture in the American motoring landscape. The brand would be killed off in 2004, but this Super 88 comes from a time when the company was at its peak.

With a 324-cubic inch (5.3-litre) Rocket V8, along with a four-speed automatic gearbox, the Super 88 is arguably the most advanced car here. As with all four offered for sale, this 88 has undergone a thorough restoration.

1955 Ford Fairlane Crown Victoria

2018 Mecum Chicago McDonalds Collection AuctionThought the Crown Victoria was only associated with New York taxis and police cars? Think again. The first use of the badge was to mark out the premium model of the Fairlane range.

Most noticeable is the special chrome B-pillar treatment, crowning the roofline and giving the car its name. Power comes from a 272-cubic inch (4.5-litre) V8, whilst the exterior looks resplendent with a white and red colour combination.

The four McDonald’s collection cars will be crossing the block this Saturday. More than 1,000 additional performance cars and classics are also on offer, including a number of special collections. One star of the sale is a 1979 Porsche 930 Turbo, originally owned by Chicago Bears NFL legend Walter Payton.

Jaguar XE SV Project 8

Series Elite one-make racing for over-50s to run Jaguar XE SV Project 8

Jaguar XE SV Project 8Series Elite is a one-make race series just for the over-50s and has now announced the choice of car for its inaugural 2019 season – the 600hp, 200mph Jaguar XE SV Project 8.

The surprise choice of rookie racing car was announced in London. Series founder Graeme Glew says the choice of such a high-profile car will be pivotal in building up interest in the series.

“The opportunity to develop this awesome car into a fully fledged racer was one that I jumped at.

Series Elite's Jaguar XE SV Project 8

“Not only will our drivers own a fantastic race car, when they finally hang up their race boots, they can if they wish convert their Project 8 back into a road going version.”

An exclusive one at that: Jaguar Special Vehicle Operations has vowed to make no more than a 300 Project 8.

Series Elite is targeting high net worth individuals and says it gives “the unique premise of a racing series for novices who never had the opportunity to get involved in their youth”. Former racers will also be welcomed, adds Glew.  

The first race will take place in May 2019, with a series of test sessions planned in the build-up. Circuits to be visited include Silverstone, Donington and Brands Hatch – and a flashy international finale is planned at Portimao, Portugal at the end of the season.

Jaguar XE SV Project 8

Glew adds that this will intentionally be a series for rich racers. Series Elite has “partnered with a number of luxury brand that will be joining us at the event: like-minded businesses who work within the high net worth individual industry and meet their demand for exclusivity and enriching their lives”.

It’ll be a turn-key series too: racers simply turn up and drive, rather than have to worry about transporting their cars to events. All will be prepared at a centralised facility, and relevant training, testing and race experience will be provided for competitors ahead of the first race next May.

The first Series Elite Project 8 racers will be ready for testing in early 2019.

2018 Ken Block Hoonitruck Ford F-150

Ken Block has an awesome new 900hp Ford F-150 pickup truck

2018 Ken Block Hoonitruck Ford F-150

In anticipation of his forthcoming Gymkhana 10 video, Ken Block has unveiled his latest tyre-shredding creation.

Clearly deciding to add some practicality, this time Mr Block has picked a 1977 Ford F-150 pickup truck as the base for his awesome machine. Although we’re not sure how long any cargo would last in the exposed bed of this truck.

The engineering is also anything but agricultural. Lifted straight from the Ford GT Le Mans racer is a 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 engine. With twin-turbochargers, the total output is a terrifying 914hp and 701lb-ft of torque.

2018 Ken Block Hoonitruck Ford F-150

Revving to over 7,400rpm, the engine is made from billet aluminum, and is claimed to sound like “nothing you’ve ever heard” in previous Hoonigan videos.

To handle all that power is a four-wheel drive system, mated to a Sadev six-speed gearbox. This is a similar setup to the ones used in Block’s Hoonicorn Mustangs previously. The 20-inch Fifteen52 wheels are mated with Toyo Proxes ST II tyres.

Military-grade aluminium is used for the custom bodywork, created by Detroit Speed Engineering. The same firm has also been responsible for the chassis construction, and the overall engineering of the incredible project.

2018 Ken Block Hoonitruck Ford F-150

Sentimentality has played a part in inspiring the design of the Hoonitruck. Whilst Block is a self-confessed fan of pickups, this particular choice of F-150 has a family connection.

Block’s father owned the base version of the sixth generation F-150. It was the truck the younger Block learnt to drive in, before later using it to transport his dirt bikes.

Despite the retro influence, the Hoonitruck also packs modern technology from the latest range of Ford pickup trucks. A remote start system is borrowed from the current F-150, along with a functional rear-view camera. Based on Block’s previous videos, we imagine the latter may be obscured with tyre smoke…

Hoonigan fans will have a chance to see the new blockbuster at next week’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The Hoonitruck will also feature in the Forza Horizon 4 Xbox One game, being made available from the 2nd November.

However, the main event will happen later in the year with the debut of the Gymkhana 10 video. Amazon Prime Video subscribers will get to see it first on the 7th December, with a global YouTube release on the 17th December.

McLaren Production Centre production line

British car production down again as market in ‘turmoil’

McLaren Technology Centre production lineUK car production fell a painful 16.8 percent in September 2018 as declines in the British new car market were mirrored by big falls in cars sent for export.

Overall, 25,610 fewer cars were built in the UK last month, reports the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 19 percent fewer cars were earmarked for the home market, and exports saw a 16.2 percent decline.

It means overall UK car production has fallen 6.6 percent so far this year, to 1.17 million cars.

The year-to-date decline is heavily influenced by an 18.6 percent fall in cars built for Brits in 2018, but the slowdown in the European market (previous gains have now turned into a 3.3 percent decline) is also starting to bear down on UK car factories: 4 in 5 cars built in Britain are exported.

The SMMT blames global trade tensions, model changes, uncertainty over diesel, Brexit and testing backlogs caused by the WLTP switchover for the decline.

“It has been a turbulent year,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes, “and the industry needs stability, something which appears elusive given the lack of resolution to Brexit negotiations”.

The UK government has recognised the importance of a deal that maintains free and frictionless trade with the EU, but it is up to all sides to deliver this to safeguard the hundreds of thousands of jobs depending on the sector.”

Changes are needed for the home market too, he said. “A stronger UK new car market would go a long way to boosting manufacturing output.”

The SMMT is calling on the Chancellor to stimulate the market and send the right signals to consumers and businesses in his Budget next week. This would “help bolster economic performance as well as delivering environmental goals”.

BMW 8 Series history in pictures

BMW 8 Series: the history of the soft-focus supercar in pictures

As BMW prepares to unveil the new 8 Series at Le Mans, we look at the 8er it made earlier

The worst selling cars in America right now

Americans love their cars. Well, trucks specifically, followed closely by SUVs. The top five best-selling vehicles in America (reported through August) are the Ford F-Series, Ram pickup, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, and Honda CR-V. These vehicles all share traits that we love: ruggedness, reliability, and value for money.

So what vehicles do Americans not buy right now in 2018? As it turns out, the slowest sellers on the list also share traits: they are overwhelmingly expensive foreign luxury cars or expensive foreign sports cars. Yes, some are actually union-built right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., but the marque’s home base is still overseas.

At the very bottom of the list are the vehicles that have sold perhaps only one or two copies this year. These were discontinued models, and therefore technically not on sale. We speculate that a few lone examples remained stranded at dealerships, and therefore appear on this year’s books.

These vehicles are (and the number sold so far in 2018): Honda Crosstour (0), Mini Paceman (0), Lexus LFA (2), BMW Z4 (2), Dodge Avenger (4), Chrysler Town & Country (4), Dodge Viper (14), and Honda CR-Z (27).

There are a few others on the slowest-sellers list that have also been discontinued, but still broke the 100 mark for sales.

These are the worst-selling cars in America right now.

Ford GT: 88 cars

YTD 2018 v. YTD 2017: +109.52 percent

Ford’s GT supercar has been limited to just 1,000 examples and most were spoken for the moment sales began in 2016. General sales won’t begin until the 2020 model year and even then, with a estimated price tag of $450,000, sales will undoubtedly not be brisk. Don’t be fooled by the 109 percent year-on-year increase: we’re talking handfuls here…

The Ford GT is made in Canada, so hopefully political tomfoolery nonsense won’t raise the price even further.

Acura NSX: 111 cars

YTD 2018 v. YTD 2017: -66.26 percent

The Acura NSX hybrid supercar has performance to match its looks. Each example starts at $159,000 and most are custom-ordered.

329 examples of the Ohio-built NSX were sold by this time last year.

Mercedes-Benz B-Class: 133 cars

YTD 2018 v. YTD 2017: -70.83 percent

Mercedes’ B-Class electric people mover was discontinued here in 2017. It’s high starting price of over $40,000 and low 87-mile range made it non-competitive in the segment.

A new B-Class is expected overseas in 2019.

Alfa Romeo 4C: 164 cars

YTD 2018 v. YTD 2017: -42.46 percent

Alfa Romeo’s lovely 4C marked the brand’s return to our shores, but fewer than 1,800 examples have been sold since its introduction in 2014. The newness and novelty have since worn off and sales continue to slow; FCA has announced the coupe version will be discontinued after 2018.

Kia K900: 230 cars

YTD 2018 v. YTD 2017:-28.35 percent

Kia’s K900 luxury flagship was facing an uphill battle from the moment it was born. It starts at over $50,000 and must compete in a space long occupied by prestigious German marques. Kia makes many, many great cars, but the name denotes a value brand and lacks the cachet luxury buyers pay for.

Even worse, it’s a sedan, a body style that continues to decline in popularity as SUVs grow their market share.

Dodge Dart: 368 cars

YTD 2018 v. YTD 2017: -96.08

The Dodge Dart was launched in 2012 with much fanfare, the Fiat Chrysler phoenix risen from the ashes of a Chrysler immolated in the Great Recession. It was designed to compete with greats like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, but made so little impact on the market that few buyers noticed it was actually discontinued in 2016.

Volkswagen CC: 388 cars

YTD 2018 v. YTD 2017: -66.08

Volkswagen’s flagship CC sedan has been discontinued and replaced by the new Arteon. Its aging design saw sales peak back in 2011 at just under 30,000 units, but its popularity has declined ever since. It’s base price was over $34,000 with a manual transmission, while some other midsize sedans could be found fully loaded for that price.

In 2016, under 3,300 examples were sold, though the car was often still favorably reviewed. At this time last year, VW moved just 1,111 CCs off the lot.

BMW i8: 423 cars

YTD 2018 v. YTD 2017: +39.14

BMW’s electric i8 starts at over $143,000, which might be a even bigger drag on sales than its eco-friendly drivetrain. Though looking every inch like a supercar from the world of tomorrow, the performance never really lived up to expectations.

The peak year for North American sales was 2015 at 2,265 units, and last year just 488 were sold in total.

Nissan GT-R: 423 cars

YTD 2018 v. YTD 2017:  -3.78

Nissan’s monster GT-R ultra-performance coupe has a rabid cult following among the PlayStation set, but has yet to find mainstream acceptance. Starting at $100,000, the all-wheel drive beast sports 600 horsepower in NISMO trim. An all-new version is expected in 2020.

Audi R8: 573 cars

YTD 2018 v. YTD 2017: -4.66

Audi’s R8 has been endlessly referred to as “the everyday supercar” because of its astounding performance figures and daily driver nature. The halo car will rocket from zero-60 in under three seconds thanks to its 602-horsepower engine and light weight.

Pricing starts just under $140,000 for the acclaimed two-seater, so it’s understandable that sales might not be blistering. That being said, the R8 does indeed shed a positive light on the brand, and sales between 700-800 units per year are normal.

Responsible Car Wash Scheme Launches

New Responsible Car Wash Scheme aims to provide safe conditions for workers

Responsible Car Wash Scheme Launches

Fears of modern day slavery, health and safety breaches, and tax avoidance at hand car washes are some of the concerns hoped to be tackled by the newly launched Responsible Car Wash Scheme.

Numerous agencies across government, from the Environment Agency to HMRC, have contributed to creating the new scheme. It could mean that the end of the cheap hand car wash is over, but at least drivers will be able to have a clean conscience. 

With up to 20,000 car washes operating across the UK, the potential for regulatory breaches is huge. Whilst many do operate within the law, agencies such as the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) are well aware of workers being exploited, or denied the correct protective equipment. 

Responsible Car Wash Scheme Launches

The Responsible Car Wash Scheme will allow operators to become accredited members. This will involve guidance on how to ensure they are operating legally, combined with audits and assessments of working practices. Spot checks will also be undertaken to ensure that members are adhering to the rules.

Scheme members will be able to display a special logo, marking them out clearly to consumers. The aim is that this will enable drivers to pick a car wash that is ethically and environmentally sound. 

As a result, standards across the car wash industry should hopefully be raised, whilst unscrupulous operators may find that their business dries up.

Responsible Car Wash Scheme Launches

Five major supermarkets have backed the scheme, aiming to be the first to ensure that car washes operated on their sites meet the requirements. In turn, this should enable the public to become familiar with the logo of the Responsible Car Wash Scheme. Darryl Dixon from the GLAA believes the Scheme will be important to operators, but also so that consumer can “make a simple decision of using a legal operator or not.”

A pilot will be undertaken across the Midlands area throughout November. The results of this will determine a roll out across the wider UK.

For those concerned at the idea of having to pay more, drivers can rest assured that the scheme will not extend to press-ganging their children to wash the car on a Sunday morning for pocket money. 

classic cars

Is this the new way to spot future classic cars?

classic cars

“Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be,” reads a press release from independent car auction specialist, G3 Remarketing. It thinks the way classics earn that status is changing and that there are new ways to spot such a car before it reaches the limelight.

The way we buy cars has changed. PCP affords us the instant gratification of more aspirational machinery without years of saving. Could nostalgia and buying the cars we never could when we were younger soon be a thing of the past? More on that in a bit. First, we’ll go through what G3 reckons are the things to look out for in a future classic beyond nostalgia.

Unloved, unwanted, rare

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as they say. In the world of cars, trash can turn to treasure over time, especially when we realise that being unloved in period makes a car rare.

G3 offers the perfect example – the BMW Z3 M ‘Breadvan’. Weird, unconventional, flawed; now rare, now desirable. Generally speaking cars age well, especially performance cars. Ugly becomes beautiful when styling convention changes and we miss what went before.

Still sounds a bit like nostalgia but we digress…

Extra Ordinary

classic cars

As the rules of car manufacturing change, so too do the car designs they dictate. According to G3, these days the rulebook is so thick that a lot of today’s cars are much of a muchness, cut from the same cloth and cast in the same mould.

The stuff that is a bit out of the ordinary, that breaks the mould a bit, is what we need to look out for. It cites the delightfully unconventional Citroen C4 Cactus as an example. We’re on board with that one.

Still, conventions change. There’s a word for pining for the quirkiness of yesteryear. We’re sure it begins with ‘N’…

Supply < demand

This is a simple one – a rule of value that goes back way beyond the era of the motorcar. Whatever you’re buying, with a view for it to make money, make sure few others have it and that many others want it.

The latter is a little more difficult but follow the other rules and you should see demand climb before too long. Fun stuff, weird stuff, it all has value. If it’s rare, that value is solidified.

Personality

Overall, G3 reckons you’re safe with a car that has personality. It ought to stoke emotions, maybe divide opinion. The broader a car’s place in the hearts and minds of enthusiasts, the broader its place in the history books becomes. If you’re passionate about a car and know others that are, your investment could be well-placed.

Is nostalgia no longer a factor?

classic cars

It will always be a factor. As a general rule, people don’t know what they’ve got, or even what they want, until it’s gone. Be the person scooping up the remains as a car’s supply circles the plug hole. Identify flickers of intrigue around a car before it becomes a blaze.

We’ll always look back in time wearing rose-tinted spectacles but nevertheless, G3 makes some worthy points to consider.