Politicians want 30 Clean Air Zones across the UK

30 low emission zones proposed by leaders

Politicians across England have called for the government to support the establishment of 30 new Clean Air Zones.

This cross-party group has members from London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds and other cities. It wants to see charges for most polluting vehicles entering the Clean Air Zones. 

An assessment from The Royal College of Physicians determined that pollution-related health problems cost £20 billion annually. Air pollution is thought to contribute to 36,000 deaths a year.

It’s also predicted by UK100, a network of local leaders, that areas adopting such zones could, short term, make £6.5 billion in revenue. 

30 low emission zones proposed by leaders

At present, six local authorities have plans to introduce Clean Air Zones. Some of the money raised would go towards supporting vehicle renewal schemes, to help poorer people and small businesses into low- and zero-emission vehicles.

“Cleaning up the air in our towns and cities makes sound economic sense and this study demonstrates that,” said Polly Billington, director of UK100.

“It will boost the health of our communities and save the NHS money. Sensible investment by national government is needed to support local authorities to take the most polluting vehicles off our roads while ensuring that the poorest in our towns and cities are not the hardest hit by pollution and measures to tackle it.”

London ULEZ: the results so far

30 low emission zones proposed by leaders

To predict how these zones might make a difference, we can look to London’s ULEZ. The Ultra Low Emission Zone was introduced in April this year. Results indicate a 25 percent reduction in the most polluting vehicles within the first four weeks of the ULEZ coming into effect.

“Air pollution is a national health crisis which is responsible for tens of thousands of premature deaths around the country and costs over £20 billion a year,” said Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London.

30 low emission zones proposed by leaders

“I have taken bold action to tackle lethal air in the capital with the Ultra Low Emission Zone, the first of the UK’s Clean Air Zones, which is already having a positive impact on reducing harmful emissions. But cities including London cannot deliver further Clean Air Zones without urgent government funding. This funding must include a new national vehicle renewal scheme, which would help businesses and residents prepare for London’s ULEZ expansion in 2021. 

“Everyone deserves the right to breathe clean air and the Chancellor simply cannot afford to delay immediate action on this invisible killer.”

Smart motorways in Yorkshire to get safety improvements

Smart motorway emergency area upgrades

Emergency areas on smart motorways in Yorkshire will get a makeover to improve safety. The upgrades will involve extra signs to show drivers the distance to the next emergency area. Each area will also get a marked-out box showing where it’s best to stop.

The aim is to make things clearer for drivers and help recovery teams sent to help those using the emergency areas.

Highways England also wants to ensure drivers are discouraged from using these areas when the situation doesn’t call for it.

Smart motorway emergency area upgrades

These changes are due to roll out on the M1 between junctions 28 (Alfreton, Derbyshire) and 35a (Stocksbridge bypass), plus 39 and 42 (Denby Dale).

They will also be seen on the M62 between junctions 25 (Rothwell) and 30 (Brighouse). There are 56 emergency areas within these sections of road that will receive the upgrades. 

Overall, Highways England plans to enhance 347 emergency areas, with 150 upgraded so far. Future emergency areas will be closer together, too. At present, they come every mile and a half. Those constructed from 2020 will have no more than a mile of road between them. 

“We recognise that as well as being safe, drivers want to feel safe and we have and will continue to make some changes to the design of motorways,” said Paul Unwin of Highways England.

Smart motorway emergency area upgrades

“This includes making emergency areas more visible by making them bright orange which should also discourage drivers from using them in non-emergency situations.”

Explained: Smart motorway emergency areas

Smart motorways effectively turn hard shoulder lanes into active lanes when they’re not needed for emergencies. Emergency areas are a partial layby even further out to the left.

They’re designed as a refuge for cars that need to stop, offering the instant protection that an active hard shoulder can’t.

Smart motorway emergency area upgrades

Each area has an SOS phone that drivers must use to speak with a Highways England employee, before re-joining the motorway if they’re able. Traffic officers can be dispatched to help them get back on the road.

“Smart motorways are as safe as traditional motorways, which are already among the safest roads in the world,” Unwin continues. 

“These redesigned emergency areas support our drive to improve awareness of smart motorway driving as part of our planned programme of work, including what to do in an emergency and when to use an emergency area.”

£50,000 Ford Escort Cosworth stars in modern classics auction

Bonhams MPH sale

Bonhams’ new MPH division held its first auction at Bicester Heritage yesterday (September 26). It’s aimed at more affordable and modern classic cars – a strong market at present. That’s reflected in the results, with 82 percent of the cars selling for more than their reserve price.

The star was a 1993 Ford Escort RS Cosworth, which sold for £49,500 in the MPH sale. With 38,000 miles on the clock, the vendor had owned it for over 20 years.

Another highlight, more than 10 years the Cosworth’s junior, was a Renault Clio V6. Being a 2006 model, it was one of the latest examples of Renault’s mid-engined hot hatch. It sold for an impressive £37,125

Barmy Land Rover army

Bonhams MPH sale

Three ex-military Land Rovers also sold well. Sold as the ‘Elite’ collection, two Defender 110 V8s and a Series 2a from 1968 collectively topped £140,000 in the MPH sale. Not that you’d recognise them as Defenders, given they’re covered head-to-toe in heavy-duty military gear.

One of the Defenders, a 1993 model, was ex-SAS. It sold for £49,500, while the other, a 1985 car, managed £48,375. The 1968 Series 2a 109 went for £47,250.

“Today’s sale proves that there is an increasing appetite for ‘youngtimers’ in the market,” said Rob Hubbard, head of Bonhams MPH.

Bonhams MPH sale

“Drivers who remember such ‘poster’ cars from their childhood are now coming of age and have the means to buy their youthful ‘dream cars’. They also offer more driver engagement and character, compared with brand new cars, but are more reliable than older classic cars.

“We are delighted that we have had such a positive reaction to our new venture. We are pleased to be able to offer the traditional Bonhams values to a wider audience and are already looking forward to our next sale.”

The next MPH sale will take place on 26 November, with cars being consigned now. The next valuation day will take place on 25 October, when sellers can present their cars to the MPH team.

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‘Laura’ will tell Skoda drivers where to go

Skoda Laura in-car assistant

At the rate things are going, in-car digital assistants will require their own union or WhatsApp group. Laura is the latest virtual PA to hit the road, and ‘she’ is coming to a Skoda near you soon.

Skoda says Laura has mastered six languages, is quite comfortable with natural voice and doesn’t mind being interrupted. Ask nicely and she’ll even turn on the TV and put out the trash. Probably.

For now, Kamiq and Scala models equipped with the top-of-the-range Amundsen infotainment system will come with added Laura, but other models will follow.

Say “Okay, Laura” to activate the voice control system and Laura will spring into life. There’s no need to press a button or to use a set of predetermined commands or phrases.

Think of Laura

Laura Skoda digital assistant

As well as six languages, Laura is also comfortable with accents and dialects, which should come in handy for Skoda customers in some of the UK’s rural outposts.

Digital assistants are nothing new – many people use them at home or in the car – but Skoda’s decision to use a girl’s name is a little different. Mercedes, for example, uses the company name for its MBUX system.

Why Laura? It’s a name Skoda has used before, with the second-generation Octavia rebadged Laura for India

Laura-equipped models will come with an on-board eSIM card included as standard, meaning cars are always online. Skoda says the transition between online and offline services is “so seamless that occupants are never aware of it”.

Tell Laura I love her

Skoda Laura digital assistant

You can interrupt Laura at any time, with the radio or media player volume lowered rather than muted completely to give a “sense of having a natural, relaxed conversation”.

Thanks to Laura, lonely motorway commutes will be a thing of past – Skoda says that Laura will evolve to engage in a “kind of digital small talk”.

Much will depend on how Laura performs in ‘person’. We will report back once we’ve tested the system in the real world.

Tesla launches in-car karaoke with Version 10 update

Tesla Version 10

Tesla has released what it calls its ‘biggest software update ever’. Software Version 10 includes in-car karaoke, extra security and additional self-driving ability.

The primary focus is in-car entertainment, but there are more practical features as well. Here’s what to expect.

Tesla Theater

Front and centre of the V10 release is Tesla Theater (sic). This adds the ability to load your Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and Live TV accounts for TV- and movie-watching while you’re parked up.

Equivalents are also available for Tesla owners in the Chinese market. And more global streaming and entertainment services will join the line-up before long.

Tesla Version 10

Spotify

Finally, Spotify is available in a Tesla. By the marque’s own admission, it’s one of the most-requested features by owners.

It joins Slacker Radio and TuneIn. Expect more of the same to be added in due course. Again, Chinese equivalents will also be offered.

‘Car-aoke’

While we’re on the subject of music, it wouldn’t be Tesla without a bit of silliness.

The karaoke feature is new. It’s a library of music and lyrics, with multi-lingual support, so you can have a good old sing-along on a road trip.

Tesla Version 10

Tesla Arcade

Tesla’s Arcade function is nothing new, but there is a new run-and-gun action game ready to play, called Cuphead. Time for some of the more grown-up stuff, we reckon… 

Dashcam and Sentry Mode updates 

Small changes make a big difference. New for Version 10 come changes to how ‘security’ footage is stored.

The car will now make a special folder on your USB drive for footage from Sentry and Dashcam modes. Old footage is deleted automatically to make space.

Tesla Version 10

Smart Summon

Probably the most sensible addition is Smart Summon. Those who have the full self-driving capability (Tesla’s words, not ours), or the enhanced Autopilot, can ask their car to come to them if it’s within sight. Useful if you don’t want to run out in the rain to get to your car, or if you have lots of shopping.

The caveat is that you, the owner, remain responsible for what the car is doing. You must ‘monitor it and its surroundings at all times,’ which could make things interesting if Smart Summon accidentally scrapes another car. A theoretically useful feature, nonetheless.

Tesla Version 10

‘I’m feeling Hungry’

The new ‘I’m Feeling Hungry’ navigation feature will take you to a chosen restaurant within your car’s battery range. ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’ is similar, only the place it leads you to is a surprise. 

“In testing, we’ve been taken to hole-in-the-wall restaurants, gourmet meals, national parks, city landmarks and more,” said a Tesla spokesperson.

The above join overall improvements to the navigation system, including organisation of results by distance. Points of Interest (POIs) now feature additional information, such as reviews and contact details.

How to save money on car parking

How to save money on car parking27

Parking pain can really knock the wind out of all manner of fun days out. From visits to the big city, to a trip to the beach – either way a requirement for any far-away excursion you can think of, is somewhere to dump the car. Chances are, if it’s somewhere you want to be, it’ll be somewhere others want to be, too. That means one thing: limited parking, and when it is available, it’s expensive. 

So here’s a guide from us on car parking, from booking ahead, to clever alternatives, to avoiding taking the car altogether. We start with the basics.

Ask around

You never know who knows what. Finding somewhere to leave your car could be a puzzle solved with a simple query to a friend that’s been where you want to go before. Here’s an example. Having spent four years living in Cambridge, I personally know where all the free parking is in one of the most car-unfriendly cities in the UK, as well as what of it is most likely to be available. The life experience of your friends and loved ones is an invaluable resource for all any and all problems life throws at you, including finding good places to dump your wheels.

Parkopedia

02_Parking

So your friends and family have come up short. What do you do? Thankfully, the world’s biggest brain, the internet, has your back. As its name suggests, Parkopedia is the Wikipedia of the parking world. The website claims to cover 75 countries and over 6,000 towns, giving you access to over 38 million parking spaces. This number is rising all the time, as demonstrated by the ever-increasing figure at the top of the homepage.

It’s all rather easy: you simply search for your desired location and Parkopedia displays a map of the car parks within the immediate vicinity. You can check out the prices and opening hours, as well as any restrictions or items of note.

The map also features a handy ‘traffic light’ system, enabling you to locate the cheapest car parks.

There’s also a smartphone app, while some car parks give you the opportunity to book ahead. Whether you commute to work or are visiting a city for the first time, the Parkopedia website could save you enough to pay for a good lunch.

Connected cars – the future of parking?

Connected cars create a variety of opportunities to streamline motoring life. Wejo is an app in development that uses this technology to, among other things, help you find free car parking spaces quickly and easily. Being connected to other cars, means those cars can ‘tell’ your car when they’re leaving a parking space. The car park ballet dance could become a thing of the past. 

Book ahead

This is especially important if you intend to leave your car at an airport. Use the official Heathrow Airport website to book seven days of parking and the savings are significant. 

The prices will vary depending on availability and how early you book, but you will benefit from booking in advance, even if it’s on the day of travel.

Long stay, not short stay

03_Parking

Sticking with airports, there are obvious benefits associated with short stay car parks. Take Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 – it’s a 2-4 minute walk to the short stay car park, compared with a 5-7 minute bus ride to the long stay.

In some airports it feels like the long stay car park is located in an entirely different continent, so you might argue the convenience of being closer to the terminal outweighs the pain associated with the 20-minute ride in a minibus.

Use a price comparison website

There seems to be a price comparison website for just about everything these days, including airport parking. Holiday Extras is one of the biggest and the most established of all the sites, and the savings can be significant.

The website claims you could save up to 60% versus the price you’d pay on the day. Holiday Extras also offers a best price guarantee, meaning they’ll refund the money if you find the same airport parking cheaper elsewhere.

It’s important to do your homework, because not all price comparison sites are as reputable as the market leaders. It’s also worth remembering that cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean better. Research your options before you book.

Hotel package deals

If you’ve booked a room the night before your flight, ask if it’s possible to leave your car at the hotel for the duration of your trip. Some hotel operators offer a hotel+parking package deal, so ask about this when booking your accommodation.

This also applies to city centre breaks. Ask the receptionist if the hotel offers on-site parking, as this could save you tens of pounds over the course of a long weekend. Some hotels will offer free parking on a first come first served basis, while others will expect a small fee. Check to see if the local pay and display is cheaper.

Park on the edge of the city

04_Parking

In basic terms, the closer you get to the city centre, the more expensive the cost of parking. You’ll also have to do battle with the inevitable congestion and fight for that single elusive free parking bay.

Do yourself a favour and find a car park on the edge of the town or city. In some cases, the parking might be free, but it will almost certainly be cheaper. If you’re worried about the walk, take the bus into the city centre.

In our own experience, only last month we mored up in St Albans over the August Bank Holiday from Saturday to Monday, for free, and got the train into London. That’s three days of free parking. Lord knows what that would have cost in the city itself, and whether it would have even been available.

Park and ride

Speaking of which, using a park and ride facilities are the industrialisation of this tactic. They do tend to work out cheaper than parking in a city. Using Plymouth as an example, you’ll pay £3.40 for an adult return ticket from the George Junction park and ride.

Hire a driveway

05_Parking

When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. During working hours, your driveway is likely to be empty, so why not invite somebody else to park there?

There are a number of websites offering a search facility, including yourparkingspace.co.uk, which includes well over 250,000 hourly, daily and monthly parking spaces across the country.

We searched for driveways for a Saturday visit to London. Over 2,300 results came back in a variety of locations, offering parking for over 24 hours.

Booking is easy: you simply select your arrival and departure times, key in your details, pay online, and the website provides the full address of the space along with the contact details of the owner.

Buy an electric vehicle

06_Parking

Buying a new car to save money on car park costs might be a tad excessive, but driving an electric vehicle will reduce the amount of cash you spend at car parks.

Many car parks offer free parking while your EV is being recharged, while some will allow you to park for free, regardless of whether you’re charging or not. Assuming you pay £2 per day to park at work, you might save over £400 a year by driving an electric car.

Look for cashback options

To encourage people back into towns and city centres, some local authorities and business groups offer incentivised parking. In other words, whilst you’ll still be asked to pay and display, the cost is refunded if you spend a certain amount in a participating shop.

Similarly, a supermarket situated in a town or city centre might offer a refund if you happen to shop in store. As one supermarket might say: every little helps, right?

Car park season ticket

If you park in the same car park on a daily basis, it might be worth considering a season ticket. NCP claims a season ticket could save up to 70% on the cost of parking, with the added benefit of not having to search for loose change.

On a similar note, it can pay to be a member of the National Trust. Spend a week on holiday in somewhere like Cornwall and you could spend a small fortune on parking at one of the many National Trust car parks. Membership starts from £72 a year – a cost you could recoup on car park fees alone.

Use the correct change

07_Parking

Those cheeky car park operators want to extract every last penny from your wallet and you’ll often see a ‘no change given’ notice stuck to the pay and display machine. It’s a simple thing, but make sure you use the correct change.

Alternatively, pay by card or use one of the parking apps, such as RingGo. This cashless solution allows you to pay via your smartphone and will provide an alert when your time is running out.

Look for alternatives to the car

Whilst we appreciate that you’re hardly going to take the bus to a famous Swedish furniture store to collect a new wardrobe, or cycle into town to pick up your groceries, you have to ask yourself: do I really need to take the car?

Would it be cheaper to take the bus? Could you walk into town? Would it be easier to cycle into work? Could you share a car with somebody else, going Dutch on the cost of the car park?

Railway stations are notoriously expensive places to park, so have you considered cycling to the station? The rail fares are expensive enough without the cost of moring up lumped on top.

08_Parking

Buy a car park space

Sounds extravagant? That’s because it most probably is. Parking is an expensive business, so you could consider buying a car park space. Not that this is the cheapest option. Spaces in London can stretch into six figures – enough to buy a house elsewhere in the country…

Don’t park in a hurry

09_Parking

If you’ve followed our advice, you’ll never have to park in a hurry again. If you’re forced into a corner, either through lateness or a lack of planning, you’ll choose the wrong and often most expensive car park.

A little forward planning goes a long way.

91% of parents unhappy with the school run

Parents unhappy with the school run

Ninety-one percent of parents claim there isn’t an effective traffic management plan in place to deal with the ‘chaos’ of the school run

But few are prepared to ditch the car in favour of encouraging their children to walk or cycle to school.

In England, around a third of all children aged five to 16 travel to school by car, with 56 percent of parents reporting “traffic chaos” at dropping off and picking up times.

Parents arrive at the same time and try to park as close to the school as possible, causing congestion and localised air quality issues. However, just 40 percent of UK schools encourage walking to school, and only 20 percent encourage cycling.

How to beat school run traffic

Stay safe on the school run

The AA, the organisation behind the survey, has the following advice for parents hoping to take the stress out of the school run.

  • Walk or cycle: could your children walk or cycle part of the way to school?
  • Walking bus: a minimum of two adults are required for a ‘walking bus’, where parents or teachers lead children to school
  • Find a parking space further away from school
  • Does anyone you know have space on their driveway? It could be possible for you to use it twice a day
  • Park considerately – delays are caused by drivers blocking the road
  • Don’t block driveways or double park
  • Share lifts – take turns doing the school run

Edmund King, AA president, said: “The best travel plans are made by the pupils themselves as they can convince their parents what is best for them and the school. 

“Just banning drop-off areas in cars means the problem shifts into the next street. Asking both kids and parents when and how they might get to school without the car might produce solutions that work for that community.”

Inconsiderate parents are to blame

Steve Horton, Road Safety GB’s director of communications, added: “Congestion outside many schools at peak times is nothing new, although with the general trend for increased traffic the challenges it causes seem to increase annually. 

“This congestion adds to the complexity of the situation which makes it more obvious to drivers that they are in a higher risk area. 

“This clear complexity means most road users negotiate the area with an enhanced level of concentration and hence the amount of serious crashes around schools is thankfully low. 

Stay safe on the school run

“However, a product of reducing congestion and traffic flows outside schools is increased perceptions of safety and creating a nicer, calmer environment that encourages more people to walk and cycle. 

“Of course most of the difficulties outside schools caused by inconsiderate drivers is actually caused by the very group that has to deal with the complex situation: parents. 

“So parents can influence greatly the risk to children that many of them create, as well as do their own children the huge benefit of letting them walk or cycle to school in a supervised way so that they can gain vital experience in dealing with a range of road traffic.”

Why a football team sticker could void your car insurance

Declaring modifications to insurance

Even a sticker showing support for your favourite football team could make your car insurance invalid. That’s because it could make your car a target for vandals who don’t share the same affiliation. 

Paint protection film wrap could get you in trouble, too, even though it’s effectively invisible.

So, what are the rules concerning modifications and insurance?

Modifications and car insurance

Declaring modifications to insurance

It can be hard to know what is classified as a modification and what isn’t in the eyes of insurers. Especially if you have bought a second-hand car without being fully informed of its specification. However, from lowered suspension to weather-proof floor mats, it all counts.

Even beyond aftermarket modifications, optional extras ordered on a car from new may affect your premium if they alter its value, performance or make it more theft-prone. Sportier seats could be quick payday for opportunist thieves, for example.

Some extras will have little or no effect on your quote. These include locking wheel nuts, tow bars and roof racks. They’re seen as less desirable changes that won’t tempt thieves. In the case of the wheel nuts, they actively combat them.

Declaring modifications to insurance

Of course, that changes when you put bikes on a bike rack, or a roof box on your roof rack. Then they’re a potential danger to you and other road users if not loaded correctly. 

Eight years ago, 70 insurance companies collectively agreed to not increase premiums if drivers fitted winter tyres. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be notified. Also, some insurers won’t be part of that group.

Declaring modifications to insurance

Modifications and finance

Another sticky subject is that of modifications and finance. Lease contracts often stipulate that you’re not allowed to modify the car in any way. PCP deals may allow some non-intrusive modifications, but often require you to notify the finance company first.

‘Non-intrusive’ means no engine modifications, or anything that could invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty in the event of a breakdown.

There have been recent reports of YouTube stars getting in hot water because of the extensive changes they made to their cars. The choice they were given? Buy it, or have it repossessed.

Google Maps lets you report roadworks

google maps construction

Google’s Maps navigation app has added a function that allows you to report roadworks. Following in the footsteps of Waze and its user-driven facilities, Google has added this, following shortly after the addition of speed camera locations.

It was a relatively quiet addition to the Maps user report arsenal, with the little yellow ‘construction’ symbol appearing overnight.

google maps construction

As is the case with many Google software rollouts, it’s not a one and done, ‘everyone has it’ scenario. The facility is appearing steadily on different devices at different times.

As with Waze, it ought to prove a useful feature for motorists, allowing you to report pop-up roadworks that the navigation facility may not have reacted to yet.

google maps construction

Google Maps has been playing catchup for a little while, with Waze pioneering the user-contribution model. What once seemed controversial – the ability to report speed traps – is a feature on the original navigation app, along with crashes, slowdowns and now construction.

Does this put Google Maps ahead of Waze? Now, all that the latter has over the former is adverts and local petrol prices. That said, Google Maps is ahead of the curve, displaying charging stations and whether they’re in use.

Opinion: top speed records are still relevant

Speed records are still relevant

Some time has passed since Bugatti broke the 300mph barrier with its special Chiron prototype. Now legitimised as the Super Sport 300+, the limited run has been allocated, finally shutting down all the ‘it’s not a production car’ onlookers.

In that time, I’ve had a chance to mull over the questions we all ask ourselves whenever a new top speed record is set. Do I care? Is it relevant? Does it matter?

There’s the practical side of things where these sorts of achievements are relevant. A car that travels at such speed requires the strongest tyres in the world, the most efficient cooling in the world, the cleanest aerodynamics in the world. All cars benefit from advances in these areas, eventually.

Then there’s the philosophical relevance. A great many online naysayers have said ‘no’, ‘no’ and ‘no’ to all of the above. I did find myself wondering if that was the case. Then I thought back to headline-grabbing top speeds of the past and my reaction at the time.

Speed records are still relevant

In 2005, when the Veyron did the business at 253mph and cemented itself in the history books, it also threatened Year Six friendships as debate raged over whether it was the greatest car ever made.

With the Super Sport in 2010, again, Bugatti reaffirmed itself as the undisputed king of speed, and on top of dominating at Ehra Lessien, dominated whispered conversations during my GCSE graphics class for a week.

Then, when Koenigsegg set a two-way record at 277mph, hitting 284mph along the way, it was a spine-tingling moment. Scenes of Koenigsegg boffins wearing big headsets celebrating in the Nevada desert reminded us of mission control when Mr Armstrong took one small step.

These VMAX figures have a significance beyond all else. Would the McLaren F1 command the respect – and values – it does today, had it not years at the top of the speed tree to its name? What makes the Veyron quite as legendary as it is, besides that world-beating record?

Speed records are still relevant

Let’s look at other metrics by which we measure cars. Acceleration, while impressive, is much of a muchness these days. A decade and a half ago, getting to 62mph in under four seconds was the preserve of the most exotic six-figure machinery.

These days, with the wind blowing the right way, you can do that in a hybridised Porsche SUV or an Audi hot hatch. Some high-performance electric cars are knocking at the back gates of two seconds to 62mph. Pretty soon, the physics of current tyres won’t let them get there any quicker.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy incredibly rapid modern cars, or the fact that hypercar-level performance in this sense is now widely available. It is, however, precisely the mass production of this performance metric that knocks the wind out of any mythical feel the very fastest accelerators had. Would Formula 1 be Formula 1 if every other road car could set comparative lap times? Not likely.

Speaking of lap times, let’s talk about the Nurburgring. Okay, they’ve never been worth much more than the A4 sheet the press release was printed on, but today, strong performance credentials at the ‘Green Hell’ are less of a commodity than ever before. That Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid, once it’s beaten a 15 year old 911 GT3 to 62mph, could probably munch it round the Nordschleife, too.

Cars have outgrown these units of measurement. They’ve near as makes no difference ‘completed’ them. As such, performance so-measured nonpluses me, at least in comparison to VMAX.

Speed records are still relevant

Top speed is the game that never gets old – the final automotive frontier. More speed is always possible, with more power, cleverer tyres and cleaner aerodynamics. It’s quite literally the very limit of what a car can achieve. It’s that level of performance, and the engineering it demands, that still remains beyond the attainability of mere mortal.

It’s the preserve of a certain calibre of car and a certain calibre of driver. Yes, you can get to 62mph in a contemporary BMW M5 quicker than in a Ferrari F50. What an M5 won’t do, is catch a Veyron at the top end, or a McLaren F1, or a Koenigsegg.

These are cars at the very top of the food chain, headed by that mightily impressive Chiron SS 300. Scoff all you want, it’s the speed king, and it changed the conversation.

Records like this change our silly little car world in ways no other performance metric can. They’re once, twice, three times in a generation, if we’re lucky. Most importantly, it’s the metric that still musters that child-like wonder in all of us. It stretches our imaginations. It reminds us all just how impassioned we are with these machines. 

Speed records are still relevant

I envied the young car lovers of today the day they read the headlines about the Chiron. Then I realised I shouldn’t have, because I remember exactly how it felt, not only from when the past masters did their thing, but because it broke my adult cynicism and mustered that same feeling all over again. Not to mention the heated debates between my colleagues, friends and I.

I was right there with them, along with many others, staring in wonder and muttering ‘wow’ under my breath.

For that, this record, those that came before, and those that are still to come, are invaluable, and more relevant than ever before. It’s a shame, then, that shortly after setting this one, Bugatti bowed out. I do wonder how long that abstinence will last. Over to you, Mr Koenigsegg.