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Volvo launches its fastest-accelerating car EVER

Volvo S60 T8 Twin Engine Polestar Engineered

The new Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered will accelerate to 62mph in just 4.4 seconds. This makes it the fastest-accelerating Volvo production car ever made.

That’s quicker than a Porsche 718 Cayman GTS.

What’s more, the Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered could deliver up to 27.3 miles of all-electric range and fuel economy of 104.5mpg. Proof that you can keep Greta happy and have fun at the same time.

It’s all thanks to an upgraded version of Volvo’s T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain. Power from the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is up from 303hp to 318hp to deliver a total system output of 405hp.

Meanwhile, software changes to the automatic transmissions bring quicker gearshifts and minimise the changes when cornering quickly.

New Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered

The S60 is one of three Polestar Engineered cars in the Volvo range, the others being the V60 and XC60. They’re set apart thanks to 19-inch Y-spoke alloy wheels (21-inch for XC60), black front grille surround, black chrome exhaust tailpipes, plus gold brake calipers, seatbelts and Polestar badges.

Under the skin upgrades include Brembo brakes for the S60 and V60, Akebono brakes for the XC60, along with Ohlins adjustable shocks and a strut bar shared with the 600hp Polestar electric hybrid coupe.

The S60 and V60 Polestar Engineered cars are based on the R-Design Plus model, with the addition of a heated steering wheel, Harman Kardon audio system and aluminium front tread plates.

The XC60 Polestar Engineered is based on the R-Design Pro, but adds metallic paint.

Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered fastest-acclerating

The price for the fastest-accelerating production Volvo? The S60 Polestar Engineered costs £56,105, while the slightly slower V60 (0-62mph in 4.6 seconds) costs £57,205. You’ll pay £64,545 for the XC60, which can sprint to 62mph in 5.4 seconds.

Matt Galvin, Volvo Car UK’s sales director, said: “These new Polestar Engineered cars perfectly illustrate Volvo’s approach to electrified performance.

Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered interior

“By combining a powerful plug-in hybrid set-up with the engineering expertise of Polestar, they offer scintillating performance with the ability to run in electric-only mode, thus creating no tailpipe emissions.

“We’re sure this pure, progressive performance will be a hit with customers who want a distinctive, exclusive and efficient high-performance car.”

All Polestar Engineered cars are available order now, with first deliveries expected by the end of the year.

Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered seats

Proof: Electric cars ARE cheaper to run than normal ones

Kia e-Niro - greatest cars of the decade

Electric cars can travel up to THREE TIMES the distance of their petrol or diesel rivals for the same money, according to new research. 

A new ‘miles per pound’ (mpp) figure reveals how much a car can travel for £1 of petrol, diesel or electricity. This creates a level playing field for new cars, making it easier to compare conventional cars with their electrified rivals. Based on these figures, electric cars are CHEAPER to run.

Although electric cars tend to be more expensive to buy than their petrol and diesel counterparts, the monthly running costs are much closer, working in favour of EVs.

For example, the Kia e-Niro and Renault Zoe 65kW can achieve 33.1 miles per pound (mpp) of electricity.

Meanwhile, the most economical version of the Ford Fiesta can achieve a figure of 9.3mpp.

The Tesla Model 3 standard range is the third most economical (32.3mpp), the Volkswagen e-Golf fourth (30.8mpp), with the BMW i3 fifth (30.0mpp).

‘Demystifying the running costs’

Keith Adams, editor of Parkers, the website behind the research, said: “We created miles per pound as a way of demystifying the running costs of electric vehicles (EVs) because above and beyond their range, and how long they take to charge, there is little uniformity in how carmakers express just how much energy these cars use.

“In a nutshell, it tells you how much it costs to drive any EV after plugging it up at home and topping it up on domestic electricity.

“In addition, miles per pound should help drivers who know how many miles they cover in a year to work out up-front fuelling costs, and possibly choose a more expensive electric car over its petrol counterpart.”

Top five electric cars

  1. Kia e-Niro First Edition: 33.1mpp
  2. Renault Zoe 65k: 33.1mpp
  3. Tesla Model 3 Standard Range: 32.3mpp
  4. Volkswagen e-Golf: 30.8mpp
  5. BMW i3: 30.0mpp

Top five hybrids

  1. Toyota Yaris: 10.1mpp
  2. Toyota Corolla: 9.5mpp
  3. Kia Niro: 9.3mpp
  4. Lexus CT: 9.5mpp
  5. Suzuki Ignis: 9.3mpp

Top five petrol and diesel

  1. Honda Civic Saloon 1.6 i-DTEC: 10.8mpp
  2. Ford Focus 1.5 EcoBlue: 10.8mpp
  3. Honda Jazz S 1.3 i-VTEC: 10.3mpp
  4. Dacia Logan MCV Blue dCi 95: 10.3mpp
  5. Kia Ceed 1.6 CRDi: 10.1mpp

The miles per pound data is only available for cars on sale since 2017 and that are also currently available to buy new.

Top Trumps is a reason to get excited about Christmas

Top Trumps sports cars

Like it or not, Christmas is coming. In fact, in just a couple of months we’ll be deep into office Christmas party season.

If that fills you with dread, some Top Trumps playing cards could provide some light relief.

Avoid unwanted interest from your line manager by studying the performance figures of the BAC Mono. Charm Samantha from marketing with the 0-62mph time of the LaFerrari.

Knowing the ‘cool factor’ of the Pagani Huayra is almost certain to lead to promotion. Probably.

A set of Top Trumps has been the gift that keeps on giving for over 40 years, with tens of millions of packs sold worldwide. Winning Moves, the company behind Top Trumps, says it’s the UK’s number one card game.

There have been all kinds of themes over the years – FHM, Trolls and Frozen, to name a diverse trio – but cars are the best. Why? Because this is a motoring website.

Nostalgic glee

Porsche 917 Top Trumps

The company has been in touch about three sets you can buy for Christmas, including two retro packs.

Sports Cars Top Trumps is your standard fare: cars with crazy horsepower, even crazier top speeds and ‘cool factors’ that are off the scale.

Crazy Cars Too Trumps Retro allows you to “immerse yourself in crazy nostalgic glee”. At least, that’s what it says here. Some of the cards look pretty wild, but we only have eyes for the Porsche 917.

Finally, the Exotic Sports Cars Top Trumps. It dates from 1992 and includes cars like the Vector W8 Twin Turbo, Ginetta G33, Ferrari F40, Lamborghini Diablo and Jaguar XJ220. To paraphrase John Travolta, this is the one that we want.

Aside from the newly designed cassette pack, it looks the same as it did in 1992, so it fills us with crazy nostalgic glee.

The packs cost £6.99 and are suitable for ages 6 and over. Apologies to any pre-schoolers who fancied some nostalgic glee.

AUTOBEST finalist 2020

Finalists revealed for AUTOBEST Best Buy Car of Europe 2020

AUTOBEST 2020 finalists - Nissan Juke, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, Skoda Kamiq, Vauxhall Corsa

Five cars are in the running for the AUTOBEST title of Best Buy Car of Europe 2020 – also known as the award for Europe’s best real-world new car.

All-new versions of the Nissan Juke, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, Skoda Kamiq and Vauxhall Corsa are the five finalists. They will now undergo detailed assessment by jurors from 31 European countries.

The AUTOBEST organisation will hold a Final Test at the Intercity Istanbul Park F1 circuit in Turkey, where jurors will submit their final votes. Each juror – one from each country – will assess each car on a detailed 13-point voting matrix. 

All votes are transparent and will be published when the winner is announced in mid-December.

“At AUTOBEST, we closely follow the trends in the industry, and continuously learn from European consumers what they are looking for when buying new cars,” said AUTOBEST founder and chairman Dan Vardie. 

“We believe the final five is an expression of these trends.”

AUTOBEST Best Buy Car of Europe 2020 finalists

  • Nissan Juke
  • Peugeot 208
  • Renault Clio
  • Skoda Kamiq
  • Vauxhall Corsa

Highways England is turning motorway lights back on

Highways England switches lights back on

Highways England is ending its policy of switching off some motorway lighting between midnight and 5am.

The government-owned company has maintained this policy since 2009 on 100 miles of the road network. A recent report, however, indicated that ‘lighting unlit’ sections saw casualty rates increase by 88 percent. These included non-functioning lighting, as well as lighting that was turned off. That’s a rise from 93 to 175 casualties between 2010 and 2017.

Highways England says the switch-off policy ended in 2018. This, because of the installation of more efficient LED lights and, presumably, the negligible savings a switch-off would make. It’s not yet linked the revocation of the switch-off to safety concerns.

Highways England switches lights back on

“Safety is our top priority,” said head of road safety Richard Leonard. 

“On our roads we light what needs to be lit, and we know where those locations are. We have a greater understanding of where night-time collisions occur and the impact road lighting would have. This means we can target lighting where it is needed, rather than putting lights everywhere.

“We are absolutely committed to further reducing deaths and injuries on England’s motorways and major A roads. This will require a concerted effort and investment over the long term.”

Are lit areas more dangerous?

Highways England switches lights back on

Conversely, the company actually points out that its data suggests that ‘you are more likely to be involved in a casualty incident on a lit section of road’. This could, however, be because areas they choose to light are, by comparison, more dangerous.

Why? Because when it reviews lighting, it carries out safety risk assessments to see if it’s still needed. Therefore, if the lights are on, they’re likely needed. It’s a piece of road that lighting is viewed to help make safer, but not necessarily by comparison to roads that don’t warrant it. In short, the lights indicate that a section is viewed as less safe than those without lighting. The lighting is there to help, if only in part, but isn’t the cause.

You can now experience classic Ferraris in Italy

Ferrari Classiche Academy

Ferrari’s new Classiche Academy is underway, and it makes possible one of the great automotive impossibilities: the opportunity to see, learn about, feel and drive classic Ferraris. This, and more, takes place over two days of immersion in the world of Ferrari at the marque’s Fiorano circuit.

Not quite the multi-million-pound V12 GTs of the 50s and 60s. You do, however, get the authentic 70s and 80s experience, with a 308 GTS and GTBi. Unlike any other supercar driving experience, Ferrari opens by taking you underneath these early era Ferrari supercars, to discover what makes them tick.

Ferrari Classiche Academy

Then you go for a tour of the Officine Classiche Ferrari, where you can view technical drawings and notes taken by engineers in period. The marque has an archive of notes, drawings and race reports going back to 1947. 

Driving classic Ferraris

Ferrari Classiche Academy

The track experience shouldn’t be the standard UK fare of ‘stay in a gear, don’t go over X,XXXrpm’, either. With the Classiche Academy, you get a course in vehicle dynamics and corner management.

You learn various driving techniques like high-speed counter steering, wet-weather driving, heel and toe and double clutching. It’s all stuff you’d at least hesitate to try on the road in your own car, let alone in someone else’s classic Ferrari.

Ferrari Classiche Academy

This is all because Ferrari wants to deliver pre-digital driving experiences and to encourage the learning of car control in cars with no safety net to catch you. Again, how many people who actually own these cars dedicate time to learning how to drive them?

Imagine in 30 years time if Ferrari offered a two-day course at Fiorano where you got to learn to drift ‘classic’ 458s? That’s the kind of thing this is for 70s and 80s supercar aficionados.

Classic cars converted to electric ‘are not historic’

Lunaz electrified classics

The international federation of historic vehicles says it is unable to promote or support the conversion of classic cars to electric power.

FIVA (the Federation Internationale des Vehicules Anciens) ‘understands the motivation of some owners to electrify their vehicles” and that ”all modifications are a matter of personal choice”.

It also acknowledges that electrification allows vehicles to meet modern environmental standards, with the additional benefit of increased power and performance.

However, in a rather damning statement, FIVA has slammed the electrification of historic vehicles, saying it ‘cannot promote, to owners or regulators, the use of modern EV components (motors and batteries) to replace historic vehicle’s powertrain’. 

An increasing number of classic cars are being converted to electric, including the Volkswagen Beetle, Jaguar E-Type Zero, Renault 4L Plein Air, Jaguar XK120, Aston Martin DB6 Volante Electric and Ferrari 308 GTE.

What is a historic vehicle?

Lunaz electrified classics

According to FIVA, a historic vehicle is ‘a mechanically propelled road vehicle’ that is:

  • At least 30 years old.
  • Preserved and maintained in a historically correct condition.
  • Not used as a means of daily transport.
  • Part of our technical and culture heritage.

The final point is open to interpretation, but the reference to ‘historically correct’ leaves us in little doubt. An electrified classic cannot be classed as a historic vehicle.

Tiddo Bresters, FIVA’s vice president, legislation, said: “It is not, in our opinion, the shape or body style of a vehicle that makes it ‘historic’, but the way in which the entire vehicle has been constructed and manufactured in its original form.

“Hence if any owner, motor engineer or manufacturer chooses to make such conversions to a historic vehicle, FIVA would strongly recommend that any changes are reversible, with all the original components marked and safely stored.

“In this way, the vehicle may – if so desired in the future – be returned to its original state and may once again become a historic vehicle.”

FIVA’s stance is certain to spark a debate in the pubs of Great Britain and on classic car forums. Let us know your thoughts on the matter in the comments below.

Electric Mini laps the Nurburgring without braking

Mini Nurburgring no brakes

It takes a certain level of bravery to take to the Nurburgring at all. But one Mini driver has lapped the infamous circuit without even touching the brake pedal. His goal: to test the new electric Mini Cooper SE’s Green Mode regenerative systems.

For clarification, we’re not talking about flat-out driving. Rather, the lap required perfectly measured inputs of throttle to engage the right amount of battery-charging regenerative braking at the right time. 

The Green Hell in Green Mode

Mini Nurburgring no brakes

What’s the point of driving the Nurburgring if not flat-out? Well, besides the PR kudos that comes with taking your car there, it’s great for testing and calibration.

As with many electric cars, the Mini allows you to select how much retardation and regeneration you get when off the throttle, to the point where you can drive with one pedal. The Mini’s system is two-stage and adjustable with a toggle switch to the left of the start-stop button.

Mini Nurburgring no brakes

There’s a whole new challenge in selecting the right amount of regeneration for the coming corner. The softer stage provides 0.11g of deceleration, while the harder setting provides 0.19g.

Mini calls it ‘timely toggling’, to ensure ‘soft recuperation ahead of extended bends and full energy recovery with corresponding deceleration ahead of tight curves’.

The car will let you know which mode you’re in, with recuperation rates displayed, and LED lighting to correspond. The toggle switch also has its own LED that lights up in energy recovery mode.

Mini Nurburgring no brakes

“The first lap in the ‘Green Hell’ already reveals the extent to which the two-stage recuperation increases driving fun in tandem with efficiency,” said a Mini spokesperson.

Half-term traffic: 54,500 breakdowns expected this weekend

Half term breakdowns expected

The October half-term begins for many children today (Friday 18 October) – and families across the UK will be taking to the road for short breaks.

Not all will make it to their destinations, however. Breakdown service Green Flag is warning of 13 breakdowns every minute between now and Sunday evening.

That equates to 54,500 breakdowns overall. The company is expecting more callouts this weekend, too: 84,500 in total.

Half term breakdowns expected

“The October half-term always sees more cars on the roads as families head off on a well-earned autumn break,” said Simon Henrick at Green Flag.

“However, as a result, the roads will be busier than usual and a high number of breakdowns are predicted to occur, hence we’re urging drivers to ensure their vehicles are road-ready before embarking on long journeys.

“Many breakdowns are avoidable if proper care is taken of your vehicle, both before and during a journey, so it’s important to conduct a thorough inspection of your car before leaving home and staying vigilant on the roads when driving.”

Half-term travel adviceHalf term breakdowns expected

 

The usual tips apply to avoid breaking down. It’s all about planning ahead, and making sure your car is up to the job. Here are a few tips for staying mobile over the half-term.

1. Tyres, lights and liquids

Check your tyres are all well-treaded and pumped up, that all your lights are working, and that all your car’s fluids are at the correct level and not leaking.

2. Plan ahead

Even with everything checked, you never know what could happen. Give your car its best chance by planning your journey. That means taking quieter routes and travelling at times when there is less traffic.

Half term breakdowns expected

 

3. Road-trip essentials

Even with all that, you could still come a cropper. It’s October, so it can get chilly. Keep blankets, as well as food and drink on board. A map is always good to have, in case your phone signal fails, and a warning triangle for if you stop on the road. Keep your phone charged, too.

4. Breakdown cover

Needless to say, you’re going to want breakdown cover, and to keep the contact details for rescue close at hand.

Opinion: the Copen GR Sport is the sports car we need

Daihatsu Copen GR Sport

Life is full of disappointments. Like discovering an absence of Chomp bars in a Heroes variety pack. Or arriving at a pub with locked doors after a 12-mile walk. Or realising that there’s little chance of buying a Copen GR Sport.

Toyota Gazoo Racing – a company most famous for making the Yaris appealing – has turned its attention to the tiny Daihatsu Copen.

The opening paragraph atop the press release is wonderfully Japanese: “A new lightweight feel sports car combining the joy of the open air with the Toyota Gazoo Racing delight of handling at will.“

In other words, Gazoo Racing’s wizards have focused on body rigidity and suspension tuning by adding a front brace, changing the shape of the centre brace and tweaking the spring rate.

Further upgrades include tuned electric power steering, aerodynamic tweaks, BBS alloys and Recaro seats. Basically, the kind of things you’d demand from a lightweight sports car.

The intercooled, turbocharged 660cc engine is unchanged, and you have a choice of a five-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed CVT with paddle-shifter.

Sounds perfect, especially when you consider that it costs the equivalent of £17,500 – about the same as a mid-range Ford Fiesta. At least it would be perfect if we could buy the blimmin‘ thing.

‘Handling at will’

Copen GR Sport

But you can’t, because the Copen GR Sport is reserved for the Japanese domestic market. Boo, hiss, etc. No “handling at will” delights for you, Minasama.

Still, at least we’ve got a plentiful supply of affordable, lightweight sports cars to choose from. Only we haven’t. Not today.

Fiat’s Mazda MX-5-based MX-5 rival has bitten the dust, leaving the Mazda MX-5 as the sole flag-bearer for affordable roofless fun. These days you need to keep your top on to enjoy maximum thrills, although the Alpine A110 – the current king of the lightweights – costs upwards of £48,000.

Even the Lotus Elise – the former benchmark for cheap(ish) thrills – will set you back at least £42,000 in its rawest form. A lightweight gem for a heavyweight price.

Cast your mind back 20 years to the summer of 1999. You were spoilt for choice: Alfa Romeo Spider, BMW Z3, Caterham 21, Fiat Barchetta, Honda S2000, Lotus Elise, Mazda MX-5, MGF and Porsche Boxster were just some of the sports cars bugging you for your pre-millennium pound.

An unlikely Hethel-built Vauxhall sports car was also waiting in the wings, making this a golden period for wind-in-your-hair joy. Meanwhile, the Ford Puma was acting like an appetiser for the main course – serving up front-wheel-drive delights to prepare drivers for the joy of rear-wheel-drive heaven.

How many Ford Puma owners spent time on the nursery slopes before tackling the black runs offered by the preeminent sports car manufacturers?

Million-dollar paperweights

Copen GR Sport interior

Where are the affordable sports cars of 2019? Hardly a week goes by without a carmaker unveiling another unattainable and inaccessible hypercar that you can’t afford, can’t buy and can’t drive. Million-dollar paperweights destined for air-conditioned basements and the auction catalogues of 2029.

We’ve allowed this to happen. By falling at the heels of crossovers and SUVs, we’ve sent sports cars spiralling into oblivion, rendering them uneconomically unviable for many manufacturers. Christ knows how lucky we are that Renault had the balls to launch the Alpine A110, but where’s the Copen GR Sport equivalent for the UK market?

Don’t hold your breath. Even Mazda MX-5 sales are down nine percent in Europe over the first half of 2019, so it would take a brave marketing department to propose the launch of a sub £20,000 sports car in the UK. 

Saying you can have fun in a small SUV is like saying you can enjoy telephone hold music. Both are there to serve a purpose, but you wouldn’t want to spend longer than you have to enduring them. The Copen GR Sport looks like fun even when it’s standing still.

“Toyota Gazoo Racing will continue to make efforts to create attractive cars for car fans through dialogues with customers, utilising the voices of many car enthusiasts to ‘create ever-better cars‘,” says Toyota.

Open a dialogue with UK buyers, Toyota. We’re ready for your ‘ever-better cars‘.