Forza Horizon 4 adds extra cars and content in time for Easter

Xbox Forza Horizon 4 Update 21

For many living life under lockdown, video games are providing a healthy dose of escapism from the confines of a living room.

Microsoft’s Forza Horizon 4 is a top pick from the range of racing games on offer, allowing for epic driving adventures across a virtual Britain. 

Regular free updates and additional content also means there is little chance of running out of new cars to try.

This month’s Series 21 update includes six new cars, and the return of a popular photo mode. 

The return of Horizon Promo

Xbox Forza Horizon 4 Update 21

One of the most popular side missions in previous Forza Horizon games has been the Promo mode. Requiring players to use the in-game camera system to photograph different vehicles, it can make for hours of distraction. 

Photographing enough cars will unlock various rewards, along with two of the new rides added to Forza Horizon 4 this month.

Snap 100 cars to get access to the drop-top 2018 Ferrari Portofino, whilst photographing 200 will unlock the Guntherworks 400R. Based on the Porsche 911 Carrera 2, lightweight bodywork and a tuned engine make this a rare beast.

More new metal

Xbox Forza Horizon 4 Update 21

Other news cars added for Series 21 include a pair of bespoke drift machines. This includes a 2013 Formula Drift Chevrolet Corvette, featuring a 1,050 hp engine fitted with a nitrous system.

Even more dramatic is a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano drift car. A unique wide carbon fibre body, and twin-turbocharged V12 engine make it stand out compared to regular drift machines. 

Other new vehicles include a 1992 Toyota Supra, and the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S. These join the already bulging roster of performance cars and cult classics

Crushing the bugs 

Xbox Forza Horizon 4 Update 21

Along with adding extra cars and modes, the Series 21 update also brings a host of minor fixes for Forza Horizon 4.

Feedback from the Forza community has seen a number of tweaks made, eliminating glitches and bugs.

The developers have also made changes to the Eliminator mode, along with adding new races to keep gamers entertained. 

Players on both Xbox One and PC should be able to download the free Series 21 update now.

How to care for your car during the lockdown

How to care for your car during the lockdown

There are a number of things you need to consider to keep your car in good condition during the coronavirus lockdown.

We’ve explained how to maintain your car tyres when not in use, but what about the battery and brakes?

Kia has published guidance on what actions to take if your car won’t be moving for a while. The advice includes specific guidance for hybrid vehicles.

Seven top tips for the lockdown

Caring for your car during the lockdown

  1. Ensure that the car’s doors and tailgate are shut. Also make sure the interior lights are switched off and you’ve secured the vehicle with the remote transmitter.
  2. Avoid running a petrol or diesel engine for short periods. It is preferable to keep it running until full temperature is achieved – refer to the water and oil temperature gauges.
  3. Charge the 12v battery at regular intervals – fortnightly is recommended. Alternatively, use a trickle charger, as this will maintain the health of the battery.
  4. If you don’t have a battery charger, leave the engine to idle for 20 minutes, switching off unnecessary electrical items. That said, we’d recommend running the air conditioning for a few minutes to maintain the health of the system.
  5. If you have a flat battery, recharge it using a charger. If you use jump leads, refer to the vehicle handbook for specific advice. Damage to the stop-start system can occur if you fail to follow the instructions.
  6. For electric and plug-in hybrid models, it is recommended that the high voltage battery is left in a fully charged state.
  7. Specific advice for the Kia Niro hybrid: on no account should a charger, jump pack or jump leads be attached to the vehicle. Instead, use the battery reset switch. Refer to the vehicle handbook.

Kia is also keen to point out that surface corrosion on the brake discs is normal. Initial brake resistance will occur when you pull away, but will clear after a few brake applications.

We’d recommend keeping an eye on your car’s bodywork. Bird droppings can damage the paintwork if left untouched, so remove them when you spot them.

It’s worth remembering that MOTs for cars, motorcycles and light vans due from 30 March 2020 have been granted a temporary six-month exemption. Click here for more details.

‘Holy Grail’ Lotus Esprit Turbo HC for sale

1987 LOTUS Esprit Turbo HC front angle 2

Fast Lane magazine described the Lotus Esprit Turbo HC as ‘the most exciting road Lotus to date’. Autocar said it was a ‘remarkably satisfying device’.

In short, the final incarnation of the Giugiaro-styled Lotus Esprit was the best yet. It was also the Esprit that was able to give the Ferrari 328 and Porsche 924 Turbo a bloodied nose.

‘HC’ stands for higher compression – this car features an uprated version of the familiar 2,174cc turbocharged engine that went on to appear in the Peter Stevens-designed Esprit of 1987. It is, then, a bridge between the Esprit of old and new.

Harry’s Game

1987 LOTUS Esprit Turbo HC rear angle

Esprit Turbo HC production numbers vary depending on the source – Harry Metcalfe says around 300 were built – but the version being sold by The Market is rarer still. It’s one of 21 built to celebrate 21 years of Lotus production at Hethel.

The Market has estimated the value at £40,000 to £50,000, but with the auction closing in four days, the current highest bid is £26,250. There’s no reserve, so you could grab a bargain.

This particular example left the factory on 27 February 1987 and was sold new by the Norfolk Motor Company in Norwich. It later travelled to Portugal where it spent 14 years as part of a private collection, but returned to the UK in 2018.

One of the ‘Holy Grails’

1987 LOTUS Esprit Turbo HC steering wheel

The paintwork displays the car’s unique number, and there’s a sterling silver plaque on the inside. You even get a two-tone briefcase and three-piece wheeled luggage complete with Concorde luggage tag. This is a car for high-fliers. 

Tristan Judge, director of The Market, said: “This Lotus Esprit Turbo HC is in staggeringly good condition – one of the best, if not the best, example of its type. As such a rare car and in such fantastic condition, it will be ideal for gentle use or as the centrepiece of a classic car collection. These rare models are one of the ’Holy Grails’ of any modern Lotus collection.

“For collectors, this limited edition car has all the original additional items you’d want and expect. The fact that these have survived with the car since 1987 is a small but important insight into how well it has been conserved over the past 33 years.”

The auction closes at 19:30 on 13 April 2020. Click here for more information or to place a bid.

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Mercedes-AMG F1 UCL CPAP device

Mercedes-AMG F1 and UCL open-source breathing aid designs

Mercedes-AMG F1 UCL CPAP device

Mercedes-AMG F1 and University College London (UCL) have made the designs for a reverse-engineered breathing aid freely available to help the global fight against COVID-19.

Details can be downloaded for free at a new UCL COVID-19 research hub.

The package includes the designs, plus specifications of materials, tools and equipment required, and the fabrication time for each part.

UCL and Mercedes-AMG F1 engineers

Mercedes-AMG F1 and UCL engineers worked ‘around the clock’ to develop the improved device, allowing the first one to be produced fewer than 100 hours after the original meeting.

The team have developed a product that is 70 percent more efficient than the first design. It has already received full regulatory approval.

Mercedes-AMG F1 HPP

The Brixworth, Northamptonshire factory normally used to produce racing star Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 engines has now been fully repurposed to produce the life-saving device.

A total of 1,000 a day are now rolling off the fast-tracked production line.

The first 10,000 breathing aids, called the UCL-Ventura device, are going to the UK government for use by the NHS.

The device is a ‘Continuous Positive Airway Pressure’ CPAP breathing aid.

Patient demonstrating CPAP device

It helps Covid-19 patients for whom an oxygen mask alone is insufficient. Medical experts say it is a vital device that bridges the gap between oxygen masks and full ventilators.

Andy Cowell, MD of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, said: “Since the project was announced, we have received an incredible number of enquiries about the CPAP device from around the world.

“Making the design and manufacturing specifications openly available will allow companies around the world to produce these devices at speed and at scale to support the global response to COVID-19.”

Opel Manta 400: the forgotten Group B rally car

Most spell-checkers don’t recognise the word ‘homologation’, but most car enthusiasts surely do. Essentially, it’s the requirement to build a certain number of road cars in order to satisfy racing regulations. It’s also responsible for some of the most pulse-spiking machines ever to wear number plates.

Group B rallying, banned in 1986, produced its fair share of homologation specials. Audi Sport Quattro, MG Metro 6R4, Lancia Delta S4, Ford RS200 and Peugeot 205 T16… all are household names, and rightly so, but how many remember the Opel Manta 400? 

This particular Manta was sold via Collecting Cars, an online auction platform that aims to emulate the success of American website, Bring A Trailer. It’s backed by Top Gear presenter Chris Harris and always has a diverse selection of classics consigned for sale.

Here a few highlights from those listings, starting with the Opel…

Opel Manta 400 (1983)

The Manta 400 uses the same 2.4-litre four-cylinder 16v Cosworth engine as the earlier Ascona 400. That car – the European version of the Vauxhall Cavalier – achieved some WRC success, piloted by the legendary Walter Röhrl. But the rear-driven Manta found itself immediately outclassed by four-wheel-drive rivals, including the all-conquering Quattro.

In road-going guise, the fuel-injected Manta makes a modest 144hp, although a dry weight of 1,128kg means acceleration is brisk. A live rear axle makes for frisky handling, too – despite the presence of a ZF limited-slip diff.


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Opel Manta 400 (1983). One of 245 made for Group B homologation – and only 59 with those stretched Irmscher wheelarches. Up for sale soon via Collecting Cars.

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A total of 245 Manta 400s were made, only 59 with the Irmscher bodykit seen here. Those steroidal wheelarches stretch over wider Ronal alloys, while a jutting spoiler sits atop the bootlid. The Recaro seats are equally eye-catching: trimmed in oh-so-70s ‘Opel Blitz’ cloth. 

The Manta sold for £57,500 in the online auction – a relative bargain for such a rare homologation hero.

Porsche 968 Club Sport (1994)

Porsche is masterful at charging more for less. You want no back seats, fewer luxuries and fabric door-pulls? It’ll cost you. It wasn’t always this way, though. Back in the mid-nineties, the Club Sport was a hefty £5,000 cheaper than a standard 968.

At 1,335kg, it was at least 50kg lighter too. Factor in a 10mm suspension drop and a pair of fixed-back Recaros, and the result was B-road bliss. With only 1,923 built, the Club Sport has since become a sought-after cult classic.

The four-cylinder Porsche isn’t especially quick 0-60mph in 6.1sec and 158mph – but it’s beautifully balanced, the weighty steering alive with textured feedback. It’s less intimidating than a contemporary 911, but no less rewarding.

With just 41,000 miles on the clock, this 968 had been in storage for the past four years. It sold for £40,500, including the ‘A968 POR’ registration plate.

Ferrari 550 Maranello (1999)

A V12 Ferrari with an open-gate manual gearbox? Where do we sign? Launched in 1996, the 550 Maranello channelled the spirit of the classic 365 GTB/4 Daytona, with a 485hp naturally aspirated V12 beneath its long, elegant bonnet.

The 550 morphed into the 575M from 2002. However, many Ferrari experts, including Ed Callow of Collecting Cars, reckon the 550 is  a sweeter drive. It’s not short on straight-line speed, either: 0-62mph takes 4.4sec and top speed is 199mph.

The 1,774kg Ferrari turns in with alacrity that belies its bulk. Its clutch demands a determined shove, and that thin metal wand needs careful guidance across the gate. Nonetheless, the reward for getting it right is like little else. Its V12 is simply sublime, piling on speed in a linear rush to the redline.

For our money – and you’d have needed £62,500 for the 24,000-mile example here – the 550 suits darker colours such as this Blu Tour de France, rather than trad-Ferrari Rosso Corsa. Just keep your grubby mitts off that cream leather.

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Ford Focus wheel and tyre

‘Serious’ security flaws found in Ford and Volkswagen cars

Ford Focus

Security flaws have been uncovered in two best-selling cars that could allow computer hackers to gain access and put safety and privacy at risk.

Consumer group Which? partnered with experts to study the connected tech features of two models, the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Polo.

ALSO READ: Keyless car theft – how to prevent it and stay safe

The research concluded that manufacturers are being ‘careless with security’ because there is no meaningful industry-wide regulation for in-car technology.

Volkswagen Polo

Cyber security experts found they could intercept the tyre pressure monitoring system on the Ford. Hackers could tell the system to show that flat tyres were fully inflated – a potentially dangerous safety concern.

ALSO READ: Stolen in seconds: keyless new cars that fail security tests

Analysing the code also uncovered wi-fi details and the password of a computer system at Ford’s factory in Detroit, Michigan. (The Focus is built in Europe.)

Which? also noted the amount of personal information the car was storing, including location and travel direction, speed, acceleration, braking and steering.

‘Simply lift the VW badge’

Volkswagen Polo

On the Volkswagen, the security experts gained access to the infotainment system, through the ‘disable traction control’ function.

They noted it contains a huge amount of personal information, including phone contacts and location history.

Furthermore, the tech experts found they could access the car’s front radar module – simply by lifting the VW badge on the front grille.

This would allow hackers ‘to tamper with the collision warning system’.

Volkswagen Polo interior

Which? magazine editor Lisa Barber said: “Most cars now contain powerful computer systems, yet a glaring lack of regulation of these systems means they could be left wide open to attack by hackers – putting drivers’ safety and personal data at risk.

“The government should be working to ensure that appropriate security is built into the design of cars and put an end to a deeply flawed system of manufacturers marking their own homework on tech security.”

A regulation for on-board car computer systems is planned for 2021, adds Which? – but this is only voluntary.

The consumer group adds that while Volkswagen is engaging positively with it, Ford declined to receive the Which? technical report. 

Kia Telluride logo

Kia Telluride is 2020 World Car of the Year

2020 Kia Telluride

The Kia Telluride has won the 2020 World Car of the Year title in a livestreamed ceremony from the World Car Awards organisation.  

Kia’s mid-size luxury SUV is a new foray for the brand and is currently making waves in North America.

The Kia was up against two Mazdas in the final three: the Mazda3 hatchback and CX-30 crossover SUV. However, the Telluride’s combination of luxury, value, standout design and excellent driving characteristics won through. 

Kia Telluride logo

“It is a great honour for us to see the Telluride named 2020 World Car of the Year,” said Thomas Schemera, executive vice president at Kia Motors Corporation.

“This is one of the hardest-fought competitions in the global automotive industry, proving that the Telluride is a truly outstanding vehicle.

“This accolade is testament to the talents and efforts of a worldwide team, who all strive to create desirable, high-quality and practical cars that drivers love.”

This year’s winner was chosen from an initial entry list of 29 vehicles from all over the world. A total of 86 jurors from 24 countries voted to determine the winner. 

The Telluride takes over from the 2019 victor, Jaguar’s all-electric I-Pace

ALSO READ: Top Three World Car Awards 2020 finalists revealed

Away from the main World Car of the Year award, other prizes were handed out, too. 

Remarkably, it was an all-Porsche trio for the World Performance Car of the Year prize. The 911, Taycan and 718 Cayman GT4 and Spyder were all in the running. 

2020 Porsche Taycan

Three very different flavours of performance car… and the winner this year was electric: the Porsche Taycan. 

It is Porsche’s sixth victory in the World Performance Car category. 

Porsche was in the running again for the World Luxury Car prize. The Taycan lined up alongside the Porsche 911 and Mercedes-Benz EQC. 

2020 Porsche Taycan

And Porsche won once again with the Taycan, which is proving to be a pivotal all-electric car for this famous German brand.

With a double win across two diverse categories, it seems to be the car that can do it all…

The World Urban Car prize celebrates micro-sized masterpieces. The contenders this year were the Kia Soul EV, Mini Electric and Volkswagen T-Cross. 

2020 Kia Soul EV

Two EVs, but only one winner… which was the fun and suitably vivid Kia Soul EV. 

The Mazda3, Peugeot 208 and, again, the Porsche Taycan were in the running for World Car Design of the Year. The 2020 winner? The Mazda3. 

2020 Mazda3

Jurors included ex-Jaguar guru Ian Callum, former Renault designer Patrick le Quement, Gordon Murray, Tom Matano and Shiro Nakamura. 

This eclectic selection of nine cars is up for online auction this week

Bring a Trailer Davis Collection

An intriguing collection of nine modern cars with enthusiast appeal are currently being auctioned online. 

Named the Davis Collection, the cars belong to a prolific user of the Bring a Trailer website. All are being sold with no reserve, meaning a new home for each is almost guaranteed.

With the varied range of cars spanning a period from 1989 through to 2002, this could be the perfect starter pack for anyone wanting to get in on the modern classics scene. 

Pick your ride

Bring a Trailer Davis Collection

Mr. Davis, known to the Bring a Trailer community by the username Giediprime, has bought and sold a number of vehicles through the auction website before. 

Some of the cars offered are regular staples on Bring a Trailer. BMW M5s and Honda S2000s being particular fan favorites with the online community. 

However, the collection offers more rarified options, with the choices including a Japanese kei-car and low-mileage Jeep Wrangler Renegade. Below are just some of the highlights. 

1989 Pontiac Turbo Grand Prix

Bring a Trailer Davis Collection

One of the standout cars being offered is the 1989 Pontiac Turbo Grand Prix by ASC/McLaren. One of just 749 special editions created for the ‘89 model year, this turbocharged Pontiac has covered 5,500 miles from new. 

Made solely in the coupe body shape, the Turbo Grand Prix features a 3.1-liter V-6 engine producing 205 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque. A four-speed automatic transmission was the only option for this rare offering. 

Bespoke front and rear bumpers, plus 16-inch mesh-design alloy wheels and tan leather seats, are just some of the highlights on the Turbo Grand Prix. 

1992 Autozam AZ-1 

Bring a Trailer Davis Collection

Produced between 1992 and 1994, the AZ-1 was created by Mazda under its own special Autozam brand name. Although designed to meet strict Japanese kei-car legislation, the AZ-1 had a host of intriguing features. 

A tiny 657 cc turbocharged three-cylinder engine is mid-mounted in the AZ-1. It sends a total of just 63 horsepower to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual transmission. However, the party piece of the AZ-1 are the trick gull-wing doors.

Imported to the United States in 2017, the right-hand drive AZ-1 being auctioned includes bespoke body kit parts taken from the Mazda M2 1015. A number of additional upgrades were also installed when the car lived in Japan, meaning it should attract plenty of keen bids. 

2000 BMW E39 M5

Bring a Trailer Davis Collection

Regarded as one of the greatest sports sedans ever made, the E39 version of the BMW M5 is seeing values continue to increase. Prices are now moving away from the clutches of street racers, and towards the hands of wealthier collectors.

Power comes from a 394 horsepower 4.9-liter V-8 engine, with a six-speed manual the only transmission option. A unique aero kit, 18-inch alloy wheels, and an exhaust system with four tailpipes were other M5 specialities. 

Having covered 56,000 miles from new, the BMW M5 in the Davis collection has certainly been used as intended. Regular maintenance work has been carried out, with new tires fitted last year. We would be inclined to ditch the non-factory M badge added to the front grille though…

Time is running out

Bring a Trailer Davis Collection

Other highlights from the collection include a 1990 Nissan 300ZX Turbo, 1989 Dodge Shelby Lancer, and a 2002 Mercedes-Benz CLK55 AMG. 

An imported Toyota Aristo is also a rarity, using the same twin-turbocharged engine as seen in the MkIV Supra. 

All of the nine auctions began on Monday, April 6th, and are set to run until Monday, April 13th. The finish times are staggered, just in case you really want to try and bag all nine cars.

Ford Lotus Cortina TV star reunited with owner 40 years on

We reunite TV star Lotus Cortina with its overjoyed owner

Ford Lotus Cortina TV star reunited with owner 40 years onSome people remember names, others never forget a face. A select few of us even recall our online passwords. Rob Jones, though, has an uncanny memory for car number plates. Hey, we all need a party trick.

Rob knows the registration marks of every car he’s ever owned, from the MG Midget he bought after passing his test to the Seat Leon Cupra he drives today. And one of those remembered registrations – FGF 113C – led to an emotional reunion with the car he owned 44 years ago.

Like many great love stories, our tale begins on a sofa in front of the telly. The show was Car SOS, and presenters Fuzz Townshend and Tim Shaw were battling to restore a Mk1 Ford Cortina GT from little more than a bare shell.

Made in Dagenham

Ford Lotus Cortina TV star reunited with owner 40 years on

Seeking inspiration, the team visited Ford’s heritage workshop in Dagenham. Their mission: to drive the GT’s big brother: the legendary Lotus Cortina. Rob nearly fell off his sofa. The immaculate white-and-green classic, hailed by Tim as “a sensation of the era”, had the same number plate as a Lotus Cortina he’d bought in 1976.

“It had to be the same car,” explains Rob, “but I searched through my old photos to be sure.” The Polaroid print he found proved it beyond doubt. There was Rob, in glorious faded sepia, wearing a pair of turned-up flares and leaning on a Lotus Cortina, registration: FGF 113C.

The Ford heritage workshop is usually off-limits to the public, so Rob contacted Motoring Research – having seen our gallery feature on the Dagenham collection. A few excited emails later, Rob had a date in Dagenham. Even better, it was on his birthday.

From road to racetrack

Ford Lotus Cortina TV star reunited with owner 40 years on

Before our heart-warming ‘boy meets car’ moment, a few words on the Lotus Cortina. This skunkworks special was launched in 1963 and is arguably the first fast Ford. It packs a 106hp 1.6-litre Lotus engine and close-ratio Ford gearbox, clothed in lightweight alloy panels.

Tipping the scales at just 826kg, the Lotus Cortina reached 60mph in 9.9 seconds, plus a top speed of 108mph. It was an instant hit on the racetrack, with Jim Clark winning the British Saloon Car title in 1964, then Alan Mann Racing clinching the European title in 1965.

A total of 3,301 Mk1 Lotus Cortinas were built before the squarer Mk2 arrived in 1967. By this point, well-publicised reliability problems and the launch of the Escort Twin Cam meant the Cortina’s star was fading. But it has gone supernova since, with prices for concours examples stretching well into six figures.

Show some appreciation

Ford Lotus Cortina TV star reunited with owner 40 years on

Rob negotiated a rather better deal. “I paid £370 for my Cortina,” he laughs, “then sold it for £500 eight months later. I didn’t own it long as I kept having problems with the starter motor. The ring gears would slip or jam – I ended up replacing them about once a month.”

There are no such issues when, four decades on, Rob twists the key of his old car. The twin-cam engine bursts raucously into life, its throaty bark reverberating off the walls of Ford’s workshop – a huge warehouse that used to be a truck factory. Rob’s smile says it all.

“This brings it all back,” he beams. “I was a Lotus fanatic, but I couldn’t afford an Elan – so this was my dream car at the time. It’s been lowered a couple of inches since I owned it, but otherwise nothing much has changed.”

For the custodians of Ford’s heritage fleet, Rob’s visit provides a valuable chance to fill in the blanks about this Cortina’s history. “We don’t know much about the car before it came to us,” they admit.

A Christmas crash

Ford Lotus Cortina TV star reunited with owner 40 years on

One story in particular raises a few eyebrows. “Yeah, I crashed it,” admits Rob. “I’d just finished my Christmas shopping. I pulled out of a pub car park in Newbury [sober, he adds] and got sideswiped by an Austin 1100. It ploughed into the nearside wing and I ended up paying a £25 fine as it was his right of way.”

On the rain-drenched roads of Dagenham, Rob is being extra-careful: “I didn’t want to push it in the wet. I’m very conscious the car is worth a few quid more than when I owned it.”

It’s clear Rob loves being back behind the skinny wooden wheel, though. “It’s just lovely. I remember that twin-cam sound – and the smell. But the steering is so heavy compared to a modern car. You need muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger to do a three-point turn.”

A great motoring memory

Ford Lotus Cortina TV star reunited with owner 40 years on

Rob has owned many cars over the past 44 years, including several self-built Ginetta sports cars, but the Cortina is the one he wishes he’d kept. “Just being back behind the wheel felt special. I’d have another, definitely. I just need to discover one in a barn.”

Seeing Rob reunited with his Lotus Cortina reaffirmed our belief that cars are more than just transport. They bookend periods in our lives, our memories of past journeys and destinations inexorably linked to the vehicles we travelled in.

For Rob, driving the car he owned in 1976 is the closest he’ll get to time travel. And unlike his flares, the Lotus Cortina hasn’t aged a day.

Air pollution nosedives due to coronavirus lockdown

Empty London street during lockdown

Air pollution has dropped dramatically since the UK went into lockdown. Some cities have seen a 60 percent fall in nitrogen dioxide (NO2), according to the BBC.

This follows yesterday’s news that the levels of NO2 have almost halved in Southampton, with the cleaner air attributed to the reduction in traffic and flights, plus the suspension of cruises. The city is the cruise capital of Europe.

The UK has been in lockdown for two weeks in an attempt to halt the spread of coronavirus. As of yesterday, 55,242 people have tested positive for COVID-19, with 6,159 confirmed deaths.

The government has urged people to avoid travelling unless it is essential. Indeed, people are advised to only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home).

This has led to reduced traffic, especially in towns and cities. The BBC has analysed air pollution since 23 March, compared to the same period in 2019. Most of the air quality monitoring stations have recorded a 50 percent fall in NO2 emissions.

BBC air pollution table

‘Much lower levels of NO2’

William Bloss, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Birmingham, told the BBC: “What we’re seeing in the lockdown… is the reductions in road traffic in our cities translating into much lower levels of NO2.

“We’re seeing the reductions are greatest in areas most heavily-influenced by road traffic, so city centres, roads in London, Birmingham and other urban centres.”

Environmental campaigners are using the plummeting levels of air pollution to call for permanent change. Jenny Bates of Friends of the Earth, said: “Seeing this drop in air pollution shows that less traffic can quickly lead to cleaner air.

“Once this dreadful situation is over, we don’t want to rush to go back to where we were or worse, and we can’t have an accelerated return to business as usual. We can have a better, cleaner future for ourselves and the planet.”

London during lockdown

‘Best possible air quality’

In a separate development, the Air Quality Expert Group, working on behalf of Defra, is searching for links between air pollution and the coronavirus. Questions asked include how might public exposure to air pollution have changed as a result of the lockdown, and how might altered emissions affect summer air quality.

John Newington, head of evidence, air quality and industrial emissions, Defra said: “Defra would ask the research community to support the UK government in its efforts to manage air pollution risk and impacts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Evidence and insight into possible changes to the factors that control air pollution will help us to refine and improve how we deliver the best possible air quality for the UK.”