American dreams: amazing US cars we can’t buy here

Ford F-150 Raptor

We’re blessed in the UK with the very best cars Europe has to offer: hot hatches from France, supercars from Italy, luxury saloons from Germany – and much more. What we lack is much muscle and bustle from the other side of the Atlantic. These are the American cars we wish we could buy.

Chevrolet Corvette

Chevrolet Corvette

It’s perhaps the most obvious one. So obvious, that you actually can get it in the UK. It’s not sold through official dealers, though, and Corvettes aren’t common. Also, this 6.2-litre V8 sports car doesn’t come in right-hand drive.

While the standard ’Vette is exciting enough, the real treats are the supercharged versions. The Z06 comes with a Ferrari-baiting 650hp. If you want wide-body thrills without 650hp of Z06 spills, the Grand Sport offers the stance without the supercharger.

The ZR1, which waves goodbye to the C7-generation car, comes with a McLaren 720S-humbling 755hp. Yes please.

Chevrolet Camaro

Chevrolet Camaro

The Camaro offers a Corvette V8 in a cheaper package. A handful of cars have been imported to the UK, but they’re all left-hand drive.

This muscle car comes in juicier varieties, too. Powering the ZL1 and 1LE is the 650hp LT4 6.2-litre supercharged V8 from the Corvette Z06. The 1LE version adds serious aero. So far, we don’t know of any 1LE-spec Camaros in the UK.

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

The Colorado ZR2 is an interesting beast. It’s probably closer to a Ranger pick-up than an F-150 in size, and could do well in the UK and European market.

Sadly, this off-road beast isn’t sold on our shores. And now you know it exists, you want one, don’t you?

Cadillac CTS-V

Cadillac CTS-V

Even the Americans won’t be able to buy a CTS-V soon, as it’s shortly being discontinued. Nevertheless, we lament that we never got this luxurious, four-door slice of 650hp LT4 muscle.

We reckon it looks great and could put a fly in the ointment of many a European super-saloon.

Cadillac Escalade

Cadillac Escalade

Because we make rap videos in the UK too, you know? Joking aside, the Caddy is a luxurious and imposing SUV.

Could European Range Rover, Mercedes-Benz GLS and BMW X7 buyers find it appealing? We reckon so.

Dodge Challenger Hellcat

Dodge Challenger Hellcat

More than 700hp, those classic muscle car looks – what’s not to love? Ah, the fact we don’t get it over here. We don’t love that.

The Charger would surely find some UK buyers, we think. Don’t fancy spending £100,000 on a BMW M5 or Mercedes-AMG E63 S? Step this way…

Ford F-150 Raptor

Ford F-150 Raptor

The F-150 Raptor is the poster car for all-American truckin’. This Baja-ready bruiser has wheelarches and tyres to make a 1970s Le Mans racer feel slim, plus serious suspension travel.

Thankfully, Ford has seen fit to offer the smaller Ranger Raptor pick-up in Europe as recompense, a truck that America is denied.

Ford Mustang GT350 and GT500

Ford Mustang GT500

The fact we don’t get the high-revving Mustang GT350 is made more painful because the standard GT is actually sold in UK showrooms.

The new GT500, with over 700hp coming from its supercharged V8, is another that’s due to be staying Stateside. More’s the pity.

Ram Power Wagon

Ram Power Wagon

The Ram Power Wagon is a more subtle truck, at least by US standards. It’s still a dyed-in-the-wool patriot, though.

It doesn’t have bulging arches or silly suspension like the Raptor, but we still want it. Just look at it!

Lincoln Navigator

Lincoln Navigator

The Navigator seemed like a bit of a tacky rapper’s special when it first came out. It’s based on Ford underpinnings, after all.

However, the latest Navigator is rather more appealing. It’s a handsome SUV, and its cabin looks positively sumptuous. We’d have one over a BMW X7 on looks alone.

Government cars to be electric by 2030, says transport secretary

Chris Grayling looks to the future of electric cars

The entire fleet of Government ministerial cars will be all-electric by 2030, the transport secretary Chris Grayling has confirmed.

Currently, electric vehicles make up nearly 23 percent of the fleet, with the government pledging to electrify at least a quarter by 2022.

The Government Car Service (GCS) is managed by the Department for Transport (TfL) to provide a secure car service for ministers in government departments.

GCS operates a fleet of around 90 cars, including British-built and low emission vehicles. The cars are managed by an in-house secure workshop.

The transport secretary has written to every government department to reinforce the pledge to move towards a 100 percent electric fleet by 2030.

‘Best place to own an ultra-low emission vehicle’

He said: “We want the UK to be the best place in the world to own an ultra-low emission vehicle, and as a government we have to lead by example.

“I am pleased with the change we are making to the Government Car Service, but this now needs to be reflected in all fleets that are controlled by government.

“Only yesterday, the prime minister made the bold commitment that the UK will end its net contribution to climate change by 2050. It is absolutely vital that all parts of government play their part in delivering this ambitious target.”

The government plans to end the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2040 and is seeking to encourage more people to drive ultra-low emission vehicles.

Aston Martin will take on Le Mans with Valkyrie hypercar

Aston Martin Valkyrie to race at Le Mans

Aston Martin has confirmed its long-awaited Valkyrie hypercar will race at Le Mans, following entry into the 2020/2021 World Endurance Championship season. This, as the new top-level hypercar regulations are ratified by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest – the organisation behind the 24-hour race.

The cars won’t quite resemble those customers will drive, or indeed the track-only AMR Pro version. The V12 engine will be prepared for the rigours of 24-hour racing, while Aston describes the car as a ‘fully competitive platform capable of challenging for outright race wins’. A ‘minimum’ of two will be entered when they take to the La Sarthe circuit next year.

If it wins, it’ll be the first ‘road car’ to come first at Le Mans since the McLaren F1 in 1995.

Aston Martin Valkyrie V12 Cosworth engine

The roadgoing Valkyrie is set to produce over 1,000hp at up to 10,800rpm from a 6.5-liter V12 engine in combination with a hybrid system. A test-ready prototype was shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March, following extensive work by Cosworth.

“We have always said that we would one day bring Aston Martin back to Le Mans with the intention of going for the outright win when the time was right – now is that time,” said Aston Martin CEO, Andy Palmer.

“David Brown came here in 1959, with a car and a team of drivers capable of winning. We intend to do the same in 2021. The Aston Martin Valkyrie is primed for such a challenge and sits perfectly within the ACO’s new ‘hypercar’ rule framework.

Aston Martin Valkyrie V12 Cosworth engine

“What could be more evocative than the wail of an Aston Martin V12 leading the charge into the night on the Mulsanne straight?”

We have to say, we’re struggling to come up with an answer to that.

1 in 5 motorists find parking a struggle

Motorists find parking a struggle

One in five drivers admitted they were not very good at parking, according to a survey conducted by YourParkingSpace.co.uk.

We’re tempted to say that four in five drivers are good liars… 

Modern technology means that, in theory, it has never been easier to park a car. Front and rear parking sensors should mean that an impromptu meeting with a plant pot or garden wall should be avoided.

Reversing cameras – which will be mandatory for new type approvals from 2022, and for all existing models by 2024 – can also assist those who struggle to park with grace and dignity.

Fifty-four percent of the respondents to the survey said that other drivers are “generally bad at parking”, which suggests a park-assist system could be a good option when buying a new car.

Park assist uses cameras and sensors to allow the car to self-park, either into a parking bay or between two cars on the side of the road. While the technology was formerly the preserve of high-end cars, it’s now available on humble superminis.

‘It’s not unusual’

Man inspecting car park damage

Harrison Woods, ParkingSpace.co.uk managing director, said: “It’s not unusual to see motorists struggle on a daily basis to park a car, including parallel parking or trying to squeeze into a tight space.

“Unsurprisingly, our survey shows that many more people consider other drivers to be bad at parking compared to those admitting they find it a struggle.

“Whatever the situation really is, there’s no need for parking to be a chore for anyone as there are plenty of options to help drivers.

“For instance, some motorists rely on modern technology in a car, like park-assist and various sensors to guide them into their parking space, while others prefer to pre-book an empty space to remove the stress of driving around looking for an available spot on the day.”

New tuning pack boosts Mazda MX-5 beyond 200hp

BBR Super 220 Mazda MX-5

BBR has unveiled two new performance packages, taking the Mazda MX-5 beyond the 200hp mark. The Super 200 and Super 220 packages don’t use turbocharging, however.

Instead, these packs are based on the 184hp Skyactiv-G engine in the updated MX-5, and rely on enhancing existing components of the engine.

The Super 200 has a high-performance exhaust manifold, cold air intake, high-flow filter and custom engine map to bring the mods to life. The Super 220 includes all the above, but adds high-performance camshafts, valve springs and retainers.

BBR Super 220 Mazda MX-5

Power delivery is said to be improved, with the Super 200’s peak torque arriving 500rpm lower than the standard car. The Super 220 delivers its maximum power high up, with the full 220hp between 4,750rpm and 7,800rpm.

What price this added performance? It’s not cheap, with the Super 200 coming in at £1,445, or £1,245 if you self-install. The Super 220 package is £2,895, or £2,235 if you DIY.

The updated MX-5 was already quite a peppy thing, so we can only expect these upgrades bring it to life even more.

BBR Super 220 Mazda MX-5

“This is the first time that over 100bhp per litre has been achievable from a normally aspirated Mazda MX-5 motor without internal modifications,” said BBR MD, Neil McKay.

“Additional development has seen BBR achieve more than 110bhp per litre with the inclusion of our bespoke performance camshafts, which is astonishing for a road-friendly engine that now also produces over 150lb.ft from just 3,000rpm.

“As Mazda improves the stock Skyactiv-G 2.0-litre petrol engine extracting useful power gains from normally aspirated tuning becomes more of a challenge, but that makes the end results even more rewarding.”

New Porsche website lets you design your own car wrap

Second Skin Porsche livery online

Porsche has launched a ‘Second Skin’ online tool that allows you to see your chosen car in classic motorsport livery – then have it made.

The scope for online creativity is, in fact, even wider than that, with Porsche saying: ‘It will also be possible to implement designs inspired by, for instance, fashion and the arts’.

Previously discontinued colours from Porsche will be available, and company will collaborate those in the car-wrapping industry, including artists, design studios, foil providers and vinyl paint manufacturers. The website will be up and running in July.

“As the livery segment is a very fragmented market, we have created a central port of call with Second Skin to guarantee quality and offer a comprehensive approach to finding a solution,” said Simon Weiss of Porsche Digital.

“For this reason, the entire design and ordering process is fully processed in Second Skin: customers select the vehicle model and design it independently or as part of a consultation to obtain a non-binding offer and finish the order online.”

Second Skin Porsche livery onlineThe poster car for the project is a 911 RSR that’s due to compete at Le Mans this coming weekend (June 15-16). It features a design by pop-art artist Richard Philips that combines three of his most popular works.

“We wanted to use the project in Le Mans to demonstrate what we can do in terms of automotive design and that there are no limits to the imagination with Second Skin,” said Florian Rothfuss, director of Porsche Digital.

“The greatest challenge was to apply a three-part image on a vehicle. We are also very happy with the result because the effect of the colours is unique.”

The cars your dad fantasised about – and the ones he actually drove

Ford Cortina

It’s Father’s Day – you did remember to buy a card, right? – so we thought it was time to trawl the archives in search of cars your dad drove… and those he dreamed about. In each case, we’ve selected the sensible and the sexy or the humdrum and the hero.

Honda Accord

Honda Accord

Spare a thought for your poor, beleaguered father. At the end of the 1990s, he was preparing to wave goodbye to more than just the last millennium. A receding hairline was a sign that his best days were behind him, with his misery compounded by the list of potential company cars faxed to him by his fleet manager.

If he was lucky, the company would offer him a Mondeo, but the spectre of the original Vectra was a looming menace. Sensibly he avoided the Avensis and opted for the reliable Honda Accord, which ensured he would make it home for tea and your weekend trips to the seaside would pass without a call to the AA.

Honda Accord Type R

Honda Accord Type R

“The Accord has the lowest running costs, the best residual values and one of the most comprehensive warranties in its class. It’s also well built and has a better image than most of its rivals. Extremely well equipped and tremendous value, in SE trim it costs around £1000 less than the equivalent Passat and comes with cruise control and ABS as standard,” said Fleet Car Business in 1999.

Which is all well and good, but as your father browsed the Honda website, he couldn’t help but have his head turned by the Accord Type R. He pleaded with Colin the fleet guy, but even the prospect of a delete option on that rear spoiler wasn’t enough for him to put a four-door saloon with the performance of a touring car in the office parking lot.

Ford Sierra

Ford Sierra

When the Ford Sierra arrived in the UK in 1982, its space-age styling wasn’t exactly met with universal applause. Even some dyed-in-the-wool Ford fans preferred the outgoing Captain Sensible Cortina to the Kool & The Gang Sierra. Others simply switched allegiances to the Vauxhall Cavalier.

But soon, the Sierra cemented itself as part of the furniture in 80s Britain, alongside Daisy Duke’s shorts, Sonny Crockett’s espadrilles and Terry Wogan’s microphone. Some 3.4 million Sierras were sold before it made way for the Mondeo.

Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

As if to motivate your father to try even harder at work – “these paperclips won’t sell themselves, you know” – Ford unleashed a number of ‘sportier’ models. The fuel-injected 2.0iS was within reach, as was the XR4x4 if your dad spent less time eating Early Starters in the Little Chef.

But no hostile boardroom takeover would be complete without an in-yer-face Sierra RS Cosworth. In excess of 200hp, a top speed of 149mph and a 0-60mph time of 6.5 seconds. In his head, your father’s 1.8-litre LX was a pair of Recaro seats and a whale-tail away from a Cossie. The reality was quite different.

Vauxhall Cavalier

Vauxhall Cavalier

Back in the day, your father would do anything to get ahead in the office, even if it meant jumping the queue once in a while. Insert something here about a high-flying career or a jump in sales.

The little badge on the back of the Cavalier acted like a barometer of success. An ‘L’ delivered a Philips stereo radio cassette player, remote-controlled door mirrors and flush wheel trims. But a man in a CD was a man in control. His Cavalier offered electric windows, mirrors and aerial, plus power steering, sunroof, central locking and a tiltable steering wheel.

Vauxhall Cavalier Calibre

Vauxhall Cavalier Calibre

Your dad was happy cruising in his Cavalier CD, sunroof open, Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald cassette on repeat to sooth away the miles spent on the M1. Happy, until he saw a blaze of Carmine Red exiting the Roadchef at Watford Gap. Your father’s ‘Lady in Red’ wasn’t a lady at all, it was a Vauxhall Cavalier Calibre.

These run-out models were styled and converted by Tickford and Irmscher, and only 500 were built, each one commanding a price tag of £13,000. Even today, your father probably daydreams about turning up at a meeting in a Calibre, so best not tell him there are believed to be two left on the road.

Ford Cortina

Ford Cortina

Ford knew how to tickle the fancy of the average company car driver. In the days before motivational memes, a Ford Cortina brochure could make the difference between jumping out of bed and pressing ‘snooze’ on the bedside Teasmade.

Over the course of two decades, the Cortina was the archetypal fleet and family car, being cheap to run, cheap to service and good to drive. It also was named after an Italian ski resort, which added a touch of glamour to the otherwise worthy saloon.

Ford Cortina Lotus

Ford Cortina Lotus

But your dad didn’t want to be ‘Jim from sales’, he wanted to be Jim Clark. Which is why he had his eyes on the Lotus version. The recipe was delightfully simple: add a Lotus twin-cam engine to a Cortina bodyshell to create an instant legend.

To your father, the Lotus Cortina was as tantalising as a free bar at a sales conference with drinks served by Diana Rigg in a catsuit.

Peugeot 405

Peugeot 405

We hate to break it to you like this, but once upon a time, your dad fancied himself as Surbiton’s answer to Tom Cruise, and your mum was his Kelly McGillis. All that was needed to complete the effect – aside from a pilot’s licence – was the Porsche 356 Speedster replica as seen in Top Gun.

Only your father couldn’t stretch to a 356, which is why the sight of a Peugeot 405 blazing a trail through a field of burning maize took your dad’s breath away. The British-built 405 became a sales sensation (just like your dad).

Peugeot 405 Mi16

Peugeot 405 Mi16

Your dad would have been happy in his 405 GRD until Peugeot decided to up the ante with the 405 Mi16. This was less a case of having your cake and eating it and more having your cake and slapping it in the face of your unsuspecting work colleagues. The Mi16 was a race-bred hero.

Drivers would gleefully inform anyone who’d listen that the engine was derived from the 205 T16 Group B rally car, which is why your father fancied one parked outside his three-bed Poco Home.

Ford Capri

Ford Capri

The Ford Capri should have been enough for your father. Although it was based on the humble Cortina, the transformation from everyday to exciting was quite remarkable.

Even the lowly 1.3- and 1.6-litre versions looked the part and while he wouldn’t like to admit it, the Capri offered the much-needed comfort and practicality a traditional sports car couldn’t offer.

Ford Capri RS3100

Ford Capri RS3100

Throughout its long and illustrious career, the Capri range featured a range-topping model, kicking off with the Advanced Vehicle Operations RS3100. The pert ducktail spoiler sat on the back, encouraging your father to spend the best part of £2,500 on the flagship Capri.

The V6 Capris were the cars you always promised yourself, the others were merely pretenders.

Vauxhall Viva

Vauxhall Viva

Vauxhall did its best to extol the “sporty qualities” of the Viva, positioning the HB version as “Britain’s sportiest 1.1-litre gadabout”. There aren’t enough gadabouts in today’s new car market.

It handled well enough, but the Viva wasn’t exactly what you’d call exciting. Even the Brabham failed to live up the promise made by the illustrious connection.

Vauxhall Viva GT

Vauxhall Viva GT

The Vauxhall Viva GT, on the other hand, was a different kettle of carp. That it was more a rival to the Escort Twin Cam and Cortina GT than the Lotus Cortina hardly seemed to matter because the hot Viva looked the part.

The contrasting bonnet was an option, but the bonnet scoops were standard fit, guaranteed to turn heads on the King’s Road. The GT took Viva drivers somewhere they’d never been before: 100mph.

Austin/Rover Montego

Austin/Rover Montego

Naming a car after an exotic location is a clever marketing trick – witness what the Cortina name did for Ford’s family saloon. Montego, then, should conjure up images of long days relaxing by the ocean on Jamaica’s north coast.

In truth, the Montego felt about as exotic as a Rustie Lee leftover curry in the TV-AM studio, but it sold well enough and was more than attractive to fleet buyers. But your father didn’t fancy Rustie Lee, he was after the automotive equivalent of Grace Jones.

MG Montego

MG Montego

“The quickest MG production car of all-time,” proclaimed the headlines, as Austin Rover waved the MG Montego Turbo under your father’s nose. “Quicker than a BMW 325i, a Porsche 924 or a Ferrari Mondial,” claimed the ailing British company, knowing full well that your dad would be impressed.

It was faster than a Grace Jones right hook on an unsuspecting Russell Harty, and Austin Rover even managed to tame the torque steer. If only somebody was on hand to tame Grace Jones, thought Harty. Probably.

Volvo 240

Volvo 240

During the late 70s and throughout the 80s, nothing said ‘middle class family man’ quite like a Volvo estate. Only wrapping yourself in After Eight mints and sticking a Sade compact disc on repeat would be more middle class.

Your dad pretended he was happy with his 2.4 children and golden retriever. But in truth, his head had been turned by a hot Swede. No, not Britt Ekland…

Volvo 240 Turbo

Volvo 240 Turbo

Secretly, in 1985, your dad was watching Swedish porn, as the Volvo 240 Turbo romped to victory in the European Touring Car Championship. This was as far away from day trips to the in-laws as your father was from marrying Felicity Kendal.

Your dad’s heart rate had just returned to normal when Volvo decided to go racing again, this time in an 850 estate. Well, strike me down and call me Björn Borg.

Peugeot 406

Peugeot 406

A Peugeot 406 towing a caravan could be a metaphor for your father’s life. No, really, it could. Sure, the 406 estate is handsome enough and certainly capable of living a long and fruitful life, but it’s not exactly svelte, suave and sophisticated.

And that caravan weighing things down at the back represents a mortgage, bills and responsibilities. Ouch.

Peugeot 406 Coupe

Peugeot 406 Coupe

Looking at the Peugeot 406 Coupe, it’s hard to believe it’s related to the more humdrum versions. Fact is, Pininfarina penned one of the most beautiful cars of the turn of the millennium, which seems to look better with every passing year.

Something your father was reminded of, as a 406 Coupe whooshed past in a display of French glamour, as he trundled along the A303 to screams of “are we nearly there yet?”

Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf

We’re fully aware that not every man in the land drove a family saloon or executive hatchback. Some heads were turned by the new wave of smaller hatchbacks arriving from the near continent, each one promising a tantalising blend of practicality and economy.

The Volkswagen Golf seemed to have it all: Italian styling, German quality and an image that told the world your father wasn’t afraid to push the envelope. Well, it made a change from pushing paper in the office.

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Of course, he really fancied a Golf GTI. He had given up all hope of owning a sports car when he settled for domestic bliss in a three-bed semi, but the GTI had the potential to make him feel young again.

Dads across Britain turned away from sports cars and coupes in favour of this practical, fun and relatively expensive hot hatch. More exciting than a Wall’s Viennetta, and more exotic than a taramasalata starter at the Berni Inn.

Renault 5

Renault 5

Launched in 1972 and bowing out in 1996, the Renault 5 was France’s most popular car. It was so successful, the Marcello Gandini reboot of 1984 left the essence of the original R5 largely intact.

There’s a very good chance you had one in your household, maybe as a second car, for use on the school run or for leaving at the station car park for the daily commute into the city.

Renault 5 GT Turbo

Renault 5 GT Turbo

Your dad would have visions of owning a Renault 5 Turbo, fancying himself as Surbiton’s answer to Jean Ragnotti and some kind of Monte Carlo maestro. Not that he would have seen many 5 Turbos on the streets of Surbiton.

Instead, he may have stared longingly at the 5 GT Turbo parked in the Renault showroom – the sports leisure suit version of the M&S beige cardigan and brown slacks vehicle he was forced to live with.

McLaren puts on £50 million supercar display

McLaren display in Woking

McLaren has assembled 23 of its modern-day road cars at its Woking HQ to celebrate the company’s employee, friends and family open day.

The line-up of cars – which was too big to fit within the dimensions of our standard image size – is thought to be worth around £50m.

It’s the first time McLaren has ‘reunited’ its modern icons in Woking, with 3,000 employees present to see the unique line-up.

Everything from the P1 GTR to the new Speedtail was on hand to create a colourful and expensive display of sports cars, supercars and hypercars. For a full list, skip to the bottom of the page.

‘How far we’ve come’

Mike Flewitt, chief executive officer, McLaren Automotive, said: “Seeing our famous line-up of cars assembled here for the first time today is a reminder to everyone of how far we’ve come as a company in such a short space of time and the ambition and innovation of our people who have helped create that success.

“It’s thanks to them, with the support of their friends and families, that we have been able to achieve so much, so quickly and launch so many amazing cars, over 90 per cent of which are exported around the world.

“Our ambition as a company remains stronger than ever and we look forward to adding more amazing drivers’ cars to our range very soon.”

McLaren £50m display in Woking

A month ago, McLaren Automotive celebrated the 20,000th car to be built in Woking. A total of 4,800 cars left the factory in 2018, with 90 percent of the cars exported to more than 32 different markets.

Mike Flewitt said: “While demand for our products continues to grow, we aim to balance that to maintain exclusivity for our brand and our customers. It is fitting that we celebrate this achievement with a 600LT Spider, which has been a huge success for us with all production slots for the coupe variant now sold out.”

For more McLaren goodness, check out our guide to the special cars linked to Le Mans and everything you need to know about the new McLaren GT

The line-up in full

McLaren 570SMcLaren 570S Spider McLaren 570GT
McLaren 570S GT4McLaren 675 LT SpiderMcLaren 675 LT
McLaren 600LTMcLaren 600LT SpiderMcLaren GT
McLaren SpeedtailMcLaren F1 XP5McLaren P1
McLaren P1 GTRMcLaren SennaMcLaren 720S GT3
McLaren MSO 720S SpiderMcLaren 720S McLaren MSO 688HS
McLaren 650S SpiderMcLaren 650S CoupeMcLaren 12c 50th Anniversary Spider
McLaren 650S Can AmMcLaren 12 (Job #1) 

Why hybrids may be a greener solution than electric cars

hybrids better for short term CO2 reductions than EVs

Hybrids could be a more effective route to reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the short-term than electric cars, according to Emissions Analytics.

Strictly speaking, a hybrid with an internal combustion engine produces more CO2 than an electric car while in use. The argument that Emissions Analytics makes is that encouraging hybrid uptake now is a better plan for CO2 reduction than our current course.

That current course, supported by the government, is to promote uptake of full Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). However, given the current infrastructure and, indeed, the capability of many electric cars, progress towards such a goal is likely to be slow. 

How do hybrid and electric cars compare?

hybrids better for short term CO2 reductions than EVs

The CO2 reductions achievable with hybrids versus standard cars are impressive, says Emissions Analytics.

The achievable figures are 23 percent in the EU and 34 percent in the United States. On average, that makes for a 30 percent reduction in CO2, or 7.5 percent shy of the post-2021 target set by the EU.

Why not skip the hybrid stepping stone?

Potentially, diesels, mild hybrids and hybrids are stepping stones we could skip. But only if infrastructure and battery technology improve, suggests the study.

Our capacity for electricity generation also needs to swell in accordance with projected demand. The already strained battery supply chain needs to be strengthened, too. In short, as it stands, the world isn’t ready for the production, distribution and use of the number of electric cars that need to be sold.

Beyond 2030, larger increases in CO2 will necessitate a move to BEVs, by which time the above issues should (hopefully) have been solved.

Hybrids are a more efficient use of battery supplies

hybrids better for short term CO2 reductions than EVs

Given supply issues with batteries at the moment, a more effective use of production resources is small-battery hybrid vehicles (mild hybrids), claims Emissions Analytics. 

The numbers support that claim. A mild hybrid can save 73 grams per kilometre of CO2 per unit of battery size. That’s carbon per kWh used. Comparatively, a battery-powered vehicle saves 3.5g/km per kWh. Full hybrids save 50.5 grams of CO2 per kilometre, per unit of battery capacity.

Even plug-in hybrids, with three different use cases stated (mostly engine, half-and-half and mostly battery) yielded better per-kWh CO2 savings. Mostly engine got a 5g/km/kWh figure, compared with 50-50 and mostly battery, which managed 12 and 19.9 percent respectively. Still, at worst, 1.5g per kWh of battery unit used is better than a representative BEV.

That’s assuming that CO2 emissions produced during production of the electricity and car battery are equal in total to tailpipe emissions. According to Emissions Analytics, some studies suggest that BEVs are actually less ‘green’ when CO2 is tallied up throughout the life of a car.

Hybrid quantity over electric quality?

hybrids better for short term CO2 reductions than EVs

The argument is that getting motorists into hybrids en masse now ought to yield better results than getting a minority into EVs.

Take a two samples of 10 cars. The first contains three bang up-to-date mild hybrids, two full hybrids, and five reference cars. The second batch of 10 has one electric car and nine reference cars. Which batch produces more CO2? Moreover, which is easier to achieve on a large scale over the next five years?

On this basis, current UK policy that promotes and incentivises EVs while abandoning hybrids potentially harms the cause. The industry and infrastructure need to walk before they can run, it’s argued.

Is current government subsidy policy the equivalent of plonking a toddler on the start line of a 100-metre sprint? 

The special road cars linked to Le Mans

Le Mans road cars

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is referred to by many as the world’s greatest motor race. Indeed, some car manufacturers take it on independent of any championship, just for the honour of winning. It’s also unique by comparison with, say, the Monaco Grand Prix or Indy 500 for its inextricable link with road cars. For decades, this was the arena where you proved your ability to produce a high-performing and reliable car. As such, many marques have paid tribute to the race, be that in the form of a special edition or an entire car dedicated to it.

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera 59

Le Mans road cars

The latest is perhaps one of the coolest. Special editions such as the DBS 59 are always at risk of being a bit half-hearted, but the devil is in the details. This is a gorgeous tribute to Aston’s 1959 triumph at Le Mans, and its subsequent World Sports Car title.

Aston Martin Vantage V600 Le Mans

Le Mans road cars

The DBS 59 isn’t the first Aston to celebrate the 1959 win, though. The 1999 Vantage V600 Le Mans marked 40 years since the event. With Koni suspension, DBR1-style side vents, Dymag lightweight wheels and a map from the car’s Newport Pagnell birthplace to the Le Mans circuit included, just 40 were made.

McLaren F1 LM

Le Mans road cars

The LM was a final iteration of the incredible McLaren F1. Five were built, to honour the five finishing cars in the 1995 race, which came in first, third, fourth, fifth and 13th. To this day, the F1 is the last road-based car to win outright at Le Mans.

McLaren 650S Le Mans

Le Mans road cars

The McLaren 650S Le Mans was built to celebrate 20 years since McLaren’s shock 1995 win with the F1 GTR. The special 650S wears five-spoke lightweight wheels similar to the GTR, plus an F1-style roof scoop.

Ford Focus RS Le Mans

Le Mans road cars

The Focus RS Le Mans is a curious beast. The warbling five-cylinder hot hatch was decked out in classic racing liveries as a tribute to the marque’s Le Mans heritage in 2010. Inspiration came from the Ford GT40 (obviously) and, of all things, the Capri. The latter won the Touring category at the race in 1972.

Jaguar XJS Le Mans

Le Mans road cars

Jaguar’s 1-2-3 triumph at Le Mans in 1988, as well as its victory in 1990, was commemorated by the marque with a special edition XJS. The XJS Le Mans V12 added special badging, extra leather trim, lattice alloy wheels and a ‘growler’ on the bonnet. Although it feels like a bit of a ‘badge job’, it remains a rare beast. Just 280 were made.

Mazda MX-5 Le Mans 24

Le Mans road cars

The MX-5 Le Mans 24 really wears its pride on its sleeve. After the rotary-powered 787B of Johnny Herbert won the LM24 in 1991, Mazda celebrated with a run of 24 MX-5s in the same Renown livery and with a BBR Turbo kit. Mazda’s victory was made all the more special because it was the first Japanese marque to win Le Mans.

Porsche 924S Le Mans

Le Mans road cars

The 924S Le Mans isn’t a commemorative model, although Porsche had its fair share of victories to celebrate. Instead, it’s a limited-run special with high specification parts. As a result of its rarity and desirable spec, it’s a highly sought-after variant of the 924 today. Just 100 were brought to the UK.

Bentley Le Mans Editions

Le Mans road cars

In 2013, Bentley decided to celebrate its six Le Mans victories with six Le Mans Edition specifications for its range. Back then, this included the Continental GT, Flying Spur and Mulsanne. Tasteful specifications with ‘Le Mans Edition’ badging and embroidery are a nice nod to the marque’s heritage.

Bentley Mulsanne

Le Mans road cars

The car named after a straight, kink and corner complex on the track surely deserves a mention?

Bentley Arnage

Le Mans road cars

As does the car named after a famous corner. Bentley really knows how to mine its Le Mans heritage.

Ford GT Heritage Editions

Le Mans road cars

The Ford GT40 and GT are famously linked to Le Mans. After winning the GTE category at the race in 2016, special liveried versions of the GT road car were introduced, commemorating original winners in original colours. The racers taking to La Sarthe this year will be similarly decked-out.

Audi A6 Le Mans

Le Mans road cars

Clearly, Audi didn’t want to go too overboard with its Le Mans victory celebrations. The Le Mans Edition of 2006 is, at first glance, just another A6. Available in both saloon and Avant (estate) body styles, the 1,000 cars came with different colours, wheels borrowed from the RS4 and a luxury pack.

Audi R8

Le Mans road cars

Audi’s flagship is neither limited, nor named after Le Mans (unlike the concept that previewed it). It was the halo model built to celebrate the marque’s success at La Sarthe, though. It was named after the R8 racer, after all. And now, after has Audi abandoned its top-level LMP racing programme, the R8 is rumoured to be on the way out.

Peugeot 207 Le Mans

Le Mans road cars

The Le Mans Edition Peugeot 207 was announced just as the marque took the top three qualifying spots at the 2008 race. The spec was available across most 207s, including the 175hp variant. Sporty styling in shadow chrome and body colour, plus a racing stripe, mark out each of the 2,000 examples built.

Paul Stephens Le Mans Classic Clubsport

Le Mans road cars

Think ‘Singer scaled down’, as a tribute to the biennial Le Mans Classic event. There will be just 10 examples of this officially licenced special, built by Paul Stephens Autoart. The Le Mans Classic Clubsport offers a blend of classic 911 style with contemporary performance.

Porsche 911 British Legends Edition

Le Mans road cars

This selection of 911 Carrera 4 GTS models celebrated British drivers who took Porsches to Le Mans victory. The Richard Attwood car is resplendent in red-striped Salzburg livery. The Derek Bell 911 wears iconic Rothmans colours. And finally, Nick Tandy’s car is white with black and red highlights.

Chevrolet Corvette C5 24 Hours of Le Mans Commemorative Edition

Le Mans road cars

The Corvette, legend as it has become at Le Mans over the past 20 years, commemorated the famous 24hr race in 2004 during the twilight hours of the C5 generation car. A splash of Le Mans Blue Metallic on the bodywork, plenty of badging and if you were in a Z06, a carbon hood with standard striping, completed the package.

Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR

Le Mans road cars

These last few are fun. Meet the homologation cars, specifically built so that the racers could be allowed to compete. First-up, here’s the Mercedes CLK GTR.

Porsche 911 GT1

Le Mans road cars

The second (although it’s the car that came first), is the Porsche 911 GT1. The road car was named the ‘Strassenversion’. It was partly a reaction to McLaren’s 1995 victory with the F1, which proved there was Le Mans-winning potential in road cars.

Toyota GT One

Le Mans road cars

And finally, the least roadworthy racer of all. There are only two GT Ones, one of which is still owned by Toyota. Technically, they’re road cars, but just look at it. It’s a racer through and through. This, like the CLK and 911, isn’t a celebration or special edition; it’s a car born out of Le Mans racing necessity.