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One in four have misused a parent parking bay

Parent and child parking

Parent and child parking bays are designed for young families who need to open their doors wider. Located closer to the shops, they make life easier for parents who don’t want to ding doors – and safer for kids, who don’t need to cross a busy car park. One in four drivers has, however, misused these spots.

Indeed, nearly two thirds of parents say they’ve noticed someone misusing a parent and child parking bay, meaning they had to park elsewhere.

Parent and child parking

To get a handle on the problem, insurance comparison website Confused visited supermarkets across the UK. 

The North East apparently has the highest proportion of people who misuse the bays: 64 percent were observed doing so. By contrast, in the South West just five percent incorrectly used parent and child bays.Parent and child parking

When asked about why they use these bays incorrectly, 31 of drivers said it was because they couldn’t find a space. Another 31 percent said they observed a large availability of parent and child spaces, so they thought it was OK.

Some said it was ‘only for a few minutes’, as their justification. Others said they did so because it was late in the day.

Parent and child bays: the rulesParent and child parking

Unlike permit-only spaces or disabled bays, your child is effectively your badge here. In general, the rule is you can use a parent and child bay if you have a child aged under 12. Tesco says that pregnant women should ask in-store about the use of these bays. 

While Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco have enforcement, including the issue of fines. Morrisons will ask people to move, or place a sign, but not issue a penalty. Lidl and Aldi say they rely on their customers to be honest with their parking, although the latter has an online reporting system.

Winter driving: how to save fuel and prevent breakdowns

Winter driving reliability

A 20 percent increase in the number of car breakdowns is forecast from today, as temperatures take a nosedive. More than 4,700 rescue service callouts and 3,100 breakdowns are expected today (19 November) alone.

To highlight the dangers of colder weather and darker days, Green Flag cites research revealing 3.6 million drivers – nine percent – have had accidents directly as a result of darkness. 

Fully 61 percent of drivers said that they’d prefer an alternative form of transport to driving in the dark. And 44 percent said they avoid driving in the dark at all. 

How winter takes its toll on your carWinter driving reliability

Your car isn’t at its best in cold conditions either. It becomes less efficient, taking longer to warm up, while cold oil increases friction and wear inside the engine. Cabin heating takes it toll on the battery, too. 

“Drivers need to know how their vehicles are being affected by the seasonal drop in temperatures as well as the dangers of driving in the dark,” said Mark Newberry of Green Flag.

“Some aspects of the impact on fuel efficiency can’t be avoided. Oil will be thicker in colder weather, until the engine warms up, increasing friction in both the engine and the gearbox, meaning that the engine will always have to work harder to make things move.”

Winter fuel saving tripsWinter driving reliability

Don’t leave your car idling

It sounds obvious, but if you think you’ll be sat still for a while, switch your engine off. Not only will you save fuel, you could also avoid a fine. 

Avoid short trips

Winter driving means it takes longer for your car to get to optimum temperature. Try to combine trips, using your car while it’s warm to save wear and fuel.

Winter driving reliability

Limit which gadgets you use

Heaters, heated seats, heated rear window, headlights – it all adds up to more energy and a bigger fuel bill. Only heat up as much as you need to.

Pump up your tyres

Aside from keeping you safe, the state of your tyres can also affect how much fuel you use. Make sure they’re pumped up to the correct pressures to get the best out of your car.

Leasing firm launches monthly car subscription service

Leasing firm launches new subscription service

A leading car leasing company has launched a new subscription service. Intelligent Car Leasing says it’s the first broker to offer the facility.

The firm has teamed up with Wagonex to offer contract lengths of between six months and two years. Everything except fuel is included in a fixed monthly fee.

Prices start from £311 a month for a Citroen C3, based on a 24-month subscription. Alternatively, the same price gets you a Citroen C1 for six months.

At the opposite end of the scale, a DS 7 Crossback costs £780 a month on a two-year subscription. Electric cars are also included: a Nissan Leaf costs £500 on a one-year subscription.

Insurance, servicing, maintenance, tax and roadside maintenance are included in the price, although delivery costs vary according to location and the choice of car.

‘Now is the time’

New site to simplify car-buying

Marc Murphy, head of sales and marketing at Intelligent Car Leasing, said: “Increasingly, consumers want new ways to access the services they desire, whether it’s for films, clothes or for online deliveries.

“We believe now is the time for consumers to switch on to the benefits of car subscriptions, where all services are wrapped into the one package, and there’s the flexibility to choose different cars when they want and to stop the subscription at their convenience. It really is the next step forward in car usership models.”

Joakim Thomter, head of platform at Wagonex, added: “Flexibility is the essence of car subscriptions, which allow the consumer to drive a car without any long-term financial commitment.

“We are an established player in the subscription market, and partner with a number of recognised automotive brands. This now includes Intelligent Car Leasing in the broker space.”

Car subscription forms part of a varied blend of mobility services in which Personal Contract Hire (PCH) is helping to fuel the move away from the traditional car ownership model. According to British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) figures, PCH accounted for 64 percent of all new contracts written in 2018.

Sorry, you can’t have the Lego Top Gear rally car for Christmas

Lego Top Gear Rally Car

Lego is making its LA Auto Show debut with the launch of a new Top Gear rally car.

The Lego Technic App Controlled Top Gear Rally Car – to use its full and rather long name – is the first set launched in partnership by the two global brands. It costs £124.99.

But there’s bad news if you had visions of racing it around the living room on Christmas morning: the rally car doesn’t go on sale until 26 December.

Still, at least that means the skirting boards and the cat are safe for another day. Controlling this after one too many Christmas gins could be a challenge.

Lego Technic Top Gear Rally Car

The Top Gear rally car is controlled via the Lego Technic Control+ smartphone app and contains functions such as steering, multi-touch control and gyro control.

A total of 463 Lego elements have been used, including a large motor, an extra large motor and a Bluetooth controlled smart hub. Batteries (and the Stig) aren’t included.

Lego Technic sets are designed for more experienced builders – finishing the Top Gear car won’t be a five-minute job. Lego says it’s suitable for ages 9+, but we wonder how many mums and dads will disappear to the shed for a few hours on Boxing Day. 

Lego Top Gear Car

Jason Easy, head of licensing UK at BBC Studios, said: “It’s  exciting to have collaborated with Lego Technic on this and it’s a very natural fit for the Top Gear brand.  The Lego Technic Top Gear Rally Car is the result of several months hard work from the Lego and BBC Studios teams and we can’t wait to see it on the  shelves soon.”

Niels Henrik Horsted, marketing director for Lego Technic added: “We are really excited to finally reveal the app-controlled Lego Technic Top Gear Rally Car.

“The car offers a challenging build for ages 9+ who are into authentic play and intrigued about how things work. The Control+ app gives an extensive play experience with several different play modes and exciting challenges.”

Would you pay £385,000 for a 20-year-old Toyota Supra?

Toyota Supra £385,000

The new Toyota Supra has been out long enough that even the BMW jokes in the YouTube comments have died down a bit. Still the question of whether it’s a worthy successor to the much-loved Mk4 burns on.

Regardless, you could find yourself paying a lot more for a 20 year-old example in showroom condition than a new one. This one in America is up for the equivalent of £385,000.

That means this A80 is around six-and-a-half times the price of a brand new A90 Supra. For that, you could have a Ferrari 812 Superfast and a decent amount of change. So what makes this Supra so special?

Toyota Supra £385,000

Well, according to the dealer that’s selling it, the car’s originality and colour help support its price. Originality isn’t ‘£385,000’ difficult, but it does have VIN-matching panels all round.

And the colour? Supposedly, just 24 Supra Turbos came in this smokey shade of silver, called ‘Quicksilver’, and it’s been verified as the original paint.

Also adding to that rareness and desirability is the fact that it has the golden combination to Supra fans: a manual gearbox, turbocharged engine and T-top roof. 

Toyota Supra £385,000

What isn’t very ‘£385,000’ – yes, we keep saying it – is the fact that it’s done 37,000 miles. Yes, that’s low, but it’s no garage queen with dust on the valve stems and mileage in single figures. This thing has seen use.

Then we swing back to that originality question, because for this money, it has to be pixel perfect, and this Supra technically isn’t. Its lip at the front has been finished in Quicksilver, as has the valve cover. Tasteful, but not original spec.

So is it worth the money? To the right buyer, perhaps. Should that buyer expect a return on his or her investment? That we are considerably less sure on.

The road rules you didn’t realise you were breaking

The rules you didn't know you were breaking behind the wheel

We usually know when we’ve broken the rules of the road. Speeding, undertaking, running red lights – catch the gaze of someone committing these offences and you’ll see it in their eyes: they know what they’re doing.

Some road rules, however, are more obscure. Indeed, you might not even know you’re breaking them.

Click4reg surveyed 2,192 British drivers, to see how clued-up they were on the more obscure rules of the road.

The most-broken rulesThe rules you didn't know you were breaking behind the wheel

In terms of the most-broken rules you might not know about, using your phone to pay at a drive-thru leads by far.

A whopping 78 percent of respondents said they’d done this.

The rules you didn't know you were breaking behind the wheel

In second is swearing and aggressive behaviour, with 67 percent admitting to it. And 41 percent said they were aware it’s an offence, too.

Stationary beeping (63 percent), driving over 30mph on a street-lit road (61 percent) and fitting a sat nav to the wrong part of the windscreen (55 percent) follow in third fourth and fifth places. Only 30, 37, and 15 percent of respondents respectively actually knew these were offences. Concerning in the case of urban speeding…

The least-known rulesThe rules you didn't know you were breaking behind the wheel

Just 13 percent of respondents said they knew it was an offence to sleep in their car while drunk, while 33 percent said they’d done it.

Only 18 percent of motorists thought splashing pedestrians with puddles was an offence – and a mean-spirited 37 percent were guilty of doing so.

The final least-known offence is leaving a car idling. Nearly half (44 percent) of drivers admitted to this.

Where can you see the Coca-Cola Christmas lorry?

Coca-Cola Christmas lorry

It’s official: the holidays are coming. The chances are, your children will be wondering when the Coca-Cola Christmas lorry will be rolling into a town near you.

The tour got underway last week, with the big red lorry visiting Edinburgh and Cardiff.

This week, the Coca-Cola lorry will be in Taunton, Newcastle upon Tyne and Bristol, before continuing on its nationwide tour.

Not everyone is pleased to see the Christmas truck. Last week, a waste company slammed the Coca-Cola lorry, labelling it “completely unnecessary”.

It’s the ninth year of the Christmas tour, with the lorry making 19 stops in 2019. The stops will be open from 12pm until 7pm unless stated otherwise.

Coca-Cola Christmas lorry tour locations 2019

Ban the Coca-Cola Christmas truck

Edinburgh: Friday 15 and Saturday 16 November

  • 32 Newcraighall Rd, Edinburgh, EH15 3RD

Cardiff: Friday 15 and Saturday 16 November

  • 49 The Hayes, St David’s Dewi Sant, Cardiff, CF10 2ER (Open 11:30am to 6:30pm)

Taunton: Tuesday 19 November

  • Asda, Creechbarrow Rd, Taunton, TA1 2AN

Newcastle upon Tyne: Thursday 21 November

  • Asda Boldon, North Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne, Boldon Colliery NE35 9AR

Leeds: Friday 22 and Saturday 23 November

  • White Rose Shopping Centre, Leeds, LS11 8LU

Bristol: Friday 22 and Saturday 23 November

  • Cribbs Causeway, Bristol, BS34 5DG

Leeds: Wednesday 27 November

  • Asda, Pudsey, Leeds, LS28 6AR

Portsmouth: Friday 29 and Saturday 30 November

  • Whiteley Shopping Centre, Portsmouth, PO15 7PD

Gainsborough: Friday 29 and Saturday 30 November

  • Marshalls Yard, Gainsborough, DN21 2NA

Manchester: Monday 2 December

  • Asda Eastlands, Manchester, M11 4BD

London: Monday 3 December

  • Asda, Leyton Mill, London, E10 5NH

Watford: Wednesday 4 December

  • Asda, Watford, London, WD24 7RT

Manchester: Friday 6 and Saturday 7 December

  • Intu Trafford Centre, Manchester, M17 8AA

Dudley: Friday 6 and Saturday 7 December

  • Intu Merry Hill, Dudley, DY5 1QX

London: Tuesday 10 December

  • Sainsbury’s Beckton, London, E6 6JF

Basildon: Wednesday 11 December

  • Sainsbury’s Cricketers Retail Park, Cricketers Way, Basildon, SS13 1SA

Liverpool: Friday 13 and Saturday 14 December

  • Events Square, Cheshire Oaks, Liverpool, CH65 9JJ

London: Friday 13 and Saturday 14 December

  • Intu Lakeside, London, RM20 2ZP

London: Sunday 15 December

  • 02 Arena, London, SE10 0DX

Dates and times are subject to change, so visit the Coca-Cola website for more information.


Cupra builds banked racetrack on Paris rooftop

Cupra Ateca Paris rooftop racetrack

Cupra, the new performance offshoot of Seat, has built a racetrack on top of a building in Paris. Because what else do you do with leftover budget at the end of the year?

The track stands 27 metres above the Parisian streets, and is within sight of the famous Eiffel Tower.

It’s difficult not to draw comparisons to Fiat’s iconic old Lingotto test track, built on top of the factory, even down to the 21-degree banked incline on the final turn.

Cupra Ateca Paris rooftop racetrack

To put its Ateca SUV to the test on this circuit, Cupra called upon World Touring Car Cup racer Mikel Azcona. Switching from the Cupra TCR car to the Ateca, the 23-year-old claimed to be impressed with the car’s performance at the newly-built circuit. 

“What impressed me the most is the aggressiveness it displays and its power output, in addition to how agile it is in the curves,” the racer said. 

The incline allowed Azcona to reach 74mph. Brave, at such a height, on a track built in just six days. 

Cupra Ateca Paris rooftop racetrack

The Cupra Ateca has a 300hp four-cylinder turbocharged engine and can reach 62mph in 4.9 seconds.

To keep the SUV’s higher centre of gravity in check, Aczona had six driving modes to choose from. 

“I’ve been to racetracks all over the world, but never on one like this with such spectacular views,” he remarked afterwards.

World’s Fastest Tractor: Guy Martin on his JCB world record

Guy Martin JCB World's Fastest Tractor

Back in the summer, Guy Martin set a record for the world’s fastest tractor. Driving a specially prepared JCB Fastrac, he reached 103.6mph. Impressive though this achievement was, however, both JCB boss Lord Bamford and seasoned racer Martin wanted more. 

At the wheel of Fastrac Two, Martin then secured a Guinness-verified two-way average record of 135.191mph. His VMax at the Elvington airfield, where Richard Hammond had his rocket car crash, was a scarcely believable 153.771mph.

The story played out in full last night (Sunday 17 November) on Channel 4’s Guy Martin: The World’s Fastest Tractor. As Martin says, “It’s still a working tractor, so could have gone straight into the nearest field to put in a shift”. We met with Guy in London for a tour of his monstrous machine.

From arable to airfield

Guy Martin JCB World's Fastest Tractor

JCB’s head of the project, Alex Skittery, says retaining the Fastrac fundamentals was the biggest challenge. Around 50 percent of the vehicle is still a ‘normal’ Fastrac: a tractor that ordinarily tops out at 43mph. But detail changes such as the bonnet – thinner than standard, and made of aluminium – help boost speed. 

The cab remains brick-shaped, but the Fastrac has been slimmed-down and lowered to reduce frontal area. There’s also an air dam that could make a McLaren Senna envious. It reduces turbulence around the front wheels and guides air to the side-mounted radiators. Part of the underfloor is flat, and you’ll spot a diffuser out-back. 

The wheels are JCB-spec, albeit balanced for higher rotation speeds. Even the tyres come from the same supplier, BKT, though the knobbly treads have been shaved down. They won’t be scooping sods in a field, but they’re by no means slicks.

The clutch and differential are much like the ones you’ll find on a normal JCB, even though both have to handle more than 1,000hp for repeated runway blasts. So it’s unmistakably a Fastrac, just a couple of tonnes lighter…

The 1,000hp tractor

Guy Martin JCB World's Fastest Tractor

The heart of a 150mph tractor is fundamentally the same 7.2-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel that JCB fits to many of its machines.

“More air and more fuel equals more horsepower, and that’s what we needed,” said Skittery. To that end, with the help of Ricardo, a much larger turbocharger, electric supercharger and more powerful injectors were fitted.

More power means more heat, however. So to cool the air that makes its way through the large inlet trumpets and turbo, there’s an enormous new charge air cooler and ice box. Yes, an on-board container of ice, with 25kg used per run. The team reckons Tesco in York ran out of ice that day. 

Guy Martin JCB World's Fastest Tractor

Guy Martin explained the extent of the cooling: “We were winding five bar of boost into it. The air leaving the turbo was 250 degrees, and getting cooled to 30 as it left the charge cooler. Just mega.”

What about the heat at the end of the combustion cycle? To deal with temperatures of nearly 900 degrees centigrade, the exhaust manifold is made of inconel – F1-grade stuff. 

Taking a tractor to 153.77mph

Guy Martin JCB World's Fastest Tractor

Think of an unlikely world speed record and Guy Martin would love to give it a go. To look at his high-octane output over the years, you suspect he’d be first in line if Andy Green had a sick day for cracking 1,000mph in the Bloodhound LSR.

Guy’s a veteran of the Isle of Man TT, soapbox speed records, sled speed records, and the Nurburgring record for the fastest Ford Transit. He’s got the specific experience required, too, having headed to this runway previously to hit 272mph on his motorbike.

Guy Martin JCB World's Fastest Tractor

So what was it like to take a JCB to speeds a tractor had never been before?

“It were a right interesting job,” says Martin, in his inimitable style. His excitement and enthusiasm are that of a 17 year-old who’s just successfully completed his first handbrake turn.

“It was all about trying to do 150mph. We went with Mk1, and it’s great that we did 103mph. Then the boss said we needed to do 150mph. I’m normally an optimist, but also a realist. I said there’s no way we’re getting to 150mph. Anyway, what have we done? 150mph.

“I’m Harry Horsepower”

Guy Martin JCB World's Fastest Tractor

“That last run was a bit of a lap of the gods. We were pressing the Ricardo boys for more power and we were worried we’d need a wheelbarrow for picking up bits of engine. I think the phrase we used for that last run was “sh*t or bust” to get past 149mph.

“It was dead stable. You could sit and have a fag, not that I smoke. The first few runs I was hanging on for grim death, but the more I did, the more I got used to it. The hardest bit was the gearchanges. You had to get it exact, to not shift too late and get into the flat-spot, but not shift too early and lose boost and momentum.”

Guy Martin JCB World's Fastest Tractor

“We used every bit of the runway, backed up to the grass, and set a flag out for braking. Still, we nearly ended up on the grass at the end.”

Martin was a part of the team that prepared the Fastrac. His insights should have proven invaluable. In spite of his in-depth engineering acumen, he had a very simple request.

“They didn’t get a lot from me about handling or how yellow me overalls were. I just wanted more horsepower. I’m Harry Horsepower.”

JCB has been setting speed records for years. In 2006, its diesel-powered Dieselmax streamliner set a new diesel record of 350mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats, which still stands. 

Lord Bamford, JCB chairman, is an avid car enthusiast, collector and racer, with classics in his collection such as a Ferrari 250 GTO that regularly sees action at Goodwood.

Guy Martin JCB World's Fastest Tractor

It’s also worth noting that the Fastrac was already the world’s fastest tractor in showroom spec. You won’t see a 1,000hp+ Fastrac in dealers any time soon, though.

It seems only right, then, that JCB should be the company to engineer such an unlikely record – and that Guy Martin should be the pilot to get it there. 

As for going faster? Martin reckons it was petering out at that 153mph mark, even though there was another gear to go. Perhaps Harry Horsepower will get his wish for an even quicker run soon.

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Mazda 3

Woman’s own: Mazda 3 named best car for girls

Mazda 3

The Mazda 3 has been named 2019 Women’s World Car of the Year by a panel of female judges.

Established in 2010, Women’s World Car of the Year is based on the criteria women use when buying a car. Safety, value for money, aesthetic appearance, storage space, child–friendliness, ease-of-driving, colour, sex appeal and environmental footprint are the relevant categories.

The all-female jury is made up of 41 jurors from 31 different countries, including Sue Baker and Maggie Barry of the United Kingdom. The jury has a collective audience of around 260 million people.

Based on the female-friendly criteria, the Mazda 3 hatchback and saloon took top honours, while also securing the Women’s World Family Car of the Year award.

In the UK, the Mazda 3 is available from £20,595 in hatchback form and £23,555 as a four-door saloon. Standard spec includes LED headlights, keyless entry, air conditioning, rear parking sensors, alloy wheels, an 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Right now, Mazda is offering a £1,250 deposit contribution on Mazda 3 models purchased on a Personal Contract Plan (PCP). Monthly payments start from £219 a month.

Mazda is getting rid of touch screens

The following cars took category honours at the 2019 Women’s World Car of the Year, which was held at the Dubai International Motor Show.

  • Urban car: Kia XCeed
  • Family car: Mazda 3
  • Green car: Kia Soul EV
  • Luxury car: BMW 8 Series
  • Performance car: Porsche 911
  • SUV/crossover: Range Rover Evoque

‘A world first’

New Zealand’s Sandy Myhre, Woman’s World Car of the Year CEO, said: “Creating time in a motor show specifically for women is a world first. Women’s World Car of the Year has never announced their results live from a motor show so that’s innovative and to be able to interview women driving instructors from Saudi Arabia live on the stage is pioneering. The fact all these things are happening in Dubai in the UAE is highly symbolic.”

Previous Women’s World Car of the Year winners include the Volvo XC40 (2018), Hyundai Ioniq (2017), Jaguar F-Pace (2016) and Volvo XC90 (2015).