SMMT Test Day

SMMT Test Day 2015: live blog

SMMT Test DayMotoring Research is out in force at SMMT Test Day 2015. Unofficially known as THE day of the year for motoring journalists.

Follow us LIVE as @richardaucock, @mr_andrewbrady, @majorgav, @engagesportmode and @timpitt all report from a hopefully sunny Millbrook. When we can get signal that is.

Any request on what we should be driving? Fire them over via the comments below and we’ll see what we can do!

1425h: Another MR trend – driving Porsches

1424h: Grubwatch

1421h: 21 May 2015 – the day Andrew became a Porsche driver!

1238h: Citroen C4 Cactus revelation

1236h: More retro riding…

1233h: engagesportmode! 

1225h: Tim’s doing more retro rides

1121h: John is a man on a misson

1117h: Hyundai’s surprisingly rapid new i40

1116h: Team MR Allegro challenge continues

1115h: Tim packs the brave pills


I heard rumours there were donuts over at Audi. It seems there indeed are.

1100h: The things you find out

So I’ve driven one car thus far, and spent the rest of the time chatting. Over at Volvo, I discovered that the sensors used for Pilot Assist auto-drive technology – the ones that require you to, for legal reasons, hold the steering wheel – don’t actually have hand-sensing sensors. Instead they sense the resistance through the steering column from you holding it. Yes, geeky, but interesting to me.

Three windscreen washer jets on the Volvo V40, we noticed – why? Because it’s so aerodynamic, an additional jet was required to supply enough windscreen-cleaning water before the aero swept it away. Oh, and Volvo’s got all its new Drive-E engines here: T2, T3, T4, T-whatever, they’re all 2.0-litre four-pots. Badges are immaterial these days.

Interesting nugget over on Newspress too – did you know Honda and Rover engines rotate in the opposite direction? Caused all sorts of challenges with the Rover 600 project, that: hammers banging out engine bays were involved. These were pre-CAD days…

0922: Early #result!

Not that Andrew cares about missing GT-Rs… bingo!

0918h: Rare disappointment

What, a disappointment, at SMMT Test Day? Yup – Nissan GT-R has become Qashqai. Not the stop press any of us wanted to see…

0907h: Underway

So this is the bit of the live blog that won’t be so live: we’re all briefed up and are dashing out to carry out the first test drives. After, of course, seeing the standard safety briefing and watching people literally get finger-waved by flag-wielding marshalls.

I’m off out in a bit but wanted to record some impressive stats from the SMMT first: the UK automotive industry’s £64 billion contribution to the UK economy for one, and the fact 750,000 jobs are dependent on the sector. 160,000 people are employed in vehicle manufacturing alone – and to think some say we don’t make car  anymore..

Indeed, in a few years, we may be making more cars here than ever – we built 1.6 million cars last year and are on track to break 1972’s record total of 1.9 million in 2017 or 2018. “Automotive is a significant part of rebalancing the UK economy” said SMMT chief exec Mike Hawes. And he’s armed with the stats to prove it.

Oh, and for an idea of how big SMMT Test Day is, Hawes also revealed there are 300 motoring journalists registered to attend today, to play with test cars on 30 miles of test track within Millbrook’s 70 acres. Game on.


Breaking news: there’s talk of one of the stands having BURGERS today! This desperately needs to be verified asap.

0743h: Hashtag

Hashtag for today? Seems to be #SMMT. Nice ‘n simple.

0735h: Early doors

Richard Aucock reporting… So I’m sat in Little Chef 10mins from Millbrook, waking up once again after my regular drive through the world’s longest section of M1 roadworks. It wasn’t all bad though: today, I’m in the Mk2 Golf GTI, making its SMMT Test Day debut and looking forward to meeting its 2015 cousin.

Things I’m looking forward to? The Newspress Allegro, of course! Catching up with everyone. A Team MR photoshoot (we’re all there today). Sunny weather. The Hill Route. Simply being able to stand in a massive car park and know that I can drive almost anything there.

As always, it’s going to be awesome. Best get this coffee drunk…

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