Britain’s top 10 best-selling used cars

Britain’s used car market hit a record high in 2016, with 8.2 million cars sold – an increase of 7.3%. Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show superminis are the best-selling type of used car, although the popularity of SUVs rose fastest. We’ll count down the top 10 most popular second-hand cars in the UK last year. Is yours among them?

10. Peugeot 206

The 1998-2006 Peugeot 206 seems ancient now, but it’s still among the UK’s top used sellers. A total of 126,176 changed hands last year.

The 206 was available as a three- or five-door hatchback, SW estate or CC convertible – the latter with a folding hard-top roof.


BMW launched MINI as a standalone marque in 2001, and it has been an unqualified success. Brits bought 143,066 used MINIs in 2016.

As well as emulating the original Mini’s styling, BMW also resurrected the ‘Cooper’ name – first used on sporty Minis in 1961. Today, the John Cooper Works is the flagship MINI.

8. Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen’s oh-so-sensible Polo is the UK’s eighth most popular used car. We bought 154,855 of them last year.

A new Polo will arrive at the end of 2017, just months after its arch-rival: the new Ford Fiesta. Volkswagen’s focus for the next-gen Polo is said to be improving quality and interior space.

7. Renault Clio

Trendy colours, touchscreen tech and affordable prices put the Renault Clio seventh in the used car chart. A total of 178,684 Brits bought one.

The Clio was first launched in 1990 and is now into its fourth generation. Memorable hot versions have included the Williams, 182 Trophy and mid-engined Clio V6.

6. BMW 3 Series

It’s an oft-quoted statistic that the 3 Series now outsells the Ford Mondeo. That’s also the case in the used market, with 211,656 examples of the BMW shifted in 2016.

One secret to the Three’s success is the sheer breadth of its range, from 330e plug-in hybrid to M3 super saloon. There really is a 3 Series to suit everyone.

5. Volkswagen Golf

‘If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen’ said the ads back in the 1980s. And car buyers clearly agree, with 262,623 used Golfs snapped up.

If you prefer to buy new, Volkswagen has just launched the facelifted Mk7.5 Golf – including an updated GTI. And that means some tempting deals on the outgoing car.

4. Vauxhall Astra

For the first time in recent memory, the Astra is a genuine rival for the Focus and Golf, with several five-star reviews to its name. Used Astras – including the GTC seen here – are very popular too: 298,540 were sold.

There are hundreds of second-hand Astras in the classifieds, so you can afford to be fussy. Consider the practical estate if you want a value-priced load lugger.

3. Vauxhall Corsa

The Corsa traditionally plays second-fiddle to the Ford Fiesta in the new car charts, and the same is true for buying used. It finishes third, with 352,899 sold.

We can’t get excited about the Corsa, but it’s cheap to buy and parts are plentiful. The 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol is our pick of the current engines.

2. Ford Focus

The Focus blew the ageing Escort out of the water when first launched in 1998, and was the UK’s best-selling car for the following decade. It remains the second most popular used car: 374,590 found new owners in 2016.

The Focus has always been enjoyable to drive, although it lacks the upmarket feel of the (admittedly costlier) VW Golf. A 1.0 Ecoboost petrol Zetec would be our choice.

1. Ford Fiesta

So, to the UK’s most popular used car – and it’s no surprise to discover the Ford Fiesta taking the top spot. This evergreen supermini was the choice of 381,519 buyers last year.

If the Focus is good to drive, the Fiesta is brilliant. And the ST hot hatch is simply sublime. Ford has set the bar high for the next Fiesta, which arrives this summer.

Revealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Revealed: the world’s best selling cars of 2016

Revealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016What were the world’s best-selling cars of 2016? Thanks to Focus2Move, we have the answers, as we reveal the most popular cars across the globe.

The F2M Global Mobility Database tracks over 3,500 vehicles sold in more than 1,500 countries, and includes light commercial vehicles. Here are the cars that made the top 10, presented in reverse order.

10. Toyota CamryRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 660,868

Toyota unveiled a new 2018 Camry at the Detroit Auto Show, and on this showing it can’t come soon enough. The Camry slides from 6th to 10th, with registrations down 11.5%.

9. Honda CivicRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 668,707

Compare and contrast with the admittedly smaller Honda Civic, which has seen an 18.7% increase in registrations, jumping from 17th to 9th in the process. We’ve driven the new Civic and are pleased to report it’s rather good.

8. Volkswagen PoloRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 704,062

There’s a new Volkswagen Polo on the way. In the meantime, registrations of the existing model are holding steady at just over 700,000 units.

7. Toyota RAV4Revealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 724,198

The Toyota RAV4 is the one member of the top 10 that always surprises us. It’s not that it’s a bad car, it’s just that it’s not exactly memorable either. Still, 724,198 people can’t be wrong. Can they?

6. Ford FocusRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 734,935

The Ford Focus recorded the biggest drop in the top 10, with registrations down 11.7% compared to the same period in 2015.

5. Honda CR-VRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 752,463

No such problems for the Honda CR-V, which sees a 5.7% increase compared to 2015, breaking into the top five in the process.

4. Hyundai ElantraRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 788,081

The Hyundai Elantra climbs one place, with registrations up 3.9%.

3. Volkswagen GolfRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 991,414

Meanwhile, the Volkswagen drops from second to third. A sign that people are waiting for the new Mk7.5 Golf? We’re driving the new Golf this week, so stay tuned for our initial thoughts.

2. Ford F-SeriesRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 993,779

For a vehicle that is sold predominantly in North America, this is quite a remarkable result. The Ford F-Series remains the best-loved pick-up and the second best-selling car in the world.

1. Toyota CorollaRevealed: the world’s best-selling cars of 2016

Registrations: 1,316,383

Which leaves the Toyota Corolla to cement its crown as the world’s most popular car. Registrations are down 3.6%, but Toyota is still able to shift 1.3 million units.

Figures courtesy of the F2M Global Mobility Database.

Revealed: Britain’s favourite car brands in 2016

Revealed: Britain’s favourite car brands in 2016

Revealed: Britain’s favourite car brands in 2016

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has revealed its official car sales figures for 2016 – and they make for fascinating reading. Can you guess the brand that has more than doubled sales in 2016, for example? What about the one that has taken a 19% nosedive? Read on to discover which car companies are starting 2017 in a good mood…

Abarth: UP 44.6%

It’s been a storming 2016 for Fiat’s performance brand, which has seen a 44.6% sales increase versus 2015 – up to 3,966 cars. The new Abarth 124 Spider sports car, which shares its platform with the Mazda MX-5, has undoubtedly helped.

Alfa Romeo: DOWN 3.7%

The critically-acclaimed new Giulia saloon should boost Alfa sales over the coming year. Unfortunately, it arrived too late to make an impact in 2016, and the number of Alfa Romeos sold was down 3.7% to 4,881 cars.

Aston Martin: DOWN 4.5%

This independent British manufacturer shifted 906 cars in 2016, a 4.5% decrease compared with the year before. However, the promised Aston SUV – to be built in Wales – should see sales ramp up significantly in future.

Audi: UP 6.4%

Audi: UP 6.4%

Audi’s range has expanded to the point that being one of its salespeople requires Mastermind-levels of product knowledge. With so many cars to choose from, including the new Q2 small SUV, it’s no surprise that sales are up. Audi sold 177,304 cars in total.

Bentley: UP 41.3%

If in doubt, build a new 4×4. That’s the strategy most upmarket carmakers have taken in recent years, and Bentley is a case in point. The new Bentayga helped it to a 41.3% leap in just one year, with 1,948 cars sold in 2016.

BMW: UP 9.1%

The 3 Series may be showing its age, but that hasn’t stopped BMW recording a respectable 9.1% increase in 2016. In fact, it edges ahead of its arch-rival overall, with 182,593 BMWs sold versus 177,304 Audis. Mercedes-Benz follows with 169,828 sales.

Chrysler: DOWN 100%

No surprises here, Chrysler has quit the UK (tail firmly between its legs), so it sold zero new cars in 2016, compared with 167 in 2015. Do we miss it? Not really.

Citroen: DOWN 21.3%

Citroen: DOWN 21.3%

Citroen’s figures included DS models until May 2015, but the two badges are now considered separately – hence Citroen’s apparent 21.3% sales drop – down to 62,991 cars. In reality, the marque has it strongest range of cars in years, with a new C3 leading the charge into 2017.

Dacia: UP 1.0%

There was much scepticism from motoring journalists when Renault’s back-to-basics budget brand arrived in the UK. However, Dacia has found its niche and sales are remaining steady. An impressive 26,499 new Dacias found owners last year.

DS: UP 84.6%

As noted previously, DS is now counted separately from Citroen, meaning it appears to have vastly increased its volumes last year. As ever, the bulk of sales come from the DS 3 supermini, but plenty of new models are promised. A total of 15,898 cars were sold.

Fiat: DOWN 5.7%

A three-star Euro NCAP safety rating for the new Tipo won’t have helped Fiat’s cause in 2016. Nor, frankly, does a 500 city car that has only been mildly updated since 2007. The Italian carmaker’s showrooms were slightly quieter this year, with 60,581 cars sold.

Ford: DOWN 5.1%

Ford: DOWN 5.1%

Ford remains the UK’s favourite car brand, with an 11.8% market share – much of that from the Fiesta and Focus alone. Nonetheless, its sales were down to 318,316 cars in 2016. Perhaps the 2017 Fiesta will revive them?

Honda: UP 10.7%

Honda launched a lot of new cars in 2015 and it has reaped the benefits in 2016. Sales figures are up 10.7% and the new HR-V crossover is proving particularly popular. In all, 59,106 Hondas found new homes.

Hyundai: UP 4.9%

Hyundai’s range of cars is getting more interesting. The latest i30 (pictured) is stylish and capable, while the Ioniq is available in all-electric, hybrid or plug-in hybrid guises – a first. The latest Tucson is a credible Qashqai-rival, too. Sales were up to 92,419 cars in 2016.

Infiniti: UP 141.9%

Wow. Infiniti has shown the biggest sales gain in 2016, up a whopping 141.9%. However, don’t forget that Nissan’s luxury brand started from a pretty low base: 1,195 cars in 2015. Last year, it managed 2,891 sales, helped by the new Sunderland-built Q30 crossover.

Jaguar: UP 45.4%

Jaguar: UP 45.4%

Jaguar sales are up… can you guess why? Yes, it’s built an SUV – the first in its history, in fact. The F-Pace, along with the XE saloon, boosted Jag volumes by 45.4% in 2016. It shifted 34,822 cars in total.

Jeep: UP 30.5%

A 30.5% boost is good news for Jeep – up to 14,090 cars in 2016 – even if the increase comes almost entirely from the Renegade. This Fiat 500X-based small SUV looks the part, and has some off-road ability. It’s pretty forgettable to drive, though.

Kia: UP 13.9%

The Kia Sportage was the 12th best-selling car in the UK last year, which helped its maker to a 13.9% sales increase overall. A total of 89,364 new Kias found owners in 2016. Will the arrival of the updated Picanto city car (pictured) boost that further this year?

Land Rover: UP 19.5%

Land Rover attributes some of its success to the Range Rover Evoque, which was up 31% last year (thanks to the new convertible, perhaps?). The British brand recorded a 19.5% increase overall, lifting its sales to 79,534 cars.

Lexus: UP 4.9%

Lexus: UP 4.9%

The news isn’t so positive for its parent company, Toyota, but Lexus starts 2017 with a smile – and sales up 4.9%. Nonetheless, with 13,915 cars registered, the Japanese marque has a long way to go before it troubles Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

Lotus: DOWN 9.6%

There’s a lot of love for Lotus in the MR office, but the Great British Public is more sceptical. Sales of these superb sports cars were down 9.6% in 2016, with just 339 registered – less than one car a day.

Maserati: UP 0.1%

An entry-level Ghibli diesel and the new Levante SUV haven’t helped Maserati meet its targets. Sales remained stagnant, with just a single additional car sold in 2016 versus the year before – 1,435 cars in total.

Mazda: UP 2.4%

We reckon Mazda has one of best ranges of cars on sale – from the 2 supermini to the MX-5 roadster – so it’s gratifying to see sales up 2.4% in 2016. It sold 46,609 cars in total.

Mercedes-Benz: UP 16.9%

Mercedes-Benz: UP 16.9%

The fifth-generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class went on sale in 2016, and that – along with a very successful C-Class – will have helped contribute to Mercedes-Benz registrations increasing by almost 17%.

MG: UP 33%

MG sales shot up a third last year with the launch of its GS crossover. But when sales in 2015 were a smidgen more than 3,000, that’s not a hard figure to improve on. The company’s given up the pretence of producing cars in the UK at the historic Longbridge site, which might harm its chances of improving sales in 2017. That and the fact its cars fall short compared to rivals.

MINI: UP 8.5%

The fashionable MINI brand is showing no sign of losing its appeal any time soon – with sales up 8.5% to nearly 69,000 cars in 2016. The MINI Hatch was the eighth most popular car last year, and the fifth most popular in December.

Mitsubishi: DOWN 19.6%

The danger of a small model line-up is reflected in Mitsubishi’s sales, which were down a hefty 19.6% in 2016. The once-popular Outlander PHEV has been attracted a deal of bad publicity, with many complaining about poor fuel consumption and short electric range. Incentives for plug-in hybrids are being reduced as well, while other Mitsubishi models such as the Mirage and Shogun just don’t stack up against rivals.

Nissan: DOWN 0.9%

Nissan: DOWN 0.9%

Despite its Qashqai being one of the top 10 best-selling cars in 2016, Nissan sales saw a small decrease in 2016. We saw its new Micra at last year’s Paris Motor Show, and first impressions are incredibly positive – it looks to be a huge improvement over the outgoing model. If it can attract even a slice of the Fiesta’s sales, it’ll be a good result for Nissan.

Peugeot: DOWN 5.5%

Sales were down 5.5% to 98,529 cars for Peugeot in the UK last year, but it’ll be pinning its hopes on the new 2008 and 3008 SUVs for 2017. The French manufacturer has taken the radical step of replacing its frumpy MPVs with desirable crossovers – we’ll see if that pays off.

Porsche: UP 7.6%

In the year that Britain voted for Brexit, we also bought more Porsches than the year before. That’s despite controversially giving the Cayman and Boxster turbo power – while we continue to buy the Macan by the bucketload. A total of 13,097 Porsches were sold.

Renault: UP 12.5%

It’s been a good year for Renault in the UK (85,102 cars sold), and that success is likely to continue following the launch of its desirable new Scenic people carrier (yes, we did call an MPV ‘desirable’). The Scenic will sit alongside the popular Captur and Kadjar crossover in Renault’s range.



It’s bad news for VW’s Spanish brand, with sales down a smidgen to 47,456 cars last year. Ageing models such as the Leon and Ibiza could explain the falling figures, but SEAT’s fortunes are likely to change in 2017. The new Ateca crossover is now on sale, while the Ibiza is due to be replaced in summer and the Leon is receiving a facelift.

Skoda: UP 7.6%

The days of pre-Volkswagen Skoda feel a long time ago now, with sales passing 80,000 in the UK last year. Models such as the Octavia represent excellent value for money, and Skodas are often available with tempting finance deals. Sales don’t seem to have been hit by the Dieselgate emissions scandal.

Smart: UP 42.2%

Smart is showing no sign of becoming last year’s fad, with sales up an impressive 42.2% in 2016. Tempting finance deals on its ForTwo two-seater combined with a general move towards smaller vehicles across the board help to explain Smart’s rise in popularity.

SsangYong: UP 32.9%

SsangYong isn’t a big player in the UK, but it does offer tough, low-cost 4x4s. It’s seen a rise in popularity in 2016 – up to 4,444 cars – no doubt helped by its affordable Tivoli crossover.

Subaru: UP 4.5%

Subaru: UP 4.5%

Subaru sales are up 4.5% compared to 2015, but we’re still not talking massive numbers, with 3,612 cars registered in 2016. Subaru remains a relatively niche manufacturer here in the UK, with models such as the Outback and Levorg. Most Subaru buyers hold onto their cars longer than those of other manufacturers – meaning Subaru’s slow sales could, in part, be down to the loyalty of its customers.

Suzuki: UP 10.8%

Plucky Suzuki has boosted UK sales by more than 10% in 2016. That success is likely down to the excellent value offered by models such as the Swift and Celerio, while the Vitara is a commendable crossover. We’re huge fans of the new Ignis – hopefully its quirky looks won’t put off UK buyers in 2017.

Toyota: DOWN 2.0%

Sales were down a little for Japanese firm Toyota in 2016 (96,746 cars sold). A reputation for reliability means it has a loyal customer base, and a trendy new crossover in the form of the C-HR could poach customers from other manufacturers this year.

Vauxhall: DOWN 7.0%

Bad news for GM’s British strand, registrations of new Vauxhalls were down 7.0% to 269,766 cars in 2016. This could partly be down to the ongoing fires issues plaguing models including the Corsa – which clung onto its position as the UK’s second best-selling car, despite seeing a fall in sales of nearly 15,000.

Volkswagen: DOWN 7.5%

Volkswagen: DOWN 7.5%

It’s been another turbulent year for Volkswagen, so it’s no surprise to see sales down 7.5%. But it could have been a lot worse – indeed, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes told us he thought it has been “a very good year for Volkswagen”. It’ll be interesting to see whether buyers start to forget about Dieselgate in 2017 – a year the brand has described as “very exciting”.

Volvo: UP 7.5%

With new models including the brilliant XC90, V90 and S90, it’s no surprise that 2016 was a very strong year for Volvo. It sold 46,696 cars last year – and a new XC60 expected in summer 2017 could boost sales figures even more.

Record new car sales in 2016 - but Brexit could hit industry hard in 2017

Record new car sales in 2016 – but Brexit could hit industry hard in 2017

Record new car sales in 2016 - but Brexit could hit industry hard in 2017

The number of new cars registered in the UK hit a record high last year, with nearly 2.7 million cars sold in 2016.

That’s according to figures released this morning by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) – but the organisation’s chief executive has warned the industry could be in for a ‘lumpy’ ride in 2017.

Speaking at a briefing held in London, Mike Hawes told Motoring Research that he expects the number of new cars registered this year to dip by 5-6% to around 2.55 million.

The trade body chief exec suggested that we might see a spike in new car registrations, particularly for premium cars, in March, as buyers attempt to ‘beat’ the new VED (car tax) bands being introduced in April.

Price rises expected

This is despite Theresa May aiming to trigger Article 50 that month – something which Hawes doesn’t think will in itself have a big effect on numbers. What will have an impact, he said, is price rises caused by the weakness of the pound – an effect the industry has already started to see.

Hawes said: “Ultimately, a fall in sterling is going to flow through to an increase in pricing, probably of the magnitude of 2-3% over the coming months.”

He explained that more than 85% of cars sold in the UK are imported, but customers might not be too concerned about minor price rises. The majority of private car sales involve finance in some way, so a small increase in a car’s list price would result in a tiny rise in monthly repayments.

Some manufacturers might try to soak up the price rise rather than pass it onto customers. This would, however, mean they have smaller margins to work with so might not be able to tempt buyers with impressive finance deals and promotions – something which is partly credited with the success of UK car sales in 2016.

Registrations of diesel cars slump

The figures released this morning also reveal that diesel cars appear to be out of favour, with diesels accounting for 47.7% of all new car registrations – a drop of 0.8% compared to their market share in 2015.  They still sold record numbers overall, however, and Hawes says he doesn’t think this decrease is necessarily down to Dieselgate.

“Supermini and mini [city] car segments are growing,” he said, “and these are usually powered by petrol engines. People are buying more smaller cars and that could explain why we’ve seen a drop in the popularity of diesel.”

He also credited investment in alternatively-fuelled cars and a growing interest in new technology for the drop in diesel car sales.

Revealed: the 8 most disappointing cars we’ve driven in 2016

Revealed: the most disappointing cars we’ve driven in 2016

Revealed: the 8 most disappointing cars we’ve driven in 2016

This has been a great year for cars: we’ve driven some five-star corkers, including the new Ford Focus RS, Bentley’s Bentayga SUV and the new Honda NSX. And while it’s true there aren’t many bad cars being made today, we have driven a few recently that have left us feeling a little flat.

Initials: RA (Richard Aucock), TP (Tim Pitt), AB (Andrew Brady), PB (Peter Burgess), GBS (Gavin Braithwaite-Smith).

Volkswagen Beetle Dune

Volkswagen Beetle Dune

Gold alloys only look good on Subaru Imprezas and the Renault Clio Williams. Fact. Unfortunately, the Beetle Dune also boasts gold paintwork, a gold dashboard and gold stitching on the seats. It’s the four-wheeled equivalent of Donald Trump’s private elevator.

Even if you like the Dune’s looks, it’s an oddly pointless special edition. The name pays homage to Baja dune buggies, yet it lacks four-wheel drive and ground clearance is only 10mm more than the standard Beetle. It’s also expensive: £24,910 could buy you a MINI John Cooper Works, one of the finest hot hatches on sale. Our fully-loaded test car clocks in at £31,225. We’d expect it to be genuinely gold-plated for that. TP

Kia Niro

Kia Niro

The Kia Niro is everything the 2016 motorist wants in a car. It’s an easy to drive, ultra-efficient (hybrid) crossover that doesn’t cost a fortune to buy and comes with a seven-year warranty. But boy, is it dull. They’ve tried to give it some eco quirks to make it interesting  such as an “energy flow meter” in place of a conventional rev counter  but in truth it’s little more than an appliance. How depressing. AB

Toyota C-HR

Toyota C-HR

We’ll skip over the angular styling of the Toyota C-HR. Design is subjective, after all, and there’s a trend among Japanese SUVs to appear, erm, challenging. What disappointed us about the C-HR are the poor powertrains on offer: a hybrid system using a horrible CVT gearbox or a weak 1.2-litre petrol. The interior is nothing special either, and it falls short on practicality. AB

2017 Toyota C-HR review: a trendy crossover from an untrendy company

Renault Megane

Renault Megane

Sorry, pretty Renault Megane. You’re not fooling me with your fancy Tesla-style touchscreens and swish configurable instruments. Because you’ve overlooked the big stuff, such as rear passenger space. Not-grim steering. Driving sparkle. And what’s with that massive patch of unswept windscreen the wipers don’t reach on the driver’s side? Unforgivable. This is a car that’s been developed 75% of the way there, then launched. Not good enough. No matter how pretty it is. RA

Renault Megane 1.6 TCE 205 GT Nav (2016) review

Nissan Pulsar

Nissan Pulsar

Oh, what a coincidence. The Nissan Pulsar is related to the Renault Megane. So it feels similarly not-quite-finished. Seriously, Nissan, you need to offer family hatchback buyers something better than this to stop them moving into the crossover segment. Or perhaps this lame effort is intentional, given how your Qashqai is a top-10 best-seller in the UK. You finished that one marvellously well. Pity you didn’t with this one. RA

Nissan Pulsar: Two-Minute Road Test

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

We spent six months with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. While it was great freshly-charged, that only lasted for around 20 miles before it needed plugging in again. This was more hassle than you might think: drivers of ‘full’ EVs don’t like plug-in hybrids using ‘their’ public charge points, and the company behind motorway chargers even had a dig at PHEV drivers when introducing new fees for customers. Politics around plugging in aside, the Outlander was a rather average car, with a disappointing interior and uninspiring dynamics. It’s practical, though. AB

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2016): long-term review

Hyundai i20 Active

Hyundai i20 Active

A lifestyle version of one of our favourite superminis  what’s not to like? Er, well, you can’t buy an i20 Active with the more powerful 120hp turbocharged three-cylinder engine. It feels a bit flat with just 100hp, and you’ll fork out an extra £1,200 for that body cladding and increased ride height. There’s no reason to buy one, and we’d much rather have the i20 Turbo Edition. AB

Hyundai i20 Active: Two-Minute Road Test

Infiniti Q30

Infiniti Q30

There was a lot of hype around the Infiniti Q30 after its reveal at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, but the Mercedes-Benz A-Class-based car just isn’t special enough to tempt buyers from an Audi A3 or BMW 1 Series. Despite fancy interior choices such as ‘Cafe Teak’ and ‘City Black’, it just isn’t the car to bring Infiniti into the mainstream. AB

Infiniti Q30: Two-Minute Road Test

The safest new cars of 2016

The safest new cars of 2016

The safest new cars of 2016In February 1997, the first Euro NCAP safety results were presented at a press conference. Since then, the five-star safety rating has continuously evolved as technology matures and new innovations are developed.

With this in mind, we’ve created a list of the cars awarded four- and five-star safety ratings in 2016. If you put safety first, these are the cars you need to consider.

Alfa Romeo Giulia: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

From the beginning of the year, Euro NCAP applied a ‘Dual Rating’ scheme, awarding a default rating based on standard safety equipment across the range. Carmakers are able to apply for a second rating, showing the additional safety provided by an optional pack.

Not that the Alfa Romeo Giulia needed to fall back on a second rating. Back in June, the Italian saloon was awarded the maximum five-star rating, with Euro NCAP noting that it comes with “superior standard safety equipment as standard throughout Europe”. Indeed, the Giulia scored an impressive 98% for adult occupant safety: the highest mark of 2016.

Audi Q2: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

Speaking about the ‘Dual Rating’ scheme, Euro NCAP secretary general, Michiel van Ratingen said: “It is good to see the dual rating scheme being used as it encourages vehicle manufacturers to develop advanced technologies for their vehicles, even if pricing of the product does not allow it to be standard across the range.”

The Audi Q2 received the maximum five-star rating for safety with standard equipment. Audi’s new compact crossover – likely to be one of the most popular cars of 2017 – scored an impressive 93% for adult occupant safety and 86% for child occupant safety.

Ford Edge: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

Euro NCAP dished out no fewer than 14 five-star ratings in 2016, with the Ford Edge one of the beneficiaries. Look beyond the five stars and you’ll discover that Ford’s large SUV received the highest mark for safety assist technologies.

Commenting on the Edge, Euro NCAP said: “Its standard-fit autonomous emergency braking system showed good performance in test of its functionality at highway speeds, with complete avoidance of the target in some of the test scenarios. The Edge also has a lane assistance system that warns the driver when the car is drifting towards a lane marking and gently steers the car back to its path.”

Hyundai Ioniq: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

In 2016, Hyundai challenged the dominance of the Toyota Prius by launching the new Ioniq. In all four categories – adult occupant, child occupant, pedestrian safety and safety assist – the Pirus out-performed the Ioniq, but Hyundai won’t be too disappointed with a five-star rating.

Thomas A. Schmid, chief operating officer of Hyundai Motor Europe, said: “State-of-the-art active safety features are fitted as standard in all versions making the Ioniq one of the safest cars in its segment and a safe and accessible e-mobility choice for customers.”

Kia Niro: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

For 2016, Euro NCAP made some subtle tweaks to its tests. The assessment of child occupant protection is now based on larger dummies, representing a six-year-old and a ten-year-old, rather than the smaller 18-month and three-year-old dummies.

The Kia Niro was tasted under the new ‘Dual Rating’ system, achieving a four-star rating with standard safety equipment. With an optional safety pack fitted, the Niro achieves the maximum five-star rating.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

Also in 2016, Euro NCAP introduced a new layer to the pedestrian protection test, with cars that perform well in the standard tests able to score additional points if they have an autonomous emergency braking system that recognises pedestrians.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class scored well across three areas: 95% for adult occupants, 90% for child occupants and 77% for pedestrian safety. The E-Class is fitted as standard with a ‘Pre Safe’ system, which senses when an accident is about to occur and primes the restraint and protection systems.

Peugeot 3008: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

Electronic stability control is no longer part of the safety assist rating, as all cars must have such a system fitted by law. Euro NCAP is quick to point out that 2016 ratings should not be directly compared with earlier years.

The Peugeot 3008 scored 58% for safety assist, one of the lowest scores of 2016, yet still managed to drive away with a five-star rating. We say ‘drive’, although this is unlikely once Euro NCAP has finished with a car.

Renault Scenic: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

In 2001, the Renault Laguna became the first car to be awarded five stars for occupant protection, some four years after the very first Euro NCAP results were released.

The new Renault Scenic mirrors the result of the old Laguna with a maximum five-star rating. The new Scenic looks and feels a world away from the car it replaces, with a more SUV-like approach.

SEAT Ateca: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

SEAT’s first SUV received a maximum five-star rating back in the summer, with the Ateca receiving particularly good scores for adult and child occupant safety.

The Ateca is equipped with seven airbags as standard, including driver’s knee airbag, as well as seatbelts with pretensioner and load limiter in the front and rear seats. Other safety systems include blind spot detection, cross traffic alert, 360-degree view and tiredness recognition system.

Subaru Levorg: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

In August 2016, the Levorg became the fifth Subaru to score a maximum five-star rating. Later, Subaru added the clever EyeSight technology to every Levorg ordered in the UK. Data from Japan revealed a 61% reduction in crashes for vehicles equipped with EyeSight, compared to those without.

EyeSight features six technologies: pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management, adaptive cruise control, lane departure and sway warning, pre-collision steering assist, and lead vehicle start alert.

Suzuki Ignis: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

Another ‘Dual Rating’ here, with the Suzuki Ignis receiving a three-star rating when tested with standard safety equipment, but a maximum five stars when tested with a safety pack.

The Ignis SZ5 model is fitted with Dual Camera Brake Support (DCBS) and is the difference between a three and five-star rating. DCSB incorporates stereo cameras that function in a similar way to the human eye, detecting objects and alerting the driver with full braking if necessary.

Toyota Hilux: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

On the face of it, a maximum five-star rating for the Toyota Hilux is a tremendous result, making it the safest pick-up you can buy. The only other pick-up to receive a five-star rating was the Ford Ranger, but that was way back in 2012.

However, remove the optional Toyota Safety Sense and the rating drops to three stars.

Toyota Prius: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

It’s an excellent set of results for the Toyota Prius, with a score of 85% for safety assist technologies – the second highest rating of 2016.

Toyota’s Safety Sense is fitted as standard and includes autonomous braking, a lane assistance system and a camera-based speed assistance system.

Volkswagen Tiguan: five starsThe safest new cars of 2016

The Volkswagen Tiguan is the last car on our list to receive the maximum five-star rating. A 96% rating for adult occupant safety is the second highest score of 2016, while an 84% rating for child occupant safety is similarly impressive.

The Tiguan features an emergency braking system and – as a first in the Tiguan – a pedestrian detection function.

Fiat Tipo: four starsThe safest new cars of 2016

In standard form, the Fiat Tipo was awarded a middling three-star rating, although the fitment of an optional safety pack helped it to achieve an improved four-star rating. The result prompted Euro NCAP to issue a press release with the headline of “Fiat Tipo – it’s cheap, but is it safe?”

Michiel van Ratingen said: “The Tipo is marketed as a functional car which maximises value for money. However, to maximise safety, and to bring the car up to the protection levels offered by its biggest rivals in this segment, consumers should not pass over the safety pack.”

SsangYong Tivoli: four starsThe safest new cars of 2016

The SsangYong Tivoli is another car to benefit from the Euro NCAP ‘Dual Rating’ system, with the crossover receiving a four-star rating when fitted with an optional safety pack.

Study the percentage ratings and you’ll discover the real difference a safety pack can make. Adult occupant safety up from 74% to 82%, pedestrian safety up from 55% to 65%, and safety assist up from 25% to 43%.

SsangYong Tivoli XLV: four starsThe safest new cars of 2016

It will come as no surprise to discover that the SsangYong Tivoli XLV received identical scores to those awarded to the Tivoli. The XLV is a larger version of the Tivoli, boasting a massive 720 litres of cargo space.

Suzuki Baleno: four starsThe safest new cars of 2016

Euro NCAP introduced the ‘Dual Rating’ system in April 2016, making the Suzuki Baleno the first car to benefit from the new approach.

In standard form, the Suzuki Baleno received a three-star rating. Add the radar brake support system and the star rating jumps to four.

Quadricycle safety at a standstillThe safest new cars of 2016

Also in April, Euro NCAP issued a damning critique on the safety of quadricycles, arguing that the results show little improvement since the last tests performed in 2014. Quadricycles are not subject to the same legislation as passenger cars, but they look like city cars and are likely to compete for sales. You have been warned.

Car news stories that broke the internet in 2016

Car news stories that broke the internet in 2016

Car news stories that broke the internet in 2016

VW’s ‘Dieselgate’ emissions saga has rumbled on, a radio presenter has joined (and left) a car programme, while the world has gone mad, with Porsche launching a turbocharged Cayman and Bentley introducing its first ever diesel.

Yes, 2016 certainly hasn’t been a quiet year for car news. As we approach the end of the year, join us as we take a look back over the weird and wonderful stories of 2016.

January: Land Rover Defender production ends

The year started with the timely (but still sad) passing of a British four-wheel-drive icon: the Land Rover Defender. After more than 60 years in production (albeit only 25 years carrying the Defender badge), the final model rolled off the Solihull production line.

Live: Land Rover Defender production ends at Solihull

March: Man takes legal action after winning a Vauxhall Corsa

Emphasis on ‘weird’ with this story from March, when a lucky golfer won a brand new Vauxhall Corsa – but complained that it was just the entry-level model. He took the golf club, where he won the competition, to court – but the case was thrown out and he was left with legal costs of more than £10,000. His prize was worth just £7,500.

Man takes legal action after winning a Vauxhall Corsa

March: Tesla Model 3 revealed

March: Tesla Model 3 revealed

Tesla chief Elon Musk revealed the ‘affordable’ Model 3 in March, prompting more than 400,000 potential customers to place deposits of around £1,000 each. Deliveries are expected to start in mid-2018, with prices from around £30,000. The Model 3 will rival the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, with even the entry-level models hitting 62mph in less than 6.0 seconds and capable of covering more than 215 miles from a single charge.

Tesla Model 3: all you need to know – with video

April: Mitsubishi hit by emissions scandal

After Volkswagen was caught cheating emissions tests, many predicted other manufacturers would also be found out. Mitsubishi followed, admitting falsifying test data on models built in its factories but sold as Nissans in Japan. The scandal led to a controlling-stake in Mitsubishi being bought by Nissan later in the year.

Mitsubishi reveals fuel economy test misconduct involving 625,000 cars

April: 93-year-old man trades skateboard in for MG3

When an elderly gentleman heard that his local MG dealer was offering £2,000 off a new MG3 when “anything with four wheels” was traded in, he turned up with his skateboard and asked if he could use it as part-exchange. They agreed – and Mr Edwards drove away in an MG3 that day.

93-year-old man trades skateboard in for MG3

April: Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman get turbo power

April: Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman get turbo power

A controversial move for 2016: Porsche’s Boxster and Cayman models have been updated, with their flat-six naturally-aspirated engines replaced by small-capacity turbocharged units. The announcement (expected by many) was made by April, and has proved to be controversial. Many road testers have complained that the new turbocharged Boxster and Cayman lack character.

Porsche 718 Boxster review: 2016 first drive

May: Chris Evans joins (and later leaves) Top Gear

We’re now approaching the two year anniversary of Clarkson’s famous ‘fracas’, but 2016 saw the arrival of Top Gear with a whole new team of presenters. Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans took the lead, but a lack of chemistry between Evans and fellow host Matt LeBlanc along with plummeting ratings led to Evans giving up after one series. “Stepping down from Top Gear,” he tweeted. “Gave it my best shot but sometimes that’s not enough. The team are beyond brilliant, I wish them all the best.”

20 things you need to know about new Top Gear

May: Volkswagen Golf Clubsport S breaks Nurburgring record

Volkswagen had one record in its sight when it developed the frantic Golf GTI Clubsport S: the honour of being the fastest front-drive car around the Nurburgring. By binning the rear seats, boosting power to 310hp and tweaking the adaptive dampers in ‘Nurburgring mode’, the Clubsport S managed to lap the Nordschleife in 7:49.21. That’s more than a second quicker than a Honda Civic Type R.

310hp Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S is new king of the Nürburgring

July: Ecotricity announces £6 fee for electric car charging

July: Ecotricity announces £6 fee for electric car charging

In July, the company behind 300 electric car chargers at motorway services across the UK announced it was planning to charge drivers £5 for a 20 minute top-up. After a social media backlash, Ecotricity announced it’d had a re-think and decided it would instead demand £6 for a 30-minute charge. That makes it just as expensive to run an electric car on a longer journey as many diesels.

Ecotricity hits EV drivers with £5 fee for 20 minute charge

July: Learner driver fined £220 for hitting 132mph on the M25

Driving on the motorway before you’ve passed your driving test probably isn’t the brightest idea – but this learner driver took it a step further and was clocked at 132mph by speed cameras on the M25. Cydney Mantle, 28, handed herself in after receiving a Notice of Intended Prosecution in the post.

Learner driver fined £220 for hitting 132mph on the M25

August: Leicester City players treated to BMW i8s

As a treat for defeating the odds and claiming the Premier League title, Leicester City’s billionaire chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha treated players to a fleet of BMW i8s. As they were all finished in the same colour, the ungrateful players had their cars wrapped to help them stand out in the car park.

Leicester City owners treat players to fleet of BMW i8s

September: New Nissan Micra revealed

September: New Nissan Micra revealed

Although there weren’t many surprises at this year’s Paris Motor Show, the new Nissan Micra was one of them. Its predecessor is a dowdy ‘global car’, designed to appeal to 160 different markets – yet massively failing to hit the spot in Europe. Our first impressions of the latest model suggest it could be a serious rival to the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa. And Nissan is so confident, it’s axed the Note.

Paris Motor Show 2016: all the cars

September: MG axes UK car production

Production at MG Rover’s historic Longbridge plant restarted in 2011 following the firm’s acquisition by Chinese firm SAIC. But, with slow sales of the MG6 and MG3, the company announced it would be manufacturing the cars entirely in China. Previously, they had been shipped to the UK, where they were assembled at Longbridge. Around 25 redundancies have been made.

MG is axing car production in the UK

September: Bentley announces first ever diesel

Ever since the Bentayga was first revealed at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, it’s been a controversial car: from being the Crewe carmaker’s first SUV, to the first to be given diesel power. It was an inevitable move, really, borrowing a turbodiesel V8 powertrain from the Audi SQ7. With 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds and a 168mph top speed, it’s no slouch.

Haters gonna hate: Bentley reveals diesel Bentayga SUV

September: Paris Motor Show flop

September: Paris Motor Show flop

Motor shows have traditionally been major events on the automotive calendar – but this year’s Paris Motor Show was not the must-visit it usually is for car manufacturers. Many snubbed the show, with no official presence from the likes of Ford, Mazda and Volvo to name a few. Many blamed the exorbitant cost of exhibiting at a motor show, while some pointed out that the French car market is skewed towards French carmakers.

Paris Motor Show 2016: all the cars

October: Nissan confirms car production will remain at Sunderland following Brexit vote

Of course, the biggest news story of the year for the UK was the country’s decision to leave the EU. The move has resulted in a great deal of ongoing uncertainty, so the 7,000 employees at Nissan’s Sunderland plant were relieved to hear that the Japanese car manufacturer has announced it will continue building cars in the UK. It came after boss Carlos Ghosn met with prime minister Theresa May.

Sunderland safe: Nissan confirms car production will stay in UK

November: New Ford Fiesta revealed

It’s Britain’s best-selling car, and the latest Fiesta has just been revealed ahead of it going on sale in 2017. Fortunately, Ford hasn’t messed with a winning formula too much – it gets an improved interior, along with upmarket Vignale and lifestyle Active crossover variants. Is it enough to keep the Fiesta in pole position in 2017? We’ll soon find out…

2017 Ford Fiesta: everything you need to know

November: The Grand Tour goes live

November: The Grand Tour goes live

After the disaster that was the return of Top Gear, all eyes were on Amazon Prime for the launch of Clarkson, Hammond and May’s new show: The Grand Tour. Although Amazon is keeping quiet about just how many of us have watched it, the reception has been overwhelmingly positive, with many happy to see the ex-Top Gear trio back on our screens.

The Grand Tour: everything we know so far

December: Calls for action over Vauxhall Corsa fires

It started off with the Vauxhall Zafira, but now there’s talk of Corsa models also being affected by an issue that results in cars going up in flames. The manufacturer has recalled 2,767 Corsa models so far, but drivers are applying pressure on Vauxhall to take more immediate action to prevent further fires.

Vauxhall Corsa fires investigation launched

The best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

The best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

The best new cars we’ve driven in 2016It’s been a vintage year for new cars, highlighted by the fact that we’ve awarded a maximum five-star rating to no fewer than 17 new cars. With this in mind, we figured it was time to assemble our favourite new motors from 2016, summarised using a quote from the review posted on the Motoring Research website.

Initials: RA (Richard Aucock), TP (Tim Pitt), AB (Andrew Brady), PB (Peter Burgess), GBS (Gavin Braithwaite-Smith).

Aston Martin DB11: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“The Aston Martin DB11 is a hugely accomplished car. It needed to be a two-generation step on: it is. The DB11 isn’t a radical diversion for Aston Martin, because one wasn’t needed. We simply needed a newer, better GT car. With the DB11, we’ve got that. Aston hasn’t missed with this one.” RA

Read the Aston Martin DB11 review on Motoring Research

Audi R8 Spyder: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“If you’ve got a spare £130,000 to splash on a two-seat soft-top, we’d be heading straight to our nearest Audi dealer. Sure, the Porsche badge might have a little more cachet, but the incredible capability of the R8 Spyder, combined with its usability, means we’d be very happy to give one a home.” AB

Read the Audi R8 Spyder review on Motoring Research

Bentley Bentayga: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“We shuddered at the thought of a Bentley SUV a few years ago, and the 2012 concept looked set to confirm our worst fears. But the Bentayga has confounded all our fears. A cosseting, rapid and satisfying to drive luxury SUV, it’s a true Bentley – the best car the firm makes. Without doubt, one of the best premium SUVs you can buy, full stop.” RA

Read the Bentley Bentayga review on Motoring Research

BBR Mazda MX-5: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“Buy a top-of-the-range MX-5, take it to BBR and give them a blank cheque, and you’d still struggle to spend more than £30,000. For that money there is nothing else you can buy new, this side of a Caterham, that would be as fun to drive. And, unlike a Caterham, a BBR-tuned MX-5 is still useable every day and for long journeys. We had more fun on rural Northamptonshire B-roads in this than we’ve had in sports cars costing twice as much.” AB

Read the BBR Mazda MX-5 review on Motoring Research

BMW 330e: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“Spend your own money on one? The £33,935 start price (before Government grant) is a lot of money. But as a company car, it makes so much sense. There’s a reason why fleet users crave a 320d to cover the miles, and this is nicer to drive and will get fewer scowls as diesel resentment builds. We’re surprised BMW is only expecting to sell just over 1,000 in the UK in the first year.” AB

Read the BMW 330e review on Motoring Research

BMW M2: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“After several disappointments, the latest M3 and M4 among them, M GmbH has come up trumps. The new M2 is fantastic – a car dominated by its superb chassis, such as we haven’t seen since the 2000 (E46) M3. Finally, a BMW that feels worth of the old ‘ultimate driving machine’ tagline.” TP

Read the BMW M2 review on Motoring Research

Ford Fiesta ST200: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

You’ll absolutely love the ST200. It’s the ultimate Fiesta ST, which itself is the ultimate affordable hot hatch (and arguably more fun than bigger hot hatches such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI). It looks great in Storm Grey, and you’ll be given a great deal of kudos turning up at fast Ford meets in one. You could almost look at it as an investment.” AB

Read the Ford Fiesta ST200 review on Motoring Research

Ford Focus RS: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“For our money, though, nothing this side of BMW M135i matches the dynamic panache of the RS. And the BMW is £2,500 more expensive and markedly less practical. The Focus has grown-up… a little. But it’s still one of the quickest, most visceral and most downright exciting cars on the right side of £50,000. And your mother still won’t like it. Amen to that.” TP

Read the Ford Focus RS review on Motoring Research

Honda NSX: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

The new Honda NSX is a very ‘Honda’ type of supercar and thus an authentic successor to the mighty original. It’s as much of a technological step on as the 1989 car, but this hybrid/electric/computers-laden tech is used to add to the driving dynamics, not take anything away from the driving experience. Certainly, it does things most other more ‘analogue’ sports cars can’t do and is a unique slam-dunk because of this. If the purity of a McLaren 570S or familiarity of a 911 isn’t for you, the space-age NSX may well be.” RA

Read the Honda HSX review on Motoring Research

Jaguar F-Pace: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

By Motoring Research star rating logic, it’s a five-star car: it’s the best car in its sector, the most appealing all round, and certainly the best looking. Jaguar’s biggest challenge now may be making enough of them, but what a nice problem to have.” RA

Read the Jaguar F-Pace review on Motoring Research

Lamborghini Huracan: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“We can’t imagine ever getting bored of the Huracan. It’s a car that constantly stimulates the synapses. As personal transport turned up to 11, there’s little to touch it. And for many, that’s what supercars are all about.” TP

Read the Lamborghini Huracan review on Motoring Research

Lotus Evora Sport 410: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“At such a huge chunk of money for a car without a radio as standard, only the most serious of enthusiasts will be able to justify a Lotus Evora 410. If you’re after a daily driver, or a car for cross-continent road trips, the lesser Evora 400 or a rival (ahem, Porsche) will be a wiser bet.

“However, if you’ve got the cash to spend on an extremely competent track car and B-road blaster, the Evora 410 is one of the most satisfying cars serious drivers can buy. And you’ll still be able to use it for the odd weekend away. We’d approve.” AB

Read the Lotus Evora Sport 410 review on Motoring Research

Lotus Exige Sport 380: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“This Lotus is a hand-built, richly-honed bargain. It delivers an exotic-level driving experience for relatively attainable prices. A car as satisfying to drive as a six-figure supercar, for a decidedly five-figure ticket. It’s a genuine thoroughbred. Lotus has had a great year in 2016. With the Exige Sport 380, it’s saved the best until last.” RA

Read the Lotus Exige Sport 380 review on Motoring Research

McLaren 570GT: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

The McLaren 570GT is the best definition of McLaren’s Sport Series models. It’s very McLaren, so is all fantastic design, exotic engineering, ultra-precision drive and mind-warping speed. But this is McLaren blended more to the (relative) everyday: you could use it to commute in if you wanted to, and the refined extra comfort that makes it such a good GT car will also make it good for the M25 grind and inner-city jams McLaren’s entrepreneurial customers may choose to use it in.” RA

Read the McLaren 570GT review on Motoring Research

McLaren 675LT Spider: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“If you fancy a 675LT Spider in your garage, expect to pay upwards of £400,000. No wonder we felt a mild sense of relief when handing back the keys, followed by an overwhelming urge to drive it again. The car’s immediate appreciation in value shows the esteem in which it is held – and represents a tidy profit for first owners, of course. Still, even £400k looks decent value compared to the £10million you’ll need for a McLaren F1.” TP

Read the McLaren 675LT Spider review on Motoring Research

Porsche 718 Boxster: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

“The new 718 Boxster is, without question, superior to the model it replaces. It’s faster, better balanced and more economical. Cutting to the chase, we think it’s still the finest roadster on sale – and a five-star car.

“The Boxster has always been defined by its chassis, rather than its engine. However, something has certainly been lost by lopping off two cylinders. The Subaru soundtrack is a bit of a sore point, but we’d get used to it. However, the visceral top-end rush of those naturally-aspirated sixes will be missed. That’s the price of progress.” TP

Read the Porsche 718 Boxster review on Motoring Research

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S: 5 starsThe best new cars we’ve driven in 2016

This is the fastest and most capable Golf GTI ever, but it’s still a Golf GTI. And it’s this approachability, combined with its speed and engagement, that makes it such an impressive achievement. It’s quite the 40th birthday celebration for the original hot hatch, that’s for sure.” RA

Read the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S review on Motoring Research

10 great cars we’ve said goodbye to in 2016

10 great cars we’ve said goodbye to in 2016

10 great cars we’ve said goodbye to in 2016

Brexit, Trump and the death of far too many celebs: some folk will be glad to see the back of 2016, but what of the cars that won’t be around to see in the new year? We’ve selected 10 cars that will no longer be on sale in 2017.

1: Land Rover Defender

At the end of January, we said goodbye to a British institution – a vehicle that had been part of the furniture since 1948. A few tears were shed as the final Land Rover Defender rolled off the Solihull production line, a victim of increasingly stringent safety and emissions regulations.

Land Rover said farewell with the help of a trio of last-of-the-line special editions, including the Defender Heritage, which the firm claimed was a modern interpretation of HUE 166 – the first Land Rover built in 1948. Land Rover will build a replacement – set to arrive in 2019 – but it’s unlikely to capture hearts and minds quite like the original.

2: Audi R8 e-tron

Audi unveiled the second coming of the R8 e-tron at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, after an earlier attempt to build a flagship electric vehicle was canned in 2012. By October 2016, Audi had pulled the plug on the production version, with Car and Driver reporting that fewer than 100 had been built.

The figures were compelling: 456hp, 679lb ft of torque, 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds and a range of 280 miles. But it didn’t come cheap – a price tag of $1 million (£800,000) pitched the electric supercar against some seriously hardcore machines. Combine this with a bizarre sales and marketing strategy and you could argue the R8 e-tron was doomed to failure.

3: Renaultsport Megane

3: Renaultsport Megane

Renault has made it easier to name the best new hot hatch you can buy simply by axing the Renaultsport Megane. To be fair, ‘axing’ is probably the wrong word, because the hot Megane is merely a victim of a model change – a new Renaultsport version of the fourth generation Megane will follow.

In the meantime we must mourn the loss of what was – for seven years – the undisputed king of the driver-focused hot hatch segment. The last-of-the-line was a Liquid Yellow Megane 275 Cup-S with ‘kitchen sink’ levels of optional equipment. Make no mistake, third generation RS Meganes are destined for classic status.

4: Citroen C5

In a sign of the times, Citroen has axed the C5 from the UK market, choosing to focus on superminis, hatchbacks and people carriers. Indeed, Citroen claims the C4 Picasso and Grand C4 Picasso are suitable alternatives to the former fleet favourite.

Actually, ‘favourite’ might be overplaying things, because a mere 237 C5s were registered in 2015, highlighting the increasing popularity of crossovers and SUVs. In Tourer guise, the C5 was achingly good looking, while the C5 saloon deserved more love than it ever received. But large French cars have never sold well in the UK and the C5 was a victim of trends beyond its control.

5: Roewe 750

The Rover 75 is dead. Hardly headline news, given the fact that the 75 disappeared from these shores back in 2005. But the 75 lived on in the form of the Roewe 750, when Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) bought the rights to the car following the collapse of MG Rover.

Without the rights to the Rover name, SAIC created the Roewe brand and marketed the 75 as the 750 in China. But now, CarNewsChina is reporting production has ended, bringing to an end nearly two decades of Rover 75 production.

6: Volvo S80

6: Volvo S80

You didn’t need to splash the cash on a Volvo S80 to enjoy its deep pile carpets, superb seats and refinement. In 2011, Volvo renewed its contract with Tristar Worldwide to supply 2,100 cars for Virgin Atlantic Airways’ Upper Class chauffeur duties. The chances are, you’d have been driven to the airport in an S80 or V70.

But the Volvo S80 is no more, replaced by the even more sumptuous and satisfying Volvo S90. The S80 was no drivers’ car, but that hardly mattered when you were being chauffeured along the M25 in supreme comfort.

7: BMW Z4

It hasn’t gone, yet, but the BMW Z4 is on borrowed time. In August, BimmerToday reported that the last Z4 had rolled out of the factory in August, bringing to an end 14 years of production. It’s still listed on the BMW website – priced from £29,695 – but you’ll need to be quick.

Not that you should necessarily be in a hurry to grab a late slice of Z4 action. While its boulevard cruising abilities are in little doubt, there are far better options out there, most notably those wearing a Porsche badge. Alternatively, wait for the launch of the Z5, which will be the result of project involving BMW and Toyota.

8: Toyota FJ Cruiser

The retro-inspired FJ Cruiser was first seen as a concept at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show and, such was the response, Toyota pressed ahead with a production version. It was inspired by the third generation Land Cruiser, known as the FJ40.

The FJ Cruiser – which lived out its twilight years in Australia – was a wonderful antidote to the raft of soft-focus crossovers, with a 4.0-litre V6 engine producing 280lb ft of torque. The Aussies loved it, with an average of 180 sold every month. We’re sad to see it go.

9: Volvo V70

9: Volvo V70

We’d be just as sad to say goodbye to the Volvo V70, were it not for the fact that its replacement – the Volvo V90 – is so damn desirable. But let us take a moment to treasure the memory of the V70 – which is able to draw on a heritage spanning three generations and 20 years.

The original V70 of 1996 borrowed heavily from the 850, but displayed softer styling, as Volvo looked to shake off its boxy image. Curiously, the V70 was never the most cavernous estate car on the market, but its reputation for safety and solidity helped to carry it a long way.

10: Rolls-Royce Phantom

This year represents the final year of production for the seventh generation Phantom, with Rolls-Royce introducing the Zenith Collection to give it a fitting send off. It brings to a close a history of craftsmanship and bespoke detailing dating back to 2003.

The first Phantom was handed over in 2003, with the Phantom Drophead Coupe following in 2007, which in turn was followed by the Phantom Coupe in 2008. All 50 examples of the Phantom Zenith Collection have been commissioned, so if your name’s not down, you’re not getting a slice of Rolls-Royce history.

Mazda 3

Mazda 3 2.0 Sport Nav quick review: the underdog hatchback

Mazda 3If you’re looking for a new Ford-Focus-sized car, there are a lot of contenders you’d probably consider before you get to the Mazda 3. The Japanese manufacturer’s mid-size hatchback has been around since 2004, yet is still under the radar for many new car buyers. Those in the know have always been rewarded with a car that drives well, has a solid interior and offers commendable reliability. We’ve driven the freshly-facelifted 2017 Mazda 3 to find out whether you should buy one over a more popular rival.

Prices and deals

In the 2.0-litre Sport Nav guise we’re testing here, the Mazda 3 has a list price of £20,645. Most buyers will be more interested in the finance deals on offer, however – and the same spec is currently available through Mazda on a 0% PCP deal for £279 a month over three years, following a deposit of £2,779.62 (and an extra £750 from the manufacturer).

If you’re happy with the lower-spec SE with the same engine, you can pick one up for £239 a month with a £2,442.50 deposit.

What are its rivals?

There’s no shortage of rivals: the popular (but ageing) Ford Focus, the much-improved Vauxhall Astra, and of course, a plethora of hatches from VW Group, including the SEAT Leon, Skoda Octavia and the Volkswagen Golf. The new Renault Megane is also worth a look, as is the Peugeot 308.

What engine does it use?Mazda 3

The engine we’re testing here is likely to be the most popular – a 2.0-litre petrol producing 120hp – while the same engine is also available in sportier 163hp guise. There’s a lesser 100hp 1.5-litre (but this is underpowered and best avoided), while company car drivers will favour the 1.5- and 2.2-litre turbodiesels.

How fast?

The Mazda 3 isn’t as fast as you might expect from a 2.0-litre petrol, as Mazda snubs the turbocharged trend in favour of low weight. It hits 62mph in 8.9 seconds, with torque available across a wide rev range – a welcome change from the usual short, punchy acceleration turbocharged engines offer.

Will I enjoy driving it?Mazda 3

Traditionally, enthusiastic company car drivers have opted for a Ford Focus or (if they’re lucky), a BMW 1 Series. But the Mazda 3 is a brilliant drive, taking traits such as its snickety gear change and direct steering from the MX-5 sports car. Body-roll is well controlled, while the suspension soaks up bumps well – even on the 18-inch wheels of our test car.

Fuel economy and running costs

Officially the 2.0-litre Mazda 3 hatchback will return 55.4mpg – and in a refreshing change from the norm, that’s actually fairly achievable. The likeable thing about naturally-aspirated engines is they’re fairly consistent in fuel economy tests. On a busy M25 run we averaged 54.6mpg, while day-to-day driving saw this drop to high 40s. We can see why Mazda is sticking with larger, naturally-aspirated engines.

What’s the interior like?Mazda 3

The interior, frankly, puts the Ford Focus to shame. It’s almost premium in its approach, with a high level perceived quality and everything where you’d expect it. Fleet drivers, if you’re offered one of these to spend several hours a day in – grab it!

Is it comfortable?

For drivers, yes. There’s plenty of adjustment in the front seats and the steering wheel, meaning it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position.

It’s in the rear where things start to go wrong. Rear-seat passengers won’t be particularly happy after a long journey – the sloping roofline eats into headroom, while the rising windowline won’t be popular with children who suffer from travel sickness.

Is it practical?Mazda 3

Things don’t get much better here, either. The boot is rather shallow, offering 364-litres of space in total. There is a Fastback saloon version available, which offers a bit more luggage room (419 litres in total), but you’d be much better looking at a crossover like the Nissan Qashqai if practicality is important.

Tell me about the tech

This Sport Nav model isn’t short of kit – a seven-inch infotainment system takes pride of place in the centre of the dash with an easy-to-use sat nav, DAB radio and excellent Bose speakers as standard.

What about safety?Mazda 3

When Euro NCAP crash tested the Mazda 3 in 2013, it was awarded five stars for safety. The safety pack, an £800 option on this model, adds adaptive LED headlights, blind-spot monitors and an autonomous city braking – amongst other handy features.

Which version should I go for?

The turbodiesel is regarded highly, but we’re big fans of the 2.0-litre petrol used in our test car, especially if you don’t spend a lot of time traipsing the motorways (not that it can’t do that efficiently – as we proved).

Trim-wise, we’d find it hard to resist the Sport Nav on PCP for £279 a month.

What’s the used alternative?Mazda 3

The latest Mazda 3 has just been given a mid-life facelift, but it’s remained largely unchanged since 2013. Early examples of the latest model are now coming to the end of their three-year leases, meaning they’re hitting dealerships and car supermarkets from around £10,500 for an entry-level 1.5-litre SE.

Alternatively, older examples can be picked up from as little as £500 for a 2004 model. Watch out for rust, though – Mazdas of this period were partial to a little light corrosion.

Should I buy one?

The Mazda 3’s abundance of rivals means it’s all-too-often overlooked. The only slightly disappointing area is practicality, but in every other aspect it’s pretty much class-leading. If you want a hatchback that’s great to drive, good value for money and has an upmarket cabin, break from the herd and buy one of these.

Pub factMazda 3 MPS

The previous Mazda 3 was available in hot MPS guise (short for Mazda Performance Series). It produced 260hp, making it one of the most powerful hot hatches on the market at the time – hitting 62mph in 6.1 seconds. Unfortunately it didn’t sell particularly well, meaning there’s no hot derivative of the latest model. A shame, as the chassis would cope with it very well.