Vauxhall Cavalier GSi: £3,489

The cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

The cars your dad drove – and dreamed aboutIt’s Father’s Day this weekend (you hadn’t forgotten, had you..?), so we thought it was time to trawl the archives in search of cars your dad drove… and those he dreamed about.

In each case, we’ve selected the sensible and the sexy, or the humdrum and the hero.

Honda AccordThe cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Honda Accord Type RThe cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Ford SierraThe cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Ford Sierra RS CosworthThe cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Vauxhall CavalierThe cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Vauxhall Cavalier CalibreThe cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Ford CortinaThe cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Ford Cortina LotusThe cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Peugeot 405The cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Peugeot 405 Mi16The cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Ford CapriThe cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Ford Capri RS3100The cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Vauxhall VivaThe cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Vauxhall Viva GTThe cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Austin/Rover MontegoThe cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

MG MontegoThe cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Volvo 240The cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Volvo 240 TurboThe cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Peugeot 406The cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Peugeot 406 CoupeThe cars your dad drove – and dreamed about

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

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

Biggest Car Brands

Revealed: the biggest car brands in the world 2017

Biggest Car Brands

Global car sales were up 2.4 percent in 2017 due to soaring demand in Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America, according to figures released by JATO Dynamics. The analysis of 52 markets found that 86.05 million units were registered, with demand for SUVs continuing to rise, accounting for a huge 34 percent market share. Using the data, we can reveal the world’s biggest car brands, based on overall registrations in 2017.

25. Wuling: 883,663 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

Last year, Wuling sold 538,908 units of the Hong Guang nameplate, which accounts for 60 percent of the firm’s overall sales. SAIC-GM-Wuling was established in 2002, with the Wuling brand producing a range of mini-trucks, MPVS and SUVs.

24. Opel/Vauxhall: 996,559 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

The PSA Group – which includes Peugeot, Citroen and DS Automobiles – completed the purchase of Opel and Vauxhall in November 2017. It’ll take a while before this yields any meaningful results, with registrations down six percent in the same year. New Vauxhall models to use PSA platforms include the Crossland X, Grandland X and Combo Life.

23. Citroen: 999,888 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

Citroen registrations were down six percent in 2017, but the launch of a new Berlingo Multispace might improve matters in 2018. The MPV is the brand’s second best-selling vehicle and is the top-selling Citroen in nearly 17 countries.

22. Baojun: 1,016,250 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

Baojun is one of China’s fastest-growing vehicle brands and is part of the mighty SAIC-GM-Wuling group. In 2017, General Motors delivered more than 4.04 million vehicles in China under the Baojun, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Jiefang and Wuling brands.

21. Subaru: 1,050,390 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

Subaru is a niche player in the UK but enjoys greater success on the global stage, particularly in the US. Last year, Subaru of America registered more than 647,000 cars – a record for the company. In January 2018 alone, it registered 13,279 Outbacks in the US. Meanwhile, in the UK, just 475 Outbacks were sold in 2017.

20. Skoda: 1,180,672 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

2017 was the best year in Skoda’s 122-year history, as the company delivered more than one million vehicles for the fourth year in succession. Sales were up 8.3 percent in Europe, 31.4 percent in India, and five percent overall.

19. Geely: 1,245,055 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

JATO points to the Baojun 510, Toyota C-HR, Volkswagen Tiguan, Jeep Compass, Peugeot 3008, Chevrolet Cavalier and Geely Emgrand as significant new launches in 2017. The Emgrand contributed to a huge 61 percent increase in sales for the Chinese company.

18. Jeep: 1,390,130 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

The success of the new Compass wasn’t enough to increase Jeep sales, which flatlined at just under 1.4 million. Maybe the new all-new Wrangler and 2019 Cherokee can elevate the brand to a higher plain.

17. Buick: 1,465,823 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

Buick is celebrating two straight years of 1.4 million registrations, even though sales in 2017 were down one percent. On the plus side, retail growth was up 15.1 percent in Canada and 1.6 percent in the US, while the brand celebrated its best year ever in China.

16. Mazda: 1,495,557 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

“The automotive market performed well in 2017, with established economies maintaining growth, whilst developing markets like Russia and Brazil returned to growth following declines last year,” commented Felipe Munoz, JATO’s global analyst. Mazda registrations were up three percent.

15. Fiat: 1,503,806 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

Fiat registrations were up one percent in 2017. The 500X has been refreshed for 2018, with Fiat adding a next-generation Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Meanwhile, a new S-Design trim level has been added to the Tipo range.

14. Peugeot: 1,590,300 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

Peugeot registrations remained static at 1.59 million, but the French giant will unveil a new Rifter MPV and 508 saloon at the Geneva Motor Show.

13. Audi: 1,847,613 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

Audi increased its global sales for the eighth year in a row, despite a turbulent first six months of 2017. The increase in demand for the Q models – up 10.8 percent to 689,150 cars – was a major factor in the growth of the brand.

12. BMW: 2,030,331 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

It was a record-breaking year for BMW Group, with sales of BMW, Mini and BMW Motorrad totalling 2.46 million. The core brand topped two million, with the X vehicles up 9.6 percent compared to the previous year, despite limited availability of the X3.

11. Renault: 2,275,227 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

It was a good year for Renault, with registrations up seven percent. Groupe Renault is expecting the market to grow by 2.5 percent in 2018, with the European market contributing one percent. Renault has a 23.8 percent share of the electric vehicle market in Europe.

10. Kia: 2,511,293 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

It’s a surprise to see Kia registrations down 10 percent, but we’d expect the new Ceed – which will make its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show – to provide a boost to global sales in 2018.

9. Mercedes-Benz: 2,534,181 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

There are no such issues for Mercedes-Benz, which saw registrations increase by 13 percent, the highest figure in the top 10. Last year was the seventh consecutive record 12 months for Mercedes-Benz, with growth driven by the E-Class and range of SUVs.

8. Suzuki: 2,891,415 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

Buoyed by the arrival of the new Swift and Ignis, Suzuki registrations were up 11 percent in 2017. In the UK, Suzuki GB registered 40,343 units, an increase of 2,176 over 2016, making it a record year for sales.

7. Chevrolet: 3,857,388 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

Chevrolet registrations remained static at around 3.86 million, but the Silverado was the second most popular pick-up and the 11th best-selling vehicle in the world.

6. Hyundai: 3,951,176 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

In common with its Korean counterpart, Hyundai witnessed a fall in the number of registrations, down nine percent in 2017. It sold 573,937 units of the Tucson, which itself is down four percent on 2016.

5. Nissan: 3,951,176 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

The Nissan X-Trail/Rogue was the world’s best-selling SUV and the overall fourth best-selling vehicle of 2017, with registrations totalling 814,000 units. Overall registrations are up five percent.

4. Honda: 4,967,689 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

Honda is also on the up, with registrations totalling just shy of five million. The Civic was the most popular model, with 800,380 units, which represents an increase of 20 percent.

3. Ford: 5,953,122 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

With registrations just shy of six million, Ford is down two percent year-on-year, but will be comforted by the fact that the F-Series remains the best-selling vehicle in the world. To provide some context: the F-Series accounts for around 18 percent of Ford’s global sales.

2. Volkswagen: 6,639,250 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

Sales of the Golf, Polo, Passat and Jetta were actually down in 2017, but the success of the new Tiguan – registrations up 34 percent – helped steady the ship. Overall registrations were up three percent.

1. Toyota: 7,843,423 registrations

Biggest Car Brands

Which leaves Toyota to take the throne as the biggest car brand in world, when based on overall sales figures. The Corolla, RAV4 and Camry are three of its most popular vehicles.

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The 20 top motoring news stories of 2017

The 20 top motoring news stories of 2017

The 20 top motoring news stories of 2017

There’s been no shortage of car-related news this year. So far in 2017, Motoring Research has published 825 news stories – from the rather serious to the downright bizarre. While there hasn’t been a ‘Dieselgate’ moment in 2017, the government has announced plans to ban sales of all new petrol and diesel from 2040, while the anti-diesel agenda appears to be building.

Meanwhile, Lamborghini has revealed an SUV, while Renault’s new Alpine brand has launched a sports car that appears to be a genuine Porsche Cayman rival. In no particular order, we’ve selected our top news stories of 2017. Read on…

New Ford Fiesta arrives

New Ford Fiesta arrives

While this might not sound like a massive deal, the Ford Fiesta constantly tops the charts as the UK’s best-selling car. That’s incredible, seeing as the outgoing model is largely the same when it first appeared in 2008. It’s important, then, that Ford doesn’t mess it up – and fortunately, it hasn’t. From our first drive in June, it was clear that the Fiesta is going to be another surefire winner for Ford, with impressive handling and a much improved interior compared with its predecessor.

Audi lost the plot

Audi lost the plot

In a move intended to better reflect the performance on offer from electric powertrains, Audi replaced its current model designations with a new naming structure. Great, except it’s incredibly confusing. The Audi A8 3.0 TDI petrol is now badged the A8 50 TDI, while the 3.0-litre TFSI petrol is now the 55 TFSI. We’ve got the full explanation here.

General Motors sold Vauxhall to PSA…

General Motors sold Vauxhall to PSA…

PSA Group acquired Vauxhall/Opel from General Motors earlier this year, as part of a deal amounting to £1.9 billion. It led to uncertainty at Vauxhall’s UK plants, while it made PSA the second biggest car manufacturer in Europe – behind Volkswagen Group. The first ‘French Vauxhall’, the Crossland X, is now on sale. But not all is well at Vauxhall…

…and then PSA asks for a refund

...and then PSA asked for a refund

Yup, PSA Group decided it wasn’t happy with the deal and went crawling back to General Motors asking for some of its cash back. You couldn’t make it up. “We became aware a few weeks after we finalised the closing that the company was going to the wall on CO2 emissions,” said Peugeot chief Carlos Tavares. That’ll cost some serious cash to sort out, unless it wants to be hit with heavy fines from the EU.

Aston Martin reveals its new Vantage

Aston Martin reveals its new Vantage

This is the Aston Martin we’ve been waiting a long time for: the new Vantage has finally arrived. While its looks are dividing opinion (few would argue it looks as pretty as its 2005 predecessor), it certainly stands out in its Lime Essence launch colour. It’ll pack a punch, too, with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 sourced from Mercedes-AMG and producing 510hp. While it’ll be auto-only at first, Aston assures us a manual is on its way…

Richard Hammond crashes

Richard Hammond crashes

Another series of The Grand Tour, another headline-hitting crash. The Hamster (does anyone still call him that?) was competing in a hillclimb event in Switzerland, at the wheel of a Rimac Concept One electric supercar. While the pictures from the scene were quite dramatic, Hammond managed to climb out of the car before it burst into flames. His worst injury was a fractured knee, which required an operation.

New Tesla hits 60mph in 1.9 seconds…

New Tesla hits 60mph in 1.9 seconds...

“The new Tesla Roadster will be the fastest production car ever made,” said Tesla boss Elon Musk as the firm revealed its 2+2 electric sports car. With a claimed 0-60mph time of 1.9 seconds, that’s hard to dispute, especially as it’ll apparently hit 100mph in 4.2 seconds and be good for a top speed of more than 250mph.

While intriguing, the new Tesla Roadster won’t be arriving before 2020 at the earliest. And it wasn’t the coolest thing Tesla announced this year.

…while this truck will do it in 5.0 seconds

...while this truck will do it in 5.0 seconds

Yes, that credit goes to this all-electric truck, which will supposedly hit 60mph in five seconds flat and return a 500-mile range. Sounds the stuff of fantasy, right? Maybe so. Orders are open, though, with truckers being asked to put down a $5,000 deposit if they want to add a Tesla to their fleet in 2019.

Diesel drivers are penalised

Diesel drivers are penalised

If you drive a diesel, you’ve had a bit of a hard time in 2017. The general resentment towards diesels continues to build in the wake of Dieselgate, with councils looking at penalising drivers by charging them more to park. London has introduced a new T-charge for older petrol and diesels, meanwhile, and Philip Hammond has announced an increase in road tax for certain diesel cars. The result? Diesel car sales are in decline. Shocker.

Greenpeace becomes anti-VW pirates

Greenpeace became anti-VW pirates

What were we saying about anti-diesel resentment? In September, those jolly folk from Greenpeace boarded a 23,000-tonne ship carrying a load of new Volkswagens in a bid to stop them selling their ‘toxic cars’ in the UK. It didn’t work. The ship eventually docked and no customer deliveries were delayed by the protest.

Petrol and diesel new cars banned from 2040

Petrol and diesel new cars banned from 2040

‘Petrol and diesels will be BANNED from 2040’ screamed the headlines in July. Yes, the government announced a blanket ban on the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars from 2040. But all is not as it seems: hybrid models will be OK, and most manufacturers are already going down that route. And if you’ve bought a conventional petrol or diesel before the deadline date, you’ll still be able to drive it.

Carmakers launch scrappage schemes

Carmakers launched scrappage schemes

While the government has resisted pressure to introduce an official scrappage scheme for older, more polluting vehicles, most car manufacturers jumped on the scrappage bandwagon in the run-up to September. These proved to be controversial, with some classic car enthusiasts getting angry at seeing rare older vehicles face the crusher.

Subaru is axing the WRX

Subaru is axing the WRX

With hot hatches like the Volkswagen Golf R getting increasingly competent, it was only a matter of time before Subaru (now an SUV brand, apparently) pulled the plug on the WRX. At least enthusiasts will get one last opportunity to buy a special Scoob: there’s a Final Edition, on sale now, with just 150 being sold.

Lamborghini reveals a shocker of an SUV

Lamborghini reveals a shocker of an SUV

It’s been rumoured, teased and previewed for a while, but this year we finally saw what Lambo’s new Urus SUV will look like. And it’s, erm, bold. Prices for the ‘super sport utility vehicle’ will start at £157,800 in the UK, with power coming from a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8.

Alpine launches a Cayman-killer

Alpine launches a Cayman-killer

We could have laughed Renault out of the room when it announced that it was planning to launch a sports car brand with a view to taking on the Porsche Cayman. But, not only is the A110 a looker, early reports suggest it really is as good as a Cayman. That’s a shock none of us was expecting.

Geely buys Lotus

Geely buys Lotus

Chinese firm Geely has worked its magic with Volvo in recent years, and in 2017 it completed its takeover of a majority stake in British sports car manufacturer Lotus. It means the small-time manufacturer – which is now in profit – could be one to watch over the next few years. Anyone fancy a Lotus SUV?

MOT exemption for classic cars

MOT exemption for classic cars

The government asked the public whether classic cars should be exempt from the annual MOT roadworthiness test, and the public said ‘no’. But then the government introduced a classic car exemption anyway, for all cars over 40 years old. The move has proved to be controversial but, don’t worry, if you own a classic car, you can still get it MOT’d if you want to.

Mercedes-Benz launches a pick-up

Mercedes-Benz launches a pick-up

Everyone’s launching an SUV, but a genuine premium pick-up truck is a surprise. Well, not too much of a surprise, given we’ve seen not one but two concept trucks from Mercedes. What is also a surprise is just how good it is, considering the X-Class is heavily based on the Nissan Navara.

The driving test is changing

The driving test is changing

Take your driving test from now on and it’ll involve 20 minutes of independent driving, using a sat-nav or road signs for directions. The changes have proved to be controversial and examiners are striking, saying it means more work for them.

Classic car prices continue to boom

Classic car prices continue to boom

Despite a rocky financial outlook in 2017, we’ve not see any signs of classic car sales slowing down. Highlights include a Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500 which fetched £112,500 at auction in November, while a Del Boy Reliant Regal sold for nearly £42,000 – almost twice its estimate.

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The cars we loved driving in 2017

Revealed: the cars we loved driving in 2017

The cars we loved driving in 2017We’ve had some great drives in 2017, and not all in the cars you might expect. For every supercar here, there’s a crossover. We’ve even nominated two pick-ups.

Each member of the Motoring Research team – Andrew Brady (AB), Bradley Lawrence (BL), Gavin Braithwaite-Smith (GBS), Peter Burgess (PB), Richard Aucock (RA) and Tim Pitt (TP) – has picked the vehicles that made us smile. Here are the finalists in full.

Hyundai i30 NThe cars we loved driving in 2017

Surely it couldn’t be that good, I mused, as I settled into the i30 N’s chunky bucket seat, surveyed its cabin and chewed on the talents of its arch-rival, the Volkswagen Golf GTI. It isn’t that good. It’s better. Way better. And if you’re surprised, you should have been where I was sitting as I did another long, glorious stretch of Lincolnshire launch-route roads. It’s a good job video guy Bradley wasn’t there, because I was speechless. 

It’s my kind of hot hatch to a tee. Loads of feel through the controls, strong and tight front end, bags of bite from the limited-slip diff, meaty gearchange and steering, plus a gem of a chassis fully equipped with bespoke kinematics and clever adaptive dampers. For the money, it’s an extraordinary car that, even now, I just want to drive and drive. The mark of a good hot hatch right there. Hyundai’s nailed it. RA

Mercedes-AMG E63 SThe cars we loved driving in 2017

Meet the ultimate Jekyll-and-Hyde car. This upmarket and understated saloon offers supercar-rivalling performance and driving excitement, with a bellowing V8 soundtrack to match. 

The ‘only car you’ll ever need’ cliché is a staple of motoring journalism – and applied, more often than not, to the Volkswagen Golf GTI. For me, though, the E63 S best fulfills that brief. From comfortable cruiser to Drift Mode hooligan, it’s got every base covered. TP

Volvo XC40The cars we loved driving in 2017

While some of the inclusions here are on purely emotive grounds, the Volvo XC40 is probably the most complete all-rounder I’ve driven in 2017. It looks great, while the interior is pleasingly upmarket and full of clever ideas to make the most of its small platform.

The current powertrains on offer in the XC40 are refined, if not exciting, while an upcoming hybrid version could future-proof the car. AB

Vauxhall Maloo R8 LSAThe cars we loved driving in 2017

This Aussie-built Maloo isn’t just a truck (sorry, ‘ute’). It’s also the fastest commercial vehicle on sale in the UK. A 544hp 6.2-litre supercharged V8 means 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds if you use launch control. Plus, a popping crackling soundtrack to match.

Going this fast in a truck is both addictive and hilarious. When the supercharger gets into its stride, you simply take off. Also, while it might only have two seats, the option to carry a wardrobe or a couple of sheep in the back only adds to the mighty Maloo’s appeal. BL

Lamborghini Huracan PerformanteThe cars we loved driving in 2017

I’m not a Lamborghini kind of person. In fact, I’m not really a supercar type of person. I hate the attention they get, and the majority of the time they’re simply too capable for UK roads. And that’s all true for the 640hp Lamborghini Huracan Performante. 

I spent a few days with the Huracan Performante this December and, most of the time, it was all a bit awkward. Van drivers tried to race me and elderly people frowned at me. Most of the time I was in traffic wishing I had a paper bag to cover my face. But then I crept out (as much as you can creep in a car as loud as the Performante) for a late-night drive on some deserted local roads. I won’t say any more, but it’s quite possibly the best car I’ve ever driven. AB

Suzuki IgnisThe cars we loved driving in 2017

I had a feeling I would like the Suzuki Ignis, and having spent six months running one as a long-termer, I’m delighted to say my hunch was entirely justified. In a world in which carmakers are seemingly obsessed with making their cars feel more European, the Ignis is refreshingly Japanese. 

I love the retro-inspired styling, which looks quite unlike anything else on the road, while some neat interior touches help mask the fact that it’s been built to a budget. It’s also good fun to drive, although its lightness and slab-sided design means you should avoid high winds, unless you fancy doing a passable impression of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. GBS

McLaren 720SThe cars we loved driving in 2017

I was tempted to put the Huracan Performante in my top three, but a) Andrew has already chosen it and b) the 720S is a more complete proposition. Probably the most accomplished supercar on sale, in fact. How far McLaren Automotive has come in seven short years… 

The 720S is brain-bendingly fast (0-186mph in 21.8 seconds, anyone?), yet doesn’t feel intimidating to drive. Visibility is excellent, all the controls move with weighty precision and the brakes – including an active airbrake – are the best I’ve experienced. Others have criticised the lack of aural drama, but I like the fact it doesn’t sound as OTT as a Huracan. TP

Range Rover VelarThe cars we loved driving in 2017

Visually, it’s a concept car for the road, all clean surfaces and modernist appearance. The Range Rover Velar is also a nice drive, particularly in V6 diesel guise. It’s quite the step up in sophistication over a Range Rover Evoque and suitably different in emphasis from the Jaguar F-Pace it shares an architecture with. But it’s the Velar’s remarkable interior that really makes it stand out. 

I did the first drive launch in Norway, and was wowed by its tactility, sleek appearance, the amazing dual-screen infotainment system and gorgeous seats. A few months passed, then I drove it again in LA, as part of assessments for the 2018 World Car Awards. The same flood of well-being came back to me. This is an incredibly feel-good car to spend time in. I loved each and every drive of it in 2017: the entire package is really rather special. RA

Nissan Skyline GT-R (R33)The cars we loved driving in 2017

Few things in 2017 could beat throwing a classic JDM car around a wet skid pan. The venue was Rockingham Motor Speedway and my chariot of choice was an R33 Nissan Skyline GT-R. After a bit of practise, I managed a full lap of the course without spinning out. 

The well-used R33 had more than enough torque to break traction, helped by a welded diff and a competition drift clutch – the latter was effectively either on or off. It was a lot of fun, and not as difficult as I’d expected. BL

Skoda YetiThe cars we loved driving in 2017

Gone, but not forgotten. I had the pleasure of taking the dearly departed Skoda Yeti on a road trip to Northern Ireland, where I found that it remained relevant, some eight years after it was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. I was grinning from ear-to-ear as I made my way to the ferry along some of the finest roads in Wales.

The Yeti’s passing marks the demise of one of the last true characters in an increasingly bland and depressingly dull segment. I’m sure its replacement – I’ve forgotten its name – is a better car, but it’ll never recapture the magic of the Yeti. GBS

Audi RS5The cars we loved driving in 2017

I really didn’t like the old V8 RS5. There, I said it. Too highly strung, it had no torque, no subtlety and no ride quality. Others loved it far more than me. I remember how often I was photographed in it almost as much as I remember how cold it left me. So, with the usual trepidation with which you approach an Audi RS (is there a performance brand more divisive?), I picked up the keys to the new V6 turbo RS5 at Goodwood for a week’s extended test drive. 

What a transformation. This is ‘good’ Audi RS. The new 5 is sophisticated, has a chassis with depth, feels precise and is cleverly effortless to drive viciously quickly. It oozes quality, with head-turning looks that perfectly distil the charmingly technocratic appeal of Audi RS. Some don’t like it because it’s not a thumping V8. I love it precisely because of this. RA

Ford Fiesta STThe cars we loved driving in 2017

Heard the one about the £60k RS Turbo, or the £91k Escort Cosworth? Retro Ford prices are bonkers, but there’s a future classic Ford that’s still very affordable: the Fiesta ST. The car pictured here was discontinued earlier in 2017 and its replacement – complete with a ‘downsized’ three-cylinder engine – is due soon. It’ll need to be off-the-scale brilliant to top this little firecracker. 

Indeed, any debate about affordable fun cars since 2013 has inevitably been settled with the words ‘Fiesta ST’. This 182hp pocket rocket channels the spirit of the Peugeot 205 GTI, while rejecting its fondness for snap-oversteer. Its engine is eager, its steering sublime. And on the right road, only a select few sports cars are more fun. TP

Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35The cars we loved driving in 2017

A massive truck with 35-inch off-road tyres and flared wheel arches… Yes, the 10-year-old in me had a fantastic time spending a week with the Arctic Trucks D-Max.

From splashing through fords on my commute to surprising cyclists on a green lane, the D-Max could do it all. Objectively it’s not the best thing I’ve driven this year – far from it – but I loved it. AB

McLaren 570SThe cars we loved driving in 2017

Another track day at Rockingham, this time behind the wheel of McLaren’s awesome 570S. A very knowledgeable racing instructor helped me push this 204mph supercar – and my driving ability – to the the limit.

I managed to reach a top of speed of 95mph down the main straight, before firmly stamping on the brake to throw the McLaren into the next bend. The best thing about this car is the noise; the roar of a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 just behind your head stays with you for hours afterwards. BL

Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-TerrainThe cars we loved driving in 2017

This is my kinda car. I’ve been a fan of premium off-road estates since the days of the original Volvo V70 XC and the Audi Allroad, loving their blend of comfort, practicality and non-shouty styling. Right now, I’d select the new E-Class All-Terrain as my pick of the current crop of posh mud-plugging wagons.

It’s not cheap, but Mercedes’ ‘kitchen sink’ approach to the specification goes some way to justifying the £60k price tag, while the 3.0-litre V6 diesel makes surprisingly light work of hauling this two-tonne estate car uphill and down dale. A class act. GBS

Volkswagen PoloThe cars we loved driving in 2017

It’s still difficult to gloss over Volkswagen’s issues, particularly how buyers have been deceived by the company’s claims for great economy and emissions. Yet is it time to move on, to (mostly) forgive and forget? It does seem that the Volkswagen group is doubling its efforts to clean up its act, and as a consequence become one of cleanest car companies in Europe.

There’s no better evidence of this than the truly excellent new Polo, which hits the road early in 2018. A range of small petrol engines offer driving pleasure with impressive economy, combined with a sense of class and comfort that knocks even modern rivals into the weeds. PB

>NEXT: 2018 Subaru Impreza first drive

LA Auto Show 2017

LA Auto Show 2017: the star cars

LA Auto Show 2017The LA Auto Show is a feel-good show. Local hotels and restaurants are putting out the Christmas decorations, despite the sunshine and 25-degree temperatures outside, and the just-right size and just-so layout of the stands means it’s a show it feels churlish to gripe about.

Manufacturers reward it by showing some interesting cars, and bringing along Grade-A execs to present them. Sure, the list of genuine world-firsts is slight, but this doesn’t stop LA having its own share of surprises – this year, there were certainly some prominent ones on the roster that proved its status as serious car show. Such as? Let us be your guide…

Alfa Romeo Stelvio QVLA Auto Show 2017

America is back in love with Alfa Romeo. The Giulia was the warm-up: now, the Stelvio SUV is the car winning over hearts, few more so than the potent-looking QV version. Its V6 turbo engine produces 510hp and has, literally, more than a whiff of Ferrari about it, while the gorgeous Alfa red paint of the show stand car couldn’t help but draw onlookers. Your writer remembers when Alfa was relegated to a corridor at LA, merely in the way of the other big brands. Not anymore.

Aston Martin VantageLA Auto Show 2017

Aston Martin wasn’t there in person, probably because it was still giving itself high fives over the successful UK launch of the new Vantage. That didn’t stop massive local dealer Galpin Motors convincing the firm to ship over one of the first models for it to display on its incredible hall-of-its-own stand. In what other colour, but vivid lime green? Perfect.

BMW i8 RoadsterLA Auto Show 2017

BMW has been chopping the roof off the i8 almost as long as it’s been making the i8. But only now is it an official production car, as opposed to a concept. And it looks even better than we ever imagined. The i8 Coupe, as it’s now called, is a cool car, but don’t be surprised if the majority of buyers choose the i8 Roadster instead.

Corvette ZR1LA Auto Show 2017

Monster power from a monster Corvette. But also a dinosaur. This is a last hurrah for the front-engined Corvette: its replacement will have an engine in the middle, one producing even more power than this ludicrous powerhouse. If that’s progress, hang the history: we’re all for it.

Infiniti QX50LA Auto Show 2017

This is the most important Infiniti there’s ever been. Sure, it’s an SUV; god knows, how could it not be? It replaces a similarly-sized SUV that was forgettable. This one won’t be, though. Because it’s powered by the first production-ready variable compression engine in the world. A colossal breakthrough two decades in the making, that means it’s as economical as a diesel but as powerful as a V6. Infiniti’s so confident in the merits of this engine, it’s not offering the pretty new QX50 with any other motor. How rival makers must be stomping their corporate feet at the Japanese premium brand’s potential engineering-led big break into the big time.

Jaguar Project 8LA Auto Show 2017

It costs £150k, but for good reason. Very little of a regular XE is actually left. And the reward for Jaguar indulging its SVO engineers with this wild flight of fantasy? A record-breaking Nürburgring lap time. No four-door production-spec car has lapped the Green Hell more quickly than this. It’s 11 seconds faster than the previous record holder, the Alfa Romeo Giulia QV. Dammit, it’s even faster than a Ferrari Enzo. £150k, you say? Bargain.

Mercedes-Benz CLSLA Auto Show 2017

The Mercedes-Benz CLS. First one, great. Second one, not so. Here’s that tricky third album, make or break for the CLS. The initial signs are good, with a sexy body shape drawing back to the reason why people loved the original, and steered clear of the ham-fisted second one. Will it sell, for upwards of £55k at a minimum? We’ll see. But we hope so. Not everything needs to be SUV-shaped these days. There’s still room for a bit of beauty.

Porsche 911 Carrera TLA Auto Show 2017

The Porsche 911 Carrera T has already gone on sale in the UK, and if you’re one of the people who have placed a deposit on the £85,576 stripped-back 911, you can expect to take delivery in January. That’s one way to chase away the new year blues. Speaking of which, we’d take ours in optional Miami Blue, a snip at £1,877.

Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport TurismoLA Auto Show 2017

This is a formidable machine. With a combined output of 680hp, the all-wheel drive Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo will sprint to 62mph in just 3.4 seconds, before reaching a top speed of 192mph. Driven carefully – some chance – you can expect an electric range of 15 to 30 miles. The price: £139,287, before options.

Range Rover faceliftLA Auto Show 2017

The Range Rover’s facelift is subtle, but the big changes lie under the skin, most notably the arrival of a new plug-in hybrid version. The P400e boasts a 31-mile electric range, 101mpg NEDC fuel economy and total power output of 404hp. Prices start from £86,965, but you’ll pay £105,865 for the Autobiography.

Volvo XC40LA Auto Show 2017

The original XC90 and XC60 were hugely successful in North America, and we expect the XC40 to follow suit. We’ve driven the compact SUV and can confirm that it’s every bit as good as it looks. We had no hesitation in giving it a maximum five-star rating, and the word on the floor in LA is that Volvo has another hit on its hands.

>NEXT: Chevrolet Corvette: 65 years in the making

Black Friday car deals

The best Black Friday car deals

Black Friday car dealsLove it or hate it, Black Friday is here to stay. If you’re prepared to brave getting punched by a customer in a supermarket, as folk tussle over a half-price television, there are some great deals to be had. But Black Friday is more than just household appliances and early Christmas presents. Here are some Black Friday deals we found on the web.

Alfa Romeo, Thames Motor GroupBlack Friday car deals

The Thames Motor Group is offering what it calls “incredible savings on delivery mileage Alfa Romeo cars this Black Friday weekend” in its ‘Cost Price Plus £1 Sale Event’. This includes a £17,504 discount on the Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe, which brings the price down to just under £45,000. The discounts are available from Friday 24 to Sunday 26 November.

Click here for details of the offer.

Alfa Romeo, Swansway

Not to be outdone, Swansway is offering Black Friday discounts at Chester Alfa Romeo. Deals include free metallic paint and £1,000 off any new Alfa Romeo. Purchase a used car between 24 and 27 November and you’ll also receive a free service.

Click here for details of the offer.

Audi, ListersBlack Friday car deals

The Listers Group operates Audi dealers in Birmingham, Coventry, Stratford and Worcester, and this weekend it’s offering an extra £500 off all published prices. Deals include £11,125 off the price of a new A6, £18,910 off an A7 and £10,930 off an A5. The Black November Event is available until the end of the month.

Click here for details of the offer.

BMW, Bowker Motor GroupBlack Friday car deals

The Bowker Motor Group is offering 0% finance on all BMW 1 Series models until the end of November, with the five-door 118i Sport available from £259 per month. Even more tempting is the M140i for just £359 per month.

Click here for details of the offer.

CitroenBlack Friday car deals

Citroen isn’t giving much away on its website, but is inviting customers to contact their local dealer to find the best Black November deals. The new C3 is available from £159 per month on a personal lease. The Black November offers are available until 27 November.

Click here for details of the offer.

Fiat, Thames Motor GroupBlack Friday car deals

The Thames Motor Group is offering delivery mileage cars at cost price plus £1 in its Black Friday event. For example, the Fiat 500C 60th Anniversary is available for £15,896, which represents a discount of £3,489. The event runs from 24 to 26 November.

Click here for details of the offer.

Ford, Evans HalshawBlack Friday car deals

Up to £10,360 discount is available at all Evans Halshaw Ford dealers in the Black Friday event. The maximum discount applies to the Ford Transit, but the best car deals include £5,539 off the price of an Edge and £5,277 off a C-Max. Offers valid from 24 to 30 November.

Click here for details of the offer.

Jaguar, Lloyd Motor GroupBlack Friday car deals

The Lloyd Motor Group operates Jaguar dealers in Carlisle and Kelso, where you can find some incredible Black Friday deals this weekend. Up to £12,088 is available off the price of an XJ, or £6,400 off an XF Sportbrake when buying on PCP. With every new vehicle purchased, customers will be given a £100 voucher to spend on ‘lifestyle’ items. The deals are available from 24 to 26 November.

Click here for details of the offer.

Jaguar, Matford

It’s a similar story at the Jaguar dealer in Exeter, with some meaty deposit contributions available to customers buying on finance. The amounts vary, but include up to £6,500 off the price of an F-Type and a £3,500 discount on an F-Pace. The deals are available from 24 to 26 November.

Click here for details of the offer.

Land RoverBlack Friday car deals

Land Rover is offering up to £6,500 deposit contributions as part of its Black Friday event. The maximum discount is available on a Range Rover, but you’ll also get £4,500 off the price of a Range Rover Sport, £5,000 off an Evoque, £4,500 off a Discovery Sport, £2,000 off a Velar and £1,500 off a new Discovery. The deals are available from 24 to 26 November.

Click here for details of the offer.

Land Rover, Pentland

Land Rover’s Black Friday discounts are a manufacturer-led initiative, so it’s no surprise to find the discounts advertised on dealer websites. It’s worth pointing out that you’ll also get 20% off Land Rover accessories, and a £100 lifestyle collection voucher when you buy a new car.

Click here for details of the offer.

Kia, Evans HalshawBlack Friday car deals

Evans Halshaw is offering up to £1,969 off the price of a new Kia, along with a chance to win a PlayStation 4 in a prize draw. There are no specific details yet, but there will be discounts available on the new Stonic and the popular Sportage.The deals are available from 24 to 26 November.

Click here for details of the offer.

Lexus, SytnerBlack Friday car deals

The Sytner Group is advertising a £500 finance deposit allowance on pre-registered and ex-demonstrator vehicles, up to £4,000 hybrid finance deposit allowance, and finance rates from just 1.9% APR. These deals are available from 24 to 26 November.

Click here for details of the offer.

Mazda, FurrowsBlack Friday car deals

Furrows of Shrewsbury is offering up to £2,559 off the price of a new Mazda. The maximum discount applies to the CX-5 Sport Nav, but savings are also available on the 2, 3, 6, CX-3 and MX-5. The deals are available from 24 to 26 November.

Click here for details of the offer.

Mercedes-Benz, SytnerBlack Friday car deals

Head to the Sytner website and you can download a £500 voucher to put towards the cost of a new Mercedes-Benz. But that’s not all, because customers are invited to take a look at the windscreens of the cars available in the Black Friday event. Multiply the voucher by the number shown and you could save up to £10,000. The deals are available from 24 to 26 November.

Click here for details of the offer.

Mitsubishi, Birchwood GroupBlack Friday car deals

Take a test drive in an Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV at Sussex-based Birchwood Mitsubishi between 24 and 27 November, and you’ll get an extra £1,000 off the price. This is on top of Mitsubishi’s £2,750 deposit contribution and the £2,500 government plug-in car grant. Birchwood will also throw in a free service plan worth £525.

Click here for details of the offer.

PeugeotBlack Friday car deals

Peugeot isn’t giving much away, but is promising an “exciting new offer” at its Black Friday event. The offer applies to the 108 city car, which is all we can tell you at the moment.

Click here for details of the offer.

Skoda, SytnerBlack Friday car deals

The Sytner Group is the place to go if you’re looking to buy a new Skoda in North Wales. As part of the Black Friday event, you can get deposit contributions of between £1,250 and £3,750 towards the cost of a Citigo, Fabia, Octavia and Superb. Sytner is also offering a £750 deposit contribution on selected 17-plate models and a £300 Black Friday Bonus when you trade in any Skoda, SEAT or Volkswagen. Offers end 26 November.

Click here for details of the offer.

Skoda, Wings of Peterborough

Meanwhile, Wings of Peterborough claims to be “super excited” about the prospect of holding its first Black Friday event. Vouchers will be available to download from 24 to 27 November, offering “genuine savings which have never been offered before”. Exciting.

Click here for details of the offer.

Smart, SytnerBlack Friday car deals

Sytner’s Smart Black Friday event mirrors its Mercedes offer. Download a £500 voucher to put towards the cost of a new Smart, then multiply the voucher by the number shown on a windscreen and you could save up to £10,000. The deals are available from 24 to 26 November.

Click here for details of the offer.

Snows Motor GroupBlack Friday car deals

The Snows Motor Group is offering Black Friday discounts on all its brands and at all its dealers across the south. These brands include Abarth, Lexus, Lotus, MINI and Volvo, so its worth registering on the Snows website.

Click here for details of the offer.

Suzuki, Littlewick GreenBlack Friday car deals

Littlewick Green of Maidenhead is offering “massive savings” across the weekend, with brand new Suzukis available at cost price. Selected cars are also available with zero deposit and 0% finance. Black Friday deals are available by pre-booked appointment only from 8am Friday 24 November to 4pm Sunday 26 November.

Click here for details of the offer.

Vauxhall, PlatinumBlack Friday car deals

“Get that Vauxhall you’ve always wanted,” promises Platinum Vauxhall, but we couldn’t find a 1969 Viva GT or a ‘Droopsnoot’ Firenza on its website. On the plus side, new Vauxhalls are available for a “truly unmissable Black Friday price”, along with £500 spending money and 25% off accessories.

Click here for details of the offer.

Vauxhall, Peter Vardy

Peter Vardy is offering a £500 gift card with every brand new car purchased during its Black Friday event, with up to £3,000 towards a finance deal. The dealer group is also offering the gift card on used cars, along with nothing to pay until Easter 2018, up to £1,000 towards a finance deal, and a free holiday stay abroad. But no cuddly toy.

Click here for details of the offer.

Vauxhall, Go Vauxhall

‘Go Vauxhall’ might have been something your father shouted as he attempted to cold-start his Cavalier in the 1980s, but it’s also the name of a dealer. There are many Black Friday offers available, including £500 cashback, up to £3,000 towards a deposit and £1,000 minimum part-exchange.

Click here for details of the offer.

Volkswagen, JohnsonsBlack Friday car deals

Had your fill of Black Friday deals? Don’t worry, we’re nearly done. West Midlands-based Johnsons Cars is offering up to £7,297 off the price of a new Volkswagen and a number of deals on the outgoing Polo.

Click here for details of the offer.

Volkswagen, Lookers

It’s a similar story at Lookers, where you’ll find up to £7,000 off list price and up to £2,000 towards your finance deposit. Offers available 24 to 27 November.

Click here for details of the offer.

Volkswagen, Robinsons Motor Group

The Robinsons Motor Group of Norfolk is offering £500 off the cost of a current or ex-demonstrator. The car must be purchased before 27 November.

Click here for details of the offer.

Westover GroupBlack Friday car deals

All 16 franchises in the Westover Group will be offering Black Friday discounts, including the ‘Cost Price + £1’ deal, which is available on selected brands. Westover is also offering free paint on certain models.

Click here for details of the offer.

>NEXT: 7 new laws drivers need to know

The UK’s most reliable company cars

The UK’s most reliable company cars

The UK’s most reliable company carsCompany cars are some of the hardest-working vehicles in the UK, pounding the nation’s motorways and dodging the inevitable traffic jams. Reliability is crucial, which is why the 2017 Fleet News car reliability survey makes for such interesting reading. It’s based on data from 50 contract hire and leasing companies, which is used to identify the UK’s most reliable company car. Read on if you don’t want to be stuck in Strensham or broken down in Baldock.

10. Mercedes-Benz E-ClassThe UK’s most reliable company cars

The Fleet News reliability survey is one of the most comprehensive in the business, using data from around 700,000 cars operated by the country’s biggest contract hire and leasing operators. The fleet managers are asked to rank their vehicles for breakdowns and warranty claims. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the only new entry in the top 10.

Fleet News said: “Mercedes-Benz has snuck into the top 10 with the E-Class this year, a strong performance for the newly launched model. But the ageing C-Class – which held eighth last-year – has dropped to 14th in this survey. A new C-Class is expected next year.”

9. Audi A4The UK’s most reliable company cars

The entire top 10 consists of either German- or Japanese-owned brands, with Audi the second-best performing manufacturer. But the news is less rosy for the A4, which drops from third position in 2016 to ninth in 2017.

Fleet News calls this is a “disappointing drop for the new model”, but Audi will take some solace from the fact that the C-Class is no longer in the top 10. The A4 is offered in six flavours, with the 2.0-litre diesel saloon the traditional fleet favourite. A 2.0-litre TDI Ultra offers CO2 emissions of just 99g/km.

8. Nissan QashqaiThe UK’s most reliable company cars

The country’s most popular crossover also happens to be one of the most reliable company cars, according to the Fleet News survey. It’s one of two British-built cars to appear in the top 10 and follows a ninth position in 2016.

Fleet News said: “Taking eighth position is the Nissan Qashqai, a car which jumped to the top of the UK sales charts in September following a minor facelift. Early next year, the model will offer a semi-autonomous driving system, but remains a firm fleet favourite thanks to its low 99g/km CO2 emissions.”

7. Skoda OctaviaThe UK’s most reliable company cars

Interestingly, there’s no place in the top 10 for a Korean manufacturer, which is surprising given the acclaimed warranties offered by Hyundai and Kia. There are no such problems for the Skoda Octavia, which rises three places to seventh position in the chart. The Golf-based Octavia – which is available as a hatchback and estate – has been treated to a midlife facelift.

CO2 emissions range from 103g/km for the 115hp 1.6-litre TDI to 149g/km for the 230hp 2.0-litre petrol vRS. Meanwhile, Skoda just managed to cling on to a top 10 slot on the list of best manufacturers, dropping from seventh in 2016.

6. Volkswagen PassatThe UK’s most reliable company cars

It’s been a while since the Volkswagen Passat was named 2015 European Car of the Year, but the German saloon remains a firm favourite within fleet circles. Sixth position sees it rise one place in the Fleet News reliability survey.

The Passat is available with a wide range of powertrains, including the GTE plug-in hybrid, which is powered by a combination of a 1.4-litre petrol engine and electric motor. Prices start from £34,515 after the government plug-in car grant, and CO2 emissions are just 39g/km.

5. BMW 5 SeriesThe UK’s most reliable company cars

The new BMW 5 Series is available in 34 different flavours, including the business-friendly 530e iPerformance, which combines an electric motor and a 2.0-litre petrol engine to deliver CO2 emissions of just 46g/km.

Fleet News said: “Another model that debuted this year was the all-new BMW 5 Series. The car has jumped from sixth position to fifth; making BMW the only manufacturer with two models in the top five.”

4. Honda CivicThe UK’s most reliable company cars

The new and improved Honda Civic nudges the Japanese family and fleet favourite up one position to a highly respectable fourth place. The 129hp turbocharged 1.0-litre VTEC engine emits 110g/km and could return 58.9mpg on a combined cycle.

Fleet News said: “Honda now occupies fourth place with the Civic, continuing as the only Japanese model in the top-five. Having undergone a total redesign, the new Civic was launched in the spring with a choice of two turbo-charged petrol engines. A diesel is expected early next year.”

3. Audi A3The UK’s most reliable company cars

Into the top three, where we find the ever-popular Audi A3, which is available in no fewer than 11 different body styles, from standard family hatchback to storming RS3 Sportback and saloon.

Fleet News said: “The Audi A3 made a surprise return to third place, having held fourth for the past two years. It bumped the recently re-launched A4 to ninth – a disappointing drop for the new model.”

2. Volkswagen GolfThe UK’s most reliable company cars

The facelifted Volkswagen Golf – known as the Mk7.5 – stays in second position. If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen Golf, etc, etc.

Fleet News said: “Retaining second place in the reliability index is the Volkswagen Golf, which received a facelift and new petrol engines earlier this year. It also offers a choice of fully-electric and plug-in hybrid options.”

1. BMW 3 SeriesThe UK’s most reliable company cars

And so, for the eighth consecutive year, the BMW 3 Series is named as the most reliable company car. Not bad for a car on the verge of being replaced by a new model. Fleet News said: “An all-new 3 Series is due next year, but the current model has been an overarching success since its launch in 2011. Last year a plug-in hybrid powertrain was added to the line-up, badged 330e.”

The German brand also emerged victorious in the battle to be named the most reliable car manufacturer, mirroring the success of 2016 and 2015. With Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen finishing second, third and fourth respectively, the Fleet News survey makes for great reading if you’re hoping to shift German metal to fleet operators.

>NEXT: The smart motorways most likely to hit you with a ticket

BMW X3 xDrive30d

Anti-diesel agenda is not affecting new BMW X3 sales

BMW X3 xDrive30dBMW expects diesel versions of the all-new X3 to comprise a hefty 95 percent of sales – despite the current caution against diesel that’s taking place in some new car sectors.

The third-generation premium compact SUV will be sold in four versions, two diesel and two petrol. But of them, the 2.0-litre turbodiesel xDrive20d is expected to take a whopping 80 percent of sales, with the 3.0-litre xDrive30d taking another 15 percent. As BMW expects to sell 11,000 new X3 next year, that’s a lot of diesels (all of which will be fully Euro 6-compliant, of course).

A petrol alternative to the best-selling new X3, the xDrive20i, will fight with the range-topping M40i for the remaining 5 percent of sales, despite being the cheapest new X3 you can buy (its list price sits £900 below the diesel).

The low expectations for petrol X3 sales are not because they’re particularly thirsty or inefficient, either. The xDrive20i averages almost 40mpg, compared to the xDrive20d’s 56.5mpg. The list price saving would offset this, particularly for lower-mileage drivers.

BMW X3 xDrive30d

BMW’s predictions prove that, although there is an anti-diesel mood in some sectors, particularly superminis and family cars, diesel is still the leader in larger vehicle sectors. Its extra efficiency and pulling power make it better suited to heavier, faster models. And if BMW’s 2018 predictions are anything to go by, market shows little signs of changing this attitude.

Indeed, the premium SUV sector also seems to prefer four-wheel drive machines over slightly cheaper, slightly greener two-wheel drive variants. BMW GB had investigated bringing across a cheaper entry-level 2WD model, but predicted sales were so small, the firm decided to decline.

Instead, it’s bringing forward the introduction of the £50,530 range-topping M40i. This was to have been introduced in August 2018, but has now been moved to January 2018, not long after the November launch of the rest of the model range.

So take the death of diesel with a pinch of salt. Yes, it’s having an effect in some sectors, but in others, it remains stronger than ever.  

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The best family cars for every budget

The best family cars for every budget

The best family cars for every budgetWhile most of us dream of sports cars and hot hatches, there comes a time in our lives when we need something a little more practical. With this in mind, we’ve created a list of 20 family cars to suit every budget. Yep, we have everything from a Dacia to a Rolls-Royce, and much more in between.

£5,000 – £10,000: Dacia SanderoThe best family cars for every budget

The Dacia Sandero is available for a headline price of £5,995, but unless you enjoy the feeling of sweaty armpits and the sound of your own singing voice, we’d avoid the Access model. Instead, upgrade to the mid-spec Ambiance for manual air conditioning and DAB digital radio.

Even with the Sandero Ambiance with the super-frugal diesel engine creeps below the £10,000 mark, but we’d save the best part of £1,500 and choose the turbocharged petrol engine for £7,995.

£5,000 – £10,000: Dacia DusterThe best family cars for every budget

We make no apology for featuring a second Dacia in our bargain basement category because the Duster offers exceptional value for money. Yes, the £9,495 Access is basic in the extreme, but there’s something appealing about a UN-spec SUV-lookalike for the price of a supermini.

The 1.6-litre SCe petrol engine offers as much as 44.1mpg on a combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 145g/km. This is the closest you can get to a Tonka toy for grown-ups. Just steer clear of the skirting boards.

£10,001 – £15,000: SsangYong TivoliThe best family cars for every budget

The SsangYong Tivoli might be a leftfield choice, but it offers exceptional value for money. Both the petrol and diesel engine versions of the entry-level SE model are available for less than £15,000, while even the better equipped EX breaks the £15k mark by a mere £300.

At the time of writing, SsangYong is offering discounts of up to £2,155 across the Tivoli range, taking the top-spec ELX diesel with a manual gearbox down to £16,995. Prices start from just £11,995.

£10,001 – £15,000: Skoda Rapid SpacebackThe best family cars for every budget

Don’t be fooled by the name, because the Spaceback is smaller than the standard Skoda Rapid. As a result, boot space is down 135 litres, but the load space is a better shape, making it easier to make full use of the 415 litres on offer.

That’s a boot larger than the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, despite the Spaceback sitting on the same platform as the Polo. The 1.0 TSI S is the only model to meet the £10-£15k criteria, although some haggling should secure an SE Tech within budget.

£15,001 – £20,000: Mazda CX-3The best family cars for every budget

If you must drive a compact crossover, do the right thing and make sure it looks good and drives like a regular hatchback. You’re not exactly spoilt for choice, but fortunately, the Mazda CX-3 fits the bill.

The SE Nav version is available for £18,495 when powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine and £19,995 for the 1.6-litre diesel. The boot offers 350 litres of boot space, which extends to 1,260 litres with the rear seats folded down.

£15,001 – £20,000: Skoda OctaviaThe best family cars for every budget

Assuming you’re not after a crossover, the Skoda Octavia might be the ultimate family car. It’s larger than the Volkswagen Golf upon which it is based, with 590 litres of boot space, extending to 1,580 litres with the rear seats folded down. And that’s just the hatchback version.

Prices start from £17,195 for the entry-level 1.0 TSI S, while the 1.5 TSI SE slips below the £20k mark. Right now, Skoda is offering £3,500 scrappage discount on the Octavia.

£20,001 – £25,000: Citroen Grand C4 PicassoThe best family cars for every budget

Seven-seat MPVs are hardly flavour of the month, but if you want a proper MPV, the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is a great option. Prices start from £23,155 for the Touch Edition, with the mid-spec Feel available for £24,530.

The Grand C4 Picasso looks good – a rare thing in this segment – and the cabin is light and airy. The middle-row seats slide individually and offer a huge amount of space, while the rearmost seats are perfectly adequate for children and occasional use by adults.

£20,001 – £25,000: Skoda SuperbThe best family cars for every budget

The Superb range kicks off at £20,050, with even the most lavishly-equipped model costing a reasonable £35,000. Spend some time in a Skoda Superb and you’ll begin to question why anyone would fork out more on a so-called ‘premium’ car.

The boot is huge – 625 litres extending to 1,760 litres – while rear seat passengers will enjoy the limo-like legroom.

£25,001 – £30,000: Audi Q3The best family cars for every budget

The Audi Q3 competes against the Mercedes-Benz GLA and BMW X1, but unlike its German rivals, it’s pleasing on the eye. The interior, while a little sombre, oozes quality, while the badge will provide some driveway appeal.

The Sport trim kicks off at £27,610, while the ultra-desirable S Line Edition creeps below the £30k mark by £150. Be warned: go mad with the options list and the Q3 becomes rather expensive.

£25,001 – £30,000: Skoda KodiaqThe best family cars for every budget

Recently, Reuters reported that Volkswagen might take measures to “curb competition from lower-cost stablemate Skoda, move some of its production to Germany and make the Czech brand pay more for shared technology.” If VW bosses are concerned, the Kodiaq will give them sleepless nights.

Even a top-spec Kodiaq with seven seats costs a little over £30,000, with prices starting from £22,000. This SUV will sell like the hottest of hot cakes.

£30,001 – £40,000: Jaguar F-PaceThe best family cars for every budget

Speaking of hot cakes… The F-Pace is fuelling what looks likely to be a record-breaking year for Jaguar, with sales up 8% on the same point in 2016, at 401,565 vehicles sold. The Jaguar F-Pace is hot property.

Prices start from £34,730 for the Prestige model, with the range-topping S costing £52,665. Not only does the F-Pace seat five adults, but the boot is also able to carry 650 litres of luggage with the rear seats in place. More F-Space, then?

£30,001 – £40,000: Volvo V90The best family cars for every budget

Thankfully, not everybody has bought into the crossover-SUV craze, which is why Volvo can produce masterpieces such as the V90. While we might miss the old five-cylinder engines, and the boot isn’t as cavernous as it was in the old days, the V90 is handsome in a way a crossover so often isn’t.

Prices start from £36,345, while the beautifully-appointed Inscription model slips beneath the £40k mark. The interior is a masterclass in fit, finish and simple sophistication.

£40,001 – £50,000: Porsche MacanThe best family cars for every budget

Of the 186,000 Porsche sales so far in 2017, 49,000 of them were Cayenne and 73,000 Macan. To say the SUV saved the company would be a huge understatement. Porsche can play with wild 911 creations thanks to the Macan and Cayenne.

The Macan range kicks off at £46,000 for the entry-level model, with the S and S Diesel both available for less than £50,000. That it isn’t quite as practical as some of its rivals won’t matter one jot when you reach your favourite corner of the local B-road. This is essentially a 911 in an SUV suit.

£40,001 – £50,000: Land Rover DiscoveryThe best family cars for every budget

One of the world’s greatest off-roaders just got better; it’s just a shame Land Rover forgot to finish the styling. Putting the controversial tailgate design to one side for a moment, the fifth generation Discovery offers a compelling blend of on- and off-road manners.

In seven-seat form, you’ll find 258 litres of space, although this increases to 1,137 litres with the rearmost seats folded down. Fold the second row and the Discovery could give a small van a run for its money, offering 2,406 litres of space. Prices start from £46,000.

£50,001 – £75,000: Volvo XC90The best family cars for every budget

The reinvention of Volvo began with the XC90, with the smaller XC60 and XC40 soon following suit. For such a large SUV, the XC90 oozes charm and elegance, while the minimalist interior is arguably the best thing this side of a luxury car costing tens of thousands of pounds more.

Prices start from £49,905, while the T8 Twin Engine weighs in at £61,705. Three years on from its launch, the XC90 has lost none of its appeal.

£50,001 – £75,000: Audi Q7The best family cars for every budget

The Audi Q7 might not be as elegant as the Volvo XC90, but it’s arguably its closest rival. If the original Q7 was a cumbersome and aggressive machine, the new version is positively featherlight, shedding 325kg between generations. As as a result, it’s more efficient and less of a threat to polar bears and penguins.

Not that it is any prettier, although owners will love the huge amount of interior space, which extends to 1,955 litres, some 100 litres more than the XC90.

£75,001 – £100,000: Range RoverThe best family cars for every budget

The Range Rover is the Swiss Army Knife of the automotive world, blending off-road capabilities, family car appeal and opulent levels of luxury in one iconic package.

Sure, it won’t be the cheapest thing to run, but that hardly seems to matter at this price point. Besides, few cars offer such impeccable on- and off-road manners. Go forth and climb every mountain and ford every stream.

£75,001 – £100,000: Porsche Panamera Sport TurismoThe best family cars for every budget

Dear Porsche, thank you for giving us an alternative to the SUV. For the first time in a Panamera, the Sport Turismo offers a central third seat, although this is available as a delete option.

There’s also more headroom in the back and more luggage space in the boot. But before you get too carried away, at 520 litres, it’s only 20 litres more than you’d find in the regular Panamera. Still, this is a very cool thing.

£101,000+: Bentley BentaygaThe best family cars for every budget

You probably don’t like the look of the Bentley Bentayga, and that’s your prerogative. But ask anyone who has spent quality time in Bentley’s first SUV and they’ll regale you with tales of brilliance and wonderment.

From our 2016 review: “We shuddered at the thought of a Bentley SUV a few years ago. 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.”

£101,000+: Rolls-Royce GhostThe best family cars for every budget

Into the realms of fantasy we go. Look, the Rolls-Royce Ghost has got four doors and four seats, so it must qualify as a family car. Not convinced? This thing has a 490-litre boot.

If you’ve spent a quarter of a million quid on a family car, we doubt you’ll be too fussed about the thirst, so we won’t mention the 20mpg figure. But good luck finding a space in the pre-school car park…

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