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New Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

New Ford GT – and other great cars that share its nameGT: two letters that mean so much in the car industry. The badge is primarily used to designate a grand tourer, but has been put to good use on mildly warm hatches or for when a GTi badge would promise something a car might not be able to deliver.

So, with the new Ford GT hitting the headlines, we trawled the archives in search of other famous GT cars. Note, this is a not an exhaustive list and we’ve steered clear of badge extensions, meaning you won’t find a GT-R, GTi, GTS or GTE here.

Porsche Carrera GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

When production of the Carrera GT ceased in 2006, Porsche concluded – with a certain degree of bravado – that it was “ the most successful supercar in history”. Its point was that, at 1,270 units, more Carrera GTs rolled out of the Leipzig production facility than the McLaren F1, Ferrari Enzo and Pagani Zonda combined.

OK, so 605hp and a 0-62mph time of 3.9 seconds might not seem like a big deal in an age of the Dodge Demon, but it was the way in which the Carrera GT went about its business that made the difference. The race-honed V10 engine makes a noise rivalled only by Thor gargling on a single malt Scotch.

Citroen AX GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

The Citroen AX GT is unlikely to win a game of Top Trumps, unless the chosen category is ‘lightness’ or ‘risk of death in the event of an accident’. But that doesn’t mean it’s not fit to wear the GT badge, because the featherlight Citroen was one of the most exciting cars of the late 80s and early 90s.

Power was sourced from a 1.4-litre engine developing just 86hp, but it was mated to a body that tipped the scales at a mere 722kg. It meant that the AX GT could punch well beyond its weight, especially on a twisty B-road, where it could hold its own against more illustrious competition.

Ferrari 456 GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

The GT badge is part of the furniture at Maranello, albeit more commonly with the addition of an extra letter. The 250 GTO, F355 GTS and 348 GTB are just three examples.

The 456 GT saw Ferrari return to the front-engine layout for the first time since the 365 GTB4 of 1968 and was, perhaps, one of the greatest grand tourers of the 1990s. A 2+2 coupe with the beating heart of a 5.4-litre 12-cylinder engine isn’t a bad form of transport for crossing a continent or two.

Opel GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

“Only flying is better,” proclaimed Opel when it launched the achingly beautiful GT. That it looked like a European Corvette was no accident, because the styling of contemporary Opel cars was heavily influenced by its American owners.

Underneath the GT you’d find the floorpan of a humble Kadett, while the fastback coupe body was built in France. The rotating headlights are superb, but although more than 100,000 GTs were built, none were right-hand drive. Shame.

Lamborghini 350 GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

For Lamborghini, this was where it all began. The 350 GT was an evolution of the earlier 350 GTV and was the first Lamborghini to be mass-produced. If Ferruccio Lamborghini’s sole aim was to stick a metaphorical two fingers up at Ferrari, he well and truly succeeded.

Carrozzeria Touring built 120 units, the majority of which were powered by a 3.5-litre 12-cylinder engine. Two Spyder versions were also built by the famous Italian coachbuilder. A 400 GT followed in 1966 and was the first proper 2+2 four-seat Lamborghini.

Toyota 2000GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

Is this the most beautiful car to emerge from Japan? You’d struggle to find anything better than the Toyota 2000GT, which was completed in prototype form by Yamaha in 1965. With Japan’s wealthy elite quick to open their wallets – shouting the equivalent of “take my money” – Toyota got involved with the next stage of development.

Yamaha was entrusted to tackle the production, with the first of these hand-built supercars arriving in 1967. Two open-top versions were created for use in the Bond movie, You Only Live Twice.

MGB GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

The MGB was launched in 1962, but the Pininfarina-penned GT fastback wouldn’t arrive in 1965. It retained all of the handling characteristics of the roadster, with a raised windscreen height ensuring there was ample room in the cabin, at least in the front.

The MGB GT V8 arrived in 1973, right in the midst of the energy crisis. Timing is everything.

Audi Coupe GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

The common or garden Audi Coupe arrived six months after the launch of the iconic Quattro and offered some of the styling for much less cash. OK, so the wide arches and ‘bahnstorming’ performance were absent, but the Coupe managed to cut a mean figure on the Audi forecourts of the land.

Select a Coupe GT with a five-cylinder engine and you could at least pretend to be Hannu Mikkola or Michele Mouton as you made your way home from the office.

Alfa Romeo GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

It’s a modern Alfa Romeo, so you know you’ll have to make one or two sacrifices in order to live with the GT, but it’d be worth it just to stare at it on your driveway.

When powered by the 3.2-litre V6 engine, the Alfa GT is more than capable of living up to the promise of both badges. A proper Alfa and a proper GT.

Renault 5 GT TurboNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

The Renault 5 GT Turbo was a true hot hatch hero of the 1980s, able to hold its own against the might of the 205 GTi and Golf GTi. Key to its brilliance – aside from the turbocharged engine – was its lightness, with the GT Turbo tipping the scales at just 850kg.

Today, Renault uses the GT badge to denote its flagship models, as demonstrated by the Megane and Twingo. In truth, they can’t hold a candle to the French GTs of yesteryear.

‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auctionYou know how it is: you wait an age for a sand-beige coloured Porsche 911 S to turn up and then a pair of near identical twins roll into view. The Porsche double act from 1967 represents the star attraction at the IWM Duxford Auction on 29 March 2017.

These cars are only 300 chassis numbers or so apart, so the chances are they ‘met’ in Stuttgart all those years ago. Since they left Germany in 1967 they have taken different journeys, and while one car has been restored, the other still wears its original paint and interior. Remarkable, given its 50-year vintage.

Porsche 911 S: £220,000 – £250,000‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

Choosing your favourite will be tough, not least because the pre-auction estimates for the two 911s are rather similar. If patina and originality are your thing, this one is for you.

It was delivered new to a dealership in Pennsylvania and is said to be “absolutely unique in that it’s completely original and unrestored”. The interior is similarly untouched and unrestored, displaying a wonderful 50-year-old patina.

We understand the 911 S recently completed a 1,000-mile tour of the Alps without issue, as you’d expect from a well-maintained Porsche. We only hope the new owner does the right thing and retains the car’s originality. If you’re after something restored, its twin sister might appeal…

‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

Although both cars made their way from Stuttgart to the USA, they trod a different path once on American soil. This 911 S was sold new via a dealer in Texas, a full three months earlier than the unrestored car.

Its second owner bought the car in 1979 and it remained part of a private collection until 2015. The present owner then sent it for a 1,500-hour restoration project, resulting in what H&H is calling a “better than new condition”.

This restoration has shaved £10,000 off the upper end of the pre-auction estimate. We wonder if a buyer will be tempted to drop the £500,000 required to keep the siblings together. Read on to discover what else has caught our eye at the forthcoming IWM Duxford Auction.

BMW 2002 Turbo: £65,000 – £75,000‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

As Europe’s first turbocharged production car, the BMW 2002 Turbo is guaranteed a place in the big book of motoring. But this German performance hero is more than just a footnote in a weighty tome. The 2002 Turbo is a 70s icon, and it could be yours for £65,000.

If that seems like a lot to ask when you can order a brand new M2 for £44,000, let us remember that this thing could show many an illustrious sports car a clean pair of heels. Nothing screams intent quite like a set of riveted arches and a KKK turbocharger.

This is a rare car – only 1,672 were built – and this one was delivered new in Italy back in 1975. Later, it became a showroom model for a BMW dealer in Spain, which might help to explain why it has covered a mere 23,720 miles since new.

Lotus Esprit JPS: £30,000 – £40,000‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

To many people, the Lotus Esprit World Championship Commemorative will be forever known as the ‘JPS’, a reference to the black and gold F1 cars of the era. It was the first limited edition Esprit ever built and was built to commemorate “the world-beating combination of Mario Andretti and the Lotus 79 Formula One car”.

Along with the obvious black and gold cosmetic upgrades, each car featured a commemorative plaque signed by Colin Chapman and number on the three-quarter top panel. The original owner also received a framed photo of the Lotus 79 signed by Chapman.

The ‘JPS’ offered at the Duxford sale is number 99 of 99 built for the UK and was subject to a mechanical overhaul in 2007. A little online research reveals that the car was up for sale in 2014, at which point it had the same 61,000 miles on the clock and was ‘living’ in Switzerland. Interesting car, and the last numbered status gives it added provenance.

Audi Quattro: £45,000 – £55,000‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

The Gilder Group was one of the UK’s oldest VAG dealerships in the UK and had managed to assemble a collection of cool classics. When JCT600 bought the VAG dealerships, the chairman shifted the cars to his own private collection. Now, they’re up for sale, with the lots including this 1985 Audi Quattro.

We’ll forgive H&H for using the phrase “time-warp example” to describe this Audi, because it really does look factory-fresh. There’s a mere 8,200 miles on the clock, along with a letter of provenance relating to its time in the Gilder Group Collection.

According to the vendor, the Audi “has never even had a touch-up stick applied to it, or one of its wheels refurbished”. The original WR engine is present and correct, along with factory stickers and an MOT until May 2018.

Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina Coupe: £600,000 – £800,000‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

No need to adjust your set, because this really is a Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina Coupe. It’s just that it has been rebodied to look like a 250 GT LWB California Spyder. You’d be looking at a pre-auction in the many millions if it was the real deal.

Ferrari 512 TR: £135,000 – £155,000‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

Eight years after the launch of the original Testarossa, Ferrari unveiled the much updated 512 TR model. Power from the 12-cylinder engine was increased, while improved aerodynamics contributed to a higher top speed. This particular car was supplied new to former England and Rangers legend Mark Hateley.

Ferrari F512 M: £170,000 – £190,000‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

The third evolution of the Testarossa signalled the end for the pop-up headlights and the introduction of circular rear lights. It was Ferrari’s last mid-engine flat-12-cylinder engine production car and 501 units were built before production ceased in 1996. This example was delivered new in the Netherlands and has 16,500 miles on the clock.

Ferrari 360 Spider F1: £68,000 – £75,000‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

The 360 Spider F1 was unveiled at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show, with styling penned by Pininfarina. This particular car was delivered new in Colchester and was treated to a number of options, including split-rim wheels and red brake calipers.

Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole: £50,000 – £60,000‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

Don’t be fooled by the M-reg number plate, this Ferrari 308 GTS QV was built and supplied new in 1984. The 1995 plate refers to its date of registration in Japan, although it was actually imported to the UK last winter. We’d be hunting down a B-reg number plate if we owned this Fezza.

Ferrari 330 GT Nembo Spyder: no reserve‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

Proceeds from the auction of this car will be going to the East Anglia Air Ambulance, so we invite you to dig deep. It’s the work of Nembo, a company that rebodied sports and race cars, in this case a Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Former owners include the founder of the Bluebird Caravan Company and the chairman of the Ferrari Owners’ Club. You can expect to spend £500,000 on this bespoke creation.

Ferrari 330 GT 2+2: £200,000 – £240,000‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

This is clearly a series one Ferrari 330 GT 2+2, as highlighted by the little-loved quad headlights, influenced by American trends of the time. These were later dropped, but not before Enzo Ferrari had used a S1 model as his own personal transport in and around the Maranello factory. A total of 1,080 units were built before production came to an end in 1967.

Ferrari 360 Spider F1: £85,000 – £95,000‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

None other than David Beckham owned this 2001 Ferrari 360 Spider F1 and the former footballer was often pictured out and about in ‘D7 DVB’. Today, re-registered, the car has covered 7,800 miles and has recently had a cambelt change in Leeds. We doubt Beckham would have been that keen on a visit to Leeds.

Ferrari 348 TS: £36,000 – £40,000‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

The 348 TB and TS models had it all – pop-up headlights, Testarossa-style slatted side air intakes and a glorious, longitudinally-mounted V8 engine, to name but three highlights. It overshadowed just about everything at the 1989 Frankfurt Motor Show. Yes, even the Vauxhall Calibra.

Ferrari Mondial 8: £30,000 – £35,000‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

If the opportunity to buy ‘his and her’ 911s doesn’t grab you, perhaps you might prefer something Italian. The Mondial 8 never recovered from a lukewarm reception at the 1980 Geneva Motor Show, but it represents one of the most affordable ways into Ferrari ownership. This is one of just 145 right-hand drive coupes and it has a mere 14,000 miles on the clock.

Ferrari Mondial 8: £15,000 – £17,000‘His and hers’ Porsche 911s up for auction

If the previous Mondial 8 is ‘good to go’, this 1982 example will require a little work. ‘RET 295X’ is offered from a deceased estate and was last run some three years ago. Yours for the price of a well-equipped Ford Fiesta. Remember, the H&H sale takes place this weekend at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford.

2017 Audi RS3

The hottest hatch: new 400hp Audi RS3 driven

The 2017 Audi RS3 takes on the BMW M2 and Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG with five-cylinder firepower and a saloon option for the first time

Audi A4

Opinion: sorry, Britain, you’re buying the wrong compact executive car

Audi A4

Hold the front page:new car registrations hit a record high in 2016, with more of us buying new cars than ever before. Well, knock me down with a feather and call me ‘pre-reg’ – it’s hardly a tale of the unexpected, is it?

Don’t expect any plot twists in the top 20, either. Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, Nissan Qash…

Sorry, drifted off there for a moment.

Actually, the real interest lies in what’s absent from the list. Take the compact executive segment, for example. The Mercedes C-Class: in at number nine. The BMW 3 Series: a chart-hogging 14th. The Audi A4: fails to the make the top 20.

Wait, what? The only Audi to make the grade is the A3, which manages to creep above the Mercedes A-Class to sit on the throne as the fresh prince of the premium hatchbacks. But the A4 – widely considered one of the best real-world cars Audi has ever made – is conspicuous by its absence.

Sure, you can thank PCP deals, lease agreements and discounted cars for muddying the waters, but I’d like to put it on record that the new Audi A4 deserves far more attention. Allow me to explain.

It’s at this point that you might argue that Audi doesn’t need any support when it comes to marketing. The brand is such that many non-car people aspire to Audi ownership without really knowing why. And for company car drivers, an Audi is the modern equivalent of a Ghia or CD badge on your boot of your executive express.

You might also point to the – how can I put this – less than polished image of a select group of Audi drivers as a reason not to own an A4. And, yes, many instances of erratic driving do tend to involve an Audi of some description.

But I put this to you: would Tailgating Terry, Late-Braking Larry and Speeding Steve really be interested in the common or garden A4? Surely the A3, S4, A5 and S5 are more suited to their antics? Discuss.

Besides, we all know saloon cars have had their day, right? #Crossover

Audi A4 saloon

I had the pleasure of running a long-term Audi A4 for Diesel Car for six months. I wanted it to be as far removed from a rep-spec A4 as possible, so I ticked the 3.0-litre V6 TDI box, along with Tango Red paint and a host of other options.

I’m ashamed to admit I found the S line trim too hard to resist, but I did manage to avoid upscaling to 19-inch rims, figuring a set of 18-inch diamond cut alloys would be better for my spine.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was almost impossible to find fault with the A4. I could say that the S tronic transmission was a mistake, but that’s a pitfall easily avoided by opting for a manual gearbox.

I could also say that Apple CarPlay threw the occasional wobbly and some of the many driver assistance tools could be prone to the odd hiccup, but these would have to be filed under ‘first world problems’.

Then there’s the price. At £45,825, my test car was getting perilously close to A7 and Q7 money. I could pen a few paragraphs attempting to justify spending £46k, but I’m struggling to get my head around such an expensive Audi A4.

It probably doesn’t help that I once spent £300 on an Audi 80 and £420 on a first-gen A4 to tackle airport runs. Spending even four figures on a car sends me into a cold sweat and keeps me awake at night.

But here’s the thing. Not once did I feel shortchanged for ‘my’ £46,000. Spend any amount of time inside a new A4 and you’re left with the impression of a car honed and chiseled to within a millimetre of perfection. Forget all the nonsense you might have read about the A4 being too much of an evolutionary step. It’s far better than that.

For sure, the styling is, at best, sombre. And the driving experience is best served on trunk roads than it is on back roads. But other than that I’m struggling to find anything wrong with it, even after six months behind the wheel.

I miss the combination of fuel economy in the mid 40s and a 0-62 time of 6.3 seconds. I miss the clever Virtual Cockpit, even with its daft name. I miss the ride comfort, the quality of which will be alien to anyone who has driven a modern Audi over the past decade.

Two months on, I miss the adaptive cruise control, which is near as I ever want to get to an autonomous car. Set the sat nav to your destination – which is gloriously easy in itself – point the car in the right direction and it’ll pretty much drive itself. It slows for cars in front, reacts to a change in the speed limit and will automatically re-route itself if there’s a delay up ahead. Heck, it will even steer itself round corners.

Audi A4 interior

But most of all I miss the interior, which is wonderfully free of any touchscreen nonsense. At first there’s a bewildering array of switches and controls to become familiar with, but you soon learn that it’s one of the most ergonomic and driver-focused cars in the business. It even has a proper volume dial for the excellent (but optional) Bang & Olufsen stereo, and a very old-school dial for the dashboard illumination.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the simplicity of a new Volvo interior. But somebody at Audi has stuck two fingers up at the folk who believe touchscreens are the way forward. And that somebody deserves a medal.

It’s the little details you might not notice on a press launch or quick test-drive, like the magnificent, if terribly geeky, four-lever bonnet hinge and washer bottle hidden within the front wing. Or the shut-lines, which are tighter than a fly’s bottom caught in a spider’s web.

And while diesel engines might be as popular as Donald Trump in a taco bar, the 3.0-litre V6 TDI is so wonderfully free of vibrations and harshness, you’d swear blind there was a petrol unit beneath that clamshell bonnet. That it can, even in the lower 218hp guise, show a hot hatch a clean pair of heels is an added bonus.

Yet despite all the positivity, I’ll have to admit that the Audi A4 never really got under my skin. It was so utterly efficient, to the point of it being, well, a little bit dull. Like my dishwasher and fridge freezer – both of which are German – I almost took it for granted. But rather than a criticism, that’s arguably the A4’s greatest strength.

It’s dependable, reliable, free of faults and the kind of car you’d take home to meet the in-laws. Take it on a one-night stand and you’re unlikely to remember much in the morning. But as an unassuming tool for the long haul, the Audi A4 is a close to perfection as you’re ever likely to get.

Hit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

Hit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

Hit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling carsFigures released today reveal that 2016 was yet another record year for the new car market, with registrations up 2.3% compared to 2015. Over the year, some 2,692,786 cars were registered in the UK. But it’s not all good news as the organisation behind the stats, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), says we could be in for a rocky ride in 2017.

Still, if you are thinking about buying a new car this year, it might be wise to read one of our reviews before parting with our cash. These are our verdicts on Britain’s top 10 best-selling cars.

Initials: AB (Andrew Brady), SC (Sean Carson), PB (Peter Burgess), JR (John Redfern), RA (Richard Aucock), TP (Tim Pitt).

10. Audi A3: 43,808 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

The AudI A3 remains the premium hatchback of choice, with more than 40,000 registrations in 2016. It helps, of course, that there’s no fewer than nine A3s to choose from, plus the introduction of a fire-cracking RS3 saloon in 2017.

Audi revamped its most popular model in 2016, giving it a new face and a pair of new TFSI petrol engines. Prices start from £19,365, but you’ll pay at least £40,670 for the S3 Cabriolet.

Audi A3: what we said

“It’s not the sort of car that necessarily appeals to the heart, but the A3 is a really well-polished contender in the popular premium C-segment. There are body styles to cater for everyone: three- and five-door hatches (the latter a ‘Sportback’ in Audi lingo), a cabriolet and even a saloon.

“Buy one (or, perhaps more likely, consider one as a company car), and you’ll be treated to the best interior in its class, a plethora of new tech to keep the iPhone generation happy, and sensible running costs. If you’re a keen driver, though, you might want to check out the BMW 1 Series.” AB

Read our Audi A3 review

9. Mercedes-Benz C-Class: 44,181 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

It’s not hard to find evidence of the popularity of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Simply head along the M4 corridor during rush hour and every other car appears to be a C-Class. It’s the only compact executive car to appear in the top ten.

Prices start from £28,545 for the saloon, but you can also opt for an estate, cabriolet and coupe. Oh, and let’s not forget the bonkers AMG versions.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class: what we said

“The 2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class firmly bats the ball back into BMW’s court. Appealing styling, a high quality interior, myriad clever systems and a much improved driving experience means the Merc gets closer to the 3 Series than ever.

“As we said, it can’t ultimately match it dynamically, but in most other areas the C-Class bests the BMW. With prices starting at £26,855, it’s around £300 more expensive than the equivalent 320i SE, but that’s really not that big a difference. Honours even on price, then.” SC

Read our Mercedes-Benz C-Class review

8. MINI: 48,328 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

Sixteen years since the launch of the first BMW MINI rolled off the production line at Plant Oxford, it remains as popular as ever. More than 48,000 registrations in 2016 represented a commendable rise from the 47,076 registrations in 2015.

Adding a five-door version to the range was a stroke of genius, while sun-seekers can order a new MINI Convertible. Back in February, we flew to Los Angeles to try it out. Life can be tough…

MINI Convertible: what we said

“Logic tends to pay only a minor part in buying a car like this. No one needs a convertible, but if they want one, it had better look good. The new MINI Convertible certainly hits that target. It may be indistinguishable to some from the earlier versions, but that’s no bad thing. The design is timeless.

“And there is lots more to entice buyers who want just a bit of logic in their decision. The additional space for passengers and luggage is very welcome, there’s plenty of pleasing touchy-feeliness about the MINI, and as always, it’s great fun to drive.” PB

Read our MINI Convertible review

7. Volkswagen Polo: 54,448 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

Objectively, the Volkswagen Polo is one of the best superminis you can buy. It might not be the most exciting car on the planet, but it’s favoured by those who put safety, practicality and dependability at the top of their list of priorities.

Surprisingly, it’s also cheaper than the ever-popular Ford Fiesta, with prices starting from just £11,635. Even the desirable Polo Match comes in at £13,070, while the Beats special edition could be yours for £14,020.

Volkswagen Polo GTI: what we said

Our very own John Redfern is a fan of the Volkswagen Polo, and he added a Flash Red GTI to his fleet in 2015. He said: “The Polo GTI has often (unfairly) had to live in the shadow of its bigger Golf brother, but I’ve always been a fan of the underdog.

“Plus, with the ever-increasing size of cars on our roads, the latest Polo GTI is virtually identical in dimensions to the hallowed Mk2 Golf GTI. Could that make for an interesting matchup?!” JR

Read about the Volkswagen Polo GTI

6. Vauxhall Astra: 60,719 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

Once upon a time, the loudest noise you’d hear at a car rental check-in desk was the collective sigh of disappointment as the keys to a Vauxhall Astra were handed to the unlucky tourist. Today, all that has changed, as new Astra is properly good.

No surprise, then, that Vauxhall registered more Astras in 2016 than it did in 2015. LED Matrix headlights, a so-called ‘wellness’ seat and in-car wifi are just some of the features that would have been alien to Astra drivers of old.

Vauxhall Astra: what we said

“If you’re familiar with, and unimpressed by, today’s disappointingly old-Vauxhall Astra, prepare to be surprised: the new one is a huge improvement. It’s nicer to look at, nicer to drive and much nicer to sit in. With the extra infotainment tech Vauxhall’s launched on it, the new Astra can even claim sector-unique appeal.

“There’s still a bit of an image problem to overcome, but the new car’s considerable additional appeal should help enormously here. From being a meek also-ran, it’s now a much more competitive alternative to the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus – with the ability to edge them in some key areas that could sway buying decisions.” RA

Read our Vauxhall Astra review

5. Nissan Qashqai: 62,682 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

Britain’s most popular crossover is – thanks to the absence of the Vauxhall Mokka from this year’s top ten – the only one of its kind to appear on the list. It might not be the first crossover (sorry, Nissan), but in the space of a decade, the Qashqai has become the brand generic.

Subjectively, it’s no longer the best in class. We’d consider the likes of the SEAT Ateca, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage before the Qashqai. Come next year, it’ll also have the new Mazda CX-5 to contend with.

Nissan Qashqai: what we said

“A Qashqai doesn’t make for an exciting purchase, but it is a really easy-to-live-with crossover that will tick all the boxes for many families. There are more interesting rivals out there, but the Qashqai is a quality all-round package.” AB

Read our Nissan Qashqai review

4. Volkswagen Golf: 69,492 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

A top four finish puts the Golf in the same position it achieved in 2015. But read behind the lines and you’ll discover that the 69,492 registrations recorded in 2016 is around 4,000 short of 2015’s total.

The Mk8 Volkswagen Golf can’t come soon enough. Meanwhile, we drove a rather tasty Golf GTI Clubsport S…

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S: what we said

“Realistically, we’d probably be swayed at the last minute by the Golf R and its passenger-carrying and greasy-road tackling abilities over a Clubsport S. Alternatively, if it’s a track car you’re after, £33,995 (before options) buys you a myriad of more focussed possibilities.

“But if you’re a hardcore Golf GTI fan – and can somehow get on the waiting list (good luck with that) – the Golf Clubsport S is arguably the ultimate fast Vee-dub. We’d be mighty jealous of your purchase.” AB

Read our Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S review

3. Ford Focus: 70,545 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

Wow. If you thought the Golf had a bad year, the Ford Focus has fallen well short of its 2015 total of 83,816 registrations.

On the plus side, we started the year by driving the new Focus RS, which set the tone for a vintage year of performance cars. Meanwhile, in the autumn, we drove the new Focus ST-Line…

Ford Focus ST-Line: what we said

“Everybody loves a fast Ford. And while the Focus ST-Line isn’t technically, um, fast, it looks the part. For many, that will be reason enough to buy one.

“Importantly, ST-Line trim doesn’t detract from the Focus’s traditional strengths: agile handling, decent comfort and practicality, and an attractive price-tag (especially after discount). If you’re in the market for a C-segment car, it should definitely be on your shortlist.” TP

Read our Ford Focus ST-Line review

2. Vauxhall Corsa: 77,110 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

In 2015, some 92,077 Corsas were registered in the UK, so Vauxhall’s most popular model fell well short in 2016. Frankly, it’s been a miserable year for the cars in the top four.

Which is a tad unfair on the Vauxhall Corsa, as the current version is streets ahead of its predecessors. The 1.0-litre turbocharged engine is a peach, while the interior is a league above the cabin you’ll find in the Fiesta. You’ll also discover that the supermini has some rather grown-up features.

Vauxhall Corsa: what we said

“The new Vauxhall Corsa is a very likeable car. We were worried at first that it’d be too similar to its predecessor, and certainly a bit more on the design front would have been welcome, but to drive it feels all-new.

“As such, we’d have no hesitation recommending a Corsa to anyone looking for a supermini – something we’d have struggled to say in the past. While it may still not quite have the edge over rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, it’s closer than ever before.” AB

Read our Vauxhall Corsa review

1. Ford Fiesta: 120,525 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

No prizes for guessing the best-selling car of 2016. It is, of course, the Infiniti QX30. No wait, not that, it’s the Ford Fiesta.

Numbers might be down compared to 2015, but with a new model waiting in the wings, Ford won’t be feeling too glum this January. The new Fiesta range will feature an upmarket Vignale trim level and a new Active crossover. In 2016, we drove the Fiesta ST200…

Ford Fiesta ST200: what we said

“We’ll make no bones about it – we’re huge fans of the Fiesta ST200. We nearly stopped off at a Ford dealer on the way home, that’s how much we enjoyed driving it.

“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 our Ford Fiesta ST200 review

2016 Audi R8 Spyder review: open-air V10 thunder

2016 Audi R8 Spyder review: open-air V10 thunder

2016 Audi R8 Spyder review: open-air V10 thunder

Soft-top supercars aren’t for everyone. Floppier and slower than their coupe counterparts, some petrolheads value crucial tenths of a second on the 0-62mph run over the ability to enjoy the sun without a roof blocking its rays.

But for those of us who want to make the most of a barking V10, Audi has launched a soft-top ‘Spyder’ version of its R8 supercar. And we’ve been to Spain to try it out.

Revealed at New York

First revealed at this year’s New York Auto Show in March, we’ve finally got behind the wheel of the R8 Spyder before deliveries start in December. Essentially the same as the coupe, Audi has resisted the urge to fit a retractable hard-top to the open R8.

Why does it use a soft-top?

Using a fabric roof rather than a clever retractable hard-top might seem a strange move for a car that costs close to £130,000. But it’s all about those crucial kilos – the R8 Spyder weighs 1,612kg. While you’d certainly feel it running over your toe, it’s only 17kg more than the coupe. That’s the equivalent of carrying a four-year-old passenger.

Hit me with some figures

Hit me with some figures

So the stats: that wonderful naturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V10 produces 540hp and will propel the R8 Spyder to 62mph in 3.6 seconds. That’s a tenth of a second slower than the coupe. Meanwhile, it maxes out at 197mph (2mph slower than the hard-top).

It’s a bit slower then?

Yes, it’s marginally slower than the coupe on paper. But in reality? You’re really not going to notice the difference. At any revs, mash the accelerator and the R8 Spyder surges forward as you’re pushed back into your seat. Push it more and you start to worry that your insides are being left behind. It’s fast.

Does it sound good?

An advantage of chopping the roof off is being able to hear that naturally-aspirated V10 do its business. The sound is incredible: a satisfying ‘bwaaaaarrrrppp’ as you work through the gears (using the steering wheel paddles is equally satisfying). Lift off, with the ‘Dynamic’ Drive Select mode, er, selected, and the exhaust in sporty mode, and it’ll make pops and bangs and cracks. It’s brilliant, but could scare elderly people and children.

Can I still hear the radio?

Can I still hear the radio?

Our test car was fitted with the optional Bang & Olufsen sound system, which uses speakers in the headrests to make sure you can always hear your favourite tunes. It sounds brilliant, even above the noise of the engine popping and banging.

Tell me about the four-wheel-drive system

The R8 uses Audi’s Quattro four-wheel-drive system, with power going to all four wheels via a seven-speed S tronic paddleshift gearbox. Drivers can toggle between modes in the Drive Select menu.

How good is it at stopping?

As standard, the R8 Spyder comes with 365mm brake discs on the front and 356mm on the rear. The stopping power’s more than adequate, despite the weight (and performance) of the R8. If you’re planning to take it on track days, you can opt for carbon ceramics.

Will it drift?

Will it drift?

If you wish, you can opt for 100% of the R8’s power to go to the rear wheels. While we’ve got no doubt some spirited driving on track could get the back end out, in real-life driving conditions it feels very planted. Which is a good thing, most of the time.

Is it practical?

With just two seats, the Audi R8 doesn’t even pretend to be a practical family car. But if there’s just two of you, the cabin is easily comfortable for a pleasant European road trip. You’ll have to pack light to fit your luggage in the boot, mind: there’s just 112-litres of space in there.

It’s really easy to drive

The lovely thing about the Audi R8 Spyder is, despite its immense capabilities, it’s not at all intimidating to drive. We had the pleasure of threading it through Barcelona’s rush-hour traffic, and it felt just as happy as a TT or even an A4. Even a supercar virgin could drive this every day.

But that means it could feel a tiny bit more special

But that means it could feel a tiny bit more special

Yup, it’s a common trait of fast Audis. They’re always incredibly quick, but not quite as special or emotional as rivals from, say, Ferrari. But the latest R8 Spyder does excite us more than its predecessor, and it attracts a huge amount of attention. You’re not going to go unnoticed in one.

And it is a bit wide

At 1,940mm wide, the R8 Spyder is 60mm wider than a 911 Turbo and 36mm wider than its predecessor. On the right roads, cliche alert, it does shrink around you, but you are aware of its width in traffic.

Can I get an R8 Spyder Plus?

Although you can get the regular R8 in ‘Plus’ guise, packing an extra 70hp and hitting 62mph in 3.2 seconds, Audi hasn’t suggested it’ll offer a hotter Spyder model. Frankly, the regular one is fast enough for us.

What are its rivals?

What are its rivals?

The Audi R8 Spyder is squaring up against the Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet, which starts at £135,766 and matches the R8 for power. It hits 62mph half a second quicker, but many will prefer the R8’s image to the almost drab 911.

And there’s the Lamborghini…

There’s also the technically-very-similar Lamborghini Huracan Spyder, which shares the Audi’s platform and engine. That’s got more power, though (610hp) but it’ll cost you a staggering £205,000. We’d take the Audi.

Will it cost a fortune to run?

It goes without saying, if you’re looking at buying a V10 supercar, you’re going to need deep pockets to run it. But comparatively, the R8 does OK on the green front. Cylinder-on-demand tech has helped to reduce CO2 emissions by 10.6% compared to its predecessor, while fuel economy is improved by 13.7%.

Tell me more

Tell me more

Officially, the Audi R8 Spyder will return 24.1mpg and emit 277g/km CO2. That’s thirstier than the 911 Turbo, which returns 30.4mpg, while the £115,485 Jaguar F-Type SVR convertible is good for 25mpg. But, well, who cares?

Should I buy one?

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.

Audi RS Q3

Audi RS Q3 Performance review: Two-Minute Road Test

Audi RS Q3Crossover SUVs are one of the fastest growing sectors in the car market. With the RS Q3 Performance, Audi has combined an evocative drivetrain with a practical bodystyle and prestigious badge. But does it actually make any sense?

Price and dealsAudi RS Q3

The RS Q3 Performance retails at £47,850, although the example we tested clocked up a price of £53,050 with options. It certainly isn’t cheap for a relatively small car. Audi’s current finance offers include a £1,000 deposit contribution if buying through the Solutions PCP. With a 10% personal deposit, you could have an RS Q3 on your drive for £580 per month over four years.

What are its rivals?Audi RS Q3 rivals

Few and far between, such is the niche status of the high-performance compact SUV. Closest on size, and power, is the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4Matic with 381hp from its 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine. The Merc also undercuts the Audi, with a starting price of £44,585. The Porsche Macan S is similarly priced at £45,945, but can only bring 340hp to the fight.

Which engine does it use?Audi RS Q3

An award-winning one, with a lineage that stretches back some 40 years. It’s a turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder petrol unit that, when almost everything seems to be powered by an inline-four, is a rare and soulful delight. It makes all the noises that you would expect from a five-cylinder engine, allowing you to use terms like ‘off-beat’ and ‘warbling’ freely.

This is a car that will have you take a detour through a tunnel just to hear the noise it makes, especially in Dynamic mode where an additional flap in the exhaust opens up. That exhaust is another unique RS Q3 feature in itself – featuring just one huge tailpipe, instead of the multiple tips of so many contemporary performance cars.

How fast?Audi RS Q3

The regular RS Q3 was hardly slow, but the RS Q3 Performance adds – unsurprisingly – more go to proceedings. That five-cylinder engine now makes 362hp (an increase of 27hp over the standard car) whilst torque is also boosted to 343lb ft. Although no featherweight at 1,655kg, such power means the RS Q3 Performance bellows its way from 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds, with a limited top speed of 155mph.

A raised driving position means the sense of speed is even more dramatic, added to by the thumping gearshifts from the seven-speed DSG transmission. The latter is useful for keeping the engine on-boost, meaning the RS Q3 can gain speed at quite an alarming rate, such is its mid-range pace.

Is it comfortable?Audi RS Q3

Despite riding on huge 20-inch wheels with 255/35 low-profile tyres, the RS Q3 is actually more comfortable than you might imagine. Yes, the worst stretches of tarmac will end up being transmitted back to the cabin, but not as severely as in a comparable hot hatch. The sports seats feature multiple adjustment options, including under-thigh support and electrically-adjusted lumbar support.

Will I enjoy driving it?Audi RS Q3

Absolutely, but not necessarily in a conventional performance car manner. The extra height and higher centre of gravity of the RS Q3 Performance encourage a ‘slow-in, fast-out’ cornering style, allowing you to maximise the acceleration on exit. Huge eight-caliper front brakes, grabbing weight-saving wavy discs, mean stopping ability is suitably heroic. Traction from the Quattro drivetrain is steadfast, and there’s even a launch control function.

The RS Q3’s steering is weighty, particularly in Dynamic mode, but doesn’t offer a great deal of feel or feedback. Again this pushes you to enjoy the buttock-clenching straight-line performance, but back off when things become twistier.  The RS Q3 Performance will undoubtedly put a smile on your face, even if just because of the exhaust note.

Fuel economy and running costsAudi RS Q3

Here comes the penalty for enjoying a five-cylinder turbocharged engine too much. Officially, the RS Q3 Performance records a combined fuel economy figure of 32.8mpg, with CO2 emissions of 203g/km. In reality, we experienced average fuel consumption of around 21-25mpg with longer motorway journeys nudging the average closer to 28mpg. A standard start-stop system tries to help, but there will ultimately be a price to pay for exploiting the performance on offer.

What’s the interior like?Audi RS Q3

Standard Audi fare, although that is not a bad thing. The base Q3 is one of Audi’s older models, meaning the current RS Q3 Performance lacks the latest design tweaks of the new A3 or A4. However, you do gain a set of supportive Alcantara and leather sports seats, unique carbon fibre trim with a special blue weave, and a perforated leather steering wheel. It all looks, and feels, suitably expensive, while the (£1,125 optional) panoramic sunroof helps prevent the interior appearing too cave-like.

Is it practical?Audi RS Q3

Beneath the fancy bodykit and badging, this is still fundamentally a compact SUV, meaning the RS Q3 Performance can do all the regular lifestyle things. With the seats up, the boot holds 356 litres – compromised by a shallow load space – but that increases to 1,291 litres with the seats folded flat. Rear space is suitable for kids, or adults on shorter trips, meaning you can bring the whole family along to experience how fast it is.

Tell me about the techAudi RS Q3

The RS Q3 misses out on Audi’s brilliant Virtual Cockpit, but does still boast enough technology to offset the list price. Inside is a 6.5-inch retractable MMI screen, with a second 3.5-inch colour display mounted between the instrument dials. Satellite navigation, DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and an Apple music interface are all standard.

Our test car also featured a brilliant Bose sound system. At £690, it is an option worth picking, even if just for the LED lighting that makes the front speakers appear to float at night. LEDs also feature in the headlights, taillights and dynamic indicators, while cruise control, parking sensors and keyless entry are all included.

What about safety?Audi RS Q3

At launch in 2011, the standard Audi Q3 gained a full five-stars from Euro NCAP testing, and this RS Q3 Performance version should be no different. An electronic differential lock is standard, helping the RS Q3 put all that power down effectively, while the electronic stability control also offers a sport mode. As noted, braking power is appropriately immense, and the Quattro 4WD drivetrain keeps things under control.

Which version should I go for?Audi RS Q3

This RS Q3 Performance is over £3,000 more expensive that the regular RS Q3 model. However, extra power aside, the Performance model does gain a number of extras, such as the distinctive Ascari Blue paintwork option, along with matte titanium finish seen on the wheels and bodywork trim. If you’re going to spend big on a fast SUV, you may as well go all-in and get the Performance version.

What’s the used alternative?Audi RS3

Used RS Q3 models are relatively rare, with the earliest 2014 examples on the used market from around £28,000. It’s worth noting these are down on power compared to the latest cars, making only 306hp. If you can live without the need for a raised ride height, the previous generation Audi RS3 Sportback will deliver five-cylinder fun from £20,000.

Should I buy one?Audi RS Q3

Objectively, the RS Q3 Performance is a very expensive answer to a question few people have ever thought to ask. Nobody needs a £50k compact SUV that will do 0-62mph in less than 4.5 seconds, and with wallet-draining average fuel consumption. Yet the sheer ludicrousness of pace from the RS Q3 Performance, along with that characterful five-cylinder engine, make it hard not to like.

It really isn’t cheap, but this is a genuine Audi RS car, and therefore one that will have appeal to a niche group of buyers. Plus, in our anodyne homogenised world, it is heartening to know car manufacturers can still be a little silly at times.

Pub factAudi RS Q3

The engine in the RS Q3 Performance is a genuine multiple award-winner. The TFSI five-cylinder unit has won International Engine of the Year seven times in the 2.0 to 2.5-litre category. That’s more than the three times the Mercedes-AMG 2.0-litre engine in the rival GLA45 has managed.

Audi RS4 B5

Audi RS4 B5 (2001) review: Retro Road Test

Audi RS4 B5How do you follow up a cult car like the Audi RS2, that mid-90s icon built by Porsche that created an estate car that ate TVRs for breakfast? By doing the same again. Only this time, with even more.

Cue the 1999 Audi RS4, the Avant wagon that boasted a power output which, even today, seems ridiculous: 381hp from a Cosworth-developed 2.7-litre biturbo V6. Monster tyres were needed to deploy it, which needed monster wheelarches to house them. Chuck in grilles and gills aplenty, a stonking set of 18-inch alloys and one of the first deployments of dazzling-bright xenon headlights, and you may just have yourself a new cult monster. A decade and a half later, we find out if it should now seek sanctuary.

Audi RS4 B5What are its rivals?

The Audi RS4 Avant was without rival. That was the whole point. “Make an ultra-fast estate?” snorted BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The very thought!

Probably the closest rivals, then, were the Mercedes-Benz ML 55 AMG and BMW x5 4.8iS, two V8 SUV heavyweights that, like the Audi, blended practicality with performance stupidity. Although if the RS4 was an indy king, they were like your overweight dad getting his jig on in comparison.

Audi RS4 B5What engine does it use?

Audi handed over the 2.7-litre V6 to Cosworth Technology to thoroughly overhaul: an easy decision, given how it at the time owned Cosworth. Cue a thorough makeover that packed in a ludicrous amount of exotica for the time: proof of just how jewel-like is the fact it boasts a ridiculous 116hp more than the Audi S4 motor it’s derived from.

No flappy paddle DSG gearboxes in those days: instead, Audi beefed up its six-speed manual and quattro drivetrain, which boasted a fairly rudimentary 50:50 torque split.

Audi RS4 B5What’s it like to drive?

Breathe easy: it’s still addictive. Still fast. Still an event. So much power back in the late 90s was mind-warping. The power race means it’s less so today – but the drama this heavily-boosted engine serves up means it’s still exciting. Smooth, rorty and pure, it’s a motor that feels just like it is: a regular V6 with two stonking great turbos bolted on. The disconnected, sensationless surge of modern motors? This is the antithesis.

Soft-by-modern-standards suspension adds to the drama, because it rolls a bit in corners, sits down at the rear under power. Exit a roundabout, set it up to reach peak boost as you hit the exit, and the feeling is comparable to taking off in a fast jet. It’s hugely thrilling and special, so much so it’s easy to forgive the slow, old-fashioned arm-twirling steering and concrete-damper ride that until recently was an Audi speciality.

Audi RS4 B5Reliability and running costs

Drive it like this and it drinks fuel like a race car. I did an MPG Marathon in one back in the day: after two days of bumbling, I got 27mpg. Reunited with it today, I got half that.

The RS4 also suffered the unusual issue of bent wheels when new – seems the alloy wasn’t stiff enough to shake off the immense forces its powertrain could generate. Shouldn’t be an issue now, but worth a check, as is evidence of a full history. This is basically a motorsport engine and reliability will go out the window, as will all your money, if maintenance has been skimped.

Audi RS4 B5Could I drive it every day?

The ride will, at first, frighten you but, with miles, you learn to drive around the worst bumps and enjoy the trace of suppleness in the suspension itself to help make things not too pummelling. Stirring the snickety gearlever keeps the engine on boil and you’ve also got that old school but granite-solid Audi interior to enjoy.

The deeply bucketed seats are painful to get in and out but hug you warmly once you’re in (and give you a towering driving position, so high are they set). But it’s the stuff that made the RS4 so cool when new that mean you really can drive it everyday: five seats, practical boot, all the Audi integrity that made the first A4 such a worry to the BMW 3 Series engineers.

Audi RS4 B5How much should I pay?

You can pay as little as £13,000 for an Audi RS4, or as much as £30,000. The most expensive ones are truly immaculate, the cheapest ones are high mileage but hopefully honest. Personally, we’d go for sub-£20k one, as they’ll be in strong condition but not so perfect and low mileage that you’ll be terrified to drive them.

Audi RS4 B5What should I look out for?

Bent wheels, full service history, crash damage, dented panels, torn seats and signs that it has been nicked. All the usual things, but with an added degree of care: Audi only made around 6,000 original RS4 and, while enthusiasts bought most of them, some were also purchased by people who should really have been in a TDI.

Frankly, we’d only buy from either a specialist or a committed enthusiast. The mere mention of Cosworth engines and ludicrous power from 2.7 litres means we’d be uneasy with going for a cheap one – and we’d not likely enjoy the best of what the RS4 has to offer either.

Audi RS4 B5Should I buy one?

For an old-school twist on modern daftly-fast family cars, you should certainly give it a go. But really, this is a car that should be reserved for enthusiasts, those willing to treat it carefully and maintain it religiously. It’s crazy-fast but it somehow feels wrong to wring its neck and use it as you imagine Audi intended: if anything, it’s a little too specialist for that.

But if you want a really fast example of a car that shows what Audi could do just before it discovered today’s ultra-sophistication and perfection, snap one up before someone else spoils it. It’ll be a lovely possession to treasure.

Audi RS4 B5Pub fact

There were two versions of the V6 engine. The earlier 2000 one was coded ASJ, and was Euro 2 emissions compliant. Later 2000-2001 motors were EU3, and were coded AZR.

At 390 litres with the seats up, the RS4 Avant’s boot is 90 litres smaller than today’s Audi A4 saloon.

Royal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

Royal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

Royal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auctionA number of cars with royal connections will be going under the hammer at the forthcoming Silverstone Auctions NEC sale, which is part of the Classic Motor Show. The auction takes place on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th November 2016, and includes an Audi 80 Cabriolet formerly owned by Princess Diana. Read on to discover more.

Princess Diana’s Audi 80 CabrioletRoyal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

In 1994, this Audi 80 Cabriolet probably did more for Audi’s image than any manner of cash spent on marketing. The power of being associated with arguably the most famous woman on the planet must have been huge. Fast forward two decades and the Audi 80 Cabriolet 2.3E could be yours.

This isn’t the first time Princess Diana’s Audi has been up for auction. Back in 2013, the Gomera Pearl Audi went under the hammer at Blenheim Palace, where it sold for £36,500. Silverstone Auctions has listed it for a pre-auction estimate of £50,000 – £60,000, which represents a sizeable profit for the winning bidder. The car has travelled around 400 miles since the auction.Royal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

The Audi was presented to Diana by Dovercourt Audi of St John’s Wood and the dealer was probably all too pleased to list a Princess as one of its clients. It was first registered on the 7th March 1994, but returned to the dealer with 4,000 miles on the clock. It was bought by political commentator, publisher and broadcaster Iain Campbell Dale, who was looking for a car to take on holiday to Germany.

Mr Dale owned the Audi for a couple of years before selling it to a third owner, who just happened to live next door to Kensington Palace. Is the Cabriolet the coolest car Princess Diana ever owned? For us, it’s either this or the black Ford Escort RS Turbo. That said, the Austin Mini-Metro she owned before marrying Prince Charles was rather special.

The Queen’s Bentley MulsanneRoyal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

Earlier in 2016, this Bentley Mulsanne was up for sale for £199,850 at Bramley Motor Cars. We’re not entirely sure if it sold for the full asking price, but – six months on – it’s up for auction for an estimated £215,000 – £235,000. It was used exclusively by Queen Elizabeth II until it was retired from the Royal fleet in 2014.

The Mulsanne was the car in which The Queen travelled to her only Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in 2012, flanked by outriders and greeted by Prime Minister David Cameron.Royal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

Power is sourced from a 6.75-litre V8 engine, which would have propelled this extension of Windsor Castle from function to function in genuine pomp and circumstance. It’s interesting to note that Windsor Castle is listed as ‘Home’ on the Mulsanne’s sat nav. Home, James, and don’t spare the horses.

The Mulsanne is finished in Barnato Green, a shade named in honour of Joel Woolf Barnato – one of the original ‘Bentley Boys’ of the 1920s. Bentley added a number of subtle security features to keep Her Majesty safe on the road, including Kevlar-reinforced tyres and strengthened body panels.

These are the very seats upon which Her Majesty would have parked her Royal behind. Assuming we’re not sent to the Tower for making such a comment, we’ll go on to say the interior was finished with a tan leather interior, acres of walnut veneer, vanity lights and picnic tables. No doubt the Queen was quite partial to a snack on the way back from a private party.Royal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

As you’d expect, the Mulsanne’s added security features have long since been removed, with Bentley transforming the car into what is essentially a production Mulsanne. So the armoured plating and glass won’t be there to protect you from the terrors of ‘civvy street’.

It’s also worth noting that the Mulsanne no longer rolls on its original DK61 FHM plate, while we understand the car was originally registered to Bentley Motors Ltd. Essentially, you’re spending close to a quarter of a million pounds on a car that no longer looks and feels like a Royal chariot. What price provenance?

The Queen’s Daimler Super V8 LWBRoyal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

Maybe it’s our inner Arthur Daley rising to the surface, but we prefer this Daimler to Her Majesty’s Bentley. With a pre-auction estimate of £50,000 – £60,000, it could be a nice little earner, too.

Registered on the 4th June 2001, this unique Daimler Super V8 was built to the personal specification of Her Majesty, with Jaguar completing a 2,500-mile test drive to ensure it was fit for a Queen. Imagine the petrol loyalty points after that.Royal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

Look closely and you’ll spot four buttons on the centre console. A number of discreet security features were fitted, including blue flashing strobes, alternate flashing headlights and alternate flashing rear lights. A pair of neon blue lights positioned behind the rear-view mirror was used to alert members of the Royal Protection Team as to which vehicle the Queen was travelling in.

In the boot, you’ll find fittings for direct contact to the Home Office and Downing Street, although the working components have now been removed. Note the deep-pile carpets and picnic tables – the world is your lobster in this Daimler, as Arthur Daley might have said.

The supercharged V8 engine remained as standard, meaning the Queen’s driver was able to enjoy the full force of 375 Royal horses beneath his right foot. History will recall that this Daimler was used as personal transport within the Windsor Castle estate, as well as journeys to and from Buckingham Palace.Royal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

Today, the four-owner Daimler is said to be in “superb condition”, and is presented with 15,000 miles on the clock. Amazingly, 11,000 of those miles were completed whilst in the Queen’s possession. Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust purchased the car from Jaguar in 2007.

In case you were wondering, this is a factory-adapted armrest with a sliding holder specifically designed to hold the Queen’s particular type of handbag. Jaguar also fitted several extra switches to allow the Queen to operate the windows from either side, because “she enjoyed fresh air in the rear”.

Princess Margaret’s Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith IIRoyal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

This rather patriotic Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith II was owned by Princess Margaret between 1980 and her death in 2002. The combination of Cardinal Red paint and a black Everflex roof is a strong look, but the Silver Wraith wears it well.

By Princess Margaret’s standards, the interior is rather understated. When Countess of Snowdon died in 2002, the Rolls was inherited by her son, Viscount Linley, who sold it to P&A Wood. A Mr. Allwright bought it and managed to purchase the original 3 GXM registration number from the Home Office. It’s up for auction for between £90,000 and £110,000.

King Hussein of Jordan’s Mercedes-Benz 560 SELRoyal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

In 1988, it’s estimated that this heavily-armoured Mercedes-Benz 560 SEL would have cost in excess of £200,000, so the pre-auction estimate of £25,000 – £30,000 looks like a steal. It was delivered new to King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan and designed to provide “maximum protection”. Along with many options, the big Merc is armoured to B4 level.

Emir of Qatar’s Rolls-Royce Corniche ConvertibleRoyal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

This 1984 Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible was delivered new to the Embassy of the State of Qatar for use by Emir of Qatar and his family when in London. He is said to have enjoyed the car with “his wives and some of his 15 children”. It’s not entirely clear if they all travelled at the same time. Pre-auction estimate: £100,000 – £120,000.

Sir Elton John’s Rolls-Royce PhantomRoyal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

From actual royalty to music royalty: this Rolls-Royce Phantom was formerly owned by Sir Elton John. The ‘Rocket Man’ took delivery of the car in 2005 and was his carriage of choice on the occasion of his civil wedding to David Furnish in Windsor. If you’re feeling the love for this Phantom, you’ll have to sacrifice between £135,000 and £155,000.

Michael Winner’s Bentley T1Royal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

Michael Winner took delivery of this 1976 Bentley in 1984 and owned it until his death in 2013. It was gifted in his will to his chauffeur, who subsequently sold it on. Silverstone Auctions has provided a pre-auction estimate of £40,000 – £50,000. Calm down, dear, it’s just a Bentley.

Samantha Cameron’s Fiat 500Royal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

In 2012, this Fiat 500 sold at auction for £18,150. Fast forward to 2016 and it’s up for sale again, this time with a pre-auction estimate of £18,000 to £22,000. It was formerly the personal car of Samantha Cameron, who was gifted the car by her husband David. These days, Mrs Cameron prefers a Nissan Micra…

John Hammell’s Wood & Pickett Mini Cooper SRoyal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

We’d be clutching at straws if we offered any royal or ministerial connections to this Wood & Pickett Mini Cooper S, but it was owned by John Hammell, personal assistant to Sir Paul McCartney. John sold the Mini to Denny Laine of the Moody Blues. It’s a Mini car, with a maxi price: yours for between £45,000 and £55,000.

Rolls-Royce Corniche ConvertibleRoyal Flush: Princess Diana’s Audi among royal cars up for auction

We conclude our Silverstone Auctions preview with this 1973 Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible. It’s the first time the car has been up for sale and the pre-auction estimate stands at £90,000 – £110,000. Remember, the Classic Motor Show Sale takes place at the NEC on the 12th and 13th November 2016.