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2018 Kia Ceed

2018 Kia Ceed prices from £18,295

2018 Kia CeedKia has revealed prices for the new 2018 Ceed range – and, starting from £18,295, they open at a higher price point than many expected when the new car was revealed at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show.

It’s also a £1,000 hike over the current Kia cee’d.

Note the name change: after two generations of annoying grammar zealots, Kia has finally both dropped the apostrophe and capitalised the first letter: Ceed still stands for ‘Community of Europe, with European Design’, but it’s no longer a spellchecker’s nightmare to write down.

Kia hasn’t revealed the full price rundown yet, but has confirmed the new Ceed will be sold in 2, Blue Edition, 3 and First Edition grades at launch. Engines will include a 100hp 1.4-litre, 120hp 1.0-litre T-GDI, 140hp 1.4-litre T-GDI, plus a 1.6-litre CRDi diesel with either 115hp or 136hp.

The fastest petrol will do 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds; the greenest diesel will average 74.3mpg.

Kia’s sold 1.26 million Ceed since it was launched in late 2006, and it wants to step up a gear with this third-generation car. Indeed, it’s a vital Kia launch that’s essential to the firm’s growth plans.

Emilio Herrera, COO for Kia Motors Europe, said: “2006 saw Kia’s European market share reach 1.5 percent, and just over a decade later, in 2017, it’s grown to 3.0 percent. Since the introduction of the Ceed, Kia’s annual European sales have more than doubled, with over 472,000 cars sold last year.

“The Ceed model family will play a major role in our efforts to achieve annual sales in excess of half a million vehicles this year and beyond.”

That’s why so much has gone into the new car, which Kia has designed to look lower, sleeker and sportier. It’s longer, wider and has a longer rear overhang; there are more straight lines rather than rounded-off edges, and the cab-forward look of the old model has been moved back.

Kia says 60 percent of sales will be of the five-door hatch, but the 40 percent mix of Sportwagon estate sales is why it’s made sure the wagon is available from launch. The Sportwagon’s boot is an eye-opening 18 percent larger than before, with 625 litres even with the seats up. That’s bigger than many cars from the class above…

The new Ceed should also drive much better. Kia says the front springs are 40 percent stiffer, the steering is 17 percent more direct and it’s even offering optional Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres which deliver more grip in bends.

First drives for the new Ceed will take place in July, just ahead of ordering opening on 1 August. Come back then to find out if it’s the family hatch you should be ordering for September new registration delivery…

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

Ferrari 328 GTS

Ferrari 328 GTS review: Retro Road Test

Ferrari 328 GTSWe’ve covered a lot of bases in these reviews, from a £2,000 Skoda to a £200,000 Porsche. But we’ve never driven a classic Ferrari… until now. Welcome to the Retro Road Test Christmas special.

The prancing horse in question is a 328: the entry-point to Ferrari’s mid-1980s range, alongside the Mondial, Testarossa, 412 and – latterly – F40. Thirty years on, it remains one of the most beautiful ‘modern’ Ferraris – and potentially one of the most sensible, too.

This 1988 328 is a targa-topped GTS (Gran Turismo Spider), kindly loaned to us by GVE London. It’s for sale at GVE’s Uxbridge showroom, priced at £129,900.

What are its rivals?Honda NSX

If you were shopping for a new Ferrari 488 GTB, you might also look at the Aston Martin V12 Vantage, Audi R8, Lamborghini Huracan, Noble M600, McLaren 650S, Mercedes-AMG GT S or Porsche 911 Turbo S.

Back in 1988, supercar buyers weren’t so spoilt for choice. The 328 had just three rivals: the Lamborghini Jalpa, Lotus Esprit and Porsche 930 Turbo. Oh, and the De Tomaso Pantera, if you really must.

Perhaps the most obvious alternative today is the original Honda NSX. Launched in 1990, the NSX has an identical power output to the 328 and shares its mid-engined layout, wedgy profile and cockpit-style cabin. It’s a sharper drive than the Ferrari – and cheaper to buy, too. But it doesn’t offer the same investment potential.

Which engine does it use?Ferrari 328 GTS

Fire up this mid-mounted V8 and there are no theatrical throttle blips or showboating exhaust pops. Only when you approach its lofty 7,700rpm redline does this engine sound special. Well, needs must…

The 328 uses a 3.2-litre development of the 3.0 quattrovalvole (four valves per cylinder) V8 from the Ferrari 308. Maximum power is 274hp at 7,000rpm, while peak torque is 224lb ft at 5,500rpm. In a car weighing a modest 1,325kg, that’s good for 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds and a top speed of circa. 160mph.

What’s it like to drive?Ferrari 328 GTS

Ferrari’s open-gate manual gearbox looks timelessly cool, but boy it needs some muscle – especially when cold. I’m advised to short-shift from first to third until the oil is warmed-up. However, I immediately fail by forgetting first gear is on a dog-leg: down and left, where reverse might usually be. Forget your click-click flappy paddles, this car demands deliberate, decisive inputs.

The same goes for the unassisted steering, which is heavy at low speeds, and the engine, which demands to be kept on the boil. The brakes are far better than most cars of this era, though, despite the pedals being ridiculously skewed towards the centre of the car.

On damp, December tarmac, I won’t pretend I pushed the 328 anywhere near its limits. But I did escape the London suburbs and find some quiet lanes, stowing the targa top behind the seats (a two-minute job, incidentally) and relishing the rasp of the V8 as it bounced off the hedgerows.

It took a while, but here the Ferrari and I had a meeting of minds. Its gorgeous Momo steering wheel danced in my hands as we dived through a series of bends, poised and precise. If offers no electronic safety nets, and thus no excuses. Driving a 328 is physical, cerebral and utterly analogue – and all the better for it.

Reliability and running costsFerrari 328 GTS

The 328 is considered one of the most reliable classic Ferraris. An evolution of the 308, launched in 1975, it’s a relatively simple car, free from electronic wizardry. Bosch K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection was the order of the day here.

Unlike many Ferraris, a 328 can be serviced without removing the engine. This keeps servicing costs down: GVE estimates around £750 for a new cambelt, plus oil and filter change. Taking into account wear-and-tear parts, such as tyres and brake pads, budget around £2,500 a year in total.

Fuel economy is quoted as 22.5mpg at a constant 56mph – and probably low teens if you give the car a workout. Still, look after your 328 and it should be an appreciating asset. With luck, that rise in value could outweigh the running costs altogether.

Could I drive it every day?Ferrari 328 GTS

In theory, yes. Amazingly, the 328 is shorter and narrower than a current Ford Focus, so it’s compact enough to feel nimble in the city. That’s not something you could say about the wide-boy Testarossa, or indeed the majority of 21st century supercars.

Ride quality is better than modern machines, too – thank absorbent 55-profile tyres – and the 328 has enough luxuries (air-con, electric windows, um… a cassette player) to be comfortable on longer journeys. It feels like a sports car built for the road, rather than the racetrack.

The big question, of course, is should you drive it every day? There, the answer is probably ‘no’. The rising value of 328s dictates that most owners want to keep wear and mileage to a minimum. And on that note…

How much should I pay?Ferrari 328 GTS

The 308 GTS was built in large numbers for a Ferrari. In total, 6,068 left Maranello, versus 1,344 for the hard-top GTB.

Prices vary widely depending on mileage and condition. The cheapest UK-based GTS at the time of writing was a left-hand-drive car with 60,000 miles for £59,995. At the other end of the scale, a GTS with a scant 275 miles on the clock was advertised at £169,990.

GVE’s car falls somewhere in the middle. It’s covered a modest 13,000 miles from new – the equivalent of less than 500 miles a year – and is offered at £129,900.

What should I look out for?David Rai

We asked GVE owner David Rai (pictured) and the company’s leading Ferrari expert, Guy Tedder, what to look for when buying a Ferrari 328. These are their top five tips:

  • As with all Ferraris, service history is of paramount importance. Originality is vital with older cars, too.
  • Don’t be scared off by service stamps from a specialist; they can be a better bet than Ferrari main dealers, who don’t necessarily know much about the classic models.
  • All 328s had a galvanised body, so rust problems aren’t a big issue. However, check the bottoms of the doors and the back of the rear wheelarches for possible corrosion.
  • Windows can become slow and shuddery through lack of use. This can be rectified by lubricating the moving parts inside the door.
  • Always check that the air conditioning works efficiently. It wasn’t the most well-designed system in the world, and most cars have been converted to new gas by now.

Should I buy one?Ferrari 328 GTS

The Pininfarina-penned 328 is an object of beauty. I had one on my bedroom wall as a child and, unlike yours truly, it has only grown lovelier with age.

It isn’t particularly quick by 2016 standards (a Ford Focus RS would leave it for dust), but that hardly matters. The Ferrari offers a driving experience that’s immersive, invigorating and intoxicating. It’s a car you’ll want to learn more about: to discover its abilities by developing your own. It isn’t perfect, but the quirks are all part of its character.

For the price of this particular 328 GTS, you could buy a new Porsche 911 Turbo, a car that is, objectively, better in every way. But that is missing the point. The Ferrari is a car to be enjoyed on sunny Sunday mornings and special occasions. And it’s a savvy investment, too.

So, our Retro Road Test Christmas special didn’t disappoint. Let’s just hope Santa is paying attention…

Pub factFerrari 328 GTS

Ferrari built 542 UK right-hand-drive examples of the 328 GTS between 1986 and 1989. Of these, 292 had anti-lock (ABS) brakes.

According to Guy Tedder, ABS, models are slightly less desirable due to revised suspension geometry that made the car feel less responsive. ABS cars – like the one seen here – are easily identified by their convex alloy wheels. Non-ABS cars have concave alloys.

The 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

The 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

The 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worthThe classic car market is celebrating a buoyant end to the year, that’s according to data released by insurance firm Hagerty. Using data from the cars that generate the most enquiries, we present the 10 cars in reverse order. If you sold a Peugeot 205 GTI or Audi Quattro at the beginning of the year, you might want to look away now.

10. Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC: 21.4% increase

2016 value: £10,200

2015 value: £8,400

The 5.0-litre 450SLC was built to allow Mercedes-Benz to go racing in the 1978 World Rally Championship. Of all the cars featured on the Hagerty list, we think this one offers the best value for money. Just over £10,000 to secure what is undoubtedly far more interesting than anything offered by Mercedes-Benz today.

9. Citroen SM: 26.5% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £34,125

2015 value: £26,975

Speaking of things far more interesting… Values of the Citroen SM continue to head north, as the market wakes up to the fact that this was one of the coolest creations of the 1970s. Part Citroen, part Maserati, the SM was a victim of circumstances beyond its control.

8. Ford Capri 2.8i: 28.0% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £13,950

2015 value: £10,900

We remember a time when you couldn’t give a Ford Capri away. Today, even the lowly four-cylinder cars command a sizeable premium, but six-cylinder Capris attract the most interest. In March 2016, a Ford Capri 280 ‘Brooklands’ sold at auction for £54,000…

7. Porsche 944 Turbo: 31.0% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £21,875

2015 value: £16,700

As 911 values continue to spiral out of control, it’s logical that some magic dust would be sprinkled over other Porsche models. Not too long ago, you could secure a 944 for a nominal amount. Today, the 944 Turbo has broken the £20,000 mark.

6. Jensen Interceptor III: 36.9% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £51,250

2015 value: £37,425

Meanwhile, this Anglo-Italian grand tourer has enjoyed a remarkable 2016, with values shooting up from £37,425 to £51,250. That’s an increase of 36.9%.

5. Porsche 928 GTS: 67.6% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £33,850

2015 value: £20,200

Hagerty says: “Front engine Porsches have been rising rapidly across the board for the last 18 months. The 928 is just starting to be considered for the superb sports that it is – a huge commitment by Porsche to their support and restoration has helped this.”

4. BMW 3.0 CSL: 70.8% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £83,800

2015 value: £49,050

Wow. Just wow. A year ago we were reporting a 1.1% increase in values, but a further 70.8% increase has seen the 3.0 CSL break through the £80,000 mark and on its way to six figures.

3. Aston Martin Lagonda S1: 71.6% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £62,725

2015 value: £36,550

Not to be confused with the wedge-tastic Lagonda S2, the Aston Martin Lagonda S1 was a four-door version of the Aston Martin V8 (pictured). Only seven were ever built, so we’re surprised to discover that Hagerty receives so many enquiries about this limited-run car.

2. Peugeot 205 GTi 1.6: 84.8% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £11,275

2015 value: £6,100

Hagerty says: “Over the summer of 2016, Peugeot 205 GTIs rocketed in value, with exceptional examples achieving over £30,000. The difference between fair and concours examples is huge.”

1. Audi Quattro RR: 151.2% increaseThe 10 most popular classic cars – and what they’re worth

2016 value: £47,925

2015 value: £19,075

Congratulations if you bought an Audi Quattro at the start of the year. Values of the desirable 20v RR model have skyrocketed over the past 12 months, up a massive 151.2%. Fire up the appreciator…

Ford Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road Test

Ford Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road Test

Ford Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road TestWant bigger biceps without paying for gym membership? Ford has the car for you. Its new ST-Line models offer pumped-up looks without high fuel and insurance bills. More mouth and less trouser, if you will.

ST-Line is available on the Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo and Kuga and replaces the old Zetec S trim level. As well as racier styling inside and out, you get bespoke alloy wheels and 10mm lower suspension. We tried the Focus 1.5 TDCi diesel in suitably sporty Race Red. Has any of that fast Ford magic rubbed off on this otherwise humble hatch?

Prices and dealsFord Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road Test

The current Mk3 Ford Focus has been around since 2011, albeit with a facelift in 2014. As one of Britain’s best-sellers and a perennial fleet favourite, it’s not a car you should pay anything close to full price for. Discounts of 25% or more aren’t uncommon if you shop around – and that includes ST-Line versions.

At the time of writing, ‘reverse auction’ website AutoeBid was offering the Focus 1.5 TDCi ST-Line hatchback – similar to the car in our photos – for £15,229. That’s more than 28% below the list price of £21,295.

What are its rivals?Ford Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road Test

The Focus competes in the heartland of what car-industry types call the ‘C-segment’. As such, its rivals include some very familiar names: the Volkswagen Golf, Peugeot 308, Vauxhall Astra and Mazda 3 to list but a few.

Like the Focus, and the Peugeot pictured, many competitors also come as estate cars. Most also offer a ‘semi-sporting’ trim level to rival ST-Line. Peugeot has its GT Line models, for example.

What engine does it use?Ford Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road Test

You can buy an ST-Line Focus with one of five different engines. The petrol line-up starts with the hugely popular 125hp 1.0-litre Ecoboost, then the 1.5 Ecoboost in 150hp or 182hp outputs. If you prefer diesel, there’s the 120hp 1.5 TDCi tested here, plus a 150hp 2.0 TDCi.

The most powerful petrol and diesel engines are only available with a manual gearbox – all others can be specified with an auto.

How fast?Ford Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road Test

It might boast deeper bumpers and a sizeable rear spoiler, but a 120hp diesel engine doth not a hot hatch make. The 1.5 TDCi hits 62mph in 10.5 seconds and has a top speed of 120mph. Compare that to 8.1 seconds and 135mph for the ‘proper’ ST diesel – or 6.5 seconds and 154mph for the ST petrol.

Nonetheless, ‘our’ Focus doesn’t feel slow. With maximum torque from 1,750rpm, there’s enough mid-range muscle for brisk overtaking. Its smooth, but not particularly quiet.

Is it comfortable?Ford Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road Test

ST-Line cars sit 10mm closer to the ground on slightly stiffer suspension. Without driving one back-to-back with a regular Focus, we struggled to tell the difference. Suffice to say, the ST-Line still offers a good compromise between responsiveness and refinement.

Inside, sports seats look the part, but won’t hug your hips like a pair of ST-spec Recaros. Look closely and you’ll also spot an ST gearknob, aluminium-faced pedals and a smattering of red go-faster stripes. Fancy.

Will I enjoy driving it?Ford Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road Test

The Focus has always been a family car for people who actually like driving. And while the latest model isn’t a dynamic benchmark like the 1998 original, it’s still an engaging and entertaining steer. Proof you don’t need a hot hatch to have fun, in other words.

Drop the kids off, find a quiet B-road and take time to appreciate the Ford’s taut chassis, direct steering and confidence-inspiring brakes. It feels poised and precise – without sacrificing long-distance comfort.

Fuel economy and running costsFord Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road Test

Here’s the good bit. Behind all that Race Red, ST-branded attitude is an engine that emits a tax-free 99g/km of CO2, plus official fuel economy of 74.3mpg. Interestingly, the figures for the estate version are exactly the same, although you’ll pay an £1,100 premium for the bigger boot.

It’s worth remembering that ST-Line trim costs £1,250 more than the default Focus Zetec, however. That’s the price of style.

What’s the interior like?Ford Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road Test

Those ST-Line additions give the Ford’s interior a useful lift, but there’s no escaping the slightly cheap plastics and fussy design. The general ambiance is no better than an equivalent Hyundai or Kia – and some way behind the rival Volkswagen Golf.

You won’t have any problems getting comfortable, though. The driving position offers a wide range of adjustment and all controls are within easy reach. The chunky, three-spoke steering wheel gets a thumbs-up from us, too.

Is it practical?Ford Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road Test

Unlike previous models, the Mk3 Focus hatchback only comes with five doors, so access to the rear seats isn’t an issue. There’s ample room for children (with standard Isofix mountings for child car seats), but taller adults may lament the lack of legroom.

The Focus hatch certainly isn’t as practical a crossover, such as the Nissan Qashqai. Boot space is 316 litres, or 1,215 litres with the rear seats folded. Compare that to 370/1,210 litres in the Astra and 380/1,270 litres in the Golf. Opt for the Focus Estate, however, and capacity swells to 476/1,502 litres.

Tell me about the techFord Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road Test

Before its mid-life facelift, the Focus dashboard was a veritable button-fest, not unlike an old mobile phone. Now there’s a neat colour touchscreen, which is located high on the dashboard, easily within the driver’s line of sight. It’s straightforward to use, with bold, bright graphics and intuitive sub-menus.

It’s certainly worth paying £300 for Ford’s Sync2 navigation system. We’d also fork out £225 for rear parking sensors, although the £250 rear-view camera seems like overkill. Bluetooth phone connectivity is standard across the Focus range.

What about safety?Ford Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road Test

The Focus scored a full five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. Standard safety equipment includes six airbags and electronic stability control.

We think Active City Stop (an automatic emergency braking system) is well worth an extra £200. Alternatively, you could simply upgrade to the £550 Driver Assistance Pack, which includes Active City Stop, plus lane-assist, automatic headlights and wipers, traffic-sign recognition and a driver alertness monitor.

Which version should I go for?Ford Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road Test

What we’re really asking here is ‘Should I go for ST-Line?’. And, without wanting to sit on the proverbial fence, the answer really depends on your priorities. For the same money (starting from £20,595), you could have a Focus in Titanium-spec, which comes with front foglights, Active City Stop, rear parking sensors and automatic lights/wipers – all extra-cost options on the ST-Line. However, you’d do without the sporty bodykit and lower suspension.

Then again, the Focus Zetec offers all the features you really need for around £1,700 less. You pays your money…

What’s the used alternative?Ford Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road Test

The obvious used equivalent to a new Focus ST-Line is the outgoing Focus Zetec S. This model has been around since late 2011, so there are cars in the classifieds to suit most budgets. The Zetec S came with a bodykit, 17-inch alloy wheels and suspension that was 28% stiffer than the standard car. Some also had part-leather seats.

Us? We’d be tempted to put any money saved upfront towards the (hefty) fuel bills for a full-fat Focus ST.

Should I buy one?Ford Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road Test

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.

Pub factFord Focus ST-Line: Two-Minute Road Test

Ford first used its iconic RS badge in 1968, but the ST name didn’t appear until 1997. The Mondeo ST24 (pictured) had a 170hp 2.5-litre V6 and a bulbous bodykit. It lasted for just two years, before being replaced by the 200hp Mondeo ST200 in 1999.

ST versions of the Fiesta and Focus followed soon after, with the high-point of the saga being the latest Fiesta ST: one of the greatest hot hatches ever made.

2017 Audi TT RS

2017 Audi TT RS review: flat-out in the junior R8

2017 Audi TT RSLet’s start with a stat: the new Audi TT RS hits 62mph from standstill in 3.7 seconds. That’s quicker than a Ferrari F40, Porsche 959 or Jaguar XJ220. Indeed, the RS can show a clean pair of Michelins to most supercars built before the millennium. It’s also just 0.2 seconds slower than Audi’s flagship R8.

A bona fide baby R8?2017 Audi TT RS

The formula for such savage speed is simple: more power, less weight and, of course, Quattro four-wheel drive. But faster doesn’t always equal more fun, especially when it comes to hot Audis. Is the TT RS a bona fide baby R8, or just a seriously hot hatch? We drove it on-track, then on challenging mountain roads, to find out.

Pricier than Porsche2017 Audi TT RS

You can order a TT RS from late September, with first deliveries due in November. List price for the Coupe is £51,800, while the Roadster is £53,350. That’s pricier than an equivalent Porsche Cayman S or Boxster S, but still less than half as much as big-brother R8. However, this being an Audi, you’ll probably want to set aside at least £5k for extra-cost options.

Power to the people2017 Audi TT RS

In terms of performance-per-pound, though, the TT looks solid value. Its 2.5-litre, five-cylinder engine pumps out 400hp and 354lb ft of torque: more than even the hottest hatchbacks the 350hp Ford Focus RS, 381hp Mercedes-AMG A45 and Audi’s own 367hp RS3 included. It also outguns the aforementioned Boxster/Cayman (350hp) and the outgoing TT RS (360hp).

Rollercoaster racetrack2017 Audi TT RS

We start our test-drive at Jarama, a fabulous rollercoaster of a racetrack just outside Madrid. Used for Formula One until 1981, it offers a stomach-churning blend of blind apexes, off-camber corners and (gulp) short run-offs. It’s the perfect place to put the TT RS through its paces.

Ready for launch2017 Audi TT RS

First, though, we line up to try the Launch Control the easiest way to achieve that headline 3.7sec sprint to 62mph. And it really couldn’t be easier: floor the right pedal, left foot off the brake and wham! the RS rockets down the main straight. It clouts you in the back and strains your neck muscles; the sheer ferocity of its acceleration is startling. God only knows what these full-bore starts do to the clutch.

Straight-line speed2017 Audi TT RS

Still, there’s more to life than straight-line speed. And if the TT RS is truly the pint-size R8 we’re hoping for, it needs to be just as fleet-footed in the corners. Good thing we’re on a racetrack, then.

Keeping it wheel2017 Audi TT RS

One immediate similarity with the R8 is the new steering wheel. Compact, flat-bottomed and Alcantara-wrapped, it adds an authentic motorsport feel particularly with the new ‘satellite’ buttons for engine start/stop and switching drive modes. Shame you can’t have a manual gearbox as well; the RS comes with a seven-speed S tronic semi-automatic only.

Get a grip2017 Audi TT RS

Heading into turn one a hairpin right-hander the Audi’s steering feels light and responsive. There’s barely any body-roll as the front tyres bite and Quattro four-wheel traction catapults us towards the next corner. Scything effortlessly through a tightening corkscrew, then a flat-out, uphill left-hander, the RS feels utterly planted. It simply grips and goes.

Shift into neutral2017 Audi TT RS

As our confidence grows, we push harder, but the TT RS stubbornly refuses to be provoked. Even as grip turns to slip, it remains remarkably neutral. The juddering understeer of Audis past is just that: a thing of the past.

Scorched tyres, baked brakes2017 Audi TT RS

We return to the pitlane with the smell of scorched rubber seeping through the air vents and smoke pouring off the (optional) ceramic front brake discs. Clearly, the TT RS is an easy car to drive very fast. But it’s almost too capable on-track, lacking the poise and throttle-adjustability of a good rear-driver. Perhaps it will be more rewarding on the road.

Going topless2017 Audi TT RS

We swap into a Roadster for a drive into the Iberian countryside. The drop-top is 0.2sec slower to 62mph than the Coupe, but the chance to soak up some Spanish sun seems ample compensation. Besides, the TT RS looks even better with no roof. Hawkish headlights and a gaping grille with ‘Quattro’ lettering provide plenty of rear-view-mirror presence, while twin tailpipes and a fixed rear wing beef up the back end.

Cabin fever2017 Audi TT RS

The TT’s exterior is simply an amuse bouche before the main course of its cabin, however. Stylish, ergonomically excellent and beautifully built, it’s one of the finest interiors of any car on sale. The centrepiece is Audi’s digital ‘Virtual Cockpit’, which takes the place of traditional dials behind the steering wheel. Standard-fit on the TT, the RS has an additional screen with a central rev counter and readouts for torque, tyre pressures, G-forces and other such geekery.

Cramped in the back2017 Audi TT RS

You also get Audi’s excellent MMI Navigation system, subtle LED interior lighting and gorgeous quilted leather sports seats. Not that these offer much comfort if you’re seated in the rear. If you thought a Porsche 911 felt cramped, this is the next level of back-bending, neck-cricking claustrophobia. Our advice: consider the back seats a useful extension of the boot.

Playing the long game2017 Audi TT RS

Talking practicality, we should also mention fuel economy: a claimed 34.4 mpg for the Coupe, with CO2 emissions of 187g/km (Roadster: 34.0mpg and 189g/km). Hardly ground-breaking figures, but at least strong residual values – 43% of list price retained after three years/60,000 miles, according to CAP – keep overall running costs down.

Filth and the fury2017 Audi TT RS

We press the red start button and the TT’s five-cylinder engine – an Audi RS trademark dating back to the original 1994 RS2 – erupts into life. Its pulsating growl, which swells into a hard-edged snarl as the revs rise, is amplified by the lack of a roof. With the exhaust in sport mode, it sounds downright filthy.

Jolts and jitters2017 Audi TT RS

Leaving Jarama, the TS RS jolts over speed humps and jitters across broken Tarmac. The optional 20-inch wheels on our test car doubtless don’t help (19s are standard), but there’s no escaping that firm, borderline-uncomfortable ride.

Explosive performance2017 Audi TT RS

The pay-off comes as we head into the hills, switching Drive Select to Dynamic and changing gear manually using the paddles behind the wheel. On sinuous switchbacks that snake through rock-strewn valleys, the uber-TT feels in its element. Magnetic Ride adaptive dampers (another option, naturally) hunker it down deliciously, before another huge slug of turbocharged torque blasts us between the bends. It’s deft and controlled, yet utterly explosive.

Redeemed on the road2017 Audi TT RS

Phew. With exhausts ticking furiously in the heat, we park the TT RS back at Jarama and reluctantly return the keys. After a slightly underwhelming session on-track, the Audi has redeemed itself on the road. Where some RS-badged Audis – latest RS3 included – feel aloof, the TT RS comes alive. It’s a car you’ll genuinely enjoy driving, over and over again.

Porsche is our pick2017 Audi TT RS

However, there is a hulking Porsche-shaped elephant in the room, and its name is 718 Boxster/Cayman. We spent a week with a Cayman S shortly before the TT launch and there’s no question which German sports car we’d spend our (sadly, theoretical) £50k on. Despite reservations about its new, four-cylinder engine, the Porsche is a simpler, purer sports car – and all the better for that.

A kind of magic2017 Audi TT RS

Not convinced? We can agree to disagree. After all, the Audi is quicker, more powerful, better looking, nicer to sit in and will be more exclusive. It even has rear seats… sort of. But in those rare moments when the traffic clears, your focus sharpens and the road becomes a ribbon to be reeled-in, the Audi is merely memorable. The Porsche? It’s magic.

The classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

The classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

The classic cars you should have bought 21 years agoHindsight is a wonderful thing. A little like Cher but without the makeup, we wish we could turn back time to snap up and store away the future classics of yesterday. This thought was triggered by the discovery of a newspaper cutting from August 1995, which listed the values of old cars then and a prediction for the turn of the millennium. It makes for strangely compelling reading.

Raising expectationsThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

The feature, which appeared in the Daily Mail, was based on data from Birmingham’s Aston University and looked at how depreciation, design and charisma could combine to “lift future value above expectations”. You’ll be amazed at how little some cars were worth in 1995 and how much they could be worth today. We’ve used the Hagerty classic car valuation tool for today’s valuations, with values based on excellent examples.

1982 Alfa Romeo Alfasud SprintThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £2,213. 2000 forecast: £4,052. 2016 value: £8,800

Take the Alfa Romeo Alfasud Sprint. Back in 1995, you’d have paid around £2,213 for a good, clean 1982 example, but Dr. Robert Tinsley of Aston University predicted an increase of around £1,800 by the year 2000.

1981 Alfa Romeo AlfettaThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £1,110. 2000 forecast: £1,247. 2016 value: £5,900

The forecast for the Alfa Romeo Alfetta 2000 may have been a touch pessimistic. You could buy a 14-year-old Alfetta for little more than a ‘bag of sand’ in 1995, but today you’d need to part with around £6,000.

1981 Aston Martin LagondaThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £17,609. 2000 forecast: £35,528. 2016 value: £41,200

You don’t need the appliance of science to predict an increase in the value of an Aston Martin, but oh – for the chance to buy a wedge-tastic Lagonda for £17k! In 1995, you could have snapped up a Lagonda for the price of an entry-level Mercedes-Benz C-Class, but today, you’d need to fork out £40,000.

1983 Aston Martin V8The classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £27,855. 2000 forecast: £41,522. 2016 value: £80,600

It’s a similar story for the Aston Martin V8. In 1995 you could choose to spend circa £28,000 on a brand new TVR Chimaera or a 12-year-old AM V8. Fast forward 21 years and if you opted for the latter, you could be sat on an £80,000 fortune. As for a 1995 TVR, around £12,000 would be closer to the mark.

1981 Audi QuattroThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £5,960. 2000 forecast: £10,468. 2016 value: £18,600

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past year, you’ll know that 1980s cars – and in particular, performance models – are hot property right now. We think Aston University got its forecast spot-on, because an Audi Quattro worth £5,960 in 1995 would be worth around £18,600 in 2016. Note, this figure is based on an early left-hand-drive model. You’ll pay considerably more for a late 20-valve car.

1981 BMW 635 CSIThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £7,236. 2000 forecast: £14,636. 2016 value: £8,300

Dr. Tinsley, who originally prepared the data for Maxim magazine, had high hopes for the BMW 635 CSI, predicting it would be worth twice as much by the year 2000. The fact that it’s priced around £8,300 in 2016 suggests that, while the car has risen in value, it’s not the gold mine predicted.

1979 Citroen CX PallasThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £1,500. 2000 forecast: £1,662. 2016 value: £4,500 (estimated)

In truth, you might be able to buy a Citroen CX Pallas for £1,500 in 2016, but it’ll need a considerable amount of work to bring it up to concours standard. The article was predicting a tiny increase in value, perhaps noting the fact that big French cars are a hard-sell in the UK. With DS and SM values heading north, the CX could be the next big thing.

1981 De Tomaso DeauvilleThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £5,476. 2000 forecast: £8,462. 2016 value: £24,300

In 2016, your biggest challenge might be finding a De Tomaso Deauville, rather than the £24,300 you’ll need to secure a mint example. To think you could buy one for less than the price of a Fiat Panda in 1995.

1982 Ferrari 400iThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £20,109. 2000 forecast: £34,535. 2016 value: £41,500

The 400i isn’t the most desirable car Ferrari has ever built, which might help to explain why the price you’ll pay today is just £7,000 more than the forecast for the year 2000. Should have bought that De Tomaso.

1984 Ferrari Mondial QVThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £19,495. 2000 forecast: £42,136. 2016 value: £29,300

No, sorry Dr. Tinsley, you got this one wrong. Even in an age when the values of 70s and 80s classics are going through the roof, a Ferrari Mondial QV is still worth less than £30,000. You’d have been better off buying a mint Peugeot 205 GTi and dragging that out of storage.

1987 Ferrari TestarossaThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £43,818. 2000 forecast: £45,977.  2016 value: £133,800

We suspect the boffins at Aston University never watched an episode of Miami Vice or had a poster of a Testarossa on their bedroom wall. The days of an affordable Ferrari Testarossa are long gone. To provide some context, the 1995 value is roughly half the price you’d have paid for a brand new Ferrari F355 Berlinetta with a couple of options.

1983 Fiat X1/9The classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £4,104. 2000 forecast: £8,406. 2016 value: £6,300

It’s fair to say the X1/9 hasn’t appreciated at quite the same rate as a Ferrari, but if you’re after a pocket-size Ferrari on the cheap, the little Fiat is a good start. Amazing to think that production of the Marcello Gandini-designed sports car began in 1972 and very nearly made it into the 90s.

1977 Ford Capri 1600 GLThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £1,155. 2000 forecast: £1,309. 2016 value: £6,000 (estimate)

In 1995, it was a real struggle to sell a four-cylinder Capri, with even the six-cylinder versions unlikely to attract much attention beyond enthusiast circles. This explains the modest forecast for the 1600 GL. You’ll pay a fair amount more for a Mk2 today, although Hagerty’s £30,000 valuation for a 280 Brooklands makes for grim reading for anyone who sold one before they became hot property.

1981 Ford Escort XR3iThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £1,534. 2000 forecast: £2,112. 2016 value: £5,000 (estimate)

The Ford Escort XR3i isn’t listed on the Hagerty valuation tool, but £5,000 is a rough estimate for a good example. Like the Capri, the XR3i wasn’t blessed with the best image in the mid 90s, which explains the low cost and pessimistic forecast. Storing one away in 1995 won’t have generated a fortune, but now could be the time to think about selling.

1987 Lamborghini CountachThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £66,036. 2000 forecast: £120,000. 2016 value: £255,000

In 1995, a Lamborghini Diablo would have set you back around £144,000 – a price that could get you not one but two Countach LP500S QVs. Right now, that Countach is probably worth a cool quarter of a million.

1984 Lamborghini JalpaThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £25,001. 2000 forecast: £69,967. 2016 value: £69,400

The Jalpa isn’t as iconic as the Countach, and values reflect this, but it’s rather uncanny that Aston University’s forecast for 2000 is almost exactly the same as today’s Hagerty valuation. The Jalpa was the Countach’s more affordable sibling and only 410 were built.

1981 Lotus EclatThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £6,715. 2000 forecast: £10,748. 2016 value: £6,500

Well would you look at that: today’s valuation for the Lotus Eclat is actually less than the price you’d have paid in 1995, proving that not all future classics are a sound investment.

1984 Lotus EspritThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £10,643. 2000 forecast: £20,300. 2016 value: £20,000

There’s slightly better news for Lotus Esprit owners, although the ‘double your money’ forecast was well wide of the mark. In fact, the 2016 valuation is less than the 2000 forecast.

1982 Maserati KhamsinThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £16,255. 2000 forecast: £29,226. 2016 value: £98,200

Another Marcello Gandini masterpiece and another Italian gem that has rocketed in value. The 4.9-litre V8 Maserati Khamsin was launched at the 1973 Paris Motor Show, with 435 units built before production ceased in 1982. In 1995 it could have been yours for little more than the price of a Fiat Tipo 16v. Today, it’s nudging £100,000.

1981 Porsche 911 TurboThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £20,536. 2000 forecast: £33,062. 2016 value: £45,400

Looking back, the £20,536 being asked for a 1981 Porsche 911 Turbo in 1995 was an absolute steal, not least because a new one would have cost in excess of £91,000. That same car today is worth more than double. Dare we suggest that price is likely to continue heading north?

1982 Porsche 924 TurboThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £7,214. 2000 forecast: £12,092. 2016 value: £10,500

Finally, Porsche 924 prices are on the up, but not at the brisk rate predicted in 1995. An excellent 924 Turbo will set you back around £10,000, which is £2,000 more than the 2000 forecast. Of course, the one you really want is the 924 Carrera GT – a snip at around £47,000 – £60,500.

1975 Range RoverThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £2,891. 2000 forecast: £3,836. 2016 value: £34,800

Not even the brains at Aston University would have predicted the demand for the Range Rover Classic. Back in 1995, the Classic was being sold alongside its replacement – the P38A, but early models weren’t exactly in demand. Little surprise then that the 2000 forecast was so low. Oh to be able to find a 1975 Classic for £2,891…

1975 Triumph Dolomite SprintThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1975 value: £2,837. 2000 forecast: £5,388. 2016 value: £6,000

Based on these figures, the Triumph Dolomite Sprint hasn’t exactly rocked the classic car world. But it’s rather refreshing to find such a credible and desirable classic available for such a relatively low price. Will the same be true in another 21 years?

1984 TVR 350iThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £9,906. 2000 forecast: £19,009. 2016 value: £8,000 (estimate)

The TVR 350i was essentially a Tasmin powered by a 3.5-litre Rover V8 engine, although it doesn’t appear to be as desirable as Aston University predicted. Indeed, though a £19,009 valuation was forecast for 2000, you can now pick up a 350i for less than the 1995 value.

1979 Volkswagen Golf GTIThe classic cars you should have bought 21 years ago

1995 value: £2,500. 2000 forecast: £4,165. 2016 value: £13,300

In 1995, the memory of the Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTi was still fresh in the mind, not least because the then-current Golf GTI was a more lacklustre affair. If you bought a Golf GTI on the strength of the Daily Mail article, we applaud you, especially if you still own the same car.

Mercedes-AMG A45

Mercedes-AMG A45 (2016) review: Two-Minute Road Test

Mercedes-AMG A45The hot hatch arms-race shows no sign of letting up, so – as part of a mid-life makeover – Mercedes-AMG has tinkered with the 4WD performance A-Class to make it truly weapons-grade.

The original A45 could hardly be accused of lacking focus or performance, but this ‘entry-level’ AMG product now cements its place as the most powerful compact hatchback on sale, with 376hp.

However, being top dog comes at a cost, literally, in the form of a big price tag. At £40,000, expectations are set high.

What are its rivals?

Mercedes-AMG A 45 rivals

With the Audi RS3 currently off the market while it undergoes a facelift, the closest rivals to the AMG A45 cost almost £10,000 less.

The £31,000 Volkswagen Golf R is proving popular, through a combination of pace and pricing. It too packs a 4WD system, but can’t match the rabid pace of the A45. Ford’s Focus RS is impossible to ignore, but badge snobbery may put some people off – despite a bargain cost of £29,995.

Honda’s front-wheel-drive Civic Type R also cuts under the £30,000 mark, but might not be the best investment for those who want to don’t want to attract attention. And the rear-wheel-drive BMW M140i has a six-cylinder engine and premium badge, if not quite the same pace as the Mercedes. It starts at nearly £32,000.

Which engine does it use?

Mercedes-AMG A45

Proving that this isn’t just a hotted-up A-Class, but a genuine AMG product, the A45 features a hand-built 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine. The ‘one man, one engine’ philosophy means each unit comes with a signed plaque on the engine cover, letting you know who put it together.

With 376hp and 350lb ft of torque, this is a serious motor. The 0-62mph sprint takes a scant 4.2 seconds, and top speed is limited to 155mph. A 4Matic AWD system has the job of channelling all that power to the wheels through a seven-speed, dual-clutch ‘AMG Speedshift’ gearbox, with steering-wheel-mounted paddles.

What’s it like to drive?

Mercedes-AMG A45

Fast. Very fast. In fact, almost incomprehensibly fast the first time you give it full throttle in Sport or Sport+ mode. There’s some minor turbo lag, but then the A45 unleashes everything in a way that’ll have you clinging to the AMG GT supercar steering wheel. It pulls all the way through the rev range, and feels every bit as rapid as the stats say it is. Such is the brutal ferocity of the way the A45 accelerates, you’ll be left in no doubt this isn’t just a normal hot hatch.

Gearshifts are rapid, whether the transmission is left in automatic or by using the manual paddles. Upshifts feature a pleasing crackle from the sports exhaust, while downshifts get a cheeky blip of the throttle, too. The noise made by the A45 is addictive, but can be muted by selecting Comfort mode.

The ride is firm, but not uncomfortably harsh, and improves as the speed rises. There’s a feeling of infinite grip, matched with impressive traction from the AWD system. And while the steering lacks feel, it does at least weight-up accurately. Braking is as impressive, as you would imagine from a set-up that features big calipers and drilled discs.

Fuel economy and running costs

Mercedes-AMG A45

Despite having the performance of a 1990’s supercar, the A45 doesn’t have the matching thirst. Official combined fuel economy is rated as 40.9mpg, with CO2 emissions of 162g/km for cars wearing 18-inch wheels.

In the real world, that translates to around 30mpg when cruising, but will drop further when you’re making use of all 376hp. There’s only so much a standard stop-start system can do.

Band G road tax (VED) means £185 a year, although be careful if you specify 19-inch wheels, as this pushes the A45 into the £220 Band H due to increased CO2 emissions.

Is it practical?

Mercedes-AMG A45

Being based on a regular C-segment family hatchback means the AMG A45 benefits from the same five doors and usable boot as the normal A-Class. It’s perfectly capable of being used every day, especially with AMG mode in the Comfort setting.

There’s 341 litres of luggage space in the boot, increased to 1,157 litres with the rear seats folded down. Rear-seat space is adequate, although passengers may feel slightly claustrophobic on account of the high-backed bucket seats in the front and the A45’s shallow window line. They might also complain if you unleash the full potential of the AMG engine without warning…

What about safety?

Mercedes-AMG A45

Beneath all the wings and spoilers, this is still a Mercedes, so safety hasn’t been forgotten in the quest for speed.

The basic A-Class gained the full five stars in Euro NCAP tests, so it’s already starting from the best possible place. Add in a three-stage ESP system, collision prevention warning, brake assist and fatigue awareness, and the A45 racks up many points in the safety stakes.

Also, as a Mercedes-AMG buyer, you’ll have the chance to attend the AMG Driving Academy, giving you one-to-one tuition in how best to handle your new car.

Which version should I go for?

Mercedes-AMG A45

There’s only one version, so it’s a question of how far into the options list you want to go.

As standard there’s cruise control, dual-zone climate control, DAB radio, LED headlights and taillights, auto-dimming mirrors, even illuminated AMG-branded door sills. You’ll also find a standard 8-inch media display, with satellite navigation, which looks like an iPad but isn’t. You’ll undoubtedly learn this after several stabs at it, literally, until realising you need to use the rotary controller instead. Don’t forget the high-back bucket seats, which will make you feel like you’re in a BTCC racer, and do very much fit the price tag.

The sports exhaust adds £510, while that huge rear spoiler costs an eye-watering £1,530. We would avoid the carbon fibre wing mirror covers, as they add on £1,230! There is a genuine risk of specifying a hatchback that costs the best part of £50,000 here.

Should I buy one?

Mercedes-AMG A45

The Mercedes-AMG A45 is a staggering car to drive, with explosive performance and extraordinary levels of grip and traction. Driving cross-country, it could easily surprise and embarrass supercars costing several times more.

Cost is perhaps the biggest barrier as, on a purely objective level, a Focus RS or Golf R can do 90% of what the A45 offers for £10,000 less. But for some there will be the overriding allure of owning a genuine AMG product, even if it doesn’t feature a high-capacity V8 engine.

So, if you can afford it and want the ultimate performance hatchback, the AMG A45 is certainly one to consider.

Pub fact

Mercedes-Benz and Mika Hakkinen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The A45 isn’t the first quick A-Class. Back in 1998, AMG decided the best way to make the original elk-worrying A-Class quicker was by adding a second engine. By slotting one 1.9-litre engine under the bonnet, and another one in the boot, the 250hp 4WD A38 was born. McLaren-Mercedes F1 driver Mika Häkkinen seemed suitably thrilled by the idea, it appears.

Bristol Bullet

New Bristol Bullet supercar revealed

Bristol Bullet

Bristol is back! The Bullet is the first car from the British marque for 10 years. And this V8-engined roadster marks 70 years since the birth of Bristol Cars in 1947. Only 70 will be made, at a price of ‘less than £250,000’.

Return of the tailfinBristol Bullet

Designed in Britain, with help from an unnamed ‘Italian styling house’, the Bullet bears more than a passing resemblance to the iconic AC Cobra. Bristol’s traditional tailfins make an appearance at the rear, along with speedster-style humps behind the seats.

Muscle from MunichBristol Bullet

The Bullet’s heart is a 375 hp 4.8-litre BMW V8. In a car weighing just 1,250 kg, it provides 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. As our brief ride in the Bullet proved, it also sounds like a TVR that’s had elocution lessons. Fantastic.

Carbon fibre compositesBristol Bullet

Bristols were traditionally made from aluminium, but the Bullet is carbon fibre composite. This provides high strength and low weight – and the panel gaps and paint finish on this ‘near production’ prototype look excellent. No visible carbon fibre weave here…

Hand-crafted cabinBristol Bullet

The interior of the Bullet mixes traditional materials with up-to-date technology. Bristol describes it as ‘perfectly suited to the modern age’. Apart from, er… the complete absence of a roof. We’ll come to that shortly.

Luxurious leatherBristol Bullet

The seats are trimmed in soft British-sourced leather and are said to be ‘contoured for support and comfort over long distances’. The car’s suspension has also been tuned for road-biased comfort, rather than ultimate track-day agility.

Space for a caseBristol Bullet

In keeping with its ‘grand touring’ premise, the Bullet has a leather-lined boot big enough for a couple of small suitcases. Note the beautifully-scripted Bristol badge.

LED lightsBristol Bullet

No premium car is complete without an LED light signature, and the Bristol doesn’t disappoint. But why not a single spotlamp in the middle of the grille – in trad Bristol style?

Slippery when wetBristol Bullet

As noted previously, the Bullet is somewhat lacking in rain protection. There isn’t even a tonneau cover for when the car is parked. This half-height windscreen is optional, too. Owners can have no ’screen at all if they prefer.

Connected classicBristol Bullet

An eight-inch touchscreen controls ‘infotainment’ functions, with smartphone connectivity via Bluetooth or wi-fi. It can mirror your phone screen for instant familiarity, and even has a button to contact the Bristol showroom in Kensington, London.

Delicate detailsBristol Bullet

Some of the detailing on the Bullet is exquisite, such as these flush-fitting door handles that pop out from the bodywork when the button is pressed.

Birthday presentBristol Bullet

Bristol started life building buses in 1908, then moved on to aircraft engines and finally – in 1947 – cars. The first Bullets should reach customers in January 2017, marking 70 years since the original Bristol 400 left the factory.

On sale nowBristol Bullet

However, you can place your order now. We were quoted a price of ‘less than £250,000’, although the final figure depends on personalisation options – such as custom paintwork or interior trim. If you can afford it, the factory in Chichester will tailor the Bullet to your individual taste.

Bullet timeBristol Bullet

We attended the UK unveiling of the Bristol Bullet at Coworth Park, near Ascot. The car was displayed alongside several of the high-points from Bristol’s history – including one of the first 400s.

Production-ready prototypeBristol Bullet

This isn’t quite the finished article, but it’s not far off. Bristol is still fine-tuning some details to meet production regulations. Thankfully, despite ominous grey clouds overhead, the rain steered clear of Bristol’s priceless prototype.

Won’t get fuelled againBristol Bullet

That prominent fuel filler is one of the details that will be changed. In production cars, it will sit flush with the bodywork. Thankfully, the voluptuous curves and twin exhausts are staying.

Traditional meets modernBristol Bullet

Here’s another glimpse of the Bristol’s rather inviting interior. Note the exposed carbon fibre on the dashboard. ‘Classic wood’ is also an option.

Pap starBristol Bullet

The Bullet was swarmed all over by the UK press, before being shipped off to London’s famous Dorchester hotel for a formal premiere. Today, the car really is the star.

Ready to rumbleBristol Bullet

We had a very brief passenger ride in the Bullet around the Coworth Park estate. The engine’s ample torque was obvious – along with its great soundtrack. The ride felt well-damped over various speed humps.

Bristol 400Bristol 400

Here’s the car that started it all: the Bristol 400. It’s essentially a licence-built BMW 328, hence the oddly familiar kidney grille.

Bristol 400Bristol 400

The link between Bristol and BMW persists to this day, as evidenced by the Bavarian V8 in the new Bullet. The 400 was no slouch, though – it’s engine actually came from the racing version of the 328.

Bristol 400Bristol 400

The dials in the the 400 are scattered – seemingly at random – across the dashboard. Later Bristols would take their cues from the company’s aircraft heritage, with a more structured and ergonomic ‘cockpit’.

Bristol 404Bristol 404

Built between 1953 and 1955, the 404 was known as the ‘Gentleman’s Express’. This stylish two-door coupe was impressively aerodynamic for its day – again, influenced by aircraft design.

Bristol 404Bristol 404

The 404 was powered by a free-revving 2.0-litre Bristol engine. It’s a beguiling, and uniquely British, alternative to Italian grand tourers of the day. Spot the tailfins, also seen on the new Bullet.

Bristol 404Bristol 404

The 404’s dashboard is much closer to what you’d find in a modern car, with clear, white-on-black dials. And the classic wood-and-leather combo never goes out of fashion.

Bristol 405 Drophead CoupeBristol 405 Drophead Coupe

Wow. This soft-top 405 really is something special. One of just 43 built, its sleek bodywork was designed by Abbotts of Farnham and looks resplendent in deep blue.

Bristol 405 Drophead CoupeBristol 405 Drophead Coupe

The 405 was first launched as a saloon, which remains the only four-door Bristol ever made. The Drophead boasted an extra 21 hp from its 2.0-litre, six-cylinder engine – bringing its grand total to 126 hp.

Bristol 405 Drophead CoupeBristol 405 Drophead Coupe

How inviting does that soft red leather look? The 405’s thin-rimmed steering wheel is still rather bus-like, but its short gear lever offers snappy shifting. Front disc brakes were an option.

Bristol BulletBristol Bullet

Lastly, here is the car that inspired the new Bullet. This one-off Speedster was discovered under covers in a dusty corner of the Bristol factory. Details of its past are sketchy, but the ‘Bullet’ nickname has stuck.

Bristol BulletBristol Bullet

Looking at the original Bullet, it’s easy to see where the new car got its looks. It’s simple, sleek and utterly gorgeous.

Bristol BulletBristol Bullet

The Bullet might look like a racing car, but its well-appointed interior suggests otherwise. Like the modern car, the half-height windscreen wraps around into the front half of the doors. Good luck getting a replacement from Autoglass for that one.

Best of BritishBristol Bullet

The 2017 Bullet is a confident return for a once-great British brand. We’re not totally sold on the styling, but quality seems very good – and the driving experience promises much. Motoring Research will be getting behind the wheel later this year, so stay tuned for more Bristol news soon.

What classic cars cost then – and what they cost now

What classic cars cost then – and what they would cost now

What classic cars cost then – and what they cost nowYour first encounter with a car was probably when your parents drove you home from the maternity ward. Safe to say you won’t remember much about the journey, but did your folks ever reveal their choice of wheels for this momentous drive? And would would that car cost in today’s money? We’ve crunched the numbers to find out. 

1950: Ford AngliaWhat classic cars cost then – and what they cost now

1950 price: £310

Price adjusted: £9,888

According to a copy of Motor, October 1948, the Ford Anglia was the cheapest four-wheel car in Britain. In 1950, the Anglia – a descendant of the current Ford Focus – would have set you back £310, the equivalent of £9,888 in today’s money.

1959: MiniWhat classic cars cost then – and what they cost now

1959 price: £497 – £537

Price adjusted: £10,502 – £11,348

Although synonymous with the Swinging Sixties, the Mini burst onto the scene in 1959, with prices ranging from £497 to £537. It quite literally changed the shape of British motoring and laid the foundations for a new decade.

1964: Lotus CortinaWhat classic cars cost then – and what they cost now

1964 price: £1,100

2016 price adjusted: £20,799

Back in 1964, you could drive away in this super-saloon for £1,100 – about a third of the average house price. Inflation adjusted, that’s a little over £20,000. Good luck securing a roadworthy Mk1 Lotus Cortina for that price in 2016.

1966: Porsche 911What classic cars cost then – and what they cost now

1966 price: £3,438

2016 price adjusted: £60,042

In 1966, as England lifted the still-gleaming Jules Rimet trophy, the Porsche 911 was in its infancy. You could have celebrated the Three Lions’ triumph by purchasing a 911 for £3,438 (£60,042 in 2016). Today, you’ll need at least £76,412.

1969: Ford CapriWhat classic cars cost then – and what they cost now

1969 price: £890

2016 price adjusted: £13,939

As if to bridge the gap between the 60s and 70s, Ford launched the Capri in 1969. The ‘car you always promised yourself’ became a firm favourite of the 1970s, not least because of its low price. Just £890 for the ‘European Mustang’ – what a steal.

1975: BMW 2002 TiiWhat classic cars cost then – and what they cost now

1975 price: £3,659

2016 price adjusted: £34,431

The rather brilliant BMW 2002 Tii cost an eye-watering £3,659 in 1975 – the equivalent of £34,431 in 2016. That’s more than the price of a new BMW M140i.

1982: Fiat Panda34_Cost_Car_Year_Born

1982 price: £2,995

2016 price adjusted: £10,372

Fiat celebrated the Panda’s first birthday by slashing its price to £2,995. “Fiat [has] discovered a way of making Pandas breed like rabbits.” Well, quite. The equivalent price today: £10,372. That’s cheaper than a 2016 Fiat Panda…

1988: Rover 800 VitesseWhat classic cars cost then – and what they cost now

1988 price: £19,944

2016 price adjusted: £50,656

Oh, Rover, where did it all go wrong? Actually, that’s a rhetorical question, because its demise has been well documented. In 1988, the not-so-small matter of £19,944 could get you behind the wheel of the fastest road-going Rover: the 800 Vitesse.

1992: Jaguar XJS 4.0 ConvertibleWhat classic cars cost then – and what they cost now

1992 price: £39,900

2016 price adjusted: £77,284

Check out the price of a Jaguar XJS 4.0 Convertible in 1992. At just shy of £40,000, it was about two-thirds of the average house price. Expensive? At £77,284 in today’s money, that’s more than a Jaguar F-Type S AWD.

1997: Porsche BoxsterWhat classic cars cost then – and what they cost now

1997 price: £33,950

2016 price adjusted: £57,510

Check out the launch price of the Porsche Boxster. At £33,950 it sounds good value, but inflation adjusted that results in a figure of £57,510. That’s not cheap, especially when you consider the average house price in 1997 was £76,103. We should also point out that an entry-level 718 Boxster could be yours for a mere £41,739.