For a friendly, no obligation quote

Enter your Registration Number:

30 years of motor industry service
cash in caravan

28th March 2011

Super is the word

Some interesting announcements this week about some unusual and unexpected cars...

First up was Renault with rumours of a plan to create entirely new models under the Renault sport brand, possibly starting with a roadster. The Dezir concept showed what such a car might look like and, whilst the French marque still has the Alpine badge in its portfolio, it seems the brand recognition of Renaultsport is strong enough to usurp the historical and evocative name of Alpine. The model line-up would be very limited and produced in very low volumes. The roofless model would be the spiritual successor to the whacky Renault Sport Spider from the 1990s and would likely use a 2.0-litre, 200bhp power plant from the top-spec Renaultsport Clio.

The second possible revival is the successor to the legendary Renault 5. In the wake of the success of the Fiat 500, MINI and Citro├źn DS3, Renault sees a market for an upmarket supermini based on the 1970s icon. The car is only a rumour at the moment, but if it gets the green light, it could arrive within three years. Fans of the original model will wonder whether a Turbo model might also make production!

Another surprise this week was the news that Porsche has plans to break away from the teardrop 911 shape to put a new mid-engine supercar into production to take on Ferrari's acclaimed 458 Italia and McLaren's MP4-12C. Both cars are significantly more expensive than Porsche's 911 Turbo and the German brand is considering introducing a rival to help grab back some market share. Initial rumours suggest the car would produce around 600bhp to have a hope of stealing customers from its rivals from Woking and Maranello. In GT2 RS guise, Porsche's 3.8-litre six-pot can already kick out 620bhp when twin-turbocharged.

Whereas any mid-engined production model will likely be around in the £150,000 to £160,000 price range, Porsche announced this week the price of its extravagant 918 Spyder hypercar that officially goes on sale this week - but you won't be finding them knocking about your local dealership! The hybrid will cost a staggering £672,000, putting it in the same sort of league as top-end Paganis and even the Bugatti Veyron. No more than 918 cars will be built, although one wonders whether that size of market exists, and buyers will also have the option of spending an additional £126,000 (or £133,000 for the cabriolet) on a special 911 Turbo S Edition 918 Spyder - available only to 918 Spyder owners. The hypercar is capable of driving up to 16 miles on all-electric power and can reach 62mph in just 3.2 seconds before proceeding on to 199mph. Not bad for a car that will also return 94mpg and kick out just 70g/km CO2!

12th March 2011

When some people fail to make the distinction between the terms four-wheel drive (the mechanics of the driven wheels) and SUV (the body style). So, here are some recent new cars that highlight the differences...

FerrariFFFirst off, it would be impossible not to mention the new Ferrari FF, the firm's first foray into four-wheel drive territory. Designed to be a supercar for all seasons, the FF features the 4RM (which stands for 'Ruote Motrici' in case you were wondering!) system, which is half the weight of rival systems - weight typically being the enemy of performance in cars with four-wheel drive - and directs torque to the front wheels when the going gets tough, but otherwise defaults to a rear-wheel drive setup and keeps the weight bias towards the rear. The four-seater certainly packs a punch with a stonking 650bhp from the new 6.25-litre V12 channelled through a seven-speed double-clutch gearbox. Top speed is 208mph and 62mph is reached in just 3.7 seconds from standstill, making the FF a seriously capable machine.

Aston Martin is also set to get its feet wet in the four-wheel drive domain with the news that the much-rumoured plans to revive the Lagonda brand as an SUV model line will go ahead. The rebirth of Lagonda is already being likened to Daimler's work on reviving Maybach. Aston Martin sees the Lagonda brand as especially important to emerging markets where weather conditions and rougher roads might prohibit full enjoyment of a supercar. You'll need very deep pockets to afford one, since the price range is set to start at £100k and go right up to £300k!

At the other end of the spectrum will be the new Mazda CX-5 crossover, which will arrive next year and compete with the likes of VW's Tiguan and Audi Q5 - although likely beating at least the latter, if not both of these, on price. Greater fuel efficiency should come from the Skyactiv engine, gearbox and lightweight chassis, as Mazda aims to cut fuel consumption by around 30 percent by 2015 versus 2008.

Finally, and very differently, Suzuki has announced that a four-wheel-drive version of the firm's Swift supermini is being considered for entry into the UK market later in 2011. The company has latched onto the sentiments of the British public about the winter weather and believes there could be a market for around 1,000 of its all-wheel drive superminis. Prices are likely to come in at around £13,000 and the system will be offered on the 1.2-litre petrol model.

Have a good day.

19th February 2011

This week proved that hybrid and electric drive trains are likely to be seen in luxury and sports cars just as much as smaller vehicles, particularly given the higher imperative to reduce emissions.

Porsche released details of its electric Boxsters going on trial in Germany. The Boxster E prototypes are being used to gather data on usage, performance and so on. The battery pack is pretty hefty at 29kWh, compared to something like 24kWh in a Nissan Leaf, and will deliver the equivalent of 241bhp. Performance is on par with the German brand's Boxster S model, meaning a 0-60mph time of just over 5 seconds and a top speed edging 170mph.

Whilst Porsche has no plans to put the electric Boxster into production, but one model that will see showroom floors is the hybrid version of its four-seat Panamera S. The 374bhp hybrid will emit just 159g/km in CO2 emissions, putting it in the same bracket as many a family saloon. The 3.0-litre V6 works with a 44bhp electric motor, which can power the car on its own up to 37mph, at which point the V6 kicks in and can take it from 0-62mph in 6 seconds and onto a top speed of 168mph. The Panamera S hybrid adds about £3,000 to the list price of a standard 4S at just over £86k.

Infiniti has also indicated intentions to step into the luxury hybrid fray with its Etherea concept being unveiled at the Geneva show in a couple of weeks. One of the most ambitious crossovers ever seen, with hints of coupe, saloon, hatchback and SUV, the Etherea will use a hybrid drive system that mates a four-pot engine with an electric motor borrowed from the M35h hybrid saloon. As well as being a concept car, there are rumours that the Etherea could make production in 2014.

Another unveiling at Geneva will be Land Rover's diesel hybrid plug-in Range Rover Sport. The four-wheel drive Range_e model achieves a ridiculously low 89g/km in CO2 emissions, putting it level with the latest Toyota Prius. The Landy uses a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine coupled to an electric motor to allow it to travel up to 20 miles on electricity alone, before the engine starts up and helps it along. The top speed is 120mph - hardly earth-shattering, but equally entirely adequate for most drivers' needs.

7th February 2011 - Who Whoever said the British car industry was dead?

Whoever said the British car industry was dead? News this week shows it is alive and well and producing some of the most exciting cars on the market. First up was low-volume, Leicestershire-based sports car manufacturer Noble with details of the production model of its M600 supercar. Weighing in at under 1200kg thanks to somewhat gratuitous use of carbonfibre, the M600 will cost around £200,000, putting it above something like the McLaren MP4-12C. It boasts enviable performance statistics, including power output of 650bhp, meaning it can achieve 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds and an eye-watering top speed of 225mph. Exclusivity is ensured as initial production will be just 12 cars per year, which could rise to 36 units per year if there is greater demand.

Next we had news from Crewe of Bentley's forthcoming V8 motors. The Conti GT will be available with a V8 for the first time and will come in two variants - a turbocharged 415bhp 'entry level' model and a twin-turbo with 555bhp. The company also revealed positive production news that every Mulsanne scheduled for production in 2011 had already been sold. Jaguar was also making headlines this week with the announcement of its strategy to get stuck into the compact executive market within the next four years. Some seriously tasty smaller models are in the pipeline, including a long-awaited spiritual successor to the E-Type in the form of a Boxster-sized roadster. The company will also re-enter the 3-Series and A4 domain with a compact saloon after having withdrawn its X-Type from the market. Jaguar promises that the new car will be a very different proposition from the Mondeo-based front-wheel drive model that never really took much market share from its German rivals.

Finally, McLaren told the world that its MP4-12C has now entered production in Woking. The car, which will retail at £168,500, will be produced in numbers of up to 1,000 in 2011. The British supercar delivers staggering performance thanks to the 592bhp on tap.