High Quality Car Servicing, MOTs and Accident Repair

We are a friendly, professional and family run business based conviently off the A3. We have been servicing the motoring needs of Surbiton near Kingston Upon Thames and surrounding areas for over 30 years.

 

           

Welcome to Maypole Motors Ltd


            We are a friendly, professional and family run business based convien

Family run business

With a team of qualified car mechanics and technicians, you can be assured of a truly personal service with all aspects of repairs to your car. Being a member of 'Checkatrade', we are openly vetted and monitored and we welcome any feedback from our customers.

First registered in 1976 we have expanded from a small recovery and service garage employing three staff to its current all encompassing motor group employing in the region of forty-five people. The combination of the services we provide still holds strong links to our initial well known friendly beginnings.

Expansion over the years has merely enhanced the service we provide to all our customers. Our hand picked staff still have the pleasantries of a small local garage and the benefits of large investment in technology training and equipment.

View our promotional video here : http://bcove.me/gz6dumyp

Volvo eyes up V40 and XC60 for Polestar treatment
Volvo eyes up V40 and XC60 for Polestar treatment Hatchback or SUV next in line for performance version, which would join current S60 and V60 models and be powered by a new four-cylinder engine

Volvo is weighing up which model could be next in its line-up to receive the Polestar treatment, with the V40 and XC60 currently the front-runners.

The new Polestar model would join the all-wheel drive, turbocharged petrol S60 saloon and V60 estate. Whichever model Volvo picks, however, it will get a very high-powered four-cylinder engine.

Although there have been reports that a V40 hot hatch has already been signed off, Volvo global powertrain boss Derek Crabb says that isn’t the case.

“If you ask each of the individual markets which [Polestar] they want, some will say V40, some will say XC60, some will say S60,” he said. “I don’t think we can do that commercially, so we are trying to rationalise that.”

Crabb was clear that the high-performance four-cylinder Drive-E engine – which is also scheduled to be fitted to the S60/V60 Polestar in 2016 – would not be a backward step in terms of power. It seems likely that it will not be far off the 355bhp offered by the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG.

“A customer buying a 329bhp six-cylinder car today isn’t going to go down [in power] when he buys a four-cylinder,” Crabb said. “So there is going to be a high-performance Polestar [four-cylinder] engine.”

Crabb revealed that Volvo is expecting 750 S60 and V60 Polestar sales this year from the handful of markets in which the cars are marketed, but he wants that to climb to 1250 per annum within a couple of years.

Bruce Newton

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Koenigsegg, Pagani, Ferrari and McLaren to star at Salon Prive
Koenigsegg, Pagani, Ferrari and McLaren to star at Salon Prive Exotic hypercars will top the bill at three-day motoring extravaganza in west London next month

A collection of hypercars including the Koenigsegg Agera One:1, Pagani Huayra, LaFerrari and McLaren P1 will star at the Salon Privé event in west London next month.

The cars will take pride of place on the Friday of the three-day festival of premium motoring, which takes place from 3-5 September at Syon Park in west London.

The day has been named the British Supercar Show, and will feature a parade of modern and classic cars and motorcycles around the perimeter roads of Salon Privé’s venue, Syon Park in west London.

The event also includes the Chubb Insurance Concours d’Elegance (on Wednesday), Boodles Ladies’ Day and Salon Privé Sale (on Thursday) and a Royal College of Art ‘Concours of the Future’ design exhibition (also on Thursday). The EFG art and memorabilia fair and luxury retail village will be open over all three days.

Seventy classics will vie for the title of 'Best of Show' in the Concours d’Elégance.

Among the contenders will be a 1953 Delahaye 235MS coupé. The only example of the car to feature Chapron coachwork, it hasn't been seen in public for more than two decades and is entered in the 'Dramatic Coachwork' class at Salon Privé.

Another Concours exhibit is a 1931 Hispano-Suiza J12. Entered in the ‘Fit for a King’ category, which showcases cars from around the world with head of state or royal provenance, this car was originally created for the Vice President of Hispano-Suiza, Prince Charles Casimir Poniatowski.

A collection of road-going classic cars will go under the hammer at the Salon Privé Sale. The cars on sale include a rare 1971 Ferrari 365GTS/4 Daytona Spyder, estimated at between £1.75 and £2.25 million.

Also up for sale are pristine examples of the Ferrari F40 and F50, which are each expected to reach between £600,000 and £750,000, and a 1968 Lamborghini Miura.

Some special British models also feature, most notably a 1931 Bentley 4.5-Litre Blower. The example is number 25, the final car in the first batch of just 50 produced and its price is estimated at between £2.2-2.5m.

An Aston Martin DB6 Mk2 Volante, one of only 38 produced and equipped with the preferred manual gearbox instead of the more common automatic transmission, is expected to go for between £820,000-920,000.

For tickets and hospitality packages call the Salon Privé ticket hotline on 0808 100 2205 or visit www.salonprivelondon.com.

Key cars at Salon Privé

Abarth 695 Biposto

Intended to mark the 50th anniversary year of Carlo Abarth’s original 695, the 695 Biposto features a 187bhp 1.4-litre turbo engine, specialised performance accessories and running gear, and weighs just 997kg. In pursuit of class-leading pace from a sub-tonne car, Abarth has thinned down the doorskins, fitted polycarbonate side windows and a titanium roll cage, specified lightweight bucket seats by Sabelt and removed the rear bench altogether – hence the ‘biposto’ name.

Arash AF-8

One of several exhibits in a special ‘concepts and prototypes’ class, the Arash AF-8 is the work of the Suffolk-based manufacturer formerly known as Farboud. Power for the mid-engined supercar comes from a dry-sumped 7.0-litre LS7 Chevrolet V8 which produces 550bhp and 472lb ft.  The AF-8 has a claimed 0-60mph of 3.5sec and is set to cost in the region of £165,000 when it reaches production.

BMW i8

The plug-in, mid-engined hybrid BMW i8 sports car is a cutting-edge rival to more traditional driver's machines such as the Porsche 911. BMW claims the i8 can hit 62mph from rest in just 4.4sec with both the engine and electric motor engaged. Top speed — achieved by the petrol engine alone — is 155mph.

Bugatti Veyron

Now approaching the end of its storied life cycle, the thundering Veyron still has the ability to attract crowds. A deluge of derivatives and some special editions of questionable taste have watered down the mystique of the car somewhat, but the big Bugatti still represents a definitive line in the sand for performance cars.

Caterham AeroSeven 

First shown in 2013, the striking concept marked the start of a bold new chapter in the British sportscar manufacturer’s history. The 600kg, 237bhp AeroSeven was originally scheduled to go on sale this year, but its official launch has been pushed back to allow for design tweaks.

Elemental RP1

The new Elemental RP1 is a lightweight, mid-engined roadster with 500bhp per tonne that is road legal. Sitting between the likes of a Caterham Seven and a Lotus Exige in its blend of track and road abilities, the RP1 is the self-funded work of six men with decades of experience between them in Formula 1 and the aerospace industry.

Ferrari California T

Maranello introduced a new, improved version of the folding hard-top grand tourer, the California T, earlier this year. The new model is a sizeable facelift of the six-year old California, with an additional T on the badge referencing the most significant change to the car: the adoption of a twin-turbocharged engine.

Ferrari F12 TRS

A bespoke Ferrari based on the F12 Berlinetta, the Ferrari F12 TRS was developed by Flavio Manzoni and the Ferrari Style Centre team at the request of a Maranello client. The car was conceived as an extreme, two-seater, open-top sports barchetta and is inspired by classic Ferrari designs of the 1950s, including the 250 Testa Rossa.

Ferrari LaFerrari

This is the ultimate Ferrari, following in the wheeltracks of Maranello’s most rare race-inspired models: the 288 GTO, the F40, the F50 and the Enzo. Just 499 examples of LaFerrari will be made during the next two years, and Jamiroquai singer Jay Kay is loaning his bright green examples to Salon Privé. Check out our exclusive video review of LaFerrari at the bottom of this story.

Ford Mustang

Another opportunity to view the Ford Mustang ahead of the pony car going on sale in the UK in right-hand-drive specification for the first time next year.

Koenigsegg One:1

The Koenigsegg One:1 is so called as it has a power-to-weight ratio of 1:1 – it weighs 1340kg and produces 1322bhp (or 1340 metric horsepower). This power output figure eclipses the P1, LaFerrari and 918 Spyder, and also that of the 1184bhp Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.

Lamborghini Huracán

How do you follow-up the Gallardo? Lamborghini's response to that thorny question is the Huracán. Powered by the familiar 5.2-litre V10 that we’ve come to know and love in both the Audi R8 and Gallardo, it produces a thunderous 602bhp and 413lb ft of torque.

Lister Knobbly

The new continuation model of the Lister Jaguar D-type, nicknamed 'Knobbly' due to its muscular bodywork, will cost approximately £300,000 in race specification. A road-going version will also be offered, priced at around £311,000. Lister only intends to manufacturer around 10 cars a year.

Maserati

The Italian manufacturer is celebrating its centenary this year and will show off a host of cars, including the diesel-powered versions of the Ghibli and Quattroporte as well as the GranCabrio MC.  

McLaren P1

The technology tour-de-force was designed with one simple goal in mind: “To be the best driver’s car in the world on road and track”. The McLaren P1 can crack a top speed of 217mph, and cover a standing quarter mile in 9.8 seconds.

Mini by Touring Superleggera

Mini’s long-held plans to take on the Mazda MX-5 with a uniquely styled roadster model took a decisive step towards production reality earlier this year with the unveiling of this stunning two-seat concept. The Salon Privé appearance will be the car’s UK debut.

Overfinch Range Rover Sport

Range Rover tuning and styling company Overfinch will unveil its new Overfinch Range Rover Sport. As well as a range of exterior and interior enhancements, the SUV features an Overfinch performance package, which liberates more power from the five-litre V8 engine and includes a ‘track mode’ setting.

Pagani Huayra

Powered by a 6.0-litre, twin-turbo V12 that’s made exclusively for Pagani by AMG, the rear-wheel-drive Huarya is one of the world’s fastest, most advanced, and arguably most exclusive supercars.

Spyker Venator

The Dutch supercar is returning to the scene of its European premiere last year. Powered by a V6 engine producing in excess of 375bhp, the two-door mid-engined convertible sits on an aluminium platform with carbonfibre bodywork.

Tesla Model S

Elon Musk’s company remains the talk of the automotive town, with the company rolling out its electric luxury saloon, the Model S, and accompanying supercharging highway across the US and Europe.

Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé Waterspeed

Revealed in celebration of the water speed record success of Sir Malcolm Campbell, the new Phantom Drophead Coupé Waterspeed is designed to show off the range of bespoke options from which Rolls-Royce owners can choose to personalise their cars. Just 35 examples of the car will be made, each costing £435,000.

Ruf Clubsport CTR3

Regular Porsches not powerful nor exclusive enough for you? Check out Ruf's flagship model, the CTR3. Its turbocharged flat-six engine produces 766bhp and 723lb ft, transferred to the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual or optional seven-speed double-clutch automatic transmission. 

Hyundai looks to challenge Toyota Prius with new hybrid
Hyundai looks to challenge Toyota Prius with new hybrid New Hyundai hybrid spotted testing in the US, signalling the Korean maker's intent to take on the Prius

Hyundai is developing a hybrid rival to the Toyota Prius, as these first spy pictures show.

Four different prototypes, each based on the US market Elantra GT were spied testing in the US this week alongside a convoy of Prius models. 

The four Elantras all had different bodies, suggesting Hyundai is working out the most aerodynamic Prius-style shape for its upcoming hybrid. Both the standard five-seat Prius and the seven-seat Prius+ were part of the convoy, suggesting Hyundai will offer two differently-sized hybrid models.

There were no charging points on the cars, suggesting a parallel hybrid rather than a plug-in setup.

Hyundai first previewed its intention to take on the Prius with its 2010 Blue-Will concept. The Blue-Will concept was powered by a 1.6-litre direct-injection petol engine in conjunction with a 134bhp electric motor.

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Why there could be merit in a Lotus-badged saloon and SUV
Why there could be some merit in a Lotus-badged saloon and SUV Reports in Malaysia suggest Hethel's new strategy will involve moving away from its sports car heartland – and it is a plan that could work

Lotus’s new path to recovery as a car manufacturer is to build an own-brand range of non-sports models including a saloon and an SUV, according to a Malaysian website which in the past has proved accurate at reporting secret proceedings in the boardrooms of Proton, the sports car maker’s parent.

According to our source, the saloon and SUV scheme is the brainchild of new Lotus CEO and European industry heavyweight, Jean-Marc Gales, appointed at the beginning of May to “drive Lotus’s transformation plan".

Gales’ specific mission is clearly to restore the viability of car manufacturing at Hethel — after a plan two years earlier to expand sports car manufacture by making six different models, espoused by his ex-Ferrari predecessor, Dany Bahar, failed spectacularly. Since then, Proton (with Lotus) has itself been sold to a new owner, Malaysian-based DRB-Hicom.

What are we to make of the Gales scheme, if the reports are true? First impression: it sounds a lot more believable than the previous plan for three key reasons.

One: Jean-Marc Gales is a genuine European industry heavyweight who led the PSA Group for three years between 2009 and 2012, and introduced the super-successful DS marque during his tenure. He knows how modern car manufacturing works better than any previous Lotus boss.

Two: even impressively profitable Porsche justifies (and finances) the building of its iconic sports cars by making more than twice as many SUVs and saloons. If Lotus could make a non-sporty range work, it could conceivably go right on making the enthusiast-oriented sports cars it has always made, while investing more to make them better.

Three: Lotus is expert in modern flexible platform technology, having produced impressive show concepts of its own in the past, and worked on secret projects for clients. It would also have an opportunity to improve economies of scale by sharing its under-skin technologies with Proton, which itself needs better cars, without compromising designs for either brand.

There are gigantic hurdles, of course. Failed Lotus revival plans are numerous so the company may face a tough task convincing suppliers and supporters that this one will work.

Staffing is another one; much of the impressive talent pool assembled by Bahar has melted away, absorbed by Bentley, JLR and others. Will such people trust Hethel with their futures again?

And what about manufacturing? Lotus hasn’t actually made a fully fledged non-sports car before — with proper door seals and ventilation, assembled to standards that can match the premium models with which it would want to compete.

This, to me, looks the biggest hurdle, though I have to admit I haven’t seen Lotus’s new manufacturing facilities that are supposed to make such things easier. They will need to.

Last and most important comes the potential buyer. Would you buy a Lotus saloon or SUV? What would you expect it to be like? With no track record in creating either SUVs or saloons with Lotus badges, Hethel’s designers would certainly have a free hand.

Perhaps too free a hand. I wouldn’t give you much for the company’s sales chances if the new 'straight' models looked the slightest bit like any Proton that shared its underpinnings — and that strikes me as a mistake the money-conscious Malaysians might make unless very well advised by Hethel insiders.

Still, that might be a chink of light we’re seeing at the end of the tunnel. For Lotus, achieving profitability from car manufacture presents a long and steep hill to climb, but if Jean-Marc Gales is on his game and some of the above assumptions are right, it no longer looks completely impossible.

The mysterious case of the Jaguar F-type and my disappearing iPhone
The mysterious case of the Jaguar F-type and my disappearing iPhone An exhilarating drive in a Jaguar F-type coupé ended in bizarre fashion when I lost my smartphone inside the workings of a cubby hole

I've always preferred the sleek lines of coupés to wind-in-the-hair convertibles, so I've been impatient to have a go in the Jaguar F-type coupé that's joined our long-term test fleet.

I got my chance yesterday, and enjoyed my drive, even though it was a gnarly motorway slog up to the Midlands.

However, an unusual thing occurred during the return leg.

When I got back in the car to drive home, I placed my iPhone into the cubby hole in the centre console behind the gearshift – the one which contains rubber mouldings to hold your takeaway coffee cups.

The cubby was already filled with the detritus that can accumulate during a long journey (usually empty Haribo bags in my case) so I had to lay the phone flat on top of the junk I'd shoved in there.

When I stopped for fuel, I closed the cubby's flip-top lid to hide my phone from prying eyes.

Later, when I reached my final destination, I opened the cubby hole lid to retrieve my phone… which had disappeared.

After a few baffling moments, I realised what had happened. The cubby hole lid, which flips upwards and then neatly slides down out of sight, features a prominent lip on its underside.

When I opened it, the lip had scooped up my iPhone and pulled it downwards into the recess. My not-so-smartphone was now trapped within the underside of the lid.

I could close the cubby hole lid to bring the phone within reach, but as I did so, the gap available to withdraw it from the lid's clutches became too narrow for my fingers.

Eventually I realised the rubber cup holders could be manipulated out of the way, giving me enough room to grip the phone and release it from the lid in one movement.

But it was a delicate operation; with the phone caught in the underside of the lid, I was worried it might fall into the vacant space underneath the cubby hole.

That could have necessitated a rather embarrassing phone call to Jaguar and a lengthy – and potentially expensive – visit to a dealer to dismantle the cubby hole surround.

I escaped my red-faced moment, but it made me wonder if anyone else has experienced such bizarre car-related failings. 

For example, has your wedding ring ever slipped into the radiator? Or have you ever had to dismantle a door card to find a lost ten-pound note? Let me know.

Video: Lamborghini Huracan review
Has the raging bull been tamed? Steve Sutcliffe tests the new Lamborghini Huracán on UK roads to find out

It's our first chance to test Lamborghini's new 602bhp, V10-engined successor to the Gallardo on UK roads. Is the reputedly more user-friendly Huracán a proper Lamborghini? Steve Sutcliffe finds out.

The Lamborghini Huracan is so nearly the perfect supercar
The Lamborghini Huracan is so nearly the perfect supercar We've been impressed with Lamborghini's Gallardo replacement, but it does come with one big problem – understeer

The Lamborghini Huracán is a great supercar, no question. In just about every way imaginable it is miles better than the Gallardo it replaces.

And at 'just' £180k it also happens to represent decent value beside the Ferrari 458 and McLaren 650S, if not the 911 Turbo S or Audi R8 V10.

But there’s one thing it does that will either drive you mad or won't matter one iota, depending on what sort of driver you are. It understeers, basically.

On the surface you can understand why Lamborghini has set it up to do so.

The Huracán, claims Sant'Agata, is designed to appeal to a broader audience than any other Lamborghini thus far, so it needs to be as secure as it is sensational to drive; as predictable near the limit as it is fast in a straight line.

Well it’s certainly predictable on the limit inasmuch as you know exactly what it’s going to do at all times. But the trouble is what it does do is understeer to varying amounts at the front.

The harder you push it, the more its nose runs wide – until eventually it just washes out completely. And beyond that there is no more to its handling repertoire, period.

On the one hand, this is good because it means the average Huracán owner will never, ever be able to spin their car, no matter how clumsy they are with the throttle or the brakes mid-corner. But on the other hand, it does render the Huracán somewhat inert in terms of its ultimate chassis response.

I’m not saying that Lamborghini should have set the Huracán up to oversteer so that idiot road testers like me can perform lairy tail slides that look good on camera – because I know that this is entirely irrelevant to what happens out there in the real world, and on the public road. I’m saying that they’ve simply gone too far in the opposite direction.

In its desire to make the Huracán idiot proof, Lamborghini has, I believe, blunted the car’s appeal so drastically that, on a circuit at least, people who know what they are doing will find it peculiarly unentertaining.

Why? Because Lamborghini has taken away all the options from whoever is behind the wheel. Just take a look at the video below and you'll see what I mean.

Drive the Huracán at medium speeds on a circuit and it feels fine. Drive it a bit harder and the nose starts to push. Drive it harder still and the front end starts to feel like a shopping trolley – until eventually it runs wide and you go straight into a gravel trap/run off area/fence/someone’s front garden.

At least, I suppose, it means you will see your destiny as it comes towards you. But surely it shouldn’t be like this in a Lamborghini, not even one that’s been designed to appeal to someone who might otherwise buy an Audi R8 or a 911 Turbo (both of which are miles more trusting of their drivers’ skills by the way, and are way more playful as a result).

To me the Huracán, great machine that it otherwise is, feels worryingly like the supercar world’s equivalent of the Peugeot 207 GTi; the moment at which its manufacturer lost trust in its customers’ ability to keep their cars on the island, and then went OTT to prevent it from happening.

I’m probably going a bit over the top myself in this instance to make a point. And remember, such criticism only really applies to what happens on a circuit. On the road, you would rarely drive the Huracán hard enough to realise that the comedian within has left the building.

But it’s still a shame to discover that a car as good to look at and, for most of the time, as great to drive as the Huracán has, ultimately, gone soft on the inside. 

Ah well, my loss, their gain I suppose. Move on.

Subaru Impreza
Subaru Impreza It may not be an obvious choice for most buyers, but this four-wheel drive, sub-£20k hatch does have merit This is the new Subaru Impreza hatchback. It’s the same car that was launched in Japan at the end of 2012, but hasn’t pitched up here until now as the UK importer has been battling unfavourable exchange rates. The Yen vs sterling situation is now sorted, though, and so here is the more humdrum hatch. Two versions are available, both using the same 112bhp 1.6-litre flat-four engine but equipped with either a five-speed manual transmission or a CVT, dubbed Lineartronic.Prices start at a commendable £17,495 for the Impreza RC in manual form, rising to £18,995 for the CVT, which has slightly more favourable CO2 emissions and better official fuel economy at 140g/km and 46.3mpg respectively. It's the CVT version we've tested here.A lack of other engine choices means the Impreza immediately appears hobbled compared to the choices available on direct rivals such as the Focus, Astra and Golf.Yet it does go into battle with some traditional Subaru signatures. For example, its petrol engine sends its power to all four wheels – a rather exotic attribute for a sub-£20k hatchback. On start-up it sounds like a mildly muted version of the STi’s turbocharged flat-four, which is either pleasing or a little unwelcome depending on your personal taste.It settles down to a rather refined note for a flat-four though. The trouble is that is needs a lot of stirring in order to extract any overtaking urge, and if you need to get up to cruising speeds quickly you need to be quite brutal with the throttle. In truth, the optional CVT seems mostly to blame. It’s one of those infuriating examples of the breed where engine speeds rise faster than road speeds; a sort of slipping clutch reaction every time you put your foot down. Yes, the ‘box makes small positive difference to mpg and CO2 emissions but the manual instinctively feels like the one to order. Predictably, grip and traction are good, though we only sampled this Impreza on dry roads. Even so, the chassis doesn’t feel like it’s going to be trouble by the 1.6’s power and torque. It’s comfortable too. There is some road noise and a slightly stiff-legged town ride but it settles down at 40-50mph and stays pliant. One common flaw of Subaru cabins is that they lack the design flair and quality of the best of the breed. The Impreza’s, true to form, doesn’t have the same lustre as you’ll get from, say a VW Golf or Peugeot 308, especially when you cast your eyes downward. Yet most of the bits that you see and touch are of decent quality.The controls too are the nice’n’simple variety - chunky rotary knobs for the heating and the like. They're easy to use but look rather dated. Comfort is good though, thanks to a flat, supportive seat and good adjustment, while fore and aft visibility is better than in most. Space for you, your three passengers and luggage is good without being exceptional.In fact, good without being exceptional is the lasting impression of the Impreza. Like for like, you’d be unwise to consider this instead of a Golf, Focus, or nearly any other mainstream hatch. And there’s no doubt that for a good sway of company funded buyers not having a diesel is a huge drawback. Yet, there’s no doubt that having four-wheel drive for this price is an attraction in some parts of the country and that combined with Subaru’s reputation for making hardy, hard-wearing cars is a compelling choice. So if it’s for you it’s for you. It’s just not the first (or second) choice for most of us. 

Citroen C4 Cactus Puretech 110 Flair UK first drive review
Citroen C4 Cactus Puretech 110 Flair UK first drive review Still let down by poor quality, unexceptional value and strange steering, but the engine and handling don’t offend The turbocharged petrol version of the new Citroën C4 Cactus crossover. It’s without question the engine to plump for if, like us, you’ve been won over by the pragmatic charm of the new Citroën Cactus, but you’re concerned about the underlying substance. Most of the Cactus’ failings, documented well in our full road test on the BlueHDi diesel variant, are also present in Citroën’s Puretech 110 version – but not all of them. And the ones that are present don’t seem so severe.

Lotus working on road-going Elise S Cup R
Lotus working on road-going Elise S Cup R Hardcore Lotus road car to launch next year with race car's 217bhp engine, plus aerodynamically upgraded bodywork and sharper handling

Lotus looks set to crown its Elise range with a road-going version of its Elise S Cup R racer.

The Elise S Cup R was introduced at the Autosport International show in Birmingham back in January.

The test mule, pictured here at the Nürburgring, looks closely related to the Cup R, but with key modifications which would make it more suited to road use and, more importantly, road legal in some instances.

Those modifications include headlights, improved cooling, number plates and the removal of the rollcage.

A road-going version of the Elise S Cup R would sit above the Elise S Club Racer as the most focused member of the currently four-strong Elise model range.

The race car uses the same supercharged 1.8-litre engine with 217bhp and 181lb ft as the Club Racer, a unit likely to be retained in the road car. A six-speed manual gearbox sends drive to the rear wheels in the racing car. 

The major modifications in the Elise S Cup R road car over the Elise S and Elise S Club Racer models comes in the aerodynamic package, as seen in these spy pictures.

The aerodynamic package includes a front splitter, barge boards, winglets, a rear diffuser, floor extensions and a new rear wing, which combine to produce significant levels of downforce. Adjustable springs and dampers are another feature of the racer which should make it onto the road car.

Lotus would not comment on the introduction or otherwise of a Elise S Cup R road car into its range when contacted by Autocar, but the pictures reveal development is at an advanced stage, so a reveal later this year before a launch in 2015 is likely.

The model would join the Lotus range at a more buoyant time for the company. The firm has just announced its sales were up 31 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of the current financial year to return to levels not seen since 2011. Its July sales were also its best single-month performance since March 2011. 

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Ferrari 458 Speciale first drive review
Ferrari 458 Speciale first drive The 458 Speciale is one of the great Ferraris, and we don't say that lightly The Ferrari 458 Speciale is the fastest, most advanced, but also the most fun to drive mid-engined V8 sports car that Ferrari has ever built.And those are Ferrari's words, not mine. Which kind of means something when you've got the F40 in your portfolio.Why? Because the Speciale can do pretty much everything that the regular 458 Italia can do - which, let's face it, is rather a lot - and then adds a good 20 percent of extra kaboom where it really counts.So it's faster, louder (inside though not out interestingly), goes round corners with a deal more precision, and subjectively makes the hairs on the back of your neck not simply stand up straight but snap clean off.Beneath its mildly redesigned but still achingly beautiful skin, the Speciale is bubbling with new technology, most if not all of which is there to enhance rather than inhibit the interaction between driver, car and road below.Truly, this is one of the great Ferraris, and there have been quite a few over the years.

BMW 3-series facelift spotted ahead of 2015 launch
BMW 3-series facelift spotted ahead of 2015 launch Engine and styling upgrades in line for BMW's mid-size benchmark, which is due to go on sale next year

Prototypes of refreshed BMW 3-series have hit public roads in Germany for a round of durability tests ahead of a planned unveiling next year.

One key change is a new range of turbocharged three-cylinder diesel and petrol engines in place of today’s turbocharged four-cylinder powerplants.

The compact 1.5-litre units, codenamed B37 and B38 and already confirmed for BMW’s new 2-series Active Tourer, supplant the existing 2.0-litre and 1.6-litre engines in the 316d and 316i models.

They bring a reduction in kerb weight, improved crash protection and fuel savings that BMW officials put at up to 10 per cent in combination with the German car maker’s latest suite of Efficient Dynamics features.

Although the new engines are fitted transversely in the front-wheel-drive 2-series Active Tourer, they are mounted in a traditional longitudinal position in the facelifted 3-series and provide drive to the rear wheels.

The diesel delivers 114bhp at 4000rpm and 199lb ft at 1750rpm – the same power but 7lb ft more than the engine that it replaces.

In entry-level form, the petrol unit provides 134bhp at 4500rpm and 162lb ft at 1250rpm – the same as the four-pot that it succeeds.

A more powerful variant of the three-cylinder petrol engine, with 228bhp at 5800rpm and 236lb ft at 3700rpm, has also been confirmed by BMW but it is unclear whether it will get an airing in the 3-series.

Spied on the streets of Munich, the facelifted saloon and Touring versions of the fifth-generation 3-series receive a series of subtle exterior styling tweaks. These include a new front bumper and lightly altered headlights shaped to accentuate the car’s width by providing added horizontal emphasis.

As well as the mild exterior revisions, BMW has made efforts to improve the interior of the 3-series with higher-grade materials and new multimedia features.

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Best car deals: Kia Sportage, Audi A3, Ford Fiesta ST, Honda Jazz
Best car deals: Kia Sportage, Audi A3, Ford Fiesta ST, Honda Jazz The best new car deals and new car leasing deals for this week, including offers on the Kia Sportage, Audi A3, Ford Fiesta ST, Honda Jazz and Vauxhall Ampera

If you’re in the market for a new car, or after the best new-car leasing deal, you can save thousands of pounds with a little research. Here are the picks of what our deals experts have found this week.

Best new car deals

Once our firm favourite in the crossover class, Kia's Sportage was recently updated for the 2014 model year. An offer we found from Nationwide Cars gets you the 2.0-litre CRDi KX-4 model for £25,175 – a saving of more than £4500 from the list price.

Audi's A3 outclasses the rest of the premium hatchback field in most respects, with its upmarket interior and efficient engine range. We found an interesting offer from Orange Wheels, for the 1.4-litre TFSI Sport model with S Tronic transmission. The price tag of £20,886 represents a saving of £2250 off the list price.

Best new car leasing deals

We came away from our long-term test in a Ford Fiesta ST full of praise for this powerful and nimble hot hatchback. A current offer from Cort Vehicle Contracts gets you the car for £162 per month on a two-year contract. There's a deposit of £1465 to pay and an annual mileage limit of 10,000.

Honda has already started testing on the next-generation Jazz ahead of a planned market launch next year. Until then, retail prices on the current model continue to be favourable. That's why you can pick up a 1.2-litre i-VTEC model from Riverdale Leasing for £159 per month at the moment. There's an initial payment of £956 and the standard 10,000-mile annual limit applies.

Deal of the week

We're currently living with a Vauxhall Ampera on our long-term test fleet, and the plug-in hybrid is proving useful for avoiding London's Congestion Charge zone. It's usually available from £28,750 – including the government's £5000 EV grant – but a deal we spotted from Pentagon drops that price to just £22,600. That's a saving of more than £6000. 

Can you find a better deal? Let us know in the comments section below, and see more deals here

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Audi starts testing next-generation A5 coupe
Audi starts early testing on next-generation A5 coupe New engines and styling for second-gen A5, which will take on rivals from Mercedes and BMW when it goes on sale in 2016

This is our first look at Audi's next-generation A5 coupé, which will launch one year after the all-new A4 saloon comes to market in late 2015.

While this early test mule wears bodywork from the current car, it is understood to be testing chassis components for the new model. Like the new A4, the next A5 will be based on Volkswagen Group's second-generation MLB platform.

Engines for the new model should also be shared with the A4. That means a range of longitudinally-mounted 1.4, 1.8 and 2.0-litre TFSI units will feature alongside 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesels.

At least some of the petrol options will also get cylinder shut-down technology, with CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km also probable from one or more models - both moves are part of an increased drive for efficiency from Audi.

A plug-in hybrid model is also planned, using the same 1.4-litre, 148bhp petrol-electric powertrain as the A3 e-tron. A diesel-electric option is also in development. Like the A4, transmission options should include six-speed manual and nine-speed automatics. Both front- and four-wheel drive variants will be offered.

The A5 coupé is set to be one of a number of new variants to be launched following the 2015 A4 saloon, with successors to the current A5 cabriolet and Sportback models likely to appear after.

Inside, Audi will likely continue to use its more recent cabin architecture, and the new A5 could come equipped with the same all-digital instrument cluster and infotainment interface as the third-generation TT. Expect a heads-up display to be offered, too.

Rivals for the new A5 include BMW's 4-series and VW's CC, as well as the Mercedes-Benz C-class coupé. The original car was launched in 2007, with updates in 2011 and 2013.

As with the current car, expect a new go-faster RS5 version to arrive soon after the standard A5 goes on sale in 2016.

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Infiniti reveals long-wheelbase version of the Q50
Infiniti reveals long-wheelbase version of the Q50 Stretched saloon destined exclusively for the Chinese market has an extra 48mm in its wheelbase for extra rear legroom

Infiniti has unveiled a long-wheelbase version of its Q50 saloon aimed exclusively at the Chinese market.

The Infiniti Q50L has an extra 48mm added to the 2850mm wheelbase of the standard Q50, with most of the space given over to providing extra room for rear passengers. The car's overall length is 4852mm compared to the standard Q50's 4790mm.

The Q50L is powered by a 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine which produces 208bhp and 258lb ft. It has a seven-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. Infiniti’s steer-by-wire system – Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) – is also featured.

Five trim levels will be offered – Comfort, Elegant, Sports, Luxury and Luxury Sports.

The Q50L will have its first public airing at the Chengdu motor show in China at the end of August, with deliveries commencing in November.

The Q50L is the first domestically produced Infiniti model for the important Chinese market. While the standard-wheelbase Q50 will continue being imported to the Chinese mainland market from the Tochigi factory in Japan, production of the Q50L will take place at the Xiangyang factory in Hubei province, which is set to become the fourth assembly plant for Infiniti vehicles globally.

Infiniti has enjoyed healthy growth in China, with 14,000 vehicles delivered in the first six months of 2014, representing year-on-year growth of 130 per cent.

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What's the most elderly car model on sale in the UK?
What's the oldest car on sale in the UK? Some models of car change beyond recognition during their lives, but others remain true to their roots for many years

Which are the oldest cars on sale in the UK today? It's a question that’s not quite as easy to answer as you might think.

That's because there are an awful lot of models that have been wearing the same name for decades, the Mini, Porsche 911, Land Rover Defender and Caterham Seven among them. 

So I’m going to get a bit arbitrary here, and eliminate various models for being too different from their first editions to count. Dropping the Mini is easy, because it’s philosophically so different from the 1959 original.

The same goes for the VW Beetle. The Range Rover and Porsche 911 come closer to qualifying because the look and intent of both models is the same as it was when they were born.

But there isn’t a curve or component on either car that’s the same as it was when each of these was new, despite both being instantly recognisable. So they’re out.

The Land Rover Defender has changed substantially over the decades too, but it’s visually, conceptually and philosophically close to the original, and the pick-up version even shares a component with the 1948 version.

But the Defender is definitely not the oldest new car on sale today. That accolade belongs to the Morgan 4/4, which was born in 1936. Although many parts of this car have also changed, not least the drivetrain, the whole point of this car is that it is much the same as the 1936 original.

Tantalisingly, the 4/4 has only 22 years to go before it becomes the first car to have remained in production for a century. The 4/4’s Plus four sibling is a little less creaky for being launched as recently as 1938, while the positively youthful Morgan Plus 8 made its debut only 48 years ago in 1968.

Other oldies? There’s the Lotus Elise, which despite its facelift is the much same car underneath, making it 18 years old. It’s ancestor the Caterham Seven dates back to 1973 in brand terms, but the model itself, the Lotus Seven, was born in 1957.

Surprisingly, the conceptually similar Ariel Atom is now a decade behind, and the soon-to-be replaced Mazda MX-5 isn’t far behind at nine. And at the other end of the scale the Bugatti Veyron is ten.

Like sports cars, the four-wheel drive market is a haven for the wrinkling. The Mercedes G-class is now in its 35th year, the Suzuki Jimny has had its 16th anniversary, the about-to-be-replaced Volvo XC90 is 11 and the Mitsubishi Shogun is eight. Which is one year less than the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, whose exquisite styling hides its nine years well. 

Also scoring double-digit lives are the Rolls-Royce Phantom and the VW Caravelle. But toughening regulations and the imperative to renew have cleared many of the once-perennial oldies during the first part of this century, the original Mini among them. 

So, here’s our table of age. And its tail includes a few mainstream models in urgent need of replacement:

Morgan 4/4 – launched 1936, age 78

Morgan Plus 4 – launched 1938, age 76

Land Rover Defender – launched 1948, age 66 

Lotus/Caterham Seven – launched 1957/73, age 57/41

Morgan Plus 8 – launched 1968, age 46

Mercedes G-class – launched 1979, age 35

Lotus Elise – launched 1996, age 18

Suzuki Jimny – launched 1998, age 16

Rolls-Royce Phantom – launched 2003, age 11

Volvo XC90 - launched 2003, age 11 

Volkswagen Caravelle - launched 2003, age 11

Ariel Atom – launched 2004, age 10

Aston Martin V8 Vantage – launched 2005, age 9

Fiat Punto – launched 2005, age 9

Mazda MX-5 – launched 2005, age 9

Bugatti Veyron – launched 2005, age 9

Mitsubishi Shogun – launched 2006, age 8

Volvo S80 – launched 2006, age 8 

Vauxhall Corsa – launched 2006. age 8

Volkswagen Eos – launched 2006, age 8

Ford Mondeo – launched 2007, age 7

Fiat Bravo – launched 2007, age 7

Fiat 500 – launched 2007, age 7

Skoda Fabia – launched 2007, age 7

Audi A4 – launched 2007, age 7

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Citroen DS5 LS first drive review
Citroen DS5 LS first drive review Saloon version of Citroën's DS5 has been created to battle premium German rivals in China, but falls short Ostensibly, a saloon version of the Citroën DS5. Like its hatchback sibling, it’s manufactured at the CAPSA joint-venture factory in Shenzen, China, with the aim of giving Citroën a more premium car with which to battle German rivals.While it has smart lines accentuated by plenty of chrome, including a strip following the roofline, it remains very conventional looking – although interestingly only DS logos are shown on the LS (which stands for Luxury Saloon) with no Citroën badge.Interior changes include the infotainment system, which is upgraded to a touchscreen system, with the redundant space below replaced by a storage bin incorporating a drinks holder.The centre console lacks the swooping drama of the original car, and while the steering wheel and dashboard are carried over from the standard DS5, the head-up display is not.

Testing of new right-hand-drive Ford Mustang gets underway
Ford starts testing on right-hand drive Mustang Blue Oval's engineers develop the first right-hand-drive prototype ahead of the pony car going on sale here next year

Ford has started testing a right-hand-drive version of the new Mustang in preparation for the start of UK sales next year.

With the sixth-generation Mustang set to go on sale in the US this autumn, Ford's engineers are turning their attentions to the first-ever factory-produced right-hand-drive variant, which will go on sale here, as well as in other markets such as Australia and South Africa, in 2015.

The prototype Mustang will be used to conduct various development tests, with the focus likely to be on tuning the handling and steering for European roads.

Until now, only left-hand-drive versions of the Mustang have been seen, both at the model's official debut in Detroit at the start of this year and more recently at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. 

The latest model developed under the Blue Oval's 'One Ford' plan, the Mustang is set to become a truly global car, and will eventually be sold in more than 120 countries. 

Two engine options will be available in the UK, with an entry-level 305bhp 2.3-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost engine sitting below a 420bhp 5.0-litre V8 – which will be upgraded to 500bhp within 18 months of the car going on sale. US markets will also get a 3.7-litre V6 option.

While the US is undoubtedly the Mustang's largest market, more than 4000 units were exported outside of North America in 2012. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Mustang, which first went on sale in 1964.

Pricing for the new Mustang has yet to be announced, but the model is likely to cost from around £30,000.

Read Autocar's history of the Ford Mustang

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Hyundai Genesis
Hyundai Genesis The Korean firm has made progress in its quest to match executive saloons from Audi, Mercedes and BMW, but on this evidence there's still work to do This is the Hyundai Genesis; a statement that on its own begs yet more questions, like a 'what now?’ and ‘why would I?’So, let’s take a step back to frame the Genesis. Assume for a moment you’ve got the best part of 50 grand in your pocket (or, more likely, £600 a month), and that you’re looking for an executive car.You have the choice of the traditional executive players: Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jaguar, BMW, Lexus or Volvo, or perhaps Land Rover or Porsche if you fancy an SUV. You might be odd enough to think about an Infiniti, or heck, for less than £50,000 these days you could even buy a Maserati.But just for a moment, let’s pretend too that you don’t care about carbon dioxide emissions, so a powerful diesel or a small turbo petrol engine are not necessarily for you. Nope, owning a saloon with a CO2 figure that’s north of a Ferrari California's is just dandy.You could have a Hyundai Genesis. ‘Tough sell’ doesn’t even begin to cover it, does it?Hyunda's executive car is now in its second generation. It’ll reach the UK with a steering wheel on the correct side in September 2014, with a tag hanging from the rear view mirror displaying a number somewhere between £45,000 and £50,000.Hyundai won’t say how many it expects to sell. This always means the same thing: not very many. If you want one of these 4990mm long, 3.8-litre petrol engined cars in the UK, you will have to visit Hyundai’s HQ in High Wycombe. (If you end up routinely driving a Genesis, we suspect there’s a very good chance you’ll work there.)They don’t reach the UK until September because – plus point alert – Geneses are being specifically tweaked for the UK market, which must rank as a fairly extraordinary outlay given the potential return.Hyundai might not be serious about selling vast quantities of the Genesis in Europe, then, but it is utterly serious about what this car stands for. It’s meant to get you used to the idea that a Hyundai can have high levels of interior craftsmanship, so that you don’t have to stifle a giggle when you first spot there’s wood, aluminium and leather on display.You’re meant to be similarly unsurprised, too, if your forthcoming Hyundai small family car borrows features from the Genesis, like lane-departure warning, a cabin CO2 monitor that detects when you’re tired (high carbon dioxide levels can make drivers feel sleepy), a system that warns of oncoming traffic when you’re reversing from a parking space, city braking, a head-up display, and so on. That, today, the showcase for these things is a five-metre saloon with a near four-litre V6 attached is by the by.There’s more, too, though, and this bit is important: the Genesis is meant to tell you – and everyone within Hyundai – that chassis dynamics matter. The Genesis, like the Santa Fe and Veloster, is designed (the company freely admits) for the Far East and the US markets first, and then ‘adapted’ for Europe.Sometimes, dynamically, Hyundai doesn’t adapt its cars well enough for Europe, it admits. Not this time, it says. The Genesis has one suspension set-up for its traditional markets; then there is another for mainland Europe; and a third for the UK. Lotus has completed much of the legwork for the Euro and UK spec cars, which is encouraging.Unfortunately, the car you see here isn’t a UK tune, and nor is it the rear-drive variant that is the only one that’ll reach the UK. Packaging the steering wheel for the right means no 4wd system that’s standard through the rest of Europe, and is what you see here, but no matter. For the most part, it’ll tell us what we need to know.It tells us that this is an interior better than Hyundai has ever before produced. Fit and finish is very good. The rooflining, particularly, is pleasingly soft. Materials are of a higher grade than you’ll find elsewhere in the European Hyundai range, but is it worthy of the sticker price? Different question, and I’d say not quite. The action of switches is fine: but the look and feel of the plastics isn’t quite up there.The starter button’s nice, though, and if you thumb it this is a quiet motor at idle, becoming pleasingly audible with the gas pedal applied. The Genesis gets 3.0, 3.3 and 5.0-litre donkeys elsewhere in the world, all petrols, but this 3.8 was deemed best for introducing to Europe; simply because, I suspect, it’s the nicest of the four. There’s certainly no business case for a diesel. It drives through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which engages smoothly, but on part throttle it hesitates between upshifts a touch. I liked that – you can hear, but don’t really feel, the engine changing up. It adds a bit of zest.Otherwise, zest is hard to come by. The ride’s smooth – there’s multi-link suspension front and rear, coil springs, and adaptive dampers with two modes of stiffness. Neither is firm. The steering’s light at low speed, and weights up artificially at higher speeds, and although at 2.5 turns lock-to-lock it’s brisk enough, it’s not particularly rewarding. Not enough, anyway, for a company that benchmarked the BMW 5-Series for dynamics (the A6 for its interior and elements of the E-class, too).That said, it’s relaxing. I came away feeling that the Genesis is a bit like a Citroën C6, only more composed, less interesting, and more expensive. Should you buy one, though? Lord no. Hyundai hasn’t formally announced European numbers as I write, but it knows what they’ll be and unless it has a last-minute change of heart, the steer we’ve been given is a number that gets you into a BMW 535i with change.What a world: where a Hyundai costs as much as a Maserati. The wood and size and shape and addition of technologies on smaller Hyundais I could get used to pretty quickly. The numbers might take me a while yet.Hyundai Genesis
Price £47,000 (est); 0-62mph 6.5sec; Top speed 149mph; Economy 25.2mpg; CO2 261g/km; Kerb weight 1890kg; Engine V6, 3778cc, petrol; Installation front, longitudinal, RWD; Power 311bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 293lb ft at 5000rpm; Gearbox 8-speed automatic

BMW X3 xDrive20d M Sport first drive review
BMW X3 xDrive20d M Sport first drive review X3’s new 2.0-litre four-pot diesel has its merits, but bigger six-pot remains the more appealing choice This is the latest version of BMW’s popular X3, benefiting here from a host of minor cosmetic updates and a new 188bhp TwinPower Turbo 2.0-litre diesel engine.We tested the lightly revised SUV four-wheel-drive xDrive form and M Sport trim, with the optional automatic gearbox and paddle shifts.On paper, the four-cylinder diesel appears to be a sound option. It produces 188bhp and 295lb ft, propelling the X3 from 0-62mph in a sensible 8.1sec.A claimed average of 54.3mpg is good for a car in this class and CO2 emissions of 138g/km mean you’ll pay road tax of £130 a year.

Lamborghini plans new rear-drive Huracan
Lamborghini plans new rear-drive Huracan New variants of Lamborghini's Huracán are planned to start arriving from next year, with an open-top Spyder version being followed by a rear-wheel drive special

Lamborghini is planning to add a rear-wheel-drive version of the Huracán to the new model’s line-up, company boss Stephan Winkelmann has revealed. 

Speaking at last weekend’s Pebble Beach Concours event, which also saw the unveiling of the firm's new Super Trofeo racer, Winkelmann said: “We did it with the Gallardo so it might be an option. We are a four-wheel-drive super-sports car [manufacturer] but why should we not do a rear-drive option?”

Winkelmann also hinted that other derivatives of the Huracán could be on the way. “We need lots of derivatives. Customers expect it and we always need something new to talk about,” he said. 

An open-top Spyder version of the Huracán is expected next year and it’s likely that more extreme, lighter versions will also eventually be sold. The Gallardo was available in faster, lighter form as the Superleggera and as the rear-drive LP550-2 Balboni.

Just 250 examples of the Balboni were offered - a pattern Lamborghini would likely stick to for the new rear-drive Huracán.

While the two-wheel drive Gallardo was priced to be around ten per cent less expensive than the standard car, the same is not likely to be true of the special-edition Huracán. The standard car is priced from £180,720 in the UK.

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How defective brake fluid could put UK motorists at risk
Research reveals the prevelance of sub-standard brake fluid More than a quarter of cars in the UK could be using ineffective brake fluid, increasing the likelihood of an accident

Research has suggested that more than a quarter of all the cars in the UK have defective brake fluid.

Now you, like us, might raise an eyebrow at that statement. The research, carried out for Cosan Lubricants’ Mobil Car Care range, however, bears some consideration.

Brake fluid is hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs water from the atmosphere. Over time this reduces its effectiveness by lowering its boiling point.

When the fluid boils, vapour is produced – which is compressible – resulting in a soft brake pedal and a decreased, or non-existent, braking effort.

Cosan says that brake fluid, which has a typical boiling point of between 230-260 degrees C when new, becomes all but useless once it boils below 180deg.

Brake fluid expert Alba Diagnostic concurs, suggesting that brake fluid should be changed when its boiling point is down to 200deg C — and it’s below this figure that the research suggests more than a quarter of all cars will boil their fluid.

After all, how many of us are particularly attentive as to what goes into our brake fluid reservoirs? We may intermittently check the levels, but few of us are likely to go any further.

Many of us use whatever brake fluid tends to be handy — which might be a contaminated bottle that’s been on the shelf for a while. That’s assuming, of course, that the fluid has even been changed in recent history.

Mike Bewsey, of Cosan Lubricants, said: "Many drivers mistakenly believe that if their car has passed its MOT, all of the lubricants and chemicals within it are up to scratch.

"The only way to check the quality of brake fluid is to test its boiling point temperature. As that is not part of the MOT, the onus is clearly on motorists to ensure that their car is safe."

So if you’ve only been intermittently checking your brake fluid’s levels, or don’t know when it was last refreshed, perhaps it’s time to consider a change. After all, for £100 including labour, it’s cheap insurance.

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Aston Martin files trademarks for new DB names
Aston trademarks new DB names Registrations made for the trademarks DB10 through to DB14, in preparation for the planned 2016 launch of the DB9 successor

Aston Martin has applied for the trademarks DB10 through to DB14, in preparation for the reveal of the next DB model.

The successor to the DB9, which will feature a twin-turbo AMG V8 engine and new styling, is planned to go on sale in 2016 – but its name has not yet been confirmed.

“It’ll definitely be a DB,” Aston Martin's design director Marek Reichman has said previously, “but what number will follow, that is yet to be decided.”

Although the trademark application for DB14 was applied for first, rumours suggest that the next DB model might bear the name DB10.

Some company executives are reported to be keen on retaining the DB9 name for the new car.

However, Aston has historically moved forward the numerical denomination of its model names to emphasise the design and performance advances made by the newest of its cars.

Read more about Aston Martin's future model plans.

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Infiniti to reveal bold new concept car at Paris motor show
Infiniti previews mysterious new Paris concept car Japanese manufacturer hints at new vehicle with cryptic front grille image, promising 'style and substance that push any pre-conceived limits'

Infiniti has released the first picture of a new concept car which is expected to make its debut at the Paris motor show in October.

Alongside the mysterious front grille image, Infiniti says it plans to "share a vision, its soul, on a scale not yet seen before" with the new vehicle, which is part of the brand's plan to grow its range by up to five new models and thoroughly overhaul its existing line-up.

The brand's current UK range comprises the Q50 and Q70 saloons, the Q60 coupé and convertible, plus the QX50 and QX70 sports-utility vehicles.

One of the key vehicles the manufacturer has been considering is a crossover hatchback that will be known as the Q30. Such a car is regarded as integral to Infiniti's goal of reaching annual sales of 500,000 units before the end of the decade. However, a concept version of the Q30 has already been seen at last year's Frankfurt motor show

But that's not the only new model in Infiniti's plans; it is also considering rival to the Porsche Panamera. Such a model has been mooted before as a range-topping car that could reach market in either 2017 or 2018. Among the other options Infiniti has been considering for the future is a seven-seat SUV that's expected to arrive before 2020.

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Autocar magazine 20 August preview
Autocar magazine 20 August preview McLaren P1 GTR revealed; Lamborghini Huracán driven; Ferrari 458 Speciale full road test; goodbye to our Rolls-Royce Phantom

This week’s issue of Autocar magazine, dated 20 August 2014, features a very special road test.

Our team of expert car testers has become intimately acquainted with the Ferrari 458 Speciale, poring over every aspect of Maranello’s supercar to decide whether it lives up to its billing as a pure, uncorrupted driver’s machine.

Our all-German hot coupé comparison test pits the BMW M4 and BMW M235i against Alpina B4 as we ask the question: would the real M3 coupé successor please stand up?

The question of how much car-based fun you can have for £30k is also one we’ve been kicking around the Autocar office lately. What’s the formula for driving fun? Andrew Frankel tries five quite disparate £30k contenders to find out.

In a significant week for new cars, Steve Cropley samples the David Brown Speedback GT and decides whether this retro-themed but thoroughly modern coupé deserves its eye-watering £600,000 price tag.

We also have our first taste of the Lamborghini Huracán on UK roads. Can the successor to the mighty Gallardo build on the allure of the car it replaces? Find out in our in-depth review.

We bid a reluctant goodbye to our Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé, which is leaving our care after six months. Providing succour is the Jaguar F-type Coupé, which has recently turned up in our car park. Both cars are featured long-term fleet updates.

A raft of interesting new cars were unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance last week, and we’ve got the full details of the cream of the crop, kicking off with the monstrously powerful McLaren P1 GTR.

Used car expert Lewis Kingston serves up useful tips on how to acquire an E39-shape BMW M5 for as little as £6000. 

Autocar magazine is available through all good newsagents, and available for download from Zinio and the Apple iTunes store.

You can also buy one-off copies of Autocar magazine from Newsstand, delivered to your door the morning after.

Alternatively, never miss an issue – subscribe to Autocar magazine today.

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Why a BMW 7-series is Deep Purple and a Jaguar XJ is Genesis
Why a BMW 7-series is Deep Purple and a Jaguar XJ is Genesis Stuck in a summertime traffic jam? Consider this music-related brain-teaser to help pass the time waiting for everyone to get on the move

Traffic snarl-ups seem to be all the more irritating at this time of the year, when the weather can be exceptionally humid. However, the really important thing is to have a good line in distraction while you wait for something to happen.

My own bizarre contribution to in-car entertainment is deciding what musical genres certain cars are. Yes really.

Bear with me: in the broadest possible terms, small hatchbacks are pop music. Family hatches like the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia are middle-of-the-road easy listening. Sports cars are rock. A Caterham would be thrash metal and a white van full-on death metal.

Many complicated luxury cars are progressive rock, but then again plenty of them are inoffensively classical.

The fun bit is getting specific. A Lexus LS is surely middle-of-the-road maestro James Last. That would make a GS Richard Clayderman and an IS Andre Rieu. But should that really be the Mercedes-Benz S, E and C-class?

For me the BMW 7-series has always been Deep Purple because the band’s keyboard player John Lord had one. Otherwise I see a Jaguar XJ as Genesis – but that’s Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. I regard a lot of MPVs as pop reggae.

Some cars are attached to their era, so a Ford Escort XR3is in white are Shakatak. The E30-era BMW 3-series is late-1980s Spandau Ballet. Val Doonican is a Vauxhall Vectra. I see a series one Toyota MR2 as Pat Benatar. And by the end of all that mindless musical mental activity the traffic has cleared and I’m on my way home.

So is there any mileage in this musical madness, or should I keep what I think about in traffic jams to myself? Any idea what kind of car Vera Lynn might be?

Mercedes-Benz C220 Bluetec Sport estate UK first drive review
Mercedes-Benz C220 Bluetec Sport estate UK first drive review Luxurious load-lugger offers generous amounts of room and only loses out to the BMW 3-series Touring on dynamic ability The new W205 Mercedes-Benz C-class we road tested only recently, but this time in its new estate format.Due in UK dealerships next month, the wagon is the second model built on the MRA platform, and many of its attributes – the longer 2840mm wheelbase and lighter weight, for example – are carried over. Its design though, is all new. As is the now-standard addition of a powered tailgate, roof rails and rear seats that split 40:20:40.The estate shares the saloon’s three-trim line-up (SE, Sport and AMG Line) and is offered initially with three engines: the 182bhp C200 petrol sitting alongside 168bhp C220 and 202bhp C250 BlueTec diesels. C200 and C300 oil-burners will complete the range before the end of the year. On test here is the mid-spec C220 Bluetec Sport with the overwhelmingly popular 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission.Highlights from the kit list include park assist, a reversing camera, heated front sports seats, two-zone climate control, cruise control, DAB tuner, sat nav, seven-inch display and 17-inch alloy wheels. Privacy glass (£265) and leather upholstery (£795) see the £34,060 price tag of the standard car rise to £35,120. 

New Skoda Fabia revealed
Third-generation Skoda Fabia revealed Skoda shows off new supermini ahead of Paris debut; prices to start at around £10,000, but no plans for a hot vRS version

The new Skoda Fabia supermini, which replaces the current seven-year-old model, has been revealed ahead of its public debut at the Paris motor show at the beginning of October. 

Sales of the new Fabia are expected to commence early next year with prices starting from just over £10,000. Sources have also revealed that the most frugal version will be claiming a headline combined economy figure of 91mpg.

The Fabia, which is Skoda’s second best-selling model after the Octavia, should give the Czech car maker a significant boost in Europe’s vital supermini market. 

Sales of the current Fabia slipped under the 200,000 mark in last year, so the new model should give that figure a significant upward boost.

The new Fabia remains under four metres long but is 30mm lower in height and a significant 90mm wider than the outgoing model. This will not only improve cabin space but should also give the car a more planted and contemporary look. Boot space is expected to be about 330 litres.

Jozef Kaban, Skoda’s chief designer, says the new model marks a decisive shift in the brand’s design language. 

“In recent years, Skoda has made a name for itself by producing cars with great functionality and above-average interior space,” he said. “We sense now is the right time to create a stronger connection between the functionality of our cars and an expressive and emotional design.”

Kaban also said Skoda had focused on creating a sportier vehicle and making the design crisper. “The result,” he said, “is a young, fresh and modern compact car that sets new standards in its segment.”

It is understood that the Fabia is based on the latest version of the Volkswagen Group’s PQ26 platform, first used on this year’s revamped VW Polo supermini. 

The newly re-engineered platform has been modified to accept the VW Group’s latest range of engines and transmissions as well as the most up-to-date safety and infotainment kit. Improvements in structural rigidity should also ensure improved handling and safety.

There will be a brace of EU6-compliant engines, starting with the 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit used in the VW Up and the Skoda Citigo. Above that is a series of 1.2 turbocharged four-cylinders thought to develop between 89bhp and 109bhp, depending on the state of tune. DSG dual-clutch automatic transmissions are expected to be an option on the four-cylinder models.

The top new Fabia model is expected to be the Greenline diesel. Using a 74bhp 1.4 turbodiesel, it is expected to claim a figure of 82g/km on CO2 emissions with fuel economy of 91mpg. 

However, even the entry-level 1.0-litre model should offer impressive efficiency thanks to a dry weight of around 980kg. Inside, touchscreens will be an option, offering ‘mirroring’ of the driver’s smartphone screen.

It is understood there will be no vRS Fabia in the third-gen line-up. Instead, a Monte Carlo version of most models will be offered, with a choice of roof colour and matching door mirrors and wheel rims. There will be 15 body colours available, three interior trim levels and the option of a 15mm lower chassis. 

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Jaguar XE interior shown with new infotainment system
New Jaguar XE interior revealed Jaguar reveals tech for forthcoming BMW 3-series rival, including new interface and apps as well as laser head-up display

The upcoming Jaguar XE, which will make its public debut at the Paris motor show in October, will be the first model from Jaguar Land Rover to get an all-new infotainment system called InControl.

Designed and developed from scratch, InControl is based around an 8-inch touchscreen interface, and includes full smartphone integration for both iOS and Android units, specially designed apps, and the ability to function as a Wifi hotspot for multiple devices.

Another new feature is the InControl Remote, which allows users to connect to the car remotely and pre-set the heating/cooling system, locate the car in a car park, unlock the car, or even start the engine. 

The InControl system also functions as a tracking device, displaying the vehicle's location should it be stolen.

An industry first for the XE is laser projection for the head-up display, which shows speed and navigation information.

Powered by engines from Jaguar's new Ingenium line-up, the XE will be available in three guises at launch – with the standard XE sitting alongside XE S and XER-S versions.

The XE will be revealed in London on 8 September, with sales due to start early next year.

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Volkswagen e-Golf
Volkswagen e-Golf The electric Golf is an exceptionally smooth and effortless way of traveling, with the bonus of surprisingly fluid handling The Volkswagen e-Golf is the second alternative-fuel Golf model to be launched by VW; the first being the Golf TGI which has twin fuel tanks for compressed natural gas.The e-Golf will soon be followed the third model, the petrol-battery hybrid Volkswagen Golf GTE, which arrives in the UK later this year.Up until now, the decision to build a battery-powered car seemed to lead inevitably to a decision to make it as distinctive as possible. Volkswagen’s first mass-production battery-powered model is, in stark contrast, virtually indistinguishable from its internal combustion engined sister models.When it comes to powertrain diversity, VW is now reaping the rewards of the new globe-spanning MQB architecture. The modular underpinnings can accommodate petrol, diesel, gas, hybrid and pure electric drivetrains and, according to the company, these very different models can be built on the same production line.For the buyer, the main advantage of the Volkswagen e-Golf being so close to its mainstream sister cars is that it is as polished in its engineering details as the mainstream models.The driving position and range of seat adjustment is uncompromised and the interior uses the same, beautifully crafted, gear lever as DSG-equipped Golfs and so on.Using a platform specifically designed to accommodate a battery pack also means that the loss of space and general utility is kept to an absolute minimum. The 24kWh lithium-ion battery pack is fitted under the front and rear seats and along the centre-tunnel. There’s a loss of some useable space under the Golf’s adjustable boot floor, but it’s hardly a deal-breaker.You twist the conventional key to bring the e-Golf to life and simply push the lever into the ‘D’. Like all cars driven by electric motors, this car has all the torque on tap from start but it is particularly quiet, with virtually no motor whine from the transmission.As you gather speed, it becomes clear that VW has succeeded in engineering a transmission that is somehow even silkier and smoother than rival models. There’s real pleasure to be had from accelerating around bends because there’s almost a liquidity about the way the e-Golf’s drivetrain delivers forward motion.Perhaps more unexpected is the car’s overall balance and handling. Distributing a 318kg battery pack under the centre of the e-Golf has had a marked effect, giving the car a new sense of balance, with more weight towards the rear.With the exception of being a little unsettled by repeated short-wave undulations, the e-Golf’s chassis is surprising fluid. There’s a nice weighting at the wheel rim and the car responds to steering inputs with a calmness and maturity that’s a step ahead of Golfs powered by internal combustion engines.It’s very nicely tied down, too even on broken British backroads. The downside is tyre noise at speed on rougher UK tarmac, but that’s partly a corollary of the extraordinary quietness of the rest of the car.The transmission of the e-Golf has three selected levels of brake regeneration (effectively the amount of braking force exerted by the electric drive motor). All are relatively gentle. Even the ‘B’ setting for maximum energy recuperation is not quite as severe as that used on the BMW i3.The e-Golf’s battery pack comes with an eight-year or 100,000-mile warranty. Officially, VW says that it developed the 24kWh Lithium-ion battery pack with the "intention of it having 80 per cent of its original capacity after 10 years' use".This target is based on the car covering around 9000 miles annually. Charged from a standard UK three-pin socket, it takes a long-ish 13 hours to refresh the battery. With a 3.6kW wallbox fitted to a domestic supply, the charge time is eight hours. Fast charging gives 80 per cent capacity in 35 minutes.Compared to the Nissan Leaf (when purchased outright), this Golf is pretty much the same price – but it is also a more polished machine, with a more refined and even more effortless drivetrain and notably better driving dynamics.It was also intriguing to see how the battery range was demolished by swift A-road travel but how much energy was recovered by driving on undulating back roads and Milton Keynes’ roundabout-punctured expressways.It is a great pity that this car has a range of not much more than 90 miles in the best conditions, because it is stands out among even the best conventional cars: battery-powered or not, it is simply a remarkably fine way to travel.Volkswagen e-Golf
Price £25,845 (including £5000 government grant); 0-62mph 10.5sec; Top speed 87mph; Range 118 miles (NEDC cycle); CO2 zero at tailpipe; Kerb weight 1510kg; Engine type AC electric motor; Installation transverse, front-wheel drive; Power 113bhp; Torque 199lb ft from 0rpm; Gearbox single-speed mechanical with integrated differential and mechanical parking brake

Saleen unveils performance electric vehicle based on Tesla Model S
Saleen unveils performance electric vehicle based on Tesla Model S New Saleen FourSixteen reinterprets Tesla's groundbreaking electric luxury saloon with a performance edge

US-based Saleen Automotive revealed its first performance electric car, the FourSixteen, at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

Based on the Tesla Model S, the FourSixteen features several aerodynamic and mechanical tweaks that have been carried out by the California-based company, which is best known for the hugely powerful S7 supercar.

“Tesla has created an entirely new class of American automobile,” said company founder Steve Saleen. “There are many similarities to this and how Ford created the ‘pony car’ class in 1964 with the Mustang, which is how these vehicles stand out from the rest of the pack.”

Saleen has optimised the airflow over the car's body by adding a redesigned front fascia, aero vents, a bespoke V-shaped hood, carbonfibre rear diffuser and high-downforce rear-mounted spoiler.

The FourSixteen possesses the same power and torque outputs as the standard Model S, at 410bhp and 443lb ft. However, the car's electric motor is mated to a Saleen drivetrain which includes an all-new 11.39:1 final gear ratio for quicker acceleration. The FourSixteen also has a locking differential to maximise traction and grip.

All of the Saleen-engineered driveline components increase efficiencies in torque management, give a track capable throttle response, and provide faster acceleration. A Saleen high-efficiency drivetrain cooling system has been fitted to assist engine cooling and help maintain consistent temperatures in high-performance situations.

The Saleen FourSixteen gets track-calibrated suspension to enhance cornering agility. The system can be ordered in a fully adjustable configuration, allowing the driver to easily increase stiffness in order to use the car on the track. The stability control system has received new software to provide improved cornering response and drivability.

The standard brake package in the FourSixteen includes 355mm discs and four-piston callipers. A carbon-ceramic brake system is available as an option. The car runs on 21in wheels and tyres as standard, although 22in items can be specified as an option.

The new model's interior comprises black leather seats contrasted by perforated leather accents and Alcantara inlays. Both front and rear seating have been remoulded to produce four full bucket seats complete with added bolstering. The Saleen also has tailor-made door panels and a leather-wrapped dashboard.

The Saleen FourSixteen is priced at $152,000 (about £91,000) for the complete vehicle, which includes the Model S base car.

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Mazda appoints new British design director
Mazda appoints new British design director Kevin Rose to replace Peter Birtwhistle as design director of Mazda Motor Europe from the start of next month

British designer Peter Birtwhistle will retire from his role as design director of Mazda Motor Europe at the start of next month. He is being replaced by another Brit, Kevin Rice.

Birtwhistle joined Mazda in 1988 and has led Mazda Europe’s design department since the middle of 1999. He played an integral role in developing Mazda’s 'KODO – Soul of Motion' design language, as seen on the latest range of vehicles such as the Mazda 3, 6 and CX-5.

Mazda Motor Europe president and CEO Jeff Guyton said: “Mazda has a long tradition in Europe for its stand-out designs and is considered the most European of Japanese brands. This is in large part thanks to Peter’s passion for design and for cars.

“I would like to thank him for his contribution to Mazda’s success, and am certain we can continue to count on Peter’s support and expertise. That said, we are fortunate to have a successor of such great talent. Kevin will continue Peter’s work, giving Mazda the necessary continuity while at the same time representing a new generation of designers.”

After spells at several brands including BMW, Rice, who is 50, returned last autumn as creative director to Mazda’s European R&D Centre in Oberursel, Germany, where he spent five years in the 1990s.

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New Renault Twingo on sale for £9495
New Renault Twingo on sale for £9495 Order books open for third-generation Twingo city car, with prices starting at less than £10,000 and first customer deliveries scheduled for September

The new Renault Twingo has gone on sale, with prices starting from £9495.

Revealed at the Geneva motor show earlier this year, the third-generation Twingo takes on a new rear-engined, rear-wheel drive layout, and comes with a choice of two petrol engines at launch.

The first engine is a turbocharged three-cylinder 0.9-litre Dynamique TCe 90, which develops 89bhp and 100lb ft of torque. The 0-62mph sprint is covered in 10.8 seconds and the top speed is 103mph. Fuel economy is a claimed 66mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions are 99g/km.

Also available is a new naturally aspirated three-cylinder 1.0-litre SCe. It develops less power and torque than the TCe, with 69bhp and 91lb ft, while 62mph is reached in 14.5 seconds. This version of the Twingo has a top speed of 94mph.

The new Twingo is available in three trim levels, called Expression, Play and Dynamique. Expression and Play models get Renault's new R and Go docking system, which links a user's mobile phone to the car to provide navigation, infotainment serves and trip computer functions via the use of an app.

Standard equipment includes a rear spoiler, 15-inch wheels, electric power steering, electric front windows, split folding rear bench and remote central locking as well as ESC, hill start assist and emergency braking systems.

Mid-level Play models add air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver's seat and steering wheel and new black wheel accents.

The top-spec Dynamique variant gets 15-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, cruise control, a start-stop system, leather trim for the steering wheel and gear knob, and rear door bins.

The TCe 90-powered Twingo in Dynamique specification also gets variable gear ratio steering, which Renault says makes the car "more agile and reactive at lower speeds". A Sport pack is also available and adds 16-inch alloy wheels, red and black upholstery inside and red exterior trim accents. 

Personalisation options include interior trim colours, different alloy wheels and vehicle decals, while buyers can also specify luxuries such as rear parking sensors and camera, an upgraded stereo, heated front seats, climate control and Renault's R-Link infotainment system.

Prices for the new Twingo start at £9495 for the SCe 70 in Expression trim, rising to £11,695 for the TCe 90 in Dynamique Energy specification. The SCe 70 in Play guise, expected to be one of the best-selling models in the range, costs £9995.

The Twingo shares its underpinnings with the new Smart Forfour, while a shortened version of the same platform is used in the Smart Fortwo. The Twingo is built alongside the Forfour at Renault's plant in Slovenia.

Speaking to Autocar at the Geneva motor show earlier this year, Renault design boss Laurens van den Acker said the shape of the new car was not only an homage to the 1992 original, but was also inspired by the classic Renault 5. 

At 3.59m long, the new Twingo is 100mm shorter than the current car, but has a 120mm-longer wheelbase and 220mm of extra space inside.

Boot space is set at 219 litres with the rear bench in place, rising to 980 litres with it folded down.

Rivals for the new Twingo include the Smart Forfour, the Volkswagen Up and its associated Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii siblings, as well as the city car trio of the Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 108 and Citroën C1.

Order books are open now, with first deliveries scheduled for late September.

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Unique BMW i8 sells for £493k at Pebble Beach auction
One-off BMW i8 sells for £493k at Pebble Beach auction BMW i8 Concours d'Elegance edition sells for more than six times its retail value at US car show

A special BMW i8 Concours d'Elegance edition sold for $825,000 (around £493,000) at an auction during the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in America.

The car, which is the first BMW i8 to be sold in the US, went for a record price at a charity auction held by Gooding and Company. Its estimate was originally set at $200,000 (£119,550). Proceeds went to various charities supported by the Pebble Beach organisers.

The standard i8 will go on sale in North America this autumn for $135,700, which equates to just over £81,000.

Revealed during the week of events around Pebble Beach, the exterior of the BMW i8 Concours d'Elegance edition features bespoke 'Frozen Grey' metallic paintwork. Its interior is trimmed in brown leather with contrasting blue stitching and seat belts.

The words 'Concours d'Elegance' are laser-etched inside with 'BMW i8' embossed on the front seats. A plaque in the rear of the car carries the signatures of the BMW chiefs who made the car a reality.

In the UK, the i8 is available with the government's £5000 EV grant, making its retail price £94,845. Powered by a 129bhp electric motor in conjunction with a 1.5-litre turbocharged 3-cylinder petrol engine, the i8 produces a total of 357bhp and 420lb ft of torque.

Capable of sprinting from a standstill to 62mph in 4.4 seconds, the i8 has a top speed of 155mph. Official fuel economy is rated at 134.5mpg and CO2 emissions at 49g/km. 

Read more Pebble Beach news

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Modern classics: finding the best retro sports car for the 21st century
Modern classics - finding the best retro sports car for the 21st century The appeal of modernised and upgraded classic motors is growing. We assemble the best of the breed at Goodwood to find out why

No need to check you're on the right website; you haven’t clicked onto Classic & Sports Car by mistake.

So why has Autocar lined up some of yesteryear’s greatest cars on the home straight of the Goodwood circuit in West Sussex? 

Well, like Goodwood’s storied acres, these 
five iconic knee-weakeners have retained 
their evocative looks while being lovingly enriched with modern-day convenience and technology.

All are produced by British companies that are part of the growing market for modernised classics, born of buyers’ indifference to the mass-produced white 
goods of today’s showrooms. 

But have their modifications diluted their spirit, and can they really cut it as regular transport in 2014? Let’s find out.

Jensen Interceptor R

Penned by Carrozzeria Touring, the Interceptor presents an unmistakability that has only strengthened with age. But time has been less kind to its dynamics.

A wheezing Chrysler V8 can be revived to some extent, but the wallowing chassis and overlight, time-lapse steering of West Brom’s muscle car feel painfully outdated.

Jensen Motors of Banbury is a new business, but its owners have been making modernised Interceptors since 2007. This is their hottest: the 6.2-litre V8-powered Interceptor R.

Created from a Mk3 car, its shell has been chemically stripped and rebuilt with much-improved fit, finish and sound deadening, while the cabin has been retrimmed with yards of luxuriously pungent leather.

The rack and pinion steering and front double wishbones are reconditioned and the live rear axle has been replaced with Jaguar-sourced independent suspension. Adjustable coilovers complete the 30-40mm lowered set-up.

The starter button and modern shifter stand out in the otherwise period-perfect cabin. But does firing up the 429bhp GM LS3 lump shatter the illusion? Not a bit.

The old-school, big-cube luxury GT traits remain; the engine’s metallic churn, the loping gait, the ‘slow in, fast out’ methodology and the embarrassment of 424lb ft of torque are all in evidence. But the plane on which all this familiarity operates is that much higher.

The engine loves to streak beyond 4000rpm, its note rising from gentle rumble to heady scream. This is a seriously rapid car, and also one that’s settled at a high-speed cruise.

The suspension shudders a bit over ridges, the four-speed automatic gearbox can be ponderous, wind noise is greater than you’ll be used to and the upgraded brakes still aren’t as well mannered as modern kit. But you could live with – and enjoy – this car every day. The Interceptor R strikes a sweet balance between throwback character and 21st century composure. 

Jensen Interceptor R

Price £200,000; 0-60mph 4.5sec; Top speed Over 167mph; Kerb weight 1775kg (est); Engine 6162cc, V8, petrol; Power 429bhp at 6600rpm; Torque 424lb ft at 3800rpm; Gearbox 4-speed automatic

Also consider... Ferrari FF (£227,142)

Maranello’s 651bhp four-seat breadvan costs similar money to the Jensen from new but can shed up to £50,000 within a year.

Spydercars Zetec Elan

Lotus’ flyweight Elan offers a sublime steer, but rust can ravage its steel backbone. That malaise has created a demand that Spydercars has served for 30 years with its replacement chassis.

The Peterborough company’s spaceframe adds about 40 per cent stiffness – plus better servicing accessibility, safety and repairability – without increasing weight.

To all of this, Spydercars adds performance, reliability and economy with its Zetec conversions, most of which are Elan +2s like this 76,000-mile development car. It doesn’t represent a workshop-fresh finish but does, crucially, let us experience the car’s dynamics.

The race-tuned 2.0-litre, 16-valve Ford Zetec four-pot echoes the Elan’s original, Cortina-derived 1.6 twin-cam but increases power and torque by half.

Rear struts are dropped in favour of custom all-round double wishbones, and CV joints replace the springy Rotoflex couplings.

Happily, the engine exhibits startling similarities to the original. Following a purposeful-sounding idle, it pulls from 2000rpm and hits its stride at 4000rpm, when an entertaining, raucous raspiness erupts.

There are pops and bangs on the overrun and heel-and-toeing is a cinch. The five-speed Ford gearbox is almost as satisfying as the Elan’s original click-clack four-speed unit and far slicker than the later five-speeder. Fifth provides easy high-speed cruising, when the exhaust hushes nicely.

The small, thick Moto-Lita steering wheel and 2.2-turn rack feel settled, while the ride is good (some low-speed shudders aside) and the car feels planted in the dry. But the original’s big-diameter, thin-rimmed helm, and the delicacy it transmitted, are missing.

Spydercars reckons combining a slower rack and higher-profile tyres with a bigger wheel would recreate that lightness. It’s also easy to overwhelm the 185mm-wide rear tyres in the wet, and the Wilwood brakes want for more feel.

But value is on the Zetec Elan’s side, with this example here on sale for £25,000. Prefer a ‘new’ one? Donors cost from just £2000 (you’ll retain little more than the glassfibre shell), and Spydercars charges £45,240 for a scratch build, including a respray and new leather and walnut interior, making the evocative, charming little Elan easily our most affordable choice.

Spydercars Zetec Elan

Price £47,240; 0-60mph 6.0sec; Top speed 130mph; Kerb weight 950kg (est); Engine 4 cyls, 1998cc, petrol; Power 190bhp; Torque 160lb ft; Gearbox 5-speed manual

Also consider... Lotus Evora +2 (£54,980)

Like the original Elan +2, Hethel’s latest 2+2 rides and handles beautifully. The Zetec Elan’s drivetrain is more entertaining, though.

Frontline Developments MG Abingdon Edition

Only one car here goes for the baby-and-bathwater approach, adopting as it does a new bodyshell, chassis, engine and transmission. That it’s the bechromed Mk1 MGB is a surprise.

No less surprising is the shockingly stark disconnect between the aesthetics of Frontline’s MG Abingdon Edition and its performance; the 999kg roadster is claimed to hit 60mph in 3.8sec.

This it does via the unlikely installation of the Mk2 Mazda 6’s 2.5-litre four-cylinder enigne, hiked from 167bhp to 304bhp via upgraded internals and management systems.

The seam-welded steel monocoque body and chassis are new, produced for Abingdon-based Frontline by British Motor Heritage, the licensee for pre-1982 MG parts. That makes it OEM equipment, helping to meet the required provenance to make this, officially, a 1964 car.

Front suspension is still by double wishbones, but the live rear axle has been replaced by a bespoke six-link set-up and there is an adjustable coilover at each corner.

The Abingdon Edition really looks the part. Its wheelbase matches that of the original and its extra 18mm of track isn’t obvious. Given contemporary production processes, you’d hope for tighter panel fit – although this is the inaugural build – but the cabin’s quality is more consistent, with tidy switchgear, ample soft leather and custom-fitted low-back seats.

The car tremors at idle like the mini-rod it is. Take-up is sometimes bitey, but there’s a fantastic warbling howl as speed shoots up and an addictive bark when blipping, though heel-and-toeing isn’t practicable.

Tractability really impresses above 2000rpm, and six snickety gears allow quick shifts and a serene 2500rpm at 70mph in top.

Electric steering from EZ is a revelation. It is fluid, responsive, ideally weighted and feelsome and helps to exploit the little roadster’s tight body control and keen turn-in.

It would be a hoot on track, but with the current suspension settings it’s too animated for subsiding A-roads.

At nearly £100k, this is one expensive MG, but Frontline’s 2.0-litre, 238bhp ‘LE50’ MGB GT costs £78,000 on average, after options (many of which are standard fit here), although most of those are sold.

Refine the ride and shore up the panel fit and there are many reasons to snare one of the 25 Abingdon Editions.

Frontline developments MG Abingdon Edition

Price £95,874; 0-60mph 3.8sec; Top speed 160mph (est); Kerb weight 999kg; Engine 4 cyls, 2488cc, petrol; Power 304bhp at 6800rpm; Torque 240lb ft at 4800rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual

Also consider... Jaguar F-type R coupé (£85,000)

Frontline says its car is quicker to 60mph than the supercharged V8 Jag. It would be a hilarious drag race to watch.

Eagle E-Type Series 1 4.2 Roadster

More famous for its homegrown Speedster and Low Drag GT specials, East Sussex-based Eagle’s meat and drink is restoring and sympathetically upgrading E-types.

In contrast to the Frontline Developments MGB, the Jag’s original body, bones and heart are retained; Eagle sources tidy E-types and gives them a bumper-to-bumper refresh outside and in.

From there, four specification levels are offered, from £13,200 to £98,400, variously focusing on general usability, handling, performance or all three, though specs can be mixed and matched.

Our example is a Series 1 4.2 Roadster in ‘Sport’ spec, valued at £245,000. Engine tweaks include a high-flow air filter, electronic ignition, modernised fuelling, stainless manifolds and a sports exhaust.

The all-round independent suspension’s architecture is rebuilt with custom parts such as new radius arms and adjustable Koni dampers, and the geometry is revised.

From afar, the shape is as beguiling as ever: long, narrow, lithe. Up close, there’s no need for Vaselined lenses; chrome gleams, shutlines are consistent and the cabin quality matches that of today’s blue-riband car makers, yet, stereo aside, it looks, feels and is absolutely authentic.

A bright, tappety chunter begins when the engine fires and remains throughout, while the trumpeting exhaust starts low and loud and only gets louder, blaring as the engine meets its screaming 5000rpm red line.

The four-speed manual gearbox (a five-speeder is optional) shifts quickly above second and has a sweet, mechanical feel. Conservatively rated at the original’s 265bhp, the E-type feels swift, but no more than that in today’s company.

Eagle does offer a fuel injection conversion, but triple SU carbs render it redundant. This is already a responsive, well mannered powertrain that feels entirely up to track use. Instead, we’d look towards the 4.7-litre upgrade that packs an additional 81bhp.

Eagle E-Type Series 1 4.2 Roadster

Price £245,000; 0-60mph 6.5sec; Top speed 150mph; Kerb weight 1339kg; Engine 6 cyls, 4235cc, petrol; Power 265bhp at 5400rpm; Torque 238lb ft at 3800rpm; Gearbox 4-speed manual

Also consider... Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT Final Edition Roadster (£199,500)

Another charismatic, long-nosed sports roadster, the SLS might dust the E-type for pace but can’t touch it for class.

PS Autoart Retro Touring R

The 911 fussbudgets may squint at Essex-based PS Autoart’s Retro Touring R. Its stocky proportions indicate a 964-series Porsche 911, but its details recall earlier, classic versions.

The 964’s plastic fantastic bumpers and skirts are absent; in their place, slivers of rubber are bordered by slimline brightwork that also adorns the lights, mirrors and glasshouse.

The truth is, this is not a modernised classic 911, but a loosely backdated 964 (specifically a Carrera 4) of the Singer genre. Diehards might cruelly refer to it as a mongrel; others will say it is simply stunning.

Of the bodywork, only the doors and roof are original; the rest is neatly fabricated in steel, aluminium or GRP. Inside, there’s high-quality leather everywhere (even on the roll cage) and bespoke aluminium switchgear.

Mechanical upgrades come largely from the car’s original manufacturer, granting a sizeable head start against our other contenders. Besides trading on Zuffenhausen’s engineering clout, that also allows servicing by any Porsche specialist and lends PS Autoart the confidence to sell with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty.

This car’s air-cooled 3.6-litre flat six has been enlarged to 3.8 litres and fitted with 993 RS-spec cams, cylinder barrels and pistons. Fresh from the production line, its low-rev unruliness needs to be tuned out, and its buyer’s choice of loud, bassy exhaust wouldn’t be ours. But what a powertrain.

Torque delivery is super-smooth, with a little kick at 4000rpm, beyond which a deep scream soundtracks properly eye-widening pace up to 7000rpm. The five-speed manual gearbox is slick and the brakes are strong and progressive.

The power-assisted steering has an equally glossy feel that’s peppered with gentle kickback and characteristic front-end bobbing, while turn-in is appropriately nippy.

Gripes? While the ride is more supple than that of a stock 964, West Sussex’s rippled asphalt unearthed an unsettling vertical reactiveness at speed that deviates from this car’s ‘touring’ remit.

Tweaking the adjustable Bilsteins (on the to-do list for this car) might lessen that trait, but you’re stuck with the 964’s seriously offset driving position.

Overall, though, the Retro Touring R presents a strong package. It’s quick, fun, characterful, luxurious and extremely solid. Not to mention very, very covetable.

PS Autoart Retro Touring R

Price £200,000 (approx); 0-60mph 4.9sec; Top speed 170mph; Kerb weight 1290kg; Engine Flat 6, 3800cc, petrol; Power 300bhp at 6200rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 4800rpm; Gearbox 5-speed manual

Also consider... McLaren 650S (£195,250)

Hit the track and the 650S will blow you away. But on the road and at legal speeds, the Porsche might produce the bigger grin.

The verdict

Between these five modernised classics, the cat has been skinned every which way. But they are all absolutely usable, mixing with modern traffic at a trot.

There’s no need to relearn how to drive to enjoy them and their customisability means if you don’t like something, such as the steering or suspension set-up, you can change it.

None is cheap, but look after them and they’ll depreciate far less than modern counterparts. One near-universal (if manageable) weakness, however, is braking – a tricky area in any upgrade.

So which is best? It’s hard to dial out subjectivity here, but the Porsche is arguably the most complete package – perhaps as much a win for measured backdating over modernisation.

But whichever takes your fancy, these are all cars built specifically for the likes of thee and me. And that’s a rare and wonderful thing.

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Next Volkswagen Golf to get XL1-style tech
Next Volkswagen Golf to get XL1-style tech New Golf will draw efficiency lessons from VW's 313mpg XL1 two-seater; set to go on sale in 2019

Work has started on a package of aerodynamic innovations for the next generation of Volkswagen Golf, according to company sources. 

The Mk8 Golf, which is due in 2019, will have to be one of the most economical mainstream cars ever built. VW engineers and designers have already started to investigate ways of reducing the average CO2 output of the next range of Golf models to well below 90g/km.

It is understood that VW will be using the lessons learnt from the radical two-seat XL1, which makes extensive use of aerodynamic innovation to help it achieve 313mpg. 

The fact that early work is already under way on a car that is still at least five years from the showroom indicates the hurdles that face all car makers in meeting the European Union’s rigorous fleet-average CO2 emissions standards, which come into force in 2020. 

Although VW sells proportionally far more Golfs and Polos in Europe than it does bigger and less economical vehicles such as Passats and Tiguan SUVs, figures supplied by the EU suggest that VW – along with most other European car makers – will still have to reduce the average CO2 output of its future fleet by between 
22 and 27 per cent. 

Given the need for such a significant reduction in average fuel consumption, VW engineers are unlikely to be able to just bet on another round of engine improvements, instead, they are likely to need to exploit every new trick in the book, including the most advanced aerodynamic treatment yet seen on a production vehicle.

According to a VW insider, “a number of aerodynamic solutions are being investigated [for the Golf Mk8]”. However, according to the source, a fundamental difficulty facing the engineers and designers is that, proportionately, the Golf is quite a short car.

The XL1 has been shaped primarily for aerodynamic efficiency so it is both low and long. However, the Golf, by definition, is a family-size hatchback and that effectively sets the car’s proportions.

VW also has to consider that mainstream buyers may not want a car that loses its character to the demands of cutting-edge aerodynamics. 

For example, the sharp-edged rear corners of cars such as the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt improve the way that the airflow ‘breaks off’ the body, but they could probably not be used for the Golf Mk8. However, one solution could be to extend the hatchback’s rear spoiler further over the rear window, along with deep blade-like extensions along the upright sides of the window.

The Golf Mk8 will be based on the MQB platform and be built from conventional stamped and welded panels. This means that the car will be no wider or longer than today’s Mk7 Golf. However, VW will have to find further weight savings in the new car, bringing the base kerb weight under 1100kg.

It seems unlikely that VW will invest in aluminium for any of the Golf 8’s exterior panels, because cost control will also be a major issue for the new car. With the likely addition of complex new technology, keeping the factory build cost down is of paramount importance.

Meeting the impending 
CO2 regulations, which will almost certainly add hundreds of euros to the cost of building a car, could prove devastating for many mainstream car makers that are surviving on very slim profit margins.

New Golf's fuel-saving tech

Flywheel

Volvo is already testing a British-designed flywheel system, which is used to drive the rear wheels of a front-drive car.

Flywheels could become familiar on mainstream cars in the next decade because they can store waste energy and release it like an electric motor and battery. Flywheel systems are about a quarter of the cost of a hybrid set-up, far less complex and far lighter.

Volvo’s system takes 8.0sec of braking to recharge and offers 10sec and 80bhp of drive assistance. A future Golf would likely use a unit good for 40bhp or so. 

Variable compression ratio engines

Earlier this year, Audi technical chief Ulrich Hackenberg announced that the Volkswagen Group was developing engines with variable compression ratios.

Hackenberg didn’t reveal any details about how this will be executed, but the principle has long been an important goal for engine designers. Being able to vary an engine’s compression ratio depending on the demands being placed on it should lead to significant advances in efficiency. 

Coasting

Audi’s Ulrich Hackenberg also said that coasting technology would be used in future VW Group models. Coasting technology is expected to be rolled out in three stages. The first stage – coasting at speed – is already featured on some VW dual-clutch ’boxes.

The next version is expected to function when the car is travelling below 4mph. The ultimate version will allow transmission decoupling and engine shut-down when cruising at speed, travelling downhill or approaching traffic lights that are about to turn red. 

Electric turbochargers

Audi has already previewed its own version of electric turbocharging, which uses a powerful fan in the engine’s induction system.

This blows air through the turbo when the engine is decelerating, spinning the turbo fan up to speed, so that full boost is available as soon as the driver gets back on the accelerator.

Such a system is especially useful for downsized engines, which generate little exhaust gas energy, especially at low speed. A future Golf with, say, a 1.0-litre three-pot would have much improved driveability characteristics.

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Renovo Motors shows all-American electric coupé at Pebble Beach
Renovo Motors shows all-electric coupé at Pebble Beach Based on the Shelby Daytona CSX9000, the new Renovo Coupé can reach 60mph in 3.4 seconds and will go into limited production next year

Californian start-up company Renovo Motors showcased its all-American electric sports car at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in California.

Named the Renovo Coupé, the car is based around a Shelby Daytona CSX9000 body and chassis but features an electric motor producing 493bhp and 1000lb ft of torque. Its makers say the Renovo Coupé can reach 60mph in 3.4 seconds and has a top speed of more than 120mph.

Renovo is using new battery technology to reduce the weight of its new model. The technology involves distributing the weight of the battery pack in three places around the vehicle, creating better weight distribution compared with a conventional layout.

The result is a kerb weight of 1474kg. By comparison, the BMW i8 weighs 1540kg and Tesla’s Model S tips the scales at 2108kg.

Renovo says the Coupé can offer a range of about 100 miles. It can be fully charged from a domestic charging socket in five hours, while a fast charge takes 30 minutes. 

Other features include adjustable dampers, 13-inch brake discs with six-piston calipers at the front and four-piston callipers at the rear, and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. 

The cabin of the Renovo Coupé has traditional analogue gauges, but also features a digital display.

The Renovo Coupé is due to enter limited production next year. Production numbers have yet to be revealed, but company bosses say it will be “a fraction” of what McLaren and Ferrari have set aside for the P1 and LaFerrari, meaning it will be less than 375. Order books for the model opened at the Pebble Beach event.

Renovo Motors was founded in 2010 by a team based in Silicon Valley. Co-founder and CEO Christopher Heiser said: “Renovo Motors sought to create an aspirational vehicle that demonstrates the performance, control, and excitement that is possible with electric vehicle technology.

“We have poured our passion and innovation into the Coupé in an effort to deliver a truly amazing driving experience”.

Read more Pebble Beach news

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VW plans four-seat XL1 to rival Honda FCV
VW plans four-seat XL1 XL1 doubles up on seats to become XL2, but the hyper-miling 310mpg rating of today's car won't be affected

Volkswagen has a four-seat version of its XL1 hybrid on the drawing board.

The current, two-door, two-seat model is in limited production, but Autocar understands that VW bosses are now considering building a second version that will accommodate four adults.

Ferdinand Piech, the chairman of the Volkswagen Group supervisory board, instigated the project to build a car that was capable of travelling 100km (62 miles) on one litre of fuel. That has culminated in the production version of the XL1, which is officially rated at 310mpg.

It is said that Piech is very keen to see VW remain at the cutting edge of what the company calls ‘super-efficient vehicles’ and wants to take the concept a step further, especially with the super-aero Honda FCV fuel-cell car set to go on sale at the start of 2015.

According to sources, much of the XL1 technology will be carried over into a new car – particularly the front and rear subframes and suspension and braking systems – although the central body structure would have to be totally rethought.

The XL1’s carbon tub would have to be replaced from scratch, but the staggered seating would remain because this is an essential element of keeping the car narrow and reducing its frontal area. 

The new model – possibly called XL2 – would have to have two rear doors, which would most likely be rear-hinged like those on the BMW i3

It is also likely that the current 800cc twin-cylinder diesel engine (which delivers 47bhp) and the electric motor (27bhp) would have to be upgraded with more power, although VW would aim to retain the same overall efficiency. The 5.5kWh lithium-ion battery would also probably be enlarged.

Today’s car weighs just 795kg. A further pair of bucket seats will add 80kg and the extended centre cell and extra doors another 50kg or so. The XL1’s electrical system (105kg) is likely to remain unchanged for the four-seater and the weight of the drivetrain (227kg) could rise because of a marginally bigger battery.

The whole car is likely to come in at about 940kg, making it only slightly lighter than a VW Up city car. However, increasing the length should marginally improve aerodynamic performance and further optimisation of the drivetrain should allow the car’s rating to remain at 310mpg.

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Why is McLaren making the P1 GTR? It's all about exclusivity
Why is McLaren making the P1 GTR? It's all about exclusivity McLaren aims to make its customers feel more special with the launch of the P1 GTR, even creating a bespoke driver training scheme to rival that of Ferrari

Why is McLaren making the P1 GTR? It’s a legitimate question considering that the 375 P1s that will be made before next May are supposed to be the ultimate expression of what road cars can do.

According to company boss Mike Flewitt it’s got a lot less to do with the £60 million worth of revenue that McLaren can expect to haul in, and more to do with "making customers feel special".

At the launch of the new car in Pebble Beach, California Flewitt told us that anyone who buys a GTR will "immerse themselves in McLaren."

Remember that you'll have already forked out for a P1 before being invited to order a GTR. And if you do buy one you’ll enter a world where McLaren will look after your car in Woking and then deliver it to up to six super-exclusive track days around the world.

You can also get advanced driver training, practice in the company’s F1 simulator and even have access to fitness trainers and nutritionists.

All this is in the name of exploiting what will be an even faster, harder car than your normal P1, with considerably more downforce and slick tyres generating a lot more grip. In essence, it’s exactly like Ferrari’s well-known FXX programme.

McLaren’s clearly doing this in the name of adding emotional appeal, especially in the eyes of wealthy, influential customers. But surely an equally adept way of doing that would be to have a P1 GTR single make race series that we could all (vicariously) enjoy? It’s not part of Flewitt’s plan right now, but you can tell he’s thought about it. 

Seeing McLaren go sportscar racing again would be something wouldn’t it?

Read more Pebble Beach news

Ultimate McLaren P1 GTR revealed at Pebble Beach
Ultimate McLaren P1 GTR revealed at Pebble Beach New 986bhp McLaren P1 GTR will be priced at £1.98 million and will go on sale next year

The new McLaren P1 GTR concept has been revealed, and previews what the company says will be “the best driver’s car in the world on track”.

The car, revealed at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, will go on sale in just under 12 months after production of the standard P1 ends. 

So far, McLaren hasn’t revealed any performance figures for the car, or its likely production run, but it will only be offered to the existing 375 P1 owners and will cost £1.98 million. 

However McLaren Automotive boss Mike Flewitt revealed to Autocar that he expected production of the GTR to start next May when the run of standard P1s comes to an end and expects to eventually sell '25 to 30 cars'. Although it's understood that 'low double figures' gives a business car for the car.'

The unveiling of this dramatic concept coincides with the 20th anniversary of testing beginning on the highly successful and Le Mans-winning McLaren F1 GTR

The GTR is based on the standard P1 hypercar. McLaren says it is the most “track-tailored” and powerful model yet produced by its in-house McLaren Special Operations division to date.

Because there is no need to engineer it for road use, it has been possible to further optimise the P1’s aerodynamic performance, while output from the twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V8 engine and lightweight electric motor has been raised from 903bhp in the standard P1 to 986bhp in the GTR. 

According to McLaren: “With even greater emphasis on aerodynamic performance through its dramatic bodywork, the P1 GTR will also feature race-proven slick tyres, a fixed ride height, enhanced power delivery from the Instant Power Assist System (IPAS) powertrain and F1-derived Drag Reduction System (DRS) from the large, fixed rear wing, along with an ERS (Energy Recovery System) push-to-pass system. This all combines to offer the ultimate track experience.”

Although the GTR is 
based on the P1, McLaren 
says it has been extensively re-engineered. The car’s front track is 80mm wider and is coupled with a more aggressive GT-style splitter.

The ducts leading to the low-temperature radiators in the car’s nose have also been reprofiled, while the active aerodynamic ‘flaps’ under the car and forward of the front wheels have been retained. The GTR also sits lower than the P1 on a fixed ride height.

On the side of the GTR, McLaren’s aerodynamicists have added an extra aero and cooling feature. It starts as a small blade behind the front wheel arch and then flows along the car’s sill before morphing into a large scoop ahead of the rear wheel.

The blade is said to clean up the flow of air coming off the front wheels, while the extra air scoop at the rear channels more air into the high-temperature radiators, 
as well as improving the aerodynamic efficiency of 
the GTR’s rear undertray.

The upper body of the GTR features the most significant changes over the standard P1. The wing mirrors have been repositioned to reduce drag and to place them closer to the eye line of the driver. The trailing edge of the cavities within the doors have also been extended to draw more air through into the engine 
bay to aid cooling.

At the rear, the GTR has 
a larger fixed-height wing 
in place of the smaller retracting one used by 
the P1 road car. As well as dispensing with the 
actuation mechanism, 
the use of a non-retractable device has allowed 
McLaren to completely smooth the rear bodywork over the engine bay. It says this allows much cleaner airflow over the rear of the car and the new wing itself.

The rear wing has also been fitted with a hydraulically operated DRS, which the manufacturer says provides increased levels of downforce compared to the road car and works in tandem with the aerodynamic flaps located forward of the front wheels. This is said to be particularly useful in optimising aerodynamic balance through all phases of cornering.

The lower rear corners of the GTR have dramatically extended air outtakes and a redesigned rear diffuser, which also works in tandem with the rear wing to enhance downforce and grip levels. The centrally mounted exhaust system has been redesigned and is now made of a new titanium alloy in a straight-cut twin-pipe set-up.

The GTR has 19-inch wheels, which are 10.5-inches wide at the front and 13-inches wide at the rear, secured with quick-release centre-locking nuts. A built-in air jacking system is used for wheel changes. The tyres are slicks, designed by McLaren in conjunction with Pirelli. 

McLaren Special Operations will maintain and run all the GTRs made, and there will be a Ferrari XX-style ‘bespoke’ McLaren P1 GTR driver programme. Each programme will be individually tailored to the owner and will allow them to undergo specialist driver training and access to the company’s racing simulator. 

The GTR support team, according to McLaren, 
will include “experts with 
top-level international experience in human performance, race engineering, design and test driving”.

McLaren is also showing a new track-only version of the 650S, dubbed the 650S Sprint, at Pebble Beach alongside MSO-tuned versions of the 650S and the P1.

Read more Pebble Beach news

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Comparison: Jaguar XK Dynamic R versus F-type R coupe
Comparison: Jaguar XK Dynamic R versus Jaguar F-type R coupe Jaguar’s XK is about to bow out with this final edition. But how will history judge it? And is there a future for a new four-seat coupé with the F-type already here? We find out

So that’s it, then. The dear old Jaguar XK is no more. Last week, someone at Jaguar had the not especially pleasant task of hitting the stop button on the production line at Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, where the XK has been built since 1996.

And for the foreseeable future, Jaguar’s elegantly styled big coupé will not see the light of day again.

The official line from Jaguar is that no decision has been made yet over the car’s future. Jaguar says it simply hasn’t made up its mind whether there’s a business case for a new XK now that the F-type has been unleashed upon the world. Behind the scenes, however, an internal debate is raging – it may even be a full-blown argument – over the XK’s replacement.

Certain people at Jaguar believe it to be a travesty not to replace the XK at some point in the future with a super-elegant, high-performing, luxuriant GT car – with a machine that, broadly speaking, replaces like with like at the top of Jaguar’s range, albeit with more modern thinking and architecture at its core.

Others in the company, however, claim that a new XK simply doesn’t add up commercially in 2014 and beyond. They will point out that just 3223 XKs found homes worldwide last year, while a mere 1970 of them were sold between January and June this year, out of a total of 145,320 sales globally since 1996.

The XK’s naysayers will also point out that a Jaguar SUV or something similar would make far more sense – and shift much more metal, which would in turn net massively more profit – than a new version of a car that is already perceived to be something of a dinosaur.

Read the full Jaguar XK review

Whatever the XK’s fate – and right now it doesn’t look good, if you’re being realistic – Jaguar has produced one last and final version to celebrate the car’s 18 years on the road. It’s not exactly a bells and whistles with extra chilli sauce on top kind of run-out model.

Instead, the XK Dynamic R, as it is officially entitled, is basically eight-and-a-half-tenths of an XKR-S but for £30k less than the big daddy variant. And in its way, it’s a car that befits the XK’s legacy to perfection.

That’s because despite the extra power and performance that accompanied the carbonfibre wings and eye-watering £100k price of the RS versions, which were available in coupé and convertible forms, it was actually the lesser XKs that were arguably the sweetest to drive.

With 542bhp, the XKR-S could, on occasions, feel like it was trying to eat itself dynamically. But knock the power back to 503bhp and the torque down to a still-rousing 461lb ft and the XKR’s chassis always felt that little bit less stressed. And rather better balanced as a result.

So it seems entirely appropriate, somehow, that Jaguar has decided not to give this last and final version of its faithful but fading XK the full-fat 542bhp engine. Instead, it gets the regular XKR engine (503bhp and 461lb ft, as intimated) but with most of the juiciest bits from the XKR-S elsewhere. It costs £69,975 and is as well equipped inside as any car that Jaguar has ever produced.

And in no-cost optional Italian Racing Red with £515 of 20-inch Vulcan Gloss Black alloy wheels, it also still looks completely stunning in the metal. On the road, in isolation, at least, it still drives quite tidily, too.

There has always been a lightness of touch and a fluidity to the XKR’s steering and chassis responses that make driving it something of a rare pleasure.

It’s not perfect; it never has been. On rough roads, the front end doesn’t always feel entirely connected to the rear, because the chassis itself is fundamentally fairly ancient in its design and simply isn’t as stiff as more modern rivals when push comes to shove. The brakes also tend to fade underfoot if used hard for anything more than a few minutes on a circuit.

Despite feeling and driving like a car from yesteryear, however, there has always been something quite special about merely going for a drive in an XK.

Every journey feels like an event, an occasion to be savoured, even if the body control isn’t that sharp and the dampers occasionally throw their hands in the air and metaphorically shout “no idea” over certain types of rough road driven at speed.

And, of course, the less said about the car’s fuel consumption, emissions and rather pathetic touring range the better. Is it acceptable to pump 292kg of CO2 into the atmosphere for every 0.62 miles that you drive? Not really.

Real-world economy of under 20mpg, giving a range of barely 300 miles, is similarly out of kilter with the times, especially when you consider that a car like the BMW i8 offers more performance, drinks five times less fuel and has 10 times less impact on the environment, yet costs not a whole lot more than the XKR. And will, you’d predict, maintain its value rather better than the notoriously depreciation-prone XK.

Read the full Jaguar F-type R coupé review

And yet still it’s difficult, if not impossible, not to harbour a soft spot for the dear old XK. There is just something about it that makes a sad old car enthusiast like me want to smile, to gawp, and maybe even just to remember. 

When the very first XK8 was delivered to the Autocar offices for road test in 1996, pretty much the entire staff of the magazine went out and looked at the car. Its arrival was that significant, its delivery to our offices that exciting.

I remember doing a cornering shot for the cover of the magazine and having an argument with the art department about which particular photograph to use. Most of all, though, I remember driving it and thinking that, yes, Jaguar really had nailed it this time. The cut-price Aston Martin had arrived and it was almost certainly better to drive than the real thing.

It’s ironic to realise, then, that the car responsible for administering the XK’s lethal injection actually comes from within. It is, of course, the F-type.

Drive the XK in isolation and, as I’ve said, it still feels fast and charming and perfectly decent dynamically. Drive it beside the F-type, though, and it feels achingly old-fashioned, not to mention slow, noisy, uncomfortable, unrefined and under-engineered.

The verdict

On the one hand, that’s a mark of how good the F-type actually is, none more so than the savagely rapid and frankly just brilliant coupé V8 that you see here. But it’s also the cue to call time on the XK. Not so much to put it out of its misery but to put the book down, smile inwardly to yourself as one does at the end of a very good book, and move on. Maybe even wipe away a tear before doing whatever needs to be done next.

Read Autocar's previous comparison - BMW X4 versus Porsche Macan

Jaguar XK Dynamic R

Price £69,975; 0-62mph 4.6sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 23.0mpg; CO2 292g/km; Kerb weight 1740kg; Engine V8, 5000cc, supercharged, petrol; Power 503bhp at 6500rpm; Torque 461lb ft at 3500rpm; Gearbox 6-speed automatic

Jaguar F-type R coupé

Price £85,000; 0-62mph 4.0sec; Top speed 186mph; Economy 25.5mpg; CO2 259g/km; Kerb weight 1650kg; Engine V8, 5000cc, supercharged, petrol; Power 542bhp at 6500rpm; Torque 502lb ft at 3500rpm; Gearbox 8-speed automatic

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New Lamborghini Huracan racer gets Pebble Beach debut
New Lamborghini Huracan racer revealed Rear-wheel-drive Huracán LP 620-2 Super Trofeo competition car shown for the first time at Pebble Beach

This is the new Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2 Super Trofeo, a racer based on the Gallardo replacement.

The new GT3-specification racing car uses an uprated version of the road car’s 5.2-litre V10 engine. In this guise it produces 611bhp, only a 9bhp advantage. However, the car is also 250kg lighter, thanks to a greater use of carbonfibre and aluminium in its chassis construction. 

One major difference however is that the Super Trofeo is rear-wheel drive. The standard Huracán has a four-wheel-drive chassis, as did the previous Gallardo-based racer. 

This raises the prospect of a version of the Huracán road car also adopting a rear-drive layout in the same vein as the special-edition Gallardo LP550-2 Balboni, of which only 250 were made. 

The Super Trofeo, co-developed by Dallara Engineering, made its global debut at the Quail Motorsports gathering. The event in Carmel, California, is one of the highpoints of Monterey Car Week which culminates in the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. 

"The Huracán Super Trofeo is an all-new car built from scratch with a clear racing concept. We believe it will be as fun for fans to watch as it will be rewarding for our racers to drive," said Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborghini’s research and development boss.

Dallara’s history with the car manufacturer dates back to 1963 when company founder Gian Paolo Dallara worked as a Lamborghini engineer and later led the development of the legendary Miura.

The car will be eligible to compete in the one-make Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo race series in Europe, Asia and North America next year. 

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Is the One Ford philosophy leading the Blue Oval astray?
Is the One Ford philosophy leading the Blue Oval astray? Ford's globalisation policy means vehicles have to appeal to many markets, but the strategy could rob the company's products of their best qualities

Last year was my tenth in the car scribbling and road testing business. Feels like a long time, although working somewhere like Autocar – alongside people who’ve been at it three- or four-times as long in some cases – you soon realise it isn’t.

But it felt like a long time this morning in particular, driving the Ford EcoSport. I don’t think I’ve driven a genuinely bad new car from Ford in those ten years.

There have been high points (current Fiesta, outgoing Mondeo, any Focus you care to mention) and not-so-high ones (current Ka, Fusion perhaps). Nothing poor, though. Didn’t think Ford was capable of it, to be honest.

I’ve certainly driven a bad Ford now. The EcoSport is easily the worst new Ford of the current crop, and may even be the weakest introduction the company has made in longer than a decade.

More seriously for Ford, there’s probably not a worse compact crossover in the class that you could spend your money on. Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Mini Countryman, Vauxhall Mokka, Kia Soul, Citroën C4 Cactus, Peugeot 2008; I’d take a Dacia Duster over this.

The 1.5-litre TDCI diesel EcoSport’s specific shortcomings will be the subject of a full Autocar road test in the not-too-distant future. It’s also a car we’ve already reviewed in preliminary fashion, and which you can read about here.

Suffice it to say now that it’s below the class standard in just about every way we assess these things: performance (plodding), refinement (rough and thrashy), handling (poor basic road-holding and ESP tuning), ride (noisy and unsettled), economy (struggles to 40mpg) and material quality.

You find flimsy, hard, rough, poorly finished plastics throughout the cabin, and the seats are hard and flat. The diesel engine’s terrible. The car’s fairly well-packaged, but that’s the solitary semi-compliment you might pay it. To these eyes it even looks dated and ill-proportioned.

Originally engineered by Ford US and a big-seller in last-gen format in South America, the current EcoSport is built in India for the European market.

The reason that an Indian-built Ford, designed and engineered to meet tastes and requirements a long way removed from ours, is now on sale in what’s routinely acknowledged as the most sophisticated market in the world, is the ‘One Ford’ manufacturing philosophy.

Championed by now-departed boss Alan Mulally, it dictates that the company should have truly global models, rather than catering separately to European, American and Asian markets with similar-but-unrelated ones.

So far, ‘One Ford’ has brought us a new Focus (good), a new Ranger pickup (also good), a new Kuga 4x4 (which I like, but others don’t) – and its most contentious product may yet prove to be the new Mondeo, which we’ll drive in October.

In the EcoSport, however, it’s foisting a car onto European buyers that’s simply not good enough – and not right for the requirements of Ford’s European clientele, either.

The EcoSport’s an important car to boot. Few parts of the European market are growing as fast as the supermini crossover segment, and Ford has ambitions to lead the European SUV sales charts with its new-breed 4x4s within a couple of years. It won’t with sub-standard models like this, that’s for sure.

The more important question is how long Ford’s reputation for unrivalled ride and handling amid the volume brands will survive in the ‘One Ford’ era?

A lot of people in the European car industry credit Ford with the invention of modern chassis development, and few have been better exponents of it these last 25 years.

To me, it seems a competitive advantage the company can ill-afford to lose – and, right now, it’s being risked.

Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance 2014 show report and gallery
Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance 2014 show report and gallery Autocar is in California for the annual Pebble Beach gathering, which features new car reveals from McLaren, Bugatti, Aston Martin, Jaguar and more

The annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance is the culmination of a week of automotive events held on the Monterey peninsula in California.

Traditionally a key event in the historic motoring and motorsport calendars, in recent years Pebble Beach has taken on increasing significance for car manufacturers wanting to showcase modern machinery.

Key among the new cars this year is the McLaren P1 GTR. Billed as the ultimate version of McLaren's P1 hypercar, it'll go on sale in around a year's time for just under £2 million.

Bodywork additions – such as a new fixed rear wing – improve aerodynamic performance, while output from the P1's twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V8 engine has grown from 903bhp to 986bhp. Owners will also be entered into the McLaren P1 GTR driver programme, which features training and access to simulators.

The P1 GTR is only one of a number of new cars shown by McLaren, as the firm also unveiled its track-only version of the 650S, dubbed the 650S Sprint, as well as new versions of the P1 and 650S tuned by McLaren Special Operations.

Lamborghini has also taken the wraps off its Huracán-based racer, the LP 620-2 Super Trofeo. While the car only gets a 9bhp increase over its road-going sibling, with the standard car's 5.2-litre V10 engine pushed to 611bhp, it weighs 250kg less than the standard Huracán.

Among the major changes to the Super Trofeo is the adoption of rear-wheel drive, which has sparked rumour of a new version of the Huracán along the lines of the special-edition Gallardo LP550-2 Balboni.

Pebble Beach also provided our first look at Land Rover's fastest model ever, the 542bhp Range Rover Sport SVR. Set to go on sale for £93,450 following its debut here, the V8-powered Range Rover can crack 60mph in 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of 162mph.

Also on display is the first of Jaguar's new Lightweight E-type models. Designed to the exact specification of the 1963 originals, the first of the new cars – dubbed Car Zero – was revealed on Friday. Six other examples, using chassis numbers left over from the original 18-strong production run, will be sold at an estimated price of £1m.

The aluminium-bodied cars retain the original's 3.8-litre straight-six engine, which produces 335bhp and 280lb ft of torque. The event also offered US enthusiasts their first chance to see Jaguar's F-type Project 7.

Meanwhile, Aston Martin showed off four new models from its bespoke Q division. The cars, based on the Vanquish coupé, Vanquish Volante, DB9 Volante and V12 Vantage S, are all customised with special paintwork and new cabin upgrades. They sit alongside the new 565bhp V12 Vantage S Roadster, which had its first public outing at Pebble Beach.

As far as exotic and rare machinery goes, it doesn't get much better than Bugatti's latest Legends car. The sixth and final entry in the firm's Legends series, the special 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse honours company founder Ettore Bugatti.

Just three will be sold at a cost of £1.8 million. Making this debut even rarer is that all six Legends cars are in one place, with previous the special editions honouring the likes of Jean Bugatti, Jean-Pierre Wimille and Meo Constantini.

BMW was also well represented at Pebble Beach, as the first i8 to be sold in the US went under the hammer. The car, which featured a special Concours d'Elegance specification including 'frozen Grey' exterior features, new leather trim and extra badging, sold for $825,000.

Click through the gallery above to see more action from Pebble Beach.

Read more Pebble Beach news

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Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4 UK first drive review
Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4 UK first drive review Sant’Agata's Gallardo replacement has engaging aesthetics and powertrain, but dynamically it feels like we’re waiting for something There’s a lot that’s promising about the Lamborghini Huracán, as you know from our first drive of the supercar on continental roads.It retains a 5.2-litre V10, like the Gallardo before it and, crucially, natural aspiration. The engine’s top end, particularly, has been heavily revised, putting the power output up to 601bhp, achieved at 8250rpm.Maximum torque, 413lb ft of it, isn’t made until 6500rpm, which means the Huracán will want revving, likely to be facilitated by the fact that it comes with a dual-clutch transmission instead of a clunky monoclutch robotised manual. There’s no conventional manual this time because, of the 14,000 Gallardos that were sold, only around 300 were ever ordered with a clutch pedal. Pity. I drove one. It was good.Anyway, it’s the same twin-clutch unit that the Audi R8 uses, which is appropriate because from next year the R8 will share the Lamborghini’s part-aluminium, part-carbonfibre architecture. Like the Audi, the Lamborghini comes with adaptive magnetorheological dampers, albeit they’re optional here. Also on the options list is variable ratio electrically assisted steering, which is quicker at lower speeds than higher. Our test car came with both options.

Is recreating the Jaguar E-type a good idea?
Is recreating the Jaguar E-type a good idea? Jaguar's decision to make six new E-types via its new Special Vehicle Operations division is audacious and possibly a little bit controversial

So where do you stand on Jaguar producing six new lightweight E-types?

Is it a good idea and a worthy celebration of one of the finest sports cars ever produced? Or an unnecessary plundering of history from a company that should now be looking solely to the future as it's been burdened by its past?

I must admit that I have been edging to the latter point of view ever since the idea was announced, and even the images of the car released last week didn't sway me much.

Not least because I just couldn't see any of Jag's rivals following suit. You can't imagine a few new Ferrari 275 GTs or half a dozen Mercedes 300SL Gullwings going on sale.

But I am being slightly converted – not just because I've now had a chance to see the car in the metal at its Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance reveal. Largely because the craftsmanship of the car itself is exquisite – as it should be for the rumoured £1 million price tag – but even so, the attention to detail is breathtaking.

I was also rather taken by the reaction to the car. In an event full of owners of such vehicles everyone thought it was a positive way for Jaguar to launch its Special Vehicles Operations (SVO). They were also taken by the charming back story, that the company originally planned 18 cars in 1963 but only made 12, leaving six 'spare' chassis numbers.

In that light it does seem a fitting way to launch SVO, one that will make high performance cars as well as take care of heritage. And why should Jag stand by and let companies like Eagle do the job for them?

But what do you think? Should Jag make a habit of this type of project or should SVO just get on and give us a M3-rivalling XE?

Read more Pebble Beach news 

Seat Leon Cupra 280 gets go-faster performance pack
Seat Leon Cupra 280 gets go-faster performance pack Uprated brakes, wheels and body skirts takes Seat's hot hatch closer to Nürburgring Nordschleife lap record specification for £2025

The Seat Leon Cupra 280 is now available in the UK with a performance pack to tie-in with the Spanish manufacturer's recent assault on the lap record for front-wheel-drive cars at the Nürburgring.

The 'Sub8 Performance Pack' – first seen in the UK at the Goodwood Festival of Speed – is priced at £2025. The upgrade isn't available for retro-fitting to existing customers' cars, but can be specified at the time of order.   

The optional equipment includes uprated brakes. At 370mm, the discs are 30mm larger than the stoppers fitted to the standard Leon Cupra 280, and come with Brembo four-piston callipers.

To accommodate the larger brakes, the pack also includes a special design of 19-inch alloy wheels available in either black or orange, while the final additions are side skirts in the same colour as the car's body.

Earlier this year, the Leon Cupra 280 dipped under the eight-minute standard for a lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife. At the time its 7min 58.4sec effort became the fastest time for a front-wheel-drive production car, but Renault wrested back the record with a 7min 54.3sec lap in the Mégane Renaultsport 275 Trophy-R in May.

To qualify as an authentic production car, Seat must make the go-faster parts fitted to the lap record car available to the public. With that in mind Seat is also making the car available with semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres at £460 for a set.

Another new optional addition for the Leon Cupra 280 are bucket seats for the front occupants. The new seats feature a one-piece head restraint and come clad in black Alcantara with 'simil leather' bolsters and white accents.

They cost £1250, and the price includes the Winter Pack, which comprises heated front seats and a headlight washer system with heated front washer nozzles.

Seat has also revealed details of two new Cupra colour packs for the Leon. Two shades, labelled Black-Line and White-Line, will be available initially, with a further pack named Orange-Line to follow in December.

Costing £500 including VAT, the embellishments are available to order now, and include Cupra 19-inch alloy wheels, door mirrors, Cupra tailgate lettering and a front grille surround all picked out in either black or white, according to the chosen pack. Black rear side spoilers also feature, regardless of the pack colour. 

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Entry deadline nears for Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award
Deadline nears for Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award As the September cut-off date looms for this year's Next-Generation Award, 2013 winner Jake Larsson shares his tips for success

The deadline for the Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award is fast approaching, with entries closing on 1 September.

The award, which was launched in 2009 and aims to help UK-based students kick-start a career in the automotive industry, is supported by leading car makers Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren, Peugeot, Skoda and Toyota

A top prize of a month of work experience at each of these manufacturers is on offer, alongside a cash prize of £7500.

Entrants must answer a brief set by Autocar editor in chief Steve Cropley, which is to "describe, in no more than 500 words, an idea, innovation or change to corporate policy that would improve the UK automotive business".

Previous winners of the award include Roberto Antonio Pace, who is now working at McLaren. Other winners currently have jobs with Aston Martin and JCB.

Last year's winner, Jake Larsson, is currently on his final prize placement with Jaguar Land Rover. He said: "It's been absolutely amazing and totally beyond my expectations. Every company has tried to give me the best experience possible. And it's not been making the tea – I've had real responsibilities.

"I've seen some amazing technologies and innovations, and I've been able to get stuck into some actual products that will be on the road one day."

Larsson's winning idea involved using sensors fitted into the driver's seat to create a 360-degree sensory field of vision, which could warn of possible dangers through vibrations in the seat.

The Cranfield University student also has some top tips for entrants to this year's award: "Come at it from every angle. It really doesn't have to be engineering or design. There's so much innovation that can happen in any aspect of a business, especially in a commercial sense.

"So, if there are any business students out there, or anybody interested in the marketing of a product, I would really encourage them to put your ideas forward because they may actually be used."

Following initial entries, a shortlist of six final designs will be put forward to a judging panel. Finalists will be invited to Autocar's Teddington offices in Teddington, Middlesex, to meet and explain their ideas to the panel.

The award entry form can be downloaded here.

Mazda prepares CX-5 facelift for LA motor show
Mazda plans CX-5 facelift for LA motor show debut Japanese manufacturer to introduce mild styling changes and interior upgrades to freshen up its Nissan Qashqai rival

Revised versions of Mazda's CX-5 crossover have been spotted testing ahead of a likely reveal at the Los Angeles motor show in November.

Light disguise around the front of this test car hints at subtle changes to the front grille and bumper, while a new headlight cluster design can also be seen. Other changes are mild, with new indicator lights seen in the side mirrors.

Launched in 2012, the CX-5 is now due a light refresh, but it's expected that no major changes will be made to the car's engine line-up. 

Currently, Mazda offers the CX-5 with two of its efficient Skyactiv engines – a 2.0-litre petrol developing 163bhp alongside 155lb ft of torque and a 2.2-litre diesel with 148bhp and 280lb ft. Expect minor revisions to further improve fuel economy and emissions.

Similarly mild tweaks are expected inside, with Mazda likely to ditch the current CX-5's infotainment system in favour of the free-standing MZD Connect system found in the Mazda 3 hatchback.

The CX-5, which is currently one of Autocar's top-rated crossovers, will compete against the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti when it goes on sale.

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Video: BMW X4 versus Porsche Macan
It's time for a sports SUV shootout as BMW's new X4 takes on the mighty Porsche Macan

BMW's new coupé-syled crossover contender, the X4, is a new entry to the sports SUV market. Can the new upstart really rival the Porsche Macan, which has been received as one of the best compact SUVs ever? Steve Sutcliffe finds out.

Read the full feature here

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