Market analyst CAP predicts class-leading residual value for the new Land Rover Discovery
The new Land Rover Discovery has been analysed by market analyss CAP, and it’s predicted to have class-leading residual values.
CAP, which predicts the residual value of cars, states that the Discovery, which was only revealed late last month, should retain 59% of its value over three years or 36,000 miles of ownership.
For comparison, over the same period and mileage, the BMW X5 retains 52% of its value, and the Volvo XC90 holds on to 56% of its value. According to CAP’s senior forecasting editor, Andrew Mee, the large premium SUV segment is one of the most lucrative for high-residual-value cars, along with the luxury car segment.
It’s not known yet if the Discovery’s strong initial residual value reflects its high level of differentiation from previous models or its strong impact since launch. However, depending on its sales success, residual values could go down if the used market becomes crowded with Discovery models. Mee said: “As with every model range, RVs are most likely to be highest when the model is new and there are few examples on the used market. RVs will change over time as the model progresses through its lifecycle and as the economy affects the supply and demand of used vehicles.
“However, relative to some of its peers, Discovery volumes are likely to remain low and demand is likely to remain high, so RVs are likely to remain strong compared to peers at a similar point in their life cycle.”
The Discovery’s off-road and towing capability, ability to seat 7 adults in comfort, and improved fuel consumption also stand the model in good stead to hold its value well, according to Mee.
CAP has formerly lauded the BMW X5 – one of the Discovery’s key rivals – for its running costs; in 2014 it was one of the best cars on the market for long-term ownership costs. However, the X5 has now slipped from first place to fifth, knocked back by the Ford Fiesta, Seat Alhambra, Ford Focus and Range Rover Evoque.
The arrival of the Evoque in the top four suggests a trend for modern Land Rover products to hold onto their value.
Jaguar Land Rover’s UK managing director, Jeremy Hicks, said: “The new Discovery is Land Rover’s most versatile and capable vehicle to date. It’s a do anything, anywhere vehicle that will appeal to new and existing customers.
“We have seen a fantastic response with more than 6000 people registering on our website in just two weeks to find out more as we launch in the UK.”
Nissan claims that the UK’s fifth best-selling car will be cheaper to run with updates to improve emissions and BIK tax bands
The Nissan Qashqai now comes equipped with a cost-saving new tyre for 18in-wheeled models.
Nissan claims the low-resistance tyre brings the running costs of those cars down to that of cars with smaller 17in wheels. Larger alloys traditionally cause the car to have higher CO2 emissions.
The new tyres reduce the CO2 output of Qashqais in Acenta Premium Pack, N-Connecta and N-Vision specs by 4g/km, but reduces the emissions of the dCi 130 2WD Xtronic by 6g/km. All of the spec levels which have been subject to the tweak have also had their benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax bands reduced by 1%.
In addition to this, the vehicle excise duty (VED) of DIG-T 115 2WD manual, DIG-T 115 2WD Xtronic and dCi 130 4WD manual have also been downgraded, meaning a £130 saving per year for each.
A Nissan spokesman was unavailable to comment whether the tyres are more expensive than those they replace, or if models with other sizes of alloy may benefit from a similar tyre down the line.
The BMW i Vision Future Interaction concept previews how the roadster could look
New drop-top model will be part of a BMW i8 facelift that could up power output to 420bhp
The drop-top hybrid’s development has long been rumoured, but company CEO Harald Krueger confirmed its launch year to Autocar at the Paris motor show.
BMW’s boss refrained from revealing any more details, but the convertible, which could adopt the BMW i8 Spyder name, is likely to be first be shown at the end of 2017 when the i8 facelift is revealed.
The roadster’s design will incorporate some features of the BMW i Vision Future Interaction concept (pictured) that was at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), including a pair of rear buttresses.
Like the rest of the updated range, the i8 roadster will also adopt an upgraded petrol-electric powertrain with a more potent motor than the 129bhp unit used by the existing i8.
Combined with a lightly fettled 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine, the front-mounted synchronous electric motor is claimed to provide the facelifted i8 with a boost of more than 10% in power over today’s model, lifting the 2018 i8’s output to around 420bhp.
The i8’s cabin will also be upgraded with new technology, which, like the car’s design, could take influence from CES 2016 concept and gain a more interactive infotainment system with gesture control technology.
The i8 roadster will sit above the i8 coupé in the model range. A small increase in price is expected for the entire range, meaning the roadster could cost start at more than £110,000.
The latest list of Britain’s best-selling cars hints at changing trends as well as showing the continuing popularity of some stalwarts, but what car is top?
Established brands and models dominate the top 10 list of best-selling cars in the UK and the hatchback rules supreme. However, the list of sales in 2016 so far shows that some newer additions to Britain’s roads are growing in popularity, perhaps foreshadowing a change in preferences among buyers.
The latest figures cover the year to the end of August and show that superminis are the order of the day. The Ford Fiesta continues to fly out of dealerships, with the Vauxhall Corsa is chasing hard but some way behind in overall sales. Ford also wins the battle of the compact hatchback, with the Focus attracting plenty of fans, but the Volkswagen Golf retains fourth place despite VW’s recent tribulations.
Nissan’s Qashqai shows the continuing popularity of small SUVs by holding on to the fifth place it achieved in 2015. Meanwhile, Vauxhall’s Mokka – 10th overall last year before climbing to ninth, has been knocked out by the Audi A3, with the Mercedes-Benz C-Class climbing into ninth place.
The Vauxhall Astra continues to sell well, albeit not in the numbers needed to trouble the Focus, and the Volkswagen Polo shows that there are plenty of buyers willing to pay extra for a more classy supermini.
The latest-generation Mini hatchback has climbed to eighth from its 2015 position of ninth.
1: Ford Fiesta – 96,139 registrations
The Fiesta has been a British favourite for decades and that shows no signs of changing, even though the latest incarnation is now eight years old. Its sales figures are well ahead of its closest rivals’, even though it’s not the cheapest choice in the segment. Its sales performance is well deserved, though. We describe the Ford supermini as “hugely impressive” in our four-star review, lavishing particular praise on its ride and handling, interior quality and smooth engine range.
2: Vauxhall Corsa – 64,925 registrations
The Corsa is another established doyen in the UK and Vauxhall’s perennial rival to the Fiesta. The latest generation arrived in 2014 and offers something for most people, from the 74bhp 1.4-litre petrol option to the 202bhp snorting VXR version. It’s competitively priced, drives and rides well and is designed and specced to please the car’s large fan base. It’s hard to see it dropping far down this list anytime soon.
3: Ford Focus – 57,137 registrations
The Focus has delivered an outstanding drive since it replaced the Escort with aplomb in 1998, offering impressive road manners at a volume price. It has been so good, in fact, that we were slightly disappointed by the diluted dynamics of the latest version. However, as our review notes, it’s still a very appealing, complete car. It looks good, has a strong, economical engine range and offers a lot of quality for its price.
4: Volkswagen Golf – 54,934 registrations
Just a short distance behind the Focus, the Golf is another classic name in motoring that attracts legions of diehard fans to keep it riding high in the charts, even with Volkswagen’s recent scandal. Emissions concerns aside, the seventh-generation Golf is a consummate all-rounder. In our 4.5-star review, we called it the best hatchback in the world, and we’ll stand by that assessment.
5: Nissan Qashqai – 50,923 registrations
Is it really a decade since Nissan’s now ubiquitous crossover first arrived? Its blend of hatchback size and SUV pretensions have proved a huge draw for customers and it’s now the best-selling small SUV in the country, leaving a trail of imitators in its wake. The second-generation model, released in 2014, keeps dynamic, economic and interior standards high, garnering a 4.5-star review from our road test team. No wonder it’s holding firm in the sales charts.
6: Vauxhall Astra – 44,771 registrations
The Astra is something of an also-ran to the Ford Focus, but the latest generation, launched in 2015, is a thoroughly decent car in its own right. Well equipped with sharp handling and economical engines, it earns a strong four-star review from us, although we had reservations about its ride and styling. Overall, though, it deserves to be considered as one of the best compact hatches you can buy.
7: Volkswagen Polo – 43,642 registrations
Volkswagen’s supermini offers a touch more class and sophistication than the Fiesta and Corsa, albeit at a higher price. It’s more mature and conservative in its demeanour, but many of the British car-buying public embrace such traits, which is why the Polo is a top 10 stalwart and scores four stars in our review. Now in its fifth generation, it could easily be mistaken for a smaller Golf, which is no bad thing.
8: Mini – 36,738 registrations
The release of the ‘new’ third-generation Mini in 2014 prompted the characterful hatchback’s climb into the UK’s top 10 best-seller list and we’re pleased to see it here because it’s a great little car. In our 4.5-star review of the Cooper model, we praise the new-found maturity and quality lacking in earlier cars. It also still hangs on to the sense of fun that attracted the attention of so many people in the first place.
9: Mercedes-Benz C-Class – 34,994 registrations
It’s unusual for a premium car to find itself in the top 10, but it’s testament to the C-Class’s appeal, particularly among fleet customers, that it’s shifting so many units for Mercedes. Looking like a miniature S-Class doesn’t hurt the latest version, which was launched in 2014. It’s an excellent offering that garnered a four-star review from our test team, who fell for its high-quality interior and alluring looks. Good residual values do it no harm, either.
10: Audi A3 – 33,240 registrations
It’s more unusual for two premium cars to crack the top ten, but the Audi A3 has done it, knocking the Vauxhall Mokka out of the running. The A3 accounts for every fifth Audi registered worldwide, and with a range of body styles to choose from including convertible, saloon, three-door and five-door hatches, as well as blistering S3 and RS3 models, it’s clear to see why it has a place among the UK’s best-sellers.
Image credit: CamVanDerHorst
A factory insider has leaked CGI renderings of the front and rear styling of the next BMW M5, ahead of the car’s expected unveiling early in 2017
The BMW M5 has been revealed in images leaked by a company employee.
Full front and rear styling renderings of the car show the performance saloon’s bumper treatment. The images were first revealed to a host of ‘The Cammed & Tubbed Podcast’.
The M5 is expected to be revealed in pre-production form at the Geneva motor show in March of 2017. BMW plans to launch the car far earlier in the next-generation 5 Series’s life cycle than it has with previous generations. The model will go on sale in the following months.
Just as the 5 Series underwent a subtle styling overhaul between this generation and the next, the new M5 appears to be fairly restrained when compared with the more extreme M4. However, more significant updates have taken place under the bonnet.
Leaked documents recently revealed that the M5’s closest rival, the Mercedes-AMG E 63, will produce 603bhp and 627lb ft. It’s expected that the M5 will closely match these figures, using an updated version of the current car’s 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine mated to a seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox.
It’s also believed that the next generation M5 will be the first non-SUV M car available with all-wheel drive as an option. It is understood that BMW is concentrating on making the next M5 more driveable, with more mechanical grip and improved traction thanks to the xDrive four-wheel drive system and revised engine mapping.
The optional xDrive would add to what is expected to be a £75,000 starting price for the new M5. That figure represents a slight increase over the current car.
UK order books for Alfa’s BMW 3 Series rival are now open; hot Quadrifoglio range-topper costs £59,000
The Alfa Romeo Giulia is now on sale in Britain, priced from £29,180.
The entry-level model costs £4020 more than the base version of its key rival, the BMW 3 Series, but the Alfa comes with a larger, more potent engine than the BMW and a generous list of standard features, ensuring it should be a strong contender against its established rivals.
British buyers can choose from five trim levels for Alfa’s new saloon: Giulia, Giulia Super, Giulia Tecnica, Giulia Speciale and the range-topping Giulia Quadrifoglio. More details for each can be found below. The range-topping Quadrifoglio version of the car, which features a Ferrari-derived 3.0-litre V6 with 503bhp, starts at £59,000.
Besides the Quadrifoglio model, three engines will be available in the Giulia. These include a 197bhp, 243lb ft, turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol, which is coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Compare that with the entry-level BMW engine, a 1.5-litre three-cylinder unit, and even the base Alfa looks suitably well endowed.
Next are two 2.2-litre diesels, the most powerful of which produces 178bhp and 332lb ft of torque. It’s capable of emitting less than 100g/km of CO2 in Eco specification. The other diesel comes with 148bhp and 280lb ft.
Both engines can be had with either a six-speed manual transmission or the eight-speed automatic gearbox.
All models will have rear-wheel drive as standard, but all-wheel drive will be available on some versions. Alfa Romeo says the car has a perfect 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution and it features multi-link suspension at the rear and double wishbones at the front.
The Giulia has an unladen weight of 1374kg in 178bhp 2.2-litre diesel form.
Alfa Romeo says electronic aids on the Giulia are used only to make the driving experience more exciting. For example, the new integrated braking system mixes the traditional stability control set-up with a servo brake, reducing weight and vibrations through the pedal.
Other safety and assistance systems include autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, optional adaptive cruise control and blindspot monitoring.
Drivers can choose from three driving modes via Alfa’s DNA drive selector. In addition, range-topping Quadrifoglio models get a Race option.
The five-seat cabin features an 8.8in infotainment system, controlled via a rotary pad on the centre console. The system features compatibility for Apple and Android devices, Bluetooth and satellite navigation. Depending on the specification, the Giulia has either a 3.5in or 7.0in colour display as part of the instrument cluster.
In entry-level Giulia form, the car sits on 16in alloy wheels and has LED rear lights, a fabric interior, 3.5in TFT driver’s information screen, 6.5in infotainment screen and a leather steering wheel. Cruise control, dual-zone climate control and lane departure warning are three of several key features offered as standard.
Pay £30,880 for a Super model and Alfa will add 17in alloys, twin exhaust pipes and part-leather seats, as well as an 8.8in infotainment screen and two-tone interior trim. Add £115 to that price and the Tecnica falls into reach, bringing a rear reversing camera, privacy glass, chrome window surrounds and a cooled glovebox.
The highest-spec non-performance Giulia, the Speciale, costs from £34,150 and has bi-xenon headlights, heated front seats, a leather-clad steering wheel, 18in alloys and sports bumpers front and rear.
The Quadrifoglio range-topper gets an even more aggressive look and optional Personalisation Pack, which brings features such as wheel-mounted paddle shifters, keyless entry, front and rear parking sensors and electric front seats. There’s also an autonomous emergency braking system and blindspot monitoring to head a long list of driver assist features.
Alfa Romeo says the new Giulia “embodies the core elements which have made Alfa Romeo one of the world’s best-loved automotive brands: distinctive Italian design; innovative powertrains, perfect weight distribution, unique technical solutions and the best weight-to-power ratio.”
Alfa’s newly announced pricing ranks the Giulia above some of its key rivals, including the £25,160 BMW 3 Series, the £26,350 Audi A4, the £27,665 Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the £26,990 Jaguar XE. But the Alfa has arguably one of the strongest engine line-ups in its class and a lengthy list of standard equipment to help it fight its cause.
Tesla Model Y imagined by Autocar
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has now said a new product will land on 20 October; possible candidates include a new SUV model, a Ford Transit rival and a Model X-based minibus
Tesla will make an announcement on 20 October, with some sources predicting that it will be the arrival of the Tesla Model Y.
Originally the announcement had been scheduled for 17 October, but Elon Musk Tweeted this morning that a further three days were required for ‘refinement’.
Tesla confirmed it was developing an expanded all-electric line-up that’ll include a Model Y, an electric cargo van, a minibus and a pick-up truck a few weeks back. While these cars would normally be top of the list of potential arrivals, Musk’s suggestion that the October debut will be ‘unexpected’ means it could also be something entirely different.
Potential products include improved charging or road imaging technology. Some industry experts suspect next generation driverless technology won’t arrive for several more months, so have dismissed that as a likely candidate.
More information will be released when the mystery product is launched on 20 October.
Model Y and more to lead expanded range
Exactly when the Model Y and its new siblings arrive is yet to be learned, but Tesla founder Musk has at least confirmed that the future models will be built upon existing chassis underpinnings from the Model 3 and the Model X.
He said that the Model Y, which will be a compact SUV, will be based on the Model 3 saloon. The electric cargo van, pick-up and minibus will use the chassis of the Model X.
Musk revealed the details when British Twitter user, James Ross, questioned him about a possible Ford Transit rival. Ross had pointed out that pick-up truck use in Europe is rare compared with in the US.
Musk replied that building such a vehicle based on the pick-up chassis “probably made sense”.
Previously, he had responded to an article wishing for a Tesla version of a Volkswagen Type II by confirming on Twitter that the Tesla Minibus would be built on the Model X chassis.
During the summer, Musk revealed his plans for the future of Tesla in an article entitled ‘Master Plan, Part Deux’, which detailed product plans, autonomous technology development and intentions to enter the public transport sector. It came ten years after Tesla’s first master plan, which previewed the subsequent launches of the Tesla Model S, Model X and Model 3, as well as solar power products.
The second Master Plan outlined plans for the Model Y and two more electric vehicles – “heavy duty trucks and high passenger-density urban transport”, the latter of which is believed to be the minibus. Musk said the vehicle was in the early stages of development, but that it could be revealed as early as next year.
As autonomous technology improves, all Tesla vehicles will have the capability to be self-driving, Musk said in the article. He also envisioned a car-sharing platform to more fully utilise passenger-carrying potential in cars that would otherwise be sat outside owners’ homes for the majority of the time when they’re not in use. Once self-driving cars are approved by regulators, they could be summoned from anywhere.
“Since most cars are only in use by their owner for 5% to 10% of the day, the fundamental economic utility of a true self-driving car is likely to be several times that of a car which is not,” said Musk.
Phill Tromans and Sam Sheehan
Government statement calls for customer compensation, criticises firm’s response to scandal and threatens legal action
The British government has launched a scathing attack on the VW Group for the dieselgate emissions scandal, both for its initial cheating and its subsequent efforts to fix any wrongdoing, and as a result it is considering prosecuting officials from the firm and pushing it to pay compensation to affected UK car owners.
In a response to the Transport Committee’s Special report on the scandal, the British government concluded that VW’s response had been “unacceptable”, that “the treatment of UK consumers has not been acceptable and that vehicle owners should be compensated for the inconvenience” and concluded that “prosecuting authorities from across Europe are liaising and co-ordinating their investigations. The Department is engaged in this process.”
The statement made clear the government would not go into further details on the likelihood of prosecuting VW Group officials, saying “it would be premature and potentially damaging to any prospective legal action to comment further at this point”.
However, it went on to say: “The government will continue to fight for compensation for UK consumers and continue our work to ensure that Volkswagen’s serious action of cheating type approval tests is met with the appropriate consequences.
“The government has also made clear in its most recent engagement with VW that in relation to costs incurred by the taxpayer and proposed fixes for affected vehicles, respectively, financial reimbursement and warranties are matters of high and urgent priority.”
It added: “Prosecuting authorities from across Europe have met to discuss and coordinate their investigations. Officials have been part of those coordinating efforts and continue to monitor the progress of those investigations. This is a complex area as the wrongdoing by the multinational Volkswagen Group is likely to have taken place in various jurisdictions. We understand that investigations in Germany (where the Volkswagen Group is based and the relevant engines were developed) require the review and assessment of vast amounts of material. The government wants to ensure that the Volkswagen Group faces appropriate legal consequences for its manipulation of emissions tests and is continuing to consider how best to do this. We have not ruled out opening our own investigation.”
VW has consistently denied that affected UK and European owners should be compensated, stressing that their cars will be fixed free of charge and with no performance or efficiency losses. It is also believed that the European Union legislation on emissions testing were so lax that VW could argue its defeat devices did not break any laws.
However, the British government statement continued: “The government strongly agrees that the treatment of UK consumers has not been acceptable and that vehicle owners should be compensated for the inconvenience, uncertainty and worry caused by Volkswagen’s cheating as well as for any loss in the value of affected vehicles which may become apparent.
“We also find it unacceptable that Volkswagen has avoided this issue for so long and has failed to adequately engage with customers on this matter and respond to their valid concerns. Ministers have summoned Volkswagen UK to a further meeting in order to reiterate these views and remind Volkswagen that they expect the company to treat UK consumers fairly.”
The British government statement also appeared to back owners planning to take private legal action against VW. In response to a recommendation made by the Transport Select Committee, the statement added: “The government notes the Committee’s comments regarding the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and agrees that vehicle owners may have recourse under the Act. The government is not privy to the content of contracts between vehicle owners and the relevant dealerships and so is unable to comment further.
“However the government would make clear that the Department of Transport has engaged, and will continue to engage, with consumer groups and legal firms and stands ready to provide any reasonable assistance to consumers who seek compensation directly from Volkswagen.”
VW has yet to respond to the British government’s comments.
BMW’s V8-engined E39 M5 is widely regarded as the best of its breed — and you can pick one up for as little as £9000
Even if the E39 BMW M5 (1998-2003) had never turned any of its four, bespoke 18in Chrome Shadow alloy wheels (they’re easy to kerb and about £150 each to repair), we’d still be talking about it for its exhaust note alone. Idling, the 394bhp 4.9-litre V8 with double Vanos variable valve timing, eight throttle bodies and a free-flow exhaust is full of menace. Provoked, it explodes into vein-popping rage.
Parking the Lotus Carlton of 1990 conveniently to one side, the M5 is often credited with firing the starting gun on the modern-day saloon horsepower race, whose present pace-setters include the 552bhp M5 and 577bhp Mercedes-AMG E63 S.
But as any fule kno, it isn’t how fast you go, it’s how you get there – and getting there in the E39 M5 is still, 18 long years after the first cars took to the road, a thrilling and involving experience. BMW’s M division already had a great chassis to work with, to which it added beefed-up suspension, a limited-slip differential and sharper steering (no small achievement considering it was a recirculating ball set-up), while lowering the ride height. Ventilated discs allround and, by today’s standards, a rather interventionist ESP system (some owners switch it off) completed the changes. Add a Sport button and a six-speed manual gearbox (the throw is a little long but the shifts should be precise) and the M5 was ready to play.
And to work. Which is the great thing about the M5: not only does it delight your senses but it’ll also carry your briefcase and your family (and their luggage) as it does so. A worthwhile option was through-load rear seats. The interior is as tough as old boots (rattles are rare) and trimmed in high-quality leather. It’s why you need to probe it carefully for signs of abuse, because it’s too manly to let on. You’ll want for little in terms of equipment. Most cars had sat-nav, but subsequent owners will probably have swapped it for something more up to date. Options included massage seats, a TV and rear screens.
A facelift in 2000 brought so-called ‘corona ring’ headlights, updated rear lights and front parking sensors to partner the ones already at the back. The wide M5 kidney grille, front air scoops and quad exhaust were carried over. Take these away, plus the 245/40 ZR18 front and 275/35 ZR18 rear rubber (still widely available) and you’re left gazing upon a stock 5 Series, which is surely half the M5’s appeal.
Because it sure as hell isn’t the cost of running one. ‘M’ may stand for Motorsport, but it also stands for ‘money’. For some years now, the best cars have been nudging £30,000. You don’t have to pay that, though. Around £13,000 is enough for an honest late car that, with care, should appreciate in value. You can pick them up from as little as £9000, but at that money it’s worth buying privately when you can gauge the quality of the previous owner – and the depths of their pockets.
An expert’s view…
DARREN PARKER, JAMES PAUL BMW SPECIALISTS
“The E39 5 Series was a great era and the M5 is the ultimate. It’s fantastically well built. We’ve sold around 50 over the years, but it’s getting much harder to find a decent one with reasonable mileage. If I were offered one now, I’d be all over the suspension and steering, checking for wear. Anything with an M badge on it isn’t cheap, so I’d consider general parts costs, too.”
Plastic chain tensioner is sensitive to the wrong oil. Replace it and the chains if the work hasn’t been done recently.
You need to hear the car start from cold and warm. It’s noisy if it’s failing.
Check the car had this at 1200 miles.
It lasts about 60,000 miles; expensive.
They can leak; about £1000 to replace.
It may need new front suspension and steering parts at about 100,000 miles. Discs wear and warp and are pricey.
Check behind the bumpers, wheel arch liners and the trim on the doors and windows. Inspect the bootlid seam and around the petrol filler area, too.
Check for orange peel paint finish, overspray under window rubbers, poorly fitting trim and new wing bolts.
It drinks about a litre every 1500 miles.
Check for cracks and chips. The integrated sensor for the rain-sensitive wipers means a new one isn’t cheap.
Heavily bolstered seats always suffer wear and the M5’s are no exception. The pixels in the digital dash display can vanish, but it’s repairable. There are two coolant temperature sensors — one in the radiator and another in the engine — and if they don’t agree, they’ll trigger a red warning light.
Also worth knowing…
At around 100k miles, an M5 will need new timing chains. They’re linked with the Vanos system and it’s a good idea to have that overhauled, too. “The Vanos is blamed for all sorts of noises when it’s the chains,” says Steven Lewis of specialists Mr Vanos. “Even so, a worn Vanos can lose you 60bhp.”
How much to spend…
Mix of early cars with mileages north of 120,000. An independent inspection is essential. Check claims of full service history against invoices detailing who, what and when.
Higher price is no guide, since it’s the same mix of mileagey cars. However, you’ll find some very nice ones here, with fully documented histories.
£12,000 AND ABOVE
Last of the E39s with reasonable mileage and solid history. A couple of grand more will put you in a 56-plate V10 E60 M5, still with a BMW extended warranty. It’s not the same, though…
World Rallycross has quickly established itself as one of the most spectacular forms of motor racing; we speak to its fastest driver to find out why
Few other sports can match World Rallycross for its sheer spectacle.
The speed of the cars, the frenetic pace of the racing and the amphitheatre-like circuits make for epic entertainment. A Formula 1 grand prix looks like an endurance race in comparison.
Perhaps because of this excitement, many top drivers have joined the FIA World Rallycross Championship despite its relative infancy; it has been running for only three years in its current format. This season’s favourite for the World RX title, Mattias Ekström, is one of the most experienced drivers on the grid and also one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors.
“You always have to go for full attack in a rallycross race,” says the Swede, who also races in the DTM touring car series alongside his rallycross duties. “If you don’t, you’ll look pretty stupid. These cars are fun, fast and wild. For sure, they’re the ones that make me smile most.”
Ekström, who has two DTM titles and six World RX wins under his belt, is joined by other massive motorsport names on the World Rallycross Supercar grid, including nine-time world rally champion Sébastien Loeb, 2003 WRC champ Petter Solberg and Mr Gymkhana himself, Ken Block. That’s one heck of a driver line-up.
“The racing with these guys is all heat of the moment, so you have to always be sharp and see if there’s a chance,” explains Ekström. “It’s so different [from circuit racing], because there you have a strategy, but here it’s more instant.”
Ekström’s EKS team currently sits at the sharp end of this season’s championship table. Ekström and team-mate Toomas Heikkinen drive Audi S1 quattros, and their main rivals include the Petter Solberg World RX Team and its Citroën DS3s, Block’s Ford Focus RS-wielding Hoonigan Racing Division and Team Peugeot-Hanson, for which Loeb drives his Peugeot 208.
While the cars look like modified road models, they are, in fact, thoroughbred racers with around 550bhp at their disposal. Ekström’s S1, for example, is built around the reinforced steel body of a regular S1, but the car’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and chassis set-up have been re-engineered for ultimate racing performance.
The cars are arguably more of a draw for spectators than the allstar driver line-ups. Their brutal performance mixes with BTCC-like bumper banging and F1-aping straight-line performance to create a unique motorsport concept – but it’s not a coincidence that World Rallycross is like this.
Series regulations are designed to bring the performance of the championship’s vastly different machines closer together, and so World RX enforces the fitment of air restrictors to engines.
“If we didn’t have to run restrictors, the cars would be much faster,” reveals Ekström. “The championship makes us run a 45mm air restrictor on the S1, which takes away a lot of power. Way more than 600bhp would be possible without them.”
Top Trumps players may dislike the horsepower-hampering use of restrictors, but there’s no denying their effectiveness. Despite the variable nature of the circuits, where surfaces change lap by lap as rubble and stones are displaced, lap times are often separated by hundredths of a second.
Tyres also play a big part in keeping the racing close. The World Rallycross series employs a single control tyre supplier, Cooper Tires, which provides just one dry and one wet compound at each round, removing any form of rubber advantage from the equation.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but our rallycross tyres are actually crossplies – an old technology,” says Matthew Vincent, Cooper’s development chemist.
Vincent explains that while the crossplies don’t generate the peak grip levels of radial tyres, their performance doesn’t drop off anywhere near as quickly, offering more consistency and predictability over the course of a race and therefore enabling the drivers to push to the limit for a six-lap final’s entirety.
In total, each car gets an allocation of 16 tyres, made up of eight dry tyres and eight wet, for every championship weekend. The dry tyres are so soft that their rubber feels like chewing gum to touch when hot, but this softness doesn’t mean they’re delicate.
“We had to add strengthening materials into the sidewalls to cope with the wheel banging,” says Vincent with a laugh. “Rallycross tyres have to be tough.”
Alongside the tyres, drivers and technical regulations, there’s one other race feature that sets World Rallycross apart from most mainstream forms of motorsport: the joker lap.
Each driver is required to complete one lap of their race using an extended part of the track, and at the recent Spanish round at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, this extra section of track pushed the last corner out by about 50 metres.
The joker lap feature not only mixes up the racing with varying tactics but also makes for unpredictable results. Without it, the racing would no doubt still be fantastic, but with it, there really is no guessing who will win. It’s no surprise that Ekström is hooked on rallycross.
With an enviable CV of professional motorsport experience, he could easily land a drive in another top series, but the championship-leading Swede wants to stay put.
“The competition is closer than normal and you see the support from the fans really growing,” says Ekström. “I can’t tell you how long I will stay here, but as long as I’m competitive I want to stay in rallycross. I will enjoy racing here a lot into the future. I really love it.”