It’s one dreaded outcome of the MOT test, which got tougher a year ago this week. We ask those in the know all about it
Second only to waiting to hear if you’ve passed your driving test has to be waiting to hear whether your car has passed its MOT. Fail and you know putting things right is going to cost you time and money. Unfortunately, since 20 May 2018, when the MOT test was updated, greater numbers of diesel car drivers in particular have been spending more of both.
On that date, much stricter diesel emissions tests were introduced, with new items under scrutiny being tailpipe emissions, the engine management warning light and the diesel particulate filter (DPF).
Regarding this last item, the DPF became the subject of much closer inspection, with testers on the lookout for signs of tampering. As a result of the new checks, between May 2018 and February 2019, there was a 63% increase in the number of emissions-related failures concerning diesel cars compared with the same period the year before. Easily the biggest culprit was the engine management light that signals a problem with the car’s emissions system. Over 83,000 fails were recorded, or 32% of emissions-related diesel failures. Lower down the scale came DPF tampering, with 1397 fails recorded, or 0.5%.
“DPFs clogged up with soot and ash is the big problem and causes the management light to come on,” says John Ball, managing director of Motest, a network of testing stations that performs 85,000 MOTs on cars each year. “Before the test was revised, to get around the problem of a blocked DPF, drivers would have a hole cut in it and its internals removed. Then the hole would be welded shut. As far as the tester could see, the DPF was present. It wasn’t his concern that it didn’t work.”
Now, following the changes to the MOT, the truth is out and, says Ball, a lot of drivers don’t like it: “Some really kick off, especially van drivers!”
The figures explain why white van man is so upset. Emissions-related failures for light commercial vehicles were up 116% between May 2018 and February 2019, compared with the same period the year before.
Petrol cars didn’t escape the changes to the MOT. Those that emit blue or oily smoke for more than five seconds at idle can now be failed. But while the changes resulted in only a 5.9% increase in emissions-related failures among these cars compared with the period before the test was changed, a far greater proportion failed their emissions tests than diesels: 5.5% compared with 2.7%.
Neil Barlow, head of MOT policy at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), says it’s a difference the agency is struggling to explain.
“We don’t know the reason for the greater percentage of fails for petrol emissions than diesel emissions,” he says when I meet him at the Motest branch in Aldershot. “The DfT [Department for Transport] is doing some research on emissions testing which may well change the way we test in the future.”
Perhaps the department should start by looking at the engine management system. Fails reported for the warning light on petrol cars dwarfed those for diesels, at 275,601, 43% of total petrol emissions failures. Ball remembers the day the changes to the MOT came into force and, in particular, the confusion one key change created.
He says: “We spent most of that day explaining to people that while, previously, the test was a simple pass or fail, from today there were now two fails determined by new categories of defects – dangerous and major.
“The definitions for the two types look similar but, fortunately for testers, it’s obvious what problems relate to which. The next problem, especially during those first days and weeks, was with some garages – not ours – telling customers whose cars had a dangerous defect that they must not drive them away. Some even held onto owners’ car keys to force them into having the work done.
“They had no right, of course. Instead, it’s the owner’s choice whether they wish to break the law and drive their vehicle away, which they will be doing without an MOT and with their car in a dangerous condition.”
In addition to these two defects is a third, called a minor. It’s not serious enough to trigger a fail but the difference between it and a major can come down to something as simple as a light bulb.
“Take the example of a numberplate with two bulbs,” says Ball. “If one has blown, it’s a minor defect since the plate can still be read. But if both have blown, it’s a major.” The revised test also brought in an updated list of items to be examined, including checking if tyres are seriously under-inflated and brake fluid is contaminated. However, despite these additional checks, the biggest single cause of failure by a mile remains faulty lights.
For all the changes there have been to the MOT, Barlow says the DVSA has seen no increase in drivers appealing against test verdicts. “Drivers understand the new defect categories are a way of reminding them of the law regarding dangerous vehicles, and most of them see value in that,” he says.
However, Ball believes the MOT test is not keeping up with changes in vehicle technology. “It’s still the old business of observing and prodding,” he says. “We’re doing things in an ‘analogue’ rather than a ‘digital’ way, at a time when cars are becoming packed with more technology.”
Barlow is working on a solution. “We’re developing ways to connect test stations to our central computers so that we can see in real time what’s being tested and what the results are,” he says. “By extension, we could do diagnostic testing for stations, remotely.”
If his plans bear fruit, it looks like time and money could be about to get even more onerous for those whose cars fail their MOT.
The DVSA, the government agency responsible for the MOT test, is developing plans to test cars remotely by building on existing internet links with testing stations. Explaining the agency’s plans, Neil Barlow, head of MOT policy at the DVSA, told Autocar: “We’re looking to connect existing garage technologies to our systems and, in the next two weeks, we’ll be trialling a data hookup with a garage’s electronic brake tester.
“Later this year, we’ll connect with other stations’ emissions and headlight-aiming equipment. By extension, we could also hook up with other areas of a car, including the dashboard warning lights and safety systems, including blindspot monitoring and traction control. “Our plans would enable the DVSA to become an additional testing resource for garages who cannot afford the expensive equipment required to test some vehicle systems.
“It will help us detect fraud, too. There are 60,000 MOT testers but, through our fraud prevention activities, we take a few hundred out of the scheme each year. This number might grow if we have even better monitoring.”
Fun in slow motion: Can this sub-1.0-litre Sandero deliver the same thrills as a McLaren?
Can you really have fun driving slowly? As the prospect of speed limiters looms, we find out with a 0.9-litre budget hatch
Coming over the crest, I saw the road gyrating gratuitously into the distance. At this time in the morning, there’d be no traffic. Even the sheep were too bleary-eyed to pay attention to the blue car that had just appeared on their horizon.
Third should do it, I thought with a smile, pushing the lever forward, instinctively nudging the throttle as I did. There was no doubting that cry of approval from under the sloping bonnet. Down went the pedal again, but this time it stayed there, splitting carpet fibres as surely as the car’s nose was renting asunder any air reckless enough to resist our progress.
The corner at the far end was long and fast, arcing away uphill and to the right. But it had a secret, and a nasty one at that. At the turn-in point, the road rose imperceptibly to the naked eye, but enough to unsettle the suspension at the very instant you needed it most. This was a foe I knew of old, but that hardly helped. Time was running out and I knew it. The bend looked like it should be taken flat, but how many others had thought as much and found to the contrary and their cost?
But something had passed between this man and that machine in all those miles together, something that was unsaid but could not be mistaken. It was telling me it would be all right: it had my back. We would survive this thing together. So my mind stayed strong and my foot stayed down. Flat out it would be.
And flat out it was. I guided the nose in, and instantly felt it go light. I saw my hands add another few degrees of lock in response. I thought hard about lifting, but, no, it was already too late for that. We were committed. But I could see the trajectory we were describing and, in that wondrous moment, I knew we would prevail. The car exited the curve with a few inches to spare. As I changed joyously up to fourth and rammed the pedal home once more, I looked down in time to see the early morning sun glinting off the speedometer needle. The Dacia Sandero was doing 53mph.
Okay, so I’ve spent the first few paragraphs of this story offering by way of gentle spoof my fond homage to the way that supercar drive stories used to be written by the people who first sparked my interest in cars many decades ago. And while it was fun to do, I did it for a reason, and exactly the same reason that I really did get up early and drive a 0.9-litre Dacia Sandero across one of the most challenging roads Wales has to offer. If you took not some low-slung slice of unaffordable automotive exotica but, instead, Britain’s cheapest new car, could you still have fun? How much of the enjoyment was down purely to the sense of freedom and simple joy of being on a world-class road whatever you’re in? I didn’t have a clue.
There was a time when the answer would have been far clearer. Back when our Mr Cropley was plying his trade on another title, he took a group of four of Britain’s cheapest cars and did a not dissimilar thing. And although I’ve not seen the story in at least 30 years, I do recall some reference to drawing lots to see who would have the misfortune of driving the Reliant Robin over the Severn Bridge in a stiff side wind.
We have come so far. True, the Sandero supplied was not the absolute poverty-spec model but it still costs just £8800 in this midrange TCe Essential trim, despite having Bluetooth, a DAB radio, electric windows, remote central locking, twin USB ports and air-con. Sufficiently quiet and comfortable, with a rather eager little motor and enough interior space, it’d make a very poor butt for any cheap-car-related jokes. Because it’s entirely adequate for any routine task and, for the money, something closer to brilliant.
But could you actually contrive a set of circumstances in which it could be genuinely good fun to drive? That was a different question.
At first, I thought not. On more normal roads, it just seemed too slow and soft. That little three-pot motor was willing enough but saddled with unfortunately tall gearing. The gearchange was sufficiently accurate but lacking any mechanical feel: you’d never swap a cog just for the hell of it. Overtaking was difficult, and if you got baulked, recovering that lost speed took time.
But in exactly the same way that it takes time to adjust to an implausibly rapid car like a McLaren 720S, so do you also need to acclimatise to a car at the other end of the performance scale. And because human beings are almost infinitely adaptable, what had seemed somewhat lethargic and slow-witted became, well, less so after a while. Remove the traffic headache from the picture and it brightened further. Add in a really great road and you might just be surprised how much fun can be had. I was.
Because the sensations that lie at the root of driving pleasure remain. They may not be as accentuated as in a McLaren or even a Mazda MX-5, but that is not to say they’re absent. You can still feel the forces on your body. You can still take an optimal line through a corner. So long as the car is not unpleasant or actively incompetent – and the Sandero is neither – there is still pleasure to be had in guiding it along the length of a road, and seeing how accurately and completely what is still a tonne of metal can be bent to your will. How neatly can you hit that apex? How smoothly can you change gear? How can you best extract the maximum level of performance for the minimum of perceived effort? And for those who like to feel a car on The thing that comes closest to spoiling the Sandero is neither its engine nor chassis, but gearing designed for emissions testing, not road driving. the limit, it’s easily done in a Sandero in such an environment and almost impossible in a supercar.
Two more things: the more you drive a car as slow as the Sandero, the emptier the roads appear. You’re always in traffic in a supercar because the time taken to cover the gap between you and the next car is so short. In the Sandero, it can take an age, an age in which you have the road to yourself. And, of course, driving a supercar is these days an exercise in saintly self-restraint, with you rarely if ever savouring more than a small proportion of the car’s potential. By contrast, you can use pretty much all the Sandero has to offer pretty much all of the time.
Do not be alarmed: I have not suffered some appalling epiphany. I love fast cars now as much as ever. The only point I seek to make is that if your car is not fast, so long as it is not also unpleasant, there’s still plenty of genuine enjoyment to be had from driving it on a decent road. Enough to make you want to set an alarm and make a special journey in your Sandero? Probably not. Or maybe just not yet.
For if the threats are followed through and we do end up in a world where your car shops you to the authorities the moment you inadvertently place one toe on the wrong side of the speed limit, then cars you can enjoy entirely within the confines of the law will suddenly start to make a great deal more sense. Even now, there’s more fun to be had in them than I, for one, had thought.
The most fun slow cars
Okay, so the Twizy is not so much fun on a dual carriageway in the rain, but it is just about the only four-wheel device that’s actively fun to drive in town. You’ll scarcely believe the gaps it will get through and the handling is a bona fide hoot.
Original Fiat 500
When a car is this small and light, it doesn’t need a lot of power. Rear engine, rear-wheel drive and a tiny wheelbase bring exactly the same attributes to this diminutive Fiat as they did to an early Porsche 911.
A flat-formation engine and fully independent, front-to-rear interactive suspension from which McLaren learned a thing or two. Yes, 2CVs roll like dinghies in a typhoon, but their snake-low centre of gravity means they cling on superbly.
You might think the only 205 worth driving is one with a GTI after its name. Not so. GTIs are such fun in the first place because they are so light, but the lesser models are lighter still. A 205XS, for instance, is an under-rated gem.
A new one. You’d be surprised, but it’s fun for all the reasons the old Fiat 500 is fun, just at a rather higher level of competence. Drove one across Wales a couple of years ago and still look back on it as one of the great drives.
Last year was not kind to the Maserati Levante.Worse still, that probably came as a surprise to the management at Maserati’s parent firm, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. In the 15 months following the model’s introduction in 2016, some 25,000 examples found owners; compared with Maserati’s 32,000 sales across all of its models the previous year, such volume was an encouraging bellwether for this new SUV. It seemed the high-riding Levante would do for the Bolognese brand what the F-Pace did for Jaguar, the Cayenne has done for Porsche and the Bentayga now seems to be doing for Bentley – usher in a period of prosperity and provide the financial basis for the continued development of traditional sports cars.However, reports suggest Levante production at FCA’s Mirafiori plant was down more than 40% in 2018, with staff temporarily ‘idled’ to better align the number of cars rolling off the line with demand, most of which comes from China, with the US an easy second before the big European markets. The drop is dramatic, and made all the more painful because the SUV segment continues to grow with global enthusiasm. How has such a strikingly good-looking newcomer from arguably the most storied brand in the business failed to capitalise on this trend?The answers are hinted at in the Levante’s original Autocar road test. It scored just three stars from five, and we called it out on the grounds of its tepid turbodiesel performance, ordinary handling, questionable cabin specification and perceived quality. Simply, Range Rover and the German brands did it better, even if the Maserati’s all-round ambience and aggressive pricing made it worthy of consideration.Now Maserati has refreshed the Levante, introducing new technology and greater aesthetic flair. This time we also have a petrol V6 engine at our disposal, something denied to UK buyers until last year. Time to find out whether this left-field contender can claim its spot in the limelight.The Maserati Levante range at a glanceMaserati UK has yet to offer one of the V8-engined Levante GTS or Trofeo models, so for now the 424bhp V6 S is the range-topper for Britain. There are effectively three trim levels: Levante, GranSport and GranLusso. GranSport introduces a more performance-oriented aesthetic, including features such as sports seats, aluminium shift paddles and black detailing on exterior panels. GranLusso is a more luxurious take, adding silk interior and chrome brightwork.Price £79,125 Power 424bhp Torque 478lb ft 0-60mph 5.1sec 30-70mph in fourth 6.5sec Fuel economy 16.0mpg CO2 emissions 273-282g/km 70-0mph 44.0m
Four-wheel-drive rival to the Audi RS Q3 is set for UK deliveries in 2020; first spy shots have emerged
Mercedes-Benz’s AMG division has kicked off testing of the new GLB 45 4Matic on public roads some 12 months before its planned showroom debut.
The new Audi RS Q3 rival is differentiated from standard versions of the upcoming GLB by its reduced ride height, larger brake discs, multi-pot callipers and four tail-pipes at the rear, as opposed to the twin-exit arrangement of GLB 35 4Matic prototypes we’ve seen previously.
The GLB 45 is among a number of new Mercedes-AMG models set to run a newly developed four-cylinder engine based on Mercedes-Benz’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder ‘M260’ unit.
Also planned to appear in the A45 4Matic, CLA 45, CLA 45 Shooting Brake and GLA 45, the new powerplant is claimed to develop 383bhp in standard guise and 416bhp in a higher state of tune.
In the GLB 45, the new engine will be mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and a new four-wheel drive system developed in a partnership between AMG and Austrian engineering specialist Magna Powertrain. It uses electrohydraulic actuation instead of the electromechanical operation of the four-wheel drive system by transverse engine models built by AMG up to now.
Among the developments incorporated on the new four-wheel drive system is a rear differential featuring two separate clutches. They allow it to apportion up to 100% of power to each of the individual rear wheels in a so-called drift mode that AMG sources have revealed to Autocar will feature on all upcoming 45-badged models.
The GLB 45 is set to crown the upcoming GLB line-up when it goes on sale in 2020. It will be positioned above the GLB 35, which runs a milder 302bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and is set to form part of the initial GLB line-up that’s planned to be in early June.
The GLB will become the eighth member of Mercedes-Benz’s compact car line-up. Previewed at last month’s Shanghai motor show by the Concept GLB, it measures 4634mm in length, making it just 18mm shorter than the recently facelifted GLC. In standard guise, it will offer the choice of either five or seven seats.
Searching for a roadster with a sweet six-pot engine? A BMW Z3 could be the best budget choice
With its swollen haunches and smarter back end, the refreshed Z3 of 2000 looked the business.
BMW Z3 2.2, £4995: The 146bhp 2.0-litre six survived the facelift but had been replaced within a year by the 168bhp 2.2. It was one of these, a 2002-reg Sport manual with 62,000 miles, that caught our eye. Finished in classic Estoril Blue with black leather and riding on bright BBS alloy wheels, it’s offered with the rare removable hard-top, although that does mean we’d need to find a safe place to store it. Still, ’tis a small detail.
What isn’t is the lack of information concerning the car’s number of previous owners as well as its service history. Cross that bridge etc. While we’re preparing to do that, we’ll recall a few checks pertinent to it and other Z3s. They include looking for problems with the camshaft position sensor on the Vanos variable valve timing system, and listening for a rattly dual-mass flywheel and for gentle tapping on start-up (which fresh oil should cure). Turning to the gearbox, we’ll feel for clutch drag and check the rear differential mount isn’t about to give way. While poking about there, we’ll check the fuel tank for damage.
On the test drive, we’ll listen out for rattly drop links and rear suspension top mounts and feel for rumbly front lower ball joints. Our find looks neat but tin worm can break out on the door bottoms. Inside, stray warning lights and a worn driver’s seat bolster will be on our radar.
All well and good but that service history is an issue. We want evidence of 6000-mile oil changes, of fresh plugs, transmission and diff oil at 18,000, and of fresh brake fluid every two years – or its yours.
Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer, £12,299: Here’s a handsome load-lugger and a welcome change from all the porky SUVs rolling around. We found this 2017/67-reg SRi Nav 2.0 Turbo D with full Vauxhall service history. It’s done 50,000 miles but they were probably motorway ones – the best ones of all.
Ford Focus CC, £2250: The Focus CC of 2006-11 was one of the better-looking mainstream coupé-cabriolets but went by largely unnoticed. Now they’re popping up at tempting prices. How about this smart 2008-reg 1.6 with 85,000 miles and full Ford service history?
Mini Paceman, £7494: Who knows: perhaps we’re looking at a future classic. With its three-door crossover styling, the Paceman – related to the Countryman – lasted just four years (2012-16). We spotteda 2014-reg Cooper with 62,000 miles and just one owner.
Audi A4 2.0 TFSI DTM Quattro, £5895: Here’s that unusual thing: a rare A4. It’s a special from 2005 made to mark Audi’s success in German touring car racing. It has carbonfibre trims, a larger exhaust, lowered suspension and 217bhp. Our 98,000-mile one is tidy but the service book’s missing…
Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC: Old SECs never die: they just become even more distinguished. That, at any rate, is what one brave bidder must have believed when he scooped this 1990 5.0 V8 for £6660. Brave? In fact, it only had 114,000 miles on the clock and was, according to the auction house that presented it, in three-star condition (out of five, by the way). In simple terms, that means it had some history and looked and drove perfectly well. Built in 1981-1991, SECs aren’t uncommon, which means more choice and a wider price range for canny buyers.
Get it while you can
Volkswagen Golf R, price new – £33,535, price now – £29,000: Autocar recently reported the death of the Golf R manual. Time, then, to bag a nearly new one before they’ve gone. We found a 2018/68-reg with 1500 miles at a Volkswagen dealer for £29,000. The manual shift is a slick affair, so shame on us Brits for preferring the auto. You can be sure that future generations will regard the few remaining stick-shift Rs differently and pay top money for the best. Hang on to the one we found and you may just cash in later down the line.
Clash of the classifieds
Brief: Find me a cool cabrio for £10k, please.
Mercedes-Benz SL500, £9950: There’s nothing cooler than cruising along in a classy convertible with the wind blowing through your hair – and, for many decades, the smartest-looking convertible has beenthe Mercedes SL. The one I’ve chosen is a 1996 SL500 with the desirable M119 5.0 V8 engine. The car still has its original hard-top and stand, and comes with a full service history. What’s more, there’s some investment potential with this SL because prices are beginning to firm up as people realise how good these things are. Max Adams
Honda S2000, £9995: You want a really cool drop-top? The S2000 is a perfectly balanced, rear-wheel-drive two-seater of prodigious performance and low polar moments. At its heart is a wonderful 8300rpm, 237bhp 2.0-litre VTEC engine, a work of art that can potter around or hammer like a racer at the switch of a cam profile. It has aluminium double-wishbone suspension, supersharp steering and a hood that is quick to erect and lower, too. This one is immaculate, has a full history and shows only 60,000 miles – and, of course, it’ll never go wrong… Mark Pearson
Verdict: That Honda is hot but the Merc is so cool and just what the doctor ordered.
With a new place to take your beloved vintage motor seemingly appearing every week, Prior asks where they all suddenly sprouted from
I’m not imagining this, am I? There actually are way more classic and enthusiast car meet-ups than there used to be, right?
The other weekend, I was at one of the excellent Sunday Scrambles at Bicester Heritage, where there’ll have been another big meet by the time you read this, at least one other new midweek classic meeting locally and a huge Japanese car show at Silverstone, while places like Caffeine & Machine are open all the time.
The south midlands is pretty motor and motorsport central, it’s true, but still, I hear about classic shows and meetings everywhere. There are more, I’m sure of it. What used to be the odd Wednesday bike night at an A-road layby café is a burgeoning cottage industry throughout the country. I’m amazed there are enough surviving Citroën H vans from which to serve coffee at all of them.
I’m curious as to why there are so many, though. It’s said that people like buying experiences more than they like buying ‘things’, so there’s an element of that. Perhaps social media is making it easier for us to find each other, and across brands rather than, as used to be the norm, through single-marque car clubs – and somebody with a slammed Triumph Acclaim with a limited-slip differential might have more to talk about with a Nissan 200SX owner than a TR2 owner, after all. Or is it harder to just find space and time to have an enjoyable drive, so we might as well arrange an event at the end of it, to make it worthwhile?
Whatever, I’m pleased. Pleased there are places to be, cars to pore over, owners to talk to, and cars that get driven.
And I’m pleased there’s evidence that loads of people, regardless of what cars and driving become, see the car as far more than a way of getting from one place to another. Like horses, baking, or myriad other things, they’re something we don’t need to spend time with, but want to.
That said, I met a new bloke the other day when he made what’ll become a semi-regular visit to my house for the glamorous task of emptying the septic tank.
It’s an unusual procedure over which to make small talk, between bouts of peering into a 20ft hole in the ground. I’ve seen more attractive holes in the ground, I can tell you. But there we were, when I noticed a car company logo on his hi-viz jacket. Car fan, I asked? Kind of, he said.
While his truck’s vacuum busily whirred in the background, he explained he used to work for said car company’s Formula 1 team, and before and after that other F1 and sports car teams, travelling the world, flying away for all the races, to all the cities, gathering stamps in his passport.
Only not really seeing much of these places when he got there, and seeing even less of his young family back at home. So he jacked it in to help run the family liquid waste business. Much better. Much happier. The satisfaction of running a good business, being less transient, and enjoying seeing way, way more of his family and his home. I get it.
Take a sample of people, briefly explain these two jobs and I reckon most would see one as more appealing than the other. It ain’t always so.
‘Chess-piece’ philosophy will bring Hyundai, Kia and Genesis cars greater individuality, as well as setting them apart from segment rivals
That’s the strategy being pushed by the design chief of all three brands, Luc Donckerwolke, who said that “our core task is to differentiate the design philosophy of the three brands, not least because we have a big [around 70%] share in Korea. We need to differentiate each model, otherwise the landscape is too homogeneous”.
Donckerwolke told Autocar that he believes Kias and Hyundais must become more distinctive not only in the Korean roadscape that they dominate but also around the world, “by segment and by region. We will not have a global design language because otherwise it’s too rigid. [The alternative is] more work, but it’s more flexible.”
This does not mean that the brands’ designs will diverge completely across continents. “There will be some unifying themes, with varying treatments,” said Donckerwolke, who likened the approach not to “Russian dolls but to chess pieces, with a look that reveals its own charismatic character. For example, Kia used to be about the tiger nose grille, separate headlights and the lower intake. Now it’s going to be more of a mask that will deliver sportiness and a presence.”
Kia design head Byungchul Juh said that Kia will be “young, challenging and cool – cooler than before. There will be a distinct version of tiger face for each segment, and we’ll keep the tiger nose grille. In principle it’s the same, but there’s a different interpretation for each segment, and more of a 3D feeling. We’re moving from a nose to a face.”
He added: “The next Optima is the first step. It’s not extreme but progressive, with a strong brand identity. There will be even greater separation between Kia and Hyundai. Kia is more innovative, young, challenging, iconic and cool. There will be unexpected details, and influences from general product design, cars, architecture and fine art.”
Because Kias have had a more distinctive look for longer than Hyundais, Donckerwolke and SangYup Lee, former Bentley colleague and now head of Hyundai design, determined that the Sonata represented the heart of the range and would be the design flag-bearer. The saloon is a model built over 35 years and eight generations but no longer sold in the UK.
Hyundai’s new look be “sexy, seductive and sensuous, sporty, eager and stylish”, said Donckerwolke. “Hyundai is good on value for money, but we need to add emotion.” He likened the new philosophy to that of fashion house Prêt à Porter, which ‘democratises haute couture’.
Kia, meanwhile, is about “streetwear – bold, fresh and young”, Donckerwolke said. “The next Sportage is even bolder than the new Tucson,” he added. A flash reveal of this model in sketch form promises something excitingly fresh.
“Genesis is haute couture,” Donckerwolke said, promising “a great new show car”. Expect to see more of Genesis, which has been mooted for a Europe and UK launch for some time and is expected to arrive by next year. “We had Europe in mind from the beginning,” said Donckerwolke. “We need a dealer network, and for that you need a palette of cars, not just two models.”
New Conti Convertible has all the many advantages of a new platform, seen already in the Coupe. It’s in a class of its own.
Bentley has just revealed a convertible version of its second generation Continental GT, identical in every important way to the coupe except that it now has an elegant powered hood that takes 19 seconds to erect, can be lowered or raised while the car is being driven at speeds up to 31mph (50km/h) and whose total assembly — plus the requirement for extra chassis stiffness — adds just over 100kg to the coupe’s already substantial 2295kg kerb weight. And which brings its own new level of versatility to two-door luxury coupe ownership.Because this car was engineered from the beginning with a bespoke platform shared only with Porsche’s Panamera, and the need for a ragtop was taken into account at the earliest design stage, the hood intrudes less into the cabin, requires less chassis reinforcement and disturbs the car’s aerodynamics less (drag factor rises only fractionally to 0.32) than in the outgoing car.The result is a rarity in the UK, a luxurious convertible with decent seating for four, though even here the largest occupants probably fit better in the front.
Newly established Italian brand will unveil the Asfanè DieciDieci in Turin on 30 May
Fledgling Italian car maker FV Frangivento is due to unveil the first production prototype of its debut hypercar – the Asfanè DieciDieci – on 30 May.
Though no details relating to performance figures have been released, the company has confirmed a hybrid powertrain consisting of a turbocharged petrol engine and two electric motors. An otherworldly-looking concept sketch has also been released.
The car’s name carries some meaning. Asfanè means ‘it can’t be done’ in Piedmontese dialect, implying the company has achieved the impossible in bringing the concept to reality. ‘DieciDieci’ means simply ‘TenTen’, which is the metric horsepower produced by the hybrid drive – or around 996bhp, which puts it close to the Mercedes-AMG One hypercar but behind the 1160bhp Aston Martin Valkyrie in terms of total power output.
FV Frangivento first revealed a concept of the car back at the 2016 Turin motor show, and referred to it as ‘a forerunner of high-performance hybrid and electric propulsion on an all-Italian platform’.
The company has been operating since 2015. Based in Moncalieri in Italy, the firm was created by entrepreneur Paolo Mancini and designer Giorgio Pirolo and receives financial support from Carlo Pirolo. The company also has some notable links to Italian automotive firms such as Pirelli, Sparco, Brembo and OZ Racing.
In addition to the car’s unveiling at the National Automobile Museum in Turin, the Asfanè DieciDieci will also mark Italian Republic Day with an appearance at the Italian Embassy in Monte Carlo on Sunday 2 June.
Skoda brings 4×4 Scout trim to newly updated Superb, but it’s currently not destined for the UK
In the traditional Scout format seen across other rugged Skodas, the new Superb variant receives new body enhancements to protect against off-road scuffs and scrapes and a 15mm increase in ride height.
The exterior changes include bespoke front and rear bumpers with aluminium-effect underbody protection and plastic lower cladding along the sills and on the wheel arches. Chrome-plated roof rails and window surrounds also feature, as do aluminium-look door mirrors and new 18in alloy wheels.
As expected, all Superb Scouts come with four-wheel drive, mated to either a 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine or a 2.0-litre petrol unit with 268bhp – the latter being 9bhp down on previous iterations due to a new petrol particulate filter. Both are mated exclusively to a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox.
Changes to the interior are limited to new wood-effect decorative strips on the doors and dash, as well a specific seat fabric with the option of leather and alcantara. Heated seats are standard, too, while the infotainment can display specific off-road information.
A Skoda UK spokesperson claims the Superb Scout isn’t currently destined for the UK due to a perceived lack of demand not justifying the conversion to right-hand drive. The better-selling Kodiaq and Karoq Scouts are also cited as a reason.