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    Next year's FIA Formula One World Championship schedule has been ratified by the World Motor Sport Council.

    As originally announced in June, twenty-one rounds are going to be squeezed into an eight-month season. China and Bahrain have subsequently swapped places but, apart from that change, the draft timetable remains unaltered.

    Formula 1 Logo

    The WMSC meeting also agreed a revised power unit penalty system. If a driver incurs a penalty exceeding fifteen grid places in 2018, then he’ll have to start the race from the back of the grid. Should more than one driver be in such a situation, then they’ll be arranged in the order in which their offences were committed.

    2018 FIA Formula One World Championship – Calendar
    Round Date Grand Prix
    1 25 March Melbourne, Australia
    2 08 April Sakhir, Bahrain
    3 15 April Shanghai, China
    4 29 April Baku, Azerbaijan
    5 13 May Barcelona, Spain
    6 27 May Monte Carlo, Monaco
    7 10 June Montreal, Canada
    8 24 June Le Castellet, France
    9 01 July Spielberg, Austria
    10 08 July Silverstone, Great Britain
    11 22 July Hockenheim, Germany
    12 29 July Budapest, Hungary
    13 26 August Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
    14 02 September Monza, Italy
    15 16 September Marina Bay, Singapore
    16 30 September Sochi, Russia
    17 07 October Suzuka, Japan
    18 21 October Austin, USA*
    19 28 October Mexico City, Mexico
    20 11 November São Paulo, Brazil
    21 25 November Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi
    * Subject to ASN approval.

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    A series of cosmetic changes and some chassis upgrades mark out the 2018 Colorado SportsCat and SportsCat+. Developed by HSV, these new pick-up variants are intended to offer a better on-road driving experience while maintaining their off-road abilities.

    Accordingly, a revised suspension set-up includes stiffer front springs and recalibrated dampers. Also fitted are 18” forged alloy wheels shod with Cooper Zeon LTZ Pro sports all-terrain tyres. As a result, ride height has been raised by 45 mm (1.8”) at the front and 20 mm (0.8”) at the rear.

    Holden Colorado SportsCat+ by HSV 4x4 Crew Cab (2018) Front Side

    The SportsCat+ additionally gains a rear decoupling anti-roll bar, as well as four-piston AP Racing brake calipers and larger brake discs for the front axle. Buyers of this model will be able to further improve the handling by opting for a SupaShock package.

    Both versions feature a redesigned front bumper, LED fog lights, a special grille, wheel arch extensions, a hard tonneau cover and a unique tailgate treatment. Inside, they boast heated sports seats covered in leather and suede.

    A bonnet bulge appears on the SportsCat+ too. However, like the regular SportsCat, power comes from an unmodified 2.8 litre Duramax turbo diesel engine. Its 197 bhp (147 kW / 200 PS) output is delivered via either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission with Active Select.

    Holden has yet to announce prices.

    Holden Colorado SportsCat+ by HSV 4x4 Crew Cab (2018) Rear SideHolden Colorado SportsCat by HSV 4x4 Crew Cab (2018) Dashboard

    Holden Colorado SportsCat+ by HSV 4x4 Crew Cab (2018) InteriorHolden Colorado SportsCat by HSV 4x4 Crew Cab (2018) Front Side

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    Images © General Motors.

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    Although deliveries won’t begin until March next year, Mazda has already revealed details about the MX-5 Z-Sport. This new arrival – which is based on the existing 2.0 litre Sport Nav model – is going to be offered exclusively in the UK.

    Mazda MX-5 Z-Sport (2018) Side

    On the outside, Machine Grey metallic paintwork is complemented by a dark cherry fabric roof and black 17” BBS multi-spoke alloy wheels.

    Mazda MX-5 Z-Sport (2018) InteriorMazda MX-5 Z-Sport (2018) Front Side

    Sand leather upholstery brings another shade to the colour palette. Arguably, the standard black cowhide would’ve looked better, especially as it features contrast red stitching. Bespoke floor mats, a numbered dashboard plaque and some special scuff plates complete the enhanced specification.

    Mazda MX-5 Z-Sport (2018) Rear Side

    300 examples of the 2018 MX-5 Z-Sport will be available, priced at £25,595 each. By comparison, a regular MX-5 Sport Nav with optional metallic paint and Sand leather currently costs £24,945.

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    In 2012, Chinese-owned National Electric Vehicle Sweden acquired the assets of bankrupt Saab Automobile. Eighteen months later, as an interim measure, the new proprietors built a few more examples of the already aged petrol-fuelled Saab 9-3.

    Now the 9-3 is back again, albeit with three major changes.

    Firstly, it wears NEVS badges (because the company is no longer allowed to use the Saab brand); secondly, production has moved from Sweden to Tianjin, China (as expected); thirdly, power comes from an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine (which was always the long-term aim).

    NEVS 9-3 EV Sedan (2018) Front Side

    NEVS says that the recently-constructed plant at Tianjin can assemble 50,000 cars per annum. Capacity is predicted to increase to 220,000 units during the second phase of the project.

    As well as the four-door 9-3 Sedan, a five-door 9-3X estate variant is also planned. Strangely, hardly any technical specifications have been released, but battery range is reckoned to be around 300 kilometres (186 miles).

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    With deliveries of the 2018 LS due to begin early next year, Lexus has confirmed the on-the-road prices for its all-new flagship model.

    The ordering process should be fairly straightforward. Customers just need to choose one of four trim grades and, if available for their selection, decide whether or not all-wheel drive is required.

    Lexus LS 500h (2018) Side

    A Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System is the only powertrain that’s being offered. This combines a 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine, an electric motor-generator unit and an 84-cell lithium-ion battery pack. Total output is rated at 354 bhp (264 kW / 358 PS), which allows rear-wheel drive versions to complete the 0-62 mph (100 km/h) sprint in 5.4 seconds.

    Here’s how the range lines up:

    LS 500h – £72,595

    Standard equipment includes triple-LED headlights and the Lexus Safety System+ suite of technologies. Inside, there’s a 12.3” display for the satellite navigation and 360° Panoramic View Monitor. The leather-covered front seats feature 20-way power adjustment plus integrated heating and ventilation.

    LS 500h Luxury – £79,995
    LS 500h Luxury AWD – £82,595

    As well as a 23-speaker Mark Levinson QLI Reference Surround audio system, the Luxury variants gain integrated heating and ventilation for the rear seats, semi-aniline leather upholstery and four-zone climate control.

    LS 500h F Sport – £79,995

    A different alloy wheel design, lower-profile tyres and a unique grille give the F Sport a rather purposeful appearance. To complement the visual alterations, the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management gizmo additionally controls the car’s Variable Gear Ratio Steering and Dynamic Rear Steering.

    LS 500h Premier AWD – £97,995

    Aimed at affluent individuals who prefer to be chauffeured, this LS comes with 22-way adjustment and extending leg rests for the rear seats. Furthermore, a Relaxation Package incorporates a seat massage function.

    Lexus LS 500h (2018) InteriorLexus LS 500h (2018) Front Side

    Lexus LS 500h (2018) Rear SideLexus LS 500h (2018) Dashboard

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    Ahead of its public début at next month’s North American International Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz has released some details about the new G-Class’s cabin.

    Lugano leather upholstery, heated seats front and rear, a driver’s seat memory function and wood trim mean that this certainly isn’t a ‘hose-out’ utilitarian vehicle.

    Mercedes-Benz G-Class (2018) Dashboard 1

    For even more luxury, customers can opt for either the Exclusive Interior or Exclusive Interior Plus packages. The former comes with nappa leather in a choice of seven colour schemes with a black microfibre roof lining, while the latter gains extended leather and diamond-pattern quilting.

    Enlarged dimensions have resulted in extra space. For instance, legroom is up by 38 mm (1.5”) in the front and 150 mm (5.9”) in the rear. The corresponding increases in shoulder width are 38 mm (1.5”) and 27 mm (1.0”) respectively.

    Without doubt, the most significant changes concern how a driver interacts with their 2018 G-Class.

    The standard specification includes traditional round instruments plus a central screen, but an alternative arrangement combines two 12.3” displays to form a configurable glass cockpit. In addition, the steering wheel uses touch sensitivity and haptic feedback to control the infotainment system.

    Mercedes-Benz G-Class (2018) Front SeatsMercedes-Benz G-Class (2018) Interior

    Mercedes-Benz G-Class (2018) Rear SeatsMercedes-Benz G-Class (2018) Dashboard 2

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  • 12/14/17--11:53: A new brand logo for Mini
  • Redesigned badges are going to adorn every Mini built from March 2018 onwards. In what is the first change since 2001, the marque’s familiar emblem will be depicted in two rather than three dimensions.

    According to the blurb issued by Mini: “The preservation of the fundamental, tradition-steeped motif of a winged wheel with the brand name printed in capital letters at the centre ensures the logo will be instantly recognised.

    Mini Logo 2018
    The new two-dimensional Mini logo...

    “The deliberate avoidance of shading and grey tones creates a starkly contrasting black-and-white effect that conveys the authenticity and clarity of the new brand identity, its two-dimensional character also allowing universal application.

    Mini Logo 2017
    ...and the old three-dimensional Mini logo.

    “The new logo will be applied as a product label to all Mini models – on the bonnet, at the rear, at the centre of the steering wheel and on the remote control.”

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    Next month’s Tokyo Auto Salon 2018 will see Toyota Gazoo Racing exhibiting its new GR Super Sport Concept.

    For the time being, just one teaser shot has been released. With features such as a tear-drop profile, a central fin and a full-width rear wing, the car has clearly been influenced by Toyota’s FIA World Endurance Championship racers.

    Toyota GR Super Sport Concept (2018) Rear Side

    However, the concept’s technical specifications remain a mystery. There’s no word yet on the likelihood of a future production version, either.

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    People rather than freight are the intended cargo for the latest Ducato van variant. The new Minibus is being offered in a choice of two lengths, with both featuring a raised roof.

    The L4/H2 version, which measures 5,998 mm (19’ 8”) long, has fourteen seats (including the driver’s). Alternatively, the L5/H2 model can accommodate three extra passengers in its 6,363 mm (20’ 10”) body.

    Fiat Ducato Minibus (2018) Front Side

    A side-door access step, brown fabric upholstery, integrated head restraints, three-point seatbelts, internal LED lighting and an auxiliary cabin heater are all fitted as standard to the ‘Medium’ trim level. Upgrading to the ‘Top’ grade adds two USB charging points for each seat row, reclining backrests, side-mounted parcel shelves, individual vents and a better audio system.

    Fiat dealers in Italy are accepting 2018 Ducato Minibus orders now. There, the engine line-up comprises 128 bhp (95 kW / 130 PS) 2.3 litre MultiJet turbo-diesel, 138 bhp (103 kW / 140 PS) 3.0 litre Natural Power methane-fuelled and 147 bhp (110 kW / 150 PS) 2.3 litre MultiJet turbo-diesel units.

    UK availability has yet to be confirmed.

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    Visitors to yesterday’s Chevy Truck Centennial event held at the Texas Motor Speedway were treated to a first public appearance by the 2019 Silverado.

    They got to see an LT Trailboss version, which arrived slung beneath a helicopter. It’ll be one of eight available trim grades that are going to be offered in conjunction with a larger variety of powertrain combinations.

    Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Trailboss Crew Cab (2019) Front Side

    While the all-new 2019 model is still recognisably a Silverado, there are two key styling changes. Firstly, the wheel arches no longer have a squared-off profile. Secondly, a diagonal swage line has appeared that runs downwards from the front fender into the door – at first glance it’s somewhat jarring (although the visual effect might work better in the metal).

    Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Trailboss Crew Cab (2019) Rear Side

    At this stage, Chevrolet hasn’t published any photographs of the interior. Similarly, technical specifications are unknown, but advanced materials and manufacturing techniques are claimed to have significantly reduced the vehicle’s overall weight.

    Full details should be revealed at next month’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where the 2019 Silverado 1500 is due to be properly launched.

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    Images © General Motors.

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    Another model has joined Škoda’s family of fully-converted cars for ambulance, fire brigade and police use. This new arrival is the all-wheel drive Kodiaq Rapid Response Vehicle, which should appeal particularly to agencies that require some off-road ability.

    Skoda Kodiaq Rapid Response Vehicle (2018) Front Side 1

    As well as a 100 amp three-tone siren and a roof-mounted light bar, it features extra warning LEDs on the grille, numberplate surround, windscreen and tailgate.

    Skoda Kodiaq Rapid Response Vehicle (2018) Front Side 2

    Škoda is able to fit a wide variety of specialist equipment to the SUV. Available items include a slide-out luggage compartment tray, medical gear, a back-up power source and a heavy-duty suspension upgrade.

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    After a five-year absence, DTM touring cars are going to compete again at Brands Hatch. What’s more, the longer GP track will be used in 2018, so drivers should face an even greater challenge.

    Another addition to next year’s calendar is the World Circuit Marco Simoncelli near Misano. Its inclusion means that half of the races are due to take place outside of Germany.

    DTM Calendar 2018 Graphic

    As in previous seasons, each event consists of two championship rounds.

    2018 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters – Calendar
    Rounds Date Venue
    1, 2 04 – 06 May Hockenheim, Germany
    3, 4 18 – 20 May Lausitzring, Germany
    5, 6 01 – 03 June Budapest, Hungary
    7, 8 22 – 24 June Norisring, Germany
    9, 10 13 – 15 July Zandvoort, Netherlands
    11, 12 11 – 12 August Brands Hatch, Great Britain
    13, 14 24 – 26 August Misano, Italy
    15, 16 07 – 09 September Nürburgring, Germany
    17, 18 21 – 23 September Spielberg, Austria
    19, 20 12 – 14 October Hockenheim, Germany

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    Personalisation has always been a key trait of the Mini brand under BMW ownership. Now that amenity is evolving to another level with the introduction of Yours Customised, a service which allows owners to order bespoke parts via a dedicated online store.

    Initially, the range comprises a passenger-side dashboard trim piece, LED door projectors, illuminated door sills and side scuttles (the side-indicator inserts).

    Mini Yours Customised (2018) Dashboard TrimMini Yours Customised (2018) Door Projector

    Mini Yours Customised (2018) Door Sill TrimMini Yours Customised (2018) Side Scuttle

    To ensure a completely unique result, various colours, surface finishes and patterns are being offered. Furthermore, all four components incorporate a text space for names or other (non-rude) words.

    As the items can be easily DIY-fitted, there’s no need to pay a Mini dealer to do it. Just as importantly they’re removable too, so resale values won’t suffer.

    Yours Customised will be available in the UK for certain Mini models during 2018.

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    Following its first public appearance at last month’s EICMA show in Milan, Suzuki has revealed a UK launch price for the SV650X.

    This new mid-size café racer – which comes with a Metallic Oort Grey / Glass Sparkle Black two-tone paint scheme – will initially cost £5,999 (plus first registration fee and vehicle excise duty) when deliveries begin in early 2018.

    Suzuki SV650X (2018) Front Side

    Suitably retro-inspired features include a bikini fairing, a tinted windscreen, clip-on handlebars and a unique ‘tuck-roll’ saddle. The SV650X is a thoroughly modern motorcycle though, as five-spoke alloy wheels, anti-lock brakes, a multifunction LCD instrument display and LED rear lights are all fitted as standard.

    Power is provided by a 645 cc V-twin engine that delivers 75 bhp (56 kW / 76 PS) and 64 Nm (47 lb/ft) of peak torque via a six-speed transmission. Those output figures are combined with a ready-to-ride kerb weight of 198 kg (436 lbs).

    Suzuki SV650X (2018) TopSuzuki SV650X (2018) Side

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    Ahead of customer deliveries beginning next month, Nissan has published prices for its new second-generation pure-electric Leaf.

    Nissan Leaf (2018) Front Side

    They start at £21,990 and go up to £27,490 (after applying the government’s Plug-in Car Grant). By comparison, the previous model – which had a smaller battery capacity, a shorter driving range and less attractive styling – cost between £21,680 and £27,790.
    • Leaf Visia – £21,990
    • Leaf Acenta – £24,290
    • Leaf N-Connecta – £25,990
    • Leaf 2.Zero – £26,490
    • Leaf Tekna – £27,490
    Anybody seeking a blend of high equipment levels and decent value for money might be particularly interested in the 2.Zero special edition.

    This variant comes with ProPilot semi-autonomous technologies, the innovative e-Pedal, an Intelligent Around View Monitor and a NissanConnect touchscreen-controlled infotainment system. In addition, the steering wheel, front seats and rear seats are all heated. However, just 1,500 examples of the 2.Zero are going to be produced.

    Before rushing out to place an order, prospective purchasers should bear in mind that Nissan has already promised to introduce a more powerful Leaf by the end of this year. An even better battery pack is likely to appear too at some point in the future, but there’s no official word on such a development yet.

    Nissan Leaf (2018) InteriorNissan Leaf (2018) Rear Side

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    Following a merger of the FIA World Touring Car Championship and the TCR International Series, 2018 will see the inaugural staging of the FIA World Touring Car Cup. This promising series, which has adopted TCR technical regulations, is intended to attract more manufacturers to top-flight saloon car racing.

    Peugeot has responded positively to the changes by launching the 308TCR. Essentially an evolution of the 308 Racing Cup, it features a 2.0 litre, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine that’s mated to a specially strengthened six-speed sequential transmission. Output and peak torque are rated at 345 bhp (257 kW / 350 PS) and 420 Nm (310 lb/ft) respectively.

    Peugeot 308TCR 2018 Front Side

    According to Bruno Famin, Peugeot Sport Director, “The Peugeot 308 Racing Cup was already eligible for the TCR, but the rapid development of championships based on TCR regulations inspired us to go further in looking for performance to accompany the ambitions of our customers, all the way up to the very top level – which from 2018 will be represented by the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR).

    “So, the arrival of the new Peugeot 308TCR comes at just the right time, illustrating the deep engagement that Peugeot Sport enjoys with its customers. In order to meet their justified demands, we’ve used our experience and expertise to come up with a car that is competitive, reliable and always increasingly enjoyable to drive.”

    Each fully-assembled 308TCR costs €109,000 (plus taxes), or around £96,900 at current exchange rates. Privateer race teams can place their orders now ahead of the first deliveries in April.

    Peugeot 308TCR 2018 Rear SidePeugeot 308TCR 2018 Front

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    For this month’s CMT show in Stuttgart, Mercedes-Benz has created a couple of concepts based on its new X-Class pick-up.

    The first features a demountable camper from established company Tischer.

    Mercedes-Benz X-Class (2018) Tischer Demountable Camper

    A side entrance door leads into the habitation space, where there’s a double bed in the over-cab alcove, as well as dinette seating that can be converted into a second bed. The kitchen area has a three-burner gas hob, while a small wash room is equipped with a shower, a fold-up basin and a swivelling toilet.

    The second vehicle, developed in collaboration with VanEssa Mobilcamping, is much more unusual.

    Mercedes-Benz X-Class (2018) VanEssa Integrated Kitchen

    This X-Class has been fitted with a pair of pull-out units accessible via the tailgate. Together, they provide full kitchen facilities plus storage for provisions and cooking gear. Weather protection comes courtesy of a water-resistant teak cover, which can be supported at 45 degrees by pneumatic struts. However, sleeping accommodation is obviously absent, so a suggested solution for overnighting is a roof tent.

    Despite being termed concepts, both products look like they’re ready for customers. Perhaps their respective manufacturers are waiting to gauge public reaction before committing to retail them?

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  • 01/08/18--05:37: Top 10: UK car sales 2017
  • In absolute terms, 2017 wasn’t a bad year for new car registrations in the UK. Sure, the overall total was down compared to 2015 and 2016, but that was almost bound to happen.

    As the graph below from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders illustrates, the downturn that followed the 2007-2008 financial crisis created a lot of pent-up demand which was largely satisfied over the past couple of years. Arguably, 2017’s figure of circa 2.5 million units can be regarded as a return to normal.

    SMMT New Car Registrations 2001 - 2017

    Trying to blame any reduction on public uncertainty about future diesel taxation or usage restrictions is rather misleading, too. The market contraction would have happened anyway.

    Nevertheless, consumer behaviour is altering radically.

    Diesel’s registration share dropped from 47.7% in 2016 to 42.0% in 2017, which undoubtedly reflects better purchasing decisions. While diesel cars remain entirely suitable for some motorists, for many others the available petrol, hybrid or pure electric alternatives will make more financial sense.

    Hopefully, people are no longer choosing a diesel engine without due consideration (especially those who drive modest mileages in mostly urban environments).

    Total UK Car Registrations 2017 - By Fuel Type
    Fuel 2017 2016 Change Change %
    Diesel 1,065,879 1,285,188 -219,309 -17.1%
    Petrol 1,354,917 1,318,707 +36,210 +2.7%
    Alternative 119,821 88,891 +30,930 +34.8%
    Total 2,540,617 2,692,786 -152,169 -5.7%

    Total UK Car Registrations 2017 - By Category
    Category 2017 2016 Change Change %
    Private 1,123,860 1,206,250 -82,390 -6.8%
    Fleet 1,319,193 1,380,750 -61,557 -4.5%
    Business 97,564 105,786 -8,222 -7.8%
    Total 2,540,617 2,692,786 -152,169 -5.7%
    Fleet + Business 1,416,757 1,486,536 -69,779 -4.7%

    Ford remains the UK’s most popular manufacturer, although its year-on-year market share slipped from 11.8% to 11.3%. Dieselgate has clearly been forgiven already, because Volkswagen managed to snatch the runner-up position from Vauxhall.

    Lower down the table, Mercedes-Benz leapfrogged BMW and Audi to finish in fourth place, removing any semblance of exclusivity from the brand in the process. Things didn’t go so well for Peugeot, as the French marque was replaced in the top ten by Kia.

    Top 10: Total UK Car Registrations 2017 - By Manufacturer
    Position 2017 Manufacturer Registrations Market Share Position 2016
    1 Ford 287,396 11.3% 1
    2 Volkswagen 208,462 8.2% 3
    3 Vauxhall 195,137 7.7% 2
    4 Mercedes-Benz 180,970 7.1% 6
    5 BMW 175,101 6.9% 4
    6 Audi 174,982 6.9% 5
    7 Nissan 151,156 5.9% 7
    8 Toyota 101,985 4.0% 9
    9 Hyundai 93,403 3.7% 10
    10 Kia 93,222 3.7% 11

    Of course, the Ford Fiesta continued to dominate the individual model chart. By contrast, the Vauxhall Corsa fell from second to fifth spot.

    Top 10: Total UK Car Registrations 2017 - By Model
    Position Model Registrations Market Share
    1 Ford Fiesta 94,533 3.7%
    2 Volkswagen Golf 74,605 2.9%
    3 Ford Focus 69,903 2.8%
    4 Nissan Qashqai 64,216 2.5%
    5 Vauxhall Corsa 52,772 2.1%
    6 Vauxhall Astra 49,370 1.9%
    7 Volkswagen Polo 47,855 1.9%
    8 Mini Hatch 47,669 1.9%
    9 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 45,912 1.8%
    10 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 43,717 1.7%

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    Top 10: UK car sales 2017 - winners and losers
    Top 10: UK car sales 2016 - winners and losers
    Top 10: UK car sales 2016

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    2017 saw 2,540,617 new cars registered in the UK, a 5.7% reduction compared to 2016. However, as in previous years, some manufacturers bucked the overall market trend, while others most definitely contributed to it.

    Most of the over-performing marques were decidedly low-volume players, so their small absolute unit increases resulted in large percentage gains.

    McLaren 570S Spider (2018) Front Side
    2017: A great year for McLaren.

    One notable anomaly was Seat, which managed to grow by almost a fifth. To put that achievement into context, the Spanish firm delivered more cars than Honda, Citroën or Fiat.

    Top 10: Total UK Car Registrations 2017 - Winners
    Manufacturer 2017 2016 Change Change %
    McLaren 567 18 549 3,050.0%
    Chevrolet 70 4 66 1,650.0%
    Aston Martin 1,471 906 565 62.4%
    Infiniti 3,515 2,891 624 21.6%
    Maserati 1,701 1,435 266 18.5%
    Seat 56,130 47,456 8,674 18.3%
    Abarth 4,441 3,966 475 12.0%
    Porsche 14,051 13,097 954 7.3%
    Mercedes-Benz 180,970 169,828 11,142 6.6%
    MG 4,441 4,192 249 5.9%
    Total Market 2,540,617 2,692,786 -152,169 -5.7%

    The losers’ table tells a very different story. With a few exceptions, the worst performers were non-premium producers. That probably says a lot about customers’ changing tastes and their higher expectations.

    French-owned brands especially seem to have suffered, because Citroën, DS, Peugeot, Renault and Vauxhall all appear on the list. Indeed, Vauxhall – now a PSA subsidiary – accounted for a third of the industry’s total registrations decline by shifting 55,818 fewer vehicles.

    Vauxhall Insignia GSi (2018) Front Side
    2017: A dreadful year for Vauxhall.

    Top 10: Total UK Car Registrations 2017 - Losers
    Manufacturer 2017 2016 Change Change %
    Jeep 6,380 14,090 -7,710 -54.7%
    DS 9,082 15,898 -6,816 -42.9%
    Fiat 44,475 60,581 -16,106 -26.6%
    Subaru 2,679 3,612 -933 -25.8%
    Vauxhall 195,137 250,955 -55,818 -22.2%
    SsangYong 3,590 4,444 -854 -19.2%
    Renault 69,110 85,102 -15,992 -18.8%
    Citroën 51,455 62,991 -11,536 -18.3%
    Lotus 279 339 -60 -17.7%
    Peugeot 82,226 98,529 -16,303 -16.5%
    Total Market 2,540,617 2,692,786 -152,169 -5.7%

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    Top 10: UK car sales 2017
    Top 10: UK car sales 2016 - winners and losers
    Top 10: UK car sales 2016

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    Electric cars equipped with hydrogen fuel cells will only become popular when an adequate refuelling infrastructure exists. In the UK, for example, there are currently just twelve hydrogen stations (and five of them are clustered around London).

    Unfortunately, that means the Hyundai Nexo might struggle to find customers in Britain. This new FCEV – which replaces the ix35 Fuel Cell – is going to be available soon in selected markets.

    Hyundai Nexo (2018) Side

    Nexo improves on its predecessor across a number of key areas. Many of them stem from the introduction of a dedicated vehicle architecture that’s lighter and allows for better packaging.

    A more compact fuel cell stack delivers energy to a 160 bhp (120 kW / 163 PS) electric motor. With 395 Nm (291 lb/ft) of torque, the 0-60 mph (96 km/h) sprint takes 9.5 seconds. By comparison, the 134 bhp (100 kW / 135 PS) ix35 Fuel Cell needs two extra seconds to reach the same speed.

    Hyundai Nexo (2018) Front Side

    Range is arguably not as critical as it would be for a plug-in electric vehicle (provided there are convenient hydrogen-refill facilities, of course).

    Nevertheless, Hyundai estimates that the Nexo could travel for 500 miles (805 kilometres) according to the New European Driving Cycle measure. The equivalent distance achievable by an ix35 Fuel Cell is 131 miles (210 kilometres) less.

    Hyundai Nexo (2018) Rear Side

    Cold-start capability, hot-weather running and high-altitude performance are all claimed to be enhanced, too.

    Nexo pricing has yet to be confirmed by Hyundai.

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    Ahead of its second season competing in the FIA World Rally Championship, the Yaris WRC has been slightly modified by Toyota Gazoo Racing.

    Toyota Yaris WRC 2018 Front

    Compared to the 2017 car, the changes are fairly minor. They centre on a redesigned front bumper assembly that’s intended to provide more aerodynamic downforce. The cooling system has received some attention too, primarily to help keep engine temperatures in check during hot-weather events.

    Toyota Yaris WRC 2018 Rear SideToyota Yaris WRC 2018 Front Side

    This year’s three driver / co-driver crews will be Jari-Matti Latvala / Miika Anttilla, Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm and Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja.

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  • 01/13/18--15:02: Top 10: Irish car sales 2017
  • 131,335 new cars were registered in Ireland during 2017, according to statistics released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry. That total represented a reduction of just over ten percent compared to 2016.

    While many other countries are experiencing a dramatic move away from diesel engines, plenty of Irish buyers are refusing to follow the trend.

    Admittedly, diesel’s share fell from 70.1% to 65.2%, but it’s undoubtedly still the most favoured fuel type. Significantly, ‘alternative’ vehicles (i.e. pure electrics and hybrids) experienced the highest growth rate, accounting for 4.1% of all deliveries.

    Irish Car Registrations 2017 - By Fuel Type
    Fuel 2017 2016 +/- % +/-
    Diesel 85,664 102,748 -17,084 -16.6%
    Petrol 40,288 40,641 -353 -0.9%
    Alternative 5,383 3,260 +2,123 +65.1%
    Total 131,335 146,649 -15,314 -10.4%
    Figures provided by SIMI Motorstats

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, the manufacturers listed in the top ten table are unchanged from 2016. Nevertheless, there were some notable position changes.

    After dropping to third last year, Volkswagen regained first place. Its market share remained unchanged at 10.5%, though.

    Volkswagen Golf GTE Advance (2017) Side
    The Golf constituted one third of all Volkswagen
    registrations in Ireland during 2017.

    Toyota slipped from leader to runner-up thanks to major declines across most models. Indeed, if the C-HR hadn’t achieved 1,965 registrations in 2017 (up from 229 in its launch year), then the brand’s overall performance would have been much worse.

    Hyundai posted one of the largest individual slumps, consequently falling from second to fourth. Almost three quarters of that decrease were due to fewer Tucson customers.

    Every marque in the top ten except Kia shifted a smaller volume in 2017. However, a few others lower down the league managed to do the opposite. Eleventh-placed Mercedes-Benz, for example, realised a 27.6% increase (helped by 1,600 additional E-Class sales), ending the year at 4,838 registrations. Similarly, Seat did 3,301 units, an 18.3% uplift.

    Top 10: Irish Car Registrations 2017 - By Manufacturer
    Position Manufacturer 2017 2016 +/- % +/-
    1 Volkswagen 13,830 15,411 -1,581 -10.3%
    2 Toyota 12,684 15,530 -2,846 -18.3%
    3 Ford 12,243 14,666 -2,423 -16.5%
    4 Hyundai 11,917 15,442 -3,525 -22.8%
    5 Nissan 10,348 11,878 -1,530 -12.9%
    6 Škoda 9,030 9,447 -417 -4.4%
    7 Renault 8,328 8,379 -51 -0.6%
    8 Kia 7,132 6,710 +422 +6.3%
    9 Opel 6,526 7,888 -1,362 -17.3%
    10 Audi 5,544 6,066 -522 -8.6%
    Figures provided by SIMI Motorstats

    Despite a substantial absolute reduction, the aforementioned Hyundai Tucson remained Ireland’s most popular car (although only just). Volkswagen’s Golf was still second, but the Ford Focus descended from third to fifth.

    Diminished Toyota Yaris and Corolla sales were primarily responsible for the Kia Sportage rising up from tenth to seventh spot. A new entry on the table was the Volkswagen Tiguan, which forced out the Passat.

    Combined, the top ten models generated 36,086 registrations, or 27.5% of the entire market.

    Top 10: Irish Car Registrations 2017 - By Model
    Position Model 2017 2016 +/- % +/-
    1 Hyundai Tucson 4,893 7,425 -2,532 -34.1%
    2 Volkswagen Golf 4,733 5,464 -731 -13.4%
    3 Nissan Qashqai 4,196 4,591 -395 -8.6%
    4 Škoda Octavia 3,980 4,660 -680 -14.6%
    5 Ford Focus 3,850 4,835 -985 -20.4%
    6 Ford Fiesta 3,217 3,827 -610 -15.9%
    7 Kia Sportage 3,066 2,871 +195 +6.8%
    8 Toyota Yaris 2,881 3,727 -846 -22.7%
    9 Toyota Corolla 2,790 3,751 -961 -25.6%
    10 Volkswagen Tiguan 2,480 1,632 +848 +52.0%
    Figures provided by SIMI Motorstats

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  • 01/15/18--14:06: 2018 NACTOY winners
  • This year’s North American Car of the Year, Truck of the Year and Utility Vehicle of the Year have been named at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

    A jury made up of more than sixty motoring journalists from across Canada and the United States decided the results after three rounds of voting.

    2018 North American Car of the Year

    All too often, the best candidate doesn’t win this kind of contest. Unfortunately, as the most interesting model ended up in second place, that’s been the case here.

    Winner: Honda Accord - 277 points
    Second: Kia Stinger - 246 points
    Third: Toyota Camry - 77 points

    Honda Accord (2018) Front Side
    Honda Accord: 2018 North American Car of the Year.

    2018 North American Truck of the Year

    When the only actual truck listed loses to an SUV, perhaps the organisers need to revise their eligibility criteria? Anyway, the outcome suggests that the final ballot split opinions fairly evenly.

    Winner: Lincoln Navigator - 212 points
    Second: Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 - 200 points
    Third: Ford Expedition - 188 points

    Lincoln Navigator (2018) Front Side
    Lincoln Navigator: 2018 North American Truck of the Year.

    2018 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year

    This category produced a clear-cut victor, which was particularly praised for its luxury appeal, great ride quality and value for money.

    Winner: Volvo XC60 - 246 points
    Second: Honda Odyssey - 182 points
    Third: Alfa Romeo Stelvio - 172 points

    Volvo XC60 (2018) Side
    Volvo XC60: 2018 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year.

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    After a seven-year absence, the Ford Ranger is set to return to North America. The new mid-size pick-up might look familiar, because it’s based on the Ranger T6 that was originally launched in Asia, Europe and other markets in 2011.

    Indeed, redesigned bumpers apart, the North American version appears to be virtually identical to the Ranger which is already sold elsewhere. However, there are some significant differences.

    Ford Ranger SuperCrew (2019 North American Spec) Front Side

    Chief among them is the powertrain. Every Ranger destined for Canada and the USA will have a 2.3 litre EcoBoost gasoline engine. Output remains a mystery, but this four-cylinder turbocharged unit is going to come mated to a segment-exclusive ten-speed automatic transmission. Ford isn’t currently intending to offer a manual gearbox alternative.

    SuperCab (small rear-hinged rear doors) and SuperCrew (conventional rear doors) configurations are planned. Surprisingly, a two-door regular cab variant – which would appeal particularly to work truck users – won’t be part of the line-up.

    Customers will have a choice of XL, XLT or Lariat trim grades and either rear- or four-wheel drive. Optional Chrome and Sport cosmetic upgrades have been confirmed, as have the FX2 and FX4 off-road packages.

    Production of the 2019 Ranger is due to begin in Michigan late this year.

    Ford Ranger SuperCrew (2019 North American Spec) InteriorFord Ranger SuperCrew (2019 North American Spec) Rear Side

    Ford Ranger SuperCrew (2019 North American Spec) SideFord Ranger SuperCrew (2019 North American Spec) Dashboard

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    Revised styling, more comfort and a better driving experience denote the 2018 Land Cruiser, according to Toyota.

    The changes start at the front end, where the bumper, headlights and grille have been redesigned. Also, the bonnet’s centre section has an altered profile to improve downward visibility, while the top sections of the flanking wings are now higher to aid vehicle placement.

    Toyota Land Cruiser Utility 3-Door (2018) Front Side

    In a similar vein, the rear light clusters, bumper and number plate surround are all modified. Altogether, the alterations have added 60 mm (2.3”) to the Land Cruiser’s overall length.

    Inside, the highlight is an updated dashboard layout that’s claimed to improve the ergonomics. A refreshed instrument binnacle gains a 4.2” TFT colour multi-information display, the switchgear has been rearranged and the centre console can be specified with an 8” colour touchscreen infotainment system. Other enhancements include front-seat ventilation, rear-seat heating and reverse-tilting door mirrors.

    Toyota Land Cruiser Invincible 5-Door (2018) Dashboard

    Perhaps the most significant development is the introduction of an entry-level Utility trim grade. Available in three- and five-door guises, it comes with 17” steel wheels and a decent level of equipment. Air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth, a USB port, a CD player, front fog lights and automatic headlights are all standard. Buyers should choose plain white paintwork to achieve a proper ‘disaster relief NGO’ look.

    However, anybody requiring serious off-road ability might have to consider the Land Cruiser Invincible instead. That’s because this range-topping variant boasts Multi-Terrain Select, Multi-Terrain Monitor, Crawl Control, an under-vehicle camera, a locking Torsen rear differential and the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System.

    As before, power comes from a turbocharged 2.8 litre diesel engine which delivers 175 bhp (130 kW/ 176 PS) with 370 Nm (272 lb/ft) of peak torque.

    2018 Toyota Land Cruiser – UK on-the-road prices
    Trim grade Body style Transmission OTR price
    Utility 3-door / 5 seats 6-speed manual £32,795
    Utility 5-door / 5 seats 6-speed manual £34,095
    Utility 5-door / 5 seats 6-speed automatic £35,795
    Active 5-door / 5 seats 6-speed automatic £39,095
    Active 5-door / 7 seats 6-speed automatic £39,700
    Icon 5-door / 7 seats 6-speed automatic £47,495
    Invincible 5-door / 7 seats 6-speed automatic £52,295

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