Nissan Micra 1.0 71PS 2018 review

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Nissan Micra 1.0 71PS 2018 review

Nissan plugs the gap in its Micra range with a naturally aspirated 1.0-litre petrol engine, but is it good enough to unseat the Ford Fiesta, Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo equivalents?
What is it?
Not often does a car maker give the lowliest model in a line-up its own international launch, but such an honour was recently bestowed on the Nissan Micra.

The engine in question is a new 70bhp 1.0-litre petrol. It joins the existing 0.9-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engines, both touting 89bhp, but bucks the trend of an entire industry and forgoes turbocharging in order to cut costs.

It is an important development for the Micra. With the supermini segment so fiercely competitive, every penny counts. By opting for the naturally aspirated engine instead of its turbocharged petrol sibling, you’ll save just under a thousand pounds – a decent portion of the overall price at this level.

Offering a cheaper engine also addresses a fundamental problem Nissan has had with the Micra; until now, the range was undercut by both the Ford Fiesta and – our class leader – Seat Ibiza. Starting at just £11,995, this new model now undercuts those rivals in their most anaemic forms and it’s also the cheapest car to insure in its class, claims Nissan.


Lexus LS500h 2018 review

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Lexus LS500h 2018 review

New flagship saloon from Lexus provides a luxury interior to rival the best but comes up short due to its hybrid powertrain
What is it?
Had you in 1989 asked the senior Lexus executive in the UK to predict annual sales of its flagship LS model five generations and 18 years later, he’d have come up with a number larger than 100.

But that’s how many of these new LS500h Ewan Shepherd, the man who does that job today, reckons he’ll shift in 2018. To be fair, sales only start on 2 January and there will be an inevitable ramp up, but he says no more than 150 units will be coming this way even in a full year. In the same time, Mercedes-Benz will shift 2500 S-Classes.

The LS has always struggled here, the best volumes hitting around 400 in 2007 just before the crash. The injuries have been self-inflicted in part – refusing to offer a diesel engine denied it the vast bulk of prospects – but it has also fallen victim to a nation of badge snobs that we are.

This all-new LS does not seek to change its tune because it’s far more successful in less traditionalist markets, but it has been re-recorded and mixed with a decidedly more upbeat groove. Lower, wider and longer, the styling is far more adventurous – borderline funky, in fact - and comes with uncommon presence and an almost fanatical devotion to detail. That ‘spindle’ front grille has 5000 surfaces and took one stylist 14 weeks of solid work to design, after which I’m guessing he or she had to go and lie in darkened room for almost as long again.What's it like?
I really like its appearance and most elements of its striking cabin design. It looks both luxurious and modern, which is both a difficult and neat trick to pull. Moreover, the top-of-the-range four-wheel-drive ‘Premier’ model I drove was full of quite exceptional materials, even in those areas only a journalist might choose to push and prod – the inside of the door bins, for instance. In design terms, this is a proper job.

In other areas, its abilities are more sketchy. Far more sketchy, in fact. I worried that in both the official blurb and presentations, the actually nuts and bolts of the car – the powertrain, chassis and construction materials – were pretty much the last things to be mentioned. Hierarchically, the fact you can order interior door facings covered in leather quilting folded according to ancient origami tradition appeared to be more important. And don’t get me wrong, it’s a great material and fabulously executed, but neither that nor that they’ve managed to present wood in a way wood cannot present naturally should really come before things like, er, the engine.

Which is a 3.5-litre V6 developing 295bhp without the aid of turbochargers, but boosted by a hybrid system to produce a ‘total system output’ of 354bhp. It powers either the rear or all four wheels suspended at each corner by multi-link suspension units.

And I’m afraid my fears were largely confirmed. There is a lot of theatre when you approach and board the LS: the door handles illuminate, puddles of light appear beneath the mirrors, the seat belt presents itself and even its holder extends by 50mm to receive the buckle. The seat can adjust itself in 28 ways and offer a range of massage functions from ‘stretch’ to ‘Shiatsu’ and five levels of strength. The interior is not just attractive, it’s fascinating – layer after layer of full-width metal strips splitting the dash from door to door. If ever a car made a promise about the experience to come, this is it. But the car itself fails to deliver.

The most obvious problem is the engine, which has to work far too hard to cart the immense weight of the LS from place to place. In the specification I drove, it weighed 2420kg, almost half a tonne more than the new Audi A8 when fitted with a similarly powerful V6 motor.

If this were a sonorous V12 or even a thundering V8, you might not mind too much, but it’s a coarse V6 that develops maximum torque at a sky-high 5100rpm, and not even ten gear ratios (four real, six virtual) can disguise the fact. On a steady motorway incline, it would at times have to rev to over 4000rpm to maintain progress, and it’s not shy about voicing its displeasure. It’s a shame to say it but, when all the mainstream alternatives have quiet turbo engines offering massive thrust from barely more than idling speed whether they be powered by petrol or diesel, this normally aspirated V6 is nothing less than inadequate for a car whose prices only start at £72,595 and extend all the way up to £97,995.

In other ways, it feels more as you’d hope a flagship Lexus to be: the ride quality on air suspension (standard on all bar the entry-level model) meets the expectations of its class and, while it’s not remotely fun to hustle, nor is it in the least unpleasant, proving accurate and quite composed in long fast corners.

Even so, when you delve deeper into those areas in which such a car needs to excel, it comes up surprisingly short. Who’d have thought, for instance,


Volkswagen T-Roc 2018 UK review

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Volkswagen T-Roc 2018 UK review

Volkswagen's has high aspirations for its new crossover be the best in class and then some. We've driven the 1.0 TSI T-Roc out in the UK to see if it's as good as Wolfsburg says
What is it?
Volkswagen is so confident in its new T-Roc that it doesn’t just expect to challenge for class honours; it reckons the crossover could be one of Britain’s best-selling vehicles.

The Volkswagen T-Roc 1.0 TSI SE you see here is predicted to be in heaviest demand, and for good reason; this is a brand with an enviable reach and dealer network, so flogging a mid-spec crossover - the nation’s best-selling type of car - should be easy.

However, the T-Roc will still have its work cut out. It faces a very strong list of rivals, including cars from its own stable, the Skoda Karoq and Seat Ateca, which, on paper at least, look like better propositions, because although they share the Volkswagen Group’s MQB underpinnings and a whole host of parts, the Czech and Spanish models are slightly larger and cheaper to buy.

To set the T-Roc apart, Volkswagen has given it a more premium, funky design while also engineering it to have a youthful character. Chassis development boss Karsten Schebsdat, the man who signed off the playful settings of the Golf GTI Clubsport and encouraged a more adjustable Polo GTI, believes higher-end versions of the T-Roc are the "most agile” in their class.

For today’s test, we want to find out if that statement stands true for the UK’s predicted volume-seller, which is fitted with a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder that produces a modest 113bhp and 148lb ft. Will crossover buyers be tempted by the T-Roc's trendy image, or will they be unable to ignore the value for money offered elsewhere?


Ford Mondeo ST-Line 2017 review

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Ford Mondeo ST-Line 2017 review

What is it?
When the Ford Mondeo Mk1 first appeared in 1993, its agile handling and responsive steering turned what was expected to be a run-of-the-mill fleet car into a driver’s delight. It’s grown a bit since then – by around 400mm in length and to more than 250kg – but it’s also grown into a more refined proposition.

The Mondeo ST-Line and more expensive ST-Line X introduced in 2017 were part of Ford’s strategy to split ranges above the entry level into sports and luxury trim levels (Titanium and Vignale). Thus, both versions of ST-Line are sporting trims akin to Audi’s S line rather than a return to true sports ‘ST’ versions of the Mondeo. For the 2018 model year, ST-Line X has been renamed ST-Line Edition. ST-Line is not aimed at fleets but fair and square at the retail buyer.

The Mondeo ST-Line comes with sports suspension that is slightly stiffer and 10mm lower than standard. Outside, there’s a full body styling kit and 18in Rock Metallic alloy wheels. Inside, there are front cloth sports seats with red contrast stitching, alloy pedals, accented red stitching on the steering wheel, centre console and door trims, and dark headliner.

ST-Line Edition gets Titanium equipment such as traffic sign recognition, lane keeping aid and 10-way electrically adjustable driver's seat (passenger seat remains manual), and adds further enhancements including rear privacy glass, ST-Line branding, coloured stitching and sports trim items. It, too, gets the sport suspension but 19in Rock Metallic alloy wheels. Seats are trimmed in partial leather that is black with red stitching.

Powertrains are either 148bhp or 178bhp 2.0 Duratorq TDCi diesel, with either six-speed manual transmission or PowerShift dual-clutch automatic on the more powerful engine. There’s also an all-wheel-drive option tested here, in conjunction with the 178bhp diesel and auto 'box.


Audi RS4 Avant 2018 review

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Audi RS4 Avant 2018 review

What is it?
The Audi RS4 Avant operates in a rare old sphere of fast compact executive estates that involves only it and the Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate. There’s no BMW M3 estate and, as yet, no sign of an Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio with a square back, either. So if you want a fast, smallish dog carrier for £60k or so, here you are.

Now in its fourth generation, the RS4 also leaves the C63 as the only V8-powered car in this class. Like the RS5, the new RS4’s engine has been downsized to a 444bhp 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6, rather than having the previous generation’s charismatic naturally aspirated V8.

This drives through an eight-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox, to all four wheels, in a body given a bit more chunkiness and cooling and 30mm-wider wheel arches.

The quattro four-wheel drive system puts 60% of power to the rear wheels under normal driving, but can put as much as 70% to the rear, or, 85% to the front. This is the kind of system intended to make the RS4 more agile. To that end, there’s a ‘sport differential’, an electronically controlled rear differential that can apportion as much power as it likes to either side, as standard.

There are other suspension options, too: hydraulically linked dampers, a bit like those in a McLaren, to reduce roll and pitch. There's also dynamic steering, which adjusts the steering ratio depending on speed, and ceramic brakes. All were fitted to our test car. Other options include a carbon pack at £10k (clue’s in the name). Wheels are 19in or 20in (guess what we got) with 275/30 R20 tyres.

This generation of RS4 is (up to) 80kg lighter than the old one (deep breath: the body by 15kg, engine by 31kg, front and rear axles 6kg each, steering system 3.5kg, sport differential 1kg, quattro driveline 12.5kg, ceramic brakes 8kg and, if you spec them, milled wheels 8kg), but is still a 1715kg car; about the same as the C63.

The two are also within a centimetre of length, with the RS4 at 4781mm long. This is one of those ultra-competitive classes where all of the key numbers are gnat’s widths apart, including a boot of 505 litres (to the C63’s 490).


Subaru XV 2.0 SE Premium 2018 review

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Subaru XV 2.0 SE Premium 2018 review

What is it?
This is the new, second-generation model of the Subaru XV, the Japanese brand's smallest SUV, sampled in Europe for the first time ahead of UK sales beginning in January 2018.

You know what you’re going to get with Subaru, and there are no surprises here. The XV combines all-wheel drive, boxer engines and boxy design, as pretty much all of its predecessors have since the brand arrived in the UK three decades ago. As such, it will seem reassuringly familiar to the company’s small but loyal customer base, although it will likely struggle to exert a broader appeal among more lifestyle-ish crossovers. 

No matter: Subaru is keen to stress that the XV should still be considered a proper off-roader rather than a pretend one. As such, it has good ground clearance, permanent all-wheel drive instead of a part-time system and hill descent control as standard. That’s enough to stand out as something close to a USP in this segment these days.

Although its design looks very similar to that of the old XV, this car is almost entirely new, in terms of structure at least, sitting on the same Subaru Global Platform that underpins the new Impreza. As such, it's stronger and considerably safer than its predecessor, having recently received one of the highest NCAP scores recorded to date.

The mechanical side of the package is more familiar. There are only two engines to choose from, both naturally aspirated petrol boxers. Subaru’s soon-to-die horizontally opposed diesel won’t be offered. The entry-level 1.6-litre has just 110bhp, while the 2.0-litre makes a more respectable 151bhp.

A six-speed manual gearbox is offered in some markets, but it won’t be coming to Europe, with a CVT automatic our only choice. Apparently, this is because the manual won’t work with Subaru’s active safety Eyesight system, a vital part of that NCAP rating.

Prices start at £24,995 for the 1.6 SE and rise to £28,495 for the range-topping 2.0 SE Premium.


Mini Cooper S Works 210 review

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Mini Cooper S Works 210 review

The market for the go-faster Mini has become somewhat muddled and fragmented since the arrival, in 2015, of the top-of-the-current-series-production-pile John Cooper Works.

Since then, we’ve had the ultra-low-volume stripped-out 228bhp John Cooper Works Challenge limited edition, complete with adjustable suspension, Cup tyres and £32k price.


2019 Jeep Wrangler Pickup: Everything We Know

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2019 Jeep Wrangler Pickup: Everything We Know

Jeep has not sold a pickup truck since 1992, when the XJ Cherokee team went out of production, although Jeep released many conceptual pickup trucks to tease us. Now we know that the Wrangler pickup is already on the road, and on our list of cars we can not wait to go. To say that we are excited about the Wrangler pickup would be an understatement, so let's unite everything that we think we know about it.
In 2005, Jeep launched the pick-up attack Wrangler with the concept of the gladiator (shown above), but he never got to production. Several concepts, as only served to further our collective appetite.

Finally, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed in early 2016 that Jeep will finally offer a version for the production of the next generation Wrangler.

At the end of 2019, this will be production
In an interview in 2014 in Detroit News at the Detroit Motor Show, Jeep CEO Mike Manley said that the Wrangler pickup will appear in late 2017, following the debut of the next generation JL Wrangler.

Unfortunately, Jeep has since postponed the production of pickups until the end of 2019, almost two years after the next generation Wrangler will arrive. Manley says that he wants to make sure that with the release of the SUV Wrangler there are no problems before Jeep starts building a pickup truck. Both Wrangler models will be built at the Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio, which is upgraded to $ 700 million to prepare for new cars.

We should see the Wrangler debut in the form of an SUV later in 2017, but Jeep did not announce when the pickup debuts.
ince the Wrangler pickup was announced, we received spy photos and detailed visualizations, giving us a pretty clear idea of ​​what to expect. No wonder it looks like a Wrangler with a truck. The next generation of Wrangler gets a new front face with more pronounced grating angles and headlights with LED lights.
We saw only spy shots of four-door prototypes of the prototype Wrangler Unlimited, but, according to the latest images, the truck is likely to be available as a two-door.

About this, according to rumors, about the extension
First we heard a pickup crash, based on the next generation of Wrangler in September 2015. Of course, people began to demand this much longer.

It will be based on the new Wrangler platform
Jeep will continue to build the current Wrangler until March 2018, that is, the old and new generations will be sold side by side for several months. Jeep did not find too many features on the next Wrangler, but we have a decent idea of ​​how it will look.

It is assumed that JL Wrangler will retain its classic body design on the frame, but it can get a new aluminum-intensive body. Like Ford with the current F-150, switching to lightweight aluminum construction can help save fuel, never succumbing to a strong suit with Wrangler. There are also rumors of diesel and hybrid Wranglers, but it remains to be confirmed.

We know that Wrangler is tuned for a serious upgrade of the cabin, complete with the latest infotainment system UConnect FCA. Fortunately, the manual transmission remains in the options list, and the Wrangler will most likely retain its iconic removable doors.
Like the current Wrangler, the next-generation Wrangler pickup truck will be built in Toledo, Ohio, next to the version without a pickup truck.

He probably will not have the Hellcat engine
Yes, Jeep made the Wrangler with the 707-hp supercharged V8 from Hellcat last year, but it's just a one-time fever. Do not worry, because if you want an Hellcat engine and a grid with seven bars, there's always a trek hatch of the Grand Cherokee.

He can get a 300-HP Turbo Four-Cylinder, although
In an effort to improve fuel economy in a known inefficient Wrangler, Jeep, as they say, is developing a new 300-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder cylinder codenamed «Hurricane», perhaps, as an optional upgrade on the 3.8-liter 285-liter Pentastar V6 used in the current Wrangler. Spy pictures obtained by "Truth about cars" show four cylinders under the hood of the prototype Wrangler.

And he certainly will have a diesel

According to the screenshots of the Jeep dealer system on the Jeep Scrambler forums, the JT Wrangler Pickup will have a 3.0 V6 turbo diesel with an auto start / stop as an engine choice. No words about the programs to which he could / would be connected.

He will sell like crazy
Americans love pick-ups, and Americans like jeeps. Sergio Marchionne knows this, so building a pickup truck Wrangler - complete and complete lack of problems. It will also be wildly different from any other pickup truck that is currently being sold, which should help him in the future.
The roof will be removed

Along with the shots confirming the diesel engine, the Scrambler forums have pictures showing that the roof will be removable, like a normal Wrangler. Should be provided


The Next Land Rover Defender Will Be Sold in the US

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The Next Land Rover Defender Will Be Sold in the US

In the next couple of years, we will see new fully redesigned versions of two classic (and largely unchanged for decades) off-road vehicles - Mercedes G-Wagen and Land Rover Defender. Retaining the tradition, Mercedes will adhere to the bodywork on the frame, but Land Rover, apparently, uses a different approach. Automotive News reports that the Defender of the future generation will be based on the same platform Unibody, which supports Range Rover.


The average Aston 488 engine can have V6
(Shown above, the final release of the Current Defender)

Automotive News states that Defender will most likely use the version of the current Range Rover aluminum platform to reduce costs and weight, as well as to better meet global safety standards. Defender will also be equipped with a new family of Jaguar Land Rover of the four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines Ingenium. This is likely to be sold in two traditional body styles: a two-door soft top and a four-door hardtop.

In another break with the past Automotive News also says that this Defender will be "sold in all world markets", which will include North America. Land Rover previously imported several defenders to the US market in the period from 1993 to 1997, but otherwise they were banned for American enthusiasts.

Automotive News reports that the next-generation Defender may be shown in conceptual form next year, before entering the market in 2019.


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