This week: BMW takes on Tesla, how to buy an MG Midget, we plan to save the city car and loads more
20 March 2019

The Tesla Model 3, after being on sale in the US for nearly two years, is on its way to European dealerships. 

The electric saloon promises a 162mph top speed, class-leading range and dynamic handling. It should be a guaranteed market success, then. Or rather, it would be, if the new BMW 3 Series wasn’t arriving at the same time. We head to Amsterdam to try the two new 3s back to back, and find out if one of the world’s most acclaimed EVs is ready to take on its famously potent and capable rival. 

Not content with posing a threat to BMW, however, Tesla has also launched an electric seven-seater crossover sharing a platform with the Model 3. With a starting price of under $40,000 (£30,000), a maximum range of 300 miles and promised dynamic handling, the new Model Y could steal sales in every segment and promises to be the brand’s most important model yet. 

We’ve also got the lowdown on the Projekt Grenadier SUV being developed by chemical company Ineos. The model, inspired by company owner Jim Ratcliffe’s love of the original Land Rover Defender, will arrive in 2020 equipped with a range of BMW-sourced petrol and diesel engines. Read our interview with the boss of Ineos Automotive to find out exactly what stage the Grenadier is at. 

Our Verdict

Volkswagen T-Roc

Volkswagen arrives late at the crossover hatchback party. But can the T-Roc still turn heads in a congested segment?

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After the Geneva motor show, we told you how the future of the small city car was under threat due to tightening emissions regulations and slimming profit margins. Now, we’ve come up with a solution that could keep cars like the Fiat 500 and Seat Mii on the roads. 

Elsewhere, we take a look at how Volkswagen will make good on its aim to sell 22 million fully electric vehicles over the next 10 years, what recent spy shots tell us about the all-new Golf and what form a promised new model from Lotus will take. 

Finally, a new SUV on the cards at Bugatti, second-generation Toyota GT86, electric Audi sports saloon and Bentley Continental GT V8 are added to the list of cars we can’t wait to drive.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE

Reviews

We’ve been carving up some French mountain roads this week in the new DS 3 Crossback. Marketing a classy crossover makes sense for two reasons: premium brands make up 37% of worldwide car profits, and there’s relatively few competitors in existence. So, can the new Crossback convey a sense of identity, offer a rewarding drive and demonstrate supreme build quality as it takes the fight to Audi’s Q2 and the Mini Countryman?

A much (much) bigger premium SUV than the Crossback is BMW’s newly launched X7. Perhaps disappointingly, the snarling V8 version isn’t destined for our narrow British roads, but we find out if less potent diesel and petrol powertrains can push this X5-dwarfing Audi Q7-rival to sales success in Europe. 

We’ve also driven the drop-top variant of Porsche’s new 911, charged with determining whether its acclaimed chassis suffers at the hands of a loss of structural rigidity and extra weight. Further spells behind the wheel of BMW’s new Z4 sDrive 20i Sport and the Seat Leon Cupra R ST provided a perfect opportunity for more fast-paced thrills (and sunburn). 

This week’s big road test subject is the new Audi SQ2. With 296bhp, a 0-60mph time of 4.5sec and a limited top speed of 155mph, it promises hot hatch performance with crossover practicality. What will decide its success, though, will be whether it rights the wrongs committed by its Spanish counterpart - the Cupra Ateca - by providing a more balanced ride and characterful performance.

Features

This week, we’ve been speaking to Peugeot boss Jean-Philippe Imparato, whose passion for cars has helped him take the company from teetering on the edge of bankruptcy to celebrating record profits. He gave us Peugeot’s position on electrification, motor racing, heritage and even promised us a Peugeot pick up truck. 

Ever wondered where the vintage cars you see in TV dramas come from? So did we, which is why we found ourselves at the Bedfordshire HQ of one of the British movie industry’s biggest car suppliers. When we’d finished pretending to be Brad Pitt behind the wheel of a 1932 Ford Model Y, we hear all about dressing cars, character cars and the impossibility of keeping a calendar in Hollywood. 

More famous than any film-featured car is the Ford Capri, which has been off-sale for over 30 years, but which retains a die-hard following among Ford, motorsport and classic car fans alike. Our reimagined 2019 Capri featured on Autocar.co.uk over Christmas won warm approval, so we’ve taken it a few steps further and contracted an engineering design company to design it for real. Read our introduction to the Autocar-Envisage Capri CC to find out what’s changed, what’s the same, and why it’s such a good idea. 

Carrying on the Ford theme, we visited the engineers at Essex-based Mountune, whose tuning packages have provided Ford’s performance models with class-leading performance and reliability since 1980. Find out what the company has planned for the Ford Focus BTCC cars ahead of the next year of racing.

Opinions

Matt Prior, this week, is concerned with Gordon Murray. The legendary designer is responsible for the McLaren F1 (once the fastest car in the world) and has become a byword for British speed, so why does his car collection comprise (with the exception of a lovely Lotus Cortina) mainly small, underpowered cars? 

Joining Gordon Murray in the Lotus Cortina owners club is Steve Cropley, whose purchase this week fulfilled a boyhood dream and promises him years of driving excitement. It’s just a good thing he didn’t buy a car from a dealership, as an experience in a service department on Monday left him with a very sour taste in his mouth.

Deals

Those looking for a used car have plenty to look forward to in this week’s magazine. Our ‘nearly-new’ picks of the week are the Mk7 Golf GTI and R, we’ve found a 256bhp Mazda 3 MPS in the classifieds and found all the information you need if you fancy picking up a classic MG Midget.

Meanwhile, a letter from Rome had James Ruppert puzzling this week over the best cars to buy and drive in Europe’s polluted and congested capital cities.

Where to buy

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Comments
41

5 April 2018

As usual, this week's edition (dated 04APR2018), is a very good read, and well worth the investment. The road test of the eighth generation of Roll-Royce Phantom - with its "mahogany panelling" - illustrates that moneyed wealth, should NOT be confused with good-taste!

The sales pitch for next week's issue (to be dated 11APR2018), whets our appetite with the Used Buying Guide  . . .  "Mercedes-Benz CLS. Can't afford the new one? Then read our guide to Merc's original style icon".

The original CLS certainly was a style icon, with all the svelte elegance of a Parisian - or Italian - chic designer item.

That streamlined elegance was lost when the original's "facelift" incorporated the bluff, Teutonic, more upright, corporate Mercedes radiator grill.

The new, current, incarnation of the CLS (page 29, of this week's magazine), shares all the style, delicacy, and substantial "presence" of a rugby prop forward!  It is not a case of "Can not  AFFORD  the new CLS?".  More a question of why would anyone wish to purchase such a vulgar and brutish vehicle?

It is (again) a reminder that the ownership of wealth, is NOT the same as the possession of good taste.

RCT(V)

 

 

 

 

289

18 July 2018

....totally agree!

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