Blogs

  • Dumb and dumber

    Enduring the Post Office queue the other day I got some unexpected live entertainment when a chap attempted to post a letter without an address on it. He thought simply putting DVLA on the envelope was enough. No stamp. No postcode. Just those four letters. When he left, the post mistress told me more. He’d been sacked months earlier for failing to make the grade as a paper boy.

    19 March 2009
    Anything goes
  • Torotrak gears up

    Have you heard of a company called Torotrak? Probably not. They make a very clever gearbox called an infinitely variable transmission system – basically a form of zero-shift a little bit like the gearboxes they use in F1. Trouble is, although Torotrak has been around for nearly a decade, not one single car manufacturer has been bold enough to invest in its gearbox (although Jaguar is working with it on a mechanical hybrid system).

    19 March 2009
    Anything goes
  • 'Allo 'allo 'allo Insignia

    For reasons that should be apparent on this website, I had to travel up to Vauxhall’s UK centre of operations in Luton recently. It was my first time visiting Griffin House, and as I stood in reception, I was joined by a couple of out-of-uniform police officers. Were they CID, I wondered? Was Vauxhall being investigated for dubious accounting during these troubled economic times? Erm, no. The much less juicy truth is that these bobbies were going into a training course on the merits of the new Insignia Sports Tourer.

    19 March 2009
    Tester’s notes
  • Panamera: the view from the back seat

    I’m currently at Stuttgart airport on the way back from a detailed technical briefing on the Porsche Panamera. As luck would have it, it wasn’t just about seeing the car broken down to its component pieces (although that was fascinating).

    18 March 2009
    Confidential
  • Jaguar XJ to topple S-class?

    Jaguar will be keen to reclaim some of the XJ’s heyday back in the late 90s, when the car sold nearly 10,000 XJs a year in the UK alone. That was when the new AJ-V8 engines had just spruced up the reskinned X300 version of the XJ40. The XJ has since lost that lustre, despite its advanced aluminium chassis. That’s largely because of the relentless popularity of the Mercedes S-class, now the default choice for self-made businessmen or company directors.

    18 March 2009
    Confidential
  • Along for the ride

    We’re fully aware that we bang on about it a fair amount in the mag, but ride quality is one of the most difficult aspects of a car’s dynamics to get right. It’s also pretty tricky to assess. Which is why we use a number of specific ‘ride roads’.  We’ve got a few favourites pretty close to the office, and use a particularly challenging road on our test route up to Mira.

    18 March 2009
    Tester’s notes
  • Points no longer mean prizes

    I think we should see how Bernie’s new system for deciding the world championship pans out before dismissing it out of hand. For years F1 fans throughout the world have bemoaned the lack of overtaking in the sport and here is a method of encouraging it which is simple, free and likely to be effective.</p> It will prevent tactical driving. The weather made the title decider in Brazil last year a thrilling race, but I for one will live very happily without seeing a team like McLaren and a driver like Lewis Hamilton embarking on a Grand Prix weekend with the sole intention of coming fifth.

    18 March 2009
    Motorsport
  • Ecclestone: no chance for Silverstone

    Silverstone has no chance of regaining the F1 British Grand Prix for 2010 in the event of Donington Park not being ready to stage the race, Bernie Ecclestone warned last week. </p> In his most direct statement yet on the subject, the F1 commercial rights holder reiterated his 'Donington or nowhere' threat, spelling it out in no uncertain terms that there would be no British Grand Prix on the calendar if the circuit near Derby was unable to deliver on its contract.

    16 March 2009
    Motorsport
  • Geely set to scoop up Saab?

    14 March 2009
    Anything goes
  • Panamera: is there a market?

    I’ve always struggled with the concept of the Porsche Panamera, and the announcement that pricing is set to start from the dizzy heights of £72,000 hasn’t done anything to assuage my doubts as to whether this is a car that anybody is waiting for. On one hand – and from Porsche’s point of view – the Panamera will be an almost half-price alternative to the forthcoming Aston Martin Rapide.

    13 March 2009
    Anything goes

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