Impressed by a drive in the Nissan Leaf

The Renault-Nissan Alliance has predicted that, by 2020, 10 per cent of global car sales will be electric vehicles. We’ve been hearing about the rise of the electric car for decades, so it’s easy to be cynical.

19 October 2009
Tester’s notes

Skoda's credit crunch limo

Spent a couple of days near Milan last week for the launch of the Skoda Superb estate, a car whose important to the brand is greater than just extra room in the back. The interesting thing about the Superb is that it doesn’t look nearly as big as you expect it to. By turning the saloon (which officially is a hatchback, but that’s far too confusing) into a load lugger has sorted the slightly elongated profile and made it look far better proportioned.

19 October 2009
Tester’s notes

Following in Button's footsteps

Yesterday, I must have been one of only a handful of motorsport fans in the country <a href="http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle/AllCars/244181/">not watching Jenson Button take his maiden F1 title for Brawn GP</a>. Instead, I was watching the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, one of the places where it all began for the boy from Frome.

19 October 2009
Motorsport

Jenson - the right man won

The nicest touch of all came from Rubens Barrichello. The kid who’d grown up just a stone’s throw from Interlagos, who had been inspired by the sight of his great hero Ayrton Senna winning the Brazilian GP there, had just finished Sunday afternoon by failing to win either his home race or the world championship. But that didn’t prevent the oldest driver on the grid from making the grand gesture to his Brawn team-mate, the newly crowned world champion Jenson Button. Over 200 regular passengers might have been frustrated when technical problems delayed Sunday night’s British Airways flight back to London, but Rubens stepped forward and offered the loan of his $35m Brazilian-built Embraer Legacy private jet to whisk Jenson back to the UK.

19 October 2009
Motorsport

What car for &#163;1000 of fun?

I get a lot correspondence from youngsters starting out on their automotive journeys with not much in the way of savings and nothing resembling a no claims bonus. Insurance is always the killer, so it was interesting the other day to come across someone who, at 22, had paid his insurance dues, but still had a first time buyer budget. He wanted excitement for £1000.

16 October 2009
Anything goes

Old Ferraris that are as good as new

It’s been at least six years since I last drove a Ferrari 575M Maranello. The front-engined, V12 grand tourer went out of production in 2006 when it was replaced by the 599 GTB Fiorano, but the 575M and its 550 Maranello predecessor remain right at the top of my personal list of all-time favourite Ferraris (that I’ve driven). So it’s a real treat to have the chance to climb back behind the wheel of one at Rockingham Motor Speedway and remember what a deeply desirable car the 575M was, and still is.

16 October 2009
Half-price heroes

Volvo's 'flagship dealer' disappoints

I’ve just spend a frustrating morning at Volvo Cars West London in Chiswick getting my XC60 serviced.

15 October 2009
Tester’s notes

Airports, duty free and bits of F1 cars

It’s amazing what you can pick up at an airport these days. Flying back from Milan today I noticed a Ferrari store metres from the gate, selling anything and everything that the Prancing Horse logo can be printed on. Among the teddy bears and baseball caps were these various pistons, valves and conrods from the 2001 championship winning F1 car, piloted by Michael Schumacher.

15 October 2009
Anything goes

Since when have estates been exciting?

On the face of it there shouldn’t be anything like the level of excitement surrounding the Skoda Superb estate. But nobody can deny that there is a buzz around what is essentially a car with a slightly silly name and lots of room in the back. The Superb is big news and, although Skoda is not expecting huge sales figures, it is a very important model for the manufacturer. Despite its obvious good value, the very fact this car is an estate is what will put it on the shopping list for a lot of people new to Skoda. Trying to work out at what point estate cars became interesting and desirable in Britain is difficult, but for some reason they seem to transcend the traditional values of badge snobbery.

14 October 2009
Tester’s notes

Bangtastic

On Sunday night, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. In front of me, more than 40 cars were deliberately smashing into each other trying to cause as much damage as possible, while an audience of hundreds looked on laughing and shouting for more. I am of course referring to my first visit to the Wimbledon banger racing, a bizarre place, but one I’m sure I’ll be returning to none the less.

14 October 2009
Anything goes

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