Electric dreams

16 April 2009
Green cars

Viva the Viva!

Do you care what your insurance company is called? Of course not, you just want the lowest and best quote and hopefully nothing to do with them ever again. Renewal is hassle, but hey, that’s what comparison websites are for. So if you end up at the Big Bogey Insurance company, so what? Well, Norwich Union though are really bothered about their name. After several hundred years of being NU with no discernible ill effects, some bright spark in marketing has reckoned that in down town Somethingorotherstan it may confuse the locals.

15 April 2009
Half-price heroes

The diffuser battle is won

Cynical minds within F1 – and there are plenty of them – will draw far-reaching conclusions from the FIA’s court of appeal verdict upholding the legality of the ‘double diffusers’ featured on the Brawn, Toyota and Williams contenders. Many feel it has inflicted a body blow to the supposed solidarity among the Formula One Team’s Association at a time when the F1 entrants have been displaying an unusual degree of solidarity during negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone over how much cash they can expect to earn from a new Concorde agreement in 2012.

15 April 2009
Motorsport

Jaguar or Maserati?

A lot of top Jag engineers make no secret of their admiration for the current Maseratis. I was thinking of this the other day when I finally got to drive the new XKR coupe on British roads. Just to remind you, it's now fitted with the company's amazing new 503bhp supercharged V8, there's been some chassis, styling and interior mods too.

15 April 2009
Tester’s notes

The Audi-beating Hyundai

The Hyundai Genesis Coupe ought to be the replacement for the Hyundai Coupe, the budget-priced, sporty two-door that has done much to give the Korean marque a thin sheen of glamour where there was previously none at all. Trouble is, this bigger, more potent machine, Hyundai Europe reckons, will find too small a market to justify bringing here, and that’s a pity. In fact, after half an hour at the wheel of the 306bhp 3.8-litre V6, plenty of enthusiasts might even feel downright frustrated at this news, as will owners of the existing Coupe, because this is a fun car. It can peel twin black lines and fire off 6.3sec sprints to 62mph with nonchalant ease but, more than that, it handles with the kind of tight athleticism that has you stabbing the ESP button to ‘off’, and trying for a drift.

14 April 2009
Tester’s notes

Why tolls mean queues

Should we end up with the kind of road tolls they have in France, Italy and America, then we are going to have more congestion. A lot more congestion. I have just sat in crawling, walking pace traffic for 45 minutes to get over the monumental George Washington Bridge that connects New Jersey to New York City because the bridge is tolled; cash or EZ Pass, a pre-paid tag. Making traffic stop means congestion. And one of the central tenets of road charging, at least the way it’s being sold to us in the UK, is to cut congestion. Look at the Dartford Tunnel and QE2 bridge over the Thames, which is tolled. It could be mildly described as a traffic blackspot.

14 April 2009
Anything goes

Highway robbery

Late last night I had a depressing ‘phone call from my uncle, who lives in Little Venice, close to London’s Paddington Station.

14 April 2009
Anything goes

Scrapping over scrappage

After a weekend of contradictory reports in the press, it seems that a ‘scrappage’ scheme will find its way into the budget, on the 22 April.

13 April 2009
Anything goes

The fallout from F1's 'Lie-gate'

I shall be intrigued to see whether or not Dave Ryan, the respected former McLaren F1 sporting director who lost his job in the wake of the so-called ‘Lie-gate’ controversy involving Lewis Hamilton and Jarno Trulli, will feel inclined to attend the FIA’s world motor sport council meeting on the matter on 29 April. Alone among the leading players in this latest storm in an F1 teacup, Ryan, a 35-year veteran McLaren employee until this slight slip destroyed his career, is not obliged to attend in order to give his interpretation of events. The FIA only has jurisdiction over its licence holders and the employees of those licence holders.

9 April 2009
Motorsport

Cool people carriers

Whatever else Easter means to you, be it chocolate poisoning, procreating bunny rabbits or something rather more godly, it must also mean family get-togethers. And ideally we should travel as one happy family group. So which multi-occupant vehicle delivers the most fun, or coolness, for the least cash? This is where it gets creative. A Routemaster was always a pretty effective people carrier, letting people hop on and off as need be. More seriously, there’s the evergreen W124 Mercedes E-class estate with the flip-up rear seats. And if you’re getting vaguely silly again, a Volvo 850 T5 or an 850R with boot seats could be tempting.

9 April 2009
Half-price heroes

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