The appeal of the Ford Focus BEV

There’s a curious appeal to testing a prototype car. One of the challenges of reviewing a production vehicle is to achieve a balance between the car’s mechanical characteristics, its looks, the build quality and finish, the driver friendliness, the space, the visibility and some finger-in-the-wind, gut-instinct assessment of overall appeal compared with its competitors… and probably a few other things that only spring to mind when you start writing it.

11 December 2009
Tester’s notes

Motorists mugged by the government

Full credit to the government for yesterday's masterful spin job on the pre-budget report, with the tax breaks for company use of electric vehicles grabbing most of the car-related headlines. At the moment there are fewer than 100 electric cars in the country being run as company cars. Even with the best efforts of the motor industry, and the various bodies responsible for creating some kind of recharging infrastructure, there aren't going to be more than a few thousand by 2012.

10 December 2009
Anything goes

Audi R8 V10 v Porsche Panamera on the Hakone Turnpike

A bright, crisp winter morning, one of Japan’s best driving roads ahead and a Porsche Panamera turbo and Audi R8 V10 to play with. Life could be worse…

10 December 2009
Anything goes

Roof down in the new Merc E-class cabrio

The Mercedes E-class cabriolet will be unveiled officially later this week, but I've just seen and sat in it at an advance briefing. As our first pictures from the technical demonstration day show, the car has the look and feel of the coupe on which it is based. Even so, it's reassuring to see that the design team, led by Gerd Schottke, have managed to convey the car's inherent comfort-orientated drive in its styling.

10 December 2009

My vision for Saab

The newswires were alive yesterday with a story that <a href="http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle/AllCars/243739/">Autocar ran on 1 October.<br /></a><br />GM’s decision to sell the old 9-5 and 9-3 production equipment raised fears that Saab was being broken up by stealth, especially as the Swedish National Debt office has also demanded that the car maker is divided into five separate divisions.

9 December 2009
Confidential

First impressions of the Rolls-Royce Ghost

I only spent a few minutes in the Rolls-Royce Ghost, but immediately I realised just how special it is. My only previous encounter with the Ghost was when it came in our studio for a photo shoot. There I was impressed with its luxury credentials, but felt it looked a bit awkward, too much of a Phantom imitation without being its own unique car.

9 December 2009
Tester’s notes

Is Vettel the man Mercedes are really after?

Here's a bit of lateral thinking based on nothing other than supposition.<br />&nbsp;<br />The Red Bull Formula One team doesn't have an engine supply at the moment. It's known the team is keen to switch from Renault, and it's known that the engine it really wants is the Mercedes unit.

9 December 2009
Motorsport

Environmental protection

With the aid of the massive hype behind the current UN climate summit at Copenhagen, the US Environmental Protection Agency has declared that ‘greenhouse gases are a danger to public health.’ It’s hard to know what to say.

8 December 2009
Anything goes

A great day for British motorsport

For the British Racing Drivers’ Club, the high moment of yesterday came a couple of hours after their president Damon Hill announced that the British Grand Prix had been saved at Silverstone, nominally for a period of 17 years. Buoyed by the news, the BRDC brethren then gathered for their annual awards lunch at which a surprise guest, prime minister Gordon Brown, arrived to present the prestigious Richard Seaman Trophy to world champion Jenson Button. “This puts Britain at the centre of world racing for 17 years to come,” said the Prime Minister.

8 December 2009
Motorsport

What next for the seven-seat Land Rover?

I've been driving a Discovery 4 this week - a brilliant vehicle, incidentally - and it made me wonder how Land Rover can sprinkle some of its magic on the company’s other seven-seater, the L486. Also known as the ‘seven-seat Freelander’, L486 has quietly been slipped onto the back-burner, even though LR at one time planned to reveal it at Geneva earlier this year.

7 December 2009
Anything goes

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