The great air-con con

I’m sure the <a href="http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle/AllCars/239799/">EU's plan to force carmakers to use 'greener' gasses in air-con systems</a> is very laudable, but there’s a bigger question lurking behind it: is air-con as important as we seem to think it is? Until recently I tended to regard an onboard chiller in much the same way I considered ABS and central locking – a self-evidently good idea that no modern car was truly complete without. Indeed, the lack of working air-con was practically a deal-breaker when it came to purchasing the 15-year old Mercedes E-Class that I ran last year.

30 April 2009
Anything goes

The FIA calms McLaren's troubled waters

McLaren F1 team principal Martin Whitmarsh’s conciliatory and apologetic attitude to <a href="http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle/AllCars/239822/" mce_href="http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle/AllCars/239822/">Wednesday’s meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council</a>, facing squarely up to the British team’s already-admitted offence of bringing the sport into disrepute, paid dividends when McLaren received a three race suspended exclusion from the world championship. The penalty, which will only be activated if McLaren commit a similar offence in the future, is widely regarded as relatively mild, reflecting the desire of everybody in the sport, from the governing body down, to draw a line under this disappointing episode which has to some extent clouded the first four races in what promises to be a fascinating 2009 title battle.

30 April 2009
Motorsport

Electric cars: it really isn’t that hard

You won’t have heard of the Citroen C1 Evie. In fact I hadn’t either until the invite to its launch dropped through our postbox recently. It turns out that a British-based company named the Electric Car Corporation has created a pure-electric Citroen C1 with a range of up to 60 miles and a top speed of 60mph, and the order books are open now. Sounds good, I thought, but what’s the catch? Surely this can’t come out of nowhere and be as good as the press fluff made it sound. After all, I spent a good few minutes staring open-mouthed at the electric cars at the London motor show last year. Not a single one of them resembled a normal, let alone desirable, method of transport.

30 April 2009
Tester’s notes

Scrappage Wonderland

You may not be surprised to learn that not everything is rosy with the scrappage scheme. There is plenty of confusion, and few people are clear as to just how much they should be paying, or saving, or even where the money is actually coming from. I know this because I have been talking to someone at the blunt end of it all at the moment, Richard Sanders, who runs Drive the Deal.com. His and other car brokers have been offering the sorts of discounts in the past few months that make the scrappage offer look just a little bit stingy. The best I can do is let Richard tell it like it is…

29 April 2009
Half-price heroes

Nissan's Aladdin's Cave

Spent a fascinating couple of hours the other day with some mates at Nissan’s Heritage Car Collection in Japan. Tucked away inside this anonymous factory building within Nissan’s Zama factory, this is one of the best alternative car museums you’ll ever come across. Actually, it’s not much of a museum at all, really, but row upon row of cars all neatly parked up inside this giant hangar of a building, cars stretching out as far as the eye can see. As you walk in, the first sound you hear is that of your jaw hitting the deck. See it for the first time, or even the fifth time, and you will be gobsmacked.

28 April 2009
Anything goes

Designing the car of the future

Last night, at the London Transport Museum in the corner of Covent Garden, I saw the shape of things to come. At a special showcase marking 40 years of what’s probably the most influential vehicle design course in the world, nineteen students of the Royal College of Art showed off their individual takes on what cars – specifically Opel and Vauxhall cars – will become by the middle of this century. They were taking part in a competition, sponsored by GM, called Fast Forward Forty Years. And as you’ll see in the pictures below, their ideas were imaginative in the wildest extreme.

28 April 2009
Anything goes

Whitmarsh goes it alone

Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren F1 team principal, will be hoping to draw some of the sting out of the British team’s appearance in front of the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) on Wednesday. He will be the team’s only representative to speak in connection with charges that they brought the sport into disrepute over the so-called ‘Lie-gate’ scandal stemming from the behaviour of Lewis Hamilton and former sporting director Dave Ryan at the Australian Grand Prix.

28 April 2009
Motorsport

GMAIGCDS - what does it mean?

Will GM go into chapter 11 bankruptcy? It’s the question everyone keeps asking and, to be completely honest, I can’t be sure. But the letters G M A I G C D S hold part of the answer.

28 April 2009
Confidential

Pontiac: you had it coming

Suspect I’m sadder than most at the demise of Pontiac, given that I can clearly remember what earth-shattering cars the 383 cubic inch (6.3-litre) Pontiac GTO and its ilk were the height of the American muscle car era, and I can still quote you lines from Car &amp; Driver’s GTO road test. C&amp;D famously pitted a Pontiac against a Ferrari GTO and said the Yank won, mainly on grounds of tyre-shredding acceleration and a low price, but it was obviously a bit of poetic licence. Still, I’ve wanted to drive (and in my dreams, own) a late ’60s GTO ever since.

28 April 2009
Anything goes

Detroit's answer to British Leyland?

So, today’s big news from the US car industry wasn’t the culling of the Pontiac brand after all.

28 April 2009
Anything goes

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