Hot hatch shoot-out; McLaren 12C Spider road test; Range Rover Sport first drive; new Porsche 911 Turbo revealed; Jaguar design challenge

This week’s issue of Autocar, which hits the shops today, features a tantalising comparison test of three of the newest hot hatches on the market. 

Can the Peugeot 208 GTI return the French manufacturer to the top of the hot hatch pile? To do so, it has to outshine the fresh Renault Clio RS 200 Turbo and Ford Fiesta ST. We take all three cars to the Brecon Beacons to settle the matter.

Elsewhere in the issue, the McLaren 12C Spider is analysed by our experts in our eight-page road test. We wouldn’t usually carry out a second full road test of a supercar just because it had been de-roofed since we first drove it. However, such is the depth of the changes that McLaren has effected on the 12C since we originally road tested it in June 2011 that is seems worth revisiting now.

We’ve assessed a host of new cars in the past few days, including the Range Rover Sport, Skoda Octavia 4x4 estate, Lotus Evora S Sports Racer and Vauxhall VXR8 Tourer.

As summer tries to force the stubbornly miserable spring weather into a retreat, it seems like an appropriate time to assess two of the leading full-size convertible saloons on the market. The new Vauxhall Cascada drop-top has the Audi A5 cabriolet in its sights, so Mark Tisshaw heads to the seaside to find out which is more desirable.

This week’s news section features all the details of the forthcoming Porsche 911 Turbo, and reveals a crazy Volkswagen Golf GTI concept with 496bhp and four-wheel drive.

It’s an important week for our long-term test fleet as we welcome our new McLaren 12C into the fold. We already know it’s an amazing car to drive, but over the next six months we’ll find out what it is like to live with. We also feature updates on our Renault Twizy, Fiat Panda, Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake, Range Rover Evoque, Caterham Seven and Dacia Sandero.

If you’re in the market for a big seven-seat 4x4, check out our Used Buying Guide, which serves up hints and tips on how to buy a second-hand Nissan Pathfinder for £6000. Our used car guru James Ruppert looks at bargains to be had among the electric and hybrid cars on the used market.

Autocar magazine is available through all good newsagents, and available to download from Zinio and the Apple iTunes store.

Our Verdict

McLaren MP4-12C Spider
The Spider shares the 12C's 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8.

The McLaren 12C Spider narrows the gap to the Ferrari 458 - particularly in drop-top form - to negligible

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