Currently reading: Cropley on cars - Diesel debate rages on, TVR is back on track
Porsche Panamera Hybrid is good long-distance cruiser; Weekend planning needs better attention; TVR's recovery is cause for hope
Steve Cropley Autocar
News
3 mins read
13 July 2015

MONDAY - Back to work after a 350-mile weekend in our Porsche Panamera plug-in hybrid, a fascinating experience because although one associates Porsches with efficiency, decent fuel economy is at best a by-product of what they offer.

Just as well, it turns out: my gently driven 35mpg wasn’t so different from what I get from our V6 diesel Range Rover Sport, a heavier car with a bigger frontal area. 

Still, in nearly every dynamic way the Panamera is a fine car. I loved the consistent feeling of deliberateness and precision about every pedal, lever and switch, faithfully imported from the sports cars, and the long wheelbase and low seating made it high-miles comfortable despite suspension rates that also made it steer and handle.

The plug-in Panamera’s conclusive advantage is that, if bought by a business, it qualifies for a 100% first-year write-down because its 15 to 17-mile electric range drops its CO2 below the critical 75g/km threshold. Good wheeze if this applies to you, although I’m not sure our government should be buying Porsches for the business community.

TUESDAY - There’s rising concern about the suitability of diesel cars for our future motoring needs. As you’ll be aware, a recent campaign by various academics and a Sunday newspaper has made an impressive case for believing that legislators erred in the past by emphasising reduced CO2 levels instead of better air quality (lower NOx and particulates), a strategy that  encouraged more diesel sales.

How does this affect me? We continue to prevaricate at home over replacing the Steering Committee’s 58-plate Fiat 500 diesel, a car that complies with the outgoing Euro 5 emissions regulations, not the much tougher Euro 6 standards that are due to be introduced this September.

After September, particulates limits will drop to a tenth of what they were in 2000, while NOx will have fallen 84% in the same period. Truth is that Euro 6 diesels are very clean, yet with our comparatively high degree of knowledge on the subject, we’re still having the petrol versus diesel debate at home.

I’m pretty sure we’ll finish up with diesel again (missus enjoys the low-end torque), but I’m also pretty sure new oil-burners are going to get harder to sell in future. And what of all the old-tech but perfectly healthy diesel cars? Reckon they could become a real problem.

WEDNESDAY - With Le Mans, Goodwood and the British GP out of the way, I always feel a degree of concern, because the season is more than half over and my head is still in April. 

Once again I’ve already missed some favourite events – Cholmondeley, the Brooklands Double Twelve – and I’m going to miss the Silverstone Classic and umpteen fixtures at Prescott and Shelsley Walsh. It’s only July and I’m writing 2016’s first resolution, which is the same every year: organise your weekends better…

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THURSDAY - Rang TVR boss Les Edgar following news that he and his partners are to take deposits on new cars (due in 2017) from prospective owners seeking early delivery. He has been delighted with the response, revealing that thousands had already signified their interest online and “several hundred” were offering money to join a waiting list even before such a thing existed.

This exciting response is much more than an enticing commercial opportunity. It is a heartening affirmation, by Britain’s battalions of sports car enthusiasts, that the new TVR’s principals have chosen the right partners – Gordon Murray for the chassis and styling, Cosworth for the powertrain – and are right on track. How many years has it been since we’ve been able to say that?

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nivison 15 July 2015

There really is no debate left to have.

There really is no debate left to have. Read the Kings College report on NO2 and PM2.5 and all the others. Diesel is a dirty engine choice and considerably more lethal than petrol. No domestic user needs it or should buy it and in time the taxation system and low emission zones in cities will reflect this. Just a shame it will not happen quickly enough, and that the power of the car manufacturers has influenced policy and the motoring press for far too long.
Will86 13 July 2015

Global Warming Exists

The figures are quite clear that the planet is warming and our climate is changing. How much of that is due to natural factors and how much is down to human activity is up for debate, but I for one am pretty certain that 7 billion people consuming the planet's resources at current levels will be having, at best, a noticeable effect. As for Euro 6 diesels - I share Artill's reservations. I'm sure they meet Euro 6 emissions levels when brand new and tested in a laboratory but I do not know of a single Euro 6 diesel that actually meets it's claimed economy (and by extension its emissions levels) in the real world, let alone after 100,000 miles. But if we're criticising diesels, modern small capacity turbo petrols fall a long way short of their claimed economy and emissions too.
artill 13 July 2015

Steve, would you be prepared

Steve, would you be prepared to submit the old Fiat 500 to a test to see what is actually coming out of its Euro5 exhaust? I would love to know if a cared for (i am sure all your cars are cared for) 7 year old diesel is still anywhere near the claimed NOx and particulate levels from when new. It would make an interesting read.