Adrian Newey's road car adventure starts here; 'Premium' road tax isn't an issue; Ford needs new direction
Steve Cropley Autocar
20 July 2015

MONDAY - If it’s confirmed that Adrian Newey, the world’s greatest race car designer, is working on a road car intended to secure his legacy the way the McLaren F1 has for Gordon Murray, a fundamental question arises: what kind of car should it be?

The presumption is that Newey should create a kind of ultra-aerodynamic, ultra-light, race-derived supercar, given that his formidable expertise goes in those directions.

Trouble is, the gaps in the supercar market were filled decades ago. When the McLaren F1 was new, there was ‘white space’ available that allowed it a different mission from the rest. But what do you do this time? Performance isn’t the answer; the Bugatti Veyron and the near-1000bhp hybrid trio from McLaren, Porsche and Ferrari have so elevated top speeds and slashed acceleration times that making something faster seems fatuous.

Neither does it make much sense to make the new Newey GT ultra-expensive; these days literally hundreds of classic cars, their reputations already set in stone, have the potential to outprice anything new. Exceptional styling is not the way, either;
 Newey is an engineer, not a colouring-in type. Like I say, finding a unique mission for this car is going to be the key. 
I can’t wait to hear what it is.

TUESDAY - For the life of me, I don’t understand people getting exercised about the recent budgetary stipulation that cars over £40,000 will attract a payment of about £6 per week in ‘premium’ road tax.

Can’t help thinking that the people who make ordinary cars – the Peugeots, Renaults, Fords and Hyundais of this world – are overdue a leg-up. In my book, they usually build cars that are pretty damned close to BMW, Jaguar & Co in capability and ability to engage a driver, yet because the market says they lack badge appeal, they’re required to charge 30% less. The new tax makes a tiny difference to a big imbalance.

WEDNESDAYSpent the day floating back and forth from the Cotswolds to the New Forest in the Range Rover Sport, privileged to enjoy a vehicle I’d surely buy with my own money, if I had any.

On one 450-mile sojourn, the car claimed 38.6mpg without even trying, a figure so remarkable –
given that we still cruised with the traffic and made no special effort to save fuel – that I double-checked it on the fill-to-fill method and still turned a highly creditable 36 and a bit.

Weirdly, we seemed to have more trouble with trucks than usual. Must be the time of year. They pulled into our path without warning more often than I’ve come to expect, and every dual carriageway featured pairs of behemoths locked in a slow-motion race, occupying both lanes at speeds that varied by no more than 2mph.

Why the slower vehicle can’t concede 40ft and let the rest of the world go about its business, I simply don’t understand. Still, truckers (I was one, once) strike me as rational people, so there must 
be a reason.

THURSDAY - To Ford in Dunton to tell a bunch of management high-fliers on a training course how their company strikes those of us outside it. Don’t get the idea they’ll be hanging on your wise words, counselled someone who’s done it before. It’s just that they’ve had a week’s brain strain and need a bit of colour.

Still, I found myself telling them that, pretty soon, recently retired Alan Mulally’s ‘One Ford’ approach wouldn’t be enough to face the future with and that someone would have to come up with a new philosophy. Wonder who’ll take the plunge?

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Comments
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289

20 July 2015
I have come to the conclusion that the only way to overcome the multi-lane congestion you describe is to stop lorries overtaking each other at all unless there are three or more lanes, in which case they should only be allowed in the inside two regardless of the number of lanes. The only exception would be to overtake exceptionally slow moving super-heavy escorted transportation.
The journey time would be hardly effected since the speed differential is so small and it would reduce the number of accidents caused by lorries pulling out with barely any warning to closing cars and the resulting sideswipes.
Lorry drivers used to refer to themselves as 'the Knights of the road' and 'professional drivers'. This is rarely the case nowadays, as the driving standards have fallen drastically - which is why I propose draconian measures to control them. They seem to believe that putting an indicator on and pulling out - all in one motion is acceptable behaviour...it isn't. It is really dangerous with cars closing maybe 20-30 mph faster than the lorry and with no where to go...it also completely ignores the most basic of rules in the UK that clearly states that 'traffic on the right has priority'.
While at it I would also ban all delivery vans from the outside lane other than dual carriageways. They have no place there and it encourages them to bully their way along the motorway making use of the ridiculous top speeds some brands have. Some M-B vans are capable of over 100 mph in a high sided vehicle weighing 8,000 kilos grosse. Madness!
I have noticed in my extensive amount of time on the motorways of the UK, a recent habit of Highway Maintenance pick-up trucks to drive unswervingly in lane 3 of 4, or 4 of 5 as a god given right, usually at about 65 mph. This also causes bunching and irritable drivers...a dangerous combination.
Quite honestly I see multiple near misses every day, through rank stupidity or ignorance. I am surprise the motorway network isn't more gridlocked than it is with accidents.

20 July 2015
You will also have noticed, no doubt, the increasing numbers of drivers who think that they have priority when joining a motorway from a slip road! Totally infuriating, and dangerous, when you are being overtaken at the same time and have nowhere to go, and no option but to slam on the anchors, with all the resulting potential.

As an ex-lorry driver Mr Cropley, you will know that when you are tugging 40 tons along, momentum is preciously guarded. Also, it must brighten up a long, boring day at the wheel seeing a mile of tailback in your rear-view mirrors and imagining the accompanying gnashing of teeth.

Note to Mr Newey: don't go down that well-trodden hyper-car path; how about something small, simple, affordable to Mr Average, not particularly fast but with supreme handling and involvement, cleverly engineered to be safe, economical and environmentally responsible? Yeah, I know ... where's the profit? Shame, when you think what a man with his expertise could do with such a remit.

Wide cars in a world of narrow.

289

20 July 2015
"You will also have noticed, no doubt, the increasing numbers of drivers who think that they have priority when joining a motorway from a slip road"
...and how Herald...don't even start me on that one!!

20 July 2015
There's too much of each to their own on motorways, not enough courtesy, and not enough people allowing space around themselves. For truck drivers, they possibly will be extremely frustrated by a) having to follow a slower one b) car drivers not recognising the 2mph closing speeds c) car drivers being oblivious of their plight, and d) not being given space/opportunity to pull out. I don't condone truckers instant pull-out tactics, but neither do I condone many car drivers habit of "queuing" or hogging in the outside lanes for mile upon mile. It makes a nonsense of our keep left except when overtaking rule. I say, legalise passing both sides in UK. This makes even more sense these days with our multi lane motorways. The overtake only on the right rule (unless in queues, itself open to interpretation!) surely dates back to the early days of 2 lane motorways, so antiquated, it needs to change. And people would get the idea very quickly, I am sure, and I believe it would lead to safer roads, fewer frustrated drivers.

289

20 July 2015
....I don't believe we as car drivers OWE the Truckers a thing. They tailgate drive with bullying tactics based on size, drill grooves into the road, regularly hit innocent drivers on the hard shoulder, prat about on CB/Phone rather than steering with two hands, take out peoples fences and hedges by driving 'according to SATNAV' rather than using common sense, and invariably when you finally pass a scene of an accident- low and behold- there is a truck involved.
Why should we help them out because they might have to travel 2 mph slower....so that we have to travel 10 or 15 mph slower. Where is it written that they have to maintain momentum at all costs, including at our expense.
I don't even buy the "it takes so long to build up speed argument" as they all have simply enormous engines many with auto boxes and cruise control these days.
On ridiculous roads such as the M11 (which only has 2 lanes from the M25!), you can often drive for 5 miles behind trucks with barely any speed differential hogging the entire road!
If they don't like it, do a different job...simple.
I am fed up with truck drivers ruining journey times through their thoughtlessness and selfishness ....perhaps it would be better if they were only allowed to run at night?!

20 July 2015
I sense your frustration, @289! I use that bit of M11, so I know what you mean. In these kind of conditions, automatic cruise control (in a car) is an amazingly effective frustration de-fusing device, incidentally. Truck drivers probably drive cars too, I wonder whether they get similarly annoyed with truckers! I have to say, I don't ever recall seeing an Eddie Stobart combo being driven anything other than courteously and professionally, so perhaps not all truckers are bad guys. I like to give people the benefit of any doubt when I am out and about on the road, so am prepared to "give" a little, or just try to be very patient when conditions don't allow my preferred rate of progress.

20 July 2015
I think Gordon Murray was right to look at the other end of the car spectrum and it would be great if Newey also turned his attentions here. Small car offerings currently are at best worthy but dull & it's all a bitr obvious & uninspiring. And the AM Cygnet and Smart4 etc lead the list of 'Should do MUCH better'.

I also wonder if Newey could make the unintuitive step and avoid an electric or hybrid power train in favour of a breakthrough high efficiency engine - powered by petrol/diesel/LPG/ethanol or something?

That might enable him to realise one of those headline-grabbing weight/power/mpg combos such as 1000kg/1000cc/100bhp/100mpg with better than 99kg/km and a tank range that no EV could currently match. I've pulled these numbers out of thin air so don't take them literally for 1 sec - but hopefully you get my drift

20 July 2015
In the course of my job ,I meet a lot of HGV drivers and they curse the slow overtaking as well!Unfortunately they drive heavily automated wagons and they are supposed to drive "on the button"using the speed limiter and auto transmission to accelerate rather than the pedal on the floor.There driving behaviour,location ,and especially fuel consumption are continuously monitored,and they face the usual sanctions if they don't conform to what the company expects.

Arthur Heaton

21 July 2015
Yep, trucks drivers are supposed to be prepared to slow down momentarily to allow an overtaking driver to pass instead of blocking faster traffic. Yet none of them do.

Also truck drivers seem to have unilaterally changed the rules of motorway and dual carriageway driving by automatically swerving out of the inside lane to allow joining traffic to merge. Most of the time this is unnecessary and can be outright dangerous as many do not even look what traffic is outside of them or behind them when they do this. I have nearly been wiped out or had to slam on brakes because of this many times. Merging traffic does not have priority when joining the motorway or dual carriageway and its about time truckers remember this.

Boulle

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