During early May Autocar’s news agenda was, like that of so much of the national press, informed by the buzz of the general election. Transport policy spokesmen from all three major parties made a special pitch to win the votes of Autocar readers.
Among the promises made by the Tories and Lib Dems was the removal of unneccessary traffic control measures, the introduction of a new ‘stabiliser’ fuel duty system, and greater investment in local road building. Seven months on, we’re still looking forward to delivery on those pledges.
Later in May, we brought you the exclusive on Alfa Romeo’s next alternative to BMW’s class-leading 3-series: the Giulia. It will be on sale by the end of 2011 and promises better handling and low emissions.
We also published exclusive imagery and information about a new front-driven, entry-level BMW hatchback designed to sit below the 1-series. The car will compete directly with the Audi A1 and will be on sale by 2013.
New brands-in-law Porsche and Audi both announced extra special versions of their flagship sports cars during May. Audi kicked off the month with the 199mph, 552bhp, £142,000 R8 GT, and Porsche duly followed it with the 205mph, 611bhp, £164,000 911 GT2 RS. Sibling rivalry’s clearly alive and well and resident in southern Germany.
Road test commitments took Autocar testers in different philosophical and geographical directions: to Morocco to drive the new £12,000 Dacia Duster budget 4x4, and to Maranello for a first taste of the £300,000 Ferrari 599 GTO. Two more different new cars we wouldn’t test all year, and yet both struck us as remarkable game changers, each in its own way.
The Bentley Mulsanne loomed suitably large in the month’s headlines. On 5 May, after a first drive in the Scottish lowlands, we declared it a car with “a remarkable level of all-round excellence” and “the best ever Bentley”. And on 19 May, the big Bentley locked horns with its equally new shadow from Goodwood: the Bentley Mulsanne It was a rare and hard-fought contest that the Bentley lost by the narrowest of narrow margins – and only after a long and sleepless night of deliberation by editor-in-chief Steve Cropley.
The Peugeot RCZ also came up against stiff opposition during May, when we compared it back to back with Renault’s hair-raising Renaultsport Mégane 250, VW’s excellent Scirocco 2.0 TFSI and Audi’s popular TT. That the Peugeot shaded the more expensive Audi seemed no small victory for Peugeot; the French coupé was much more entertaining to drive than the German one, if a little short on power. But the Scirocco won the day overall.
Elsewhere in the month and the world in general, we spent three days on the Mille Miglia in our long-term Ferrari F430, drove Volvo’s mental 399bhp C30 Performance concept, and pitched the cheapest car in the world, the Tata Nano, against Britain’s best budget option, the Hyundai i10. The Nano, in its domestic market form, seemed a little too slow, noisy and rudimentary for the UK market, but it made us extra-keen to try the European version.