What’s going on at the beginning of 2014?

The bad news is that the green meanies are, it seems, about to get their way in two key areas within my world; one, by restricting the M1 to a “temporary” speed limit of 60mph between junctions 28-31 and 32-35a on the grounds that air pollution will improve in the area as a result; two, by refusing to issue my local Brighton and Hove Motor Club with a license to stage the Brighton Speed trials in 2014 on the basis of dubious health and safety.

And just this morning I watched a video on the internet, posted officially by BMW GmBH, that shows a prototype M235i drifting perfectly around a steering pad, all by itself while the driver just sits there, arms folded, giggling.

The M1 speed limit proposal is a concerning, if not predictable move from Whitehall. Concerning because the 70mph speed limit itself was introduced on an a “experimental” basis in 1965, only to become a permanent fixture just two years later (bringing an immediate 20 per cent reduction in casualties on motorways, it must be noted, but during a time when cars were just a touch more dangerous than they are today, it must also be noted).

Predictable because it’ll no doubt improve traffic flow at peak times, which is good, but will still be in force from 7am-7pm, even on Saturdays and Sundays, which is perhaps not so welcome for the early rising weekend motorist.

The Brighton Speed trials debate is an intriguing one to me because, being a local lad, I’ve been to watch the trials on numerous occasions in the past, although I’ve never actually participated for one reason and another. On the one hand it does seem rather sad that the UK’s oldest known motorsport event is staring down the barrel of extinction on the grounds of health and safety. But on the other hand, the last time I went and watched the trials they did look, well, quite dangerous to be honest. 

They didn’t take place last year because, by the time the trials were due, the coroners report had yet to be delivered following a death at the event the year before. In the end, that death was deemed officially to have been “a tragic accident.” The Motor Club was said to be at fault in no way whatsoever. And yet still the local council seems hell bent on doing away with them. Fingers crossed they can be persuaded to change their minds when they meet to decide what happens next on January 23 – and when they see just how many thousands of signatures there are on the petition.

As for self-drifting BMWs, I know exactly where I stand on that one. It’s a stunt devised by BMW to demonstrate just how far down the road Munich has traveled towards autonomous driving; a way of telling the world that BMW, too, is just as clever as Volvo and Google et al when it comes to driverless cars. Some stunt, mind you, even if it will put me out of a job one day.

And the good news of 2014? I drove a Jaguar this week that’s at least as good, and damn near as fast, as any Porsche this side of a 918 Spyder. One that’s already lapped the Nurburgring in just 7min 39sec. Can’t tell you any more about it just yet because the driving impressions are embargoed until this Sunday. So until then… 

So, until then…