Richard has been writing about cars for more than a decade and joined Autocar in 2017, arriving from Evo magazine.
He loves putting readers in the driver's seat, so the road-test desk is a natural home. Assignments range from getting to grips with low-volume sports cars on windy airfields to scrutinising the latest global models from major OEMs, and of course strapping telemetry gear to the world's fastest cars at MIRA to see how quick they really are compared to rivals – and the makers’ claims. His writing is also regularly found in our features section, and he is often seen on Autocar's YouTube channel and heard on the Autocar podcast.
Highlights at Autocar include a class win while driving a Bowler Defender in the British Cross Country Championship, riding shotgun with a flat-out Walter Röhrl, and setting the magazine's fastest road-test laptime at the wheel of a Ferrari 296 GTB.
Away from work, but remaining on the subject of cars, Richard owns an eight-valve Integrale, keenly follows sportscar racing, and has a post-grad in transport engineering.
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Richard Lane Q&A
What was your biggest news story?
Being on the road-test desk means being among the first people in the world outside the factory to drive a new model. For us, those first impressions from behind the wheel are the big, breaking stories.
Not to get too worthy about it, but given readers spend a hell of a lot of money on their cars and development costs for manufacturers are typically now measured in the billions of pounds, getting to the heart of the machine and delivering a reliable, entertaining verdict is critical – and an exciting challenge. Added fun often comes in the form of early-morning flights, after which you may only get a couple of hours in the hotseat, on unfamiliar roads. You can and should do your homework beforehand but once in the car, experience and instinct are your most useful tools.
For me, the biggest jobs are the ones where either the stakes are enormous from an industry perspective, or where the product is more niche but extremely important to a dedicated audience (Hyundai i20N, BMW M2, etc).
What’s the best car you’ve ever driven?
Probably 2016’s Porsche 911 R. The handling is just unbelievably exploitable. Mechanical engagement is superb and, yes, it's faster that you'd ever need. But really it's this underlying duality in the dynamics – the R is extraordinarily precise and composed but it also has an easygoing side to it that the current and previous GT3 Touring models don’t. It’s a masterpiece.
What will the car industry look like in 20 years?
Hard opinions on the future of this industry need to be treated with caution. Planet Car is so complex and subject to external influences that nobody can know where we’ll be in 20 years.
There's a chance that fast, thrilling combustion-engined cars may unfairly become a lightning-rod for broader environmental concerns in society, even if, like most sensible people, those involved in the industry are hugely in favour of ever-improving urban air quality and reducing the energy consumption of vehicle manufacturing. It also feel as though there’s now a discrepancy between what governments are trying to achieve in terms of emissions and how they're going about it. We're now in a place where ultra-efficient, lightweight city cars are an endangered species, for example, while the cheapest family EVs remain far from affordable and aren't exactly energy-efficient to make.
There are at least already signs that electric cars can be entertaining. Look the Porsche Taycan and Hyundai Ioniq 5 N. It's also encouraging that, especially in the UK, we have an extremely well-developed and dedicated scene that'll maintain and treasure the ICE cars worth keeping.