This week: why Tesla’s upcoming compact SUV is the brand’s toughest challenge yet, voting opens for the annual Autocar Awards readers’ choice, Alpine’s A110 squares up to the 789bhp McLaren Senna and loads more...
13 February 2019

Splashed across the front page of Autocar magazine this week is what we think Tesla’s upcoming Model Y compact SUV will look like. Pre-production prototypes are set to hit the road in the coming months, with company boss Elon Musk predicting demand for the 2020 model to be “50% higher” than the best-selling Model 3 electric saloon. Can Tesla learn from 2018’s mistakes and produce a competent alternative to rivals from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW?

Equally groundbreaking is Ford’s new Focus ST which, with 276bhp and technology borrowed from its more powerful Mustang and GT siblings, is claimed to deliver “the most responsive and agile Focus ST driving experience ever”. Ford Performance is confident about the hot hatch’s ability to switch seamlessly from pocket rocket to comfortable tourer, so how will it fare against the 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Elsewhere, we take a look at Rolls-Royce’s plans to launch a new generation of the Ghost luxury saloon in 2020. Evolutionary design elements and an all-new spaceframe platform are among the model’s confirmed upgrades as it takes the fight to Bentley’s Flying Spur

Another British manufacturer looking to strengthen its position against its competitors is McLaren. CEO Mike Hewitt has spoken to Autocar about the firm’s plans for a stand-alone GT model and, perhaps, a four-seater. We tell you everything we know ahead of an official announcement at next month’s Geneva motor show.   

Our Verdict

Mini Cooper 5-door hatch

Third-generation Mini hatchback comes with a range of new engines, more equipment and a practical five-door shape, but is it stretching the Mini name too far?

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In other news, we analyse the latest spy shots of Porsche’s all-electric Taycan ahead of its September reveal, take a look at Citroen’s tiny Ami One concept car and take the wheel of Jaguar’s roofless F-Type rally car.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE

Reviews

Toyota is bringing the Corolla name back to the UK for the first time in more than a decade, and we’ve been out in the 2.0-litre hybrid Excel variant to find out whether the new model makes good on the Auris’ shortcomings. A sportier chassis and well-equipped cabin are good starting points, but how does that frugal powertrain stack up against the Volkswagen Golf and Honda Civic in terms of driving engagement?

Our second review this week is somewhat more overtly geared towards performance. McLaren’s 600LT Spider is the newly topless variant of the winner of our Britain’s Best Driver’s Car competition. So, we find out if the 592bhp, 3.8-litre V8-powered Ferrari 488 rival has lost anything more than its roof in the migration from coupé to convertible.

Then, it was off to Sweden for a stint behind the wheel of a prototype of Mercedes-Benz’ facelifted GLC SUV. As well as new interior technology and and updated four-wheel-drive system, the model receives a new range of petrol and diesel engines, including two new plug-in hybrid powertrains. See if we think the mid-sized Merc is improved in all the right areas. 

Finally, this week’s road test review sees us put the new Ford Focus through its paces in an effort to see if handsome styling and a focus on dynamic handling have helped the big-selling family hatchback to recapture its charm. 

Features

This week, we’re calling on you, our loyal and knowledgeable readers, to vote for your favourite automotive icon in our annual readers’ choice award. At the Autocar Awards ceremony in May, we’ll reveal which of our 17 candidates you deemed worthy to be called the “Icon of Icons”. From Land Rover to Lotus Elise, Mini to MX-5, this week’s issue contains the Autocar writers’ nominations and why they think their candidate is the obvious choice.

Have your say - vote now

Hotly tipped to become an automotive icon of the future is Alpine’s A110. Launched last year to great critical acclaim, the French two-seater delivers an impressive driving experience uncompromised by its focus on usability. So, would it still be the ideal weapon of choice for tackling a mountain road, or would a McLaren Senna with three times as much power do a better job? We find out if, when it comes everyday driving on public roads, there is such a thing as ‘enough’. 

We also take a look at what happens when car makers don’t get it right. When was the last time you saw a Dodge Avenger or Hyundai XG on UK roads? We go through the history books searching for the 21st century’s motoring misfits to see what it looks like when a big brand gets the recipe wrong.

Opinions

This week’s Ford Focus road test had Steve Cropley reminiscing about the time he missed the holy grail of automotive journalism scoops. All’s well, though, as Monday saw him visit one of his favourite classic car dealers, near Birmingham, to spend some time with a 1971 Lotus Seven as part of our Icon of Icons feature. 

Matt Prior, however, had a much less satisfying voyage to our nation’s most canal-covered city. A spell on the M40 in Cupra’s new Ateca SUV revealed a profanity-inducing firm ride, which he then noted is also a pitfall of Honda’s new Civic Type R. Our tester asks: why have performance-oriented models become so harsh and unrefined in their ride quality?

Deals

This week, James Ruppert is on the case of rogue car dealers who manipulate online service records and digital readings to trick buyers into thinking they’re grabbing a low-mileage gem. 

No such smoke and mirrors with the second-hand Mitsubishi Shogun we reckon you should grab in this week’s used buying guide, which can be had for as little as £1000 with rust providing very visual evidence of a hard knock life. 

Moving on to the second-hand ads, and this week we’ve chosen a 503bhp Jaguar XFR as our king of the classifieds. Electric leather seats, 20in alloy wheels and a 5.0-litre V8 for under £10,000? Sounds a no-brainer, but a dodgy water pump and rattling timing chain could have your tail-happy Jag spitting out the wrong kind of smoke from its rear end.

Where to buy

Never miss an issue — subscribe to Autocar magazine today.

Autocar magazine is available through all good newsagents. You can also buy one-off copies of Autocar magazine from Newsstand, delivered to your door the morning after.

Digital copies can be downloaded from Zinio and the Apple iTunes store.

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Comments
41

5 April 2018

As usual, this week's edition (dated 04APR2018), is a very good read, and well worth the investment. The road test of the eighth generation of Roll-Royce Phantom - with its "mahogany panelling" - illustrates that moneyed wealth, should NOT be confused with good-taste!

The sales pitch for next week's issue (to be dated 11APR2018), whets our appetite with the Used Buying Guide  . . .  "Mercedes-Benz CLS. Can't afford the new one? Then read our guide to Merc's original style icon".

The original CLS certainly was a style icon, with all the svelte elegance of a Parisian - or Italian - chic designer item.

That streamlined elegance was lost when the original's "facelift" incorporated the bluff, Teutonic, more upright, corporate Mercedes radiator grill.

The new, current, incarnation of the CLS (page 29, of this week's magazine), shares all the style, delicacy, and substantial "presence" of a rugby prop forward!  It is not a case of "Can not  AFFORD  the new CLS?".  More a question of why would anyone wish to purchase such a vulgar and brutish vehicle?

It is (again) a reminder that the ownership of wealth, is NOT the same as the possession of good taste.

RCT(V)

 

 

 

 

289

18 July 2018

....totally agree!

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