Monday, 24 December 2012

Car of the Year 2013 shortlist announced

The annual Car of the Year 2013 shortlist has been announced, with the top eight cars launched in the past 12 months competing for the award that will be announced at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2013.

The eight nominees are listed below – the Mercedes Benz A-Class, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT 86, Ford B-MAX, Hyundai i30, Volkswagen Golf and Volvo V40 – along with our verdicts.

The stylish Mercedes A-Class has ditched its dumpy MPV styling and is now a proper rival to the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series, but there are some question marks over the interior quality, the ride and the expensive options..

The Peugeot 208, is stylish, well made and good to drive. However, it’s not quite as fun as a Fiesta and it’s more grown-up than a VW Polo.

The Renault Clio has attractive styling, great scope for personalisation options, and super-efficient engines, although the UK misses out on an estate model and the Clio isn’t as good to drive as others in the hotly contested supermini segment.

The rear-wheel-drive Toyota GT 86 and Subaru BRZ sisters are great fun to drive, competitively priced and have brilliant handling, although the engine is slightly gutless and there are a few questions over the interior plastics.

The Ford B-MAX tops the class, as much for the way it drives as its ability to swallow people and bags, although interior quality isn’t at VW standards and there’s only one auto option.

Bold styling, classy cabin and decent dynamics make new Hyundai i30 a serious VW Golf rival, but the ride is firm, the interior design is a bit fussy and residual values are poor.

The new VW Golf is an outstanding car, blending quality and efficiency better than many rivals. Any negatives? Not much...

The Volvo V40 offers stylish looks, tiny emissions and tonnes of safety kit. But the small boot, expensive flagship models and costly servicing count against it.

But which is your choice to win the coveted Car of the Year award? Let us know in the comments below:

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Winter Driving Tips this Chirstmas

Driving during the winter weather can make conditions unpredictable and dangerous. Essential Travel, one of the UK’s leading airport parking and travel insurance provider have created a Drive Safe Campaign – it’s made up of winter driving tips, winter kits, snow chains, exclusive discounts and a range of prizes to be won,

Some of some of the expert winter driving tips include:

  1. Prepare Your Car – It is advisable to have your car fully serviced but there are a number of checks you can do yourself. Lights, indicators, wiper blades, de-mister and brakes should all be in working condition. Winter screen wash and anti-freeze should be topped up and the battery should be fully charged.
  2. Stock Up on the Essentials – Anti-freeze, de-ice spray and an ice scraper should be basics in your car for the entire winter period. It is also worthwhile to keep a winter car kit in the boot, it can save your life if you find yourself stranded in the snow, a winter kit should contain a torch, shovel, traction mats, a reflective vest, water, blankets and jumper cables. There are a range of winter kits on the market for all budgets.
  3. Adjust Your Driving - Simple acts like braking, slowing down and speeding become dangerous during bad winter weather. Avoid harsh braking, rather slow down by decelerating. Move away in a higher gear to avoid tyres losing traction with the ground.  Increase gaps between you and the vehicle in front as stopping distances are 10 times greater in bad weather.  Signal early to allow those behind you to respond safely.
  4. If You’re Travelling This Winter – If you’re going away and plan to park at the airport it is imperative you pre-book your parking space. You’ll save up to 60% on the turn up rate and guarantee yourself a spot. Especially convenient during the winter is the Meet and Greet service. A chauffeur will meet you outside the terminal and drive your car to a secure car park and will drive it back to meet upon your return.   

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Ford C-MAX becomes the fastest selling hybrid at launch

The new Ford C-MAX has broken all records to become the fastest selling hybrid car at launch, scooping up a staggering 8,030 sales in its first full two months of sales in October and November.

A close second comes from the launch of the Toyota Camry Hybrid launched in 2006 with sales of 7,300 in its first two months. The new Ford C-MAX hybrids also are selling three times faster than the combined sales for the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight when launched in 2000.

"Dealers are seeing an overwhelmingly positive response to C-MAX hybrids and are excited to finally take on Prius, with some offering comparison test drives right on their lots," comments C.J. O'Donnell, group marketing manager, Electrification. "Our customers also are excited to have a fresh hybrid option, with leading fuel economy that does not sacrifice driving fun, performance and technology - choices typically not offered with hybrids."

Can Ford win the hybrid race? Post your thoughts below!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Aston Martin for sale

It seems that Aston Martin is up for sale after all. It’s largest shareholder, Investment Dar Company, has reportedly put its part of the company (64 percent) up for sale. Several suitors have been approached by the Kuwaiti company and it has even been rumored that the Rothschild Group has been hired to advise them during the process. There is not much info about the deal but according to Business Week, Mahindra & Mahindra and Toyota might be possible candidates for the British brand. Furthermore, Toyota has been rumored to have hired an auditor to conduct a preliminary review of Aston Martin less than two months ago.

Investment Dar is reportedly asking $800 (€629 / £503) million for their share which would allow them to recoup what they invested when they bought Aston Martin from Ford in 2007. Breaking even isn’t ideal from an investment standpoint, but Investment Dar reportedly needs the funds to reorganize $4.9 (€3.8 / £3.0) billion of debt after missing a payment on an Islamic bond in 2009.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Chrysler Group post sales increase of 14%

Chrysler Group LC today reported U.S. sales of 122,565 units, a 14 percent increase compared with sales in November 2011 (107,172 units), and the group’s best November sales since 2007.

The Chrysler, Dodge, Ram Truck and FIAT brands each posted year-over-year sales gains in November compared with the same month last year. The FIAT brand’s 123 percent increase was the largest sales gain of any Chrysler Group brand for the month. November marked Chrysler Group’s 32nd-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains.

Models that contributed to Chrysler Group’s 14 percent sales increase include the Fiat 500, the Dodge Journey full-size crossover, and the iconic Jeep® Wrangler sport-utility vehicle, each setting a sales record for the month of November. The Journey’s 77 percent sales gain was the largest percentage increase of any Dodge brand model in November.