Fiat Punto is the first car to get zero stars by Euro NCAP

Fiat Punto Euro NCAPThe Fiat Punto is getting on in years now, the current version of the Italian super mini has been on sale for 12 years. As time goes by technology improves and the motor industry is one of the fastest moving, when the Punto was originally released in 2005 it was the first car to achieve Euro NCAP’s highest rating of 5 stars. However standards have improved over the following 12 years resulting in the Punto becoming out dated and dangerous. When it was recently retested the Punto achieved 0 stars, making it the first to get 5 and 0 stars.

Fiat Punto Crash TestAn FCA spokesperson brushed aside the statistics to try to maintain focus on the Fiat Chrysler groups more current offerings: “Safety is of the utmost importance to the FCA group. When Punto was launched 12 years ago, it was the first 5* EURO NCAP car in its class.  The importance of safety to the FCA group is demonstrated by the number of new models achieving 5*, for example Alfa Romeo Giulia, Alfa Romeo Stelvio and the Jeep Compass.” Fiat are yet to comment on what measures the company will take to rectify the situation.

Fiat Punto Crash test 2To demonstrate the severity of the situation the Dacia Duster was also recently tested and achieved 3 stars, with a Dacia spokesperson claiming: Aiming for four or five stars would have meant equipping Duster with a range of recent driving aids and technology and that would have made the car more expensive and more complex to drive.” Meaning that the Fiat Punto is suffering from a severe case of out datedness. Euro NCAP secretary general said: “This is perhaps the strongest example of a manufacturer continuing to sell a product that is well past its best-before date at the expense of the unsuspecting car buyer. We would urge consumers to choose cars with the most up-to-date five-star ratings, many examples of which we have seen in 2017.”

MK4 Golf Euro NCAPResults such as this do make you question the safety of other old cars on the road. I for one am thinking about how safe my own MK4 VW Golf is, originally a 4 star car I suspect under the current safety regulations my Golf would also be a 0 star car as well if not worse.

What do you think about the Fiat Punto’s safety score let us know in the comments.

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BMW reveal the new i8 roadster and refreshed coupe

BMW i8 1Rumours have been swirling for years about the convertible i8, those rumours intensified when spy shots of early prototypes were spotted winter testing. But now finally BMW have unveiled the convertible BMW i8. The i8 has always been a fantastic looking car and the new i8 roadster is possibly even better looking. The i8 roadster also heralds a mid cycle refresh for the original coupe from 2014.

BMW i8 2The worlds best selling hybrid sports car not only gains a visual update but is also on the receiving end of a technological upgrade, the electric motor gets a power increase of 12bhp bringing electrical power up to 143bhp. This is thanks to upgrades in battery technology, which means that the i8’s electrical range has also increased to 34 miles (33 For the roadster). That added horsepower means when combined with the 1.5 litre 3-cylinder petrol motor the i8 now has 374bhp and 320Nm of torque, powering the hybrid sports car to a top speed of 155MPH. That added boost in power also results in a quicker 0-62 time of just 4.4 seconds for the coupe and 4.6 for the roadster.

BMW i8 5A lightweight design was key in making sure the roadster version of the i8 was just as capable as its coupe brother. The i8 roadster comes with a whole host of carbon fibre upgrades to ensure the i8 roadster maintains its lightweight design ideals. The doors, windscreen frame, side skirts and sections of the body are all carbon fibre, this means that the i8 roadster has minimal weight gain of just 60KG more than the coupe, with a weight of 1595KG.

BMW i8 6The new i8s also receive a number of safety upgrades including cruise control with a braking function, and a driving assistant known as surround view, a system which comprises of a collision and pedestrian warning with a city braking function, park distance control, high beam assist and speed limit info with a no passing information display. The i8 also features new Laser headlights which BMW say are non-dazzling with a range of 600 metres, double that of BMW’s LED headlights featured on other models.

BMW i8 4Another new addition to the BMW i8 is an acoustic pedestrian warning system, this system projects a sound similar to that of a turbine up to 18MPH to make sure pedestrians hear the i8 coming when road or wind noise wouldn’t be sufficient. The system is an interesting addition and one that could be necessary in the future of silent electric cars and should be one that other manufactures consider implementing in their own vehicles to avoid the silent killer electric car headlines.

BMW i8 3The i8s mid cycle refresh and the introduction of the long awaited roadster have certainly gathered headlines for BMW, but I feel that the visual refresh could have been much more exaggerated, to bring the i8 up to date. Whilst the i8 doesn’t look old in any sense of the word, it is starting to look current. The introduction of new modern supercars such as the McLaren 720S and Ferrari 812 Superfast have resulted in the i8 looking modern rather than ahead of the curve like it was back in 2014. A much more aggressive restyling could have resulted in the i8 being coveted rather than being just another hybrid sports car.

The new i8 and i8 roadster will be available in January 2018 for a price tag of £112,730 for the coupe and £124,730 for the roadster

Alfa Romeo makes a welcome return to Formula One

Sauber 2017 1Alfa Romeo are set to make their return to top level motorsport next year in a partnership with the Sauber Formula One team. The last time the Alfa name was associated with Formula One was way back in 1988, but Alfas history in the sport stretches way back to before WWII. Alfa Romeos new partnership with the Sauber F1 team means the Swiss team will be renamed Alfa Romeo Sauber.

alfa-romeo-giulia-quadrifoglioAfter Saubers 2017 season you could be mistaken for thinking Alfa Romeo was already part of the team with their reliability issues. The new partnership will see the team using Ferrari engines, with technology being passed between the two companies to not only improve performance on the track but to introduce Formula One technology into Alfas road cars. Sergio Marchionne CEO of FCA said: “The Alfa Romeo engineers and technicians, who have already demonstrated their capabilities with the newly-launched models, Giulia and Stelvio, will have the opportunity to make that experience available to the Sauber F1 team. At the same time, Alfa Romeo fans will once again have the opportunity to support an automaker that is determined to begin writing an exciting new chapter in its unique, legendary sporting history”.

Sauber 2017While its unlikely this new partnership will mean that Alfa Romeo Sauber will be competing with the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari at the top of the championship standings, the added influx of funds and technology may mean that the team could up their standings against the likes of Haas, Toro Rosso and Force India.

Aston Martin ValkyrieAlfas sudden interest in returning to Formula One is not alone though, 2017 saw Aston Martin try to make its mark on the championship with Red Bull with both technology and ideas combining to form the Aston Martin Valkyrie. In the 2018 Formula One championship Red Bull will compete as Aston Martin Red Bull racing.

What do you think of Alfas return to motorsport let us know in the comments.

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Tesla unveil the planned 2020 Roadster

Tesla Roadster 2Wow you take a weeks break and the whole car world goes insane. Tesla announced during a press conference for the reveal of their new truck that there would be a new Tesla Roadster in 2020. Whilst that’s a long way off Elon Musk was able to give us some stats for the new electric sports/ super car. 0-60 in 1.9 seconds and a top speed in excess of 250MPH. Not only that but Musk also announced that the new Tesla Roadster would have a range of 620 miles, better than any other electric car on the market today.

Tesla Roadster 3Now I’m not going to be the one to call Musk a liar but all of this does seem a bit farfetched. Especially as Tesla has been losing money year after year, the Model 3 production schedule is a mess and Musk has already talked of the existence of numerous new models coming in the next few years, we have the Model Y (a 4×4 SUV based on the Model 3) a truck, a minibus and a pickup. And that’s not including the Tesla Gigafactory, which is still being built (it started in 2014). The Gigafactory is supposedly meant to be up and running next year.

Tesla Roadster 1The new Roadster (if it ever happens) will go on sale at a price of £188,000, but Musk plans on taking preorders of £38,000 in the near future. The Roadsters fictional stats are faster than any Bugatti, but we’ve heard this from companies before. They announce the stats before even seeing if it’s possible. Tesla are at the forefront of the electric revolution, they need to be careful if they want to pull this off. The number of stories of problems with Tesla seems to be increasing and the industry is waiting for Tesla to make a mistake and to destroy the electric future.

What do you think of the upcoming Roadster, let us know in the comments.

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Lamborghini Terzo Mellennio revealed Coming soon?

Lamborghini Terzo Mellenio 18The first of the big names has revealed their vision for a fully electric super car. Lamborghini unveiled the Terzo Mellenio, a fully electric super car built to look at the future of what the super car can be. The Terzo Mellenio is just a concept and not built for production any time soon, but Lamborghini say the Terzo Mellenio is built to investigate the technologies that they may use in the future including energy storage systems, innovative materials, propulsion system, visionary design, and emotion. So whilst the future Lambo super cars wont look like this it may feature some of the tech we see on it.

So whats so special about the Terzo Mellenio, well the Terzo Mellenio features a unique power storage system. Rather than the conventional batteries we see in the likes of Teslas the Terzo Mellenio is designed to use super capacitors a new innovation in the car world, Lamborghini first started developing super capacitors on the Aventador. The Terzo Mellenio also saw the announcement of a partnership between Lamborghini and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to develop future power sources and materials needed to further the super car world.

Lamborghini are also working on a way to create a carbon fibre body capable of storing energy, essentially turning the whole car into an energy storage device. Lamborghini’s work with MIT is their attempt to protect their future, they are trying to innovate further into the future than anyone else, they are going beyond batteries to develop an electric car capable of beating the world, but also capable of changing the world.

The Lamborghini Terzo Mellenio is nothing but a concept, we will never see anything like it approach production for a long time, while it looks awesome and the technology behind it is incredible it is merely an idea of what Lamborghini are headed towards. The Terzo Mellenio is similar to the BMW concepts released showing their new 100 years plan, Lamborghini could be planning something much further away though, especially as Terzo Mellenio translates to third millennium.

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The Grand Tour is Back on 8/12/17

The Grand Tour just revealed the release date for the next series of the Amazon Prime show. Coming out on the 8th of December the release date was accompanied by a new trailer for the show, giving us a glimpse of what we can expect to come into the new year.

Top Gear 1The Grand Tour has had a much better run than Top Gear has since the ‘fracas’ Top Gear has had two series since the trios departure and is only just finding its legs. The Grand Tour disappointed some with its debut series but has had a lot more time to rejigger the show into something the fans want to see. The new trailer shows us that the trio seem to be going strong with the cheap car challenges the public loved when they were on Top Gear. Clarkson Hammond and May appear to be taking three Jaguars down a ski slope with terror from all three being the result. We also see them go to Africa in what appears to be May in a Mercedes estate, Clarkson in a Nissan SUV and Hammond on a motorbike.

Top Gear Bugatti ChironWhat troubles me is that we also see a lot of stuff that we’ve seen before, ie: a Bugatti Chiron review from Clarkson (we saw Chris Harris review it on Top Gear) and a review of the Arial Nomad (which we also saw on Top Gear). The trailer also shows them driving an amphibious car, which, they’ve done before themselves, and the new Top Gear has done it as well. From what I can tell the schedule for the show means that when they review a car its often months if not years after someone else has beaten them to it.

Rimac Concept oneWe also get a view of the trio testing the Honda NSX, Lamborghini Aventador and the Rimac Concept One. We don’t see any of Hammond’s crash in the Rimac but its unlikely that they will try to avoid it as with Hammonds much more serious Jet car crash they went through it in extreme detail. Well just over a month to go to see whats what, see you on the 8th of December with a review of the first episode.

What do you think of the new Grand Tour trailer, let us know in the commets.

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Honda Sports EV concept unveiled at Tokyo motor show

Honda Sports EV 1

Honda unveiled the surprisingly likable Urban EV at the recent Frankfurt motor show, and its looking like it was the first of a series of concepts as at this years Tokyo motor show Honda unveiled the Sports EV, a sleek coupe with similar styling accents to the little Urban EV. The Sports EV is an electric sports car designed to show where Honda is looking to go in the future.

Honda Sports EV 3The Urban EV was also announced to be going into production in 2019, the quick turnaround is a sign that the Sports EV could be expected as early as 2020, to head up Honda’s electric division. The Sports EV shares the same white paint scheme as the Urban and also carries over the simple design of the head and taillights. The Sports EV is similar in size to the Mazda MX5 leading people to believe it will be in a similar performance bracket rather than more powerful cars like the Mercedes SLC and the Jaguar XK.

Honda Sports EV 2Whilst no performance specs have been released for the Sports EV, Honda insiders have talked of a 150 mile range for the Urban so a similar spec is expected for the little sports car. The Sports EV joins Honda’s range of sports cars with the likes of the NSX and S660. The little electric sports car is a sign of where Honda is headed to, the increased pressure to release electric cars is threatening all car manufacturers and the Sports EV is what we should come to expect to see in the future.

Honda Sports EV 4On the whole I like the little Sports EV, just as I liked the Urban EV. Its styling takes much less inspiration from cars and more from things like the iPod with its smooth white finish with no aggressive styling or aerodynamic attachments, maybe Honda could learn a thing or to and transfer these ideas to the current Civic Type R.

What do you think of the Honda’s family of electric vehicles, let us know in the comments.

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The Big three: Gran Turismo Sport vs Forza Motorsport 7 vs Project Cars 2

McLaren Ultimate Vision 8A lot of young peoples first entrance into the car world isn’t through a garage or a drag strip but through a computer screen. The virtual car world is as big if not bigger than the real one, and this year saw three new big titles come out and I’m about to tell you which ones best.

Forza Motorsport 7

Forza Motorsport 7 is an incredible looking game, its weather effects are second to none. Wind and rain battering down means the track not only visually changes but the way your car reacts changes, braking distances get longer, huge puddles cause you to aquaplane and you can’t put all your power down coming straight out of a corner. FM7 has the most diverse car list of the three games, with everything from a Ford hot rod to full on Lemans racers. But with that diversity comes issues, thanks to Forza Motorsports sister franchise, Forza Horizon a lot of off road vehicles are included in the game, but there are no dirt tracks, although a much smaller part of the game the other two franchises feature numerous dirt racing circuits (Project Cars 2 even has ice racing) Forza has the most off road racers but nowhere to drive them off road, very disappointing and something that seems to be overlooked. FM7’s drivatar system is fantastic, taking the job of AI drivers the system takes your driving characteristics and creates a profile which races for you online, not only earning you in game currency but creating an exciting competition far superior to the other franchises AI.

Gran Turismo Sport 

Gran Turismo Sport is by far the most disappointing of the trio, considering the amount of time its taken to come out I expected much more. Whilst looking fantastic when racing in the dry, its wet weather effects fall flat and seem to have no major effect on the driving characteristics of the track. GT Sport also has one of the most dull and boring car rosters ever seen in a racing game, there are no classics, very few entry level cars and seemingly hundreds of theoretical concept cars drawn up especially for the game. (The Vision McLaren I talked about a few weeks ago is one of these) The career mode is non-existent, taking you to an online only competition where you are easily out raced by competitors from around the world and the driving school appears to be the only other task to complete which veers from ridiculously simple (driving in a straight line) to stupidly hard Endurance competitions. The AI in Gran Turismo Sport is particularly bad, it has no life to it, seemingly driving a set line around a track making no active defence of positions or trying to overtake. This leads to the races becoming a dull and boring affair where you only need to avoid the AI drivers and drive a better line to win.

Project Cars 2

The first Project Cars game was well received by critics and fans alike and the sequel is continuing that success, it may not be quite as good looking as the other two games but it has nine tenths of the beauty. The car list whilst still not being as good as Forza has the diversity needed to create exciting racing, taking a McLaren 720S ice racing was a particular highlight. What sets Project Cars 2 apart from the competition is the real world racing rules, in the other games if a car was being particularly annoying you could simple punt him into a wall to get through. In Project Cars 2 however if you do such a thing you will be required to drop back behind the car (which will sometimes be many places down depending on the violence of the shunt) or face disqualification. This means you need real talent to get to the front of the pack and win rather than brute force. The AI in Project cars 2 is middle of the pack, whilst it provided a competitive high level opposition it can be a little dumb, barrelling into pile ups and flying all over the place for no obvious reason.

The Verdict

Overall the racing game enthusiast has a great opportunity this year, Forza has been the leading horse for many years purely because of its regularity, but now it has competition and its not really holding up against some. Gran Turismo Sport is a shambles and a shadow of its former self. And Project Cars 2 is a really good up and coming racing series that is showing real promise.

First I would tell you to avoid Gran Turimo Sport, its poor AI, lack of interesting cars and bad career mode have led one of the original innovators in the genre to become a poor excuse for a simulation racer and something that has been beaten by much better and much more enjoyable games. Secondly I would say that Forza Motorsport 7 is an amazing entry into the world of racing games, its incredible roster of car and ever-changing AI patterns have led it to be one of the truly great racing games. But its lack of dirt racing and easily available in game currency that leads to an irritatingly easy career mode that has put it in second place. Finally my number one, its racing is exciting, challenging and best of all realistic, which has led it to be one of the best racing games out there. FM7 is a great stepping-stone into racing games but Project Cars 2 is what a racing game should aim to be.

What do you think of the new racing game, let us know in the comments

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Mini take inspiration from the 1275 GT in the 1499GT

Mini 1499 GT 9Mini have shown off the newest addition to the range, the 1499 GT. The new model is designed to celebrate the 1275 GT model from the original range. The new 1499 GT uses a turbocharged 1.5 litre 3 cylinder engine producing 101BHP, the same engine as the rest of the base Mini range. The 1499 GT 0-62 time is the same as the rest of the base level Minis, 10.1 seconds.

Mini 1499 GT 4So what’s different about the new Mini then, well the new 1499 GT is only available in two colours, white or black. The Black model features exclusive decals in gold, whilst the white version gets the same decals in black. The Mini 1499 GT also gets the front and rear bumpers and the spoiler from the top end JCW Mini. The key part of the Mini 1499GT is the JCW Mini suspension it gets. Making this Mini more than just a visual upgrade.

Mini 1499 GT 7The Mini 1499 GT is on sale now for £16,990 and Mini are expecting the 1499 examples to sell out quickly. But is it worth it? Not really the handling of the standard Mini is exceptional, is the JCW better yes but it’s not life changing. The 1499 GT is designed to celebrate the 1275 GT, my personal favourite Mini. What was special about the 1275 GT was the bigger engine than the standard 998CC. To keep the base model engine in this supposedly special edition gives the view that this is just an on paper upgrade and has no real significant value to the Mini brand. Nothing is new on the 1499 GT its just a new combination from existing Mini parts.

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Dyson to build an electric car

James DysonWell known vacuum cleaner maker Dyson is looking to get into the car making business.  Inventor and company founder Sir James Dyson revealed the plans late last month with the car to go on sale in 2020. Dyson says its intensions are to reduce air pollution from the source: “I committed the company to develop new battery technologies. I believed that electrically powered vehicles would solve the vehicle pollution problem.”

electric-chargineThe new comer to the car market has stated they aim to use solid-state batteries, an improvement over the commonly used Lithium ion batteries in most electric cars today. The advantage of the solid-state batteries is that they are quicker to charge and have a higher energy density. They also run cooler and could potentially produce more power.

Tesla Model SDyson say that rather than a mass-market vehicle they aim to produce a car similar to its other products aimed at the technologically minded, ie: a premium market car similar to Tesla and Porsche. Dyson is not the first tech builder to go into the car market, both Apple and Google are in the race to build an electric car. Dyson has slowly been building up his car making team with a combination of car-maker executives and Dyson engineers, his team is said to have reached almost 400 people.

SmogNo stats of the car or even any design plans have been revealed as of yet but Dyson has said that the car will be built close to battery suppliers to limit costs. During the announcement Sir James Dyson took numerous shots at the UK government and other car manufactuers over the numerous ‘clean diesel’ claims they have made in the past, all of which led up to the emissions scandal: “Governments around the world have encouraged the adoption of oxymoronically designated ‘clean diesel’ engines through subsidies and grants. Major auto manufacturers have circumvented and duped clean air regulations. As a result, developed and developing cities are full of smog-belching cars, lorries and buses. It is a problem that others are ignoring.”

Google carPersonally I don’t see this project reaching anywhere, many tech companies have tried to get into the car business even going back to before the electric car was on everyone’s mind. None have been able to compete with the might of the car industry, Tesla is one of the few to break through because its sole intention was to make a car, rather than spreading their assets around making phones, search engines or vacuum cleaners.

What do you think of the Dyson making a car, will it suck (sorry I had to) let us know in the comments.

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