Handbook: Audi R8

Nov 18, 15 Handbook: Audi R8


This is the long-awaited second generation of Audi’s R8 supercar. It was revealed to the world at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, but unusually the race car version was made immediately available while the road car has had to wait until now. The two share 50 per cent of components – including the engine and carbon fibre crash structure – and the GT3 racer won on its debut.


The tiny, tiny boot. The R8 is mid-engined, so the nose of the car is for your luggage – all 112 litres of it. Sitting behind the driver’s head is the 5.2 litre V10 engine, good for 532hp in the regular V10 or 601hp in this plus model. This isn’t assisted by any turbocharging, so the throttle response is immediate and the torque band is very broad indeed. It’s mated to a seven-speed auto quattro all-wheel drive system, so there’s plenty of grip whatever the weather. The 60mph figure comes up in 3.1 seconds, and it’ll keep going to 205mph. The price for that is 23mpg combined…


There are two specifications: V10 and V10 plus. Both are beautifully trimmed in Nappa leather and bear the new signature all-LED headlights. Also standard is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit – a digital instrument cluster built around a 12.3-inch TFT display, with a number of display modes including a full-width satellite navigation display. The plus gains goodies such as controllable exhaust flaps, drive mode select and ceramic brakes, while both can be equipped with option laser high-beam assist that give a narrow-focus beam of light twice the distance of the LEDs.


Alarmingly fast, but also extremely surefooted and wholly docile around town. We were driving the more powerful V10 plus model in the kind of conditions UK owners are likely to experience for six months of the year and it never showed even the merest hint of misbehaving, even with provocation. When you’re done with the tomfoolery, the R8 quietens down to become a civilised cruiser. The ceramic brakes have an initial bite that is a little unsettling but otherwise it’s as easy as any regular Audi.


Autocar comments that ‘If you need everyday usability from your supercar, there are not many better options than this.’ The Telegraph adds: ‘This, in short, is a car which is equally at home pootling around town or tearing across a continent.’


If there’s a supercar better suited for Britain, we don’t know what it is. It’s quiet and restrained for much of the time, but savagely quick when you want it to be. Better yet, it deals with dismal weather as if it wasn’t there.

The source article can be found at http://cardealermagazine.co.uk/publish/handbook-audi-r8/100793

read more

Handbook: Toyota Mirai

What is it?

Toyota’s first hydrogen fuel cell-powered car. Similar to an EV, it produces no harmful emissions, emitting only water – water clean enough to drink, Toyota is keen to add. Over 20 years of R&D has gone into the futuristic E-segment saloon which Toyota will release next year.

What’s under the bonnet?

Technically speaking, the magic of the Mirai is not under the bonnet as the compact fuel cell stack is located under the front seats. Oxygen comes through a small pipe under the bonnet and the hydrogen from two separate tanks. Within the 370-cell stack, the hydrogen molecules hit a catalyst and split into hydrogen ions and electrons. The ions are pulled towards the negatively-charged oxygen ions and bond to them, while the electrons create a moving current in the cell. This pairing produces electricity – to power the vehicle – and water which is ejected from the tailpipe. The Mirai also features a 244-volt battery, which is automatically selected to drive the motor in order to optimise environmentally-efficient and powerful running.

What’s the spec like?

The infotainment system in the Mirai is similar to that in the Prius, Toyota’s popular hybrid. Only one trim level is available in the Mirai, but with limited production figures forecast for the next few years and with buyers investing in the technology rather than the looks, this is unlikely to become a problem.

What’s it like to drive?

Immediate power delivery to the front wheels makes for a brisk 9.6-second acceleration up to 60mph and with a top speed of 111mph, the Mirai sits comfortably within the expected performance of an E-segment vehicle. A direct-drive single-speed gearbox provides a smooth and quiet drive. Eco mode reduces throttle response by an average of 25 per cent, while power mode increases performance and decreases range – expected to be in the region of 300 miles – ‘comparable to petrol engines,’ claims Toyota.

What do the press think?

Telegraph Cars says: ‘The Mirai looks like the future, with angles and huge vents to bring in lots of oxygen to cool the fuel cell stack and make sure the water doesn’t boil, and weird bits of bodywork sticking out.’

What do we think?

The Mirai’s styling takes a lot of getting used to, but given the futuristic technology inside, the finish is forgiveable. However, despite how clever the fuel cell stack is, problems arise when it comes to refuelling the car. With only three filling points in the UK at present – all located within London – the Mirai would not currently prove a sensible option for drivers anywhere else.

The source article can be found at http://cardealermagazine.co.uk/publish/handbook-toyota-mirai/100807

read more

Handbook: DS4 Crossback

Nov 18, 15 Handbook: DS4 Crossback

What is it?

The DS4 Crossback is an attempt by DS to enter to the flourishing crossover market. Pitched against the likes of the well-established Nissan Juke and the newer Citroen Cactus, it’s designed to appeal to those who are looking for a little more ride height and quirkier design.

What’s under the bonnet?

There’s a wide choice of engines that accompany the Crossback, from two petrol engines with manual gearboxes to two diesels that are driven through automatic gearboxes. The model we had was the diesel BlueHDi, which produces 178bhp and can go from 0-60mph in 8.5 seconds. Along with this comes an impressive combined consumption figure of 64.2mpg. The Crossback tops out at 135mph, but it isn’t a car designed to be breaking speed records – but the impressive 400Nm of torque means that it has enough pull for any situation.

What’s the spec like?

The Crossback features many standard items, such as automatic door and boot locking, along with a seven-inch touchscreen controlling a satellite navigation system that includes traffic information and full European mapping. The standard half-leather trim certainly matches the character of the car. If you want full leather you’ll have to fork out a further £850. LED ‘Vision’ Xenon headlamps do well to light up both the road ahead and also the Crossback’s look. Folding door mirrors and kerb lighting complete a comprehensive standard equipment list.

What’s it like to drive?

A higher ride height gives drivers a commanding view of the road ahead, but sometimes diminishes the on-road handling characteristics. Luckily it hasn’t affected things too much. The DS sits well through corners, though the ride, surprisingly, can be rather jostling at low-speeds. The gearbox, however, is a let-down. In an age of excellent automatics the one fitted to the Crossback is clunky and never appears to settle down. Rear visibility is compromised, too, so manoeuvring can be tricky. In contrast, the BlueHDi engine in our car was very smooth.

What do the press think?

The Telegraph says: ‘The rather languid way it drives isn’t as much of a problem for the Crossback as you might expect, partly because the competition is fairly uninspiring in this regard too, but also this isn’t the sort of car people chuck around.’

What do we think?

The DS4 Crossback is a very stylish package but lacks the finesse offered by rivals. Unfortunately, a high-riding hatchback that has a crashy ride isn’t going to popular, neither is the lack of the option of a high-end diesel engine with a manual gear-change. It’s a good attempt, but unfortunately it’s slightly wide of the mark.

The source article can be found at http://cardealermagazine.co.uk/publish/handbook-ds4-crossback/100812

read more

Handbook: Nissan Leaf

Nov 18, 15 Handbook: Nissan Leaf

What is it?

Nissan’s third-generation Leaf has had mixed reviews. Subtle revisions and a new bronze colour option are the only noticeable changes, leading to the question of whether the car has undergone much of a facelift. However, it’s unseen developments which are the real game-changers.

What’s under the bonnet?

Only 21kg heavier than the 24kWh battery, and the same size, the new 30kWh Leaf battery compromises neither cabin space nor performance.

It boosts the range by 25 per cent, to a claimed 155 miles, though this is dependant on a number of factors, including driving style and temperature – extreme cold can decrease battery performance by up to 50 per cent. The new battery will be available on Acenta and Tekna grades of the five-door hatchback, and both – alongside the Visia – can be supplied with the 24kWh battery, which Nissan has no plans to phase out.

The carmaker has also introduced an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on the battery pack, guaranteeing that at least 75 per cent of original capacity will be retained over this period.

What’s the spec like?

The new NissanConnect smartphone app connects owners to their cars, allowing them to remotely locate their car, find an available charging point, checking the car’s charge status and pre-heat or pre-cool the cabin.

The revised navigation system features on the centrally-mounted seven-inch touchscreen display, which also shows maintenance alerts.

What’s it like to drive?

As with the bodywork, not much has changed from the previous incarnation. It provides a smooth, quiet drive, although the car is a bit sluggish when in Eco mode.

The Leaf rests in the slower realms of the C-segment, with 0-60mph acceleration of 11.3 seconds and a top speed of 90mph. However, with all of the power provided instantaneously, it is only on motorways that such drawbacks are noticeable. With a low centre of gravity due to the undercarriage-mounted battery, the Leaf is stable and comfortable cornering at relatively high speeds.

What do the press think?

Auto Express said: ‘Ride quality is generally smooth, but as with many all-electric vehicles, the Nissan is prone to thumping into potholes. Other than that, though, a distinct lack of wind and road noise makes this a very relaxing drive.’

What do we think?

Nissan’s 30kWh Leaf is an affordable electric car that retains most of the features of the previous model. Compared to conventionally-fuelled C-segment cars, the Leaf is somewhat lacking in performance, but in the Pure EV segment, its longer range marks it out as a class-leader.

The source article can be found at http://cardealermagazine.co.uk/publish/handbook-nissan-leaf-2/100801

read more

The Fleet – Tenth report: Kia Procee’d GT

Oct 26, 15 The Fleet – Tenth report: Kia Procee’d GT

WITH some welcome time off approaching, my wife and I were thinking about options for a relaxing break. She works (almost) as hard as I do so we were both in need of a bit of rest and recuperation.

So where to? A spell somewhere in the Med, maybe, with the only sound the chink of ice on glass as the waiter brings us another couple of cocktails? Or a peaceful corner of the English countryside, perhaps?

Wrong! ‘I know,’ she said. ‘Let’s go to London.’ Of course! How could I have been so stupid? What better way to spend a few days away from the daily grind than trekking round on the Tube with eight million other people?

Wrong again! ‘And we can take your car,’ came the follow-up comment. By ‘your car,’ she meant LG64 MPF, Car Dealer’s Kia Procee’d long-termer.

That actually seemed like a better option than the railway, and once we’d got a couple of shows booked and dates with friends lined up, I was looking forward to the break.

One snag. The Kia doesn’t have a sat nav. But does that really matter these days? A smartphone is just as good, and as we navigated our way to Lancaster Gate, Westfield (the one near Hammersmith), Bloomsbury and many other places, I even worked out why the car is criticised sometimes for being uneconomical.

Could it partly be that the fuel gauge is massive? And that’s why you can almost watch the needle edging downwards before your eyes?

Dave Brown

The source article can be found at http://cardealermagazine.co.uk/publish/the-fleet-tenth-report-kia-proceed-gt/98869

read more

The Fleet – Farewell report: VW Transporter

Oct 26, 15 The Fleet – Farewell report: VW Transporter

THEY’RE one of those things you don’t really think about until they stop working. And thanks to ‘progress’, when they do expire, chances are they’ll leave you stranded. I’m talking, of course, about tyres – and the round things have been top of the agenda for our Transporter recently.

The first mishap occurred on a trip to the garden centre. Mrs B had requested some window dressing for our new place, so flowers and pointy bush things were the order of the day. Van packed and miniature Baggott safely secured in her seat, I attempted to pull away. Cue scraping noises.

The front tyre had completely deflated. I searched for the spare – but like so many other vehicles, this has now been replaced with a completely useless can of foam. It might as well be shaving foam, as all this stuff does is make a mess. What’s more, the tube needed to get the Gillette into the tyre was missing too, rendering the whole process completely pointless.

VW arranged recovery by AA back home, where we removed the wheel and had it replaced at a local tyre fitter. The low-pressure warning light never went off though – so when it all happened again three weeks later I had little prior warning. This time I just called VW.

They thought about fitting another tyre but, probably as fed up as we were with the whole thing, instead decided to simply take the Transporter back. And that was that – the end of our summer fun bus. She’ll be sadly missed.

James Baggott

The source article can be found at http://cardealermagazine.co.uk/publish/the-fleet-farewell-report-vw-transporter/98876

read more