Autocar magazine 27 December – on sale now



Amid the hype surrounding the launch of the new 911, Porsche released the facelifted and upgraded Macan S sports SUV, the range-topping variant of what was, by far, its bestselling model throughout 2018. Can styling updates and a new V6 engine help the Alfa Romeo Stelvio rival to win over even the most inveterate of Porsche cynics? Our first drive found little to suggest otherwise.

Jaguar is also in the business of providing performance with a practical side, with its new XF Sportbrake 300 offering 296bhp and an ample amount of boot space. We find out if a more appealing price point is enough to entice buyers away from rivals like the Audi A6 Avant 50 TDI and BMW 540i Touring xDrive.

Rounding up a week of road tests is Vauxhall’s Combo Life MPV, which, with seven seats and a range of driver assist and active safety functions, has the potential to be the last word in space and usability. However, can we look past divisive styling and a lack of performance to justify choosing this over the more visually appealing and dynamic Citroen Berlingo 1.5 BlueHDi 100 Flair?


In the last issue of 2018, we take a look back at 12 months in motoring with our Road Test Yearbook. With highlights from our favourite road tests, features, comparisons and news stories, it’s 23 pages of proof, if any was needed, that it’s been a great year for cars.

Back at the beginning of the year, we cruised along memory lane behind the wheel of two very different classic car ‘continuation’ models, the Peel P50 and Aston Martin DB4 GT. As the trees got greener, so did we, conducting a shootout between three of the UK’s best-selling electric cars, before heading to the Cotswolds to try out their extreme opposite: the massive Ford F150 Raptor.

Summer saw us try out Jaguar’s most important car in years, the I-Pace SUV, which we branded “the best long-range battery electric vehicle on sale”. The 710bhp Ferrari 488 Pista impressed as well, earning itself a coveted five-star rating in our first drive verdict.


Reinvent the wheels: designing new versions of old cars

Its fame was hugely amplified by a star appearance in the 1967 Hollywood film The Graduate, with Dustin Hoffman, but it didn’t need such publicity for success. Its basic excellence and loss-making Alfa Romeo’s inability to replace it caused it to live on for 27 years, in increasingly adulterated form, before being replaced in 1995 by the front-drive Spider loosely based on the Fiat Tipo. While not a landmark machine, that 916-series Spider sold decently, survived until 2004 and was eventually replaced in 2006 by the 159- and Brera-derived Spider. More cabrio than sports car, this overweight two-seater sold very slowly until being deleted, yet to be replaced, in 2010. 

Despite this disappointing end, Alfa has a two-seat sports car heritage that deserves reviving. Before you mouth ‘4C’, I mean in a manner a lot more convincing than this Lotus Elise-alike underachiever manages. Happily, Alfa Romeo now has the hardware to make it happen, namely the rear-wheel-drive platform from the Giulia saloon. It’s too long for a two-seat Spider, but with a section of floor removed, an agility-enhancing action in itself, there is the platform, suspension and 197bhp, 276bhp and 503bhp engine range to form the fine basis of a sports car that would be a lot sportier than the Mercedes SLC and possibly the new BMW Z4. Oh, and a manual gearbox would be good. 

A generous bonnet, a tail longer than both the SLC’s and Z4’s, as per the original ’66 Spider’s proportions, should produce a timeless design that would feature a handful of sculptural and decorative references to the earlier car. But this Spider would be boldly contemporary, subtly muscular, elegant, Italian and decidedly not retro. Alfa Romeo designs have always pushed ahead, and this should be no different. Achieving elegance will require a fabric hood, incidentally. 

The interior would be Italian furniture post-modern lush, and the speedo and tacho would individually sprout front and centre from behind the wheel, ’66 style. But all else would be modern, driver-centric and thoughtfully equipped for the passenger, too. Sports cars often go through periods of waning appeal, before being reignited by fresh product. A brilliant new Alfa Spider should do it.

Expert view: not edgy enough

“This new version of the sports car that started as Duetto and became Spider looks very feasible. Alfa’s parent, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has platforms and powertrain hardware that could be adapted relatively quickly to make it. 


The grand tour: which Brit car factories you should visit

Price: £22.50 (children £11.50) 

When: Monday, Thursday, Friday mornings 

How long: Two hours

Where: Morgan Motor Company, Spring Lane, Malvern Link, Worcestershire WR14 1AJ 

Contact:; 01684 584580

11. Rolls-Royce


Models featured: Phantom, Cullinan, Wraith, Ghost, Dawn 

Tour includes: The factory building itself is worth the journey. Designed by architect Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, the limestone, glass, cedar and plant-clad building is adjacent to a lake, the grounds hosting more than 120 species of tree. The tour takes in the craftsmanship of the wood shop, the trim shop and the glazed final assembly line known as ‘the glass mile’. 

Price: na

When: There are no regular organised tours, but there are usually a couple of open days that the public can attend. Details of these can be found on Rolls-Royce’s Facebook and Instagram pages. 

How long: Two hours, but they can be longer for those with a particular interest.

Where: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited, The Drive, Westhampnett, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0SH 

Contact: Check the Rolls-Royce Facebook ( and Instagram ( pages for news of public tour days.

12. Toyota

Burnaston; Deeside engine plant

Models featured: Auris hatchback and Hybrid, Auris Touring Sports, Avensis 

Tour includes: Starts with rolled coils of sheet steel that are cut and pressed into panels that an army of more than 500 robots manipulates and welds into a body. The assembly line tour will see around 2300 sub-assemblies and components attached to the painted bodyshell to create the car, which comprises around 30,000 individual parts. The quality inspection and testing process will also be shown. Refreshments included. 


Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake Killed With Pink

Yes, it’ll definitely stand out, for better or for worse. It’s great seeing a buyer not giving a crap about resale (or what constitutes good taste) and simply buying something for themselves with no shame. They just went for it. We do dig its black wheels and, if you look closely, the gold accents behind the front wheels. But let’s be clear here – that color is an abomination on a car as exquisite as this.Under the Vanquish Zagato’s long hood lies a naturally aspirated 6.0-liter V12 engine with 580 glorious horsepower. And despite its extended roof, this supercar still only has two seats. With extra space out back, it’s literally the perfect grand tourer. Nothing like a long weekend getaway with your significant other and plenty of space for your luggage.

Red Bull hints at Aston Martin-linked Le Mans program

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Aston Martin AM-RB 001Red Bull’s motorsport advisor, Helmut Marko, has dropped hints the energy drinks company is considering a future in endurance racing, namely the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the highlight of the World Endurance Championship.
In an interview with Autosport published Wednesday, Marko indicated that participating in endurance racing could mean leaving Formula 1, or racing in both competitions.
It would depend on the outcome of current negotiations for F1’s 2021 season and beyond. The current rules last until the end of the 2020 season, which is also the end date for Red Bull’s current F1 commitment.
“We have an agreement [with F1] until 2020,” he said. “As long as there is no engine regulation and no Concorde Agreement, neither Red Bull nor Honda will make a decision.”
Honda is the new power unit supplier to Red Bull for the 2019 and 2020 seasons, taking over from Renault.
Marko hinted that Red Bull will only be willing to stay if the new rules are favorable to the team.
“We will certainly not become dependent again, as we have been in the past, when we were begging others and statements and promises were not kept,” he said.
Marko pointed to WEC’s new Hypercar class starting in the 2020/2021 season as being an alternative, as Red Bull is helping to develop road-going hypercars with Aston Martin, the first of which is the upcoming Valkyrie. Aston Martin has also hinted at entering the Hypercar class with race cars based on its upcoming road-going hypercar models.
“With the Valkyrie, Le Mans could be an option with Hypercar rules,” he said.
Perhaps of most interest is Marko’s comment that Red Bull could race in F1 and WEC, though only if there was a cost cap in F1.
“If there was a cost cap in Formula 1, we would have to cut people,” he said. “We don’t necessarily want that; we could then use them in such projects [as Le Mans].”
Marko also said any WEC program would depend on Aston Martin footing most of the bill.
“The main financial burden would be on Aston Martin, which is also clear, because at Le Mans the manufacturer wins,” he explained. “But that would fit into our concept.”

Dream motoring jobs: meet the people in the best car industry gigs

“I’ve worked for HR Owen for more than 20 years, starting on Mercedes and then moving through to Bentley, Rolls-Royce and now this, which I consider to be the absolute pinnacle,” he says. 

Building experience has been key to success, says Stevens, who has led HR Owen Bugatti Mayfair’s efforts to be in the running for the performance car maker’s coveted global top retailer award. “You build knowledge, confidence and – of course – a black book of contacts who might be interested in the cars,” Stevens says. 

“I don’t believe age makes you more suited to deal with high-end clients, but I do believe that experience helps.” 

The Bugatti sales process typically involves spending a lot of time around buyers, be it at parties or drive days organised for them in the UK, or when they are taken to Bugatti’s headquarters in Molsheim, France. “Often we’ll take a private jet, show the buyer and his family around the factory, have a nice meal, let them drive a car with one of the factory test drivers,” says Stevens. “They actually stop the line so that a buyer can meet everyone on it. If you buy a Bugatti, you become part of a family. 

“Of course, I’ll spend a lot of time with the buyer. Some have high demands, and that’s absolutely reasonable, but many are actually very easy company. They have nothing to prove, are down to earth and have great stories to tell. They also like being around other owners – you’d be amazed how often they end up doing business together after being introduced at one of our events. I enjoy their company.” 

Interestingly, Stevens says that the most common reaction after a test drive is not about how fast a Chiron is, but how easy it is to drive. “It’s such a usable car, but a lot of people expect it to be intimidating,” he says. “Of course the occasional buyer wants something a bit more on edge – and we will try to source an EB 110 for them!” 

More recently, Stevens and his team were tasked with selling the limited-edition, high-performance Bugatti Divo to existing clients. Just 40 were made – and all four of the customers Stevens took to a secret preview event (but not drive) for the car bought one. 

“It is an incredible car, and we had a good idea of which of our customers it would be appealing to,” he says, smiling. Unusually for a retailer, Stevens is not, he rues, paid significantly on commission.

Jolyon Nash, executive director of sales and marketing at McLaren Automotive

Who’s going to pay for McLaren’s Track25 plan, which will result in 18 new models being launched by 2025, at an investment cost of £1.2 billion? Well, indirectly perhaps, it’s Jolyon Nash, who has responsibility for bringing in the revenue as head of sales and marketing. 


Red Bull could switch to Le Mans if F1 options limited after 2020

Red Bull could target Le Mans 24 Hours success with an Aston Martin Valkyrie-based hypercar instead of Formula 1, if it does not see a viable post-2020 grand prix future. The energy drinks company took over Jaguar’s works entry for the 2005 F1 season and blossomed into the dominant force from 2010-13, winning four consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ titles. Red Bull has been reduced to a sporadic race winner in the V6 turbo-hybrid era that began in 2014. It will switch from being a Renault engine customer to having de facto works Honda status for 2019 in a bid to fight for titles again. F1 owner Liberty Media is targeting a commercial and regulatory revolution once the current Concorde Agreement expires after the 2020 season, but has failed to make significant progress. Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko says his team is not interested in becoming a customer again and has made it clear that Red Bull will not be held to ransom over planned rule changes. “We have an agreement until 2020,” Marko told Autosport.”As long as there is no engine regulation and no Concorde Agreement, neither Red Bull nor Honda will make a decision. “However, we will certainly not become dependent again, as we have been in the past, when we were begging others and statements and promises were not kept.” Red Bull’s current Honda deal includes the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Beyond then, Red Bull’s choices appear limited if there are not favourable terms to continue.”Stop is the option,” said Marko. “Or do something else, other racing series. “With the Valkyrie, Le Mans could be an option with hypercar rules. We went through with it, and it’s a sensational success. “The cars were all sold out immediately. That’s another good pillar for Red Bull Technologies.”Red Bull helped Aston Martin developed the Valkyrie, a limited-run road hypercar, with its F1 technical director Adrian Newey a key part of the project. A track version of the car has already been produced. The WEC is working on new regulations to replace LMP1 as the top division, with the inaugural season for hypercar-based entries taking place across 2020 and 2021. One of the fundamental parts of F1 owner Liberty Media’s vision for 2021 onwards is reduced costs, and Marko suggested Red Bull’s interest World Endurance Championship’s flagship race does not depend entirely on a complete withdrawal from F1. “If there was a cost cap in Formula 1, we would have to cut people,” he said. “We don’t necessarily want that. “We could then use them in such projects [as Le Mans]. “It still looks like you can run in the WEC at a reasonable cost with the base of our Valkyrie. “Although Red Bull has never been to the 24 Hours, that’s something we’re thinking about. “The main financial burden would be on Aston Martin, which is also clear, because at Le Mans the manufacturer wins. “But that would fit into our concept.”

This Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake is a masterpiece in pink


Customizing the exterior colors and styling of a car can be boiled down to a general choice: Go with a low-key classic look or take an outlandish approach that makes the car more exclusive. At least one Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato owner went down the latter route and chose a bright pink paint job for their shooting brake.

Brought to our attention by Jalopnik, the car popped up on President and Group CEO Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd Andy Palmer’s Instagram. “My Friday factory walk (Gemba) and I came across this beautiful Zagato Shooting Brake about to be shipped,” he said on the post. “It’s certainly going to stand out for a lucky customer.”

Stand out, it will. The pink paint, with black wheels and gold accents, adds a new element of uniqueness to the car. As an Aston Martin, it was already a premium sports car. The Zagato treatment makes it even more rare, as does the gorgeous shooting brake bodywork. For some people, that’s enough. For others, that the car alone doesn’t fully display their character and personality.

This is the second time the Vanquish Zagatos have come up in the news in the past week. A different owner chose the classic Villa d’Este paint scheme, but went all out and bought one of each of the Zagato styles. Regardless of which style you prefer, this pink Aston proves one thing: this Zagato looks good in any color.

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Delivering a Christmas tree from Scotland to London in a Suzuki Jimny

Cargo secured, we pick our way down a rocky mountain bike trail, say a grateful farewell to Brown (the most obliging off-roading ex-arborist one could wish for) and in the 4pm darkness point both tree and Jimny south towards an overnight stop in Edinburgh. As we get up to speed, there’s the sound of a distant flat tyre, but it’s just the foam layer flapping against the roof. Photographer Luc Lacey reaches outside with some duct tape and the problem’s solved. 

We bound along at a decent lick, the little four-banger’s sweet spot between 3500rpm and the 6300rpm redline belying the Jimny’s lacklustre 11.9sec 0-60mph metric, and our car’s long but tidy gearshift operating with more slickness than the example road tested last month. The steering’s relaxed responses become more apparent with speed, but on this dark, dry, still evening, the tree-topped Suzuki cuts through the Highlands and down the motorway with sufficient pep and comfort, the steady patter of fronds on metal and glass the sole reminder of our perennial passenger. 

Day two brings warnings of gales in the west, so instead we make for Newcastle via the A68. But up on Soutra Hill, the furiously whirling wind turbines show it’s just as blustery here, and the tree is squirming dementedly like a wounded alien, the rear-view mirror filled with flashes of green limbs. The Jimny’s top clip is 90mph, but with gravity, wind and branch-induced drag against us, we struggle to hit 45mph on the ascent. 

We cross the border at an equally tempestuous Carter Bar, then give the national speed limit a scare while slipstreaming a Honda Jazz that’s veritably cleaving through the air ahead of us. We reach Newcastle as darkness – and the rain – begins to fall. Some hardy revellers brave the squall among the Christmas market beneath towering Grey’s Monument, but this is an evening for warm pubs, not open-air stalls, so we soon cross the Tyne Bridge and push on southward. The now-torrential rain seeps through the foam, which shakes free of the tape never to be refastened – and the tree itself is heavy with water, so we endure a torrid 80 minutes plodding along the dual-carriageway with a din from above and steering into violent crosswinds. Our stop-off in Easingwold, North Yorkshire, can’t come soon enough. 


My other Lamborghini’s a tractor

In 1956, Mannesmann, a German industrial conglomerate, acquired the licences and began building Porsche tractors in serious numbers. By 1963, when production ceased, it had built more than 125,000 of them. 

Unsurprisingly, certain Porsche and Lamborghini tractors command high prices today. For example, earlier this year, a fully restored 1958 Porsche-Diesel 308 Super N made £19,833 at auction and a restored 1960 Junior 108 L, £13,200. Prices for collectable Lamborghinis vary widely. In 2016, a restored 1955 Lamborghini DL25 like Ciro’s (his was built in 1954) sold for £86,000 at auction in the US but another, equally pristine, example made just £9440 in the UK. 

Fortunately, you can still find bargains, such as the 1961 Lamborghini 2241R that made £2240. What counts against these younger Lamborghini models is the fact that Lamborghini Trattori is still active and producing tractors. 

Without a car brand directly associated with them, David Brown tractors are worth less. In November 2018, Eddie Thompson, a farmer based in Norfolk, auctioned his collection of 70 vintage tractors, including 55 David Brown models, for £100,000. A late-model Case David Brown 1412 sold for £8000, which wasn’t bad. 

Thompson was persuaded to sell his collection after one of his tractors, a 1960s Fordson Major, sprang into life as he was tinkering with it, breaking his pelvis, ankles and legs.  “I’m happy to see the back of them,” he told his local paper. 

It’s not a sentiment that would find favour with many of his fellow tractor collectors but, in the circumstances, entirely understandable. 

1954 Lamborghini DL25

Owner: Ciro Ciampi