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John McIlroy

John started in journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. But after a decade covering the antics of Colin McRae and Richard Burns in the World Rally Championship, and a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing cars and breaking news on forthcoming products. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

John joined Auto Express in 2016 and since then he’s been responsible for managing the content within Auto Express, ensuring that sharply written news stories and the right reviews fill its pages and website. He also assists with Carbuyer.co.uk and his self-professed love of technology has helped him to move easily into the realm of electric cars as the industry moves inexorably in that direction.

John says…

“It’s quite alarming to think I’ve been writing about the cars we all buy and drive for nearly two decades now, but in truth, there’s never been a more interesting, exciting time to do it. Car buyers are keen to find clarification on a host of issues as many of them prepare to make the jump to electrified vehicles – be they EV or hybrid – and I’m proud of how the teams work at Auto Express and Carbuyer to reflect not only changes within the industry, but also the evolution of what its customers need to know. I frequently get tapped up by friends and relatives who are after a specific car or want clarification on the nuanced differences between certain finance deals; I always tell them that I’m happy to help, just as I love assisting anyone who reads our websites.”

John's main areas of expertise

  • New-car news and future products
  • Buying advice, including finance deals and leasing
  • Technology, with specific focus on the in-car user experience
  • Electric vehicles

John McIlroy Q&A

Q: What was your first car? 

A: I learned to drive in my mother’s FIAT Uno, and then mistreated a variety of subsequent Unos and Puntos in the back lanes of Northern Ireland. My first car as a journalist was a normally aspirated diesel Peugeot 306 – a fantastic car when I had to venture into the depths of Wales every other weekend to attend rallies. I’ve made a single classic-car purchase over the years: a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus. It was a late example in virtually standard condition and while it had its share of niggles, I felt very proud to be its custodian for a few years.

Q: What is your dream car? 

A: The Sunbeam Lotus was the car I’d yearned for since I was a boy, so in a way I’ve already scratched that particular itch. I do have a hankering, though, for some form of Alpina – and since money is no object here, I’ll combine the Buchloe brand’s engineering skills with one of my all-time favourite BMWs, the 8 Series. So I’d love a B12 5.7 coupé, please – V12 power, Alpina’s chassis wizardry, the chunky original 8 Series shape and a manual gearbox. And, ideally, modern reliability.

Q: If you could change one thing about cars, driving or the car industry today what would it be?

A: I wish there were enough traffic police to accurately police the amount of traffic that’s on our roads. Driving standards are about much more than speed cameras.

Social media and e-mail

Citroen C3 review
Citroen e-C3 - front
In-depth reviews

Citroen C3 review

A clever rethink of the small, affordable car theme, the C3 and its all-electric e-C3 twin have the potential to really shake up the market
22 May 2024
New MINI Cooper S 2024 review: desirable and full of charm
New 2024 MINI Cooper S - front tracking
Road tests

New MINI Cooper S 2024 review: desirable and full of charm

The new MINI Cooper S has excellent build quality and is brilliant to drive, even with its impracticalities.
21 May 2024
Kia EV9 review
Kia EV9 UK - front
In-depth reviews

Kia EV9 review

The Kia EV9 nails the brief of a practical seven-seater electric SUV, plus it’s well-equipped and has a comfortable ride
21 May 2024
New Skoda Octavia Estate 2024 review: facelifted family wagon shines
Skoda Octavia Estate - front tracking
Road tests

New Skoda Octavia Estate 2024 review: facelifted family wagon shines

The Skoda Octavia is at its most practical in estate form and there’s still a diesel for the real traditionalists
15 May 2024
New Skoda Octavia 2024 facelift review: updates strengthen a strong hand
Skoda Octavia 2024 facelift international drive
Road tests

New Skoda Octavia 2024 facelift review: updates strengthen a strong hand

Skoda's family car hero gets a little bit better with the latest facelift, and it was pretty good to start with.
14 May 2024
MINI Cooper review
MINI Cooper SE - front
In-depth reviews

MINI Cooper review

The MINI Cooper is a high-tech electric hatch that maintains a premium feel while also being fun to drive
7 May 2024
New Fangchengbao 5 review: BYD's answer to the Land Rover Defender
FangChengBao 5 - front
Road tests

New Fangchengbao 5 review: BYD's answer to the Land Rover Defender

Another intriguing model from the burgeoning BYD stable, the Fangchengbao looks to take on the Land Rover Defender
29 Apr 2024

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New BYD Seal 5 DM-i 2024 review: plug-in hybrid saloon is understated but also underwhelming
BYD Seal 5 DM-i - front
Road tests

New BYD Seal 5 DM-i 2024 review: plug-in hybrid saloon is understated but also underwhelming

The plug-in hybrid BYD Seal 5 DM-i could come to the UK next year, but first impressions are a bit of a mixed bag
29 Apr 2024
New GWM Ora 03 PRO+ 2024 review: updates fail to hide its flaws
GWM Ora 03 PRO+ - front
Road tests

New GWM Ora 03 PRO+ 2024 review: updates fail to hide its flaws

The refreshed GWM Ora 03 EV claims more range and revamped tech
19 Apr 2024
Dacia Jogger review
Dacia Jogger - front tracking
In-depth reviews

Dacia Jogger review

Offering family-friendly practicality at a unique price, the Dacia Jogger seven-seater is sure to appeal
17 Apr 2024
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Alfa Romeo Junior 2024 preview: specs and full details of the car that used to be Milano
Alfa Romeo Milano - front 3/4 static
News

Alfa Romeo Junior 2024 preview: specs and full details of the car that used to be Milano

Alfa Romeo re-entered the small SUV sector with the new Milano and then promptly renamed it as the Alfa Romeo Junior
16 Apr 2024
Dacia Sandrider: Sebastien Loeb's Dakar rally challenger in detail
Dacia Sandrider - front
News

Dacia Sandrider: Sebastien Loeb's Dakar rally challenger in detail

The V6-powered Dacia Sandrider has been developed with Prodrive and features concept-car styling and huge off-road ability
13 Apr 2024
Alfa Romeo plots new supercar successor to the 33 Stradale, with a little help from its owners
Alfa Romeo Stradale 33 - front static
News

Alfa Romeo plots new supercar successor to the 33 Stradale, with a little help from its owners

Alfa Romeo is already planning a follow-up to the stunning 33 Stradale supercar, strictly limited to around 100 units.
12 Apr 2024
New, all-electric Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio in line for 950bhp performance
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio Badge
News

New, all-electric Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio in line for 950bhp performance

The new Alfa Romeo Stelvio is on the way, it’s electric and the Quadrifoglio version sounds like it’ll be something special.
11 Apr 2024
New Rolls-Royce Spectre 2024 review: a peerless EV experience
Rolls-Royce Spectre - front
Road tests

New Rolls-Royce Spectre 2024 review: a peerless EV experience

The electric Rolls-Royce isn’t completely immune to horrible British road surfaces but it still sets the standard for EV elegance and luxury, just as …
25 Mar 2024
Bentley boss Adrian Hallmark leaves the brand to join rivals Aston Martin
Adrian Hallmark Bentley
News

Bentley boss Adrian Hallmark leaves the brand to join rivals Aston Martin

Adrian Hallmark replaces Amedeo Felisa at Aston Martin and will start the job 'no later than 1 October'
22 Mar 2024
New Audi A3 still planned: entry-level EV to give affordability edge over BMW and Mercedes
Audi A3 EV render - front
News

New Audi A3 still planned: entry-level EV to give affordability edge over BMW and Mercedes

Audi will persevere with its plan for an entry-level electric car to replace the existing Audi A3 at a time when rivals will be exiting that market
20 Mar 2024
Bentley Continental GT to get plug-in hybrid V8
Bentley Continental GT
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Bentley Continental GT to get plug-in hybrid V8

The next-generation Bentley Continental GT and Flying Spur will utilise Porsche hybrid technology
19 Mar 2024
Best cars for £15,000 or less
Best cars for £15,000 - header
Best cars & vans

Best cars for £15,000 or less

Spending around £15,000 doesn’t get you much in the new car market these days, but it can land you a brilliant used model
18 Mar 2024
New Toyota C-HR Plug-in review: fleet-friendly plug-in hybrid
Toyota C-HR Plug-in 2024
Road tests

New Toyota C-HR Plug-in review: fleet-friendly plug-in hybrid

Toyota’s C-HR gets a plug to boost efficiency and lower costs but it’s a better company car than it is a private one.  
12 Mar 2024
New Mercedes EQB 2024 facelift review: entry-level 250+ enhances the solid 7-seater
Mercedes EQB 250+ AMG Line Executive - front
Road tests

New Mercedes EQB 2024 facelift review: entry-level 250+ enhances the solid 7-seater

The Mercedes EQB has gained a facelift and a new 250+ version with more range and a lower price. It’s more tempting than ever
11 Mar 2024
New Mercedes EQA 2024 facelift review: upgrades fail to hide its flaws
Mercedes EQA - front
Road tests

New Mercedes EQA 2024 facelift review: upgrades fail to hide its flaws

The Mercedes EQA has been tweaked for 2024, but it remains far from the top of the electric SUV class
11 Mar 2024
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New KGM Torres EVX review - no nonsense EV SUV goes large on space and range
KGM Torres EVX
Road tests

New KGM Torres EVX review - no nonsense EV SUV goes large on space and range

The electric version of KGM’s Torres SUV has impressive family-friendly qualities but it lacks some sophistication at this price.
8 Mar 2024
New Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV to go electric in 2025
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
News

New Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV to go electric in 2025

Alfa’s large SUV will be reinvented next year, with the Giulia saloon to follow 12 months later
8 Mar 2024
New MG2 will beat Volkswagen to the baby electric car market
MG2 - front (watermarked)
News

New MG2 will beat Volkswagen to the baby electric car market

The MG2 will rival Citroen e-C3 and new Fiat Panda, and our exclusive images preview how it could look
7 Mar 2024
New KGM Torres 2024 review: big SUV says so long SsangYong
KGM Torres - front cornering
Road tests

New KGM Torres 2024 review: big SUV says so long SsangYong

The Torres is the vehicle chosen to usher in the new KGM brand on the UK market and despite some clear flaws, the petrol model shows encouraging signs…
6 Mar 2024
New Toyota Yaris GR Sport hybrid 2024 review: useful power upgrade comes at a cost
Toyota Yaris GR Sport hybrid - front
Road tests

New Toyota Yaris GR Sport hybrid 2024 review: useful power upgrade comes at a cost

Toyota has enhanced the Yaris supermini with more tech and a more powerful hybrid offered only with the top trim levels…
6 Mar 2024
Fiat 600e review
Fiat 600e UK - front
In-depth reviews

Fiat 600e review

The Fiat 600e looks the part, has a comfortable ride, and provides plenty of equipment for a reasonable price
6 Mar 2024
New MINI Countryman SE 2024 review: a spacious and refined electric SUV
MINI Countryman SE - front
Road tests

New MINI Countryman SE 2024 review: a spacious and refined electric SUV

The new all-electric MINI Countryman SE isn’t cheap, but is the brand’s most convincing SUV in the modern era
5 Mar 2024
Jeep Avenger Summit long-term test: a cleverly engineered electric SUV
Auto Express editor-at-large John McIlroy holding an EU and US flag while standing next to the Jeep Avenger
Long-term tests

Jeep Avenger Summit long-term test: a cleverly engineered electric SUV

Second report: for a ‘European’ car, our Jeep has a very American feel
4 Mar 2024
“The new Renault 5 oozes cool and desirability”
Opinion - Renault 5
Opinion

“The new Renault 5 oozes cool and desirability”

Editor-at-large John McIlroy thinks the Geneva launches of the Renault 5 and MG3 show that the death of the small car has been greatly exaggerated
1 Mar 2024
Aston Martin says its Lagonda brand is definitely dead
Lagonda Vision concept
News

Aston Martin says its Lagonda brand is definitely dead

Lagonda has no part in Aston Martin’s plan for electrification, which involves four electric cars being launched from 2026
28 Feb 2024
New BMW iX2 2024 review: struggles against iX1 on everything but looks
BMW iX2 - front
Road tests

New BMW iX2 2024 review: struggles against iX1 on everything but looks

The new BMW iX2 electric SUV has styling on its side, but is less appealing than the impressive iX1
27 Feb 2024
New BMW X2 2024 review: hot M35i version is fast, but hard to recommend
New BMW X2 M35i - front
Road tests

New BMW X2 2024 review: hot M35i version is fast, but hard to recommend

The hot BMW X2 M35i is certainly quick, but it’s expensive and lacks involvement
27 Feb 2024