STOP PRESS! The car news highlights of 2016

We round-up the car news that defined 2016 looking back at all the key new models and big consumer stories…

 

April 2016 car news

Tesla Model S tops Driver Power satisfaction chart

When we revealed the results of our annual Driver Power satisfaction survey in April, the Tesla Model S became the first electric vehicle to top the rankings. Not only that, it set a new record for the highest-ever score.

This year, nearly 50,000 owners rated their cars, and the American electric model came out as a clear winner with an incredible 97.46 per cent score. The Model S finished first in virtually every ranking category, from ease of driving to running costs.

A key trend in this year’s Driver Power survey was how the UK car-buying public is warming to electric and hybrid models, as six of this year’s top 10 vehicles come in ‘alternatively fuelled’ spec. Renault’s all-electric ZOE finished second, while four Lexus models – all of which come with hybrid options – ranked in the top 10. This included last year’s winner, the IS, in fourth place. 

The biggest climber in the ratings this year was the Mazda 2, which rose by a whopping 133 places to sit in 28th position overall. Meanwhile, the Mk3 MINI was the biggest faller in the top 150 chart. After finishing in the top 10 in 2015, it tumbled 88 places to 97th in 2016.

Mazda turns on the style with hard-top MX-5

Mazda took the MX-5 formula a step further as it revealed a stunning folding hard-top model called the ‘RF’ (Retractable Fastback). It retains the regular roadster’s sharp front-end looks, but also features a sleek, hard-top roof that folds away automatically.

The folding process, which can be initiated at up to 6mph, takes around 12 seconds. MX-5 program manager Nobuhiro Yamamoto said: “We wanted the cars to have two different characters; the soft-top is more casual and the RF is a little bit more formal.”

This concept is reflected inside as well; the RF’s interior has a higher-quality feel and a new LCD display in the dash. Prices will start from £22,195 when the car goes on sale in the UK next year. The same 1.5 and 2.0-litre petrol engines are available with a manual box, although there will also be an automatic option. The RF follows the hard-top version of the Mk3 MX-5, which accounted for around 80 per cent of sales by the time the car was replaced in 2014. 

Dieselgate’ prompts CO2 probe

The fallout from VW’s ‘Dieselgate’ scandal prompted the Department for Transport (DfT), along with its German counterpart, to conduct a £1million industry investigation. 

No other manufacturer was found to have cheated, but the report revealed that most had used built-in temperature-based exhaust gas strategies to pass lab tests.

German authorities ordered 630,000 cars to be recalled, while the DfT took no action.

April 2016 in numbers

  • • 1 in 5 - Van MoT failures
  • Auto Express research found one in five new vans failed its first MoT after three years. Half of all vans in Great Britain failed the test last year.
  • • 950% - Rise in eco-car costs
  • The rise in ownership costs of some eco-friendly cars under new 2017 vehicle excise duty rates announced.
  • • £150million - Hi-tech roads scheme
  • UK Government investment into a four-year trial, starting in 2017, to include roads built with radar and Wi-Fi capabilities to support autonomous cars. 

 

May 2016 car news

From bulky MPV to cool SUV for 3008

In May we got the first look at the bold SUV-inspired Peugeot 3008 model that’s replacing the old MPV-like original and taking the fight to the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar.

It wowed us with its spacious and classy cabin, and the promise of its efficient engines. The sharp look is down to a new grille design with distinctive headlamps, a floating roofline and a set of bold tail-lights.

Wraps off bold Volvo small SUV

Volvo had already confirmed that a new small SUV called the XC40 would soon join its range, but in May we were finally able to get an idea of what the car would look like.

The thinly veiled concept sat on a new CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) platform that’s been developed by Volvo with its Chinese owner Geely. Bosses also confirmeda 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine for the crossover, as well as a plug-in hybrid version.

Second Zafira fire recall

Vauxhall’s Zafira B had made headlines in 2015 when the company recalled the MPV, warning 234,938 UK owners about a potential fire hazard. However, the original fix did not conclude matters, and the company issued a second callback in May.

The widely publicised fires originated from poor repairs to the blower motor resistor, and Vauxhall’s own in-house investigation of 1,000 random models found 2.6 per cent had badly repaired fuses. This latest recall rectified the issue. 

Chunky new Renault Koleos is go

With the Skoda Kodiaq SUV on the way, and the Ford Edge and Land Rover Discovery Sport already in showrooms, it was time for Renault to join in with its new Koleos. 

The car was unveiled at the Beijing Motor Show. Its styling matches that of the new Mégane hatch, although the raised ride height meant Renault was pushing the newcomer as a genuine off-roader as well as a large, practical family runaround.

London stages its own motor show

The 2016 London Motor Show saw a total of 35 different car brands, including Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, Ford, Nissan, Jaguar, Land Rover and BMW, displaying their latest models to the public.

Over the three days in May at Battersea Evolution Centre in the west of the capital, 130 models were on show. Grabbing the headlines were the MG GS SUV, McLaren 570GT and Infiniti Q60. 

Big misfuelling repair bill for police

AN Auto Express investigation found police forces had spent nearly £400,000 over the past five years on repairing their patrol vehicles after officers misfuelled

Since 2011, there have been 2,147 incidents in the UK, with the Metropolitan Police having the highest costs. London officers caused £167,118 worth of damage, plus the Met was the force with the biggest fuel bill – £64.6million in the past five years.

May 2016 in numbers

  • • 7.6 million - Speeding fines
  • Number of fines for speeding issued by police in UK since 2011. According to exclusive figures, 8.4 per cent of drivers successfully challenged their fines. 
  • • £1,197 - Driveway rental
  • Average annual amount a homeowner in a major UK town or city could earn from renting out their empty drive for parking.
  • • £71,000 - Evoque options
  • To show how crazy it is possible to go on a configurator, we more than doubled the price of a Range Rover Evoque by choosing a host of options. 

 

June 2016 car news

Rolls-Royce’s wild vision of future

Rolls-Royce gave the world a dramatic insight into its future with the 103EX Vision Next 100 concept – a “visionary” look at how its models will evolve in decades to come, and a celebration of its 112-year history.

The amazing car is roughly the same size as a Phantom, but features unique ‘floating’ wheel portions and a curved glass cockpit. It’s fully electric, with two high-performance 250kW motors on each axle, while under the skin is an advanced lightweight platform

Ford’s practical Ka+ promises city car shake-up

The budget city car market looked set to get a shake-up when Ford revealed its new Ka+ would be coming to the UK with a lower price and increased practicality. The Ka+ was already on sale in India, where it’s built, as well as in South America, but Ford developed the car with European buyers in mind. 

Offering supermini space for less than £9,000, the Ka+ shares its platform with the current Fiesta. It’s almost as long as the big seller, too, and is 21mm taller, with a 270-litre boot. 

Even base models get remote locking, as well as electric windows and mirrors. All models feature a 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual gearbox, with either 69bhp or 84bhp versions available.

AMG’s mean, green GT

At Mercedes-Benz World in Surrey, with F1 star Lewis Hamilton on hand, the bonkers AMG GT R supercar was revealed. It’s the pinnacle of the AMG GT range, with power upped to 577bhp and a serious, track-focused chassis makeover. 

Mercedes is focusing on battling the Nürburgring with the GT R, as signified by the ‘Green Hell’ paint – a reference to the circuit’s nickname. A wider body and track, active aero tech, chunky rear wing  and nine-way traction control should ensure the car gives Porsche’s 911 Turbo S sleepless nights.

Manley is Auto Express’s Brit of 2016

The Auto Express Brit List, which counts down the best UK talent in the car industry, named Mike Manley as winner. Manley has overseen Jeep’s revival and has now been put in charge of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in the Asia Pacific region, as well as joining the FCA Group Executive Council.

Manley was joined on the podium by Citroen CEO Linda Jackson and Duncan Aldred, US vice president of Buick-GMC.

Brexit shock has industry reeling

Brits went to the polls on 23 June and voted to leave the EU in a shock result. The referendum outcome left the nation’s economy reeling and forced Prime Minister David Cameron to step down.

The automotive industry called on the Government to ensure the UK remained “open for business”, and later in the year, the Business Secretary promised to protect makers if trade tariffs were introduced.

June 2016 in numbers

  • • 1 - No1 media brand
  • Auto Express was crowned Consumer Media Brand of the Year at the 2016 PPA awards, beating titles such as NME, Vogue and Grazia.
  • • £344m - Collected by NHS 
  • Total raked in by NHS Foundation Trusts in England from parking fees in the past three years.
  • • 53.5% - MoT failure rate
  • Percentage of MoT failures in Britain’s test failure hotspot: Dundee. The Isle of Man had the lowest failure rate; only 28.2 per cent failed the test here.

Now jump to page 3 or click the links below to continue our review of 2016's big car stories...

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