The biggest and best car news stories of 2020: October - November

It wasn't just the cars that made headlines in 2020, check out the biggest and best news stories of the year

October

SUV style and electric drive for next Mégane

New Renault CEO Luca De Meo didn’t waste any time making an impression in his new role in October, with the reveal of the Mégane eVision concept. It was a bold preview of the Mégane of the near future, with all-electric drive and in compact SUV form. 

The production car due in 2021 will use the CMF-EV platform shared with Nissan, while the 60kWh battery should offer a range of 275 miles, enough to go from London to Newcastle without recharging.

New i20 N aims to shake up hot hatch ranks

The new Hyundai i20 surprised us this year. It always gave second best to supermini rivals, but when we tried the latest version for the first time, we discovered that it had an entertaining, accomplished chassis, a smooth and efficient engine, good in-car tech and even looked good value. 

So that meant we were even more excited to see that Hyundai was planning an i20 N. This new hot hatch version uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine with 201bhp and a manual gearbox. It’s a rival to the Ford Fiesta ST and will go on sale early in 2021, and since the normal i20 is already good to drive, we can’t wait to see how the hot model performs.

Authorities cash in on breakdown victims

An exclusive investigation found that drivers who break down on motorways and major A-roads have paid £25million for recovery under a little-known law that allows authorities to remove a car if it poses an obstruction or danger to other road users. 

Some 12,045 vehicles were recovered in 2015/16, rising to 16,026 in 2019/20, with drivers typically paying £150. Highways England said its said traffic officers “work hard” to keep traffic moving and drivers safe. 

November

Earlier ban on sale of petrol and diesel cars

November saw one of the year’s biggest stories, as the Government said it was moving the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 to 2030.

The ‘ban’ was initially announced in 2017, but since then environmental groups and politicians have called for the date to be moved forwards. A consultation into this was announced in February, which resulted in the decision that new conventional cars, plus vans weighing under 3.5 tonnes, would be banned from sale from 2030. 

The Government left the door open for hybrids for five years, however, allowing the sale of cars with the ability to travel “a significant distance without emitting carbon”

to continue until 2035, after which point they too would be banned. What “significant” means exactly has yet to be determined, but previous policies referenced cars “capable of covering 50 miles or more” in zero-emissions mode as being potentially subject to concessions. 

At the same time, some carrots were offered along with those sticks. The Government said it would set aside £582million in grants for cleaner cars, £1.3billion for private and public EV charge points, and £500 million for the development and production of EV batteries.

Shock as Bentley reveals pure-electric plans

Bentley’s announcement that it will become an all-electric car company from 2030 couldn’t have been timed any better, coming only a few weeks ahead of the government’s official EV proposals. 

The firm’s first EV – previewed in our exclusive image – will arrive in 2025 on a completely new architecture. Within a year of its launch, Bentley’s entire range will comprise only PHEVs and fully electric vehicles, and five years on from that it’ll be fully electric only. 

New 316bhp R sits at top of hot Golf line-up

Volkswagen followed up the unveiling of its trio of hot Golfs – the GTI, GTD and GTE – with the all-new flagship Golf R. It has the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine as its predecessor, but power creeps up to 316bhp and 420Nm. 

All-wheel drive is standard, but the Golf R’s chassis gets an update, with a new torque-vectoring rear differential fitted. VW says 0-62mph takes 4.7 seconds, while top speed is limited to 155mph.

All change as new Civic adopts subtle style

Few cars are replaced quite as frequently as the Honda Civic, and near the end of 2020 the firm previewed the 11th generation of its family car stalwart. And it’s all change, as the Golf rival ditches its divisive and angular bodywork for something a lot more subtle and crowd-pleasing. 

While the regular hatchback will go hybrid only, the hot Type R will stick with a 300bhp-plus 2.0-litre engine and front-wheel drive. 

Upcoming Nissan Qashqai out in the open

The Nissan Qashqai has been the best-selling compact SUV in Europe over the last decade, so news of a new model was hugely relevant to British car buyers and the UK economy. The Qashqai is built at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, and no other car is made in greater numbers in the UK. 

The newcomer is due to be revealed in full in 2021, and a handful of official spy images allowed us a glimpse, but we imagined it with no disguise in our exclusive image (above). 

The Qashqai will move to the latest version of Nissan’s CMF platform, but diesel is out. The next car will rely solely on 48-volt mild-hybrid and conventional hybrid power. 

Electric BMWs coming at the double 

A new pair of electric cars from BMW arrived in November, as we got behind the wheel of the iX3 for the first time and the German firm revealed its new technological flagship: the iX. 

We found the iX3 had decent performance and a solid 270-mile range, but ultimately we deemed it a little underwhelming. That’s not something you can say about the iX, however. The looks of this 370-mile EV will divide opinion.

Jan-Mar • Apr-Jun • Jul-Sep • Oct-Nov

Check out the rest of our 2020 round-up below...

  • Best features 2020
  • Christmas quiz 2020
  • Best group tests 2020
  • Best long termers 2020
  • Best reviews 2020
  • Highlights of 2020

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