Archive for Joe Simpson

Volkswagen Passat (2015) first drive: Shedding its dull image

Volkswagen Passat (2015) first drive: Shedding its dull image

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Ask any automotive enthusiast to name a dull car, and there's a fair chance they might name the Passat. But Volkswagen has sold 22 million of the things since 1973, so clearly the gear-heads are missing something. For 2015, there's a new Passat to tempt... >>

Detroit 2015 motorshow in pictures: Ford, Mercedes, Porsche and more show off their new cars and concepts

Detroit 2015 motorshow in pictures: Ford, Mercedes, Porsche and more show off their new cars and concepts

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The North American International Auto Show – known locally by its acronym of “NAIAS”  or to you and I as the Detroit motorshow – sweeps the entire car industry off to frozen Detroit each January. Increasingly Detroit feels like a sideshow to... >>

Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE concept: The Tiguan from the future (hands-on)

Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE concept: The Tiguan from the future (hands-on)

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This is VW's latest crossover concept, the Cross Coupe GTE. Shown at the Detroit Auto Show as a proof of concept vision, it hints at the next generation of Volkswagen's crossovers and SUVs. The GTE label – which is the new moniker for high-performance,... >>

Audi Q7: Awesome tech meets awkward design (hands-on)

Audi Q7: Awesome tech meets awkward design (hands-on)

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The Audi Q7 was the most important new mainstream production car to be launched at the Detroit Auto Show, joining a growing throng of recently refreshed big SUVs. Given that BMW debuted a new X5 in 2014 (although it looks just like the old one), Volvo... >>

Honda NSX: Ford GT competitor shows off 25 year pedigree (hands-on)

Honda NSX: Ford GT competitor shows off 25 year pedigree (hands-on)

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If the Ford GT was the surprise supercar launch at the Detroit Auto Show, then the Honda NSX (here badged as an Acura, for the North American market) was the one we knew we were going to get. After all, Acura has been showing the NSX in concept version... >>

Driver-less car design: Are we sleep-walking into the future?

Driver-less car design: Are we sleep-walking into the future?

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It’s hard to criticise tech-led culture without appearing anti-progressive. But when it comes to autonomous car design, are we sleep-walking our way into the future? There is something hugely appealing about the driver-less car. Even the most gear-headed... >>

Citroen C4 Cactus review: A thorn in the side for the competition
4.5 stars

Citroen C4 Cactus review: A thorn in the side for the competition

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Every so often a car comes along that causes people to stop and stare. If you're brave enough to drive a new Citroen C4 Cactus, then there's a fair chance that people are going to stare at you. It's a car that looks different; quirky in a way that, arguably,... >>

Renault Twingo review: Dynamique TCe 90 hits the streets
3.5 stars

Renault Twingo review: Dynamique TCe 90 hits the streets

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Going against the grain is unusual in the automotive world. Standardisation, lowering the risk factor of product failure and making things easy to mass produce is the name of the game. Which is why unusual or new types of car are so rare. When the Renault... >>

Peugeot 108 review: Putting the Active 1.0 Top! through its paces
3.5 stars

Peugeot 108 review: Putting the Active 1.0 Top! through its paces

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Back in 2005 the Peugeot 107 joined the city car sector just at the right time - offering the combination of cheeky looks, super-low insurance costs and the option of 5-doors - before most rivals had cottoned onto the fact this was what buyers wanted.... >>

Mercedes-Benz C-Class first drive: Striking a balance between sporty and refined

Mercedes-Benz C-Class first drive: Striking a balance between sporty and refined

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Comfort or sporting prowess? It's quandary that every car maker faces when launching a new car, and it seems particularly pertinent when considering the new Mercedes C-Class. It used to be said that stepping into a Mercedes-Benz should lower the driver's... >>

Mini 5-door first drive: Cartoon-style fun for the whole family

Mini 5-door first drive: Cartoon-style fun for the whole family

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Up until now, beyond the price differential, one key reason to overlook buying a Mini - beyond its cartoonish design - was the lack of rear doors. And with sales in this market splitting roughly 65/35 in favour of 5-door models, it's clear Mini thinks... >>

Lamborghini Asterion concept: The 910bhp hybrid beast that will (probably) never get made

Lamborghini Asterion concept: The 910bhp hybrid beast that will (probably) never get made

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Two weeks before the Paris Motor Show began, Lamborghini sent us a teaser silhouette of its new concept car. Underneath it was written: "How do you improve on perfection? Double it." For reasons that right now seem unclear, we - along with the rest of... >>

Audi TT Sportback concept: Less concept than the name suggests

Audi TT Sportback concept: Less concept than the name suggests

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The Audi TT Sportback perhaps qualifies as the major surprise of the Paris Motor Show as it was one of just a few uncertainties to be revealed. Although if you've been following Audi's strategy over recent shows, it should come as no surprise at all.... >>

Land Rover Discovery Sport preview: So does it replace the Freelander?

Land Rover Discovery Sport preview: So does it replace the Freelander?

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When is a Freelander not a Freelander? When it's a Discovery Sport. From now on, the Freelander is dead. Instead it's replaced by the Discovery Sport as Land Rover changes the structure of its range, creating a series of sub-brands. So from now on, Discovery... >>

Jaguar XE: Exciting enough to challenge BMW? (hands-on)

Jaguar XE: Exciting enough to challenge BMW? (hands-on)

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After making an exuberant entrance in London a couple of weeks back (it was dangled from helicopters, motored up the Thames on a speedboat) we finally get to lay our hands on Jag's long-awaited XE at the Paris Motor Show. It is a rival aimed squarely... >>

Mercedes-Benz AMG GT: No gulwing doors, can V8 powerhouse fill SLS's boots? (hands-on)

Mercedes-Benz AMG GT: No gulwing doors, can V8 powerhouse fill SLS's boots? (hands-on)

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The Mercedes-Benz AMG GT was originally shown at a private event in Stuttgart, but the first public chance to see the car is at the Paris Motor Show 2014. The GT is significant because it effectively replaces the gulwing-door SLS and becomes Mercedes-Benz's... >>

BMW M3 review (2014)
4.5 stars

BMW M3 review (2014)

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Create a legend and it creates a rod for its own back. The BMW M3 is one such legend and with every new version you'll hear the same complaints: "It's moved too far away from the original concept." "It's too heavy." "It's got the wrong number of cylinders."... >>

Volkswagen Polo (2014) first drive: The sensible small car gets an internal tech boost

Volkswagen Polo (2014) first drive: The sensible small car gets an internal tech boost

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Spare a thought for the Volkswagen Polo. While big brother Golf gets all the headlines and gold stars in the VW family pecking order, Polo sits there quietly, getting on with its job of being an entirely decent little car. In the world of supermini cars,... >>

BMW 220d review
4.0 stars

BMW 220d review

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BMW has gone to town on a host of new electric, performance and lifestyle models recently, including the i3, i8, X4, M4, M235i - the list has got so long we're almost struggling to keep up. The idea is that there's now a BMW for everyone. Yet what about... >>

Volkswagen Golf R first drive: The best fast Golf ever

Volkswagen Golf R first drive: The best fast Golf ever

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Just how much would you be happy to spend on a Golf? It's an interesting question posed by this, the new hottest (ever) Golf ­- the R - which starts at a few quid under 30-grand in the UK. It's the latest in a long line of uber-fast Golfs, designed to... >>

Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid review
4.0 stars

Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid review

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The main issue with buying an electric car - other than the cost of purchase - is range anxiety. The internal combustion age means we don't tend not to plan when it comes to cars. We just jump in and go. Despite the average person only driving 19 miles... >>

McLaren 650S first drive: Brit supercar contrasts comfort with savage performance

McLaren 650S first drive: Brit supercar contrasts comfort with savage performance

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McLaren is riding on a wave right now. Hot on the heels of the £1-million P1 comes this, the McLaren 650S. It's a riposte to those who think of McLarens as a little safe, a little boring, a little lacking in drama compared to the obvious alternative... >>

BMW i8: Driving the supercar of the future

BMW i8: Driving the supercar of the future

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Standing in a small car park on the far Western Coast of the Scottish highlands ought to be the last place you'd expect to draw a crowd. But so futuristic is the look of the new BMW i8, especially in Prototonic blue, that right now it's cameraphone central... >>

Want to see Volvo's new performance car? Check out the limited edition Volvo V60 Polestar in our first drive

Want to see Volvo's new performance car? Check out the limited edition Volvo V60 Polestar in our first drive

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Set up a few years back, Polestar is a company all about high performance cars. To date it's created a number of one-off, very high-performance Volvos, one of which made a cameo appearance on Top Gear. That was the tipping point: since then there has... >>

BMW 435i M Sport Convertible review
4.5 stars

BMW 435i M Sport Convertible review

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We already know the BMW 435i well, having driven one back from its launch event in Scotland last summer and then having spent a week with it, driving it around the UK. But what happens if you lop the roof off a 4-Series? You get a 4-Series Convertible,... >>