News - September 30 2022

We’ve got radical concept cars, controversial models from BMW and Mercedes and a new Mustang this week, as well as news on which car brands deliver on reliability.

Let’s grasp the concept

Citroen, Dacia and Volkswagen have all grabbed our attention lately with some very interesting concepts. A few years ago Volvo revealed its 360c, a car that could replace short-haul flights by driving itself while you slept in a business class-style flat bed. Now Volkswagen has done the same with its Gen.Travel, a futuristic vision of how we might travel over longer distances without having to take to the skies. VW describes it as a research vehicle that could provide functionality for future models. It has autonomous driving tech, augmented reality to occupy the kids and the ability for the seats to fold down for a kip. 

Don’t expect to sleep in the new concepts from Citroen and Dacia though. The Citroen Oli is a family electric vehicle with a difference, one that is about sustainability and fun, but also about avoiding the excess of many other brands and models. That means less screens, less size and importantly, less weight. There’s a serious message here, but it’s also the next step in cool after the small Ami. The design team wanted to make Oli all about fun and uniqueness, much like the old 2CV was. Times have moved on from the 2CV though and Oli has things like a hidden pick-up style cargo bed, smartphone integration instead of a screen and panels made from recycled cardboard sandwiched between fibreglass and resin. Oli is also the first model to feature a brand new Citroen logo that will start to appear on slightly more regular models in various forms soon.

Then there’s Dacia, which appears to have gone all Mad Max, a far cry from the Sandero family runabouts we are used to. Its Manifesto Concept is another research vehicle that tests out some ideas for future models. Its looks like Dacia’s take on a go-anywhere beach buggy which definitely gets our attention. There are no doors or windows, the body panels are made of plastic and it has airless tyres so you can just keep going. It has a removable battery so you can use it to power your campsite and it even has a removable headlight that can be used as a torch. It looks like great fn to us.


Oh BMW what have you done?

Big news from BMW is about something big. And brash. We first saw the new BMW XM in a closed room in Italy a few months ago, but now it has been revealed it’s possible BMW hasn’t received the reaction it would have liked. BMW calls the design “bold and visually striking” which it certainly is. No doubt some will love it and we won’t judge them.

The XM is a plug-in hybrid with an electric motor that can provide up to 55 miles of pure electric driving - hoorah. It is bolted to a massive 653hp, 800Nm twin-turbo V8 though, with the pair capable of hauling it to 62mph in 4.3 seconds. BMW also claims it’s capable of achieving 188.3mpg, but no-one really believes that do they. Priced from £144,980 the XM will be in the UK soon and will be followed by the 748hp XM Label Red, not to be confused with Red Label, because that’s a whisky.


Over at Mercedes, things are downsizing

Mercedes-AMG has revealed the new C63, or rather the C63 S E Performance. That means a big growling V8 right? No. The C63 now has a two-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine over the front axle. On the rear axle is an electric motor, the combination providing all-wheel drive as well as 680hp and 1,020Nm of torque. 

The numbers still sound impressive and Merc is promising impressive sound too, courtesy of a fake AMG sound that will not only be heard inside the car but outside too courtesy of rear-mounted soundbars. Even the design seems somewhat muted by C63 standards, although early C-Class AMGs were wolves in sheep’s clothing. It all seems like Mercedes is trying too hard but we’ll be driving it soon and will let you know whether it’s more than it seems.


There’s a new ‘Stang in town

If you prefer your muscle cars to actually have some muscle, then Ford has revealed the latest generation of its Mustang, complete with a new 5.0-litre V8 engine. No downsizing here. Available as a coupe and convertible, the new ‘Stang GT gets some design tweaks over the old one and a bunch of new tech. That includes the choice of two screens integrated into one long panel or two standalone screens, both of which honestly look a little out of place to us. There’s more safety kit, more personalisation and more driving modes, plus there will be a Mustang Dark Horse, a model engineered to be more at home on the track. Exciting news for motorsport fans is that Ford will be taking the new Mustang racing, including at Le Mans. 


Something for everyday and something for Sunday

Vauxhall has revealed its first models to wear its new GSe badge, standing for sporty electrification. It will adorn the new Astra and Astra Sports Tourer plug-in hybrid models next year and promise 225hp. DS has announced its new DS 3 and over at Peugeot the company has confirmed it’s e-208 will get the same electric running gear that it introduced in the e-308 to give the small hatch a driving range of up to 248 miles.

Chinese automaker BYD Auto has announced more details for its European line-up. The range will start with the Atto 3 small SUV at €38,000 and both the Han saloon and Tang SUV will start at €72,000. Not only do the trio look rather good inside and out, but BYD has developed some clever battery tech called Blade which is half the size of the batteries typically used in other EVs but with equal power. It all looks very promising for the Chinese giant and the new models could be in the UK as soon as the end of this year to provide some serious competition to rivals like Tesla.

Now we know autumn has arrived and the weather is starting to turn, but Caterham has introduced something to raise your temperature. The new Super Seven 600 and Super Seven 2000 are supposed to look like something from the 1970s with their special Bourbon and Fawn paint options - honestly, it’s not brown and beige, this isn’t the Allegro. Caterham turns 50 next year and these models hark back to an era when it was all just about the wind in your hair and enjoying a Sunday drive. 

What? No supercars then?

You might have noticed a lack of super expensive supercars in this news round-up, well fear not because there are a couple of new ones to salivate over. Ferrari has revealed its SP51, a one-off commission from a wealthy buyer in Taiwan based on the 812 GTS. 

Lamborghini has launched the Urus S, technically not a supercar but we’re reluctant to use the term super-SUV. It has some styling tweaks and more power. We could tell you how much more, but does anyone really care? At the same time, production of the Aventador has come to an end after more than a decade, signalling the end of naturally-aspirated V12 models for the bullish brand.


Britain’s most and least reliable motors

Finally something that will be of interest to every car owner, the subject of reliability. Now we don’t often quote from publications here, but if anyone knows about reliability it’s What Car? magazine and its annual reliability survey of cars under five years old is the de facto guide. Nearly 25,000 owners contributed to the survey which covered 32 car brands and nearly 250 models. Quite comprehensive, but who were the winners and who didn’t fare so well?

It’s no surprise that Lexus came out on top with a 98.4% reliability rating. That mirrors most major surveys around the world - well done Lexus. Its parent company, Toyota, was second with Mini in third. Mitsubishi might have left the UK but its cars are the fourth most reliable followed by Hyundai and Suzuki. Kia came in seventh with Mazda, MG and Dacia rounding out the top ten.

Twelve brands fill out the middle ground and then there’s the bottom ten, which kicks off with Mercedes-Benz at 89.5%. Vauxhall follows it, then Nissan, Jaguar, Ford, Peugeot and Alfa Romeo. Then there were three, the three least reliable brands, according to the survey. That dubious accolade goes to Fiat with 86.4%, Land Rover with 81.4% and some way off at the bottom of the list is Jeep with 77%. 

If it’s data you want then data we’ve got, because the most reliable models with scores of 100% were the current Hyundai Tucson, the 2014-19 Kia Soul, current Mini convertible and the 2017-21 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. Hybrid cars emerged as the most reliable followed by family cars and small SUVs. Interestingly, electric cars were quite far down the list, only beating Luxury SUVs and Luxury Cars, but within the EV category the most reliable was the first generation Nissan Leaf with the Tesla Model S the least reliable. 

That’s about it for this news, but before you go, spare a thought for drivers of the current Audi A3, Audi Q5 (2008-2017) and latest Land Rover Discovery, because they are driving Britain’s least reliable cars in the survey. Give them a wave if you see them on the back of a breakdown lorry won’t you. 



Written by Mark Smyth