• Just Where Are The Best Deals on Wheels?

    When looking to buy a car there is certainly no shortage of choice. The UK has over 4,900 franchised dealers plus many more generalists. Car auctions, internet sites and private ads offer even more options but this still leaves many buyers wondering just where is the best place to get a really good deal.

    For most people, a car is likely to be the second most expensive single item that they will ever buy and so it is important to get it right. There is certainly plenty of choice and if you are looking to buy a used car in the London area, it is possible to find almost every conceivable make and model within a radius of a few miles. The first decision is whether to buy new or second-hand. New car sales are booming, fuelled largely by some of the new methods of financing them such as personal contract plans and leasing as new recruits to the world of motoring consider car ownership very much along the same lines as mobile phone contracts with a continuous monthly charge and regular upgrades being the order of the day. The canny buyer, however, realises that such a throw-away mentality results in some great cars appearing on the second-hand market and it usually means that the first owner has paid dearly for the privilege of new car ownership or lease. A car’s value depends on several things but one of the most predictable is its age and the depreciation curve is invariably steeper in its early days.

    By steering clear of the lure of new cars, a buyer may suddenly realise that his budget will now stretch to a much better specified car. Most car purchases involve the heart more than the head and even our London buyer may fancifully visualise cruising along deserted country roads with the roof down whereas, in reality, a nose-to-tail daily commute is probably much more likely with emission levels and congestion charges figuring highly in any car buying decision.

    There are undoubtedly some great bargains to be found but the risks should not be underestimated. Perhaps the ideal car could be almost new or fairly young, low mileage, well maintained and with a known history. An ex-demonstrator from a franchised dealer or an ex-lease car could probably fit the bill and some of those previously used by disabled people under the Motability leasing scheme can often be exceptionally good but the range of vehicles on offer may be rather limited. Buying ex-fleet vehicles is another option to be considered but some of these may have covered high mileages and a used taxi or minibus is certainly not to be recommended.

    Another interesting idea is to check what vehicles are available from car rental companies such as those offered under the Hertz Rent2Buy scheme. The idea that ex-rental cars have been roughly treated by uncaring drivers is simply not borne out by the facts and there are some real gems to be found. Hertz even allow for an extended test drive in the form of rental for a few days so there should be no unpleasant surprises here!

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  • ’17 CAMARO ZL1: CLOCKS 202.3 MPH!

    Fastest Camaro ever makes one pass at 202.3 mph and backs it up at 193.3 mph on Germany’s Papenburg proving ground. Average top speed: 198 mph.

    Chevrolet tested the ZL1 with 10-speed automatic transmission on the high-speed oval at Germany’s Automotive Testing Papenburg GmBH proving ground. Compensating for wind speed, the top speed is the average achieved from running the ZL1 in both directions on the 7.6-mile loop – 202.3 mph in one direction and 193.3 mph in the other direction!

    Testing was conducted on the ZL1’s production Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3 tires with pressure set at 44 psi, the recommended setting for extended high-speed driving. The car’s only deviations from stock were mandatory safety and data logging equipment.

    Papenburg’s high-speed oval features 2.5-mile straights and 1.3-mile turns with 49.7-degree banking on the top lane. The steep banking allowed Chevrolet test drivers to run the ZL1 flat out around the track without lifting off the throttle in the turns.

    “The ZL1 was developed with high-speed performance in mind, incorporating a balanced aerodynamic package that reduces lift without significantly affecting drag,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “After testing the car in standard settings, which produced the 198-mph average, we set the front and rear camber adjustments to 0 degrees and the tire pressures to the maximum allowable sidewall pressure, the ZL1 averaged over 200 mph.”

    Special aero features include a stanchion rear spoiler that offers an advantageous lift/drag ratio compared to a blade-style rear spoiler, and a patent-pending auxiliary transmission oil cooler cover that reduces front-end lift with no drag penalty. The front-to-rear aero balance was also fine-tuned for high-speed stability.

    Additional performance capabilities of the ZL1 Camaro tested with the available 10-speed automatic transmission include:
    0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds
    Quarter-mile in 11.4 seconds at 127 mph
    1.02g max cornering
    60-0 mph braking in 107 feet

    The 650-horsepower, supercharged LT4 engine powering the ZL1 is mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Match or an available, all-new 10-speed automatic transmission. Additional features include:
    Magnetic Ride Control
    Electronic limited-slip differential (coupe only)
    20-inch forged aluminum wheels
    Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3 summer-only tires measuring 285/30ZR20 in front and 305/30ZR20 in the rear
    Brembo brakes with six-piston Monobloc front calipers and two-piece rotors

    The ‘17 Camaro ZL1 starts at $63,435 for a coupe with the manual transmission (price includes $995 destination and $1,300 gas guzzler tax) and $65,830 for a coupe with the 10-speed automatic (price includes $995 destination and $2,100 gas guzzler tax).

    “This test caps an impressive list of performance stats for the Camaro ZL1, which was designed to excel at everything. It’s the most capable – and fastest – Camaro ever,” said Al Oppenheiser.

    For more information about the latest high-performance Camaros, please visit http://www.chevrolet.com/camaro-zl1.html

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  • Jenson Button’s Ford GT for sale

    A 2005 Ford GT first owned by ex-F1 World Champion Jenson Button is to be offered for sale by Silverstone Auctions.

    The car is one of five ‘VIP’ marked models and will go under the hammer with an estimate of £250,000 to £300,000 at Race Retro, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire (February 25-26).

    2005 Ford GT - Ex Jenson Button MBE rearSwiss Ford GT dealer Grimm of Geneva delivered the car to the Frome-born racing driver in August 2005 and it was subsequently UK registered in 2006.

    The high performance Ford GT showcases advanced technologies. For instance, it’s constructed on a lightweight aluminium chassis coated in superplastic-formed lightweight composite and features aluminium body panels.

    Finished in evocative white with blue racing stripes, it’s powered by a mid-mounted, hand-built, supercharged quad-cam 550bhp V8 and can hit 60mph in about 3.5 seconds, while the maximum speed is limited to 205mph.

    The car was acquired by its current owner in 2011 and has just 8,350 miles on the clock. It will be supplied with a history file including stamps and invoices from ‘Mountune’ and two services by Ford GT experts GT101, as well as copies of the order form signed by Jenson.

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  • Hyundai celebrates first ‘Click To Buy’ handovers

    Hyundai Click To Buy customer

    In an industry first, www.hyundai.co.uk/clicktobuy was launched on January 6. allowing customers nationwide to purchase a new car completely online, offering a no-haggle, fixed-price experience.

    Hyundai claims it’s “simple, quick and transparent” and the entire process is possible to complete in less than five minutes when purchasing with cash, arguably making it easier than buying a weekly grocery shop online.

    Since launch, 23 Hyundai cars have been ordered via Click To Buy and the site has had over 92,200 visitors with 43% of customers trading in and 93% collecting their new car from their local dealer.

    One of the first buyers was 50-year-old John Freel, from York, who has just had a £20,000-plus Hyundai Tucson delivered to his house.

    John part-exchanged his old car for the new SUV and didn’t even bother test-driving the Tucson before clicking to buy.

    “I can’t be bothered going into showrooms half the time and I don’t like being pressurised,” said the health and safety manager.

    “The Tucson is my fourth Hyundai in succession and I had an ix35 before, so I roughly knew what I was getting anyway.

    “The showroom is still there and you can still go in and see everything, but I would say that this is definitely the future.”

    When customers visit the website, they are able to get a trade-in price for their current car, use trade-in funds towards the new car purchase, configure their new car, add accessories and service plans, arrange finance and pay a deposit.

    Cars can be delivered to owners’ houses or they can pick them up from the showroom.

    Tony Whitehorn, president and CEO of Hyundai UK, said: “Click To Buy is an industry first developed by Hyundai in-house and it makes me incredibly proud to see the first new Hyundai cars purchased online handed over to absolutely delighted customers.

    “Our aim with the site has always been to make the buying process easier and more transparent than ever before.

    “With discounted fixed prices, Click To Buy is hassle free and with our detailed online trade-in valuation tool, the whole process is clear and easy to understand.”

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  • What Protects You While You’re Driving?

    Whether you’re working on it, walking on it or driving on it, staying safe on the road is essential. But what are the driving devices and roadway essentials which help to keep everyone safe on UK roads?

    In the Vehicle

    Automobile safety is an integral part of modern car design and a real focus for manufacturers. New innovations and improved systems continue to be developed in line with technological advances, with many safety devices now being incorporated as standard into cars:

    • Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) – this system prevents the wheels from locking during heavy braking, to help drivers to maintain control of vehicle. This helps ensure more effective stopping within average stopping distances and particularly upon skid-likely surfaces, such as wet roads or in icy conditions.
    • Electronic stability control – this system is the next up generation from ABS and includes a system of traction control. This corrects driver error by stablising the vehicle and reducing the risk of the driver losing control of the vehicle, for example in a skid. This system varies between vehicle manufacturers and may also be known as vehicle stability control.
    • Brake assist – this system ensures that maximum pressure is exerted when brakes are applied in an emergency. As manual emergency braking sometimes fails because drivers may depress the brake pedal insufficiently, so the brakes fail to engage on the wheels, brake assist technology assesses how quickly the brake has been applied and identifies if it’s likely to be an emergency. If it judges so, then brakes are fully applied via the hydraulic pressure system.
    • Lane keeping and adaptive steering – this system is a branch of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) which provides benefits such as cruise control. However, lane keeping and adaptive steering systems put greater emphasis on safety rather than comfort, specifically through aiming to maintain a vehicle’s correct position on the road by utilising lane markings at the side of the car. Any deviation from the correct position and the system alerts the driver so that correction can be made manually. Future development of this system proposes that it will work similarly to brake assist, with the system making the correction automatically.

    Many versions of these technologies are already fitted to modern vehicles and continue to be developed as part of a deal to provide better protection for road users, including pedestrians.

    On the road

    Roadways and surfaces themselves also incorporate safety devices for speed control, accident prevention and risk management:

    • Road humps – also known as sleeping policemen to reflecting their more manual speed-prevention origins, road humps aim to deter speeding by preventing vehicles from speeding up along flat roads. Road humps are commonly found in residential areas, but not main bus routes as the hump height causes passenger discomfort. The humps need to be spaced fairly close together to be effective and must be accompanied by relevant signage at each end of the hump run.
    • Rumble strips – this is the name given to a variegated road surface which is generally applied as a layer to the roadway. When reaching this stretch of the road, the driver is immediately alerted to the need to adhere to speed limits, through the in-car feedback from the suspension and driving wheel, which will sound and feel different, specifically with a low rumble. With their specific aim to alert drivers to reduce their speeds, rumble strips can often be found at the edges of vulnerable roadsides, on the approach to junctions and where faster sections of A roads enter residential areas. Rumble strips tend to be used in outlying areas of towns and villages as they literally sound as they are named and the rumble of a steady stream of traffic can cause a noise-nuisance to residents.  This road safety device is also deployed as transverse rumble strips, which run across the whole carriageway rather than just alongside it, whilst an additional version, known as Dragon’s Teeth, is applied along with a visible narrowing of the road, to also support accident prevention.
    • Speed cushions – as an alternative to road humps, speed cushions are a speed control method developed to cause standard vehicles to slow down, but allow emergency vehicle and public transport drivers through safely at normal speeds. Speed cushions offer an optimum size and placement so that smaller vehicles have to slow down to drive over the cushions, but buses and emergency vehicles are able to straddle the cushions and proceed normally. Cushions are generally installed at regular intervals along the roadway where speed reduction is required, such as in the neighbourhood of schools or pedestrian areas.
    • Pedestrian safety – pedestrians are encouraged to cross roads safely using designated zones such as crossings and traffic island refuges, which are highly visible to traffic.

    Roadside safety

    Roadside safety is additionally important as it needs to respond to the needs of road workers, as well as the public and road users. The mainstay of roadside safety is crash barriers, which tend to be deployed with safety and risk reduction, rather than speed reduction in mind.

    • Safety barriers – permanent motorway and roadside barriers aim to minimise risk through containment: keeping an errant vehicle on its own side of the carriageway. This method does include the risk of impact and crash injuries to the driver, but with the effect of preventing the vehicle from advancing to the other side of the barrier where there may be a greater hazard. As such, permanent safety barriers are installed only when it presents less risk for an errant vehicle to strike the barrier than to continue onwards at speed.  Permanent barriers of flexible steel construction have frequently been used to facilitate containment, but many have proven vulnerable over time. As such, there is a current move by the Highways Agency to replace many steel barriers with concrete barriers to increase containment, particularly where installed as a central reservation barrier.
    •  Temporary barriers – one example of a temporary barrier solution is the MASS (Multi-Use Safety System) barrier. MASS barriers are designed to actively absorb the impact of a vehicle and use this to stabilise the barrier, both reducing the vehicle’s speed and deflecting the vehicle along the barrier line. Because MASS barriers offer a stable but non-permanent fixing, they are quick and easy to install and reposition at short notice to keep users on all sides of the barrier safe.

    Finally, as these innovations continue to develop and change, one of the simplest road safety devices which is essential is road safety awareness: being aware of the roadway environment, conditions, restrictions and changes is a key way to make best use of all road safety devices and to help keep all road users safe.

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