How the cost-of-living crisis is making our roads safer

Gareth Herincx

7 days ago
Auto News

Driving a car

Soaring fuel costs have left a hole in the pocket of motorists across the country, but it could be having an unexpected positive impact on UK road safety.

According to latest research commissioned by the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, it’s thought millions of motorists have changed their driving habits for the better.

Of the 1,004 motorists surveyed, 72% stated that they had changed how they travel due to travel costs. Of this number, 38% said that they now drive more economically as a result of rising fuel costs, while almost one in five (19%) have taken extra care to stick to the speed limit.

In other words, up to 12.5m UK motorists are driving more economically and some six million have adopted slower or smoother driving habits in recent times.

“The rising cost of fuel is yet another added expenditure in this difficult cost of living crisis, and our research demonstrates that many have been forced to rethink their driving habits in an effort to keep their fuel costs to a minimum,” said Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart.

“Driving slower and more economically will no doubt help keep the pain at the pumps down, but another positive impact of this is, of course, road safety. We would urge those who have adopted slower and smoother driving habits to maintain these habits, regardless of fuel prices. This way, motorists will not only save money on fuel and travel greener, but also potentially save lives.”

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Young drivers rely on bank of Mum and Dad

Gareth Herincx

2 days ago
Auto News

Cost of motoring

More than half of parents financially contribute to their child’s first car, new research has revealed.

The survey, conducted by comparethemarket.com, found that a quarter of mums and dads (28%) covered the entire cost – at an average of £3,528.

City Average amount parents contribute to their child’s first car
Sheffield  £4,544
Edinburgh £4,230
Birmingham  £4,009
Newcastle  £3,802
London £3,779

Help from the bank of Mum and Dad didn’t stop there, with one third (34%) of parents paying for the entirety of their children’s driving lessons, with an average cost of £1,159 per child.

Of the parents who admitted to financially contributing to their child’s driving lessons – 48% helped out from their savings, while 44% used funds from the household budget.

The study also found that many parents contribute to their child’s initial on-the-road costs, with 18% admitting to contributing to MOT, road tax, servicing and fuel until their child can afford it themselves.

Alex Hasty of comparethemarket.com said: “The cost of insurance for new drivers is exceptionally high when compared to that of more experienced drivers, costing an average of £565 more than the average insurance premium.

“Therefore, it’s not surprising to see that so many parents are financially contributing towards their child’s first year of car insurance.

“It’s really important for new drivers to use comparison services such as ours to help find the right policy for them and to check for any potential savings.”

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Cost of motoring

Motorists affected by the cost of living crisis

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Motorists affected by the cost of living crisis

Gareth Herincx

10 hours ago
Auto News

Cost of motoring

More than one in three drivers have cut down on car journeys since beginning of the year as the cost of living crisis begins to bite, according to new research.

A study for Kwik Fit, the UK’s leading automotive servicing and repair company, reveals that 35% of drivers have cut down on car journeys they describe as “non-essential”.

Those driving petrol or diesel cars are twice as likely to have cut down on these journeys compared to drivers of electric vehicles (EVs) or hybrids (40% vs 22% respectively).

More than one in five drivers (21%) say they have consciously tried to drive more smoothly or less aggressively, with 14% say they have driven more slowly on all their journeys and 17% saying they have done so on some journeys.

In all, seven in 10 (69%) motorists have changed their behaviour since the beginning of 2022.

The Kwik Fit research also found that 17% of drivers of EVs or hybrids have swapped from a diesel or petrol car this year.

Some car owners have made an even more dramatic switch, with 4% saying they have sold their car this year and not replaced it.

The research findings highlight that the impact of rising costs is not uniform across different groups – drivers under 35 are a staggering eight times more likely to have sold their car and not replaced it than drivers over 55.

Michelin Compact 'Top Up' Digital Tyre Inflator

The increasing cost of motoring has prompted some drivers to take up good motoring maintenance habits with 10% saying they have started regularly checking their tyre pressures, while a slightly higher proportion (11%) have emptied their car boot of any heavy items and 3% of drivers have removed roof racks, bars or bike racks which they normally keep permanently on their car.

“We would encourage all motorists to make sure their car is running as efficiently as possible and to especially take the measures that cost nothing – ensure that their tyres are at the correct pressure and that the car is not suffering from unnecessary weight in the boot or drag on the roof,” said Roger Grigg of Kwik Fit.

“Seemingly small measures can have a big impact on fuel consumption and of course, having the correct tyre pressure will also help prolong the life of a tyre by reducing premature wear.”

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Driver at the petrol pumps - IAM RoadSmart

Two thirds of drivers think it is socially acceptable to ask passengers to contribute to petrol costs, according to research commissioned by the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart.

As fuel prices surge to an all-time high, 64% of the 1,000 drivers surveyed believe it is OK for designated drivers to ask passengers to stump up money at the pumps.

These findings come as the cost-of-living crisis deepens for households across the country, with average petrol prices rising by 12.6p per litre between February and March – the largest monthly rise since records began in 1990.

Unsurprisingly, young drivers are more likely to ask passengers to help foot fuel bills, with eight in 10 (82%) of drivers between the age 18-24 believing it is more acceptable. This compares to over half (58%) of over 65s, who are the least likely age group to split fuel costs.

“With the soaring cost of fuel, as well as so many other factors contributing to the cost-of-living squeeze, perhaps it comes as little surprise that so many drivers are open to asking passengers to contribute towards their petrol and diesel bills,” said Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart.

Neil also offered a word of advice on how changing driving behaviours can help motorists feeling the financial squeeze: “A few small changes in the way we prepare our vehicles and plan journeys can make a substantial difference to our fuel consumption.

“Gentle acceleration, using the highest safe gear, keeping tyres well maintained and turning off the air-conditioning can all help keep fuel costs down while also improving road safety.

“These simple changes mean you will not only be saving money, but also potentially saving lives.”

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Vauxhall Grandland review

Vauxhall Grandland review

Launched in 2018, the Vauxhall Grandland X was never the most scintillating SUV on the market, but it sold well. More than 70,000 found homes in the UK, along with some 300,000 in Europe.

So-called C-SUVs are the biggest single sector in the UK, accounting for one-in-six of all new vehicles sold. Popular rivals include the Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai and Peugeot 3008.

For 2022, Vauxhall has treated the Grandland X to a facelift. For starters, the “heavily revised” model loses it ‘X’ and is now just a “Grandland”.

More importantly, Vauxhall has managed to transform a plain crossover into something with genuine kerb appeal thanks to design cues taken from its smaller sibling, the Mokka.

Vauxhall Grandland review

Most notably, the introduction of the brand’s bold new face – the distinctive ‘Vizor’ front end, already seen in the Mokka and also an essential styling element of the upcoming all-new Astra.

Featuring a single smooth panel that runs between the smart new adaptive IntelliLux LED Pixel Light headlights, it houses the new Griffin logo, sensors and radar for the driver assistance technologies and gives the car a cleaner, more modern image.

The rear LED lights feature a ‘double wing’ design inside a smoke-coloured rear lamp cluster. Other changes include black door mirror caps and a roof spoiler, while some models get a black roof and high gloss roof rails.

The interior has also been extensively reworked too, with a dashboard built around Vauxhall’s twin-screen Pure Panel, which includes a driver’s digital instrument display and an infotainment screen. It’s not flash, but it’s attractive, while the cabin is generally well put together and boasts soft touch surfaces high up.

Vauxhall Grandland review

Depending on which of the three trims you choose (Design, GS Line and Ultimate), the digital instrument cluster is available with either 7.0-inch or 12-inch displays, while the central touchscreen comes in 7.0-inch or 10-inch sizes.

Elsewhere, there are comfortable new seats up front, and the extensive suite of safety and driver assistance features available include new ‘Night Vision’ technology, which uses infra-red cameras to highlight pedestrians and animals in the digital instrument display, and is available in a Vauxhall for the first time.

There’s also Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), cruise control, speed sign recognition, active lane keeping, driver drowsiness alert and Advanced Park Assist with a 360-degree panoramic camera.

Priced from £25,810 to £37,375, the new Grandland is available with conventional petrol and diesel engines, plus a plug-in hybrid (Hybrid-e) with an electric-only range of up to 39 miles, making it capable of tackling a typical day’s driving for most UK motorists.

Vauxhall Grandland review

The 1.2-litre petrol develops 128bhp with CO2 emissions as low as 139g/km. Emissions for the 1.5-litre diesel (also 128bhp) are 133g/km, while the PHEV (a 177bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine and 109bhp electric motor combining to produce 223bhp) emits just 31 g/km of CO2.

In theory the Hybrid-e is capable of up to 192mpg (depending on whether it’s kept fully charged and the length of journey), while the diesel can manage up to 54.3mpg and the petrol 45.6mpg.

The PHEV is the fastest of the trio (0-60mph in 8.9 seconds), with the petrol at 10.3s and diesel, 12.3s.

We tested the petrol and plug-in hybrid versions of the new Grandland, the former powered by the efficient three-cylinder 1.2-litre unit also used widely across the Peugeot and Citroen ranges.

Interestingly, because Vauxhall is part of the same group as the French brands (Stellantis) , the Grandland shares the same underpinnings as the Peugeot 3008 and Citroen C5 Aircross SUVs.

Anyway, the petrol engine is punchy and smooth, delivering more power than its small capacity might suggest, and the official fuel economy is realistic in everyday driving.

From initial orders, it looks like the PHEV variant will account for around 25% of Grandland sales.

The overall driving experience for both versions is comfortable and surprisingly refined. It feels substantial and composed on the road, and manages to stay admirably flat in faster, more challenging corners. If anything, the petrol version is slightly more nimble.

Vauxhall Grandland review

There’s a high driving position and visibility is good, while the light steering means its suited to city driving too. The PHEV is even better because it can run silently with zero emissions.

Obviously there’s more power on tap in the Hybrid-e, though it does feel slightly heavier thanks to the addition of its 13.2kWh lithium-ion battery and electric motor.

The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and there are three drive modes on offer: Hybrid, Sport and Electric.

Hybrid is the default mode and is the best of both worlds, optimising fuel efficiency and driving performance, and the switch between petrol and electric power is almost seamless. Sport delivers maximum power from the petrol and electric motors, while Electric switches to near-silent EV mode.

Vauxhall Grandland review

Naturally, there’s also brake regeneration – a system that recharges the battery by harvesting power otherwise wasted during deceleration, though the effect is subtle.

Like all PHEVs, it operates most efficiently if charged at home overnight. For the record, 0-100% charge times range from 5h 45m from a domestic 3-pin to 1hr 45m from a 7.4 kW home/public chargepoint.

The revised infotainment system is a definite improvement over the outgoing Grandland X. It’s functional and logically laid out, though the centre touchscreen could be bigger and the display is not the clearest or brighter on the market. On the plus side, it does feature short-cut buttons below the screen.

There’s plenty of space for adults front and back, while the luggage capacity ranges between 514 and 1,642 litres on the petrol and diesel versions, and 390 litres/1,528 litres for the plug-in.

Vauxhall Grandland review

So, the Grandland is much improved, and while it isn’t best-in-class, it offers great value for money, with prices starting lower than the outgoing Grandland X range.

The entry-level petrol and diesel powered cars deliver decent fuel economy, but it’s the plug-in hybrid that could offer the most savings, not just for low mileage private owners, but on the fleet side too.

The Grandland Hybrid-e falls into the 11% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band during the 2021-22 financial year (rising to 12% in 2022-23), representing a significant saving for business users.

Verdict: Vauxhall has worked wonders with the Grandland, transforming it from a worthy crossover into a distinctive, comfortable and practical no-nonsense family SUV that delivers great value for money.

Vauxhall Motors