Saturday, 24 May 2014

SMMT Test Day 2014 - Plenty of car reviews on the way!

IT’S not every day you get to drive not only Britain’s cheapest new car, but also one of Britain’s most expensive.

They’re just two of the new motors I’ve managed to get behind the wheel of at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire, where I’ve joined fellow automotive hacks at the SMMT’s annual test day. In all, I managed to find out whether 16 new cars are worth your hard-earned cash, and over the next few months I’m looking forward to letting you know my findings in full both on here and in The Champion.

Until then, however, I can share the follow nuggets of automotive enlightenment which I picked up from a packed day of road testing:

  • The Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II is not, as you might imagine given the prices, fifty times better than the entry-level Dacia Sandero. The rest of my life, however, will feel slightly poorer as a result of having briefly sampled the height of four-wheeled opulence.  

  • The Suzuki Swift Sport, even though it’s getting on a bit, is still one of the best hot hatches out there. Find out which flimsy excuse I’ve used to roadtest it again in a few weeks’ time… 

  • As I’ve suggested after previous visits to Millbrook, the electric offerings are getting better every year, especially if the evidence presented by Volkswagen’s e-up and BMW’s i3 are anything to go by. 

  • I can completely understand why the learned scholars who make up the European Car Of The Year panel opted for the latest Peugeot 308 as their choice this year.

  • Lexus should put the original LS400 back into production, if the popularity of their early example at Millbrook was anything to go by. 

  • The Jaguar F-type’s price might raise your eyebrows, but the noise it makes will definitely lower your jaw. 

  • MG’s latest offerings aren’t as bad as their critics make out, but nor as they good as some of the marque’s defenders would have you believe. 

  • Without wanting to sound like Jeremy Clarkson, what the Ford Fiesta could definitely do with is a bit more power. 

While the recurring theme with too many of this year’s offerings was a sense of being accomplished at the expensive of character, there were plenty of gems among the 160 cars brought along by the world’s car manufacturers to this year’s Millbrook event.

I’m looking forward to letting you know over the next weeks which ones I really rate.

BMW's i3 is among the electric car entries showing the eco-friendly contenders are getting better every year

The day marked the first chance for many UK journalists to try out the new Alfa Romeo 4C

Lexus showed off the LS400 alongside its modern day equivalent, the LS600h

The F-type was among the most sought-after entrants - it's a good thing Jaguar brought five along!

McLaren's P1 supercar was only a static display, but the 650S had plenty of takers

MG Motor UK brought along a quartet of MG3 hatchbacks for journalists to assess

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