The world of automobiles uncovered: our deep-dive function highlights of 2023

Best car features 2023 - pictures


Each week Auto Categorical takes a glance behind the headlines and enjoys a deep dive within the automotive world with our function tales. Selection is the spice of life, because the saying goes and we’ve had a implausible time bringing you the within line on individuals, merchandise and points from proper throughout the huge motoring spectrum in 2023. 

Selecting our favourites was a tough job however under you’ll discover a full round-up of probably the most memorable areas we’ve explored intimately over the course of the final 12 months. From unique police automobiles, canines in automobiles and icon drives to digital actuality, constructing a Bentley and one very particular birthday, it’s all there. Have a look…

The most effective Auto Categorical options of 2023…


Previous meets new at industrial expo

It’s not solely automobiles that get us excited right here at Auto Categorical, and the beginning of the yr noticed us discover extra like-minded van followers by travelling to the Traditional Business Automobile present. The British Motor Museum in Gaydon, Warwickshire, performed host to a variety of delightfully cherished classic vans. 

A 1952 Austin A40 Devon was among the many gleaming classics on show, whereas one of many newest vans, the Citroen e-Dispatch we delivered to the present, made for an attention-grabbing comparability with the electrical Bedford CF from the seventies.


The golden contact

More often than not after we drive round in a Nissan Qashqai, we don’t get very a lot consideration. In any case, it’s some of the generally seen automobiles on the street – certainly, the Japanese model offered 42,704 of them again in 2022 alone, making it the yr’s best-seller. 

However once you enhance a kind of 42,704 automobiles in a gold wrap, you definitely get loads of stares from different motorists. It’s one thing we found after we took the shiniest of all Qashqais on a British street journey to rejoice the mannequin’s success – and talked to a number of the key gamers who made such an enormous contribution to the place it stands at present. 

Our journey began in Paddington, London, the place we met Nissan’s vice chairman for design in Europe, Matthew Weaver, on the fashionable Nissan Design Centre. It was right here the place the idea for the Qashqai originated; at a time when the Japanese model’s Almera household hatch was faltering in opposition to rivals such because the Ford Focus and VW Golf, Nissan determined a radical rethink was wanted. 

In consequence, it scrapped the plans for a standard rival that, as Weaver informed us, was already “all sewn up” from a design standpoint. Nissan bosses pushed for one thing totally different, one thing that, in keeping with Weaver, would “have presence and be sturdy, however not be overpowering and anti-social”. The outcome was not a full-fat SUV, extra a hatch with barely taller proportions, which set the template for every subsequent technology – every designed within the UK.

Subsequent, our journey took us to the Nissan Technical Centre Europe in Cranfield, Beds, the place Dave Moss, Nissan’s senior vice chairman for analysis and growth, was ready. He talked us by way of how Nissan’s status for 4x4s and SUVs was a plus level to be exploited, however how patrons would nonetheless demand the effectivity of a standard hatch. Moss informed us how he’d spent two years growing the Qashqai in Japan earlier than returning to Cranfield to fine-tune its qualities, delivering what he’s proud to say, within the case of the Mk3, has change into such a “properly rounded product”.

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Lastly, we needed to fulfill the individuals accountable for constructing each single Qashqai. That meant the ultimate cease of our tour took us to the North East, to Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK simply exterior Sunderland, Tyne and Put on. The 6,000-strong workforce produced 238,329 automobiles there in 2022 alone, making it one among Britain’s best present manufacturing success tales. 

Lee Watson, who took us across the trim and chassis manufacturing traces, confirmed us the hypnotisingly environment friendly strategy of placing a Qashqai collectively – one thing that he admitted to us has change into ever extra slick with every passing technology, as a result of design and know-how have improved a lot because the manufacturing facility first opened in 1986.

Police with unique style in automobiles

Whereas most forces would possibly normally persist with wise police automobiles, each occasionally there’s an exhilarating exception. Some nations have one-offs only for present – take Dubai’s Bugatti Veyron, for instance – however different automobiles have been put to nice use. 

Humberside police used a Subaru Impreza Turbo 2000 as a pursuit automobile within the nineties, whereas the Italian police’s Azzurro blue Lamborghini Huracán was used to move kidneys for helpful operations.


Icon Drive: Lamborghini Miura

It was in March after we got an opportunity to drive Lamborghini’s personal Miura. You attempt to give a dignified ‘sure’ to such a proposal, however the cool facade drops as you stroll over to a vibrant yellow Miura parked in entrance of the manufacturing facility. 

Firm executives, manufacturing facility personnel, guests and, most worryingly, the engineers who’ve maintained the Miura all line as much as watch you crawl in a convoy exiting the grounds. Funnily sufficient, the Miura is much simpler to drive than its status suggests and that’s our abiding reminiscence of the automotive. 

Tantalising combine on supply from Wiesmann 

Wiesmann’s CEO calls the agency the “Aston Martin of Germany” and whereas we hesitate to say it’s that well-known, it’s each bit as fascinating. 

The agency’s system of mixing British fashion and German engineering gave us tantalising automobiles just like the MF3, 4 and 5 utilizing straight-sixes, V8s and V10s from BMW’s M division. Looking forward to Wiesmann’s future, we received behind the wheel of its upcoming EV, codenamed Undertaking Thunderball. Our early impressions have been that after a number of engineering tweaks, we may have a critically enjoyable electrical roadster on our palms.


Purchase high ICE automobiles earlier than they die

Electrical automobiles are coming whether or not you prefer it or not. Right here at Auto Categorical we perceive that lots of you might really feel apprehensive in regards to the change to electrical and would possibly need one final hurrah in a superb old style internal-combustion engined automobile. 

So reasonably than watch for our heroes to fall by the wayside, we got here up with one of the best new ICE automobiles that cash can purchase. Our checklist ranged from the reasonably priced Fiat 500 to the dreamy Lamborghini Huracán to show there’s nonetheless heaps on the market for the petrolheads amongst you. 

Blown away by epic B&W hi-fi 

We met up with British firm Bowers and Wilkins to seek out out what goes into making a premium automotive’s sound system. As one of many leaders in automotive audio, Bowers and Wilkins has fitted stereos to fashions from Porsche, Jaguar, Volvo, McLaren, Maserati and BMW. 

However its newest and best set-up is fitted to the BMW i7: a 36-speaker association with a 1,924W output. We received an opportunity to listen to it in motion and the sound high quality was sensational; we felt just like the band was within the automotive with us. You actually have to listen to it, to imagine it.


Nice Scott! DeLorean on the stage

We highlighted a uncommon tie-up between the worlds of automotive and theatre, with a behind-the-scenes have a look at Again to the Future: The Musical – particularly, the beautiful DeLorean that’s a part of the present. 

The ‘automotive’ is a 95 per cent-scale mannequin, as a result of a correct DeLorean would have seemed too massive on the stage. The painstaking method to growing the prop has paid off, although; even with eight performances per week, the tech crew joked that it’s probably the most dependable a part of the present.

How recycled components are serving to to chop the price of motoring

The fee-of-living disaster and provide points for brand new automobiles have pressured many motorists to maintain their current used automobiles on the roads for longer. Might components recycling be a helpful means of reducing prices additional? We paid a go to to an enormous facility on the coronary heart of this fast-expanding market, able to cannibalising automobiles and promoting greater than 3,000 recycled elements each week.

With large on-line market eBay now focusing on recycled automotive components as an space of progress, we have been eager to see how the method eliminated and graded elements – and uncover how a lot clients may save by selecting second-hand recycled components as a substitute of brand-new ones.

Employees at Charles Trent Ltd in Dorset studied every automobile, figuring out key components to get a possible worth. Then each automotive was placed on a jig for ‘depollution’, sucking out key fluids – together with gas, which was resold to staff at a knock-down value. By the point elements of worth have been eliminated, all that was left was a naked shell that could possibly be despatched to the crusher. We have been informed the power can maintain 71,000 components in inventory, together with 1,500 full engines and the identical variety of gearboxes.

The market is evolving shortly, with Charles Trent planning to open 5 related websites throughout the UK, whereas Renault is main the mainstream producers with a base for recycling in northern France.

Pattern costs from eBay supplied some proof of why recycled components are gaining popularity. Bigger panels, resembling a tailgate for a Vauxhall Corsa or a bonnet for a Nissan Qashqai, have been round a 3rd cheaper as recycled components – whereas the financial savings elevated on some smaller objects, resembling a aspect mirror for a VW Golf, which was greater than 60 per cent cheaper second-hand.


Cyberster leads MG’s future

MG’s rebirth over the previous few years has been nothing in need of outstanding – and we celebrated the previous, current and way forward for the model. 

The agency’s industrial boss within the UK, Man Pigounakis, mirrored on his time with MG and highlighted the automobiles which have charged its race again up the gross sales charts – the ZS, HS, MG4 and MG5. Man additionally outlined the challenges of sustaining such an incredible charge of (re)progress: “I maintain making an attempt to elucidate to my boss that if we continue to grow at 66 per cent, we’ll be the one individuals promoting automobiles within the UK in 4 years’ time!” he joked. 

Trying to the long run, we introduced MG’s beautiful new Cyberster in for an unique studio shoot, with the model’s UK design boss Carl Gotham strolling us across the fascinating all-electric roadster. “It’s not a petite automotive,” he admitted, “however in the event you have a look at the MGB, the proportions are nonetheless related, and fairly elegant.”

That comparability with the MGB – the roadster most fondly remembered (and curated) by classic-car aficionados – was significantly legitimate due to the second side of our shoot. A wonderful bright-red instance of the basic mannequin was wheeled in alongside the dramatic curves of the Cyberster

“With these automobiles aspect by aspect, you’ll be able to see how they share some basic facets,” our senior workers author Jordan Katsianis commented. “The Cyberster’s bonnet is lengthy, the cockpit compact and that all-important dash-to-axle ratio is simply as beneficiant. But from right here, it’s additionally clear that in distinction to retro-pastiche designs just like the MINI or Fiat 500, the Cyberster’s course is firmly future-facing.”

To spherical up our particular, we paid a flying go to to a few key MG websites within the UK – the agency’s headquarters in Marylebone in London, which features a showroom, and Longbridge close to Birmingham. The latter was previously a producing web site, after all, however today it’s house to an engineering staff that has very important enter into automobiles which can be being developed in China. MG is a really totally different firm from 20 years in the past – however that UK enter is taking part in its half in its success not solely right here, but in addition globally.

Steve is greatest baa none herding sheep

We’ve introduced you some left-field tales through the years at Auto Categorical, however sheepherding in a Bentley Bentayga needs to be proper up there with one of the best of them. 

We’re reliably knowledgeable the sheep entered the best a part of the sphere as properly, as editor-in-chief Steve Fowler carried out his personal model of One Man and his Canine in entrance of hundreds of individuals at Goodwoof – mainly just like the Competition of Pace, however for canine lovers. Steve even topped the scores on the day in West Sussex, though we perceive the prize continues to be within the publish.

You charge high automobiles

We put our coronary heart and soul into testing automobiles ourselves at Auto Categorical, however there’s nonetheless nothing fairly just like the annual Driver Energy survey, the place hundreds of you give your warts-and-all views on the automobiles you’ve spent your individual cash on. The information and views that emerge from our military of respondents are helpful for automotive makers themselves – however are additionally a must-read information to how good (or dangerous) lots of the big-selling fashions are to personal.

This yr’s rundown was no exception, with the UK’s most eagerly awaited car-ownership survey delivering an interesting 75-strong checklist – and a first-time winner for Citroen, due to the C4 and e-C4. House owners rated the household hatch’s journey smoothness above all different fashions – a fantastic outcome for a model famend for its consolation – however it scored properly in just about each space, together with reliability. These outcomes have been in the end sufficient for Citroen to say the highest spot, beating the present Kia Sorento, the Mk4 Lexus RX, Dacia Duster and Subaru Outback. 5 fashions from 5 totally different manufacturers within the top-five locations exhibits how clients are keen to again the automobiles that work for them, no matter the place they arrive from.

Elsewhere, Driver Energy additionally proved as soon as once more that although some fashions don’t get sensational opinions, they are often cherished by their patrons over longer durations of time. Ford’s EcoSport, for instance, has hardly ever been a automotive that we’d advocate in assessments. But the small SUV completed in sixth-position total, with its house owners praising the Ford’s steering response, front-seat consolation and infotainment.

The underside finish of the 2023 Driver Energy checklist included some well-known names – together with, in seventy fifth, the second-generation Vauxhall Mokka. An in depth relation of the profitable Citroen (it’s primarily based on the identical platform and options lots of the identical powertrains), the Mokka flunked out on inside house and high quality, practicality and reliability. 

However it wasn’t simply mainstream fashions that struggled; house owners pulled no punches on the Vary Rover Evoque, voting the British-built premium SUV into 73rd place total and rating it useless final for reliability, working prices and worth. Ouch.

GM’s Harvey on high of our Brit Record

Our annual rundown of the top-50 British executives within the international automotive business noticed fairly a little bit of motion inside the highest 10, with an enormous soar for Wayne Griffiths, boss of Cupra and SEAT, as much as the number-three spot. 

However he was trumped by former Vauxhall chief Ross Harvey, who landed a plum job on the head of Normal Motors North America shortly earlier than our judging session. His inbox have to be bulging, as a result of the worldwide bosses of  Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac additionally report into him.


We give attention to manufacturers from the previous

Week in, week out, Auto Categorical celebrates the most recent and best that the motor business has to supply. However in July we seemed again at a number of the iconic manufacturers which can be now not with us – from the likes of Joyful Eater to Blaupunkt – corporations that of their heyday have been integral to the lives of so many British motorists.

Our journey down reminiscence lane referenced the Inexperienced Cross Code, Granada Service Stations, Moss Alarms, Vauxhall’s Community Q, Motorail and Nationwide gas stations. 

Celebrating RAV4’s ‘iconic’ standing

Our Icon sequence continued in July with a function on the unique Toyota RAV4. Arguably the primary compact crossover, the mannequin was launched in 1994, greater than a decade forward of the favored Nissan Qashqai.

The ‘Leisure Energetic Automobile with four-wheel drive’ (RAV4) was an immediate gross sales hit with its off-road means and SUV fashion, in a package deal more proficient at tackling the college run. One proprietor informed us she was so enthusiastic about her RAV4, she desires her household to take her to her funeral in it.


Protecting your canine completely happy on the transfer

Vehicles and canines – a whole lot of us have each, however do we actually know greatest mix the 2 for the great of our furry four-legged associates? We received in contact with the Canine Belief charity to dispel some rumours, and to present you, our readers, a greater understanding of all of the dos and don’ts of driving with canines within the automotive. 

We even listed out our high 10 favorite fashions for the job, making an allowance for boot loading peak, how simple the house is to maintain clear, and any made-to-measure equipment to make sure your pooch is completely happy and your automotive stays spick and span.

Jaguar’s future

What’s going on with Jaguar? It’s a query that has been posed for fairly a while now, but has include many various solutions through the years. Auto Categorical editor Steve Fowler get a while with new CEO Adrian Mardell, to see the place he intends to take the well-known model because it strikes ahead. 

We already understand it leads on pure electrification, as a result of the essential overview of Jaguar’s future plans includes creating a variety of super-high-end electrical fashions, displaying it’s much less involved with quantity and extra enthusiastic about revenue margins. But past this wider goal, specifics as to what we would anticipate in showrooms in a number of years’ time had remained largely skinny on the bottom. 

Choosing up from the place former boss Thierry Bolloré left off, Mardell revealed the temporary given to the staff. “Thierry requested them to come back again with simply 4 phrases to elucidate the emotion and what the model truly stands for; these have been exuberant, distinctive, fearless and progressive.

“That took me again to once I was a nine-year-old boy, and my first expertise with Jaguar. My dad was a painter and decorator; he labored for a builder, and the builder owned an E-Kind. In order a nine-year-old, I spent an hour in a wonderful, sky-blue E-Kind doing all of the issues boys would do – noises and switches and all that great things. Twenty years later, I began working for Jaguar – and that was 32 years, 9 months and 4 days in the past.”

He went on: “The designers then produced 18 full-sized clay fashions in three teams. Gerry [McGovern, JLR’s chief creative officer] requested 20 individuals to assessment these fashions, and 19 of us selected one explicit design. That was from Massimo Frascella [JLR design director]. It did tick these 4 phrases – we expect we’ve received a jaw-dropping design”.

As one of many UK’s most iconic manufacturers, the stakes are excessive, and the price to get all of this designed, developed and delivered to market even larger. Will Jaguar succeed? We’ll have a significantly better thought this time subsequent yr.

NCAP takes criticism on board 

Is Euro NCAP going too far in its calls for for ever-increasing ranges of security tech? Our report included suggestions from manufacturers resembling price-conscious Dacia, which has been criticised for failing to incorporate dear tech, in addition to a contrasting view from luxurious EV model Nio

We additionally put driver criticism of over-intrusive security tech to Euro NCAP’s technical director Richard Schram. He acknowledged the difficulty, and pledged the organisation would give attention to efficiency and client acceptance.

MP’s views on ‘persecuted’ drivers

In a busy month for our editor, he put his native MP Greg Smith on the spot, asking if UK drivers are proper to really feel persecuted. The interview passed off in car-enthusiast Smith’s Land Rover Defender, which runs on sustainable gas.

The MP stated there was a “massive motion with an undertone of anti-car about it”, citing individuals who simply don’t like non-public transport, and others taking a “false stance” on automobiles – together with followers of London’s prolonged Extremely Low Emissions Zone. Smith additionally instructed the federal government ought to be extra open to options to EVs.

Auto Categorical workers’s sizzling hatch heroes

The total staff received concerned right here, naming their high sizzling hatches from through the years. Supplementing our Civic Kind R and A45 S street check, it featured our all-time favourites together with the Peugeot 205 GTi, Talbot Sunbeam Lotus and Ford Fiesta ST. 

It even included some private possession tales, such because the sorry story of Jordan Katsianis’s useless MINI Cooper S. Nevertheless, the stand-out for a lot of was former affiliate editor Sean Carson’s love of his brother’s RenaultSport Clio 182, and the good drives Sean had in it in his childhood. Should you’re after a cult basic, test it out.


Black cabs go inexperienced with EV tech

extremely specialised corporations are changing basic automobiles to run on battery energy. However Aston Martins and Rolls-Royces aren’t the one British icons getting the EV remedy, as a result of we drove two previously diesel-powered taxis that had been given a brand new lease of life by Clipper Automotive. 

They delivered the acquainted electrical automobile driving expertise, though the awkward seating place and noticeable clunks and creaks reminded us of the true age of those acquainted workhorses. 

We mark Auto Categorical’s thirty fifth birthday

September 1988: the primary copy of Auto Categorical hit newsstands, that includes a mix of reports, street assessments, scoops and client recommendation that proved a success with readers, and laid the foundations for the journal you’re studying at present. We celebrated our thirty fifth anniversary by wanting again at occasions and seismic modifications which have occurred within the motoring world over the previous three-and-a-half many years. 

The nineties noticed the Volkswagen Group purchase Skoda, Kia land within the UK, the groundbreaking McLaren F1 enter manufacturing and the Ford Focus get unveiled. Plus in motorsport, Colin McRae grew to become the primary British World Rally champion. The brand new century introduced with it the rebirth of the MINI, the introduction of the London Congestion Cost, JLR’s sale to Indian big Tata, and the autumn of beloved model Saab. Extra just lately, Tesla rewrote each rulebook, the VW Group was rocked by the Dieselgate scandal, the Covid-19 pandemic introduced all the things to a halt, the now-delayed ban on gross sales of petrol and diesel automobiles was introduced, and Chinese language carmakers started to disrupt the market.

For instance the progress, we in contrast our 2023 Automotive of the Yr – the Hyundai Konaback-to-back with our first-ever cowl automotive, the Rover 200. Unsurprisingly, that they had little or no in widespread, particularly by way of infotainment and powertrains, because the Rover relied on a trustworthy four-cylinder petrol engine, whereas the Kona we had used Twenty first-century hybrid know-how. 

Our workers additionally reminisced over a number of the most essential automobiles of the final 35 years, with the Nissan Qashqai, MINI R50, Dacia Jogger, Mk1 Mazda MX-5, Nissan Leaf and Tesla Mannequin S all being talked about. 


Nonetheless no parity in EV vs ICE possession value

Impressed by Volkswagen Group UK MD Alex Smith, who claimed that ‘whole value of possession’ for EVs was reaching parity with that of ICE automobiles, we did some quantity crunching throughout a variety of pure-electric fashions – together with the VW ID.3 versus Golf 2.0 TDI comparability cited by Smith.

For that pairing the three-year possession value was certainly equal, however we discovered the Vauxhall Corsa Electrical may value house owners almost £7,000 greater than its petrol equal, whereas working an electrical Nissan Leaf may value one of the best a part of £4,000 greater than a like-for-like petrol Juke.

Loopy ‘gasser’-style Volvo drag automotive immortalised as Sizzling Wheels mannequin

They are saying nobody desires to see how the sausage will get made, however what a couple of Sizzling Wheels toy? Properly we discovered what it took to remodel the primary UK winner of the Sizzling Wheels Legends competitors right into a 1:64 diecast mannequin, able to tear up a few of that iconic bright-orange observe from our childhoods. 

The automotive in query was a 1969 Volvo P1800, though in contrast to something Roger Moore ever drove. This explicit P1800, dubbed Ain’t No Saint, had been changed into a dragster impressed by ‘gasser’-style basic sizzling rods. Its distinctive stance was the results of a jacked-up entrance finish that helped switch weight over the again wheels for higher traction on the drag strip. The P1800’s unique four-cylinder engine was lengthy gone, and instead was a 460-cubic-inch (7.5-litre) ‘big-block’ Chevrolet V8 with a 6-71 GMC supercharger bolted on high. Some fast scrap-paper sums put energy output at across the 650bhp mark – greater than six instances the muscle of a basic P1800 – whereas the automotive’s greatest quarter-mile time was 9.92 seconds.

The cartoonish look was accomplished by the open exhausts that dumped out proper behind the entrance wings, near the wheelarches, and Hoosier slicks on the rear that have been every almost a foot huge. Frankly, this automotive was all the time destined to change into a Sizzling Wheels toy.

Ain’t No Saint’s proprietor, Lee Johnstone, informed us about how his daughter was the one who entered the automotive into the Sizzling Wheels’ Legends contest again in 2020. It then received the UK and European legs of the competitors, earlier than beating 9 different finalists to take the highest prize and change into immortalised as a Sizzling Wheels toy. 

Now Sizzling Wheels had completed simply that. Nevertheless, its design head, Manson Cheung, revealed that the graphic on the aspect sadly needed to be modified, as a result of it was too just like the brand from the The Saint TV sequence.


John builds his bespoke Bentley

For any automotive fan, designing your individual high-end supercar or super-SUV is a dream second, and for editor-at-large John McIlroy it was one he ticked off his want checklist by designing Auto Categorical’s final Bentley Bentayga

Utilizing the total field of tips from Bentley’s unique Mulliner bespoke program, John designed our Sweet Pink Satin Bentayga EWB with an identical Cricket Ball crimson inside. His creation value over £100,000 greater than the automotive’s base value of £220k. We all know the place to seek out John if his lottery numbers come up.

Simply comply with the hyperlink for the remainder of our 2023 Evaluate of the Yr pages…


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