Fifty years on from the death of Donald Campbell, a West Midlands company is helping with the project to restore his famous vessel, the Bluebird K7. In August 2000, a team led by Bill Smith, an engineer and part-time diver, located the wreckage of the Bluebird. Since then, what was at first a recovery project has now become a full-scale restoration, with donations from Thyssenkrupp. The UK headquarters of the company is in Cox's Lane, Cradley Heath, and has provided the Bluebird Project with material including sheet metal and 350kg aluminium billets, supplied from its facility in Heywood, Greater Manchester. The project aims to restore the wreck of the iconic Bluebird K7 back to its former glory. Mr Smith said: "We've used virtually everything that came out of the lake but we've had to reshape what's available to use and replace some other parts. We were just starting out on the restoration when, by chance, Greg got in touch with us. He was eager to help and put us in touch with his colleagues." Greg Buxton was a then-employee of Thyssenkrupp, the industrial materials group and he knew Mr Smith through their shared passion for diving. Mr Buxton introduced his employers to the restoration project and they were keen to get involved. Steady progress is being made on the restoration. A bespoke engine based on the original design has now been fitted, and the Bluebird roared to life in November for the first time since that fateful day in 1967.
The new MINI Countryman is the biggest and most versatile model to be launched in the brand's 57-year history. It enters the C-segment with increased dimensions, powerful proportions and rugged styling There is a clear increase in space and versatility and a premium cabin ambience with five full sized seats and a new generation of engines and gearboxes, including the ALL4 efficiency-optimised all-wheel drive system. It enjoys a high level of equipment: Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth, Emergency E-call and a central instrument panel with a touchscreen function for the first time in a MINI, now standard on all models. There is also the option for the first ever MINI with plug-in hybrid drive. Available to order now, the MINI Cooper Countryman is priced from £22,465. Customer deliveries will begin in February 2017.
Dutch tyre manufacturer Apollo Vredestein has launched a completely new all-season tyre for the light truck and van market, the Comtrac 2. Specifically designed for safety and comfort in all weather conditions whilst carrying heavy loads, the Comtrac 2 sports new, high-quality silica compound and improved performance over its very popular predecessor. "The Comtrac 2 is a significant addition to our offerings, as vans and light trucks are common among fleets and we intend to target that sector with Vredestein's comprehensive range of products," said Country Manager Karl Naylor. The tyre has both open lateral shoulder grooves and wider longitudinal grooves so that water dispersion is optimized. It has an improved footprint and a new silica compound to give much better grip in the wet as well as lowering rolling resistance to reduce fuel consumption. And an increase in tread stiffness will give a balanced pressure distribution and reduced deformation under load. The new Comtrac 2 is available from launch in ten sizes.
Kia Motors' all-new 2018 Stinger fastback sedan has won an EyesOn Design award for Production Car Design Excellence at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. At an event usually focussed on introductions from American car companies, it was Kia's Stinger that took the limelight. "We have made a lot of great cars and I'm proud of all of them, but the Stinger is something special." said Peter Schreyer, Chief Design Officer for Kia Motors. The EyesOn Design Awards honour the best production and concept vehicles making their worldwide auto show debut at the NAIAS. This year's categories include Concept Car, Production Car, Concept Truck, Production Truck, Innovative Use of Colour, Graphics and Materials, Interior Design, User Experience Award, and Designer Catalyst. The design of the all-new 2018 Kia Stinger was overseen by Peter Schreyer and Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer for Kia Motors Europe.
Hyundai Motor UK has officially announced the pricing and specification of the New Generation i30. The New Generation Hyundai i30 will go on sale in the UK on 1st March. It offers a high level of standard safety equipment, with Lane Departure Warning System, Forward Collision Warning System, Lane Keep Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking and Hill Start Assist Control featuring on all models. Prices will start from £16,995 for the i30 S 1.0 T-GDi 120PS 6 speed manual, which offers 15" alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, DAB radio with USB and aux connections, Bluetooth with steering wheel controls, electric front and rear windows and driver seat height adjustment. The top of the range Premium SE enters the range at £23,495 for the 1.4 T-GDi 140PS Manual, adding panoramic sunroof, leather seat facings and a heated steering wheel to the Premium specification. Premium SE is also available with the 6-speed manual, 7 speed DCT transmission, with either the 1.4 T-GDi 140PS or 1.6 CRDi 110PS. The New Generation i30 is available in a choice of 11 colours, with a new colour Engine Red now an option alongside Polar White as a solid finish, no cost options. Additional metallic or pearl paint finishes, can be chosen for only an additional £585. Tony Whitehorn, President and CEO Hyundai Motor UK said "The i30 has played a significant part in Hyundai's transformation over the past decade; with over 117,000 i30's sold in the UK since the first generation was launched in 2007. The second generation i30 achieved nearly 70,000 sales and we have solid expectations for the New Generation i30. The original i30 was the model that sowed the seeds of our growth and we are confident that the New Generation i30 will again bring new customers into the brand with its great looks, technology and confident dynamic abilities." Standard technology and connectivity equipment also feature with all New Generation i30's benefitting from DAB and Bluetooth regardless of trim level.
The best performing Kia dealers in 2016 have been receiving the awards for outstanding achievements at the Kia Motors (UK) Ltd annual Dealer conference in Liverpool. The Dealer of the Year 2016 was Dicksons of Inverness, with the Dealer Excellence Award 2016 going to Flear & Thomson in Dunfermline and Drayton Motors of Boston. Paul Philpott, President and Chief Executive of Kia Motors (UK) Ltd commented: "It always makes me extremely proud to be part of Kia when I see the commitment our dealerships and their staff show, and it's a privilege to be able to recognize and reward the best performing dealerships in a number of categories. Everyone within the Kia dealer network has worked very hard to achieve yet another record breaking year in 2016 and with ten new products coming to the UK in 2017 we're excited to see the continued successes that this brings." The winners were TMS of Hinckley who won the "Family-like Care" Award and Norwich based Norfolk Motor Company who won the 'After Sales Excellence' Award. The 'Sales Excellence' Award was given to Burton Kia. With 187 dealerships across the UK these awards highlighted exceptional work on the part of the winners.
Audi have enjoyed another record-breaking UK sales success in 2016. They completed a total of 177,566 customer deliveries by year-end which is a 6,4% improvement on its 2015 full year performance. The total UK market share at the end of 2016 for the premium brand also rose by 0.3 per cent to 6.6 per cent. "2016 proved to be even more challenging for Audi than expected, with strong headwinds in many key markets" says Dietmar Voggenreiter, Board Member for Sales and Marketing at AUDI AG. "We managed to demonstrate the robust strength of our business with balanced growth around the globe. The excellent feedback for our latest automobiles shows that our model and technology initiative is paying off. This year we will further drive forward the comprehensive renewal of the Audi portfolio and successively roll out new models in the markets."
SEAT has just launched a new, reworked version of its popular Leon. "You might even say that we've tucked the Ateca inside the Leon", said SEAT Vice-president for R&D Matthias Rabe. Designed, developed and produced in their Martorell facility in Barcelona, nearly two million Leon vehicles have been sold since its launch in 1999. And 2016 was the model's best year with the highest sales figure in its history. This new version of the third-generation SEAT Leon has a developed exterior design and an advance in the technology featured on the previous version. Sales of the SEAT Leon exceeded the figures for the Ibiza for the first time in 2014, pointing to the fact that the Leon is the company's second pillar and has enabled it to explore new segments. A case in point is that the brand's first SUV, the SEAT Ateca, made its appearance in 2016.
Renault have a new two-year 0% finance offer with their Selections PCP finance packages across selected models in the Renault range. The offers are available on New Clio, Captur, All-New Megane and All-New Megane Sport Tourer, Kadjar, All-New Scenic and All-New Grand Scenic. Additionally, Renault UK's popular three-year 3.99% APR Selections PCP packages are now more affordable, as the deposit contribution, which lower the total amount payable and interest costs are the same as for those over four years. One example: The New Clio with its distinctive styling and enhanced equipment can be yours from only £129 per month. This is with a two-year 0% APR PCP Selections deal. On the Play 1.2 16V 75 version this includes a manufacturer deposit contribution of £850 and a customer deposit of £3,588. These new and revised Selections PCP packages which add to the available 0% APR HP offers, ensure that drivers enjoy even greater choice when it comes to financing their new Renault.
For many drivers, the annual mileage is all guesswork when it comes to applying for car insurance, this is according to research from the price comparison website uSwitch.com. According to their figures, drivers, on average, overestimate the distance between cities by 15%, equating to an additional 1,185 miles more than the 7,900 miles typically covered by motorists every year. And while overestimating your annual mileage could drive up your insurance premium, underestimating it could invalidate your cover. Annual mileage is one of the key factors insurers use when calculating drivers' premiums, but just under a fifth of drivers refer to their MOT certificates, which provides the previous year's mileage when applying for a car insurance policy. Rod Jones, insurance expert at uSwitch.com says: "While many of us are guilty of relying on gut feeling when providing our mileage information when applying for a car insurance policy, misjudging the number of miles you drive in a year can have a real impact on your wallet. "If you drive fewer miles than you predict you could easily cut the cost of your next policy. That's why it pays to dig out your MOT certificates to pinpoint the number of miles you drove last year to help you to provide a more accurate estimate for the one coming up."