Friday, 20 October 2017

F1 News - Alonso stays at McLaren

So, finally, the announcement Fernando Alonso has signed for McLaren for another year ...

He says he is very happy at Woking alongside Stoffel Vandoorne... but only for 1 more year.

Now the double world champion has had 3 terrible seasons at McLaren, and few other driving choices.

There are no seats at top three Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull.

But I don't believe it is either inertia or money that is keeping Fernando in Zak Brown's squad.

He knows something.... There are engine and chassis developments afoot that have persuaded him to stay post the Honda debacle.

I think he knows 2018 could be a major return to form for the team and he wants to be back in the points not back on the retirees list.

Alonso is a truly great racer, give him just half a chance in anything reliable and he will work wonders. All of the other front runners, Lewis, Sebastian, Daniel, know, respect and perhaps fear him a little. Only Max fails to give respect.

Will we see him back on the podium next year? I believe we will ... and much more importantly, Fernando believes we will.

Graham Benge

Friday, 6 October 2017

DS 7 Crossback La Premiere - Guided Tour!

DS Automobiles UK's Head of Communications, Kevin Jones, shows us round the DS 7 Crossback La Premiere, due to be available in the UK early 2018.
Kevin's tour is also included as a UKMT podcast:

UKMotorTalk - DS7 Crossback La Premiere - Guided Tour

To follow the UKMotorTalk podcast, and not miss a thing, go to:

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Are UK new car sales dramatically on the decline?

A balloon can collapse in 2 ways... Either with a dramatically loud explosion, or slowly with a gradual release of air and a humerous noise.

Both ways however result in a flat balloon or whoopee cushion.

Why do I make this zen like analogy?

The SMMT has this morning released the latest car sales figures, and it is becoming increasingly clear to observers that the new car sales market is deflating .... rapidly.

Four straight months of decline clearly show new car sales peaked in 2016, a record year, and a severe decline is now in progress.

The evidence on any motorway journey is there are huge numbers of new cars out there.

Of the 35 million or so cars on the UK's roads, probably a higher proportion than ever are less than three years old.

A sales boom in 2015 and 2016, fueled by cheap credit deals, was simply not sustainable, and has, as a by-product, severely damaged the used car market.

With increasing fears over the end residual values of these cheaply 'bought' cars, the prospects for car dealers, especially the larger groups, look comparatively bleak over the next few years.

Recently introduced scrappage schemes don't seem to have (yet) halted the decline, for that is entirely what they were intended to do. They were never about saving the planet but were all about an increasingly cynical ploy to grab market share.

The initial schemes had some merit but those that came to the market later were often highly selective enhanced trade-in schemes.

Add into this mix the uncertainty over the future of diesel cars - it's taken nearly 30 years for me to be able to say I told you so! - and there seems little chance of an upturn in the mainstream market until some of those 2 or 3 year PCPs come up for renewal.

The Bank of England has already expressed its concerns about cheap car loans and their effect.

A decade ago it was cheap loans on houses that got us all into a global meltdown... 10 years later will the effects of cheap car loans be just as bad? ..... Or is my glass just less than half full this morning??

Graham Benge

Monday, 2 October 2017

Devil's Dyke Road... in a DB7..?

OK, so perhaps it's not quite as dramatically scenic, as rugged or even as long as our other suggested great drives, but a personal favourite of mine is a road that I have often used for benchmarking the handling of a wide variety of cars. 

The road in question is just north of Brighton, the Devil's Dyke Road up towards Horsham.

It's set in the South Downs National Park, and uses the Downs' green contours as a rural switchback.

It's narrow with multiple curves. In fact, it has hardly any straight bits at its southern end, so it's more like the Millbrook Alpine handling track, used all year to put test cars through their paces.

Both have an incredible variety of curves, cambers and elevation changes and if treated with respect, they will reward any keen driver. Just remember, on the South Downs you won't have much time to admire the scenery you'll be so engaged.

It was on the Devil's Dyke Road that I once took an Aston Martin DB7 for a quiet, relaxing drive in the countryside. A beautiful car, in a beautiful part of the world. Both fully lived up to expectations.

Graham Benge