Weekly round-up: record new car demand, top footballers’ cars, and how to beat the ‘road tax’ changes…

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Author: | Updated: 07 Apr 2017 12:03

This week saw PM Theresa May step into rows involving Easter eggs and Gibraltar, while Pepsi dumped a rather embarrassing advertising campaign featuring somebody called Kendall Jenner (*shrugs shoulders*).

But what’s been going on in the automotive world? Here’s our weekly round-up to keep you in the loop…

Top left clockwise: New Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport, Seat Vision E concept, Wayne Rooney and his Camero, New Honda Civic driven.

Big news from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) this week, that confirmed March was the busiest month ever for new car registrations.

In spite of uncertainty surrounding Brexit, 562,337 new cars hit the road, an increase of 8.4% compared to 2016. So, what’s behind the growth?

The record performance was primarily fuelled as drivers seized the opportunity to get their new car before new vehicle excise duty (VED) rates came into force on 1 April; under the new system, all cars except those with zero emissions will be subject to a higher flat rate.

 March was a record-breaking month on the new car registration front, and the Ford Fiesta remained the most popular car.

If you are thinking of going electric however, you still won’t have to pay anything (provided the list price is less than £40,000). With this in mind, we had a look five of the very best EVs that beat the higher rates.

Truth be told, alternatively fuelled vehicles are really taking off. Here at ContractHireAndLeasing, we saw hybrid and EV enquiries jump by a massive 97.6% in the three months leading up to 1 April, as UK drivers sought to get a better deal ahead of the VED changes.

However, demand for petrol cars experienced a notable uplift too (295,256). Despite its recent bad press, demand for diesel power also hit record highs, with 244,263 registered in March alone. Again, the jump is likely due to the new VED changes, that will see drivers of all cars hit by heavier tax bills.

The BMW i3 is still tax-free, despite the changes to VED.

On the subject of diesel, do you drive one? If so, you are a heartless environmental vandal responsible for killing thousands without so much as a backward glance in your rear view mirror. Or so the current government thinking would have us believe…

Last November, the High Court ordered the government to reduce nitrous oxide (NOx) levels in the ‘shortest possible time’.

A quick chemistry lesson tells us that diesel engines produce more NOx and sulphur oxides than petrol even though diesel motors create fewer carbon dioxide emissions. But has diesel really been devalued?

Has diesel been devalued?

A manufacturer that doesn’t believe diesel to be doomed is Honda, which will be putting one if its excellent D-TEC units into the new Civic. For now though, it’s available with  either a 1.0 and 1.5-litre petrol engine, the latter of which we’ve been lucky enough to take for a spin.

This tenth generation model is very much a clean-sheet design then, intended to separate the car from everything that has gone before and create a model that has been carefully calculated to compete with the segment leaders, and we think it’s the best Civic yet.

We drive the new Civic... is it the best one yet?

In a few years’ time there’ll be significantly more electric vehicles on the market than there are today – another factor that could see diesel’s market share diminish. One such EV is the Skoda Vision E, which the Czech-based arm of Volkswagen Group will showcase at the Shanghai Motor Show.

The Vision E will utilise a similar drivetrain to the Volkswagen I.D., making use of the same light and powerful lithium-ion batteries. However, unlike the Volkswagen, two electric motors producing 225kW  (around 302bhp) will be used to power all four wheels.

Seat has given us a glimpse of its future electric SUV, the Vision E.

While Skoda has confirmed that a plug-in hybrid Octavia will be available from 2019, we’ll have to wait another year before production versions of the Vision E hits the road. If you can’t wait until then, you can check out the all electric vehicles you can lease right now here.

Elsewhere, Vauxhall has had a stellar week, with its Mondeo-rivalling Insignia Grand Sport now officially available. Keen for its new upmarket Insignia range to make a splash, it has also released details about an upcoming Country Tourer variant which aims to take on the likes of the Skoda Octavia Scout and even Audi’s A4 Allroad.

The Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport is available to order now, while the Country Tourer will be launched in the autumn.

Just one month on from its introduction, 151 motorists in Greater Manchester have been caught flouting the law for using a mobile phone at the wheel.

This week has also seen Greater Manchester Police release figures revealing how many people have been caught flouting the mobile phone law since it was updated back in February.

Despite almost all new cars coming equipped with Bluetooth connectivity and Apple CarPlay, 137 motorists were still fined for using a mobile while driving between 1 March and 27 March 2017.

We took a look at what footballers really drive...

A further 14 were dealt with by police for not being in control of their vehicle by, for example, adjusting a sat-nav. With six points and a £200 fine now applicable to those found flouting the law, the message is clear: Do not use your mobile phone AT ALL while driving.

As for speeding fines, footballers caught at excessive speed have become a regular feature in the tabloids, and when you look at the cars they drive it’s hardly any wonder; they’re known for owning some of the fastest, most expensive vehicles out there.

But what do they really drive? For a bit of fun, we had a look at some typical (and stranger) examples

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