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Sunday, 23 November, 2014 - 13:01 (UK)  

..:: The Subaru Impreza Story

1. The Subaru Impreza Story, as told by me
2. The History of the Subaru Impreza
3. Special Editions
4. Image Galleries
5. My 2001 Subaru Impreza WRX - Red Mica


..:: The History of the Subaru Impreza

Subaru is a subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries. Which was originally Nakajima Aircraft back in 1917. It's wasn't until 1954 before Fuji Heavy Industries took on the challenge of building a road car. The name of this car was the P-1 (Nothing like the modern Subaru Impreza P1) which stood for Prototype-1. This name was later changed to the Subaru 1500. And here the Subaru was born. The name Subaru Closely translates to reference the star cluster Pleiades, which is the same famous star cluster that we see make up the subaru logo today. over the decades Subaru continued to build motor cars and in 1972 made it's first 4WD car with the Subaru Leone 4WD Station Wagon. From that point onwards Subaru made something for a name for it's self in the 4WD motor car department, almost like a trade mark. Think Subaru, think All Wheel Drive. However it wasn't until 1992 that the Subaru Impreza was born. So let's pick up the story from there.

1992

The Launch of the Subaru Impreza (Japan) The Subaru Impreza was developed after rule changes in the World Rally Championship (WRC) demanded a replacement to the Subaru Legacy which was previously used by Subaru in the WRC. The changes meant that a new smaller, lighter and faster car was required in order to compete in the WRC. So even from day one, the Subaru Impreza was developed for rallying.

1993

The Subaru Impreza reached the UK. Initially the Subaru Impreza was available in both Front Wheel Drive (FWD) and All Wheel Drive (AWD) versions. However the FWD was soon dropped in preference of the trademark Subaru AWD system.

1994

The Turbo Charged Impreza 2000 AWD reached the UK (Known as the Subaru Impreza WRX in Japan). Also in 2004, Subaru Technica International (STI) was born and we started seeing STI versions of the Subaru Impreza Turbo. The Subaru Impreza WRX STI meant much more than an extra badge on the body. The STI stood for a full upgrading of the Subaru Impreza Taking was was learned on the World Rally stages and incorporating developments into the road car. Many areas were upgraded for the Subaru Impreza STI versions. Engine, Suspension and overall performance and handling greatly improved over the standard car. Top speed was limited to 155mph and 0-62 came in at just 4.7seconds for the Impreza STI. These figures made the Subaru Impreza very sought after by the local boy racers. Albeit a bit more expensive than the your every day Peugeot 205 and Vauxhall Nova.

1995

Subaru won the World Rally Championship in a 555 WRC Subaru Impreza driven by fellow Scotsman Colin McRae. A brilliant achievement for both driver and manufacturer. Driver Colin McRae for being the first ever British driver to win the WRC, and Subaru proved that the Impreza was a World Leading rally car. To mark the success of Subaru winning the WRC championship that year, a special edition Subaru Impreza was released in the form of the McRae Series Subaru Impreza.

1996

Subaru took the manufacturer title for a second year in a row, and promptly released another special edition Impreza knows as the Subaru Impreza Catalunya.

1997

Subaru won a hat-trick of manufacturer championships and celebrated once again by releasing a new special edition Impreza. The Subaru Impreza Terzo (Italian for 3rd). Only 333 Subaru Impreza Terzos were made, as a mark of the three championships won with the Subaru Impreza. 1997 also saw a few changes to the Impreza road car. Interior styling was updated including an exclusive MOMO racing steering wheel. Meanwhile STI versions were given an newly designed rear spoiler. In Japan a special 2-door coupe Subaru Impreza was released which was used as the 1998 WRC car.

1998

The Subaru Impreza 22B. A label that often conjures up thoughts of what the ultimate Subaru Impreza might be. The 22B (Note: for the computer geeks out there, 22B in hex converts to 555 in decimal.) provided a 2.2l boxer engine, more hardcore styling all round including 2-doors instead of 4 and an adjustable rear wing made up just some of the key features of the 22B. Only 400 22B's were made in order to celebrate 40 years of Subaru and only 16 of those were destined for the UK. I've seen three in total!! UK versions also had tweaked gearing which was specifically optimised to UK roads. How cool is that!

1999

To celebrate the new driver lineup of Richard Burns in the Subaru World Rally Team, Subaru decided it was once again time for a special edition. This time the RB5 named after Richard Burns. Sadly in November 2003 Richard Burns was diagnosed with a form of brain tumour and later died on the 25th November 2005 from his illness. This makes the RB5 all the more special now. Only 444 RB5's were made, with the option of the WR Sport pack.

1999 Also saw the release of another special edition. The Subaru Impreza P1, which like the Subaru Impreza 22B was a 2-door coupe model, and like the 22B it was only available in WR Blue. However unlike the 22B the Subaru Impreza P1 delivered a 276bhp out of the box, and supporting a whole load of new accessories such as 10-spoke OZ Titanium racing wheels, improved quick-shift gearbox, rear-wiper, new front wing/splitter, new fog lamps and a new exclusive rear wing. Unlike the Impreza 22B there were 1,000 P1's made. Despite this the Subaru Impreza P1 remains one of the most expensive Subaru Impreza's to buy today.

       

2000

For eight years, the Subaru Impreza remained more or less unchanged (externally) until 2000 where Subaru decided to update the Impreza for the 21st century. This change was met with mixed views. The appropriately labeled Bug-eye version by critics, was just that. Bug-eyed! One can only guess it was Subaru's attempt to make the Impreza all cute and cuddly. But this didn't go down well with the fans. Many NewAge impreza's promptly had their headlights replaces with WRC look-alike HI-Definition (HiD) lamps or the more aggressive looking Morette cluster. What was in favour of the fans was the globalisation of the WRX name. Previously only used in Japan, the WRX badge was now stuck to any Impreza with a Turbo!

2001

To celebrate Richard Burns's win in the WRC and the launch of the of the new model, Subaru decided to launch yet another special edition Impreza. This time the Subaru Impreza UK300. Once again just like the 22B and P1 the only colour available was WR Blue. The UK300 supported new prodrive styled spoilers of which the rear wing looked like was picked from bit of an airfix kit and not put together properly. Thankfully the front end was improved slightly, with the addition of improved HiD headlamps which made the car look slightly less like a bug. Yet no matter what they did, it was still going to be remembered as the Bug-Eyed version. 2001 also saw the arrival of the NewAge (Must stop calling it bug-eyed) Subaru Impreza WRX STI to the UK. Just like previous STI's, this was based on the WRX but tweaked a little by the Subaru Technica International (STI) team. If that wasn't enough there was also the option of a Prodrive Performance Pack (PPP). The Subaru Imrpeza WRX STI saw a few key changes over the standard Subaru Impreza WRX. This time, the addition of a 6-speed gearbox as opposed to the WRX 5-speed. Also a nice welcome was similar headlamps which were found on the UK300.

2002

It didn't take long before Subaru had to give in to pressure from fans and go back to the drawing board (literally) to come up with a new style Subaru Impreza. So in 2002, Subaru announced yet another NewAge Impreza. The MY03. Main difference here was the front end. More or less everything else stayed the same, but those bug-eyed headlamps were out and replaced with slightly less ugly ones. Also a bigger bonnet scoop was included. Not to be outdone, the Subaru Impreza WRX power was increased by 10bhp. Not surprisingly many Bug-eyed Subaru Impreza's were made available on the 2nd hand market as many owners wanted to change their driveway accessory for the new style Subaru Impreza.

Although Turbo versions of the Subaru Impreza were available in Japan and Europe from more or less day one. The US favoured their muscle cars and not these Japanese breed of performance cars. Which meant the Subaru Impreza Turbo's never "officially" reached US soil until the 2002 model. Any previous Subaru Impreza's were Imports. Unfortunately for the US market the famous 2.0l boxer engine had to go. The fuel regulations in the US meant that the high performance expected from the Subaru Impreza could not be achieved from the 2.0l engine with US fuel. Instead, the Subaru Impreza was given a nice new 2.5l boxer engine for the US market, in order to keep the power and performance up.

2004

Another Subaru WRC title win with Petter Solberg at the wheel. Once again sticking with tradition a new special edition was released, known as the Subaru Impreza WR1. I must admit the WR1 is one of my personal favourites, if only because of the unique Ice Blue colour. Only 500 WR1's were made, but Subaru decided to throw everything at it, including PPP and Driver Controlled Centre Diff (DCCD). The Subaru Impreza WRX STI also saw further improvements in 2004 with upgraded mechanics from the Japanese models. This new revised STI saw a new front diff, along with the DCCD system which was found on the WR1 and UK300 models. Nice!

2005

Towards the end of 2005. Again just 2 years after the previous model was replaced, Subaru decided to release another new bodied Subaru Impreza, the MY06. This time with new crystal rear light cluster and yet another new front end. The jury is still out about whether or not it is a hit or a miss. I personally think it looks Awesome. Almost as though Subaru have forgotten the last 5 years and gone back to the aggressive styling of the original Subaru Impreza from the 90's! I admit, it did take a few days to get used to, but after you see past the SEAT grill and BMW headlamps you soon realise that this is the sort of car you want other people to see you in, in their rear view mirror. (Admittedly briefly as you scream past them shortly after words :) Sadly the MY06 marked the end for the traditional 2.0l boxer engine. Instead we saw the introduction of the 2.5l boxer engine into the Subaru Impreza. A sad end which seems to have gone relatively unnoticed. But then think of what they can do with that extra 500cubic centimetres of space. Mwaahaahaahaa!...

2006

Towards the end of 2006. Subaru / Prodrive announced the realease of a new Special Edition Impreza. Sadly without recent success in the WRC. This time the special edition was to celebrate the life of previous Subaru WRC Champion Richard Burns who sadly died 12 months previously due to a brain tumour. The New Special Edition Subaru Impreza was to be named the RB320. That's 320bhp and a limited number of 320 to be produced. Essentially the RB320 is a 2006 model Subaru Impeza WRX STi PPP with just abotu ever add on you can think of, along with bespoke prodrive/blitsen dampers, exclusive obsidian black paint work, black alloys and full dront grill set. All in all making the RB320 very exclusive and ver agressive looking with only small markings on the passenger, drivers doors and boot lid of a small orange RB320 logo. The rest of the car is very much black in respect for the late Richard Burns. A true trubite to a great champion!

       

2007

I have yet to come up with a word that describes Subaru in 2007. At the time of writing Subaru had recently announced the drascically redesigned 2008 model of the Subaru Impreza (You can see some photos here) Make your own mind up about what you think of it. My initial thoughts are yuk.. And I have to say my thoughts are still more or less the same. The car does NOT look agressive as it shoudl and just looks like any other family hatchback on the road. a fair pecentage of the Impreza's appeal has always been it's agressive shape and styling. Even teh bugeye version admitedly wasn't welcomed by many had the trademark styling that for every other angle you knew it was an Impreza and more importantly a car to be reckoned with!. This new one doesn't do much for me I'm afraid. Doesn't excite me when I see pictures of it like previous styles. The same recipie is still there usign the same 2.5l boxer engine from teh MY06 models, a new intercooler has been shoved in. Power remains teh same at 225ps for the WRX model, awd as standard of course :). However the tyres are narrower than previous versions. Also it's worth noting that at time of writing there are no plans for a WRX version or saloon version for the UK. Instead we'll have the basic models then a jump up to the STi's I see this as a mistake as the WRX hits a just about affordable market for most peopel who cant afford te £25k price of the STi. However somethign new for the MY08 Impreza will be the introduction of a 170bhp Diesel Impreza. Thats right diesel. Should be interesting...Watch this space...

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Ford looks to Vignale brand to boost European sales
Ford looks to Vignale brand to boost European sales Bosses look to new super-luxury sub-brand as sales slump in Europe, with the hope that Vignale could become a brand of its own

Ford of Europe CEO Barb Samardzich has high hopes for the company?s new Vignale luxury brand and would ?love that it takes off so much that it becomes a separate brand?.

The Vignale sub-brand, which Ford says builds on the success of the highly specified Titanium X trim level, arrives with the all-new Mondeo early next year.

As well as getting a separate area in Ford dealerships, Vignale customers will also get ?private account managers? who will be the buyer?s point of contact with the dealership.

Senior Ford sources have previously ruled out models from Ford?s more upmarket US-based Lincoln brand being sold in the Europe as Vignales.

However, Ford?s struggling European arm is aware of the expansion of premium sales in the moribund EU market and will have been watching PSA?s creation of the stand-alone DS brand with some interest.

Lincoln is the subject of a massive revamp, with Ford set to spend more than £3 billion on a new architecture and several new models. Mark Fields, the company?s new chief executive, recently said it was important for the company to have a ?relevant and vibrant luxury brand. You need to make the investment and build the brand?.

The new-generation Lincolns are due in five years? time, with a big push into the Chinese market under way. However, by the time they are ready to roll, Ford?s European arm will be well placed to make a decision on Vignale becoming a stand-alone marque with bespoke models.

Meanwhile, although Ford of Europe is having great success with the Kuga SUV, with sales said to be up ?substantially? over the past five years, and the launch of the mid-size Edge SUV imminent, it is not considering introducing the big Explorer model, which will be manufactured in Russia.

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Comparison: Ford Focus versus Volkswagen Golf
Comparison: Ford Focus versus Volkswagen Golf Ford has revamped the Focus in a bid to reclaim class leadership from the VW Golf. Mark Tisshaw finds out if it succeeds

?Too close to call? is a phrase that I?ll keep in the first sentence of this comparison test rather than use as a cop-out verdict at the end.

Splitting these two ? reigning everyman hatchback champion the Volkswagen Golf Mk7 and the newly revamped Ford Focus Mk3 ??is going to be tricky, such is their respective excellence. But here goes.

It?s the arrival of the latest Focus on these shores that brings this test together. When we had the chance exactly two years ago to drive an early left-hand-drive version of the latest Golf and put it up against its rivals, the VW saw off all comers, including the Focus ? just ? and went straight to the top of the class.

So with the opportunity to have an early go in a left-hand-drive Focus this time around, we want to find out if the deep-running changes allow the Ford to usurp the Golf as class leader.

No other rivals are needed here. Although there?s real strength and depth in the class, with the likes of the Audi A3, Mazda 3 and a revised version of the Volvo V40, to name just three, none would trouble the top two here. 

What?s new with the Focus, then? You?ll have already spotted the obvious visual differences, chiefly its exterior reskin. That ?Aston Martin grille for the people? finds its way on to the Focus as part of a new front end, and there are detail exterior changes elsewhere.

But visually, the most significant changes come inside, where the switchgear is significantly pared back. The fussy interior was always a big weak point for this generation of the Focus, and we?ll come back to whether or not this rationalisation of the controls, done in conjunction with a leap in quality and extra cubbyholes, works in practice.

Chassis tweaks also feature on the Focus. An overhaul of the suspension system is said to reduce chassis flex and in turn allow the steering to be tuned to reduce the amount of effort needed while maintaining the precision. Which all sounds okay in theory, so long as the changes do indeed maintain and even enhance the Focus?s position as the driver?s car of choice in the class.

Under the bonnet, there?s the usual array of fleet-friendly diesels, now downsized from 1.6 to 1.5 litres in various outputs, plus a range-topping 2.0-litre version.

However, it?s the petrol versions that still intrigue most private buyers, and there?s a new 1.5-litre EcoBoost in place of the previous 1.6, plus that firm favourite, the three-cylinder, 1.0-litre EcoBoost, in various flavours, including the 123bhp version fitted to our test car. Our example is a plush and extremely well equipped £22,295 Titanium X version, with almost another £3000 in options on top, pushing it into premium money at £25,775 all in. 

Read the 2014 Ford Focus first drive

The Golf here is a 120bhp 1.4 TSI petrol-powered mid-range Match model. You won?t be wanting for much equipment, our £21,700 test car (£20,335 base price plus £1365 worth of options) coming with the likes of touchscreen infotainment and adaptive cruise control.

On the spec sheet, this Golf gives away 3bhp to the Focus but has identical peak torque of 148lb ft (the Ford?s maximum figure achieved on overboost). The Focus, on paper, has an economy advantage, though. Its combined figure of 60.1mpg eclipses the Golf?s 53.3mpg, and its CO2 emissions of 108g/km also comfortably beat the Golf?s 123g/km.

I jump in the Golf first, to refamiliarise myself with the class?s benchmark. To get the subjective stuff out the way first, I think that it?s still the classiest-looking car in its sector.

The more Mk7 Golfs that I see on the road, the more I like it. I just can?t see the lines of this generation of Golf aging any time soon. Compare that with the Focus. The original Mk3 design was quite faddish and soon dated. It?s much improved now but still lacks that timeless quality.

The Golf is a car into which you can quickly relax. Like the exterior, the interior oozes timeless class and sophistication and is constructed from materials of a high perceived quality. The controls are laid out clearly and nicely weighted, and a comfortable driving position with good visibility is easily found.

Time hasn?t harmed this Golf?s visual appeal inside and out, then, and as it?s only two years old, it?s no surprise that the Golf remains a very fine car indeed to drive. It simply glides everywhere in a smooth and quiet fashion; the ride quality is unruffled by the worst that an early winter B-road can throw at it and it  steers with a good level of feedback and precision, even if it?s a little light.

Body control is also excellent. ?This VW emphatically dismisses any fears that lower-powered Golfs suffer for ride and handling because they have ?only? a torsion beam rear suspension rather than a multi-link set-up. It?s not what you use but how you use it, and VW has tuned this Golf to excel at comfort, refinement, stability and predictability.

That might read as ?unexciting? to some, but the Golf is able to lose its straight, sensible face for a moment. That fine body control also endows the Golf with a sense of poise and nimbleneess, thanks in part to ?the relatively light kerb weight of 1225kg. It?s no GTI, but it grips well and urges can be satisfied. 

The 1.4 TSI engine helps to that end. The old cliché that it feels quicker than its official 0-62mph time (9.3sec) suggests can be wheeled out here. It?s far from express pace, but it has a good spread of torque when you need extra shove and is a smooth, calm companion in its default running mode. Much like the rest of the car, then. 

Read the full Volkswagen Golf review

The high bar that the Golf set two years ago has not got any lower, in other words, so does this Focus climb over it? Although I?ve got reservations about how well the Focus will age, there?s no doubt that its new look brings it closer to the Golf in terms of visual sophistication, perhaps overcoming in part that subconscious badge snobbiness.

The new interior is a huge improvement, too. The design of the switchgear is much simpler, with buttons easier to find and some functions ported over to the touchscreen that runs Ford?s new Sync infotainment system, which is a doddle to use. The perceived quality is also greatly improved, with more soft-touch materials and some handsome brightwork.

The VW still has the edge, though. As improved as the Focus?s interior is, it?s clear that Ford has tried to fix something that was fundamentally flawed, rather than getting it right in the first place. And the Golf?s perceived quality is still a level above. 

On the move, though, the Focus claws back most of the margin lost to the Golf on static appeal. Much of the Ford?s initial driving pleasure comes from the sound of that three-cylinder engine, which oozes enthusiasm ?and urgency and encourages you to work it hard.

Mostly, doing so is optional and a delight, but there are times when you have to because, unlike in the Fiesta, this engine in ?the Focus can occasionally feel like it?s the big turbo pulling you along ?in a bigger, heavier car.

This also partly explains why the Focus returned indicated economy in the low 40s on this test, compared with the mid-40s of the Golf, whose four-cylinder engine never has to work as hard as the zesty Focus?s. 

The Ford?s greater enthusiast appeal extends to the way that it rides and handles. It steers with a touch more feel and precision and is more engaging than the Golf. Its ride is firmer than the Golf?s but no less comfortable for it, the benefit being slightly superior body control.

It has keener turn-in, helped in part by that lightweight three-pot engine over the driven wheels, and it is agile and responsive enough for some mid-corner adjustability. 

In truth, though, every point that one of these cars scores over the other is marginal, and much will come down to personal preference. Which means that it?s time to get off the fence, dust off that tape measure and gauge the width of the cigaratte paper that splits this pair. 

The verdict

The Golf and its superior breadth of ability nudges it. The Focus is closer to it than ever and in certain circumstances ? particularly when you want to take the long way home ? better to drive. But the Golf is close enough to its rival in the areas where the Focus excels and that bit further head in the others, such as refinement and interior quality. Whichever you buy, though, you won?t be disappointed.

Read Autocar's previous comparison - Mercedes A45 AMG versus Renault Megane 275 Trophy-R

Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 122 Match

Price £20,335; 0-62mph 9.3 seconds; Top speed 126mph; Economy 53.3mpg; C02 123g/km; Kerbweight 1225kg; Engine 4 cylinders, 1395cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 120bhp at 5000rpm; Torque 148lb ft at 1800-4000rpm; Gearbox Six-speed manual

Ford Focus 1.0T EcoBoost Titanium X

Price £22,295; 0-62mph 11.0 seconds; Top speed 120mph; Economy 60.1mpg; C02 108g/km; Kerbweight 1270kg; Engine 3 cylinders, 999cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 123bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 125lb ft at 1800rpm; Gearbox Six-speed manual

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Lexus SC to take on Porsche 911 Turbo in 2016
Lexus SC to take on Porsche 911 Turbo in 2016 New sports coupé based on the LF-LC concept is set to replace the LFA as Lexus?s halo supercar

Lexus is poised to join the growing ranks of car makers looking to challenge the £120,000 Porsche 911 Turbo when it launches a production version of the Lexus LF-LC Hybrid Sports Coupé concept before the end of 2016.

The 2+2 sports coupé is likely to revive the SC badge, although it is expected to be a far more focused sports car than the model that previously used the name until production ended in 2010. 

The European boss of Lexus, Alain Uyttenhoven, said: ?It is true that we are evaluating this car as a potential halo car, to take on the role of the Lexus LFA supercar in a more affordable way. The LFA was an incredible project; it showed what we could do and it brought all sorts of positives to Lexus. 

?One of our key priorities is to make Lexus a more emotional brand, and the appeal of this kind of car in the range is clear to us.?

The V10-powered, carbonfibre-bodied LFA cost from just under £350,000. A total of 500 were made, including faster, more focused Nürburgring special editions.

The new Lexus SC would be front-engined and rear-wheel drive, powered by a V8 engine and an electric motor. The power target is reported to be at least 480bhp.

The LF-LC concept, first shown in 2012, featured several driver-orientated details that are expected to reach production, including lightweight, race-inspired front seats and a racing-style steering wheel containing integrated controls including a start button.

It also featured a remote touchscreen system that allowed the driver to operate controls without shifting their position or altering their line of sight. Twin 12.3-inch LCD screens provide information and navigation displays.

It is not clear whether the production car will use a shortened version of the next-generation LS or GS?s platform, or whether a new platform would be developed specifically for the car.

Separately, sister firm Toyota is reportedly developing a significantly cheaper hybrid sports car with BMW. It has already been previewed as the two-seat Toyota FT-1, which was designed by the same US-based CALTY design studio as the LF-LC concept.

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Why White Van Man is about to kick up a stink
White Van Man is about to kick up a stink A European legal judgment could force the UK to sweep older diesel-fuelled vehicles off the streets

Yesterday was a bad day for the iconic White Van Man. A wealthy member of the Labour party?s shadow cabinet tweeted a picture which appeared to mock a house festooned in England flags and which had a large Transit van on the drive.

Although the shadow minister resigned within hours of the errant tweet, it did much to reinforce the idea that Middle England?s White Van stereotype was one that could be openly laughed at.

So if WVM is feeling unloved by the metropolitan elite this morning, things might be about to take a turn for the worse. As we report today, a European Court of Justice ruling has dramatically brought forward the likelihood of ?ultra low emission zones? being created in Britain?s most densely trafficked urban areas, which would almost certainly sweep nearly all pre-2009 diesel vehicles off the road.

I admit that it seems highly unlikely. Simply outlawing the backbone of Britain?s commercial transport network with a couple of years? notice is too ridiculous to even entertain.

But it could happen. The UK?s Supreme Court has been ordered by the European Court of Justice to force the Government to rapidly address air pollution, which, in many places in the UK, is well over EU-mandated limits.

While I entirely sympathise with any White Van People who might, by now, be fuming at ?European? meddling in the UK?s affairs, I fear this is one of the few times the EU?s attentions have been welcome. There?s no doubt that we have to get a grip on diesel-fired pollution.

There again, this situation is thanks to the European Union?s utterly inexcusable failure to get a grip on the problems of diesel power much earlier.

The US and Japan has long had a distaste for diesel and the associate pollution, which is shown clearly in the graphic (compiled by Bosch) accompanying our news story. In the US Clean Air laws ? which covered all types of pollutants ? came in with force for cars back in1975.

Europe, by contrast had a happier relationship with diesel, which originally became popular in the 1970s because of the engine?s simplicity and longevity.

But 25 years ago, as fuel prices rose and the climate change lobby began to get real leverage. Although legislation for catalytic convertors had finally seen them becoming standard fit across the EU, Co2 output went to the top of the Euro-agenda.

Diesel seemed like a perfect solution: more performance and much better economy than petrol engines. Everybody was happy. By the 2000s, Co2 had become synonymous with ?pollution?, even though it is locally harmless.

This Autocar news story from 2006 shows just how much CO2 became the ?evil gas? when, ironically, a large-engined petrol vehicle of the type being targeted was probably one of less polluting vehicles in the capital.

Although we did have the highly sensible EU-ratings system for engine pollutants, it seems that the Eurocrats and scientists dropped the ball massively.

While, say EU4, demanded a certain ex-factory performance in terms of pollutants leaving the exhaust pipe, many think these tests are hopelessly inadequate in real-world driving conditions. More seriously, it seems that as a diesel engines wears, it becomes much more polluting.

This is hardly White Van Man?s fault. He has no choice but to drive a diesel van, because clean-burning LPG and CNG fuels were never promoted as encouraged by the authorities, as they should have been.

Now we are in the position of having at least 15million diesel vehicles on the roads, which are polluting now and bound to get worse with time (aside, for example, from engines like Volvo?s Drive-E which have self-adjusting injectors).

And if White Van Man blames the politicians, the Eurocrats and the one-dimensional pressure groups for this mess, he?d be dead right.

Video: new 424bhp Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS driven
This new variant of Porsche's classic sports car is designed to plug the gap between the Carrera S and GT3. But does it work? Steve Sutcliffe finds out

The new Porsche 911 GTS has been built, says the manufacturer, for the kind of customer who quite fancies a GT3 but isn't prepared to put up with the compromises demanded by such a track-orientated car. So it's the car that fills the gap between the regular Carrera S and the GT3. Does that mean it's the answer to a question no one has yet bothered to ask? Steve Sutcliffe finds out when he drives the four-wheel-drive variant.

       

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