The new Ford Mustang has been officially revealed, and will go on sale in the UK with right-hand drive for the first time in more than four decades.
The all-new Mustang, seen here officially for the first time, will be launched on 17 April 2014, 50 years to the day after the original was launched in the US.
It is the latest global model developed under the ?One Ford? plan, but Ford claims that ?the character has not been altered as a result. The car has already been seen in a series of leaked images online.
?We didn?t decide to do a global Mustang,? said programme boss Dave Pericak. ?We decided to take the Mustang global.?
It?s a vital distinction. ?Everything we do is to make a Mustang, and then take it global with homologation. We didn?t change the recipe.? That the hugely successful current model was the conceptual starting point is partial proof of that, even if ?the only commonality is the wheelbase ? every sheet metal panel is different, and only two fasteners are retained?.
The biggest difference is that the Mustang has finally adopted independent rear suspension, 30 years after most manufacturers jettisoned live rear axles. Ride quality is improved greatly and the ?front suspension is also redesigned as a result, according to Pericak. The new car sits on 19-inch wheels.
The latest Mustang is lighter and stiffer and its bigger cabin benefits from a major quality upgrade. The double-wing dashboard style of the 1964 and 2004 cars remains. Big dials and aeronautical graphics complete this familiar but ?more sophisticated confection. An eight-inch infotainment touchscreen is located in the centre of the cabin, and will be equipped with navigation software for Europe.
Entirely new to the Mustang is a 305bhp/300lb ft 2.3-litre four-cylinder Ecoboost engine. Pericak claims that it?s ?a ton of fun ?to drive, very well balanced ?and rewarding. It sounds powerful and like it belongs ?in a Mustang?.
The 5.0-litre V8 is the carried-over 420bhp/390lb ft Coyote motor and will be upgraded to 500bhp within 18 months. The base 3.7-litre V6, which won?t come to the UK, is unchanged at 305bhp. Ford had planned to ditch this engine but has kept it in the US to keep the Mustang?s base price low.
The six-speed manual and auto transmissions are unaltered, too, which means optional steering-wheel mounted paddles are also retained. A 10-speed automatic is in development, but is still two years away.
The new look of this latest Mustang is ?definitely not retro?, according to Pericak. ?We?re looking into the future and the next 50 years.? However, as design boss Moray Callum explained, making the new Mustang ?instantly recognisable? was a priority. The proportions are improved, and the bluff front end is retained, along with the forward-leaning, ?shark-bite? grille, he said.
The wedged flanks of the outgoing car have given way to horizontal lines and tautly muscled wheelarches ?that support the powerdome bonnet?, said Callum, ?and the triple bar tail-lights could only be a Mustang?.
Plenty of signature Mustang design features are absent, including the ?C? scoops in the flanks and the shapely rear side windows made famous by the Shelby Mustang.
Callum talked about ?editing? the palette of Mustang design flourishes, because it?s impractical to include them all and they didn?t want a retro design.
That said, the convertible?s silhouette echoes the 1964 notchback Mustang, its elegant fabric hood needing just seven seconds to fold, underlining Pericak?s claim that ?there?s not a system or component on the car that?s untouched?.
?You only get the 50th anniversary chance once. This was an opportunity to do it big and do it right.?
While pricing for the new Mustang has yet to be officially revealed, it is expected to cost from around £30,000.
Toyota is building a Yaris World Rally Car as a toe-in-the-water exercise that could presage a full return to the World Rally Championship, according to a report by Autocar?s sister publication, Motorsport News.
The report says that the build of the Toyota Yaris WRC prototype, powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine (as dictated by world rallying?s rules), is underway at Toyota Motorsport in Cologne, Germany.
Although the Japanese car giant has expressed an interest in returning to the WRC ? in which it won four drivers? titles and three constructors? crowns with the Celica GT-Four and the Corolla WRC during the 1990s ? it has so far stopped short of committing to a competitive return.
However, Toyota has been steadily increasing its rallying presence, building a run of entry-level Yaris R1 cars last year and recently announcing plans for a GT86 rally machine.
The Yaris WRC is expected to begin testing next year. ?This will be a pretty low-key programme, run in order for us to gain experience of the car,? a company spokesman told Motorsport News.
It isn?t clear what impact a rallying return could have on Toyota?s current sports car assault, which is also run out of Cologne. The manufacturer successfully operated top-level rally and sports car programmes in the late 1990s, before turning its full attention to Formula 1 with lacklustre results.
The Honda Yuasa Racing team caused a bit of a stir when it revealed its 2014 British Touring Car Championship racer. It will replace the ultra-successful hatchback version of its Civic with the Tourer model. It?s an unusual choice: there hasn?t been an estate car on the BTCC grid since the end of the 1994 season.
Given that touring cars don?t have much need for extra luggage space, it does beg the question why. But with the compact estate market that the Civic Tourer sits in growing steadily, it?s a good chance for Honda UK to push the sporting credentials of the model. Plus, Civic drivers have won the last three BTCC titles, so this is a good way of maintaining interest in the programme.
The team says the weight, wheelbase, layout and suspension of the two cars will be the same, so it shouldn?t harm the competitiveness of the machine. Having become used to seeing the compact Civic tearing up the circuits, it's going to take me a bit of time to adjust to the Tourer version. Still, I'm willing to give it a go, because it's always refreshing to see a bit of variety on the grid.
The last estate to race in the BTCC was the Volvo 850. Unlike the Civic Tourer, it was a proper square-sided slab of a car - and I loved it. The sight of an estate car in full racing livery hopping over a kerb was just so wonderfully... odd. It was a brilliant PR coup by Volvo, which claimed it had chosen the estate for its aerodynamic benefits. It gained an unfeasible amount of publicity for a car that never bettered fifth place.
The 850 estate lasted just a single season, before being replaced by the saloon model for 1995 ? ostensibly because new BTCC rules allowing rear wings would disadvantage an estate. The 850 saloon won races, and Rickard Rydell won the 1998 title in the later, and far sleeker, S40 model. But it's the estate car that is arguably still most fondly recalled.
If you think an estate car is an odd racing machine, how about a pick-up truck? There are whole championships for those. In 1995, NASCAR, which had previously run championships purely for stock cars, set up a national championship for truck racing. What might have seemed a novelty at first was a genius move, reflecting the fact that the most popular vehicle sold in America ? the Ford F-150 ? was a pick-up. The Camping World Truck Series now sits as NASCAR?s third tier national championship, and most of the manufacturers in the top-level Sprint Cup also have a racing pick-up.
Of course, not every PR-driven unusual car choice is a great success. In rallying, Peugeot's decision to replace the hugely successful but ageing Peugeot 206 WRC with a 307cc in 2004 was driven by the marketing men. It was an odd choice: to meet the rules the folding roof - surely the main selling point of a hard-top convertible - had to be replaced by a permanently shut one. And the resultant machine struggled on the stages. It took three World Rally Championship wins in two seasons, all of which owed more to the huge talents of driver Marcus Gronholm than the car itself.
Still, it?s always refreshing to see something a bit different. So what are your favourite unusual race or rally cars?
The government's plans to introduce tolls on the A14 as part of the National Infrastructure Plan have been scrapped.
When the plan was first unveiled in July this year, the government announced it would be introducing toll charges on the A14 to help pay for improvements along the road, which is considered to be a vital transport route. Such improvements have been discussed for several years.
Local objections have now caused the scheme to be dropped, and the estimated £1.5bn cost of widening the road will be footed by the government.
Plans announced today reveal a further £66bn will be put into new transport, energy and telecommunications projects. That's doubled from the £28bn that was promised in July, and was intended to improve the transport network, bring some of the UK's worst roads back up to standard and also fund new electric and low-carbon vehicle development.
As part of the National Infrastructure Plan, the government has also announced it will be putting £10 million into funding the development of driverless cars, with the aim of making the UK a world leader in autonomous driving technology.
The Toyota Yaris and Yaris Hybrid have been updated for the 2014 model year.
As part of the upgrades, the company has revised its trim levels for the car, replacing the current T2 and TR trim designations with new levels dubbed Active, Icon, Icon Plus and Trend.
Entry-level Active Yaris comes with a six-speaked audio system, auxilliary and USB audio connections, electric front windows, stability control and traction control.
Icon specification adds 15-inch alloy wheels, Toyota's touch multimedia system, air conditioning and a rear-view camera. Icon Plus upgrades the Yaris with front fog lights, automatic wipers, dual-zone climate control and cruise control. Top-spec Trend specification includes larger 16-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, chrome detailing around the door mirrors and leather handbrake and steering wheel trim.
As well as the specification changes, Toyota has also updated its 1.4-litre D-4D diesel engine, bringing its official CO2 emissions down to 99g/km. That change puts the Yaris 1.4 D-4D in Band A for road tax, while Toyota says improving the economy of the engine from 72.4mpg to 74.3mpg combined will save owners money at the pumps.
A number of option packs have also been introduced for 2014 models, with a Smart Pack adding keyless entry and push-button stats for £300, and a Protection Pack adding front and rear parking sensors, floor mats, mud flaps and black side mouldings for £700.
Icon Plus and Trend versions of the Yaris can also be upgraded with Toyota's multimedia system, which features Google search functions alongside satellite navigation, for £650.
The Yaris Hybrid also adopts the new specification structure, doing away with current T3 and T4 trim levels.
Prices for the MY2014 Yaris start at £10,895 for a 1.0-litre VVT-i in Active trim, rising to £15,995 for a 1.3-litre VVT-i in top-spec Trend trim. Prices for the MY2014 Yaris Hybrid start at £15,495, rising to £17,495 for a high-specification model. Both vehicles are on sale now.