52

‘It was, quite frankly, a peanuts project, but now they’re collector’s cars’

THIS WEEK

Issue 6456 | Volume 308 | No 1

NEWS

Mini expansion All the new models in i ts EV-only plan 6 Desert hypercar Prodrive’s road-legal Dakar racer 10 VW Group’s baby EVs Due 2025, Seat leading R&D 12 Lexus LF-Z Shape of things to come for f i rm’s EVs 14 DS’s UK push How French brand plans to woo Britain 16

TESTED

Hyundai i20 N Serious threat to the Ford Fiesta ST 22 Toyota Highlander Big seven-seat SUV hits the UK 27 Volkswagen Touareg R eHybrid PHEV gets 456bhp 29 Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge Swedish f i rm’s f i rst EV 30 Mazda CX-30 e-Skyactiv-X Updated trick engine 31 Kia Sorento 1.6 PHEV Petrol-electric plug-in rated 31 Volkswagen ID 3 Pro Performance ROAD TEST 32

FEATURES Ford Puma vs Lamborghini Urus Best of breed duel 42 Smart motorways A good idea or plain dangerous? 48 Mini’s past 20 years BMW era’s star cars and people 52 Lockdown’s dream cars What we’re yearning to buy 58 Extreme E Starts this weekend; an insider’s guide 65

OUR CARS Ford Puma Final verdict on what it’s like to live with 70 Toyota GR Yaris I s the Circuit Pack worth the cost? 73

EVERY WEEK Jesse Crosse Why torque-converter autos are back 15 Jim Holder Volkswagen Group’s recovery dissected 17 Steve Cropley Defender, utterly crass ad, Mondeo 19 Subscribe Save money and get exclusive benefits 40 Damien Smith Jamie Chadwick’s latest challenge 62 Motorsport round-up BTCC, Oz Supercars, W Series 63 Your Views Touchscreens, old-school hot hatches 68 Matt Prior Wanted: your three-car dream garage 90

DEALS

James Ruppert £20k: Caterham, CX-5, Civic Type R 74 As good as new Vauxhall’s Insignia Grand Sport 77 Spied in the classifieds F-Type R, AX, C63, Trooper 78 Used buying guide Mk1 Merc A-Class from £400 80 New cars A-Z Key car stats , from Abarth to Zenos 82 Road test index Track down that road test here 89

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TITAN vs TIGHT ’UN: LAMBO, FORD COMPARED 42

WHY CHADWICK’S FIRED UP BY EXTREME E 62

VOLKSWAGEN ID 3: FULL ROAD TEST VERDICT 32

COVER STORY

❝THESE MOTORWAYS ARE ANYTHING BUT SMART. THEY’RE DEATH TRAPS, SIMPLE AS THAT ❞

IS THE POLICE FEDERATION CHIEF CORRECT? WE INVESTIGATE SMART MOTORWAYS 48

IMAGE

REVEALED: HOW MINI WILL FORGE A NEW ERA 6

COMMENT

FUN LOVING MINI HAS A HEAD START IN EV RACE

OUR STORY CHARTING Mini’s rise and rise under BMW ownership (p52) recalls how those involved at the very start of its rebirth quickly realised how pessimistic they’d been about how big Mini could grow. They made some key strategic decisions, such as returning to the Oxford plant and quickly committing to other models, that the brand is still reaping the benefits from today. Yet Mini is a brand with its eyes firmly on the future rather than one dwelling on the past, a future that is unsurprisingly all-electric (p6).

A frequently asked question about the future of electric cars is, with so many common architectures and largely homogenised drivetrains across multiple models and brands, just how different will they all really be to drive? There will be several brands and even more models that will invite such scepticism. Look no further than our road test subject this week, the Volkswagen ID 3 (p32). While objectively very credible, it could really be anything without its badges. Mini has already shown another way with its impressive Electric hatchback, a blueprint for demonstrating that its cars can retain characterful drives to go with the fantastic image and desirability. That fun drive is sure to become an even more precious commodity in the years to come.

Mark Tisshaw Editor mark.tisshaw@haymarket.com

@mtisshaw

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31 MARCH 2021 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 5