First Drive

IT'S BEEN 20 years since the launch of the original Ford Focus and we’re pretty much back to square one.  We need the Mk4 to be as outstanding now as the Mki was in 1998, when it proved that not only could family hatchbacks be more than the design equivalent of a cardboard box, but they could also be fun to drive when the road isn’t straight and the back seats are child-free

The once-radical Focus has slowly drifted into irrelevance. Can Ford recapture the spirit of the original with the new Mk4? By James Dennison  

IT'S BEEN 20 years since the launch of the original Ford Focus and we’re pretty much back to square one.

As we approach our destination, well-to-do passers-by are still ogling the Q8. All say its design is the big attraction. The steep asking price does not put them off, which seems strange to me. While the Q8 may arguably be £8000 prettier than the Q7, is it really £20,000 more desirable than the livelier Q5 equipped with a more convincing edition of the same drivetrain?

A 1000-mile charge through the Alps reveals the striking new Q8's appetite for distance - but also some issues. By Georg Kacher

THE MIDDLE-AGED Italian businessman pulls alongside in his Benz, adjusts his iPhone and starts filming. ‘This is the prettiest Audi - ever,’ he insists.
'Que bellal The colour, the proportions, everything. Quanta costal’ Around £67,000 without extras, at least £97,000 in our all-options-ticked test car.

Formerly budget brands such as Skoda, Seat, Kia and Hyundai have all elevated themselves into a more expensive place. Suzuki is still plugging away, and does some good, keenly  priced cars, but it doesn’t do a serious SUV for £10,000. Nor do any of the rising Chinese companies.

The SUV from Renault's budget brand used to be so cheap you'd forgive its flaws. Now it's still cheap, and the flaws have gone. By Colin Overland

The real question isn’t whether the new Dacia Duster is any good. Here’s your answer to that one: yes, it is good - very good in some ways, and extremely good value.

KIA CEED: Takes a Leaf Out of The Stinger's Book

Turns out Kia's new-found dynamic prowess isn't confined to its lairy coupe. By Phil McNamara  

KIA'S FULL OF surprises these days. First the enjoyable, ambitious Stinger. Now this: the third-gen Ceed is really sharp to drive, with accurate, progressively weighted steering.

Now you can buy a kidney-grilled car in almost every shape and size, and of all those variously shaped and sized cars it’s the X4 that best epitomises modern buying trends. It’s a sportier version of the X3, but is more expensive, less practical and, from some angles, a little more challenging to look at.

Just four years after the first X4 arrived as a marginally more sporty X3, here's its equally baffling replacement. By Tom Goodlad  

PICKING A BMW used to be a simple task. A saloon, estate, perhaps a coupe or convertible would do the job. Oh, how times have changed.

YOU KNOW THE type - people who can get by on their looks alone. Jeep’s Renegade is a bit like that, too. This facelifted update includes a design nip and tuck to keep the crossover in line with the new Wrangler, and the engine range has been revised, most significantly with the arrival of a 1.0-litre boosted triple.

YOU KNOW THE type - people who can get by on their looks alone. Jeep’s Renegade is a bit like that, too. This facelifted update includes a design nip and tuck to keep the crossover in line with the new Wrangler, and the engine range has been revised, most significantly with the arrival of a 1.0-litre boosted triple.

OF THE THREE siblings in McLaren’s Sports Series junior supercar family (570S, 570GT and 570 Spider), the GT is intended to be the most rounded and easiest to live with. To that end, it was launched with slightly kinder spring rates and a two per cent slower-geared steering rack than the S and Spider, to make it a touch less mentally and physically taxing to drive.

Pick 'n' Macs 570GT roofline, 570S sharpness. The Sports Series' sweet spot?  

OF THE THREE siblings in McLaren’s Sports Series junior supercar family (570S, 570GT and 570 Spider), the GT is intended to be the most rounded and easiest to live with.

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