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James's Weekly Chatter - 24th February 2012
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James's Weekly Chatter - 17th January 2012
Showing blog posts for June 2011
James's Weekly Chatter - 30th June 2011
30 June 2011
What’s been going on this week?
With Audi winning its 10th Le Mans trophy, the German car manufacturer has decided to release a new limited edition R8 V8. The new model has several equipment upgrades, including satellite navigation, integrated seatbelt microphones with Bluetooth interface for making mobile phone calls and a Bang & Olufsen sound system. It stands out from the previous model by having GT-inspired 19-inch alloy wheels, featuring red brake callipers similar to the Le Mans-winning model. Prices start at £93,985 and only 100 will be built.
Rolls Royce have unveiled the Phantom Drophead Coupe a hand-built one-off which is designed to offer “the perfect weekend get-away” and “the ultimate in luxury and relaxation”. Its interior features an Asprey jewellery box, discretely placed in the glove compartment. The Drophead comes in a very special colour - Mazarine Blue, a shade that brings together 44,000 already available to Phantom customers. It will be on display at the Royal Hospital Chelsea until July 5th.
As I'm sure you're probably aware it's the Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend. One thing that it set to dominate the show is the brilliant sculpture of the Jaguar E-Type in celebration of its 50th birthday, check out this brilliant video of how it was put together.
Have a good weekend!
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23 June 2011
If you drive one of the hottest performance vehicles around, you might think that sky high car insurance is just par for the course. However, if you’re savvy in your approach to supercar insurance you can actually secure an affordable deal.
Why does it cost more to insure a supercar?
Supercars certainly look good, their drivers often take good care of them and they are usually kept in fantastic condition – so why do they cost more to insure?
The answer is straightforward – they have higher values. If you were to write off the latest Ferrari model it would obviously cost a lot more for an insurer to replace than a Ford Fiesta or a Volkswagen Polo. Similarly, even partial damage to supercars is more expensive to repair because their parts are more expensive.
In addition, supercars have more powerful engines and in the minds of insurers, this means they are more likely to be driven at fast speeds. This carries obvious dangers as it increases the likelihood of an accident occurring.
Finally, supercars are also more desirable to thieves and they are often the target of envious vandals. All of this adds up to make them more expensive to insure.
So what can be done about these added costs?
Just because you won’t get the same quote for a supercar as you would for a general run-around it doesn’t mean you should give up on finding a decent price. Your first step should be to use a comparison website to compare quotes from as many insurers as you can as quickly as possible – that will give you a more complete overview of the market.
Make sure you consider the specialist car insurers too. Several companies actually specialise in offering supercar insurance believing that their drivers are more likely to take care of their vehicles and so they deserve more competitive premiums. They may also offer specialist policy features such as:
Annual mileage discounts:
Very often supercars are secondary vehicles in the household with most owners having a less powerful car for general run-arounds. As such, agreeing to a mileage cap may be beneficial.
Imagine if your supercar were written off or stolen and then massively undervalued by an insurer leaving you out of pocket? With many specialist insurers, this concern can be a thing of the past as they offer guaranteed agreed valuations so you know from the outset what your vehicle is worth in case the worst happens.
Specialist cover for your supercar in case you plan to race it on a track or in a rally.
Advanced driver discounts:
You may earn a reduced premium if you undertake an advanced driving course to prove you can handle such a powerful vehicle.
Owners’ club or manufacturer’s club discounts:
Joining a car club could earn you a discount as it shows the insurer you are interested in learning more about your supercar and taking good care of it.
So are specialists always the cheapest?
High performance car insurance specialists may offer policies tailored towards super car drivers but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily the cheapest.
On the contrary, you should still compare quotes with a comparison website to get an overview of the deals available. You may find that a regular insurer offers cover features not available with the specialists or that its prices are cheaper. Most comparison websites will include some specialists in their listings.
Further ways to save
Remember that whether you drive a Porsche or a Panda, car insurance quotes are determined by the level of risk you are deemed to pose to an insurer. Lowering this risk will lower your premiums – here are some tips:
You can build up a no-claims bonus by avoiding accidents and convictions.
Invest in security:
Look for insurer approved alarms, immobilisers and tracking devices to reduce the risk of theft.
Keep your supercar in a locked garage overnight away from prying thieves.
Increase your excess:
Consider raising your voluntary excess to lower premiums.
You can avoid interest charges by paying premiums upfront.
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James's Weekly Used Car Chatter - 14th June 2011
14 June 2011
What’s been going on this week?
Wow what a Grand Prix it was this weekend! Who would of thought that Jenson Button could have come from last place and end up finishing first? I guess it shows that Sebastian Vettel is human after all! I don't think that he will feel too down about it though, he still leads by 60 points.
Mercedes have officially unveiled their next generation M-Class ahead of its public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The confirmed UK models are the ML350 Bluetec which has a 254bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel and the ML63 AMG that will be powered by a 536bhp twin-turbo 5.5 litre V8. A diesel-electric version called the ML300 Hybrid will be released in late 2012. The new M-class has kept the same design as before but with a more updated feel, no word on price yet.
I can't say I ever been a big fan of Vauxhall cars, however the new Astra GTC looks very sharp! Its main rivals will be the Volkwagen Sciorcoco and the Renault Megane Coupe. The world premiere will be at next month’s Goodwood Festival of Speed (July 1-3), showing the importance of the UK market to this model. The Astra GTC will launch with a choice of a single diesel or three petrol engines and is available now with prices starting at £18,495.
I was planning to write about the new Renaultsport 265 Trophy but unfortunately as I was writing someone got there before me! So...instead I thought I'd talk about the car of the moment, the BMW 1 Series M Coupe. Press the start button and you've got a 335bhp 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine. It's quite a lightweight car too, weighing only 1,495kg and as a result it gets from 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds, however top speed will of course be limited to 155mph. The only problem is arguably the price - £40,000 but it is the best M badged car in a long time so you are paying for something special and who knows, it could end up being a future classic....
Have a good week!
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New Renaultsport Megane 265 Trophy - did i shoot too early?!
10 June 2011
It was just over a month ago when I shared my thoughts on middle-aged spread, sports cars, beards and flat caps in
Pre-Mid-Life Crisis?! Renaultsport Megane 250 Cup
. Having lived with the car now for a few weeks I still absolutely love it and grin every time I slide into the love-handle-hugging bucket seats. I mentioned in that blog that my research on the car had been limited and as usual the purchase very impulsive.
This lack of proper research may have been a major error on my part. Not because I’ve bought the wrong car, no, I am now a fully paid-up member of the “French Bred” clan, but because I got to work today and saw this headline from Renault:
RENAULT LAUNCHES ITS FASTEST ROAD CAR YET WITH NEW LIMITED EDITION MEGANE RENAULTSPORT 265 TROPHY
Does my impulsiveness mean I am now living with "little brother" – if I’d waited a little longer I could have bought the 265 Trophy! So what am I missing out on?
The obvious bits first. The maths are easy 265 – 250 = 15 extra bhp, it has upsized 19” gloss black alloy wheels (with red rims) and an M3-esque (optional) gloss diamond black roof. I have to say, the guys at Renaultsport have done a great job making an already aggressive looking car look more aggressive. Less obvious are the 0-62mph time of 6.0 seconds, 0.1 seconds quicker than the 250 Cup and a 158mph top speed (up from 156mph in the 250 Cup). In addition customers get free access to all Renaultsport trackdays in UK in 2012. Most importantly though, is that this car will be rare. Only 500 will be produced and of those only 50 examples will be coming to the UK which means owners of the 250 and 265 will see increasingly divergent second hand valuations over time.
Did I shoot too early? After much consideration I think probably not. The 265 Trophy is a beautiful car however, so is the 250 Cup. The performance of the two is close but the price differential between by 1-year old car and a brand new 265 is significant and for me, confirms I am definitely driving the right variant.
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Motoring Law: Driving without a License
09 June 2011
After watching a recent episode of Road Wars I sparked an office discussion on the subject of driving without a license and its implications. On the face of it,
driving without a license
sounds like a serious offence but you may be surprised to hear that it does not necessarily mean you will face a prison sentence.
First of all we should distinguish between driving without a license and driving whilst disqualified. The latter is a far more serious offence as it constitutes you ignoring a court order – which always carries heavy punishment. If you are caught you will be immediately arrested and dealt with sternly. A conviction of driving while disqualified can land you with a fine of up to £5,000 and is far more likely to result in a prison sentence than just not holding a license, which result in penalty points and a fine of up to £1,000.
There are various sets of circumstances which constitute driving without a license. These include or driving while in possession of a provisional license without being accompanied by someone over 21-years-old or with three years driving experience (you must also display ‘L’ plates in this situation). A common cause of prosecution is driving a vehicle which you are not entitled to. For instance driving a manual car when you have only passed a test to drive an automatic vehicle, or operating an LGV or a motorbike on a normal license can often result in a prosecution.
A conviction will usually result in a ban from driving or obtaining a license for a specified period of time, so it would make sense to get a legal professional specialising in motoring law to argue your case if you happen to go to court. If you genuinely did not know you were breaking the law it will be considered but it is hardly a guarantee against punishment. Not holding a proper license will also invalidate any insurance policy, so be prepared to be charged with driving without insurance too.
The implications are not always so serious depending on circumstances. For instance you may have been pulled over driving while disqualified without knowing you had been in the first place. If your license was revoked or suspended for a minor endorsable offence then things may not be so bad. If DVLA correspondence asking you to surrender your license for endorsement failed to reach you and it was consequently suspended without you even knowing, you may be able to solve the problem by simply surrendering your license there and then.
However, obviously driving without a license is a serious matter. As well as the legal dangers it is also a threat to your personal safety as well as that of other road users. The best advice is always to ensure you have taken the correct test for the vehicle you want to drive. If in doubt about whether you are entitled to drive a vehicle you should contact the DVLA.
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07 June 2011
More of an observation than a blog: when commuting home last week, I was stuck in the usual bumper-to-bumper frenzy that one is accustomed to living in London. A bit of car spotting can help ease the pain of this monotony, and as I was crossing the Thames I caught sight of a supercar coming towards me that, for once, I didn’t recognise straight away. Was it an Aston? A Vanquish may be? All I could see was one very large, muscular, flared rear-wheel-arch. As I rolled past it, I recognised it as an SL65 AMG Black Edition. Not often you see one of these on the streets and I was particularly impressed with its chunky road presence and the sun-tan being showcased by its driver. It would make standard-spec SL63 drivers blush with withering embarrassment.
I naturally went straight online to have a peek at where these are trading in the second-hand market and was disappointed to find only one listing (£189k, 58 plate!) across a multitude of classified websites. What confronted me instead was an overwhelming supply of a similarly priced, exotic Mercedes: the much feted SLS. I counted over 30 examples for sale! Described by Mercedes themselves as a “New Breed of Supercar”, I was a little surprised to see almost as many of these cars being advertised as there are Ferrari 430 Coupés. The reviews had read well too, with 5 stars being dished out in most motoring rags and Clarkson drooled heavily over it on Topgear earlier this year.
So where has it all gone wrong? I dug a little deeper and having spoken to a few contacts in the trade, it seems the higher end of the market is experiencing a bit of a lull at the moment. Whether it is the economic malaise, eye-wateringly high fuel prices or raft of hypercar-purchasing-speculators is open to debate. I tend to think that large, heavy, fuel-consuming cars like the SLS are becoming less and less attractive. V12 Ferraris, for instance, that consistently return single digit MPG, in particular, have been crippled in second hand markets recently. I have spoken to dealers who are relinquishing some stock below their initial purchase price. There is also an increasing gulf between where one can pick up an old generation car versus picking up the brand new model. Over £100k separates a well spec’d F430 compared to a brand new 458 Italia. I have also been shown new 458 build-slots for end of year delivery, and know of cars that are being delivered ready to be flipped for a measly £5k premium!
The intermediate, or junior-supercar market seems to be relatively buoyant, with well optioned Porsche 911s and R8 (V8s) still well sort after. But, it’s unsurprising given the fantastic performance than can be at one’s figure tips for a £50-£65k outlay – roughly a quarter of that required to purchase the new 458. On top of this, the fuel consumption of these cars can be (relatively) well managed and does not become
crippling with everyday use. In particular with Porsche, whose 911 C4S can produce a combined 27 mpg. So it will be interesting to see where the high performance car market is in 6 months time. Will fuel prices have abated? Will second-hand prices had plateau’d? The longer it continues, the better it is for those looking for good value when buying a used car. But on the flipside we will see fewer and fewer of the newest exotica gracing our streets – I manage about one 458 every two weeks in London – not enough!
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James's Weekly Used Car Chatter - 6th June 2011
06 June 2011
What’s been going on this week?
BMW have revealed their new 1 series, customers can choose between various petrol (116i and 118i) and diesel (116d, 118d and 120d) four-cylinder engines. It's more sporty and fuel-efficient as well as being considerably more comfortable and spacious than its predecessor. The 5-door version will be available to buy from September with the 3 door being released next year. Prices will start from £19,735 for the entry-level 116i.
Looking for something to see at the Cinema at the moment? Well take a look at the trailer for this brilliant documentary about the amazing racing driver that was Ayrton Senna. Senna is on general release now.
As with most weeks at the moment, Audi have been in the news yet again! The German car manufacturer will be releasing a new soft-top Spyder variant of its high-end R8 GT supercar. It will have the same power as its hard-top sibling, perfect for people out there looking for a new convertible. The R8 GT Spyder comes with a meaty 5.2-litre V10 engine and has a 0-62mph time of just 3.8 seconds. No word on pricing yet but only 333 being made with a tiny 66 of them coming to UK so it won't be cheap!
Last week was the Worthersee GTI show in Austria where Volkswagen unveiled the Golf R Concept. The R has the same 266bhp 2.0-litre engine as the hatchback version which gives it a limited top speed of 155mph. There is no confirmation that it has the same 0-62mph time, 5.5 seconds, as the hardtop but VW have suggested that it gets there in less than 6 seconds. There are no plans to put it into production as of yet.
Have a good week!
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