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February 2015 News Round Up

Aston Martin Vulcan

Aston Martin Vulcan unveiled

Based on the One-77, the Vulcan is Aston Martin's new insane track-only hypercar. It will premier at the Geneva Motor Show, where it will undoubtedly cause a storm, before being publicly débuted at the Le Mans 24 hour race. Aston Martin are planning an über-exclusive limited edition production run of only 24 vehicles, and all 24 Vulcans will come with private driving lessons from Darren Turner, Aston Martin's Le Mans driver. Looking at the car, that might be a good idea. The Vulcan is built around a 7-litre V12 engine that apparently thunders out “800bhp plus”. The design is the work of Marek Reichmann, Aston's Chief Creative officer. There are hints of the new DB10 in the body work - the low front grille and squinting headlights, for instance - but really the look is new: a wider track, a large rear wing, slanted flanks and beastly ventilation ducts. The Vulcan's specs continue with unique 19 inch tyres and carbon ceramic brake discs, magnesium torque tubing, limited slip differential, and carbon fibre interior. Aston Martin have also managed to shave 150kg off the weight whilst building the Vulcan from the One-77. The British manufacturer insist their new machine provides the ultimate track driving experience, and have even said they're “almost infinitely flexible in terms of colour and trim options.” All this, and the Aston Martin Vulcan will only cost you 1.8 million pounds.

McLaren 675LT

McLaren 675LT revealed

With the Geneva Motor Show just around the corner, McLaren have revealed the centre piece of their display. The 675LT is a faster, lighter, more powerful retake of their 650S, and is, as many critics see it, a direct challenge to Ferrari's 458 Speciale. McLaren seem to have gone all out on this one.

The 675LT is less of a sequel to the 650S, and more of a re-engineering, with only 60% of the original parts still in place in the 675LT. The changes make a significant difference. The 675LT has a 205mph top speed and does 0-60 in under 2.9 seconds. The upgraded 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 kicks out a pleasantly unholy 666bhp, generating 700Nm of torque.

Minor aesthetic tweaks include a larger airbrake and more pronounced side air intakes. Don't let the near identical design fool you though - the whole vehicle has been restructured with carbon-fibre, replacing all the aluminium of the 650S and shedding 100kg. The interior has also undergone a mini redesign, with new seats and a more driver-focused layout. On top of this, five ‘By McLaren’ spec fittings with be offered, featuring different styles of interior and exterior trim. The 675LT is expected to price around £260,000.?

EU ban car clocking companies

Following increasing complaints from motoring organisations across Europe, the European Parliament have announced a blanket ban on firms that manipulate mileage clocks. From May, 2018, it will be illegal for a company to intentionally 'clock' a car's odometer so it can be sold for a higher price. “This will close a massive loophole that some dodgy car firms and owners were using legally to knock miles off the clock and push up the value of a vehicle.” said Director of AA Cars, David Bruce, “I don’t expect that this will call time on clocking for good, but it will remove the veneer of legitimacy that mileage adjustment firms were able to hide behind.” The UK already has laws in place to discourage clocking. Car dealers can suffer penalties for not disclosing manipulated mileage to potential buyers. However, many European car dealerships currently face no such restrictions. Violeta Bulc, the EU's Transport Commissioner, explained, “The directive explicitly stipulates that if the odometer is found to have been manipulated with the aim of reducing or misrepresenting the distance record of a vehicle the Member State shall ensure that appropriate penalties are in place. Consequently the Commission considers that offering services linked to the manipulation of the tachometer cannot be considered as a legal activity.” Read the EU's exact statement here.

 New Jensen GT

New Jensen GT is return of British brand

A new GT heralds the return of the Jensen brand. Best known for their Interceptor muscle car, the popular British car company ceased trading in 2002. Two separate successors have taken up the Jensen mantle, though, and the first car to bear the name in over a decade has been announced.

The Jensen Group and Jensen International Automotive have come together to produce a bespoke, luxury GT. In a two or four seat space-frame chassis will sit 6.4-litre supercharged V8, giving 665bhp. The Jensen GT is the last car to sport the name since the sad story of the S-V8. Costing £10million to design in 1998, the S-V8 looked to have a bright future. In the end, only 10 were made before the model was given up on. The company closed shortly thereafter - seemingly for good.

All the new Jensen GTs will come made to order at around £350,000, but that's not all. As well as the GT, the Jensen Group will be revealing a brand new concept car in 2016. The new concept has already been dubbed Interceptor 2, and will “take design cues from the classic Interceptor and will advance the concept of the original grand tourer, to provide a thoroughly modern and exciting vehicle.”

RAC driver rebate

The RAC has stated that drivers across the UK could and should be looking forward to millions of pounds of rebates. Any motorist who has been fined for exceeding their time in a private car park could find themselves entitled to a refund. John de Waal QC is the UK barrister who put forward the question of illegality on behalf of the RAC. De Waal, of Harwicke, took legal issue with both the size of parking fines, and the methods the parking companies used to extract them from drivers.

The main argument is that since most parking fines vastly overcompensate for the loss of the car park, they must be seen as penalties rather than a genuine estimate of compensation. This is an important distinction, as only the later of those is enforceable in court. A 2014 case from High Wycombe was highlighted by the RAC, in which a single mother was forced to pay a £100 fine even though her parking space only cost 20p an hour. Also in John de Waal's firing line are the 'discounts' for paying quickly. Pressure put on motorists to pay up as soon as possible or be charged more should be seen as an illegal “price escalation clause” under European law.

“We would like to see this legal argument tested in a higher court so that a binding precedent is set.” stated Prof Stephen Glaister, head of the RAC Foundation, “At the same time we would like the government to do what it should have done at the outset and set out what are reasonable charges. If the courts agree with Mr de Waal then millions of drivers could be in line for a refund. We estimate that in 2013 alone drivers might have been overcharged by some £100 million.”

Read the RAC's full report.

Women speed more but crash less

A study of data from rental cars indicates that female drivers are significantly more likely to speed than men. Statistically, the study suggests a woman is 17.5% more likely to break the speed limit. However, even while speeding more often, female drivers are far less likely to return a rental damaged. In the study, a whopping 84 percent of vehicles returned by men had suffered scratches, denting, punctures, or other damage.

The study, run by In-Car Cleverness, used 'black box' monitors to measure the state of 10,000 rental cars over six months. Aside from the difference of the sexes, the study found a much more obvious correlation between speeding and damage. Drivers who returned cars with damage broke the speed limit 30-40 times more (per driver) than those who kept their car intact. A spokesperson from In-Car Cleverness remarked, “The statistics show a clear correlation between vehicle damage and instances of speeding, harsh braking and acceleration.”

That male drivers more often damage their vehicles will come as no surprise to car insurance companies. The Jennings Motor Group most recently found that men are 13% more likely to have been involved in a crash, and 4% less likely to have a clean license. Blokes need not worry though, since car insurance companies haven't been allowed to discriminate using gender since 2012.