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Mercedes CLA, Fabia 5 and NCAP Update - This Week

Skoda Reveal 2015 Fabia R5

With the 2014 European Rally Championship drawing to a close, and the 2015 season looming on the horizon, Skoda have revealed their new rally concept, the Fabia R5. With Skoda's envied rally championship legacy spanning almost two decades, the Fabia R5 has a lot to live up to. It will replace the Fabia S2000, which won the ERC for Skoda two years running. The R5's upgrades on the S2000 include a large rear wing, a wider body, a centralised exhaust, and a host of aerodynamic tweaks. Currently, Skoda plan to deploy the Fabia R5 sometime in mid-2015.

The new Skoda Fabia R5

Toyota Plan Roll-Out of "Talking" Tech

Toyota have unveiled a host of new safety technology this week, with the intention of gradually introducing them to production models from 2015 onwards. Most notable was Toyota's new vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication technology, which, along with radar and cameras, picks up on the wireless frequencies from Integrated Traffic Systems. The potential list of benefits is long, though it would require the cooperation of governmental transport agencies in order to be fully effective.

By communicating with traffic lights, information about oncoming traffic at an unfamiliar junction could appear on your dashboard. With direct wireless communication with individual vehicles around you, radar-based cruise control could be made much safer. The systems are set to be released in Japan initially, with Europe possibly seeing the first of these advances late next year.

Crash test dummy

NCAP Rating System Redesign

From January 2016, the Euro NCAP will be announcing two separate safety ratings for almost every car they test - one score for the company's standard model, and another for the car with all of its additional safety options. The hope is that car owners will then have a clear idea of the value of these additions.

In order to achieve a five star rating under the new rules, vehicles would have to be equipped with state of the art safety systems (eg. pedestrian detection and lane departure warning). Dr Michiel van Ratingen, NCAP's secretary general, said almost three quarters of all new cars will be given two ratings, with most current standard models probably only scoring 3 stars.

The other quarter are expected to avoid the two-rating system by making all their safety options standard across all models. Experts have suggested this will raise prices, though potentially lower insurance premiums as well. Dr van Ratingen explained the changes were aimed at customers and manufacturers who "still consider airbags and seatbelts to be the sufficient safety equipment". Our 'Safest Cars on the Market' July blog post.

Mercedes new CLA Shooting Brake Unveiled

Going on sale in January 2015, the CLA Shooting Brake is a stylish estate version of the CLA coupé. As well as six standard engine choices, customers may well be tempted by the high performance CLA 45 AMG model, which runs a turbocharged 2litre engine, producing 355bhp and a 0-60mph in almost 4.5 seconds. The Shooting Brake features the CLA's seven-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox, and four wheel drive as standard.

For a limited run, Mercedes will also be launching an 'OrangeArt Edition' of the car, which is exactly the same, just with orange bits. Prices haven't been announced for the Shooting Brake, but are expected to start around the £25,000 mark.


British Collector Pays £518,000 for Commemorative License Plate

A DVLA 25th anniversary auction broke the record for the cost of a personalised license plate when '25 O' sold for over half a million pounds. The lucrative plate went to Ferrari collector/dealer John Collins, who intends to mount it on his 250 SWB (previously Eric Clapton's). Collins also forked out over £130,000 for another, less sought after, license plate, '250 L', which will adorn his 1964 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso.

Collins admitted, "I was just determined to own them, it was just a case of how much I was going to have to pay for the privilege. It could possibly have been the first £1 million personalised registration." The previous record of £357,000 was paid for '1 D', back in March 2009.

Renault Backtrack on 'Battery Leasing'

Following underwhelming interest, Renault have gone back on their decision to only sell their Zoe electric car with 'rented' batteries. Before, car buyers were forced to pay for the vehicle and then pay a monthly fee on top. Renault have stated that the previous payment method will still be available to customers, with a lower initial asking price than the new alternative, and a reduced leasing rate.

Choosing the new payment option, where the customer owns the entire car, raises the price of the Zoe by roughly £4,500. This will include a five-year, 60,000 mile battery warranty, and a special identifying bumper badge. Buying all the parts of a car has never been such a good deal.