Yearly round-up 2016: Autonomy, Brexit, Chris Evans’ Flop Gear and more …
Last week Charlie Brooker mentioned what a struggle it had been to condense his yearly Screenwipe show into just 60 minutes this year. It’s not really a surprise though; 2016 has been a true rollercoaster of a year what with one thing or another, but what were the highlights for the world of automotive?
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That’s right. Despite being bombarded with Brexit, Donald Trump, the Olympics and the Euros to name a few, the motoring world has been quietly ticking by. Ok, not quietly; this year has actually been a record-breaking and exciting time for the industry.
To fill you in, we thought we’d have a look back at the most memorable moments of 2016 …
What we were driving: Ford Focus RS
The year started off on a somewhat sombre note with the late greats David Bowie and Alan Rickman shuffling off this mortal coil. The Land Rover Defender finally met its end too, but a string of new car releases soon reminded us that the world keeps on turning.
First it was Mercedes’ turn to unveil the first of several variants of its E-Class. Meanwhile, Hyundai revealed its Prius-beating Ioniq hybrid – and it is available now and is VERY affordable! The opening month of the year also saw us driving Ford’s utterly brilliant Focus RS too, while the BVRLA announced that 2015 was a record-breaking year for the leasing industry, although it’s safe to say 2016 should actually go one step further more!
February saw now ex-Top Gear presenter Chris Evans pick his line-up for the revived Top Gear, with Matt LeBlanc, Sabine Schmitt and Chris Harris making their debut on the famed motoring show. Ferrari also revealed the FF’s replacement – the GTC4 Lusso. It gets 680bhp and a 0-62mph run of just 3.4 seconds.
Following January’s news of a successful year of leasing in 2015, it came to light that ContractHireAndLeasing was actually outperforming the new car industry as a whole, too. Always one to be ahead of the times, we also looked at what could happen to the British car industry if we were to leave the European Union. But have things really panned out like this?
What we were driving: Toyota Prius
What we were driving: Nissan Navara
March is always a great month for motoring, and not just because there’s more sunshine! First things first; we saw the arrival of the all-new (well, not anymore) 16-reg plate flooding on to the market. Not only did 518,000 16-plated cars make their way onto the highways and byways, March 2016 was the best month for new car registrations this side of the 20th century!
The dawn of spring doesn’t just bring a plate change, but one of the biggest automotive events of the year too. The Geneva Motor Show was certainly a highlight for us, with the debut of several significant new models including the Audi Q2, Bugatti Chiron, Maserati Levante, Seat Ateca, Alfa Romeo Giulia and the Fiat Tipo.
Into April, and Mini set us off on an April Fools theme with a special edition aimed squarely at hipsters. This got us thinking, have there been any more chucklesome April Fools’ Day jokes from car makers over the years?
One manufacturer that hasn’t been joking around this year is Tesla that, back in April, revealed its all-new affordable Model 3. It may be the future, but it’s still not out yet. If you’re after the latest and greatest from Elon Musk’s super factory, how about a Model X?
What we were driving: Range Rover Evoque
What we were driving: Jaguar XF
May was a busy month for our test drive team. We pitched the new Audi A4 against the Mercedes C-Class, Jaguar XE and BMW 3 Series in an ambitious head-to-head test. We also spent some time behind the wheel of the new Jaguar F-Pace.
It’s a tough job driving all these amazing cars, and we must admit, autonomous driving may take a lot of the fun out of it. But it’s happening. Britain moved a step closer to a driverless road network in May after the Queen announced the government’s intention to implement new legislation to promote the development of driverless cars and ensure that “appropriate insurance” becomes available for them. Thatcham research suggest that fully autonomous vehicles could be pootling about in the UK just 10 years from now!
What we were driving: Mercedes S-Class Coupe
As we spring rolled into summer, so did June and with it one of the biggest moments in living memory. No, not our embarrassing Euros knockout (that’s pretty normal, really) but the fact the British public voted to leave the European Union. If you’re wondering what consequences this may have for the UK’s automotive industry in the long term, we have you covered! Here, here and here.
Leaving the EU is one thing, but abandoning the continent’s car makers is very much another, and they know it: June saw Audi price up its Q2 crossover (that’s available to order now), while Citroen revealed its updated C3 supermini that’s every bit as funky as its C4 Cactus brethren.
What we were driving: Mercedes GLE 500e Hybrid
July brought further confirmation that the leasing sector is outstripping the rest of the industry when it comes to new car registrations, with 2016 already promising to be a record-breaker according to the BVRLA.
And then there was the battle of the year. Yes, before Clinton vs Trump, came Ecotricity vs Tesla. With the electric race on, Ecotricity contested Tesla’s claim to offering the fastest charging system in the world. Forget fuel prices, in the electric world it’ll all be about speedy charging and convenience.
It was probably Tesla CEO Elon Musk that came out of it better though, not just because it won the legal row, but with Ecotricity pricing up their chargers for the first time, Mitsubishi decided to weigh in on them too…
What we were driving: Audi A5 Coupe
After a humiliating Euros knock-out, Team GB’s 57 gold medals in the Rio Olympics more than made up for lost ground in the sports department.
One of the biggest cars in the forthcoming years was revealed in concept form in August. Hoping to beat Tesla at its own game when it comes out in 2020, it is of course, the all-electric Porsche Mission-E.
There’s more and more news that we’re going all electric in the future, chief among which is that uptake in the UK is at all-time high, and maybe leasing is the way to do it. A report in August found that millennials and older people alike are leasing more and more.
What we were driving: Kia Niro
September saw the perennial plate change occur, this time changing to the still-current 66 plate, that will roll on until March 2017. With the imminent changes to the taxation system for vehicles registered after 31 March next year, we think the 66 plate is going to be a popular one and, so far, we would be right. We had a peruse of some of the newest cars if you’re thinking of getting a 66 plate!
Perhaps a Skoda Kodiaq could be the one of you? It was revealed ahead of October’s Paris Motor Show and wowed the crowds with its class-leading boot space, upmarket interior and stand-out looks. What’s more, it’s now available to lease.
What we were driving: Fiat 124 Spider
If the Geneva Motor Show showed off the cars that were coming this year, the Paris Motor Show was all about the future; an electric future. Both Volkswagen and Mercedes got into the electric spirit, with both of them giving us a glimpse of some highly charged offerings that we can expect to see from them in the future.
Paris also saw the eagerly anticipated Land Rover Discovery 5 make its debut, but if you’d prefer something smaller, the 2017 Nissan Micra looks to take the market by storm. Neither models are available to order yet, but we expect them both to dominate their respective categories come 2017.
What we were driving: Mercedes-Benz E-Class
November proved to be a bit of an SUV extravaganza, and not only because the new Tiguan hit showroom floors. Vauxhall announced a brace of new crossovers, while Alfa Romeo peeled back the covers of its fire-breathing Quadrofoglio Stelvio SUV.
Not one to be outdone, Jaguar displayed its all-electric E-Pace SUV concept in L.A, while Audi finally opened order books for the desirable Q2. Oh, and with it being Halloween, we also had a look at some scary cars from the big screen.
What we were driving: Land Rover Discovery 5
Well we’re nearly at the end of our year, but there’s been no rest for the wicked at the ContractHireAndLeasing news desk. Firstly, the Ford Fiesta for 2017 was officially revealed. The current model is the UK’s most popular car and, with a new look and redesigned interior, the new one should prove good enough to hold on to this accolade.
Following the chancellor’s announcement regarding changes to salary sacrifice schemes, we’ve also been having a look at the emerging ULEV (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) market, too. To qualify for the lucrative tax benefit, from April 2017 you’ll have to pick a car that produces under 75g/km of CO2.
Leasing can make sense whether you’re after a frugal supermini or a luxurious exec saloon and, with this in mind, this month we’ve introduced a new page for deals that cost less than £100 per month. So if you’re after a great Christmas deal, why not consider one of these sub-£100 options?
Well that’s about it for 2016, and what a year it has been! Personal contract hire is more popular than ever and remains the fastest growing form of car finance in the UK. With a host of new models on the way, 2017 should be just as busy.
On a final note, look out for the ContractHireAndLeasing Awards in the new year! We’ve been busy choosing our shortlist, which will be revealed in January, so keep your eyes peeled.