Weekly round-up: Discovery, A5 Cabriolet and Ateca reviewed, electric news galore and speeding fines soar

After a relaxing Easter weekend and far too much chocolate, we’ve not only gone a bit sugar crazy at ContractHireAndLeasing but we’ve gone a bit review crazy too.

All the energy we’ve had has made us get out there like rabid maniacs and jump into all sorts of new cars and put them through their paces, alas we’re not looking forward to the inevitable sugar crash but with the weekend just around the corner its good timing.

Weekly round-up: car reviews aplenty, electric cars aplenty, and speeding fines aplenty

Starting big, our first review was of the new Land Rover Discovery. Casually labelled as the ‘digital’ Discovery, Land Rover has binned much of the relatively archaic technology that underpinned the outgoing model and replaced it all with cutting edge tech.

Land Rover Discovery 2017

Thankfully, it’s still the same old reliable off-roader. Rock crawls that would be tricky on foot, deep water well beyond the bottom of the door, and bumps that twisted the suspension to extreme angles all proved inconsequential to the new Discovery.

And to make life easier, and to touch upon this truly being the Digital Discovery, the SUV reads the road surface and can automatically change the drive mode multiple times each second, with its Terrain Response system finding the right mode for the road better than the driver.

Land Rover Discovery 2017 off-road

It’s not just off-road where the SUV excels either. On a motorway cruise it’s lovely, with the air suspension doing a pretty decent job of masking bumps in the road, and the 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine producing enough power to propel the Discovery to 60mph in just 7.7 seconds.

If your budget doesn’t extend that far and/or you’re looking for something a bit smaller and not quite accomplished off-road, albeit with a similar styling, you might want to entertain the idea of the Seat Ateca.

Seat Ateca

With some really tempting deals on the Seat Ateca 1.0 TSI Ecomotive coming and going lately on our site, we took this derivative for a spin for a week to see if it’s as alluring as its price would lead you to believe.

Having stated in our first drive review that “Their first SUV had to be good. They’ve nailed it.” or awarded it top honours in the Small SUV category of our annual awards, we were already a fan of the model going in but we were naturally dubious about the one litre engine’s credentials.

So what did we think? Well, here’s five reasons why we think the Seat Ateca 1.0 TSI Ecomotive will surprise you.

If you’re over the whole SUV/crossover craze that’s currently in full swing and you’re looking for something sportier and soft-top for upcoming spring and summer adventure, then we’ve also been out in the new Audi A5 Cabriolet this week.

Audi A5 Cabriolet

The outgoing model built a reputation as a safe and solid piece of kit, presenting a suitably premium and sporty image that appealed to drivers en masse.

The new version builds on that eight-year legacy, offering something that’s very much exactly the same while being slightly different at the same time. That means it’s now based on Audi’s MLB Evo platform and inherits the sharp-edged styling of the new A5 coupe that we drove in August last year.

Audi A5 Cabriolet dashboard

It retains everything that made the A5 Coupe so appealing - enough space to justify calling it a family car, a discrete but purposeful sense of style that oozes status, enough refinement to pound the motorways relentlessly without issue, and enough performance to entertain on the odd roundabout exit here and there. Needless to say, we were beyond impressed.

Another thing we were impressed with this week was Skoda using VR to showcase their Vision E electric car concept.

 

While we were gutted we couldn’t be in Shanghai to see the real thing, experiencing the presentation of the brand’s first electric car by downloading the Skoda VR app was the next best thing.

Commenting on the unique launch, Stefan Buscher, head of Skoda marketing, said: “We are delighted to present the Skoda Vision E in Shanghai and at the same time all over the world.”

The Skoda VR app can be downloaded for free from either Google Play or the App Store if you want to get your own (virtual) hands on the Vision E.

Another electric car unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show was Volkswagen’s latest addition to their I.D. range of concepts, the Crozz.

Volkswagen I.D. Crozz

Like some edgy 90s boyband, VW seems to that using a z instead of an s in the name will give it immediate street cred. We don’t know about that, but we do like the idea of it offering a potential 120bhp, and a range of 372 miles on a single charge.

Neither of these cars are going to be available anytime soon though, and according to a report by Green Alliance that’s a good thing.

They warn that currently just six electric cars charging in close proximity at peak time could overload the grid and disrupt the local power supply without action.

Groups such as Electric Avenue are currently taking part in a trial that will test the recharging abilities of local electricity infrastructure, with the scheme set up to uncover potential problems by trialling a new smart-charging system from domestic charge points using the local authority network.

We're Gonna Rock Down To Electric Avenue

With less than 2% of vehicles currently electric, supply hasn’t really been a consideration before, but with lease enquiries of electric vehicles and hybrids on ContractHireAndLeasing.com up 97% during the first three months of 2017, rapid uptake is just around the corner.

With recent changes to Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) giving motorists a not-so-subtle shove towards maybe choosing an ultra-low emission vehicle as their next car, this needs addressing sooner rather than later and we hope the findings of Electric Avenue are favourable.

And finally, harsher speeding penalties will be coming into force as of Monday (24 April) meaning you could soon be liable to be fined up to 150% of your weekly income.

For example, if you earn £400 a week, the most you can currently be fined for speeding on the road is £400. If you are sentenced for the same offence after 24 April, it could be £600, plus the usual temporary disqualification or points on your licence.

The starting point applies to all offenders irrespective of plea or previous convictions and breaks down into the following:

Speed limit (mph) Recorded speed limit (mph) 
2041 and above31 – 40 21 – 30
3051 and above41 – 50 31 – 40
4066 and above56 – 65 41 – 55
5076 and above66 – 75 51 – 65
6091 and above81 – 90 61 – 80
70101 and above91 – 100 71 – 90
Sentencing rangeBand C fineBand B fineBand A fine
Disqualification / pointsDisqualify 7 – 56 days or 6 pointsDisqualify 7 – 28 days or 4 – 6 points3 points

The new ruling comes following calls that the previous guidelines did not properly take into account the increase in potential harm that can result as the speed limit increases.

Anyway, that’s your lot from us. Stay safe and have a great weekend.

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