Just Alex Yau

Journalist and Online Editorial Assistant for CarBuyer.co.uk. Writing also featured in Auto Express, NME, Shortlist.com, This is Fake DIY, Drowned in Sound, The Rotherham Advertiser and more.
Reach me at ayau234@gmail.com.

A 60mph speed limit is planned for the M3 motorway, following the introduction of the same smart motorway strategy for the M1. These new limits are the result of government plans to combat emissions and congestion.

• Most economical cars

This three-mile smart motorway and its 60mph restriction will run between J3 at Lightwater and J4 near Farnborough between 7am and 7pm.

The 60mph limit covers part of a 13.4-mile stretch between J2 and J4a where additional lanes will be opened in both directions to improve capacity - at a cost of £174million.

The Highways Agency (HA) hopes this new motorway can ease congestion flowing in and out of London. Traffic currently enters the capital on a 45mph average in the mornings and exits at a 56mph average in the evenings.

According to the HA, the motorway expansion would cut journey times by four minutes in the morning and one minute in the evening, but the 60mph limit is needed to ensure air pollution does not breach legal limits following the planned expansion of the route.

The HA also stressed that these restrictions may be lifted within four years as emission reducing technology in cars improve.

Robert Goodwill, the Roads Minister, said: “The M3 is heavily congested and the introduction of this smart motorway will help improve journey times by smoothing traffic flow.”

Another 60mph restriction on the M1 between South Yorkshire and the East Midlands was announced last month, affecting junction 28 at Mansfield and junction 35a at Sheffield and Rotherham.

Four other major roads covering 38 miles of the UK’s 4,300-mile strategic road network may soon get the same restrictions.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “The AA believes that the extra capacity is required and that ironically 60mph speeds at peak times would actually speed up journeys.

“However a majority of drivers question whether reducing motorway speeds will make any difference to air pollution as 69 per cent see lorries as the main culprit.”

David Bizley, technical director of the RAC, said: “Coming hot on the heels of the M1 announcement, the M3 plan invites the question as to whether any of the eight other planned all-lane running, smart motorway schemes which the Government have heavily invested in will also need to have reduced speed limits put in place to protect air quality.”

Britain’s most expensive parking space is up for sale and it’s a snip at £400,000. The exclusive underground space in London’s posh Kensington area has room for two cars and costs 15 times the average UK salary of £26,500. Its expensive price tag is also double that of the average UK house price.

• UK floods: dealing with water-damaged cars

The freehold is described as a ‘large secure underground parking space ideally situated for an Albert Court or Albert Hall Mansions resident’. After parking their cars, owners can stroll around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, both just across the road. Locals probably wouldn’t think twice about purchasing this space, either. Property prices in the SW7 area average a staggering £2.3 million.

Agents Hobart Slater are responsible for the sale for the record-breaking bay. A spokesman for the company said: “We’ve already had plenty of interest in the space.”

Is £400,000 unreasonable for a parking space? Well, for the same price, you can park your car 880 yards away at the nearest NCP for 81 years. That’s just £35.10 a day. A similar parking space in the same car park went on sale 10 months earlier for £275.000 but the London property market has done its work and now you’re looking at a nice round £400k.

• Fire-up the Quattro! Ashes to Ashes Audi Quattro on sale

£400,000 can get you much more elsewhere in the country. A five-bedroom countryside home with conservatory, terraced gardens and double-detached garage in Burnley costs the same amount. You could also get a seven-bedroom detached house with front and rear garden.  Both properties have ample parking.

The latest Land Registry figures show that the pricey parking space is £3,792 cheaper than the average London property price, though.

Classic car enthusiasts will be pleased to hear that the Audi Quattro from hit BBC drama Ashes to Ashes is up for auction on eBay.

The famous red Audi Quattro is best known as an unmarked police car featured in 16 episodes of the Eighties-based show. Philip Glenister and Keeley Hawes led the Ashes to Ashes cast, but the Audi Quattro was the real star for many fans. 

This older 2.1-litre turbo powered Audi Quattro has been in storage since its final Ashes to Ashes appearance. Its mileage figures trump even the most recent used cars, too, the car having done just over 100 miles in five years. Hundreds of ‘bullet holes’ and missing interior parts mean its new owner will probably have some work to do if they want to take it on the road. 

• New Audi Quattro could make production

Other Audi Quattros can fetch up to £20,000 depending on their condition, but this model could be worth more because of its star status. The auction is currently live on eBay and ends on Sunday evening.

Ashes to Ashes boosted the Audi Quattro’s popularity so much that it came second in a survey of British TV’s most recognised cars, coming behind Del Boy’s famous Reliant Robin from Only Fools and Horses. Audi Quattro parts also became more difficult to source as the car’s profile grew.

• Best TV cars

The Audi Quattro debuted at the 1980 Geneva Motor Show and gained a reputation as a world-class rally car that was unrivalled at the time. This was partly due to it taking advantage of new rules that allowed the entry of four-wheel drive cars in competition racing for the first time.

Production ceased in 1991, but Audi unveiled a new Audi Sport Quattro concept at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. Audi bosses hinted that it would fit somewhere between the Audi TT and Audi R8 if it went into production.

Motorists visiting non-government linked websites are paying triple the price of normal driving license applications processed by the DVLA.

These sites, found as sponsored links in search engines, offer check and send services, amongst other additional extras. According to the DVLA, motorists who use this site will only get back a paper application form that has been filled in for them.

• £12 tool can hack your car

Theory and practical driving tests booked with the DVLA cost £31 and £62 respectively. The Office of Fair Trading says the services and costs offered by non-DVLA websites are not illegal, however.

In 2011, fake emails claiming to be from the DVLA were sent to motorists. Police verified the senders of these emails as fraudsters attempting to steal personal information for identity fraud.

Driving license applications through the Government can be fully completed online and no additional fees are charged during the process. The DVLA urges motorists to apply for their driving licenses through the official gov.uk website.

Renault hopes a new version of the Renault Trafic van will help them keep their strong grip on the business van market. 1.6 million units of the outgoing van have already been sold throughout its 34-year history and this new Trafic is part of Renault’s plan to refresh its brand identity.

• New, British-built Vauxhall Vivaro van on sale this summer

The new third-generation Renault Trafic shares a platform with the forthcoming new Vauxhall Vivaro and aims to deliver business customers a practical all-round mid-sized panel van. The Vauxhall Vivaro sold 44,000 units in 2013 but its Trafic sister vehicle traditionally lags a little behind.

Updated Renault Trafic design

A bold new design and updated technology, boosted by Renault’s Formula 1 expertise, could give the Renault Trafic a needed edge in the panel van sector.

The new model hasn’t been unveiled in the metal yet, but preview sketches show that it has much more presence than the older, boxier Renault Trafic. Slimmer headlights, a bolder grille and a curved front certainly give it a sleeker shape.

• Best van to buy in 2014

Kihyun Jung, the new Renault Trafic’s designer said: “Its lines embody Renault’s new brand identity. My aim was to achieve a dynamic, assertive stance without sacrificing either the robustness or user-friendliness customers expect of their van.”

Not much else has been revealed about the new Renault Trafic. If it’s anything like the current range’s most basic model, though, it will probably have a four-cylinder two-litre diesel engine at the core of the range. In addition, the outgoing Renault Trafic comes with a six-speed manual gearbox, Bluetooth/USB connectivity, 16-inch wheels and starts from just over £15,000.

The Honda Civic Tourer is the main focus of the manufacturer’s latest advertising campaign.

Honda’s latest ‘Inner Beauty’ ad celebrates the spacious interior of the Honda Civic Tourer as several objects fly into its class-leading 624-litre boot.

• Honda news and reviews

With this latest advertising campaign, Honda has followed its blueprint of producing innovative promotions – the previous ‘Hands’ advert has reached 10 million YouTube views and has won several awards, too.

Olivia Dunn, Honda UK’s Head of Marketing, said: “This campaign takes the viewer beyond that first appearance to emphasise the balance between style and performance, and the incredible practicality that the car delivers.”

Wieden+Kennedy and Nexus Productions, the brains behind ‘Hands’, were also behind the ‘Inner Beauty’ ad, and gave the advertisement its quirky and colourful personality.

Scott Dungate, Creative Director at Wieden+Kennedy London, said: “We wanted to create a film that showed the external beauty of the car, but also celebrated the wonder and surprise of what lies on the inside of things.’’

Those feeling lucky can enter Honda’s five-day Twitter competition starting 3 February. @Honda_UK will tweet loops with concealed words from the ad and all you need to do is tweet them back with the hashtag #CivicTourer for your chance to win a camera, £743 of spending money and a holiday for two.

The Honda Civic Tourer is the lightest in its class and is available with a 1.6 i-DTEC engine. It manages 74.3mpg and it emits just 99g/km of CO2. It also has secret storage compartments, concealed door handles and Honda’s unique ‘Magic Seats,’ which vanish when folded.

The Honda Civic Tourer will reach UK showrooms this month and prices for the 1.8 i-VTEC S model start from around £20,265.

The British Touring Car Championship’s history will be told in a new three-part documentary called Touring Car Legends. ITV4 will show the first of three hour-long episodes, hosted by Tiff Needell, this Wednesday.

Touring Car Legends combines archive footage and interviews with the famous drivers, team managers and others behind the British Touring Car Championship’s huge success. Other interviewees include Alan Gow, Jason Plato and Tommy Sopwith.

• Lister Jaguar ‘Knobbly’ road-legal classic racer revealed
Alistair Weaver, Touring Car Legends’ writer and director, said: “The British Touring Car Championship has always been about the cars and the characters and, with the passage of time, we’ve been able to tell what really happened in some of the sport’s most memorable moments.” 

Touring Car Legends’ first episode focuses on Tommy Sopwith’s victory at the first ever British Touring Car race on Boxing Day 1957. ITV4 will air the show on Wednesday February 5th at 8pm.

Porsche chairman Wolfgang Porsche and board member Ferdinand Piech have been sued for allegedly misleading financial markets over a Volkswagen takeover attempt in 2008.

If the lawsuit is successful, Porsche could owe seven hedge funds 1.8bn euros (£1.5bn) in compensation.

Porsche had initially denied any takeover rumours and investors betted against existing Volkswagen shares, expecting a drop in the absence of a firm Porsche bid. 

• Latest Volkswagen news

It was soon discovered that Porsche actually had positions on 74% of Volkswagen’s shares. This caused a stock market squeeze and investors rushed to buy the Volkswagen stock.

In the end, the global financial crisis and accompanying slump in the car industry stopped Porsche from raising the money to buy the 75% stake needed to take over Volkswagen.

Porsche responded to the lawsuit by denying any wrongdoing and said: “Porsche SE and its supervisory board members will defend themselves with all available legal means.”

Following the failed takeover of VW in 2008 the tables were turned. Volkswagen agreed to take over Porsche in 2009, buying a 49.9% stake in the company, and in 2012, Volkswagen acquired the remaining 50.1% of Porsche shares for 4.46bn euros.

Renault’s latest Valentine’s Day offers bring exclusive savings across its entire range of cars as part of the ‘Renault Romance’ season, which runs until 24 March.

Customers can get up to a £1,000 discount on current models, while finance customers are eligible for a £1,000 deposit contribution (to the cost of their car) and free insurance.

These discounts stretch across the entire Renault range, including the electric Renault Fluence and performance-orientated Renaultsport models. The Renault Megane and Renault Scenic are both particularly affordable, with £1,000 off. Meanwhile, £500 can be saved on the Renault ClioRenault CapturRenault Twingo or the all-electricRenault ZOE.

All cars get Renault’s ‘4+’ care package thrown in too, which is worth an additional £1,000 and gets you a 100,000-mile/four-year warranty, as well as routine servicing and roadside assistance.

The Renault Clio is the company’s most popular car, whilst the Renault Captur combines the best of an SUV and an MPV – with a raised body and rear seats that slide back and forth for more legroom or increased boot space. The electric Renault ZOE, meanwhile, promises rock-bottom running costs thanks to cheap electricity prices and free road tax.

Darren Payne, Renault UK’s sales director, said: “We know people are still feeling the pinch, so this offer will hopefully go a long way to allowing more customers to get behind the wheel of a car they love this Valentine’s Day. Our complete range of cars and vans has something for everyone, and with all the offers on the table right now there has never been a better time to buy a new Renault.”

For road tests of the entire Renault range, visit the Carbuyer Renault reviews page.

Customers after the latest cars on a tight budget will be pleased to hear that Toyota is offering cheap monthly finance deals across their current model range.

These ‘True Value’ offers stretch from Toyota’s smallest city cars to their biggest 4x4s and SUVs, but are only available on cars with the new 14-plate registration (available from 1 March) registered before 30 June. Hurry though, as you’ll have to order your car before March 31 and numbers are limited to cars financed through Toyota Financial Services.

Some of the smaller Toyota models offer the best value and you can get them from just £159 a month with 0 per cent APR (representative). Cars in this very affordable range include the Toyota Aygo Mode, Toyota Yaris Icon Plus, Toyota Yaris Hybrid, Toyota Auris Hybrid, Toyota Auris Icon and Toyota Auris Touring Sports Hybrid estate. Vehicles across this selection emit under 100g/km of CO2 and do around 85mpg, making them suitable choices for those looking for rock-bottom running costs.

The more powerful cars in Toyota’s range also offer impressive value for money. You get generous finance deposits and just 4.9 per cent APR (representative) on the Toyota GT 86 sports car and the rugged Toyota RAV4. The Toyota Verso Icon and Toyota IQ are also included in this deal.

Topping the deals at 6.9 per cent APR (representative) are the Toyota Prius+ MPV, Toyota Prius T Spirit, Toyota Prius Plug-In, Toyota Avensis Icon, Toyota Land Cruiser and top-of-the-range Toyota Land Cruiser V8. The Toyota Prius Plug-In is the biggest steal of this lot, as it’s eligible for a plug-in grant that can knock up to £5,000 from the purchase price.

Each Toyota also comes with a 100,000-mile warranty to cover the car for the first five years of ownership.

For more information speak to your local Toyota dealer, or the full Toyota range, visit the Carbuyer Toyota reviews page.