In this week’s round-up of automotive adventures, Steve relishes an EV mega test at Millbrook, recalls a salivating array of cars on show at the London Concours of Elegance and explains why the next time he’s in trouble, he’ll look to Claire Williams for inspiration.
Fantastic feeling being back at the Millbrook Proving Ground near Bedford, scene of many road test exploits and location this time of the SMMT’s long-postponed Drive Zero event, a hacks’ mega-test of electric cars and plug-in hybrids. Sales of such models remain small, but they’re rising faster than other classes and must keep doing so for years to come.
This was a perfect opportunity for impromptu comparisons and, after driving a dozen cars, I reached plenty of conclusions. The Jaguar I-Pace is still the fi nest electric car on sale. The Peugeot e-208 rides far better than its close relative the Vauxhall Corsa-e (why would the Brits allow that?). The well-proven Renault Zoe is still just about the best electric proposition going, but its cousin the Nissan Leaf strikes me as a bit humdrum. Hyundai’s Ioniq Electric looks the ideal battery car for space. But the revelation was the BMW i3s. I’ve been disappointed with other i3 models, but this one had brilliant handling and acceleration and stormed Millbrook’s Hill Route as if made for it. Even the ride I had dismissed as choppy was decent. A welcome surprise.
Did you ever work at Rover in the 1960s on the promising but stillborn P8 saloon or BS (P9) sports car programmes? Do you have a venerable relative who might have done? A friend, Douglas Cooke, who for many years ran the Farnham-based Overfinch business dedicated to building better Range Rovers, is diligently researching the history of these lost treasures and wants to hear from engineers, test drivers, managers or anyone involved in the supply industry with a story to tell. Cooke and James Taylor, the prolific author, want to produce a book for posterity on these fascinating, Spen King-led projects. If you do know something or someone, drop Douglas a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will be delighted.