What’s in store for motorists, and how can we make the most of it? Our writers rack their brains for the answers…
It’s never easy to predict what will happen in the automotive industry, but when you also have to factor in the effects of an ongoing global pandemic and worldwide semiconductor shortage, and it’s really anyone’s guess as to how the next twelve months will unfold.
That hasn’t stopped our writers from taking a stab at it, though. Here are their predictions, plus a list of things you should try and do yourself in 2022.
Our predictions for 2022
The last few car firms yet to do so will set all-electrified deadlines
Just eight years until you can no longer go out and buy a new car that does the whole ‘suck, squeeze, bang, blow’ thing – and many car firms have already pledged to stop building them. But we’re still waiting to hear when some industry giants, including BMW, Toyota, Nissan and Land Rover, will make the switch to all-electric line-ups, so 2022 could bring a flurry of announcements.
The Emira will kick-start a resurgence for Lotus
How many times have we heard that before? Just how many false dawns have there been for Lotus? On how many occasions have we predicted that this time it will be different? For decades the future of Hethel’s answer to Maranello has hung in the balance, each new model launched, or each fresh boss installed at the helm being the one that will steer the brand away from the last-chance saloon. And yet this time the shoots of recovery really do look permanent – and for proof you need only look to the new Emira.
Yes, the all-electric, 2000bhp Evija has been stealing the headlines, but that’s a £2 million plaything that’ll be built in button numbers. The Emira, on the other hand, is the real deal.
It looks the part for a start, while the mechanical specification – aluminium construction, double-wishbone suspension all-round and the option of a howling V6 engine – and the price (slated to start at a Porsche Cayman-baiting £59,995) all point to it being the finest Norfolk newbie since the Elise stole our hearts in 1996.
Yes, at 1405kg it weighs more than you’d expect from a Lotus, but it should be light enough to deliver the delicately honed dynamics we demand, yet with enough heft to tempt buyers more used to hewn- from-solid Porsches. Plus it’s packed with the user-friendly features and tech that will make for a machine you will drive every day, not just high days and holidays. Coupled with cash from parent firm Geely, the future is looking bright.
How bright? Well, for years we’ve all uttered that time-honoured Lotus acronym: Lots of Trouble, Usually Serious. But now, thanks to the Emira and Geely, let’s hope it can be changed to Lots of Thrills, Usually Sensational.
Electric car sales will grow another 50%
The calculators are still being hammered, but it looks like electric cars will account for just over 10% of all new car registrations in 2021, representing a rise of nearly 60% year on year.
That’s both impressive and ahead of expectations, driven by a greater choice of vehicles and a greater focus on switching to EVs since the 2030 ban on new combustion- engined car sales sharpened minds.
Analysts predict similar growth next year, crucially taking EVs to around 14% of the market as diesel shrinks to 12%. That will be a hugely symbolic moment, and all the more remarkable for the fact that supply constraints are throttling the electric car market. Add in plug-in hybrids – this year about 7% of the market, next year around 8% – and you swiftly reach a point where more than one in five registrations will be electrified. If this growth is maintained, the 2030 cut-off could be a non-event.
Battery prices will stop dropping and start rising
At the end of 2021, if car makers hadn’t seen enough trouble, the price of lithium rocketed. According to Bench Mark Mineral Intelligence, the price of ‘battery-grade lithium carbonate’ shot up by 300% to nearly $29,000 per tonne. Prices are expected to continue rising.
Those increases will be passed onto car makers and then customers between 2022 and 2024 as the supply of suitable lithium remains ‘tight’. To make matters worse, Japanese business newspaper Nikkei said the price of cobalt jumped 60% in 2021 over 2020. However, Congo, one of the main suppliers, is politically unstable and suffers from accusations of child labour. As a result, a number of companies are seeking to eliminate cobalt from the construction of batteries. Nissan says it will reduce the cobalt mix to 10% of the electrode’s make-up in the new Ariya batteries, and Panasonic is working to build a 5% cobalt-positive electrode.
Intensive development of cobalt-free lithium iron phosphate batteries is also under way, possibly with the addition of future solid-state electrodes.
With luck, this new and potentially cheaper battery chemistry will arrive in time for 2025, when the EU’s fleet CO2 laws demand an even greater share of new-car EV sales.
Chinese car firms will make major ground in Europe
Geneva 2019 was full of Chinese brands with eyes on Europe, yet in 2021 only Lynk&Co’s 01 is available (but not in the UK) while Nio and BYD are selling in Norway.
But things are set to change, with Great Wall’s Wey Coffee 01 SUV going on European sale in 2022.
Global car firms will break up to attract investors
It has been the year of the great merger, as PSA took over Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to form the 14-brand behemoth Stellantis. The rationale was synergies from drivetrain and platform sharing, but 2022 could be the year of the big break-up.
Big car groups tend to be unloved by investors, so why not spin off and list brands that are the most profitable or which promise EV disruption, and profit from some of that eco gloss?
What Daimler has done with trucks, might the Volkswagen Group do with Porsche? Will JLR spin off Jaguar pegged around an electric future? There could be another reason for spin- offs: Volkswagen wouldn’t sign the COP26 pledge to stop selling ICE cars by 2040, but Ford and GM did. A bit embarrassing for a firm seen at the vanguard of EVs, but VW is still heavily invested in markets that will shift to electric a lot later. With Skoda in charge of platforms for emerging markets, however, why not spin off the Czech firm, sign the pledge and burnish your eco credentials? Expect a lot more brand repositioning of the ESG – environmental, social and governance – variety.
Snythetic fuels will become a ‘thing’
You don’t need a crystal ball to know that 2022 will be a big year for synthetic fuels. Porsche and its technical partner Siemens have already revealed that their facility in Chile will start producing its fossil-fuel substitute.
The case for e-fuels has been made before, but it’s hard not to see the appeal. They offer an 85% reduction in CO2 over petrol and diesel and are a plug-and-play solution for the existing infrastructure. Does this mean the end of the EV revolution, though? Not quite. Even synthetic fuel cheerleaders reckon we’re 20 years away from widespread adoption, but it does mean the internal combustion engine is likely to be around for quite a while yet.
More manufacturers will drop diesels as demand declines
Diesel car sales are in a tailspin and they are not going to recover. A shift in demand means many cars for which a diesel engine was the predominant choice will soon be offered without the option. The ‘dirty diesel’ mantra is driving the change, and the mainstream slide is the most striking.
In October, SMMT figures show diesel demand crashed by two-thirds to just 15% of cars sold, while sales of EVs and hybrids accounted for a burgeoning 20% of UK sales. In particular, private buyers are shunning diesels, although some fleets still see advantages. But the disappearance of diesel cars can only be a matter of time.
The EV maker share price bubble will burst
At the time of writing, Tesla was valued at around $1.2 trillion. That is, you don’t need to be told, quite a lot. In fact, Tesla is worth as much as the next nine biggest car manufacturers in the world combined. Which is quite something, given that Tesla’s sales are still dwarfed by the likes of Toyota, Ford and Volkswagen.
And it’s not just Tesla: EV start-ups Rivian and Lucid were each valued at more than $80 billion after floating on the stock market, making them worth more than the VW Group. While shares are only ever worth as much as people are willing to pay for them, such values seem unsustainable. Those who recall the early 2000s dot-com bubble bursting are predicting something similar for EVs. At some point investors must value a car’s production output, rather than its potential.
Jaguar will reveal plans for its EV reinventions
It’s inconceivable that Jaguar can go on much longer without giving a clearer idea of its change-everything product intentions and design style for 2025 and beyond. All we know is that the British marque aims to prosper on a much-reduced range, all EVs and with no SUVs or existing saloons. But no company in recent history has prospered from such a total removal of its sense of continuity.
It needs to be replaced by something, though, and as a matter of urgency. The time-honoured way of providing a vision of the future – and of inspiring potential owners – has been by the creation of a highly relevant concept, or even a series. Jaguar’s previous new brooms, design bosses Ian Callum and Julian Thomson, who arrived at the end of the 1990s, were heralded by the unveiling of the graceful R-Coupé (2001) and compact RD6 (2003). But both men and some of their key acolytes have now left and Jaguar’s current management has dismantled their plans.
Nine months have elapsed since CEO Thierry Bolloré announced he was ditching the XJ saloon (and, without ever officially saying as such, the premium-priced J-Pace SUV that shared the platform) at a cost of £1 billion. That car had been earmarked as the marque’s future flagship, but Bolloré’s team decided it would not achieve their aim of leading on technology and design.
Jaguar’s own past timetable suggests that they show a concept like the C-XF (precursor of the seminal XF) broadly a year before the production launch. But in this case, with three years to run, there’s a bigger, broader job to be done. We predict actions in 2022.
Beige, khaki grey-green and dark grey will be the on-trend colours in 2022
In recent years, grey followed by black and then white have been car buyers’ favourite colours. However, while grey has been soaring away, black and white have been losing ground. Could khaki grey-green, dark grey and even beige (don’t take the name too literally) be about to replace them in buyers’ affections? Paint maker BASF certainly thinks so.
Softer, more natural and less assertive, the three colours are more in tune with the shift to electric cars and buyers’ environmental awareness, it reckons. Volvo and Polestar’s colour palette includes hints of them and ‘greener’ shades in general, as does emerging trend-setter Hyundai’s.
The ‘agency model’ will become a buzz phrase among retailers
In distilled form, the ‘agency model’ signals car manufacturers rather than car dealers managing the purchase of a new car – most likely at a fixed price – and the dealer will then facilitate the handover. Mercedes-Benz, DS and Jeep look set to lead the way with this Tesla-like shift aimed at boosting both profit margins and customer satisfaction, but it remains to be seen if car makers really can hit volume targets without price cutting.
More people than ever will take their driving test in an automatic
The tide is turning against the manual gearbox. Sales of automatics have been rising for years, but the surge in EV sales is encouraging learners to give their left leg a rest. In 2015, around 45,000 of 700,000 test passes were in a self-shifter; in 2020, that rose to80,000.Testbacklogsmake2021hardto judge, but 2022 should see auto test passes hit 100,000. The writing is on the wall for the manual ’box.
It will be uncool to drive a diesel
While it’s not the demon fuel many have made it out to be, diesel has become a target for campaigners hoping to reduce the environmental impact of personal transport – or, at the very least, to get us to trade in emissions-belching models for cleaner EVs. Will having a TDI, CDI or EcoBlue badge on the back of your car become the motoring equivalent of wearing a real fur coat? Protesters probably won’t be hurling buckets of red paint your way just yet, but their voices are going to get louder.
Haggling will gradually disappear from showrooms
Haggling won’t die out altogether in 2022, but it’s definitely on its way out. Of course, the opportunity to flex your bargaining skills with dealers was severely limited in 2021 as the chip shortage killed much of the discounts for those cars that were available, but the move by car makers to sell directly to customers in themanner of Tesla will end the practice forever. The switch to the so-called ‘agency model’ (see above) sets a price online and at the dealer, who won’t now get to set the final transaction price. A number of car makers are keen. Expect others to follow.
The tide is set to turn against SUVs
Okay, this is a bit of a punt given the velocity of the marketplace, but surely the moment is coming when the contradiction between everyone rushing to buy bigger, heavier, less aerodynamic cars and the need to cut emissions for the health of both humans and the planet crystallises?
The statistics now are nuts: reports by environmental groups suggest that 75% of SUVs are bought by people living exclusively in towns and cities, the very areas where the problems of pollution are most acute. From the driver’s seat it may all make perfect sense (although even that is debatable given that their prevalence means they now bestow no real visibility benefits), but even hypocrites have to look in the mirror eventually.
Mitigations? Frankly, there are very few, although the argument that electric cars are inherently better packaged as high-riders holds some sway, given the designers’ need to factor in a chunky battery pack, and the environment will be better protected by car makers replacing must-have combustion cars with must-have electric designs. Even then it’s hard not to conclude that a once-in-a-generation shift warrants some freshness of thought rather than rehashing a well-worn groove to play to the crowd. The glaring if uncomfortable truth here is that customers need to think harder and car designers need to try harder – and both sides need to stop blaming each other for leading them on. For most, although far from all, applications, the SUV is a farce. And the joke is on us all.
More car makers will offer de-specced models in a bid to avoid the supply crisis
In August, Ford launched a couple of short-lived, de-specced cars in response to the semiconductor crisis. It no longer offers any temporarily spec-lite cars, but Volvo does. On certain models, some multi-sensor features that were standard are now options. They include the XC60’s 360deg surround-view camera – now £525. Elsewhere, Suzuki is importing 4000 cars without infotainment and sourcing and fitting it in the UK instead. We expect more such workarounds, so to avoid any nasty surprises when you sell, be sure you know what kit your new car lacks or how it differs from standard.
The semiconductor crisis will eventually ease…
It has to, doesn’t it? I mean, with order books for some models reportedly closing in on two years, the car industry is going to have to find a way to deal with the shortage of all-important chips to put in its cars. And there are signs it has: some firms have been able to source more supplies, while others are producing simpler versions of some models with fewer chips so they can actually get cars to buyers quickly. The truth is that there are no easy solutions: it isn’t feasible to dramatically ramp up semiconductor production or build cars devoid of them, but both chip producers and car firms are finding ways to increase output. It could be years until the shortage ends, but expect the impact to ease gradually in 2022.
…But the magnesium shortage will replace the chip crisis
The semiconductor crisis easing may be a ray of sunshine, but that bubble of optimism could be about to burst. Magnesium isn’t the first metal you think of when it comes to cars, but it’s a crucial raw material in the production of aluminium, which in turn is used in everything from chassis structures to seat frames. Most of the world’s magnesium comes from China, which ordered 35 of its 50 aluminium smelters to close in October due to an energy crisis. That lack of magnesium coming down the supply chain will have a huge impact on 2022’s aluminium production capacity, so don’t hold your breath if you’re hoping 2022 will be better than 2021.
Car buyers will receive cars within three months of ordering
Remember when you could order a car and receive it in less than 12 weeks? Thanks to the chip crisis, such delivery times are a pipe dream. It’s expected to continue into next year, but maybe, as 2023 heaves into view, those lead times will once again become the norm. Here’s hoping…
We’ll know if Mercedes-AMG’s One matches the hype
Sir Lewis Hamilton has raved about it, Mercedes-AMG has been publicising it since it emerged at the 2017 Frankfurt show (yes, four years ago) and in 2022, with a bit of luck, we might – fingers crossed, touch wood etc – get to experience the Mercedes-AMG One in full flight, because it is scheduled to begin production mid-year.
We know the car, limited to a run of just 275, has been a phenomenally tough thing to develop. Using F1 tech on the road is never an easy task – just ask Red Bull and Aston Martin – and Mercedes-AMG has struggled to adapt the complexities of the F1-derived hybrid powertrain for the vagaries of what normal traffic might throw at it. Hamilton’s F1 car has engineers poring all over it and still needs mid-season engine changes; the One will to have to cope with normal people.
For instance, the F1-based engine’s natural idle speed is 5000rpm, and engineers who were tasked with making the unit tick over properly at 1200rpm described it as a “tremendous challenge”.
Legislation has thrown a few curveballs, especially given the car’s long gestation period. WLTP only became mandatory in 2018 and the engineers have apparently struggled to meet emissions targets using a petrol particulate filter without compromising performance. When that performance includes targets such as 0-124mph in six seconds, every little help or hindrance has enormous consequences.
Does any of this matter? With 1000bhp-plus, four-wheel drive, a 1.6-litre V6 taken from Hamilton’s 2017 title-winning car and the man himself helping with development, we’ve no doubt the delays will melt away as soon as anyone sits in it. Let’s just hope that happens in 2022.
Solid-state batteries will make some progress
The hype surrounding solid-state batteries for automotive use is long-standing, but thus far there is little to see for it. The pace of development, however, is accelerating: Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis recently announced partnerships with solid-state battery specialist Factorial Energy, and more car makers are expected to follow. Mercedes is aiming to test prototype cells within the next 12 months.
Subscription-based motoring will boom
It’s unavoidable: as EV adoption grows, the average cost of a new car is getting higher and higher. Many car owners have also realised they are driving less now that working from home is more widely accepted. As our habits change and prices creep up, there’s sure to be a greater demand for alternative ways to buy and run one.
Subscriptions and ride-sharing haven’t gone down well with Brits so far, but it has been warmly embraced on the Continent, and for many it might become the only affordable way to drive a premium model. Marques such as Volvo have got involved in a big way, and third- party brands that specialise in EV-only fleets are gaining in popularity. It seems inevitable that we’ll be renting more.
The shortage of EV charging points will get worse
You can see it with your own eyes, as you escape from London, heading for the M4 motorway.
A bank of charging points at the bottom of the Hammersmith flyover used to be deserted but is now permanently full, not least because a fast-growing fleet of LEVC range-extender black cabs calls in there at all hours of the day and night. It’s now routine to wait for charging points in the busier parts of the country, and probably to have to negotiate (hopefully politely) with other users to get plugged in.
The SMMT has measured the change, noting that the number of battery-electric and PHEV cars potentially sharing every charging point grew from 11 to 16 vehicles between 2019 and 2020. Only one new charger is being installed for every 52 cars sold, a dire situation given that one in six of every new cars registered is an EVor PHEV. Britain’s ratio of plug-in vehicles now places the country among the worst of the top 10 EV markets. At 16:1 we’re well behind the likes of the Netherlands (5:1) and France (10:1) but marginally ahead of Germany (17:1). South Korea (3:1) is best.
Tesla loses its supercharger edge…
Tesla’s cars have traditionally been easier to charge than their rivals, courtesy of Tesla’s extensive charging network and the speed of its devices, all of which has been a big draw for buyers of Models S, X and 3. But in Norway, Tesla recently opened up its chargers to cars from other brands for a monthly fee, which if rolled out to other markets could bring in a significant new stream of revenue and turn Supercharger into a stand-alone network operator while losing its Tesla exclusivity.
The roll-out of 800V charging to mainstream cars (the Porsche Taycan was first; Hyundai and Kia’s bespoke EVs will offer it) means rapid charging is no longer the preserve of Tesla, and plans for an expansion of the UK’s network means other operators could soon be just as prevalent. For now, Tesla’s fastest chargers remain 66% quicker than the next most powerful devices in the UK.
…While Tesla’s rise will begin to be undermined by the actions of Elon Musk and competition from legacy brands
What other challenges does Tesla face? The competition is crowding in, and as more traditional buyers overtake the early adopters as the most prolific EV customers, it’s clear that established car brands are going to be making hay, especially at the more affordable end of the market. Then there’s the man at the top of Tesla: Elon Musk. The entrepreneur clearly has a knack for success, yet there are signs in his recent erratic and eccentric tweets that he’s only ever 140 characters away from creating chaos in his own ranks.
Hybrids will prove a hit in the WRC and BTCC
Both series adopt hybrid tech in 2022, and for the WRC it’s about time as the simplified, less expensive Rally1 era kicks in and management of the hybrid boost will create a new dimension. The same goes for the BTCC, in which the use of power boost calls time on the successful weight ballast system. It’ll be different but not worse – and no less tightly fought across the 32-car field.
George Russell won’t beat Lewis Hamilton over a season
Mercedes-AMG’s young signing will win a hatful of GPs and match and maybe even beat Hamilton on one-lap pace. Russell now has the chance to capitalise on what we saw at the end of 2020 when he subbed for a Covid- positive Hamilton. Only bad luck robbed him of a sensational win, and now he gets the car he deserves. This is it, George. What have you got?
Elfyn Evans will win the world rally championship
The Welshman is the real deal in the WRC, as his stunning performances have proved. He left himself with too much to do to stop Toyota team- mate Sébastien Ogier from taking his eighth WRC title in 2021, but Ogier looks unlikely to commit to a full campaign as he eyes a future in endurance racing. The WRC door is open and Evans is placed to steam right through it.
Ferrari will start winning again in Formula 1
All-new regulations for 2022 offer a significant reset for every Formula 1 team. This past season has been something of an interim as the fresh rules were delayed for 12 months because of the pandemic, and it has allowed teams extra time to develop their new cars. Ferrari in particular should gain. It froze work on its 2021 challenger to put everything into the new contender, which has been built to rules designed to make the racing better. The team hasn’t won a grand prix since 2019, when Ferrari had a power edge that may not have been entirely legal… It’s time now to stop wasting the significant talent of Charles Leclerc.
What should happen… but won’t
Someone will make a manual gearbox work with an EV
Please let it be: a manual gearbox with an electric car, a guilt-free way of indulging in some driving interactivity. The Opel Manta concept we drove in November had one, but it wasn’t quite the slick- shifter we hoped for. Hopefully some engineering genius is beavering away on a better solution.
Manufacturers will be obliged to show buyers lifetime CO2 analysis of each new car
Polestar won acclaim in 2020 when it revealed the total climate impact of its 2 EV. Transparency like that is more informative to an increasingly eco-savvy market than unachievable WLTP figures, so let’s have more of this sort of thing. Your car doesn’t stop harming the environment after you buy it, or even after you stop driving it.
EV chargers will get even faster
Forget adding more electric charging points – just make the ones we have a lot faster. We already have 350W rapid EV charging, but few cars support it even though it cuts the average 20- 80% recharge down from 40 minutes to around 10. It puts EVs on par with petrol for ease of use, but while adding the infrastructure remains expensive, don’t expect it to become the norm for anything other than premium electric cars.
National highways will end its experiment of removing hard shoulders from motorways
Our poll, admittedly unofficial, has failed so far to identify any drivers who feel safe if their car conks out unexpectedly on a ‘smart’ motorway. We would love to think this message would reach even our mulish road authorities but fear too much money has already been spent.
Things to do in 2022
Try the EV equivalent of your own car
The diversity of the EV pool is now such that you can probably buy near enough a like-for-like replacement for your current ICE car. Got a Golf? Try an ID 3. Audi Q5? That’ll be an E-tron. Mini Cooper? You’re in luck…
There are exceptions, of course, and you’ll still pay a chunky premium for the privilege of a plug. But transitioning into a car with the same load capacity, infotainment and general characteristics as your current fuel-burner will make the switch a lot more palatable. We’re not yet at the point where you can feasibly compare a petrol stop with charging an EV, but there’s more obvious parity between fuel tank and battery capacities these days, so you’ll probably not notice a huge drop in usability.
Find the time to enjoy driving more
The roads are packed, there are roadworks everywhere, smart motorways are dangerous and petrol – and even electricity – prices are ever-rising. Where did the joy of the open road go? Nowhere, actually. In the right circumstances, on the right road at the right time, driving is a relaxing, brilliant experience. So go on an enjoyable drive. It will help the next time you’re stuck in traffic.
Learn how you really use your car day to day
Many studies and surveys suggest most people could easily switch to an EV. In 2020, Department for Transport data showed the average car journey was just 8.4 miles. But range anxiety is still a thing, perhaps because people tend to think they drive more miles than they really do. So as the EV transition accelerates, be honest with yourself. Note how you use your car, how many miles a day, how long you’re parked for, how often you go on long trips. You might know much of this, but if nothing else, plotting it out will give you the information to know if a PHEV or EV really is right for you.
Visit a hillclimb
Picturesque Shelsley Walsh in Worcestershire and Prescott in Gloucestershire are the obvious choices, but there is a clutch of lovely venues to visit around the country – and in the British Hillclimb Championship, British motorsport has its most unsung and spectacular code of racing. F1-type performance from lightweight single-seaters up a narrow country lane? Go and discover for yourself– you’ll love it.
Hunt through your car for easter eggs
You might expect car manufacturers to be a po-faced bunch, but they can have a sense of humour too – and a hunt through your car’s interior should prove it. Brands have been sneaking Easter eggs inside their models for years, often hiding in plain sight for their more attentive customers to find. One of the better known is Vauxhall, which has hidden a shark graphic in virtually every model since 2004, but there are plenty of others to uncover. Fiat has stealthily hidden tiny ‘made in Torino’ logos in the door pockets of the new electric 500, and Jaguar’s E-Pace ‘baby SUV’ has a mother and cub etchedinto the windscreen of every car, to name just a few. Have a hunt and see what your car is hiding.
Finally plan a foreign road trip with your best buddies
Recollections of a US Deep South road trip with a best mate are held dear (and have been written of on these pages), but there’s nothing like being confined – mostly – to one country to get the driving wanderlust juices flowing.
There are plenty of UK road trips to enjoy – you only need to look at our snappers’ photos to see that – but abroad, there’s next-level excitement: the unknown, the other side of the road (probably), the trepidation of what to eat, where to stay and what the rental lottery might throw up for you. The greats include Route 66 in the US, the Great Ocean Road in Australia and the Ring Road in Iceland. Closer to home, head towards the alpine passes of Europe to be sure of a drive you’ll never forget.
Start cleaning the inside of your engine, not just the outside of your car
Please do. The results are amazing. We have paid for cleaning on two different engines using two different techniques. A hydrogen clean for a Lexus V6 petrol hybrid and a chemical clean for a 2.0 petrol turbo in an Insignia. The former had a life of shorter journeys and countless stop-start cycles; the latter, a life of short journeys and cheap supermarket fuel. In both cases the motors came alive: smoother, quicker, more alert. It’s a no-brainer.
Going fast is rather frowned upon these days, so why not try going as slowly as possible instead and having a crack at off-roading? Most of the time you’ll barely get above walking pace, but the skill and concentration you’ll need to climb every mountain and ford every stream will make a fast lap of the Nürburgring seem like a doddle. Better still, you don’t need your own 4×4 because there are companies all over the UK offering easy-to-access off-road experiences.
Ease the commuter crawl by investing in a car with the best autonomous function: traffic jam assist
As UK PLC gets into its stride and ‘wfh’ alternates with ‘wfo’, we can look forward to busier roads in 2022. Indeed, they already seem to be busier even than before the pandemic owing, in part, to an epidemic of house building that is responsible first for roadworks during construction and then, on completion, an increase in local commuter traffic without any improvement to the existing local road network. What to do? Invest in an automatic car with traffic jam assist. It’ll look after the tedious business of following the car in front whileyou mentally draft that ‘outraged of Tunbridge Wells’ missive to your local councillor.
There will be a rush for the best part-exes in March, so bag a three-year-old Golf GTI
As many of 2021’s new cars finally arrive in showrooms, March should be a bumper month for those seeking to buy a part-exchange. There are unlikely to be many bargains among them, however: with new car deliveries still held up by the semiconductor shortage, demand for the best swappers will be strong. So concentrate instead on bagging the choicest part-ex you can, and recce the field by registering your interest with dealers. They know what swappers they’re expecting, so if you sound determined, they may put your name against the car of your choice.
We tried the theory out on some Volkswagen dealers: would they set aside their choicest Golf GTI from the many arriving as part-exchanges in March? They would certainly take our name and be in touch, they replied. All good so far, but then they rocked us by saying first that new car deliveries are still so uncertain thatwe shouldn’t rely on specific part-exchanges actually materialising, and second, those that do are likely to be much more expensive than the 2020-reg Golf GTIs they have in stock now, for immediate delivery. Still, it has to be worth trying if you want a more exclusive motor than a Golf.
Get involved with a local motor racing club and try marshalling
It’s been great watching Lewis and Max go wheel to wheel every other Sunday this year, but it’s hard not to feel detached from the action from your armchair watching the box. That’s why in 2022 you need to get among it by seeking out your local motor racing club and joining up. Not only will you meet a great bunch of like-minded enthusiasts, but you’ll also be helping grassroots motorsport to thrive and be safe, especially if you sign up for some marshalling. Your lounge would be cosier, but by standing trackside or out in the forests, you’ll be treated to a widescreen, surround-sound experience no TV can match.
Go and watch a motorsport discipline you’ve never seen before
When it comes to motorsport, people tend to know what they like. There are Formula 1 fans who insist it’s the only category worth watching, British Touring Car Championship supporters who say full-contact racing offers the ultimate entertainment and rally fanatics who claim it isn’t proper motorsport if you don’t have to trek five miles into a cold, dark forest to watch it. But they’re all right: what makes motorsport so brilliant is the variety it offers.
So here’s our plea: try something new. Go and watch an amateur auto test in a nearby car park, or visit your nearest hillclimb. How about some drag or truck racing? Or even tractor pulling? Go and seek out a whole new experience – and you’ll find a new way to enjoy motoring.
Sign up to the Autocar archive
Netflix, eh? Sure, the streaming service is great and there’s plenty to watch, but there’s only so many times you can watch Squid Game or The Crown. But what if you could spend a similar amount of money each month in return for access to the whole of motoring history?
Well – and yes, a cheap plug is coming – thanks to The Motoring Archive, you can. We’ve digitised 125 years of Autocar history, and it’s all available for a small monthly fee. You can read about basically every key event in the entire history of the automobile, and an awful lot more besides. Warning: you could spend your entire year reading this and still not get bored. Find out more at themotoringarchive.com
Take an advanced driver course
The past couple of years have seen us more cooped-up than ever, with lockdowns and homeworking leaving us largely housebound. It’s no surprise, therefore, that most of us no doubt feel a bit rusty behind the wheel. So what better way to sharpen our skills than to take an advanced driving course? No matter what your experience, there’s always something new to learn, plus you’re pretty much guaranteed to emerge as a swifter and safer pair of hands.
Start to take alternative forms of mobility seriously
It’s hard not to feel put upon if you have had to drive in big cities recently. From roads being turned into cycle lanes or parking spaces being given over to e-scooters, there is a distinct impression that cars aren’t welcome. Clearly, we believe private cars can be part of the solution, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore or oppose other forms of transport. Are e-scooters really safe? We don’t know, but they’re here and it seems they’re not going away. Nor are bikes. Both have their place alongside cars, and they have benefits to complement cars. You might not agree with the regulators, but it’s at least time to change our approach.