Ford tackles fear of the dark

Ford night driving

A fear of the dark is a human phobia going back thousands of years, if experts can be believed, originating with our cave-dwelling ancestors who feared animal attacks after the sun set.

Not much has changed today – many people (of all ages) still feel that primeval fear when darkness falls, even if it usually concerns other people rather than sabre-toothed tigers. For some, that fear solidifies when they get behind the wheel, worrying about night blindness, hitting pedestrians or getting into an accident.

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Pothole alert

Potholes

Potholes are the driver’s bane – at best uncomfortable, at worst a recipe for a broken wheel or axle. In some parts of the country, roads have more potholes than smooth surface, as the local council either forgets their existence or simply flings a shovelful of gravel into the hole every couple of years.

And it’s not just a uniquely Irish problem. Bad road surfaces contribute to more than a third of all accidents every year across Europe, and in Britain local authorities receive a pothole damage-related claim every 17 minutes, with an average claim of €508.

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Return of the ST

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Good news for fans of ordinary cars with a sporty twist – Ford Ireland has launched a new ST-Line range of models. Four versions have been launched as of today, offering boosted versions of the Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo and Kuga in dealerships across the country.

Alongside sports suspensions, better styling, ambient lighting, new alloys, sports seats, steering wheel and pedals, the ST range comes with a range of more powerful and efficient engines, ranging from the zippy 125hp 1.0L EcoBoost in the Fiesta ST to the 178hp 2.0TDCi available in the Kuga ST.

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Rebuilding a V8

Rebuilding an engine is no easy task. Even for the most dedicated petrolhead with a decent collection of tools, it’s a job best left to the professionals.

The good folks at Hagerty decided to rebuild the flathead V8 from their 1946 Ford pickup, and to show us exactly how it was done.

The six-minute video, comprising over 40,000 photographs kindly taken throughout the 100-hour project, charts the captivating rebuilding process, complete with complex machinery and plenty of elbow grease.

To be honest, we’re still not exactly sure as to how it was done, but you’ll find it hard to take your eyes off this.

Back on the Horse

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It’s an instantly recognisable car, beloved by millions of people the world over since it first launched in 1965. But why does the Mustang have such a firm grip on so many car lover’s hearts? Perhaps because it’s an iconic American symbol, generating a dream of an open road, tarmac stretching in front of you. Or because it’s the car from Bullitt, Gone in Sixty Seconds and even Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift (although the latter doesn’t rank quite as high in the list of all time greats). Most of all, it represents affordable fun – fast, flash but yet still attainable for the ordinary petrolhead.

And the brand new model is nearly here. The epitome of old school American cool, the first ever right hand drive Ford Mustang is due to hit Irish shores in November. 2,000 of these Mustangs have already been sold in the UK, with the waiting list stretching until at least April 2016. Interestingly enough, most of the advance sales in the UK have been for the somewhat monstrous 415bhp 5.0L V8 engined-version (0-100km/h in a mere 4.8 seconds), its roughly 19mpg figures notwithstanding. It’s hard to see the same happening in Ireland, however; more than likely it’ll be the softer 2.3L EcoBoost version that will be purring around Irish roads.

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Return of the beast

The Focus RS is back!

In a YouTube teaser trailer, Ford Europe have informed the world that the RS Mk 3 will hit the roads on February 3 2015. It’s been a little while coming – the ordinary Mk 3 was launched in 2011, and we’ve been (somewhat) patiently waiting for the sportier version ever since.

The older RS Mk 1 was one of the truly fun hot hatches, over-engineered to such a degree that Ford lost £4,000 on sales of each mode, held its own against the rivals, was fairly cheap to buy and depreciates a lot slower. Powered by a turbocharged version of the 2.0L Zeta engine (which wasn’t too far off the WRC version), it had 212 horsepowers underneath the bright bonnet, with 70% of the original Focus parts upgraded or replaced, with production limited to 4,500. We still keep an eye out for a 2002-04 model in that fantastic shade of blue.

The Mk 2 was a step up, with the addition of an extra 88hp for even more oomph, and was described by Ford UK at the time as being “as close as you’ll come to driving a full-spec rally car.”

It’s expected the Mk 3 will be FWD, just like the other two, with another increase in power, likely around 330hp but perhaps higher. “To earn the RS badge, the vehicle has to be a no-compromise driver’s car that can deliver exceptional performance on the track when required while providing excellent every day driving,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development.

Ford hasn’t released any other details about this latest version, but as the teaser trailer hints, we can expect a car in the same spirit as its two predecessors – flash, loud, fast and required by law to travel sideways around bends.

Driven: The Game Changer? Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV

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There’s no doubt that we live in an age of motoring evolution, watching history unfold before our eyes. Hybrid and electric vehicles were once the butt of many motoring columnists’ jokes, discarded as a waste of time or, at their worst, as something which threatened the joy of true motoring. In a way it’s an ironic viewpoint, considering that electric cars have been around almost as long as their counterparts which rely on miniature explosions for propulsion. But they’re steadily gaining a foothold in the modern era, thanks in part to government schemes, the interest of early adopters and increasingly efficient technology.31

Nissan’s Leaf is an affordable electric car which has got a lot going for it in terms of comfort and ease of use, even if it isn’t the best looking vehicle on the market. Ford have an electric Focus which doesn’t look altogether different from the outside. Mitsubishi’s i-Miev might look a like a bug which has crashed into your windscreen at speed, but it’s a useful city car and isn’t all that bad to drive. Even BMW have got in on the act, with their luxury i3 and the electric sportscar, the i8. And eventually we’ll see Tesla’s beautifully crafted Model S reach European shores, looking for all the world like the offspring of a Jaguar and an Aston Martin. For the electric car enthusiast there’s quite the range of options, a list which continues to grow.

These vehicles have one thing in common – they’re all road cars, designed for smooth tarmac, urban (and rural) roads. And if you want to delve deeper, off road, via battery power? The options are limited. There’s Toyota’s RAV 4 EV, but that’s only sold in California. Porsche, meanwhile, have launched a hybrid Cayenne, although that is likely to be out of reach for the ordinary EV driver. You could always try to manoeuvre a BMW i3 around a muddy track, but you’re not likely to get very far. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (plug in hybrid electric vehicle) is another story, however.

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