Hit the road Jack

First time drivers

Learning how to drive can be a daunting task, particularly if you live in an urban or busy area. A lot of drivers seem to immediately lose their patience when they see an L plate,

Still, that hasn’t stopped Ireland’s youths from taking the first steps towards freedom. Carzone has released its motoring report for 2016, which shows that 20 per cent of Irish motorists first sat behind the wheel at the age of 17, with 41 per cent learning how to drive between the ages of 17 and 20. Practice meant perfect for more than half of those who took part in the research, who passed their test the first time round.

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From Tokyo to Turin: Meet the Fiat Fullback


If you think that Fiat’s new Fullback is familiar, you’re not wrong. Essentially speaking, it’s an Mitsubishi L200 with a bit of a nose job, a case of what’s known as badge engineering. It’s the first entry from Fiat in the mid-size pickup segment, going head to head with the likes of the Toyota Hilux or the Nissan Navara, as well as the aforementioned L200. I test drove the L200 last year and was really impressed with it, from its handling on the road to its comfort, so I expected great things from the hulking black Fiat that served as my test model for the week. It didn’t disappoint.

Two things in particular impressed me about the Fullback, not counting its muscular and flowing physique, which I found a little more appealing than the L200. Firstly the acres of space, both inside and out. It’s a big machine, with a wheelbase of 3 metres and an overall length of 5.3m. Inside there’s comfortable seating for four adults and a skinny teenager, though it could do with a few more cubbyholes for storage, while the glovebox is a little cramped. Headroom is in abundance – you’d need to be pushing 7 feet to feel claustrophobic. Secondly, the fuel economy. Combined driving (with a less than light foot) resulted in an impressive 41mpg (6.9L/100km), which is by no means terrible for a beast with a kerb weight of 1,860kg and propelled along by a 2.4L diesel engine producing 180hp. If you tend to drive fast and without regard to your fuel spend, expect somewhere in the region of 34.7mpg (9.1L/100km).

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April Fool’s, auto style

April 1st is the day when many companies around the world completely misunderstand the concept of creating something fake yet believable, and instead come out with something a little ‘wacky’ and offbeat. And the auto industry is no different. Here’s a round-up of the best (or worst, depending on your view) efforts from car makers in 2015.

Audi A8 JapanThe tasty Audi A8

There’s no doubt that Audi Japan knows their market. Although April Fools’ Day gags aren’t generally a part of Japanese culture, they are slowly but surely creeping into life in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Audi enthusiasts in the east were teased with the announcement of a special edition A8 luxury saloon known as the 5.5, which would feature a rice cooker. Audi Japan said that the new device, which honoured the rice-eating culture in Japan, could be controlled via a special touchscreen with multiple cooking options. Customers who bought the new model on April 1st would also be greeted by a special gift in the form of an Audi-branded rice paddle.

Top notch stuff from Audi. Though we imagine there may be a few confused and disappointed customers out there.

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Fiesta Road Rage

Considering the amount of people out there who appear to have learned to drive on a bicycle, it’s no wonder that even the best of us succumb to road rage every now and then. Some people reach the tipping point and just lose their cool completely. Like this guy, who cuts in front of a lorry, screeches to a halt and blocks up a dual carriageway.  The sole YouTube comment sums it up: ‘what a bellend’.

Wiping out the wiper

Though this may be more of an issue for those unfortunates with OCD, the fact is that windscreen wipers can often be as much of a nightmare as a lifesaver.

Pictured: Not fun
Pictured: Not fun

Most of us will have been there at one stage of another; watching the wipers drag themselves across your windscreen with an unmerciful screech, dragging dirt, dust and flies backwards and forwards across the glass, leaving those horrid streaks in their wake. While this complaint may sound a little pedantic, I assure you, it certainly isn’t.

Thankfully, there may be a solution, courtesy of Science, and super car maker, McLaren. The auto company are currently working on top secret plans to make the windscreen wiper a thing of the past. Believed to be an adaptation of technology currently used on fighter jets (is there any other way of making something seem awesome?), the design will apparently involve the creation of what could and will henceforth be described as a force field of sorts (it gets better and better) across your windscreen using high frequency sound waves, meaning things like water and insects won’t be able to rest on the glass.

McLaren have said that the new system could make cars more fuel efficient with weight savings, though any savings could probably be doubled if you drove in shorts rather than trousers, or left your bag at home. The new ‘force field’ system could be in place on McLaren vehicles by 2015, and it’s thought that if it’s successful, mainstream adoption will quickly follow, as if any car design updates involving the mere mention of force fields could be anything other than hugely successful.

Now, onto the final frontier of automotive design perfection – covering that blasted gap between the visor and the rear view mirror.