Wheels and deals

2016 Smart ForTwo Cabrio. See PA Feature MOTORING News. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Handout. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature MOTORING News.
2016 Smart ForTwo Cabrio. See PA Feature MOTORING News. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Handout. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature MOTORING News.

There’s good news for anyone who likes their convertible cars with an added helping of tiny, because Smart has confirmed an open-top ForTwo.

The minuscule 2.69-metre ForTwo Cabrio is destined for showrooms in early 2016, complete with a triple-layer fabric roof that can be electrically lowered or raised in 12 seconds, at any vehicle speed.

It has a glass rear screen for convenience, while the roof side bars detach and slot into the tailgate itself, meaning they take up zero boot space.

Black is the standard colour for the soft-top, but a red one can replace it for £115, and a ‘compact’ wind deflector can be added for £59.

Otherwise, the £13,265 car will share the same specifications and equipment as the hard-top ForTwo.

Engine options include a 70bhp starter and a turbocharged upgrade with 89bhp, the latter of which adds £595. There are two gearboxes covering manual and twin-clutch automatic (£995).

It keeps the same amazing 6.95-metre turning circle thanks to thin tyres and a rear-mounted engine, making it more manoeuvrable in town than a London Black Cab.

Passion, Prime and Proxy have been confirmed as the trim level choices, mirroring the hard-top ForTwo range. Luxurious Prime and sporty Proxy add £695 to the base price, moving the design and technology off in slightly different directions.

Premium and Premium Plus packages are also available, for £795 and £1,295 respectively, taking the car’s maximum theoretical price to more than £17,500 after options added for paint and safety cell colours.

Four legendary F1 drivers, Chris Moyles and Johnnie Walker whiskey teamed up in a drizzly carpark in Brent on Friday to deliver an important Christmas message - don’t drink and drive.

As part of the #JoinThePact initiative, which encourages motorists to sign a pledge to never drive a car while drunk, Fernando Alonso, Mika Hakkinen, Jenson Button and ‘the unStoffable’ young McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne tore around the Wembley car park in a succession of McLaren supercars.

Lucky competition winners rode in the passenger seat as the motor racing legends demonstrated their driving skills. Some even got a ride in the bizarre Caparo T1 - one of the most notorious production cars currently made for UK roads. Johnnie Walker hopes that it’s the kind of car that will stick in people’s memories as a constant reminder to never drink and drive.

The #JoinThePact initiative encourages drivers to sign up and pledge that they’ll never drive drunk. Millions of signatures have been collected so far, and the campaign is over halfway towards its 5,000,000-person target.

Johnnie Walker is one of the most recognisable brands on the grid and behind the bar. The manufacturer has been making and selling blended scotch for 150 years and is currently the most widely-distributed whisky brand - it’s distributed in nearly every country around the world and continues to be a well-loved member of any good back bar.

“When I was asked to join this journey with Johnnie Walker,” explains Hakkinen, “I thought about it very carefully. It’s a very big commitment. But then you read the newspapers or you watch the news and someone’s driven while drunk, and they’ve killed a mother and a couple of kids on the street. Getting drunk and driving a car - I think that’s really stupid.”

“Our message would be to never drink and drive, to Join the Pact. It’s a cool message - we’re saving lives here.”

UK drink driving laws are relatively flexible - British motorists are allowed a pint or so before they’re over the legal limit. At that point, they risk disqualification. I asked Alonso whether he thought a 0% limit would be better.

“That’s a difficult question as I don’t know the numbers, or what the studies say, but I think zero tolerance is one possibility as I think that you need to be ‘101%’ to drive a car on the street.”

Porsche has confirmed that the 2016 Boxster will, for the first time, be more expensive than the Cayman sister car, as the duo receive a significant mid-life update and new four-cylinder turbocharged engines.

The new ranges, dubbed 718 versus the outgoing model’s 918 designation, will be realigned to mirror the 911’s, where convertible models are more expensive by default. Previously, the more performance-focused Cayman was the pricier.

It’s not clear yet whether the Boxster will simply become much more expensive or whether the two models will swap price points, with the Cayman becoming cheaper.

Porsche has set no date for the arrival of downsized engines but says they are definitely coming, with ‘equally powerful’ versions for both cars.

The choice of 718 for the new car is linked to the success of the 718 from the late 1950s, which was a multiple race-winning four-cylinder machine that took the honours in two Targa Florio races, numerous hill climbs and even the Sebring 12-hour race in 1960.

The German firm also makes reference to the current 919 Hybrid World Endurance Championship-winning car, which uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine. This technology, Porsche says, directly influenced the development of the 718 series.

Both the Boxster and the Cayman are to be introduced through 2016, with a likely global début at the Geneva Motor Show in March.