The Steer | September's motoring news and highlights

This month's packed roundup has news on a study linking music to driving style, Vauxhall's new hybrid and classic Mustangs going green.

You’re more likely to drive dangerously if you listen to fast-paced music

Research carried out by blokes in lab coats at the South China University of Technology has found that listening to fast-paced music behind the wheel can lead to dangerous driving.

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Drivers who listened to music with more than 120 beats per minute were caught driving between 5mph and 10mph more than drivers who listened to slower music.

During the study, those who listened to rock songs specifically deviated from their lane 140 times on average, twice as many as those who listened to light, or no music.

Although loud music can’t be confirmed as the cause, according to the Department for Transport’s official road accident statistics, 2,830 reported accidents in 2017 were put down to an in-car distraction. 

That being said, if it’s a case of swapping out upbeat tunes for the likes of Dido and ‘Ibiza chill’, I think I’d rather have an accident.

More details on the Grandland X plug-in

The Grandland X Hybrid4 will have almost 300bhp and could go well beyond 100 miles per gallon, according to Vauxhall.

The Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid4 on display

The Grandland X Hybrid4 will have almost 300bhp - image from carscoops.com

That power will be put to the road through an all-wheel drive system, powered by two electric motors and a 1.6-litre petrol turbo.

Alongside the Corsa-e, the Hybrid4 is leading the carmaker’s EV charge and will be capable of doing just over 30 miles in its all-electric mode.

The news arrived ahead of its appearance at September’s Frankfurt Motor Show, with order banks now open.

Skoda to put a digital assistant in its new models

With each passing day, manufacturers seem to get closer to Knight Rider’s KITT. First satnav, then adaptive cruise control and now voice recognition.

Laura, Skoda's recently announced digital assistant

The digital assistant will launch with the Kamiq and Scala - image from carmagazine.co.uk

Following the likes of Mercedes and BMW, Skoda is the latest to announce a digital assistant for its upcoming models.

The assistant, named Laura, will be available as an option on the Amundsen touchscreen system and will understand natural speech in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Czech.

It’ll also receive over-the-air updates (OTA) and could be supported by smartphone apps in the future.

The Kamiq and Scala are set to be the first models to feature the assistant.

Audi launches its latest batch of RS performance cars

Last month saw the launch of the Audi RS Q3 and RS Q3 Sportback, the performance editions of the brand’s small SUV.

(L-R) The Audi RS Q3 Sportback and RS Q3

The RS Q3 comes in standard and Sportback forms - image from autoexpress.co.uk

Both will be powered by the 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine from the RS 3, good for 395bhp and a ridiculous 0-62mph time of 4.5 seconds.

The Sportback is also a new variant for the Q3 range, that’s now the smallest of Audi’s SUVs to get the sleeker body shape.

They’ll be on sale early next year but could be available for test drive at Lookers Audi sites before 2020. I’ll see you there.

Classic motors, without the guilt

If you like the idea of owning a classic car, but don’t like the idea of driving something that was made long before emissions were even a thing, Charge might have the answer.

One of the 60s Mustangs converted by Charge into an EV

The electric 'Stangs will do 200 miles on a single charge - image from topgear.com

That’s because the London-based start-up is taking Ford Mustangs from the 60s and refitting them as EVs.

When the work’s done, they’ll do 200 miles on a charge and jump from 0-60mph in under four seconds. Think of it as your nan after a hip replacement and delivery of motorised rollerblades.

But perhaps unsurprisingly, it seems the best of both worlds doesn’t come cheap. To reserve one of Charge’s 499 electric Mustangs, you’re looking at a starting price of £300,000, before extras and accessories.

And from Lookers…

Middlesbrough Ford undergoes £3m renovation

A Lookers Ford dealership in Middlesbrough has announced the completion of a £3m expansion and renovation.

The reopening of Lookers Ford Middlesbrough

As part of the site's ongoing development, Ken Swindles joined as General Manager 

The works make it Teesside’s first FordStore, the name given to the manufacturer’s flagship dealerships.

Increasing to 9,000 sq ft, the showroom’s indoor new car display has more than doubled in capacity from five to 11 vehicles.

As part of an ongoing development plan, the site, located on Cargo Fleet Lane, has also acquired Ken Swindles as General Manager, who spent two years in Lookers’ Nissan Renault division.

With FordStore status, the dealership’s now home to the brand’s top-end models as well, like the Mustang and Focus RS. If you’re into your Fords, it’s well worth a visit

Newcastle site voted among the best for Motability care

Lookers Volkswagen Newcastle has won an award for its services to Motability.

The award-winning team at Lookers VW Newcastle

The team is now in the running for the national awards, taking place in 2020

The Motability Dealer Award was handed to the site from the scheme itself, in recognition of its outstanding customer service.

Since 2017, the dealership has had a year-on-year increase in its Motability sales, jumping from 80 to 152 in the year ending August 2019.

All winners of the regional Dealer Awards automatically progress to the national awards, that take place at the beginning of the following year. Fingers crossed.

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