Well, we’ve just about made it through 2018, and I thought I’d take a few minutes to wish each and every one of you warm wishes for the upcoming festivities. It’s been an interesting year and, as we pause to take stock of what’s happened throughout the year, we should also consider what’s coming for the British car industry in 2019.
It’s difficult to think about either without mentioning the ‘B’ word, so I won’t. Yet… In terms of new product, it’s been a fascinating year for AROnliners – the Mazda-clone, Chinese-built MG ZS enjoyed its first year on sale in the UK, and it wasn’t a disaster. Neither did it move the needle one iota. The MG3 was facelifted, too – and, for a six-year old supermini, it’s doing okay.
The British-built MINI F56 received its first facelift and inherited Union Jack rear lamp clusters in the process. Not sure what we think about that, but while the good people at Cowley are being paid to nail them together, we really don’t mind too much.
Jaguar Land Rover’s important new products
The biggest new-car news of 2018 was the arrival of the L551-generation Range Rover Evoque. Although it looks like the old Evoque, it’s all-new underneath, and packs enough tech to see this car thrusting towards the head of the premium SUV market sector. That’s good news considering the backdrop in which it has to go on sale early next year is one of uncertainly for parent company Jaguar Land Rover. Sorry, mustn’t mention the ‘B’ word.
This year also saw the Jaguar I-Pace go fully on sale. I was lucky enough to drive it at the launch and, although I was expecting it to feel like a unfinished prototype, I was delighted to have my expectations dashed. It was impressively well-made, good to drive, quick and fun. If you’re interested, you can read my Jaguar I-Pace review on Parkers, which should tell you how impressed as I was – and this is from someone who runs an EV as a daily driver, and is a big Tesla fan.
Land Rover’s year has been dominated by its 70th birthday celebrations, and the arrival of the V8-powered Defender Works V8. This was the car that we’d been wanting Land Rover to build for years – and finally it had arrived. After production of the car it was based on had ceased. Shame! Still, we’ve seen first sight of the 2019 Defender – let’s hope it’s packed with the spirit of the original.
And how was 2018 for AROnline?
AROnline’s had an interesting year. Like pretty much all specialist car websites, it’s had challenges around traffic – and how Google has been ranking us for search – but we’re hanging in there with a loyal readership, new information being uploaded and maintaining the site’s proposition as being the place to come if you need to know the inner workings of the British car industry during its long and colourful history. And what’s great is that the level of debate and quality of interaction in the commenting system are still top notch, proving that our readership is the best out there. Long may it continue.
Finally, 2018 has been a funny old year for me – I’ve been all over the world, driven the best cars and had some amazing adventures, but I’m still as keen and revved-up as ever to maintain AROnline. Okay, there’s been less new content, but a lot of background optimisation means new people will still stumble upon us and learn the truth about the cars that we all know and love. 2019 will be the site’s 18th year in operation – who would have thought that the rubbish little HTML site I hammered together to fact-check a little 250,000-word book that I was hoping to get published (that might happen in 2019!) would grow into this?
As for the ‘B’ word, what will be will be – and, if it happens, the British motor industry will hunker down and make the best of it. There will be challenges, but I still believe we have the best and most innovative engineers, designers, and marketeers in the business, and if anyone can make this work, we can…
See you in 2019…