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Australia is suing the local arm of Volkswagen for allegedly misleading customers by selling modified vehicles that covered up emissions fraud. Its consumer watchdog claims Volkswagen intentionally sold more than 57,000 such vehicles over a five-year period. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is seeking a public declaration of misconduct, financial penalties and corrective advertising. Volkswagen Australia said it is reviewing the ACCC claims. In a statement, the firm said it does not think that the court action “provides any practical benefit to consumers because software solutions for cars affected by the voluntary recall are expected soon”.
Government to ‘push ahead’ with Brexit
The government will “push ahead” to triggering Brexit without Parliamentary approval, Downing Street says.
In a statement after Theresa May’s cabinet gathered at Chequers, Number 10 said ministers agreed on the need for a “unique” deal for the UK. This included controls on EU migration as well as a “positive outcome” on trade, Downing Street said. Mrs May told cabinet colleagues the UK would not stay in the EU “by the back door”. The PM has said official talks with the rest of the EU will not begin this year.
Savers ‘devastated’ in August as rates fall below 0.5%
Millions of savers have been left “devastated” by further cuts in interest rates during August, according to analysis from Moneyfacts. The average easy access rate fell below 0.5% for the first time, while cash Isa rates fell below 1%.
It follows the Bank of England’s decision to cut base rates by 0.25% on 4 August, with the expectation of further cuts if necessary.
As a result, savings rates were reduced on 354 products during the month. Furthermore, 53 of those cuts were greater than 0.25%, Moneyfacts said.
Activity in the UK’s manufacturing sector rebounded sharply in August, a closely watched survey has indicated, as the weakening of the pound following the Brexit vote boosted exports. The Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for the sector rose to 53.3 in August from July’s figure of 48.3. A figure above 50 indicates the sector is expanding. However, the survey also indicated that the weaker pound had pushed up companies’ costs.
Motorists are shunning electric cars despite a generous subsidy, leaving MPs with “no confidence” that Britain will meet its climate change targets by the middle of the century. Britain has a legally binding obligation to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 compared with 1990 levels. To meet these targets, about 60 per cent of the cars and lorries on the roads must be electric by 2030. But MPs on the environmental audit committee on Thursday warned that a “lack of strategy” in the Department for Transport on how to ensure the public buy low or zero-emission vehicles will leave the country “playing catch up” to meet its goals.
Higher taxes for company car drivers as perk removed
Half a million company car drivers are facing higher tax bills under government plans to close a loophole that allows employees to buy cheap vehicles. The Treasury is planning to crack down on salary sacrifice schemes that allow workers to give up a chunk of taxable pay in return for perks such as cars and gym membership. The number of schemes, which also allow employers to pay less national insurance, has risen by a third in the five years to 2014-15, figures suggest. An analysis by Deloitte, the accountancy firm, warned that the reforms could cost company car drivers the most, with those driving low-emissions vehicles potentially paying up to £1,800 more.
Small businesses are struggling to pay staff the new national living wage, with many taking a hit to profits to meet obligations.
After the introduction in April of a compulsory minimum wage of £7.20 an hour for over-25s, the Federation of Small Businesses said that nearly half its members cited higher salaries as their biggest cost increase. One in five said that labour costs had risen “significantly” as a result of the policy, FSB research found. The lobby group warned that some had reduced prices or cut investment plans “in order to stay afloat”. Of those that reported increased costs from the living wage, 59 per cent said that they had absorbed the expense through reduced profitability. The retail, wholesale, hospitality and accommodation industries said they were particularly badly affected.
Team GB’s world-beating cyclists from the Rio Olympics have written to Theresa May to demand that 5 per cent of the transport budget be spent on cycle lanes on Britain’s roads.
BUDGETS FOR BIKES
The letter, which will be sent today and has been seen by The Times, tells the prime minister: “You were widely reported in the media as saying that there will be ‘no limits’ on the honours that could be bestowed on our medal winners. But the best way to honour the achievements of our athletes would be a legacy of everyday cycling in this country — a place where cycling is the choice form of transport for people to get around in their daily lives.”
It reminds Mrs May that the Conservative manifesto pledged to double the number of cycle journeys and that her predecessor promised a “cycling revolution” for commuters.