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The Financial Times

Almost a third of UK apprentices fail to complete work schemes

More than 30 per cent of people who start apprenticeships in Britain fail to complete them, and the numbers have worsened every year for the past three years. The data on “success rates”, which the Financial Times has drawn from official spreadsheets, raise questions about the government’s flagship policy to boost the number of apprenticeships to improve the skills of Britain’s workforce. The government has highlighted the fact that it created more than 2m apprenticeships in the previous parliament and has promised to create another 3m by 2020. However, its figures refer to the number who start apprenticeships, not the number who successfully complete them. The success rate for all apprenticeships was 68.9 per cent in 2013/14, the latest year for which data are available. It has declined steadily since 2010/11 when it was 76.4 per cent.

Aston Martin picks Wales for new manufacturing plant

Aston Martin will open a new manufacturing plant in Wales as it doubles its production capacity in a vote of confidence in the UK as an industrial centre. The luxury car maker will announce on Wednesday that it will invest £200m in a new plant at St Athan in Glamorgan, South Wales, in a move that will create 1,000 jobs. Its current site at Gaydon in Warwickshire will also expand as it produces the next generation of sports vehicles, including the £140,000 DB11 model, which goes on sale later this year. The group looked at more than 20 possible locations globally for a new manufacturing centre, including the US, Canada, Mexico, Eastern Europe and parts of the Middle East. It also considered several sites in the UK, with both Birmingham and Coventry in the frame.

Osborne warned over minimum wage rise

Productivity in Britain will need to stage a remarkable revival if it is to keep pace with the planned increases in the minimum wage, a think-tank has warned. George Osborne believes his plan to push up the minimum wage sharply for over 25 year olds will boost productivity, because employers will be incentivised to train up their low-skilled staff to make them “worth” the higher pay.

Bank of England ready to act if economy worsens, says Mark Carney

The Bank of England is ready to respond with an interest rate cut or more quantitative easing if the UK’s economic outlook worsens, Mark Carney told MPs on Tuesday. Against a backdrop of a further slide in sterling as the markets become increasingly jittery about the prospects of Brexit, the bank’s governor stressed it had plenty of ammunition left in its arsenal.

EU referendum: Time to vote for real change, says Boris Johnson

he UK’s EU membership referendum is a “once-in-a-lifetime chance to vote for real change”, Boris Johnson has argued as he declared support for an exit. The London Mayor confirmed earlier to reporters that he would be campaigning to leave the union. In a 2,000-word column for The Daily Telegraph, the Conservative MP said staying inside the union would lead to “an erosion of democracy”. The prime minister has said leaving the EU would be a “leap in the dark”.

EU exit would risk jobs, says group of business bosses

Leaving the European Union would threaten jobs and put the UK’s economy at risk, leaders of some of Britain’s biggest companies have said. Bosses – including those of BT, Marks & Spencer and Vodafone – signed a letter published in the Times, saying an EU exit would deter investment in the UK. Leave campaigners point out two-thirds of FTSE 100 firms, including Tesco and Sainsbury, did not back the letter. A referendum on whether the UK should stay in the EU will be held on 23 June.

The Daily Telegraph

UK firms braced for ‘watered down’ business rates review

British companies are bracing themselves for disappointment after it emerged that the Government is planning to water down its reform of the controversial business rates system. In November Chancellor George Osborne pushed back the long-promised overhaul until the Budget in March, which some lobby groups viewed as a sign the Government was prepared to do an in-depth analysis. However, it is understood that many of the key reform British business has been pushing for will go unanswered.

The Times

Crime chiefs join forces to cut drink-drive limit

Police commissioners are calling for the drink-driving limit in England and Wales to be cut by a third, weeks after ministers ruled it out. Elected police chiefs demanded that levels across Britain should be brought into line with those in Scotland, where just one drink can put motorists over the limit. The commissioners say it would significantly improve safety. It was claimed that the move was supported by the vast majority of alcohol experts and a continued rejection of the plan hampering efforts to cut road deaths.

Ford steers towards driverless cars

Ford is embarking on an investment splurge with the aim of launching a vehicle that will take over from the driver in traffic jams in what could be a big step towards a future of driverless cars. “Our plan is to change the way the world moves, as Henry Ford did 113 years ago,” Mark Fields, the chief executive of Ford, told The Times at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The Independent

Volkswagen sold more sausages than cars in 2015

If the Volkswagen emissions scandal hurt the company’s car sales, it has not affected the popularity of VW branded “currywurst”. Germany’s biggest car manufacturer sold 7.3 million of its spicy sausage, nearly one million more than in 2014. The “currywurst” largely outperformed car sales which fell from 6.12 million to 5.82 million in 2015, a drop of 4.8 per cent, according to DPA, the German news agency.

France, Italy yet to reply to EU with VW scandal info: source

All European Union nations except for France and Italy have replied to the European Commission’s request for information from member states in connection with Volkswagen’s emissions scandal, an EU source said on Tuesday. The European Commission, the EU executive, has asked all 28 EU countries to investigate breaches of vehicle emissions rules after Volkswagen admitted last year it had used banned software to mask nitrogen oxide emissions and had also in Europe understated carbon dioxide levels. At the same time, it sent a letter to Volkswagen asking for information, which European Environment and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said on Tuesday was so far unanswered.

Posted by Sue Robinson on 26/02/2016