Southern Group happenings: April 2024

As summer fast approaches, it’s been another busy month for the Southern Group. Again, our members have been busy delivering a varied array of drives, news, and features, along with hundreds of social media posts detailing what they’ve been up to.  

In April, it was with great sadness that we announced the passing of Ray Potter, a much-loved and long-standing retired member of the group. SGMW founder and vice chairman David Ward paid tribute to Ray, saying, “There was certainly never a dull moment and, apart from being an excellent driver (he was of course a noted racing driver in his younger days too), he was simply wonderful to be with and good fun.” You can read David’s full tribute to Ray Potter here.

Last month, the SGMW hosted two member events. The first was a breakfast meeting at the Wings Cafe at North Weald Airfield in Essex. This event saw a great turnout and great food. Several members brought along their classic cars as well, with the highlights including a pair of vintage Alfa Romeo’s, a Ford Model A Roadster hotrod, and an NA generation Mazda MX-5.

Southern Group News: 2023 SGMW Heritage Drive Day

On April 25th, the SGMW Sue Baker Memorial Karting GP took place at the Team Sport indoor circuit in Crawley. For those not in the know, the SGMW Karting GP is an annual event that pits motoring PRs against each other in an endurance race to raise money for charity. For 2024, the chosen beneficiary was Woman On The Move Against Cancer (WOMAC), a fantastic charity that raises money to support the fight against cancer. 

This year’s race was a very memorable one, with twelve teams in attendance and plenty of flags and drama throughout. The race ended with Honda taking 1st place, Toyota in 2nd, and Hyundai in 3rd. On the day, a total of £2,385 was raised for WOMAC, taking the total raised by the group to over £32,500 in the past decade.

You can read the full race report here.  

While the SGMW had a very busy month, the world of automotive was also equally frantic. Tesla was forced to recall every Cybertruck due to an issue with the accelerator pedal, which could break, making the truck difficult to stop.  

Other brands had better news to share with the reveal of specially livered versions of existing cars, with Lamborghini showing off four uniquely painted versions of the Sterrato, while BMW continued its iconic Art Car series with an i5 M60 xDrive that references the wetlands of the world. Meanwhile, in the world of cars that people can actually buy, the new all-electric MINI Aceman broke cover, and Cupra unveiled the facelifted versions of its Formentor and Leon models.

First drives were also very busy, with reviews of plenty of new models, including the MG3 hatchback, the electric Porsche Macan, and the Mercedes CLE Cabriolet. An array of updated models were driven too, such as the Audi S3, Volkswagen T-Cross, and the Skoda Kodiaq. 

Read on for what the SGMW members got up to last month.  

SGMW digital round up: 

Toyota Yaris – First Drive (2024) – Maxine Ashford

The Toyota Yaris has been given a refresh for 2024 to coincide with its 25th birthday. The revisions include a smidgen more power and more safety tech. To find out if Toyota’s supermini is the one to pick over its rivals, Maxine Ashford puts the new Yaris to the test for Car Journo. 

Read the Car Journo review here 

Volkswagen Touareg eHybrid review: Power to the people – Tim Pitt

Is the refreshed Volkswagen Touareg eHybrid still a ‘people’s car’ with a near £70k price tag? Tim Pitt puts the updated 381bhp plug-in hybrid model to the test to find out. 

Read the CityAM review here

BYD Seal Excellence AWD review – Neil Winton

As BYD continues its foray into the European market, the new Seal EV appears to have all the ingredients to make it a success. It offers supercar baiting performance, over 300 miles of range, and a sub-£50k price tag. But can the Chinese newcomer cut it against European rivals? Neil Winton delivers his verdict. 

Read the Wintons World review here

BYD Shark Plug-in Hybrid Pickup Teased Ahead of European Sales – Phil Huff

If you thought all of the coolest car names were gone, think again. BYD is poised to enter the pickup market with the Shark, a new plug-in hybrid pickup that’s slated to arrive in Europe later this year. The SGMW’s international correspondent, Phil Huff, gives the full lowdown for Professional Pickup. 

Read the Professional Pickup article here

Ineos Grenadier Utility Wagon test drive – Trinity Francis

The Ineos Grenadier is said to be named after a pub located in West London. This rugged 4×4 aims to continue where the original Land Rover Defender left off as a rugged go-anywhere vehicle. Now, the Utility Wagon version has arrived as the commercial model of the line-up, but is it any good? Trinity Francis delivers her verdict. 

Read the Van Expert review here

SGMW social watch:

For the first time in what seems like ages, Tim Pitt appears to be taking things at a slower pace after months of testing Radical, Porsche, and McLaren models. Here, he delivers the vital stats of the Lexus LBX Takumi. 

In Windsor, Chris Rees ignores the local landmarks in favour of an array of some of the finest Italian cars ever built. 

Stu Bird found something very special at a Subaru event last month: a factory-fresh 1993 MV pickup, or a Brat, as it’s also known. We did ask Stu how he got dirty looking at it, but we’ve yet to hear back.  

In inflation related news, Phil Huff compares how much car you could get for £5,995 in 2017 compared to what it gets you today. Most of us would opt for the Dacia, if we’re being honest.

The grille design of the new Alfa Romeo Milano (later renamed as the Junior) fails to impress Phill Tromans, who rightly questions if it had been forgotten by the car’s designers.