Autocar Review—Car Magazine Review  - Muscle Car

Autocar Review—Car Magazine Review 

Car Models


Written by Elise

23rd November 2020

Autocar Review—Car Magazine Review 
Blog   >    Car Models   >   Autocar Review—Car Magazine Review 

Autocar Review—Car Magazine Review 

By Chris Williams

It is very difficult to write a review of a car magazine/website as a petrolhead for one overarching reason: a visit to their website for an intel-gathering mission stays on course for all of thirty seconds before falling down an inescapable rabbit warren of distracting reviews and videos. There is nothing to be done but indulge until the appetite is satisfied some hours later. 

However, after indulging that appetite for several hours, I am now considerably more informed and ready to roll out Muscle Car UK’s review of Autocar Magazine. Autocar is the car magazine of choice for the ordinary motorist as well as an avid car enthusiast. At 125 years old, it remains the UK’s largest and most popular publication to continue to educate the motorist public on cars and in-depth technical reviews of the motoring industry’s latest releases, complemented by the best photography of the business.

The Success of Autocar Magazine

Any outlet that has been around for 125 years is clearly doing something right. Ultimately it comes down to knowing your audience and creating a recipe that titillates their tastebuds. Also, not having a gambling, reckless lunatic at the helm must help. With that many years behind it and self-described as authoritative, Autocar is no doubt the bread and butter of automotive media.

Given that Autocar was the first to leap onto the idea of what was in 1895 an extremely niche topic, it is of no surprise that Autocar’s crosshairs have remained firmly set on the serious motoring enthusiast. Comparison tests these days between a hot VW Golf and Ford Focus are considered a fun but technical task than whittles down to the spec sheet. 

Car reviews in the late 1890s must have been downright peculiar when a car’s chief rival was a horse. How does one compare the handling of a horseless carriage and a Shetland pony? But such was the appetite of the increasing number of serious motoring enthusiasts that Autocar has almost always maintained the rather impressive production output of weekly publications. 

Autocar Setting Standards Since 1920

In the early days up until about 1930, almost everything car-related was pioneering work. It is therefore only appropriate that Autocar had sterling names like Basil Davies and Montague Tombs to carry out the newly-invented road tests. However, in terms of influence, early Autocar journalists participated a fair bit, certainly establishing Autocar’s primary trait of ‘authoritative’ early on. 

For example, Basil Davies was the first journalist to drive Bentley’s first-ever car, built after the end of the First World War, and his report more or less set Bentley’s image as we know it now. Apparently, that review has aged into a piece of classic automotive literature, if there is such a thing.  

A Pioneer of the Automotive Industry

While the industry has enormously changed, the style of Autocar never really did. Autocar’s evolution has simply allowed it to fit in its contemporary setting. It has, for example, always been a leading source of the latest news in the automotive industry, from scoop pictures of pre-production models to big business announcements. Its road tests have always been focused on the sober, practical side of cars and motoring. In the 1920s, it was ground-breaking. Today, Autocar is a reliable industry pillar to hundred of thousands of ordinary motorists.

As we have covered already, it’s a proven recipe that many thousands of people around the world relish. 

Today, Autocar circulation is around 24,000 for each issue, with a number of international editions published too. Although that is far lower than what it used to be, millions of eyes now flock to Autocar online, and rightly so. As I write this, the latest news opinion features a mix of the latest: a review of the Alpina B3 Touring and Polestar 1; spy shots of the new Mercedes CLS; and videos on the Ferrari 812 GTS. 

Autocar’s Evolution and Work Ethic

The sheer volume of motoring content provided by Autocar is remarkable, which is no doubt why they have gone through six editors since 2000. They work themselves silly. The Autocar team really do epitomise the fact that motoring journalists, like all others, live to work.

Which is just as well because with the media landscape in the clutches of the inescapable gravitational pull of anything digital, the media establishment needs to work to live. Each quid is harder to come by and is forced to go further. 

My former editor in New Zealand spent his training days with Autocar during the late 1980s, as did many of today’s senior motoring writers. At that time, media pockets were deep ravines and motoring outlets had the resources to run in-house training programmes

There is no such avenue for aspiring motoring writers now. If you want to get into the trade today you have to go and write from your own motivation and expense, or get a piece of paper that says you’re a qualified journalist – Coventry University even offers an MA in Automotive Journalism. 

As ever, one simply has to be adept at writing about cars in order to get noticed, and even then that isn’t always enough. The motoring media establishment is a tiny and competitive world one has to elbow their way in. It’s why platforms such as Drivetribe emerged as an informal way for enthusiasts to share their passion for cars.

Autocar: Technical But Reliable

However, if you want to get solid, reliable car advice, Autocar is the place to go. No question, the Autocar team is heartily passionate about what they do. Yet, in the midst of pursuing practical car reviews, I can’t help but wonder if the excitement of a hot hatchback is sometimes lost in the analysis. 

For example, Autocar’s drive of the new Toyota GR Yaris uses words such as “progressive” and “authoritative” to describe the rabid squirrel’s handling and body roll. While I’m sure they’re right, using adjectives to describe the characteristics of one of the most eagerly-anticipated cars of the decade that could also be used to describe your local MP drains some of the magic from the GR Yaris’ aura. 

It may sound picky but a Morgan, for example,  is by definition impractical but certainly puts a smile on your face. Yet, Autocar’s take on the latest Morgan Plus four features discussion of the “varying front axle loading” in the Ride and Handling section but no mention of smiling. I understand that some car enthusiasts do want to read a Morgan described in such mechanical terms, but I’m sure many would join me in saying I want to know first and foremost how it makes you feel.

Autocar Review Conclusion

What I will commend Autocar for is not pandering to the SUV pop craze. As you can see from the image above, not a single SUV (the Land Rover Defender is not an SUV) made Autocar’s list of Britain’s Best Cars. Autocar do have very good taste in vehicles.   

My love affair with cars stems from the emotional rather than the technical – I have no interest in fuel consumption, acceleration figures, and future values. However, one doesn’t have to dig very deep into the sandbox of online automotive media to realize the volume of garbage that litters the internet. Whereupon, I am extremely grateful that reliable, professional motoring outlets such as Autocar still exist. Long may it last.      

Author: Chris Williams

Muscle Car UK and Pilgrim Motorsports are leading UK classic car specialists for sports cars. We build, service and upgrade all classic cars, specialising in Mustangs, V8 engines, Carroll Shelby Cobras and Corvettes.

For more updates, news and tips, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

All cars on our feeds are available and up for sale. Looking for something specific? We can help.

We also provide service and restoration on any car, classic or otherwise.

Ask for a quote

Liked This Article? More Like This:

AMC Javelin – Classic Muscle Car Review 2020

How to Buy the Right Classic Car For You In the UK

Don't forget to share on social media!

Related Articles