News: new MX-5; LD Lines ski trip comp; free changes DFDS; Italy fake cop scam +++

You have to be brave to drive a Mazda MX-5. Perfect in the mountains, less good on fast roads when ‘bahnstormers screaming down the outside lane at 140mph leave you feeling horribly vulnerable. Still, for classic, countryside continental tours there’s little better available in the real world. Even the small boot imposes useful packing discipline. Anyway, there’s a new one on sale now, a final brush up ahead of an all-new MX-5 due 2014. Prices start at £18,495. The only question is, are you man enough?

Evo magazine took a Porsche Cayman S on a 3,500 mile, nine day, eight country European tour, topping out at 171mph in Germany. Read all about it here. Also, Autocar tackle the 27 mile Ronde, a stage on this week’s San Remo Rally.

Enter an LD Lines competition to win a skiing holiday in Tignes, eastern France, for up to four people, including accommodation and ski passes. Valid from 16-23 March 2013 to overlap with X Games Tignes, a major snowboard competition. If you cannot make these dates the prize is valid until May 12th 2013. LD Lines sails to Calais, Dieppe and Le Havre from Dover, Newhaven and Portsmouth respectively. Tignes is 613 miles from Calais and around 550 miles from the other two ports.

Meanwhile DFDS is offering free booking amendments and return fares Dover-Calais (or Dunkirk) from £38 each way in December and January. Includes a car and up to nine people. A supplement may apply on peak dates and times. Book by 12 December using offer code ECXMAS.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has added to the blizzard of reports all recommending road tolls in the UK. Meanwhile, The Big One – the joint DfT/ Treasury report on Road User Charging – is due ‘within weeks’ (but we’ve been hearing that for months now).

The Daily Mail ‘This is Money’ section helped a Lichfield couple get their money back after their insurance company refused to pay out following the Brittany Ferries’ strike in October. The company initially baulked because the couple made it home on time.

Drivers find blue dashboard lights less fatiguing say French university researchers, though nearly 10% have an adverse reaction. Further tests (on children and old people!) are on-going. VW used blue dash lights until recently while blue interior lights were also commonly offered as an option in cars up until the 1960s (apparently).

Finally, at the weekend The Sunday Times reported a fake police sting in Italy. A Romanian gang targeted guests at expensive hotels around Milan, including vehicle stop-and-searches, wearing Carabinieri (national police) uniforms. We haven’t been able to independently confirm any of the details, though the paper says the gang have all now been apprehended.

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