Pioneers for the 21st Century

* Future Car Challenge from Brighton to London * 64 cars showcase all the latest technology * What Car? drives every type of car on the 57-mile run...

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What Car? Staff
6 Nov 2010 13:55 | Last updated: 14 Jun 2018 00:03

More than 100 years ago, an intrepid band of early adopters left London for Brighton to showcase an exciting new technology - the motor car.

Today, a new breed of pioneers lined up in Brighton to trace the historic 57-mile route back to the capital. This time the intrepid drivers were showcasing a collection of the latest hybrids, plug-ins, fuel cells and electric cars.

While the original 'emancipation run' of 1896 also included electric cars, all of today's entrants in the inaugural RAC Future Car Challenge would be almost unrecognisable to those who took part a century and more ago.

Vehicles on the modern-day run included the Volkswagen Golf Blue-e-Motion, a fully electric version of the best-selling car. Making its first appearance in the UK, What Car? magazine editor Jim Holder was at the wheel.

Future Car Challenge route
Here's the route from Brighton to London.All new 'green' technologies tested
The Future Car Challenge isn't just about pure battery power, however, it also provided us with a unique opportunity to drive every available type of green technology. These included a fuel cell-powered Honda FCX Clarity, a range-extended Vauxhall Ampera, a Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid and a Toyota Auris HSD hybrid.

We also entered a VW Golf Bluemotion, powered by a conventional, but highly efficient, internal combustion engine, which was driven by three What Car? readers and What Car? deputy editor Alex Newby.

Awards for energy economy
All of today's participants were much more confident of reaching their destination than their forebears, but the Future Car Challenge did have an extra edge: the energy used by each car was calculated, and those using the least were awarded trophies.

What Car? is excited and proud to have been a media sponsor of this unique event and for the opportunity it gave us to help showcase the huge strides forward that technology has taken in the past 100 years, and the cars that you could be driving tomorrow.

Read on to see how team What Car? got on.

What Car? on the road
If you watched the event along the route, here are the numbers of the cars we were driving:

Car number
Honda FCX Clarity
Toyota Auris Hybrid
Toyota Prius Plug-in
Vauxhall Ampera
VW Electric Golf
VW Golf BluemotionDriven by
Will Nightingale
Matt Sanger
Ivan Aistrop
Steve Huntingford
Jim Holder
Alex Newby