Illya Verpraet

Illya Verpraet Road Tester Autocar
Title: Road Tester

As part of Autocar’s road test team, Illya drives everything from superminis to supercars, and writes reviews, comparison tests, as well as the odd feature and news story. 

Much of his time is spent wrangling the data logger and wielding the tape measure to gather the data for Autocar’s eight-page road tests, which are the most rigorous in the business thanks to independent performance, fuel consumption and noise figures.

He joined Autocar in 2021 following stints at automotive business publications at UKi Media & Events and Ultima Media, where he reported on less glamorous but equally fascinating and important sectors of the automotive industry such as logistics and tyre production. He first cut his teeth reviewing cars as news reporter at Business Car.

Illya is originally from Belgium, where he obtained an MA in English and German literature and linguistics, before moving to the UK in 2016 to study automotive journalism at Coventry University.

Illya is an expert in:

  • Quantitative and qualitative road test reviewing
  • EV hatchbacks and crossovers
  • Hybrid technology.
  • Comparison testing

What was your biggest news story?

As a road tester, I don’t get involved with news much these days. However, I was writing for Automotive Logistics when the car industry (and almost every other manufacturing industry with it) realised that demand after Covid was rebounding. However, all shipping containers were stuck in ports, a lot of the ships that normally carry them were laid up and port workers had been laid off or had covid, which made getting car parts across the world a nightmare. It was interesting to be in the right place at the right time to write about things being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

What’s the best car you’ve ever driven?

The Toyota GR86. Admittedly, a compact two-door sports car won’t be ‘the best’ car for everyone, but it is for me. You just can’t beat a compact, light car with a manual gearbox and a deliciously throttle-adjustable chassis for everyday, on-road fun. It still has most of the luxury and refinement I want, and seems to have been spared from most modern-car annoyances.

What will the car industry look like in 20 years?

I’ll miss the manual gearbox, but I also really like electric cars. I’ve had more fun in the MG4 and Mini Cooper E than in plenty of proper performance cars. I love how the instant torque lets you work the chassis, and how you don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself with a loud engine. There’s plenty to be upbeat about, but also big challenges. There’s a bloodbath in the making if European manufacturers can’t take control of their supply chains and find some way to compete with the emerging Chinese carmakers, whose products are making big leaps very quickly. I also hope there’s going to be a reevaluation of the ICE bans, because it doesn’t look like we’ll see enough affordable EVs in time, which will drive people to the second-hand market and decimate the new-car industry.

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