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Old-school manual!





BORN FROM GREAT POWER. THE BMW M6. When developing our next GT racecar, our engineers looked to a car that was already suited to the racetrack - the BMW M6. Their creation, the formidable BMW M6 GT3 is powered by the very same 4.4 litre turbocharged V8 engine found in the BMW M6. However, it is not just the engine in the BMW M6 that is racetrack ready. With cutting edge technology, exclusive materials and a new Competition Package as standard, the BMW M6 combines the pinnacle of racetrack performance and exceptional luxury into one Ultimate Driving Machine. The BMW M6 was always destined for greatness. Test drive the BMW M6 at your preferred BMW dealer today.


605 bhp. 0-100 in 3.7 secs The powerful Audi RS7 Performance.

It’s our race car. Off-duty. The Volvo S60 Polestar. With a 257kW, 3.0-litre turbocharged engine, 500+Nm of torque, Öhlins suspension, AWD and launch control. MAKE YOUR VOLVO DEBUT VOLVOCARS.COM.AU



ON THE COV ER 060 BUGATTI CHIRON The King is dead, long live the King. Bugatti reveals its 1103kW, 420km/h hypercar

122 PORSCHE 911R With a 368kW 4.0-litre atmo flat-six and a manual gearbox, the 911R might be perfect



500-meter waterprooff titanium case. Fully satin-inished, highly ped ergonomic and equipp with a helium valve, the case of the Pelagos ned model has been design to withstand the most extreme dives

TUDOR in-house movement MT5612. Ofering a 70-hour power reserve and regulated by a varia able inertia oscillator with silicon balance spring, it is certiie ed by the Swiss Officia al Chronometer Testin ng Institute (COSC).


TUDOR WATCHES ARE AVAILABLE AT: SYDNEY Gregory Jewellers Bondi Junction 02 9389 8822, Gregory Jewellers Castle Hill 02 8850 7080, Gregory Jewellers Chatswood 02 9884 8900, Gregory Jewellers Parramatta 02 9633 5500, J Farren Price 02 9231 3299, LK Boutique 02 9518 9499, Swiss Concept 02 9221 6288, The Hour Glass 02 9221 2288, Watches of Switzerland 02 9251 0088 | MELBOURNE JR/Watch Co. 03 8416 8189, LK Boutique 03 9686 7900, The Hour Glass 03 9650 6988, Watches of Switzerland 03 9671 3388 BRISBANE Langfords Jewellers 07 3210 0614, The Hour Glass 07 3221 9133 | CAIRNS Watches of Switzerland 07 4031 5766 | ADELAIDE J Farren-Price 08 8223 2787 PERTH Smales Jewellers 08 9382 3222, Watches of Switzerland 08 9322 8800.

CONTENTS Continued

FE AT UR ES 068 NEW BMW M2 Is this the turbocharged M-car we’ve been waiting for? Jethro Bovingdon drives the M2

080 FOCUS RS GROUP TEST How does the newest fast Ford stack up against the Golf R and RS3? Our group test reveals all

092 LOTUS 3-ELEVEN Is Richard Meaden impressed following his exclusive drive of Lotus’s new track car?

098 PORSCHE 911 GT3 RS As a point-to-point weapon, is there a faster car than the 991 GT3 RS?

108 GT3 HISTORY Having driven them all, Jesse Taylor rifles through the amazing GT3 back catalogue

114 GT3 TRACK TEST GT3 v RS plus Cup v RSR, Jethro has all the data and all the answers

REGULARS 020 NEWS Geneva show brings everything from a 566kW Lambo to an electric Morgan

032 LETTERS Would you avoid buying a Ford Focus RS because it’s only available with five doors?

034 COLUMNS Richard Meaden, Richard Porter and Dario Franchitti

130 LONG-TERM TESTS It’s time to say goodbye Range Rover Sport and hello Jaguar F-type R

138 EVO KNOWLEDGE Fancy a Zed car? Learn what to pay and what to worry about

146 ART OF SPEED Nothing screams ‘trackday warrior’ more than the R34 GT-R’s data

DRIVEN 042 Porsche 911 Turbo S

051 Mitsubishi Evo Final

047 Litchfield Audi RS6

052 Mercedes-AMG SL63

048 Lamborghini Huracán Spyder


056 Praga R1R

Renault CLIO R.S. CUP


Ed Speak As is often the case with the annual Geneva motor show, this year's event offered up a chocolate-box selection of fast metal.

ISSUE 034 APRIL 2016

Subscriptions Telephone 136 116 Email Website

Australia Editorial Email Website PO Box 1110 Darlinghurst 1300 NSW, Australia Editor Jesse Taylor Art director Chris Andrew It wouldn’t have been possible without Christina Brauer, Anthony Harris, Patricia O’Malley

OF T HE N EW R EL E A SES, AT L E A ST H A L F A dozen deserved the cover of this issue. Of course, in terms of desirability and the ability to sell magazines, the Bugatti Chiron and Porsche 911R stood above all else. Obviously, the big-number Bugatti won out over the pure Porsche, as it’s impossible for publishers to go past the click-bait appeal of an 1100kW, 420km/h hypercar. But I’m confident plenty of readers will skim beyond the Chiron, through the centre of the magazine and to page 122 and the Porsche 911R. In fact, many will question why it’s the last feature in the magazine. The 911R comes on the back of a 30-page special feature that celebrates all things GT3. While the R isn’t strictly a GT model, it does represent an exciting new (old) direction for the glorious GT3 lineage. The GT3 holds an enormously special place in my career as a motoring journalist as I’ve driven each of the 10 iterations, including the incredibly rare and sublime RS 4.0. While putting the special together, I tallied my total wheel time in GT3s and arrived at a figure just shy of 10,000km. What a privilege! Having covered as many kilometres in GT3s as some owners, I began looking at ways to join the club on a permanent basis. With values for 997s exploding into the stratosphere, I soon narrowed my focus to the limited edition, manual-only 911R. Firstly, I cannot really afford a $400,000 Porsche. But with a bit of man math (my cobbled together house deposit plus a serious amount of financing), I could just about get the numbers to line up for the most-desirable new car of 2016. A serious enquiry was fired off more in hope than anything else, but the response came back in the negative – all 25 examples coming to Australia have long since been spoken for. I’ve been less upset by employment rejections. And while you (and I) might scratch your head as to how a humble motoring journo might be able to afford a $400K car, consider how the other half live. According to Bugatti, the average Chiron buyer already owns 32 cars, four homes and three helicopters. I can’t decide if the 32 cars or three helicopters is the excessive line in the sand.


UK Editorial Editor Managing editor Art director Features editor Website editor Road test editor Production editor Film-maker Designer Staff photographer Staff writer Staff writer Subeditor Contributing editor Contributing editor Contributing editor Contributing photographer Technical correspondent Columnist Columnist

Nick Trott Stuart Gallagher Rob Gould Henry Catchpole Hunter Skipworth Dan Prosser Ian Eveleigh Sam Riley Will Beaumont Aston Parrott Sam Sheehan Antony Ingram Richard Lane Jethro Bovingdon Richard Meaden David Vivian Dean Smith Michael Whiteley Richard Porter Dario Franchitti

Contributors (words) Simon de Burton, Simon George, Matthew Hayward, Peter Tomalin, David Yu Contributors (pictures) Drew Gibson, Pete Gibson, Gus Gregory, Matt Howell, Olgun Kordal, Andy Morgan, Chris Rutter, Amy Shore It wouldn’t have been possible without Bedford Autodrome, Brynteg Holiday Park, James Cameron, Brett Fraser, Adam Gould, Hamish McAllister, Adam Shorrock, Tyres Northampton, Andy Wallace, Richard Usher and Blyton Park

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Lambo Centenario Lamborghini’s 566kW, 350km/h bir thday present to 40 wealthy customers


H E C E N T E NA R IO IS a c a r t hat per fec t ly combines tradition and innovation. It looks to the future while honouring the legend that is Ferruccio Lamborghini,” said Automobili Lamborghini President and CEO Stephan Winkelmann. The Centenario (Spanish for centenary) is Lamborghini’s celebration for the 100th anniversary of the birth of company founder Ferruccio. “The Centenario is an opportunity for our designers and engineers to transcend some of the constraints of series car production,” explained Winkelmann. “The Centenario has immediately proved itself as


a desirable collectors’ car, while demonstrating new Lamborghini te c h nolog ie s a nd out s t a nd i ng performance. It is the most fitting tribute to Ferruccio Lamborghini in his centenary year: a man who created an exceptional brand, believed that anything was possible, and produced extraordinary, iconic cars. The Centenario is a super sports car for Ferruccio and the future he and we believe in today.” The Centenario’s Geneva motor show reveal will be the last overseen by the charismatic Winkelmann, who, after more than a decade at the head of Lamborghini, has now moved to lead Audi’s Quattro Gmbh

division. Ferrari’s former Formula 1 team principal, Stefano Domenicali, has taken over as Winkelmann’s successor at Lamborghini. Just 40 carbonfibre special-edition Centenarios will be produced – 20 coupés and 20 roadsters. The model will be powered by the same 6.5-litre V12 as used in the Aventador but now with 566kW and a higher rev limit of 8600rpm. As with all modern V12 Lamborghini’s the Centenario will be all-wheel drive, which helps it storm from 0-100km/h in 2.8secs. More impressive is the 23.5-second sprint to 300km/h and that the claimed top speed exceeds 350km/h. T he C e nte n a r io’s b o dy a nd

monocoque chassis are both made from carbonfibre, this hasn’t been seen on a Lamborghini since their V10-powered Sesto Elemento. The top half of the body is made from gloss carbonfibre, while the lower half has been left matt. Despite an abundance of lightweight materials, the Centenario weighs 1520kg, only 5kg less than the Aventador SV. Some of the weight saving will have been added back in by the Centenario’s rear-wheel steering. Given the success that modern rear-wheel-steer systems have had on the handling of cars, making them both more agile and more stable, it might be worth the extra weight.


IN DEPTH ENGINE Lamborghini remains the only manufacturer of reasonable volume, that offers an entirely naturally aspirated line up. The Centenario uses the same 6.5-litre V12 as found in the Aventador models, but here it produces 566kW and revs to 8600rpm. According to Lamborghini, the carbonfibre wild child will storm beyond 350km/h.

There’s been a significant amount of attention paid to the aerodynamics of the Centenario. The large scoops on the front bonnet channel air through the front bodywork and help create downforce over the front axle. The headlight casings also allow air to flow through them. At the back is a massive rear diff user, which helps create downforce. There’s also a deployable wing that extends 150mm from the body and can change its angle of attack by up to 15 degrees for even more downforce. The air ducts forward of both the front and rear wheel arches make for an odd looking wheel arch radius,

which is not dissimilar to those of a Lamborghini Countach. These ducts send air to the radiators to aid cooling. The wheels also act as fans drawing air from the ceramic brakes to help keep them cool. So how much does this carbonfibre limited edition Lamborghini cost? A snip at 1.75 million euros (c$2.6 million plus taxes), 600,000 euros less than a Bugatti Chiron. However, the ultra-high-end car market is in rude health globally and all 40 Centenarios (20 coupes and 20 roadsters), are already sold. Lamborghini also recently confirmed that all Aventador SVs (600 coupes and 500 roadsters) have sold out.

OSTER CHILD For a car built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of company founder, Ferruccio Lamborghini, the Centenario features very few stylistic nods to the past. Drawing a bit of a long bow, we can see hints of the Countach’s squared off rear aches. We’re not sure if the Centenario will adorn many bedroom walls, unlike the scissor-doored Countach.

STYLING Styling is very subjective and motoring journalists tend to shy away from commenting on all things aesthetic, but the Centenario is certainly an acquired taste. For our eyes there’s just way too much going on. We like that Lamborghini continues to march to the beat of its own drum, but the Centenario is a miss for us.

INSIDE The interior of the Centenario is no less wild than the outrageous exterior, but the trim will be highly customisable according to the tastes of individual owners. The show car’s cabin was awash with exposed carbonfibre on the door trims and transmission tunnel.



HE ASTON MARTIN DB11 IS the first in a new line of Astons designed to bring the brand up to speed with the competition. It boasts a new twin-turbocharged V12 engine, infotainment tech lifted from Mercedes and clever aerodynamic and design features that draw on learnings made with the DB10 and Aston Martin Vulcan. Aston Martin claims it is the most significant new model since the launch of the DB9 in 2003. We’d be inclined to agree, the DB11 is almost entirely new from the ground up and, on paper at least, is a big step on from Aston’s current product range. The DB11 boasts an entirely new 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12 engine developed in-house at Aston Martin. It puts out 447kW at 6500rpm and 700Nm from 1500-5000rpm, which makes the DB11 the most powerful DB model ever produced. Aston Martin has utilised similar fuel saving technology to that seen



Aston Martin DB11 Af ter a dozen years, Aston replaces the DB9 with 447kW, twin-turbo V12 DB11

in the Audi R8 and Huracán. Called ‘intelligent bank activation’, the V12 in the DB11 can shut down half its cylinders when cruising. Performance stats are impressive, too, with the DB11 capable of 320km/h and a 0-100km/h time of 3.9 seconds. Mated to the V12 is an eightspeed ZF automatic gearbox that can be controlled via steering wheel-mounted paddles. Also on the steering wheel is a button for controlling throttle response and engine map, with three options being available – GT, Sport and Sport+. The DB11 uses a completely new bonded aluminium platform. Lighter and stronger, it allows for wider door apertures and increased occupant space for the rear seats. The car is still a 2+2 and yes, there is more room in the back, but not much. With a 1770kg dry weight the DB11 is actually only 15kg lighter than the DB9 it replaces.

Changes to the suspension setup are significant. At the front, there are double wishbones, coil springs and three stage adaptive dampers. The rear is multi-link with adaptive dampers. Those dampers can be controlled via a single button on the steering wheel and switched between GT, Sport and Sport+. We spent time with Aston Martin handling and setup guru Matt Becker prior to the DB11’s unveiling and he hinted at wanting to create a car with a broad dynamic character. Aston claims this has been put into practice with the DB11, with the three-stage adaptive damping varying significantly between each setting. The electric power-assisted steering has 2.4 turns lock-to-lock. The DB11 features both front and rear LED lights, with the design drawing on that of the Vulcan and One-77 hypercar. Updated daytime running lights also feature, as does a single cut out for each light at


The entirely new 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12 puts out 447kW and 700Nm the front in the huge single-piece clamshell bonnet. There are two significant new aerodynamic features introduced with the DB11. The first is the ‘Curlicue’ you see sat directly behind the two front wheels. First introduced on the Vulcan, it takes high-pressure turbulent air from the wheelarch and sends it down the side of the vehicle as vortices, smoothing out airflow over the DB11. The second is what Aston Martin calls the ‘AeroBlade’. At the rear of the DB11 behind the long aluminium roof strake is a single intake on either side of the car. Rather than using a large spoiler to generate downforce in the DB11, the AeroBlade intakes instead channel air through the base of the car’s C-pillars, through ducts inside the bodywork and out a small set of slots at the top of the rear deck lid. The DB11 is available only with steel brakes, with carbon ceramics

not offered as an option. At the front it has two-piece steel discs with six-piston calipers and four-piston calipers at the rear. New to the DB11 is torque vectoring by braking. A ston Ma r t i n’s tec h n ic a l partnership with Mercedes first makes an appearance in the DB11 in the form of a completely new infotainment system. Utilising the same back-end as that found in the new S-Class, but with an Aston Martin user interface, it drastically improves the interior tech over what was found in the DB9. The only piece of interior trim that is clearly taken from Mercedes is the click-wheel and track pad that sits on the transmission tunnel. It doesn’t look hugely out of place and is surrounded in high-quality leather. This controls an updated nav system that features everything you’d expect on a modern high-tech supercar. Expect Australian deliveries to begin by late 2016.

Above: DB11’s interior features Mercedes-supplied infotainment system.



organ – and in particular, its 3 Wheeler – is known for a raw, unfiltered driving experience that few other brands can replicate. It will now be delivering that experience in the electric car arena too, as the Morgan EV3 – an electric version of the 3 Wheeler – made its debut at the recent Geneva motor show. Like the regular 3 Wheeler – which uses a 1.0-litre S&S V-twin – the EV3 is lightweight, weighing in at less than 500kg. For an electric vehicle, which typically tip the scales at significantly more than their petrol counterparts, it’s a real bonus, and should ensure the EV3 keeps the 3 Wheeler’s flyweight feel. The low mass is in part down to a relatively small battery pack – only 20kWh. It’s an advert for the benefits of low-weight vehicles, however, that the EV3 still manages 240km on a full charge. That’s far enough to out-reach most regular production electric vehicles, and while the EV3’s 46kW electric motor, 9-second 0-100km/h time and 145km/h top speed won’t worry any Tesla Model S owners, it’s sure to feel a great deal faster than most thanks to the sensory assault of being sat behind its tiny flyscreens.



Morgan EV3

Above: tacho is replaced by a gauge that promises a 240km range. EV3 is auto only.

There are some notable styling differences between the EV3 and its petrol equivalent, thanks mainly to the missing engine. The front aspect might take some getting used-to, with a hint of Cyclops to the spotlamp mounted above brass conductive cooling fins for the batteries. The headlights are mounted lower, either side of the body, which – in Morgan’s words, takes inspiration from “1930s aero-engine race cars, classic motorcycles and 1950s fantasy automatons”. To that end there’s also a prominent ‘magneto’ switch on the new dashboard for drive selection sitting alongside wood, brass,

polished aluminium and, to the right of the drive selection switch, a circular digital screen. The steering wheel is of a new design too, adding wtheme. It’s car detailing done right, and brings a level of visual intrigue to electric vehicles we’ve not yet experienced. It’s the first production electric car from Morgan, but don’t expect it to be the last – the firm recently announced c$10 million in funding from the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre, with a view to creating an entire range of electric and hybrid vehicles by the end of the decade. EV3 production begins in the fourth quarter of 2016. L

NEW BR 126 CARBON ORANGE 路 Limited edition of 500 pieces

R e n a u l t ’s b u y o u t o f t h e L o t u s F 1 te a m heralds the return of a racing giant and a fabled works outfit. The man in charge of Re n a u l t S p o r t F 1

Cyril Abiteboul te l l s e v o w h y m o to r s p o r t i s s o i m p o r t a n t to t h e brand


UR AMBITION IS NOT JUST to participate in Formula 1. We have no intention to make up the numbers – if we’re here, it’s to win. And I think Renault can make that statement, because we’ve won in every single category in which we’ve competed. We’ve won in F1 as a team and as an engine supplier – twelve times. We’ve won in endurance, we won the first season of Formula E with e.dams, and there’s no reason we can’t repeat that in Formula 1. We know the way. ‘‘How do I take Renault back to the top in F1? The plan is to start where we needed to start. We needed to buy a team, we needed a management structure, we needed partners to have a budget, we needed a driver line-up – for today but also for tomorrow – and we needed a strategy. There’s a new engine technical director, Rémi Taffin, and Bob Bell [technical director during Fernando Alonso and Renault’s 2005 and 2006 championship wins] has been appointed chief technical officer of the team. Today we’re organising the personnel and the strategy; tomorrow we work out how to apply it. ‘‘The ambitions of a works team owned by a worldwide manufacturer are different to how they were at Lotus. The financial resources are different, too, but so is our accountability. We have to find some form of connection, reporting and accountability to Groupe Renault, and compliance with its policies, but we need to be capable of making decisions in the very specific environment of Formula 1. That can be as simple as making sure I can offer an engineer a salary package competitive to F1, and not just the car industry as a whole. ‘‘It’s taken some time to come back because we knew we wanted to be able to win. It wasn’t just a desirability or marketing decision. Last year was a complex season, so we had to manage and smooth the transition from being an engine supplier with Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso to being a full team with all the stakeholders that are involved. Last year was not a total loss, because clearly Renault has managed to rebuild its confidence and its relationship with F1, which was under a hardship. ‘‘We’ve made significant changes to the engines for 2016. It’s no secret that we actually got the hybrid element right.



Achieve Formula 1 podiums within the nex t three years

Develop 2017 ’s c ar without sacrif icing the 2016 sea son

Continue to suppor t the e.dams Formula E team and win more title s

Showc a se Renault’s produc ts across the motorspor t world

Work with Inf initi to develop energ yrecover y s ys tems

The ambitions of a works team owned by a worldwide manufacturer are different to how they were at Lotus. There’s greater accountability Maybe that’s down to our connection and experience in the world of electric vehicles, which also is backed up by what we’re doing in Formula E – we’re the Mercedes of Formula E, we’re really dominating. The internal combustion engine was where we were behind, so that’s what we’ve focused on. This year’s engine is different to last year’s – it’ll be different by the end of the season, too – and we’re already testing 2017’s engine on the dyno. We’re making good leaps ahead, but implementing them and testing on-track will take some time. ‘‘The way we see Formula 1 is very much as a spine to the racing activities. We invest in technology, people, processes; we’ve got connections with partners, with the FIA and so on, but there are many other things. One clear example is Formula E. We are involved in this championship – it’s fair to say that Renault is a founding partner, both from a technological perspective and also from a team perspective from our association and involvement in e.dams. We really believe in Formula E – we are completely committed to the series, but also Renault e.dams as a team. ‘‘Can we justify involvement in Formula 1 when Formula E is less expensive and still has a global reach? We asked ourselves that question, but we’ve obviously been very careful to look at and compare figures in terms of audience, in terms of media value, awareness of the sport and the different carmakers that are involved in the sport. Frankly there is absolutely no comparison – Formula 1 is incomparable for reach at this moment in time. There are always the questions of if and how we should step out, and whether it is good to be in the sport, but when you

look at the figures, at the audience, there is nothing that comes close to Formula 1. ‘‘At the same time, F1 doesn’t achieve everything for us. We want to showcase our road-car products, so we do that with Clio Cup, and we’ve done that with Clio R3 in rallying. We want to showcase our design – a great example of that is the R.S. 01 race car. We also want to showcase the future in important segments, which is where our Dacia Duster entry in the Dakar comes in. There’s also Formula Renault, and we’re interested in new and emerging trends in motorsport. We’re inspired by extreme sports such as snowboarding and so-on, so we’re looking at completely different things.’’

TAKING ON THE BIG BOYS We all want Renault to succeed in Formula 1, don’t we? The French f irm ha s produced some of the serie s’ mos t succe s s f ul engine s – third to Ferrari and Ford in race wins, de spite only entering the spor t in 197 7 – and powered some of its most iconic c ars, from the turbocharged mons ters of the 1980s to the Williams and Benet ton c ars c ampaigned by Mansell, Hill, and Schumacher during the 1990s. It’s far too early to tell if the newly formed Renault Spor t Formula O ne Team c an replic ate its earlier succe s s – par ticularly that of its ex traordinar y dominance in 2005 - 06 with Fernando Alonso – but ever yone f rom CEO C arlos Ghosn to its new drivers, Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Ma gnus sen, is motivated by the team’s prospec ts. We c an’t wait to see how they ’ll fare. Antony Ingram






‘‘The ATS-V is the lightest chassis in its class,’’ claims Leone, ‘‘and that is enabled by the use of an aluminium front structure, suspension components, engine block and transmission.’’ Cross braces and underfloor panels also connect all sides of the car to reduce flex across the body. The combination of a lightweight and stiff structure contributes towards a claimed lateral G capability of 1.02.



HE 346kW ATS-V Coupe is Cadillac’s direct rival to the BMW M4 – indeed the American motoring press has labelled it an ‘M4 killer’. It certainly contains ample technology to bring a fight to the M division, so we spoke to David Leone, executive chief engineer at Cadillac, to find out what tech the company has employed to take on Europe’s best.

Engine Whereas BMW prefers its six cylinders in a straight line, Cadillac chooses to put its in a V. This configuration can increase the torque that an engine makes at lower revs because the power stroke comes from two sides

TECH GAME-CHANGERS DOUBLEWISHBONE SUSPENSION First production application: Citroën Rosalie When: 1934

of the crankshaft. It can also increase crank rotation response because the crankshaft is shorter and therefore lighter. The exhaust valves of the Cadillac’s engine are hollow, the space partly filled with sodium to increase heat transfer from the cylinder. Sodium has a low melting point (97.8C), so when it is liquid it can move freely inside a reciprocating valve. When the sodium is in the head of the valve, it absorbs heat, then when it travels up into the valve stem, some of its heat is transferred to the cooling system in the cylinder head. As the sodium gets hotter still, it vaporises in the valve head, then transfers heat, cools and returns to liquid in the stem.

A double-wishbone suspension s ys tem is charac terised by its pairs of control arms that are – unsurprisingly – shaped like wishbone s. A larger bot tom arm connec ts a single point at the lower end of the w heel hub a s sembly to

‘‘We use Magnetic Ride Control – the fastest reacting suspension in the business,’’ says Leone. ‘‘We also have an electronic limitedslip diff, which allows us to get the power to the ground.’’ The e-LSD uses clutch packs to distribute torque to whichever of the rear wheels needs it most, while individual brake intervention provides additional control over the driven wheels. In its more lenient settings, the traction control operates in a similar fashion to Ferrari’s Side Slip Angle Control setup, allowing more oversteer before intervention. It is said to shorten lap times compared with having the systems turned off by improving corner exit speeds. IF YOU NEED PROOF THAT NOT all American performance cars are crude technology-wise, the ATS-V Coupe is it. As for whether all its tech translates to a great driving experience, we hope to find out the answer to that soon.

t wo points on the cha s sis. A smaller upper arm connec ts the top end of the hub a ssembly to the cha s sis in a similar fa shion. The upper arm is smaller than the lower arm to ensure s that w hen the suspension is under compression,

the negative c amber of the accompanying wheel is increa sed. The commonly seen alternati ve s ys tem, the MacPherson s trut, of fers no such control over c amber under compression. Double wishbone s also allow for more accurate control

ASK MIKE Your tech questions answered


What are the advantages and disadvantages of ‘polybushing’ my car? – Robert Stone

The rubber bushings that are already present on your car are there to allow small movements in the suspension arms, steering rack and even differential mounting. They reduce noise and vibrations that would otherwise be unpleasant for daily driving. Replacing these bushings with harder, polymer items would mean that there is less play in these components – good for a sportier feel and improved performance – but would increase noise and vibration. So it all comes down to whether you are willing to endure a harsher ride and more noise in return for a sharper, more taught feel to your car.

Send your question to

of c a s ter and toe geometrie s. Consequently, wishbone s of fer better road -holding c apabilitie s and are therefore more common on spor ts c ars. The downside is that a doublewishbone arrangement is

inherently larger than a MacPherson s trut an d cos t s more to produce. The inherent complexit y of a s ys tem with m ore connec ting points and bushing s means that ser vicing is also more timeconsuming and cos tly.






At the iconic race circuit of Sepang, Malaysia at MICHELIN Pilot Sport Experience 2016. For more information or to redeem your gift card, visit * Terms and Conditions apply. Promotional Period 1 February - 31 March 2016. Offer applies to MICHELIN Passenger, Recreational and Light Truck tyres and available in participating dealers. Eligible customers can claim their gift card via redemption at Gift Card claim period closes 30 April 2016. Permit Numbers: NSW LTPS/15/10311, p p ACT TP 16/00002, SA T15/2374. For full terms and conditions and a list of participating dealers, visit

Best in show Breitling goes big at the annual B a s e l w o r l d w a tc h s h o w


WITZERL AND PL AYS HOST TO the world’s biggest performance and luxury car motor show in Geneva each March, while 250km up the road in Basel, you’ll find the annual Baselworld watch fair. If Geneva 2016 was dominated by the 1103kW Bugatti Chiron, Breitling went big with a triple treat of releases including the super-sized 50mm Avenger Hurricane (below right), the Breitling for Bentley B04 S Carbon Body (below left) and the SuperOcean Heritage Chronoworks (right). Being fans of lightweight sports cars, the Avenger Hurricane particularly appeals to us thanks to its revolutionary case material. The ultra-sturdy and ultra-light case is made from a material named Breitlight and it’s an amazing 3.3 times lighter than titanium and 5.8 times lighter than steel. It’s also exceptional resistant to scratching, contains anti-allergy properties and is warmer to touch than metal.


A. SuperOcean Heritage Chronoworks 46mm black ceramic case with Breitling Caliber 01 movement and rubber Aero Classic strap. From: (02) 9221 7177

B. Bentley GMT B04 S Carbon Body 250-piece limited edition with 45mm carbon case, black carbon dial and GMT rubber strap. From: (02) 9221 7177

C. Avenger Hurricane Black Breitlight case, with Black Volcano



dial and black and yellow military strap. From: (02) 9221 7177



WATC TECH No s DU 3 01 movem


nds n make ab l about ‘inhouse’ movements – and frequently charge a premium for models that contain them. So German maker Nomos is to be applauded for its DUW 3001 automatic mechanism, which debuted last year in a new version of its popular Tangente Automatic. Measuring just 3.2mm thick, the DUW 3001 falls into the ‘ultra flat’ category – yet it has been designed for series production and, in keeping with the Nomos ethos, is also well finished and affordable. Using the brand’s ‘swing system’ selfwinding mechanism, it is claimed to be 94.2 per cent efficient, compared to the 80 per cent of a traditional automatic movement. Theodor Prenzel, the design engineer behind the movement, says the DUW 3001 took three years and $4million to create – but the Tangente sells for less than $5000. The only downside (for some) is that the watch measures a conservative 35mm in diameter – although it’s highly likely that the DUW 3001 will soon become available in larger Nomos models.

THIS MONTH TAG Heuer Connected Watch

BRM V12-44 10th Anniversary Edition

Price: $2000 From: TAG Heuer Flagship stores

Pita Roadster V2 Price: $6000

Price: $19,200


From: TAG Heuer’s long-awaited ‘connected’ watch is finally here, complete with computing know-how from Google and Intel. Based on the Carrera drivers’ watch, the digital newcomer can show the wearer’s choice of a threehand, GMT or chronograph dial, with information being displayed in touchactivated counters. It can also run Android Wear apps and communicate with Android or iOS phones via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. After two years, buyers can exchange the watch for a traditional, mechanical Carrera if they wish – provided they also hand over another $2000…

BRM (Bernard Richards Manufacture) launched its 44mm ‘V12’ chronograph back in 2005, and it has remained the company’s top selling model ever since. The standard watch is available in more than 20 basic variations, all of which can be customised to order with a range of colours and finishes that offer a potential 12,000 alternative designs. But this limited edition, which has been created to mark a decade of V12-44 production, is largely black and white with just a hint of red detailing to the dial and chronograph hands. Just 10 examples will be available.

If you’re looking for a watch that’s different, consider the new Roadster V2 chronograph from niche Spanish brand Pita. Just 49 examples of the model will emerge from the Barcelona workshops of 68-year-old independent maker Aniceto Jimenez Pita, who has created a dashboard-inspired design for the dial of this 44mm drivers’ piece. The watch features a lightweight ‘bullhead’ titanium case in a choice of graphite diamond-like carbon or micro-matt finishes. An aluminium version is also available. The watches are made to order, and delivery time is around three weeks.

OMEGA SPEEDMASTER As worn by Alain de Cadenet, racing driver ‘‘I have worn the same watch for 48 years – it is an Omega Speedmaster that I bought en route to the Nürburgring in 1968. I was towing a trailer from rescia carrying a Ferrari 6 SP and, feeling a bit d, I stopped in Zurich. e looking around, d two Omega

Speedmasters in a watch shop and bought them for $60 each. I put one on my wrist and gave the other to a racing driver called Edward Nelson in exchange for driving me around the Nürburgring so I could learn it. ‘‘Apart from when it’s sent for servicing, it’s

on my wrist all the time – I always wear it while racing. ‘‘I think when you find something in life that is as good as it gets, you hang on to it – which is why I’ve never found a watch I would rather wear than my Speedmaster.’’



evo, PO BOX 1110, Darlinghurst, 1300, NSW, Australia

Inbox What’s beaten your 0-100 time this month? Frumpy Focus

Letter of the Month

Focused on fun I like the new Ford Focus RS because it has something many modern hatches or even high-end sports cars are missing: a sense of humour, and with it a personality. Some might dismiss the Drift mode as a marketing gimmick that will help Ford sell more cars and more Ken Block T-shirts and hats, and this may very well have been the thinking when they came up with the idea initially. But after reading the reviews and watching the videos of the car, I can’t help but notice how much fun people are having driving this thing. And isn’t this why we (should) buy sports cars? I am sure the entire car will make for a very enticing, well-rounded, reasonably priced package, but this is not what will make it rise above its excellent competition – which also come with great engines, well-sorted chassis, strong brakes, etc. What will make the RS different is that with a push of a button you can finally have some pointless, stupid, immature, undiluted fun. Tax Kourelis, Minnesota, USA

The Letter of the Month wins a leather cleaning kit from Mothers 032

The thing I remember most about my childhood Sundays was playing footy in the freezing rain before rushing home to catch a glimpse of an Escort Cosworth terrorising a World Rally stage on TV. I also remember the joy of seeing a production version prowling the streets, with that hunkered-down stance, the ridiculous bodykit, the loud exhaust and the stupidly brilliant whale-tail spoiler. Imagine my delight, then, when the new Focus RS is released not only with a all-wheel-drive system, but is also awarded five glorious evo stars. But before we get too excited, there’s a rather large elephant in the room that needs addressing: the RS is only available in frumpy five-door trim. A fast Ford is supposed to stick its fingers up at everything, but in particular VW owners, your neighbours, and corporatism. So when I hear that the RS won’t be available in three-door guise due to ‘‘global ambitions’’, I can’t help but feel like the baddies won. Nino Rosella

911 wins, really?

re-read the conclusion where the 911 had claimed victory yet again. Henry’s final verdict of “The 911 is the worthy winner... It’s just a very, very good sports car” is hardly the same level of hyperbole bestowed upon the GT-R. On the weight of evidence and testimony, a court of law would have thrown this verdict out as a mistrial. Chris Davies

You can do it touge Upon receiving my subscriber copy of issue 33 I quickly flicked to Henry Catchpole and Aston Parrott’s excellent story with a Cayman GTS in Japan, which to my delight detailed a trip that very closely resembled my own visit to the same roads last year. In case any fellow evo readers are tempted to follow in their tyre tracks, they might be interested to learn that will happily rent you the JDM classic of your choice and even give you a guided tour of the local touges if desired. I had an amazing day in an early NSX and an R35 GT-R. In fact, upon checking the rego plate of the GT-R you encountered on your visit, I realised it was the very same car I drove. Small world! John Gordon

I read Dan Prosser’s Killer Blow (evo Australia 032) with trepidation. Was the new iteration of the 911 still worthy of the gushing praise habitually lavished upon the iconic Porsche by evo staff? Dan’s prose suggested that the Nissan GT-R had slayed the King. Phases such as “entirely different planet; utterly intoxicating; hydraulic steering feelsome and delicate; real precision; agility to burn; real liveliness to the chassis balance; incredibly malleable and adjustable”. Dan concludes the Nissan is a machine of unrivalled excitement and intensity. After all of that adulation I had to

Brave man…

Above: Chris Davies thinks that the Nissan GT-R beat the turbo Carrera.

Above: John Gordon visited the same touge roads as us, but in a classic NSX.

I spend a lot of time trying to conceal things from my wife. She just doesn’t understand the need for superunleaded, a subscription to evo, fancy bits or superlight bobs. So when I turned to pages 126 and 127 of issue 33, containing Nick Trott’s running reports on his GT2, 911 SC and Impreza, I was amazed by the brazenness of his admissions. Two whole pages spelling out expenditure for all to see and marvel at! I hope that your wife is not a subscriber. Matt Stretch


Engineers and scientists are falling over themselves to create the autonomous car, but who actually wants one, asks Meaden IT STANDS TO REASON THAT A MAGAZINE dedicated to The Thrill of Driving should find the growing industry (and media) obsession with the autonomous car profoundly unsettling. Rarely a day goes by without a press release or statement from a major manufacturer proudly proclaiming greater and greater commitment to a self-driving future. If news from the US is anything to go by, that’s only set to ramp up further now that the artificial intelligence system piloting Google’s self-driving car could be considered as the driver under federal law. Law, not tech, has always been the single biggest barrier to autonomous vehicles gaining approval for use on public roads, but it seems that even that hurdle has been at least partially removed. Confirming as much in a recent letter to Google, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it agreed with Google that its self-driving car will not have a ‘driver’ in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers for the last hundred years or more. There are still many legal questions to be answered and precedents to be set before cars can become truly autonomous. Knowing the legal profession’s propensity to drag things out for as long as possible, this gives me some hope that humans won’t be entirely legislated off the roads any time soon – but still there’s a horrible feeling of inevitability about the rise of the machines. Or, rather, the rise of Google. I love cars and I love driving, but of course there are times when I wish I could get in, fall asleep and wake up at my destination. Jet-lagged returns to Heathrow spring to mind. Or soul-destroying commutes. But having the occasional rotten journey is a price worth paying for the freedom to drive where I wish, when I wish, as fast or as slowly as I wish. The question that keeps churning in my head is who asked for autonomous cars? Did you? Nope, me neither. Yet such is the extraordinary amount of energy, investment and fevered conversation in the industry and media, you’d think we’d all been lobbying for them for years. Of course, the challenges of making the technology work are intoxicating catnip to scientists, programmers and engineers, whether they work for Google, Apple or Audi. For them it’s an Earthbound space race, the final frontier. There’s been a drip-drip-drip of autonomous technology for years, but it’s only now that the apparently innocent introduction of parking assist, self-parking, radar cruise control and lane departure and blind-spot monitoring can be seen for what they are: a suite of ‘semi-autonomous’ driver aids to soften us up for fully autonomous vehicles. Being old-school, I despise things like


lane assist, but, being contrary, I quite like blind-spot monitoring. Do I rely solely on a little yellow warning light to tell me I’m about to change lanes into a hidden car? No, I still turn my head and use my eyes. Just as I look as far down the road as possible to see how the traffic is flowing and adjust my speed accordingly without panic braking. It’s called being in control. The problem with driving is, it’s a skill. And, like any skill, you need to practice it, not just to improve, but simply to maintain a certain level. That’s what you and I love about driving, but most couldn’t care less. As the process of driving is dumbed down, so, inevitably, are most drivers, for the less we have to think about, the less we seem to think. That would certainly explain why driving standards are slipping further as mainstream cars

I feel betrayed by the car industry for slowly but surely engineering me out of the process of driving


are fitted with more and more semi-autonomous technology. It all leaves me feeling a bit confused. Betrayed, actually, for it’s the car industry – creator of the machines I love – that is slowly but surely engineering me out of the process. Road fatalities are frequently touted as grounds for taking drivers out of the loop. It’s hard to argue with the human cost of the estimated 1.2 million who died in road accidents globally since 2010. But it’s developing countries with poor infrastructure, non-existent driver training, ageing cars and less advanced emergency care that account for the majority of these deaths. Look a little closer to Silicon Valley and you learn that last year guns killed more Americans under 25 than cars. In England, donuts are the danger, obesity accounting for 6 per cent of deaths compared with 1 per cent for road accidents. And this from data gathered in 1998, since when cars have become safer and people fatter. Cars have become the target because it’s easier than tackling the tougher social – and therefore political – issues. No-one really knows quite what the autonomous future holds, but we do know Google has a habit of getting its way. Just look at its tax returns. I’m the first to concede driving isn’t always a pleasure, but it’ll be a cold day in Hell before I’m convinced by a future where autonomous cars turn us all into passengers. L

t @DickieMeaden Richard is a contributing editor to evo and one of the magazine’s founding team

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Petrolhead R I C H A R D P O RT E R

Is there an ‘evo’ defence for the Land Rover Defender? Having just bought one, Porter believes there is I SHOWED MY WIFE A PHOTOGR APH of the car I wanted to buy. ‘‘Oh my God, that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,’’ she said. This was a better than expected reaction. ‘‘Can you get it as an automatic?’’ she asked. ‘‘Ah, no,’’ I said. ‘‘And how many airbags does it have?’’ ‘‘It has none,’’ I mumbled. ‘‘What about Isofix for the baby seat?’’ she continued. ‘‘Not as such,’’ I coughed, scratching a stubborn piece of invisible dirt off the laptop. ‘‘So this wouldn’t be our family car?’’ she concluded. ‘‘But you still want to get one?’’ There was a pause. ‘‘Is this because you’re turning 40? Are you having a mid-life crisis?’’ ‘‘If I say yes,’’ I muttered, ‘‘will you leave me alone to order the car?’’ And that’s how I ended up with a Land Rover Defender Heritage. It’s not our family car. It’s not even necessary. I just wanted one. And nothing plays on that basic desire like the certain knowledge that production is going to end, coupled to the added delight of a retro-green run-out model and the stout man maths that says it’s ‘an investment’. Turns out I wasn’t the only person consumed with Defender lust. When Land Rover announced the end was near, demand went stellar. That’s why it moved the death date back to January, making the lovely 1948-2015 plaques on the final editions factually incorrect. I didn’t care about this. Nor did I mind waiting almost a year for it to arrive. A funny thing happens when you spend that year telling people you’ve ordered a Defender. As a general rule, women seemed to be filled with an immediate and effusive enthusiasm. Some men were too. But not all. ‘‘What have you done that for?’’ my brother huffed when I said I’d put my name down for a piece of history. My brother does not like Defenders. He says they make his knee hurt. He’s less inclined to mention that once, at his old work, he was given the keys to his company’s brand new 110 and endured a load of joint-cracking road kilometres to reach an off-road course where he promptly crashed it into a tree. My brother wasn’t alone in his distain. My friend Chris demanded to know why I was ‘‘wasting my cash’’ on such a ‘‘crock of shit’’. My friend Chris drives a SEAT Ibiza. Car journo Kyle Fortune said it was ‘‘shite’’ and that I should have got a Porsche 993 like his. I pointed out to car journo Kyle Fortune that he managed to buy the last affordable 993 in the country and he could sod off. Besides, a 993 is an old car now. It will need things doing to it. I’m busy and lazy. I like the idea of old cars, but I also


like the idea of warranties and a ready supply of parts. In this respect the Defender is perfect because it’s a new car that feels like an old one. Just before Christmas, after a restless 11-month wait, I finally picked up my factory-fresh vintage car, pristine in green paint and infused inside with a pungent smell of rubber mats and Brummie bodgery. It’s slow and noisy and rather bumpy. I absolutely adore it. Well that’s all very nice, you might say, but it’s not very evo is it? Oh, but you see, it is. It’s not a car you’d hammer down a back road, fretting about its nuggety lift-on undershuffling, but it is a proper drivers’ car because it makes you think about how you drive. If you’re tired and idle, hauling on the big wheel and kerlunking up and down the ’box seem like a chore and the whole

It’s not a car you’d hammer down a back road, but it is a proper drivers’ car because it makes you think about how you drive


car betrays its origins as a hefty piece of 1940s farm equipment. Conversely, when you’re prepared to put in the work, to give the correct steering inputs, to make sure you’re in the right gear, to drive with care whether you’re urban scuttling or cross-country running, there’s reward to be had. But this means first getting familiar with the car and its foibles. Which means it gets under your skin. I’m loathe to trot out clichés about it having ‘character’, but put it this way: generally I think of cars as machines; glorious, intelligent, liberating and wonderful machines, but machines nonetheless. You can enjoy them without giving them names or making cack-handed attempts at anthropomorphism. Yet the other day while joining the M1, I quietly asked the Defender to ‘‘giddy up’’. Damn it all to Solihull, it’s got me. It’s not a good car in any technical sense, but it is a very loveable one. I like the way it looks, I like the way it brings out warm feelings in other drivers, I like the way you have to really drive it, I like the way it doesn’t have any radar-guided-lane-sensing-autostop-self-dimming-massage stuff on it. I like my Defender very much indeed. It’s by far the best bad car I’ve ever owned. Now leave me alone to have this mid-life crisis in peace. L

t @sniffpetrol Richard is evo’s longest-serving columnist and the keyboard behind


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As a new season of motorsport comes to life, Dario shines a light on the complex and largely inconspicuous world of testing YOU SHOW U P, T H E C A R SHOWS U P, and if it’s a slug, you’ll know it. Not within the first few laps, mind. You’ll be too busy checking for leaks, executing explicit radio commands and generally ensuring all the systems work; seat position, brakes, cooling, actuators, it’s a long list. It’s tempting to see testing as a nerve-racking experience for the driver, but these tentative opening laps of a racing car’s life, filled with new noises and sensations, are more torturous for the designers, engineers and mechanics, whose eyes are glued to the screens in the pits. If their calculations aren’t right it can go spectacularly wrong. Look at McLaren’s MP4-30, which was beyond saving even in the hands of two world champions. Let’s assume they’ve done their jobs, though. Now it’s time to lay down a red-blooded lap, which is where the real graft starts for the driver. For me the ultimate goal was to get the balance of the chassis just how I wanted it – how I needed it. To get anywhere near the point where we could start to fine-tune the thing, however, big sweeps through the mechanical and aerodynamic setup would be needed to get the car developing maximum grip and indeed discover what it ‘liked’. Occasionally a team will ask a new driver to mould their style to a setup the team has been honing for years, and while the newbie might not feel quite as comfortable driving in such a way, most of the time the stopwatch says differently. As the driver and usually the most highly paid member of the team, when this happens you can’t let your ego get in the way. That’s not to say that engineers don’t have egos. During tests for a new IndyCar chassis at the end of 2011, I upset Dallara’s engineers by commenting that their creation reminded me of my 930 Turbo, and not in a good way. Imagine a frighteningly rear-biased weight distribution and abundant turbo lag. The transitions between oversteer on corner entry to massive mid-corner understeer and then to exit oversteer, all at 350km/h, were incredible. Tony Kanaan felt the same and when we sat down together after one particularly gruelling test the pair of us were white as sheets. And here’s the thing: the late Dan Wheldon, an excellent test driver, had done the majority of the work on that car and voiced the very same concerns Tony and I had, only at an earlier date. At the time Dallara and IndyCar’s engineers didn’t believe him, plain and simple. It was only when other drivers reported similar worries that any notice was taken, and six months later everything had been miraculously sorted out, even within what were very tight regulations. Politics in testing? Believe it.


Ideally testing should be an iterative process encompassing the entire car. Gearbox and engine calibration is an enormous – and enormously nuanced – part of any testing programme and is generally an ongoing challenge. Adjustments to springs, roll centres and motion ratios, meanwhile, all get smaller along the way, with aerodynamic sweeps happening in parallel – wing angles, rake, ride height and so on. Spring changes might start at 300lb and finish at 50lb, and instead of changing an entire front wing, by the end you’re precisely adjusting a small Gurney flap. You graduate from trying to merely understand the car to trying to make it work, and we haven’t even mentioned dampers, which are a formidable setup tool that come into play late on.

During early LMP2 testing we had brand new cars burning to the ground, suspension and electrical failures and engine blow-ups


Stamina comes into it, too. I once drove one-and-a-half Indy 500s in a day during testing for Firestone, and while Indy isn’t the most physical of tracks, the mental fatigue was horrendous. Most testing time is severely limited now, however, so much so that a lot of the F1 teams run alternate shifts to ensure they have a car on the track at all times. Every minute is important. Away from computer-derived calibration, another altogether more brutal type of testing exists. With the LMP2 Acura programme especially, we would test the cars to failure, with the ultimate aim of being able to do the 12 Hours of Sebring. During early tests we had everything from brand new cars burning to the ground to suspension failures, engine blow-ups and electrical failures. As we got closer to the end of the pre-Sebring development schedule, simulation even included safety cars, with the scenario permutations being endless. No stone was left unturned, and the car duly won its class. And that’s what it’s all about. Winning. For the car that took the chequered flag in Adelaide in March, the seeds for that victory were sown during the first day of testing at Jerez. L

t @dariofranchitti Dario is a three-time Indy 500 winner and four-time IndyCar champ

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Porsche 911 Turbo S It can now match a 918 Spyder off the line, but raw pace has never been the Turbo S’s problem, so does this new version raise the bar in terms of excitement? TWO POINT SIX. That’s the real igure. The press pack may list a 2.9-second 0-100km/h time for the revised Porsche 911 Turbo S, but that’s an intentionally conservative igure. In testing, senior engineer August Achleitner and his team repeatedly achieved 2.6-second runs, which ranks this range-topping 911 among the most accelerative road cars of all time. Oicially, Porsche quotes the slower time because customer cars should be able to match the claimed igure at altitude and in high ambient temperatures. But you and I also know that the $456,500 Turbo S could not be seen to be as fast of the line as the 918 Spyder… The 911 Turbo range has been facelited to bring it into step with the rest of the 911 line-up, which was overhauled late last year. The styling revisions are subtle to say the least, but the new versions can be picked out by their twin LED strips in the

front bumper, a new engine cover design and the ‘three-dimensional’ tail lights that are being rolled out across the Porsche model range. Similarly, the cabin has only received leeting attention, the most signiicant upgrade being the latest Porsche Communications Management system, which is a useful improvement on the old one. The steering wheel is now a 360mmdiameter ‘GT’ item rather than the 380mm wheel in outgoing models, which always felt too large for absolute comfort. Within its spokes, meanwhile, is a new rotary switch allowing the driver to toggle between the Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual driving modes. The more meaningful revisions lie beneath the skin. Both versions are up by 15kW – liting the Turbo to 397kW and this Turbo S to 427kW. This has been achieved by raising fuel pressure and modifying the inlet ports of the 3.8-litre lat-six. The more powerful version uses

The team This month, we asked our road testers to name their ideal everyday Porsche…

NICK TROTT UK Editor 959. I’d never get bored of looking at it and driving it. Upkeep might be costly, mind…

JESSE TAYLOR Australia editor I just tried, and failed, to buy a new 911R. That would have done nicely.

HENRY CATCHPOLE Features editor 997 GTS. Coupe, rear-wheel drive with a manual gearbox, Sport Chrono and PCCB

DAN PROSSER Road test editor I don’t mind using a Carrera GT every day. Can I also have a 918 Spyder for commuting?

JETHRO BOVINGDON Contributing editor Easy: 4.0

RICHARD MEADEN Contributing editor Cayman GT4. A fabulous sports car, but not too hardcore for daily use

DAVID VIVIAN Contributing editor 991 GT3. Feels special all the time and the rush is just a downshit away

ADAM TOWLER Contributing road tester Gen-1 997 Turbo: masses of power, Mezger engine, practical, still feels small


bigger turbocharger compressors than the base model for the irst time, running slightly higher boost pressures. A seven-speed twinclutch gearbox remains the only transmission option. Throttle response was hardly a weakness of the irst-gen 991 Turbo S, but nonetheless Porsche has introduced a system for the 991.2 that should improve it even further. Called ‘dynamic boost’, the system leaves the throttle valve open for up to two seconds ater the driver lits of the throttle pedal, while cutting the fuel supply, so that boost pressure is maintained. The only transmission revisions


relate to the all-wheel-drive system, which now uses higher-friction clutch plates to divert torque to the front axle more quickly. The rear axle still features a torque-vectoring dif, the rear-wheel-steering system is carried over, and Porsche Active Suspension Management, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control and Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes are all standard on the Turbo S. A front-axle lit system can now be optioned and there’s a Sport mode within the Porsche Stability Management programme that allows you to slacken the electronic reins independently of the Sport and Sport Plus drive modes

without removing them entirely. Porsche has chosen Kyalami Racing Circuit in South Africa as the launch venue. The track is now owned by the local Porsche importer and it really is spectacular, but the altitude and low-octane fuel mean combustion engines run well below their best. In fact, our test car needs at least 3500rpm before it returns any meaningful performance, which wasn’t at all true of the last Turbo S that I drove. Whether or not the conditions are stiling it we’ll ind out when we get to test the car again in the UK and Australia, but I can’t believe this latest version has lost the old car’s tractability.

The dynamic boost function is said to be more prominent in the Sport and Sport Plus modes, but even so you’re unlikely to notice any improvement over the old Turbo S. Throttle response across the inal half of the rev range feels sharp and crisp, just as it did in the previous version. The Sport Response mode, however, does make a diference on the road. A small button at the centre of the rotary switch primes the entire drivetrain for immediate response and performance for 20 seconds, which makes overtaking as fuss-free as it can be. With no meaningful chassis revisions, the Turbo S’s on-road

Porsche 911 Turbo S

Let: Styling revisions are minor, but Miami Blue paint is a new option. Below: Porsche’s take on Ferrari’s manettino; central button engages new Sport Response mode. Right: Tacho remains front and centre, naturally.

dynamics are as they were. That’s to say performance, point-to-point pace, grip and traction are simply vast, but driver involvement and two-way engagement are short of the best in class. One issue is that the body is so well controlled and so tightly tied down that there are none of the natural slight body movements that we associate with a car that’s being driven hard. Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control – the active anti-roll system – works to cancel out these movements, which makes the car more composed down a road but also less involving. It’s impossible to take issue with the sheer speed of the thing, but it’s

Pressing the Sport Response button primes the entire drivetrain for immediate response for 20 seconds

only when you start to drive right at the limit of what’s reasonable on the public road that the Turbo S really comes alive. This point is neatly illustrated by how entertaining the car is on circuit, where you have the space and opportunity to really take it by the scruf. It’s all to do with the luid adjustability that’s been built into the chassis. The car’s natural balance on corner entry is towards understeer – more so in fact than with a 911 Carrera 4 – but you can easily drive around that by trail-braking or by using the heavily rear-biased weight distribution to get the back end gently swinging around at the apex. The car’s

balance is just so malleable, and even at the point where you have an armful of corrective lock applied it’s so controllable, with none of the spikiness of a mid-engined car. The all-wheel drive is a sort of ‘get out of jail free’ card, because if you do happen to overcook it in a corner and it feels as though the car is close to spinning, a healthy stab of throttle will drag it straight as the hardware overloads the front axle. In faster corners, where you can do less to manipulate the car’s balance, the best approach is to check your entry speed to keep the front axle short of the point of pushing on, then get back on the power early.


The Turbo S runs on Pirelli P Zero tyres, although they’re not Corsas, let alone something really sticky such as a Trofeo R or Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2. Even so, mid-corner grip is so strong that you can lean really heavily on the car. Combined with so much power it’s actually quicker around a circuit such as Kyalami – with its long, lat-out sections – than a GT3 RS in the hands of a professional driver. With the 911 Carrera range now using turbocharged engines, there is a suggestion that the Turbo models might have lost their USP. There’s such a gulf between the Carrera and Turbo models, though – both in terms of performance and character – that there’s plenty of room within the 911 range for both. Whereas the new 3.0-litre twin-turbo engines have been developed to feel similar to normally aspirated units, with very linear power delivery, the 3.8-litre engine still feels decidedly turbocharged, with a distinct, very boosty manner of delivery.


With the revisions from irst- to second-generation 991 Turbo S being detail rather than wholesale, the car’s overall character is unchanged. So too are its fundamental strengths – it remains the most useable car in the junior-supercar category owing to the levels of long-journey reinement and its two small but useful rear seats. The Audi R8 V10 Plus has the engine and the McLaren 570S has the chassis, but the Turbo S remains the most accomplished everyday car of the three. The lip side is that it isn’t quite as exciting as either of its rivals on a lat-out drive along a great road. Apart from its 0-100km/h time, the other eye-opening performance igure is the Turbo S’s claimed top speed: 330km/h. In the vast 911 back catalogue, only a fully wrung-out 997 GT2 RS is faster. In the same way that it’s incrementally faster than the outgoing car, the few detail revisions have ensured that it’s incrementally better, too. L Dan Prosser (@TheDanProsser)


3800cc flat-six, dohc, 24v, twin-turbo

427kW @ 6750rpm

It’s quicker around a fast circuit such as Kyalami than a GT3 RS

+ Enormous performance and handling ability; everyday appeal - Not as thrilling as certain rivals Torque Weight Consumption 0-100km/h



Top: rear wing starts to rise at 120km/h and tilts by up to 15 degrees in Sport Plus mode. Above: ceramic brakes are standard on the S.

750Nm @ 2250-4000rpm

1600kg (267kW/tonne)


2.9sec (claimed)

evo rating ;;;;; Top speed

Basic price

330km/h (claimed)


Litchfield Audi RS6

Litchfield Audi RS6 A wagon with more power than an Aventador SV – sounds like our kind of car SO YOU WAKE UP ONE morning and decide your family car is a bit boring: too slow, too practical, too ordinary. This happens to me a lot, but then again I have an Espace. Surely I should get an E61 M5 Touring or ind a well-loved but high-mileage E63 AMG? Probably. But it seems no matter which family car you choose, inevitably you end up wanting more. How else can you explain this Litchield-tuned Audi RS6 Avant and the strong demand for it? And most customers don’t want the milder (relatively speaking) Stage 1 and Stage 2 kits, instead opting for the full-on Stage 3 with an absurd 560kW. To recap, the Audi RS6 is already quite fast. It has a 4.0-litre twinturbocharged V8 with 412kW at 5700rpm and 700Nm from 1750rpm. Despite a hety 1935kg to haul around, we launched a standard RS6 to 100km/h in 3.6sec and recorded an astonishing 0-160km/h run of 8.2sec. The factory now ofers an RS6 Performance with 445kW, too. But if you want a real power hike you need to look to the atermarket, and



the Litchield Stage 3 upgrade takes the RS6 way beyond the factory power outputs for a relatively modest igure, including itting, of circa $12,500. In terms of hardware the only upgrade is a full Milltek exhaust system including new high-low cats. Reprogramming the ECU makes the most of this freer breathing system and yields 560kW and 960Nm. Litchield’s demonstrator is actually more like a Stage 3 Plus, the Milltek system replaced by a titanium one from Akrapovic. It doesn’t add any more power but it sounds even more ferocious and adds a further c$10K to the price. Well, it is titanium. Should you be interested, the Stage 1 option simply reprograms the ECU and ofers an extra 75kW for just c$1000, while Stage 2 adds a catback exhaust for 544kW. On the road this RS6 feels ballistic and sounds wild. In fact it’s one of those cars that ofers acceleration that’s endlessly hilarious. Every chance you get you want to downshit and then pin the throttle for as long as possible. Sadly, that isn’t very long at all if you value your

freedom, but the explosive crackles and pops on the overrun maintain the smile. This is 911 Turbo S type shock and awe but in a near twotonne wagon and it feels illicit and delicious all at the same time. For the most part the RS6 just soaks up the extra power thanks to its all-wheel-drive system. You know it’s working harder under full acceleration and the front wheels do spin up under the strain; there’s also some torque steer to deal with on bumpier roads, but it’s still quite surreal being able to harness that elemental power even in second and third gears. There’s not much wrong with the balance either, the RS6 showing a neutral cornering stance and the Sport dif using its torque vectoring capabilities to create a trace of yaw as you howl onto the

next straight. Dial everything down to Comfort and the Akrapovic even blends into the background and you can smooch around as comfortably as in the standard machine. Sadly Litchield doesn’t ofer a suspension kit and the RS6 remains a car that’s either loaty and remote or harsh and spiky, depending upon whether you select the Comfort or Dynamic setting. In fact the extra performance only highlights the poor body control in the soter setting. Dynamic tightens things up but the car rattles and shudders over a road so conigured. The Dynamic Steering is also pretty awful. It’s a shame, because the RS6 looks fantastic, is beautifully inished and with the Litchield upgrade is almost shockingly fast. The best bit of all? The noise. I think with the Akrapovic exhaust it might be the best sounding turbocharged engine you can buy today. I kept clattering into the limiter just for fun. It spits lames, too. A wagon that spits lames… Suitable family transport, I’d say. L Jethro Bovingdon (@JethroBovingdon)

+ The power, the noise, the noise and the noise - Chassis weaknesses exposed further by massive power hike

evo rating ;;;;2







Top speed

Basic price

V8, 3993cc, dohc, 32v, twin-turbo

560kW @ 6150rpm

960Nm @ 4935rpm

1935kg (289kW/tonne)


3.0sec (est)

330km/h (est)

See text


Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4 Spyder

Lamborghini’s decision to launch the Huracán LP610-4 Spyder in Miami speaks volumes about its intended audience


THERE WAS ONE particular slide in the product presentation that really stood out. It was a simple graphic that depicted all three versions of Lamborghini’s Huracán supercar, along with a pithy little description of each. The LP610-4 coupe was labelled the ‘performance’ model in the range and the LP580-2 coupe, the rearwheel-drive version, was described as the ‘fun-to-drive’ model. The new car, meanwhile, the one I’d travelled to Florida to drive – the LP610-4 Spyder – was labelled ‘lifestyle’. The tone was set in an instant. And quite why I’d been brought to a sprawling metropolis like Miami to drive a 320km/h supercar suddenly became all too clear. The Huracán


Spyder will, by and large, spend its time crawling glitzy urban streets, one gear too low, in the world’s most affluent cities. Lamborghini knows it, and that’s the context in which the company wanted the motoring press to test its latest model. Based on the LP610-4 coupe, the Spyder uses the more powerful version of the sublime 5.2-litre V10 and retains the all-wheel-drive system. Rather than a folding hardtop roof, as favoured by Ferrari and McLaren, the Lamborghini uses a fabric hood, which can be raised or lowered at the touch of a button in 17 seconds at speeds up to 50km/h. The roof mechanism, plus additional structural bracing, adds 120kg to the weight of the car. Dry, the Huracán Spyder tips the scales

at 1542kg. That’s 122kg heavier than Ferrari’s 488 Spider and a full 172kg over and above McLaren’s 650S Spider. Nonetheless, with 449kW and 560Nm, the drop-top Huracán will sprint to 100km/h in a more than sprightly 3.4 seconds. Its top speed is 323km/h. The Huracán is built around an ultra-stif aluminium/carbonibre monocoque, which retains a useful amount of torsional rigidity even when the roof is chopped away. In fact, the Huracán Spyder is 40 per cent stifer than the Gallardo Spyder. The hood itself is a three-layer item that, Lamborghini says, very nearly matches the coupe’s metal roof for noise insulation when it’s in place. As Lamborghini pursues the nonenthusiast supercar buyer, it inds

Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4 Spyder

Let: Huracán looks sensational in Spyder form. Unfortunately the hood gubbins eats into interior space. Below let: driving mode switch sharpens steering, throttle and gearchange response.

If you can forget the $470K price, the Spyder is no more taxing to drive in town than an A4

itself having to manage something of an image problem. To the uninitiated, Lamborghinis are still the raw and fearsome machines they were 20 or 30 years ago, which is probably a little of-putting when all you really want is to turn heads. The company is very keen, consequently, to express just how easy the Spyder is to drive. In fact, it’s a priority. Before you’ve even started the engine, though, there’s a problem. A small number of the components that make up the roof mechanism are located forward of the bulkhead, which means cabin space has been impinged upon. The intrusion might be small, but it has limited seat travel to such an extent that I really struggled to ind a comfortable driving position. The only way to

push the seat back far enough to accommodate my 6t frame was to wind the seat back into an unnaturally upright angle. The seat itself was also set too high, so I felt perched on top of the car rather than nestled within it. There is an optional low-set seat, but it doesn’t rectify the issue by any means. Seating position aside, the cabin is an exciting place to be, thanks to the rake of the windscreen and the sense of the weight of the car being over your shoulders, but many of the minor controls and buttons feel cheap and plasticky. The Audi R8 – with which the Huracán shares its platform and drivetrain – has a more premium feeling cabin. If you can forget the $470,800 list price, the Spyder is no more taxing

to drive in town than an A4 sedan. In the basic Strada mode, with the twin-clutch gearbox swapping cogs itself, the engine is quiet, the exhaust is subdued, the steering is light and visibility is generally good for a mid-engined supercar. There’s also enough give in the suspension to soak up all but the biggest imperfections in the road surface. Miami is a tremendous city for a great number of reasons, but it is not a place that allows you to dissect the dynamic ability of a highperformance motor vehicle. Freeway slip-roads and the odd roundabout was about as good as it got. On irst impressions, though, it seems the Spyder majors on grip, security and stability rather than outright thrills, which would make sense.


Above: 6t Prosser struggled to get comfy. Right: carbon-ceramic discs are standard. Far right: roof goes up or down in 17sec and at speeds up to 50km/h.

It’s the consummate head-turner, but it’s far from the pick of the Huracán line-up


+ Styling, performance, soundtrack - Seating position, safe and steady dynamics Weight (dry) Consumption 0-100km/h




5204cc V10, dohc, 40v

449kW @ 8250rpm

560Nm @ 6500rpm


1542kg (291kW/tonne)


3.4sec (claimed)

The car does feel supremely agile and responsive on initial turn-in and there is an enormous amount of grip to lean on, but there’s no expression or adjustability in the chassis. Work the car hard and all you’ll ind at the limit is safe and steady understeer. Even under power away from tight corners, the Spyder remains steadfastly locked-down where an R8 would give an impression of being driven from the rear. Over particularly rough sections of road there is a slight sense of the structure being contorted, for you can feel the steering column shudder and see the rear-view mirror vibrate, but never to the point of irritation. It’s only the McLaren 650S Spider, with its exotic carbonibre tub, that shows the Lambo up in this regard. Our test car wasn’t itted with Lamborghini’s regrettable dynamic steering system, but the standard system was barely preferable. It was unusually inconsistent in its weighting and didn’t ofer a better sense of connection to the front axle than the optional system would have done. Curiously, variable dampers are an optional extra (not itted here) while carbon-ceramic brakes are standard it. The Huracán Spyder is not without its laws, but nor is it without its virtues. That 5.2-litre engine is a gem, pulling hard from the mid-range and building to an intense, ear-splitting crescendo at 8700rpm. There’s no better way to enjoy what truly is one of the great modern performance car engines. The gearbox, meanwhile, is wellmannered around town and very quick and crisp in the way it delivers manual gearshits. The Huracán Spyder is the consummate head-turner and, for the customer Lamborghini evidently has in mind, it ticks so many of the right boxes. It is, however, far from the pick of the Huracán line-up when you’re more interested in driving the car than being seen driving it. L Dan Prosser (@TheDanProsser)

evo rating ;;;;2 Top speed

Basic price

323km/h (claimed)


Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X Final Edition We farewell a car that was once a staple of this magazine AFTER TWO CONCEPTS dating back to 2005, the 10th and inal generation of the legendary Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution series debuted at the Tokyo motor show in 2007. Much of the Lancer’s thunder was stolen by the reveal of Nissan’s R35 GT-R, a car that is also still on sale nearly a decade later. Unlike the still-contemporary Nissan, however, the world has moved on and let the Lancer feeling incredibly old-school (you can drop ‘school’ if you want to be cruel). The likes of the Lancer Evo and Subaru STi once ruled the roads and the pages of this magazine. Mitsubishi and Subaru owned the turbo, all-wheel-drive genre, with tactile giant killers that ofered levels of performance unmatched by anything this side of a 911 Turbo. In fact, a decade ago, I even conducted a comparison test between a Porsche 911 GT2 and a Subaru STi, and while the GT2 was massively fast in the right conditions, throw in bumpy or damp roads and the Japanese warrior was able to hassle the German Widow Maker.



But if you want proof that the world of performance cars has overtaken the Evo and STi, you only need to turn to page 80 of this issue. The three European-built all-wheeldrive super hatches ofer superior dynamics and performance, vastly better interiors and, in the case of the Ford and the VW, are less expensive than the $53,700 Lancer Final Edition. Wearing my 2016 road-tester’s cap, the Final Edition falls at nearly every hurdle. The engine exhibits plenty of turbo lag, a trait not helped by the ive long ratios of the manual gearbox, while the ride can be brutal around town and the cabin cannot hide its age nor its utilitarian genes. But there’s still something endearing about the Lancer. Perhaps it’s the rose-tinted memory of iring a Makinen Edition Evo 6.5 around Wakeield Park and having it adopt an amazingly neutral oversteer stance through the fast corners. Or perhaps it’s the memory of chasing an E46 M3 across the Victorian High Country in an Evo VII and having plenty in reserve. The Evo has formed a large part

of my motoring memories, so I’m willing to cut it some slack. And despite the way it goes about delivering it, there’s an abundance of performance once you unlock it. In fact, the delayed reaction followed by the rush of boost gives the Evo a manic, runaway feeling that few modern cars exhibit. In the Final Edition, the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder makes 226kW (up 9kW) at 6500rpm and 414Nm at 3500rpm (a 48Nm increase over the regular Evo X). The turbo lag, tall gearing and long-travel clutch make it a challenge to drive the Evo smoothly in traic, but away from the conines of the city, the Lancer still eats up the tarmac. Ater the sot bottom end, the peak torque comes in with a rush that keeps hitting until max

power arrives at 6500. The delivery does soten again pretty soon ater 6500rpm, so you need to keep the engine between 4000-6500rpm. With only ive ratios from which to choose, third and fourth are your best bets to make fast progress. The shit is slow, so you tend to stay in third for slower corners, rather than ight the cross-gate shit back to second. If you’re going to employ this technique, you need to keep up the cornering speed, otherwise the engine drops of boost. Though the Lancer’s body rattles with surprising limsiness in normal driving, it does feel up to some punishment when you drive it harder. The combination of the Eibach springs and Bilstein dampers keep the body in check, but there are plenty of bangs and crashes from underneath. Unlike Nissan’s strategy of constant tweaking and reinement with its GT-R, the Lancer has been let largely untouched and it’s a shame that a car that means so much to so many enthusiasts has been let to die a slow death. L Jesse Taylor

+ Still fast and involving once you drive around its old-school turbo lag - Feels flimsy, interior is terrible, gearbox ordinary

evo rating ;;;22







Top speed

Basic price

1998cc in-line 4-cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo

226kW @ 6500rpm

414Nm @ 3500rpm

1565kg (144kW/tonne)


5.5sec (est)

240km/h (est)



Mercedes-AMG SL63 Mid-cycle facelift of the R231 SL brings a fresh and cohesive new look. Rangetopping SL63 delivers characterful drive


HAVING DEBUTED IN 1954 (two years earlier for the race car), SL is the world’s oldest continuously running passenger car nameplate – only the Chevrolet Suburban out dates it. Oicially the SL63 will top the local line-up of the facelited R231 roadster, as Mercedes-Benz Australia will not ofer the twinturbocharged V12 SL65. Ater selling only six SL65s in four years, it’s an obvious decision, but should you really want a 65, Mercedes will sell you one. In the case of the SL63, the drivetrain carries over but that’s a good thing. The twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 makes 430kW and 900Nm, and the seven-speed MCT gearbox does the cog shuffling. This is the last application of the 5.5-litre engine before subsequent


Mercedes-AMG releases move to the newer 4.0-litre V8 already found in the C63 and GT S models. The SL63’s 0-100km/h claim proves how outdated that igure is as a performance benchmark. The 4.1-second SL63 is just 0.2secs faster than the 335kW SL500 and is beaten by any number of lesspowerful, AWD hot hatches. The truth is that the SL63 is in another league to the SL500, delivering thrust from 100-200km/h that feels more than a match for a Nissan GT-R, and perhaps even sharper than its overtly sportier brother, the GT S. No matter how many times it makes me LOL, this kind of roll-on punch never loses its entertainment factor. At 1845kg, it’s clearly not Sports Light as the badge once implied, but big power trumps power-to-weight everyday of the week. The 430kW,

Mercedes-AMG SL63

Let and far let: International launch of the facelited R231 SL took place from Orange County to San Diego. The OC felt like the natural home of the SL. Below let: SL63 uses 360mm rotors at each corner and they repeatedly arrest big speeds without complaint.

900Nm twin-turbocharged V8 makes mince meat of the weight and thunders the SL63 to over 200km/h without drawing breath. The gearbox keeps plucking ratios and the engine keeps devouring them. It thuds into its 250km/h speed limiter with two gears to go. Like most current AMG models, Australian-spec SL63s will be ofered with a 300km/h limiter, but even this will be nowhere near the car’s true velocity potential – unencumbered by an electronic nanny, it’s a 330-plus weapon. In Comfort mode, the sonics from the engine and exhausts roll across the surrounding landscape like the sot rumble of a building thunderstorm. Switch through Sport to Sport Plus or Race, and the engine barks and bellows regardless of where the tacho needle is pointing, while big-rev downshits echo sharp

Australian-spec SL63s will be offered with a 300km/h limiter, but even this is nowhere near to car’s true potential

reports of any surrounding hard surface. Even ater a few hours of listening to the ireworks, some downshit bangs actually startle me. In general, the gearbox does a ine job of harnessing that torque while balancing the dual demands of smooth and crisp shits. It’s certainly faster up the ratios, with prompt response to a tug of the right-hand paddle. Down the gearbox, there’s a slight pause, like the computers are all trying to agree that the shit won’t place an undue strain on any drivetrain component. The pause is less noticeable when you leave the gearbox in Drive and let the electronics sort it out for you. Like the S63 sedan and Coupe before it, the SL63’s gearbox occasionally delivers an abrupt shit into irst as you draw to a halt in traic. Despite the kerb weight, you can really hustle the SL63 down a road, using the mid-range to build speed from mid corner, before applying the full-throttle blowtorch once the exit appears. Grip from the Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber (255/35 R19 front and 285/30 R19 rear), is impressively even across both axles – it doesn’t fall into push, nor does it overwhelm the rears with every touch of the throttle. In fact, grip levels are vastly superior to those of the SL500, which works its rear tyres much harder and was more keen to oversteer on turn-in (if you were too optimistic with entry speed) or exit (if you were too early with the throttle). If anything, the extra grip of the SL63 promotes a fraction more body roll than exhibited by the 500. The 63 feels like it’s trying to


dig into the surface rather than skim across it. The brakes are incredibly powerful and continued to bite 100km/h out of the 63’s velocity without any sotening of the pedal. At the more mundane speeds at which most SLs will be boulevarded, the pedal doesn’t hide any jerky surprises. Local pricing is yet to be announced, but Mercedes-Benz Australia’s Senior Manager of Public Relations, Product and Corporate Communications, David McCarthy, said that potential buyers can expect a discount of around 10 per cent on the current car’s $398,610 list price. Even with the substantial price cut, the SL remains in rareied territory, but it signiicantly undercuts many of its rivals. The SL63 plays in a very tough sandpit, with oferings from Ferrari, Bentley and Porsche among those competing for your stacks of money. The SL63 can’t match the badge cachet of the $409,888 Ferrari California T, but it’s arguably more characterful than the very grown-up

Specification Engine


5461cc V8, dohc, 32v, twin-turbo

430kW @ 5500rpm


Above: Mid-cycle facelit brings a muchimproved nose to the R231 SL. Let: Twinturbocharged 5.5-litre V8 carries over with 430kW and 900Nm.

+ Much-improved styling, V8 delivers performance and sound - Not the last word on dynamics Torque Weight (dry) Consumption 0-100km/h 900Nm @ 2250-3750rpm

1845kg (233kW/tonne)


4.1sec (claimed)

and slightly sot-focus Italian. We’re waiting to test the California with the Speciale kit that might add some lair to the Ferrari and put it on par with the surprisingly characterful Mercedes-AMG. Whether V8- or W12-powered, the Bentley Continental GTC (from $419,100) has a character and swagger all of its own. It’s not as dynamic as the AMG (or any of the other rivals) but there’s an underlying ‘specialness’ about the Bentley that not even the Ferrari badge can cover. Porsche’s 911 Turbo Cabrio ($406,400 or $478,000 for the Turbo S) is easily the fastest and most dynamically capable rival, but it lacks the luxury vibe of the others. Despite being signiicantly more expensive than the SL63 or an unoptioned Ferrari, the Porsche’s key fob doesn’t quite have the requisite boardroom-table het. Perhaps, then, the upcoming, S-Class Cabrio will be the SL’s closest rival? To enthusiasts like you and I, AMG’s GT S makes much more sense (especially given that it’s vastly less expensive), but the SL is a very diferent beast and deserves its 62-year place in the Mercedes line-up. L Jesse Taylor

evo rating ;;;;4

Top speed

Basic price

300km/h (limited)


Mercedes-Benz SL400 270kW SL400 might open the range, but it’s no base model FOR A LONG TIME, I’VE been fascinated by the idea of an entry-level lagship model. The idea irst occurred to me when I drove the R230 SL350 back in 2002. To the untrained eye, the SL350 looked exactly like the SL500 and was a set of decent alloys away from being a passable facsimile of the SL55 AMG. Of course, once you started the 3.7-litre naturally aspirated V6, the jig was up as it couldn’t hope to imitate the NASCAR soundtrack of the 5.4-litre supercharged AMG V8. But for most people, the look and the image would be enough to satisfy, and there is serious money to be saved if you can live the lie. The engine was the R230 SL350’s biggest drawback and I could imagine many a cunning Benz salesman using the SL500’s smoother V8 as I way to walk up a customer from base- to mid-spec. With 180kW and 350Nm, the R230 SL350 was good for a claimed 7.2 second dash to 100km/h. Fast forward to the mid-cycle facelit



of the R231 SL and the entry-level SL400’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 makes 270kW from 55006000rpm and 500Nm from 20004200rpm – up 25kW and 20Nm over the irst-gen SL400. (In the US, where the international launch took place, the two non-AMG variants get an extra 50 on their badges and are known as the SL450 and SL550.) The SL400’s crisp V6 combines 7.7L/100km consumption with a deeply impressive 0-100km/h sprint of just 4.9 seconds. That’s a scant 0.2sec slower than the thundering SL55 AMG. The engine’s torque output swells from just of idle and provides a stout mid-range that delivers easily accessible performance. Unlike many V6 engines, especially those itted with a pair of turbochargers, the SL400’s motor also produces a stirring note that hardens as the revs rise into the upper reaches of the tacho’s scale. Coupled to a nine-speed torque converter automatic, the SL400 is blessed with a mightily impressive drivetrain. The spread of ratios is as

broad as you’d expect of a gearbox with so many cogs. First is 5.35:1, while ninth is a hugely overdriven 0.60:1 – sixth (1:1), seventh (0.86), eighth (0.72) and ninth are all very closely stacked. The gearbox smoothly plucks ratios at low road- and enginespeeds. When driving harder, the gearbox is keen to react on the way up the ratios (either let on its own or via the steering wheel paddles), but is a little less determined to deliver a downshit. When you’re piling into a corner on the brakes, it can be frustrating to have your request ignored by the gearbox. Experimenting with driving styles, we found the ’box was no slower to drop a ratio when let in D. It actually

made the whole car relax and yet was no slower at covering ground. For a car that’s likely to spend most of its time on shopping trips in the world’s better suburbs, the SL400 exhibits solid body control – especially when you consider the roadster’s 1735kg kerb weight. Tyres measure 255/40 R18 at each corner, so there’s more than adequate grip. In fact, the SL400’s front end proved eager to turn in and almost impossible to overwhelm. And only very early and brutal throttle openings would force the rear tyres to relinquish their hold on the tarmac on corner exit. The steering isn’t exactly alive with feedback, but the rate of response is more accurate than you’d expect, and the weighting is neither overly light, nor artiicially heavy and gloopy. The new generation of SL Roadsters arrive in Australia midyear and while the local pricing has yet to be revealed, the company has suggested we can expect price reductions of at least 10 per cent. L Jesse Taylor

+ V6 sounds good and provides surprising speed - Gearbox can be slow to respond to downshift requests Torque Weight Consumption 0-100km/h



2996cc V6, dohc, 24v, twin-turbo

270kW @ 5500-6000rpm

500Nm @ 2000-4200rpm

1735kg (156kW/tonne)


4.9sec (claimed)

evo rating ;;;;4

Top speed

Basic price

250km/h (limited)



Praga R1R Czech trackday marvel gets a number plate, but is it simply too hardcore for public roads? Photography: Aston Parrott


IT WASN’T LONG AGO that Henry Catchpole had his body contorted and brain recalibrated by the downforce of the Praga R1 racing car at Donington Park. Now it’s my turn. However, today I’m in Praga’s new road car. Yes, road car. It’s called the R1R, it’s based on the R1 racer, and it looks tiny, extreme and, um, rather like a racing car. It is a road-legal machine, though, and the inish is high-quality carbonibre and Alcantara, the ride height is raised to cope with lumps and bumps, and instead of slicks it’s wearing Toyo Proxes R888 tyres. There’s even a number plate on its vast front splitter. The R1R really is an exquisite and extraordinary sculpture and its beautifully executed lines and elegant suspension create an impression of jewel-like quality. It calls to mind the lawlessly built BAC Mono. It needs to be exceptional, though, as the R1R costs around $350,000. The car’s basis is a tiny carbon chassis with a subframe at the rear for the mid-mounted engine and inboard suspension, and another subframe at the front that also features inboard, pushrodoperated Koni dampers. The teardrop-shaped central structure means the R1R usually has a centrally mounted single seat, but you can


opt for a two-seat setup and swap between the two conigurations quite easily. The throttle and brake pedals (no clutch) are separated by the steering column, so you have no option but to let-foot brake. Power comes from the 2.0-litre four-cylinder ‘F4R 832’ Renaultsport engine (essentially a Formula Renault 2.0 motor) with Praga’s own turbocharging system applied. It produces 291kW at 6750rpm and 530Nm at 4200rpm and drives through a paddle-operated sequential Hewland gearbox with a centrifugal clutch, which means pulling away is simply a case of slowly building up the revs… The R1R weighs just 670kg, so performance with the engine running full boost (you can turn it down to around 245kW) is

Top let: optional two-seat coniguration means the driver sits ofset to the wheel. Above let: inboard pushrod suspension, just like the R1 racer.

Praga R1R


+ Stunning quality, outrageous track performance - Heavily compromised on the road; power delivery needs work Torque Weight Consumption 0-100km/h



1998cc in-line 4-cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo

291kW @ 6750rpm

suitably nutty. Think sub-3.0sec to 100km/h. More impressive still is the downforce, the R1R producing more than its total mass by 200km/h. Our irst taste of the R1R is once again on track at Donington, and that’s no bad thing as the performance is only truly appreciated when you can lean on the car’s extraordinary mechanical and aerodynamic grip. But irst you have to squeeze in, which isn’t easy with the dual-seat in place. The central seat is much the better bet, not least because otherwise you sit at an angle, hips to the let of the steering wheel and legs having to feed to the right. It’s not a great way to feel connected to the car. Having said that, conidence builds quickly simply because this car is outrageously capable.

530Nm @ 4200rpm

670kg (434kW/tonne)

There are some areas that need work – the throttle response is very binary, creating a feeling of turbo lag that isn’t really there, and the steering is perhaps too fast once the downforce is aiding steering response – but the fundamentals are astonishing. Even on trackday tyres the grip this thing generates is simply amazing. It howls through the Craner Curves lat-out with almost zero steering input. The brakes are superbly feelsome and allow you to attack braking zones even if you’re not a natural let-foot braker, and the way the R1R can drive around other road and race cars at Donington has to be seen to be believed. To me the straight-line performance doesn’t feel as crazy as, say, that of a Radical SR8, but the downforce level feels higher and because the R1R is so tiny


sub-3.0sec (claimed)

you can cut cleaner, more eicient lines around the circuit. The Renaultsport engine is really sweet. It doesn’t wail like a normally aspirated screamer, but compared with the Ford EcoBoost engine found in many of these sorts of cars, it’s full of character and so much more exciting to wring out to the 7000rpm limiter. The ’box is quick and efective but could be smoother on upshits. Overall it’s enough to leave you slightly dizzy. The R1R is just so fast around a track and so secure that for me the only issue is you tend to drive within its limits and don’t feel encouraged to venture beyond. Maybe the R1R would remain composed and easy to exploit when the tyres start to slip, but I didn’t get the feedback to go there, to start exploring its ultimate balance.

evo rating ;;;;2 Top speed

Basic price

260km/h (est)


On the road the R1R feels extreme to the point you can barely believe it’s legal. I don’t go far but the lack of steering lock, very irm ride, the sheer noise of the engine and ’box and the clutch’s abrupt take-up make it feel less resolved than an Ariel Atom 3.5R or Radical RXC Turbo. Everything is adjustable so perhaps a good road compromise could be hit upon, but I doubt the R1R will ever feel truly useable on the road. Just 68 R1Rs will be built and I expect they’ll barely turn a wheel on public tarmac between them. But if you’ve already got a garage bursting with superb road cars and want to go really, really fast on trackdays, the Praga R1R is deinitely it for purpose. L Jethro Bovingdon (@JethroBovingdon)











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The SECON D COM I NG The Bugatti Chiron is a car of huge numbers, perhaps none more impressive than the limited top speed of 420km/h. Then there’s the 1103kW, 1600Nm, 0-300km/h in 13.6 seconds... by A N T O N Y I N G R A M & J E S S E TAY L O R


You’re looking at the Bugatti Chiron – successor to the Veyron, and a car that should put Bugatti back on the map in a world where LaFerraris, McLaren P1s, Porsche 918s and Koenigsegg Regeras have advanced the hypercar breed at a startling pace. And startling pace is what Bugatti brings to the party, just as it did with the Veyron on its 2005 debut. This is a car all about numbers, though one in particular – its 420km/h top speed – is undoubtedly the headline figure. There’s every chance, of course, the Chiron will go quicker: its top speed, according to Bugatti, is “limited for road travel”. At the car’s unveiling in Geneva, Bugatti boss Wolfgang Dürheimer told evo that the Chiron is “ready to set the next speed record”. When you consider that the new car has more power and torque than the current record holder (the Veyron World Record Edition), over 434.43km/h will be on the cards – tyres permitting. “Where others stop,” continued Dürheimer, “Bugatti takes one more step”. In off-the-record conversations with senior engineers from within the vast Volkswagen Group, evo Australia has been told that


450km/h is a very real possibility. Given that the likes of Koenigsegg and Hennessey are keen to take Bugatti’s world’s fastest title, expect the German-owned French hypercar brand to prove the point at VW’s Ehra-Lessien’s proving ground (the same facility it used for various vmax runs in the Veyron). Beyond the top speed, the Chiron has plenty of other numbers to appreciate too – although weight might not be one of them (1995kg wet). They start with the engine: Eight litres, sixteen cylinders in a W arrangement, just like its Veyron predecessor. Far from a carry-over though, Bugatti has completely redesigned the Chiron’s W16 – notable technical details include higher-performance turbochargers (four of them), 32 fuel injectors and improved charge cooling. The latter provides the next big number. 60,000 litres of air are pumped through the engine every minute. The water pump takes serious strain too, pumping 800 litres of coolant per minute through the system. Aided by a lightweight carbonfibre intake tube, lighter crankshaft, two-stage turbocharging and a titanium exhaust system, the Chiron’s W16 develops 1103kW at



6700rpm, and a massive 1600Nm, spread from 2000-6000rpm. Or in other words, the Chiron hits its max torque figure 1300rpm after idle. And what of the rumours that the Chiron would use a hybrid pack? Dürheimer told evo that it was considered during the development phase, but performance was not boosted to the same degree as the revised turbocharging. “It wouldn’t have been fast enough,” he said. As per the Veyron, the Chiron uses four turbochargers, but for the new car they operate in a two-stage configuration. From idle, only two turbochargers are operational but as the revs rise beyond 3800rpm, they are joined by the second pair. Bugatti claims this series system eliminates turbo lag and makes the Chiron much more docile in traffic.


A clutch described as “the largest, highestperformance clutch used on a passenger car” and a Bugatti/Riccardo-developed sevenspeed dual-clutch gearbox then sends the torque to all four wheels. The result is more mind-bending numbers, the least impressive of which is a sub-2.5 second 0-100km/h time. Proving that observation is how a Porsche 911 Turbo S can match the Bugatti to 100km/h, both of which a traction limited by road tyres despite their all-wheel-drive systems. Beyond 100km/h, however, the Chiron establishes clear superiority over the likes of a 911 Turbo S by dipping under 6.5sec to 200km/h. Bugatti claims that the 1103kW Chiron will accelerate to 300km/h in “under 13.6 seconds” the time required for a Porsche


911 Carrera to hit 200km/h. Put another way, the Chiron is 10 seconds faster to 300km/h than the Lamborghini Centenario that was also revealed at the Geneva motor show (see page 20). In addition to the 420km/h limited top speed, the car will also do 380km/h in its ‘Handling’ mode. Carbonfibre features throughout the Chiron, from its monocoque structure (manufactured to LMP1 levels of torsional rigidity), to the bodywork, and even the airbag housing – the first in the world. An adaptive chassis keeps all four wheels firmly on the road and, as with the Veyron, the Chiron features specially developed Michelin tyres fit for its enormous speed potential. Here the big numbers continue, with 285/30 R20

rubber up front and 355/25 R21 tyres at the rear axle. There are five modes within the adaptive chassis settings: Lift, EB auto, Autobahn, Handling and Top Speed. Each mode changes the parameters of the ride height, dampers, power steering, electronically controlled torque vectoring rear diff, aerody namic settings and the intervention thresholds of the ABS, traction and stability control settings. The modes also make changes to the Chiron’s all-wheel-drive system, which features an intriguing “easy-to-drift” function (Youtube sensation, here we come). While Auto is the default mode, above 180km/h, Autobahn mode is automatically selected to provide stable high-speed handling.

Above: Road-going examples of the Chiron will be speed limited to 420km/h (5km/h more than the Veyron Super Sport), but expect an oicial top speed run to reveal the true 450km/h vmax.


Clockwise from right: square-inished exhaust tips echo the Chiron’s sharper design; this little button unleashes 1103kW and 1600Nm; central spine but no engine cover for W16; four of the ive handling modes are available here. The Top Speed mode requires a second key.


BUGATTI CHIRON Engine 7993cc W16, dohc, 64v, quad-turbo Power 1103kW @ 6700rpm Torque 1600Nm @ 20006000rpm Transmission Sevenspeed dual-clutch, all-wheel drive Suspension Double wishbones, coil springs, adjustable dampers, antiroll bar (front & rear) Brakes Ventilated carbon-ceramic discs, 420mm front, 400mm rear, ABS Tyres 285/30 ZR20 front; 355/25 ZR21 rear Weight 1995kg Power-to-weight 553kW/tonne 0-300km/h 13.6sec (claimed) Top speed 420km/h (limited)


Handling mode lowers the ride height and primes all systems for maximum agility and minimum electronic intervention. Bugatti helpfully puts out that the maximum speed for Auto, Handling and Autobahn modes is 380km/h. Should you wish to explore the Chiron’s ability above a mere 380km/h, a second ‘Speed’ key must be inserted and the car must perform a systems check before it will allow maximum attack mode. Carbon ceramic brakes haul the Chiron back from high velocities: it’ll stop from 100km/h in 31.3m, from 200km/h in 125m and from 300km/h in 275m. To underscore that last statistic, at 300km/h the Chiron is travelling at 81 metres per second. An air brake aids stopping power further – fully deployed, it changes the Chiron’s drag coefficient from 0.35 in Top Speed mode to a barn-like 0.59. The styling however is far from barnlike. There are definite hints of Veyron here, with further hints of the Vision Gran Turismo concept created for the eponymous videogame series. It’s less rounded, more muscular than the Veyron, while other details evoke famous Bugattis of old – notably, the car’s central spine (a detail carried through to the beautifully-trimmed interior) echoes that of the Type 57SC Atlantic. Amid environmental concerns, disillusion with the ‘one per cent’ and authorities who take a very dim view of speed, the case for

an eight-litre, sixteen-cylinder hypercar with a top speed on the far side of 420km/h must be getting slimmer by the day. One wonders how the Chiron would have fared if the VW Group’s diesel emissions scandal had come to light earlier in the car’s development. That Bugatti has chosen to create the Chiron – limited to 500 units and each selling for a minimum of 2.4 million Euros – is very much something to celebrate, even if you never lay eyes on an example of the French hypercar. “It is part of human nature to cross boundaries and set new records – to run 100 metres faster than ever before, to fly even farther into space and to enter new realms. This striving is also our driving force at Bugatti,” said Wolfgang Dürheimer. “The Chiron is the result of our efforts to make the best even better.” In Geneva, Dürheimer confirmed that to place a deposit you ideally need to be a current Bugatti customer – and need to place either 200,000 euros or $250,000 “in our bank account”. The Bugatti boss also revealed that the car’s lifecycle will be eight years, with around 60 cars built per year “but if we sell out in two years, I have a problem” he joked. The first customers can expect their Chirons to be delivered during the fourth quarter of this year. Here’s hoping these customers can find a space for their new 1103kW toy – according to Bugatti, the average Chiron owner has 32 cars, four houses and three helicopters. L



by J E T H RO B OV I N G D O N

Good but not great was the surprising and frustrating evo verdict for BMW’s spiky M4. Can the M division restore our faith with the new, 272kW M2?


THERE’S A LOT OF PRESSURE WEIGHING DOWN on the new BMW M2. At least around these parts. The latest M3 and M4 have dazzled us at times (very specific times on a smooth, dry racetrack), but also frustrated, disappointed and left us with palpitations at others. The bad moments greatly outweigh the good, sadly. And to such an extent that we need a hero to restore our faith in the M division. A brandnew M creation that makes a nonsense of mourning those sparkling old normally aspirated engines. One that is focused on interactivity and fun rather than just pumping out massive torque figures and hitting 150km/h in the blink of an eye. An M-car that feels light and agile, bubbling with energy and excitement. Like I said, the M division’s new baby is under intense pressure. Fortunately, it has very broad shoulders. It’s rare that sunshine and a racetrack are not A Very Good Thing in this job, but today – and don’t feel too sorry for me now – the sight of an arc of Long Beach-blue M2s waiting in the Laguna Seca paddock brings mixed feelings. Of course I’m excited. It’s Laguna Seca. It’s warm and dry. Hidden in a pit garage are dozens of tyres and brake pads and, probably, spare M2s should the worst happen. It’s Laguna Seca. Need I go on? I’ve no doubt at all that the next few hours will be an absurd amount of fun. But having been wooed by the new M4 on a lovely racetrack and later betrayed on bumpy, grimy and drizzly roads in the UK and Australia, we had hoped our first taste of the M2 might not be on a perfectly groomed surface. However, in the face of these wretched circumstances at



M division’s new baby is under intense pressure. Fortunately it has broad shoulders


Above: BMW famously has a knack for getting the driving position in its more potent models spot on; the M2 continues that.


Laguna Seca (did I mention we’re at Laguna Seca?), I vow to push on regardless and learn as much as I can about the M2. And later, after laps at Laguna Seca, we’ll get to drive the M2 on the roads around Laguna Seca. Phew. There’s much to suggest that the M2 will be a new hero car. Smaller and, at $89,900, $60,000 cheaper than an M4, it’s a more accessible car for a start. It’s also very clearly inspired by the 1-Series M Coupe, which has become something of an icon. In fact, the wonderfully brutal 1M’s status must be heartening to the M division, as it proves that a non-bespoke and turbocharged engine need not be a barrier to an enthusiastic reception even from hardcore M traditionalists. Having said that, I never quite fell for the 1M. In truth I’m about the toughest audience the new M2 could have, as I still get teary-eyed about those silken, savage old straight-sixes and the previous M3’s beautifully sharp V8, and I openly wept at the passing of the M5’s wildly relentless V10. I suspect the M2’s 3.0-litre straight-six ‘N55’ engine, boosted by a single twin-scroll turbocharger, will never be remembered with such vivid emotions. It benefits from an M4-spec crank and pistons, but it’s essentially the engine we’re familiar with from the M235i. Or the new X4 M40i, if you’re being cruel. Even so, it does the numbers, producing 272kW at 6500rpm and 465Nm at 1400-5560rpm with an overboost to 500Nm. BMW claims the 1495kg M2 covers 0-100km/h in 4.3sec with the standard-fit seven-speed M DCT or 4.5sec with the no-cost optional six-speed manual. The engine isn’t the only area to benefit from M4 goodies, either. The front and rear axles are lifted straight from the bigger coupe and feature forged aluminium control arms, wheel carriers and axle subframes, as well as aluminium uprights and hollow anti-roll bars. At the front there’s additional bracing to improve rigidity and the multi-link rear axle is solidly mounted to increase precision. And remember when M brakes were utterly useless? Thankfully that era is over and the M2 again utilises M4 hardware – four-piston calipers with 380mm

There’s much to suggest that the new BMW M2 will be a hero car

Above: six-speed manual is the only gearbox available on the $89,900 M2 Pure and a no-cost option on the $98,900 M2, where the sevenspeed DCT is standard.


Below: latest M dif is capable of completely locking up in just 150 milliseconds; push hard with the stability control of and the result is predictably smokey.

BMW M2 discs at the front and two-piston calipers with 370mm discs at the back. There’s no ceramic option, but these should be more than sufficient. The M2 runs on Michelin Pilot Super Sports measuring 245/35 ZR19 at the front and 265/35 ZR19 at the rear (exactly the same sizes as the 1M’s tyres). It also benefits from the latest generation of the Active M Differential, which can run entirely open or lock up to 100 per cent within 150 milliseconds. It looks good, the M2. Okay, so it’s not quite as rippling as the sawn-off 1M, but the short wheelbase, wide track and extended bodywork that heaves over those delicious wheels combine to wicked effect. The bodywork is 55mm wider than an M235i’s at the front and 80mm wider at the rear, but you’d swear it was more. There’s certainly no mistaking that this is a fully fledged product of the M division. Time is short and I’m on track first, so there’s not much time to appreciate the view… All the cars running on the circuit (standard save for optional M Performance racing pads) are fitted with the M DCT ’box. This is no bad thing as our guide and BMW factory driver Bill Auberlen is not hanging about. Having both hands on the wheel is very useful indeed.

Through the quicker stuf the M2 lets you drive into that lovely mild oversteer with real freedom Immediately the M2 feels markedly different to an M235i. The engine note is deeper, the electric powerassisted steering has more weight and throttle response is superb. This much I can tell just accelerating down the steep pitlane and merging with the tight Turn 2 left-hander. It feels fast, too. I hate seeing peak torque figures at 1400rpm in a sports car because it suggests a clumsy initial rush of acceleration that then just holds steady, going through the motions until the rev limit instead of building towards a memorable climax. Yet the M2’s engine punches hard and clean low down and then builds with real conviction up to around 6000rpm. Hang on until the 7000rpm limiter (very much required when chasing Auberlen) and it does fade away over the last 500rpm, but the delivery is pure and pretty exciting. At least that’s how it seems on the first few laps. Like an M4, the way the M2 gets into corners is incredibly impressive. In fact, with that stubby wheelbase it’s even more agile, and the front tyres hold their line beautifully. What’s more, the M235i’s occasional clumsiness and

inconsistent body control is gone. The M2 feels lighter and tackles each turn with a real sense of the front and rear working in unison and the body being kept in tight check. I’d feared the short, wide footprint might make for hyper-agility but then snappy breakaway characteristics (like the 1M), but the M2 confounds those expectations. Partly that’s to do with the steering’s well-judged rate of response, which harnesses the chassis’ natural ability to change direction but doesn’t try to accentuate it with overly aggressive speed, but from the mid-corner phase it’s simply down to the M2’s inherent balance. Laguna’s corners are mostly tackled towards the top end of third gear, and yet the car feels so natural to drive just beyond the limit of the rear tyres. The fluid, easy transition from driving neutrality to mild, efficient oversteer is fantastically exciting and enjoyable. Those racing pads make for very noisy brakes but the M2 stands up to the heavy demands around here with impressive resolve. The pedal is short and responsive, the ABS triggers nice and late, and again the M2 defies its short wheelbase and shows real stability. I’m in Sport+ mode, which sharpens the throttle, increases the weight of the steering and selects M Dynamic mode for the stability control systems. It’s a well judged setup for track work. The steering doesn’t go horridly gloopy, as is often the way with ‘Sport’ settings, and the electronics are nicely permissive, only really holding the car back in the slowest double left-hander after the long, cresting straight. Through the quicker stuff it lets you drive into that lovely mild oversteer phase with real freedom. The first few laps really flow, then. And the M2’s combination of agility, indulgence and endurance are mightily impressive. The M DCT is excellent too – miles ahead of even the convincing eight-speed automatic fitted to the M235i – with its tight, punchy shifts and surgically accurate downshift blips. But after the initial sense of energy and responsiveness, the engine does start to feel a little less sparkling. At low or middling engine speeds the

Above: 3.0-litre engine lacks the ireworks of the old, naturally aspirated M Power units, but it’s properly potent, delivering 500Nm at just 1450rpm on overboost.


In an industry focused on hybrid and EV powertrains and allwheel drive, how does BMW’s chairman of the board for M division see the future of the M-Car? Henry Catchpole speaks to Frank van Meel

FRANK VAN MEEL TOOK OVER THE reins at BMW’s M division in January 2015. So, a year into his tenure, we sat down with him for an exclusive interview at the Detroit motor show. And having had some fairly disheartening discussions with M engineers in the past about manual gearboxes, it seems a good place to start. ‘‘We have an equipment rate of over 20 per cent still with manual gearboxes,’’ says van Meel. ‘‘Also, of course, our main market is the US, and they have this more emotional feeling towards driving with the stick. So, the rational side would say you don’t need any manual gearboxes because they are slower and they use more fuel, even though they are lighter, which is still the benefit of them. But there is this emotional side and if there is a market, we’re not going to neglect them.’’ This all seems pretty business-orientated, and slightly belittling of three pedals, but then van Meel gives me hope when he reveals his daily driver: ‘‘Currently, I think I’m allowed to say, I drive a pre-series M2, with a manual gearbox, and I’m really having fun.’’ With the switch to turbocharging for the M3/M4 not having been an unqualified success in our eyes, I ask how it’s viewed within M. ‘‘If you look at dynamics, it is better,’’ van Meel says matter-of-factly. ‘‘It is faster, it uses less fuel, so there has been no trade-off. The only difficult thing was the engine sound, because the V8 sounds like a V8. I think that has been mastered quite well by the M3 and 4, but with the Competition Package we can add a little bit more. Giving back a little bit of this more emotional sound, for those that want to have that… and my wife doesn’t, I must say!’’ And the M4 GTS, will that feel as extreme


as the old M3 GTS? ‘‘I think it even makes you feel better while driving than the previous one, because we did a lot of work on the aero,’’ says van Meel. ‘‘On the Nürburgring you see the lateral acceleration and it’s somewhere between 1.4 and 1.5G, which is about 0.5G more than the regular car, because of aerodynamics. We’ve got so much downforce that it’s really fun to drive, and stable and fast.’’ I had got the impression from a previous interview with Ian Robertson (BMW’s head of sales and marketing) that BMW’s i and M brands would always be kept separate, but not so according to van Meel. ‘‘BMW i stands for crossing new boundaries, technology, electrification, while M stands for sports, but there is no contradiction. Right now the electrification, for us, it’s a difficult thing. Not because we don’t want it – we would love to have it because of the i-boost functions, which are really cool – but one of our main principles is weight and power-to-weight ratio and we still cannot make that happen with electrification.’’ It seems, then, that we won’t see an M version of the i8, but I put it to him that it’s odd that M has things like the X5 M in its line-up but not a pure sports car. ‘‘Well, I must say that I noticed in the media the X5 and X6 are not very popular!’’ van Meel says with a nicely chastising laugh. ‘‘But I must say those cars, they are crazy. It’s bloody cool to have a car where you sit in the second-floor driving position, that weighs over two tons and that can drive around a racetrack. But I see what you mean. Unfortunately I can’t say there is going to be a super-sports car, but I would love to do one. We’re thinking about it. We would love to do one.’’ He smiles.

Frank van Meel’s previous post was as managing director of none other than quattro GmbH up the road in Ingolstadt, so it seems only right to enquire about the possibility of xDrive arriving on M-cars. Given the somewhat frisky nature of the current turbocharged M4 in the wet, perhaps some sort of, admittedly rear-biased, system wouldn’t be a bad thing? ‘‘We do not rule out any technology,’’ he replies. ‘‘For us it’s more a philosophy of how the car should drive. If a technology allows us to do that and gives us advantages then we will do that. That also goes for a rear-driven car with a little bit more traction. There are a lot of cars with all-wheel drive that sacrifice grip at the front because they have these driveshafts at the front, so the tyres have to be small to fit in the wheel-houses. But then you lose grip at the front axle and you lose agility, and then you have to adapt the whole car. If it could be rear-wheel biased and if the powerto-weight ratio would be like it is today, and if there would be no compromise regarding grip at the front axle, then it might be an idea. But I think from a technology standpoint that is going to be really difficult. The front axle is a MacPherson strut and it gets difficult to do something like that without compromise. Maybe we will find a solution one day, but we are really happy with the overall concept of the M3 and M4 as it is right now, even though on greasy tracks I need to work a little…’’ Finally, I ask van Meel if he has a favourite M-car from the past. Without hesitation he says: ‘‘Yes, the 1-Series M Coupe. I think I like it the best because that’s also difficult to drive in the wet! But it gives you the fun.’’ If ever there was a response to give us all hope that M is in good hands, I think that is it.


Extras, extras… BMW’S NEW M2 SOUND A BIT SOFT for you? Then you’ll want to scan BMW’s M Performance parts catalogue to see what takes your fancy from the factory upgrade options – options that are already on ofer before even the irst M2s reach the showrooms. There are the usual carbonibre addons for the bodywork (front splitter, side sills, rear difuser, and spoiler and mirror caps) and inside the carbon-fest continues on the gearlever, centre console and handbrake. And, of course, there are acres of Alcantara available for pretty much every surface you come into contact with. But it is the bits you can’t see that really interest us, and no doubt you, too. There is a set of uprated brake pads (the discs remain the standard items) to help reduce fade during long

sessions on track, as Jethro describes in our review. There’s an uprated sports exhaust, too, which includes a lap that can be controlled via your phone. The exhaust ofers two modes, Sport and Track, with the latter said to increase noise from the 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six. We’ll have to wait and see what trackday organisers think of the increased decibel level. However, it’s the chassis upgrades that really grab our attention, speciically adjustable coilovers. The kit lowers the car by 5mm, but additional manual adjustments allow a further 20mm height reduction. The dampers are also adjustable over 16 settings for rebound and 12 for compression, allowing for individual setups depending on the intended application, from fast road use to serious track driving. SG

straight-six is keen and sharp, but at the top end it does just run out of puff and can feel laboured. It’s rare that a turbo engine doesn’t gradually feel less impressive on track, and the delivery is sweeter than, say, an A45 AMG’s or even an RS3’s, but there’s such tension and balance in the chassis that you can’t help wishing the engine chomped on right to the cut-out. Having said that, the quality of throttle response isn’t in question and when you disable the traction control altogether you can reap the rewards. As in M Dynamic mode, there’s still a well-matched power-to-grip ratio and the M2’s preferred stance remains mild, accurate oversteer that takes you out over the kerbs with just a tiny corrective input and makes you feel heroic. However, push beyond that and the M2 can be howled around at big angles pretty securely. Turn in hard and off the power and the tail swings quickly as a consequence of the car’s short wheelbase, but once you’re used to the sensation and trust the car’s stability, it’s easy to tweak and play with the M2’s attitude using the broad torque band. This is fun for a while but actually the M2’s strong traction and its more natural cornering state is much the more satisfying experience. Fast and on the edge but never edgy, authentic M division qualities shine through. Highway 1 is a jaw-dropping road with scenery that stops you in your tracks. You and every other car, motorhome, pickup, Harley and U-Haul truck within a 100-mile radius. After the freedom of the track it’s pretty obvious our road drive, which should be much more revealing, will be heavily compromised and we’ll only get snapshots of the M2’s capabilities. Even so, I’m pretty happy and not least because our designated road car is fitted with the six-speed manual ’box. It’s much better than I remember from the M235i, with a more oiled, easy action that I think suits the engine nicely, encouraging you to use the strong mid-range performance instead of lamenting the slightly fluffy final run to the limiter. Perhaps being on the road is a big factor, too, because suddenly the M2 feels much, much faster. The road is largely smooth but there’s no disguising that the M2 is a pretty stiff car. The damping feels compliant and controlled, but as often seems to be the way with BMWs, it doesn’t like short, sharp bumps and feels slightly ragged if you hit a patch of really broken road. It’s a huge improvement


BMW M2 on the M235i, though, and generally the car feels like it looks – broad and with a low centre of gravity. It retains the feeling of agility and lightness that came through on the track, too. With standard pads and less severe demands, the middle pedal feels a shade too responsive initially, but quickly you get used to that and the bite and feel is such that you can really lean on the brakes into corners. The same can’t be said for the steering, which still has a nice, fluid response but lacks any real feedback in the Normal or Sport settings. Of course, it’s warm and dry, and the road doesn’t hold any nasty surprises, so the M4’s tendency to erupt into sudden and disconcerting wheelspin isn’t repeated. In fact, a feature of the M2 is its strong traction and – as on the track – a chassis that seems to like to work inside a small, controlled but still adjustable window. You might get a little flick of oversteer through a clear-sighted corner but only a real bung gets the car way out of shape, the sort you wouldn’t really contemplate unless ‘scientifically’ doing so for a magazine test. It’ll be fascinating to see

if the M2’s neutral and progressive balance remains when the heavens open and a few more bumps are thrown into the equation. But here and now it marries control and a degree of malleability with real finesse. When I finally hand over the keys of the M2 to the event staff, there are only a few stragglers left at the circuit. I’ve had an absolute hoot on the track and enjoyed the short bursts of empty road that I’ve found. This is very clearly a car with balance, body control and a hunger to zip between direction changes. And it has its own character, rather than feeling like an M4 miniaturised and with its teeth filed down. There’s still much to learn, of course, and it’s frustrating that I haven’t found that one piece of road to reveal all that the M2 has to give, but I’m excited rather than trepidatious about that moment arriving. We’re going to have to get over the fact that M division engines are now just outstanding for their class rather than intrinsically inspirational, but the M2 feels like the car to start plotting a journey to forgiveness and understanding, even for those of us who’ll never forget what came before. L


The M2 has its own character, rather than feeling like an M4 with its teeth iled down

Engine 2979cc in-line 6-cyl, dohc, 24v, turbo Power 272kW @ 6500rpm Torque 465Nm @ 1450-4750rpm Transmission Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive, LSD, ESC Front suspension MacPherson struts, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar Rear suspension Multi-link, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar Brakes Ventilated discs 380mm front, 370mm rear, ABS, CBC, EBD Wheels 19 x 9.0-inch front, 19 x 10.0-inch rear Tyres 245/35 ZR19 front, 265/35 ZR19 rear Weight 1495kg Power-to-weight 182kW/tonne 0-100km/h 4.5sec (claimed) Top speed 250km/h (limited) Basic price $89,900 (Pure) On sale Now

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F O C U S RS v G O L F R v RS 3




Our first drive of the Focus RS showed that the pre-launch hype was largely warranted, but has it got the intensity and finesse to beat its all-wheel-drive super-hatch rivals from VW and Audi? by H E N RY C AT C H P O L E | P H O T O G R A P H Y by A S T O N PA R RO T T


T 082

HE BELLS, THE BELLS! IT’S JUST AFTER 5am and I’m momentarily confused about where I am and what exactly is going on. Big, sonorous lumps of metal are ringing discombobulatingly and rather irritatingly loudly nearby, but why? Earthquake? Nuclear war? Alien invasion? I can’t hear panic in the hallways of the hotel so I assume none of the above. Then I remember. I’d done the usual thing when booking this hotel at the last minute, delighted at finding accommodation so close to the mountain road we wanted to use: Check TripAdvisor – yup, fair to middling reviews. Price is within budget. Sold. What I didn’t check was whether the hotel was attached to a Benedictine monastery. Silly me. With the bells for morning prayer rousing the monks (and everyone in the hotel) from their slumbers, I lie awake thinking about the day ahead. Parked up outside in the darkness is the brand new, 257kW Ford Focus RS, arguably the hottest motoring property of the moment. Last month Dan Prosser declared it part of a

new breed, the ‘super hatch’, and so for the RS’s first group test we thought we should bring a couple of rivals out to Spain to meet it. Prosser stipulated that a super hatch should have allwheel drive, so we picked the Volkswagen Golf R, which with 206kW is down on power compared to the Ford but close on price, and the 270kW Audi RS3 Sportback, which is up on power but rather dearer. Good benchmarks, we hope you’ll agree. Depending how it gets on here, we’ll then pitch the Focus against front-wheel-drive rivals such as the Renault Mégane and SEAT Leon at a later date (although nothing short of a Nissan GT-R will live with it according to some reviews I’ve read…). Of this intriguing trio, the one I’m most familiar with is the Golf R, partly because evo staff photographer Aston Parrott and I drove it the 1500km out here to Catalonia in northeastern Spain. The current R is something of a hero car in its own right, finally stepping out of the GTI’s shadow and being snapped up by huge

F O C U S RS v G O L F R v RS 3


numbers of people. On the long journey down it was as refined as you could wish a hatchback to be and on the few occasions the road allowed, it switched instantly from relaxing cruiser to something much more eager and entertaining. The gruff Subaru-like flat-four note from the inline four-cylinder is a big part of the appeal, but so too is the way that the whole drivetrain is so keen, the revs rising cleanly and quickly every time you get on the throttle. When we arrived at our chosen roads around Montserrat (the Caribbean island got its name – via Columbus – from this mountain) the Golf instantly felt at home on the fast yet technical terrain. I’m not sure I’ve ever driven a more resolutely neutral car. The steering is perhaps a touch light, leading you to feel as though the chassis will naturally push its nose wide when driven hard. But pile into a turn and the front end grips well, allowing you to get back on the throttle quickly. Lean on it harder still and the front tyres will scrub a touch, but it never threatens to wash

F O C U S RS v G O L F R v RS 3

wide and as soon as you lift a little or trail brake, the balance is immediately restored. Traction feels unburstable too, so you have a car that you can drive extremely hard and in which you can cover ground stunningly quickly without feeling like you are taking liberties or ever getting ragged. It’s not flamboyant, indeed it can feel as subtle as its rear wing, but it is extremely satisfying and rather addictive. The second lot of bells drags me from a doze just after 7am and at breakfast I meet evo staffer Antony Ingram, who has brought the Focus up from Valencia, and James Disdale, road test editor for Auto Express, whose long-term RS3 we are using for the test. As we wander down to the misty car park an hour later, we realise that all three cars are shades of blue, respectively Nitrous, Night and Sepang. I head for the Malaysian Audi, which instantly feels like a very lovely place to settle into on a surprisingly chilly morning. The Super Sports seats look both impressive and luxurious, although they could be set a little lower, and a bit of Alcantara on a steering wheel is always welcome, even if it doesn’t extend the full circumference. The driver’s door is still open as I twist the key and the volume of the noise that rents the cold air takes me by surprise (not for the last time on this test). The five-cylinder’s mellifluous exhalation is so loud that I can imagine it parting the swirling mist behind the oval tailpipes of the sports exhaust. The Audi might be more than $25K more expensive than either of the other cars here, but so far it is doing a good job of feeling it. Paddles are the only option in the Audi, but the shifts from the seven-speed dual-clutch ’box are crisp on the way up, if not quite as responsive as

the best on the way back down. While a manual would be nice for the interactivity, there is something about the paddles that suits the way the RS3 covers ground. It is staggeringly quick between the corners and feels totally locked down, making the designation of ‘super hatch’ seem almost too tame a name. The soundtrack dies away after the initial rumble on start-up, but re-emerges as you start holding on to gears and exploring the upper reaches of the rev range. There is real punch lower down when the turbocharger gets into its stride, but it is the topend power that widens the eyes. Such is the pace, the distinctive wavy-edged cast-iron brakes begin to suffer after an extended run along our ridge route, and even after cooling them down the sweet smell of hot materials wafts into the car as I pull back into the car park. Apparently this car, with 14,500km on the clock, has seen some abuse on track, but even so, perhaps the optional carbons (carbon-ceramic brakes on a hot hatch!) might be necessary. And so to the Ford, which I think looks rather


Above: RS3 has 13kW more than the Focus RS, but will set you back an extra $28K. Let: Golf R has become a legend in its own lifetime thanks to its blend of pace, reinement and playfulness.


good. While a little bit of me misses the pugnacious wide-boy style of the three-door Mk2, I think the new five-door treads the line between aggression and acceptability pretty well. The seats in this example might only be the standard Recaros rather than the optional buckets (the buckets are standard in Australia), but they are still by far the most supportive in the test. Some seats are good at locating your upper body and others are great at securing your legs, but the Ford’s do both, leaving you feeling very snug indeed. The steering wheel feels like it needs a few centimetres more reach adjustment, but everything else falls easily under hand or foot. In terms of ambience, the Focus’s cabin is pretty good, too. It lacks the sharp design and flashes of aluminium of the Audi, but the plastics aren’t scratchy or flimsy. The only bits that jar for me are the dials, which look typographically crowded and cheap, and the gearknob, which I’m sure must be from a mistaken over-order that Ford bought when the Scorpio was still in production. Setting off down the road, the sensations are immediately good. There is an instant feeling that

F O C U S RS v G O L F R v RS 3


this is a big brother to the brilliant little Fiesta ST, with all the control weights matching and giving a reassuring feeling of gentle resistance to inputs. Like the Fiesta, the ride feels firm, too. It’s not unpleasant, but there is a slightly bobbling bounce over small road-surface imperfections. Out of interest I press the damper button awkwardly situated on the end of the indicator stalk, summoning up the stiffer Sport setting and briefly indicating right at the same time. The result is palpable even on smooth Spanish asphalt and it’s only out of road-testing curiosity that I keep it activated for more than 200m. I’ve never found myself in an earthquake, but I imagine tremors of around five on the Richter scale would give a similar queasy jiggling sensation. The drive modes are the next things to investigate, via a button by the gearlever. ‘Normal’ is an apt description for the default mode. A couple of prods progress the settings to Sport, which is what I will spend most of the rest of the test in. This weights up the steering, perks up the throttle response nicely and activates an exhaust mode that elicits a staccato volley of pops and

bangs every time you lift off. I can see how the aural confection could be irritating – just as some people don’t like the crackling from a Boxster or Cayman in the sports exhaust mode – but I rather like it. The other modes are Track and Drift, neither of which are really intended for the road but one of which we’ll come back to in a moment. The Golf feels light after the Focus. Not the 99kg lighter that the claimed kerb weights would suggest (the Audi, at 1520kg, is 55kg lighter than the Ford), but more in terms of the control weights. Pedals, steering and gearshift all have a slightly more assisted quality to them and the R feels less purposeful as a result. However, there is nothing flimsy about the way the Golf attacks a road. It stays pretty flat in corners, even with the adaptive dampers in their softer setting, but you can really lean into the lateral grip mid-corner and feel the tyres digging into the surface. Fast bends in particular are a forte, with the VW making a composed, clean line look beautifully easy. Don’t be fooled by the demure, almost dowdy spec of this car, either, because as soon as you wind it up it absolutely begs to be thrashed.


F O C U S RS v G O L F R v RS 3

Charging back up the wide, smooth BP-1101, I can’t help but wring every last drop from the freerevving engine. Hustling the Golf into corners, the brakes don’t feel as secure as the Ford’s, but they are effective and you find yourself leaning on them really late. I had expected the VW might feel a little lacklustre in terms of pace after the RS and RS3, but not a bit of it. Another run in the Ford on a narrower, rather dusty side road clarifies the character of the allwheel-drive system in the Focus RS. To recap, it has a central clutch and then a rear-drive unit that uses two clutch packs to distribute the power between the back wheels as an ECU sees fit. Torque vectoring, in other words. At seven tenths there just feels like there is excellent traction out of corners, the meaty fourcylinder thumping you up the road with the stubby gearlever notching up shifts in relatively quick succession. Push harder still, however, and you can actually get the tail pushing around on the exit of corners, particularly the slipperier ones (it’ll be interesting, possibly brilliant, on a wet road). It’s rarely the case that you have to dial in any opposite lock, it’s more that you just have to bring the wheel back to the straight-ahead more sharply. It’s a very nice sensation to have and dynamically much more grown-up than I was expecting. Our chosen test route has a particularly good, wide, fast, second-gear right-hander that is too inviting not to try the Drift mode on for the camera. I have a few runs through and it’s all a bit curious. You need to carry speed, turn in hard to the point where the front end is almost slipping and then simply stand on the throttle. After this, there isn’t really much more to do, which is odd. The RS definitely slides, but it seems to be on a predetermined trajectory that you have to keep the steering wheel straight and the throttle wide in order to maintain. You are in a slide, the car

WHERE THE GOLF REACTS TO A LIFT AND THE FORD STEERS ON THE THROTTLE, THE RS3 DOESN’T BUDGE is travelling at an angle, but weirdly you don’t have any control other than when it all ends. Modulation is out. Talking of which… There are various settings for the Audi’s character, from Comfort through Auto to Dynamic, but as none of these quite hits the spot, it’s easier to set it to Individual and then have a tinker. Obviously the exhaust should always be set to Dynamic, the engine and gearbox can be left in Auto or Dynamic as you choose, but the steering feels best in Dynamic as it’s too light in Comfort. The tricky one is the suspension. There is nothing wrong with the ride quality in Dynamic mode, but it locks the car down to such an extent that it feels like it corners far too flat. The front end in particular never feels like it leans and gets the tyres working on the way into a corner. Things are better in the Comfort setting, which loosens the adaptive suspension, brings back a bit of roll and gives you more confidence on turn-in, but sadly even in this mode the RS3 only seems to want to push its nose wide when you drive hard. Where the Golf will react to a lift and the Ford steers on the throttle, the Audi doesn’t budge. The only way to drive is slow in, fast out, waiting until you’re past the apex to


fire up the quattro drivetrain and slingshot out. Some people are quick to blame the Audi’s Haldex all-wheel-drive system, but I don’t really see that as the problem. After all, Haldex is good enough for the 991 Turbo and Aventador (albeit in the reverse orientation) and you can feel how quickly the power (up to 100 per cent of it) is shunted rearwards in the RS3 once you get on the throttle. There is a real sense of the back axle pushing the car up the road when you’re accelerating. The problem is that you can’t access this until far too late in the corner because the RS3 doesn’t have a willing front end, even with this car’s slightly wider optional front wheels and tyres (255-section instead of 235). The Golf could be better, too, but at least it allows you to chuck it into corners more aggressively and responds better to a little lift to tuck the nose back in so that you can get on the throttle earlier. By comparison, the Ford’s front end darts into bends as soon as you ask and the rear axle is always helping, following the front so that it’s perfectly poised when you get on the throttle. For me, this is the feeling you want from an allwheel-drive car. Greater traction might be the

foremost reason for getting power to each corner, but a good AWD setup should also allow greater agility in the chassis – you can allow the car to turn in more quickly because you know that you have also got the increased traction to pull you through the corner. The best iterations of the Mitsubishi Evo have arguably been the greatest exponents of this, the whole car alert and reactive, always set-up with a flighty front end so that you could get on the power the moment after corner-entry. Incidentally, a car that reminded me of this recently was the new Audi R8, which is set-up in a very similar way. Turn in and you can have the steering wheel straight again very quickly, the rear axle instantly on your shoulder ready and waiting. It’s a fantastic feeling and Quattro GmbH clearly knows how to achieve it, so it’s all the more frustrating that it hasn’t allowed the RS3’s nose to latch into corners a bit more like the R8’s. By the end of the afternoon, fuel warning lights have begun illuminating in all the cars, so a group outing to Manresa down in the valley is required. Heading back up the mountain towards the monastery in the dark is the best drive of the




Engine 2261cc in-line 4-cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo Power 257kW @ 6000rpm Torque 440Nm @ 2000-4500rpm Transmission Six-speed manual, all-wheel drive, torque vectoring, ESC Front suspension MacPherson struts, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar Rear suspension SLA independent with control blade, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar Brakes 350mm ventilated discs front, 302mm solid discs rear, ABS, EBD Wheels 19 x 8.0-inch front and rear Tyres 235/35 R19 front and rear Weight 1575kg Power-to-weight 163kW/tonne 0-100km/h 4.7sec (claimed) Top speed 265km/h (claimed) Basic price $50,990 On sale Now

Engine 2480cc in-line 5-cyl, dohc, 20v, turbo Power 270kW @ 5500-6800rpm Torque 465Nm @ 1625-5500rpm Transmission Seven-speed DCT, allwheel drive, torque vectoring, ESC Front suspension MacPherson struts, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar Rear suspension Multi-link, coil springs, adaptive dampers, ARB Brakes Ventilated discs, 370mm front, 310mm rear, ABS, EBD Wheels 19 x 8.5-inch front, 19 x 8.0-inch rear (optional) Tyres 255/30 R19 front, 235/35 R19 rear (optional) Weight 1520kg Power-to-weight 178kW/tonne 0-100km/h 4.3sec (claimed) Top speed 250km/h (limited) Basic price $78,900 On sale Now

Engine 1984cc in-line 4-cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo Power 206kW @ 5500-6200rpm Torque 380Nm @ 1800-5500rpm Transmission Six-speed manual, all-wheel drive, torque vectoring by braking, ESC Front suspension MacPherson struts, coil springs, adaptive dampers (optional), anti-roll bar Rear suspension Multi-link, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar Brakes Ventilated discs, 340mm front, 310mm rear, ABS, EBD Wheels 18 x 7.5-inch front and rear Tyres 225/40 R18 front and rear Weight 1476kg Power-to-weight 140kW/tonne 0-100km/h 5.1sec (claimed) Top speed 250km/h (limited) Basic price $51,990 On sale Now

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F O C U S RS v G O L F R v RS 3

day. I’m in the Ford and the sharp reports from the exhaust every time I back out of the throttle sound just like anti-lag. I can almost imagine spits of flame lighting up the rear of the car in the dark. It feels like a night stage in Corsica, too, such is the relentless way the road is chucking the turns at us. The Ford is fantastic, up on its toes and yet leaning on huge reserves of grip. Braking late and hard, the big, 350mm front discs and four-pot Brembo calipers combine to give fantastic power. The couple of times I ask more of the Michelin Pilot Super Sports as a corner tightens, winding on a fraction more lock, the RS simply bites harder and scoots around. Through a set of direction changes the body control is extremely impressive, too, the tail just nicely mobile – enough to help the whole car turn. However, Disdale is chasing me in the Golf R (we left the Audi fuelling up) and those quick direction changes are almost the only times I notice the headlights recede a bit in my mirror. At the top the first thing Disdale says is that the Golf feels like it has at least 10 per cent more than the quoted 206kW, and I know exactly what he means. I think part of it is that the Focus’s torquey

2.3-litre engine encourages a slightly early upshift, whereas the lithe, free-revving 2.0-litre unit in the Golf simply sings to its 6500rpm redline. As a result, you find yourself hanging onto second where the Ford would have a brief foray into third before dropping back down again under braking. There is no doubt that the Focus RS wins this test, though. It is the most adjustable, most fun and most rewarding car here. The Audi RS3 Sportback is fast, sounds fantastic and has a nextlevel feel to the cabin, but it just isn’t engaging when you find a good bit of road to hustle it down, which is frustrating. The Golf also sounds great and as an ownership proposition I can completely understand why some would prefer its subtler charms and more Germanic cabin over the Ford. But although its chassis can be grabbed by the scruff and made to work into and out of a corner with real grace and pace, it feels like a bit more effort for a little less reward than in the Ford. In short, when the monastery’s bells inevitably wake me up again at 5am tomorrow, it is the Focus RS that I will want to grab the keys to on my way out of the door. L


RISING SON As Lotus dusts itself off after a farcical period in its history, its focus has returned to doing what it does best: creating great sports cars. The latest is the 306kW 3-Eleven by R IC H A R D M E A D E N PHOTOGR A PH Y by DE A N SMIT H


LOT U S 3 - E L E V E N

LOT U S 3 - E L E V E N

THER E A R E SOME obvious downsides to the exclusive first test of uickest and most powerful ar that just so happens to be doorless and windscreenless olk in early February. Things leet and chilblains, to name o. But if said first drive he Lotus 3-Eleven and the venue is Hethel, then the upsides easily win. For starters you get to meet the boss for a meaningful chat. You also get to chew the fat with the engineers and check-in with people you’ve known half your life. Better still, you get to hang out in the Hethel test track’s clubhouse – a converted World War II control tower – where legends such as Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna kicked their heels between F1 shakedowns. Most importantly, you get to thrash the wheels off the car you’ve come to drive. All day. On prime and option tyres. For lap after lap and tank after tank of fuel. And then, just before the sun sets, you get a quick go on the road, too. It’s been nearly two years since I last visited Hethel. I’m pleased – and relieved – to report that the more things change, the


more they stay the same. The conceived-toseduce-investors business plan that promised the world but succeeded only in robbing the company of its dignity is long gone, flushed around history’s U-bend. In the disquieting period of stasis that followed, the Malaysian parent company took stock, stemmed the flow of cash and, crucially, kept the lights on. Since then a new boss, Jean-Marc Gales, has been appointed. Since his arrival the ship has been steadied, an interim plan implemented and a rapid succession of revised Elise, Exige and Evora models introduced. New dealerships are being opened, cars are being built, cars are being sold and crucially cash is now flowing in rather than out. The 3-Eleven is the latest and boldest product of the brave new Gales era. It’s an easy win in product terms, but there’s no shame in the smart use of available hardware blended with the innate engineering talent and inexhaustible passion that remains indigenous to Potash Lane. The result is an incendiary machine born for the track but ready for the road. Limited to just 311 units (you can guess why), it’s not The One so far as Lotus’s longterm future is concerned, but with the order book already half full – equating to a year

of the proposed two-year build cycle – it has clearly hit the spot. That’s hardly surprising when you glance down the spec sheet. In both road and race trim, the bald figures are stonking. The road car boasts 306kW, 410Nm, a 0-100km/h time of 3.3sec and a top speed of 280km/h. The race car adds 37kW and 115Nm to the supercharged 3.5-litre V6’s outputs and drops 35kg in weight (from 925kg to 890kg) to pump the power-toweight ratio from 331kW per tonne to 385. This, combined with a swap from the road car’s six-speed H-pattern manual to a six-speed Xtrac pneumatic paddleshift transmission, helps it romp to 100km/h in 2.9sec, 160km/h in 6.0sec and on to a top speed of 290km/h. It’s also expected to achieve a hypercar-chasing sub-seven-minute lap of the Nürburgring. Gulp. Built around a bespoke version of Lotus’s familiar bonded aluminium tub and using the best bits from the Evora 400 (namely its reworked motor and some of its structural underpinnings) and other performanceenhancing hardware from the Exige Cup and Cup R, the 3-Eleven is the Optimus Prime of the Lotus range. And yes, before you say it, the origins of that tub are positively Neolithic, but there’s still nothing to touch it for lightness,

rigidity, adaptability and cost-effectiveness. Dressed in a carbonfibre ‘step-in’ body that generates meaningful downforce in road and race trim, it really does look the business. We’re driving the road-spec car today, but to be honest it looks like you could slap some numbers on the flanks and go win some silverware. To get in, you swing your legs up and over the side, step on the seat and lower yourself into position. The steering wheel is detachable, so this is all easier than it sounds. Once you’ve made yourself comfortable and clipped yourself into the four-point harness, you feel like the final component of the car. Twist the key, wait for the bright and superclear TFT display panel to illuminate, then press the starter button and the 3-Eleven bursts into life, V6 firing with a fruity bark. Unsurprisingly the view ahead is panoramic, but rearward visibility is restricted to the two oblong side mirrors. The steering is unassisted, but unlike the Exige V6’s, which has real physicality, thanks to geometry changes and a repositioned rack the 3-Eleven’s steering is free and light. The clutch is soft and progressive, the gearshift – complete with its lighter and infinitely cooler exposed linkage – is less stringy and has a

Above: carbonibre body is 40 per cent lighter than it would be in ibreglass and weighs just 40kg. Let: cockpit is simplicity personiied; TFT display has road and track modes; steering wheel is a quick-release item to aid access to driver’s seat.

shorter throw. Considering this Lotus looks like a race car, the mild manners and easy control weights come as a welcome surprise. Overnight rain has left the test track treacherously slippery, glistening tarmac dappled with dry patches for added midcorner uncertainty. We take the decision to run on the road car’s standard Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres with the hope of swapping to the optional Michelin Pilot Cup 2s in the afternoon, weather permitting. The conditions are about as unforgiving as possible, but the adjustable traction control offers something trustworthy to lean on for the first few sighting laps. First impressions are encouraging. The 3-Eleven is a real event to be in, its bare cockpit emphasising the purity of the experience. Because the controls are so straightforward, you don’t really have to think about driving it. Everything operates and responds intuitively, so in basic terms the most powerful Lotus ever is no trickier or more intimidating to drive than a regular Elise. As you begin to find your feet, your pace naturally increases and the 3-Eleven finds a smooth flow. Given this development car probably knows its own way around here,


on downshifts, while the throttle response is sharp but not abrupt. The car really does fly, too, though the experience is so immersive you find yourself focusing on the shift lights and the track ahead. Which is probably just as well, given that a glance at the display reveals we’re pulling 235km/h into the braking area for the chicane and, apparently, rarely below 160km/h at any point between the corners. The Cup 2s are a big improvement. There’s more tangible front-end grip to lean on, so you can load the car up more on turn-in, which then makes the whole balance of the car more responsive to throttle inputs and also to braking. Trail-braking does a neat job of loosening the tail – not enough to make the car feel edgy, but enough to rotate it rapidly so you can pick the throttle up early and power out of the corner with a quarter-turn of opposite lock. Fast direction changes highlight the 3-Eleven’s blend of agility and stability, very mild settling understeer switching to a helpful slip of oversteer if you momentarily blend out of the throttle at the transition point between the curves. Into Windsock – the ballsiest of Hethel’s corners – you want absolute confidence in both ends of the car. The 3-Eleven feels beautifully planted, just picking up the faintest nudge of steadying understeer as you try to carry as much speed as possible onto the straight. The brakes are equally inspiring. Supplied

that’s to be expected, but it’s easy to forget just how potent a car you’re driving, for it always feels on your side. Thanks to increased camber, caster and toe-in settings, the steering is quick, but not overly so, and the balance neutral. Even in these conditions the limit of mechanical grip is reached and exceeded progressively and communicated with clarity. With the traction control relaxed to around halfway, it lets the car slide enough to require positive steering correction – the 3-Eleven will drive out of corners with useful wheelspin – yet it’ll provide a guiding hand if you’re really ham-fisted. After a short break to refuel ourselves and the car, the track has dried enough to try the stickier Cup 2s. It takes a handful of laps to get some heat into the rubber, but having gained valuable experience on the Pilot Super Sports I’m happy to wind the traction control right back and really try to extend the 3-Eleven. Like all great cars, it seems to have limitless dynamic elasticity. The more you push it, the more it stretches, digging deeper for grip and traction, working the air harder for downforce and in turn urging you to raise your game. The engine sounds and feels fabulous: a brittle V6 howl is overlaid with pops and bangs


Above: supercharged V6 produces 49kW more than in the Sport 350 Right: exposed linkage irst seen on the new Exige Sport 350 has a shortened throw.

LOT U S 3 - E L E V E N

Because the controls are so simple, you don’t really have to think about driving the 3-Eleven

by AP Racing, the grooved and vented 332mm discs are gripped by four-piston calipers. They have ABS, so you’ve got an ultimate level of reassurance, but unless you hit an especially slippery patch of track, you never sense any interruption in the hard slam of stopping power whenever you hit the pedal. You really can brake ridiculously late. So late, in fact, that I have to block-shift from fifth to second into the chicane as I don’t have time to blipblip through fourth and third. By the end of the day, all the braking areas are smeared with Cup 2 imprints – evidence of just how close the brakes can work to the point of lock-up. With the sun dropping, there’s just time to head out for a quick blast on some of the local roads. It always feels slightly naughty driving track-bred cars on the road, especially if you’re wearing a helmet. The strange thing is that the 3-Eleven feels completely at home. There’s suppleness to the ride – courtesy of optional Öhlins TLX two-way adjustable dampers, though the standard one-way adjustable Öhlins DFVs should offer similar pliancy – and the steering resists being pushed and pulled by cambers and white lines. You really have to watch your speed, though, for even when

consciously taking it easy the 3-Eleven can carry arcade-game pace on country roads. It takes a certain mindset to commit to a journey in a car with no roof or windows, but so long as I had a decent coat, a helmet, gloves and some earphones, I’d have no concerns about driving a 3-Eleven to a trackday. Amidst all the ups and downs of the last few years, it’s easy to forget that, throughout it all, Lotus has continued to build fine drivers’ cars. Yes, it’s frustrating that the company is having to trade its way out of trouble rather than having a revitalising injection of capital to fasttrack through what will otherwise be several years of slow progress. Then again, after all the chaos, perhaps a measured period of organic growth is the cathartic process Lotus needs, enabling it to refocus on those core qualities that have always made the brand unique. The 3-Eleven isn’t a surprising car. Neither is it groundbreaking. It certainly isn’t the allnew Elise replacement we’d love to see. But it is a fantastically exciting car and a very good Lotus. If it helps Jean-Marc Gales in his quest to build a sound business then that all-newgeneration car will come. If you love Lotus, the 3-Eleven is cause to keep the faith. L

LOTUS 3-ELEVEN (ROAD VERSION) Engine 3456cc V6, dohc, 24v, supercharger Power 306kW @ 7000rpm Torque 410Nm @ 3000rpm Transmission Six-speed manual, rearwheel drive, limited-slip differential Front suspension Double wishbones, coil springs, adjustable dampers, anti-roll bar Rear suspension Double wishbones, coil springs, adjustable dampers, anti-roll bar Brakes Ventilated and grooved discs, 332mm front and rear, ABS Wheels 18in front, 19in rear Tyres 225/40 ZR18 front, 275/35 ZR19 rear Weight (dry) 925kg Power-to-weight (dry) 331kW/tonne 0-100km/h 3.3sec (claimed) Top speed 280km/h (claimed) Basic price n/a in Australia

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S C H E 9 1 1 GT 3 RS

by J E S E TAY L O R H


If you o shor sh orte test e a the




get from here t in the t of time, y e too beatt st Porsche 911 G 3 RS


P O R S C H E 9 1 1 GT 3 RS

NO, WE HAVEN’T GONE CRAZY. CLEARLY the 1103kW, quad-turbocharged Bugatti Chiron might be a smidgen faster than the naturally aspirated, 368kW Porsche 911 GT3 RS. But the vast power, speed and expense of hypercars often conspire to slow you down. Their value never shrinks in your consciousness, and the way they instantly attain speed often scrambles the brain into sending the right foot a message to lift. If you’ve got an endless straight unfurling through the windscreen, nothing beats the masses of power of a major-league supercar or hypercar. However, if here and there are separated by a squiggly line on a map, then there are very few cars in the world that would challenge the GT3 RS for the title of world’s fastest car. In our experience, the list is very short and runs to the McLaren 675LT and Ferrari’s enchanting 458 Speciale. The 991 GT3 RS is the 10th GT3 variant in a lineage that started in 1999 with the groundbreaking 996 Series One model. Ask any true driving enthusiast to name their top 10 cars and a GT3 will almost certainly garner a mention. Ask me and you’ll get three or four GT3s among a smattering of more-expensive exotica. Having now ticked the 991 GT3 RS box, I’ve had the very great privilege to have driven every single GT3 variant, including the unicorn-rare, God-status RS 4.0. (You can read about my history with the GT3 back catalogue on page 108.) With the Lava Orange RS tinking and tonking outside, I’m presently asking myself whether the 991 GT3 RS sits at one, two or three on my leaderboard. In no particular order, the dais is occupied by the RS 4.0, 991 GT3 RS and Ferrari 458 Speciale – I’m sure Freud would have something to say about my hardcore fetish. Like the RS 4.0, the new GT3 RS also uses a 4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-six. The engine produces an identical 368kW, but the new flatsix isn’t related to the RS 4.0’s Mezger. For some purists this is an issue, but when you buzz the new masterpiece to the redline for the first time, you’ll

I’ve now driven every GT3 model, including the unicorn-rare, God-status RS 4.0


P O R S C H E 9 1 1 GT 3 RS

forget the lack of Le Mans-winning heritage. In fact, your thoughts will likely be consumed by the rush of surroundings and the scream from over your shoulder. Maximum power arrives at 8250rpm, with the redline set at 8800rpm. Keen observers of all things Porsche will know that the ‘regular’ GT3’s 350kW, 3.8-litre engine actually revs harder (to an incredible 9000rpm). The bigger engine certainly feels more muscular through to about 4000rpm (peak torque is 460Nm at 6250rpm) but up top there’s little in it over the GT3. The RS engine doesn’t possess the final, manic scream to redline that the GT3’s 3.8-litre adopts, but the aria changes octaves as the tacho needle completes its roundhouse kick of the centrally located dial. Coupled to the blindingly fast and brilliant sevenspeed PDK, the RS feels genuinely wicked. Even when driven slowly, or when parked on the street, the bulging and be-winged RS looks like a highly illegal track refugee. More so than any other high-performance road car I’ve driven, the RS feels naughty and up to no good. It’s the perfect antidote to nanny-state Australia and I love the fact that people will hate it. For the RS, Porsche has reduced the PDK’s paddle travel by 50 per cent and their stubby action now perfectly matches the immediacy of the shifts. Most will still moan about the loss of a manual, but the RS is now so fast that the PDK is the smart choice if you want to extract every little bit of performance. And if you don’t, Porsche has answered the call with the beguiling 911R (page 122), and rumours are swirling

that the next generation of GT3 will again offer a stick. Perhaps I’ll be burnt at the stake for heresy, but if there were a choice, I’d option my RS with a dual-clutch. Quoting straight-line acceleration times for a car as dynamically focused as an RS feels like missing the point. That said, the numbers for the new model are ridiculous and include claimed 0-100km/h and 0-200km/h times of 3.3 and 10.9 seconds, respectively. Just a reminder, too, that this is a two-wheel-drive car powered by a naturally aspirated six-cylinder engine. But like most Porsches, the RS doesn’t do what it says on the tin. Oh no, it’s much, much faster than that. After three violent launches netted two sub-threesecond sprints to 100km/h, we called it a day. Our best was a 2.97-second scramble, but a 2.99 and 3.02 proved it was no fluke. Off the line, the RS simple digs those enormous 325-section Michelins into the tarmac and howls at the horizon. I know it can’t have been the case, but such is the rear grip, it honestly felt like the RS was pulling an old-school drag-racing wheel stand off the mark. In my two decades of performance testing, only a handful of road cars have recorded quicker acceleration times, all of which have been all-wheel drive and turbocharged. As an aside, when I extracted a 4.1-second 0-100km/h from a 996 GT2 back in 2001, I honestly thought road-going 911s wouldn’t get any faster. Good call. And while the acceleration numbers are nothing short of extraordinary, a 7:20 Nürburgring lap underscores the true intent of the RS.

The GT3 RS doesn’t do what it says on the tin. Oh no, it’s much, much faster than that

Right: 360mm Alcantara-covered steering wheel is perfect. Below: Body control is of the charts and the RS barely rolls in corners.


Very much like a race car, the RS needs speed and commitment to come alive

P O R S C H E 9 1 1 GT 3 RS

PORSCHE DOES THE LITTLE THINGS BETTER than any other brand. The 360mm Alcantara-covered steering wheel, for example, perfectly encapsulates the RS and what you’re about to experience. Of the thousands of cars I’ve driven, the RS has the most tactile driving environment of them all. Sat low and embraced by the one-piece carbon bucket, surrounded by a chunky steel latticework, the RS feels every inch like a Nürburgring warrior. My son, however, did somewhat spoil the fantasy when he asked why there were monkey bars in the back instead of seats. Away from the distraction of family, work, traffic, and even the latent threat of incarceration that this Porsche brings, the single-minded focus of the RS brings a Zen-like clarity to the driver. Very early on in your relationship with it, the RS makes clear that it’s here to do the job for you, that it’s on your side, but also that it’s a very serious car and that there are even more serious consequences should you not be able to keep your end of the bargain. Like the 458 Speciale and McLaren 675LT, the RS demands a certain level of commitment from the driver. Stay with the car and you’ll get along just fine, but be timid and fall behind the Porsche and it feels ready to laugh at you or kick you in the goolies. My very favourite cars all share that trait. Cars that demand you be on your game. Cars that sometimes, when you see them sitting there cold but menacing, you say to yourself, ‘not today’. Very much like a race car, the RS needs speed and commitment to come alive. It will tolerate going slowly down a challenging road, but it feels like you’re merely ‘operating’ the car rather than driving it. There is so much front-end grip that the GT3 RS is starting to feel mid-engined. Like a Cayman GT4, the RS doesn’t require the patient turn-in technique that two decades of driving 911s has taught me. Instead, and like a slick-shod race car, the RS can square off a corner with a brutal last-second turn in. It’s a hell of a party trick to play on passengers who, a split-second before you haul the nose into the apex, probably thought you’d lost your mind. Of course you don’t have to be brutal with the RS as you can also stroke it along like you would an oldergeneration 911. But the chassis gives you so many options to go fast that you can tailor the style to the road and your mood. The agility and immediacy of the front-end are thanks to the enormous 265/35 ZR20 Michelin Cup 2 tyres and a track that is 72mm wider than that of a Carrera. Where the ‘regular’ 991 GT3 can still fall into understeer on corner-entry, the RS simply refuses to deviate on approach to the apex. You can, however, push the nose wide if you’re too eager or aggressive with the razor-sharp throttle. The vast 325/30 ZR21 Michelin rear tyres generate Earth-rotating levels of traction, especially after they are nice and sticky from a few hours of play in 30-degree ambient. They can simply drive the front end away from the apex and off the road if you’ve not got the nose suitably weighted. Throw in an ultra-stiff

Below: Towering wing generates 220kg at 300km/h. Bottom let: Standard steel rotors measure 380mm at each corner, with six-piston front calipers and fourpiston rears.


P O R S C H E 9 1 1 GT 3 RS

chassis that is often wagging an inside front tyre in the breeze, and you have to be careful not to overdrive the RS into mid-corner understeer. If you’re paying attention, the weight of the direct and lively steering is constantly waxing and waning to telegraph front-end grip levels. When it goes glassy and light, you’ve over cooked it. The chassis and drivetrain also give you plenty of opportunity to overcook the back-end. The enormous front-end grip can promote oversteer on turn in, which you can snuff out quickly with the steering, or you can use the throttle to build the slide. Thanks to the precision of the engine and gearbox combination, you can change the angle of attack by individual degrees, almost like you’re measuring the slide with a protractor. Unlike Jethro, I’m no oversteer master, so I prefer the feeling of the RS in a shallow slide with the rear tyres rotating ever-so-slightly faster than road speed but still providing meaningful forward thrust. At times, you can also detect that an inside front tyre has broken its bond with the tarmac and the RS has edged into a three-wheel drift. In those brief moments, the RS is the epitome of the thrill of driving. The chassis feels slightly firmer than that of the regular GT3 and much more so than the set-up in Ferrari’s 458 Speciale. You’d never go near the sport damper setting on an Australian road, but only the very worst local roads require you to slow the pace. Amazingly, the RS even feels usable around town. I once did my weekly grocery shopping in a 997 GT2, so I’d have no issue using an RS as my daily.

You can throw out a generic net to capture other track-focused rivals, but the GT3 RS is it’s own thing. Perhaps the biggest threat to the supremacy of the RS comes from within Porsche with the sublime GT3 (listed at $293,200). For most people for most of the time, the GT3 would be just as fast as the RS, but for those rare moments when you can drive the RS at ten-tenths, there is a clear difference between the two 911 superstars. Those rare moments are most likely to come on a track (see page 114 for our circuit comparison), but having driven both 991 GT3 models over the same roads, the RS exhibits clear dynamic superiority. The $387,300 list price is irrelevant as the Australian allocation of around 100 cars was sold long before the first car rolled off the production line. We understand that Porsche Australia could have sold nearly double the allocation had they been able to secure the stock. It’s a similar situation in most markets around the world, with demand for the latest RS far out-stripping the circa 2500-unit production. And this demand has driven up prices to well over the recommended figure, with at least one example for sale in Australia at over $600,000. So where does the 991 GT3 RS sit within my personal league table? It’s a cop out, but I don’t have that answer. How can the RS 4.0 not be number one? But then, the 991 is clearly faster everywhere. What then of the 458 Speciale? The truth is, I could probably name a number one, but I don’t have the heart to place any of these all-time greats in third. L

PORSCHE 911 GT3 RS Engine 3996cc flat-six, dohc, 24v Power 368kW @ 8250rpm Torque 460Nm @ 6250rpm Transmission Seven-speed dual-clutch, rear-wheel drive, LSD, ESC Front suspension struts, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar Rear suspension Multi-link, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar, active rear-steering Brakes Ventilated discs 380mm front, 380mm rear, ABS, EBD Wheels 20 x 9.5-inch front, 21 x 12.5-inch rear Tyres 265/35 ZR20 front, 325/30 ZR21 rear Weight 1420kg Power-to-weight 259kW/tonne 0-100km/h 2.97sec (tested) Top speed 310km/h (claimed) Basic price $387,300 On sale Sold out

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P O R S C H E 9 1 1 GT 3 H I S TO RY

911GT3 Over three generations of 911, Porsche has built 10 distinct GT3 models including five RS variants. Jesse Taylor is one of the lucky few to have driven them all


996.1 IT WAS ZANZIBAR RED (REALLY A metallic burnt orange) and it simply ate up the twisty Victorian roads around King Lake. Though I’m too young to have a live recall of the reference, I call these my Moon-Landing cars as I can remember the exact details surrounding my encounter with them. This was back before Victorian police would don army fatigues and hide in the bushes with their radar guns, so the 996 MkI GT3 could be fully deployed with only moderate fear of imprisonment. The 3.6-litre Mezger buzz-sawed to 7200rpm again and again where the 265kW peak power awaited. That figure might sound puny today, but the first GT3 covered ground like nothing else on sale at the time. In fact, I know of one early adopter (and M3 driver) who sold his GT3 after his first serious drive in it. He freely admitted it was too much car for him. Like all GT3s that have followed, it seemed like the perfect amount of car for me.

996.2 MY TIME WITH THE FIRST GT3 WAS a one-day affair, but my relationship with the MkII was spread over several multiday encounters and it was the variant that cemented what has become a deep love for the GT3 lineage. There was a weekend with a Guards Red example, then a comparison between the red GT3 and a very striking orange Lotus Exige, then a track test of a white MkII, followed by a test against the formidable BMW M3 CSL. Perhaps more so than any other brand, Porsche is placed under a microscope by customers and dreamers, and the MkII’s 50kg weight increase (to 1380kg) was tuttutted. Of course, it was easily offset by the 15 kilowatt and Newton metre increase (to 280 and 385, respectively) over the first model. And it never felt like it weighed a kilo more than 1300 anyway. I didn’t realise it at the time, but in the context of today’s much-larger car, the 996 GT3 was positively tiny, which only added to its gymnast agility. Twelve months ago, you could have bought a nice MkII GT3 for under $100K. After the recent explosion in Porsche values, you’ll need close to double that now. Still seems like a bargain.


P O R S C H E 9 1 1 GT 3 H I S TO RY

996.2 RS THE FIRST WATER-COOLED PORSCHE to wear an RS badge, the 996.2 RS needed to be weapons grade to satisfy the purists who were still mired in their moan about the loss of air-cooling. On paper, the same 280kW/385Nm outputs as the GT3 didn’t satisfy, but the RS was very much about the little things. The carbon bonnet couldn’t be drilled, so a stick-on version of the Porsche crest was applied to the nose. That it weighed less than the enamel badge only added to the car’s cool factor. More serious weightsaving measured included wobbly Lexan for the rear and rear-side windows and the debut of the rattly single-mass flywheel. At 1330kg, the RS was 50kg lighter than the standard model. The super tight LSD was a chore when parking, but a real boon when cracking on. And with sticky R-compound tyres, and a chassis so stiff that it promoted plenty of three-wheel action, the RS was a devastating weapon on a twisty road (so long as that stretch of tarmac wasn’t too bumpy). With only 682 built, the 996 RS is nearly as rare the 600-unit strong RS 4.0 and twice as scarce as the surprisingly numerous 2.7 RS.

As the first water-cooled Porsche to wear an RS badge, the 996.2 RS needed to be weapons grade to satisfy the air-cooled purists who were still moaning

997.1 O F T H E 10 G T 3 VA R I A N T S T H A T have been built, six have won evo’s Car of the Year. Of the 10, only the 996.2 RS didn’t contest eCoty, and third is the model’s worst finish (the current 991 GT3 RS took bronze last year behind the Cayman GT4 and McLaren 675LT). With the benefit of hindsight, there’s an argument that both the 997 GT3 variants might have been robbed. The 997.1 was narrowly beaten by Ferrari’s sublime 599 GTB, while the Lotus Evora took a surprise win over the 997.2. Both 997 RS models quickly sort revenge and regained the title of eCoty.


997.1 RS

997.2 L I K E T H E 9 9 6 M K I GT 3 , M Y T I M E with the 997.2 was limited to a single-day speed date. In fact, the car was on a short loan and the whole staff of the magazine wanted time with the Speed Yellow GT3. And that’s how, early on a Sunday morning, I swapped a colleague a Toyota Prius for the GT3. Ten minutes into my day with the Porsche, I received a text, “How the hell did that just happen?”. With 320kW from its 3.8-litre flat-six, the GT3 had nearly three-and-a-half times the

power of the Prius but delivered a milliontimes more driver involvement. To be fair to the eco-Toyota, the GT3 has always been about delivering driver involvement that would melt the minds of most commuters. The 997-generation GT3 models, like their more mainstream Carrera and Turbo brethren, were the last to use hydraulic power steering. It wriggled and jiggled with the kind of feedback that most people would assume was a fault, but to those in the know, this stream of information was pure gold.

THE 997 GT3 FELT SO MUCH MORE refined and grown up compared to any of the 996 variants, but the first 997 RS restored the order with a lightweight, stripped back feeling that belied its ‘mere’ 20kg weight saving. Like the 996 RS before it, the 997.1 RS shared its outputs (305kW, 405Nm) with the GT3, but that single-mass flywheel made the drivetrain feel sharper and more alive. I sent a colleague to collect the RS for a test, and received a panicky call 30 minutes later, explaining that he was on the way back to the dealership as the clutch was stuffed. He’d never driven an RS before and had no idea how much noise the single-mass flywheel would make. I loved that you needed to know the secret handshakes before you got the RS.


997.2 RS “SO THIS IS IT. THIS IS EVO. THIS is the car we hold aloft as the one that has reached the highest heights in this crazy mixed-up world that we call the Thrill of Driving. The Porsche 911 GT3 RS 3.8.” And that’s how UK editor Nick Trott concluded our This is evo test back in issue 16. Given the esteem with which we’ve long held 911s, it wasn’t a huge surprise to see a GT3 variant lift the crown, but it was still no less impressive given the metal and carbonfibre against which it triumphed – Ferrari 458 Speciale, Lexus LFA, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series, Porsche Carrera GT, Ford GT, Nissan GT-R and BMW M3 CSL to name a third of the field. Working for another magazine, we pitched the RS against a line-up from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG and BMW to find which had the best naturally aspirated engine. Though it’s 331kW output and 3.8-litre capacity were towards the bottom of the table, the reach of the engine proved untouchable.


997.2 RS 4.0 EVERY BIT OF GUSHING PR AISE you’ve ever read about the RS 4.0 is actually understated. It’s nearly five years since my one and only drive of the 4.0, but the recollection of that drive is burnt into my long-term memory. Leaving Stuttgart at 3pm on a Saturday in June, photographer Tom Salt and I thundered down to Le Mans, arriving in time to watch a few midnight laps at the Porsche Curves. Then we saddled up again for the return trip, via breakfast in Paris (as you do when you’re driving

a pre-production RS 4.0). Arriving back at Stuttgart at 3pm on Sunday we had completed a 24-hours of Le Mans. Forgoing sleep, we’d covered nearly 2000km and buzzed 300km/h more than 25 times. Over one 40-minute period between fuel stops, the RS 4.0 averaged 272km/h, covering 180km in the process and consuming over 30L/100km. The enveloping silence when we switched off the Mezger for the last time was overwhelming. I may have only driven it once, but it was a hell of a drive.

P O R S C H E 9 1 1 GT 3 H I S TO RY

991 MY RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FIRST PDK-only GT3 started poorly. At a Porsche Driving School Master Level course at Queensland Raceway, my first action was to hit both the throttle and brake pedals with one of my enormous feet. It was on the approach to the hairpin and Alex Davison was in the passenger seat. If the Earth could have opened up and swallowed me, I’d have gladly accepted the offer. However, the phenomenal and faithful responses of the GT3 rebuilt my confidence over the duration of the day and I managed to record the fastest lap of the day on my very last tour. Even fast road cars can have their speed swallowed by the freedom of a racetrack, but on a twisty Australian backroad with the 350kW 3.8-litre screaming to 9000rpm, the GT3 is breathtakingly fast. Two days on NSW’s best roads are as indelibly inked on my long-term memory as my time with the RS 4.0 in France and Germany.

The wing, the vents in the front guards, the roll cage, the square-shouldered Michelin Cups tucked under the corners. Everything screams ‘book me’

991 GT3 RS I’VE NEVER DRIVEN A CAR THAT looked so illegal as the Lava Orange GT3 RS on page 98. The carbonfibre wing, the vents in the front guards, the bodycoloured roll cage, the harnesses, the square-shouldered Michelin Cup tyres tucked up under the guards. Every aspect of the RS screams ‘book me’. Then there’s the colour. Driving through Sydney to my inner suburban house, the open-mouthed stares from my fellow commuters suggested that plenty of other shared my thoughts. On a the few occasions when the RS was parked, and not ripping to redline as it goads you to do, it looked so out of context in the mundanity of everyday life. Having stopped at a local café strip for my early morning coffee fix, I returned to the RS and couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of a number plate screwed to the front bar. L


It’s in the genes We’ve all heard the marketing spiel; now it’s time to find out just how robust the link between supercars and their track-only brethren really is. Step forward the multifaceted Porsche 911… by J E T H RO B OV I N G D O N

ROA D 9 1 1 s v RAC E 9 1 1 s



ROA D 9 1 1 s v RAC E 9 1 1 s

WIN ON SUNDAY, SELL ON MONDAY. Racing improves the breed. Just thought I’d get those out of the way early so they don’t creep into the story a little later by accident. Anyway, welcome to the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, or Lausitzring, located 130km south of Berlin, deep in former East Germany. We’re here to corroborate, or not, all those ‘race car for the road’ headlines that hover above the Porsche 911 GT3 and GT3 RS on magazine covers the world over. To do this we have those celebrated hardcore road-going 911s, some real racing cars, a data logger and a couple of factory Porsche racing drivers. Oh, and I’ll drive all the cars to see if I can feel strands of DNA stretching between our beloved GT3s and the racers we like to imagine are the same save for a fire extinguisher, full roll-cage and a sequential gearbox. This is serious business. Or it should be. But seeing the clean, precise lines of a GT3 parked alongside the strakes, swollen bodywork and the great plank of carbonfibre that makes up the GT3 RS’s rear wing in a sun-soaked pitlane can’t help but raise a giggle. Then, on display inside one of the pit garages, there’s a 1973 2.7 RS, tiny and perfect in Light Yellow, beside it a mighty Martini-stamped RSR to remind us of the 911’s unique heritage and how the link between road and track has always been key to its appeal and shaped its evolution. If things weren’t tantalising enough already, the latest 991 GT3 Cup and a GTE-spec (Le Mans and WEC) 991 RSR are warming up side-by-side in the next pit garage. The flat-sixes aren’t tuneful, each emitting a hard, fast blare of furious energy and an occasional and painful wap-wap-wap – as the engineers bring everything up to temperature. Whilst they do so we’re given a brief rundown of the format. Jörg Bergmeister will be setting definitive times in each car and then I’ll get my chance to drive – the GT3 and GT3 RS in the fastest


Above: the GT3 and GT3 RS represent the road-going contingent of today’s driving. Very little beats either on the road, but how do they compare to their liveried siblings?

ducks-and-drakes laps in history behind Nick Tandy (you may know him; won a race in France last year for Porsche) and the GT3 Cup and RSR all alone save for the eyes and ears of the team and the ridiculously talented factory drivers watching in the pitlane.

GT3 and GT3 RS You can absorb all the numbers, stand agog at the sheer size of the GT3 RS’s rear tyres and its front track, you can understand completely that this is a GT3 taken to an unprecedented extreme, and yet until you drive a GT3 and GT3 RS back-to-back it’s very hard to imagine just how successful a metamorphosis has taken place. Better still, drive them in convoy behind Nick Tandy absolutely on the limit in a 991 Turbo S showing you the perfect

line. This seems to sometimes involve ploughing through guidance apex cones and exiting corners well beyond the kerbs, kicking up dust, with half a turn of corrective lock. I can almost see his grin wrapping around the back of his head. For the first few laps I’m directly behind that dancing Turbo S in the GT3, the RS following my lead and driven by a simian former colleague recently confirmed as one of the new Top Gear hosts. I know I’ve got my work cut out as the RS has the edge in every department: the GT3’s 3.8-litre flat-six produces 350kW at 8250rpm and 440Nm at 6250rpm to the RS’s 4.0-litre unit with 368kW and 460Nm. My car is also 10kg heavier, at 1430kg, despite using a narrower shell and hence running narrower tracks front and rear by 36mm and 2mm respectively (the RS actually runs a wider front track than rear by 30mm). In terms of contact

patch, it’s also at a disadvantage, the GT3 running 20-inch 245-section and 305-section Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres to the RS’s 265- and 325-section tyres, the rears of which utilise a 21-inch rim. Add to that the huge aero advantage of the RS and the result seems inevitable… The Turbo S ahead fires out of corners and just hauls away on the straights, but I can drive right up to its rear bumper under braking, turn in just a shade faster and keep in touch over the course of a lap. Not that it matters. The GT3 is such fantastic fun: its engine is possessed of reach, soundtrack and instantaneous response and its chassis alive to my every input. The brakes (optional ceramics) are fantastic, too. It feels so hooked-up, so sharp, and yet fluid and forgiving. I’m having a great time, until I look in the rear-view mirror to find the RS about 3mm behind and obviously impatient to get


past. So I try a bit harder; the GT3 starts to slide into understeer on turn-in and through the long corners in particular the RS is clearly being held up hugely. ‘‘Was that me or the car?’’ jokes our small friend back in the pitlane. If a car could sulk, the GT3 would have slumped shoulders and wear a scowl. I adopt the pose in sympathy. The next few laps thankfully prove it was the RS’s brilliance that made the difference. This time I’m following the GT3 and the RS I’m in just has more grip, much better turn-in and superior traction. It eats up the GT3 so easily that I can back off maybe 15 car lengths and then recover the gap within two or three corners. The way you can lean on the front tyres is remarkable, and that neutral mid-corner balance allows you earlier access to full throttle as the car refuses to wash into understeer. It’s an edgier experience, more likely to snap sideways than bleed away from the apex, nose first, but the RS clean blows the GT3 away. Bergmeister’s laps serve to highlight the differences. The GT3 records a 1:31.99 to the RS’s 1:30.61 around this 3.4km circuit. The speed trace shows the RS eking out time relentlessly. It hits 244km/h to the GT3’s 237km/h along the start/finish straight – an illustration not just of its greater acceleration but also superior traction away from the very tight final chicane. From here the advantage just grows. Into Turn 1 the RS carries more speed and is 5km/h faster at the slowest point. Jörg is faultlessly smooth out of each corner, showing that the GT3 too has exceptional traction, but the RS’s strong front grip, bigger contact patches and better aero mean it’s faster into every

Soon the Cup starts to feel like a natural step on from the GT3 road car

corner and can use its power advantage to good effect on the way out. Through the long left hairpin off the banking and the following long, tightening-radius right-hander it’s devastating. Just as my laps in the cars suggested, the GT3 is fighting the onset of understeer here, whereas the RS is balanced, composed and driving forwards.

GT3 Cup and 911 RSR They’re just like the road cars. I keep repeating it like a mantra whilst circling the GT3 Cup and the beautifully distended form of the RSR, but of course the nerves won’t dissipate. Not for a second. However, for once I don’t care if I stall or potter around at an embarrassing pace. For somebody who loves the 911, an opportunity to drive a factory racing car with RSR stickers lightly applied to its engine cover is nirvana. The slower I go, the longer it’ll last. I can live with that. Like the GT3 and RS, this pairing doesn’t seem so dissimilar on paper. Both use the revered Mezger engine rather than the new DFI engine of the road cars, the GT3 Cup running a 3.8-litre version with 338kW at 7500rpm and the RSR running a 4.0-litre unit restricted to around 350kW. (The GT3 R, which sits between the Cup and the GTE-class RSR in the GT3 category, has now switched to the DFI engine and there are rumours the RSR may even go turbocharged.) Both run a sixspeed paddle-operated sequential gearbox and weigh around 1200kg. However, look beyond the bald figures and you’ll discover they’re very different animals. The GT3 Cup really is closely related to the road

ROA D 9 1 1 s v RAC E 9 1 1 s

cars – essentially it’s a GT3 that’s been stripped, fitted with racing dampers (non-adjustable), an uprated braking system, a six-speed sequential dog ’box, safety equipment, lightweight panels, aerodynamic modifications and slick tyres. It costs from circa $300,000. The RSR is something else: a full works car built not to compete in a controlled one-make series but to race head-to-head with the best GT racing cars in the world. Delve into the details and it’s so much more sophisticated. It runs a more refined pneumaticshift ’box, the front suspension is by double wishbones rather than MacPherson struts and the RSR features four-way adjustable Multimatic dampers all-round. The electronics are far more advanced and provide detailed information to the team over the course of an endurance race. It also generates more downforce, features more carbonfibre bodywork, runs wider tyres and bigger brakes. The factory drivers simply describe it as ‘‘a proper racing car’’ and it costs around $1,500,000. Proper money. The GT3 Cup feels like an authentic racing car to me, but also an authentic 911. Like with all racing cars, the first moments are a mixture of blind panic and sweaty intimidation: you sit low and can barely see out, the car resonates with the hard-edged flat-six, you want to take in the information on the electronic display ahead but it feels like a tangle of numbers and colours. Yet pretty soon the Cup starts to feel like a natural progression from the road-going GT3. It has the same defining traction, similar throttle response and the noise is even purer. The way it ingests each gear is now tinged with a wicked hint of violence.

It’s simply fantastic and the steering feel and braking performance is astonishing, although I’m mindful that there’s no ABS and so don’t jump on the middle pedal too bravely. Those 911 traits still hold true in the RSR but everything is exaggerated and refined to such an extent that it simply feels more polished, almost effortlessly deconstructing the track with its amazing combination of agility and rock-solid composure. One real point of difference with the RSR is that the steering is very, very light, but I find that suits the car’s incredible response, the energy that zings through the drivetrain and the almost serenely controlled chassis. The RSR has a marginally longer wheelbase than the GT3 Cup. It’s also wider and the wheels are 12.5 inches wide at the front compared to the Cup’s 10.5-inches (in fact the front wheels of the RSR are wider than the rears on the GT3 Cup). Coupled to the more sophisticated suspension and dampers, the result is a chassis that loves to change direction. You turn and it just fires into the corners and the traction capabilities actually make you laugh. ‘Surely I can’t give it everything here,’ I ponder earlier and earlier at each successive corner. Then I pin the throttle and it fires out of the turn, the engine spinning so freely and the gearbox more seamless and faster than even the twin-clutch unit of the road cars. Unbelievable. The RSR – at least at the speeds I can achieve – is just the sweetest thing. Jörg seems to feel the same, suggesting that the Cup car still very much needs time to adapt to whereas the RSR is easier, even for a 911-novice to master. Even

Above: Porsche’s GT3 Cup car (right) runs in the F1-supporting Supercup series, while the formidable RSR competes at the sharp end of international sportscar racing.


The real lesson is how endlessly adaptable the 911 formula is

ROA D 9 1 1 s v RAC E 9 1 1 s


Venue Lausitzring , Brandenburg, Germany Conditions Dry Length 3.4km Direction Anti-clockwise


Lap time

Peak speed (km/h)







GT3 Cup






260 240

• GT3 Cup • RSR

225 SPEED (KM/H)

210 200 180 160 150 130 110 100 80 60 100



so, he says you have to ‘stay adaptable’ to get the best from it as there’s usually a foible or trick to unlocking its full potential on each particular circuit. Around Lausitzring it records a 1:22.51 to the Cup’s 1:24.57. As with the road cars, the data reveals that the RSR has the Cup car covered in every department. It’s not much faster in a straight line, but by carrying more speed, braking later and more smoothly, and firing out of the corners so cleanly, it absolutely monsters the GT3 Cup. Interestingly, it hits 245km/h on the main straight, just 1km/h more than the GT3 RS road car. That it goes on to record a lap eight seconds quicker goes some way to describing the gulf between an extraordinary road car and a Le Mans-spec GT racing car. What’s most interesting about the RSR’s speed trace is how clean the braking and acceleration curves are, the car’s precision played out right before your eyes. By comparison the GT3 Cup’s trace is much more jagged, the car clearly having to be cajoled around the track and asking a lot of the driver. To me it feels like a pretty convincing race car, but I can understand why the drivers, having tasted the purity, accuracy and sophistication of the RSR, think of the GT3 Cup more as a modified road car than an out-and-out racer.

Conclusion Today wasn’t meant to be about surprises. The GT3 was never going to steal a victory against the more powerful, lighter and more extreme RS, and the sublime RSR was always going to be the fastest car





Above right: traces show where the RSR gains an advantage on the GT3 Cup. Let: Porsche works driver Jörg Bergmeister set all the lap times to ensure consistency.


1700 1900 METRES









around the Lausitzring. Yet I’ll never forget trying to find every last bit of grip the GT3 could summon, braking as late as I dared and trying to smoothly get on the power nice and early in the corner, only to see an RS utterly unfazed in my mirrors. It might as well have been flashing its headlights. It was surreal watching the process in reverse, too. The GT3 visibly struggling to get turned in and then edging into understeer and oversteer several times throughout a corner whilst the RS sat behind totally composed and ready for full throttle if only that bloody GT3 would get a move on… The RSR was shocking, too. Not because of its sheer performance (which was fantastic), but because it felt so beautifully resolved and managed to combine amazing agility with stupefying composure under braking and the most surreal traction. I’d expected it to feel quite restricted, too, but the engine was sharp and angry. Most of all I remember how calm it was. Driven at ten-tenths I’m sure it’s a busy, physical experience, but I suspect the sense that it’s been finessed to perfection remains to a certain extent. The sheer polish of every control and the chassis’ reactions must help towards the end of a double stint… Of course, the real lesson is how endlessly adaptable the 911 formula is, and how there seems to be no end to its potential. It makes you wonder when the next GT2 RS might come along, doesn’t it? ‘‘I can’t think of a good reason not to build it,’’ says a Porsche Motorsport representative who works on road-car development. Me either. L


ht r aG S dw he sa ame 3 k – sa g . I od n ors e R









OOKING BACK, THE 911R HAS BEEN a long time coming, its specification and philosophy crystalising over time in the sharp minds of the Porsche Motorsport GT cars team. As long ago as 2013 there were hints of what was to come. The man in charge, Andreas Preuninger, was with us back then to run through the technology behind the then-new 991 GT3 and he was pretty excited about it. But off the record he spoke about how in the future the hardcore model lines might split: ‘‘We still need to be competitive with the fastest cars, to look at lap times with the GT3 and RS models, but maybe we need another sort of car, too. One that is purely about the driving.’’ Perhaps this was just a seed of an idea, but it chimed precisely with how we feel at evo. Preuninger continued: ‘‘The truth is that even the quickest customers can’t really get everything out of these cars. You think you could run a seven-thirty at the Ring? Maybe you can, but you wouldn’t want to more than once! In my opinion this leaves room for something new.’’ When the Cayman GT4 was released, those comments came floating back to me. So this is what he was talking about, I thought. It wasn’t, although no doubt its amazing success gave the team a huge boost in confidence.


He was talking about another 911 variant: the 911R. That’s some name to revive, perhaps the most evocative of all. However, Porsche Motorsport is not an organisation to shy away from a challenge and I suspect it doesn’t slap an ‘R’ on something not deserving of it (Cayman R included). When I crossed paths most recently with Preuninger, in August 2015, he was clearly doing his homework, arriving in a 997 GT2 RS. ‘‘I’ve been driving the older cars quite a bit recently,’’ he began, smiling broadly. ‘‘And you know what? They’re fantastic. The feel and feedback, that manual gearbox… We can still learn a lot from these cars.’’ It was music to my ears. And although I don’t want to overhype the 911R, it might just be the car that represents the very soul of the thrill of driving in 2016. So what exactly is it? Well, in simple terms it’s a marriage of the GT3’s shell and suspension architecture with the GT3 RS’s 4.0-litre flat-six engine and a new sixspeed manual gearbox. The result is 368kW at 8250rpm, 460Nm at 6250rpm and a kerb weight of 1370kg – that’s 50kg lighter than the GT3 RS. Just 991 examples will be built and the list price is $404,700. Sadly, that’s all slightly irrelevant, as getting hold of a 911R will be very difficult indeed, and if your name isn’t on the list, well, you know the rest. Even so, it’s a car to celebrate because it continues on the path set by the Cayman GT4, references


PURE PORSCHES 356 A GS CARRERA (1956) Engine 1498cc flat-four Power 74kW @ 6200rpm Torque 120Nm @ 5200rpm Weight 850kg 0-100km/h 12.0sec Top speed 200km/h Number built 447

You could argue that this is where Porsche took its irst steps towards aligning its oferings with the motorsport activities for which customers were using their cars. The 356 A GS Carrera was not only itted with Ernst Fuhrmann’s legendary four-cam Carrera engine, but it was also the irst production Porsche to produce 100hp. Revealed at the 1955 Frankfurt motor show, the GS Carrera was identiiable by its wider wheels and tyres, Carrera script on the front wings and an engine cover that featured a dozen additional cooling vents. Fuhrmann’s Carrera motor was itted with a Hirth crankshat and had two overhead camshats per bank of twin-plug cylinders. Its designed-for-motorsport dry-sump lubrication remained. Being a race-bred engine meant it was at its best when taken as close to its 8000rpm redline as possible. The Carrera lived on throughout the 356’s production life, with each incarnation gaining a bit more power and losing a bit more weight, the ultimate being the 1960 99kW 356 B 1600 GS Carrera GT. However, it’s the original that set the ball rolling for Porsche’s fascination for mixing its motorsport experience with its road car success.

909 BERGSPYDER (1968) the sublime 997 GT cars and the great lightweight icons of the past, and reinforces the link between hardcore driving enthusiasts and Porsche. It might also serve to remind other manufacturers that there’s a hungry audience out there for cars that place greater importance on fun and involvement than acceleration figures and lap times. That’s not to say that the 911R is slow or ‘retro’. The technology remains, in the form of PASM dampers, a throttle-blip on downshifts (switchable), rear-wheel steering, and sophisticated stability control and ABS. Porsche claims 0-100km/h in 3.8sec and a top speed of 323km/h – the latter said to be ‘‘very conservative’’. Interestingly, though, there’s no mention of a Nürburgring lap time. Officially, Porsche states this is irrelevant for the 911R, but will quietly admit it’s still pretty close to a GT3 RS, helped in no small part by the slippery, narrower body and smaller retractable rear wing that help the R hit massive speeds down the Döttinger Höhe straight. It still runs Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres but in GT3 sizes – 245-section at the front and 305-section at the rear – and also features a mechanically locking differential. Paring back the weight of the GT3 is no easy task, but the new six-speed ’box, as well as being central to the R’s philosophy, was crucial to its diet. It uses the same casing as the PDK transmission and seven-speed manual

The 911R is a marriage of the GT3’s shell and suspension with the GT3 RS’s 4.0-litre flat-six

Above: this is only the second 911 to carry the ‘R’ moniker; the rare 1967 original had a ibreglass and aluminium body and made 154kW

Engine 2000cc flat-eight Power 202kW @ 6200rpm Torque n/a Weight 429kg 0-100km/h <2.0sec Top speed 200km/h Number built 2

Strictly speaking, the two Bergspyders built by Porsche in 1968 aren’t road cars. However, their sole purpose was to compete in the European Hill Climb Championship, of which some rounds took place on public roads, hence their (tenuous) inclusion here. To this day, you have to look very hard to ind a car that utilises such exotic materials. A regulation change in 1966 scrapped minimum weight rules and from that point on Porsche became obsessed with its scales. The bodies itted over the aluminium spaceframe chassis were made from single-ply ibreglass and only strengthened where cracking was possible. There was a single coat of white paint. Porsche decreed that no weight-saving measure could cost more than $110 per kilo saved. This was ine for the titanium wheel spindles and the four-gallon fuel tank, but not for the beryllium brake discs that cost $1000 each (saving 14kg). The calipers were made from titanium, as were the steering arms and the coil springs; the wheels were magnesium. Even the oil coolers were moved so the supply lines could be shorter and lighter. When the engineers had inished, the 909 Bergsypder weighed just 429kg.



PURE PORSCHES 911R (1967) Engine 1991cc flat-six Power 154kW @ 8000rpm Torque 206Nm @ 6200rpm Weight 800kg 0-100km/h n/a Top speed 245km/h Number built 4

Looking for a car that is the epitome of ‘less is more’? Look no further than this. Conceived in Ferdinand Piëch’s experimental department, the R was considered a prototype for a potential future ultra-lightweight 911 that would compete both in rallying and GT racing. Retaining the 911’s mainframe and inner sheet metal (but with thinner-gauge steel), the body panels looked stock but were produced from a mix of aluminium and ibreglass. The side and rear windows were 2mm-thick plexiglass; the front screen was glass but just 4mm thick. The brake discs were ventilated and the front calipers had an increased pad area. The rear quarter-panels were broader than those of a 911T in order to it wider wheels and tyres to allow the engine from the Carrera 906 race car to be used to its full potential. The R irst raced in the 530km endurance race at Mugello, inishing third, but its greatest success came in the Marathon de la Route – an 84-hour endurance race at the Nürburgring – where it inished irst, 12 laps ahead of the next inisher. Later that year, at Monza, a 911R ran virtually lat-out for six days, breaking 11 time and distance records and posting ive world records for a 2.0-litre-engined car.

964 CARRERA 4 LEICHTBAU (1992) Engine 3600cc flat-six Power 198kW @ 6100rpm Torque 325Nm @ 4800rpm 0-100km/h 5.0sec Top speed 210km/h Weight 1090kg Number built 20

Following Porsche’s exit from F1 in 1991, the Motorsport department’s head of customer racing, Jürgen Barth, assigned to his team the Carrera 4 ‘Leichtbau’. As factory specials go, this most unexpected 911 is up there with the very best. With the help of some letover parts from the Paris-Dakar 953 project, the team took a 964 Carrera RS and set about shedding some kilos. Lighter aluminium doors were itted, so too a ibreglass engine lid from the SC Rally Raid car. Plexiglass was itted almost everywhere. The interior was barren (no carpets, just bucket seats and a cut-away dash) and featured a handmade roll-cage. The chassis and brakes were something else. The suspension was both stifer and lower than that of the 964 Cup car and the brakes allowed for bias adjustment. The wheels were magnesium. The engine was a 3.6-litre RS unit with power up to 198kW. A short-ratio ive-speed manual gearbox was connected to a manually adjustable all-wheel-drive system (torque bias could be adjusted). When Barth and his team had inished, the Leichtbaus weighed just 1090kg each – 130kg less than a Carrera RS.


To hear of one treated purely as an investment would be criminal

seen in the Carrera and Carrera S, but features just six bespoke ratios. It’s around 20kg lighter than the PDK unit. The R also benefits from a carbonfibre bonnet and front wings and a magnesium roof. There are no rear seats, and the rear and rear side windows are plastic. The dashboard and door cards aren’t trimmed in leather, but the delicious 918-style seats are a mixture of leather and classic cloth that calls to mind 911s of old. The R also comes as standard with carbon-ceramic brakes measuring 410mm on the front axle and 390mm at the rear. The exhaust system is titanium. Of course it is. And don’t expect air conditioning or a stereo as standard equipment. You can reinstate theses niceties and fit a 30mm front lifting system, too. At this stage you want a 911R. We all do, right? That engine, the purity of the unadorned shape, that ’box. Titanium, magnesium, carbonfibre. Meet the team behind the R and you’ll want one even more, simply because they understand. They get the little things, they talk about steering feel in terms only people who have the incurable illness we all share could possibly comprehend. So this is the 911R in Andreas Preuninger’s own words. Absorb them all and then pray that the lucky 991 owners of the new 911 R will actually enjoy driving these cars. To hear of one treated purely as an investment would be criminal…

‘‘T H E R E A R E S O M A N Y P R O J E C T S W E’ V E wanted to do for a long time, but this definitely qualifies as one right at the top of the list: a new breed of the Porsche GT car, a true, authentic drivers’ car. It’s not a race car, not the track tool that we normally offer – although it has the same technology as those cars – but it’s more like a purists’ car, a car to drive and have fun with on the road. ‘‘We’ve addressed two types of customer with our GT cars in the past, the 996 and 997 models: the ‘purists’ and the ‘track rats’. It’s important to win races and have the best track-capable but street-legal car, which we still have. But look beyond that and a certain niche opens out. The 911R is the car we’ve built for the purists. ‘‘It’s definitely a main characteristic of the car that it’s only available with a six-speed manual gearbox. This is a call from the customer group who liked their 996 and 997 cars and wanted to keep their involvement by changing the cogs themselves, which I can fully understand on the street when you want to have fun. It doesn’t make so much sense when you’re looking for the best and most capable track car, so it’s a different ethos. We developed this gearbox especially for the 911R and it’s coupled to the 4.0-litre GT3 RS engine, which was not expected. We’re proud to be able to present the most powerful atmospheric engine in our range in the R. ‘‘The engine’s response contributes a lot to the driving

experience out on the road, in addition to the very nimble feeling of the car – this lightweight characteristic. Everything is carbonfibre, magnesium… The car weighs 1250kg dry or 1370kg with all fluids and a full tank. You feel that lightness as soon as you leave the parking spot. This car is so light and so responsive it makes you grin all the time. It’s a really great entertainer. ‘‘The manual gearbox is lighter than a dual-clutch ’box, giving the 911R a 20kg advantage. Or even more if it has the optional single-mass flywheel, so maybe 22kg. If you compare with a GT3, the fender might look the same but it’s carbonfibre. It’s not the RS version, it’s new. We’ve also got magnesium for the roof; we even found another 4.5kg of sound insulation that we took away from the RS. That’s a good thing for the visceral driving sensation, not so good for going 2000 kilometres in one go. But that’s not the point of the car. It has the PCCB brakes as standard, you can have it without AC and radio, it has a titanium exhaust… It’s all those little things that made this car lighter than a GT3. ‘‘Isn’t it nice without the wing? It’s very modest looking. I didn’t want any spoilers on the car, not even a gurney flap on the back end. So that called for additional measures to keep the car in balance at high speeds, because we want to make a safe lane-change at 320km/h. So we fitted a neat diffuser underneath the car to take

Above: bodyshell is inherited from the GT3, but the RS magnesium roof is itted, while the bonnet and front wings are carbon.



Porsche 911R Engine 3996cc flat-six Power 368kW @ 8250rpm Torque 460Nm @ 6250rpm Weight 1370kg Power-to-weight 269kW/tonne 0-100km/h 3.8sec (claimed) Top speed 323km/h (claimed) Basic price $404,700

PURE PORSCHES 968 TURBO S (1993) Engine 2990cc in-line 4-cyl, turbo Power 225kW @ 5400rpm Torque 500Nm @ 3000rpm Weight 1300kg 0-100km/h 5.0sec Top speed 280km/h Number built 17

Surprised to see a 968 amongst our famous ive? Don’t be. This lightweight homologation special has a right to be here. The idea of a turbocharged 968 irst appeared on Porsche’s ‘to do’ list in 1990, then again in ’92 when a 2.0-litre turbo was mooted to satisfy Italian tax rules. It wasn’t for another year, when the GT Cup race series was announced and Porsche saw an opportunity to build a new 968 customer race car, that they enacted the proposal. The 944’s single-cam cylinder head was dusted down and adapted to it the 968’s 3.0-litre block. A single watercooled KKK turbo helped yield 225kW (up 48kW on the Club Sport) and 500Nm. The transaxle also received higher ith and sixth gears, a stronger clutch and a limited-slip dif. Visually the Turbo S looked like a Club Sport on steroids. There were NACA ducts in the bonnet, a deeper front spoiler, wider side sills and an adjustable rear wing. The idea was for Porsche to build between 50 and 100 road cars, with a more powerful (257kW) 968 Turbo RS for competition use. In the end just 17 Turbo Ss were built.


Let, clockwise from top: cabin has been diligently pared back – note the lack of infotainment and steering-wheel buttons; six-speed manual is the sole transmission option, although there is an auto-blip function; carbon-shelled buckets are borrowed from the 918 Spyder.

the downforce we needed from the underbody. The long vanes underneath the engine really contribute a lot. So the 911R is always neutral at the front end with a slight amount of downforce at the back. The balance is exactly as a Porsche GT car should be, which I’m very happy about. ‘‘I read on forums and in magazines that we might have narrower tyres, but why should we make the car less competent? The contact patch is actually way less than with an RS because it’s on the smaller, 20-inch GT3 wheels, but we’ve kept the ultra-high-performance tyres as we think they’re just brilliant and they play a vital role with the GT3 suspension. All the chassis parts are GT3derived. It’ll slide pretty easily, it’s a good drift car, but I don’t want to encourage that on the open road… Let’s just say it’s a very entertaining drive and there was no need to make the tyre narrower. It’s exactly the way it should be. ‘‘The damper calibration is different from the GT3. It’s more for street use, but we have PASM nevertheless. In Sport it will stiffen up for the occasional drift challenge or whatever. Yes, we kept the rear-wheel steering, which is kind of a contradiction. The idea was to get rid of it – it’s five-point-something kilograms and we want it pure, pure, pure. But we know it does a lot for agility, which is a bonus for the driver because agility is fun. We didn’t want to take fun out of the car… so the logical thing was to try both. And I can tell you that the car felt like a truck without it! ‘‘We wanted to make the car even more agile than a GT3, and it is. In fact it’s in a league with the GT4, a mid-engined car. How come? It’s the same rear-steer

hardware used on the GT3 but a completely different calibration. It doesn’t turn more, it’s still 1.5 degrees in each direction, but the response curve is different. The car is a lot more agile. The system was new [on the GT3] and now we’ve been using it for quite some time we’ve had new ideas to get even more performance from it. The car feels very small from behind the wheel, as it should with so little weight. ‘‘When we created the R we thought, ‘What’s important to Porsche in a sports car?’ It’s not so much the horsepower, because there’s a limit to additional horsepower increasing driving enjoyment. I think 500hp [373kW] is more than enough. What counts is feedback – the absolutely clear information that you get through your hands, your back and your ears. The car has to be honest in its actions. The instantaneous bite of the engine, the direct feeling that the steering offers – this is what makes a sports car. These were the targets. I’m sure if you guys get this car for eCoty this year up in the Highlands… you won’t want to get out. ‘‘The steering was recalibrated to get the utmost information from the front axle. You always have to feel exactly what’s going on with the forces in the steering rod. We’re learning and learning [with EPAS]. The GT4 system was brilliant but this is the best yet and it goes with the recalibration of the rear steering. It’s R-specific and with a clear focus on agility. This car is a little bit rock and roll. It’s fun, it’s raw, you never get tired of it and it feels even more like the pure essence of 911. I think it’s the most emotional 911 we’ve done for decades. For me it’s almost a spiritual experience driving the car.’’ L




THIS MONTH J A G U A R F - T Y P E R C O U P E A W D // B M W 7 3 0 L d M S P O R T // N I S S A N G T - R // F E R R A R I 5 9 9 G T B H G T E // A U D I R S Q 3 // V O L K S W A G E N G O L F G T I M k 2 // S U B A R U I M P R E Z A T U R B O // R A NGE ROV ER SPORT


Jaguar F-type R Coupe AWD V8 power and these looks? No wonder Henry is smitten… ON A COUPLE OF occasions in the past fortnight I’ve caught myself not paying attention to conversations. ‘‘Mmm, yes, maybe…’’ I’ve had to mumble hurriedly. Another time I found myself stuck on the same page of a book for a full 20 minutes as my eyes wandered. Just now the cursor on my blank laptop screen had been blinking insistently at me for some indeterminate period of time, but I was oblivious to it. Sitting at the kitchen table, a single windowpane is perfectly framing the Jaguar parked up across the road. I


just can’t stop looking at ‘my’ F-type Coupe. It is absolutely gorgeous. The months preceding its arrival two weeks ago seemed to tick past uncommonly slowly. This was partly because I was a little bit worried about what would turn up. Would the spec I had chosen look as good as I hoped? Like many people, I have oten played the conigurator game on a manufacturer’s website, but it’s quite diferent when you’re playing for real. As evo ran a V6 roadster F-type as a long-termer in 2014, it was decided that we should try the 404kW


Jaguar F-type R Coupe AWD


BMW 730Ld M Sport A long-wheelbase diesel luxury sedan on the evo fleet? Allow Nick Trott to explain…

Right: ‘Suedecloth’ trim extends to the Performance seats. Far right: carbon-ceramic brakes a $17,360 option.

5.0-litre supercharged V8 this time. I campaigned for the standard rearwheel-drive model, which I loved so much on eCoty 2014, but we’ve had very little exposure to the all-wheeldrive system on F-types, so the extra driveshats were ordered. There were lots of suggestions around the oice about the exterior colour. Stuart thought it should be British Racing Green, but I don’t own any string-back gloves. I was in favour of dark blue, but there are a lot of dark coloured cars on the leet at the moment. Then Jethro said that the only colour to have was silver. He was quite insistent, saying he’d seen one on the launch and it looked better than a good looking thing with naturally high cheekbones and a degree in snazziness from Savile Row Polytechnic. So, Rhodium Silver it was at $2810.


Date acquired Total km Km this month Costs this month L/100km this month

I knew that I wanted the design pack ($5050) that replaces all the chrome trim with gloss black, so that was ticked. I’m also a big fan of darker wheels and the grey Storm ive-spokes looked (on screen at least) just the ticket. Pleasingly the wheels are a no-cost option… but they are also only available with the carbon-ceramic brakes, which cost (deep breath) $17,360. Luckily I’d already thought that the bigger, lighter brakes would be good to try. Inside (via the keyless entry system) I wanted as much Alcantara as possible, so the Suedecloth interior pack ($2900) complete with Performance seats were added to the electronic basket. As the car would be driven through the winter months, I went for the climate pack ($1410), which adds heating elements to both steering wheel and

seats. Getting a little carried away, I also chucked in the $4320 visibility pack (for the cornering lights rather than the funky J-shape DRLs, honest). All this took the price from $242,280 up to a slightly kneeweakening $276,130. But when our car arrived on a Friday aternoon, sparkling in the winter sun with just 573km on the clock, it seemed worth every penny. Other people seem to agree, too, as everywhere I drive it, it gets stared at, pointed at and papped with cameraphones. It really is distractingly good looking. L Henry Catchpole Date acquired Total km Km this month Costs this month L/100km this month

January 2016 2420 1847 $0 10.9

December 2015 10,470 2127 $0 8.8

Nissan GT-R Its interior may be lacking, but the GT-R is still a formidable drive SO I’M NOW THREE months into living with a car I’ve coveted for years. Has the shine worn of? Nope, not yet. I still get that little spike of excitement when I return to it in a car park. That big, sawn-of appearance, all muscle and attitude, just works for me. Unapologetic and bubbling with aggression, the GT-R still looks fresh simply because it’s unlike anything else.


BMW 730Ld M Sport

OUT OF THE FRYING PAN and into the ire? Having spent a year with a Range Rover Sport (see page 134 for the end-of-term report), I now ind myself in a long-wheelbase luxury sedan. Albeit one with M badges. The quest to ind the thrill of driving in unusual places continues… This is the latest, sixth-generation BMW 7-Series; arguably the most technically advanced car in the world, wrapped in a bodyshell that only its maker could distinguish from the previous model. Ours is packed full of toys, including rearwheel steering, ‘Executive Drive Pro’ suspension control, Bowers &


Wilkins surround sound, an Executive package, a Rear Seat Comfort package (adding massage seats, TVs and a BMW Touch Command tablet in the rear centre armrest), gesture control for the infotainment system, a panoramic roof, 20-inch M alloys, laser headlights and much more. The LWB 730d isn’t available in Australia, but the regular wheelbase variant starts at $217,500. But it’s a piece of tech you can’t see that’s the most intriguing here, and the chief reason we’ve added a 7-Series to our leet. Beneath the car’s skin lies what BMW calls a Carbon Core. It’s actually a mix of carbonibre, aluminium and

reinforced steel, used to make up the car’s structure. BMW says it improves torsional rigidity and contributes to a weight loss of up to 130kg over the old 7-Series (the claim for the 730Ld is 1800kg). The technology was pioneered on the i3 and i8, and will feature on the next 5-Series, including the M5. Our 730 is in M Sport spec, which brings nine styling and trim additions and just one dynamic tweak – a ‘Sport’ automatic transmission. Is it me, or is that balance well of for a model called ‘M Sport’? The 730Ld uses a 3.0-litre, straight-six, single-turbocharged diesel with 195kW at 4000rpm and 620Nm from as low as 2000rpm. The claims are 5.0L/100km combined and 0-100km/h in 6.2sec. Early impressions, surprisingly, have been dominated not by the tech but by the driving experience,

including the steering (light in the normal ‘Comfort’ mode, but precise), ride (exceptional), body control (very good) and overall engine performance (very good). I was nervous that BMW’s trademark dynamic behaviour would be lost on this most high-tech of luxury sedans, but that feeling that the whole car pivots equally along a rigid centre spine is present and correct. It’s a tricky characteristic to describe, but I’m pretty sure BMW drivers will know what I mean. There are also signs that the Carbon Core does indeed contribute to improved chassis behaviour – but this will take more investigation and side-by-side tests with other rivals to fully verify. Whether our 7-Series will reveal traits to satisfy those who enjoy driving remains to be seen, but if it does, it’ll be a nice surprise, because this car has been designed as much around the rear-seat passengers as the person in the driving seat. But despite all its tech, and clever material science, it’s hard to believe that BMW of all brands will have forgotten about the driver, right? L Nick Trott (@evoNickTrott)

Nissan GT-R Inside it’s not quite so fresh. I’m not a materials fetishist but I admit that the big, blocky dash architecture, hard plastics and the central display screen are pretty shoddy if compared to anything from a TT to a new 911. More of a problem for me is that this massive car has no room inside it at all. Okay, it’s ine for the driver and front seat passenger, but the rear seats are a total joke and when our family car went down and the GT-R was roped in for the school run, it wasn’t entirely successful. My eldest boy described it as ‘‘the worst family car ever’’, ater struggling to clamber into the back. A launch control start soon had him smiling again… The driving experience is still deeply special, though. A fact I was

reminded of recently when lying across country to meet the M3 CS featured in last month’s issue. It was a ilthy day and the roads were treacherous with standing water, but the GT-R was mind-blowingly

Date acquired Total km Km this month Costs this month L/100km this month

November 2015 25,134 2051 $0 13.9

efective and properly interactive. The Dunlop SP Sport 600 DSST tyres actually don’t like standing water much and require caution, but I negotiated the biggest lakes and then revelled in the traction, grip and sheer exuberance of the GT-R. The infamous ‘understeer’ that blights the GT-R is largely imagined (on the road, at least); on damp tarmac the front end feels nailed and it’s the tail that’s quick to break away if you use all the torque. Fortunately, the rich communication and lovely balance mean that it’s an easy car to tune into and exploit. Such is the grip and performance it can feel a bit frenzied at times, though. Handle with care. I like that. L Jethro Bovingdon (@JethroBovingdon)



Range Rover Sport After a year’s hard service, our Sport has left us. Nick Trott decides if it lives up to its name – and if he could live with one as his only car

I’LL BE HONEST. AFTER 12 months, seven countries and 54,000km, I still don’t know what to make of our Range Rover Sport Autobiography Dynamic V8 diesel. It has rendered me conlicted; unable to accept the afection I have for it but likewise unable to ignore its failings – particularly if you covet driving. But let’s rewind. We specced our car to the hilt back in 2014: 22-inch wheels, full-size panoramic roof, adaptive xenon lights, 20way powered seats, rear-seat entertainment, the lot. It arrived in December 2014 ater a six-month wait and looked good in Fuji White with black roof and detailing. A total number of one evo stafer loved the Ebony/Pimento leather interior (me), and it became known around here as the ‘Michael Jackson Thriller jacket’ interior. The car wore well over 54,000km. A couple of punctures, a chipped



windscreen, and that’s it. Ater decontamination (i.e. one last thorough valet), the interior looked new aside from a few scratches on the piano-black centre tray. This may come as a shock to many, but the mechanicals shrugged of the kilometres, too. We didn’t have a single issue. Not even a warning light. The car barely sipped oil and we swapped the tyres once. It averaged around 10L/100km – a colleague on evo’s sister title Auto Express ran a V6 diesel Sport and got 8.8L/100km. We worked our Rangie hard, too. As a chase car for supercar tests, and the real test: holidays with children. By far the biggest disappointment was the infotainment system. Its interface was worse than bad – it was the worst I’ve ever used. On the plus side, sound quality from the optional 1700W Meridian stereo was exceptional. And the all-important drive?

Generally it was very good, but I still struggle with the use of the word ‘Sport’. Why? The irst time you drive the car in a sporty manner, it delivers pace, but it does it in a joyless manner. So you never do it again. Instead, you retire any ambition you may have to enjoy driving, and settle into wating. Land Rover claims that the Sport is ‘‘irst and foremost, a drivers’ car’’. This, dear reader, is world-class bobbins. You never think, ‘Oh, there’s a string of roundabouts ahead. I’ll select Sport mode and have some fun.’ Not ever. The 250kW engine is mighty – one of the very best diesels – but you never feel particularly encouraged to explore its potential. Even when you switch the auto ’box to manual, you simply race through gears (there are eight), suring a tide of torque in a mood of ambivalence. The ride proved interesting to dissect. In isolation, it’s very good. Against similar rivals, it’s still very

It has rendered me conlicted; unable to accept the afection I have for it but likewise unable to ignore its failings

December 2014 12 months 53,992 9.7 c$2500 tyres, c$800 service Purchase price c$180,000 Trade-in value c$120,000 Depreciation c$60,000

Date acquired Duration of test Total test km Overall L/100km Costs

Range Rover Sport SDV8

good. But over time you notice an underlying idget – and you notice it because you’re sat high, on top of the centre of gravity. It’s not bad by any means, but drive a similarly priced executive sedan and you’ll experience a much higher quality ride. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. My next long-termer, a BMW 730d M Sport (see page 130) arrived two weeks before the Range Rover Sport departed. They are a similar price, a similar size, and promise similar things (except for of-road ability in the case of the BMW). The arrival of the 7-Series highlighted how seduced I’d been by the Range Rover’s competencies. For instance, the Sport’s ride, I thought, was excellent until I drove the BMW – so I downgraded it to good. The Sport’s handling, I thought, was good until I drove the 7-Series, so I downgraded it to average. And the Sport’s overall cabin ambience, comfort and basic NVH qualities seemed excellent – until I drove the BMW. So I downgraded them to good. I also found myself enjoying direct steering and decent direction changes (and roundabouts) in the BMW – something I’d never done in the Range Rover. I appreciate that I’m comparing two diferent classes of car. And I appreciate that this may be unfair. However, it also highlights that the Range Rover Sport – and all sporting SUVs – are compromised, ofering neither total ofroad ability nor total on-road competence. Of course, that’s not a revelation, but you’re either the type of person who can stomach those compromises or can’t. I learnt that I can’t. I discovered that I don’t need a jack-of-all-trades car, and that I can’t live with a car that cannot deliver driving enjoyment on demand. So there you have it. Perhaps I have igured it out. The Range Rover Sport is, generally, a fantastic machine – in isolation and in the context of its immediate rivals. But it’s not for me. L Nick Trott (@evoNickTrott)

Subaru Impreza Turbo

Subaru Impreza Turbo The Impreza excels on wintry roads, making Trott reluctant to sell UNTIL VERY RECENTLY, for me waking up on a January morning meant darkness, heavy frosts and greasy roads, and an irresistible desire to pull the covers back over and return to the land of nod. Well, not any more. Now when I look out the window and it’s dark, greasy and cold, I can’t wait to leave the house. Why? The Impreza. I bloody love this car at the moment. It digs in, burbles, grips, burbles, steers, burbles, shits, burbles and generally makes every interaction with it, and consequently the road, a total, uninterrupted joy. I do dumb things with it: I change gear too oten (because it’s got such a sweet shit), I seek out slippery corners and turn-litpower to induce some wonderful four-wheel drits, and if I correctly time a throttle input and a gearshit I can force a lame from the


exhaust (probably should get that looked at). I also do the single thing that deines a great car – I drive it for the hell of it. Take the other day. We’d had a couple of inches of snow, so I disappeared up the single-track lanes deep in the countryside where I live. For a short while, I was Colin McRae (with two per cent of his talent), and for a long while ater I was smiling at the memory of 2016’s irst great drive. All this in, remember, a car that owes me no more than $5000. There’s no doubt that the Vredestein winter tyres are contributing to much of this fun. They’re proving very grippy, with only a mild sense of the sotness in the sidewalls that you get from most winter tyres. They are consistent too, and when grip is relinquished it is never sudden. This car is by no means perfect. The heater and temp gauge only

work occasionally, the lights are crap, the bodywork is tatty, the interior grubby, and the gold wheels need a refurb. But the engine is mighty (and now in its third month post-Steel Seal ix) and the overall driving experience of the scale. Problem is, this car was only a temporary purchase (at least that’s how I reconciled it with my other half), and with the 911 SC repairs costing a bomb I really should sell it – and soon. Do I break of the relationship now before I fall even more hopelessly in love? Or do I throw caution to the wind and prolong the afair? Answers/solutions/advice to @evoNickTrott. I need them… L Nick Trott (@evoNickTrott) Date acquired Total km Km this month Costs this month L/100km this month

January 2015 172,164 475 $0 Probably high teens


Ferrari 599 GTB HGTE


Ferrari 599 GTB HGTE Recognising that a 599 GTO might be just a little too hardcore, SSO finally pins down his ideal GT car

A FERRARI 599 HAD BEEN high on the acquisition list for some time. My wife and I came very close to buying both a GTB and a GTO three years ago, but in the long run not buying either worked out well as it gave us more time to think through which model we really wanted, given that it would be used mostly for long-distance trips. Ultimately the standard GTB was a bit too sot for my tastes and the GTO a bit too hard for my other half’s, so it seemed a GTB with the HGTE (Handling Gran Turismo Evoluzione) package would be a good compromise. From then it was just a matter of patience, waiting for the right car to surface. When the ideal car turned up, I showed pictures of it to my better half and was given clear instructions not to let it get away! A deal was quickly agreed. In early October I picked the car up from the dealer in Virginia and drove it 370km straight



up to New York. Initial impressions? Well, on that irst ive-hour slog up the interstate, I was amazed how civilised and comfortable the 599 was. It’s a truly enjoyable place to spend the day. Over the following weeks the car got quite a workout. It became my wife’s daily driver and our autumn grand tourer. While she has driven many of the other Ferraris we’ve owned, the 599 is the irst she really enjoys driving. Trips to upstate New York, Vermont and Connecticut followed in rapid succession. Added up, we put more kilometres on the 599 in two months of ownership than any of the other cars in 2015. Indeed, for covering huge distances it is brilliant. Luggage space is more than adequate, with the boot and rear shelf, the cabin is comfortable and the carbonibre bucket seats are excellent. The only negative so far was a ight the rightfront wheel lost with a pothole on

I was amazed how civilised and comfortable the 599 was on a fivehour slog up the interstate

Date acquired Total km Km this month Costs this month L/100km this month

October 2015 6325 2015 c$8000 wheel 16.8

the nasty New Jersey Turnpike. The rim is now being replaced. Where we really bonded with the 599, though, was up in Vermont. There are some excellent roads that wind across the Green Mountain State. In particular, the Mount Equinox hill climb course in southern Vermont is well worth a visit and $15 will get you a run up the mountain. Pushing a bit harder unlocked the brilliance of the 456kW, 6.0-litre V12 and the beneits of the HGTE upgrade. The stifer suspension and faster gearshits give you more of a sports car feeling when you want it without compromising the 599’s long-legged touring ability. While it’s still early days, life with the 599 HGTE is of to a great start. Ms SSO ranks it second in the garage behind her Maserati GranCabrio Sport, and it ills the GT gap in the line-up brilliantly. L Secret Supercar Owner (@SecretSupercarOwner)

VW Golf GTI Mk2

Audi RS Q3

Audi RS Q3 Could this junior SUV be one of the better Audi RS models of recent years? IT’S A LITTLE AWKWARD from some angles – overstyled, a touch too tall and perhaps even a bit ‘look at me’ – but I for one really like staf photographer Aston Parrott’s quif. Much like Parrott’s impressive coifure, the RS Q3 is attracting an awful lot of attention. It seems that here in the UK we’re intrigued by it, and from the feedback I’ve received so far, also quite smitten with the hot-mini-SUV oddity. Shooting part of the Porsche 991.2 Carrera group test in issue 032 inally gave me the chance to have a proper drive of the RS Q3 on some of our favourite roads in Snowdonia. Typically, the rain was biblical, daylight non-existent and the winds gale-force. It’s no place for a beloved quif, but the quattro drivetrain absolutely lapped it up. It certainly wasn’t an issue keeping up with HRH Catchpole, who was leading in the 404kW V8 Jaguar F-type R. In fact on corner exits I found myself having to back out of the throttle due to being held up by the F-type, which was still fumbling around hunting for a snif of traction.


With bad weather forcing a halt to the group test, I took the chance to have Aston take some photos of the RS Q3 in action. It’s not oten that us photographers get to have a go at being a motoring journalist. In preparation for the shoot I donned some oversize Prada sunglasses, managed a quick ive minutes of moaning about how hooning around in brand new sports cars is hard work, and then I was ready. The steering is good, feeling positive if a little heavy. There is some pitch and roll as you’d expect. Likewise, there’s understeer if you’re a tad clumsy and push too hard into a corner. Fully engaged, the ESC keeps everything in check but allows you some room for getting on the throttle early. Only once, when I really started to push it, did it grab at the brakes. What with how wet the conditions were, I wasn’t brave or stupid enough to disable the ESC, even to try the halfway-house Sport option, but having now had the chance in better conditions I can conirm it allows the car to adopt a far more positive cornering attitude. A car this shape has no right to be this much fun and have this much character. L Dean Smith (@evoDeanSmith) Date acquired Total km Km this month Costs this month L/100km this month

October 2015 7514 3282 $30 oil 11.2

Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk2 Parrott gives up posing and gets some proper rubber SO PROJECT ‘Mk2 GTI’ IS progressing nicely. Weight has been saved by itting Recaro Proi SPG race seats, along with a carbonibre bonnet and tailgate and a polycarbonate rear window. The next job was to build on the Golf’s already good handling. The ST XTA adjustable suspension I itted last year has given me the ability to ine-tune the setup, but ater a week’s worth of chatter while shooting our 2015 tyre test, I realised that my current stretched tyres – Toyo Proxes T1-R in size 195/45 R15 – don’t really cut the mustard. I started to research diferent sizes and manufacturers for a more suitable tyre. I knew I wanted something with a higher sidewall and a slightly wider size more appropriate for my 15 x 8.0-inch BBS RS wheels. Ater talks with former evo stafer Stephen Dobie (about his Renault Clio Williams) and Max Banks from Alfaholics,


both of whom run 15-inch wheels on their own cars, I settled on a set of Yokohama Advan Neova AD08 Rs. Henry Catchpole also noted that these were sensational on a dry track at our 2014 tyre test. Great grip and feel, strong dry braking performance and good for occasional track use. They sounded perfect for my needs. Now that the tyres are on the car, the tread design along with the small size and tall sidewalls look great sitting in the Mk2’s wheelarches. I’ll have to properly scrub them in before reporting back on their performance, but for now I can deinitely say I will never again it stretched skinnies. Aston Parrott (@ AstonParrott) Date acquired Total km Km this month Costs this month L/100km this month

April 2012 286,399 359 c$700 tyres 9.8





Thrill-free zone 3 Tepid 33 Interesting 333 Seriously good 3333 A truly great car 33333

Superminis / Hot Hatches Best of the Rest

Our Choice

BMW’s M135i feels like a bargain at $70K, and it’s rear-wheel drive too, of course. At less than half the money, the Ford Fiesta ST (left) is an absolute riot, as is the mental Mercedes A45 AMG. Benz’s latest weapon packs 265kW from just 2.0 litres.


Engine cyl/cc






Top speed


Volkswagen Golf R. A flagship Golf to get really excited about, the new R offers immense pace and a truly engaging driving experience in a compromise-free package with class and quality aplenty. Cake both possessed and consumed.

$25,200 $39,150 $42,500 $59,900 $46,100 $68,400 $29,990 $38,990 $25,990 $38,290 ‘09-’11 $39,490 $49,900 $74,900 $40,500 $49,200 $52,600 $56,900 n/a $29,990 $29,290 ’09-’13 $42,640 $47,140 $27,990 $37,490 $23,990 $27,790 $41,990 ’09-’13 ’12-’13 ’10-’13 '05-'09 '06-'09 ’02-’04 ’88-’92 ’82-’84 ’08-’12

4/1368 4/1742 4/1390 4/1984 4/1997 6/2979 4/1598 4/1368 4/1596 4/1999 5/2522 4/2261 4/1991 4/1991 4/1598 4/1598 4/1598 4/1598 4/1598 4/1598 4/1618 4/1998 4/1998 4/1998 4/1390 4/1998 4/1586 4/1390 4/1984 4/1984 4/1984 4/1984 4/1984 6/3189 6/3189 4/1781 4/1781 5/2521

125/5500 173/5500 136/6200 206/5100 160/5000 235/5800 115/6000 118/5750 134/6000 184/5500 257/6500 190/5500 155/5500 265/6000 135/5500 155/6000 155/6000 160/6000 147/6000 147/5800 147/6000 147/7100 195/5500 195/5500 132/6200 147/5100 100/6900 132/6200 162/4700 155/5300 173/5500 188/6000 147/5100 184/6300 177/6250 100/6100 83/5800 169/5000

250/2500 340/1900 250/2000 380/1800 310/1350 450/1300 240/1400 230/3000 240/1600 360/1750 460/2300 380/3000 350/1200 450/2250 240/1600 280/2000 280/2000 280/2000 250/2400 275/1700 250/1750 215/5400 360/3000 360/3000 250/2000 280/1700 160/4400 250/2000 350/1500 280/1700 300/2200 330/2500 280/1800 320/2500 320/2800 168/4600 148/3500 320/1500

1145kg 1320kg 1190kg 1455kg 1345kg 1425kg 1165kg 1035kg 1197kg 1362kg 1467kg 1385kg 1445kg 1480kg 1140kg 1130kg 1165kg 1140kg 1293kg 1133kg 1204kg 1281kg 1375kg 1375kg 1253kg 1460kg 1060kg 1189kg 1354kg 1360kg 1318kg 1476kg 1336kg 1510kg 1477kg 1111kg 840kg 1469kg

109 179 155 142 119 165 99 114 112 135 175 137 108 179 118 137 133 140 114 130 122 115 142 142 105 101 94 111 120 114 179 127 110 122 120 93 99 113

7.5 6.8 7.0 4.9 6.4 5.1 7.2 7.4 6.9 6.4 5.9 6.5 6.6 4.5 7.2 6.5 6.5 6.3 7.8 6.8 6.7 7.2 6.0 6.0 7.3 7.3 8.7 7.0 6.5 6.9 6.5 5.9 6.7 5.8 6.4 8.0 8.1 6.7

219 240 227 250 250 250 214 210 220 248 262 250 240 270 228 238 240 241 216 230 230 227 250 250 224 240 195 228 246 238 248 250 233 250 248 200 180 240

6.0 7.6 5.9 6.9 6.6 8.0 6.7 6.5 6.2 9.9 6.6 6.9 5.8 6.9 7.1 7.1 6.9 5.9 8.2 8.2 8.2 6.2 7.7 6.5 6.1 7.2 7.7 8.1 8.7 10.7 11.5 9.8 7.8 8.7

Car Alfa Romeo Mito Alfa Romeo Giulietta Cloverleaf Audi A1 1.4 TFSI Sport Audi S3 BMW 125i BMW M135i Citroën DS3 Dsport Fiat 500 Abarth Esseesse Ford Fiesta ST Ford Focus ST Ford Focus RS500 Mazda 3 MPS Mercedes-Benz A250 Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG Mini Cooper S Mini John Cooper Works Mini John Cooper Works Coupe Mini John Cooper Works GP Nissan Juke Nismo Peugeot 208 GTi Renaultsport Clio 200 Turbo Renaultsport Clio 200 Cup Renaultsport Mégane 265 Cup Renaultsport Mégane 265 Trophee Skoda Fabia vRS Skoda Octavia vRS Suzuki Swift Sport VW Polo GTI VW Golf GTI (MkVII) VW Golf GTI (MkVI) VW Golf GTI Edition 35 VW Golf R (MkVI) VW Golf GTI (MkV) VW Golf R32 (MkV) VW Golf R32 (MkIV) VW Golf GTI 16v (MkII) VW Golf GTI (MkI) Volvo C30 T5 R-Design

rating + Great MultiAir engine, impressive ride - Not as feisty as we hoped + Shows signs of deep talent… - …but should be more exciting + Audi’s Mini rival is an accomplished thing - But not a hugely fun one + Very fast, very effective, very… err, quality - The VW Golf R is a touch more exciting + Performance, price, running costs - Dull four-pot soundtrack + Great fun, storming engine, playful chassis - Not a looker + First fun Citroën in ages - Petrolheads might find it too ‘designed’ + Tough but cute looks - Price buys lots of hotter hatches + Chassis, price, punchy performance - Firm ride but little else + Cracking hot hatch. Good value, too - There’s a bit of torque-steer + Huge performance, highly capable fwd chassis - It could be the last RS… + Quick, eager and very good value - Not on the radar of most buyers + Mercedes builds a proper hot hatch - But denies it a manual gearbox + Fastest, most powerful hatch ever made - Very firm ride + New engine, Mini quality - Lacks old car’s direct front end + A seriously rapid Mini - Occasionally just a little unruly + The usual raucous Mini JCW experience - But with a questionable ‘helmet’ roof… + Brazenly hyperactive - Too much for some roads and some tastes. + More than the sum of its parts - Juke is coming to Oz, but maybe not the Nismo version + Supple suspension an playful chassis - Some ergonomic issues + Faster, more refined, easier to drive - We miss the revvy atmo engine and manual ’box + The hot Clio at its best - Why the long face? + Standard RS Mégane gets same power as Trophy; chassis still superb - Not a lot + Hot Mégane gets more power and fwd Ring record - A pricey upgrade + Well priced, well made, with great engine and DSG ‘box - Dull steering + Drives like a GTI, a bit cheaper and more practical - Interior quality doesn't match VW + The Swift’s still a great pocket rocket - But it’s lost a little adjustability + Modern-day MkI Golf GTI gets twin-clutch DSG - It’s a little bit bland + More refined and faster than the MkVI - Still doesn't thrill like a Megane + Still a very accomplished hot hatch - Not as fun as a Megane RS + MkVI GTI gets the power it craves - Expensive compared to the standard car + Great engine, tremendous pace and poise - High price, ACC only optional + Character and ability: the original GTI is back - Lacking firepower? + Traction’s great and you’ll love the soundtrack - We’d still have a GTI + Charismatic - Boomy engine can be tiresome + Arguably the best all-round Golf GTI ever - We’d be splitting hairs + The car that started it all - Tricky to find an unmolested one + Good-looking, desirable Volvo - Lacks edge of best hatches

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Sedans /wagons / 4x4s Our Choice

Best of the Rest

Mercedes-Benz E63 S. The facelifted E63 S looks better and, with a 430kW, 800Nm version of AMG’s twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8, it goes even harder than before. It’ll nail 100km/h in 4.2 seconds, cruise in comfort or tear up a mountain pass. And it sounds terrific. Best big sedan ever made.

Aston Martin Rapide Audi A4 2.0 TFSI quattro Audi S4 Audi RS4 Avant (Mk3) Audi RS4 (Mk2) Audi RS4 Avant (Mk2) Audi RS4 (Mk1) Audi RS2 Audi RS6 Audi RS6 Audi RS6 Avant Audi RS6 Avant Audi S6 Audi S7 Audi S8 Audi SQ5


$371,300 $61,700 $120,400 $149,400 '06-'08 ’07-’08 ’00-’02 ’94-’95 $225,000 '08-'10 '08-'10 ’02-’04 $168,900 $179,900 n/a $89,400

12/5935 4/1984 6/2995 8/4163 8/4163 8/4163 6/2671 5/2226 8/3993 10/4991 10/4991 8/4172 8/3993 8/3993 8/3993 6/2967

350/6000 155/4300 245/5500 331/8250 309/7800 309/7800 280/6100 235/6500 412/5700 426/6250 427/6250 331/5700 309/5000 309/5000 383/5800 230/3900

600/5000 350/1500 440/2900 430/4000 430/5500 430/5500 440/2500 410/3000 700/1750 650/1500 650/1500 560/1950 550/1400 550/1400 650/1700 650/1450

1950kg 1530kg 1705kg 1795kg 1650kg 1710kg 1620kg 1595kg 1935kg 1985kg 2025kg 1865kg 1885kg 1945kg 1975kg 1880kg

179 101 144 184 194 183 163 150 213 218 214 180 164 159 194 122

Audi’s RS6 Avant runs the E63 S close and is the practical choice. Twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 has great throttle response and eightspeed auto is brilliant. Want something smaller? Try Merc’s C63 sedan or wagon (and coupe). Last of the line 507 Edition models have arrived as a swansong to the atmo 6.2-litre V8.

5.2 6.5 5.0 4.6 4.5 4.9 4.9 5.0 3.9 4.5 4.6 4.9 4.6 4.7 4.2 5.2

306 246 250 250 250 250 274 262 305 250 250 250 250 250 250 250

14.9 6.8 8.1 10.7 13.5 13.5 16.6 15.7 9.8 13.9 14.0 14.6 9.6 9.6 10.2 6.8

+ Performance, soundtrack, looks - Rear room is absurb. Brakes lack bite + A good match for its German foes - No longer any naturally aspirated options + Seriously rapid, sounds good - Too subtle for some, RS4 overshadows it + Looks, value, quality, noise, balance - Harsh ride, unnatural steering + A leap on for fast Audis, superb engine - Busy under braking + Screaming V8 - Everyone thinking you’re married with kids + Effortless pace - Lacks finesse. + Storming performance (thanks to Porsche) - Try finding one + Sounds great, stunning acceleration and grip - Slightly inert steering + Looks and drives better than estate version - M5 still looks tempting + The world’s most powerful wagon - Power isn’t everything + Amazing V8 rumble, point-to-point ability - Numb steering + The ultimate Q-car - A little too Q? + Looks and drives better than S6 it’s based on - Costs a bomb more + Quicker and much more economical than before - But still underwhelming to drive + Performance, economy, comfort - Steering lacks feel

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Database Entries in italics are for cars no longer on sale. Weight is the car’s kerb weight as quoted by the manufacturer. kW/tonne is the power-to-weight ratio based on manufacturer’s kerb weight. 0-100km/h figures in bold are independently recorded, all other performance figures are manufacturers’ claims. L/100km is the official ADR81/02 combined cycle figure or international equivalent.


Engine cyl/cc






Top speed

$374,634 $662,857 $65,900 $91,400 '08-'11 '11-'12 '05-'11 $98,200 $115,600 $229,145 ’04-’10 ’99-’03 ’92-’96 ’86-’88 $147,000 $150,400 $190,900 $56,000 $66,000 $44,990 $46,235 $64,390 $70,790 $45,490 $60,990 $76,285 $92,990 $97,900 $95,295 $189,545 $222,545 $319,645 ’86-’89 $126,300 $250,000 $298,800 $154,900 $169,407 ’04-’08 $249,900 '06-'09 ’03-’06 ’98-’02 $392,400 $498,700 $263,000 $179,400 $216,730 '04-'12 $56,990 '00-'01 $287,100 $318,300 $382,400 $443,600 $150,400 $222,100 $61,395 $161,000 n/a ’09-’12 $645,000 $855,000 $59,990 ’98-’99 $99,950

12/5998 8/6752 4/1997 6/2979 8/3999 8/4361 6/2979 4/1997 6/2979 8/4395 10/4999 8/4941 6/3795 6/3453 6/2993 8/4395 8/4395 8/6410 8/6410 4/1999 6/3983 6/3983 8/4951 8/5967 8/6162 8/6162 8/6162 6/3696 6/2995 8/5000 8/5000 8/5000 12/5167 8/4969 8/4691 8/4691 8/6208 8/6208 8/5439 8/5461 8/6208 8/5439 8/5439 8/5461 12/5980 8/5461 8/5461 8/5461 8/5439 4/1998 4/1997 8/4806 8/4806 8/4806 8/4806 8/4806 8/4806 4/1999 8/5000 8/4367 8/5000 12/6592 12/6749 4/2457 4/2212 6/2953

460/6000 377/4200 180/5000 225/5800 309/8300 331/8300 225/5800 180/5000 225/5800 423/6000 373/7750 294/6600 250/6900 210/6500 280/4000 300/5500 408/6000 347/6100 347/6100 149/6000 270/5250 310/5500 335/5750 270/5600 317/6000 340/6000 430/5250 235/7000 250/6500 346/6000 404/6500 375/6000 335/6800 311/6600 316/7000 331/7000 336/6800 373/6800 269/5750 430/5550 378/6800 350/6100 260/5500 400/5500 450/4750 386/5250 386/5250 400/5500 350/6100 217/6500 206/6500 294/6500 316/6700 368/6000 405/6000 309/6500 368/6000 177/5500 375/6000 250/3500 375/6000 420/5250 338/5350 221/6000 206/6000 257/5700

800/2000 1020/1750 350/1250 400/1500 400/3900 440/3750 400/1500 350/1250 400/1200 680/1500 520/6100 500/3800 400/4750 340/4500 740/2000 600/1750 680/1500 631/4150 631/4150 300/1750 533/2000 565/1950 570/2200 530/4400 550/4600 570/4600 740/200 360/5200 450/3500 575/2000 680/2500 625/2500 500/4500 505/5200 490/4750 510/4750 600/5000 610/5200 510/4000 800/1750 630/5200 700/2650 530/3000 800/2000 1000/2000 700/1700 700/1750 760/2000 700/2750 407/3500 373/2750 500/3500 520/3500 700/2250 800/2250 515/3500 700/2250 340/1750 625/2000 700/1750 625/2000 780/1500 720/3500 407/4000 363/3200 500/2800

2475kg 2585kg 1455kg 1520kg 1605kg 1580kg 1535kg 1610kg 1700kg 1870kg 1755kg 1795kg 1653kg 1431kg 2190kg 2190kg 2305kg 1983kg 1983kg 1581kg 1694kg 1805kg 1822kg 1745kg 1792kg 1764kg 1800kg 1765kg 1695kg 1800kg 1912kg 1795kg 2700kg 1714kg 1990kg 1990kg 1730kg 1730kg 1635kg 1845kg 1840kg 1835kg 1642kg 2120kg 2260kg 1870kg 2345kg 2475kg 2580kg 1590kg 1365kg 1770kg 1920kg 1970kg 1995kg 2085kg 2170kg 1670kg 2590kg 2360kg 2330kg 2435kg 2650kg 1515kg 1270kg 1684kg

166 146 124 148 193 285 147 112 132 220 289 223 209 200 128 137 177 175 175 94 159 172 184 155 177 193 239 133 147 192 211 209 124 181 157 166 194 216 164 233 280 271 219 192 203 210 232 220 190 185 205 226 228 254 276 202 231 144 200 144 189 235 181 200 220 153

4.6 5.3 5.9 5.5 4.9 4.4 5.8 6.3 5.9 4.4 4.7 5.5 6.1 6.1 5.4 5.4 4.7 4.8 4.8 7.6 5.0 4.9 4.9 5.5 5.0 4.9 4.4 6.2 5.9 4.9 4.6 4.9 7.8 4.7 5.4 5.0 4.4 4.2 5.2 4.2 4.5 4.7 5.7 4.5 4.4 4.4 4.8 5.4 5.5 4.7 5.0 5.6 4.5 4.2 3.8 5.7 4.7 7.6 6.2 6.9 5.4 4.9 5.9 5.2 5.3 4.9

322 296 210 250 250 290 250 250 250 250 250 250 250 251 250 250 250 250 250 238 250 250 250 250 250 250 250 250 250 250 300 250 210 270 280 287 250 280 250 250 250 250 250 250 250 250 250 210 210 250 241 285 288 303 306 261 278 217 225 217 225 250 240 255 248 250

Car Bentley Continental Flying Spur Bentley Mulsanne BMW 328i BMW 335i BMW M3 (E90) BMW M3 CRT (E90) BMW 335i M Sport (E90) BMW 528i BMW 535i BMW M5 (F10M) BMW M5 (E60) BMW M5 (E39) BMW M5 (E34) BMW M5 (E28) BMW X5 M50d BMW X6 xDrive50i BMW X6M Chrysler 300C SRT8 Core Chrysler 300C SRT8 Ford Mondeo 2.0 Eco Boost Titanium Ford Falcon XR6T FPV F6 FPV GT Holden Commodore SSV HSV Clubsport HSV Clubsport R8 SV HSV GTS Infiniti M37S Jaguar XF 3.0 V6 Supercharged Jaguar XFR Jaguar XFR-S Jaguar XJ Supersport Lamborghini LM002 Lexus IS-F Maserati Quattroporte S Maserati Q'porte Sport GTS Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Edition 507 Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG Mitsubishi Evo X Mitsubishi Evo VI Mäkinen Edition Porsche Panamera S Porsche Panamera GTS Porsche Panamera Turbo Porsche Panamera Turbo S Porsche Cayenne GTS Porsche Cayenne Turbo Range Rover Evoque Coupe Si4 Range Rover Sport V8 Supercharged Range Rover SDV8 Range Rover V8 Supercharged Rolls-Royce Ghost Rolls-Royce Phantom Subaru WRX STI Subaru Impreza 22B Volvo S60 Polestar

POC K ET buying guide Nissan 370Z Years 2009-present Engine V6, 3696cc Power 245kW @ 7000rpm Torque 363Nm @ 5200rpm 0-100km/h 5.4sec Top speed 250km/h



Sedans /wagons / 4x4s Continued

16.6 16.9 6.3 7.2 12.4 12.7 9.6 6.8 8.4 9.9 14.8 13.9 16.5 7.5 12.5 13.9 13.0 13.0 8.0 12.0 12.3 13.6 11.5 10.2 9.8 12.2 9.6 11.4 15.7 15.7 12.0 12.0 11.9 10.0 14.3 12.9 12.1 10.6 14.3 10.0 11.8 13.8 15.9 10.8 12.5 10.7 11.5 11.5 10.7 11.5 8.7 14.9 8.7 14.9 13.6 14.8 10.5 11.2 10.2

rating + Performance, wonderful interior - Have you seen petrol prices? + Drives like a modern Bentley should - Shame it doesn’t look like one too + New-age four-pot 328i is great all-rounder - We miss the six-cylinder soundtrack + Great engine, fine handling, good value - Steering confuses weight with feel + Every bit as good as the M3 coupe - No carbon roof + Sedan chassis + weight savings + GTS engine = best E90 M3 - Just 67 were made + Stunning drivetrain, controlled chassis - Looks a bit steady + Four-pot 528 is downsizing near its best - You’ll miss the straight-six sound effects + New 5-series impresses… - But only with all the chassis options ticked + Twin-turbocharging suits all-new M5 well - Can feel heavy at times + Screaming V10, great chassis - SMG gearbox feels old-tech + Magnificent V8-engined super sedan - We’d be nit-picking + The Godfather of super sedans - The family can come too + Look what it started - Understated looks + Triple turbo has heaps of shove - Do you really need that in an SUV? + Stunningly good to drive - Will you want to be seen arriving? + Fast and with physics-defying handling - But it definitely lacks the M factor + Stripper model offers incredible value - Is it too bare? + Refined and very fast - Still not a proper sports sedan + Terrific chassis, sweet engine - Interior feels dated next to Mazda 6 + Performance car bargain - Its 2016 demise weighs heavily on buyer's minds + Jet-like thrust from turbo six - Chassis barely contains the power + Fabulous supercharged V8 - Styling isn't subtle + Great value and strong performance - Generic styling + Carry over engine, imporved refinement - Lacks equipment next to SSV + SV engine option and lightweight wheels - Styling isn't subtle + Monster grunt from supercharged Chev LSA V8 - Supercar scare, anyone? + Stands out from the crowd - Not as involving as some rivals + Fast, comfortable, refined - Bland engine, poor economy compared to diesel V6 + Brilliant blend of pace and refinement - Doesn’t sound as special as it is + Strong engine, superb auto gearbox, supple susension - Styling is a bit overt + Superb handling, monster performance - Opinion-dividing looks + Craziest 4x4 ever, Countach V12 - Craziest 4x4 ever… + Shockingly good Lexus - The M3’s available as a (second hand) four-door too + Finally, a QP with more power - Grille is a bit Hannibal Lecter + The most stylish sedan in the world - Slightly wooden brakes, unforgiving ride + Monstrous pace and extremely engaging - M3’s just a little better… + Harder-edged and faster than regular C63 - Rear suspension a touch firm + Furiously fast, commendably discreet - Overshadowed by M3 and RS4 + Engine is a monster but chassis is a match for it - Seats could be more supportive + Brilliant engine, indulgent chassis - Vague steering, speed limits + M5-humbling grunt, cosseting ride - Speed limits + Dragster disguised as a limo - Tyre bills + Massive torque, massively reduced emissions - Massive car + God’s own supersedan - Unholy price and thirst + Monster performance - Not as desirable as a (more expensive) Bentley or Aston + Great engine, surprisingly good dynamics - $180K almost buys a Boxster and an ML350… + It exists; epic soundtrack - Ancient chassis, silly price + Thuggishness, anti-style statement - It’s a bit silly + Evo gets twin-clutch transmission - Not as exciting as it used to be + Our favourite Evo - Subtle it is not + Great cabin and typically fine Porsche chassis - Only a mother could love its looks + Sharper chassis; more urgent and vocal V8 - A BMW M5 is $90K less… + Fast, refined and dynamically sound - It still leaves us cold + Pace, excellent ergonomics - Steering feel, ride + Dynamically the best SUV on sale - At two tons, it’s still no sports car + Greener, faster, better - Odd rear styling, numb steering + Striking looks, sporting dynamics - Hefty price, and petrol version is auto-only + Thumpingly fast and hugely comfortable - It’s no Cayenne in the corners + Lighter, more capable, even more luxurious - Diesel V6 model feels more alert + Fast, comfortable, luxurious - Big, heavy, thirsty + More sporting, more affordable Rolls-Royce - But it still costs $650K + Rolls reinvented for the 21st Century - The roads are barely big enough + Still a point-to-point weapon - Merc's A45 AMG is close on price + On paper, the ultimate - On the road, too uncompromising + Capable of very swift, smooth progress - Could be a bit more fun

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Because it has rear-wheel drive, a gutsy V6 engine and a reputation for reliability. It may not be the last word in finesse, but it has a unique character and, above all else, is bloody good fun.

Ensure the servicing schedule has been followed, as oil that’s in poor condition can lead to overheating. On manual cars, check the Synchro Rev system works on every downshift. Listen for suspension clonks or knocks – it could be a worn drop link. Early cars had weak hatch springs, so check they’re strong enough to pop the hatch clear of the latch.


Early, high-mileage examples start around $25K. $35-40K gets a low-mileage 2013 car. Roadsters can be found at under $40K.












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Sports Cars / Convertibles Our Choice

Best of the Rest

Audi R8 Spyder. The Spyder boasts supercar looks, presence and performance, yet you really could drive one every day. And while the V10-engined car makes the more spine-tingling noise, the lighter and even more agile V8 version gets our vote.


Engine cyl/cc






Top speed


$260,000 $280,600 $431,561 $380,500 n/a $102,800 n/a $146,000 n/a $308,400 $395,800 $449,500 $79,900 $119,900 '06-'09 ’98-’02 $112,900 $173,450 ’00-’03 n/a $69,990 $84,990 $89,990 n/a n/a $108,990 n/a $409,888 $138,645 $171,045 $201,945 $213,000 $233,000 $299,000 $67,990 $79,990 $328,000 $338,000 $47,280 $118,595 $154,690 '07-'08 $304,145 $381,145 $486,645 n/a $97,500 $254,000 $76,500 $101,500 $126,500 $266,200 n/a

8/4735 8/4735 12/5935 12/5935 12/5935 4/1984 5/2480 6/2995 8/4163 8/4163 10/5204 8/3933 4/1997 6/2979 6/3246 6/3246 6/2979 8/3999 8/4941 4/1397 4/1596 4/1999 4/1999 4/1595 4/1999 4/1999 4/2261 8/3855 6/2995 6/2995 8/5000 8/5000 8/5000 8/5000 4/1598 4/1798 8/4691 8/4691 4/1999 6/3498 8/5461 8/5439 8/4663 8/5461 8/6208 4/1598 2/1990 8/4799 6/3696 6/2706 6/3436 6/3800 6/3800

313/7000 321/7300 380/6500 380/6500 380/6500 200/6000 265/5400 245/5500 331/8250 316/7900 386/8000 373/6000 135/5000 250/5900 252/7900 236/7400 225/5800 309/8300 294/6600 78/6000 85/6000 127/7200 127/7200 104/6900 134/7300 177/8500 191/7500 412/7500 250/6500 280/6500 364/6500 283/6500 375/6000 404/6000 100/6800 162/6800 324/7000 331/7000 118/7000 225/6500 310/6800 295/5750 320/5250 395/5500 420/6800 155/6000 60/5300 270/6300 245/7000 195/6700 232/6700 295/7400 300/7300

470/5750 490/5000 570/5750 620/5500 570/5750 350/2500 465/1650 440/2900 430/4000 430/4500 530/6500 660/1700 270/1250 500/1500 365/4900 350/3250 500/1300 400/3900 500/3800 129/5000 155/4150 177/6000 177/6000 163/5790 194/6100 206/6300 271/6200 755/4750 450/3500 460/3500 625/2500 515/3500 625/2500 680/2500 160/4400 250/4600 490/4750 510/4750 188/5000 370/3500 540/4500 520/3750 700/1800 800/2000 650/4750 280/2000 140/3250 490/3400 363/5200 280/4500 360/4500 440/5600 420/4200

1710kg 1690kg 1760kg 1815kg 1810kg 1455kg 1510kg 1875kg 1920kg 1660kg 1720kg 2470kg 1470kg 1505kg 1410kg 1375kg 1735kg 1810kg 1585kg 540kg 675kg 675kg 700kg 520kg 535kg 675kg 565kg 1729kg 1597kg 1614kg 1665kg 1621kg 1725kg 1725kg 876kg 924kg 1980kg 1980kg 1173kg 1465kg 1690kg 1495kg 1785kg 1785kg 1695kg 1185kg 525kg 1100kg 1554kg 1310kg 1320kg 1465kg 1515kg

183 190 216 210 210 187 225 178 235 259 183 151 92 166 178 171 130 171 185 144 126 188 181 200 250 262 338 238 157 173 219 175 217 234 114 175 164 167 101 154 183 197 179 221 248 131 114 245 158 149 178 201 198

4.9 4.6 4.5 4.6 4.3 5.6 4.4 5.4 4.9 4.8 3.8 5.0 6.9 4.8 5.0 5.4 5.8 5.3 4.7 6.8 6.0 4.9 5.0 4.9 4.8 3.4 3.2 3.6 5.3 4.9 4.3 5.6 4.8 4.4 6.5 4.6 5.5 5.2 7.6 5.6 4.6 4.5 4.6 4.3 3.8 6.9 6.0 4.5 5.8 5.8 5.1 4.7 4.8

290 305 306 295 305 250 280 250 250 300 311 301 232 250 250 250 250 250 250 177 190 208 208 193 209 240 250 315 260 275 300 250 250 300 204 234 283 285 213 250 250 280 250 250 317 235 185 250 250 264 279 301 302

13.8 12.9 16.4 14.3 15.5 8.2 9.1 8.5 10.7 14.4 14.9 10.9 6.8 9.0 12.1 11.1 8.8 12.7 14.5 6.2 8.2 8.2 7.7 10.5 9.0 9.1 11.1 11.2 12.3 12.3 6.3 7.5 15.4 14.5 8.1 8.3 8.5 12.2 9.4 10.1 13.3 7.1 12.1 11.2 8.2 8.8 9.7 11.2

Car Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster Aston Martin Vantage S Roadster Aston Martin V12 Vantage Roadster Aston Martin DB9 Volante Aston Martin DBS Volante Audi TTS Roadster Audi TT RS Roadster Audi S5 Cabriolet Audi RS5 Cabriolet Audi R8 Spyder V8 Audi R8 Spyder V10 Bentley Continental GTC V8 BMW Z4 sDrive 20i (Mk2) BMW Z4 sDrive 35i (Mk2) BMW Z4 M Roadster BMW M Roadster BMW 335i BMW M3 Convertible (E93) BMW Z8 Caterham Seven Classic Caterham Seven Roadsport SV 120 Caterham Seven Roadsport SV 175 Caterham Seven CSR 175 Caterham Seven Supersport Caterham Seven Supersport R Caterham Seven 485 Caterham Seven CSR 260 Superlight Ferrari California T Jaguar F-Type V6 Jaguar F-Type V6 S Jaguar F-Type V8 S Jaguar XK 5.0 Jaguar XKR Jaguar XKR-S Lotus Elise 1.6 Lotus Elise S Maserati GranCabrio Maserati GranCabrio Sport Mazda MX-5 2.0 Mercedes-Benz SLK350 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG Black Mercedes-Benz SL500 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster Mini John Cooper Works Convertible Morgan 3 Wheeler Morgan Plus 8 Nissan 370Z Roadster Porsche Boxster (Mk3) Porsche Boxster S (Mk3) Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabrio (991) Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Cabrio (997)

The mk3 Porsche Boxster S is a brilliant all-rounder, while the Lotus Exige S Roadster counters with a more focused driving experience. Jaguar’s F-type also impresses in both V6 S (left) and V8 S forms. Mazda’s MX-5 is best for budget rear-drive fun, but for the ultimate thrills, get a Caterham 620R or Ariel Atom.

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Super s dan war! 441kW M5 akes on the be sts f om AMG Po sche Audi and J guar





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+ Sportiest, coolest drop-top Aston in years - Lacks real teeth + Sounds amazing, looks even better - Still not the best drop-top in its class + As good as the coupe, with amplified V12 rumble - Just a smidgen shakier + Consummate cruiser and capable when pushed - Roof-up wind noise + A feelgood car pa r excellence - It’s a bit of a heavyweight + Effortlessly quick - Long-term appeal open to question; not cheap either + Terrific engine… - …is the best thing about it + Gets the S4’s trick supercharged engine - Bordering on dull + Pace, looks, interior, naturally aspirated V8 - Not the last word in fun or involvement + Dynamically outstanding, sounds terrific - V10 sounds even better + Looks and sounds sensational - It’s the most expensive Audi ever + Still arguably the world’s best topless GT - Still no sports car + The Z4 has grown up… - …and got fat + As above, with more power - Not as much fun as it used to be + Exhilarating and characterful, that engine - Stiff suspension + Fresh-air M3, that motor, hunky looks - M Coupe drives better + Looks good, great to drive, fantastic engine - A bit shaky + M DCT transmission, pace, slick roof - Extra weight blunts the edge + M5-powered super-sportster - M5’s more fun to drive + The Caterham experience starts here - It’s pretty raw + New Ford-engined model is just great - Bigger drivers need SV model + The Caterham for everyday use - Loses intensity of R300 + Focused dynamics, more than enough performance - The usual Caterham downsides + One of the best Caterhams - You can build it yourself + The best road-and-track Seven yet - Impractical, noisy, uncomfortable + Hits 100km/h in 3.4sec and feels even faster - Will shock those coming out of a Boxster + Brilliant for high days, holidays and trackdays - Wet Wednesdays + A brilliant GT with an impressive turbo engine - doesn't engage like other Ferraris + Supercharged V6 sounds great - lots of expensive options + The sweet spot of the F-Type range - most supercars have more boot space + V8 punches hard but chassis doesn't sparkle - Starting to get pricey + Basic XK gets extra power… - …but loses some of its GT refinement + Gains Jag’s fantastic new V8 - Loses sporting ground to its main foes + Loud and mad; most exciting Jag in years - It’s also the most expensive in years + New 1.6 Elise is light and fantastic - Smaller engine could put some off + New supercharged Elise boasts epic grip and pace - Pricey) options + As good to drive as it is to look at - Lacks the grunt of some rivals + Looks, performance, cruising ability - Brakes could be sharper + Handles brilliantly again - Less than macho image + Best non-AMG SLK yet - Still no Boxster-beater + AMG SLK is quicker and more economical than ever - Should be sharper, though + AMG gets serious - Dull-witted 7G-Tronic auto box, uneven dynamics + Wafty performance, beautifully engineered - Lacks ultimate sports car feel + Monster performance, lighter than before - Still heavy, steering lacks consistency + Loses none of the coupe’s talents - But (understandably) loses the gullwing doors + A manlier Mini cabrio. As hardcore as the hatch… - …which is still better + Quirky, characterful, brilliant - Unnatural brake feel; you’d better not be shy + Hilarious mix of old looks and new mechanicals-Refinementisdefinitelyold-school + The Zed’s old-school character remains intact - Its purposeful looks don’t + Goes & looks better; cleanest Boxster ever - Steering now electric to help cut consumption + Boxster steps out of 911’s shadow - But gets 911’s less appealing new steering + All-new open 911 drives just like the coupe - Which means the same artificialsteering + The best 911 drop-top you can buy - Lacks glamour of an R8 Spyder




New AMG beats 911



































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Z06 v GT3

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Celebra ing AMG's Austra ian story

Style and substan e

Wo ld's sexiest sedan

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Atmo legend goes tu bo

22 page mega test

911 acer gets dirty

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Porsche Cayman GT4. Se l your kids. PLUS

D iving Porsche's fo gotten front and mid engined maste pieces

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Unleashing the Urban Outlaw

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PERFORMANCE CAR OF THE YEAR The shock and awe of the most important test of 2015


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Coupes / GTs Our Choice

Best of the Rest

The new Cayman S is right up there with its 911 bigger brother – put simply, it’s sensational. The Lotus Exige S (left) is a proper road racer for $120K and our joint 2012 Car of the Year. Audi’s R8 is another gem, especially in supercar-rivalling V10 Plus form. And, of course, there’s always the Nissan GT-R…







Top speed


Aston Martin V8 Vantage (4.7) Aston Martin V8 Vantage S Aston Martin V12 Vantage Aston Martin DB9 Aston Martin DBS Audi TT 2.0 TFSI Audi TTS Audi TT RS Audi S5 Audi RS5 Audi R8 V8 Audi R8 V10 Audi R8 V10 Plus Audi R8 GT Bentley Continental GT V8 Bentley Continental GT Bentley Continental GT Speed Bentley Continental Supersports BMW 335i M Sport BMW M3 (E92) BMW M3 GTS (E92) BMW M3 (E46) BMW M3 CS (E46) BMW M3 CSL (E46) BMW Z4 M Coupe BMW M Coupe BMW M6 Honda CR-Z Hyundai Veloster Turbo Infiniti G37S Coupe Jaguar XK 5.0 Jaguar XKR Jaguar XKR-S Lotus Exige S (V6) Lotus Evora Lotus Evora S Maserati GranTurismo Maserati GranTurismo Sport Maserati GT MC Stradale Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG Nissan 370Z Nissan GT-R (MY13) Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34) Peugeot RCZ 1.6 Porsche Cayman S (Mk3) Porsche Cayman (Mk2) Porsche Cayman S (Mk2) Porsche Cayman R Porsche Cayman S (Mk1) Porsche 911 Carrera (991) Porsche 911 Carrera S (991) Porsche 911 Carrera 4 (991) Porsche 911 Carrera 4S (991) Porsche 911 GT3 (991) Porsche 911 Carrera (997.2) Porsche 911 Carrera S (997.2) Porsche 911 Carrera GTS (997.2) Porsche 911 Carrera S (997.1) Porsche 911 Carrera 4S (996) Porsche 911 Carrera (996 3.4) Porsche 911 Carrera (993) Porsche 911 GT3 (997.2) Porsche 911 GT3 RS (997.2) Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 (997.2) Porsche 911 GT3 (997.1) Porsche 911 GT3 RS (997.1) Porsche 911 GT3 (996.2) Porsche 911 GT3 RS (996.2) Porsche 911 GT3 (996.1) Porsche 911 RS (993) Porsche 968 Club Sport Subaru BRZ Toyota 86 VW Scirocco GT 2.0 TSI VW Scirocco R

Engine cyl/cc



Porsche 911 GT3. PDK, electric steering, a new engine with zero racing pedigree… Yes, we were nervous about the new GT3 before its arrival. Thankfully, it’s still fully deserving of the badge, although you’ll now need a healthy disregard for your licence to feel it truly come alive.

$231,000 $251,700 $386,391 $349,500 n/a $75,050 $98,400 $139,400 $135,400 $161,400 $279,500 $366,900 $408,200 ’10-’12 $370,000 $408,870 $450,000 ’10-’12 $108,700 $155,100 '10-'11 ’00-’07 ’05-’07 ’03-’04 '06-'09 ’98-’03 $292,500 $38,490 $31,990 $83,500 $189,000 $209,000 $299,000 $119,990 $123,990 $145,990 $288,800 $308,800 $364,900 $157,900 '12 '06-'09 '07-'09 $422,800 $69,500 $172,000 ’99-’02 $58,990 $139,900 ’11-’13 ’11-’13 ’11-’13 '06-'09 $206,500 $243,100 $222,200 $258,800 $294,100 '08-'11 '08-'11 ’11-’1 ’04-’08 ’02-’05 ’98-’01 ’94-’97 ’09-’11 ‘10-’11 '11-'12 ‘07-’09 '07-'09 ’03-’05 ’03-’05 ’99 ’95 ’93-’95 $37,150 $29,990 n/a $47,990

8/4735 8/4735 12/5935 12/5935 12/5935 4/1984 4/1984 5/2480 6/2995 8/4163 8/4163 10/5204 10/5204 10/5204 8/3993 12/5998 12/5998 12/5998 6/2979 8/3999 8/4361 6/3246 6/3246 6/3246 6/3246 6/3246 6/2993 4/1497 4/1591 6/3696 8/5000 8/5000 8/5000 6/3456 6/3456 6/3456 8/4244 8/4691 8/4691 8/6208 8/6208 8/6208 8/6208 8/5461 6/3696 6/3799 6/2568 4/1598 6/3436 6/2893 6/3436 6/3436 6/3387 6/3436 6/3799 6/3436 6/3799 6/3799 6/3614 6/3799 6/379 6/3824 6/3596 6/3387 6/3600 6/3797 6/3797 6/3996 6/3600 6/3600 6/3600 6/3600 6/3600 6/3746 4/2990 4/1998 4/1998 4/1984 4/1984

313/7000 321/7300 380/6500 380/6500 380/6500 155/4300 200/6000 250/5400 245/5500 331/8250 316/7900 386/8000 404/8000 412/8000 373/6000 423/6000 460/6000 463/6000 225/5800 309/8300 331/8300 252/7900 338/7900 265/7900 252/7900 236/7400 412/6000 99/6600 136/5500 235/7000 283/6500 375/6000 405/6000 257/7000 206/6400 257/7000 302/7100 338/7000 338/7000 336/6800 380/6800 354/6800 373/6800 400/5500 245/7000 404/6400 206/6800 147/5500 239/7400 195/7200 235/7200 243/7400 217/6250 257/7400 295/7400 257/7400 295/7400 350/8250 254/6500 283/6500 300/730 261/6600 235/6800 221/6800 200/6100 320/7600 331/7900 368/8250 305/7600 305/7600 280/7400 280/7400 265/7200 221/6500 176/6200 147/7000 147/7000 155/5300 188/6000

470/5750 490/5000 570/5750 620/5500 570/5750 350/1600 320/2500 450/1600 440/2900 430/4000 430/4500 530/6500 540/6500 540/6500 660/1700 700/1700 800/2000 800/1700 400/1300 400/3900 440/3750 365/4900 269/5000 370/4900 365/4900 350/3250 680/1500 172/1000 265/1500 360/5200 515/3500 625/2500 680/2500 400/4500 342/4700 400/4500 460/4750 520/4750 520/4750 600/5000 620/5200 630/5000 630/5250 800/2000 363/5200 632/3200 392/4400 275/1700 370/4500 300/4400 370/4750 370/4750 340/4200 390/5600 440/5600 390/5600 440/5600 440/6250 390/4400 420/4400 420/420 400/4600 370/4250 350/4600 330/5000 430/6250 430/6750 460/5750 405/5500 405/5500 385/5000 385/5000 370/5000 355/5400 305/4100 205/6600 205/6600 280/1700 330/2500

1630kg 1610kg 1680kg 1785kg 1695kg 1295kg 1395kg 1450kg 1675kg 1715kg 1560kg 1620kg 1570kg 1520kg 2295kg 2320kg 2320kg 2240kg 1525kg 1580kg 1530kg 1495kg 1495kg 1385kg 1420kg 1375kg 1790kg 1198kg 1313kg 1706kg 1585kg 1678kg 1678kg 1176kg 1382kg 1430kg 1780kg 1880kg 1770kg 1730kg 1710kg 1755kg 1760kg 2135kg 1520kg 1740kg 1560kg 1421kg 1320kg 1330kg 1350kg 1295kg 1415kg 1380kg 1395kg 1430kg 1445kg 1430kg 1415kg 1425kg 1420k 1420kg 1405kg 1320kg 1370kg 1395kg 1370kg 1435kg 1395kg 1375kg 1380kg 1330kg 1350kg 1270kg 1335kg 1216kg 1257kg 1373kg 1351kg

192 199 230 216 228 128 145 175 148 183 201 242 262 275 165 185 192 210 150 148 220 172 172 194 180 178 130 83 106 140 182 227 245 224 151 183 161 183 190 197 226 207 215 197 163 235 134 105 184 148 177 190 163 181 214 183 207 242 183 202 21 183 163 172 157 233 295 274 222 225 202 213 202 179 136 120 119 114 146

4.9 4.5 4.2 4.6 4.3 6.1 5.2 4.3 4.9 4.5 4.6 3.9 3.8 3.6 4.8 4.5 4.2 3.9 5.5 4.8 4.4 5.2 5.1 4.9 5.0 5.4 4.2 9.0 8.4 5.9 5.5 4.8 4.4 4.0 5.1 4.8 5.2 4.7 4.6 4.5 4.2 4.6 4.2 4.5 5.4 2.7 4.7 7.6 5.0 5.8 5.2 5.0 5.5 4.8 4.5 4.9 4.5 3.5 4.9 4.7 4. 4.7 5.1 5.2 5.3 4.1 3.9 3.9 4.3 4.2 4.5 4.4 4.8 5.0 6.5 7.6 7.6 6.9 6.0

290 305 305 295 295 245 250 250 250 250 302 316 317 320 303 318 325 329 250 250 305 257 250 259 250 250 250 200 214 250 250 250 300 274 262 286 285 298 301 250 300 250 300 250 250 320 265 231 283 265 277 282 275 289 304 285 299 315 290 302 30 293 285 280 267 312 310 310 310 310 306 306 302 277 254 226 226 240 250

13.8 12.9 16.4 14.3 16.3 7.1 7.7 8.5 8.1 10.8 14.2 13.9 14.9 13.9 10.6 14.5 14.5 16.3 8.4 12.4 12.7 11.9 11.9 11.9 12.1 11.2 9.9 5.0 6.8 10.5 11.2 12.3 12.3 10.1 9.3 9.9 14.3 15.5 14.4 12.1 12.2 14.2 15.3 10.6 10.5 11.8 14.1 6.7 8.8 30.1 29.7 9.7 10.6 9.0 9.5 9.3 9.9 12.4 10.3 10.6 10. 11.5 11.1 10.1 11.1 12.6 13.2 13.8 13.0 13.0 12.9 12.9 13.0 12.4 10.3 7.8 7.8 7.4 8.1

rating + 2012 upgrades keep the V8 Vantage on song - Starting to feel a little dated, though + Keener engine, V12 Vantage looks - Slightly sluggish auto only + The best series production car that Aston Martin makes - Erm, a tad thirsty? + Better than the old DB9 in every respect - Automatic gearbox could be quicker + Stupendous engine, gearbox, brakes - Pricey. Can bite the unwary + Front-driver loses nothing to quattro TTs - Steers like a computer game + Usefully quicker TT; great drivetrain - Still steers like a computer game + Sublime 5-cylinder turbo engine - Rest of package can’t quite match it + Supercharged V6 makes S5 cleaner and faster - Pricey once you add options + Brilliant engine and improved chassis - Still not as exciting as you’d hope + Finally, a true 911 alternative - Exclusivity comes at a price + Real supercar feel - We still prefer the V8 + More power and aggression, less weight - Firm ride may be too much for some + Everything we love about the R8 - Not as hardcore as we wanted + A proper drivers’ Bentley with decent economy - W12 suddenly seems pointless + 325km/h in utter comfort - Weight, thirst + 330km/h in utter comfort - Feels nose-heavy in slow corners + A thoroughly impressive car… - …rather than a fun and involving one + Eager engine, exploitable chassis - Slightly unadventurous styling + Fends off all of its talented new rivals - …except the cheaper 1-series M + Highly exclusive, most focused M-car ever - Good luck trying to find one + One of the best BMWs ever - Slightly artificial steering feel + CSL dynamics without CSL price - Looks like the standard car + Stripped-down road-race M3 - Standard brakes barely adequate + A real drivers’ car - You’ve got to be prepared to get stuck in + Quick and characterful - Lacks finesse + Great engine and economy, excellent build - Numb steering, unsettled B-road ride + The first hybrid with sporting intent - No match for a good diesel hot hatch + The usual Hyundai value, with added fun - Styling might be too quirky for some + Softer 370Z delivers sharp-driving swing at the Germans - Bland looks + Fine car for the likes of us - Jag buyers may not like the harder edge + Fast and incredibly rewarding Jag - The kids will have to stay at home + The most exciting XKR ever - It’s nearly $300,000 + Breathtaking road-racer; our joint 2012 Car of the Year - Doubts over Lotus’s future + Sublime ride and handling. Our 2009 car of the year - Pricey options + A faster and better Evora - But one which spars with the Porsche 911… + Striking, accomplished GT - Doesn’t spike the pulse like an Aston or 911 + The best everyday GranTurismo yet - Starting to get long in the tooth? + Brilliant blend of road racer and GT - No rear seats + Mercedes makes a proper two-door M3 rival - C63 saloon looks better + The C63 turned up to 11 - Too heavy, not as fiery as Black Series cars of old + Power, control, build quality - Lacks ultimate involvement + AMG goes Porsche-hunting - Dull-witted gearshift spoils the party + Presence, pace, monster engine - Stiff ride, stiff competition + Quicker, leaner, keener than 350Z - Not quite a Cayman-killer + GT-R is quicker and better than ever - Suspension is too firm for Australian roads + Big, brutal, and great fun - Very firm ride + Distinctive looks, highly capable handling - Could be a bit more exciting + The Cayman comes of age - Erm… + Extra power, just as involving - Still lacks the desirability of other Porsches + Still want that 911? - Yeah, us too + Total handling excellence - Styling additions not to all tastes + Pure and rewarding - If they’d just move the engine back a bit… + 911 becomes cleaner and cleverer - But some of its character’s gone AWOL + As above, but with supercar pace - Electric steering robs it of some tactility + A touch more engaging than 2wd 991 - Still stand-offish compared to 997 + The best 991-generation Carrera - Choose your spec carefully + Our 2013 eCOTY. Brilliant - Some purists will moan about the lack of manual + Faster and greener than the mk1 997 - Lost a little of the 911 magic + Poise, precision, blinding pace - Feels a bit clinical + Fitting finale for the 997 generation - Absolutely nothing + evo Car of the Year 2004; like a junior GT3 - Tech overload? + Second best 996 only to the GT3 - Very little + evo Car of the Year 1998; beautifully polished - Some like a bit of rough + More character than 996 - Harder work at speed + Even better than the car it replaced - Give us a minute… + Our 2010 car of the year - Looks and noise are slightly OTT + The ultimate modern 911, and our 2011 Car of the Year - Unforgiving on-road ride + Runner-up evo Car of the Year 2006 - Ferrari 599 GTBs + evo Car of the Year 2007 - A chunk more money than the brilliant GT3 + evo Car of the Year 2003 - Chassis is a bit too track-focused for some roads + Track-biased version of above - Limited supply + Our Car of the Year 1999 - Porsche didn’t build enough + Barking engine note, gearchange - Not quite hardcore enough + One of the all-time greats - Lots have been driven very hard + Fine chassis, great steering - Weak engine, not the slide-happy car they promised + More fun than its cousin (above) - Same lack of torque, poor interior quality + Golf GTI price and performance - Interior lacks flair + Great engine, grown-up dynamics - Perhaps a little too grown-up for some

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Thrill-free zone 3 Tepid 33 Interesting 333 Seriously good 3333 A truly great car 33333



Supercars Best of the Rest

Our Choice

Porsche’s 918 Spyder (left) pips the McLaren P1 on the road, and vice versa on the track. (Is the LaFerrari better still? We’ll let you know when we get one together with its hybrid rivals.) Meanwhile, Pagani’s Huayra was our joint 2012 Car of the Year and Lamborghini’s Aventador offers true supercar drama.


Engine cyl/cc






Top speed


Ferrari 458 Speciale. The regular 458 Italia is amazing enough in itself – in fact it used to occupy this very space – but the Speciale follows in the tradition of the 360 Challenge Stradale and 430 Scuderia and makes the car it is based on even more, well, special. The supercar to buy.

$472,840 ’10-’12 ’78-’81 n/a n/a n/a ’91-’95 n/a $525,772 $588,806 $550,000 '04-'10 '04-'10 '07-'10 ’99-’04 ’03-’04 ’97-’99 $691,100 '06-'12 '10-'12 '11-'12 ’02-’06 ’97-’02 $625,000 '04-'11 ’02-’04 ’96-’97 ’87-’92 ’84-’85 ’04-’06 ’92-’94 $409,500 $455,000 n/a n/a ’06-’08 '07-'08 $761,500 $795,000 ’01-’06 '06-'11 '09-'11 ’99-’00 ’00-’02 ’88-’91 '10-12 n/a n/a ’94-’98 '09-'10 $467,965 $639,000 ’04-’07 n/a n/a ’01-’05 ’05-’06 '09-'10 ’09-’13 ’10-’13 ’10-’13 '06-'09 ’00-’06 ’04-’06 ’95-’98 ’96-’99 ’04-’06 ’87-’90

12/5935 12/7312 6/3500 16/7993 16/7993 16/7993 12/3500 8/6162 8/4499 8/4499 8/4499 8/4308 8/4308 8/4308 8/3586 8/3586 8/3496 12/6262 12/5999 12/5999 12/5999 12/5748 12/5474 12/6262 12/5748 12/5998 12/4698 8/2936 8/2855 8/5409 6/3498 10/5204 10/5204 10/5204 10/5204 10/4961 10/4961 12/6498 12/6498 12/6192 12/6496 12/6946 12/5992 12/5992 12/5167 10/4805 8/3799 8/3799 12/6064 12/5980 8/6208 8/6208 8/5439 12/5980 12/7291 12/7291 12/7291 12/7291 6/3800 6/3800 6/3600 6/3600 6/3600 6/3600 6/3600 6/3600 10/5733 6/2850

421/6750 559/6000 204/6500 736/6000 736/6000 882/6400 412/8000 476/6500 419/9000 419/9000 445/9000 360/8500 360/8500 375/8500 294/8500 312/8500 279/8250 545/8250 456/7600 456/7600 493/8250 379/7250 357/7000 486/8000 397/7250 485/7800 383/8500 351/7000 295/7000 410/6500 404/7200 405/8000 412/8000 419/8000 419/8000 383/8000 390/8000 515/8250 515/8250 427/7500 471/8000 493/8000 423/7300 405/7100 339/7000 412/8700 459/7500 459/7500 461/7500 493/5400 420/6800 464/7400 460/6500 537/5800 567/6300 410/5500 443/6150 499/6200 368/6000 390/6250 456/6500 353/6000 309/6000 355/5700 300/5750 321/5750 450/8000 331/6500

620/5500 750/7600 330/5000 1250/2200 1250/2200 1500/3000 618/3750 819/3800 540/6000 540/6000 540/6000 465/5250 465/5250 470/5250 373/4750 373/4750 363/6000 690/6000 608/5600 608/5600 620/6500 589/5250 569/5000 683/6000 588/5250 657/5500 471/6500 577/4000 496/3800 678/3750 644/4500 540/6500 540/6500 540/6500 540/6500 510/4500 510/4250 690/5500 690/5500 650/5400 660/6000 660/6500 630/5500 620/5500 500/5200 480/7000 600/3000 600/3000 617/4000 1000/2200 650/4750 635/5500 780/3250 1000/2250 780/4500 750/4100 760/4000 780/4000 650/1950 700/2100 700/2250 680/2100 560/2700 640/3500 540/4500 540/4500 590/5750 500/5000

1739kg 1740kg 1303kg 1950kg 1990kg 1838kg 1566kg 1528kg 1485kg 1430kg 1395kg 1449kg 1520kg 1350kg 1390kg 1280kg 1350kg 1630kg 1688kg 1688kg 1605kg 1730kg 1716kg 1880kg 1840kg 1365kg 1229kg 1100kg 1160kg 1538kg 1470kg 1380kg 1410kg 1340kg 1485kg 1520kg 1420kg 1575kg 1625kg 1650kg 1665kg 1565kg 1490kg 1625kg 1447kg 1480kg 1434kg 1474kg 1137kg 1876kg 1620kg 1550kg 1768kg 1350kg 1210kg 1250kg 1230kg 1400kg 1570kg 1585kg 1370kg 1585kg 1540kg 1440kg 1500kg 1215kg 1380kg 1450kg

246 326 161 389 380 488 267 316 286 278 320 253 243 282 215 248 210 339 274 274 311 222 219 259 219 361 316 328 261 263 280 298 298 318 286 255 278 331 321 262 287 320 292 255 238 282 324 318 418 267 250 299 284 404 470 337 370 361 238 253 338 226 203 253 206 253 332 232

4.1 3.7 5.9 2.5 2.7 2.5 4.2 3.6 3.4 3.4 3.0 4.0 4.1 3.6 4.5 4.1 4.7 3.1 3.7 3.7 3.4 4.2 4.4 3.7 4.0 3.7 3.7 4.1 4.9 3.9 4.1 3.9 3.7 3.4 3.9 4.0 3.8 2.9 3.0 4.0 3.8 3.3 4.4 3.9 4.9 3.7 3.1 3.2 3.6 3.8 3.8 3.5 3.8 3.3 3.3 3.7 3.6 3.4 3.7 3.1 3.5 3.7 4.2 4.0 4.3 4.4 3.9 3.7

295 354 262 407 407 415 342 330 325 320 325 315 311 320 295 300 295 340 330 330 335 325 320 335 320 350 325 324 305 330 343 320 325 325 324 315 315 350 350 332 340 337 338 335 298 325 333 329 387 320 317 315 334 360 349 317 345 349 312 315 330 310 304 319 290 295 330 300

14.4 24.5 24.1 24.9 23.1 15.0 13.3 11.8 13.3 15.2 15.2 15.7 16.6 16.9 15.0 17.9 17.5 22.9 22.9 15.4 20.5 13.3 13.7 13.7 13.8 17.0 17.2 17.2 21.4 20.6 20.6 11.7 11.7 14.9 14.4 13.3 13.7 14.5 11.5 11.4 11.9 12.8 13.5 12.9 15.7 -

Car Aston Martin Vanquish (Mk2) Aston Martin One-77 BMW M1 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Bugatti Veyron Super Sport Bugatti EB110 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Ferrari 458 Italia Ferrari 458 Spider Ferrari 458 Speciale Ferrari F430 Ferrari F430 Spider Ferrari 430 Scuderia Ferrari 360 Modena Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale Ferrari F355 F1 Berlinetta Ferrari F12 Berlinetta Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano HGTE Ferrari 599 GTO Ferrari 575M Fiorano Handling Pack Ferrari 550 Maranello Ferrari FF Ferrari 612 Scaglietti F1 Ferrari Enzo Ferrari F50 Ferrari F40 Ferrari 288GTO Ford GT Jaguar XJ220 Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Lamborghini LP570-4 Superleggera Lamborghini LP570-4 Performante Lamborghini Gallardo Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Lamborghini Aventador Roadster Lamborghini Murciélago Lamborghini Murciélago LP640 Lamborighini Murciélago LP670-4 SV Lamborghini Diablo GT Lamborghini Diablo 6.0 Lamborghini Countach QV Lexus LFA/LFA Nürburgring McLaren MP4-12C McLaren 12C Spider McLaren F1 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Pagani Huayra Pagani Zonda 760RS Pagani Zonda C12S Pagani Zonda F Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster Porsche 911 Turbo (997.2) Porsche 911 Turbo S (997.2) Porsche 911 GT2 RS (997.2) Porsche 911 Turbo (997.1) Porsche 911 Turbo (996) Porsche 911 GT2 (996) Porsche 911 Turbo (993) Porsche 911 GT2 (993) Porsche Carrera GT Porsche 959

PA S T master It ate GT3s for breakfast and was the most desirable TVR yet. Here’s what Richard Meaden thought


rating + A much better car than the DBS it succeeds - Shame it looks little different, then + The engine, the looks, the drama - Gearbox hates manoeuvring; only 77 were made + Early supercar icon - A bit under-endowed these days + Superbly engineered 4wd quad-turbo rocket - Er, lacks luggage space? + Warp speed and ferocious noise sans-roof - Ridiculous brolly/roof thing + The world’s fastest supercar - Limited to 415km/h for us mere mortals + Superbly engineered 4wd quad-turbo rocket - It just fizzled out + Huge pace and character - Take plenty of brave pills if there’s rain + An astounding achievement, looks fantastic - There’ll never be a manual + A 458 that sounds and feels more organic - Er, 5km/h slower? + The most exciting car available for sale in Australia - Just about perfect, so nothing + Just brilliant - Didn’t you read the plus point? + Berlinetta dynamics, 8000rpm with the roof down - Looks? + Successful F1 technology transplant - Likes to shout about it + Worthy successor to 355 - Not quite as involving as it should be + Totally exhilarating road-racer. It’s loud - It’s very, very loud + Looks terrific, sounds even better - Are you kidding? + 545kW isn’t too much power for the road - Not as dramatic as an Aventador + evo Car of the Year 2006 - Banks are getting harder to rob + As above, but with a bit more edge - Can be a little too edgy in the wet + One of the truly great Ferraris - Erm, the air con isn’t very good + Fiorano pack makes 575 truly great - It should have been standard + Everything - Nothing + Four seats and 4WD, but a proper Ferrari - Looks divide opinion + Awesomely capable grand tourer - See above + Intoxicating, exploitable - Cabin detailing falls short of Zonda or F1 + The best drivers’ Ferrari - Lines lack tension + The shape that launched a thousand posters - Er… + Painfully beautiful, rarer than the F40 - You are joking? + Our 2005 Car of the Year - JC had one. Reckoned it didn’t handle… + Britain’s greatest supercar… - …until McLaren built the F1 + The mad rear-driven Lambo is back! - Gallardo not feeling as fresh as the 458 + Still a missile from A to B - Starting to show its age + A reminder of how great the Gallardo is - LP560-4 does as good a job + It’s a Superleggera Spyder… - …that’s not actually that super-light + On a full-bore start it spins all four wheels. Cool - Slightly clunky e-gear + Lighter, more agile - Grabby carbon brakes, clunky e-gear + Most important new Lambo since the Countach - Erm… expensive? + Sensational engine and styling - A wee bit on the thirsty side + Gorgeous, capable and incredibly friendly - V12 feels stressed + Compelling old-school supercar - You’d better be on your toes + A supercar in its truest, wildest sense - Be prepared for stares + Briefly the world’s fastest production car - They made only 80 + Best-built, best-looking Diablo of all - People’s perceptions + Still the definitive supercar - Visibility, pract- oh hell, who cares? + Absurd and compelling supercar - Badge and price don’t quite match + Staggering performance, refinement - Lacks design flair + No discernible dynamic compromises - Requires commitment to come alive + Still the most single-minded supercar ever - There’ll never be another + Bonkers looks, bonkers speed - Bonkers price + Great engine and chassis (gullwing doors too!) - Slightly tardy gearbox + The most thrilling car to wear the pointed star - Can intimidate + Zonda-pace, 575-style drivability - Dreadful brake feel + Our joint 2012 Car of the Year - Engine isn’t as nape-prickling as the Zonda’s + The most extreme Zonda ever - The last Zonda ever (probably) + evo Car of the Year 2001 - Harry’s sold his long-termer + Everything an Italian supercar ought to be - Choose interior carefully + The best Zonda ever - Doesn't come up in the classifieds often + The Turbo at the very top of its game - The GT3’s cheaper… + As above, with more power - The GT3’s even cheaper… + More powerful than a Carrera GT. Handles, too - Erm… + Monster cornering ability - A bit woolly on its standard settings + evo Car of the year 2000; the 911 for all seasons - We can’t find any reasons + Later revisions made it even more of a star - Care still required + Stupendous all-weather supercar - It doesn’t rain enough + Hairy-arsed homologation special - Harry won’t buy one + Probably the greatest modern supercar - Can bite + Tech showcase, still a great drive - Limited choice of colours?

TVR Tuscan Speed Six Give the l-o-n-g travel throttle a decent blip and the 4.0-litre six responds instantly and cleanly, with the rough-edged rasp of a carb-fed E-type Jag. It’s not the reverberating V8 beat that traditionally explodes from a TVR’s tailpipes, but you can rest assured it’s no less grin-inducing. Weighing just 1100kg, the 268kW Tuscan is blisteringly

fast. In sheer accelerative terms it eats Porsche’s 911 GT3, hitting 100km/h in 4.4sec, 160 in 9.3sec, a standing quartermile in 12.6sec and a top speed of “in excess of 290km/h”. It makes a devastating overtaking tool, snapping past slower traffic in clean, savage lunges of acceleration. You don’t need to work hard to make outrageous progress.

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Art of speed

Nissan R34 Skyline GT-R multifunction display by R IC H A R D L A N E | P H O T O G R A P H Y by D R E W G I B S O N I F Y O U E V E R WA N T T O O W N A N R 3 4 N I S S A N Skyline GT-R, buy now. Just get it done, because members of the so-called PlayStation Generation – now in their 30s and early 40s – are coming for it. During their formative years they were indoctrinated by the R34’s exotic heritage, contract-killer aesthetic and earth-shaking powertrain, so their bond with the fifth-gen Skyline GT-R is lifelong. And guess what? In a few years’ time they’re going to want it back. Of course, only a handful will have driven one, and in truth this bond has more to do with the fact that the HICAS rear-steer and all-wheeldrive stability made the digital version an extraordinarily dependable companion on Gran Turismo. It was relentlessly fast, endlessly forgiving and tuneable beyond even the wildest dreams of a teenager, much like the real thing, and for this it has been rewarded with unconditional loyalty. It’s also a car whose reputation precedes it, not least in terms of technology, because as well as being an icon of the digital world, the R34 famously came with Nissan’s interpretation of a games console crowning the dashboard. A gimmick? Big time, but entertaining all the same. As per the interior as a whole, the LCD’s housing wasn’t exactly elegant,


and as far as interaction went the software was limited – the driver could set the revs for the upshift light (evo recommends 7500rpm). But in terms of what the display could tell you it was borderline encyclopaedic. Oh-so critical measurements of boost and injector pressure, throttle opening, oil, water and cabin temperature and torque split could be imparted in 30-second increments via graphs for attentive drivers to quickly read and react to (although how exactly we’re still not sure). V-spec cars – and doesn’t this just show that Nissan knew owners would take the twin-turbo straight-six some way past its claimed 206kW? – even displayed temperatures within the intake and exhaust manifolds, and a final Nismo version could record lap times and monitor G-forces. All extremes recorded during a drive were stored to later substantiate outrageous claims, and the telemetry data could be downloaded to a computer in spreadsheet form for ‘post-race analysis’. It all sounds oppressively techy, but the R34’s multifunction display wasn’t representative of the driving experience, which remained the same as the R33 GT-R before it: raw. And with all those pretty graphics, owners could be forgiven for thinking they’d accidentally signed on the line for a Nismo GT500 racer. Surely that can only be a good thing? L

N E X T M O N T H First drive: Porsche 718 Boxster ON SALE MONDAY MAY 2


N M4 Competition N Track COTY (we promise) N Driven: Audi S1 Rallycross

CHRONOFIGHTER OVERSIZE GMT Automatic Chronograph GMT, Big Date Steel and sapphire bezel Steel case

Ref. 2OVGS.U06B



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