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AUTO CLASS magazine

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MAY 2018 - € 8,00





Supercars Show - 15th Edition

Celebrating 120 Years

The New Bentley Continental GT3



by Christian Parodi

Cover Photo: Audi S4 Avant Photo Credits: Gian Romero

This time I seriously wondered if it was the case to write these usual introductory lines. In the frenzy of the last month, I admit, I am here at the very last minute and I am writing how much I’m happy for having spent another 30 days with you and your many e-mails. Our journey into the world of cars is getting more intense and some of you have noticed that we have enlarged our magnifying glass not only revolving around supercars. The automotive industry is constantly evolving and given that not everyone is spoiled for choice between Ferrari, Lambo and McLaren, we thought it was right to give space to even more “human” models, within the reach of those who need a car that can be used in the real world, in everyday life and in the chaos of big cities. With this we definitely do not want to take away space from dream cars and dream roads – never in the world - but we are happy to get involved in a different sector and that has a lot to offer. We do it with the style that distinguishes us and putting the same care and passion that we put into play when we have to leave for a breathtaking road at the wheel of a grand tourer of hundreds of thousands of Euros. And here’s how our journey becomes even more interesting, richer in motivation and able to enhance even more those cars that make our hearts beat so fast. Turn on the engines, the true passion knows no limits and on this number there is plenty!

AUTO CLASS magazine



EDITOR IN CHIEF Christian Parodi Alessandro Marrone

PHOTOGRAPHERS Bartolomeo Lazzarini Lomax Pietro Martelletti Richard Montagner Ron Morgenstein Daniél Rikkard Gian Romero Giorgia Rossi Jay Tomei Ilario Villani Ian Waltteri Andy Williams

MARKETING DIRECTOR Christian Parodi EDITORIAL STAFF Andrea Balti Carlo Brema Giorgio Conti Max Gonzaga Richi Mackie Marco Mancino Alessandro Marrone Roberto Marrone Pietro Martelletti Christian Parodi Marco Rallo Tommaso Mogge

EVENTS June, 9th - Porsche Run July, 8th - Col de Turini Tour July, 29th - Gentlemen’s Run tba - Alpine Grand Prix - Vol. II



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MAY 2018 - #65 CONTENTS 6


























9 For the first time since 2003 – the year in which the Continental GT was introduced – Bentley presents a completely new model, marking a clear detachment from the first and second series, which seemed to offer only a slight aesthetic and engine upgrade. The new generation of Continental GT comes with a design directly inspired by the stunning EXP 10 Speed 6 concept, seen last year at the Geneva motor show. More modern, faster and smarter, with a technology that allows the software unit to make 300 million calculations per second. Definitive would be the right word and it is the same term as it is described by the brand itself. The third generation Conti GT is equipped with the most avant-garde W12 ever, coupled with a dual clutch automatic transmission with 8 speeds, able to download 626 horsepower and 900Nm of torque to the wheels. Supercar performance for the luxurious coupe, with a 0-100 kph declared in just 3.7 seconds and the ability to “turn off ” half the cylinders and cruise with only 6 cylinders on. Traction will be distributed on the rear wheels, with the front wheels that will use torque when and where needed.

The attention to detail continues in the interior, where the customer can choose to use colors and matching as he likes, while Bentley offers a lovely place to spend your driving hours with perfect soundproofing, leather, fine materials and the infotainment you would expect from a grand tourer like this. A redefined genre that collects the witness of the previous models, catapulting it to a level that seemed unthinkable and despite that rises to a state of grace that through the new look gives justice to one of the best sports coupe of the last decade.






IN FULL FORCE Words by Alessandro Marrone

Photos by Giorgia Rossi

19 May 2018. The livery of the new and eagerly awaited Bentley Continental GT3 has been unveiled to us in Milan during a press conference in which the drivers taking part in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance championship were able to reveal their first impressions built during the tests and above all comparing - where possible - this new model to the previous one. Just a few hours before the start of the first round at Monza, Guy Smith, Maxime Soulet and Vincent Abril explained how one of the main upgrades of the new GT3 is a further reduction in weight, but in particular the perfect balance of the masses, now 50/50 between front and rear, aspect that for a GT racer with the engine located at front is essential for a better drivability.





The Continental GT3 which is based on the voluptuous curves of the new Continental GT - also on display at the Bentley Milan showroom - is powered by a 4-liter twin-turbo V8 that outputs something like 550 horses (unrestricted). The weight stops at just 1.275kg (about 900kg less than the road legal model), also because it only keeps the “shell� of the beautiful English coupe, while the luxurious interior is a distant memory. Not a bad thing though, since everything is aimed at the pursuit of maximum performance and downforce, such as the huge front splitter, the numerous air intakes or the mammoth spoiler hanging from the tail and overlooking an equally titanic air diffuser. The five rounds of the championship have now begun and the Bentley team that has created this masterpiece together with M-Sport is ready to rumble and continue on its path that until now has brought 45 wins and 120 podiums out of 528 races. Fire in the hole.






Probably some were waiting for it, but let’s be honest, the model still in the list does not seem old at all. Despite this, Audi have unveiled the new A6 Avant, which continues the speech introduced by the latest A5 and A7 and then with even thinner optical groups, more marked ribs and such a luxurious cockpit that it seems difficult to have at hand on an everyday basis. The A6 Avant will in fact maintain its innate ability to be used in daily life, with the various diesel and petrol engines, obviously with the performing S6 and RS6 right behind the corner. A little taste, but we are already mouth watering.





It is not uncommon to see an elegant and almost perfect supercar, to be taken and turned upside down, in a desperate search for attention. Pogea Racing has succeeded where many have failed, thus facing the Ferrari myth and the extraordinary 488 GTB, bringing it to a higher level of dynamism, but without distorting its lines and above all without losing the true meaning of the Prancing Horse 2-seater: a combination of elegance, power and aesthetic aggressiveness.

We saw it at the Top Marques in Monaco and we squared every single bit of this FPlus Corsa, which will be produced in only 20 units and with a price tag of about â‚Ź 35,000, of course in addition to having at hand a 488 GTB. Aesthetically every single appendix of the 488 has been emphasized for a greater downforce, like the front splitter, side skirts,



18 diffuser and fixed rear spoiler, all in carbon fiber of course. There are new ultra-light 21inch wheels and a total savings of about forty kilos, while for the performance upgrade the 3.9-liter twin-turbo V8 has been squeezed to 820 horses, which will allow you to shoot

from 0 to 100 kph in just 2.8 seconds. Great job guys, it is not every day stuff to see a tuned Ferrari so powerful but equally beautiful.






CORVETTE C7 GRAND SPORT Words by Max Gonzaga

It’s big, wide, has a macho look and exudes its “Born In The U.S.A.” anthem from all angles. But unlike the previous series, the Corvette C7 also finds fans in Europe and not only as a beautiful metal object on four wheels, but also for its performance skills finally suitable to face the competition of the old continent. The C7 has been around for a couple of years now and the Grand Sport version, available both in coupe and convertible declination, does nothing but keep the level of astonishment high as soon as you see it on the road. The first thing you will hear will undoubtedly be the roar of the naturally aspirated V8, an American classic with more than generous dimensions, in fact the 6.2 mumbles idling and fills the air that surrounds it as soon as the tachometer’s needle moves upwards. And trust me that it does that quite quickly. The almost vertical cut tail is one of the most beautiful angle of the seventh generation of Corvettes and also in this case we still have the four exhaust pipes in the middle.

Making its personality distinctly aggressive we have to do with an aerodynamic package devoted to maximum sportiness - so much so that Corvette marketers define it as a track weapon given to the road. It is here that we also appreciate the possibility of choosing for the optional Z07 package, which offers a carboceramic brake system and wider tires, all to the advantage of greater stability. Mechanically, the Grand Sport has a limited slip differential as standard, which intervenes on the rear axle when you decide to act on the throttle with the violence expected having to do with a stars and stripes icon. It is here that everything changes, compared to what we remember about the previous series and compared to what the inevitable detractors could expect, with improved stability that makes the behavior of the Corvette Grand Sport more manageable, although it has certainly not lost its nervousness, especially when you enter through corners too fast or accelerates too early on your way out.



CORVETTE C7 GRAND SPORT Layout front-engined, rear wheel drive Engine V8 cylinder 6.2cc – n/a Transmission 7-speed manual gearbox/8-speed auto Power 466 hp @ 6.000 rpm 630 Nm @ 4.600 rpm Weight 1.680 kg Acceleration 4,1 sec. ca. Top Speed 290 kph Price from € 99.830


24 The eight-cylinder engine is powerful enough and delivers 466 horses at 6000 rpm, but what contributes to the fun factor is the significant amount of torque: 630Nm at around 4600 rpm. Using high gears will limit the thrust of the engine, but handling properly with the gearbox, available with a 7-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic, you cannot help but notice that once the ideal delivery range is reached, the pressure on the seat will be something you can’t miss again. To season this rich and tasty dish, the constant roar of the engine in front, under that seemingly endless bonnet. You have to take some measures and not take too much confidence, especially when driving on winding roads and where you do not have run-off areas of a racing track, but once you get in tune with the size of the car and the weight of almost 1.700kg you start being able to exploit its grand tourer nature, suitable for some shots on secondary roads, long motorway trips and to be manhandled on the track, where it certainly offers the best of it, just by virtue of the transmitted safety factor of the playground itself.

The lateral acceleration is equal to 1.02G, 1.2G with the Z07 pack. As standard, regardless of the new Grand Sport set-up, you will have the sports exhaust, the Performance Traction Management and the Magnetic Selective Drive Control, not bad for a tag price that starts at around € 100,000, surely more attractive, and not only aesthetically, of the European competition, which requires a few thousand Euro more to boast such an engine and figures. Looking at the performance box, the 300 per hour are almost reached here, with a maximum speed ranging from 260 (Z07 manual) to 290 (Coupe, both manual and cabrio). The 0-100 is covered in 3.9 for the automatic Z07, 4.1 for the manual Z07 and for the automatic versions of the coupe and the convertible, while it takes 4.2 seconds for coupe and convertible with a manual transmission. All clear, right? In terms of fuel consumption, the 19.5 l/100km declared by the brand seem a pretty optimistic figure, either because you will always be looking for a road suitable to unleash the 8 cylinder, either because it is a Corvette and in perfect tradition, we can’t expect an average consumption similar to that of a city car. In short, the Grand Sport is angry and already equipped in the best possible way (both aesthetically and mechanically), boasting a modern cockpit and no more cheap plastics in the cockpit. Give me € 99,830 and I’m gonna buy one tomorrow.





SEAT ATECA Words by Marco Rallo


Photography by Ian Waltteri

What about clichés. If they had not invented them, let’s be clear, sooner or later they would have popped up in our lives. The common man does not conceive that there are women way more able than them at the wheel, just as they would never trade a dinner in an Italian restaurant with that in a French one. And then white socks, the tone on tone and imagine a Spanish company that has never produced SUVs, at ease in the snow. It would be great, honestly! Everything born a bit ‘by accident, we had just received the new Seat Ateca at the office, the first attempt of the Spanish brand - owned by the VW group - to produce a compact SUV able to combine everything that you search in a car in such a crowded price range, a proper jungle with a lot of competitors of all kinds. Just enough time to take it to the office, that we started to see the snow coming out insi-

stently of the window. With a look halfway between amazement and the typical childish joy that catches me every time it snows a little more than usual, I decided to ask to one of the photographers present in that very moment (Ian Waltteri) to accompany me for a quick check of the surroundings. My belief was that if it was snowing a few meters from the sea, the situation a few hundred meters up would have been favorable for a winter shooting that can do justice to the coldest season of the year. Without wasting time, we jumped on the Ateca and headed for the mountains. Fortunately, Ian brought all the equipment with him, because the show that would appear before our eyes was nothing short of priceless. The snow makes everything different, it seems that the every movement slows down and that every noise starts fading. Treads of tires mark a

road made unrecognizable without its familiar contours to the side and while I turn my eyes to the sky I end enchanted by that dense and now completely white vegetation. The day after it could have been a completely different scenario, not to mention that we would not have had such a perfect combination of light and color, a fundamental aspect that is able to bring out the fantastic Orange Samoa of this Ateca. That’s true, the Ateca, the real protagonist of this test drive, which in this very first day has given its best, making me taste the main ingredients of this Iberian SUV, as its perfect driving quality, even on insidious terrain like these. I handled the top of the range powered by a 2-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder and 190 horses. The 4drive all-wheel drive is mated to a 6-speed DSG automatic transmission, ideal in any situation, especially when talking about

SEAT ATECA 2.0 TDI 4DRIVE DSG XCELLENCE Layout front-engined, all-wheel-drive Engine 4 cylinder 1.968cc – turbodiesel Transmission 6-speed automatic gearbox Power 190 hp @ 3.500 rpm 400 Nm @ 1.750 rpm Weight 1.589 kg Acceleration 7,5 sec. Top Speed 212 kph Price from € 36.360



a car that needs to be used 365 days a year. The lines of the Ateca are squared but refined, they convey a fresh look that reminds one of the best hatchback out there, the Leon. To accentuate the ribs of the body, the Xcellence package offers bars on the roof and chrome frames, 18-inch wheels, tinted rear windows and double chrome exhaust pipes at the back. Having determined that it wants to transmit sportiness, we soon realize that even the engine is able to satisfy the driver when overtaking, as well as on mountain roads like the ones I have faced chasing this snowfall, with a more suitable asphalt to crush on the throttle. The 190 horses are all there and push a mass of 1 and a half ton with the help of a torque power peak of 400Nm, available at 1750 rpm. Pressing on the gas and it’s a moment, the Ateca always responds promptly and since the size is not too much, we have an optimal behavior even while cornering. The tranquility of driving is equal to the comfort offered by the seats in brown alcantara, while the multimedia system is the classic you can find on a VW, with an excellent satellite navigator, a powerful audio system, smartphone connectivity and the many driving modes to choose from: Eco, Normal, Sport, Offroad, Snow and Individual. The only uncertainty I encountered was in the dual-clutch transmission, which passing from the first gear to the second is a bit ‘more violent than I expected, but otherwise finding a fault in this Ateca is really a difficult task. The snow outside does not want to stop and despite the lack of traffic on the road at lunchtime, we


30 decide to turn for a secondary road, not to be a sudden obstacle, especially during a similar weather. We slip along a narrow path, first only surrounded and then almost entirely covered by trees, I stop the car and - allow me the metaphor – we listened to the silence around us. Not a noise except that of some mottos of snow falling from some weak branch. There is no trace of the road ahead of us, but we can only see an indefinite white blanket. In the most complete peace of mind, I let Ian do his work, trying to peek on the screen of his camera, anxious to see some preview of this great and improvised day. A deer, I think, emerges from one side of the path, look at us for a second and without even being able to realize it disappears on the opposite side, leaving its small imprints on the white background. After a few minutes they are covered again and we are ready to continue our job testing the all-wheel drive and the climbing qualities of the Ateca. Struck in the chest by the typical clichés, I was amazed that the first step in the world of SUVs by a Spanish company, has proved to be an unstoppable mountaineer. The snow did not stop it, the chaos of the city did not discourage it, nor the search for a parking space in the crowded Saturday afternoon at the shopping center. With a mixed consumption of 5.3 l/100km it was able to really accompany us

anywhere, comfortably accommodating three people at the back and also offering a more than good load capacity in the trunk. And when the road allowed, of course I enjoyed surprising those who could never have imagined that under the hood there were 400Nm of torque, good for a 0-100 kph in 7 seconds and a half and a maximum speed of about 210 per hour. The Ateca can be yours from just over € 23,000, while for a model that sits atop the range like this, you need at least € 13,000 more. But keep in mind that you will be able to tick affirmatively your every needs. Goodbye clichés.


OPEL CROSSLAND X Words by Andrea Balti

Photography by Andy Williams




A famous Italian pop song is called just like that and I must admit that I do not even like it so much. But what makes me think is that in fact we often ask ourselves whether it is more important: the trip or the destination, ending up to put in the background where we are going, at least when we are trying to review a car. The very moment you arrive - at the hotel for example - and you park the car, as a matter of facts, it coincides with the precise moment you get out and your time at the wheel ends. I have always contradicted friends and colleagues, because if the choice of destination proves to be wrong, or led us to a place far from pleasant, the whole journey and everything around it would lose its meaning. The destination is the first thing you think about when you have to relax for a weekend or a holiday. The first places that pass us through the head are obviously those we prefer, those where perhaps we have already had some good times or why not, some places that have always been in our mind like a woodworm, but that for one reason or another we do not have never visited.

While I’m packing my last backpacks, with the awareness of not having luggage problems, I look out of the big window of my living room, the new Opel Crossland X is parked in the courtyard. Having the task of replacing the Meriva, excellent from the first generation but certainly not aimed at a young audience, has already scored a good shot with a completely new look and the raised body of a crossover, so popular today. The white of the bodywork plays with the black of the roof, which starts from the pillars edged with a beautiful chrome profile that gives elegance and softens the side line. I’m not talking about an exotic SUV costing hundreds of thousands of Euro, but a small car that can be really bought and used by anyone, in this case with the engine you will prefer if you are kind to spend several hours in traffic or on the motorway. The 1.2 petrol is in fact a small 3-cylinder, which combined with the LPG system ensures fantastic mileage and consumption: just 5.1 liters to travel 100km, thanks also to the reduced weight that slightly exceeds the ton. Traction is obviously on the front wheels and we have

a five-speed manual transmission combined with a precise clutch that does not tire your left leg even after sitting in traffic for hours. Leaving the city I appreciate the excellent visibility on all sides, except for the lower part of the front pillars that cover a little, the steering is soft and the sat-nav is accurate and does not miss a shot. And then there is plenty of space, on board as in the luggage compartment, where I finally do not have to sacrifice anything home. The Crossland X, as the name suggests, wants to travel and discover new places and so I point towards the Alps, still covered with some snow and ready to welcome the last days of skiing of the season. The reduced power of the small engine doesn’t annoy, because for once the hurry has remained at the office and I can enjoy the comfort of the seats, result of a careful study thanks to a team of German orthopedists, thus driving for over 500km without stopping not even for a coffee. There is the connectivity expected from today’s standards and despite having preferred an automatic

OPEL CROSSLAND X Layout front-engined, front wheel drive Engine 3 cylinder 1.199cc – petrol/GPL Transmission 5-speed manual gearbox Power 81 hp @ 5.750 rpm 118 Nm @ 2.750 rpm Weight 1.174 kg Acceleration 14 sec. Top Speed 170 kph Price from € 21.450 (petrol/GPL)


transmission, to further emphasize on board easiness, I am equally pleased to find the gearshift lever and a third pedal rather than a lazy automatic that would hardly accommodate my requests, especially when the road climbs and more effort is required to the small powertrain. After a considerable number of hours driving I am here, but I still do not want to stop, not yet, so after quickly unloading my luggage and checking in at the hotel, I get back behind the wheel and decide to continue for a good hundred kilometers, climbing to 2,200 meters (or something more), parking the Opel on a soft mat of snow. Looking around and I really feel like I’m in Heaven. Everywhere I look I see blinding white surfaces, interrupted only by the road of the Foscagno pass, which connects Bormio to Livigno. You breathe a different air than usual, the cold plays creating strange shapes with ice and the Crossland X proves to be a perfect car for the city and for those moments when the only destination you have in mind is a heavenly place like high mountain passes.

Time to come back to the hotel and I immediately throw myself on bed - after all I’m no longer a kid and the effort begins to be felt. Satisfied and ready for a weekend of total relax, aware that the return trip will be a joke thanks to a surprising car that offers everything at a very low price. The Crossland X with LPG system starts at about € 21,000, while a specimen with specs like this under test and then equipped with satellite navigation, smartphone connectivity, head-up display and several aesthetic options and driving aids, costs just 4 thousand € more. Not bad, right? In a few words, have you chosen your next destination?



15th EDITION Words by Richi Mackie

Photos by Giorgia Rossi



This has been the year of the fifteenth edition, which confirmed how TOP MARQUES Monaco has matured overtime and has become a real world reference point for the iceberg’s peak of luxury, from boats to jewels, passing obviously through cars and everything that revolves around a top-end lifestyle. The four days of the events took place from 19th to 22nd of April and despite the streets of the Principality are constantly invaded by road works of expansion and renewal, the chaos triggered by the clamor of the event wasn’t missing. Entering the Grimaldi Forum we have been able to admire a selection of supercars and concept cars that from year to year are increasingly directed towards the quest for the ultimate customization, even the most extreme, but still gaining almost the totality of space compared to traditional manufacturers, used to attend classic events, such as the Geneva Motor Show. After passing the entrance and then the section dedicated to the jewelry and some other random stuff, including the extraordinary Franck Muller and Rolex, a permanent presence at the TM in Monaco, we are untangled among the large crowd captured by the most extravagant artistic creations, such as single plush upholstered armchairs, oil paintings depicting the most iconic brands in the world, cigars and other objects and furniture. We climb up the ramp leading to the main pavilion, which is lit by the rays of



the sun above the Principality, and in front of the main entrance one of the most interesting proposals at the fair, the Corbellati Missile. Missile, a name certainly not chosen by chance (which means Rocket), given that as one of the creators of the small atelier tells us, the goal will be to break through the 500 kph wall. How? With a twin-turbo V8 engine with 1800 horses and a weight slightly higher than a ton. Frontengined, rear wheel drive and with manual transmission, but it does not end here because one of the most interesting aspects of the Missile is its design, inspired by the Italian supercars of the 60s, proving that something madly fast and performing can be just as beautiful and emotional. The small firm, currently practically family-run, plans to end the homologation and set the record as soon as possible, so to begin to collect orders for the limited production of the Missile. Achille Corbellati, the young boy behind this project, is enthusiastic about the path taken so far and we wish him to continue on this route, because from his words shines the purest passion, something the automotive world needs not to lose for no reason.



Walking through the pavilion, you cannot help but notice the eccentric proposals of Alandi Performance, Moldovan tuner who has literally exasperated a small group of Americans, with huge Forgiato rims, aerodynamic appendages far more than extreme and a series of mechanical modifications that can boast thousands of horses under any bonnet. A more classic tuning is that of Brabus, which as every year sets up a space full of proposals, including two fresh classic remise en forme, a 800 Biturbo based on the new AMG C-Class sedan and an Aston Martin DB11, embellished by the Startech kit. Even the Russians of TopCar did not miss the fifteenth anniversary appointment, bringing a Stinger 991.2 Turbo, a very menacing GLE and a Mercedes V-Class, the mobile office that we all want. Returning to the



theme of small builders, honorable mention for Arash and Zenvo, while among the most extreme but successful creations we loved the 488 GTB and the Pogea Racing Alfa 4C, not to mention the particular Smart ForTwo Bellator brought here by the boys at M13. Tushek unveiled the TS 900H, a hybrid hypercar of only 1400kg and something like 950 horsepower, good for a 0-100 kph of just 2.5 seconds and a top speed of 380 kilometers per hour. The look is very similar to the previous models, with a very low line, the engine is in the mid-rear position, large air intakes on the whole body like a “barchetta� and a tail that goes down almost vertically. Finally, a car that caught our attention was the Throwback S of Equus Automotive, developed on a Corvette C7 and achievable on both Stingray and Z06, while it will soon be available modding the more powerful ZR1. This Equus, in absolute preview, is built around a body entirely made in carbon fiber, with numerous details that pay homage to the Corvettes of the past including the C1 and especially the C3. At the rear the three huge tailpipes placed at the center let us imagine the crazy sound that its







V8 can unleash once on, while the product manager assures us that the Throwback S represents a grand tourer that can be used every day, offering great performance but also comfort, and allowing you to live a driving pleasure typical of the best European sports cars at a competitive price (for the starting model) that should start at around ₏ 125,000. 25 units will be produced annually and we hope to get our hands on one very soon. There is no Top Marques without the hellfire that invades the streets, this year strictly restrained by a very severe police. Hundreds of car spotters have been waiting for the ultimate shot, observing all types of Lamborghini, Ferrari and McLaren, including the P1 of the former F1 champion Mika Hakkinen. Not to mention an unspecified amount of AMG, Audi RS and BMW M wrapped in every shape - in short, the event in the event, for a weekend that every enthusiast of exclusive cars should not miss. And we’re already waiting for next year, which promises to be even more exciting, because of the many new models coming and that will be duly doped by tuners around the world in time for the one and only supercars show.


9th JUNE 2018


8th JULY 2018


Words by Alessandro Marrone

Photography by Gian Romero



Some days are more unique than others, a bit like the morning I collected the S4 Avant. In reality it should have been an RS6, but the first take I was abroad for another press drive and the second the car was missing. To dispel the myth of “there is not two without three” we organized a test with the guys at Audi, waiting for the undisputed performance estate queen to be available again. My choice fell on the new S4 Avant, what we can call the smallest sister, since the S3 (and therefore also the RS3) are part of the hatchbacks segment. I have two cylinders and 200 horses less, but the weight is in our favor. What does all this have to do with the fact that the collection day has been so special? Little or nothing to tell the truth, or see it as a matter of stubbornness, a bit like not listening to the weather warning and find myself on the motorway between snow and ice, an unknown number of detours and closed connections that have brought us in the middle of the worst day of the entire winter, now gone by. I could have come back, postponed the withdrawal, but do not touch my schedule or I could get out of my mind. By now I had already planned a series of things and I would not have returned empty-handed for anything in the world, the S4 Avant had taken the semblance of the Holy Grail and would have come back home with me the same evening.

Talking about dedication and commitment, know that despite having spent the whole day on the motorway defying the blizzard and the infamous icestorm, just before 11.00 pm, I parked the Audi in the backyard, even if full of snow. A great personal satisfaction, when you mentally tick every item of your daily program - never postpone anything, for no reason. I find the same precision and integrity in the S4, which I was able to observe calmly only the following morning, where regardless of the inches of snow that invaded the driveway and the ten miles of road to the office, I finally focused my attention on a model often forgotten by those who sharpen the view only starting from the RS badge. The new S4 Avant has a sober look, traced on the lines of the A4 Avant that we tested a couple of years ago, with the addition of the S-line package, in this case both for the outside and the inside, but above all for the mechanical department. To suggest its sporty nature, there are a couple of details that could even go unnoticed to a distracted eye, such as the V6 T logo on the front wheel arches or the two pairs of tailpipes at the back. Even the most classic metallic silver color helps to make this S4 the ideal companion for a cohabitation that can last all year round, regardless of how and where you could use it. What really matters is here, however, as the 6-cylinder 3-liter turbo is able to ground 354 horses on the pave-

ment and a mighty 500Nm of torque. Traction is managed by the well-known and impeccable QUATTRO system, which distributes the power optimally, making the drive on slippery terrain a real child’s game. In the same way it does not interfere with driving involvement, always interesting thanks to the reactivity of the engine and an elasticity that makes it sharp on mountain roads, but able to grind kilometers on the motorway without drying up the tank. As mentioned, compared to the RS6 there is less power, but also less weight, the same for the more fierce RS4, which is not afraid of expressing much more muscular lines and a more nervous character. The 6-cylinder S4 is able to do everything in a good way, which may seem a gamble, ‘cause between comfort and performance there is a rather obvious emotional gap, but reality is precisely that managing the gas pedal and setting chassis, gearbox and steering sensitivity in a more sporty direction, the S4 sharpens the claws and begins to show you how it is able to gain speed at rhythms that you did not think possible, at least in this first step of sports estates. It’s not the case to go shopping and test the load capacity of the trunk, not even to verify the accuracy of parking sensors or the (excellent) connectivity of the infotainment. After risking more lives than



a cat to get it, I want to use it properly in that area that interests me and open-minded people like you. Once ready, I set the navigator and we load all the equipment for the photo shoot, heading towards the snowy peaks we see towards the horizon. Yesterday’s weather seems to have subsided, but the temperature is rigid and the roads are certainly not in excellent condition. It is here that the S4 demonstrates one of its aces in the sleeve, a perfect balance between a frame that is able to accurately communicate what is happening below you, but an impressive ease while handling every situation with extreme calm, maintaining sustained paces without caring too much if the asphalt is insidious or not. When there is enough space go hard on the throttle and in a moment we are pressed to the seat accompanied by the unmistakable scream of its 6 cylinders. It is



never too invasive, nor artificial as happens with some 8 cylinders - there are also crackles that accompany the gear shifting near the rev limiter. A real pleasure, now you understand why I did not intend to postpone all of this? Suddenly we come to that typical intersection where we usually backtrack, but this time we are still hungry for bends and above all, the safety transmitted by our Audi pushes us to go further, letting us take a road that was cleaned just a few hours before - two walls of snow on both sides, no room for mistakes, but what draws a diabolic grin on my face is that it was a one-way road. No danger of crossing someone from the opposite direction and the full chance of being kicked by the V6 from Ingolstadt. Just a moment not to be insulted by the farmer who was staring at us from the window of his house and I push the right pedal like a madman. Not the slightest hesitation, the S4 does not break up and swoops down a downhill stretch, I have to lighten up and despite having entered some corners with a little ‘too much ease, the chassis follows perfectly my inputs, showing how practically rolling and understeer are almost completely absent, or otherwise not perceptible on this type of roads. The gearbox is quick and despite not being able to love the little plastic paddles behind the steering wheel, they are exactly where they should be and

AUDI S4 AVANT Layout front-engined, all-wheel-drive Engine V6 cylinder 2.995cc - turbo Transmission 8-speed automatic gearbox Power 354 hp @ 5.400-6.400 rpm 500 Nm @ 1.370-4.500 rpm Weight 1.675 kg Acceleration 4,9 sec. Top Speed 250 kph Price from € 67.200

The gearbox is quick and shoots one gear after another with the precision of a cardiovascular surgeon under amphetamines.



shoot one gear after another with the precision of a cardiovascular surgeon under amphetamines. I do not care, in this moment, how much the cockpit is a welcoming and ideal hi-tech ambient for posterity, how the sat-navigator is precise and fast to use, just like the virtual cockpit (so beautiful) that allows you to set everything you can desire in front of your eyes. In this very moment I must absolutely keep my eyes fixed on the narrow dark asphalt snake that creeps into a carpet of snow now almost completely stiffened by negative temperatures. Boom, passing from third to fourth becomes a real obsession, the engine gives the best of itself just above 5000 rpm and you can keep down almost as if you were on a naturally aspirated sports car. In reality, the torque curve starts so early that you have a deadly soundtrack right when you press the gas until you have to throw



yourself on the brake. The road widens and it is too late to check whether we have broken the tripod or some loose lens in the trunk - there is a little gap in front of us and you have to open it up without restraint. All those who claim that there is only the RS6 should give this a go, the S4 is lethal, it costs less, burns less fuel and on such roads is infinitely more agile. Too bad that it passes too unnoticed, the exhaust at the rear is not enough to make things clear with those tailgating and soon to be left to eat your dust. I wanted some more muscle, maybe not necessarily like the RS4, but that differentiated it from a normal A4 with S-Line package. Whatever, these are things on which you can still intervene after buying one, while on a dynamic level it would have been much more difficult, long and expensive and instead we find ourselves with a family car with a calm and peaceful character, but that can emulate the more powerful sisters without suffering from any inferiority complex. Every now and then we have to stop, for some photos and for some hot comments (so to speak, at 1°C) and



it’s a good opportunity to take a look at how a clean and soft design this car offers, despite the multitude of straight lines and edges. The front grille gives it an aggressive tone, while the rear has updated that of the previous model, improving it. On this very specimen there are no leather seats, but comfort comes in full force, and by the way I love the sports steering wheel with a squared bottom and the carbon fiber inserts on the dashboard. Finally, LED light clusters provide greater visibility in the evening and attract curious looks when using sequential turning signals. Now, let’s hope the planets line up in the right way and bring the RS6 in my hands, because I’ve marked it on my agenda and I could go crazy if I could not put a check next to it as soon as possible!

Words and photos by Alessandro Marrone




I’m landing in Paris after a good hour of flight and looking out I see a wet runway. Today the city of love does not seem very romantic and welcomes me with a pungent air and the inevitable traffic that slows down the drive to the hotel in Rolleboise. It matters a little because I’m here for one reason only and is to immerse myself in the history of Renault, which turns 120 this year. Over a century of history, passion and a vision of the automotive world that from the beginning put the man in the center of a small microcosm that with the passing of years has been confirmed as a reference point for every four wheels enthusiasts, starting from the cars that intend to simplify everyday life, passing through a brilliant legacy of commercial vehicles, up to a pride conquered in the most different categories of motorsport, rallies and Formula 1 included. The Brand Bath Day is an immersion in this world, discovering a story that was born almost by chance and has evolved to the present day, representing one of the most solid realities in the automotive panorama. Renault is in fact one of the brands with more decades behind its shoulders and has made of its path a continuous mutation, an evolution dictated by time and economy, innovating with all new models such as the Estafette van or the Espace minivan. Two intense days await me and begin in the best way, touching with my hands the taste of Parisian life that is breathed in the small towns a few kilometers from the French capital. A small circle of journalists was invited for the occasion and after a pleasant press conference and an excellent dinner, we go to bed early, hoping that the weather would be more magnanimous the following morning.


65 The big day arrives on time as the alarm that throws me out of bed without the slightest hesitation, I look out of the room and observe the Seine that is incessantly hit by heavy drops of rain. The sky above us is gloomy and will certainly not help the morning activities, which after a quick breakfast bring us together in the parking lot of the hotel, in front of 10 Renault with a few years on their back. It is here that I begin to breathe a different air from usual and that I approach my first choice, a red 1980 Estafette. Watching its squared lines standing tall among the smallest models on its sides, it seems out of a Pixar animated movie, but in fact its roots are well sunk in the history of the brand and also in French society, thanks to the many versions that have been created for commercial and institutional use, such as that deployed for many years by the Gendarmerie. I open the sliding door on the right side and throw in an umbrella and my backpack with a minimum of photographic equipment, then I head for the opposite side and get on board - in the true sense of the word – up on board. Only after I clambered awkwardly and closed the door with a metallic noise I really realized the situation. The steering wheel has a thin crown and a diameter at least twice as large as a contemporary car, while the dashboard has practically nothing, except for a couple of buttons and air vents. In front of me a horizontal analogue speedometer and nothing else. I start the engine and as I try to get comfortable with the off-set pedalboard, I grab the gear lever, which as soon as I take my first steps towards the road begins to vibrate as if it were bitten by a

tarantula. All of this is simply fantastic. Abandoned the comfort zone, I find myself alone, without navigator and driving an almost forty years old van through some French countryside, trying to keep the pace of a Renault 5 in front of me, which seems to run like a Lamborghini. Every movement is more abrupt, more accentuated and if I have to step hard on the throttle, or act on the brakes it would require more energy, not to mention that I really realized where I was, entering the first corner at a speed to say the least exuberant, especially for the type of car I had in my hands this time. I look for a lower gear and I make the engine revs climbing up, I can’t lose the other three cars that drive my group and I’m having fun



like a child who has just figured out how a new toy works. And who cares if this toy is 38 years old, for me it’s a new situation and I like it terribly. After about thirty kilometers it’s time to change the cars and my choice falls on the small 1961 4CV, a nice utilitarian with a almost cartoonish dimensions. I get on board and I find myself in a completely different environment than before, just imagine that turning and stretching the arm I’m able to touch the back of the rear seats. On the dashboard there is nothing this time, hidden at the base of the windshield there is a button that operates the small wipers and I have a gearbox with only three gears. Did I mention that the pedals are tiny and round in shape? Well, now you know it. I have traveled back another twenty years and I can perceive even deeper nuances. The 4CV weighs just 600kg and is very manageable, so much so that I’m immediately in tune with its direct and perfectly communicative behavior with the ground. Finally, after about 30 kilometers, comes the moment of the last change, where I get behind the wheel of the car that I will drive for the longest stretch, that is a 1957 Frégate Domaine. 3 years back in time more, but we gain a lot in terms of habitability, with an estate with six seats, pretty vivid and with the gear lever fixed to the steering column. It takes some moment to understand how the gearbox works, especially to find the first gear and start without stalling once, but then, despite the age, the Frégate drives nice and smooth. It seems to drive a modern car. I would even go back to Italy driving this.


While the rain does not intend to stop, all the groups of cars arrive in Flins, where we cross the gates of one of the most historically rich and productive Renault factories. The first stop is at a space dedicated to some models undergoing restoration and it is here that my eyes begin to retrace the importance that the French brand has had in the automotive world. Passing from the legendary Alpine A110, there are Formula 1 of the golden years, rally glories like the R5 Maxi Turbo and even a tank. And then one of my favorites, probably because it was the car that I always chose as a child when I could only drive in some video game, the Laguna that took part in several BTCC championships. Those colors, those stickers, the ruthless aggression of cars that scream even parked in a garage, two steps away from you, are flanked by the presence of the first ever produced Renault, the 1898 Type A. Closer to a carriage without horses, this “voiturette� was the spark that gave life to everything. It was a special night, on Christmas Eve, when Louis Renault, just 21 years old, wanted to show his friends that he would build a vehicle that could move autonomously and drive up Montmartre, a hill in the north of Paris, as well as the highest point of the city and therefore extremely difficult for the adventure he was about to take. It was a success, born by chance and carried on by the numerous requests of those who randomly attended the scene. Over the years, the minimum production had to incre-




ase and so a brand was born with the objective to power the most affluent class in Paris. Everyone wanted a Renault, synonymous with luxury and resourcefulness. 10 years later it was the turn of the Type AX, which takes more the connotations of a car, offering space for comfort for both driver and passengers. The industry is in turmoil and Renault takes another step, harmonizing an elegant design to larger dimensions, with car bodies that would allow owners to be comfortably accompanied by their personal driver. An example is the splendid Reinastella (1932), the Primaquatre (1937) and the Juvaquatre (1939). Just the logo of Renault, a diamond, confirmed how much care and attention was used to offer its customers the best in every aspect. The Primaquatre was a move against the crisis of the period, which despite not allowing the brand to increase sales, contributed at least to limit losses. Shortly thereafter, in an extremely delicate moment, the Second World War arrived and it was here that, as an internal project, the 4CV came to life, an economic car that could have embraced a much wider customers segment and that would also become the basis for the development of future models. Renault exports everywhere in the world and expands its offer, with models that cover all existing proposals at that time. Following with the new CEO Pierre Dreyfus, there is a new phase for the brand, where different attention is paid to the needs of the customers and the aim is to battle Fiat and VW giants, increasing the daily production and introducing one of the


71 most iconic model of the brand, the Renault 4. From the end of the 60s onwards, the world changes profoundly, people have different needs and the proposal continues to expand, passing through models addressed to younger and sportier customers, the 8 Gordini, up to another authentic symbol of the French company, designed for young people and in particular for the female public, the Renault 5. Our journey along the history of Renault accelerates (unfortunately space is a tyrant), and after numerous variations, we reach another crucial point, the one that gives life to minivans, characterized by generous dimensions, the practicality of a functional cockpit and able to accommodate six or seven people on board – it’s 1987 and the Espace arrives. The rest is just as important, like the Clio, the Twingo or the current incarnation of Renault, made of clean design and cutting edge solutions, without forgetting the RS sports versions and the constant commitment in motorsport, but this would deserve a chapter on its own. The display of 90 cars in front of me is something wonderful, a feast for the eyes. All arranged in chronological order and able to tell not one, but a thousand life stories. This is a magical place, a casket that holds a nice slice of


72 French history. I have the good fortune to hear the words of Jean-Louis Loubet, an expert in Renault and all the automotive industry - but time runs fast, too fast, and after having fallen into the cockpit of a real F1 car, it’s already time to leave. We face the rain up to the cars waiting for us outside, ready to bring us back to the airport for the return flight to Milan. I think I have taken more notes in this single day, that in all a university semester and taking a look at the pictures taken, I already taste the sweet taste of an experience that has not only enriched me professionally but also personally. Deepening the history of a brand, catapulting us in the middle of it at the wheel of some of the most important models that have made Renault a symbol of France on wheels, was a fantastic choice. Finding myself in front of something completely new and so alive has given me yet another



confirmation that to build a better future, we must first of all know and respect the past. And in 120 years, Renault has written really interesting automotive history pages. That’s why we decided to give more space to this special birthday, dedicating 12 episodes that will touch some of the most representative models of the brand. You can find them on our website, go and have a look and be ready to have a fantastic journey with us.






CARBODIES FX4 FAIRWAY Words and photos by Roberto Marrone



Everyone recognize it because it has populated English roads for many decades, especially those of big cities, undergoing a few aesthetic changes that have made it popular all over the world and even for those who have not visited London, it’s sure they might have seen it in thousands of movies. Few, however, really know what the real name of this car is, usually known simply as: “London cab”. The model of the article is from 1996, even if its line is exactly the same as the previous Austin FX4 (in the 50s it was produced by the British Motor Corporation, then from 1968 until 1982 by British Leyland, a few differences apart from the bumpers that previously were rounded and chromed, as well as the door handles, the wheels studs and little else. Coming back to this model called Carbodies Taxi FX4 Fairway, features a 2.664cc Nissan nautrally aspirated diesel engine (before 1989 the engine was a Land Rover) and produced precisely by the Carbodies company between 1985 and 1996. It will pass the torch to the TX1 model, also modernized in aesthetics, but always maintaining a close resemblance.



First it must be said that it is obviously difficult to find one left-hand drive, even if not impossible, but since it is equipped with automatic transmission, driving it does not create any problem here. The cupboard doors open at 180°, there are also footboards to easily bring a wheelchair in, the rear seats offer a large sofa with two folding seats to be used in case of 5 passengers. To the left of the driver, normally, there is no seat, in fact the space is dedicated to some small luggage and a there’s also a long handle with a chain that allows the driver to be able to close the door easily. It should however be said that the possibility of mounting a folding seat such as the rear ones is possible as an optional. Between the driver and the passengers compartment there is a total partition that has an opening sliding door in the central part. The car is equipped with power steering and just the turning radius is one of the best qualities of this Taxi, which is able to turn around in a very small space. The maneuverability is excellent, just like the drive is flawless. Certainly it’s not a fast car, appears very slow and if you have to face a mountain road ... well, it takes time and patience, but after all it was born for a city use.



Returning at the wheel, you have all the necessary tools, near the lever of the automatic transmission there is the overdrive button, in the center a large and deep glove box under the armrest, electric windows at the rear, sunroof in the driver’s compartment and the seat has a really complete adjustment that allows you to find the ideal position. Aesthetically it presents itself with its unmistakable line, roof covered in vinyl, with the “periscope” for the Taxi sign that lights up. The large convex front bonnet with its high front grille makes it look much older than it actually is, but it is a classic; the typically British rear lights, the white plate in the middle of the trunk is used to report the license number of the taxi itself, the boot handle opens like “old Minis”. There are also chrome-plated and rubber-covered bumpers, plus the corner pieces, the wheels are adorned with large chrome-plated studs that camouflage the narrow roadway. The robust engine allows out of the ordinary mileage and as mentioned you do not have to worry, it can happen to use the FX4 also as a van, since its load capacity is extremely generous. Of course traveling with a car so out of its natural habi-

tat will make heads spin on the road, a bit ‘as if you were cruising on a Lamborghini, but you will meet only smiles and not envy as it happens with modern supercars, and this is after all another unique feature of this extraordinary vehicle.









MERCEDES AMG CLK GTR Words and photos by Pietro Martelletti

Some say that Heaven does not exist. Of course, I was thinking the same before last September. Think about 60 of the most exclusive cars of the last decades. And think about them all together for a weekend in a Swiss mountain village. Done? Ok, this was the Supercar Owners Circle Weekend in Andermatt, and I had the privilege of experiencing and photographing it. Already I was given a taste of what they were able to do before the proper event with a small “prologue” in Milan and its surroundings, but this time it was quite another thing. I had never been to Andermatt, a Swiss village at the foot of the Gotthard Pass, and I was greeted in the best way possible: snow, a grey sky and temperatures close to zero. I had no trouble finding cars; hundreds of photographers, spotters and youtubers on the street outside a chalet of unrealistic size, the “Chedi”, one of the most luxurious structure in Europe. The parking was surreal. Think of a car, it was there. Pagani Zonda, Koenigsegg, Ferrari 250 SWB, Enzo, LaFerrari, Speciale, Dino, TRS, Maserati MC12, Porsche from GT1 to GT3 RS through Carrera GT and 993 GT2. And finally a Mercedes CLK GTR with Italian license plate and driven by one of the friendliest and most kind (and crazy) owners I know, Eugenio owner of Automobili Amos. Not even remotely I could ever imagined what would happen from that moment. A voice turns in the garage: “It’s snowing on the top of the mountain pass, the road is covered with snow”. Eugenio does not think twice. And so, within ten minutes I find myself sitting in a car with strangers, next to worldwide famous car spotters, chasing a CLK GTR and a Mercedes SLS AMG E-Cell in search of some snow on the Gotthard Pass. The search didn’t go as planned, there was no trace of snow - too bad. We stop anyway for a couple of shots under a weak snowfall.


85 The cold, however, is too much, so as to get to leave almost dry the E-Cell. (OMG, electric cars!). Time for two more photos and we are already downhill towards the meeting point. The rest of the afternoon proceeds quietly between beautiful cars, chats and good food. Quiet at least until just before sunset, when I find myself by chance in the garage, I hear rumors that someone wants to go out to photograph the CLK GTR along with a Porsche GT1, something only seen in some magazine of the previous decade. I can’t miss an opportunity like this, I prepare all the equipment and I start looking for a car to reach the Gotthard Pass. But just as I’m leaving the parking lot, without hope, I hear “Hey Pietro, if you fit in the car you can take a ride with me.” Yes, Eugenio just offered me a ride on board his CLK GTR. From that moment everything turned crazy anything “Of course I’m here, I’d cut a leg but I’ll surely fit in it!” I was aware of the difficulty in getting into the CLK cockpit, but I totally underestimated it, especially for someone six feet tall. I get rid of all the equipment and try to get into the cockpit. That’s not easy at all. So I ask for help, and I start the complicated procedure to enter. After a couple of minutes of stretching, I do not know which way, I’m finally on board. I do not literally have a centimeter to move, my legs are stuck in a thin Formula 1 style hole and I do not have the slightest possibility of movement with shoulders and back, and to make matters worse, the seat is fixed (or rather non-existent). I forget even the belts that are so tight in there. Drawing conclusions: the CLK GTR cannot be used by people more than one meter and ninety tall and who like to eat more than one biscuit for breakfast. In summary: I am in a CLK GTR, blocked but ready to photograph two incredible cars, without a tripod or other equipment. Fortunately, at least I get the camera, but since there’s no trunk, I can’t bring anything else with me.


86 Finally we leave. Words end. We are practically sitting on the ground in a car that looks more like a spaceship. The noise is quite loud, not deafening, but heavy. In front of us there is a blue Porsche GT1, but the noise of the gearbox is so intense that any other sound is erased. You almost do not hear the sound of the V12!

useless driving modes and soundproofing. We continue and we stop on the porphyry of the old Gotthard pass that continues for kilometers in the mountains. I do not want to go down. I would like to sit (or rather, be stuck) here forever. What a show. Alps, dusk, a Porsche GT1 and a Mercedes AMG CLK GTR.

We start climbing, the gearbox, a sequential mechanic, is dry and noisy. The engine pushes, almost too much, the car is direct and transmits any vibration and pebbles of the road, forget comfort mode. Not to mention the brakes that press you even more into the cockpit at each pressure. Do not think of it as an actual supercar coming out of a video game, with every shifting it seems to kick your back with extreme strenght. Grip is incredible, it seems to be glued to the asphalt, perhaps because it is very large, or maybe because it gives the feeling of being on a racing car, a real one, without electronics,

Ten minutes, then the cold out here wins again. For coming back to the HQ I decide to leave the place in the car to another photographer allowing him to realize the same daydream. But it is while we come back that the impossible happens. On the opposite lane, we see a dozen of very fast cars approaching. Maserati MC12, Ferrari Enzo, Koenigsegg and an AMG SLS GT3 racing car (yes, for the track but on the road). We do not think twice, we turn around and try chasing them: useless to specify that our pursuit lasted less than ten seconds. Once we get to the top we find them

all stucked ready to go back. But it is precisely here that the unexpected happens: “if you want you can come back with the CLK GTR”. Well, you can imagine how it ended. INCREDIBLE. It’s fast. So fast that I could not even take a picture, and that should say everything. Sunday was a success too, seventy cars at full speed on the Gotthard pass closed for the occasion, a photo in front of the spectacular military barracks Bedrina of Airolo and drag races on the Airolo landing strip, entirely reserved for the event between cars that were never compared before. If all of this is not Heaven, well, I do not know what it can be!

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Auto Class Magazine - May 2018  

We only talk about cars that matter

Auto Class Magazine - May 2018  

We only talk about cars that matter