“2011 Car of the Year”
Hello and welcome to the last issue of Inside Lane for 2011. Hasnâ€™t it been quite an interesting 356 days! We have seen manufacturers come and go, new cars wowing the crowds and an extra helping of the unexpected. In this Issue of Inside Lane we will crown our much anticipated car of the year. What made the short list? Turn the pages and find out for yourself.
“British Brute” The cries of “the sky is falling” from
Producing 500BHP and 487lb-ft of torque, the new
environmentalists is a chorus that grows ever
cars motor shares its origins with the top line Audi
stronger and one that car manufacturers must now
S8. 0-62MPH is also below 5 seconds making the
take note of. Every badge is looking to do its bit for
luxury GT still quick off the mark. Whilst these
the green party but when you are the likes of
figures don’t make this machine appear particularly
Bentley, well known for making coal powered
green, emissions are down by 40% over the larger
luxury, what do you do? The company have aims
unit. They even say that this Bentley Continental
to reduce their carbon emissions greatly and their
can cover 500 miles on a single tank of fuel.
starting point is a new engine for the Bentley Continental.
The Continental has never been my cup of tea but at least they haven’t built their equivalent of an
The new Continental has a twin-turbo 4.0 litre V8 engine under the bonnet as opposed to a W12.
Aston Martin Cygnet.
German luxury really does rank rather highly in the world of cars. It not only is of very high quality but it is also unlikely to disintegrate over the period of a few weeks. Both Audi and Mercedes-Benz have cars in the sport coupe inspires saloon section of the market and BMW very much want a slice of that pie. The BMW 6 Series Grand Coupe was once a concept, but now is a firm pillar of reality. The sleek new saloon really is a good looking machine sticking close to what we first saw in concept form. Muscular sculpting of almost every panel gives the car a very dynamic appearance, one that makes the handsome A7 look a bit flat. With all the luxurious toys you can imagine inside, the Gran Coupe will be offered with two petrol and one diesel engine. The 640i gets a 3.0 litre turbo straight six producing 316BHP, the 650i gets a meaty 4.4 litre V8 with 444BHP, and the diesel 640d has a twin-turbo 3.0 litre armed with 309BHP. The quickest of the bunch, 650i, will do 0-62MPH in just 4.6 seconds. What is even more exciting is that next year we will get an M6 Gran Coupe with a twin-turbo 4.4 litre V8 and 552BHP! The cheapest Gran Coupe starts at ÂŁ61,000.
It is almost as if the 1990’s are returning to the automotive world! Hot-hatches are becoming more powerful than ever, luxury saloons are taking back their boxy stances, and now the Japanese are making affordable sports cars again. Yes, the time has come for us to AT LAST, after many concept cars, see the finished product of Toyota’s labors. It is called the GT 86. Powered by a 2.0 litre boxer engine with direct injection, the Toyota/Subaru partnership has churned out what looks to be a fantastic all-round package. 197BHP and 205NM of torque push the car onwards to 155MPH. A six-speed manual or automatic will be available at the cars launch in June. Priced at around £28,000 the stunning looking coupe is a welcome return for the Japanese manufacturer to a market that has been barren for years.
Toyota GT 86
Seeing Double? Seeing Double? Toyota have just shown us the astounding GT 86 as their share of a cooperation with Subaru to produce a new sports car. The joint venture results in both companies sharing resources but eventually ending up with the same car with minor visual tweaks. Today Subaru show their completed slice of the pie. The finished Subaru BRZ looks much more akin to its Toyota counterpart than the STI Concept we saw a few weeks ago. Almost every curvaceous line is identical to the GT 86 with a less defined front end but a more aggressive rear diffuser. The BRZ produces just 3 more BHP at 200BHP and an identical level of torque, 151lb-ft. Though the car as similar in many respects we have been assured the Subaru gives a very different feel behind the wheel.
For those unfamiliar with Ferrariâ€™s XX program here are the head lines. Ferrari build a very specific number of test cars labeled XX. These are a pure track monsters used to develop new technologies that go into road cars. The prancing horse allows the wealthy to drive these cars for them at a princely sum whilst they collect data. The 599XX was incredible but the Italians have now fed the back beauty raw adrenaline. This snarling, fire breathing beast is the 599XX Evolution. More focus, more technologically advanced, and just more of everything in general. The car weighs 35KG less than the standard 599XX, that is if there is such a thing as a standard 599XX. The biggest change, however, is the cars new mounted rear wing that is taken directly from Formula One. It features DRS (drag reduction system) that opens a flap in the wing at high speeds reducing drag and increasing the cars top speed. The wing is electronically programed not to open whilst going around a corner to maintain downforce when it is required. This isnâ€™t just interesting from the perspective this car, but also from Ferrari as a supercar manufacturer. How long before a road car has DRS?
Taking The Scenic Route...
Renaults current Scenic is a brilliant people
front bumper, muscular body line and more
mover. Over the years its design both inside and
refined rear end. Two new engines have been
out have moved it to the top of its class. In fact,
added to the range, a 1.2 litre petrol and a 1.5
you could even call it an attractive MPV, not
litre diesel, tightening the cars grip within its
something heard often. Above its appearance is
class. Renaults involvement in F1means that this
its functionality, after all that is why you would
car can be fitted with break energy recovery
buy such a car, that is sublime. The French aim
systems and brag about it in the brochure.
to build upon their formula for success with the updated 2012 model.
The 2012 Renault Scenic goes on sale in February. Ca va?
The New Scenic is just as good to look at as the previous model bringing a new more sculpted
“Topless For The Summer” The new Porsche 911 is a refinement of a well defined breed of sports car; the world’s most successful no less. Offering more comfort and even sharper responsiveness, the German flat-six will spawn a seemingly endless number of variations. Next up is the Cabriolet and whilst Porsche took a tin opener to their new toy, they added a few innovations at the same time.
So, here it is. The 2012 Porsche 911 Cabriolet. Set to make its debut in Detroit during January, the car features a new patented roof that uses a fabric-composite making it lighter and more resistant to the high speed tortures of the 911. It takes just 11 seconds to transform the Cabriolet into alfresco motoring perfection and the process can be completed on the move providing the car is traveling at under 37MPH. Prices for the Carrera start at £79,947 and £89,740 for the Carrera S. Expect to see these machines flaunting themselves come March.
2011 Car of the Year Awards
4X4 of the Year: 2011 Land Rover Defender
The Land Rover Defender, for decades, has been the ultimate offroader. Made of sterner stuff than Margaret Thatcher, this army-bred brute with its changes made in 2011makes it a firm favorite. It is fantastic to see such a classic design beat the emissions regulations.
Hatchback of the Year: 2011 Ford Focus
The new generation Focus really impressed with its huge step-up in quality. It is more practical than ever and millions will find loving homes grateful for such a fantastic allrounder.
Biggest Surprise of the Year: Hyundai i40 Tourer Wow! We didnâ€™t see the i40 coming. This car surprised us with its elegance, build quality and usability on long journeys. It is quite simply the best car that the Korean manufacturer has produced to date.
Performance Car of the Year: Ferrari 458 Spider
Not only is the Ferrari 458 Spider just as handsome as its coupe counterpart, but it sacrifices nothing in the performance department in becoming a convertible. With the V8 howl now even more audible, the prancing horse has done a fine job.
Concept Car of the Year: Alfa Romeo 4C
Pure Italian passion and style. The Alfa Romeo 4C Concept is gorgeous with its highly sculpted body and 1.7 litre turbocharged engine. Better yet, come 2013 it will enter production!
2011 Car of the Year: Porsche 911 Carrera S
Evolution. It occurs over millions of years. It is natures way of finding perfection in a world of organized chaos. Porsche over the decades have used the very same principle of natural selection to rebel against the conformity of the sports car world. No matter what anyone says, putting the engine in the boot is illogical. However, Porsche with their flag ship of the 911 have made it work and not only is the car of great success in the show room, it is also the most successful race car to ever have existed. It is the definitive sports car and the 997 rage was simply unrivaled in its efficient delivery of performance. At this point I would like to level with you... I am not the 911’s biggest fan. I like them, but I do not love them in the same way I adore an Aston Martin. They are fantastic machines but I feel that they lack the character and soul that the afore mentioned has. If a Porsche 911 were a guest at a party it would not dance on the tables, crack a questionable joke or vomit on the hosts cat. It would politely mention its occupation and spend the rest of the evening surveying the houses paintings. It is fantastically functional like a spoon and for that it is greatly appreciated, but it is not as memorable as struggling to use chopsticks in a chinese restaurant. But now their is an all-new 911 that claims to be only the third complete
reincarnation of the car. Can you teach a 48 year old dog new tricks? This is the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S, though still unmistakably a 911, the cars further pronounced profile is rather handsome. In particular the rear with its broad hunches and aggressive detailing does tick the “pleasing to the eye” box. As always with Porsche, it is not a styling revolution but an evolution. That said, the cockpit is class leading in design and functionality. Our car fitted with Porsche’s optional PDK 7 speed gearbox had brilliant interior architecture with bold lines and fantastic attention to detail. Everything tangible has taken a real step up in terms of quality over its predecessor. The seats deserve particular admiration as the support they offer in every area is faultless. The cars boot has also increased slightly in capacity making an already practical car that little more helpful on a day to day basis. These are all great points about the new 991 911, but as someone once told me, “the only real way to experience a 911 is to drive one.”
The moment that its 3.8 litre flat-six is fired up a change in demeanor is instantly established. The burble of the car at idle is much deeper giving this 911 a hint of testosterone even whilst not in motion. But this best selling single turns into an album of greatest hits when you open taps! The sound this car produces is a really throaty progressive roar that is intoxicating. Hit sport plus and not only does it blip the throttle on downshifts, but the exhaust crackles and spits making short bursts of acceleration feverishly addictive. Clicking through the gears is effortless with millisecond changes taking place with the precision of a laser guided smart bomb. That said, leaving it in automatic unveils a new trait of the Porsche 911. Softening the suspension settings and quietening the car down transforms the dramatically involving machine into a luxurious grand tourer. No 911 before it has dialed out the road, tyre and engine noise better than this. It is a car you could cover vast distances in without even realizing. It has not taken anything away from the cars biblical performance, but it has added a new dynamic that the 991 911 is all the better for.
The steering may no longer be belt driven but the engineers for this car have created the most perfect balance of precision in its new electric system. It is sharp, well calibrated and still offers that all important feedback that true drivers crave. A byproduct of this is that the 997â€™s signature understeer has been eradicated. The carbon ceramic breaks in our test car were sublime bringing this 911 to a rapid halt from speed in mind boggling distances. You are never afraid to really push this car because you know you will always be able to stop. It encourages you to drive exuberantly with torque vectoring allowing for even more vigorous changes of direction.
This 911has almost left me speechless. The Germans have addressed everything that hindered the previous model. They have improved upon their formula for success by giving the car the ability to be tranquil, by giving it more definition, by giving it the latest performance tech. But better than all this, Porsche has given the 911 a soul.