McLAREN MAGIC WE ROAD TEST THE 570S SPIDER TO FIND OUT HOW GOOD IT REALLY IS ...
ALSO DRIVEN: MERCEDES-AMG GT R - AUDI R8 V10 RWS - LAMBORGHINI URUS - CATERHAM SEVEN 620S
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Where Engines Meet Specialists
With over 15 years of experience in rebuilding and replacing engines. We are confident that we can provide the best solution for your vehicle. We pride ourselves on the highest levels of customer service and are fully transparent in any matters related to works carried out on your vehicle. All engines are fitted on an exchange basis so we would take your engine block and fit in one of ours. Our jobs come inclusive of a 6 month warranty, which means you are covered for any problems, even if you needed a whole new engine. We like to ensure customer satisfaction meaning you are in safe hands! For all engine enquiries, please call us.
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Welcome & Contents InDesign.indd 2
Welcome Wow! Issue 5! This business of car reviewing is getting serious. As always, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to another edition of Redline Magazine, and as per, we have some cracking content lined up. Everything we’ve recently driven has been a performance car of some description. Whether it’s a small supermini hothatch or a full on supercar, we’ve reviewed it and it’s in this magazine. Personal highlights over the last couple of months have come been the incredible McLaren 570S Spider and the unhinged Caterham Seven 620S. We’ve also got fast Audis, a very green AMG Mercedes, a gorgeous Maserati and a big Lamborghini. Needless to say, creating this magazine has been an utter pleasure and I want to take the opportunity to thank the manufacturers for supporting us with press loans, our sponsors for choosing to promote themselves with us, and my dedicated team of people who help bring Redline Magazine to you, wherever you’re reading from. We hope you enjoy reading it just as much we’ve enjoyed creating it. Thank you. Mark Rose Owner & Editor-in-Chief
Features 10 12 13
Making Gains Mark on F1 Victorâ€™s Garage
Fleet 16 18 21 25 30
Suzuki Swift Sport DS 3 Performance Audi S3 Sportback Caterham Seven 620S McLaren 570S Spider
Drives 39 44 46 48 51 53 55 57
Lamborghini Urus Mercedes-AMG GT R Audi R8 V10 RWS & Spyder Maserati GranTurismo MC Hyundai i30N Honda Civic Type R SEAT Leon ST Cupra 300 Range Rover P400e PHEV
Please note, whilst we take care to be accurate, no liability will be accepted under any circumstances should any of the content of this magazine be incorrect. Reproduction of whole or in part without permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved. Redline Magazine UK Ltd. Registered in England No: 10596691. Registered Office - The Old Grange, Warren Estate, Lordship Road, Writtle, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 3WT.
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Redline Features 10/ Making Gains 12/ Mark on F1 13/ Victorâ€™s Garage
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Making Gains with GAD Tuning The marque of a good product or service is that it’s supported by the people who are responsible for it. Does Christian Louboutin wear his own shoes? Obviously. Do brothers Anthony and Will tune their own cars? Without a doubt. This, unsurprisingly, is where Gains and Development Tuning, or GAD Tuning for short, started. “One day, Anthony came to me and suggested we start a tuning company. I’ve always had my own car tuned but I was growing tired of sending it off for other people to modify, so we decided to go for it and that’s where the business started from”, explained Will. Will’s BMW M4 Convertible pays testament to the trust he has in his brother’s ability to offer a quality performance upgrade. A stage 2.5 remap takes his M4 to 530bhp and 564lb ft. For the sake of perspective, that’s 34 more torques than a Ferrari 812 Superfast puts out. It’s this pursuit of power and Anthony’s understanding of how best to extract it within an engine’s limits that keeps the customers coming. Our involvement with GAD goes back to Redline Magazine’s inception, so when Anthony told us that they had just installed a brand new rolling road; we thought it would be rude not to check it out. The business is based on a small industrial estate in the waterside town of Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex. While it might not seem like the most obvious place for one of the UK’s most reputable tuning companies to operate from, the location is in fact perfect. Anthony explains, “The road network around here is ideal with some great country lanes just a mile up the road. It allows us to properly test the cars once they’ve been mapped to ensure that they’re running in line with the upgrade”. This attention to detail shows that the boys aren’t just interested in providing the engine remap and then handing the car back to the customer. They’re committed to providing a performance upgrade that meets the customer’s specific requirements.
The installation of an all-new dyno is another step in ensuring that they provide a trusted, top quality service. The rolling road comes from world-renowned ‘Dyno Developments’, who produce some of the finest performance testing equipment in the automotive industry. GAD’s Dynamometer offers very fine load controls and update speeds within the region of 50,000 times a second. All of this means that they can carefully track whether the work their doing is making an improvement and it gives the customer the assurance that the gains produced are legitimate. No car leaves GAD Tuning until the customer is happy, and their portfolio of cars includes names such as McLaren, Lamborghini, Bentley, Mercedes-AMG, Audi and BMW, something that a glance down their Instagram page will confirm. Customers can also take comfort from the fact that GAD is approved, insured and warranted for ECU
remapping and development which fully covers the car and ECU. This also allows them to service main dealers and motorsport teams as well as private clients. As a motoring magazine that tests high performance cars, we can’t stress how important it is that any work done on your engine is completed by a company that knows what they’re doing and are fully insured to do so. There are too many rogue engine tuners and backstreet businesses that claim they specialise in ECU remapping when they don’t. This is something Anthony and Will are aware of which is why they invite prospective customers in for a full consultation before they decide on whether to have the work done or not. GAD Tuning is a family run business and this shows in the quality of their work and how they present the brand. There’s a reason why 2018 marks 6 years’ worth of trading and that they’re able to invest in
state of the art equipment. The boys are making gains, and if you want some of that, then you know where to go.
Written by: Mark Rose Photography by: Andy Foreman
Contacting GAD Tuning 05603 672 109 www.gadtuning.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org @gadtuningltd @gadtuningltd
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Mark on F1 Mark discusses why Daniel Ricciardo’s shock move from Red Bull to Renault for 2019 and beyond could possibly be the making of the Aussie’s career ...
y the time this article is published, the world would have gotten over the shock of Daniel Ricciardo ditching Red Bull for Renault. Like most people when the news broke, I too was taken by surprise. But surprise very quickly turned to excitement, because Danny Ric’ to Renault is a mouth-watering prospect. Formula 1 has of course seen it before; a team with a large budget buying a top driver in their bid to make it to the front of the grid. Schumacher to Ferrari and Hamilton to Mercedes are proof that the formula works. I’m also all for this move because I happen to be a big Ricciardo fan. In my eyes, Lewis is and always will be number one, but I also love watching Daniel race. You can always rely on him to send one up the inside of any driver who dares leave even the smallest of gaps. His "last of the late brakers" approach has won him millions of fans across the world, and he manages to do it all with a larger than life smile slapped across his face. But can the Ricciardo-Renault relationship actually prosper? I reckon so, but there are of course a few things to consider. Red Bull are currently ahead of Renault in the constructor standings, and whichever way you swing it, they have the better all-round car. Having said that, the Milton Keynes based team have been stagnant for a few seasons now – too good for the rest of the grid but not good enough to properly give Mercedes and Ferrari consistent problems. Conversely, Renault are the team on the move. After buying back Enstone in time for 2016, they have consistently improved every season since their return, and as such, look favourites to claim P4 in this year’s constructor's championship. Their budget is massive, they are bringing all the right team personnel in to the fold, and for 2019, they will have a world class driver on the payroll. But what about that Renault power unit? Well, they still have a better PU than Honda, an engine that from next season will be in the Red Bull until at least the end of 2020, and despite Red Bull’s and McLaren’s problems with the Renault engine, the works squad doesn’t seem to suffer the same struggles as its customer teams do.
Yes, it’s still down on power compared to the Mercedes and Ferrari engines, but Renault have more than enough R&D money to throw at the problem, and because the engine is their own, they’re better at integrating it into the car than any customer team can, which reduces the chance of reliability problems.
“Despite the changes to the aero regulations, F1 is still an engine-dominated formula” Former McLaren CEO Ron Dennis pointed out that you need to be a constructor to win world championships in this current era of F1, and low and behold, Mercedes and Ferrari are at the sharp end of the grid while the others play catch up. Despite the changes to the aero regulations, F1 is still an engine-dominated formula which is why Red Bull continue to struggle to break into the top two despite having the best chassis. Renault will eventually get there with the engine and bringing Daniel Ricciardo in will offer insight in to how Red Bull develop a race winning chassis. This combination could bring Renault and Danny Ric’ right into championship contention within the next few years. It would be a crying shame if Daniel Ricciardo retired from Formula 1 without a world title in his pocket. He’s a likeable character who entertains on and off the race track. He’s also good enough to be a world champion. We’ve seen him outperform Max Verstappen, and let’s not forget that in 2014 he beat Sebastian Vettel on points across an entire season. Make no mistake, he’s the real deal, and Renault are a team that can give him what he wants, a real shot at a world title.
Written by Mark Rose Instagram: @markroseofficial Email: email@example.com
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Victor's Garage Victor's thoughts drift back to the 1980s, and a pair of worthy GTIs he owned then ...
09 GTI? Nah mate, you must mean the 205 GTI! That car was the business! Yes indeed, but so was the rarer 2/4 door 309 GTI, powered by the very same 128bhp engine, and it was a touch more stable on the twisty bits, being rather better balanced. The Pug came to me immediately after owning a 5-door Mk 2 Golf GTI, and here's a nostalgic review of those two '80s rockers, that had quite enough welly to give cocky sports car drivers red faces, while they put a big grin on yours! First the key data. The Golf GTI engine put out 112bhp, hit 60mph in 8.4 seconds, and timed out at 119mph. It weighed in at under 950kg, so its 118bhp/tonne power-to-weight ratio was not too shabby for those days. The Pug GTI, of almost identical weight, had 137bhp/tonne, and thus a much superior 7.8 seconds 0-60mph figure, and would hit 128mph. Both had five ratios in the 'box, and you had to really work the 309's power unit to out-sprint the more flexible Golf, although that was no real chore. Both ran best on premium fuel, and 1987 brought electronic Digifant fuel injection to the Golf, replacing the original K-Jetronic system. In 1989, 309 GTIs lost some 8bhp, on account of EU emissions controls, and a lowered compression ratio. What about the wheels then John? Don't laugh, but alloys weren't standard specification on early 3-door GTIs, although many alloy options followed, and you could get nice “Speedline” alloys for the Peugeot. But the numbers show just how far we've come in 30 years. The Peugeot wore standard 185/55/15s, and the Golf 185/60/14s, although you'll find cars with optional 15-inch alloys, like BBS RAs. Anything larger than 15-inch though, shows bad taste!
For real GTI thrills only the considerably more costly 139bhp GTI 16V's engine matched the response of the 309 GTI. The Golf's ride was more forgiving though, and general refinement levels were better than the Peugeot's. In comparison, the Pug, with a firm but controlled ride, and that tasty engine, always felt as if it was just raring to go, with the added bonus of enough space for family use, even if the wife moaned and the kids threw up when you pushed things a bit!
"I can't recall that many memorable drives in the Golf" Reliability and build quality? The Golf wins hands down here, with better rust protection, and typical Volkswagen solidity that the more fragile feeling Peugeot couldn't match. But I can't recall that many memorable drives in the Golf, as compared with the Peugeot, with one of my best fun drives being 20 minutes on a police skid pan! I seem to recall that it had a healthy appetite for rubber too, so maybe that accounted for the obligingly skittish rear end that challenged my skid correction reactions! I also, unbelievably, won my class in the Peugeot in a Motor Club fuel economy event! So the 309 GTI edges it, and in comparison today's hot hatches seem bulky and blowsy. Greed for performance has made 250bhp the minimum to drag a typical 1,400kg around at an acceptable pace. Is there light on the horizon though? Volkswagen's innovative 115bhp Up! GTI matches the old GTI for performance, handles better, offers much the same cabin space, and delivers way better fuel economy. It offers plenty of fun for most people, for around £14K. What's not to like?
"The Pug always felt as if it was just raring to go" But how did they drive? Whilst a much respected Golf GTI, the Mk 2 was not the best of the series. It went well enough, and was pretty economical, but didn't have enough power to challenge driver skills, and any real handling quirks (and character?) had been tuned out of the Golf's suspension.
Written by Victor Harman Contributing Writer Email: enquiries@redlinemagazine. co.uk
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Redline Fleet 16/ Suzuki Swift Sport 18/ DS 3 Performance 21/ Audi S3 Sportback 25/ Caterham Seven 620S 30/ McLaren 570S Spider 15 Redline Fleet InDesign.indd 1
FIFTY SHADES OF YELLOW
limey, that’s a bright looking car!
Fear not, you can spec the new Suzuki Swift Sport in less offensive colours. If for some reason though, you like this one, then ask your local dealer for ‘Champion Yellow’ and they will send you on your way with your own personal Hi-Vis on four wheels. Jokes aside, it’s quite an interesting hue that changes with the light. At times it looks like a deep yellow and sometimes it’s as fluorescent as a construction workers jacket.
What’s the deal with the car then? The Swift Sport is Suzuki’s hottest production vehicle to date and one that I’ve been keen to get my hands on. I love a supermini hot hatch because what they represent is good honest fun, and on paper at least, the Swift Sport seems to be a winner. A piffling kerbweight of 975kg and a 1.4 litre 4-cylinder ‘Boosterjet’ engine with 138bhp and 170lb ft. are numbers that scream fun. While the engine outputs might seem small, the thing to consider here is the lack of weight the car carries around.
0-60mph in 8.1 seconds and a top speed of 130mph are enough to offer a respectable thrill, especially for young people who are looking for a way in to their first performance car. You can tell that Suzuki have spent most of their R&D budget on making the car a fun one to drive. It buzzes along a country road like a fly through a spotlit hallway, and carries enough speed through corners to cause faster hot hatchbacks some trouble. It may not be brimming with feedback but the steering has a nice weight off-centre making it easy to place the car on the road, and when the front end pushes wide you can correct it with some steering lock and throttle application. Elsewhere, the brakes are more than adequate for this level of performance, if a little snatchy, and the 6-speed manual gearbox is just about slick enough. The Swift Sport isn’t stiffly sprung so round corners the body does roll a little, but what you get in return is pliancy over an undulating road and a soft ride over a broken one. It’s very chuckable and equally as forgiving, this car, something which I last experienced in
the Kia Picanto GT-Line I drove earlier this year. Dynamically, the package gels well, and what it lacks in outright seriousness, it makes up for in entertainment. Disclaimer: Don’t be fooled by the size of the exhaust pipes. One thing it does without is a decent soundtrack which is a shame when the rest of the driving experience is so characterful.
So it’s another good hot hatchback. Job done, then? Hold your break-horses for just a moment. Usually, I would leave price to the end but I want to discuss it now because it makes for interesting reading. The Suzuki Swift Sport starts from £17,999, and personally, I think it’s too much money.
Explain, please! One thing I do like is that Suzuki are willing to give you plenty of equipment as standard including a rear parking camera, keyless entry and start, hill hold control, collision assist, lane departure warning, and navigation with smartphone
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linkage. However, the rear camera doesn’t come with parking sensors, nor can they be optioned. The collision assist has an annoying habit of predicting crashes that are never going to happen and then proceeds to make the most annoying noise known to man. Thankfully you can turn it off by holding down a button to the right of the steering wheel, but you have to do it every time you start the car, which again, is annoying. The sound system is way off the mark with no option of an upgrade, and there’s no armrest which I strongly believe should be standard fit in every new car.
touch and cheap to look at which ruined it for me. A hot hatchback is supposed to feel special, and unfortunately, the Swift Sport lacks that final bit of polish from the inside.
Then there’s the overall quality of the cabin. I appreciate that Suzuki aren’t a premium brand, but when you’re charging just shy of £18,000 for a hatchback, you need to add some nice finishing touches. Faux leather was found exclusively on the steering wheel and the gator for the gear knob. The sports seats, while comfortable, were made from a foam material, and the rest of the cabin plastics were cheap all-round. On the plus side, it felt solid and everything fit together nicely, but it was cheap to
Is there anything else it does well?
Oh dear … It’s a crying shame because ergonomically the cabin is well sorted and there’s plenty of space front and rear. If Suzuki had just spent a little more money on some leather for the seats and some nice plastics for the dash and doors then the price would be less of an issue.
Now, now, there’s no need to clutch on to straws. Fortunately, it’s cheap to run due to the light kerbweight and smaller engine. It regularly returned 43mpg on a sensible drive and it’s fairly inexpensive to tax and insure. Returning to my previous point concerning a young audience, if you’re looking for your second car and want something fun with a bit of poke then this is a good place to start, as long as you haven’t already been spoilt for
Dare I ask for your verdict? Please do. Fundamentally, the new Swift Sport is a good car. What Suzuki needs to do, though, is either price it more competitively or add some quality materials to help lift the cabin. Let me put this in plain simple numbers. Depending on where you get your car finance from and what depreciation you can expect from respective models, £1000 makes an approximate difference of £20 a month to your repayments. You can buy a Suzuki Swift Sport for £17,999 or for an additional £996 you can buy yourself a brand new Ford Fiesta ST … Yes, quite.
REDLINE RATING: 6/10 Written by: Mark Rose Photography by; Andy Foreman
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French Connection It’s a Citroen DS 3? This is the £24,030 DS 3 Performance, and no, it’s not a Citroen.
It looks like one … Well it’s not. DS Automobiles have broken away from Citroen to produce more premium, sportier versions of offerings from the French manufacturer.
£24,000 sounds like a lot of money for a small, French hatchback! Quite. And that’s the entry point for this supermini hot hatch. All told, our test car was priced at £25,775 with plenty more room for speccing available. But to dismiss the Performance as a DS 3 with some extra power is jumping the gun. Some serious work has gone into making this little car sporty. The 1.6 litre 4-cylinder engine has been turbocharged and now produces 207bhp and 221lb ft. Naturally, power is fed to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox, and up front you get a Torsen differential. It also has sports suspension, a wider track, and Brembo brakes housed in a delicious set of 18-inch ‘ultra-lightweight’ alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sports.
It sounds like they’ve thrown some money at making it fun to drive. They have. And it’s worked. This is no
half-arsed effort, the DS 3 Performance is a properly engaging hatch to drive which is what you want from a purpose made pocket rocket. Some modern hot hatches don’t communicate in the way you want them to, but the DS 3 Performance lets you know what’s happening beneath you. The suspension set up is a treat. Stiff enough to help you pick out road complexities but well damped enough so that the ride isn’t crashy. Over larger undulations the car bobs up and down but refrains from wallowing about, such is the quality of the body control. Through the corners the car resists roll and you can really lean on the tyre in the pursuit of more corner speed. The steering also has a lovely weight to it, and the biggest shock of all, it offers real feedback. Top marks must go to the differential, though. If the quality of the rubber allows you to carry speed, then the effectiveness of the diff allows you to drive the car on the throttle. All you need to do is trail-brake it in, wind on some steering lock and then pin the throttle; the front end will drag you quickly and cleanly round the corner. The brakes are also mighty. The only shortfalls are the gearbox and pedal alignment. The shift is a touch too long and a little uninspiring. At times, it often required a firm push to help the lever through the gate, particularly when changing into third. Annoyingly, the pedals are slightly offset to the right and positioned a little high up making
left foot braking and the heel and toe technique more challenging than they need to be.
What about that engine? The power delivery will divide opinion, but before I touch on that I want to run over the performance figures. 0-60mph is done in just 6.5 seconds and the top speed is pegged at 143mph. These sorts of numbers put it in Mini Hatch John Cooper Works territory, and the DS 3 Performance feels every bit as quick as the JCW. Get the turbo spinning and the DS 3 spits you down the road at an alarming rate. Boost comes in around 4500rpm and it’s a wave you ride up to 6000rpm, 500 revs short of the redline. It’s an amusing way of covering ground that takes you by surprise the first few times you indulge in the throttle peddle. Also amusing is the torque steer. The diff may be good at pulling you round corners, but the front wheels struggle to stay in a straight line when the throttle is fully open. It doesn’t spin its wheels much – diff and tyres see to that – but the steering wheel does wriggle around in your hands as the front wheels struggle to deal with the delivery. That and the big turbo boost make for an unruly driving experience. Personally, the feeling of hanging on is something I enjoy, but less confident drivers won’t appreciate such character.
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â€œSome serious work has gone in to making this car sportyâ€?
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Dare I ask about the fuel economy? Please don’t … Not because it’s poor, but because I didn’t attempt a meaningful economy run. Truth be told, I was having too much fun all too often to worry about how much petrol I was using. What I will say, though, is this. The meaty torque figure means that on motorway runs you rarely have to use anything other than sixth gear. Also, as you climb through the ratios you can short shift around 1800rpm and still gain momentum at an acceptable rate while preserving fuel. DS quote a combined fuel cycle of 52mpg and while this may be optimistic, I reckon low 40s is just about achievable on a long and sensibly driven run.
This is shaping up to be a good car … I will admit that everything I’ve said up until now is mostly positive. There are, however, a few buts.
Go on … One thing the French have never been renowned for is their build quality. Admittedly it’s gotten a lot better in recent years, but old habits die hard and I have some disappointing things to report on. When you first climb in the cabin, all seems well. I loved the DS Performance
sports seats that look like they belong in an R34 Skyline. The driving position is low slung, and the steering wheel which is completely free of buttons and trimmed in faux carbon fibre, adjusts to meet you. It all fits around you rather nicely. Everything within eye shot looks well made with good materials. Then you have a dig around and realise that below eye level the plastics are cheap and the glove box doesn’t line up when closed. There’s also no armrest which is a pet hate of mine. The most disappointing thing, though, was the rattling noise that came from the passenger door. If it was a high mileage car then it could be forgiven, the fact that it only had 881 miles on the clock means it won’t be. The bolstering round the seats was also flimsy and the passenger side front seat suffered from a bit of stick when I tried to slide it forward or backward. Externally everything was much better but the side light on the passenger side door mirror kept popping out of place revealing the wiring hidden behind it. In fact, most of the major issues happened to all be on the passenger side of the car, so perhaps this cars production line needs to be looked at.
Oh dear. Is there anything else? Yes, the infotainment. You can tell the French don’t think like the Germans. Where the systems from BMW, Mercedes
and Audi tend to be easy to navigate, the system in the DS has too many submenus inside submenus. The graphics were dated and the speaker quality became distorted when the volume was ramped up. Also, don’t be tricked like I was into thinking that the button that says ‘DS’ is some kind of sport mode. Press it and the car dials an overseas phone number which is subsequently answered by a Frenchmen …
I can see that Redline Rating slipping a bit. If the build quality and infotainment were better I would be awarding this car a very high rating, and I don’t usually say this, but as a used proposition it’s actually a bit of a steal. But we’re reviewing a new car and the price is also another sticking point. It’s too expensive and the residuals aren’t pretty, hence my previous comment. Having said all that, DS is a new brand and they’ll soon be ditching the Citroen donor cars and building their own, so watch this space. As for the DS 3 Performance, I do like it. It’s great to drive, it looks funky and has plenty of character. If you’re able to put up with its aforementioned shortfalls, then I would not dissuade you from buying one.
Redline Rating: 6/10 Written by: Mark Rose Photography by: Andy Foreman
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BRINGING SPORTY BACK
A nother hot hatch I see? Indeed. And this time, I’m hopeful of giving some decent consumer advice instead of just blabbering on about how great the Honda Civic Type R is. Interesting … Let me explain. Hot hatchbacks are great, but I kind of get the feeling there is now far too much choice, and in a crowded market the Type R seems to rise to the top, dynamically at least. Having said that, the point of a hot hatch is that it should do everything, and in a country where the masses want premium, it’s about time a manufacturer
stepped up and gave us a bit of that too. Don’t we have premium already? We do, in the VW Golf R, BMW M140i, Mercedes-AMG A45, and Audi’s very own RS3. The thing is, Volkswagen aren’t on Audi’s level, the 1 Series is nearing the end of its life which shows in the cabin, and the A45 and RS3 are significantly more expensive than the lesser powered S3 meaning there’s no reasonable comparison to be made. A pre-delivery glance of the S3’s spec sheet got me all excited about the prospect of reviewing the best all-rounder for performance, practicality, prestige
and price. No pressure then, Audi! I’m a hot hatch man so it takes a very good one to impress me, and on paper at least, the S3 looks like it has all the ingredients. It will, however, have to put to bed the age-old fast Audi caveats of unnecessary understeer and sterile driving experience if it wants to win my heart as well as my respect for what it does. Last year I tested an S1, and despite my appreciation for how competent it was at going quickly, I never loved it. The question begs. Is the S3 just a bigger S1, or have Audi managed to inject any magic into the package?
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I feel like you’re building us up, just tell us what it’s like to drive. It’s a hoot, actually. The S3 has much more character than I thought it was going to have, and for a number of reasons. Keen drivers will find joy in searching for its limits and then having to try harder when they fail to discover them. In this configuration, there’s much to be said for Quattro which offers confidence inspiring levels of grip. The speed the S3 carries through corners is remarkable and it only understeers when you get far too greedy with your entry speeds. Even then, the all-wheel-drive system sends a dollop of power to the front wheels and sets you off on your merry way. The chassis is well balanced – it’s not nose-heavy like some fast Audis are – and the body control is tight but not at the expensive of ride quality thanks to Audi’s ‘Magnetic Ride’. There’s pliancy to the way it devours a country road, and it’s
here where the whole car comes together. You need to be either a very good driver or have a very fast car beneath you to get a well driven S3 off your rear bumper, especially in the wet where Quattro offers the Audi a distinct advantage over an M140i or a fast front-drive hatch. It also makes a naughty noise, especially when you’ve given it a good run and the engine temps are up. It doesn’t ever sound shouty or offensive, it instead offers up subtle pops, bangs and burbles. The only two areas that require some improvement are the steering and the gearbox. The steering rack is generally well judged and you can easily pick your line and stick to it, but it does lack feel. The 7-speed S Tronic gearbox is also not as sharp as the DSG in a Cupra 300 or a Golf R, but it’s still snappier than the 8-speed ZF in the BMW. For the sake of offering customers some extra engagement from their S3, I would like to see the manual gearbox make a return, something that
was a delight in the smaller S1. You haven’t mentioned how fast it is yet … Oh dear, how could I forget? You don’t need me to tell you that it’s fast, but if you insist on some numbers then allow me … It runs the same 2 litre 4-cylinder engine found in the Golf R, making 306bhp and 295lb ft. of torque. The 0-60 dash is taken care of in 4.6 seconds and it will max out 155mph. It feels every bit as fast as the performance figures suggest and the poke never feels anything less than completely accessible all of the time, you know, ‘becausequattro’. Having said that, it doesn’t accelerate with the same urgency as an M140i, but then that car runs another 30bhp. Contrary to popular belief, I do test fuel economy, and the S3 regularly returned high 30s on longer runs, which against a quoted combined cycle of 43.5mpg, isn’t too bad.
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What about the practicality, prestige and price, or have you forgotten about those? Nope, I’m still with you. Let’s deal with prestige first. Because it’s an Audi you can expect a top-notch cabin, and needless to say, they’ve pulled it out the bag again. Ergonomically the interior was easy to get on with, my only complaints being the steering wheel which was too large and the seating position which was too high. The build quality was faultless and the use of high quality materials and soft touch plastics made it feel like an expensive item; even the 12V power socket had knurling round the edges. The layout and graphics of the infotainment were good enough to give BMW’s iDrive a solid run for its money and the Bang & Olufsen speakers were bang on, excuse the pun. My favourite upgrade, though, were the optional ‘Super Sport’ seats with ‘Rock Grey’ stitching which looked fantastic and offered great comfort. Overall, the cabin felt special which is what you want from your premium hot hatchback. You can now only buy the S3 as a Sportback so from a practical point of view
it benefits from five doors and there is adequate space in the back for two decent sized adults. In fact, the entire cabin is far roomier than the M140i’s which feels cramped in comparison. Practicality does, however, take a bit of a dive when you open up the boot. From the outside, the practical looks suggest a bigger boot than the one you actually get, and yes, you can fold the rear seats down, but I still expected better. If practicality, however, is number one on your priority list then you’re probably not serious about buying a hot hatch anyway. Finally, price. A base S3 starts from £35,805 or £37,355 in the case of our black edition which came with some optional equipment such as upgraded alloys, B&O sound system, black styling pack and privacy glass as standard. All told with options, our press-demo came in at £43,325. If you don’t go silly with the options, you can pick up a good spec for around £40,000.
I’m a firm believer in getting what you pay for. You can look at it two ways, it’s either a lot of money for a hatchback, or it’s about the right price for the blend of performance, usability and luxury. Audi S3 residuals are also not to be sniffed at. What do you go for then, this or a Type R? Despite being well acquainted with the Honda, I’m still yet to receive the pleasure of running one for a week, so at this stage I would take the Audi. In the real world, however, people who are interested in the S3 won’t be looking at a Type R, and vice versa. They’re two very different hot hatches that occupy different price segments. For what it’s worth, though, I’d put my money on an S3 over an M140i or a Golf R.
Redline Rating: 8/10
Written by: Mark Rose Photography by: Dom Ginn & Amy Welch
Not cheap then … But it’s also not the most expensive and
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Can the road-orientated version of the Caterham’s most powerful production car deliver on its promise of pure driving thrills and increased comfort? There’s only one way to find out.
arlier this year I reviewed the second most powerful car in the Caterham range, the Seven 420R. I loved it. In fact, I loved it so much that within an hour of the car being loaded on to the trailer and sent back to Crawley, I was on the phone asking for my next one. Caterham’s response was “sure Mark, no problem, we can send you a 620S, but let’s wait until the summer when the weather is nice”. This was a great shout given I ran the 420R towards the end of winter over a very rainy weekend, and needless to say, it wasn’t very well behaved. Billed by Caterham on their actual website as the “mildly saner, road-orientated sibling of the ballistic 620R” (people in the companies’ marketing department clearly know their customers), the 620S sits atop the Caterham range with the R as the most powerful production car they produce. But where the R is set up for track use, the S receives a thorough work-over to help make it friendlier on the road. A softer suspension set up has been achieved with the help of
reduced spring rates and reduced camber across the front axle. There’s more room in the cabin thanks to a wider ‘S5’ chassis, the R’s sequential gearbox has been replaced by a 5-speed manual that’s been nicked from a Mazda MX-5, and you get a proper windscreen. If you fancy troubling the options list further, you can also spec heated seats. For these extras you pay a weight penalty of around 65kg, but don’t think for a second the 620 has gone soft, because it hasn’t. Things that remain are the 310bhp supercharged 2-litre Duratec engine, a limited slip differential, and four-point racing harnesses for both driver and passenger. What you don’t get for your £47,995 is any traction control, ABS, power steering, or anything electronic to help you with the job of driving. It is completely raw and utterly uncompromised. Then there’s the power-toweight ratio. 310bhp in a car weighing just 610kg equates to a Bugatti Veyron baiting output of 508bhp-per-tonne. Let that sink
in for a moment, 508bhp-per-tonne in a rear wheel drive car with no driving aids … Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Damn right it is, but it’s also joyous, wonderful, brilliant fun. It is an unfiltered driving experience. A pure adrenalin hit. 0-60mph takes just 3.4 seconds and the top speed is 145mph. Numbers that feel utterly ludicrous when your bum is just inches from the ground and you have a face full of wind. Before you use 100% of the power the sensible thing to do is make sure that all four wheels are pointing in the right direction because once you open it up, the car fires forward in an alarming manner. Past 5000rpm is where the supercharger makes its presence felt and where the acceleration really begins to pile on. The rate at which you’re shoved along is profoundly savage, then, you find that glorious rev limiter and that beautiful pap-pap-pap-pap sound that accompanies it. When you change up to the next ratio you get to relive the awesome violence all over again.
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Second gear is the wild one. First is very shortly stacked, third is also crazy but a fair bit longer, and fourth is where very illegal speeds are achieved. If you’re accelerating flat out and you make it into fifth, then expect to get into some serious trouble if you get caught. Second is the sweet one, it gives you maximum thrills but it won’t get you booked by the old bill, as long as you don’t use all its potential around town. The gearbox is a delight to use. It may not be as quick as the six-speed sequential in the R, but it’s beautifully tactile with a short throw and a third pedal for those of you who know how to heel and toe.
I thought it was going to be. Even still, accelerating flat out in a straight line required some sawing at the steering wheel to keep the car moving forward and not backward into a hedge. At first this sort of behaviour takes you back, but the more you drive it; the more you learn how to control it. That’s not to mean you can take liberties with it, though. I’ve heard stories of experienced supercar drivers ditching high powered Caterhams because they’ve underestimated them. My first day in the 620S was spent growing into the experience and learning about the car before really opening it up. I implore you to do the same.
If you’re brave enough to provoke the 620S into oversteer, then the good news is that it doesn’t take much prodding. A little bit of steering lock and a stab at the throttle in first or second gear is enough to overwhelm the rear tyres and send it sideways. Fortunately, I had the car in the middle of a heatwave so the roads were bone dry which helped make it far more approachable than
Savagery aside, the 620S was far more usable than I expected. Words like ‘touring’ and ‘long distance’ kept springing up, and I must confess to being sceptical of the Caterham’s ability to do those things. It turns out my pessimism was misjudged. The ‘S’ car really is usable over longer stints, a point which came to light after an entire day behind the wheel of it.
The reduced spring rates really helped it smother over road imperfections miles better than the 420R did, and the wider chassis leant the car significantly more cabin space over an ‘R’ spec machine which feels cramped even for smaller occupants. For me, it gave the car a lovely balance between outrageous, focused performance car, and distance cruiser. The only real hardship was low speed mobility given the lack of power steering and dreadful turning circle, but then, you can’t have your cake and eat it. Fuel stops are regular too, not just because of economy (something I had zero interest in testing) but because despite having a slightly larger fuel tank than an R, it’s still very small. Another positive is that the added friendliness did little to dent the Caterhams driving dynamics. It was a little less responsive than the 420R which was keener to turn in, but overall you still get that immersive and pure Caterham driving experience. The brake pedal was wonderfully progressive, the
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steering offered detailed feedback of the road beneath you, and the front end is religiously faithful to your inputs. The only thing I’ve driven that exposed a small margin of understeer in this 620S was the lighter, racier 420R earlier this year. As far as I’m concerned, Caterham have nailed the brief, here. The 620S is a wildly savage performance car that demands respect and requires a level of competence and understanding to keep it on the road, while making it genuinely usable for longer journeys and trips to the shops. Many journalists and Caterham Academy drivers are divided about which model represents the sweet spot in the range,
with the 420 often receiving the praise given the price gap between the two cars. Listen up 420 lovers, you’re wrong, the 620S is the sweet spot in the Caterham family. My advice is, if you’re looking to buy a Caterham and you can afford a 620 model, then buy it. It’s dead simple. After driving the 420R I undeniably caught the Caterham bug and moving up to the 620S has only reminded why. What a machine it is. Over the course of a week, I clocked nearly 500 miles behind the wheel, took friends, family, and even strangers out for thrills in it. Some loved it, some were scared senseless by it, some wouldn’t even get in it, but either
way it left an impression. It caught the attention of young and old alike, and it was warmly received by other road users. Most of all, though, it stole my heart. Whether I was roaring along an open road or enjoying a gentle countryside drive on a warm summers evening, it ticked every single box. As drivers we all want different things from cars which is the reason why they’re so wonderfully diverse. I’ll tell you what I want, though. I want a Caterham Seven 620S. Why? I hear you ask. Because as far as I’m concerned, it represents complete and utter driving perfection.
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cLaren. A name synonymous with motor racing and some of the world’s most desirable performance cars. It’s also a name that holds many personal memories. I was precisely 17 years and 4 days when I first came into contact with this most famous motor manufacturer. My father received an invite to the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, and needless to say, his young petrolheaded son tagged along for the day. It was back when SLR production was in full swing and Lewis Hamilton was just weeks away from claiming his first Formula 1 world championship. Now, imagine being an impressionable, car crazy 17-year-old and getting the chance to tour MTC and drive a new McLaren-Mercedes SLR down the runway of the infamous Dunsfold airfield. It was an experience that had to leave an impression, and boy it did. But that’s not where the story ends. Some strings were pulled and the following February I spent an entire week at the Technology Centre on a work experience placement, where on my first day, I came face to face with the first pre-production MP4-12C. Outside of the McLaren hierarchy, investors, and the team of personnel working on the project, I was one of the first people in the world to physically see the car. Top Gear, eat your heart out. All those years ago, I had aspirations of working for McLaren. I even sent a letter to Ron telling him that one day I wanted his job. I was a ballsy sod, even at 17. Oh, and for the record, he wrote back. However, life has a funny way of taking us places we don’t expect and some years later I started a motoring publication called Redline Magazine. This year I turn 27 which means a decade has passed since my first encounter with McLaren, an encounter that fundamentally shaped the person writing this very car review. It’s rather fitting then, that Redline Magazine’s first ever manufacturer-supported supercar press loan, comes from none other than McLaren. Car reviews do not come any more personal than this. I hope you enjoy my thoughts on the stunning McLaren 570S Spider.
Written by: Mark Rose Photography by: Dom Ginn
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Sleeping the night before taking delivery of a McLaren is not easy, and despite not being a morning person, the next day I was out of bed quicker than a kid at Christmas. The excitement was as tangible as the holes in my socks that had appeared owing to a bout of uncontrollable pacing. Then, it arrived. Off the back of the enclosed trailer it rolled and into the sunlight of a bright August morning. Vermillion Red paint sparkled and swathes of carbon fibre glistened as the weave collected the light from the sun. Then the doors hinged up and the roof came down. It looked magnificent, like a proper supercar should, full of pomp and ceremony, a proper bit of theatre. I fired the engine into life, turned my mobile phone off and went for that special first drive. And drive is what I did. In fact, I barely stopped all weekend as I managed to cram over 530 miles in to just three days. You see, driving is what McLaren are all about, something that became increasingly apparent as I piled on the miles. It doesn’t take long to figure out that the 570S is a breath-taking machine and one that I would quickly form an attachment to. Some high performance cars can be very capable but remarkably underwhelming, something that the MP412C and 650S got a lot of stick for, but the 570S Spider soon puts to bed any ideas of sterility. It’s such a communicative car. McLaren decided to shelve the idea of electric power steering and opt for an electro-hydraulic steering rack, and the results are beautiful to the hand. An abundance of feedback makes its way through the Alcantara trimmed wheel and into the palms of your hands to the point where you could map out the road surface beneath you. There are ‘Comfort’, ‘Sport, and ‘Track’ settings for the handling and powertrain, and attacking a back road with the wick turned up is nothing short of sensational. ‘Sport’ stiffens the suspension, improves throttle response, sharpens the gearbox, ups the engine noise and slackens off the stability control.
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‘Track’ is all of these things turned up to maximum attack. At first, I shied away from the cars most focussed set up – ‘Track’ is obviously for track work – but once I was comfortable with the car I turned everything up and went in search of the McLaren’s wild side. And wild it was. Savage. Magnificent. Perfect. You sit low in the car with the engine positioned just behind your ears, and it’s down with the centre of gravity where you really gain an understanding of how well balanced the chassis is. The grip from the Pirelli P ZERO CORSA meant it could carry outrageous speed across a technical piece of road. Having said that, country lanes are not places where you can sensibly exploit the cars limits, but when you push it to eight-tenths, the body resists any sort of roll and corner exits are met with an entertaining kick from the rear axle. If you do manage to uncover any understeer on the public road then you’ve been driving much too fast. The stopping power was unbelievable thanks to huge Carbon Ceramic brakes the measured 394mm at the front and 380mm across the rear. The brake pedal
was beautifully progressive with plenty of resistance at the top of the travel. The gearbox is McLaren’s own 7-speed ‘Seamless Shift Gearbox’ (SSG), and for me, it was one of the standout features of the entire package. The gears hit home before my fingers were even at the end of the paddle travel, and in ‘Track’ the ‘box conjured up a cheeky kick in the back to help add further character to the ferocity of the experience. It was on that road, at that moment in time, where I fell in love. It was a pure, adrenalin filled driving experience, but one I was in complete control of. Never once did I feel detached from the car or road, instead, I felt like another working cog in a package that was ruthlessly effective. The lack of roof simply added another dimension of theatre that you would not get from the coupe. Notice I haven’t gone straight in to talking about the performance? There’s far more to the 570S Spider than just how fast it is, but I can hold off on talking about speed no longer because the straight line poke is utterly ridiculous. The McLaren is powered by a mid-
mounted twin-turbocharged 3.8 litre V8 which produces 562bhp and 442lb ft. of torque. The dry weight is just 1,359kg or 1,486kg dripping wet. 0-60mph in 3.1 seconds makes it a very fast car, but the statistic that says it will go from rest to 124mph in just 9.6 seconds is the number that impresses most. I have zero doubt that it’s faster across the ground than an Audi R8 V10 Plus. For days, I mulled over suitable words to describe how quick it was, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t escape from my initial thought the first time I got it properly hooked up, which was “it literally f***s off down the road”. I’ve driven some very fast cars before, but the 570S introduced me to a level of performance I had not previously experienced. Naturally aspirated cars are great, and there was the odd occasion where the McLaren suffered from a little turbo lag, but when the turbos delivered they offered a ballistic turn of pace. It was stunning. Then there was the noise of it all. Again, this is a department where McLaren have previously received criticism, but in this car I couldn’t figure out why.
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Sure, the V8 in the 570S doesn’t sing like the one in the Ferrari 488, and aurally, it doesn’t have a patch on the V10 in the Lamborghini Huracan or Audi R8, but it does its own thing which should be appreciated. It sounds more like a heavily turbocharged race car. Lots of mechanical sounds, pops and bangs from the exhaust and whooshing from the turbos. I’m sure there was a butterfly valve in there somewhere. Our 570S came equipped with a sports exhaust which really ramped up the volume, and with the roof down, the McLaren sounded properly angry. Another nice touch was the rear window which could be lowered when the roof was up to help let noise from the engine directly into the cabin. A good shout if the weather is cold but you still want the pleasure of that V8 soundtrack. In stark contrast to the thrill of a B-road blast, the 570S Spider was completely docile when left in its ‘Comfort’ setting. It was no harder to drive or live with than a family hatch, and if you could
afford to run one every day, then there’s no reason why you couldn’t run it as a daily driver. In seventh gear the engine fades to a whisper, the gearbox shuffles through the ratios without fuss, and the cabin is reasonably well protected from road and wind noise. A big thumbs-up has to go to the Bowers & Wilkins sound system which was by far the best in car sound system I’ve heard yet. However, the most impressive feat McLaren have achieved with the 570S Spider is the way it rides. The car benefits from the latest iteration of McLaren’s carbon tub. Named ‘MonoCell II’, this lightweight chassis structure ensures the car remains rigid to the benefit of body control and handling while allowing for a softer spring and damper set up which helps give the car its excellent ride quality. I won’t bore you with too much talk of practicality, but it’s worth mentioning that the boot is a decent enough size to hold a couple of weekend bags. The cabin is spacious and beautifully appointed with lots of leather and Alcantara, and
when driven sensibly, it doesn’t guzzle super unleaded anything like I thought it would. The seats also offered fantastic support and not once did I feel fatigued or suffer from any backache after a long stint in the car. The only area I could really poke holes at was the infotainment which wasn’t particularly intuitive. All of this brings us neatly on to the price. The McLaren 570S Spider starts from £164,750, our test car with options came in at £207,630, but then it had £19,290 worth of carbon fibre which you and I both want, but don’t really need. You could spec one comfortably below £190,000 without the carbon, alone. The McLaren’s starting price (sticking with the convertible theme) is similar to that of a well optioned Audi R8 V10 Plus or Porsche 911 Turbo S, but the performance and brand kudos is more in line with that of a Ferrari 488 or a Lamborghini Huracan which come in at £217,219 and £198,876 respectively. When you add a little context, the 570S Spider suddenly looks like remarkable
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value for money. At this level, however, it is preference over price that dictates how one spends their money, and I want to round off with a little more gushing. What a fabulous weekend it was. The type of weekend that petrolheads and aspiring motoring journalists dream of. In some ways everything has come full circle. I’ve always been passionate about cars but it was McLaren that first inspired a career in motoring, and 10 years on, it’s McLaren delivering the boyhood dreams all over again. Naturally, the excitement and euphoria surrounding the 570S’ delivery was ended by the gut wrenching disappointment of loading it back on the transporter and waving it off home to MTC. I actually didn’t drive for 2 full days after the McLaren left because I couldn’t bear the thought of getting back into my daily driver and being left bitterly disappointed by what I was behind the wheel of. On reflection, though, the 570S Spider filled me with even more motivation to work hard and achieve the lofty heights of supercar ownership. Again, it’s not a Ferrari or a Lamborghini I yearn for, but a McLaren. And it’s not the insane speed, engaging driving experience or the approachability of the package that makes me want for one. It’s because it did the one important thing that every supercar should do. It made me feel like a superstar every time I got in and out of the car. If you’re reading this and can afford a McLaren then I suggest you go and buy one, because one day, I’ll be joining you.
Redline Rating: 10/10 35 McLaren 570S Spider.indd 7
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hen I was 12 years old I had a poster of a Lamborghini Murcielago on my bedroom wall. Lambos have always been the pinup of choice for young petrolheads the world over. So, if a person from the future came and told little me that my first Lamborghini test drive would be in an SUV, I would have politely laughed and told them to sod off back to the year 30-something-or-another. However, in the year 2018, bigger 26-year-old me got his first Lamborghini test drive. And guess what? It was in an SUV … The new Urus is an interesting car for Lamborghini, notice I said “interesting” and not entirely out of character. It’s plain to see why most motor manufacturers have jumped on the SUV bandwagon. If that’s what the people want then that’s what the people get. Simple. It’s also no surprise that Lamborghini have been the first of the main specialised supercar makers to enter into this area of the market. Not because of creeping German influence or attempts to bolster sales figures, but because while Ferrari are too wrapped up in their heritage and McLaren are focussed on driving purity, Lamborghini have always done the outrageous. An SUV with supercar performance is about as outrageous as it gets. Sure, you can have a Bentley Bentayga or a Porsche Cayenne, but prior to the Urus, the Sant’Agata based manufacturer has only produced supercars – LM001 and LM002 notwithstanding. The setting for our run in the big Lambo was this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed (FoS). An invite from Lamborghini landed in my inbox a week prior to the event, and like any good petrolhead, I couldn’t say no. The task was a simple one. Get the Urus up the Goodwood Hill climb without cocking it up in front of the crowds of festival goers. No pressure then for a first time hill runner like myself … Fortunately, I had help. Steve who works as a professional driver for Lamborghini was on hand to guide me up the hill.
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I actually spent more time in the car than first planned. Getting out of the car park and onto the start line took a while due to the most expensive traffic jam I’d ever sat in. Sandwiched between a Lotus Exige and a Ferrari 812 Superfast, I sat patiently waiting my turn. The short drive to the start line uncovered a few things about the Urus that I should have expected but didn’t. It’s like sitting in any other luxurious SUV, it’s quiet, comfortable, it doesn’t feel intimidating to drive and the turning circle is surprisingly good. I actually forgot I was in a Lamborghini. The interior was a mixture of sensible German thinking with lashings of Italian flair and colour, and on early inspection, the fit and finish looked excellent. Needless to say, this is what you expect when you’re asked to pay £165,000 for a car.
It was all very un-Lamborghini when driving one should, above all, be an event. If you have a 2 car garage then the chances are something like a Huracan or an Aventador is your weekend go to, but the Urus is something you can daily if you so please. What happened next, though, was more in keeping with something badged as a raging bull. The engine choice for the Urus is one that comes up for some stick from the purists. Installing a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 in a car from a manufacturer who is renowned for their naturally aspirated V10 and V12 powerhouses is going against the grain somewhat. However, the 641bhp and 627lb ft. is not. I lined up on the start line, let the Exige roar out of site, and then planted my right foot and left the line for dust. Four-wheel-drive offers seamless traction and it was at this point that I was reminded of what I was driving. It may weigh 2.2 tonnes, but it feels every bit as fast as the 0-60mph time of 3.6 seconds, and the 189mph top speed suggests. Initially, the unnatural correlation between savage acceleration and high driving position confuses your brain, then, once you’re accustomed to it, it just becomes hilarious. It sounds good too, the rev limiter may sit at just 6,800rpm, but it sounds like no other SUV out there. You could call it an event. Up the Goodwood Hill we thundered, avoiding the hay bales and the wall on the left hand side, we ripped across the line and up into another very expensive car park. Yep, it’s definitely a Lamborghini. No one ever forgets their first time and it just so happened that this year’s Goodwood FoS offered me two of them. A run up that legendary hill, and my first time behind the wheel of a model from a manufacturer who’s cars adorned my bedroom wall as a small boy. Special day, that.
Written & Photographed by Mark Rose
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The team receive an invite from the SMMT to spend a day testing fast cars at the legendary Millbrook Proving Ground. Read on to see which cars made the cut ... Words by: Mark Rose Photography by: Andy Foreman & Amy Welch
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y experience of SMMT Test days is that in the weeks leading up to the event you receive an overview of which manufacturers will be attending and what cars they intend to bring. Oddly enough, no such list came through, and it’s just as well, because if anyone knew that a Mercedes-AMG GT R was due to make an appearance I may as well have kissed goodbye to my chance of a stint behind the wheel. Naturally, upon arrival, I made a beeline for Mercedes and secured myself a timeslot in the mighty Merc. Of all the fantastic cars that turned up to the event, this was the one that got the pulse racing. The numbers are equally as fantastic as the ‘Hell Magno Green’ paint that adorns its outrageously long bonnet, bulging wheel arches and pert rear overhangs. The 4.0 litre twin turbo V8 produces 577bhp and 516lb ft. from as little is 1900rpm through to 5500rpm. All this power is fed to the rear wheels via Mercedes’ familiar seven-speed dual clutch transmission. 0-62mph is dealt with in 3.6 seconds and the top speed sits at 198mph, making it comfortably the fastest car of the day.
The standard Mercedes-AMG GT is better judged as a GT car as opposed to out and out sports car. The GT R on the other hand is nothing other than a snarling supercar that’s designed to go up against the Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
In the transformation from base ‘GT’ to ‘R’, the car gains an additional 74bhp, carbon fibre body panels and a wider track, some clever underbody aero, redesigned suspension with adjustable coil over spring and damper units, four-wheel steering, and most impressively, a nine stage traction control setting that lets you decide how yobbish you want the rear end to behave. Oh, it also comes with sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. This is no doubt a statement of intent from Mercedes. They’re very good at making hairy chested performance cars but sometimes sheer power comes at the expense of finesse. From behind the wheel, the GT R certainly feels more driver focussed. You sit low in the chassis, you’re cocooned into place by a pair of excellent bucket seats, and the steering wheel is trimmed in Alcantara. The driving position felt spot. On start-up, the car roars in to life just like
any good AMG should, and on the move, the V8 makes a thunderous noise. Our testing ground for the GT R was the high speed bowl nestled deep within the confines of Millbrook. Many a high speed test has taken place here and is realistically one of only two places where you can test the cars astonishing straight line performance. It accelerates effortlessly, this car. Even when you brush the throttle you can feel the vast power it has in reserve, and when you really open it up, it accelerates in an alarming manner. The straight line performance in the AMG GT R is similar to that of the 604bhp Audi R8 V10 Plus, but the extra weight still leaves it lagging behind the McLaren 570S when you really get the hammer down. One thing it does have over the other two, though, is the additional torque which means you need to work the engine less to extract the available performance. Enthusiasts still may be chocking at the thought of Mercedes ditching their old naturally aspirated 6.2 litre V8 in favour of these smaller twin turbocharged engines, but you can’t argue with the amount of torque that turbocharging adds to the package and overall flexibility of the engine.
Mercedes-AMG GT R InDesign.indd 2
We circulated the bowl at a steady 100mph. It’s a fairly smooth surface that’s built to replicate a motorway layout, but the suspension did pick out some smaller road deficiencies so it does make me wonder how capable the GT R is over a typical British B-road. At speed though, the engine settles down and because it’s based on a standard AMG GT, the cabin is a lovely place to spend time. From £142,945, the Mercedes-AMG GT R occupies the same price point as the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, the difference being that you can stroll into a Mercedes show room and buy one. If you want the Porsche, however, you either have to be ‘on the list’ or shell out roughly £80,000 over list price for one. In that respect, the GT R looks like good value. In fact, first impressions are that it’s a fantastic car. It looks menacing, sounds awesome and goes like the hell. Did I get a chance to test whether the mechanical and aero changes turn it in to a track weapon? No, the car wasn’t allowed on the Hill Course. However, I will leave you with its Nurburgring lap time – 7:10.9.
45 Mercedes-AMG GT R InDesign.indd 1
SIBLING RIVALRY: THE AUDI R8 V10
he Audi R8 is a car we’re very familiar with at Redline Magazine. Regular readers will recall our comprehensive track test of the V10 Plus Coupe, and once again, I find myself behind the wheel of an R8. The Audi supercar range has swollen of recent to include a V10 Plus Spyder and two new Rear Wheel Series (RWS) cars which are based on the standard V10 Coupe and Spyder. At this year’s SMMT Test Day, Audi brought along their new RWS Coupe and a quattro version of their standard V10 Spyder. What we have here are two very different R8s, and needless to say, I felt it my duty to find out how they differ, you know, in the name of consumer advice … I grabbed a seat in the V10 RWS first and headed straight for Millbrook’s Hill Route. My lasting memory of the V10 Plus was of
a supercar that was ridiculously fast but completely locked down. Forget about hair raising oversteer and rubber burning antics, quattro all-wheel drive makes it pretty unflappable with the car preferring to feedback with understeer when you push it too hard. The transformation from all-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive includes the removal of the R8’s propshaft, centre diff and front driveshafts, all of which helps shave 50kg from the car’s kerbweight. This may not sound like a huge saving, and the RWS still weighs 1590kg, but it does feel like a different animal to its all-wheel drive siblings. Where a quattro-equipped R8 is easy to push to the limit, the RWS is a far more engaging proposition. When you start to push, you can feel the car move around beneath you, you work harder at the wheel and become increasingly careful with how you bleed on and off the throttle. It’s not that the R8 becomes a
handful, it’s still very usable, but 533bhp to the rear wheels makes the RWS feel edgier, and as such, it demands a little more respect than the all-wheel drive car. The RWS does feel slightly nimbler but it’s not a transformation. It turns in a little keener but the Hill Route still uncovered a level of understeer similar to that found in the V10 Plus Coupe we drove last year. The trade-off for the extra engagement is a slightly slower 0-60mph time. The RWS will accelerate to the industry benchmark in 3.7 seconds – 0.3 slower than the regular V10 and half a second off the Plus. Make no mistake, though, it’s still a very fast car with instant throttle response and an atmospheric 5.2-litre V10 that revs to 8700rpm. At £112,520 the V10 RWS is now the range’s entry level R8. If you’ve previously passed up on R8 ownership because you prefer a more engaging driving experience, then there’s good news here.
Audi R8 - Sibling Rivalry.indd 2
Conversely, the all-wheel drive V10 Spyder is by far the most docile car in the R8 line-up. If ever there was a supercar that could be driven easily then it’s this one. It does, however, engage you in different ways. Come afternoon, Millbrook basked in glorious sunshine which gave us an opportunity to get the lid off and go for a drive. Without the hindrance of a roof, your ears can freely listen to the V10 engine sing and the exhaust note comes to the fore with cracks and pops that weren’t apparent with the roof up. Also, with the cloth roof stowed away, the R8 looks absolutely stunning.
it’s less keen to change direction and it requires you to brake earlier to help slow the added mass. Fortunately, R8s benefit from inherently good chassis balance and since we’re back in an allwheel drive model, the car is easier to lean on. If you can build the confidence to be committed with the throttle, you’ll discover a car that can carry some serious apex speed and offer unwavering traction on the exit of corners. I felt I had to finesse the RWS where the Spyder could be bullied into going quickly. A quick note on the gearbox, I previously wrote that Porsche’s PDK is the sharper ‘box, but after getting back in an R8 I’m not so sure. The dual-clutch transmission felt just as crisp on up and downshifts. Blipping the engine on downshifts is also a whole new level of addictive.
The Spyder carries a weight penalty of 200kg over the Coupe variant and the extra weight is noticeable. Overall,
When I was done with the Hill Route, I took the R8 to the bowl and circulated at a steady 100mph. It wasn’t terribly
The cheapest R8 is the most engaging supercar to come out of Ingolstadt, making it good value.
exciting but it did uncover how well composed the car is at speed and how little buffeting there is in the cabin with the roof down. It was here that the R8 V10 Spyder began to make sense. In those moments, I settled down, took in some sun and marvelled at what Audi had brought to this SMMT Test Day. The R8 range now has something for everyone, but if I was buying with my money then I would pass on the RWS and go straight for a Spyder. It may be the least engaging car of the lot, but it’s a lovely, lovely thing to drive. Too many supercars are concerned with going around race tracks quickly whereas this one just wants to give you midengined supercar thrills every single day. I could get used to this. .
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Grand Tourer If
the Audi R8 V10 represents the best all-round proposition and the Mercedes-AMG GT R offers the most focused driving experience, then the Maserati GranTurismo MC is the car that carries a whiff of romance about it. The design may be 11 years old now, but like a fine Italian wine, it has aged beautifully. It was easily the best looking car in attendance and the one that other motoring journalists just couldn’t keep away from. I’m not a betting man, but I would put money on the possibility that half the people that drove it, did so because they’re petrolheads and instinct tells them to go and drive the low-slung Italian one. As a brand, Maserati are a victim of their own success. The majority of people perceive Maserati to be ‘financially inaccessible’ when in truth, cars like the Ghibli and Levante are competition for Mercedes, BMW and Audi. This mystique only adds to the GranTurismo’s allure. Beautiful it may be, but what is it actually like to drive? Before I dive into that and believe me, it’s an interesting topic, I first want to touch on the interior. Our test car was optioned with more carbon fibre and Alcantara than you can shake a stick at, but strip it all back and what you find is a dated, albeit functional and well-built interior.
Maserati GranTurismo MC.indd 2
Ergonomically it still makes sense but one thing I wasn’t a fan of were the huge paddles that were mounted to the steering column, not the wheel. If you’re not accustomed to paddles that don’t move with the wheel, then you can very quickly find yourself changing down when you want to go up a gear and vice versa. Having said all that, the GranTurismo’s interior still felt special which is to be expected when you’re asked to pay upwards of £108,000. Special. It’s the word that springs to mind when you fire up the 4.7 litre V8 engine, and it’s the engine that dominates the driving experience. It’s naturally aspirated, produces 454bhp and 384lb ft. and it revs to 7500rpm. In this day and age 454bhp isn’t an eye-widening amount of power, and less impressive is the torque figure. What it does mean, though, is that you need to work the motor to get the best from it and what it lacks in flexibility and straight-line poke, it makes up for in pure theatre. It’s a glorious sounding car, this, whether it’s idling or having its neck wrung, it never fails to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It’s a match for the V10 in the Audi R8 and offers the GranTurismo huge character.
“Special. It’s the word that springs to mind when you fire up the 4.7 litre V8 engine, and it’s the engine that dominates the driving experience.”
Millbrook’s Hill Circuit is a stern test of the car’s dynamic ability, but Maserati themselves are the first people to admit that this is a GT car and not a sports car, and so it was never going to shine in company such as the R8 and AMG GT R. At 1875kg it’s too heavy and the steering rack is simply not quick enough to disguise its mass. The six-speed automatic gearbox is also sluggish and because the engine likes to be revved, it isn’t too great on fuel economy. On the combined cycle, Maserati claims 19.7mpg … 0-60mph in 4.7 seconds means that a particularly speedy hot hatchback will leave GranTurismo owners red faced, and so, if getting down a B-road as quickly as possible is top of your agenda, then you’re best to look elsewhere. The problem in this instance isn’t actually the car, it’s the venue. Millbrook is not the place to be testing Maserati’s last incarnation of the GranTurismo. A cross-country journey or a European tour would be better tests of this car’s purpose and ability. It drives smoothly, is elegant to look at and it sounds beautiful. It has Italian charm in abundance and I’m no doubt that people who buy these make emotional purchases, not practical ones. If you fancy one for yourself then best you hurry up. You can’t make a factory order anymore, and the only new cars available are the ones left in stock. Go on, be a petrolhead and treat yourself.
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‘N’ew Kid on the Block
ow, here’s a car I’ve been keen to drive, the all-new Hyundai i30N. It’s the first proper hot hatchback to come from the manufacturer and the project has been overseen by no less than former head of engineering at ‘BMW M’, Albert Biermann. This is the man who is responsible for some very serious driver’s cars, so the significance of his appointment is not to be overlooked. The ‘N’ stands for the Nürburgring, which is where the i30N and all future N-Performance cars from Hyundai will be developed. Serious intentions, then. First, the facts. The car is available with two variants of the same turbocharged 2-litre 4-cylinder engine. The entry-level motor produces 247bhp and 260lb ft. or you can buy an ‘N-Performance’ spec car with 271bhp, but no increase in torque. The higher specification which costs an additional £3,000 also comes with larger 19-inch alloy wheels, uprated brakes, an electronically controlled mechanical differential and some changes to the steering set up. Both models come with a six-speed manual gearbox with no
auto option available. On paper, then, the i30N has all the hallmarks of a great driver’s car. Both models were available for test and needless to say, it would have been rude not to drive the more powerful of the two cars. This was actually the first drive of the day and my first ever experience of Millbrook’s Hill Circuit, and the i30N was the perfect companion for my first tour of this most notorious testing route. What you need round Millbrook is a car stiff enough to deal with the quick, off-camber direction changes, but enough damping to help smooth out the bumps and large undulations. Being developed at the ‘ring, the i30N is no stranger to a test route as demanding as the Hill Circuit, and in return, what it instilled, was plenty of confidence. The balance between performance and adjustability on the throttle is excellent. 0-60mph in 6.1 seconds is more than respectable, particularly for a front-wheel drive car. But the magic - as it tends to be in hot hatchbacks - is in the limited slip
differential. It’s a good diff that pulls you neatly round the corner without tugging at the wheel, and very little wheelspin helps you get a clean exit from the corner. It’s quite a stiff car, the i30N, but the body is well controlled and the quality of the damping means it’s pliant enough when the road gets busy. The gearbox is well-judged and rev-matches on the down-change, the steering is electrically assisted meaning it’s devout of feedback, but it does have a nice weight to it, and the brakes felt excellent. There are a plethora of driving modes depending on your mood. You get Eco, Normal, Sport, N and N Custom, with the latter offering you the ability to configure the car’s set up to your liking. It makes a nice sound, too. For a first attempt at a hot hatchback, Hyundai have done a mighty fine job. And with prices starting from £25,760 for the ‘N’, and £28,760 for the ‘N-Performance’, it’s also affordable. Ultimately, can the Hyundai i30N take the challenge to the Honda Civic Type R? We’ll see.
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King of the Hill
It’s late afternoon. I’ve driven 2 different R8s, an AMG GT R, A beautiful Maserati GranTurismo MC, a hybrid Range Rover, and 2 very different approaches to bang for your buck in the Hyundai i30N and the SEAT Leon ST Cupra 300 4Drive. Needless to say, the day has been mostly about speed. Where then, does one go from here? Perhaps, a Toyota Yaris GRMN? What about a Suzuki Swift Sport? Kia Stinger, anyone? I’ll be honest, as much as I love the Honda Civic Type R, I had been avoiding it. Despite the temptation of reacquainting myself with one of my favourite cars, I know that days like this are a gold mine for driving new cars I’ve otherwise recently missed. Inevitably, though, I caved and shortly after found myself behind the wheel of G8 HUK; the very Type R I drove last year and subsequently fell in love with. I set off worrying because for months I’ve been hyping this thing up. Was it going to be as good as I remember, or could Millbrook’s Hill Circuit uncover any flaws in its dynamic ability? The Hyundai was also a problem given how impressed I was by it earlier in the day. But the Type R is the benchmark for a reason and so it was the Type R’s job to reassert its authority over Hyundai’s young pretender. The Type R made light work of the Hill Circuit, in fact, I don’t think there was a single car I drove all day that could keep with it across the inclines, undulations and quick changes of direction. It was magic. The confidence it gives you, the driver, is sensational. Much like the R8 V10 Spyder, if you commit to the throttle you will discover a car that is devastatingly capable. More often than not, I found myself accelerating through the corner apex instead of braking and getting it turned in, such is the brilliance of the diffs ability to drag the front wheels where ever you want them to go. I could gush forever, but I’m not going to. Because we have a Honda Civic Type R coming on a week-long press loan meaning that Issue 6 will have a full review on what it’s like to live with this most exceptional hot hatchback. For now, though, I’m still waiting to find a front wheel drive hatch that drives and flatters as much as the Type R does. The Hyundai i30N is great fun, but on this day the Honda is King.
TBC In Redline Magazine Issue 6 ... 53 Type R InDesign.indd 1
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In Issue 6
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Speedy SEAT Estate A
s the owner of a SEAT Leon Cupra 280, curiosity naturally pointed me in the direction of the estate version of the current Cupra 300. Before you ask, no, I’m not starting a family, nor am I taking up fishing or some other kind of sport that requires a car with plenty of boot space. The Cupra wagon’s full and proper name is the SEAT Leon ST Cupra 300 4Drive. Long, I know. ‘ST’ denotes that it’s an estate version of the Leon, ‘300’ stands for how much metric horsepower it has and ‘4Drive’ tells us that it’s four-wheel drive. In contrast to the cars complicated name, the idea of it is dead simple; hot hatchback performance in a very practical package. You get the same turbocharged 2-litre 4-cylinder engine with 296bhp and 280lb ft. and the familiar six-speed DSG gearbox. However, unlike the front-wheel drive hatch, power is sent to all four wheels via a Haldex differential, meaning that this estate variant
accelerates to 60mph in just 4.9 seconds, some 0.8 seconds quicker than the lighter hatchback. I love my Cupra 280 and needless to say, it’s a solid benchmark to test against. It’s a properly capable bit of kit and it’s a bundle of laughs, and so the real test of the estate Cupra is whether it retains the hatch’s fun nature in the face of increased size and practicality. For this test, I took the SEAT on to the country lanes around Millbrook, or in other words, the real world. The differences between the estate and the hatch are immediate. Four-wheel drive gives you seamless traction where the front-wheel drive hatch struggles to lay down the power. The hatchback also suffers from a whiff of torque steer, but in the estate, there are no such dramas. Having said that, the estate is more prone to understeer because of the increased weight and the front end is far less adjustable when it does push wide. In the hatch, it’s much easier to trim the
line with the throttle thanks to its limited slip differential. In wet conditions, however, the ST Cupra 300 would probably leave its hatchback sibling behind. Performance aside, it’s still a great place to spend time. Not only were all the Cupra 300 models treated to a facelift but the interior has also been improved with more connectivity, a larger 8-inch touchscreen display, Digital Cockpit (similar to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit), and wider use of Alcantara. Overall then, the estate Cupra may not be quite as fun as the hatch but it’s still a good hoot. From a standstill at least, it’s faster, and it still retains the snappy gearbox, variable dampers and changeable driving modes that control steering weight and throttle mapping. In fact, keep the spec subtle and what you have is one hell of a Q-car with 587-litres of boot space. With prices starting from £33,175, the SEAT Leon ST Cupra 300 4Drive isn’t just a lot of name for the money, it’s a lot of car.
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Plug-in Range “G
as guzzlers”, that’s what Range Rovers and similarly sized vehicles used to be called by people who cared for the environment before it was cool to do so, and politicians who spent countless hours thinking of ways to tax the rich. Environmentalists, rejoice. The Range Rover is now available as a plug-in hybrid, and first impressions are that it’s a very good car. The P400e PHEV is available in Vogue, Vogue SE and Autobiography trims with the choice of standard or long-wheelbase configurations. Instead of the traditional six and eight-cylinder engines, Jaguar Land Rover have opted to fit the Range Rover with one of its “Ingenium” 2-litre 4-cylinder motors. In isolation, the petrol engine produces 296bhp, but with the assistance of the electric motor, the output is raised to 398bhp. The torque figure is a massive 472lb ft. making it more potent than the V6 diesel and the supercharged V8 petrol variants. Despite weighing 2,500kg, the P400e PHEV
still accelerates to 60mph in 6.4 seconds and will top out at 137mph. It will also travel 31 miles in EV mode which means a quick trip to your local shops won’t require the use of something as unsociable as petrol, and when you need to venture out on a longer journey, the combined fuel economy comes in at 101mpg, according to JLR. All of this sounds very lovely, but does it actually work? In a word, yes. Firstly, you don’t need to be a qualified electrician to charge the battery. Simply plug it in at work or home and depending on whether you have a 32-amp or 10-amp socket, the battery will charge up in 2hr 45m or 7h 30m respectively. While on the move the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode is smooth, and because it’s a Range Rover, the sound of the engine is barely noticeable. In fact, a hybrid powertrain is probably the best companion for a big Range Rover given people’s expectations on how hush one should be to travel in. Inside, JLR keep upping the game when
it comes to luxury and tech. The two 10-inch touchscreen displays first seen in the Velar have been carried over into this car with beautiful graphics and quick response times. Evidently, many cows died in the making of the Range Rover’s interior and the seats now have up to 24 ways of adjustment depending on which spec you choose. My time with the car may have been short, but I couldn’t find a single thing to poke holes in. The Range Rover P400e PHEV might just be the best choice in the range. Starting from £87,600 it’s the second cheapest car but in terms of performance it sits somewhere in the middle. It’s also friendlier to the environment, kinder to your wallet in the long run, and because its CO2 rating is only 64g/km, you’ll avoid the London Congestion Charge and only pay a first year VED bill of £15, instead of £1,200. Finally, the environmentally conscious will like you a little bit more. The same can’t be said for the politicians, though, they’re probably already looking at ways to tax electricity …
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Redline Magazine Issue 5 is our biggest ever magazine, packed with more cars, more reviews and more imagery than ever before. Our front cove...
Published on Mar 14, 2019
Redline Magazine Issue 5 is our biggest ever magazine, packed with more cars, more reviews and more imagery than ever before. Our front cove...