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LIFE WITH CARS

V8 SPECIAL INSIDE:

JAG XKR S/C VANTAGE V8 FERRARI CALIFORNIA


WORDS: PHIL ROYLE IMAGES: RICHARD MORRIS OF WWW.PARABOLIQUE.CO.UK

SUPERCAT

510 bhp and £72,400’s worth of muscular, supercharged V8 Jaguar big cat gets let loose from its cage for a run through the parks of London


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ags used to be driven by bald, scary, chunky east end gangsters, with an obligatory either ‘stiff’ or a 12-bore sawnoff shotgun in the boot, a bit like Phil Mitchell (sort of, only actually scary and hard), or, the other demographic; old gits, towing caravans, very slowly, much to the annoyance of every other road user in Blighty. But now – thanks to a brilliant radical re-brand, the introduction of a fresh-faced and funky range of cars, and backed with a genius marketing campaign; aimed at well-to-do, well-off bright young urban things – the Jag is a whole different cat. Perhaps the finest, and fastest representation of this brave brand evolution is the V8 supercharged XKR two door Coupe, like this ‘Ultimate Black,’ £72,400, 510 bhp, 625 Nm, 155 mph beast ROAD kindly has on loan from Jaguar Cars. First impressions count so

much with cars. And when this wild cat was delivered – quad exhausts burbling with menace, massive 20-inch ‘Kalimnos’ rims shimmering in the soft Winter sunlight, whopping AJ-V8 generation III five-litre, supercharged engine purring menacingly away and shiny black paintwork matching its quality, classy interior, all bursting with big cat intent – I have to say, I was genuinely excited. The XKR has got real presence, style and a sense of occasion about it; which so many supercars, performance cars and other just damn right expensive cars desperately lack these days, rather sadly. Good work Jaguar! Despite being stacked out with work, I just had to take the big black cat straight out for a drive, in the early morning sun... Cossetted inside, wrapped up in the ‘Warm Charcoal and Ivory’ trim; in what is a roadmagazine.co.uk


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tiny, cosy cockpit – for such a massive car – the quality and genuine feeling of Jaguarness continues. It smells and looks right – leather, wood, fuel. And it feels right – luxurious, comfortable and powerful. And boy, with that 510 bhp, five-litre V8 with a supercharger the size of a small principality attached, it bloody well goes right too. It is a quick car. 0-60 mph is despatched, via the slick, active differential control-assisted, sixspeed auto box (operated with Jaguar’s groovy, blingy,

twisty ‘Jaguardrive’ selector set to Sports mode), in just 4.6 seconds, 50-70mph disappears in the blink of an eye in 1.9 seconds and it ploughs onto its electronically limited 155 mph in naff all time, apparently. De-limited, it feels like it could top 180 mph, with ease. It’s a lot of fun too – sounding awesome, but not at all intrusive and REALLY getting a head of steam up when it gets into fourth, fifth and sixth gears, when that titanic supercharger is sucking in great gulps of cold air. To my amazement in these

joyless post-New Labour days we live in, you can even turn the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) sort-of ‘off,’ allowing more than a bit of sideways, slip and slide activity. But, be warned... whoever mapped this system is unhinged: As it never truly stops interfering; sometimes allowing no slip at all, when you most expect it and are ready for it, then sometimes – like I experienced in fifth gear on the motorway, just nudging the throttle to overtake a truck, it thinks you’re taking part in a drift contest, roadmagazine.co.uk


and likes to light up its humongous 285/30Rx20 Dunlop Sportmaxx rear rubber demonically; demanding a fair degree of driving skill to get it back into shape. Make no mistake, this is a cat that WILL bite you, and get your heart racing. Nice! Cruising around the swanky parklands of south London, as night fell for the shoot, the Jag XKR really fitted in – getting more than a few sideways glances from predictable Porsche and BMW owners alike. Even the odd Aston Martin Vantage V8 driver looked hacked off. And one made the mistake of trying to ‘race’ me off the infamous

urban drag strip that is the pay booths at the Dartford tunnel... only to be firmly despatched by the big cat, leaving a trail of tyre smoke in its wake. Meow! Childish shenanigans aside, now with my gorgeous girl in the car, out for a night out in the big smoke, driving without Sports mode, full Auto on, DSC on, adaptive dampers left to rest after all the full-on ‘testing’ and with me in door-opening chauffeur mode, the Jag XKR took on a completely different feeling: Pure class and oozing charm, personality and quality. Very C21st Jaguar. With the DAB radio pump-

ing out Adam & Joe’s hilarious podcast through the Bowers & Wilkins 525W premium sound system, luxury leather seats cosseting our backs, adaptive front lighting highlighting our route around town (aided by the seven-inch touchscreen Sat Nav), and with my hands warmed by the heated steering wheel (no, really!) and even the rain being swept aside by the auto wipers, we cruised into the city for a cracking night out: The tone being set beautifully by the cool cat: Master of madness, purveyor of serious supercharged speed and provider of purrfect luxury. WELL worth a look...


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IMAGES: NEIL DENHAM OF WWW.DENHAMAUTOS.CO.UK WORDS: PETER DIXON, MEMBER OF WWW.VITESSESUPERCARS.COM

CALIFORNIA DREAM


MING

ROAD staff snapper, Neil Denham gets a spine tingling spin across the stunning, testing Northumberland moorland roads in the Vitesse Super Cars Club, stunning, 460 bhp, 193 mph, V8 Ferrari California


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o one night on facebook, ROAD snapper, Neil posted a link of some idiot crashing a Ferrari California. Doh! I comment the guy must have been backward to do this, as I regularly drive a California and that was just plain silly. Instantly, Neil got back “YOU have a FERRARI!” To this, my subdued response was “no mate, I’ve got two!” “What the f**k” came Neil’s reply. Then, out came the truth... I ‘fessed up; I’m a member of Vitesse Supercar Club (vitessesupercars.com), and the conversation swiftly turned to Neil asking if he could road test it for ROAD. Of course, I jumped at the chance... so let me tell you what this £150,000 front-mounted V8, dual-clutch, folding hardtop prancing horse is like behind the wheel – out on the brilliant, speedy Northroadmagazine.co.uk


“This is the 1st Ferrari where the engine & gearbox work in perfect harmony�


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umberland roads. I’m one of the lucky people on the planet who have driven more than one Ferrari, so I can compare a good 10 years plus of these Italian stallions. Put simply, the new California simply does not compare to any other Ferrari I have driven: The Ferrari California may be the best driving car ever built. Why?

I hear you ask. The answer is simple – this is one of the only cars that you can pack a case and drive off for the weekend to Scotland or France and be more than comfortable in, and then flick it into sport mode and have some big track fun. The first thing to deeply impress is the new gearbox – WOW! When the flappy paddle

(sorry the F1 gearbox) came out, it was a bit of a strange Ferrari driving experience. The 355 – one of my best driving experiences – was ruined by it, with big delays on the downshift, and it was awkward to use. The manual six-speed was the only choice then. Then came the 360: Fantastic car, but the doubleclutch down change was a


“Nail the throttle hard down, and watch the scenery blur”

bit strange and even in auto mode you still have to work the gears to obtain peak Ferrari thrills. Most recently, the 430 got one, but, yet again, this transmission very nearly ruined an amazing car. Now, all our no-clutchpedal hopes have been answered, with the new seven-speed F1 gearbox in the California, ensuring

sporty performance, reducing vibrations and helping to shift the gears dynamically at higher speeds. Put into real world perspective: You’re bobbing along at 50, and need to pass one of those Caravan things. No problem: Nail the throttle hard down and watch the scenery blur, as that big 8 sizzles into life, in an instant. Bliss.

The 4308cc V8 engine, tuned to deliver a monstrous spread of torque, making full use of the dual clutch system, is amazing – not just the glorious sound, but the power delivery, and how it puts it down onto the black stuff; with no fuss, no uncontrollable back-end slides. The Gazoline Direct Injection (GDI, and new for Ferrari) V8 really shoves you roadmagazine.co.uk


back into your luxurious leather, giving that quintessential, special experience, all Ferrari’s should be about. What about the handling? Drive the California in comfort mode and get a bit of tail-out action, and it just sorts itself out and you’re off down the next straight. And as you barrel into the next corner, the huge ceramic brakes slow you down without effort, straight and true. No fuss. This is the first Ferrari I have driven where both the gearbox and engine work together in such great har-

mony. It’s so complete. Add to the mix that this car is just so handsome, comes with a superb retracting hardtop, outstanding paint finish and real character plus the prowess and performance to justify its supercar price tag, and you can see why I’m California dreaming. Take a look at the Vitesse website, and if you are interested in experiencing the amazingly diverse fleet of supercars, including this perfect package, get in touch. It’s a great club to be part of. Get involved!


PERFORMANCE EXHAUSTS

TELEPHONE ENQUIRIES:

+44 (0)1332 227280 e:info@millteksport.com

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70 COUNTRIES WORLDWIDE www.millteksport.com roadmagazine.co.uk


WORDS & PICS: TIM HUTTON


&

heaven

green hell The AMV8 is pure heaven; a car that makes grown women weak at the knees. ROAD drives to Nurburg and the ‘Green Hell,’ to discover how the beauty became a beast


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ormally when a car gets dropped off to the office, a nice man drops off the keys, or it gets wheeled off a trailer. Today is special though and the rest of the office have come out to see what’s going on. A nice chap called Hugh has parked his Landrover outside with a trailer containing one of the sexiest cars available today – the Aston Martin AMV8. It causes a big stir. Even the girls who don’t like cars are visibly pleased to slide down into the sumptuous cockpit and finger the smooth lines of the interior, I press the stereo on and one lets out a little squeak as the tweeters rise up out of the dashboard – not just any old speakers; these are Bang and Olufson speakers. After a good hour or so of nosey staff and even more nosey locals, I set off home to pack up the Aston; ready for the off to Germany. The clock is reading 4am: I know this because I have been looking at the clock for a while now; unable to sleep and itching to get on

the road. But I have to wait for the time to become a bit more sociable, so I can go and pick up my travel companion for the next few days. At well over six foot, I am a little worried that he and his massive bags won’t fit into our sporty number. But I need not have worried, as the boot is impressively large and the leg room more than ample. We cut a swift line across the sleeping south coast to our first port of call: Dover and the ferry port. Now, call me old fashioned, but I love ferries; they add a sense of excitement you don’t get with sitting in your car in a container for an hour. With continental breakfast tucked away, we hit the roads of France and Belgium. And, in no great hurry, we choose to see just how economical the ‘Baby Aston’ can be. And, rather astoundingly and with a great deal of restraint I might add, we managed 31mpg on the way down to Nurburg. And, whilst I wouldn’t recommend anyone drives such an amazing

car with so much restraint, it is a true mark of how flexible the AMV8’s engine is. It still pulled well in top for overtaking and was as quiet as a (very muscular) mouse. By mid afternoon, we arrive at the Nordschleife, surrounded in its usual November fog, and catch up with a few friends and check-in to the only place to stay in Nurburg, Am Tiergarten owned by the Schmitz family (yes of ‘Ring goddess, Sabine fame). This is a beautifully friendly hotel with modern, well equipped rooms and the extra bonus of housing the world famous Pistenklause restaurant and bar, with its obligatory, famous steak on a hot stone, and immediate proximity to the Green Hell. The next morning, we head down to breakfast (fruit, bacon, eggs, toast, coffee, juice... the works) and set a plan for the day ahead: Starting with a trip down to the Nordschleife, speedy sign-on with Graham from RMA Trackdays and set about taking part in one of Ron Simons’ fine roadmagazine.co.uk


track walks. These take a good hour or so, but if you want to survive your first time at the ‘Ring, or learn how to do it properly, it’s an experience not to be missed. Then comes the fun bit – a few laps of the Green Hell in the AMV8. I am on a promise to return the Aston home in tip top condition, so take it very steady, but, boy, you can soon see why the 24Hr cars run so well

here: The road car is amazing: Smooth, effortlessly quick and flat handling. Perfection. Next up, we have a date with Wolfgang Schuhbauer, Director of the Aston Martin Test centre and one quarter of the drivers of ‘Kermit’ in the 2007 Nürburgring 24 hours: A man who knows both the AMV8 and der ‘Ring very, very well. When you walk through the doors of the Aston

Martin Test centre, you are greeted by a couple of gorgeous flagship models and some very comfy leather couches, where we await Wolfgang’s arrival. We are then guided up to a room where the legendary ‘Rose’ sits, menacingly. ‘Rose’ was the car driven at the 2006 Nürburgring 24hrs, finishing 4th in class and an amazing 24th overall – not bad for a near production car that would then be shod


Test centre is the European hub for press and VIP cars. Thirdly – racing: Whether you are lucky enough to be a ‘gentleman driver,’ or wish to enter a VLN race, this is where you come to make the magic happen. After our chat, we take a walk around the centre. Everything secret is tucked well away from our prying Thanks eyes, but we do take the This article wouldn’t have been opportunity to have a good possible without the following help: poke around an AMV12, Kim Palmer and tucked away in a corner Wolfgang Schuhbauer is a gorgeous DBS, looking www.astonmartin.com standard from the outside, Kim Schmitz but stripped down with Am Tiergarten bucket seats and a roll cage www.am-tiergarten.de inside. This DBS is the curGraham Clark rent ‘Ring taxi and looks like www.rma-limited.com a lot of fun. Rather sadly though, once it has done its with road tyres and driven innings, it will be crushed! back to Gaydon. I ask Wolfgang what his Wolfgang was one of the preferred Aston Martin is lucky ones to get picked to on the Nordschleife, and he pilot ‘Rose’ and is partially simply replies ‘the AMV12’, responsible for why the then smiles and says “it’s a road AMV8 is what it is. lot of fun.” The Test centre has three For 2010, the Test centre roles: Firstly development, will be busy finishing off the utilising its proximity to the Rapide and developing the Nordschleife, the autobahns One-77, whilst serving its and the amazing local Bracing customers. It is great roads. Secondly, fleet man- to see such passion and agement: While Gaydon family spirit in such a global looks after the UK cars, the manufacturer and I really

can’t wait to see the One-77 driven in anger. Can you? We say our thanks and goodbyes and set off in the now gleaming AMV8 – well it seemed silly not to get it cleaned while here! Back at the Pistenklause, for yet another steak on a stone, we mull over the Aston and what makes it different from the rest in its class: Well, for a start, I don’t think there is anything else in its class. While it is so often compared to a 911, it really is a waste of time comparing a beautifully crafted, hand built super car with a mass manufactured high performance car. Yes the Aston was conceived to steal away some of those 911 buyers, but you’re getting a lifestyle with the Aston: Respect, love, admiration and a real sense of occasion with every drive. We ignore the fuel consumption on the way home, and while it may have cost a few more bob in petrol, it demonstrated clearly what makes this revised AMV8 such a great GT car: You can take it on a circuit like the Green Hell, cross Europe, swiftly and in style, and it doesn’t miss a beat. roadmagazine.co.uk


LIFE WITH CARS

NEXT ISSUE

Rally and race special Prodrive Impreza GpN › Ring Civic › Track day action

ROAD MAGAZINE WEEKLY - ISSUE 2  

V8 SPECIAL ISSUE, FEATURING SUPERCHARGED JAG XKR, ASTON MARTIN VANTAGE V8 & FERRARI CALIFORNIA

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