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first drives new ford focus ST, audi a3, bmw’s cls

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HOT HATCH GIANT TEST 50

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RS & SCIROCCO R

20 YEARS OF McLAREN F1 Gordon Murray’s untold story

f12 tech secrets

Ferrari’s 730bhp supercar stripped down!

ASTRA VXR vs GOLF GTI, MEGANE

IT’s BACK!

FRANK WILLIAMS Bernie, Ayrton and me

RS4 driven The verdict on Audi’s 444bhp super-estate

j u LY 2 0 1 2 i s s u e 6 0 0 £4 .4 0 www.carmagazine.co.uk

PLUS: 5 generations of RS!

• Buy an iconic Avant for £10k • Next rs3, tt rs, rs6 revealed


AGENDA

THE 9 KEY CARS of THE MoNTH

Alpine: it’s French for 911 Alpine A110-50 /// On sale How long’s a piece of string? Price n/a Anorak fact Power to weight ratio bests an Aventador’s Verdict Could be just the tonic Renault needs to get us excited again ow ofteN have you been to a gig or comedy show, only to find the warm-up act outpointing the main event?You’d hardly call this year’s Monaco Grand Prix dull, but surely the highlight was the sight of a small blue Renault lapping the track in the middle of Friday’s practice session. Not an electric Renault, an MPV or safety-first supermini, but a 395bhp mid-engined, carbon-bodied two-seater inspired by the stunning 2010 dezir show car, giving it six nowt on the streets of Monte Carlo. Officially, the A110-50 merely celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Alpine A110, the pretty 911 rival produced from Renault bits in the 1960s before la Régie saved its manufacturer from bankruptcy and took the Alpine name in-house. The A110-50 doesn’t just crib its styling complete, however. instead, it melds key A110 design cues – the reimagined Alpine blue paint, yellow lEd frog-eyed front driving lights, the wraparound rear window – with the contemporary language of dezir. There are even echoes of the 1990 laguna concept in its organic carbonfibre curves, and the roof-mounted air intake harks back to Renault’s 1970s sports-racer and F1 exploits. That colossal rear wing, painted in the eye-burning orange that sometimes covered the A110’s wheels, generates two thirds of the downforce, 4

WilSON HENNESSY

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alpine flier Carbonfibre body wrapped around Megane Trophy racer chassis means low 880kg kerbweight rolling big Huge 21-inch rear wheels attach with a race-spec single nut. Turbine design will dice your veg

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spoiler alert Rear wing great for downforce. But you may feel a bit like a sperm whale every time you glance in mirror

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mid-engined The 3.5-litre V6 is mounted in the middle to keep masses in check: 52% of the bulk nestles over the rear wheels

gunwhale! Aerodynamic wraparound sill and rear diffuser may channel airow, but they look like 21st century running boards

the slammed look At just 1230mm tall, the Alpine is about hip height. Advanced Yoga ability may be required for entry

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First Drives FEATURING: Ford Focus ST / Mercedes SL63 AMG / Volvo V40 / Nissan GT-R Track Pack EDITED BY BEN PULMAN


Ford Focus ST Can thrilling hot hatches survive the pressures of CO2 and mpg? Ben Barry says the new Focus ST is proof they can

JohN wYchERLEY

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HEN JOST capito, Ford’s global head of performance vehicles, announced his defection to Volkswagen earlier this year, fast Ford enthusiasts shuddered. here was the man who’d banged the drum for Ford’s world rally programme, and who’d turned out gems such as the Mk2 Focus RS and the previous Focus ST, signing up with a rival who’s heading straight for the wRc and rather keen to build a fast road car – the Polo R – off the back of it. So the hot hatch we’re driving today, the new ST, stands as the full stop on capito’s Blue oval legacy, leaving a question mark as to where the ST and RS sub-brands go from here. It’s important for other reasons, too. This ST is Ford’s first global performance model and was co-developed in Europe and the US to replace the accomplished last generation. That car was what capito memorably dubbed ‘a dolphin’ to the RS’s ‘shark’, and a huge part of the ST’s marine-mammal-thatyou-can-trust-with-the-kids appeal centred on its unusual five-cylinder turbocharged engine. It served up easy torque, big speed, and the most characterful exhaust note in its class, with a thick, offbeat, warbly burble. Unfortunately, it also brought an unquenchable thirst for unleaded. This time, the five’s been ditched for a more frugal and cleaner 2.0-litre turbo Ecoboost four. hence the old car’s 30mpg and 224g/km co2 are shamed by its successor’s 39.2mpg and 169g/km, while key outputs rise from 221bhp and 236lb ft to 247bhp and 250lb ft. But the best news is that Ford has somehow channelled the character of the old ST into a completely different engine. You feel a huge rush of torque clock in from around 1600rpm, and it doesn’t taper off until 5500rpm, from which point the Ecoboost continues to pull and pull. Finally, at close to 7000rpm, you’ll touch the softest of rev limiters, allowing you to hold it there during give-or-take passing moves, without the engine doing an impression of a machine gun with Tourette’s. But with all that torque on tap, you quickly discover that you can stay in a higher gear, the abundant bottom-end surge pulling you out of a bend, no matter how lazy you’re feeling. It’s a really eager, flexible motor with excellent throttle response, the best lump you’ll find in any hot hatch currently on sale. Somehow, Ford has even carried over some of the 

SPECIFICATIONS FORD FOCUS ST ENGINE I 1999cc 4-cylinder 16-valve turbo, 247bhp @ 5500rpm, 250lb ft @ 1750rpm TRANS I Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive 0-62MPH I 6.5sec TOP SPEED I 154mph MPG I 39.2mpg CO2 I 169g/km SUSPENSION I MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear LENGTH/WIDTH/ HEIGHT I 4362/ 1823/1484 WEIGHT I 1362kg ON SALE I Now VERDICT ★★★★

FoRD hAS chANNELLED ThE chARAcTER oF ThE oLD ST INTo A DIFFERENT ENGINE... IT MUST BE ThE BEST LUMP IN ANY hoT hATch JULY 2012 I CARMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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notE to aUDI: Don’t MakE tHE tHE nEW RS4 avant MERELY an EStatE vERSIon oF tHE DEEpLY FLaWED RS5. aUDI’S anSWER: GEt a LoaD oF tHIS!

WorDs: georg kacher I PHotoGrAPHy: John wycherley

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cover story

Audi RS4 Avant

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COVER STORY

Audi RS4 Avant: meet the ancestors

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Back in ’94 it was a one-off: a Porsche-tuned estate car set to ruffle feathers in coupe land. Today it’s a legendary lineage of ballistic load-luggers. Meet the five great RS Avants WORDS: Ben Pulman I PHOTOGRAPHY: John Wycherley

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the truth about

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inside story

Gordon Murray on the McLaren F1

words: Gavin Green I Photography: John Wycherley

mclaren’s f1 by the man who created it Gordon Murray wrote himself a note: ‘Build the world’s best car’. Then he went and did it. Twenty years on he talks to CAR about the obsession behind the F1… and what he got wrong

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VAUXHALL’S HOT ASTRA: IS IT VXR ENOUGH?

Vauxhall says the Astra VXR has one mission: to be the best hot hatch in its class. Only one way to find out… WORDs: Ben Barry I PHOTOGRAPHY: Jamie Lipman

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giant test

Astra VXR, Megane RS, Scirocco R, Golf GTI 35

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the car interview

Frank Williams

WOrDS: Tom Clarkson I PhOtOGraPhY: Thomas Butler

FranK williaMs: FroM out oF the DarKness Just days after his first victory in eight years and the pit-garage fire which marred that moment, F1’s most totemic team owner invites CAR into his inner sanctum and opens his heart about Ayrton, Bernie, Pastor and where Williams goes from here

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CAR meets Frank in his private office. ‘Hopefully this result will keep the show on the road’

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Front-engined car, mid-engined dynamics. How did Ferrari make the F12? Everything you need to know about Ferrari’s successor to the F599 GTB words: Jesse Crosse I Photography: Alex Howe

I

s thIs the ultimate Ferrari? If being the most powerful and fastest road car ever built at Maranello makes that so then yes, the 730bhp F12 Berlinetta stands above them all. More than a mere replacement for the 599 GTB Fiorano, this new leader of the pack laps Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in 1min 23sec – faster than any other Ferrari production car to date. The 0-62mph time is only 3.1sec but it’s a number that fails to tell the whole story. More telling is that the F12 will reach 124mph in just 8.5sec and that its top speed is listed at ‘over 211mph’. Even this stupendous performance doesn’t fully explain the point of the new Ferrari. Front-engined cars are usually a compromise; fast but practical cruisers. The 599 erred more on the side of outright performance, but with the F12 Ferrari wanted to create a car that was dynamically on a similar level to any of its mid-engined V8s. It had to deliver an exciting feel whether driving to the supermarket or being hurled around a track. ‘The first question was if we had the right architecture to achieve this at all, or would be forced to put the engine in the back,’ says technical director Roberto Fedeli. ‘We did some testing with the 599XX and 599 GTO. We played with the tyre dimensions, electronic controls, steering ratios, throttle, power and torque. Our conclusion was that we couldn’t evolve the 599 further, but if we could lower the centre of gravity we could achieve the same characteristics as our mid-engined V8s.’ What emerged was something quite different to anything Ferrari has built before. ‘It is possible to get every one of those 730 horsepower down onto the road,’ says Fedeli, ‘and every driver can do it.’ Mechanical components, electronic software and clever aerodynamics work hand-in-hand to manage the F12’s extraordinary performance. Over the page, we explain how…4

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technical analysis

Ferrari F12

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HEAD-TO-HEAD TEST

bMW’s CLS vs the real thing

beaUtY & the other beaUtY WORDS: Anthony ffrench-Constant I PHOTOGRAPHY: Greg Pajo

When Merc invented the ‘four-door coupe’ it seemed like just another niche. All the same, there was something perfect about the CLS. Now, finally, BMW offers a rival…

TWO SURPRISING REVELATIONS surfaced over the course of the first night I’ve stayed awake throughout since I was a schewdunt: firstly, New York may be the city that never sleeps, but you just try getting a cup of coffee anywhere in London at three in the morning; and, secondly, with precious little else to peer at as the hours creaked by, I’ve come to the conclusion that the new BMW 6-series Gran Coupe is a seriously handsome car. Gone (largely) is the big arse that has always rather blighted 6-series couture, to be replaced, frankly, by something of a big ask… To wit; isn’t calling this a coupe precisely that? Simply blacking out the B-pillars alone does not a coupe make. In truth, this is merely an exceptionally svelte four-door saloon. As yet unavailable for selection when we pitched Porsche Panamera, Jaguar XJ, Audi A7 and Mercedes CLS 3.0-litre diesels into the fray last autumn, this 640d M Sport version of the Gran Coupe has been slung across Europe, hot-foot from launch proceedings, to square up to that which, by a whisker, took the line honours last time around; the CLS 350CDI Sport. You may have a diesel-powered Gran Coupe for as, um, little as £63,900. This M Sport version costs £68,565. The extra dosh affords you the 

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Audi A3, meet your nemesis Traditionally, Audis and twisty roads haven’t mixed. Built on a box-fresh platform, the first new A3 for nine years is out to change all that

wOrds: Chris Chilton I PhOtOgrAPhY: Mark Bramley

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first drive

Audi A3

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OURCARS

More arrivals and departures this month than a Heathrow bank holiday. Lotus Evora S lands first, followed by Honda’s Civic and Kia’s Sportage, while on the other runway Audi RS3 and Infiniti M35h are cleared for departure. All this, plus Chris Chilton’s Touareg-induced beard?


GO ONLINE FOR MORE OUR CARS REPORTS

Lotus Evora S

CARMAGAZINE.CO.UK/MAG

by Ben Pulman

Ups: Fuel economy when it’s not being thrashed round Wales Downs: Everyone has a reason why they need to drive it

OR THE NEXT SIX months or so this is my Lotus Evora. I still can’t believe it – and most of the time I don’t, as the key seems to be permanently in Tim Pollard’s pocket. He’s not the only one who’s been won over. During last month’s long-termers’ gathering in Wales praise was piled on AU61 CEY for its steering and chassis: the former the best in the world according to Chris Chilton; the latter a set-up that’s sublime on British roads. There were criticisms too, predominantly of the quality of both the gearchange and the interior, but opinions varied wildly. We’ll properly address these in a future report, but I think they irk those just jumping in and out for a couple of days (Messrs ffrench-Constant and Crosse) whereas those of us who use the Evora frequently find them much less of an issue. The gearbox and cabin were finessed, along with many other changes, for 2012 cars – and both are much improved over the first Evoras off the line in 2009. Anyway, our car. My car. Instead of the £51,550 entry level Evora we’ve opted for the £60,550 S, which means a supercharger boosts the 3.5-litre V6 engine’s outputs from 276bhp and 258llb ft to 345bhp and 295lb ft. Four-tenths are trimmed from the 0-62mph time (now 4.6sec) so the Evora becomes a properly quick car (it weighs just 1437kg) and you get more than just extra power: you get the Sport Pack that’s otherwise a £1200 option. That means upgraded cross-drilled brakes, red brake calipers and an engine oil cooler, but the Sport Pack is all about the Sport button, which sharpens the throttle response, raises the rev limit and loudens the exhaust. I press it before I even start the car. At the opposite end of the options list our car has the +2 rear seats (£1900). Not sure about these, because the Pollards, Barrys and Franklins can now claim that my Evora S is feasible weekend transport for them and their families. I hope the seats prove useless. Other options boxes ticked include the Tech Pack (which for £2800 adds an upgraded hi-fi system, a 7in touch-screen sat-nav, Bluetooth and MP3 connectivity, cruise control, a tyre pressure monitoring system and rear parking sensors) and the Premium Sport Pack (£2500, and bringing heated leather buckets – ours are Ebony Black with red piping – and extra leather throughout the rest of the cabin). Powered door mirrors are £350, ditto for a reversing camera, and the lovely purpley paint (called Amethyst Grey Premium Paint in the brochure) is £1500. Finally, the extravagance: a substantial £2200 has gone on forged Gloss Black Design Wheels, which are an inch bigger front and rear (now 19s and 20s respectively) and come wrapped in grippier Pirelli P Zero Corsas rather than the standard P Zeros. All together that’s £72,150, about a grand more than a new Porsche 911 Carrera… For some, the rear-engined German will be the default choice, for others sports cars like the 911 and Evora will always be overlooked for Merc SLs and the like. Can the Evora compete? Just what is a Lotus like to live with? We’re still in the honeymoon period and no one in the CAR office has anything but praise after taking it for the night. Or the weekend. Or their two-week holiday…

F

GF WILLIAMS

Follow me on Twitter @thebenpulman

HELLO

LOGBOOK LOTUS EVORA S Price £60,550 As tested £72,150 Miles this month 914 Total miles 4535 Our mpg 21.7mpg Official mpg 28.7mpg Costs None Fuel this month £259.50

Fresh off the Hethel factory floor, our spangly Evora. Pulman says it’s his, but ‘BP 1’ plate had presumably already been taken

THE SPORT PACK IS ALL ABOUT THE SPORT BUTTON. I PRESS IT BEFORE I EVEN START THE CAR JULY 2012 I CARMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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600 July 2012 CAR magazine  

Audi RS4: Driven | The NEW Renault Alpine | Ford Focus ST: Driven | RS icons feature | McLaren F1 feature interview with Gordon Murray | Vau...

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