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F E B R UA RY

FEBRUARY 2018 £4.70 ISSUE 667

2 0 1 8 ISSUE 667 £ 4 . 7 0

2018 NEW CAR SPECIAL

8 NEWCOMERS TESTED: ALFA’S HOT STELVIO SIDEWAYS, ALPINE’S SUBLIME A110 & AUDI’S EPIC RS4

ASTON RISING!

FORD FEUD

Ford GT vs Ford GT They say it’s a racer for the road. We find out

BIG DRIVE

WWW.CARMAGAZINE.CO.UK

GIANT TEST

Hate SUVs? You’re in luck All-Terrain E-Class vs Volvo & Audi 4x4 estates

INSIDE: AUDI’S 8-MODEL RS FUTURE + THE WORLD’S BEST CAR DESIGNER


60 YEARS OF ADVENTURE AND DISCOVERY


80

FEBRUARY 2018

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INSIDER 8 Audi’s petrol and electric RS future 12 Next Porsche 911 in detail 14 Bentley and Bugatti get new bosses

Alfa’s 503bhp Stelvio Quadrifoglio

15 UK sales trends: a market in turmoil 16 Inquisition: Honda design chief Makoto Iwaki 18 BMW’s seven-year EV plan revealed 19 Watches: big style, low prices

TECH

FEATURES

56 New Aston Vantage on the road We ride in Britain’s AMG-powered, 911-ready coupe

66 DB4 GT reborn Aston Martin’s all-new 1959 replica hits the track

20 Self-driving cars with driver appeal. Really!

72

22 End of the road for head-on crashes

FIRST DRIVES

Newey’s guide to Aston’s Valkyrie

26 Alfa Stelvio QF Quicker than a Porsche Macan Turbo

F1 aero legend talks us around his dream road car

30 Alpine A110 It’s the French Cayman

80

32 Lexus LS 500h The oddball limo 35 BMW i3s The electric warm hatch is here 36 DS7 Crossback PSA’s premium crossover

Estate 4x4 Giant Test

38 Audi RS4 More than just a big-bhp estate

Merc All-Terrain vs A6 Allroad vs Volvo Cross Country

100

41 VW Polo GTI Best hot Polo ever 42 Mercedes S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet Lush

OPINION

Road and race Ford GTs

44, 46, 48 Gavin Green, Mark Walton and Sam Smith 51 CAR interactive: your letters, comments and pics

56

On the road in the all-new Aston Vantage

90 Honda’s living heritage The museum inspiring Honda’s new look

100 Ford GT road vs race And they’re even closer than you’d dare hope

110 Design Power List 2018 The talent shaping your next car

REAR END 128 Icon Buyer Feeling rich? Buy a used Ferrari F355

132 Our Cars 5-series goes, 4-series arrives

145 GBU: every car rated! Plus estates vs the stopwatch, and cheap cabrios

162 The CAR Top 10 French cars that changed the world


118

An ‘everyday supercar’ you say? 24 hours in Tokyo will be the judge of that

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FROM THE

THIS MONTH ON PLANET

EDITOR

Formula 1: fascinating in 1980, influential 38 years on Cuddly Asimo and the happy day

rode was a Honda, as was The first motorcycle editor Ben ever the best one he’s ever and ) 400 (VFR ht boug he one the first a obsession that Hond a for fuel all – bike) GP ridden (RS250 include mowers. to NSX the and Rs stretches well beyond Type was special. Hall ction Colle Needless to say, visiting Honda’s p90 Inside Honda’s Collection Hall,

CAR: Now with added James Tay

lor

ntly won Feature Writer of James Taylor is a winner. He rece Writers awards (deserved ring Moto of Guild The at the Year en word), in 2016 he was writt the for flair his recognition of uct of his flair at the wheel) prod (a pion crowned Radical SR1 cham s on CAR’s website by a view and last year his team grew page sed to hear, James joins plea be l you’l , Now . cent per 43 mighty deputy features editor. as ime full-t team rial the magazine’s edito r, p100 race GT Ford vs car Ford GT road

CHANCES ARE your pile of unread books has never looked more impressive: a Babylonian tower of sports autobiographies, ferociously ambitious cook books and novels so long and obscure they’re really only for beach holiday emergencies. If you’re lucky – really lucky – that pile includes F1 Retro: 1980 by Mark Hughes. If it does then discard all the others, make a heap of poor excuses and vanish to your nearest Starbucks for the best part of a week to devour its diligently researched, lovingly crafted genius. Because you’re worth it. The story of a single season and yet so much more than that, F1 Retro: 1980’s brilliance is that it brings the year to vivid life on so many levels: the complex technical challenges of the proto-ground effect era; the political struggle for control of the sport, and how sponsorship, television coverage and happy accident improved safety (ground effect required stiffer chassis and side pods clear of fuel tanks, which in turn made for cars less likely to kill their drivers); and the hopes, fears, grudges and stories of the men battling on track. The book costs a not inconsequential £60 but since you’re reading this you’re clearly a fan of excellence in print, so treat yourself. While the new Formula 1 season is still a couple of months off, some of the sport’s great names feature in this issue. Honda were on a break from F1 in 1980 and McLaren battling through an uncompetitive transitional phase, but their rocky recent Grand Prix collaboration – and glorious heyday – loomed large in the consciousness when we drove their NSX and 720S flagships (p118). And Red Bull? Staggeringly successful upstarts, and Aston’s secret weapon in the hypercar war (p72). Enjoy the issue.

Ben Miller Editor Meet Curtis Moldrich: the new Jam

es Taylor

– has a new online editor: Our website – carmagazine.co.uk gy site Alphr.com, where nolo tech from us joins Curtis Moldrich on the fast-changing rted repo and nel he ran the motoring chan rapidly becoming cars With world of consumer technology. is is well placed to lead our Curt els, whe on rs pute r-com supe ’s website scored nearly successful digital channels – CAR s last year. view page n 12 millio Visit carmagazine.co.uk

AROUND THE WORLD CHINA MALAYSIA

INDIA

SPAIN

WE’RE ALSO PUBLISHED IN:

ITALY

THAILAND

KOREA

TURKEY

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February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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Cars, people, scoops, motorsport, analysis: the month according to CAR

Audi RS: the future Super-TT’s five-pot to power new RS generation A 500bhp five-cylinder with electric turbocharging! A 650bhp V8! Fully electric models! Georg Kacher reveals Audi Sport’s next three years 8

CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018


FIVE-POT FURY TT Clubsport concepts have dropped massive hints that e-turbocharging and 500bhp are coming on the new five-cylinder engine. It’ll make 420bhp in base form, and pass 500 horses in top spec.

A

UDI SPORT – home of high-performance RS cars and customer racers spun off the mid-engined R8 – is under new management. Michael-Julius Renz, previously Audi China sales boss, took over the sporty subsidiary on 1 January. He’s inherited a division on a strong growth curve, but also one wrestling with how to future-proof its ballistic petrol engines, introduce electrification to RS drivetrains, and overhaul the model line-up. Quite a full in-tray then. Renz will be heartened by news that the charismatic five-cylinder engine, whose heritage goes all the way back to the first Quattro in 1980, will be reborn for another model cycle. The original engine displaced 2.1 litres, was fed by 10 valves and produced 197bhp. The latest incarnation, to start rolling out in cars this year, will more than double that power output. Codenamed EA855, the all-aluminium straight five is a 2.5-litre 20-valve unit, and the big news is an electrically driven compressor. Powered by a 48-volt electrical system, the e-compressor works at low revs to eliminate lag, with conventional turbocharging kicking in when sufficient exhaust pressure has built up.

CLUBSPORT CLUES Audi has twice wheeled out TT Clubsport concepts, packing an electric-powered turbo and 592bhp. This wild makeover rocked the 2015 Wörthersee festival, with widened ’arches and a mighty wing.

Five cylinders for RS3 and TT RS In base form, the five-cylinder will kick out around 420bhp. In phase II tune, the engine gets an enticing 7500rpm redline and produces 440bhp. And Audi’s engineers are considering an RS Plus version, potentially hitting the magic 500bhp mark. Although Audi has shown TT Clubsport concepts (left) with up to 592bhp, such awesome peak power remains off-limits for durability and emissions reasons. Final power outputs may vary a little: tightening emissions regulations will require particulate filters on new petrol engines, which may corral up to 30 horses. The five-cylinder is set to make its debut in this year’s second-gen RS Q3. It then powers the next RS3 Sportback in 2019, the RS Q4 – a new if somewhat predictable model, featuring a coupe-cum-SUV bodyshell on a Q3 chassis – the following February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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year, and ultimately the RS version of the next TT, expected in 2021. V8 power – but no hybrids yet The new A7 Sportback arrives in showrooms this year, and the A6 saloon and Avant versions will go public soon too. RS Quattro versions of all three cars will be rolled out: the RS7 has been spied winter testing (right), with tackedon wheelarches drawing attention to its wider tracks, and the trademark oval tailpipes. Power comes from an uprated version of the biturbo 4.0-litre V8 used by Porsche as well as Audi. Today’s RS6 is available in 552bhp normal and 596bhp ‘Performance’ states of tune; the stock RS6 Avant and RS7 Sportback will kick out 600bhp. An even punchier, 630bhp version of the V8 will be plumbed into Audi Sport’s RS makeover of the Q8 luxury SUV, another new model line which begins rolling out this year. And if you’re not confused enough already, Audi has signed off a seven-seat Q9 luxury SUV-coupe, which in RS guise will deploy the 650bhp of the 4.0-litre V8 used in the Lamborghini Urus. Don’t hold your breath for plug-in hybrid RS models though. Despite Porsche having coupled the same V8 to a 134bhp electric motor to create the Panamera Turbo S-E hybrid, Audi Sport has not begun to work on a high-performance V8 PHEV. Hybrid isn’t slated for the next-generation version of the 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 that motivates the new RS4 Avant (driven, p38) either. Full electric RS – with Porsche’s help Ruling out the performance hybrid option fits with the powertrain strategy mooted by previous boss Stephan Winkelmann. Last summer he told CAR: ‘I see two ways: one halfway step – hybridisation – and one full step: electric vehicles. We are still deciding if we can take both steps or if we can be better off by [keeping today’s] engines as long as possible, then going for electric vehicles. We have a lot of customer feedback which supports not to go halfway but to keep [engines] as long as possible then immediately [switch to full EV].’ As a result, Audi Sport is plotting RS versions of full electric Audis. Not an R8 e-tron: despite discussions, Audi has scotched a full EV version of its mid-engined supercar. Indeed the R8 itself is unlikely to be replaced, with retirement looming after 2020: that’s when Lamborghini’s Huracan replacement switches to a carbonfibre mono-fuselage, eliminating the economies of scale on today’s aluminium architecture. Changing times call for a new kind of flagship – with a little help from Porsche. The underpinnings of its four-door Mission E coupe will be adopted and rebodied by Audi, for Ingolstadt’s own full EV coupe – the E GT – in late 2019. Think of it as a five-seater five-door Audi Quattro recreation, with 400 or 530bhp motors

10 CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018

Oval pipes, extended ’arches, 600bhp V8: the RS7 is coming

RS plans to continue today’s engines as long as possible, then go electric and a unique Audi interior. A 660bhp output is in the works, which would be right up Audi Sport’s RS strasse. Audi and Porsche are jointly developing three versions of a new all-electric components set dubbed PPE. Insiders expect this innovative chassis to include S and RS versions of E5 (another five-door coupé, A5 Sportback-sized), E7 (four-door coupe, A7 Sportback-sized) and EQ5/6/7/8/9 (all crossovers). The power boost that’s essential for every RS comes from high-performance batteries and more potent e-motors. What about an all-electric sports car? Such a derivative would have to adopt the SAZ platform, the sports car architecture of the future, which Porsche is cooking up in Weissach for the next-butone 911. SAZ is a ‘convergence platform’ capable of full electric, hybrid and internal combustion applications, sources say. Its first jointly conceived, truly sporty battery electric vehicle could be a compact two-seater set to eventually replace both the TT and the 718 Boxster/Cayman. But would the layout be frontor mid-engined, given the divergence of today’s Audi and Porsche sports cars? Sources suggest revolutionary times for the TT: the powerplant is earmarked for just ahead Porsche’s of the rear axle to optimise handling. The beautiful Mission timing of this project is still unclear. Fans of E has caught Audi Sport’s eye: the status quo can expect one more redesign they will rebody of the conventional models, before the silent it for the 2019 E sports cars put in an appearance in 2025/26. GT with 660bhp

Toys RS WHAT’S COMING WHEN

2018 > RS Q3 bloods the new 420bhp five-pot > 600bhp RS7 packs 4.0 V8 2019 > RS3 Sportback back in its third incarnation > The big one: new RS6 Avant due > Electric GT Coupe to get RS treatment for the new decade 2020 > Audi filling those SUV gaps: Q4 coupe goes RS; RS Q8 (above) luxury SUV gets seven seats and 650bhp 2021 > Fourthgeneration TT scheduled – and set to spawn 500bhp RS super-coupe


More power and a hybrid: new 911 takes shape The 992-generation 911 will be unveiled this autumn, with major tech-led power and efficiency upgrades. By Georg Kacher

T

HE FINAL COUNTDOWN has begun: Porsche’s new 911 will go public in October. Codenamed 992, this generation heralds a significant makeover of today’s 991 model, rather than a clean-sheet design. But the upgrades still include punchier engines, a high-tech digital cockpit and a 48-volt electrical system. First out of the blocks is the Carrera S coupe, in both rearand four-wheel-drive versions. It gets a 30bhp power boost to 444bhp; the base Carreras following in spring 2019 also get 30 horses more, for a 395bhp peak.

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CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018

Power comes from a family of turbocharged flat-six engines codenamed EA9A2, with modifications to the fuel feed and combustion cycle, plus mild hybrid capability. Enabled by a new 48v electrical system, a compact battery can recuperate energy from braking and use it to feed auxiliary equipment, keep the 911 coasting along and stop/ start the engine instantly. The powertrain makeover boosts efficiency, while a particulate filter reduces the petrol engines’ NOx emissions. And in a further nod to societal issues, upcoming noise regulations require seriously detuned exhaust systems, making the unpopular ‘let’s wake up the neighbours’ mode a thing of the past. The big news is that a full hybrid 911 is coming too – but not until the 992’s mid-life refresh. ‘We are looking at a plug-in hybrid,’ says CEO Oliver Blume, who believes the market will be ready for a plug-in 911 by 2023. We expect the following generation to include a full electric 911, but not the 992. What can we expect from the 911 PHEV? It will combine the 3.0-litre six with a 70kW e-motor capable of whipping up 229lb ft of instant torque, and a battery with a claimed

PORSCHE’S 992 ROLL-OUT Carrera 2S and Carrera 4S coupe Shown October 2018. Deliveries commence February 2019 Carrera 2S and Carrera 4S cabriolet Presented January 2019. Cars arrive in dealers April 2019 Entry-level Carrera 2/4 coupe/cabrio Due April 2019, with sales starting three months later 911 Turbo coupe and Carrera GTS September 2019, and available from February 2020


’Ringing the changes Front-drive BMWs, stylish Hyundais and rapid Jaguar SUVs? We live in interesting times. By Jake Groves

10.8kWh of capacity. On aggregate, the eco-friendly 992 should be good for 485bhp and 561lb ft, sufficient for a 3.5sec 0-62mph time and 197mph flat out. While other PHEVs are aiming for a three-figure driving range, the semi-electric 911 will be tuned for fast sprints, and putting its hefty mid-range grunt down via torque vectoring. With on-demand all-wheel drive, a button-activated 20-second torque boost and lift-off coasting in eco-mode, this 911 is tipped to be fun and frugal. The zero-emission range is in excess of 40 miles. This new type of flagship doesn’t mean the end of the hero 911s. The Turbo S gets a 40hp boost to 612bhp, while the GT3 edition climbs from 493 to 542bhp. It comes at a price, however: the naturally-aspirated 4.0-litre redlined at 8250rpm makes way for a twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre flatsix. Another drivetrain tweak being lined-up is an eighth ratio for the PDK dual-clutch transmission (coded 8DT 80HL, fact fans). All 992s get a digital instrument pack (only the rev counter is still of an analogue nature), various assistance systems like an augmented-reality head-up display and fully adaptive, long-reach laser headlights as a cost option.

First 992 cabrio is more than a year away from your dealer, slightly behind the coupe

BMW 1-series: a brave new world (of understeer) Want a rear-driven small premium hatch? You’d better put in an order for the current 1-series fast, as it’ll be the last of its breed when it’s replaced by this one in 2019. Shifting to the BMW Group’s front-wheel-drive UKL1 platform enables significant packaging changes inside and out, and makes for a much more hatchback-ish profile. The hot M140i is expected to come with xDrive as standard.

Hyundai Veloster: weird gets a sequel Hyundai’s wonky coupe returns! The latest Veloster is about to be revealed, complete with its asymmetrical door set-up and rakish profile. Few tech specs are known yet, but it’ll use the same platform as the i30 hatch, meaning there could be a performance-focused Veloster N on the cards. Want one? Too bad: it’s not coming to the UK. Booo!

Jaguar F-Pace SVR: V8 SUV excess Think F-type SVR but taller. JLR has denied that any such thing is in the pipeline, but when you catch a svelte SUV blasting around the Nürburgring with a distinctive supercharged V8 crammed inside, you’re not inclined to believe them. All-wheel drive, an aluminium chassis and 550bhp+ V8 make for an appealing combo for mums and dads with a screw loose.

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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Bugatti and Bentley’s new bosses face next car conundrums Stephan Winkelmann and Adrian Hallmark plot second Bugatti and Bentley EV, reports Georg Kacher

A

WHOPPING 516 grammes – that’s the mind-boggling amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the Bugatti Chiron over a laboratory kilometre. Bentley is at the sharp end of the offenders’ scale too, with a fleet average of around 285g/km. With carbon footprints as big as an African elephant’s, greening the product range will be one of the priorities for the companies’ two newly installed leaders. They have replaced the retired Wolfgang Dürheimer, who headed both companies in his final years with the VW Group, where he’d held various senior posts since 1999. Returning to Bentley as its chairman is Adrian Hallmark, who has spent the last five years as Jaguar Land Rover’s global strategy director. And ex-Lamborghini boss Stephan Winkelmann, after a short spell as CEO of Audi Sport, becomes president of Bugatti. Hallmark, 55, was in charge of Bentley sales and marketing when Crewe successfully introduced the first Continental GT in the early noughties. Its initial £110,000 price created a new sweet spot for luxury car pricing, working alongside the car’s bullet shape and bullet performance to quadruple sales and lure a noveau type of Bentley customer. The new boss is going full circle, returning to oversee this spring’s market introduction of the Mk3 Conti. Bentley had a solid 2017, with the Bentayga SUV selling well having driven the firm to a record year in 2016. But Hallmark is not being asked to crank up volumes – rather, the emphasis should be on investing wisely in the brand’s future, a wellplaced Volkswagen source told CAR. While Dürheimer showed the EXP10 coupe and EXP12 roadster concepts, and secretly worked up a smaller, pure electric SUV (codename BY526) in a bid to trigger another model line, Bentley is now toying with another electric car – a version of Porsche’s Mission E coupe. With 500kW (660bhp) and instant electric torque, the coupe would make an authentic Bentley, once equipped with a luxurious interior and perhaps the name of Bentley boy Woolf Barnato on the rear. Over at Bugatti, Stephan Winkelmann inherits that perennial conundrum: what can Bugatti do aside from blistering hypercars? The former Lambo chief is a smart appointment: he’s adept at putting in the hours with supercar buyers, and has form in shepherding numerous ultra-low-volume Lambos into existence as well as the Urus SUV.

Bugatti is under orders to conceive a lower-priced sports car with Porsche and Lambo synergies

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Bugatti has takers for 300 of its 500 Chirons, so the time is right to explore a new, slightly less elitist direction. Bugatti did toy with an all-electric hypercar, but is under orders to conceive a lower-priced sports car demonstrating synergies with other group brands. Tentatively named Atlantic, the second Bugatti offering will likely be a two-door, 2+2-seater, spun off a shortened version of Porsche’s MSB platform and using the Panamera Turbo S-E Hybrid’s 671bhp drivetrain. The engineers could easily jump the 700bhp hurdle by turning up the V8’s boost, but the Atlantic would prioritise a 60-mile pure electric range, effortless torquey waftability and Bugatti style from a bespoke body and cockpit. Winkelmann may find himself working closely with old friends at Lamborghini – the Atlantic should underpin a new version of the four-seat Espada GT coupe too.

New boss Adrian Hallmark (left) is no stranger to Bentley; Bugatti’s Stephan Winkelmann is no stranger to supercars


Year of shocks:

The cars you bought in 2017 Registrations down, diesel slumping – and a terrible year for Vauxhall PREMIER LEAGUE Top 10 biggest car brands

POWER GAMES Diesel vs petrol vs eco Petrol registrations 1,354,917

O Vauxhall shed 55,818 registrations, as new owner PSA made it go cold turkey on lowmargin fleet and rental deals, and Corsa and Astra slumped. New SUVs to the rescue! O Mercedes overtook Audi and BMW, with aggressive sales push on A-Class and C-Class. O The fall of the French continued, with Peugeot slipping out of the top 10; in came Kia.

Alternative fuels 119,821

Ford Fiesta 94,533 -22% Volkswagen Golf 74,605 +7% Ford Focus 69,903 -1% Diesel registrations 1,065,879 O Diesel’s market share is collapsing: down 17% over the whole year. Political talk has created uncertainty, says SMMT, with the budget’s first-year diesel tax hike and negativity about air quality. O Alternative fuels, though up 35%, are still a paltry 3% of the market. Nissan Leaf the best-selling EV, Toyotas Yaris, Auris then C-HR the top three hybrids.

CARS REGISTERED IN 2017

2,540,617 DOWN 6% ON 2016, THE BIGGEST YEAR EVER. THE SMMT BLAMES ROCKY CONSUMER CONFIDENCE CAUSED BY ECONOMIC FEARS AND BREXIT

BRIT WINNERS AND LOSERS

-55%

Source: The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders

Vauxhall Astra 49,370 -19% Volkswagen Polo 47,855 -12%

Mercedes A-Class 43,717 N/A O A-Class the only new entrant, despite being in its last full sales year; Audi A3 bowed out. O Fiesta sales slide due to new model changeover; Corsa’s more concerning for PSA.

279

JAGUAR

16%

35,544 REGISTRATIONS

LAND ROVER

Mercedes C-Class 45,912 +4%

THE SUV’S IRRESISTIBLE RISE Market share up

LOTUS

-10%

Jeep Brand boss Mike

Manley is British. He’ll demand new mid-size Compass turns the tide.

-1%

1753

+7%

BENTLEY

particular continues to drive Porsche growth.

MINI

Porsche Macan in

4% 2%

68,166

+2%

82,653 REGISTRATIONS

ASTON MARTIN

1471 REGISTRATIONS

Alfa Romeo No growth spurt yet – Stelvio SUV now in dealers and must be a gamechanger.

+19%

Year-on-year percentage change

THE OVERSEAS NOTABLES outpost making headway with SUVs and new Ibiza.

Vauxhall Corsa 52,772 -32%

Mini 47,669 -1%

62%

SEAT VW’s Spanish

Nissan Qashqai 64,216 +2%

18%

1 Ford 287,396 2 VW 208,462 3 Vauxhall 195,137 4 Mercedes 180,970 5 BMW 175,101 6 Audi 174,982 7 Nissan 151,156 8 Toyota 101,985 9 Hyundai 93,403 10 Kia 93,222

UK’S BESTSELLING MODELS

-18% O McLaren Automotive registered 567 UK cars – more than twice as many as Lotus, at higher prices. Over to you, Hethel...

2016

2017

O SUVs/crossovers totalled almost a fifth of the market. That’s 460,412 registrations in total, 22,481 more than in ’16. Nissan Qashqai (above) the sole SUV in top 10. February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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The CAR Inquisition: Makoto Iwaki

‘A new chapter deserves a new look’ It’s been a long time since anyone bought a Honda for its looks, but that could soon change thanks to the buzz generated by new design chief Makoto Iwaki and his electric concepts

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and feel of all Honda cars since April 2016, Iwaki now has the mandate to decide where Honda’s car design goes next. Honda’s 2017 Urban EV concept – revealed at the Frankfurt show in September – was a line in the sand. The cleanly surfaced but smartly proportioned small hatchback exterior was clearly inspired by ’70s classics like the first-generation Honda Civic and VW Golf, but features plenty of modern attributes too, from its minimalist LED headlamps and digital display framed by a clean black lozenge-shaped surround, to its simple grey wool-upholstered interior bench seating with caramel brown seatbelts and wood veneer shell backs. Was Iwaki worried the concepts would be dismissed as lazy nostalgia? ‘Honestly, we don’t see them as retro,’ he deadpans, ‘but they are friendly faces.’

ILLUSTRATION: SENOR SALME

Y

OU DON’T NEED MUCH of an interest in car design to realise that Honda’s recent production output has fallen some way short of brilliance. Rather, the cars are often overblown, sometimes bland, and with no unifying vision. But recently installed car design chief Makoto Iwaki is bringing big changes – and soon – as he told us at the Tokyo motor show, where he unveiled his latest concept, the delightfully simple and curvy Sports EV. Now 49, Iwaki joined Honda in 1991, and has been involved in some of the more functionally and aesthetically good stuff produced in that time by the traditionally engineering-led company. He was exterior design project leader on the first-generation Jazz supermini and the 2007 CR-Z concept, which led to the quirky 2010 hybrid production version. In charge of the look


CAR’S CURVEBALLS 6 questions only we would ask

Connect 4

Tell us about your first car... ‘It was a VW Beetle Type 1, the original one, but of course secondhand to me.’ What achievement makes you most proud? ‘Being exterior design project leader of the Honda Fit Mk1 [the Jazz in the UK].’

MINIS

With its 60th birthday on the horizon, the Mini miraculously clings onto its essential magic Cabin of Urban EV concept is less retro than exterior (left) but every bit as simple

Only six weeks later the Urban EV joined the svelte new Sports EV on the Tokyo show stand as the dynamic duo of Honda’s future design intent. Cries of ‘Just build them!’ rang out from all corners of the internet. The good news is that the Urban EV Tell us about a time when you screwed up… sits on a newly developed dedicated EV ‘I thought the HR-V Mk1 was such platform that will be relatively easy to a cool car and was going to be a adapt for the production version; it’s smash hit, but it didn’t turn out that way. Price, utility and a few other set to go on sale in Europe from 2020 things weren’t right, but I thought and Japan afterwards. Less is known of as long as it was cool, people the Sports EV. It wasn’t shown with an would buy it. It sold, but not well enough.’ interior – and was a quicker six-month project compared to the 12 months Supercar or classic? dedicated to the Urban EV – but ‘Classic. I own a Honda S800. I Honda speaks of combining electric bought it three years ago, not for a jaw-dropping price.’ performance, artificial intelligence, a compact body and the joy of driving. Company curveball… Iwaki continues: ‘We think the era What was Honda’s first production four-wheeler? of battery-electric vehicles is about ‘It was the T360 pick-up truck – the to start, and a new chapter compared S500 was the first Honda car.’ to the internal combustion engine deserves a new look.’ So what now for Honda’s largely humdrum current line-up? Will they get a bit of this new fairy dust sprinkled on them too? And does he accept that the design of Honda’s mainstream production cars tends to be too fussy and busy? Iwaki says the move in this simpler direction began within Honda several years ago, and he insists this thinking helped give the current Accord (not sold in the UK) its relatively clean lines. But he adds: ‘It is certainly obvious for us to easily proceed in this direction more than ever, after receiving this feedback on these concept cars.’ For many years a Honda mantra has been ‘Man maximum, machine minimum’ – encouraging designs that prioritise space for occupants. While this has resulted in some brilliant interior packages, they have sometimes been at the expense of exterior proportions and aesthetics. Could – should – that philosophy be downgraded? Iwaki says: ‘Man maximum/machine minimum has been a fundamental philosophy of Honda design since its start; therefore, this concept will continue to be in our mind forever. Of course, generally speaking, it is true that narrowing an interior space allows us to easily come up with a beautiful exterior design, but Honda has always managed to keep both a spacious and refreshing interior space and a beautiful exterior.’ Well, maybe. But given the excellence of his two 2017 concepts, Iwaki looks ready to deliver a much more appealing new version of that old philosophy. GUY BIRD

The new one Mini F55/F56 facelift (2018-)

What’s the best thing you’ve done in a car? ‘Once I got my licence, my first experience driving at 18 or 19 years old in my Beetle… it meant I could go anywhere.’

Mini has facelifted its range for 2018, but we wouldn’t blame you for not being able to tell the difference on this three-door hatch. Very little has changed to look at, save for some new Union Jack rear lights – unique to the UK – and a new seven-speed dual-clutch auto ‘box. New options include 3D-printed and laser-engraved dash inserts.

The new old one Mini Remastered by David Brown (2017-) Don’t fancy the latest one and have a load of cash stuffed in your mattress? For around £80k, David Brown Automotive will hand-build you a modernised original to your own specification. The looks of the original remain but there’s a punchier 1.3-litre engine under the bonnet, plus fine leather and a touchscreen infotainment system.

The racing one Mini Challenge (2002-) Since 2002, Mini has put on a race series spanning several UK circuits. The JCW-spec race car has 2.0-litre turbo with 255bhp, a six-speed Quaife sequential ’box and limited-slip diff. The CAR duo of His Racing Highness James Taylor and tyre destroyer Ben Barry are among the esteemed elite who have been invited to join for a spin in the JCW class.

The original one The Mini (1959-2000) BMW sometimes strays a fair distance from the simple, compact original, but there are always enough echoes in the details and proportions to maintain the connection. It’s one of the biggest selling British cars of all time, and today there’s still a huge active following for the Alec Issigonis original.

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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iX marks the spot BMW has patented iX1 to iX9. Georg Kacher reveals where those badges will be stuck

X3 line-up will gain an electric version in 2020; i Vision Dynamics (above) will become the i4 and its face will influence all i cars

iX3 coming 2020 The first of the new iX range is not the most exciting – it’s an electric version of the new X3 (above), with a different front end inspired by the i Vision Dynamics concept and no tailpipes. X may mark the spot, but there’s no all-wheel drive: a front-mounted 300bhp e-motor drives the rear wheels. With a 70kWh lithium-ion battery, expect 160 miles of range – and global sales.

iNext 2021 Currently codenamed iNext, this 2021 full EV will be BMW’s autonomous spearhead. Okay, it comes with pedals and steering, but seeing via 30 sensors and high-speed data transfer should allow hands off/eyes off/brain off operation by 2025. The iNext is allegedly a dead ringer for the Jaguar i-Pace: could its production badge be iX6?

rear-wheel steering and semi-active air suspension. Marketing sources talk of three EV performance stages: standard, sport and supersport.

i3 2022 The i3 is not a replacement for today’s urban EV of the same name, but a Tesla Model 3 fighter based on the next 3-series. BMW Group chassis have been reengineered to accommodate combustion, hybrid and EV drivetrains, with this i3 on the CLAR WE architecture. For EV models, batteries occupy the transmission tunnel, under the rear seat and the fuel tank area.

iX1 2022-2023

New i3s shows BMW knows how to make electric cars fun to drive. Its replacement is tipped to wear the iX1 badge

If the next i3 is a saloon, the i3 as we know it today will become the iX1. It’s a five-door crossover resembling today’s eye-catching design, but the costly carbonfibre body/ aluminium running gear makes way for steel and the next 1-series’ front-drive FAAR WE architecture. Expect two models, the entry-level iX1e and the spry iX1s.

Electric X1 2022 This is an electrified and stretched version of the next X1, which could be exclusively for China where the government wants to rapidly phase out internal combustion engines. Logically the car should be called iX1, but the i3 replacement has bagged that – unless BMW decides to call that i1.

i4 2021

i5 2023

The production version of BMW’s Frankfurt concept (top), i4 is a redesigned 4-series Gran Coupe based on the rear-drive CLAR WE architecture. Expect two motors (130bhp up front, 210bhp rear), all-wheel drive, torque vectoring, probably even

i5 is a true crossover, blending coupe, estate and saloon elements and sized between X3 and X5. A roofline some 150mm higher than an i4’s creates ample room for occupants and batteries. Expect battery packs in four capacities from circa 60 to 130kWh.

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iX5 2024 This is no all-wheel-drive version of the i5, but the clean-air edition of the fifth-gen X5 due in 2024. The high-roof SUV can be had with two or three e-motors and with different battery configurations.

iX5 LWB 2023 Another China-only project, the longwheelbase i5 offers three rows of seats, a popular option in the world’s biggest car market. This e-model may also be put together in Spartanburg for North America.

i7 2022-2023 Today’s 7-series doesn’t even have a 48-volt electric system, so a luxury e-limousine will have to wait for its replacement around 2023. i7 can reportedly mix and match five different e-motors good for 210 to 420bhp.

i8 replacement 2024-2025 Today’s hybrid i8 (below) bows out in 2022, but BMW is still to finalise its replacement. One plan is to reskin the current chassis with punchier batteries and motors, and upgrade the engine from three to four cylinders. The alternative is varying degrees of chassis revisions, from new front and rear sections to replacing the i8’s carbonfibre core with a mix of metals. There’s talk of a new ‘brandshaper’ flagship, using a six- or even eightcylinder engine mated with electric grunt, for an 800bhp combined output and up to 70 miles of pure EV range.


W AT C H E S

Cheap(ish) and cheerful Not precious, not pricey, but they look good and tell the time in interesting ways SO IF WATCH SANTA didn’t bring you a Patek Philippe and you now have to buy your own new watch on a post-Christmas austerity budget, here are three suggestions which offer original design at prices that won’t force you to pawn them before your next pay day. BEN OLIVER @thebenoliver

If you’re not brave enough to have one of Brighton tattoo artist Adrian Willard’s designs inked into your wrist, you can now wrap one around it. British watch start-up Mr Jones designs in London and makes in China (no bad thing), allowing it to offer fresh designs and good quality (the case is the same 316L stainless steel as Rolex uses) at surprising prices. This dial is inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead and displays the time on the skull’s teeth, which are actually rings rotating under the dial. A larger version is available for £345, and less ghoulish Mr Jones designs can also be had. mrjoneswatches.com

We hear Juicy gossip from the CAR grapevine VW ENGINEERS have been scratching their collective heads about how to replace the Up city car (right): recycle today’s chassis and add two sexier body styles, or switch the family to MQB to benefit from that architecture’s plentiful economies. But VW brand chief Herbert Diess has a new plan: make the next Up range solely electric.

A ground-breaking Swissdesigned and -made watch for about £333? It is possible. The hand of a Klokers watch doesn’t move, but the dials do, with three concentric rotating rings telling the hour, minutes and seconds, read off against the single, fixed hand at what used to be 12 o’clock. It’s easy to read and looks great. The strap arrangement is equally novel, with a clip system allowing you to swap straps instantly, or clip your Klok to a desk stand or a lanyard. This was a Kickstarter project: it’s now in production so you don’t have to wait for it to be funded, but you can back the new, retro Klok-08 on Indiegogo. klokers.com

MHD AGT Automatic £550

Mr Jones The Last Laugh £195

True, there already exists a zero-emission e-Up – but it costs £25,280! To create a Smart and Mini challenger, Diess plans to modify the existing e-Up with battery tech developed for the MEB electric platform. Variants would include a short, threedoor city car, a five-door hatch and an ‘urban warrior’ with big wheels and cladding. Also in the works are a zeroemission delivery van and a commuter bus, like the 2007

Klokers Klok-01 €379

Every new collaboration between a watch maker and a car maker comes with a press release explaining, often unconvincingly, how the design of the watch was inspired by that of the car. But in this case, British designer Matthew Humphries created both the Alcraft GT and the watch to go with it. For the money – £550 – the watch is sensational, with a beautiful, original, four-piece stainless-steel case and a good-quality Japanese selfwinding movement. The Alcraft electric car is being crowd-funded, so this watch might have the added distinction of having been inspired by a car which never actually made production. matthewhumphriesdesignwatches.com

Space Up concept. E-motors generating up to 105bhp will spin the front wheels via a single-speed EQ transmission. Range could vary from 180 to 300 miles. And the target price? Well below £20,000. Over at BMW, despite M Division boss Frank van Meel allegedly spending much of his summer in Woking, the proposed McLaren-BMW supercar is back on ice. The rebodied 720S with bespoke BMW cylinder heads is ‘a great piece of kit, but the wrong car for these fast-moving times’ says a source. Sounds like the next,

all-electric i8 will go ahead instead. Talking of supercars, Lexus has just kicked off a replacement for the L-FA (below) – but BMW isn’t a partner, unlike with this year’s new Toyota Supra. Here’s a more outlandish

partnership: BMW and Mercedes. Incredibly the German big guns have discussed fusing their R&D efforts on two new, fully flexible architectures, one for

small to mid-size cars, one for larger cars and SUVs. Preliminary calculations suggest savings over time of £6.5bn to £9bn per partner. Says a source: ‘The money to invest in BEVs and digitalisation must be earned by conventional products. By teaming up with another OEM, this immense outlay could be split.’ Makes sense – but apparently BMW has called off talks, after Daimler filed a self-indictment to avoid penalty in the German parts price-fixing cartel investigation.

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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The innovations transforming our driving world

Inside the 2030 Audi Premium cars sell on dynamics and performance, but how will they compete in the autonomous future? With a premium on-board experience, says Nick Gibbs

1

ROBO FLIGHT ATTENDANTS Premium makers like BMW want to bring us business class on wheels. Flight attendants could be partially physical, serving drivers with fresh coffee via a robot arm. Audi’s version is virtual: accessing your phone to understand you better and tailor suggestions, such as where best to eat en route.

2

VIRTUAL REALITY GAMING BMW’s premium content plan includes VR games that incorporate the movement of the car and the view ahead. Blast robotaxis, decorate carriageways, weaponise bicycles or switch to Venice water-taxi mode. BMW is working on ways to cure that queasiness associated with virtual reality (and car travel as a whole for some poor souls).

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P

3

THE WHEEL COMES OFF Jaguar’s Future-Type concept shows a future where the steering wheel becomes integral to your life. It detaches from the car to operate like an Amazon Echo, responding to voice commands to play music or order shopping. And if you’re going somewhere, plug it into compatible hire cars to drive fun stretches of road.

EOPLE WHO LOVE driving may well feel despondent about the post-2030 landscape, when cars should be able to drive themselves. That brave new world creates an existential crisis for the likes of BMW, Jaguar and Audi, too: the performance and dynamic ethos that built those brands will recede when Level 5 autonomy means owners won’t have to turn the steering or feel throttle response. ‘You could paint a very bleak future where cars all become like little white fridges or portable toilets,’ says Jaguar’s head of advanced design, Julian Thomson. But he insists: ‘This is NOT what we’re about!’ Firstly, the premium brands are refusing to give up on the notion that humans will want to drive themselves. ‘There will definitely be a steering wheel in future BMWs, for when you want sheer driving pleasure,’ says BMW marketing chief Ian Robertson. ‘That’s fundamental to our thinking.’ Jaguar Advanced Design has created an autonomous concept called Future-Type, whose centrepiece is its removable steering wheel. Away from a car it’s an internet-connected, voice-controlled assistant like Amazon’s Alexa, but get into your Jag – or an app-hailed autonomous car – 4 and plug it in to drive. You might think trackdays will be the last ODEON WITH AN ENGINE bastion for die-hard drivers, but VW sees a The autonomous dream: use for autonomy there too. The group has lounging in the world’s comfiest promised to produce an autonomous seats to watch the latest cinema sports car: its tech already exists in a Golf. release before snoozing to your destination. Audi reckons the whole This car has a race-trainer function which windscreen could be used to play drives the ‘perfect line’ on a track, accordmovies. Autonomous driving is ing to Ulrich Eichhorn, VW Group’s resmooth enough and smart enough to remove the search head. Sighting lap over, the drivers need for seatbelts. then follow the autonomous ‘ghost’ car on a head-up display until they improve. ‘I usually manage to be quicker but not always!’ Eichhorn says. Most of the time autonomous cars will be self-commuting and for that the premiums are betting we’ll pay for superior comfort and service. Think airline business-class, proffers Markus Seidel, BMW’s head of advanced research. ‘The airplane takes off, then a flight attendant comes round. This is going to happen in a car also,’ he argues. This being the future, that attendant is part virtual but also part physical: an in-built coffee maker might offer a cup via a robot arm, rather than manufacturers plumb in a Nespresso machine. Autonomous cars could be a huge money spinner for car makers, but Seidel doesn’t believe car occupants will mass-migrate to manufacturer-proffered services via the touchscreen: ‘It will be very hard to get people off their phones,’ he reckons. BMW is, however, researching how to offer virtual reality games that incorporate the movement of the car, providing it can stop us feeling queasy. Audi is also focusing on the flight-attendant idea by promising a virtual assistant, PIA, who’ll interrogate your phone and offer to book restaurants based on your likes and journey plan. PIA was installed in the Aicon concept, a longrange autonomous electric car. This was essentially a sleek van totally focused on the comfort of two passengers in their separate, swivelling, reclining chairs. Should they tire of the view through the panoramic windscreen, they can switch it to cinema mode – or darken the glass for a snooze. Who wouldn’t fancy 40 winks or watching Star Wars Episode 14 during a traffic jam? If this premium vision comes true, the age of autonomy will offer something for even the most entrenched pessimist.

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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Does it work? The car that won’t let you go the wrong way DID IT WORK? The system is still being

A

developed, but on the Wrong-Way Inhibit reacts as soon as there is an indiT FIRST GLANCE it appears to be one of those evidence of a brief drive cation that the driver is about to enter a road in the wrong ‘I’d never be that stupid’ driving errors: trying at a test facility the direction. For example, if the driver heads for a motorway to turn into a one-street against the flow of answer’s a cautious ‘yes’. entry instead of an exit road, the system first warns with traffic or, even more disastrously, heading onto a When I took a wrong an acoustic signal, seatbelt vibration and an optical motorway via the exit ramp. turning, it stopped at signal on the dashboard. A significantly higher steering Yet, according to a US study covering 2004 to 2009, the side of the road, wheel resistance reinforces the message that the driver is an average of 360 people a year were victims of wrongheadlights on full and about to make a wrong turn. If the driver pays no heed, way driving on US highways. In Germany the number hazards flashing at the (imaginary) oncoming the system can steer the car to the edge of the lane, brake of fatalities in 2016 was 12 – with 2200 radio traffic traffic. That’s the job initially to walking speed and then stop. Furthermore, announcements of wrong-way incidents. it’s meant to do. It’s the headlights and the hazard warning lights can be The boffins at ZF have a solution. ‘With Wrong-Way alarming, but preferable activated to alert oncoming traffic. Inhibit we want to help put an end to tragic accidents to the alternative. IAN ADCOCK caused by wrong-way driving,’ says Dr Harald Naunheimer, head of research and development. The German engineering company showed off the technology in its Vision Keep your eyes on the road Zero demonstrator, a VW Touran alerts the driver with ZF’s Vision Zero test equipped with a suite of sensors and techan optical warning, an car is also fitted nologies all designed to make roads safer acoustic signal and with anti-distraction for motorists as well as pedestrians. tightening the seatbelt. tech that involves a Simultaneously, the laser-based interior How does the car know? The Vision Zero system is capable of camera with learning vehicle uses multiple approaches to detect taking over steering capability. The camera dangerous decisions: highly accurate maps and staying on track monitors the position that are constantly updated via the cloud; in bends. If the driver of the driver’s head traffic sign and road marking recognition; still fails to respond, in 3D, even in poor a front tri-camera system; and long- and the system can steadily lighting. As soon as the short-range radar. Vital to Wrong-Way reduce power and, driver looks away from Inhibit is the accuracy of the mapping and finally, if the driver the road, the system GPS location system, which knows where continues to ignore all notices – and if it the car is to within half an inch, as well as warnings, it can bring calculates that there’s the car to a halt. some danger then it real-time traffic and weather data.

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5 things we learned riding in Jaguar’s i-Pace The all-electric i-Pace goes on sale in March. We ride in a preproduction prototype and get even more excited. By Ben Miller

1

4sec 0-60mph? At least

Tesla has normalised the idea of seriously quick EVs, a product not of a deliberate quest for speed but of batteries with good range: by happy accident, they also make for scorching acceleration. Jaguar’s claiming 4sec to 60mph but if anything this top-spec, dual-motor prototype i-Pace feels faster: when the pedal goes to floor there’s no pause and no hesitation, just whine and squash-you-intoyour-seat thrust.

2

The package is clever

3

It feels like a Jaguar

i-Pace uses permanent-magnet motors – they’re 20-30% more expensive than induction motors but boast greater power density, as befits a performance Jaguar. What’s more, where many EV rivals use a reduction gearset, Jaguar’s concentric motors sit on the same axis as the driveshafts, saving space that can then be gifted to the spacious cabin. Tuning of the gears has optimised whine; enough for a sense of speed without being intrusive.

4

It’s a slick performer

Jaguar has conducted much of the development work required of its first production EV in-house, to build expertise, to speed up the rate at which updates and refinements can be implemented and to give its engineers control over every aspect of the user experience. In the standard drive mode the level of regenerative braking is relatively modest – deliberately, to make the i-Pace feel normal to EV first-timers. ‘It’s comparable to backing off in third gear,’ explains Simon Patel, the man heading up Jaguar’s EV powertrain team. ‘Customers new to EVs won’t need to acclimatise. Then we have a B mode to give you that one-pedal EV driving style.’ Drive is split 50:50 front/rear but can be shunted one way or the other as required – a handy dynamics tool when combined with i-Pace’s torque vectoring by brake.

Jaguar’s EV powertrain guru Simon Patel, about to drop the hammer

What does that mean? Well, it means that when you twirl the wheel and take a turn at the eleventh hour the i-Pace doesn’t break into a cold sweat. Thank an ultra-rigid structure – far stiffer than any previous Jaguar – and a centre of gravity 100mm lower than that of the F-Pace.

5

It’s quiet and refined

For NVH engineers EVs are both a blessing and a curse. The absence of a noisy piston engine is a godsend… except that it means every other squeak and rattle in the car becomes painfully audible. ‘Because the car’s so quiet inside, we’ve had to do a lot of work on noise reduction elsewhere,’ explains Patel. Compared with some premium production EVs, which can get squeaky under duress, the i-Pace feels solid and likeably refined. Much of the blissful isolation stems from the motors: they sit in two cradles, one within the other, meaning they’re double-isolated. The i-Pace even rides pretty well on the enormous rims so crucial to its Ian Callum-penned good looks.

i-Pace pricing is still unconfirmed but expect a minimum entry fee of £60k, rising to £85k for the dual-motor flagship

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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TOM BLACKIE

The next big things Human-friendly in-car tech Connectivity expert Tom Blackie on how car makers and IT geeks need to learn from each other

> THE TWO industries, automotive and IT, are chalk and cheese. There’s a new phone every few months, and they have a life cycle of about two years. In the car world, they spend two years thinking about a bit of tech, two years testing, then they decide to put it in, and they want it to stay in the car for years unchanged. > IF SOMETHING crashes on a PC or mobile phone, it’s a nuisance but ‘good enough’ often passes. But in the automotive world, if you had to re-set your car twice a week there’d be an uproar. And post-Dieselgate, everyone is more aware of software and the difference a few lines of code can make. > SMALL CARS often won’t have a sat-nav fitted as standard. It’ll be on the options list but not many will tick that box because it might cost £2000 as part of a package. The device in your pocket has good maps and is up to date, whereas very few people update their car sat-nav. > OUR TECH [RealVNC’s MirrorLink] takes away the pain and the cost. If you don’t want to pay £2000 for a sat-nav that will soon be out of date, you might be happier to fit a box for £200-£300 that can potentially get any app from your phone into the car.

The compact SUV. Standard EU Test figures for comparative purposes and may not reflect real driving results. Official

fuel consumption figures for the T-Roc in mpg (litres/100km): urban 33.2 (8.5) – 46.3


> LOADS OF APPS are safe for driving, and a lot more are safe when the car is stationary, and some are safe in simplified form if they can be voice operated. All of our tech has been written with driver distraction in mind. > THIS CONCEPTUALLY simple in-car unit is an incredibly secure piece of software to put in your car. [The apps run on the phone, not in the car, but you see them on the car’s dashboard and hear the audio via the car’s speakers.] When the app is updated on your phone, the unit in the car can still handle it. The in-car unit doesn’t need updating. > WHAT ALWAYS happens eventually [when complex software is built into a car] is that the hardware runs out of memory or compatibility. > MIRRORLINK doesn’t run apps on the dashboard so doesn’t expose the car to that risk. The unit in your dashboard can be made incredibly robust and future-proof. > WHEN AUTONOMOUS driving becomes legal and acceptable there are going to be so many applications on so many screens in cars. And in taxis, buses and trains, you’ll be able to use their [bigger, built-in] screen for your movies or work. Wherever there is a screen we will be able to connect a person’s device to it. > IT WORKS the other way around too: you’ll be able to adjust the air-con from the phone while you’re in the back seat, for instance. A link with the cloud can get you access to help and information – for instance, if you’re driving a hire car in an unfamiliar place, it can remotely show you how to work the sat-nav. INTERVIEW BY COLIN OVERLAND

MirrorLink applies to cars the same thinking that lets an IT geek remotely access your computer and fix it

FRESH THINKING Who needs the Highway Code? Everybody – but too few of us read it When did you last read it? It tends to get read in a pre-test panic and then discarded along with your L-plates. And many road users have never read it, because they think it’s only for car drivers. The Centre for London think tank sums up the problem with the Code, first published in 1931 (right): ‘While it has been updated numerous times, it has not kept pace with the rapid change in London. And knowledge of the Highway Code is limited, with fewer young people driving and many professional drivers coming from other nations, all with subtle differences in their national highway rules.’ And their solution? In Street Smarts (find it at centreforlondon.org), which is full of ideas for improving an overloaded city in which the Congestion Charge has stopped working and cycle use has skyrocketed, they suggest a London Movement

Code, modelled on the Code de la Rue found in France and Belgium, which emphasises the duty of care from one road user to another. It would ‘set down clear principles and rules for all street users, including those who currently do not require formal training, and encourage greater civility in the interaction between different street user groups.’

(6.1); extra urban 48.7 (5.8) – 62.8 (4.5); combined 41.5 (6.8) – 55.4 (5.1). Combined CO2 emissions 117–155g/km. Information correct at time of print.


Starring Alfa Stelvio Quadrifoglio, Alpine A110, BMW i3s, DS7 Crossback, Merc S-Class Coupe, Audi RS4 & more…

QF delivers on the promise of previous, less powerful Stelvios, but also shares their shortcomings

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ALFA ROMEO STELVIO QUADRIFOGLIO

The Alfa that thinks it’s a Lamborghini An Urus, to be specific. The 503bhp Stelvio QF corners like a sports car (almost), outpaces the Porsche Macan Turbo and moves the needle for SUV driving dynamics into the red. By Chris Chilton

UP AGAIN ST BETTER THAN Mercedes-AMG GLC63

Benz handsome but heavier, less fun WORSE THAN Porsche Macan Turbo PP

Less performance, more polish WE’D BUY Porsche Macan Turbo PP

So desirable, so complete

F

ORGET HUNTIN’, shootin’ and fishin’, the only ‘sport’ that matters in this utility vehicle is scalping icons at the traffic lights. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio reaches 62mph in 3.8sec, meaning the list of cars that can outsprint it is shorter than a slain M3 driver’s fuse – and doesn’t include the one car Alfa has in its crosshairs: the Porsche Macan Turbo. Expect Amnesty International to put out an appeal on Stuttgart’s behalf any day now, because even equipped with the optional 40bhp Performance Pack, the Macan Turbo makes just 434bhp and requires 4.4sec. Without it, it’s way back there on 4.8sec. Ah, remember when that was quick? It still is, of course, in absolute terms, but nowhere in marketing and pub bragging ones. Among SUVs only the unhinged Challenger Hellcat-engined Jeep Trackhawk (3.7sec), and Lamborghini’s new Urus (3.6sec) are quicker. And of those, only the Lambo has a hope of besting the Alfa’s 7min 51.7sec Nürburgring record for SUVs. The Stelvio’s kind of physics-cheating performance requires huge amounts of energy, and energy requires fuel. Lots of it. So it might seem appropriate that we’re driving the Stelvio in the Middle East, a region whose wealth was kickstarted by the realisation that its inhabitants were sleeping over a crude-oil swimming pool. But the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is actually the most economical car in its class according to official figures that put the combined mpg figure at 31.4mpg, something that can be attributed to a class-leading kerbweight and the ability to shut down three of its six cylinders. The lightweight platform and V6 engine are shared with the Stelvio’s saloon sister, the fourdoor Giulia Quadrifoglio, but there are some important changes in the conversion to SUV. First, the Stelvio comes only with a ZF eightspeed auto, and doesn’t get the Giulia QF option (available outside the UK) of substituting that for a not-very-good-anyway six-speed manual alternative. And second, that ZF transmission has sprouted a front diff and extra pair of driveshafts to spread the engine’s power across all four wheels rather than just the rear pair. That extra transmission hardware, together with the additional sheet metal (the wheelbases are almost identical but the Stelvio is slightly longer, wider and significantly taller) adds a hefty 306kg to the kerbweight, though by class standards it’s a proper twig. The hottest Macan is around 100kg tubbier again. Bonnet vents, colour-coded rather than black, wheelarch trims and chunky quad tailpipes help distinguish the QF from its slower Stelvio brothers. It looks purposeful, but relatively subtle given the performance. And too high.

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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Interior looks fine but some of the controls feel cheap and the tech is one step behind rivals’

The aftermarket suspension industry is certain to sort the awkward tyre-to-wheelarch gap in short order. Peer closely at those tyres and you’ll uncover a couple of interesting clues to the Giulia’s character. One is that it wears ordinary Pirelli P Zero tyres rather than the stickier P Zero Corsas fitted to the Giulia QF. And the other is that unlike most SUVs, the rear rubber is substantially wider than the front. That’s because in normal driving the Stelvio operates as an essentially rear-wheel-drive car. As the limit of grip nears, the transmission diverts torque to the front axle, but only ever a maximum of 50 per cent. You’ve got torque vectoring on the rear axle done the proper way, not just by braking an inside wheel, but with a pair of clutches in the rear diff to apportion the torque left and right and help rotate the car. Jumping into the cabin you get a sense before you’ve even thumbed the steering-wheel starter button (red for QF cars, rather than black for cooking models) that Alfa has really made that kerbweight advantage and rear-biased torque split count. The standard sports seats feature huge bolsters anyway, but if you’re prepared to sacrifice their comfort for even more restraint, you can swap them for the gorgeous carbonbacked buckets available in the Giulia. The V6 doesn’t sound especially supercar-

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio > Price £75,000 (est) > Engine 2891cc 24v twin-turbo V6, 503bhp @ 6500rpm, 443lb ft @ 2500rpm > Transmission 8-speed auto, all-wheel drive > Performance 3.8sec 0-62mph, 176mph, 31.4mpg, 210g/km CO2 > Weight 1830kg > On sale Spring

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like at start-up or low revs and Alfa’s annoying electronically assisted brakes still feel inconsistent underfoot. But the absolute stopping power is excellent, especially with our car’s optional carbon ceramic brakes (prices have yet to be confirmed, but expect them to cost a lot). Carbon brakes on an SUV? Sounds like pure vanity until you dip your toe deep into the right pedal’s arc for the first time. There’s a little lag and a big kick coming out the other side of it as the rev needle makes for 7000rpm, the segmented white lines on the road start to coagulate and the induction and exhaust systems suddenly find their voice. The ZF auto never feels as sharp as Porsche’s PDK twin-clutch in the Macan, but it has the refinement sewn up at low speed. With the Alfa’s DNA selector in the Race Mode reserved for QF cars, the next ratio kicks home with a thunk to amplify the sense of excitement. It’s a little overdone, and in any case the Stelvio doesn’t need any assistance on the excitement front. Flick the wheel into your first fast corner and your shock at the steering’s

Supportive standard sports seats have a bit of carbonfibre; optional buckets have a lot more

speed is quickly replaced by respect – and relief – that the QF has the body control to pull it off. For a tall and still relatively heavy car, the lack of roll is seriously impressive. So is the steering precision. You need to recalibrate your brain not to make allowances for the squidge and vagueness you might expect from even a good SUV. In the Stelvio you pick your apex, lock the nose on and use the fourwheel-drive traction to slingshot you to the next vector change. And despite the hyper-quick responses, there’s an easy, entirely natural feel to way the Alfa demolishes a road. Having said that, it’s not quite as much fun – and never feels as truly rear-wheel drive – as the lighter Giulia equivalent. The Stelvio’s not as steerable with the right foot, either on lift-off in an attempt to tuck the nose in and kill the understeer you’ll encounter when really pushing hard or by trying to shove the pedal through the bulkhead. Only when you’ve pushed through some front slip will the rear end start to move to the point where you might need to apply some corrective


Torque split is rear-biased but Alfa could have gone further still

control wheel and the media lock, and it all feels a bit snatchy. system it connects to. There’s no Given that this car is never going LOVE Supercar-like head-up display option, no virtual near a farm track I think Alfa could acceleration instruments, no air suspension. have been even more aggressive All of which you might be with the rear-biasing, or allowed it HATE Supermini-like persuaded to overlook at the to revert to fully rear-wheel-drive in cabin quality bottom end of the Stelvio range. Race mode, as the BMW M5 does. But at more like £70,000-£75,000 Now that really would have brought VERDICT Super-Sports Utility there’s not much more slack to something new – if ultimately Vehicle cut. And that price is a hopeful irrelevant for most – to the class. ++++ + guestimate based on what Porsche Where the Stelvio falls down has is asking for a Macan Turbo PP almost nothing to do with its rearand Stelvio pricing that is more drive-ness, or the QF components at all, but the failings inherent in all Stelvios. competitive in the UK than it is in Europe. In The interior looks pretty smart, and those shift Germany the Stelvio QF has a confirmed price paddles are as good and tactile as anything of €90,000, which corresponds to £80,000… On the other hand the QF does have practical you’ll find in a supercar, but a closer look reveals the QF is a step behind the competition in terms appeal. It’s strong on interior space and luggage room, and is cleaner and more economical than of quality and technology. The console-mounted gear selector looks the competition. At the same time it offers a like a BMW’s but the minute you touch it you tangibly different take on the Quadrifoglio can’t help but think Alfa’s team copied it from experience to ensure it puts distance between a photograph without ever having laid a finger itself and the Giulia. It’ll take confirmation of the UK price and a on the real thing. Same for the iDrive-style

twin test on UK roads to know for sure, but my gut feel is that Porsche’s slower Macan Turbo still has the best spread of talents in this small sector, including a better interior and the draw of a badge not tarnished by association with rebadged Fiat Puntos. But on the road the Stelvio leaves its rivals in the shade. If you want the fastest, most exciting SUV of the moment this side of a Lamborghini Urus, this is the one. @chrischiltoncar

Steering is precise and natural, helped by the Stelvio being significantly lighter than its key SUV rivals

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

29


ALPINE A110

Vive la difference Alpine’s bold comeback coupe is a convention-defying dynamic masterpiece. By Ben Miller

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EERING THROUGH the screen and out across a rain-streaked blue front wing you spot the next half mile of onrushing road and wonder if perhaps you ought to slow down – the slim ribbon of tarmac is almost single-track and you’re at the top of fourth gear, the turbocharged four pulling this scant burden with conviction. The rain’s coming down so hard the wipers are working as hard as the Borg-Warner turbo inches from your back. But in the next few moments you must dump most of that speed and arc around a long left-hander without skating from the glass-like tarmac and meeting with the rocks beyond. Survive that and a bobsleigh run of twists and turns plunges down the grim, rain-streaked contours of the mountainside and on out of sight. Potentially scary stuff, then, unless you happened to be snuggled into the lightweight Sabelt bucket seat of the new Alpine A110, bum inches from the tarmac, wheel in your clammy palms and confidence sky-high despite less than an hour’s flying time in the car so far. For in the new A110 every road, particularly one as technical as

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this one, is a playground: every corner, however wet, knotted or evil, a quite exquisite pleasure. Off the throttle, your foot hits the brake pedal and what had, just moments ago, looked like a big ask instantly feels too easy. The pedal’s stroke is firm, without a millimetre of slack, and it’s plumbed to a Brembo system (320mm ventilated discs on lightweight aluminium hubs all round, four-piston front calipers) comically over-specified for a 1103kg, 249bhp coupe. You click down through third to second on the

Double wishbones eat into storage and engine bay space but the payoff is a peach of a chassis

satisfyingly tactile column-mounted shift paddles and, as the car slows, glance at your selected drive mode: Track, for fast shifts and a loose leash without foregoing ESC entirely. Ride the brake pedal as you start to turn and the Alpine’s clearly-telegraphed cushion of understeer is quashed almost immediately. The wheel sends the car’s nose into the corner without a trace of cause-and-effect delay. Mid-corner you feel everything, a constant stream of reassuring feedback rushing to your brain from the tyres, the wheel in your hands and the fabulous seat and forged aluminium double-wishbone suspension beneath your bottom. You sense that the modest, all-weather Pilot Sport 4s are just short of throwing in the towel and so, for no good reason, you add a little more lock, come off the throttle and feel the rear of the car drift fractionally wide. It does so in slow motion, like sprinting underwater. And as the exit finally opens out you’re already driving hard, the engine – delicate of delivery and perfectly responsive so long as you’ve at least 3000rpm dialled up – a keen ally in these potentially evil conditions. On you power, the car breezing over


U P AG A I N S T WORSE THAN Porsche Cayman GT4 But A110 as good as the 4-pot 718 Cayman BETTER THAN Alfa Romeo 4C Superior dynamics, better ergonomics

Low-drag shape looks fabulous but visibility through the rear screen is limited

WE’D BUY Alpine A110 Pity we’re too late for a Premier Edition car

Some Renault switchgear but the fundamentals are on point

At the car’s core is a ‘simplify and add lightcracked, frost-ravaged tarmac on its delicate springs as you power down through the twists ness’ philosophy inspired by the original A110. and turns, the centre-exit exhaust by turns (And, to be frank, Lotus.) The bonded and welded tub is an artful aluminium construction, blaring and burbling like a rally car’s. As a machine for the pursuit of unfettered as is the delicate and very pretty two-seat body. Alpine’s engineers deemed the driving hedonism the A110 knows packaging compromises imposed few rivals at any price. That Alpine by double wishbones front and rear has achieved this from a standing LOVE a worthwhile trade for their fine start (the last Alpine left the Dieppe Dynamic brilliance, camber control. Because the car is factory 22 years ago) is an astonishjoyous absence light (1103kg in Premier Edition ing feat but it’s no fluke. Instead the of flab form; less if you go for the cheaper A110 is testament to the power of a HATE Pure, which will ride on smaller clear brief and an engineering team Ordinary cabin, wheels and brakes) and low, the (lead by David Twohig; Mk1 Qashhigh price springs and anti-roll bars are dainqai, Renault Zoe) with the bravery VERDICT ty, like a Caterham’s. Because the to let Alpine’s past – notably the Focused on the wishbones and modest track width original A110, a rear-engined coupe important things dictated a cramped engine bay, the as handy in rallying as it was on the ++++ + A110 uses a small but punchy turbo road – inform the cars of its future.

four and, in turn, the modest power means the car can run lighter, more modest rubber. And because the A110 won’t be sold in North America, as a convertible (for the foreseeable future) or with a manual ’box, no contingency for these – and therefore no unnecessary weight – has been engineered into it. And so the weight keeps coming off: delicate little alloy hose clamps where steel would have done; delightful fixedback seats weighing just 13kg each; a modest 45-litre fuel tank because the car’s not thirsty, up front but behind the front axle line; lighter conventional dampers rather than adaptive units because the car’s modest weight doesn’t require iron-fisted suspension control. The A110 is the antithesis of bulky performance cars big on blunt power and grip but short on conversation and delicacy. The Alpine’s engine is not the main event, though it sounds good and pulls convincingly. No, the turbo four is the supporting actor in an Oscar-sweeping dynamic performance by a chassis that dares to be different. The A110’s cabin may be more £25k Renault than £50k Porsche but its fine ride, fabulous driving position and well-suppressed NVH make it a viable daily driver. And when the traffic thins out or you find yourself at Cadwell Park, the car’s dragonfly agility, precision steering and endless on-the-limit adjustability will have you driving and smiling until the fuel runs out. Bravo, Alpine. @BenMillerWords Alpine A110 Premier Edition > Price £52k (est, UK price yet to be confirmed) > Engine 1798cc 16v turbo 4-cyl, 249bhp @ 6000rpm, 236lb ft @ 2000rpm > Transmission 7-speed paddleshift DCT, rear-wheel drive > Performance 4.5sec 0-62mph, 155mph (limited), 46.3mpg, 138g/km CO2 > Weight 1103kg > On sale Now (deliveries spring 2018)

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

31


LEXUS LS500h

The unusual suspect Fifth generation of Lexus limo tries to avoid direct comparisions with German rivals. Fails. By Ben Oliver 32

CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018

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F YOU’RE NOT trying to sell cars to everyone, you don’t have to make cars that everyone likes. The smaller premium car makers do best with polarising designs which 90 per cent of buyers will reject, but which the other 10 per cent will love sufficiently to forgive a few failings and choose in favour of the omni-capable offerings of the German Big Three. Some buyers like to make a statement by not making the obvious choice, but you have to offer them a car which is genuinely different, and not just a less expensively developed clone of a BMW, Audi or Mercedes. Lexus has done difference more consistently than most low-volume luxury rivals. You

can’t dispute its laser-focus on hybrid drive, craftsmanship and, more recently, design. Off the record, design directors at other brands acknowledge how much they admire it. And now here’s the new flagship Lexus, which has to embody all these virtues and more, and which can be truly love-it-or-hate-it because Lexus UK only needs 100 people each year to love it enough to buy it. Yes: 100. I double checked because I thought they’d missed a zero off. Around 2500 Mercedes S-Classes are sold here annually, and around 2000 each of the BMW 7-series and Tesla Model S. I asked the Lexus UK boss to make some vague generalisations about the demographic he’s targeting


More screens than some cinemas, and a cabin design unlike any rival’s

U P AG A I N S T BETTER THAN Jaguar XJ Equally polarising but now well past it WORSE THAN BMW 7-series A driver’s limo, with plug-in option WE’D BUY Mercedes-Benz S-Class Just revised, and somehow better

with the LS (although he probably knows them all by name). If you’re a target buyer, chances are you’re the eco-CEO of your own firm in the tech or creative industries, drawn by the fact that the LS is exclusively hybrid in the UK and thus projects the right image, and buying it both to drive yourself and be driven in. I’d usually let you decide for yourself about a car’s exterior design but as you’re unlikely ever to see an LS in the metal, here’s what I think. I love it. In proportion if not in detail, this is how the Maserati Quattroporte (not a fan) should have looked. The LS is based on the same steel and aluminium platform as the LC coupe, but stretched in the middle. So the new LS acquires

Driving modes are adjusted by twiddling ‘ears’ above instruments

not only a coupe profile but also a much lower, coupe-like stance. The wheelbase is 35mm longer than the outgoing long-wheelbase LS (this one comes in one size only) but some clever surfacing trickery just forward of the rear arches seems to pinch the bodywork in, and lends this long car’s lines dynamism and development as they flow backwards. And this being a Lexus, the detailing is crazily complex but perfectly resolved: it has the mad, 5000-surface spindle grille, of course, but the headlamps and air intakes around it are a more subtle triumph. It’s rare to get into a car and find materials or techniques you’ve never seen in a cabin before. Our test car’s doors were trimmed with cloth hand-pleated using origami techniques, and the door pulls were great lumps of carved kiriko glass. They are distinctively Japanese and unnecessarily beautiful, but they’re also a £7600 option even on a £97,995 top-spec Premier car. Without them, the cabin design is still striking, with a band of fins which run across the dash and the focused, leather-bound central binnacle. The Premier spec includes an ‘ottoman’ func-

tion which motors the front passenger seat away and extends the rear seat behind to allow the occupant to stretch out with a calf support. But without this option the LS doesn’t offer flagship levels of rear legroom: two six-footers can sit in line in comfort, but not with space to spare. Think Quattroporte rather than S-Class. CEOs intent on both lounging and saving the planet might do better to buy a Skoda Superb and plant a forest with the saving. Chassis refinement is good, if not class-leading. The ride is fine, if not quite as cloud-like as the best rivals. The wheels have been designed with resonance chambers in the hollow spokes to cut tyre noise, and the 23-speaker Mark Levinson audio system listens for and actively cancels road noise. Lexus LS500h (All-wheel drive version) > Price from £72,595 > Engine 3456cc 24v V6 hybrid, 354bhp @ 6600rpm, 258lb ft @ 5100rpm > Transmission 4-step CVT, all-wheel drive > Performance 5.5sec 0-62mph, 155mph, 39.8mpg, 161g/km CO2 > Weight 2340kg > On sale Now

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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Drink it all in – this might be the last time you see one

But, sadly, it can’t entirely cancel the sound of been time to hybridise the twin-turbo version the engine. It’s a 3.5-litre atmo V6 with the new of the V6 before this car was launched, but the Lexus Multi-Stage hybrid system and a CVT job was now in hand. More torque lower down transmission, first seen in the LC coupe and would probably solve both the refinement and retuned slightly for the saloon. Its system total the engagement issues, and make the LS a much of 354bhp is worked hard by the 2340kg mass better car. Until then, the LS500h will definitely polarof the car. Exiting a roundabout at the pace of a chauffeur just starting to get worried about de- ise buyers. At least 90 per cent will reject it: job livering you to the airport on time easily sends done. But I wonder if even the 1.4 per cent of UK the needle to 3000rpm or beyond to deliver the customers for such cars whom Lexus hopes to required torque, and an unpleasant moo-whine- win over will see past the refinement issues, or thrash into the cabin. Peak doesn’t arrive until the lack of the rear seat options or almost-sentient levels of tech which the German Big Three 5100rpm, and there’s only 258lb ft of it. can offer because the cost is amorAcceleration improves on the tised over their greater volumes. outgoing car’s at 5.5sec to 62mph, With great visual design and and claimed consumption is reduced LOVE an original and beautifully made to 39.8mpg for the all-wheel-drive Looks, details, cabin this is a proper Lexus, but versions which will be most popular materials, a hybrid drivetrain no longer here. If you want to drive fast – which Japanese-ness counts for much when the main hardly seems the point in this car – it HATE rivals will all soon offer plug-ins has adequate shove, and the stiff Drivetrain, relative which will get you from your ofplatform and optional air suspension lack of options and tech fice in W1 to Heathrow on electric provide reasonable body control and power (though not back again). accurate if inert steering. But the VERDICT You’ll need to REALLY In this case, different may not be driveline always gives the impression want to be different enough, and 100 cars a year no that you’re asking it to do things it +++++ longer looks like a typo. would rather not. The car’s deputy chief engineer told me there hadn’t @thebenoliver

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Armrest between rear passengers gives them their own climate, seat and audio controls via touchscreen


BMW i3s

Plugging the gap Need a slightly livelier version of BMW’s electric city car? Here it is… at a price. By James Taylor

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regular car, and is 40mm wider, a significant VEN CARS THAT look like they’ve come from the future need updating, jump in track width. The tyres themselves are wider too, and wrapped around gloss-black and so it is for the BMW i3. The four-seat electric city car with its com- 20-inch wheels exclusive to this version. They posite chassis and sci-fi styling has just sit within similarly shiny wheelarch extensions, undergone the mildest of facelifts, with modified which combined with the wheels have the interior and exterior trim and a new widescreen curious effect of making the tyres appear grey. multimedia interface among other too-mild-to- Glossy black is something of a theme throughout mention updates. More interestingly, there’s a – the roof has the same treatment, ensuring the i3s looks significantly lower than the standard i3, new hotted-up (amped-up?) version to top the and the faux intake-like sections in the bumper range: the i3s. The i3 has always felt sporty, thanks to its aprons make it appear wider, too. It doesn’t just look faster; its upgraded hot hatch-humbling acceleration and overmotor develops the equivalent of caffeinated quick-ratio steering, 181bhp/199lb ft versus the regular but high-speed handling has never car’s 168bhp/184lb ft, making an been its strong point. Driving our LOVE Grip, thrilling already brisk car a proper urban recently departed i3 long-term test acceleration dragster. The i3s is 0.4sec quicker car in a hurry on a slippery B-road from 0-62mph than the standard in winter was more nerve-wracking HATE Tough ride, stiff price i3, and feels it; push the accelerator than doing the same in an M3, the pedal halfway open and your first i3’s low-rolling-resistance tyres, VERDICT instinct might just be to close it comparatively short wheelbase and Extra stability is welcome, but the again, as the landscape in front of relatively high driving position best bits are shared the windscreen suddenly goes into making it feel a little sketchy. with the regular i3 fast forward, and your back gets The i3s changes that – to an extent, ++++ + squashed into the seat. at least. It sits 10mm lower than the

Energy comes from the 94Ah/33kWh battery introduced to the i3 range in 2016, and the rear wheels are driven by the same single-speed transmission. Like the regular i3, you can also buy the S as a range extender, with a 647cc two-cylinder petrol engine to act as an on-board generator and usefully add more than 90 miles to the potential range – we tested the pure EV version, however. You notice the firmer suspension on urban streets. The ride got jiggly over Lisbon’s careworn cobbles. As for corners – it’s better, but it still doesn’t feel hugely at home at medium-to-high speeds. It’s still a very tall car with a relatively short wheelbase, and while its limits are higher than the regular i3’s, it remains most at home at lower speeds in the city. The i3s costs £2905 more than the i3, making the range-extended i3s more than £40k – huge cash for a city car, albeit a fast, desirable and genuinely quite luxurious one. The i3s adds addictive acceleration and marginally more secure handling to an already desirable but pricey package. It’s more stable and responsive, but it’s no hot hatch. If you want the fastest, most fun i3, this is it. But its greatest strengths – an attractive, innovative interior, show-stopping exterior styling and enough space for everyday urban driving duties with the capacity for longer trips possible – apply to the regular i3 too. @JamesTaylorCAR

BMW i3s (pure EV version)

i3s rides low but you still get a great view out

Body shines in Lisbon sunshine; ride doesn’t sparkle on cobbled roads

> Price £36,975 > Engine 181bhp, 199lb ft electric motor (647cc 2-cyl range extender optional) > Transmission Single-speed auto, rear-wheel drive > Performance 6.9sec 0-62mph (7.7sec for range extender), 99mph, 174-mile range, 0g/km CO2 > Weight 1265kg > On sale Now

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

35


DS7 CROSSBACK

Jumping the premium abyss Can the Crossback tempt you to leap from Germany to France? By Phil McNamara

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N THE SUBJECT of love, Jean-Paul Sartre wrote: ‘There is even a moment right at the start when you have to jump across an abyss: if you think about it you don’t do it.’ DS is all about the abyss right now – not just for Peugeot-Citroën as it launches its upmarket brand, but also for prospective DS customers who must disregard the convention of buying German. But hang on, I hear you say, the DS7 Crossback looks suspiciously Audi-like, with its squinting headlamps and trapezoidal grille, a swept-up glasshouse and stocky proportions – surely not that much of a leap. DS says that externally the challenger had to obey SUV rules to compete with the Audi Q3, Volvo XC40 and Range Rover Evoque. It’s 145-200mm longer than those to best them on boot capacity (555 litres) and rear seat space (plentiful for both head and legs, and with a seat back that reclines up to 32º, making snoozing a distinct possibility).

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Up front, rationality makes way the avantgarde design you’d expect of the French: DS wants to give car buyers what French luxury brands Louis Vuitton and Chanel give to oligarchs’ girlfriends. Angled switches cascade along the centre console like toppling dominoes, the side air vents are pyramidal with a studded finish, there’s a ghastly revolving clock from French horologists BRM and the volume dial is a small barrel of Swarovski-style crystal. It wobbles in its housing and is somewhat imprecise to use. Safe to say this cockpit will never be mistaken for an Audi’s. Climb into the elevated seating position and your posterior immediately warms to the plump seats, though they could do with more lateral support. Imagine grasping a leather-trimmed wine bottle: that’s how thick the steering rim feels. The materials are opulent: even the flap hiding a cubby in the centre console can be trimmed in alcantara or leather. One stitch pattern, with a raised ball of thread reminiscent

of a pearl, took two years to industrialise – though it’s still not perfectly spaced out. Craftsmanship is central to DS’s appeal, along with comfort and technology. Top-spec 178bhp BlueHDI diesel or 222bhp petrol engines are equipped with Active Scan technology, where a camera peers 5-10 metres down the road, assessing the topography and adapting the dampers accordingly. It only works in Comfort LOVE mode, but noticeably French luxury idea, softens the abruptness different interior, of your initial speed impressive tech bump contact, before HATE stiffening as you Not as refined as descend to control it should be body pitching. VERDICT The ride quality Neatly done, but not is decent in Normal quite there mode too, with a +++++ supple but composed


Looks okay… and there’s the rub. Crossback lacks Evoque’s lust factor

DS doesn’t equate to motoring’s Chanel yet. But it might…

If you ignore the cringeworthy clock there’s some good stuff happening here

gait. The way the DS7 absorbs some bumpy Parisian hinterland roads at 40mph augers well for a cossetting UK ride. But this civility isn’t uniform. The 178bhp diesel engine, though responsive and adequately punchy (it doesn’t feel as sedate as 0-62mph in 9.9sec suggests), accelerates with a grumble of revs, and cruises with a persistent drone. Higher fuel injection pressure to meet the latest emissions regulations is partly responsible. The side mirrors also produce annoying wind noise at motorway speeds: the engineers are working on a fix. The eight-speed automated transmission is smooth and unobtrusive: a six-speed manual can be paired to the entry-level engines, a 128bhp 1.5-litre diesel, and a 1.2-litre threecylinder petrol due in late 2018. The frontwheel-drive chassis summons sufficient grip, but there’s a bit of dad-dancing about the electric motor-assisted steering: awkward elasticated responses that don’t always feel perfectly in time with the wheels, and some inconsistent

weighting under load. But this is a car to cruise in, not fling at corners. And in addition to the cushy ride, the DS7 has more technological tricks in its armoury. Night Vision costs from £1100 to £1600, and the road ahead can be displayed in varying sizes in the digital instrument panel – helpful for keeping eyes on the road and on any lurking animals. Superfluous maybe, especially in light – ahem – of the Active LED Vision motorised headlamps (standard on all bar the lowest spec) that widen or lengthen the beam depending on the type of road (determined by the car’s speed and steering angle). This nod to the original DS’s swivelling lamps splendidly illuminates country road verges, and appropriately deploys high beam on your behalf. Then there’s Connected Pilot cruise control (£650) which accelerates, brakes and keeps the car in lane, precisely centred. While there was no veering from side-to-side in a périphérique lane, its steadfast behaviour provoked a militant

motorbiker into taking umbrage at the car’s refusal to yield to his undertaking. In the original 1950s DS19, the brand has an icon; the DS7 Crossback is more an iconoclast, a specialist proposition focusing more on comfort and craftsmanship than Germanic dynamism. To my eyes, its Achilles’ heel is an exterior design that doesn’t generate ‘must-have’ desire, as the Evoque does so successfully. While there may be no love at first sight, the DS7 doesn’t deserve to be cast into Sartre’s abyss – its beauty is more than just skin deep. And five more DS cars will follow, as the company does all it can to make its vision of a French premium car stick.

DS7 Crossback Performance Line > Price £36,335 > Engine 1997cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 178bhp @ 3750rpm, 295lb ft @ 2000rpm > Transmission 8-speed auto, front-wheel drive > Performance 9.9sec 0-62mph, 134mph, 57.6mpg, 128g/km CO2 > Weight 1535kg > On sale February

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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AUDI RS4 AVANT

The 4 awakens Another fast blue estate from Audi? Except this one edges closer than most to the dynamic excellence that’s so often missing. By James Taylor

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AST ESTATES ARE great. That’s incontrovertible lore in the automotive kingdom; the seemingly contradictory cocktail of dog-friendly boot space and dog-unfriendly acceleration makes them peculiarly tempting. So the new RS4 is a likeable creation, even before it’s turned a wheel. It combines the proven physics-bending powertrain from the RS5 coupe and the sober-but-suave estate body from the A4 Avant – an undeniably strong pairing, but not necessarily an out-and-out thrilling one on paper. You’re so excited about the prospect of your first drive in some cars that you consider making a themed advent calendar in the run-up, but the RS4 isn’t that kind of car. You expect, and require, it to be fast but unflustered, a minimum-effort, maximum-ability kind of car. Seeing it for the first time might pique your pulse a little, though. It has more presence in the metal than it does in pictures, those widescreen wheelarches (punched out by an extra 30mm each side compared with the standard A4) and gigantic oval exhausts somehow making it look lower as well as wider. The (fake, disappointingly) vents flanking the tail lights help, too. Audi claims its designers took inspiration from the

bell-bottomed 1989 Audi 90 GTO IMSA race car for the wheelarch treatment – a good thing to draw inspiration from (exactly how much visual DNA it shares with the RS4 is debatable – but it looks good, regardless). The RS4’s lineage dates back to the 1993 Audi 80 RS2 – also a chunky, mid-sized turbocharged wagon. This is the fourth-generation RS4, and like the majority of its ancestors it’ll be sold as an estate (Avant in the Audiverse) only. While the previous RS4 housed a naturally aspirated V8 behind its giant grilles, the new one’s bang on downsizing trend with the same 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 as the current RS5, hooked up to the same drivetrain. Hiding its turbos in the vee of the cylinders, it packs near-as-dammit the same power output as the retired V8 (444bhp), despite having 1269 fewer cc to play with. More pertinently, there’s 125lb ft of extra torque, while generating a quarter less CO2 on the test cycle, and eking out an extra 5.7mpg. The extra twist makes it 0.6sec quicker than its predecessor from zero to 62mph, at 4.1sec (two tenths slower than the lighter RS5). It tops out at 174mph, if buyers spec the optional RS Dynamic package; otherwise it’s electronically limited to 155mph. As tradition and quattro badges dictate, the

RS cabin majors on alcantara and aluminium. If you want brash, go for an AMG

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RS gets oval tail pipes, but noisier Sport system is an option. Neat carbon-trimmed vent is in fact a fake

RS4 could only ever be all-wheel drive. During typical driving 40 per cent of the torque goes to the front wheels and 60 per cent to the rear, but the system is able to direct as much as 85 per cent of torque to the front or 70 per cent to the rear as it detects wheel slip. An electronically controlled Sport rear differential will be fitted to all cars in the UK as standard, with the ability to precisely portion more or less torque to each individual rear wheel as required. All cars also feature torque vectoring (by braking the inside wheels) to help trim their line at speed. Rivals? BMW doesn’t make an M3 Touring, nor Alfa Romeo a Giulia Quadrifoglio Sportwagon, so the similarly priced Mercedes-AMG C63 is the most obvious opponent. It packs an extra pair of cylinders and a little more power (or a lot more in S spec), yet is rear-wheel drive only – a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your personal standpoint. Climb aboard the RS4 and you’ll find yourself in one of today’s best-finished interiors, with micron-level fit and finish and judicious use of aluminium and alcantara to lift the ambience without crossing the line into gaucheness. In fast Audi tradition there’s a pair of  Audi RS4 Avant > Price £62,175 > Engine 2894cc 24v twin-turbo V6, 444bhp @ 5700rpm, 443lb ft @ 1900rpm > Transmission 8-speed auto, all-wheel drive > Performance 4.1sec 0-62mph, 155mph (optionally derestricted to 174mph), 32.1mpg, 199g/km CO2 > Weight 1715kg > On sale Now


UP AGAIN ST BETTER THAN Audi RS5 Because fast estates trump coupes WORSE THAN Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate More characterful and exciting WE’D BUY Secondhand Audi RS6 Avant Numb steering apart, it’s the wickedest wagon

Grip is up to the usual high RS level, but responsiveness is now much better

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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bearhug-bolstered sports seats up front, available in varying levels of cushion plumpness for the diamond-stitched leather. The once-novel, now-familiar Virtual Cockpit TFT instrument panel sits behind the wheel, with extra RS-specific displays including boost and tyre pressures, power and torque outputs, and a g-meter – which is probably the last thing you should be looking at while you’re cornering at any kind of meaningful g. It’s augmented by a pin-sharp head-up display beamed onto the windscreen, which includes an oil temp read-out so you can make sure you’ve warmed the V6 through properly, along with the usual vehicle speed and sat-nav instructions and, less usefully, a lap timer. Get underway and you’ll find that in most respects the RS4’s probably exactly as you’d expect it to be: extremely fast, unstickably grippy and genuinely refined. What you might not expect is that it keeps the driver reasonably involved in the process, too. It’s not the last word in feedback, and you’ll get more thrills from a C63 or an M3, but you can subtly adjust the car’s attitude with weight transfer, and enjoy doing so. Lateral grip and traction levels are sky high, yet it doesn’t feel quite as inert as some fast Audis of old. It can be rewarding to drive when you want it to be, and entirely undemanding the rest of the time – which feels very much in line with the RS4’s ethos. The two cars we tried were on 20-inch wheels (19s are standard) and fitted with the optional Dynamic Ride Control (DRC) hydraulically linked damping to cut roll and pitch. In the

Virtual Cockpit can be configured to show your g-forces, but who’d read the meter on the move?

40 CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018

The RS5 hasn’t set the sales charts on fire. Same powertrain in an estate? That could work

iterations but still feels odd, firmest setting, Dynamic, the ride weighting up in an unnatural is choppy on all but the smoothest LOVE Covers ground with way. The regular steering set-up roads, and you’ll soon tire of it. equal speed and works well on its own, with three Comfort mode feels the best option ease levels of weight and response to for the majority of circumstances, HATE choose from (Comfort, Auto and and on the Spanish roads we tested Price, missing Dynamic). Regardless of mode, the RS4 on it felt less springy than last degree of there’s decent feedback, at least an RS5 I recently drove in Wales, involvement by fast Audi standards, especially with less vertical float in the softest VERDICT considering the giant 275mm-wide setting. For a 1715kg car – hardly a An RS5 wearing a front tyres. Good news – RS Audis lightweight, but 80kg lighter than North Face jacket are becoming less numb and more the previous RS4 – it controls its +++++ comfortable. mass very well. And the being-an-estate-car bit? Merc-AMG’s rumblier, rortier V8 is the more charismatic engine and it will The RS4’s trick diff and giant wheels haven’t put a bigger smile on your face, but the V6 is still harmed luggage space, which is identical to the spectacular – or at least, its performance is. It’s regular A4 Avant’s. As with that car, the seats all about torque, and lots of it. While the old RS4 don’t quite fold fully flat, but there’s still a usable used a dual-clutch gearbox, the new engine’s space back there. Pure litre counts only tell part hooked up to an eight-speed torque-converter. of the story, of course – the shape is important I didn’t miss the DCT; the auto shifts unobtru- too – but the RS4’s 505-litre seats-up capacity sively when left to its own devices, and does its compares with 490 litres for the Merc-AMG job well enough in manual mode. The optional C63, and seats-down litres are identical at 1510. Sport exhaust makes a theatrical belching For comparison, the soon-to-be-replaced Audi noise on upshifts under load, which adds to the RS6 offers 565/1680 litres. The RS4 is not a cheap car. You’re looking at sense of occasion but does sound a bit synthetic, almost as if it’s been carefully programmed £62k before options (or £72k for the Carbon Edito do so. Otherwise the V6 makes a decently tion, with various option packs bundled in and characterful sound, a muted rasp with a bassy as much CFRP trim as the name suggests). But it at least feels expensive, and is quick enough to undertone. We tried the optional ceramic brakes, and keep some supercars honest. It’s as much fun to liked them. They give confidence-inspiring drive as the RS5 – in fact, subjectively, it actually bite from cold and decent feedback through the feels better balanced – with a more unassuming pedal, and they’re easy to modulate. But much image. It’s not a car that’ll give you goosebumps, of the same praise could also be applied to the but most of its buyers won’t be looking for them. Maximum pace, minimum effort – the RS4 standard steel brakes. One option best avoided is the variable-rate nails the brief. Dynamic Steering. It’s better than previous @JamesTaylorCAR


VW POLO GTI

Grown-up but not grown dull Big, powerful and tech-heavy, but the hot version of the latest Polo also majors on driving pleasure

B

AD NEWS FIRST. The new Polo GTI has a huge number of driver assistance systems – so many that you really will need to read the manual to figure out what they all do and how to turn them off. Not that you’d want all of them off all the time, but they can halt the fun in what is supposed to be a fun car. The point was hammered home for me at the launch event when I did a few laps on a racetrack in a GTI with the autonomous emergency braking turned on. Attempting to keep up with a pro in a Golf R brought me close to disaster – the erratic sharpness with which the system made its presence felt was like driving with a particularly recalcitrant mother-in-law stabbing at the stop pedal. Scary, off-putting stuff. But that’s almost it for the bad news. It’s a very good car, as you’d hope given that it was developed at the same time as the impressive regular sixthgeneration Polo. The GTI gets extensive chassis changes, making it a very flattering car to drive VW Polo GTI DSG > Price £21,500 (est) > Engine 1984cc 16v turbo 4-cyl, 197bhp @ 4400rpm, 236lb ft @ 1500rpm > Transmission 6-speed twin-clutch auto, front-wheel drive > Performance 6.7sec 0-62mph, 147mph, 47.9mpg, 134g/km CO2 > Weight 1355kg > On sale May

fast, and an impressively precise got a car that feels exceptionally one. A huge amount of work, from mature yet still raises goosebumps LOVE Brilliantly responsive the suspension settings to the aero, on the right bit of road. engine and chassis has gone into synchronising the But there is one other bit of bad behaviour of the front and rear, news: when the GTI arrives in the HATE DSG-only for now; controlling the initial roll moment UK in late spring, it will initially be electronic overkill and quelling understeer. available only with a DSG gearbox. Comfort and cornering attack The twin-clutch ’box is quick, but it VERDICT Ford’s imminent new are well balanced. Grip is huge, has an over-enthusiastic kickdown Fiesta ST will have to with steering that’s quick and well function and still changes gear for be very good indeed defined. you in manual mode, making it to top this It’s a car that responds better cumbersome at times. Better to wait ++++ + to steady inputs than a casual a couple of months for the arrival of bung. Add the smoothly massaged way the the manual, which we expect to be much better big turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol suited to the GTI package. engine’s 236lb ft hands over its 197bhp, and you’ve CJ HUBBARD

VW’s MQB chassis put to excellent effect: it’s fun

Cabin very close to non-GTI’s; makes more sense here

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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This is the £140k S63 – a bargain next to the £198k, V12 S65…

UP AGAIN ST BETTER THAN Maserati GranCabrio Not so plush or so composed WORSE THAN Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabrio Smaller, sportier, more exciting WE’D BUY S63 Cabriolet Living the LA dream, wherever you are

MERCEDES S-CLASS COUPE AND CABRIOLET

Sun and Herr Tech advances and new engines from the S-Class saloon bring an extra dimension to the big two-door Mercs. By Tim Pollard

M

ERCEDES HAS A long history of making big coupes and convertibles, but it was only in 2014 that the giant formerly known as CL was absorbed into the S-Class range. Made sense on many levels: the S brand is pukka blue-chip and the cars shared much of their technology and hardware. In line with Merc’s ever-shifting nomenclature, it positions these maxi-luxe cars rather neatly. And here we are, four years down the line, at midlife facelift time. Much of what you see here reflects the latest changes wrought to the S-Class four-door – with a sprinkling of new engines, gadgetry and very minor cosmetic surgery to give the range-topping two-doors a fresh lease of life to take on the box-fresh Bentley Continental GT range. Two-door S-Classes are a rare sight on Britain’s roads. Merc predicts UK sales of a few hundred of each body style, with a small bias towards the hard-top. Anoraks will need an especially high grade of Gore-Tex to tell them apart from the models they replace. New for 2018 is a small rejigging of the front bumper/spoiler area, a few strips of brightwork here and there, plus some rather fancy new OLED lamps which house 66 red rectangular slivers floating in the rear clusters. Very natty.

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In line with the saloon upgrade, most of the attention has been focused under the skin. The UK is denied the six-cylinder S450 option available elsewhere (and all-wheel drive, which is incompatible with having the steering wheel on the right), leaving a straightforward choice of two V8 engines and a wonderfully OTT 6.0-litre V12 if money’s no object (or, indeed, the object). Both V8s are new and are essentially the same bi-turbo 4.0-litre unit familiar from the C/E63 brigade. This bodes well, as it’s one of our favourite bent eights out there. In base guise, it reintroduces a familiar badge from the past – S560 – to reflect the extra grunt over the outgoing S500, thanks to 463bhp and 516lb ft of torque. This is ample and ensures swift progress: even the slowest model is capable of 0-62mph in four and a half seconds. Its character is more relaxed than those figures suggest, however, and the S560’s long-legged gait better suits a laid-back cruise. Step up to the S63 AMG – our pick of the range – for a £25k premium and you get the Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet > Price £140,610 > Engine 3982cc 32v bi-turbo V8, 604bhp @ 5500rpm, 664lb ft @ 2750rpm > Transmission 9-speed auto, rear-wheel drive > Performance 4.2sec 0-62mph, 155mph, 28.0mpg, 229g/km CO2 > Weight 2185kg > On sale April

New lights and grille, but main changes for ’18 are to the engines and electronics

Affalterbached full-beans V8, with a punchier 604bhp and 664lb ft than the old 5.5 it replaces. Whatever hand-built magic they weave at AMG, it certainly gives this version a wonderful verve and the drive modes have a greater stretch than in the S560, letting you flick between boulevardier and back-road blaster with ease. For such a heavy car (no S-Class two-door weighs less than two tonnes), the S63 AMG has a surprising agility, helped no end by the Coupe’s anti-tilt Magic Body Control and Airmatic air springs on the soft-top. That five-metre length shrinks around you, as you snick through nine cogs on the new rapid-fire AMG Speedshift auto; ultimately, though, the laws of physics won’t be beaten and you’ll never mistake this for a compact SLC. Top-dog on both body styles is the S65 AMG – one of the most excess-all-areas models we can recall in any price list. You’ve got to really want a dozen cylinders if you can afford the monumental £57k premium the V12 commands over the S63. Okay, so you can brag about 621bhp and


Coupe and Cabrio cabin lifted from saloon with tiny changes; mood can be tweaked as well as climate

737lb ft of torque but this is pure Top Trumps from any S-Class and the technology bang on willy-waving. Even the V12’s thundering histri- trend – from semi-autonomous self-driving onics in a tunnel cannot outweigh the teen mpg capability to the new wellness suite that syncs heating, audio, seat massage and lighting to fuel economy figures you’ll struggle to better. Whether you prefer an S-Class Coupe or Cab- tickle your fancy. Would you pick one of these over a Bentley or riolet will largely come down to geography and wallet. Testing the soft-top in California in the Aston Martin; or perhaps a Porsche or Maserawake of the LA Auto Show was a great illustra- ti? The S-Class range has been stretched ever further, putting it into competition tion of how right a large convertible with some seriously lavish rivals, can be in the correct milieu. The and priced in the same ballpark, triple-insulated hood offers whisLOVE but it doesn’t feel like over-reach. per-quiet refinement when up and All of the tech and all While we wouldn’t countenance drops to maximum sunbed in just of the quality of the four-door an S65 at £198k, the brilliantly 20 seconds at up to 40mph. Pick the talented S63 AMG at around Coupe for £12k less if you prefer a HATE Unfortunately, it’s £140,000 is a more compelling metal roof. as sensible as the choice. It’s exquisitely engineered Either model has proper space saloon too and made, likely to be more reliable in the back seats for a pair of adults VERDICT and more generously equipped – and decent boots (though the Germanic glitz exactly what that S-Class badge Cabrio’s loadbay concedes 50 litres, doesn’t come any promises – in a sensible, opulent shrinking to 350). Throughout finer than this kind of way. both versions, the quality is as ++++ + tremendous as you should expect @TimPollardCars

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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‘The shift to big, thirsty SUVs ruined all the good work on engine efficiency by the car industry’ H

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Now, it’s happening here. In 2016, according to the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, average new-car CO2 emissions improved by just 1.1 per cent over 2015 despite a 22 per cent uplift in sales of electric cars and hybrids, and despite big technical advances. Why? SUVs and crossover sales boomed by 23 per cent. Their CO2 emissions are on average 27 per cent worse than superminis, 16 per cent worse than upper medium cars and 14 per cent worse than executive cars. And as David Attenborough recently told us in Blue Planet II, more CO2 is bad for our oceans, coral reefs, human wellbeing and for polar bears. The 2017 figures, soon to be released, are likely to show an increase in new car CO2 emissions – exacerbated by the collapse in diesel sales. Nearly all new SUVs in the UK are diesel – far more than any other category of car. A low-revving, torquey diesel engine compensates well for the heft of an SUV. And diesels emit 20 per cent less CO2 than petrol cars with like-forlike performance, according to the SMMT. So, as car buyers now stampede back towards petrol from ‘dirty’ diesel, SUVs will emit more CO2 in absolute terms, and more compared with saloons, estates and hatches. Will the ongoing collapse in diesel sales also derail the SUV gravy train? Unlikely. Rather, we’ll progressively see more hybrid electric and pure electric SUVs. The architecture of SUVs will change, too. They’ll get lighter, lower and more car-like. Trendsetters include the featherweight Citroën C4 Cactus; the Porsche Macan, more hot hatch than SUV; Volvo’s upcoming three-cylinder baby XC40; and the new Jaguar E-Pace, a sleek SUV that really does start to infuse the appeal of a sports car. Ironically, SUVs will probably only continue to grow in popularity, long term, by being less like SUVs.

ILLUSTRATION BY PETER STRAIN

When former CAR editor Gavin needs to go bush he loves a 4x4. The rest of the time? A proper car will do nicely

AVE YOU NOTICED that London now resembles a giant SUV car park? It’s the same in most other UK and world cities. As I look out the window onto my London street, four out of 10 vehicles are SUVs. The SUV and its less capable sidekick, the crossover, is collectively the world’s fastest growing breed of car. Almost every car maker is boarding the gravy train. Porsche and Jaguar are now primarily SUV makers, not sports car companies. Alfa Romeo and Maserati elevate their rooflines and bloat their body styles in their elusive search for profit. Lamborghini and Bentley are on board, and Rolls-Royce is soon to go to the front of the first class carriage. We find BMW Xs from 1 to 6, with the XL-sized 7 to come. There are four cuts of Range Rover, all aimed at Shanghai or Sloane Square more than the muddy shires. A fifth is rumoured. In Europe the best-selling Nissan, Kia, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Jaguar, Porsche, Lexus, Volvo and Maserati is an SUV or crossover. Nobody foresaw this popularity, certainly not Land Rover or Jeep (the pioneers) or BMW, which first made an SUV that drove (almost) as well as a car. As with most upsizing trends – from human obesity to the volume of Coke cups – it started in the US, where the mass popularity of SUVs had a predictably dire effect on fuel economy. After a 60 per cent improvement in the average fuel economy of new cars sold in America from the mid ’70s to the early ’80s, the rate then stalled for the next 25 years. This was a quarter century of great technical advances in fuel efficiency, including the widespread adoption of four-valve engines, six-speed gearboxes, low-rolling-resistance tyres and improved aerodynamics. So why the lack of progress? Americans fell in love with SUVs and pick-ups. In 1982, cars accounted for 80 per cent of the US market, and SUVs and pickups just 20 per cent. Twenty-five years later it was 50:50. The shift to bigger and thirstier vehicles ruined all the good work done by the car industry (who couldn’t have cared less: there’s more profit in SUVs). There has been some progress since. Yet, for 2016, the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks sold in America was still just over 20 per cent better than in 1982, despite growing sales of electric cars and hybrids. (The average American car is 35 per cent more economical than the average SUV or pick-up.)


‘Your Holiness, forgive us, for like sheep we have gone badly astray on this whole Lamborghini thing’ A

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matt black wrap would work?’ But this was ‘too gangsta’. And so the bishops went to Pope Francis and they said, ‘Your Holiness, forgive us, for like sheep we have gone badly astray on this whole issue of the Lamborghini thing. We believe the only way out now… is to auction the car off for charity.’ And Francis did close his eyes and meditate on what they had said for a full five minutes, and there was much gnashing of teeth, but he said nothing. And the Bishops were sorely afraid. And still he said nothing. Until finally one of the Cardinals uttered a small cough, and Francis opened his eyes and said a single word: ‘Fine!’ But he did say it in a way that made everyone know, it really wasn’t fine. And so a ceremony was arranged, for the head of Automobili Lamborghini, St Stefano of Domenicali, to come to the Vatican to witness Pope Francis bless the white Lamborghini, even before it went to be sold at auction, and all the money was to be given to the Pope’s charities. And Pope Francis did act with much dignity, shaking hands with his guests, though he insisted the old Mercedes Popemobile be present too, for the photoshoot, just to make a point. And when one of the Bishops handed him a marker pen and suggested Francis might sign the bonnet, Francis did sign, but his indecipherable handwriting betrayed his feelings, as true light shineth from the sun. And then Francis made the sign of the cross and blessed the Lamborghini, and when the blessing was done he said, ‘Thank you so much and pray for me.’ And everyone knew what he really meant. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. And here endeth the lesson.

ILLUSTRATION BY PETER STRAIN

Editor-at-large Mark’s favourite Popemobile? The 1982 BL Constructor

ND SO IT came to pass that His Holiness the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, looked upon his car, and saw that it was the Popemobile, and was ashamed. So Francis spake unto his people, and he saith, ‘Truly, if I am the Holy Father of the True Church, shouldst I not have better wheels? From the rising of the sun even unto its going down, this is a Mercedes G-Wagen that hath been polluted with extra large windows and nursing-home handrails. Truly, it is as aerodynamic as a shipping container. It is so shameful, that the peoples of Rome doth say, “Your car looks like the Popemobile” – and they don’t mean it in a good way. Who is there amongst you, who will give unto the Pope that which rightfully belongs to the Pope? Go hence, and do my work.’ And so the Bishops did talk amongst themselves, and agreed that the Pope deserved a new car. And the Bishops arranged for a new car, and it was most righteous, and the car was called Lamborghini. But when Francis saw his new car, he was angered. For the Bishops and the Cardinals had the Lamborghini finished in white, with stripes of yellow, burnished with gold, in tribute to the flag of the Vatican. And Francis said unto them, ‘Behold! Thou wouldn’t have me drive around in this? Trumpeting my status? Shall I put myself on a pedestal before the people? Who is wise amongst you? Dost though not remember, I drove around Buenos Aires in a Renault 4 to be a man of the people? While keeping the 911 Turbo strictly hidden from view?’ And Francis didst wring his hands and shake his head. ‘If thou hadst ordered the Lambo in black – maybe matt grey with privacy glass – and allowed me to blend in with the traffic, I could have got away with it! But this? Wouldst ye have me look like a pimp?’ And the Bishops were much afraid. They had put much effort and thought into ordering the Lamborghini, forasmuch as they had chosen a special interior of white and black alcantara. The whole Vatican trembled with the Pope’s anger, and that night the lamps were lit as the Bishops quarrelled for many hours, searching for salvation from this sticky situation. ‘Would that the factory might take the car back!’ one wailed, much in despair. But this was not possible, as the Lamborghini PR department had already issued a press release. ‘Maybe a


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‘My Integra Type R’s a relic of joy: a oncein-a-life special from a mad little company at its glorious peak’ T

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outpaced those of period Ferraris, and it had so little cockpit insulation, for lightness, that you could smack a floor mat with a hand and hear the echo of steel. Uehara was a singular wizard. He believed good cars should flit through the world like hummingbirds. Magazines called the DC2 Type R the best-handling front-driver in history. If you haven’t driven one, those words can seem hagiographic; if you have driven one, they seem obvious. The Civic Type R is different. It’s track-focused, like the Integra, and a similar grin at the limit, but also turbocharged and less raw, a result of both fashion and legislation. Its styling seems vomited into place. It’s around 500 pounds heavier than the Integra, because it is larger, more comfortable, quieter, and safer. And because Honda no longer builds enthusiast cars that don’t sell. That’s the catch, isn’t it? My country bought just 3850 Integra Type Rs. I was giddy after driving the new Civic Type R, because it’s a properly good car; I was despondent because it was so removed from fast Hondas of old. And because I knew it had to be that way to justify its existence. I sat in the Civic’s cockpit and heard whispers, as you do. Integras won’t be cheap for long, they said. Good is not the same as great, they said. Fshhhy wooshy woosh, the Civic’s turbocharger said, as a counter-argument, unconvincingly. And so I found a nice one and took it home. The Acura’s keys sit on my desk as a reminder that there are no permanent rules in this business. Also that few good things last. The Integra draws from Honda’s past, sparkling bits of F1 and touring-car racing and Soichiro. But it’s also just a relic of joy: a once-in-a-life special from a mad little company at a glorious peak. My personal plot in a particular garden. Where the roses dance at 8400rpm.

ILLUSTRATION BY PETER STRAIN

A US-based car journalist, Sam is new to the pages of CAR. Equal parts helmsman, car geek and speed freak, he’s editor at large at Road & Track magazine

HE ADS TELL you that heritage is automatic, that you can buckle into a new car from Company X and feel everything that came out of that same marque decades ago, when the brand was tiny and run by cottage-industry geniuses conquering Le Mans/Daytona/ Hollywood from a shed. Steve McQueen drove an iconic 1971 Whizbang Thunderburger Special while living in California, and so the heated seats in the 2018 Whizbang Mark V Kardashian Rumpus Edition are inspired by the warm LA sun. Or maybe Dr Ing h.c.F. Germanwhatever built his first car in a barn in the 1940s, and now the reclaimed wood-laminate dash of the 2018 Germanwhatever recalls the innocence of those candle-lit days, when men were men and barns were barns, and Herr Professor Doktor’s greatest hope was that the world would one day ache for 500bhp crossover brickbats with leather-trimmed window switches and the kerbweight of Scotland after lunch. This kind of thinking is marketing gibberish. Automotive heritage is history, viable and living. Like a garden, history must be looked after, or it dies. Some companies look after their heritage well, with new cars that genuinely recall the old. Some leave that heritage to rot. And sometimes you get stuck in the middle. I drove the new Civic Type R for the first time last fall. Last week, in what was certainly not a coincidence, I traded a fistful of dollars for a 2001 Acura Integra Type R. (I live in America. The 1997-2001 DC2-chassis Honda Integra Type R was sold to my country as the Acura Integra Type R, from Honda’s luxury division. Until the current Civic, this was the only Type R vehicle sold Stateside, because American Honda Motor Company is about as much fun as a dead carp.) I bought the Integra largely because I loved the new, 300bhpplus Civic Type R. Also because I found that car reprehensible. The Civic managed to prompt those dichotomous feelings simultaneously, like food poisoning from a four-star meal. The Integra was light, loud, compromised. The Civic is none of that, but then, the DC2 Type R was a homologation special, the last great fast Honda of the 20th century, an improbable little VTEC cartoon with zero bad habits. It made 190bhp from a 1.8-litre, 8400rpm four. Its engineering programme was led by Shigeru Uehara, the wizard behind the NSX and S2000. Its piston speeds


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S P O N S O R E D BY

Curve ball > VIA EMAIL

The LaFerrari Aperta on that twisty road (Jan issue, p124). Lovely. You appear to be living my dreams. Thanks. Ian Forbes Also a pretty neat road in a Fiat Panda, but the Aperta does bring out its best

than the Scandi-cool of other new Volvos. I currently run an XC60, and the 40 would be an obvious replacement as the 60 can be annoyingly big in car parks. But I just hate the look of it, whereas the Jaguar E-Pace looks simply fab. Hmm. Change of allegiance looming! Peter Johns

Standing proud > VIA EMAIL

Somewhat belatedly – and without any intention to belittle the remarkable contributions of CAR’s other excellent journalists – ‘hoo and indeed rah’ for Anthony ffrench-Constant’s brilliant and insightful Giant Test of diesel estates (November issue). His accurate, inspired and humorous appraisal makes for delicious reading, with some masterly bons mots. And, of course, his account of life with the Peugeot 3008, a few pages later, is equally enjoyable. More, please. Giuseppe Papuli

It’s like I was there > VIA EMAIL

Firing a flair > VIA EMAIL

Is it just me who finds these £40k coupes dull looking (Kia Stinger Giant Test, December issue)? No doubt fun to drive, but these cars need bodies to suit their dynamics… and fuel consumption figures to suit the time we live in. I can see Audi are taking a backward glance at the rather nice Audi 100 coupe of the mid ’70s. Kia can’t look back in-house, but as you say there’s a cheeky nod to the lovely Maserati 3200. But what did BMW do? I’ve thought for a while that too many German designs are safe and conservative. The rear of the current crop nod more to the Toyota Avensis of the ’90s than any stylish vintage sports car – hardly fitting for a class-leading model. Lucky the nose is distinctive. But they probably don’t care when badge snobbery rules in the UK and Europe. You have to go back to the ’60s and ’70s for BMW’s last really individual mass market designs.

Looking at Mazda’s latest in the news pages, I think some German makers should be worried. Well done to them for these gorgeous, simple designs while many European makers are obsessed with MQB copy-and-paste body swapping. In the next Mazda 3 they’ve designed a midpriced car that looks visually stunning and paired it with a super-efficient petrol motor. Isn’t that what we all want? Rob Polley

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Doomed yoof > VIA EMAIL

I am stunned that CAR thinks the new XC40 is so lovely. To me it is trying way too hard to be ‘yoof’ orientated, rather

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VIA POST CAR magazine, Media House, Lynchwood, Peterborough Business Park, Peterborough PE2 6EA

I’ve just closed the covers on the Sports Car Giant Test (November 2017); an event that, like many long-term readers I’m sure, I anticipate annually. A sign of darkening days and turning leaves, of boilers being sparked up and radiators being bled, the SCGT warms an autumn moment and seals the envelope on that fantasy Christmas letter to Santa. Chris Chilton’s summation popped and fizzed like the AMG’s overrun, subtly making me read faster, breathe shallower, and my heart beat faster as the tarmac unwound beneath those liquorice-coated hubs on your final-day shootout. I genuinely felt like I had been along as an invited, welcomed observer. The writing was utterly sublime and I enjoyed every vowel, every syllable. Since I share what you so succinctly describe as your ‘frustration of knowing we can’t afford these cars’, the ability to feel almost as close as you guys get is a real privilege. Mick Gallacher

February 2018 | CAR MAGA ZINE

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LETTER OF THE MONTH

Bide your time

Subscription hotline 01858 438884 or visit greatmagazines.co.uk/car CAR magazine, Media House, Lynchwood, Peterborough PE2 6EA Tel 01733 468000 Email CAR@bauermedia.co.uk or visit us at www.carmagazine.co.uk Display advertising 01733 366312 Classified advertising 01733 468864

> VIA EMAIL

I empathise entirely with Steve Holcroft (Interactive, Nov issue), talking about yearning for cars he’ll never be able to afford. Steve, don’t stop dreaming. In the October 2000 issue I read a short feature about a Mercedes W201 190E 2.6 automatic, suggesting it was a good secondhand buy. I had to wait until 2013 before finding a 1991 model I could afford and am pleased to say it’s still going strong. Parts are surprisingly cheap and it’s been easy enough to work on to avoid taking it to a garage (apart from tyres), touch wood. My dream car on a budget finally arrived. Best of luck with yours. Steve Bowden Letter of the month wins £25 worth of tickets for the Dream Car competition held by botb.com

Are you a real doctor? > VIA EMAIL

Loved the photo on the opening pages of your Sports Car Giant Test, headlined The Fun Factory. No doubt it was fun, but also an intense and long day? I never knew Anthony ffrench-Constant smoked, but it obviously helps to ease a long day given he is the only one looking relaxed while his colleagues sit with hands on hips, chew nails, check phones, lean back on their cars or just sit with their arms folded. Mark Jackson

McLaren’s the benchmark > VIA FAC EBO O K

McLaren have arguably become the equal of Ferrari in a very short time. They are the one manufacturer with similar track credibility too. They certainly have the upper hand in the styling department, particularly with the 720S. Front-engined Ferraris are looking more and more like Corvettes. John Fuller

Ever onwards > VIA FAC EBO O K

CAR ONLINE

5 most read stories on carmagazine.co.uk LA Motor Show 2017: your A-Z guide Startach will fix your new Discovery’s offset number plate Range Rover P400e PHEV prototype (2018) review Maserati Ghibli (2018) review Soft-top super hybrid: BMW i8 Roadster revealed

THE CAR POLL Which car do you feel best deserves the 2018 Car of the Year award? (Top 3 answers out of 8) ALFA ROMEO STELVIO 29% VOLVO XC40 18% BMW 5-SERIES 16%

Ferrari is still raising the bar with every new model. Mr Ferrari knew what he was talking about when he answered the question ‘What’s your favourite Ferrari?’ by simply saying ‘The next one’. Marnix Breukers

Not so smart > VIA EMAIL

The letter from Mike Digby (December) about electronic frippery struck a chord. Manufacturers continue to load their cars with vast infotainment systems but to what end? As an example of nonsense electronica, checking the oil level on my Mercedes SL entails scrolling through a menu after having first warmed the engine, switched off, then let the levels stabilise before obtaining a reading. Time? Around 20 minutes. A normal car with a dipstick? Around one minute!

EDITORIAL Editor Ben Miller Editor-in-chief Phil McNamara Managing editor Colin Overland Deputy features editor James Taylor Staff writer Jake Groves Digital editorial director Tim Pollard Online editor Curtis Moldrich Art editor Mal Bailey Designer Rebecca Wilshere Editors-at-large Chris Chilton, Mark Walton, Ben Barry, Ben Pulman Contributor-in-chief Gavin Green European editor Georg Kacher Contributing editors Ben Oliver, Ben Whitworth, Anthony ffrench-Constant, Steve Moody F1 correspondent Tom Clarkson Office manager Leise Enright Production controller Richard Woolley

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PUBLISHING Marketing manager Rachael Beesley Direct marketing manager Julie Spires Direct marketing executive Rebecca Lambert Editorial director June Smith-Sheppard Managing director Niall Clarkson Group MD Rob Munro-Hall

Neil Davey

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Your month The place where you let us peek into your weird and wonderful automotive lives

BEDROOM ’DOR

On a recent visit to the Lambo museum, James and Adam thought this Aventador would be a good piece of wall art for their bedrooms. SIMON COOKE

NOT A HYBRID

Long before Enzo Ferrari set up his company, this was the 1911 Fiat S76 Beast of Turin speed record car: 28.5 litres, 300bhp and 116mph. PATRICK WILLIAMS

W H AT J O E Y WO U LD H AV E WA NTE D

A mate mentioned he’d never been to the Dunlop Memorial in County Antrim. The next free Saturday, a 487-mile trip was undertaken in under 12 hours. Less than an hour spent in Ballymoney, a detour to Dark Hedges… all an excuse to go for a drive really. DAMIEN CUNNINGHAM

A N C I E NT AND MODERN

This really is a 1925 Bugatti Brescia at the Ginza Intersection in Tokyo. It was returning from a historic car event. MIKE ADAMS

F E AT S O F E N G I N E E R I N G

One of the Ferraris shown in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter for Ferrari’s 70th birthday. DERMOT CONVER

i F O R D E TA I L

When I brought home the BMW i3 I was surprised but proud when my three-year-old said: ‘This car

doesn’t have an exhaust.’ I’m less happy now he wants to be chauffeured in this, not my 991 S. MILAN KRISTOF

WO R S E FO R WE AR

On a hot, blustery day by the pool, a large G&T proceeded to fly off my poolside table and soak your lovely magazine. However, after three hours drying in the sun I managed to read it cover to cover. What a rescue.

MARK BAILEY

B AC K T O B A S I C S

CAR. Unicorn. Pool. Does life get any better? LEE WESTACOTT

LO TU S P O S ITI O N

My darling wife suggested I should buy a sports car while I’m still agile enough to climb in and out. I have just collected this Lotus Elise, and signed up for yoga classes. MARK SARGEANTSON

February 2018 | SUBSCRIBE AND SAVE UP TO 61%! GRE ATMAGA ZINES.CO.UK 53


A SENSATIONAL NEW VANTAGE EPIC ENGINES AND ELECTRONICS FROM AMG A COSY RELATIONSHIP WITH RED BULL A NEW EX-MCLAREN TEST PILOT DB11 SALES SUCCESS, A NEW FACTORY AND FULL-YEAR PROFITS IN 2017 A V12 HYPERCAR TO REDEFINE THE CLASS HERITAGE TO DIE FOR…

…WHY 2018 IS ALREADY ASTON’S YEAR


DB4 GT THEY’VE FA I T H F U L LY REPRODUCED THEIR ICONIC RACER – WE DRIVE IT

V A N T A G E

AN EXCLUSIVE RIDE IN 2018’S MOST EXCITING SPORTS CAR

VALKYRIE YOUR GUIDED TOUR OF ASTON’S HYPERCAR BY THE MEN WHO MADE IT


8

S P E C I A L

REASONS why Aston’s new Vantage has been worth the wait

We hit the road in Aston Martin’s crucial new Vantage, the AMG-powered, 911-ready sports car of your dreams Words Ben Pulman | Photography John Wycherley & Charlie Magee

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Aston special New Vantage

A

FTER 12 YEARS' sterling service, the old Vantage has finally been put out to pasture. Its replacement is this vision in eye-melting lime green, and it’s by no means just a styling refresh – the new Vantage is powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 from AMG (as deployed in the V8 DB11), uses a new aluminium architecture with a shorter wheelbase than a 911’s and boasts a gorgeous interior with infotainment pinched from the latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Admittedly the new car shares parts with the DB11 – suspension, for example – but 70 per cent are bespoke. The days of Aston photocopying old blueprints and changing the scale are gone. Take a look at the personnel involved and your hopes drift even further skyward. Marek Reichman (ex-BMW and Land Rover, father of DB11 and also responsible for Aston’s stunning Vulcan hypercar) crafted the exterior form, while the Vantage’s engineering team was headed by technical officer Max Szwaj, formerly Ferrari’s head of body engineering. As for suspension tuning, the Vantage is a product of the seat of Matt Becker’s pants, the man who spent 26 years at Lotus churning out really sweet-handling cars. Suffice to say the omens are good… 

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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1

IT LOOKS EVEN BETTER THAN BOND’S DB10

The future’s bright Since day one Aston CEO Andy Palmer has been adamant on the need to differentiate – no longer shall Aston Martins all look the same. Vantage is its own car, not a shrunken, budget DB11

WE’LL COME TO the 007 comparisons in a moment, but what strikes you first about the new Aston Martin Vantage isn’t the similarity to the DB10 that Daniel Craig stuck in the River Tiber, but rather the colour. It’s almost radioactive in its intensity, and very un-Aston. The lime creates a distinct contrast with the optional carbonfibre, the grille almost discrete from the nose, the swooping carbon curve that winds up over the exhausts and down below the numberplate creating a dark chasm in which only the nuclear waste-dipped diffuser blades are visible. Let’s backtrack a moment, though. Before chief creative officer Marek Reichman and chief technical officer Max Szwaj even pull back the dust sheet it’s the curvaceousness of the shape beneath that hits you like a sniper's round. The nose is low, the tail high, and the wheelarches so prominent you half expect a race car without a wing to be hiding beneath. And is that a hint of a double-bubble roof under the fabric…? As the cover comes back – and once you’ve processed the colour – you start to take it all in. Suddenly the outgoing Vantage looks sedate, and painfully conservative. Its nose was near vertical, Aston’s trademark grille pushed high to meet the leading edge of the bonnet. No longer. Now it’s pulled down towards the floor, creating a clear separation between the gaping grille and the heavily contoured bonnet. Gone too are the delicate side vents with their single strakes, and the nipped waist, replaced now with dark pockmarked panels (which reduce air pressure in the front wheelarches) and angular sills that push the hips out towards the rear wheels.

All-new rear end Light blade has hints of Honda Civic but here mirrors the line above the tailpipes. Diffuser part of a far superior aero package for increased stability over the previous car

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Aston special New Vantage

THE WORLD MAY HAVE FAWNED OVER CRAIG'S DB10 BUT THE NEW VANTAGE COMFORTABLY ECLIPSES IT Reichman refers to the new Vantage as a hunter. ‘The DB11 is a Savile Row suit, a great GT, everything that is expected of Aston,’ he says. ‘The Vantage is different. It is a spirited drive, assertive but not aggressive. It is hedonistic, and all about the driver and driving.’ President and CEO Andy Palmer has decreed that every model must look different – and the company now has the cash to allow Reichman and his team such freedom – so the days of identikit, Russian doll Astons are gone. Only the door handles and rear badge are shared with the DB11, meaning the bigger GT’s controversial floating C-pillar has vanished. In fact, the whole rear end is a huge departure for Aston. There’s now one vast light blade that sweeps across the width of the Vantage, kicking up with a hatchback bootlid. The peppered finish to the panels that surround the exhausts mirror the design of the side vents, and the pipes that show through are the real deal – no false tips stuck on for effect. And how does Daniel Craig’s DB10 fit into this? Spectre

director Sam Mendes and producer Barbara Broccoli visited Gaydon to see the DB11 that was to be Bond’s company car. But Mendes spotted a scale model of the Vantage (the full extent of the new coupe project at that point) and convinced Reichman to build 10 cars for filming just six months later. ‘It was a fantastic way of gauging the market, two years before launch,’ reveals Reichman. ‘The reaction was incredibly positive – and the new Vantage is better. The proportions are improved, with shorter overhangs and a longer wheelbase. Its bloodline is the DB10 and the Vulcan.’ See the Vantage and suddenly the DB10’s glitzy grille looks like overkill, its headlights somehow less elegant, its bonnet insufficiently muscular, and the width of the rear wheelarches out of proportion. That the Vantage has this effect on the DB10 says a great deal about just how right the new car is. The world may have fawned over Craig’s DB10 but the new Vantage – the car you can actually buy – comfortably eclipses it.

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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Aston special New Vantage

2

BECAUSE WE’VE EXPERIENCED ITS ON-THE-ROAD BRILLIANCE

Coupe curves Looking rather like the Mitsubishi FTO’s high-velocity uncle, the Vantage prototype feels compact and agile… from the passenger seat. We'll get to drive it this spring

BEHIND THE wheel of our camouflaged prototype is Matt Becker, the ex-Lotus chief engineer Aston CEO Andy Palmer chased down as soon he got the top job at Gaydon. Becker spent years working on Elises and Evoras, but Lotus’s consultancy arm means he’s more familiar with a variety of bigger, more powerful sports car than you might think. As the Vantage barks into life its new character is immediately obvious. Aston engines of old, be they V8 or V12, always sounded strained on start-up, and there was too much mechanical thrash in the background before the bellowing exhaust took over. Now, though, the V8’s magic is instant, and the noise all-consuming, even as we rumble out of Gaydon and onto a local test route. ‘Marek was given a clear brief by Andy Palmer to make all of the cars look different, and I have my brief,’ says Becker. ‘Our cars have to drive differently, and drive how they look. Our GT cars have a sporting nature but this looks more aggressive so it drives more aggressively. I wanted it to feel agile without being uncomfortable. It had to retain a level of comfort but it could be more focused on circuit driving. The Vantage is not a sports GT, but a sports car.’ Both the dampers and the powertrain can be adjusted by the driver, cycling through three settings, but whereas the DB11 features GT, Sport and Sport+, the Vantage moves

60 CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018

the spectrum, dropping comfort-orientated GT for a more focused Track mode. Toggle the powertrain setting and you adjust the throttle pedal map, gearshift aggression and exhaust; adjust the dampers and the chassis set-up changes. There are bespoke Pirelli P Zeros (255/40 ZR20 at the front, and 295/35 ZR20 at the rear) instead of the DB11’s Bridgestones, and a shorter final drive ratio. The Vantage generates ‘a significant level’ of downforce at both ends, where big brother produces a little lift at the front. There’s a new brake master cylinder and booster too, for a more aggressive pedal feel, and carbon brakes will be on the options list. ‘We use the same steering ratio as the DB11 but because the wheelbase is 100mm shorter it’s effectively much faster,’ reveals Becker as the Vantage slices through a quick roundabout with a roll of his wrists. ‘The solidly mounted rear subframe makes for a stiffer chassis and increased agility, plus we have torque vectoring via braking and our powerful new electronic rear diff. The Vantage is the first Aston to be fitted with it, and we unlock it at low speeds to aid agility, increasing the locking at higher speeds for stability. It can go from fully open to 100 per cent locked in milliseconds. ‘I wanted this car to have a really strong front end, but that doesn’t mean the rear will oversteer instantly. Instead our damper settings – Sport, Sport+ and Track – change


3

THE ASTON FEELS SHORT AND AGILE – ITS V8 MIGHT SIT AHEAD OF YOU BUT THE VANTAGE IS UNMISTAKEABLY MID-ENGINED

BECAUSE IT HAS SOME SERIOUS SPECS

ASTON MARTIN VANTAGE That badge, AMG power, style to prompt a GQ magazine supplement and a seriously good chassis – what’s not to like? > Price £120,900 > Engine 3982cc 32v twin-turbo V8, 503bhp, 505lb ft > Transmission 8-speed auto, rear-drive > Performance 3.7sec 0-62mph, 195mph > Weight 1530kg

the whole dynamic of the car, making it progressively more playful and involving the driver more and more. The e-diff is linked to the dampers and complements their settings, and the steering map changes too, with two modes, one common to Sport and Sport+, and another for Track.’ On the road the Vantage feels short and agile (its V8 might sit ahead of you but the Vantage is unmistakeably mid-engined), flitting through direction changes like a Cayman – to what extent, you wonder, is the rear axle being kept in check by either Becker or his finely tuned electronics? And with every throttle application you feel the torque of the engine, with a punch that will leave any 911 with a Carrera badge far behind. You really had to work the old Vantage’s V8 – from low revs the new one just flies. It doesn’t rumble like the AMG GT either, or feel so, well, American. Instead it roars, its exuberance less synthesised. Aston has dialled out the bassy tones and added more high-frequency music to encourage you to rev it rather than driving it like a diesel. The new Vantage does feel wide, though, and what we don’t yet know is how good that electrically assisted steering is, or how sharp the V8’s throttle response. Those answers will come early in 2018, though, and right now we’re betting that Aston has got it right, that Porsche is worried and that Mercedes-Benz is wondering just what it’s unleashed…

PORSCHE 911 CARRERA GTS Aston smashes far cheaper 911 Carrera GTS on power. Magic 911 GT3 is close on price but requires Porsche dealer Brownie points to get yours hands on one. > Price £98,725 > Engine 2981cc 24v twin-turbo flat-six, 444bhp, 406lb ft > Transmission 7-speed twin-clutch, rear-drive > Performance 3.7sec 0-62mph, 192mph > Weight 1470kg

MCLAREN 540C ‘Entry-level’ Mclaren has engine in The Right Place (rear midengined). Trumps Aston on speed and has a trick carbon tub. > Price £128,055 > Engine 3799cc 32v twin-turbo V8, 533bhp, 398lb ft > Transmission Sevenspeed twin-clutch, rear-drive > Performance 3.5sec 0-62mph, 199mph > Weight 1311kg

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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Aston special New Vantage

IT DOES SPORTS CAR CHIC BETTER THAN THE GERMANS

4

THE NEW VANTAGE’S INTERIOR is gorgeous – no caveats, no small print. Drop into the snug seat, pull the lightweight door closed with the leather strap, grasp the flatbottomed steering wheel and fondle the elongated paddles: this is a seriously desirable sports car. The centre of the dash is undercut to make it appear lightweight, the door handles are small but perfectly sculpted – the jewel-like fixtures for the leather straps exposed – and the armrests on the doors and in the centre console are slim so you sit upright behind the wheel, rather than slouching over on your elbow and driving it one-handed like you might when you’re cruising in the DB11. Carbonfibre, leather, metal and painted finishes will be offered: if you want wood you’ll have to go to Aston’s bespoke department, Q, and ask nicely. Vantage feels more focused and more spacious than DB11 because there’s no vast leather-lined transmission tunnel rising up to meet the top of the dashboard. Compared with the old Vantage it’s a huge step on, not least because that car should have been replaced six years ago. And compared with the Mercedes AMG GT, it doesn’t feel like you’re being squeezed up against the door by a vast transmission tunnel and four splayed air vents. And that Mercedes-AMG is particularly relevant because the Vantage’s contemporary cabin is made possible by the tie-up with the Germans. For over a decade Aston was handicapped first by a Volvo sat-nav system, then with a Garmin – neither was ever integral to the infotainment system. Now though, everything is essentially current-generation S-Class tech, re-skinned with Aston graphics. We already know how well it works in the DB11. ‘When we launched the last Vantage our technology was contemporary,’ says CEO Andy Palmer, ‘but we didn’t have the billions required to keep it up to date. Thanks to our collaboration with Daimler we’ll upgrade when they do, and we’ll always be contemporary with electronics that have had hundreds of millions invested in them. It has future-proofed us. While we pay a margin for that privilege, we can spend the money we save on aspects of the car you feel as the driver, and your connection with the car.’ A case in point? Moving the infotainment controls on the transmission tunnel further back for those opting for the manual gearbox.

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PULL THE LIGHTWEIGHT DOOR SHUT, GRASP THE FLAT-BOTTOMED WHEEL AND FONDLE THE ELONGATED PADDLES: THIS IS A SERIOUSLY DESIRABLE CAR


5 BECAUSE IT HAS A MANUAL GEARBOX

Tech designed in At last Aston has integrated infotainment, not a bolt-on sat-nav. It's a re-skinned S-Class system from that fruitful Daimler deal

ASTON MADE much of the outgoing Vantage being available with stick shift and hydraulic steering, championing itself as the enthusiast’s choice – when the reality was it didn’t have the cash to develop either dual-clutch gearboxes or electric power steering. However, while the new Vantage inevitably ditches the hydraulic rack, CEO Andy Palmer has insisted it’s still offered with a manual transmission. ‘There will always be a manual gearbox in this company,’ he says. ‘It’s in tune with people wanting to connect with our cars.’ It’s the same seven-speed transmission as before, but more refined. It’ll be slower in a straight line than the eightspeed auto, and make do with a mechanical rear differential rather than the new, all-singing, all-dancing e-diff. Also, changes to the weight distribution require specific suspension tuning, and the interior layout has to be reshuffled to accommodate the gearstick. All this for what might account for just five per cent of sales when it becomes available at the end of 2018. To Aston, that sacrifice is worth it. ‘We want to provide a solution for all our customers,’ says Reichman. ‘We support the enthusiast who wants to drive up an Alpine pass using both feet. Those customers are rare, but they will appreciate the effort that’s gone into putting a manual gearbox into a thoroughly modern sports car.’

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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6

Aston special New Vantage

BECAUSE IT’S NOT JUST A DB11 IN DRAG

ASTON’S OLD VH aluminium architecture was a blessing and a curse. Bonded and riveted, with aluminium extrusions, it was highly adaptable and was used to underpin the DB9, Vantage, Rapide and Vanquish. When times were tight – ie, almost always – it meant the company could create a multitude of different cars from the same platform. But each new iteration didn’t seem that different from the last, because Aston’s engineers were limited in how much the hard points could change. And when the design team started using tracing paper to create each new model, the result was a raft of Astons that all looked the same. Not any more. ‘There are only 30 per cent of common components in the aluminium structure,’ reveals Aston’s chief technical officer Max Szwaj (formerly Ferrari’s head of

In with the new No wonder Max Szwaj is grinning – as Aston´s chief technical officer, he’s overseen the creation of an Aston that can take the fight to the 911

7

BECAUSE IT HAS AN ENGINE FROM AMG (WITH TWO MORE CYLINDERS THAN A 911) DON’T GET HUNG up on the fact that the engine in the front of the new Vantage is German and comes from AMG, because the engine in the front of the last Vantage was built in Cologne, in the grounds of a Ford factory. Instead, remember that this is one of the best engines on the planet, and that AMG’s idea of downsizing is a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. It’s the fruit of a partnership between Aston and AMG (and parent company Daimler) that’s both a business relationship and a technical collaboration. Selling engines to Aston helps AMG with its economies of scale; Gaydon is able to spec its own version with subtle but important differences. The crank,

64 SUBSCRIBE AND SAVE UP TO 61%! GRE ATMAGA ZINES.CO.UK | February 2018

block and basic architecture remain the same as that used in the Mercedes-AMG GT, but the Vantage sports its own turbos (nestled between the cylinders in a hot vee), a revised wet sump to mount it lower and further back (for a front-mid layout behind the front axle) and a bespoke exhaust. There’s unique calibration too – it’s linked to an eight-speed ZF auto rather than a Mercedes gearbox – and it has more torque than you’ll find in the DB11 V8. Okay, it’s only 7lb ft more, but expect an altogether more aggressive character. In its current 503bhp guise it’s barely trying – remember that in Merc’s fastest E-Class this engine tops 600bhp. Expect a Vantage S with at least 550bhp within two years. ‘We don’t have the breadth to be a full engine provider,’ admits CEO Andy Palmer, ‘but the V8 allows us to invest in our own V12. No one else has that V12 – it allows us to express our individuality.’ So far that V12 has only been seen in the DB11, but the firewall in the Vantage is the same, and Aston has a history of stuffing its largest engine into its smallest car…


innovation and body engineering). ‘Our new aluminium platform features pressings and bondings, so there is more differentiation available for our designers and engineers.’ Suspension components are shared with the DB11, but tuned specifically for the Vantage’s shorter, lighter platform – the weight distribution is 50:50, and the dry weight is 1530kg. Aston’s expertise with bonding means the use of different materials isn’t an issue either – you can’t weld aluminium to carbon, but you can glue the optional lightweight, doublebubble carbon roof into the Vantage’s structure with no fuss. The wheelbase is 100mm shorter than DB11’s, making the Vantage shorter than a 911. Also, the rear subframe mounts directly to the structure, which, Szwaj says, makes the Vantage feel more connected to the road.

8

BECAUSE THE AWESOME RACE VERSION SIMPLY HAS TO BE A WINNER

AM-Genius 503bhp AMG V8 helps give the new Vantage a fresh character – it’s a potent, aggressive engine. And it’s just the start: 550bhp Vantage S, anyone?

THE OUTGOING V8 Vantage hasn’t been on par with the Porsche 911 for the best part of half a decade – but that’s on the road. On the racetrack it’s been a different story. Thanks to the FIA’s Balance of Performance (BoP) regulations, which aim for close racing between very different cars, old and new, the Vantage GTE won the 2016 FIA GT Drivers’ title and GTE Pro title in the World Endurance Championship (WEC), and took the GTE Pro class victory at 2017’s Le Mans 24 Hours. Those love-them-or-loathe-them BoP regs ensure the new Vantage GTE, developed by Prodrive, won’t waltz off into the distance, but it will have a fighting chance. The last Vantage GTE didn’t start racing until 2012, eight years after the road car was unveiled. This time, road and race car have been developed in parallel and Prodrive’s expertise is well proven. In a strange quirk, Merc’s GT3 racer has AMG’s old naturally-aspirated 6.2-litre V8, so it’ll actually be Aston who debuts the new twin-turbo 4.0-litre engine at GT racing’s highest level. It’s Aston that has taken the base engine and developed it to go racing. The fading of the LMP1 category will give the often spectacular battles in the GT classes the spotlight they deserve. Competition will be tough. There’s Ford’s purpose-built GT, Porsche’s mid-engined 911, BMW’s new M8 GTE and of course Ferrari. If Aston is off the pace it’ll be tough to develop the car while the long WEC season is in progress. But if it’s not, it could be quite a debut season for Aston’s new Vantage GTE. Vantage GT3 and GT4 versions will then follow (the latter to compete against a Mercedes-AMG GT4, which does use the twin-turbo V8) and CEO Andy Palmer wants to expand sales to support both one-make race series and provide the stepping stones to customers who wish to develop their skills and progress from GT4 right through to GTE. What finer car to do it in?

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S P E C I A L

AH, THE GOOD NEW DAYS Want proof Aston Martin is riding a wave? How about the chutzpah to re-make one of its icons, the DB4 GT, and sell them for £1.8m a pop… Words Gavin Green | Photography Charlie Magee

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Aston special New DB4 GT

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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Aston special New DB4 GT

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E’RE IN A TIMEWARP, back to the days of Stirling Moss, with flimsy open-face helmets, open-back gloves, no seatbelts, goggles and smiling oil-stained faces. The romantic ’50s sports car style is perfect, right down to those roundels and racing stripes, patriotic green paint and those gorgeous Borrani wire wheels that sparkle in the bright autumn Norfolk sun. Then there’s the throaty straight-six engine roar and a non-synchro short-throw four-speed gearbox. (Warning: great precision and heel-and-toe footwork are essential for shifts.) Steering is meaty, via a lovely wood-rimmed wheel the size of a ship’s helm – naturally there is no power assistance. Did Stirling Moss ever need poncy power steering? No powerassisted brakes, either. Heave to slow down. Inside a sweaty, noisy cabin – smell the oil and petrol – I celebrate the body roll and the propensity to slip ’n’ slide of those ‘old’ high-profile Dunlop crossply racing tyres. Moss drove and won in a car like this. Jim Clark, too. Except… Hold fire on the ’50s nostalgia because this Aston Martin DB4 GT is new. It was built when Stirling Moss was a ripe old 88 and poor Jim Clark had been dead for almost half a century. It’s newer than the 67-plate Aston DB11 parked outside the garage, complete with its sat-nav, heated front seats, premium B&O audio and blind-spot monitoring. What curiosities these continuation cars are. They are celebrated by those who can now buy ‘new’ some of the greatest British classic cars of the ’50s and ’60s – DB4 GT, and

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Gavin's periodcorrect racing pout makes up for garish ’70s cuffs

Jaguar’s Lightweight E-type and XKSS, with more to come. Yet they are castigated by some owners of originals and by a few historic racing drivers, mindful that these new old cars may have an advantage over old old ones. Replicas of classics are not new, of course. We have seen copies of AC Cobras, Porsche 356s, Lightweight E-types and many more before, undertaken by independent companies of varying capability. Some replicas are remarkable, some risible. Some were even factory-approved, including a series of DB4 GT Zagatos made in 1991. Yet no major car maker had seen fit to resume manufacture and sell new versions of its old cars, until Jaguar in 2014. Of the original 18 Lightweight E-types envisaged in 1963, only 12 were finished. So why not, 50-odd years on, complete the set using the original chassis numbers planned? Soon after, Jaguar launched its Classic division. This operation, set up partly to preserve Jaguar’s heritage, would service and restore old Jaguars, and ensure a parts supply for all the E-types, XKs, Mk2s etc that still provide noble service for lucky owners. It would also look after the continuation vehicles, including a new car. Nine XKSSs – a limited-edition road racer based on the Le Mans-winning D-type – were destroyed in the Browns Lane factory fire of 1957. Why not recreate them, from scratch? Both new Lightweight E-type and XKSS are faithful replicas of the originals and both sell for over £1 million each. And both sold out. More continuation Jaguars will follow.


Its feedback is unfiltered, never muted like most modern fast cars. And it serenades you with its exhaust

Little wonder Aston Martin saw the opportunity. Its Works division already serviced and restored old Astons, and had done so long before Jaguar Classic was founded. Why not make new old cars, too? The new DB4 GT was born. Which is why I’m at the Snetterton circuit on a bright lateautumn day, and why a new DB4 GT – a precise replica of the 1959 original, made by Aston Martin – stands before me. The ’50s and ’60s was surely the pinnacle for car design, and few cars of the period were lovelier than the DB4, especially in its most comely short-wheelbase GT guise. The DB4 – precursor to the James Bond DB5 – was unveiled in 1958 as the fastest four-seat sports car in the world. It was also the first road car to use the Tadek Marek-designed straight-six twin-cam engine, which we’ll be meeting shortly. There were many versions of this beautiful car. Five different series of the DB4 were produced, and in many ways the DB5 was really a Mk6 DB4. There was a convertible and a faster Vantage, too. The DB4 GT was the street-legal racing version. Its wheelbase was reduced by just over 120mm and its aluminium body was thinner and lighter (a terrifyingly fragile 1.2mm thick – I’m warned not to lean on it). The rear screen, rear quarterlights and side windows were made from lightweight Plexiglas. Suspension was unchanged and brakes upgraded to bigger Girling discs to handle the significant boost in power – 302bhp compared with a normal DB4’s 240. The hike was due to three big Weber twin-choke carburettors (rather

than SUs), a new cylinder head including high-lift camshafts, and twin spark plugs per cylinder. Boot space was sacrificed to make way for a large 30-gallon fuel tank, ideal for longdistance sports car racing. Intended as a gentleman’s racer, it won its debut race at Silverstone in the hands of Stirling Moss – albeit against weak opposition of Austin-Healeys, little Lotus Elites and Jaguar saloons. Seventy-five examples would be built, including eight ‘lightweight’ versions using alloy bulkheads and floors and the odd carefully drilled weight-saving hole. It was to prove an effective club racer, although less successful in top-flight racing than the rival Ferrari 250 GT SWB. A further 19 would be built with special Zagato bodies: these DB4 GT Zagatos are now probably the most sought-after of all classic Aston Martins. A DB4 GT is now typically worth more than £3 million. The new ones, all built to lightweight spec, sell for £1.5 million plus taxes (in the UK that’s £1.8 million). Only 25 will be made, and chassis numbers continue from the original series. All are pre-sold. Owners include keepers of old DB4 GTs. Unlike the originals, the new ones can only be used on the circuit. Legally they are new cars, not restorations, so their failure to meet modern safety or emissions legislation means they aren't road legal. (The two continuation Jaguars are also track only.) It looks just like a beautifully restored 1959 DB4 GT, of course. It's a precise copy in every way, including switchgear and

Though wearing a number plate, the new car is a track-only weapon. Blame modern safety and emissions legislation

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What they lacked in safety they made up for in style. Mike Hawthorn raced wearing a bow tie

Visually there's nothing to separate this from an original engine. But the new ones gain 48bhp from an extra 500cc

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lights. Many of these smaller parts are sourced from classic car suppliers, which provide replica components to the UK’s huge fleet of historic vehicles, including Aston Martins. But much of the car had to be remanufactured from scratch in a process Aston Martin Works managing director Paul Spires calls reverse engineering. Digital 3D scans were done of key components, including chassis, body panels, engine parts, dashboard and fuel flap. The block and head even underwent hospital-style CT scans, for extra detail. Original drawings were also carefully studied. In some cases, original suppliers retooled for a new limitededition batch. This includes Borrani, the Italian supplier of those lovely wire wheels. The Dunlop racing tyres, on the other hand, are widely available for historic motorsport. There are a few changes from the original spec. The new cars have enlarged engines, up to 4.2 litres from the original 3.7. This boosts power, now elevated to 350bhp. More importantly, it inflates torque, making the car easier to drive and more usable. The four-speed gearbox uses the original design for the casing but the actual gears, from racing gearbox maker Hewland, are different. The old cars had fragile synchro; the new cogs are straight-cut and synchro-free. Gear shifting is faster but demands more precision. Suspension

CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018

bushes have also been replaced by more robust rose joints. Inside, a modern roll cage snakes around the cabin, and a six-point racing harness tethers the driver to the small bucket seat, made from modern lightweight plastic composites. Typically, the original drivers raced without harnesses, apart from maybe an aircraft-style lap belt. What they lacked in safety, they made up for in style. Aston driver (and 1958 world champion) Mike Hawthorn raced wearing a bow tie. The little alloy door is ludicrously light – access is by a conventional chrome door handle – and I’m soon glued to the non-period seat by the non-period racing harness. I turn a little key, and the engine barks into life. The gearshift is by a delightfully tall stalk: it’s a very short-throw change, firm but precise, four speeds in an H pattern. The wooden rim wheel is vast by modern standards, and behind it is a bank of white-on-black round Smiths instruments sited haphazardly on the simple upright black pressed-metal dash, crowned by vinyl padding. The clutch is heavy. I give the throttle a stab – revs soar – and gingerly leave the pitlane. Precise, fast change into second, then across the gate into third. It’s a wrist-flick short change. To go back to second gear for the upcoming bend, brake with the ball of your right foot, then kiss the accelerator with your heel, and the engine gives a yelp for joy. Simultaneously slot the shifter down across the gate into second. It’s a lovely shift, but care is needed. There’s satisfaction in those gearchanges, making for a richer driving experience. It’s a physical, hot, heavy car and a natural understeerer, so you tend to throw it into a bend, feeling it lean and slip and slide. But it’s predictable, and so rewarding as you power out of the corners with the straight-six yowling. Of course, it’s not as quick as a modern supercar – 0-60mph takes just over six seconds, top speed 155. Modern hot hatches can go harder. It drifts over the tarmac, not glued to the road, and its feedback is unfiltered, never muted like most modern fast cars. It serenades with its exhaust and the induction suck of its carburettors. You strain shoulder and arm muscles to steer, and leg muscles to brake and press the clutch pedal. You can smell a rich old-car fug. There is no sound deadening, so you hear the tyres, wind, road and motor. A modern car insulates and isolates you from the world. This old-timer hides nothing, which is why it’s so much fun to drive at lower speeds whereas a modern supercar only dances when velocity goes stratospheric. After many laps I return to the pitlane sweaty and a bit drained, and the Stirling Moss timewarp is over. In a supercar like the DB11 you’d go much faster – air-con on, listening to Radio 4, V12 purring, low-profile tyres guiding you on rails, finger-tipping easy paddleshifting. But for sheer driving engagement, romance and rawness, it’s impossible to beat a classic sports car. And if that old car is actually new then that doesn’t make it any less pleasurable.


Aston special New DB4 GT

Aston is building 25 new DB4 GTs. They're all sold

No flappy paddles here. Huge wheel supplies huge feedback

Sound insulation is non-existent, so driver gets the same soundtrack as spectators

Is there nothing ugly on this car? Even the filler cap is exquisite

Borrani made the original wheels and has retooled to make these

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S P E C I A L

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Aston special Valkyrie

ENTER VALHALLA

Aston’s ambitions for 2018 and beyond are embodied in the astonishing Valkyrie, F1 genius Adrian Newey’s rule-breaking road car Words Gavin Green | Photography John Wycherley

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK

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Aston special Valkyrie

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WENTY-FIVE YEARS after the McLaren F1 reinvented the supercar, so another British sports car maker is set to do it again. As with the McLaren, the new Valkyrie uses cutting-edge Formula 1 technology to elevate speed and driver appeal. This time, though, it’s an Aston Martin that’s tearing up the template. Aston Martin has never had a reputation for technical ingenuity. In fact, for a big chunk of its history, it’s been something of a laggard. Those meaty V8 Vantages of the ’90s, for instance, had the engineering sophistication of an old-school American muscle car, whose lantern-jawed styling they also mirrored. They also revelled in their olde-worlde heritage, from hand-wrought construction to Blower Bentley-style tally-ho supercharging. But the timewarp maker has gone high-tech, and the new Valkyrie is being built to showcase the seismic shift. Plus, CEO Andy Palmer wants to expand Aston Martin’s range of super-sports cars, and a mid-engine Ferrari 488 rival forms part of the plan. As Palmer told me recently, the Valkyrie helps ‘to legitimise’ Aston Martin as a serious maker of mid-engine sportsters. ‘It is an important area of the luxury car market where we have no track record,’ he says. Yet the most important factor in the Valkyrie’s gestation was Palmer’s close relationship with Red Bull Racing and with its chief technical officer, Adrian Newey. Newey had long wanted to design a road car. ‘I’ve been wanting to do something like this for years,’ Newey tells me. ‘Sometimes when I had a few idle moments I would doodle some ideas and throw them in a box where they have slowly gathered dust over the years. In 2015 I thought it was time to do something with them so I agreed with Christian Horner [Red Bull Racing team principal] that I would start work part time on such a project. ‘We assembled a very small team, a chief designer, an aerodynamicist and a surface designer to start work on it from a mechanical package and aero shape point of view. We worked through the autumn of 2015 and then started discussions into what we do next. Do we find a private investor to partner with or do we approach a car company? In the end both Christian and I thought it best to partner a car maker. They know all about things like distribution, sales, servicing, emissions regulations and door seals – all the areas in which we have no experience. ‘Aston Martin was clearly the favourite, only half an hour or so drive away and clearly a very appropriate company. That was an easy choice and we already knew Andy Palmer, Aston Martin’s CEO, which made it a very simple deal.’ Red Bull and Aston Martin got talking, as did Newey and Aston design boss Marek Reichman. The upshot is the Valkyrie, which will be the fastest and most advanced supercar – or hypercar – in history. The high-speed tech is mostly Red Bull’s and Newey’s, the top-hat design is by Aston Martin. The difficult jobs of developing, manufacturing, styling and servicing the car were Aston’s responsibility. It would wear an Aston Martin badge, after all. There are numerous parallels with the McLaren F1, the best supercar I have driven, and the single biggest advance in high-speed sports cars to date. Just as the Valkyrie is the brainchild of Newey, the most successful Formula 1 designer

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in history, so the McLaren was the creation of Gordon Murray, the most successful F1 technical brain of his time. In 1988, Murray’s MP4/4 had just finished winning 15 of the 16 GPs in the hands of Senna and Prost. Like Newey, Murray wanted another challenge. Murray was dismissive of contemporary supercars. Newey today is similarly uncomplimentary. He describes the current ‘state of the art’ hypercars – the McLaren P1, LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder – as ‘big, clumsy and heavy. And it’s not just supercars. It’s the way the car industry has gone, from old Mini to new Mini, from old Ford GT40 to the newer Ford GT. I wanted to avoid this and keep the car compact. I wanted, in effect, a two-seat Formula 1 car in its underlying architecture.’ As with Murray and his McLaren, he told me he also wanted a car of ‘two characters. It will have a new level of performance on road or track compared with any other road car. At the same time, it’s comfortable if you’re stuck in traffic or cruising the motorway.’ The objectives were bold, to say the least. The most ambitious was a desire to produce a car with one horsepower for every kilo of weight – for some years now a hypercar Holy Grail. The McLaren F1 was just over 55 per cent as efficient (627bhp/1140kg). The 25-year newer LaFerrari Aperta, driven in the January issue, is no better. The Valkyrie will be the fastest road car ever. In track guise (on slicks) it aims to match the lap times of a Formula 1 car. Final specifications of the car are still being finalised – first deliveries are still a year away – but the power output is likely to be between 1050 and 1100bhp, and weight between 1050 and 1100kg. Newey says they were hoping for 1000kg, but

…AND THEN TURN IT UP TO 11 AMR Pro version gains power, loses weight. Oh yes! The on-track potential of the Valkyrie is let loose in 2020's £3m+ AMR Pro, a limited edition of 25 cars, all sold already. And what potential that is: lap times comparable to an F1 or LMP1 race car, with a 250mph top speed. It was developed at the same time, by the same people, including Adrian Newey. He says: 'While the core elements of the road and track versions are shared, every aspect of the AMR Pro has been optimised to significantly extend the performance envelope. It offers a level of track performance significantly beyond any previous two-seat closed-roof car.' How's this been achieved? Revised aero, including larger front and rear wings, for increased downforce. More power and torque. Smaller wheels. LMP1-spec tyres. Carbon brakes. Ditching the air-con and infotainment. Using polycarbonate instead of glass. Different suspension components. Moulded race seats. And a lighter, louder exhaust.


Instruments are on steering wheel. Touchscreen is for sat-nav and audio. Smaller screens show feed from cameras, replacing mirrors

Newey dismisses rivals as big, clumsy and heavy â&#x20AC;&#x201C; unlike Valkyrie

They couldn't get it below 1000kg, so they upped the power instead


Near-finished product is the fruit of creative friction between Newey's pursuit of purity and Reichman's belief in beauty

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won’t quite achieve it. (So was Murray with the F1: he told me it was the only metric he failed to deliver.) Naturally the car has a carbonfibre monocoque, bodywork and suspension, made using Formula 1-standard materials and construction. The all-new engine is a bespoke naturally aspirated 6.5-litre V12 from Cosworth. No confirmation of the redline, but it will be way north of 10,000rpm. ‘The engine had to be bespoke,’ Newey says. ‘We spent a lot of time looking at the obvious alternatives to a normally aspirated V12 or a turbo V6 or V8. We came to the conclusion that from a technical standpoint a V12 was the best solution because although the engine itself is heavier it is actually a much easier package to install. You haven’t got the turbos and the charge coolers to clutter up the back end of the car. It’s a naturally very well balanced engine that means it can become a fully stressed member without putting excessive vibration into the chassis structure. ‘I was concerned that if we mounted a V6 or V8 the vibration would be excessive and make it unpleasant from both a comfort and noise point of view in the cabin. When it comes to the acoustics, which is important, a V12 with a 12-into-1 exhaust system – which this car has – is a much more exciting sound than a turbocharged V6 or V8 will ever make.’ ‘To get that much power, the naturally aspirated engine needs to rev very high,’ notes Aston Martin engineering chief David King. ‘To compensate, we’re also using electric hybrid power for extra low-speed torque.’ This also happily inflates total power. ‘Only a small proportion of the power comes from the electric motor, sited within the powertrain. Any more, and the

CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018

lithium-ion battery pack would be too heavy,’ says King. The electric motor will help with pull-away from a standing start – so the clutch doesn’t get stressed – and will help smooth out gearshifts. It will also offer reverse gear. The gearbox is a Newey-designed single-clutch sequential ’box, engineered and built by Ricardo. It has seven ratios and shifts are by F1-style paddles. The transmission drives the rear wheels and is very compact to allow plenty of room for the big underbody venturi tunnels, crucial for good aero. The underbody is astonishing. Kneel down low to look through the nose and it’s like peering at an F1 car close up: high nose, big front wing hovering above the tarmac and wide aero tunnels channelling air through the car’s smooth underside. From the rear, it’s even more amazing: there are two vast underbody venturi tunnels incorporating a rear diffuser with mechanicals suspended from a smooth-surfaced pod in the middle. It’s an F1 car with a slither of a sports car body. It’s low, small and very sleek. The canopy looks more like a fighter jet’s than a sports car greenhouse. It’s small and narrow, and so is the cockpit. Reichman ushers me behind the wheel. The doors are gullwing and the door opening apertures are small. Although vaulting the high carbon sill does take some athleticism, it’s easy to get comfortable on the exiguous seat (all owners, naturally, get bespoke fittings). There is a choice of left- or right-hand drive. You sit very near the car’s centre-line and very close to your


Aston special Valkyrie

passenger alongside. There is decent fore/aft room, though. Reichman is 6ft 3in tall and fits in just fine. You sit angled 2º inwards. You’re aware of the feet-up driving position, necessary as air gushes under your feet to work the underbody aero magic. The vast single wiper lies upright in the middle of the wraparound windscreen (Newey expects owners to unscrew it the moment they get home). The interior is minimalist, stark and efficient. It has some creature comforts but little decoration. Air-con will be essential. The windows don’t open. Of the 150 cars to be built, at approximately £2.5 million each, King expects about 50 per cent of owners to ‘wrap them in cotton wool’, and the other half to use their cars regularly, including trackdays. In many ways, the Valkyrie is more advanced than a Formula 1 car. It has active aerodynamics and active suspension including variable ride height (both proscribed by F1 rules). ‘These are all the things Adrian would love to do on an F1 car but can’t,’ says King. ‘It’s Adrian’s vision we are trying to deliver,’ adds King. ‘We need to get as close to this as we can without doing the impossible. Adrian has pushed us to places we couldn’t have gone otherwise and that will benefit us in the future.’ Reichman admits the relationship with perfectionist Newey has been difficult at times. Newey wanted to preserve the car’s performance, Reichman wanted to make it look beauti-

ful, ‘and like an Aston Martin should. We both learnt along the way. For example, Adrian didn’t want number plates – it’ll screw up the frontal area and the aero, he thought. “Adrian,” I said, “It’s a road car. It’s a legal requirement.” And guess what? That front number plate plinth actually improved downforce. ‘Adrian is so dedicated to his ideas. But by the same measure, I didn’t want this car to look like an LMP1 car that was a slave to aero. It had to have an Aston Martin aesthetic. But we have achieved function and beauty together. And that’s what’s so important about this car.’ The Valkyrie also informs the shape of the new mid-engine Aston Martin super sports car, likely for 2020. Reichman wanted a different language from Ferrari and McLaren. ‘The cooling comes from below and above, not from big side radiators. That gives a very different aesthetic.’ He describes the new look, as ‘agile, lithe, elemental and with a unique Aston Martin form language, and a real bloodline from the Valkyrie. It’ll be a lighter and more efficient supercar.’ So the Valkyrie may well transform the supercar, just as the McLaren F1 did. It will also influence a whole new generation of Aston Martins.

ASTON MARTIN VALKYRIE > Price £2.5m (approx) > Engine 6.5-litre naturally-aspirated V12 with e-motor, 1050-1100bhp (est) > Transmission Seven-speed sequential, rear-wheel drive > Performance Sub 3.0sec 0-62mph, 200mph+ top speed > Weight 1050-1100kg (est) > On sale First deliveries 2019 (all sold)

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Mercedes E350d All-Terrain

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Giant Test 4x4 estates

Want rural practicality and city class but have no desire to join the masses in an SUV? Mercedes, Audi and Volvo present their solutions

Words Steve Moody | Photography Alex Tapley

Audi A6 Allroad 3.0 TDI Quattro

Volvo V90 D5 Cross Country

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Mud holds no fear for the Merc: reversing camera and towbar covered until needed

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Giant Test 4x4 estates

N THE BLEAK midwinter, deep in the heart of Alan Partridge country, it looks like the City has been given a couple of weekdays off as we swish through the lanes, throwing up a gloopy miasma of mud. The locals around the North Norfolk coast barely give these three big estates a second glance, accustomed as they are to expensive vehicles invading on a regular basis, their inhabitants carefully trimmed in Barbour and Joules, car boots stuffed with hummus, stonebaked breads and stand-up paddleboards. You can’t help but wonder that the locals might view the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain, Volvo V90 Cross Country and Audi A6 Allroad as they might view the weekenders: togged out in mock rural or rough-and-ready technical gear to give the right impression in the beach car park. But crucial to the point of these vehicles is their ability to do more than a passable impression of a proper 4x4, and the Mercedes at first appears to have the widest range of kit to pull off the trick. It sits 29 millimetres higher than the townie E-Class Estate, half of which is due to the tyres’ taller height/width ratio and half to some more puff in the standard air suspension. Furthermore, in its off-road mode the All-Terrain can hitch up its britches 20mm to provide ground clearance of as much as 156mm. The Volvo steadies itself at a consistent six centimetres above a standard V90, and likewise for the A6 Allroad, although with its air suspension it can hunker down at higher speeds, as can the All-Terrain. It is noticeable on faster roads too: the Audi and Merc appear to be normal estates, while the Volvo’s taller setting makes it look like Bambi on ice. There’s a theme as recurrent as the tide in this test: the Volvo is giving quite a lot away to the other two, but on the flipside it is considerably cheaper. This D5 PowerPulse AWD Cross Country Pro (presumably there will be an Am version for gentleman greenlaners) costs a set of Hunter wellies under £48,000, which is still a whopping amount for a Volvo estate but is positively Black Friday pricing compared to the A6 3.0 BiTDI quattro at almost £58,000 and the E350d 4matic, a further £800 more. Interestingly the test cars all felt about the same spec, and actually all topped out with extras at more than 60 grand. Of the three, the Mercedes has by far the most standard kit. I’m not sure you can call it good value, but if you’ve got a pile of cash sitting about and want an easy life, you’ll get a lot of car without having to tick any more boxes. You can see where Mercedes has spent the money, because

There’s only one winner when it comes to space, thanks to Merc’s refusal to put a fastback on the E A6 Allroad is brutally effective on road and sludgy car park alike

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Giant Test 4x4 estates

Huge standard-fit dashboard screen is actually two 12.4-inch displays. You can watch multiple angles from the rear cameras to help with reversing and hitching up a trailer.

Where the exterior is cleverly detailed to cope with mud and rocks, the inside is incongruously fancy and effete. Big choice of trims, most of them light and fussy.

the cabin of the All-Terrain uses material of the highest quality, although cream leather and braided chrome slabs with strip LED lighting glowing from every nook and cranny does give it the ambience of a footballer’s dining room rather than an environment for wearing muddy wellies in. It’s a situation which of KEY TECH: MERCEDES course can be rectified with the judicious Variable ride height choice of wood and some darker leather, 3.0 V6 turbodiesel mated to 4matic with air suspension that has a range but even so, an E-Class cabin will always of 35mm can either drop the car for be glamorous. Which is fine if looking the motorways or give more than 15cm part once a month at the yacht club is your ground clearance off-road. Can thing, less so if you’ve got a pig on the way be selected through five different driving modes, or ride height to slaughter in the boot. I’ll assume the individually lifted. market for this car is the former. The front seats, though, are utterly marvellous, exquisitely contoured to fit round their occupants like spacesuits. If there are better seats outside of the superluxury sector, my buttocks have yet to discover them. The large screen which dominates the dash like a cliff face tends to divide opinion. It can display a bewildering amount of information and hi-res imagery: when you switch into AllTerrain mode you’re treated to the sight of your E sweeping through a dust cloud, for example. But it is a little chintzy. When you get in the Audi and the Volvo, the cabins have none of the glitz or glamour. Whatever floats your yacht, I suppose. In fact, after the self-indulgence and grandiosity of the AllTerrain, the Allroad feels positively Spartan, and it’s not often you can say that of an Audi. But the A6 is showing its age. I’d been stood out in one of those biting North Sea winds that take a

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Controls are standard E-Class and none the worse for it. Rotary controller and touchpad control the infotainment screen.

run up from those places where the sun doesn’t shine, got in the A6 and switched it on, then rubbed my gale-stung eyes because everything was fuzzy. Turns out that’s the A6’s screen resolution. Such is the pace of change that the A6’s controls are looking a bit SD to the other two cars’ HD, with blurry edges and clunkier graphics. It all works with a precise logic, but it lacks the clarity of the Volvo or the fun (a smattering is allowed!) Mercedes has clearly had with the E-Class imagery. The Cross Country’s cabin, as we have come to expect from the latest generation of Volvos, is more a balance of the two, offering many of the digital functions the Mercedes has, with the stern rationality of the Audi. It’s been said more than once that its iPad-like screen isn’t the fastest and it can be difficult to find stuff, but perhaps I’m a bit slow too because it seems perfectly quick enough for me. Once you’ve had a poke about it’s easy to find all of the things you might need. I’m still unconvinced that touchscreens are safer than buttons in terms of the amount of time spent looking away from the road, though. Heading rearward, there is only one winner when it comes to space. The E-Class has a vast amount of room in the back and boot, thanks to Mercedes’ curmudgeonly intransigence in refusing to put a new-fangled ‘fast back’ on their E. It is vastly bigger than the other two. The V90 is a unique and recognisable shape and I love the concave surfaces, but chopping nearly a quarter of the boot space off to get a sharply angled sporty rear feels like Volvo selling out and trying to be something it’s not. I can accept it from Audi – it’s always put form over function – but for those of you making your weekend escape with dogs and sprogs, every litre of space counts, and the All-Terrain is the easy winner with 640 litres, around 80 litres (a whole Labrador!) more than the other two.


True to form, the Audi infotainment is logical and easy to use. It lacks the sophistication of the far newer Mercedes All-Terrain, though.

New A8 and A7 make current A6 family look a little old-hat, but in reality this is a fine, intuitive blend of logically grouped dials, switches, buttons and screen.

If the interior looks a bit old hat compared to the E-Class, that’ll be because it is. But fit and finish are superb.

Leather-clad dashboard separates Cross Country from the standard V90. The rest of the interior is identical: no bad thing.

Seats, like the ride, are supremely comfortable. More than one style is available – it’s worth finding out which suits your shape best. Some finishes are easier to wipe clean, too. iPad-a-like touchscreen has a multitude of menus but is easy to navigate with a bit of practice. We had no problems with its response speed.

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KEY TECH: AUDI

Biturbo wallop Monstrous twin-turbo V6 diesel gives tremendous on-road performance and lots of low-down torque, vectored via trusty quattro to avoid mid-corner understeer. Hill Descent Control is available too if you’re off-road.

Accessing your trawler is easy in the Volvo but on-road handling can induce seasickness

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Talking of carrying capacity, both the Audi and the Volvo can tow 2500kg braked, but the Mercedes only lugs 2100kg from its little standard towbar that electrically fluffs itself erect from beneath the rear bumper. But the mere fact that it has a tow bar as standard demonstrates the practicality of the Mercedes All-Terrain, an impression reinforced when you’re manoeuvring around a harbourside full of large metal objects and stone pillars. The E-Class’s reversing camera appears from behind a flap when you engage reverse, which means you can see the looming anchor in pin sharp brightness. Do the same in the Audi and Volvo and people and objects will be lost behind a muddy film, only looming at the last moment out of a gloomy brown seaside soup like an Antony Gormley statue. I’m not sure about this Hyacinth Red colour of the Mercedes, not least because it could clash with one’s weekend corduroys, but at least it’s a change from the usual drab palette Volvo and Audi offer. Other than this dreadful white, which makes the V90 look like a caravan, there’s not a colour in either range which is brighter and more cheery than North Sea Wash Brown. The AllTerrain can be painted in something a bit purpleish or another greeny-blue one like the bottom of a tropical fish tank. Shame then that probably every buyer will opt for grey, silver or black. Perhaps Audi and Volvo are on to something, after all. The Audi Allroad’s styling is similarly discreet. Other than a chrome mouth organ on the front skirting, a blade of chrome at the rear and a smear of plastic around the wheelarches, there’s not much to tell anyone this is a puffed-up version of the A6 Avant. Which might be the way Allroad buyers like it, having


Giant Test 4x4 estates

There was a time when Mercedes diesels had as much refinement as a tugboat, but this sails along

chosen to avoid bombastic showing-off in an SUV. The V90 carries a lot more cladding around its nether regions than the other two, which either makes the Cross Country look more utilitarian and eminently sensible, or just cheaper, depending on your point of view. Personally, I like the idea of not wincing every time I scrape past a thorn bush or laneside rock, but then I don’t have the money to own a five-bedroom Farrow and Ball-smeared bolthole with a sea view. If you do, the E-Class looks the part. It has a big, macho barred grille nicked from a Unimog dressed for a disco, thickly spoked alloys and requisite plastic cladding around the wheelarches. But it’s not all show. Crouch down and the nose of the E is pert, offering more ramp angle than the other two (the Audi would baulk at a pavement kerb), while on the underside it is heavily protected by chunky skid plates. All of course have permanent four-wheel drive, which we tested as the North Sea drained away towards Europe to reveal short stay car parking for those with good timekeeping and no fear of sticky, gloopy mud. Traction for all three cars is impressively dependable, all dealing with the sorts of surfaces that could embarrass a heavier SUV on big, wide tyres. Should on-road handling be your principal concern, I would suggest you don’t buy the Volvo Cross Country. Gone are the days when Volvos had the agility of a barge on the nearby Broads, but dynamically the V90 is still left behind by the other two, and that’s not saying a lot. As standard, it has passive dampers all round, with steel springs at the front and air springs at the rear, but ours came

Stand aside, yokels, the townies are coming – prepare to be priced from your cottages

Mercedes has the most rear-biased off-road manners. Boot is humongous

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Volvo V90 D5 PowerPulse Cross Country Pro

Price | £57,900 As tested | £68,960 Engine | 2967 24v twin-turbo V6 Transmission | 8-speed auto, all-wheel drive Suspension | Adaptive sir suspension Made of | Steel/aluminium

Price | £47,905 As tested | £61,380 Engine | 1969 16v turbo 4-cyl Transmission | 8-speed auto, all-wheel drive Suspension | Steel springs front, air suspension rear Made of | Steel

1497mm

1534mm

Price | £58,880 As tested | £61,470 Engine | 2987cc 24v turbo V6 Transmission | 9-speed auto, all-wheel drive Suspension | Air suspension, coil spring front and rear Made of | Steel

Audi A6 Allroad 3.0 TDI Quattro Sport

1543mm

Mercedes-Benz E350d All-Terrain

1861mm

1898mm

4947mm

1895mm

4938mm

4936mm

Power and torque

Weight

Power to weight

We say | Merc and Audi slug it out, Volvo cheers on – from a distance

We say | V90 and A6 carry bulk over townie versions, Merc same hefty weight

We say | Lightness should help Volvo make up its power deficit. You don’t feel the benefit, though

258bhp @ 3400rpm Mercedes 457lb ft @ 1600rpm Audi

1955kg

314bhp @ 3900rpm Audi 479lb ft @ 1400rpm

Volvo

Mercedes

Volvo

2010kg

1848kg

Mercedes per tonne

Official and test mpg

Top speed We say | Audi hits its limiter like a brick wall. What an engine!

Mercedes Test

LV

O

ER

AU

33.4mpg

Official 43.5mpg

Volvo Test

33.8mpg Official 53.3mpg

Official 41.5mpg

CEDES

DI

Audi 155mph (limited) 20 0

M

31.5mpg

100 0 15

Mercedes 155mph (limited)

Audi Test

VO

Volvo 7.5sec

per tonne

We say | Four-wheel drive on wet, muddy lanes makes official figures irrelevant

Mercedes 6.0sec Audi 5.5 sec

124bhp

per tonne

0

We say | Blimey, that A6 is quick, but slick-shifting Merc is very close behind

Volvo

128bhp 161bhp

354lb ft @ 1750rpm

0-62mph

Audi

50

230bhp @ 4000rpm

Volvo 140mph

Fuel tank

Range

C02

Lease rates

We say | Lack of pumps in Norfolk won’t be a problem

We say | 100s of diesel-powered miles before stopping

We say | Only one winner as a company car choice

We say | Merc dear, A6 must get great Audi support, V90 cheap

Mercedes: 468 miles Audi: 504 miles Volvo: 439 miles Mercedes

Audi

Volvo

66 73 60 litres

litres

litres

Mercedes Volvo

Mercedes

179 g/km

139 g/km

CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018

Audi

£520

36 months, £4676 deposit

Audi

172 g/km

88

£642

36 months, £5774 deposit

Volvo

£382

36 months, £3441


Giant Test 4x4 estates with adaptive dampers all round and yet still gave the impression of a car spread out over a lot of road, with each wheel dealing with separate conditions. The result is a discomfiting oscillation. Going slower, this isn’t as pronounced, but if you increase speed then the effect is exacerbated. It’s a tendency of most big Volvos, and is a function of their set-up at the more comfortable end of the spectrum, but it is more marked with the higher body of the Cross Country, and not helped by the rollercoastering road surfaces found on seaside country lanes. The steering also has a disconcertingly wide difference between heavy and light at varying speeds, and has that annoyingly dogged trait of always trying to return to centre. The Audi is the most sporty, and the stiffest and therefore hardest riding, although the steering has as much life as a Norfolk town centre after dark. But it’s accurate and consistent and the quattro system, with its torque vectoring, does a very impressive job of flattening out bends with little fuss. Even though the Allroad is on the venerable side now at more than five years old, it benefits from being one of the first of the generation of quattro models which banished that nose-heavy understeer. It might not be delightful to drive, but it is brutally effective. The Mercedes All-Terrain, on the other hand, feels very floaty in Comfort mode, with overly light steering. I found myself switching to Sport, which gives up some of the excellent ride quality, but trades that off for less body roll and heavier steering. I’m no great fan of making steering heavier just for the sake of it, preferring to save energy for the extreme kite surfing I would no doubt undertake should I have a car like this, but it helps to give the All-Terrain a more substantial feel. The result is a car that, while you would not dare to call it involving, is able to travel surprisingly rapidly and accurately on even the tightest roads. This is helped by a quite magnificent engine. The six-cylinder motor in the All-Terrain doesn’t offer a great deal more power at any especially usable level other than the top end, but the deciding factor is a massive third more torque at below 2000rpm than the Volvo and an extra gear for good measure too. The result is stark: it really leaps forward, throwing meaty haymakers in every short gear, while there is a distant, slightly industrial

1st

A brilliant all-round, all-terrain package, if you can tolerate the chintz

whispery fizz of engine noise. There was a time when Mercedes diesel engines had as much refinement as a tug boat. With this marvellous motor, the All-Terrain sails along as if pushed by a stiff breeze. If diesels were banned next week, automotive historians will say this was one of the very best of the breed. The Audi, with its biturbo V6, is quicker than the E-Class, and it does it with a more overt display of power, one less gear, a small extra dollop of torque and a noticeably more meaty V6-ish noise coming from under the bonnet (and the speakers). In truth, they are both pretty fleet for cars with aspirations towards going deep into the countryside, and there isn’t much at all between them thanks to the All-Terrain’s extra gear, which helps it extract a lot from a slightly less powerful engine. What might not make it into the Museum of Diesel is the four-cylinder Volvo D5. Aptly named PowerPulse, suggesting delivery is intermittent, it certainly feels like a lesser engine compared to the mighty sixes in the other two cars. Thrashy, peaky and pedestrian in comparison, it is a faintly depressing display in a near-£50,000 car. Volvo might have nailed its colours to a future of whizzy electric engines, but in the here and now its four-pot diesel is struggling to hold its own at this level. The question potential buyers must be asking is this: other than a higher driving position, what can an SUV do that these can’t? All three of them can mudplug with the best of them, all look great, have excellent cabins, handle better and drive more economically than the respective slab-sided cousins in their ranges. But the Mercedes does it all with so much quality, thought and class, and brings plenty of boring old practicality along too. KEY TECH: VOLVO If I had to be heckled as a posh secondOff-road mode home out-of-towner by some aggrieved Four-pot 2.0 turbodiesel powers Volvo’s all-wheel drive which has Offlocals as I drove by, then I would Road mode with throttle response happily, and smugly, be abused in the adapted for smoother progress Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain. and Hill Descent Control activated. @Sjmoody37

2nd

Fast and competent if a bit long in the tooth

Adaptive dampers are optional.

3rd

Distinctively Volvo, but chuggy engine and so-so dynamics

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Inside Hondaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Collection Hall

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IN S ID E H O N DA’ S C O LLECTI O N HALL

SPIRIT OF SOICHIRO At Tochigi, in nowheresville rural Japan, is a collection of artistry to rival anything in the Louvre: the world’s greatest Honda collection Words Ben Miller | Photography Mark Riccioni

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Inside Honda’s Collection Hall

I

N 1952, JUST THREE years after creating the first true Honda, the Dream D-Type two-wheeler, founder Soichiro went to America on a fact-finding mission. There he saw the world’s best precision machine tools, and headed back to Japan convinced this hardware would be essential for him to succeed in his ambition of creating the world’s finest cars and motorcycles. He then invested 450 million yen in machinery at a time when his fledgling firm’s operating capital stood at just six million yen. Ballsy stuff, but it helps explain a lot. It helps explain how the Japanese startup went from powered bicycles little faster than walking to domination of Grand Prix motorcycle racing’s 250cc and 350cc classes in a little over a decade. It also helps explain how Honda became synonymous with sublime internal combustion engines. Look no further than the Super Cub motorcycle’s overhead-valve 49cc single, an engine unremarkable but for the fact that it was – and still is – so perfectly fit for purpose that the total number of units produced recently passed the one million mark. Clean, reliable and quiet where two-strokes were loud, messy and fragile, the Super Cub made Honda as much as Honda made it: the company’s been obsessed with the joy and functional beauty of a fine four-stroke ever since.

Comprising hundreds of cars, bikes, robots, mowers, light trucks and trikes, Honda’s Collection Hall has everything you’d expect of a firm that’s both wildly successful and lovably maverick, well able to pigheadedly go its own way no matter how stacked against it the odds of success. The stuff you expect is present and correct: the innovative first-generation Civic; the still-stunning original NSX, in ultra-rare Type R guise; and the CB750, Honda’s revolutionary four-cylinder 750 superbike, which turned up like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey while the ’60s British motorcycle industry was still scratching around in the Dark Ages, and whose fat profits paid for Honda’s Ohio manufacturing and R&D base. And then there’s the nuts stuff: the Motocompo, a tiny plastic-bodied two-wheeler that looks like a cassette tape and was designed to be ferried around in the boot of your already tiny kei car; the early F1 cars, with their serpentine exhausts, conceived in a country then without any motorsport experience or infrastructure and with just an old CooperClimax for inspiration; and the improbably sexy mowers. Said Soichiro of his mission in the early days: ‘I want to make people happy.’ A visit to the Collection Hall will do the job.

To beat them Honda had to join them in Grand Prix motorcycle racing, admitting defeat with its valiant NR four-stroke project before running a series of phenomenally successful two-strokes through the ’80s and ’90s. But the company’s first love will always be the four-stroke, preferably in a V4 format. ’91 RVF750 was a force to be reckoned with in endurance racing

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Light, high-revving, fine-handling Type R bloodline is, when you see it like this (Civic, Integra and NSX),one of considerable pedigree

Honda is obsessed with the joy and functional beauty of a fine four-stroke engine

Entrance hall gets off to a strong start with S500, Super Cub and Gintherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s RA272 Grand Prix car. Stripped motorcycle is the road-going version of Hondaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s RC213V MotoGP racer

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Highs and lows: nearest plinth is a place of success, with Williams, Lotus and McLaren F1 cars powered by turbo Honda V6s. Far plinth less so, though the 2006 RA106, engineered by the first works Honda F1 team since the late ’60s, won a race – Jenson Button’s first GP win

It’s easy to wonder why Honda persists with its robotics project, which has absorbed enormous R&D spend in the journey from microwavebonced object of terror to friendly triumph able to jog and take a penalty kick. But the expertise gleaned is applicable elsewhere. The gyroscope-based stability control systems of Honda’s MotoGP racer draws on Asimo tech, as does the selfbalancing Riding Assist-e bike

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Fastback S600 shows European influences, even if its powertrain was pure Honda. Soichiro had to go to the Japanese government for permission to paint his cars red – the colour had been reserved for emergency vehicles

The funky face of utility – super-cool TN360 pick-up a successor to the T360, Honda’s first mass-produced four-wheeler


Inside Honda’s Collection Hall

HONDA: THE FUTURE CEO TAKAHIRO HACHIGO ON WHAT’S NEXT > ‘We will launch the Urban EV [city sister car of the Sports EV, right] in Europe in 2019. We are going to create a dedicated EV platform and the Urban EV will use this. With the Sports EV Concept we try to maximise the joy of driving. We don’t have plans to make the Sports EV yet – it depends on feedback from Europe and Japan.’

‘We see ourselves as the world’s number one mobility company’ Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo

> ‘We will position these EVs as iconic cars for the Honda brand because they present our intention to accelerate electrification. The Urban EV will be your close friend as a city commuter. It will be connected, with artificial intelligence, and it will be fun to drive. This model will change the image of Honda. We will also launch a commercial vehicle based on the Urban EV platform.’ > ‘We see ourselves as the world’s number one mobility company, selling products to 28 million customers per year.’ > ‘Globally speaking, twothirds of all four-wheeled Honda vehicles will be electrified by 2030. For Europe we have a different milestone: 2025. As far as hybrids are concerned, Honda has already sold two million units worldwide. Therefore the next European models focused on electrification are further hybrid models and plug-in hybrid models – these will accelerate the electrification of our vehicles in Europe. Then we will focus on genuine EVs. ‘I believe we are ahead of our competitors in terms of control

technology for EV powertrains and batteries and motors, so we can leverage that technological know-how to lead.’ > ‘We believe that the fuel cell is the ultimate zero-emission vehicle technology, because a fuel cell vehicle produces power within the car and can be used in the same manner as a conventional petrol car. Cost and infrastructure are the big challenges, but we are not the only one in control of everything around these areas, so we will continue to run parallel EV and fuel cell zero-emission programmes. To mitigate costs we have already formed a fuel cell joint venture with GM, and to have better infrastructure in Europe we are exploring possibilities around collaborations with counterparts and governments.’ > ‘We must conduct further studies before we can decide whether the S2000 should be reinvented or not. I hear many voices expressing an interest, and Honda’s engineers are always quick to respond to requests for sporty cars, but the sales people must be enthusiastic.’ > ‘It is unfortunate that we had to part ways with McLaren before fulfilling our ambitions [in F1], however this is the best course of action for each other’s future.’ 

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Inside Honda’s Collection Hall

So diminutive it makes a Super Cub moped look big, the S500 was Honda’s first passenger car. Chain final drive betrays its creator’s two-wheeled origins, as does the car’s screaming 531cc double overhead camshaft four that revs to 9500rpm…

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It’s an Accord but only just – 1996 SiR racer is loosely based on Europe’s fifth-gen Accord and won the ’96 All Japan Touring Car Championship. Driver sits on the floor with brake lines for company, while the wing mirror’s all about low-drag aero

The first motorcycle to bear the Honda name was built in 1947; a tiny 0.5bhp two-stroke. Twenty years later Mike Hailwood’s 500cc RC181 was a match for anything the more storied European marques could create; 85bhp at 12,000rpm and complete reliability

CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018


The Insight was first but the Prius went on to become one of the world’s best-selling cars…

The NR750 superbike’s fiendishly complex ‘oval’-pistoned V4 was a love letter to the performance four-stroke. The pistons, shaped like a running track, run on pairs of conrods and squeeze chambers fed by eight valves each. The production 750 developed a healthy 130bhp but the NR race engine managed the same from just 500cc

First-generation Insight (green, far left) beat the Toyota Prius to market in the US but its compact size and teardrop shape made it a niche two-seater where the Prius had the second row of seats. The Toyota went on to become one of the world’s bestselling cars… Boxy City was early to the trend for taller kei cars, for more space on a given footprint

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Inside Honda’s Collection Hall

Great days… Think Honda in F1 and you think not of their current hybrid woes but of this, the mighty twin-turbo V6 developed initially for Lotus (this is an ’87 RA166-E, rated at 935bhp) and then adopted by McLaren in the all but unbeatable MP4/4 (15 wins from 16 races)

GT2-spec NSX lacked grunt compared to Porsche and Corvette rivals at Le Mans in ’95, but the same poor weather that helped the McLaren F1 to overall victory saw the NSX win its class

The first Honda F1 car to win a Grand Prix, the delicate RA272 weighed just 498kg and ran a 1495cc V12 with diddy 58mm cylinder bores… It won the last F1 race run under the 1500cc regulations against a field overwhelmingly V8powered. Painfully skinny anti-roll bars look fit for a Caterham

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The delicate 498kg RA272 ran a 1495cc V12 with diddy 58mm bores


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PERSONAL NUMBER PLATES

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100 CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018


Ford GT vs Ford GT

From day one Ford has claimed the GT is a road-legal Le Mans race car. Time to find out, using a handy Le Mans race carâ&#x20AC;¦ Words James Taylor | Photography Tom Salt

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK 101


F

ORD’S GT IS A car you can see right through. Crouch down behind it and you can eyeball the horizon through the fresh air between the aerodynamic booms and the central spar shrink-wrapped around its V6. Ruthlessly shaped by the demands of airflow, it looks like a classic GT40 spliced with a sci-fi fighter jet. The Ford GT has a formfollows-function kind of shape, because, uniquely, it’s been designed as a road car and a racing car. Ford returned to Le Mans in 2016 in a blaze of glory, the modern GT winning the GTE LM class exactly 50 years after the original GT40’s 1-2-3 in 1966. Now, at the mid-point of the GT’s four-year global race programme, the team is tyre testing at Aragon, a collection of high-speed arcs scribed into the Spanish dust, linked to a humongous straight – ideal for Le Mans preparation. And ideal for us, because one of the two roadgoing Ford GTs currently in Europe is here. To see just how much DNA the road and race car share, we’ve enlisted the services of Andy Priaulx, multiple world touring car champion and now one of the lead drivers in Ford’s World Endurance Championship (WEC) squad. He’ll record a lap in his race car, and in the road car, both from a standing start (Ford, understandably, prefers not to disclose flying-lap test times). It’s not the most scientific of tests, but it’s the same day, same track, same conditions, same driver – good enough to determine if the Ford GT road car really is a Le Mans winner with number plates. ‘The road car is the racing car, and the racing car is the road car,’ Ford Performance boss Dave Pericak told CAR at the GT’s original unveil. He wasn’t joking; seeing the two cars alongside each other at Aragon it’s clear they share more than a badge. ‘It’s almost better to look at what you can’t change when you make a race car from your road car,’ Ford WEC team principal George Howard-Chappell tells me when I ask him how his LM GTE racers differ from their roadgoing counterparts. ‘If you’re a manufacturer, you’re looking for a good donor car. The GT is a really nice shape – low drag, easy-to-get downforce, and the long wheelbase is good for stability. It’s also very light, and easy to make safe. The consideration for making a fantastic supercar was always there – a lot of the same considerations for racing are also advantageous for making a no-holds-barred road car.’

Race car gets final preflight tweaks. Road car out of shot drums its fingers…

Andy Priaulx has to sit on race GT during breaks to stop it floating away

102 CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018


Ford GT vs Ford GT

Race car batters its road brother in corners. Different story on straights

Fordâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s claim? That the road car is the racing car, and vice versa

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK 103


Ford GT vs Ford GT

’I think this is going to be faster than my race car down here,’ says Priaulx

Yes there are differences, but not that many. Compare that with Porsche – to make its 911 competitive the engine had to move amidships

‘Having the opportunity to develop both the road car and the race car together [working with Canadian company Multimatic Engineering] is both good and bad,’ Dave Pericak says. ‘It’s good in that you’re able to design into the road car the things that make a really good race car. The bad part is that basically the same team that’s doing the road car is doing the race car, so it puts a massive strain on that team as you’re trying to manage building the two requirements together. It gave us a significant advantage on the track, but it was a stressful process.’ So, which bits are common to both cars? ‘The basic structure is the same, and about 70 per cent of the shape, along with the crash structure and many other elements,’ Howard-Chappell explains. ‘The engine is a V6 turbo from the same family, but a slightly different one from the road car, allowed by the regulations.’ The road car’s fascinating torsion-bar rocker-arm suspension is still there, albeit with slightly different geometry and components. It’s set at a fixed height, unlike the road car, which can bounce into different ride height positions like a supercar engineered by Snoop Dogg. In Track mode it shuts out one of its two sets of springs and sinks by 50mm, so low you’d swear the tyres will rub on the arches. Operating at double its usual spring rate, it’s set up to behave in a similar way to the racing car. While the road car’s exhausts exit in the middle of its tail, the racer’s lack of cats or silencers enables direct side pipes, their note a flat, white-noise blat that buzzes your eardrums like a hornet in a jar as it streaks past the pitwall to start another testing lap, firing off a rat-tat-tat salvo of downshifts for Turn 1 with a curiously rough overtone. ‘That’s the anti-lag system,’ explains Ford IMSA team driver Richard Westbrook. ‘People tell us it sounds like we’re running

104 CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018

traction control under braking but that’s the anti-lag. It makes the engine really driveable.’ Time to find out just how driveable, from the passenger seat. Testing’s concluded for the day, and that leaves us the narrowest of windows to squeeze in a lap with Priaulx in both cars. He’s just finished a double-stint of testing laps, but looks so relaxed as he drops into the driving seat of the road car that he might have been reading the paper and having a cup of tea. ‘This is a great bit of kit,’ he says, thumbing the drive mode wheel and dropping the car into Track mode: minimum suspension movement, maximum downforce from the active rear spoiler. ‘I drove it at the Goodwood Festival of Speed earlier this year – it’s quick.’ This is his first time driving the roadgoing GT properly on a circuit rather than Lord March’s driveway, but you wouldn’t know it; out of the pitlane he’s straight on it, getting a feel for the grip on offer through Aragon’s fast sweepers. ‘Tell you what, this feels like a proper racing car through Six-piston Brembo calipers grip carbon ceramic discs


here,’ he says, as we drop into the plunging Laguna Seca-like Corkscrew section, leading up to the never-ending back straight. The V6 puts its shoulder to it and tractor-beams the horizon. I can read the digital speedo from the passenger seat as the digits click over like a fruit machine – 160, 165, 179mph before the carbon-ceramic brakes wipe off the speed to turn into the final corner at a nice, round 100mph. ‘Are you happy doing 180mph? You’re mad,’ he chuckles. I couldn’t feel less nervous – I’ve total trust in Priaulx, and based on that warm-up lap, in the car too. Time for a timed run. Launch control engaged – throttle hits stop, left foot leaves brake pedal, car leaves line, fast. Aragon’s first corner is a tricky left-hander – he brakes late, and we enter at an unfeasibly high speed. As impressive as Priaulx’s driving is the fact that he has the spare mental capacity to commentate at the same time, chatting like a tour guide while driving one of the world’s fastest road cars close to the limit. ‘Amazing brakes – wow. Fantastic balance through Turn 1. Bit of push – rear This is what downforce looks like. Not pretty, but it works

following nicely – it’s really holding up well under cornering.’ The long, curving opening corners give the GT’s downforce a chance to work, then it’s hard on the brakes for Turn 5, entered in the hint of a four-wheel slide, and exited with a correctional stab of opposite lock – this is a road car that doesn’t understeer. More oversteer, too, through the ultra-quick Parabolica that leads onto the back straight. ‘That’s where the wings of the race car would really help you,’ Priaulx says. With its rear wing fully extended the road car generates genuine downforce, but it can’t compete with the race car’s ironing-board rear wing and gigantic diffuser hanging way out behind. ‘I think this is going to be faster than my race car down here,’ Priaulx says as we reach the straight; the road car has less drag and an extra 100bhp or so to play with, after all. This time we reach 183mph before hitting the brakes for the final long U-turn – ‘that’s a beautifully balanced race car through there,’ says Andy, approvingly, as we head for the finish line, stopping the clock at 1m 50.25sec. ‘Fast, eh? There’s more lap time left in that,’ he says, shortshifting on the cool-down lap. ‘What I find amazing is the way it loads the front and rear tyres equally; you turn in and it’s just got phenomenal front grip, which is really unusual for a road car – any sports car would normally push the front tyres on track. And it doesn’t roll. The turn-in, you know, the change of direction,’ he says, tweaking the wheel to demonstrate, ‘boom – straight in.’ A few minutes later, he’s set a time in the race car – 1m 40sec, peaking at 180mph. There are plenty of caveats at play here – the race car has a narrow operating window, and was hindered slightly by cold brakes and tyres; the road car had to carry my 65kg of passenger ballast, and Priaulx was driving well within the car’s limits for safety. But for the road car to get within 10 seconds of its Le Mans-conquering brethren, whatever the conditions, is mighty impressive. ‘When we say that we race what we sell, we can honestly say that,’ Pericak says. ‘We are the only GTE LM car that actually has zero waivers, zero exceptions [by which he means no major technical changes to make it competitive]. We’re the only car on track that can make that claim.’ Which brings us onto a three-letter acronym that keeps racing car engineers awake at night: BoP, or Balance of Performance. The Ford GT might have had certain elements purposefully designed into it to make it as fast as possible on track, but it has to race with its proverbial shoelaces tied together, in line with endurance racing’s policy of ensuring its competitors race on as even a footing as possible. In the WEC and the equivalent

‘That is the end of the test, Mr Priaulx, and I’m sorry to tell you you’re a maniac’

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK 105


Ford GT vs Ford GT IMSA series in America, the Ford GT races against everything from Porsche’s 911 RSR (which has one fairly major ‘waiver’ versus its rear-engined road-car cousin – it’s mid-engined) to Corvettes, Ferrari 488s and the BMW M6 – which looks about twice the height of the blade-like GT. Aston Martin’s old Vantage won the class at Le Mans in 2017 – a wonderful, charismatic road car, but one which wouldn’t see which way a Ford GT had gone without the give-and-take BoP formula, which uses a combination of weight ballast and power restrictions to even out the disparate manufacturers’ cars’ performance. Richard Westbrook explains that, in general, ‘the lower the car’s centre of gravity, the heavier you go. Our car’s very drag-efficient – which makes it very fast at the end of the straight. But the extra weight hurts us at the start of the straight.’ Looking at the GT’s impossibly low frontal area, with a roofline barely higher than the GT40 of the ’60s, famously named after its height in inches, it’s not surprising to learn it’s required to run as one of the heaviest cars in the field. ‘The race car weighs around 1270kg – about the same as the Ferrari. We’re 90kg heavier than the Aston, and also heavier than the 911 RSR,’ says Howard-Chappell. And where the GT road car summons nearly 640bhp from its twin-turbo V6, the race car’s pegged back to little more than 500bhp. Driving the GT for car-to-car photos, Priaulx’s race car pacing along to my left under the Spanish sunshine and Aragon’s endless straight stretching to the horizon ahead, is a memory that will stay with me for a long time. It’s made all the sweeter by the knowledge that if we both pushed the throttle pedal to the stop at the same time, the road car would probably make it to the horizon first… 

Part car, part laboratory, part unfinished project. Amazing

And relax. Note how close the seats are though – it’s cramped

TURN 9: THE CORKSCREW ‘I love the balance of the road car through this corner, the Corkscrew.’ Road car 2nd gear Race car 1st gear

TURN 10: THE PARABOLICA ‘Getting sideways through here in the road car – that’s where the race car’s wings would really help you. In the race car – flat!’ Road car 4th gear, 90mph Race car 4th gear, 125mph

TURN 5 ‘Really nice balance on the brakes in the road car, a little bit of oversteer on turn-in. Amazing traction on the way out, a controlled four-wheel drift. In the race car you rely heavily on the TC here.’ Road car 2nd gear Race car 3rd gear

TURN 8 ‘I was braking earlier in the road car; difficult to say by how much, but it’s got to be 30 metres earlier.’ Road car 2nd gear Race car 2nd gear TURN 6

BACK STRAIGHT, BETWEEN 11 AND 12 The one place the road car’s faster than the race car, thanks to extra power and reduced drag. Road car 7th gear, 183mph Race car 6th gear, 180mph

TURN 4 Road car 5th gear Race car 5th gear TURN 7 ‘The road car turns in well, gets right into the apex and hard on the power. It’s a really physical corner in the race car.’ Road car 3rd gear Race car 2nd gear

106 CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018

Where the road car loses (that’ll be the corners) Andy Priaulx talks you through a lap of Aragon in road and race GTs

TURN 3 ‘The long wheelbase and 50:50 weight distribution helps in the high-speed corners. It’s not snappy, it’s balanced. ’ Road car 4th gear Race car 5th gear

THE START: TURN 1 ‘This first corner’s very fast. You immediately feel the downforce in the race car.’ Road car 2nd gear Race car 2nd gear

THE FINISH LINE ‘There’s more time in the road car, maybe as much as 5sec. But it’s worth half a million quid, and there are only two of them in Europe. You don’t want to be that guy.’

TURN 2 ‘Flat in the race car, pulling big g forces – a little lift on cold tyres. A bit of push in the road car – the rear follows nicely.’ BRAKING ZONE Road car 4th gear JUST BEFORE TURN 12 Race car 4th gear ‘I brake at around 100m in the race car. The brakes were a little bit cold on the timed lap.’

TURN 12/13 ‘A looonnng steady-state corner, the road car feels like a beautifully balanced race car through there.’ Road car 4th gear, 84mph Race car 3rd gear, 100mph


Tyres Good as the road car’s Michelin Cup 2s are, the racer’s slicks give it a huge corner speed advantage.

Weight Road car weighs 1385kg dry; race car regulated to 1270kg.

Gearbox Seven-speed dual-clutch in the road car, six-speed sequential dog ’box in the racer.

The road car has nearly 640bhp; the race car’s pegged back to 500bhp

Power Both cars use a closely related 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 developing 638bhp in the road car and restricted to 500bhp in the racer.

Aero Road car raises its wing in Track mode, drops it in v-max; moveable aero banned in racing, so LM car features giant fixed wing, splitter and diffuser for considerably more downforce, but more drag, too.

Brakes Road car uses carbon-ceramic discs, 394 x 36mm with six-piston calipers at the front, 360 x 32mm and four-pistons at the back. Regulations require iron discs in racing; 380 x 34mm at front, 355 x 32mm rear, four-pistons all round. Both systems by Brembo.

Exhausts Tail-mounted on the road car, side pipes on the racer. (Racer’s blanked off rear exhausts house the rearview camera and radar instead.)

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BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ROAD? This is the tricky bit. Will the GT be crashy and unpleasant on public – as opposed to racetrack – tarmac?

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T’S THE MORNING after the tyre test, sun yet to rise. The race team’s packed up and the road car will be transported back to the UK in a few hours’ time, but right now it’s idling in the pre-dawn gloom, warming its fluids, driver’s door aloft. We’ve established it’s shot through with race car DNA, but we have to explore the road car bit. Is the GT just too track-focused for its own good? Slide over the wide carbon sills and you’re left in no doubt that you’re deep within the structure of the car. There’s carbon everywhere; even the dash is a structural element. Its design is functional to the point of being nondescript, the steering wheel an ugly switchgear-peppered oblong. It feels great on the move, the power steering (linked to the same hydraulic system as the moveable wing and suspension) purposefully weighty and unerringly accurate. There’s similarly brilliant feel and feedback through the brakes, the carbon-ceramic discs more feelsome and less grabby than most, although they ssshhh when you breathe on the pedal, like cupping a seashell to your ear. The rest of the car’s pretty vocal too, a cacophony of creaks, squeaks and rattles accompanied by whooshes and whistles from the turbos. You’ll need to talk pretty loudly to chat with your passenger, assuming they haven’t been scared into silence. The central pipes sound more nuanced than the race car’s, the V6 emitting a nice throaty tone, even if it doesn’t quite set your hairs on end like a Lamborghini. Throttle response does, though, the merest twitch of your big toe registering on the digital rev counter, turbo lag conspicuous by its absence. And no question it’s powerful; on decidedly dog-eared tyres from the previous day’s track activities, the traction control light is still winking in fifth gear… And yet it’s not scary. As we travel further from

On dog-eared tyres the traction control light is still winking in fifth gear

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Ford GT vs Ford GT

Aragon, the road untangles into long, fast, freehand arcs and the GT feels planted, its long wheelbase and all that wind tunnel work instilling huge stability, and in turn confidence. Ride quality is on the firm side, even in Comfort mode, but there is fluidity to the GT’s movements – it doesn’t feel like a solidly sprung racetrack refugee. It looks a bit like one in places, though – there’s sealant visible between the A-pillars and windscreen, for instance, the boot’s laughably tiny and there’s nowhere to put anything in the interior. The seat bases are fixed in position, while you heave on a strap to move the pedals instead – it’s lighter that way round. Back rests do adjust, though, and I actually found them incredibly comfortable over a few hours’ driving. They look great too, curved ripples of leather like a ’60s sports car. Rear visibility? Not so much. But thanks to its clear reversing camera, the GT’s no more or less difficult to reverse than most supercars. Natural rivals are hard to pinpoint. The GT occupies its own space in the supercar kingdom; more focused than an Aventador SV, more exotic than a 911 GT2 RS. Radical’s RXC Coupe was also designed with dual road/race roles (and uses the same Ford EcoBoost V6) but that’s hairier still. Perhaps closest is the Glickenhaus SCG Stradale, but that was designed as a race car first, then adapted for road use. The McLaren 720S is more rounded but it’s a different animal. Ford could have made another retro pastiche of the original GT40, and it would have sold. But it chose not to. The racing link gives this car a credibility that, for me, makes it the most compelling supercar on sale today. That the GT can fight for victory at Le Mans and play the role of thrilling road toy is remarkable, and cements its status as a stand-out achievement in the same vein as the original GT40. @JamesTaylorCAR

Interior is workmanlike at best. But never mind that – the ride is supple and performance astounding

World’s most compelling supercar? We think so

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CAR Design Power List

THE D ES I G N P OWER LIST

Most powerful designers in 2018 These are the leading car-industry creatives whose work determines what weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be driving and dreaming about over the next decade Words Guy Bird | Illustrations Gary Lees

110 CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018


30 Rob Melville 40, British NEW

Design director, McLaren Automotive Key cars: Land Rover LRX, Cadillac Converj, McLaren P1, 570S & 720S

Y DEFINITION, any list of the world’s most powerful car designers will be highly subjective, but this one tries to reflect who’s really pulling the strings in car design today, from the heads of design at the large corporate groups directly responsible for the look, feel and function of millions of cars sold every year, to the single-marque mavericks who shape the current and future tastes of the world’s automotive consumers (while influencing their colleagues and rivals too). The list is still very much a European, US and Japanese one – because despite the massive size of the Chinese market, its domestic brands have yet to fully develop a significant aesthetic or influence over either their own domestic market or the wider world. Neither does the list include many new challenger start-up brands, because, apart from Tesla, none have yet had time to develop their designs distinctly and consistently across a range (and the likes of Apple, Google and Dyson are still on the periphery, despite the hype). In another five to 10 years those brands could be hugely influential. There have still been massive changes in car design’s top brass in recent years, though. Eight out of the top dozen big hitters in the previous CAR Design Power List of 2010 have either retired or moved on – including Walter de Silva, Ed Welburn and Shiro Nakamura – so there are many new faces in this list with much to prove. These individuals have far wider design responsibilities than in previous decades. They are already thinking well beyond traditional rigid categories – exterior, interior, colour and trim – and are instead devoting increasing time to creating smartphone-quality interfaces, packaging desirable electric cars, and creating an overall user experience that will extend well beyond the car itself. Cars will have to connect virtually and physically with their surroundings as driving becomes more autonomous, and designers need to lead the way. It’s no surprise that the Royal College of Art has just renamed its vehicle design course ‘intelligent mobility’…

Rob Melville’s 2012 sketch of the 570S. He’s now McLaren’s design boss

Starting at JLR, his sketch became the LRX concept which led to the Evoque. Joined McLaren in 2009 as part of a tiny team transforming a great engineering brand into more desirable, functional, high-luxury products, first with the P1, then the 570S. Officially replaced Frank Stephenson as top dog in mid-2017. Level-headed talent.

29 Stewart Reed

27Dale Harrow

59, American

57, British

Chair, transportation design, Art Center College of Design

Director, intelligent mobility design centre, Royal College of Art

Key cars: Manx SR, Cunningham C7 GT coupe

Key vehicles: Norton F1 motorcycle, LTI London Taxi

As head of one of the biggest transportation education courses in the world (in Pasadena, California) since 2005, Reed’s influence on the next generation of car designers is immense. He also runs his own studio, has designed over 20 concepts and acts as a judge for many design awards.

More than a third of this 30-strong Design Power List have attended London’s RCA at some point, and Harrow is the man currently in charge. Arguably the most influential car design course in the world for nearly two decades, the former vehicle design masters degree course has now been renamed intelligent mobility and expanded to reflect the new skills car designers will need in the next two decades. Inspiring.

28Kevin Hunter 57, American

26 Marek Reichman

NEW

President, CALTY Design Research, Toyota Motor

51, British

Key cars: Toyota RAV4 Mk2, FJ Cruiser, Lexus LF-LC This Detroit native moved to California in 1982 to work for Toyota’s CALTY design research facility and has been quietly responsible for directing some of the best new cars from Toyota and Lexus ever since – the Lexus LF-LC concept leading to the LC500 is just one. President of the division since 2007, his department has grown and flourished. Influential well beyond the US.

Reichman’s elegant DBX crossover

Executive VP and chief creative officer, Aston Martin Key vehicles: Lincoln MKX, Aston Martin Rapide, DB11, DBX concept and Vantage (see p56) Twelve years after becoming design top dog at Aston, Reichman’s role is expanding as the firm plans a much bigger portfolio including the forthcoming DBX crossover (below). Stewardship of the world’s most beautiful sports car brand isn’t easy but Reichman is proving adept at the helm. 

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CAR Design Power List

25 Stefan Sielaff 56, German

23Gilles Vidal 45, French

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21 Jozef Kabaň 45, Slovakian NEW

Director of design, Bentley

Director of style, Peugeot

Head of design, BMW brand

Key cars: Audi A2, A4, A6 and Rosemeyer concept, Bentley Speed 6

Key cars: Citroën C-Metisse and GT, Peugeot Fractal, 208 GTi

Key cars: Bugatti Veyron, VW Lupo, Skoda Superb, Kodiaq

Munich-born Anglophile Sielaff started at Audi in the ’90s and had a brief flirtation with DaimlerChrysler in 2003-2006 before going back to Audi. He’s worked across all of the VW Group’s brands as head of interior design and helped with the cabin of the Bentley Speed 6 concept before becoming the luxury British brand’s design director in 2015.

24 Flavio Manzoni

Director of style since January 2010 – and head of concepts before that, as well as spending time with Citroën – he’s behind many of the great French concept cars of the last two decades. Acclaimed production cars like the Mk2 3008 prove he can do real-world too. Sophisticated.

22 Peter Horbury 68, British

His move to become BMW’s brand design chief in early 2017 from Skoda shocked some, but it shows how far he had taken the Czech brand since becoming design boss in 2008 (Kodiaq, Superb Mk3 and Karoq). At BMW the scrutiny will be much greater but this highly focused, ambitious and talented designer could well surprise. Definitely one to watch.

20 Makoto Iwaki 49, Japanese

53, Italian NEW

SVP design, Ferrari Key cars: VW Up concepts, Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and FF Architecture and industrial design graduate Manzoni started his career at Lancia (Fulvia Coupe concept), then Maserati, Seat, Fiat and VW. At Ferrari since 2010 he’s beefed up the marque’s styling centre team as Ferrari increasingly designs in-house (rather than using outsiders such as Pininfarina). Very serious, very credible.

SVP of design, Geely Group Key cars: Volvo XC90, new LTI London taxi, Lynk & Co 01 Industry elder who gave Volvo its cool ’90s shoulder. After heading up Ford’s short-lived, multi-marque Premier Automotive Group in 2002, Horbury rejoined Volvo in 2009 before moving upstairs to oversee the design of Volvo’s new Chinese owner brand Geely. Beyond those nearly 800,000 vehicles per annum, Horbury’s remit also includes overseeing the launch of brand new mid-range marque Lynk & Co, the new London Taxi and perhaps, in time, Lotus too?

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Executive creative director, Honda Key cars: Fit/Jazz Mk1, CR-Z concept From a brand that rarely promotes individuals, it’s sometimes hard to know who’s the real driving force behind Honda’s designs, but Iwaki is perhaps the closest and has overall responsibility for the look of nearly five million Honda cars every year. Either way, currently Honda’s designs are functionally clever but aesthetically muddled. The 2017 Urban EV concept shows the talent is clearly there, though. Work to do. Urban EV concept stole the 2017 Frankfurt show

Marc Lichte oversaw the Prologue concept: ‘A new era for Audi design,’ he said in 2015

19 Marc Lichte 48, German NEW

Head of design, Audi Key cars: VW Golf Mk5-7, Audi Prologue, Q8, A8 Mk4 Very tall, with mad professor hair and spectacles, Lichte is rarely mistaken for someone else. A VW Group career man since the late ’90s, his back catalogue includes all the recent Golfs and, since becoming top dog at Audi in 2014, the Prologue concept, which led to the A8 Mk4. After a period in the design doldrums, Audi could become a leader in the field again under Lichte.

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One of Bischoff’s VW ID concepts

18 Klaus Bischoff

15 Ian Callum

Head of Volkswagen (brand) design

Design director, Jaguar

56, German

63, British

Key cars: Aston DB7, Ford Puma, Jag F-Type and F-Pace

Key cars: Bugatti Veyron, VW Up Mk1 and ID concept series This VW design veteran has worked on numerous interiors and exteriors since 1989 (including the interior of the Bugatti Veyron) until he became head of VW brand design in 2007. Post-Dieselgate, he’s now overseeing VW’s electric revolution with the future-facing ID concepts, which will spawn production versions soon. Underrated.

Callum’s calm approach, engineering knowledge and design skills combined to help him navigate the choppy waters at Jaguar when he joined in 1999. He went on to bring desire (F-Type), cohesion (XF Mk2 and XE) and major sales (F-Pace) to the much loved, but too often under-performing, marque. Forthcoming E-Pace and i-Pace could be biggest hits yet. Fine portfolio also includes DB7 and Puma.

17 Luc Donckerwolke 52, Belgian

14 Gerry McGovern

SVP, Hyundai Design Center Key cars: Lamborghini Gallardo and Aventador, Seat Ibiza Mk4, Genesis New York Concept Donckerwolke was tipped to replace Walter de Silva at VW and is rumoured to be the future design boss of the whole Hyundai-Kia-Genesis group – currently it’s just Hyundai and Genesis. Has a fantastic track record, at Audi in the ’90s, Lamborghini and Seat in the ’00s, before heading up Bentley in 2012. Poached by Hyundai in 2015. Speaks his mind, knows his onions.

16 Franz von Holzhausen 49, American

61, British

Chief creative officer, Land Rover Key cars: MGF, Land Rover Freelander, Range Rover Evoque and Velar

What Gerry wants… McGovern insisted on flush door handles on the new Velar, despite complaints about it being too difficult to mass produce. It took the engineering department four years to make a production version.

McGovern knows how to record a hit. As he says: ‘I’ve never been responsible for a car that hasn’t made money.’ The MGF and Freelander while at the Rover Group, and a slew of less-is-more Range Rovers including the top-selling Evoque since rejoining Land Rover in 2006, prove his point. Velar looks like another hit. Still maverick, still Marmite, but you can’t argue with his track record.

NEW

Chief designer, Tesla Key cars: Mazda Kabura, Pontiac Solstice, Tesla Model S, X and 3 Worked on new VW Beetle under J Mays, and then at GM, before heading up Mazda’s US design studio from 2005. Then came his big – and at the time risky – move in 2008 to the barely known Tesla. As an ‘outsider’ brand now disrupting the whole industry it’s proved a wise move. His work there – Model S, X (below) and 3 – proves he has the skill to go with Tesla’s EV and screen-first tech.

13 Moray Callum 59, British NEW

12 Jean-Pierre Ploué 55, French

Global design VP, Ford Key cars: Ford Ghia Via and Mustang Mk6, Mazda CX-7 The affable younger brother of Jaguar’s Ian (see #15) has had the bigger job since 2013, as Ford’s global design VP trying to shift Ford and Lincoln upwards as mainstream marques bother Ford and premium brands outsmart Lincoln. A Ford man for most of his career, he has the worldly skills required to marshal such a vast company, but getting all of Ford’s six million annual vehicles consistent will take time.

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Group design director, PSA Peugeot Citroën Key cars: Renault Twingo Mk1, Citroën C4 Picasso and Cactus Started at Renault in 1985 (Twingo Mk1, Argos concept), spent a few years with VW and Ford before returning to head up Citroën and return it to its innovative roots. Took overall charge of Peugeot and Citroën design in ’09, developed the separated DS brand (and now has responsibility for Opel and Vauxhall too). Tricky brief, and much admired. 

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CAR Design Power List

11 Ikuo Maeda 58, Japanese

Managing executive officer, design and brand style, Mazda Key cars: Mazda RX-8, CX-5 and RX-Vision

10 Thomas Ingenlath

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Key cars: 2001 Holden VT Commodore, Monaro, Buick Avenir Aussie Simcoe is the first non-American to hold the top design job at General Motors. After starting in 1983 at GM Holden Design in Australia, with stints in GM’s Asia-Pacific design department, he became exterior design boss for North America in 2004, working on various generations of the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Camaro and Cadillac CTS. Since he only took on his new role in July 2016 it’s too early to assess his impact, but the Buick Avenir concept overseen by Simcoe before he got the top job previews the direction he wants one of GM’s brands to take. At least he won’t have to worry about what to do with Opel or Vauxhall now PSA owns them…

Head of design, FCA Key cars: Chrysler 300C, Dodge Magnum, Jeep Renegade

Key cars: Skoda Superb Mk1, Volvo XC90 Mk2, S90/V90

Academic

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VP, global design, GM

48, HaitianAmerican

Chief design officer, Volvo, and CEO, Polestar

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60, Australian

8 Ralph Gilles

53, German

Cut his teeth at Audi (early ’90s), then VW (late ’90s) before becoming Skoda’s chief designer in 2000 when that role wasn’t considered a particularly covetable promotion. His Superb Mk1 changed that perception and led him to become director of design at VW’s Potsdam Design Center until 2012, when he joined Volvo as VP. Ingenlath has made it possible to go beyond admiring Volvos to actually desiring them, bringing rugged exterior consistency and restrained Scando-savvy interiors widely regarded as some of the industry’s finest. The whole production range will soon bear his stamp. The right designer in the right place at the right time. And now he’s reinventing Polestar as a leader in electrification.

9 Michael Simcoe

Mazda man and boy since 1982, with a brief stint at Ford in 1999 when the companies were linked, Maeda came to wider attention with the suicide-doored RX-8. He landed the overall design boss role in 2009 and has brought an understated elegance to the range. The line-up now boasts beautifully resolved surfacing and classic proportions, with the current Mazda 6 and CX-5 prime examples; 2015’s RX-Vision and 2017’s Vision Coupe and Kai concepts show his ambition to go even further. A designer’s designer. Respected.

In 2015 Gilles took design responsibility for all FCA brands including Alfa, Maserati, Fiat and Lancia to add to the Chrysler Group US brands Jeep, Ram, Dodge and Chrysler that he’s overseen since 2009. Quality and style – especially of interiors – have improved. Now nearly five million annual sales come under his design remit. With the historically designled but currently underperforming Italian brands to look after as well, it’s a huge job.

Polestar set out its electric performance stall with the Polestar 1 hybrid

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6 Tokuo Fukuichi 66, Japanese NEW

Managing officer, Toyota and Lexus Key cars: Toyota Previa/ Estima Mk1, Lexus NX and LC A Peter Pan-like character who belies his age with a buoyant approach to life and design. Since 2013 he’s been shaking things up at Toyota and Lexus. As he told CAR back then: ‘I want to break the hard head of old Toyota with fresher designs.’ The current Prius Mk4 – the one with the crazy rear light graphics and love/hate proportions – is part of his new broom, as is the origami-inspired angular Lexus NX crossover. But he can do sleek and sophisticated too, witness the LC500 super coupe, voted Car Design News’ 2017 Production Car Design of the Year by 20 of his car designer peers. And don’t forget, the group as a whole makes almost 10 million cars a year so his influence is huge.

Striking from any angle Tokuo Fukuichi’s design for the Prius Mk4 has helped lift Toyota out of its default blandness, with bold flourishes now adorning all sorts of otherwise dull cars. Cast your mind back to Prius Mk1 and be thankful.

Lexus LS500h: another classy offering from Fukuichi

5 Laurens van den Acker 52, Dutch

VP, Renault corporate design Key cars: Ford Escape, Mazda Ryuga, Renault Trezor and Espace Mk4

7Alfonso Albaisa 53, Cuban-American NEW

SVP, global design, Nissan Key cars: Nissan Quest and 350Z, Infiniti Q60 Cuban-American Albaisa is Nissan to his core, joining its Californian studio in 1988. Highlights included two generations of the Quest MPV plus the 350Z’s interior. He became chief designer in Japan in 2005, then VP of Nissan’s European design in 2007 and VP for Nissan global design in 2017. Charming and worldly wise, he could be the perfect replacement for the Nissan turnaround veteran Nakamura. Albaisa has a lot on his plate. Nissan is in a good place, but despite confident concepts and better production cars, Infiniti still needs more quality to take on the premium establishment, Datsun has only just been re-established, and with Mitsubishi also joining Nissan’s ranks, in time he may have even more to oversee.

Trezor concept (that’s the steering wheel) indicates Renault’s future direction under va de cker: exciting

After influential (but mostly conceptual) hits at Ford and Mazda, Dutchman van den Acker joined Renault as head of design in late 2009. With the global recession biting, the French brand was ailing. But through bold and consistent design – featuring voluptuous and simple surfacing plus higher quality interiors – he’s helped turn Renault’s fortunes around, and improved sister marque Dacia’s design too. The Clio Mk4 and Captur sold well as part of a consistent production range that is now fully refreshed. And in tandem he’s also managed to communicate the brand’s future aspirations through a series of award-winning concepts – from DeZir to Trezor. He has a great team around him too, with strength in depth. 

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4 Adrian van Hooydonk 53, Dutch

BMW Group design director Key cars: BMW Z9 concept, 6-series, i3, i8 Van Hooydonk was Chris Bangle’s sidekick for years, and the man who actually penned or carried out many of his former boss’s highly influential ‘flame surfacing’ designs

(including that 7-series from 2001). After the charming Dutchman took over his mentor’s role in 2009, things have calmed down considerably, but maybe too much? Mainstay models at BMW and Mini have become more conventional and – trailblazing i3 and i8 electric cars aside – some might say a bit dull. With many of his individual brand design bosses leaving in the last 18 months (Jacob, Warming and Habib) major reorganisation of the department was required but van Hooydonk says the 2016 Mini Vision Next 100 and 2017 BMW 8-series concept herald a much-needed new design dawn. With the group’s third brand, Rolls-Royce, about to launch its first SUV too, there’s a lot at stake.

BMW i Vision Dynamics will sit between the i3 and i8. Sounds like an i4 to us

3 Peter Schreyer 64, German

President and chief design officer, Hyundai Motor Group Key cars: Audi TT and A6, Kia Ceed and Sportage Mk3, Hyundai RN30 Established himself at Audi in the ’90s on the less-ismore first-generation A6, A4 Avant and A3, and also worked on the production TT interior. After a stint with VW in the early ’00s his move to head up Kia design in 2006 surprised many, but within a decade the formerly unloved Korean budget brand has become credible worldwide, matching and often beating US and European rivals in a similar way to fellow Korean brands LG and Samsung. S keted and Hyundai-Kia is now the f gg r group in the world, scoring eight m p in 2016. S chreyer has also taken over the H s global design operation and s e new luxury marque Genesis into being, too. Keeping all three on track – and differentiated – will be his biggest job yet. Bonus f g an of painting, jazz trumpet legend M rcraft design.

2 Gorden Wagener 49, German

Chief design officer, Mercedes, AMG and Smart Key cars: SLR, A-Class Mk3, S-Class (W221), F 015 A Merc man since 1997, he became only the fifth ever design boss of the luxury brand in 2008, aged 39. His big-selling breakthrough production car was the A-Class Mk3 while the recent IAA and F 015 concepts expressed his desire to take away extraneous lines to lead Mercedes in a cleaner and more fluid exterior design direction. (He’s doing the same with its vans and trucks too). Meanwhile, he’s overseen a revolution in interior design. Mercedes’ cabins have gone from average to some of the industry’s best. It’s taken a while to get there, but now every Mercedes (and the revitalised Smart brand) bears his positive stamp. Global sales are proving him right too, as Mercedes overtook BMW in 2016. Now chief design officer of arguably the world’s most important luxury car brand – and with a place on Daimler’s board – he’s in charge of everything that’s designed within the group. Mercedes has re-found its mojo, and Wagener should get much of the credit for that.

THOSE SYMBOLS EXPLAINED Academic

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1 Michael Mauer 55, German NEW

Head of design, VW Group, and head of style, Porsche Key cars: Mercedes SLK Mk1, Saab 9-X, Porsche Macan and 918 Spyder

‘I’ve had an idea’ Wherever he goes, Mauer will eventually design a shooting brake (Smart, Saab and now Porsche). This is the Panamera Sport Turismo, which is approximately 1000 times sleeker than the original Panamera.

In a car design world awash with ego, Mauer appears as humble as they come. Starting his career at Mercedes, he penned the petite late-’90s SLK retractable tin-top that caused a sensation and also the cult-andcute Smart Roadster and Roadster Coupe. Moving to Saab as head of design in 2000, he didn’t have time to turn around the doomed Swedish brand but created stunning concepts while there, most notably the 9-X of 2001. Moving to head up design for Porsche in 2004 he encountered mistrust at the engineering-led firm, but soon showed how well his small proportional changes made big differences to exterior aesthetics (Cayenne Mk2 and 3, Panamera Mk2, Cayman Mk2). In the field of interior design he oversaw big jumps in quality and functionality. His move into one of the biggest jobs in car design came as a surprise, though. When previous VW Group head of design Walter de Silva left two months after the Dieselgate scandal hit – amid rumours of impending design budget cuts and management bust-ups – Mauer was asked to steady the ship. Since December 2015 he has continued to steer Porsche in a thoroughly convincing direction (including yet another shooting brake, in the Panamera Sport Turismo) while increasingly guiding the look, feel and function of all of VW Group’s vehicles – from Audi and VW to Lamborghini and Seat. This equates to 10.3 million sales in 2016 – a massive job in tough times but, with Mauer at the helm, VW and Porsche are in safe and highly skilled hands.

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THE BEST OF ENEMIES

McLaren and Honda’s latest F1 partnership met with defeat and divorce. On the road both offer an ‘everyday supercar’ but here too there’s conflict – they couldn’t be more different… Words Ben Miller | Photography Jamie Lipman

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720S & NSX vs Tokyo

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720S & NSX vs Tokyo

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NRELENTING RAIN has poured from murky November skies for four days now, flooding Tokyo’s streets, shrouding its skyscrapers in fog and making silent ghosts of the ships on the slate grey waters of the bay. But last night the clouds cleared off. Now this most three-dimensional of cityscapes is alive with colour and contrast, and the bay dazzles like crushed ice. From the best seat in the house – the cockpit of a glittering orange McLaren 720S – the Japanese capital finally looks good; looks the way it should. In the gloom that prevailed it sprawled like a game of Tetris gone bad, its artless grey building blocks crashed together in permanent disorder. Now it’s spectacular: teeming with people (nine million souls and counting) and possibility, vital with energy and vast. And everywhere there’s movement: shoals of traffic trundling across triple-deck overpasses, fast-moving scooters wheeling into wickedly sinuous tunnels and hard-working bridges that groan under the weight of endless freight. Running hundreds of feet above the bay, the Rainbow suspension bridge gives unimpeded views of the spectacle.

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Somewhere at Honda there's a really big tub of sparkly blue paint

So too does the McLaren 720S, its jet-like bubble screen and glazed rear teardrop creating such an exhilarating sense of freedom that you almost feel vulnerable, like you’re driving an open Can-Am racer – at least until you remember the near-impregnable carbonfibre tub surrounding you. Moving stealthily with the morning commuter traffic the 720S feels special, its towering performance hidden away behind a mask of immaculate low-speed manners. Window down to better enjoy the cut-glass morning, my arm idly falls into the void between the door’s twin skins – part of the McLaren’s innovative, low-drag aero package. We purr through queues of buttercup-yellow taxis and the brilliantly polished chrome flanks of delivery trucks, gently exceeding a speed limit so low a committed cyclist could bust it wide open. Behind me, cruising effortlessly in the mirrors, a blue NSX, its taut creases looking every bit as fabulous as the McLaren’s rippling musculature in this dreamy autumn light. We’re waiting, both of us, for the Rainbow’s pot of gold: the bridge’s corkscrewing, 270° exit ramp. At once the V6 and V8 both jump down a couple of gears, build speed and pirouette


WE’RE WAITING FOR THE RAINBOW BRIDGE’S POT OF GOLD, ITS CORKSCREWING, 270° EXIT RAMP into the world’s best off-ramp, a smooth, never-ending curve that fleetingly lets these cars do what they do best: grip hard, turn harder, and make you feel like a million bucks. The 720S fizzes with talent and tactility, its chassis accurate, its body control absolute and its steering so alive with feedback I swear I can read the big Japanese characters daubed on the tarmac. (They’re probably imploring us to slow down but the car’s sheer talent begs that you don’t.) But the NSX cedes no ground. It’s quick to change direction, poised and grippy on its oddball Continentals. All too soon we’re back down to street level, back into the rush-hour melee and back down to business: the business of making a nuisance of ourselves in two supercars that claim to work as everyday transport, not just trackday toys – if they can cope with Tokyo, they can cope with anywhere. The 720S is our ruling sports car of the year, a barely recognisable evolution of the 650S that came before and a startling lesson in performance with versatility. The NSX is Honda’s difficult second supercar album and a polarising car. Questions linger. Questions like why it’s a (very mild) hybrid when batteries and motors are heavy, what took it so long and why it isn’t, well, just a little more special. But the McLaren isn’t without its issues either, notably Woking’s ongoing use of its incendiary but slightly soulless turbocharged V8 when engines like Audi/Lamborghini’s turbo-free V10 and Ferrari’s mesmeric V12 sit on another level for emotional engagement, noise and – even with the smartest of turbines and the shortest of manifolds – throttle response. In both cases the argument is increased real-world usability, the Honda’s hybrid system opening up a world of all-wheel drive, torque-fill and torque vectoring possibilities while the McLaren’s turbos deliver any-rev grunt and mildly less terrifying fuel economy with their power. But while these two were created to meet similar briefs there’s conflict: more than £200,000 versus less than £145,000; structural carbon versus aluminium; turbo V8 plays hybrid V6. Until recently there was conflict in Formula 1, too: three unhappy seasons in which Honda very publicly failed to supply McLaren with a competitive hybrid power unit. They finally split in the autumn when it became clear the odds of repeating their past glories (most notably a run of domination in the late ’80s) had dwindled to nothing. This year McLaren will use Renault power and Honda’s hybrid V6 will sit beneath Toro Rosso engine covers. If only McLaren could get dispensation to fit its M840T V8 into its F1 car. Comprehensively upgraded over the 650S with a capacity hike and new plenums, pistons, cylinder heads, turbos, intercoolers, crankshaft and fuel injection system with twin injectors, the engine’s good for 710bhp, 568lb ft of torque, 0-62mph in 2.9sec and 0-124mph in 7.8sec. Should you ever find yourself strapped into a 720S, a plumb line of dry, straight tarmac running from the car’s nose to the horizon, the few seconds of kinetic fury you can summon

McLaren a gifted lurker but it does tend to attract attention

Instruments fold flat when you’re ‘on it’ (or just want to give tired eyes a break)

Tokyo’s army of Crown taxis are immaculate, and immaculately driven

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720S & NSX vs Tokyo

High-strength steel A-pillars brilliantly slim

This is modest by Dekotora standards – by far the noisiest thing in any tunnel

THE 720S MIGHT BE QUICKER, NEWER, AND PRICIER BUT THE NSX IS A HONDA, AND HERE THAT RESONATES simply by mashing the exquisite aluminium throttle pedal are remember-for-the-rest-of-your-days stuff. In the wet, or on cold tyres in the dry (or even on warm tyres in the dry if you’re carelessly brutal) you’ll get hours of wheelspin and a bill for tyres. But match torque to grip and the thrill ride when the pair of twin-scroll turbos spin up like a dragster’s rear Hoosiers and the McLaren takes flight is flushed-cheeks, swear-out-loud furious. The Honda’s every bit as physical over the first phase of the launch thanks to its twin-turbo V6’s three supporting electric motors (one out back and a further two driving a front wheel each). Unlike the BMW i8, the NSX isn’t a plug-in. As a result its EV range is barely beyond the end of your road, but project manager Ted Klaus maintains the hybrid system and the loftier dynamic highs the car can hit thus equipped are worth the increased complexity, cost and weight. (And the wait – NSX 2.0 took its sweet time.) ‘Packaging it all was a tremendous challenge,’ Klaus told me of the NSX’s powertrain when I first drove his baby, a truth all too evident in the car’s weight: 1847kg. Surely at night, when sleep’s eluding him and staring at the bedroom ceiling grows tedious, Klaus dreams of a hybrid-free NSX, its

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V6 pimped to a comparable output but with far less weight… Running from red light to red light in a multi-lane throng the Honda feels easy, almost normal. The NSX may be mid-engined, low and lethally fast but its ergonomics, generous sight lines and jump-in-and-go ease of use make it extraordinarily, almost disappointingly accessible. It’d be wrong to say you could be in a Civic – this is most certainly a performance cockpit, from the low-slung seats to the machinations of the busy V6 behind your head – but that easy familiarity does chip away at the sense of occasion. We flit through the sticky traffic, trying to stay in touch with scooter-mounted couriers as they bounce through the queues like free radicals. Japanese driving is almost shockingly polite and even-tempered, presenting a stark choice to tourists: go native and revel in the calm or take full advantage, hopping up the road using the kind of yawning gaps London traffic would never willingly give up. On occasionally rough, roadwork-scarred tarmac the Honda rides pretty convincingly, its magnetic dampers soaking up shocks just as the refined cockpit keeps road noise and the engine’s exertions at arm’s length, at least until you find yourself at the front of a queue and can’t help but dole out one of the NSX’s gut-churning standing starts… The scooter rider looks back, thumb up, giant smile beneath token-gesture crash helmet. Then, as we both sense the green light coming he drops his head low, braces centrifugal clutch against brake and waits. Then goes. He’s quick but the Honda’s V6 is quicker still and its motors instant, hurling us forward like a struck puck and leaving the scooter – and everything else – far behind, the NSX whipping through its bulging gearbox (just the nine ratios…) with loud clacks of its disappointingly plasticky shift paddles. They might just be the NSX’s dichotomy in microcosm: performance and capability beyond reproach saddled with inappropriately ordinary execution. In the maze of old streets around Shinbashi station we pull over for a breather and a drink, a nearby 7-Eleven yielding a couple of cans of coffee so strong it’ll make a fine super unleaded substitute should we run low. Kei delivery vans buzz by like worker ants, scooters glide through to microscopic car parks beneath the railway arches and myriad food outlets slave to feed a population that’s only happy when it’s eating. After the spankingly modern bay area, with its exhibition centres and international hotels, this feels like old Tokyo: a place that’s grown organically rather than been built. It’s charmingly cramped and chaotic, with a million miles of random cabling that runs over, under and across every surface like man-made vine. The McLaren may as well be invisible, so much attention does the NSX attract. The 720S is faster, newer, brighter and more expensive but the NSX is a Honda, and that name resonates here like few others. Here there are Honda shops on every street corner, de-constructed mopeds strung from their ceilings like hams, smiling technicians tending to Soichiro’s legacy like midwives to newborns. Japan loves Honda and so its people love the NSX. The McLaren’s interior is just as efficient as the Honda’s, just as effective, but it feels altogether more expensive (which it is) and more fittingly exotic. The NSX cockpit has a little too much Accord in it: the 720S’s is charged with performance theatre and punctuated by techy jewellery. You reach between the door skins, pull the handle to lift the door and climb into a slickly executed space of light and calm and intelligently deployed technology. The sports seats could give your lower

Tokyo has its quieter spaces – at least until you turn up in an orange McLaren


THE END OF A BE AUTIFUL THING The life and (tough) times of McLaren-Honda By Tom Clarkson

i 2013

May Honda announces its intention to return to F1 with McLaren in 2015. Emotions run high at the McLaren Technology Centre, where the social media team posts a stack of pictures of the good old days.

i 2014

March The new turbo hybrid power unit regulations come into force. McLaren sticks with Mercedes, while Honda continues its R&D programme. November First on-track test. Reliability is poor.

i 2015

January McLaren and Honda launch the MP4-30, their first car for 23 years. Its ‘size zero’ rear end is aerodynamically efficient but forces Honda to adopt an unproven engine architecture. February Reliability is poor in testing and Fernando Alonso crashes heavily at Barcelona. The cause of the accident is not publicised; Alonso misses Melbourne. June Honda F1 boss Yasuhisa Arai claims his engine is only 25bhp down on the Renault and 50bhp down on the Merc. (In reality it’s more than 100bhp down on the Mercedes.) October Alonso embarrasses Honda at its home grand prix, claiming over the radio that its power unit is a ‘GP2 engine’.

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720S & NSX vs Tokyo Pink bicycle probably quicker through Tokyo traffic

Mount Fuji’s roads will make you smile – promise

McLaren’s infotainment now slick and responsive

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November Following yet more reliability issues Fernando Alonso sunbathes in a cameraman’s deckchair in Brazil. The image becomes synonymous with the failing partnership. McLaren finishes ninth in the constructors’ standings, making 2017 its worst season for 35 years.

NSX as rare as the Mewtwo Pokémon but much more useful

i 2016

February Changes. Honda F1 boss Yasuhisa Arai is replaced by Yusuke Hasegawa, a charismatic leader more adept with the media.

back more support, feeling scalloped right where you want more meat, but in every other regard this is a brilliant interior. Gripes? The handbrake’s oddly placed, hidden away where you’d expect to find a headlight knob, and the onepiece shift rocker means you can’t tug both sides at once for neutral. Slip the pocket-friendly key into the little pouch at the front of the seat (a genius touch), join the fray and the McLaren is effortless, its ergonomic rightness and placid default manners combining to drop your heartbeat and dry your palms. The engine’s smooth from tickover, torque-rich should you need it and hooked to those vast rear tyres by a syrupy gearbox with telepathic shift mapping. In default Normal the clever suspension (decried on the 650S for being aloof, even if it did mean two wildly different chassis set-ups could live within the same four dampers) smooths broken tarmac while the 720S’s startling visibility means you’re soon confident threading gaps and getting stuck in. And when the blue Honda alongside you nails it away from the lights you barely need break a sweat to keep up, the immense V8 summoning serious shove from as low as 3000rpm, and the rate of gain as you push the engine harder soon feeling entirely inappropriate on busy city streets. These cars may work here, calmly queuing without tantrums and taking the stress from stuttering stop/start progress with their dual-clutch gearboxes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t long for less cluttered, more challenging tarmac. Tokyo to Mount Fuji is a pilgrimage to make for any number of reasons but today it’s for one of the two roads that run up its 12,389ft. You leave the motorway, hear the dull thump of live firing exercises on the nearby Japanese army base – even over the roar of the 720S’s 675LT-inspired exhausts –

and begin to meander through a gently climbing landscape of sun-strobed woodland. That hunch you harboured that the McLaren’s steering might be a beautiful thing is proved entirely accurate within three corners, the essential rightness of the way it draws you into the car’s relationship with the road spiking your nervous system with excitement. If a speed limit is ignored in a forest, does that speed limit exist? Set the 720S’s twin-turbo V8 free for more than a few seconds – permit yourself the indulgence of just a couple of gears, shifting at the redline – and the world freefalls away behind you, the landscape melting in the side windows before pouring off the back of the car in a blurry comet’s tail. Keep going and the final surge is truly hysterical. Despite this wicked speed, though, it’s when the climb begins in earnest and the road bunches up like a dropped hose that the 720S takes a firm grip of your heart. With some lateral force the Normal Active Dynamics setting (new, nicely chunky controls on the panel; same slightly long-winded functionality compared to Ferrari or Porsche’s dial on the steering wheel) immediately feels too soft; lacking the resolve to let you explore the McLaren’s huge grip and potential. But ramp things up to Sport or Race and it’s like a different car, the combination of agility, grip and feedback leaving you slack-jawed, the 720S going harder, pushing further and braking deeper until you fear you’ll lose the ability to control your head long before the car runs out of talent. And when it does let go the McLaren does so gently and almost always from the rear, the engine overwhelming hot rear Pirellis just as much as your pre-selects allow, the transition from grip to slip clearly communicated by the car’s super-stiff structure. Tackling the same section in the NSX is a lesson in

THE NSX’S THREE MOTORS ARE INSTANT, HURLING US FORWARD LIKE A STRUCK PUCK

March On-track progress. Reliability and pace improve, allowing Alonso and Jenson Button to do battle in the midfield. May McLaren boss Ron Dennis claims McLaren-Honda will be the next constructors’ champions after Mercedes. July At the Hungarian Grand Prix both cars make it into Q3 for the first time since 2014. Fernando Alonso is seventh and Jenson Button eighth. October Musical chairs at Woking. A major reshuffle at McLaren results in Ron Dennis, the team’s figurehead since 1981, being ousted to make room for marketing guru and F1 fan Zak Brown. November The team finishes sixth in the constructors’ championship with 76 points. It’s a marked improvement over the 27 points scored in 2015.

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720S & NSX vs Tokyo

fractional losses. The Honda’s fast, really fast, but an order of magnitude less frenetic than the McLaren. Its brakes – which are better resolved than the 720S’s slightly numb pedal in normal driving, despite being plumbed into the powertrain’s complex regen system – can’t take the punishment this incredible stretch of road is able to provide. Similarly its conservative rubber (Continental ContiSport Contacts) bring a troubling imprecision and, ultimately, a paucity of grip. The front end pushes wide too easily and on corner-exit the rear can skip sideways fast if you’re lead-footed, the instant, hybrid-assisted shunt proving too much for tyres already busy with lateral load. It’s dark as we steal back into the city – a city we left just three hours ago but that now feels entirely different. Tokyo is unrecognisable after dark, the absence of natural light providing a black canvas onto which the city merrily spills a Jackson Pollock of light. Tokyo’s rich automotive culture is ever-present but it too is more spectacular at night, the noise and drama of modified domestic-market weapons and revered exotics adding to the carnival atmosphere. Dropping down from the elevated ring road feels like descending into a movie set as steam swirls from drying tarmac and lurid neon blazes across grime-streaked screens. We race along Shibuyu’s humming streets, pause at its infamous junction of a million pedestrian crossings and then turn back towards Shinbashi. Just as the endless red lights start to grate we get lucky, a string of greens giving us a clear run down the

In Tokyo you get your cornering kicks where you can

STEAM SWIRLS FROM DRYING TARMAC AND LURID NEON BLAZES ACROSS GRIME-STREAKED SCREENS city’s broad urban canyons. We’ve been driving for nearly 18 hours and yet still both cars are comfortable; still their driver appeal keeps us from making for home. If anything the NSX is the more capable everyday machine, its user-friendliness and less intimidating powertrain helping make urban progress as effortless as it would be in a Jazz. Shame it roasts whatever you stash in its tiny boot. Find the right road and the Honda is rapid and responsive if ultimately a little scrappy and unrewarding at the limit, like you’re doing it wrong or maybe you missed the point. Grippier tyres would help, as would an NSX Type R… That the NSX should feel a little out-gunned here is no surprise – the 570S is the Honda’s natural Woking-built rival – but that the Honda struggles to lose a Civic Type R on serious roads is sobering. All the torque-vectoring cleverness in the world can’t overcome the handicap of all that mass. While the non-hybrid 720S can’t claim to be a simple car it is a driving machine of uncomplicated brilliance, one whose essential excellence is a joy to experience, whether you’re mooching Shinbashi or nailing Suzuka. To drive one every day, on the kind of nothing journeys superminis were made for is overkill (threading a £200k+ car through rush hour isn’t for the nervous either) but the McLaren will do it, and do it so well it’ll make the ordinary extraordinary. @BenMillerWords

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HONDA NSX > Price £144,765 > Engine 3493cc 24v twin-turbo V6 with three e-motors, 573bhp @ 6500rpm, 477lb ft @ 2000rpm > Transmission 9-speed dual clutch, all-wheel drive > Performance 2.9sec 0-62mph, 191mph, 28mpg, 228g/km C02 > Suspension Double wishbone front, multi-link rear, adaptive dampers > Weight 1847kg > On sale Now +++++


i 2017

February The MCL32 is launched. Honda mirrors the engine architecture of its rivals and confidence is high. ‘We believe the engine is on a par with Mercedes’ 2016 engine,’ says Honda F1 boss Hasegawa.

March The power unit has severe vibration issues following correlation problems between the dyno and the racetrack. The gearbox and oil tank are particularly affected. On the eve of the opening race Alonso says: ‘We have only one problem, which is the power unit.’ April In Russia Alonso’s power unit fails on the formation lap. ‘This is getting ridiculous,’ he says. June Honda fails to deliver a promised engine upgrade at the Canadian Grand Prix. McLaren’s Zak Brown tells the media: ‘Do I think you can win in F1 with a customer engine? Yes, I do.’

MCLAREN 720S > Price £208,600 > Engine 3994cc 32v twin-turbo V8, 710bhp @ 7500rpm, 568lb ft @ 5500rpm > Transmission 7-speed dual clutch, rear-wheel drive > Performance 2.9sec 0-62mph, 212mph, 26.4mpg, 249g/km CO2 > Suspension Double wishbone front and rear, adaptive dampers > Weight 1419kg > On sale Now +++++

August While the rest of the F1 circus enjoys a four-week break, McLaren’s management is crunching the numbers and deciding the team’s future. The partnership with Honda brings a net gain of £76m through free engines and sponsorship, but at what cost? September McLaren and Honda divorce. McLaren will use Renault engines while Honda will supply Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s second team, with Honda claiming it wants to turn the operation into a top-three team.

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Ferrari's greater focus on usability made the F355 robust and easy to use if looked after

COULDA WOULDA SHOULDA

We're not going to try to kid you that there's anything cheap or sensible about owning a used Ferrari, but an F355 is pretty close to both Words Ben Barry & Ben Miller | Photography Barry Hayden

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FERRARI F355 CHOICE OF GOOD ONES FROM £60K

Rosso Corsa on the outside, Bordeaux Red inside, and redlined at 8500. It's never been out of Sport mode. Worth every penny

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If you can't cadge a drive of a reader's car, there's plenty in the classifieds: we found a choice from £60k for a '97 70k-miler to £120k for a '95 GTS with 24k miles on the clock

FERRARI F355 > Value £45k-£155k > Engine 3496cc 40v V8, 375bhp @ 8250rpm, 268lb ft @ 6000rpm > Transmission 6-speed manual (or automated manual), rear-wheel drive > Performance 4.7sec 0-62mph, 184mph > Suspension Unequal-length wishbones all round > Weight 1350kg (dry)

OR TRY THESE

HONDA NSX Mid-engined Japanese supercar gets 3.0-litre V6 and sweet handling as standard. Avoid autos; Type R variants rare and sought after. Prices for a 1990-2005 Mk1 start in the £30k bracket, most sit between £50k and £80k, some breach £100k.

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ASTON V8 VANTAGE Still looks fresh – because it’s only just left production, after debuting in 2005. V8 grew from 4.3 to 4.7 with other worthwhile tweaks in 2008. Cabrio feels heavy and wobbly. Coupes start from £30k, new special editions top £200k.

PO SC G 3 The 911 racer for the road, powered by the sublime naturally aspirated flat six (from 3.6 to 4.0 litres), no rear seats and rear-drive. Prices span £50k-£90k for a 996 ('99-'05), £80k-£110k for a 997 ('06-'11) or from £115k for the cheapest 991s.


Cabin dominated by ungainly wheel, engine bay by gainly V8. In six years, owner Alex hasn't needed to replace anything bigger than a £600 radiator

RUNNING IT

The sophisticated transmission is the product of countless laps of Fiorano

> Well respected DK Engineering, based in Herts, charges £550 plus VAT for an annual service, while a major service is £1520 plus VAT, including cambelt replacement, best done at the same time. > ‘An annual service generally keeps the cars in good order, with major services when necessary and cambelts every three years,’ says DK's Tom Durham. > Common faults include hairline cracks that cause exhaust manifolds to leak. It can cost up to £2400 per side for replacements, so owners often fit aftermarket systems.

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A month in the life of 15 cars

Five: for the love of the long haul Chances are youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll really like the 5-series after a quick drive. After six months, says Ben Miller, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll almost certainly love it

Black rectangle beneath the plate houses radar for missiles/adaptive cruise

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The other tasty engine option is the 540i petrol six: 335bhp and only available with xDrive

ALEX TAPLEY

IT’S ALL HAPPENED very, very quickly. Two years ago I attended the GOODBYE international press launch of the then MONTH 8 new 7-series: the G11/G12 if you speak BMW 530d model codes; the one with remote parking and gesture control if you don’t. Back then, the 7-series was everything I wanted it to be. A timeless luxury saloon fortified with all of BMW’s very latest technology, not least carbonfibre elements in critical areas of its structure to cut weight. Up front, our test cars ran 3.0-litre turbodiesel sixes, naturally, for a seductive blend of performance, character and something approaching economy. I was smitten, and couldn’t wait for the slightly smaller, slightly more affordable 7-derived new 5-series that would surely follow. Thing is, by the time it did, everything had changed. The carefully cultivated respectability of diesel engines had been ransacked, the trend of trading convention for high-riding SUV had firmly taken hold and silent, serene Model S Teslas had become part of the landscape, certainly on and within the M25. All of which would have left the G30 5-series feeling positively archaic were it not for the inescapable truth that it’s magnificent: superior in many ways to the 7-series that inspired it, and certainly one of the finest day-to-day cars I’ve ever had the good fortune to call mine. The 5-series presents three big decisions when you launch the configurator: powertrain, saloon or estate, and to xDrive or not to xDrive. COUNT Upgrading from the 2.0-litre diesel to the T H E C O ST 3.0-litre brings a not insignificant price Cost new £66,150 (including increase but on the evidence of this tenure £16,110 of options) it’s one worth stomaching. Peak power Dealer sale price £44,252 Private sale price £42,105 of 261bhp alone doesn’t make for a quick any-road competence that works with the Part-exchange price £40,750 car but more than 450lb ft of torque, a 5’s fine chassis, blissful refinement and Cost per mile 13p fabulously capable eight-speed, twin-clutch gorgeous engine to breed a confidence and Cost per mile including depreciation £2.67 transmission and unimpeachable all-wheelsense of satisfaction that make the monthly drive traction do, and with the six in its nose payments that much easier to swallow. the 5-series gains a suitably effortless turn of With xDrive the 5-series effectively gains speed, one that works as hard as the massage seats 100bhp, so early can you accelerate on the exit of and the astonishingly quiet cabin to help melt away stress and every corner and roundabout. You steal five car lengths on distance. Economy? Mid- to high-30s, despite my fairly thirsty, everything around you from every green light, and wheelspin motorway-shy commute and general impatience. (Range is a – and that dreaded stuttering yellow traction light on the dash fantastic 500 miles or so, thanks to a cavernous 66-litre tank.) – simply never troubles you. Huge mechanical grip helps here Saloon or estate? The saloon’s boot is enormous – its capactoo, of course, our Michelin-equipped M Sport car riding on ity and endless depth never defeated in my time with the car vast 20-inch wheels with contact patches like helipads, but all – but we have a dog, so I’d go estate. Easy. And believe it or not that torque would still over-rotate the rears on wet days were it the answer to the xDrive dilemma is just as straightforward: not for the four-wheel-drive system. Knock the stability control take it. There are penalties (in price, on-paper economy and back, explore how the system works under duress and it’s pretyour subsequent inability to knock off all the electronics and ty neutral, preferring squat-and-drive to slightly crossed-up hang the tail out like a Hollywood cop car in hot pursuit), of Group B shenanigans. Perhaps the M5’s best-of-both-worlds course there are, but the big win is an astonishing all-weather, switchable all-wheel drive/rear-wheel drive will reach the rest of the range in time. Complaints? Very few. The A-pillars are huge, bodyroll is pretty significant for a car billed as a sports saloon, and gesture control and steering control assistant just don’t work LOGBOOK BMW 530d M SPORT XDRIVE > Engine 2993cc 24v turbodiesel 6-cyl, 261bhp @ 4000rpm, well enough in these days of super-slick Tesla Autopilot, but 457lb ft @ 2000rpm > Transmission 8-speed dual-clutch auto, in the round the 5-series is almost certainly the car you’re all-wheel drive > Stats 5.4sec 0-62mph, 155mph, 138g/km CO2 looking for: a supremely capable rock in a fast-changing world > Price £50,105 > As tested £66,150 > Miles this month 805 of uncertainty. > Total 7770 > Our mpg 36.4 > Official mpg 53.3 > Fuel this month £129.01 > Extra costs None @BenMillerWords

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COUNT T H E C O ST Cost new £31,080 (including £2635 of options) Dealer sale price £20,890 Private sale price £19,510 Part-exchange price £18,650 Cost per mile 10.3p Cost per mile including depreciation 96.5p

CHRIS TEAGLES

The seven-seater that’s fine for five There’s plenty that’s not quite right about the Renault MPV, not least its delusions of grandeur, but it’s fab family transport. By Ben Whitworth THE GRAND SCENIC is not a full seven-seat people carrier. Let’s get that thorn out of the Renault’s side right now. It’s a brilliant four/five-seater with plenty of lounging space, fabulously comfortably plump seats, plenty of toys, and a huge hatchbacked luggage bay. But it’s hopeless at carrying seven passengers. Those inaccessible third-row seats are cramped and uncomfortable. A disaster then? Hardly. When a car looks this cool, this dynamic, this unpeoplecarrierish, then seven seats be damned. It was a brave move for Renault, creator of the original MPV no less, to prioritise style over versatility. And my, when that style looks as attractive as the Grand Scenic, then it’s bravery to be applauded. Besides, in over 14,000 miles I can count the number of times we travelled seven-up on both hands – almost all were short stints with the shortest getting the short straw. No one complained or whinged, we piled in, drove there and piled out. Job done. It showed its true colours on our summer break to France. It swallowed everything, including roof box and bike rack, and wafted us along glass-smooth Route Nationale roads to and from Poitiers in relaxing and economical style. The turbodiesel engine never failed to impress. Smooth, frugal and surprisingly punchy despite its modest 1600cc capacity and 130bhp output, it took a good stir of the long-throw GOODBYE MONTH 11 RENAULT GRAND SCENIC

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gearlever to haul the 1601kg Renault up to speed, but once up No Ben, your Scenic and running, it cantered along briskly enough to push a satisfy- Grand isn’t fitted with ing number of more prestigious cars out of the right-hand lane. automatic Although light and numb, the steering was direct and keen parking enough to make a series of bends something to be enjoyed. Pity, then, that unless fully laden the brittle and fidgety primary ride never settled down. Economy never got close to the 61.4mpg official figure, but hovered consistently around the 46.5 mark – not bad for a car that was either a family hold-all on the school run or a fast office commuter. The brilliant £500 optional Bose sound system was worth every penny, as were the full LED headlamps (also £500), full-length sunroof (standard) and auto-parking (£500). The big Renault still managed to infuriate, though. A climate control system that combined high-tech touchscreen and old-school twiddly dials topped the list of everyday expletive inducers. This was closely followed by an overly protective proximity sensor that meant the car locked itself between closing the hatch on your shopping and walking to the driver’s door. The infotainment system regularly refused to acknowledge my phone’s existence, poor wiper coverage combined with front quarter windows that refused to clear in the rain meant wet-weather visibility was iffy, and the various driver modes that LOGBOOK were accompanied by a change in cabin RENAULT GRAND SCENIC, illumination were a jokey gimmick. DYNAMIQUE S NAV DCI 130 So, a people carrier that wasn’t very > Engine 1600cc 16v turbodiesel good at carrying more than five people, 4-cyl, 130bhp @ 4000rpm, 236lb ft with a ride that somehow managed to @ 1750rpm > Transmission 6-speed both fidget and wallow, and a cabin manual, front wheel drive > Stats 11.4sec 0-62mph, 118mph that was a lesson in how not to combine 119g/km CO2 > Price £28,445 digital and analogue. All true. And yet I > As tested £31,080 > Miles this month liked this Renault a lot and I will miss it 1782 > Total 14,410 > Our mpg 46.5 even more. > Official mpg 61.4 > Fuel this month £209.02 > Extra costs None @benwhitworth


Think you’re hard enough? Folding hard-top vs trad soft-top: juggling price, performance and practicality makes it a tricky decision. By Mark Walton YES, YOU’RE RIGHT, at the start of our MX-5 MONTH 8 RF long-term test I MAZDA did indeed promise MX-5 RF to judge it on its own merits and never compare it to the roadster. Well, I lasted eight months. In reality, it’s impossible to avoid the comparison in your head, because the RF is not without its shortcomings, and you spend the whole time wondering if the soft-top would be better. So, the red car you see is a 2.0-litre SE-L with cloth trim, which – at £22,265 – represents a £3k saving over our leatherclad Sport Nav RF. The first thing that strikes you is the styling – up or down, the fabric roof accentuates the convertible’s rear haunches, which get lost on the Retractable Fastback, and gives the back half of the roadster MX-5 a much more resolved, curvaceous feel. Inside, I was surprised how much more headroom the soft-top roof gives you, and with very little downside. Okay, so opening the fabric roof is a manual unclip and fold back operation – whereas the RF’s roof is electric – but it’s so easy to use that it’s not a hardship. And, of course, roof down you get a proper, head-exposed-out-in-the-open roadster experience, rather than the halfway house

It’s far from black and white, but the red roadster gets the nod over the grey RF

‘targa’ buffeting of the RF. The two cars feel different on the road too, because the Sport-spec RF comes with stiffer Bilstein dampers. The softer springs of the red roadster give it a more compliant ride, but if you get it crossed up and sideways on a roundabout the RF’s body control is better. I have to say, if it was my money and I was standing in the Mazda dealership, I’d choose the red roadster. The brighter paint finish helps, compared to the grey RF – but almost three years after its launch, I still think the Mk4 MX-5 looks absolutely sensational in roadster form. The RF doesn’t quite. Plus, the soft-top feels like it’s the ‘real’ one – the simple, unadorned original, the purist’s choice. It’s still a car to fall in love with, every morning when you see it on your drive – whereas the RF (as I’m discovering) is a car you squint at, cock your head, and wonder if you chose the right car.

LOGBOOK MAZDA MX-5 RF > Engine 1998cc 16v 4-cyl, 158bhp @ 6000rpm, 148lb ft @ 4600rpm > Gearbox 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive > Stats 7.4sec 0-62mph, 134mph, 161g/km CO2 > Price £25,695 > As tested £27,165 > Miles this month 1122 > Total 8356 > Our mpg 34.8 > Official mpg 40.9 > Fuel this month £189 > Extra costs None

Alfa is still the king of chaos MONTH 5 ALFA ROMEO GIULIA QF

I

T DIDN’T START well. Editor Ben Miller drove the Giulia Quadrifoglio to Donalds Alfa Romeo in Peterborough, for its 9000-mile service. Profuse apologies, but the team weren’t trained to handle a QF! It turned out Donalds had left me two mobile messages to try to head us off, but that doesn’t excuse the fact they booked in a car I made clear was a QF. Attention switched to Glyn Hopkin’s showroom in St Albans, where Alfas rub side sills with Fiats, Jeeps and Abarths. Making an appointment over the phone, I was told there was no possibility of a lift to the station – yet was offered one as I handed the Giulia over to the service desk! I grumbled that my wife was waiting outside. Thereafter things went swimmingly. Not long after lunch the Giulia was ready. The technicians had interrogated the electronics in a bid to discover what had triggered those early engine warning lights, but found nothing untoward with the biturbo V6. However, the brake diagnostics had been disconnected on one corner during a ceramics check at HQ; this was duly patched up. Oil changed, fluids topped, Giuila washed immaculately, and all for £288 including VAT. Damn good value, I thought: the first service on my Discovery Sport diesel was £358. Whether it’s perception or reality, Alfa Romeo dealers have a bad rep. But the company is clearly focused on improving this: having filled out a showroom survey, Glyn Hopkin then followed up by email then phone, before I testily gave telephone feedback to Alfa itself. The service was great, okay! Now just leave me alone before that goodwill evaporates… PHIL McNAMARA @CARPhilMc

LOGBOOK ALFA ROMEO GIULIA QUADRIFOGLIO > Engine 2891cc 24v turbo V6, 503bhp @ 6500rpm, 442lb ft @ 2500rpm > Transmission 8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive > Stats 3.9sec 0-62mph, 191mph, 189g/km CO2 > Price £61,595 > As tested £72,550 > Miles this month 963 > Total 9947 > Our mpg 24.2 > Official mpg 34.4 > Fuel this month £227.66 > Extra costs None

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When running in backfires badly That’ll be a transmission failure so rare that they’re thinking of naming it after its first and only victim, our very own Steve Moody SO THE C43 AMG comes with the ubiquitous 9G-tronic gearbox that can be found in Mercs of all shapes and sizes the world over. Unfortunately, though, after less than 800 miles of gentle running in, ours had devoured itself and for the last three miles before it was unceremoniously carted away on the back of a truck, it was operating as a 1G-tronic, with seventh gear its only operating cog. The car came pretty much straight off the boat to me, with barely 100 miles on it, and I resisted the urge to thrash it from the off, figuring that a few weeks of old fashioned self-control would be paid back in spades over the next eight months. Everything was fine for the first couple of hundred miles and then, every now and again, particularly on downshifts, and even with only 2000 revs or so, the odd change would bang home like a runaway steam train in a shunting yard. Odd, and a bit disconcerting. I had a chat with some technical people at Mercedes and they said that sometimes it can take up to 1000 miles for the gearbox to bed in and fully smooth out. Then one day I had to go on a 300-mile round trip and the shunting got worse. I took to using the paddles to try to smooth out the changes, which helped a bit, but then I got stuck in traffic and the stop-start went haywire, revving crazily and then stopping dead, requiring a full manual

MONTH 3 MERCEDESAMG C43

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ignition restart. The upshifts then joined the party. It would refuse to change, select neutral, the revs would hit the redline, before dropping and shifting into the next gear. Oddly, you would then get 30 shifts in a row that were absolutely fine. And being a car with nine gears, it shifts a lot. When you’re expecting carmageddon on every change, that’s a pretty stressful existence. By good grace, when it went really terminal I was off the A1 and driving the country lanes near my home. I was determined to get it back to the safety of my drive, which meant seventh gear no matter what corner or T-junction presented itself. The biturbo engine is wonderfully elastic and even in seventh it could pull at 25mph, and with some empty roads and some fortunately unpopulated junctions I managed it. It went straight back to Mercedes HQ and not through a dealer. I scoured the internet and everywhere else I could think of, but it seems there are very few reported issues of any type with this gearbox, especially on such a low-mileage car. After a week or so I got a call saying that it was a faulty internal pressure valve – the first time they had seen this problem, they reckoned – and that due to its newness the whole box and torque converter was going to be replaced, just to be on the safe side. Blimey. So three weeks later, the C43 is back with LOGBOOK me and working like clockwork. Being EngMERCEDES-AMG C43 COUPE lish and so predisposed to guilt, I’m just so > Engine 2996cc 24v twin-turbo glad I drove it gently to start with: if I’d done V6, 360bhp @ 5500rpm, 378lb ft @ the usual thing and thrashed it from the off 2000rpm > Gearbox 9-speed auto, all-wheel drive > Stats 4.7sec 0-62mph, I probably would have blamed myself and 155mph (limited), 183g/km CO2 > Price been racked with remorse. Main thing is, £47,650 > As tested £56,870 > Miles (rather large) problem solved. Now it’s time this month 486 > Total 1035 > Our mpg to find out what this car can really do… 28.6 > Official mpg 35.3 > Fuel this @Sjmoody37 month £98.20 > Extra costs None

BOB ATKINS

That’s the tense look of a man who’s half expecting his gearbox to pack up


Your starter for 10: what is this car? Few can figure out the logic of BMW’s line-up, but the car itself’s a cracker. By Ben Barry

ALEX TAPLEY

SHORTLY BEFORE CAR’S new long-term BMW 440i Gran Coupe test car arrived, some HELLO friends provided a useful bit of context. They MONTH 1 were choosing between a previous-generation BMW 440i 3-series and slightly used 4-series, and thought a 4 was bigger than a 3 but smaller than a 5. Which is completely logical but, of course, wrong. Since 2013, BMW has been applying the 4-series name to cars previously known as 3-series coupes and convertibles. Presumably this makes these models seem more special than the bread-and-butter saloons and estates. In 2014 it added an all-new body style, the 4-series Gran Coupe, essentially a 4-series coupe with rear doors, more elegant frameless glass, and a hatchback rear. That’s what we’re testing. Recently, the entire 3- and 4-series line-up was given a midlife tickle. The most obvious tweaks for our Gran Coupe relate to the replacement of xenon headlights with LED headlights and tail lights. There are also new wheel designs, an updated interior with gloss black trim, a double-stitched dashboard, some electroplated trim and updated infotainment too. The latter includes a tile layout for functions such as sat-nav, radio and telephone, which are highlighted as you scroll over them using the rotary control near the gearstick. We discovered in the X3 test last month that this works very well. Chassis updates also include an increase in suspension stiffness. BMW claims better straight-line stability, more communicative steering and better handling, all with no loss of

ride comfort. We’ll see about that. You can get in a 4-series Gran Coupe for LOGBOOK BMW 440i GRAN COUPE £33k, but that’s for the 420i (despite the upper-crust positioning, you still get prole-spec > Engine 2998cc 24v turbo 6-cyl, 322bhp @ 5500rpm, 332lb ft @ 1380rpm engines). We’ve gone for the 440i Gran > Gearbox 8-speed auto, rear-wheel Coupe, the next best thing to an M4 or M3; drive > Stats 5.1sec 0-62mph, 155mph there is currently no such thing as an M4 (limited), 41.5mpg, 159g/km CO2 > Price Gran Coupe from M division. £45,490 > As tested £57,605 > Miles this month 372 > Total 2999 > Our mpg Our car’s vital stats are 322bhp and 322lb 31.5mpg > Official mpg 41.5 > Fuel this ft, and we’ll see how close we get to the month £66.17 > Extra costs None official 41.5mpg while dipping into that performance and enjoying the chassis. While xDrive all-wheel drive is available for most Gran Coupes including the comparable 435d diesel, the 440i comes only with rear-wheel drive. An eight-speed auto is also standard. So if you want a six-cylinder, petrol Gran Coupe, your options narrow to this, the rear-drive auto 440i. It costs £45,490. On top of that, our test car gets £12k of options – that’s £1k more than the entire cost of the 2009 320i Touring we bought three years back. The most obvious is Frozen Silver metallic paint, which looks pretty fantastic but makes me fear for car washes, especially at £1880. I’ll certainly only be hand-washing it. It’s complemented by no-cost Cognac (brown) leather, which I like. The remainder of the list breaks down as extra piano black trim (£375), heated steering wheel (£155), leather instrument panel (£815), glass sunroof (£895), split-folding rear seats (£170), lumbar support (£265), active cruise with stop-and-go (£620), surround-view camera (£500), adaptive LED headlights (£1050), digital cockpit (£295), Apple CarPlay (£235), and many things to which the word ‘package’ is appended, namely advanced parking (£545), active security (£995), driver comfort (£720), dynamic (£600) and the M Sport Plus package (£2000). It’s a meaty list, and we’ll debate the pros and cons over the coming months. But as our 440i Gran Coupe aced a recent Giant Test against the Audi S5 and Kia Stinger GT, it’s off to the best possible start. @IamBenBarry

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Go fast enough and it all becomes clear A day spent revelling in the glories of Honda Type Rs past and present throws some fresh light on our regular Civic. By Colin Overland

Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden show how to do it properly

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THE WORDS ‘CIVIC’ and ‘Type R’ go together very naturally, but of course there are Type MONTH 7 Rs that aren’t Civics and Civics that aren’t Type HONDA Rs. Mine, for a start. But it was at a day devoted CIVIC to all things Type R at Rockingham racetrack that I truly got our Civic, even though it was sat in the car park throughout. It was a day spent driving Civic Type Rs on track, and driving various old Type Rs on the road, and making a mess of controlling skids on a skid pan. And then driving our non-Type R away from the circuit with a new appreciation of what a fine car the Civic is. In the past, the Type R has often been the most interesting Civic and the best. I’m thinking particularly of the EP3 version, the ‘bread van’ shape from 2001. The regular car was very sensible and practical, and exceptionally roomy, and had its gearlever in a funny place. The Type R was significantly quicker and more fun without being significantly less practical, if a bit less comfy.


CHRIS TEAGLES

Our 1.5 meets the Type R: brothers under the shiny primer

The other generations have pulled off the same trick, with different degrees of success. But the current one flips the emphasis around. The Type R is very quick, a heap of fun and hardly compromised as daily transport. The 1.5 turbo – our car – feels remarkably similar. Yes it’s slower and it’s softer, and it doesn’t have three exhaust pipes. But it does seem to be very closely related. The weighting of the pedals and the steering wheel. The driving position. The way it holds the road. The gearchange action. These are the same thing – turned up to 9 in one case and down to 6 in the other, but the same thing. Why would you go for the 1.5? It’s less expensive to buy (and cheaper to run) and it’s a little more passenger friendly. Why would you go for the Type R? It’s faster – in the sense of usable speed, speed that can enliven a commute as well as make a country road into a little bit of paradise. It’s firmer. It’s flashier. Not much flashier, mark you. Even after the Type R hit UK streets, several months after the 1.5, I’m still getting raised

eyebrows and tentative thumbs-ups from drivers of various hot hatches, either asking if my car’s a Type R, or letting me know they like my Type R, or wanting to race my Type R. (It’s OK, I’m fluent in hot hatch eyebrow raising.) I soon stopped trying to mime back at them that no, this isn’t a Type R, you’ll notice that the exhausts are different and the wing much smaller… Way too complicated, and in any case there’s no harm in letting them think they’ve out-dragged a Type R (not Overland’s race that they always do). Everything’s in the same place, the curves are the same, the face. Civic’s, er, unhinged hotdriving position identical. You can tell the two were developed hatch face at the same time by essentially the same people. But I mustn’t exaggerate the resemblance between the two cars. Drive the 1.5 hard and the suspension soon starts to feel too soft, while the engine runs out of puff before you run out of enthusiasm. The seats seem a bit unstructured. There’s not much red inside. By contrast, the Type R is a fully fledged hot hatch. A very comfortable and easygoing hot hatch, but a hot hatch nonetheless, like the Ford Focus ST, Peugeot 308 GTi or VW Golf GTI. Engaging, Grippy. Responsive. Agile. And OK with child seats and shopping and speed bumps, and not loud enough to trouble the neighbours or the PTA. But when you see the Team Dynamics BTCC duo of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden dancing around Rockingham in Civic Type Rs, you see how much more potential the car has in the right hands (and bear in mind that their 2017 race car was based on the previous-generation Civic, so it wasn’t as if they’d been practising this masterclass in car control all season). Meanwhile, back in the real world… someone else has had my Civic for most of the month, and they did very few miles but spent enough time in the car to re-adjust everything that could be adjusted, from the steering wheel to the audio preferences. Mustn’t grumble, but the process of resetting everything served to emphasise LOGBOOK just how third-rate the DAB radio is, at HONDA CIVIC 1.5 VTEC least compared to most of the cars that SPORT PLUS pass through CAR. Incredibly fiddly, and > Engine 1498cc 16v turbo 4-cyl, 180bhp often reluctant to acknowledge the exist@ 5500rpm, 177lb ft @ 1900rpm ence of pretty mainstream stuff that it’s > Transmission 6-speed manual, frontwheel drive > Stats 8.3sec 0-62mph, found in the past. And the phone pairing, 137mph, 133g/km CO2 > Price £25,405 which used to be a doddle, is now more > As tested £25,930 > Miles this month trouble than it’s worth. 263 > Total 9454 > Our mpg 38.7 Just as well the important stuff – what > Official mpg 48.7 > Fuel this month £36.36 > Extra costs None it’s like to drive – is so easy to access.

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COUNT T H E C O ST Cost new £18,330 (including £2045 of options) Dealer sale price £14,999 Private sale price £14,189 Part-exchange price £13,549 Cost per mile 13.7p Cost per mile including depreciation 88.3p

… and relax AS THE C3’S squircly tail lights fade into the distance, I could fill this page with many, GOODBYE many things that were annoying about it, but MONTH 8 CITROEN C3 its overall charisma outweighs them all. I admire the way Citroën has ploughed its own furrow with the C3, the way they haven’t tried to make it sporty like a Fiesta, or premium like a Polo, or look like pretty much anything else out there. And while its platform is the same as that of the Peugeot 208, it feels very different, very Citroën. Partly because it’s incredibly comfortable – like driving an armchair with marshmallows for wheels. Its soft, lolloping suspension does mean its handling isn’t the most precise, with plenty of pitch under braking and even a touch of roll-steer while cornering. Most other superminis could, probably quite literally, run rings round it, but you’d be too relaxed in the C3’s comfy chairs to care. The sofa-esque seats are a high point of a great interior, to look at and to sit in. It uses hard plastics intelligently, mixing them with a leatherette grab-handle here or a dial like a ’70s wristwatch there, to lift the whole thing out of the ordinary. That said, the whole thing is very nearly spoiled by the obstructive touchscreen that’s home to many of the minor controls. Adjusting the air-con controls on a bumpy road is a distracting pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey game, and whatever number is displayed doesn’t seem to affect the physical temperature of the cabin anyway. Manual controls would spoil the uncluttered interior’s minimalism, but would make life aboard easier. They could put them in the part of the console that houses the starter button and a mystery cubbyhole that’s the

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exact shape to accommodate nothing at all, but does block the cupholders so you can’t carry bottles of water. It’s C for comfort, I started switching the screen off when driving on the and 3 for cubed. Comfort cubed. motorway at night, but quickly gave up because every time Yep. Even you change the volume (on the wheel or the dash), it switches the bonnet’s itself back on. Otherwise it was a great motorway car, the comfortable 108bhp 1.2-litre turbo petrol triple muscular enough to cruise at outside-lane speeds. The top engine in the range, it’s a quick one, but pricey – while the C3 range kicks off from around £11,500, our top Flair car totalled £16,205 before options. A narrow powerband and a clutch bitepoint somewhere up near the driver’s knee meant making smooth progress demanded concentration, not helped by a gearlever so long-throw that changing gear was more like changing the points on a steam railway. So, the C3’s not perfect, and it’s perhaps not a truly innovative car in most aspects aside from interior and exterior styling and LOGBOOK its unusual-for-the-class prioritisation of CITROEN C3 FLAIR S&S ride comfort – but it is at least an interesting PURETECH 110 MANUAL one. It’s not a car I would buy myself – I’d be > Engine 1199cc 12v turbo 3-cyl, 108bhp more at home in something with slightly less @ 5500rpm, 151lb ft @ 1500rpm extrovert styling and more rewarding han> Transmission 5-speed manual, frontwheel drive > Stats 9.3sec 0-62mph, dling – but it is a car I’d happily recommend, 117mph, 103g/km CO2 > Price £16,285 despite its flaws. A car of considerable charm, > As tested £18,330 > Miles this month the supermini market is a brighter place for 1546 > Total 7625 > Our mpg 39.5 its presence. > Official mpg 61.4 > Fuel this month £211.75 > Extra costs None @JamesTaylor_5

ALEX TAPLEY

The idea that superminis should be firm and fast gets upended by the C3, a car that succeeds by being itself. By James Taylor


Track time reveals GT’s hidden talents Sporty coupe turns out to be a great companion for honing circuit driving technique. By Ben Barry IF YOU WATCH Formula 1 on Channel 4, you might have seen Karun Chandhok’s feature MONTH 7 on F1 driver coach Rob Wilson. Wilson is, of TOYOTA course, a huge talent behind the wheel – he GT86 beat Nigel Mansell in F3 – but he’s made a bigger name for himself in the passenger seat, coaching several F1 champions. But he doesn’t coach them in a racecar or even on a racetrack. He trains them on an airfield in a 1.4-litre turbo Vauxhall Astra. I took the GT86 along for an hour one evening to get some tips, after Wilson already spent a day training someone much faster. This was actually the second time I’d been out with Wilson, having first met him for a story eight years back. So it was out in the Astra first for refamiliarisation, Wilson initially taking the wheel with his trademark casual, one-hand-on-steering-wheel chat while scorching round the cones at an almost unbelievable pace. Then it was my turn to go much slower. The Astra is perhaps not the first car that comes to mind for this kind of work, but it felt good, with a compliant, adjustable chassis, sweet steering and an engine that’s punchy enough to be fun, if slow enough to punish mistakes that drop your momentum. I managed to remember some of Wilson’s previous tips, especially keeping the car flat and straight whenever possible, and – part of that – making corners into V shapes, not soft Us when possible. Wilson thought I’d improved since last time, but

immediately picked up on my steering. ‘What’s going on there?’ he admonished. LOGBOOK TOYOTA GT86 The revelation this time was to very slight> Engine 1998cc 16v 4-cyl, 197bhp @ ly start turning for a corner just before 7000rpm, 151lb ft @ 6400rpm > Gearbox 6-speed manual, rear-wheel instinct says you should. It gives the car a drive > Stats 7.6sec 0-62mph, 140mph, little advance warning of what’s coming, 36.2mpg, 180g/km CO2 > Price and calms things down – the way you turn £28,005 > As tested £29,550 > Miles into a corner starts to feel more progresthis month 593 > Total 7039 > Our mpg sive, and I got a clearer sense that the tyres 34.7mpg > Official mpg 36.2 > Fuel this month £90.20 > Extra costs None were going to bite earlier than I’m used to. It made me feel more confident. After a few laps, I managed a 1min 50sec lap, which Wilson thought I should be pretty chuffed with. He then left me to practise in the GT86. Good as the Astra was, it’s safe to say all you future and former F1 champs would prefer the GT86. The rear-drive Toyota feels fantastic on track: low slung, agile, tightly controlled, and I particularly enjoyed being able to combine the adjustability Wilson encouraged me to exploit through tighter corners with squeezes of throttle to ride out the slides. With modest power and weight, it was also notable how little Barry: the the tyres degraded despite the coarse airfield surface. And I still Ben least famous seem to be getting closer to the official mpg figures at 34.7mpg! person Rob The sports car from Japan isn’t massively quicker than the Wilson’s ever done a selfie with family hatch from Ellesmere Port, though – with Wilson out of the car, and hopefully me improving a little with familiarity, the GT86’s lap timer clocked 1min 48.68 after two laps, around two seconds up on the Astra. Then again, the Toyota never has been about outright power – it’s about balance and interaction. You don’t need to be a budding F1 driver to appreciate that. @IamBenBarry

Rob Wilson with our GT86 and his Astra. Both cars respond well to skilled driving

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Still on its original tyres and pads, the Seven proved entirely reliable apart from a broken speedo and a cracked ECU housing – minor stuff given the pasting it’s had

ALEX TAPLEY

The chequered flag falls We built it, we’ve raced it and we’ve made a nuisance of ourselves on the road in it. And now it’s gone. Begin the grieving. By Ben Miller TWELVE MONTHS AGO I was spending whole days at a time in a cold garage with boxes of parts, a manual and a freshly acquired pile of tools, building our Academy racer. I’d wanted to build a Seven for decades and doing so was hugely enjoyable, if occasionally frustrating. (The old build manual was a nightmare: the new one, which looks excellent, is finally here.) The summer that followed, from April through to the last race of the year at Silverstone in October, was one of the most vivid, memorable and rewarding of my life – no exaggeration. There were moments of pure joy. Other moments were genuinely terrifying, and yet more involved a level of stress and anxiety I thought was reserved only for giving a best man’s speech. But the highs – and there were many of them – were incredible, and the reason, I suppose, that this pastime gets under people’s skin, takes over their every waking moment and then gamely tries to bankrupt them. The highlights? The second sprint event, at Curborough, was rain-lashed, but it was there that I finally began to build my understanding of the car, and a feel for its very sensitive and ultimately hugely rewarding dynamic traits. Our first proper circuit race was at Brands but it was at the next one, on Donington’s rolling curves, that I had my first proper tussle: a dozen enthralling – for me: I’m not saying

GOODBYE MONTH 12 CATERHAM SEVEN

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COUNT

they made for great spectator viewing – laps T H E C O ST of flat-out chess, fending off the advances of Cost new £24,995 (no options) rivals/mates David Spare, Jonny Jarratt and Dealer sale price £21,000 James de Lusignan. I came home eighth that Private sale price £20,000 day, a hell of an improvement over the 22nd Part-exchange price £20,000 Cost per mile n/a I recorded in the first event just a few weeks Cost per mile including previously. The neat bliss I felt on the cooldepreciation n/a down lap, cruising down Craner Curves in the late afternoon sunshine, will stay with me forever. If you’re prevaricating about the Academy, my advice is simple: do it. Hurl yourself into it. Build the car. (Not least because once you have, pre-race checks and maintenance are child’s play.) Choose your race gear and feel like the real deal. Book trackdays. Make mistakes. Really understand weight transfer, lines and drafting. Find a great driver coach (Darren Burke is excellent – darrenburke62@aol. com). Get faster. Experience unfettered joy and relief. Go in cynical and come out with a bunch of new friends. Catch some slides, lose others. And at the end of the year wonder two things: what took you so long; and how on Earth you can find the funds to continue. @BenMillerWords

LOGBOOK CATERHAM SEVEN ACADEMY

Academy costs £24,995, and the road-legal car – a 125bhp 1.6-litre – is yours to keep

> Engine 1595cc 16v 4-cyl, 125bhp @ 6100rpm, 119lb ft @ 2500rpm > Transmission 5-speed manual, rearwheel drive > Stats 5.0sec 0-60mph, 122mph, n/a g/km CO2 > Price £24,995 (includes race season, race licence and trackside support – see the Academy page of Caterham’s website) > Miles this month 112 > Total 2238 > Fuel this month n/a > Extra costs None


THE REST OF THE FLEET

Peugeot 3008

VW Golf GTE

Suzuki Swift

MONTH 4 by Anthony ffrench-Constant

MONTH 2 by Colin Overland

MONTH 5 By Jake Groves

THE SMALL, LOW-SLUNG i-Cockpit steering wheel makes sense in a hatchback, but the 3008’s waftier ride and higher centre of gravity make for a deal more body movement through a sequence of bends. Lob into the equation the fact that the helm continues to doze through the first few degrees off top dead centre and then wakes up with something of a start, and smoothness and accuracy at speed can become elusive. Of course you could steer a supertanker with a shirt button, but would you really want to?

NEIGHBOUR OF MINE loves his Lotuses, but his curiosity spreads to pretty much any car with a bit of go about it. The other day I was admiring the under-bonnet view of the Golf GTE, with all its orange electronics, when he wandered over for a chat. I started guffing on about the satisfaction you get from juggling the petrol engine and electric motor so that you maximise efficiency, and the pleasures of whacking it into B mode for some virtual engine braking and actual battery charging. I was also going on about my habit of trying to get the battery reserve to hit zero the moment I roll into the work car park, knowing that I’ll be able to plug it in and leave it charging all day. And how galling it is to find that all three charging points are occupied. And so on. Turns out he’d driven a previous-generation GTE. He tolerated my waffle for a bit, and then got to the heart of the matter: ‘Yeah, and then you press the GTE button and you get all the power at once, and that thing flies.’ Ah yes, there is that. A guilty pleasure, among all the greenery, and an explanation for our not-sogood fuel figures.

WELL THIS IS a dashboard icon I didn’t expect to see so soon, if at all. At around 5800 miles, just as I was about to take a week-long trip up to my old Newcastle home, li’l Swifty said it needed an oil change. Odd. After trying and failing to book it in for a service at my mum’s local dealer (they were booked up until after I was back in P’Boro), Suzuki’s Tech Centre was curious to take a look at it. It was returned the same day without the light on, but there’s no explanation yet as to why. Strange.

LOGBOOK PEUGEOT 3008 GT LINE PURE TECH > Engine 1199cc 12v turbo 3-cyl, 129bhp @ 5500rpm, 170lb ft @ 1750rpm > Gearbox 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive > Stats 10.8 sec 0-62mph, 117mph, 117g/km CO2 > Price £25,655 > As tested £27,290 > Miles this month 679> Total 4143 > Our mpg 38.1 > Official mpg 55.4 > Fuel this month £92.79 > Extra costs None

LOGBOOK SUZUKI SWIFT SZ5 1.0 SHVS > Engine 998cc 12v turbo 3-cyl, 108bhp @ 5500rpm, 125lb ft @ 2000rpm > Transmission 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive > Stats 10.6sec 0-62mph, 121mph, 97g/km CO2 > Price £14,499 > As tested £14,984 > Miles this month 523 > Total 6912 > Our mpg 47.3 > Official mpg 65.7 > Fuel this month £61.35 > Extra costs None

LOGBOOK VW GOLF GTE ADVANCE 1.4 TSI

Ford Focus RS MONTH 4 By Ben Pulman SYNC IS ON the blink. Ford’s infotainment system is usually very good – especially this Sync 3 version that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus better graphics and bigger buttons. But lately the sat-nav function has had a few moments – like the nav sub-menu button refusing to work, or the time the map claimed I was in Brentford when I could have sworn I was actually in Oxfordshire. When I take it to a Ford dealer I’ll be getting there using Google Maps on my phone.

> Engine 1395cc 16v turbo 4-cyl, 148bhp @ 2500rpm, 258lb ft @ 2500rpm, plus 101bhp electric motor (combined maximum 201bhp) > Transmission 6-speed auto, front-wheel drive > Stats 7.6sec 0-62mph, 138mph, 40g/km CO2 > *Price £32,135 > *As tested £38,510 > Miles this month 2159 > Total 4239 > Our mpg 38.6 > Official mpg 157 > Fuel this month £310.50 > Extra costs None *Plug-In Car Grant reduces prices by £2500

Volvo V90 MONTH 7 By Ben Oliver I ONLY NOTICED the Volvo’s exceptionally quiet cabin when I put my kids in another family car recently and could no longer hear my softvoiced three-year-old daughter talking to me from the back seat. Low ambient noise is almost as important to long-distance comfort as the seats. Combined with the exceptional steadystate ride quality, it means there’s soon silence from the kids’ seats too, and Radio 6 Music can gently be reintroduced on the excellent stereo.

LOGBOOK FORD FOCUS RS

LOGBOOK V90 D5 POWERPULSE AWD R-DESIGN

> Engine 2261cc 16v turbo 4-cyl, 345bhp @ 6000rpm, 347lb ft @ 2000rpm > Transmission 6-speed manual, all-wheel drive > Stats 4.7sec 0-62mph, 165mph, 175g/km CO2 > Price £32,265 > As tested £35,390 > Miles this month 207 > Total 4222 > Our mpg 26.5 > Official mpg 36.7 > Fuel this month £42.61 > Extra costs None

> Engine 1969cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 232bhp @ 4000rpm, 354lb ft @ 1750rpm > Transmission 8-speed auto, all-wheel drive > Stats 7.2sec 0-62mph, 145mph, 129g/km CO2 > Price £43,955 > As tested £52,675 > Miles this month 751 > Total 6223 > Our mpg 34.4 > Official mpg 57.6 > Fuel cost £129.91 > Extra costs None

February 2018 | SUBSCRIBE AND SAVE UP TO 61%! GRE ATMAGA ZINES.CO.UK 143


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Totally unique guide to EVERY car on sale in the UK, with a punchy view on all of them – yours included

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly ABARTH

ASTON MARTIN

NEW IN THIS MONTH

500 ##### > Pricey pocket rockets, all powered by 1.4-litre turbos in various stages of steroidal overcompensation. Divine details, dodgy dynamics > VERDICT Like a small yappy dog: noisy, excitable and likely to give you a headache

VANTAGE V8/GT8 #####

Jaguar E-Pace ’Baby F-Pace wears the Evoque’s undercrackers and can be had with an F-type engine’

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ALFA ROMEO MITO ##### > Decent engines but generally rubbish to drive, Alfa’s soggy-handling, hard-riding premium mini is crucified by the real thing and Audi’s A1 > VERDICT At least it’s got its looks. No, wait. It’s an ugly Alfa. It’s got nothing

GIULIETTA ##### > Looked like a credible Golf rival for a while but now the game has moved on. Keen prices, but rivals are roomier, classier and more fun to drive > VERDICT Miles better than a Mito. Miles better than a 4C, even. Miles behind a Golf

4C/4C SPIDER #####

Porsche 911 GT2 RS ‘As close to racing-spec as you can t Blisteringly quick, raw and sounds truly evil’

> First genuinely new Martin in a decade gets slick aero slinkiness, belting V12 turbocharged charmer and, crucially, Merc help with the wiring > VERDICT Finally the right blend of much needed new stuff and classic Aston charm results in a cut-above GT. Eat your heart out, Europe!

VANQUISH S #####

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GIULIA ##### > Good grief – an Alfa Romeo we can finally recommend that you buy. Auto-only 3-series rival has sharp steering, sultry looks, great driving position. Bellissimo! > VERDICT Note to dealers: don’t cock it up

Volvo XC40 ‘No thriller to steer but premium crossover has sharp look, practical interior and charming personality’

> Like a regular Giulia doped up by Lance Armstrong, this 191mph, 503bhp rocket is a quadruple shot of espresso for Alfa’s long lamented soul. At last > VERDICT The closest you can get to a four-door Ferrari. Really. That good

ALPINA D3/B3 ##### > Twin-turbo petrol and diesel stonk and smooth auto ’boxes mated to a quality chassis, but watch for some questionable OAP-spec interior finishes > VERDICT Try an xDrive D3 Touring – it’s what the M3 wants to be when it grows up

> Not quite funeral parlour dressing but lipstick and sorted underpinnings come too near the end of the Vanquish. DB11 is both fresher and cheaper. Oops > VERDICT Instant respect, even though you’ve bought the wrong Aston

RAPIDE ##### > Take that, Panamera! Aston shows Porsche how to make a supercar/saloon cocktail. Forget limo pretensions, though: it’s a four-door 2+2 > VERDICT Pretty, but interior more dated than a New York socialite and as hard on your wallet

AUDI

STELVIO #####

GIULIA QUADRIFOGLIO #####

VANTAGE V12/GT12 ##### > Cramming a huge V12 into the V8-sized engine bay was apparently the easy bit; it took years for Aston to add a manual gearbox. Worth the wait > VERDICT Chassis finally has the stick shift it deserves. Buy it no other way

DB11 #####

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> Sexy carbon two-seater over-promises and under-delivers on a double-your-dong-length web-scam scale. Spider a step in right direction > VERDICT Shoots for the moon, hits itself in the foot. Lotus Elise more fun, Porsche Cayman a better bet

> Either we’ve collectively entered another dimension or Alfa has just built two excellent cars in a row. Now we just need everyone to start buying them again > VERDICT Worth the risk at least once in your life

> Ageing entry-level Aston has ace steering, but make sure you go manual: plodding semi-auto is as dynamic as a Ron Dennis interview > VERDICT ‘Monica Bellucci’ on the desirability/ age scale; madcap GT8 tactile but not as fast as it looks

A1 HATCH/SPORTBACK ##### D4/B4 ##### > Same blend of fast and frugal as above but slotted into slinkier 4-series shell. ZF auto not as snappy as M4’s twin clutch, but much smoother > VERDICT 53mpg and 62mph in 4.6sec? And you’re alright with this, BMW?

D5/B5 ##### > Twin-turbo B5 petrol V8’s 590lb ft could de-forest the Amazon while planet-loving D5 doesn’t let meagre 155g/km prevent 174mph max > VERDICT You can’t have a real M5 Touring, but this comes close

B7 ##### > BMW doesn’t make an M7, but Alpina does. Twin-blown petrol V8 delivers ‘bahn-busting performance that’s best enjoyed in Germany > VERDICT Niche Merc

The home for all your car maintenance and ownership needs

S63 AMG alternative hamstrung by the ugliness of the raw materials

XD3 ##### > X3 35d-based high-rise hot-rod delivers 350bhp, 516lb ft, and the horizon through your windscreen. Spoiled by a rock-hard ride > VERDICT Another niche BMW that Munich leaves to Alpina, maybe because the Porsche Macan is better

ARIEL ATOM ##### > Only the Pope’s lips get more up close and personal with the tarmac than an Atom driver, but there’s zero protection when the heavens open > VERDICT Spectacular toy. Great on track, barmy on road. Chassis doubles as a clothes airer, which is just as well…

> Posh Polo does it all, from 1.0 miser to S1 micro rocket. Not cheap, even before you’ve splurged on options; £30k is a mouse click away > VERDICT Classy Mini rival that doesn’t turn into Quasimodo when you tick the 5dr option

A3 HATCH/S’BACK/SALOON ##### > Midlife update adds exterior angles, three-pot engine and optional digi-dash. Still king of quality in this sector, but adrenalin isn’t among the standard kit > VERDICT Brilliant hatch and not much financial gulf to a Golf. Try sporty S-line on supple SE chassis

A3 CABRIOLET ##### > Premium sun-grabber without macho sportscar posturing. A bit tight in the back, but pretty tight in the bends too. Try a 1.8 TFSI with Sport trim > VERDICT Asexual drop-top for sensibleshoes types. Worth the £2k premium over Golf

NOMAD #####

RS3 #####

> Not content with terrifying on tarmac, Ariel now offers the off-road Nomad. Gains a roll-over structure but still no doors > VERDICT Don’t forget to put the hot water on – you’ll be needing a bath when you get home

> The superhatch/saloon for those lacking in imagination and/or driving talent, RS3 struts its stuff best in a straight line. But 4.1 to 62mph is well weapon > VERDICT Only feel a little bit ashamed for wanting one

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK 145


AUDI > FIAT A4 SALOON/AVANT/ALLROAD ##### > Captain Obvious in every way: lighter, smarter, better to drive than the last one – and only microscopically different to look at > VERDICT As you were, except inside, where tech obsession offs elegance. Rivals remaining calm

RS4 ##### > Brutal RS treatment makes a monster of ho-hum A4. No 4dr, no manual and no turbos, this wicked wagon’s V8 redlines higher than Ferrari’s 488 GTB > VERDICT Pace and space, but rides like the tyres have a tic. No match for Merc C63

REPLACED SOON

A5 SPORTBACK ##### > More tech and even better quality doesn’t compensate for a lack of personality. Better looking, then so is Dorking after eight pints. You could buy worse but you’ll definitely get bored > VERDICT It’s better to live in than to drive

A5 COUPE/CABRIO ##### > Deceptive bunny boiler – looks normal until you realise it’s killed a TT and is wearing its face. Cue B-road mayhem. Not really > VERDICT Even more of an A4 in a frock than the last one, but still better to drive

RS5 ##### > Like a bouncer in a tailored suit, the hot A5’s power bulges through the creases in its bodywork. Twin-turbo V6 has full-bodied soundtrack and quattro provides grip in spades > VERDICT A composed four-seat express that has power to spare, but it’s not the most involving sports car

A6 SALOON/AVANT/ALLROAD ##### > Demure big Audi an unsung hero, refined and cheap to run. Allroad an SUV for agoraphobics; twin-blown 309bhp BiTDi a proper mischief maker > VERDICT Base models short on wow, but a solid alternative to betterhandling Jag XF

RS6 ##### > For wealthy mentalists who think the S6’s 444bhp isn’t enough, RS6 delivers 25% more and gives the R8 V10 a hard time at the lights > VERDICT Beautifully finished all-weather family wagon that scares supercars silly

A7 SPORTBACK ##### > Slant-roof A6 takes styling cues from pretty ’60s 100 coupe but can’t out-cool Merc’s CLS. More grippy than a sloth who’s been sloppy with the superglue > VERDICT Stylish GT with sensible engines, but not quite a sports saloon

REPLACED SOON

RS7 ##### > Pricier, less practical RS6 with fastback rear, same guts, but gets clever rear diff as standard for oversteer here, there and everywhere, given room > VERDICT An Aston Rapide for the AAgoraphobic, but we’d have the naughtier RS6

The home for all your car maintenance and ownership needs Audi v2.0 in other words, but still something you’d want on your drive > VERDICT Expect to be swearing at one soon

Q7 ##### > German heavy metal turns techno as Mk2 Q7 sheds weight despite megaload of extra gizmos. High-performance SQ7 TDI mindbendingly adept > VERDICT They thought of everything but the charm

R8 V10/V10 PLUS ##### > Friday-afternoon restyle meets Mondaymorning mechanics. New R8 offers no V8 for now, but V10 is back with 533bhp or Lamboequalling 602bhp > VERDICT A Lamborghini Huracan for £50k less. Friendly but ballistic; playful chassis a joy

BAC

RSQ3##### > Audi’s first tall-boy RS model. Hearing of the £45k price or unleashing that 335bhp five-pot both elicit same incredulous gasp > VERDICT Who needs this stuff? Short people in a rush? Better than a GLA45 AMG

Q5 ##### > A4-MLB2 in Barbour, Q5 ups the comfort, tech, looks similar to the old one… textbook

MERCEDES-AMG E63 S ESTATE 3.5 SECONDS It may hold the record but we’re willing to put money on it that the Affalterbach petrolheads are peeved they aren’t top dogs here as well.

MONO ##### > Single-seat racer that took a wrong turn out of the pits. Pushrod suspension, Cosworthtuned 2.3 Duratec and bath-like driving position > VERDICT Sublime track tool with a six-figure price that’d net you a Cayman GT4 and an Atom

BENTLEY BENTAYGA ##### > Cynics will say it’s a Q7 in expensive jewellery, but The World’s Fastest SUV matches 187mph top speed with superb chassis. We flambéed the brakes > VERDICT Super-lux options include £110k Breitling clock. Or spend the same on a two-bed semi in Crewe

ALPINA B5 TOURING 3.6 SECONDS BMW (for now) has said no to an M5 Touring, so this ace-looking Alpina will have to do if you’re looking for a V8 5-series estate.

BENTAYGA DIESEL ##### > They said it would never happen, but we knew it would. Still fast, still heavy, still thirsty but now you get to use the dirty pumps and only need to stop every other minute > VERDICT You might have to lie at the golf club or they’ll make you use the tradesmen’s entrance

CONTINENTAL GT COUPE/ CABRIO ##### > The repmobile of millionaires. Reliable, well built and full of VW bits. Death Starsmooth W12 sounds more rebellious, while twin-turbo GT V8 S is joyful > VERDICT More of a sports car than hefty GT image suggests

REPLACED SOON

> Current Spur is sharper to drive, sharper to look at, softer to sit in, and feels less like a stretched Conti. Fridge and iPads essential options for rear-seat recliners > VERDICT Think of it as a bargain Roller rather than a pricey A8

> Dumpy dinky faux field forager is a yummy mummy fave. Forget 4wd and the diesels and go for light, zippy, 1.4 TFSI > VERDICT So much better to drive than it looks. Which it’d have to be, right? Unless it was an Alfa

Stretched and electrified Panam’ is so fast from a standing start it’ll hit 62mph way before you finish saying its full name.

TT RS #####

> Audi exec car in ‘good to drive’ shock. Ingolstadt’s limousine packs enough tech to worry Skynet and avoids being wooden behind the wheel so convincingly you’d think it had a different badge on the front > VERDICT The new king in the exec tech arms race

Q3 #####

PORSCHE PANAMERA TURBO S E-HYBRID SPORT TURISMO 3.4 SECONDS

> At the outer limits of the TT’s dynamic envelope, a 17% power hike ekes 395bhp from five pots and targets wounded Cayman > VERDICT Audi springs the offside trap, rounds the keeper, but hits the bar. So close!

FLYING SPUR #####

> Odd-looking small SUV is like a Countryman that’s lost a battle with a set-square. Nice enough to drive but still a nerd to the Mini’s prom queen > VERDICT The Q doesn’t stand for Quasimodo. Probably

As the Mercedes-AMG E63 S smashes the record for fastest estate around the ’Ring, we check out the quickest estate car 0-62mph times

TT COUPE/ROADSTER ##### > Brilliant coupe gets virtual dash and sharper handling. Try 2.0 FSI. Boot big, but the rear seat’s for handbags only > VERDICT A proper real-world sports car – but the same money buys an early R8

A8 #####

Q2 #####

NUMBER CRUNCHING

FASTEST-ACCELERATING ESTATES

AUDI RS6 AVANT PERFORMANCE 3.7 SECONDS Even if it’s getting on a bit, Audi’s ultimate A6 estate can still leave supercars standing at the lights.

MULSANNE ##### > Huge, hand-built anachronism, with twinturbo V8 born in the ’50s, buffed to perfection, and a field of cows sacrificed for your arse’s pleasure > VERDICT Buy the Speed – any less outrageous display of consumption is just poor form

BMW 1-SERIES #####

PORSCHE PANAMERA TURBO SPORT TURISMO 3.8 SECONDS Lighter and less powerful (and less expensive) than its electrified sister, but who’ll really feel four tenths of a second on the road?

> Only rear-driver in its class. Good for handling, not for cabin space. Facelift made it 3% less grotesque. 118i petrol a brilliant all-rounder > VERDICT Want a roomy, well-appointed hatch that’s great to drive and look at? Buy an A3

M140i ##### > Bavaria’s hot hatch shuns four-pot power and front-drive for sonorous 335bhp 3.0-litre straight-six nuke and power to the rears. About as practical as shorts in a Canadian winter but you won’t care > VERDICT An absolute riot, just don’t have kids

146 CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018

JATO Dynamics is the world’s leading provider of automotive intelligence. Check them out at www.jato.com


2-SERIES COUPE/CABRIO ★★★★★ > Boot-faced booted 1-series is a Mustang with a couple of A-levels. 218d is 8.9 to 62mph and 63mpg; 4-cyl 228i a cut-price, cut-down M235i > VERDICT Plainer than a margarine sarnie, but TT and RCZ can’t touch its space/pace combo

M240i ★★★★★ > Still hard to look at without squinting but sweet six-cylinder is even more grunty. The perfect 2-series if you pretend the M2 doesn’t exist > VERDICT Ignore the Golf R temptation and keep it rear

M2 ★★★★★ > 2-series coupe with M4 chassis and 365bhp turbo six – that’s some crowbar they’ve got at M division. All of the fun, all of the time > VERDICT Best M car since the E46 M3. Buy with manual ’box and stacks of tyres

2-SERIES ACTIVE TOURER ★★★★★ > BMW in front-drive MPV shock. Decent BEST IN drive, great interior. Need to cart OAP CLASS relatives around? You’ll need the 7-seat Gran Tourer. Boom boom! > VERDICT The ultimate driving (to the park/crèche/post office) machine

i3 ★★★★★ > One of BMW’s best cars is home to its finest cabin. Electric version has short range; hybrid is noisy and has a fuel tank like a flea’s hip flask > VERDICT Carbon-chassis supermini, electric power and £30k price. Did we wake up in 2045?

3-SERIES SALOON/TOURING ★★★★★ > Celebrating four decades of overpriced, BEST IN undersized family cars. New modular CLASS engines make it better than ever, 320d (now sub-100g/km) still top choice > VERDICT Jag XE is treading heavily on its twinkling toes

4-SERIES COUPE/CABRIO ★★★★★ > 3-series in a shellsuit subtly better to drive, but same great engine choices and almost as practical. Shame about the carryover cabin > VERDICT Crushes Audi’s A5. Folding hard-top cabrio weighty but worth it

4-SERIES GRAN COUPE ★★★★★ > Pretty and practical, like a bikini car wash, hatchback GC costs £3k more than 3-series but has standard leather. Five belts but four seats > VERDICT Smart and useful, much more than a niche exercise. But why isn’t this the 3-series?

M3/M4 ★★★★★ > Competition Pack breathes some life into this staid M-car duo. £3k more = 444bhp and lightup seat badges. Classy > VERDICT Buy an M2

7-SERIES ★★★★★ > So high-tech BMW must have ram-raided BEST IN Google’s R&D bunker, confident the CLASS ‘carbon core’ construction would enable it to drive back out > VERDICT Gesture control, remote parking, active anti-roll – it’s got it all. But not quite the kudos of the Merc S-Class…

X1 ★★★★★ > Ugly old one sold by the bucket load; all-new replacement is miles better to look at and to drive. It’s a proper mini-SUV now… > VERDICT It’s even based on the front-wheeldrive Mini platform. Swallow that bile now

X3 ★★★★★ > Studiously un-gangsta SUV shuns petrol power – and M Power – options for solid diesel-only blend of handling and handiness. Looking better post facelift > VERDICT The BMW SUV we don’t hate ourselves for liking

X4 ★★★★★ > Blame the Evoque and people who bought the X6 for this carbuncle. Priced at £4k-£5k more than an X3, but better equipped and annoyingly better to drive > VERDICT Depressing X3 spin-off for grown-ups who still dream of being a footballer

X5 ★★★★★ > One-time Premier League fave looking more like League 1 beside better-driving and -looking rivals. Skinflint sDrive 25d is a rwd four-banger > VERDICT Still impresses with engines and quality, but thanks to Landie it’s lost its lustre

X6 ★★★★★ > All the impracticality of a coupe and all the wasteful high-centred mass of an SUV. Genius. If you must, X40d gives best price/punch/ parsimony > VERDICT Pointless pimp wagon. Buy a Porsche Cayenne or even an X5

Z4 ★★★★★ > Sports car for post-menopausal women REPLACED in lemon trouser suits. Coupe-cabrio roof SOON hits boot space when folded. Base 18i spec sub-Wartburg > VERDICT No match for Boxster. Stick with mid-spec trim. And keep taking the evening primrose

i8 ★★★★★ > Carbon-constructed 3-cyl hybrid supercar that’s fun for four, as fast as an M3 and does 40 real mpg. Minor demerit: looks like it’s crimping off a 911 > VERDICT Fascinating and fabulous. The future of the sports car is in safe hands

BUGATTI

5-SERIES ★★★★★

CHIRON ★★★★★

> BMW’s second most important car gets the full treatment, with new chassis, slightly forgettable exterior and massive tech injection. Smart, semi-autonomous and still the best in class > VERDICT Spirit-crushingly good. Bring on the M5

> ‘The Veyron was okay but why couldn’t it have 30% bigger turbos and 300bhp more power?’ Bugatti answers the question nobody asked – and answers it loud > VERDICT A riot

M5 ★★★★★ > While our enthusiasm for the twin-turbo REPLACED V8 is tempered slightly by the artificial SOON engine noise, it’s sublime to drive and gets better with every iteration > VERDICT Still the fast saloon daddy. 592bhp ‘30 Jahre edition’ utterly magnificent

6-SERIES COUPE/CABRIO ★★★★★ > Anonymous big GT best enjoyed with mighty 40d diesel power. Plenty of room for four – if you fire your passengers into the back via a wood-chipper > VERDICT Under-the-radar GT bruiser, short on sex, but not on appeal

6-SERIES GRAN COUPE ★★★★★ > Coupe? It’s a bloody saloon! And £20k more than a same-engined 5-series! BMW must chuckle at every sale. Still, rather nice > VERDICT Desirable enough to leave the 6-series coupe in the shade/showroom

CATERHAM SEVEN ★★★★★ > Still the benchmark for bobble-hatted TerryThomas wannabes and the track-curious, the adaptable Seven comes in flavours from 160 3-cyl to mental road racers > VERDICT 80bhp 160 underpowered, 310bhp 620R lethal, 180bhp 360 model just right

CHEVROLET CORVETTE ★★★★★ > Farm machinery meets Spacelab in fabulous 460bhp V8 symphony of composite materials, leaf springs and pushrods. Shame it’s left-hook only > VERDICT £60k for a bargain berserker. £20k more for the 650bhp Z06

CITROEN

M6 ★★★★★

C1 ★★★★★

> Six-figure M5 in a shiny suit is even better to drive. Two-door looks good value beside Mercedes’ S63 coupe, but can’t touch a Porsche 911 GTS for kicks > VERDICT M6 GC almost makes M5 redundant, but at £100k/18mpg you’ll need two jobs

> Trying hard to escape the clutches of its sister cars from Toyota and Peugeot, the C1 can have a funky Airscape cloth roof and half-hearted personalisation options. 1.0-litre has most pep > VERDICT Good, solid proletarian urban fare rather than hipster cool

C3 ★★★★★ > Citroën produces a great small car by looking up its own Wikipedia entry and remembering what it’s good at; spacy, compliant and different > VERDICT Are Citroëns cool again? They’re certainly getting there

C3 AIRCROSS ★★★★★ > Funky mattress on wheels takes C3’s style and puts it on stilts. Thankfully retains C3 Picasso’s super-spacious interior and flexi seats > VERDICT The Vauxhall Crossland X’s much more characterful Gallic sibling

C4 ★★★★★ > Recently refreshed C4 has all the edginess of a Hush Puppy deck shoe. But it’s useful, anodyne transport, and sub-100g/km BlueHDi models are very economical > VERDICT Nobody would hate you – or notice you – if you bought one

C4 CACTUS ★★★★★ > An architect’s wet dream. Sloppy to drive but otherwise a roomy family car with kid’s toy colour combos. Airbumps will stop it kicking off in the car park > VERDICT Cheap yet brilliant. Why can’t the French be this good all the time?

C4 PICASSO ★★★★★ > Defiantly anti-cool family shifter. Touches like lower rear windows and sprogwatch mirror make mums go weak at the knees for its peaceand-bloody-quiet ambience > VERDICT Drives like a shed. Who cares, if it makes Satan’s brood shut up?

BERLINGO MULTISPACE ★★★★★ > Recently refreshed with SUV aspirations, but still essentially a wipe-clean tin lifeboat for cagoule-wearing Thermos-sipping birdwatchers. Rattles and drives like a van. Is a van > VERDICT Dogging cheap seats for aspiring Bill Oddies

FERRARI 488 GTB ★★★★★ > We were worried the turbos would ruin it, but while we’ll miss the 458’s 9000rpm wail, the 488 is more playful and even easier to drive. A stunning achievement > VERDICT Even the looks grow on you after a while. Rivals better dust off their gracious loser faces

CALIFORNIA T ★★★★★ > L-plate Ferrari first of Maranello’s new turbo cars. Boost management mimics naturally aspirated engines. Looks better, sounds worse > VERDICT Forget the unfair 488 comparisons, it’s an SL65 rival and well worthy of the badge

FERRARI 812 SUPERFAST ★★★★★ > Proof that Ferrari can still make truly epic BEST IN GT cars that fly the naturally aspirated V12 CLASS flag with pride. The screaming 800hp engine is matched by laser-guided handling > VERDICT GT? Supercar? Either way, it’s astounding

LAFERRARI ★★★★★ > 1000bhp hybrid hypercar where the BEST IN electric bits exist to save tenths not CLASS icecaps. 499 to be built and all sold despite the £1.2m asking price > VERDICT The greatest single supercar of all time – except maybe the FXX K track version

GTC4LUSSO ★★★★★ > Looking even more like a Z3 M Coupe battered by a giant spatula, this updated FF gets four-wheel steering to go with its improved four-wheel drive and 680bhp V12 > VERDICT Closest Ferrari has got to an SUV… so far

GTC4 LUSSO T ★★★★★ > Deleting four cylinders and a driven axle sneaks the GTC under the psychologically distressing £200k barrier, not that the news will sell thousands more > VERDICT Less is a little bit more, while also still very much a lot

DACIA SANDERO ★★★★★ > Cheapest new car on sale, not the worst. Yoghurt-pot plastics and pre-Glasnost styling can’t detract from a spacious sub-six-grand runabout with Renault engines > VERDICT Austerity rocks. Right, Greece?

LOGAN ★★★★★ > Estate looks like a Sandero that’s reversed into a phone box. Cavernous boot, but dreadfully unrefined thanks to all the brittle plastic and tin > VERDICT You put things in it. It will carry them for you. You can take them out. Job done

DUSTER ★★★★★ > No-nonsense SUV that’s ideal for wannabe peacekeepers on a ridiculously small budget. Buy the boggo 4x4 diesel in white for the full UN effect > VERDICT The Neighbourhood Watch will never be the same again

DS DS3 HATCH/CABRIO ★★★★★ > Best-selling DS gets robo-croc snout and Apple CarPlay as standard but ‘premium’ claims got lost in translation > VERDICT Like Prince William’s bonce covering, the Gallic charm is wearing thin

DS4/CROSSBACK ★★★★★ > Range now split between regular hatch and jacked-up Crossback. Softer set-up and fewer buttons a plus; rear windows still don’t open > VERDICT Medium rare luxy-Frenchness. Germany reportedly not worried

DS5 ★★★★★ > Office joker in testosterone world of Serious Business Men. Quite appealing, with a lovely aerostyled cabin. Diesel Hybrid4 is a good idea not executed properly > VERDICT Bland ubiquity will always beat charming quirkiness

ELEMENTAL RP1 ★★★★★

FIAT TIPO ★★★★★ > Oh God, really? Fiat has another crack at the C-segment, this time sensibly playing the value card. Dull, yet still the best Fiat hatch since the last Tipo – and that dates from 1988 > VERDICT Only consider buying Fiats with numbers, not names

124 ★★★★★ > MX-5’s step-sister, seemingly intent on undermining said darling hairdresser’s star turn with its punchier 1.4 turbo blow-dryer. Awkward style, for an Italian > VERDICT To drive, this is the MX-5 you’ve been waiting for

PANDA ★★★★★ > Spacious city car with ‘squircle’ obsession, as roly-poly as blobby looks suggest. Two-pot TwinAir willing but thirsty > VERDICT VW Up costs less, drives better and is nicer inside

500/C ★★★★★ > Delicate job, modernising a retro cash cow. Fiat’s approach pairs a korma-grade facelift with updated tech and even more colour palette kitsch > VERDICT Fashion victims rejoice! The cupholders actually work now

500L/MPW ★★★★★ > Bloated supermini-sized people carriers, desperately attempting to cash in on city car’s chic. Seldom has the point been so massively missed > VERDICT In-car coffee machine option the only purchase excuse

500X ★★★★★ > Compact crossover is the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the 500 range – steroidal and somewhat limited in its range of abilities, but actually rather likeable > VERDICT Worthy Nissan Juke alternative works the 500 thing surprisingly well

PUNTO ★★★★★

> As expensive as a used Cayman GT4, but more refined than any Caterham and is an absolute weapon on track > VERDICT Elementally mental but mentally worth it

> Been facelifted more times than Joan Rivers but is somehow still alive. Now reduced to barebones range and budget price. We still wouldn’t > VERDICT You might be tempted. Don’t be

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK 147


FIAT > McLAREN

The home for all your car maintenance and ownership needs

QUBO/DOBLO #####

> VERDICT Thinking of buying one? Have a word with yourself

> Postman Pat’s wheels? Don’t be daft, Pat’s retired to the Caribbean and is living off the royalties. Drives a red Bentley > VERDICT Van-based MPVs. Practicality first, people second

C-MAX/GRAND C-MAX #####

FORD KA+ ##### > Hits the city car target bang-on by being the complete opposite of the old Ka (good to drive, decently spacious), but misses by being less sexy than Borat. And Plus? Plus what? > VERDICT Ahead of its time, and in danger of being overshadowed by newer arrivals, but still pretty good as far as it goes

B-MAX ##### > B-pillar-free Fiesta-based mini MPV gets rear sliding doors for maximum practicality but not the sliding rear seats of some rivals. Firm ride > VERDICT Buy with a 1.0 EcoBoost triple and Zetec trim for maximum school-run fun

FIESTA ##### > Still a peach to drive and now has an interior design that isn’t from the dark ages, even if material quality is still a bit iffy. ST-Line suitably sporty but Vignale too expensive to justify > VERDICT You can thank the heavens they haven’t ruined it

FIESTA ST/ST200 ##### > Bargain banzai hot hatch shreds that tricky gyratory complex with style to spare thanks to torque vectoring voodoo. ST200 costs £5k more than base; misses point spectacularly (if not the apex). Softer suspension now > VERDICT This is the one that you want

REPLACED SOON

FOCUS HATCH/ESTATE ##### > Shows Ford’s chassis engineers know their stuff > VERDICT Great to drive but the VW Golf is a more polished destination for your money

FOCUS ST/RS ##### > Chip-controlled 4wd RS is an overclocked 345bhp mix of outrageous drift angles and limpet traction. And we used to think the front-drive ST was impressive > VERDICT In bhp/£ stakes, both are mega value. But only the RS does donuts

MONDEO HATCH/ESTATE ##### > Huge space and you can even have the plucky little 1.0 EcoBoost engine > VERDICT Everybody wants them new-fangled SUVs these days, but this is a great family car

KUGA ##### > Generally likeable crossover gets an angry face, semi-sporty ST-Line version and better cabin, thank heavens. The best-handling midsized crossover, but that’s not saying much > VERDICT If you really must

EDGE ##### > Stupidest Ford name since Maverick, but looks good and drives like a Ford – a big, ponderous Ford, hamstrung by 2.0 diesels and slower than continental drift > VERDICT Comfy, refined, irrelevant amid premium rivals

ECOSPORT ##### > Desperate B-segment SUV had most of its undercarriage chucked away, improved to the point where it feels vaguely like the decade-old Fiesta it’s based on. Interior should be donated to the British Museum

> More a roomier Focus than full-blown MPV, C-Max delivers driving pleasure to blot out family pain. Seven-seat Grand version gets rear sliding doors > VERDICT Rivals are roomier, but none is better to drive

S-MAX ##### > Exploits latest Mondeo’s undercrackers to full effect. Pricey, but still the best of the seven-seaters to drive. Toys include electric everything and speed-correcting cruise control > VERDICT Harder to beat than FC Barcelona

MUSTANG ##### > GI Henry’s finally been posted to Europe and he’s cutting in on the TT’s dance. At last gets multilink rear end, but rear space could be better > VERDICT EcoBoost 4-cyl torquey but tedious; it’s the V8 you want, if not its 18mpg thirst

GALAXY ##### > Goose to the S-Max’s Maverick, current Galaxy is based on the same Mondeo-derived platform. Just as high-tech, but more spacious > VERDICT Great if you need a big seven-seater as it fits adults in all rows with no human rights violations

GT ##### > A very expensive hardcore supercar from Detroit that proves a global mega-seller can still cut it against Ferrari when it wants to. EcoBoost V6 is hugely fast if devoid of character > VERDICT ‘Race car for the road’ translates into ‘brilliant fun but a bit coarse’

GINETTA

won’t need ear defenders to drown out road noise > VERDICT Ford Kuga has the chassis, Nissan Qashqai has the style, but neither is as practical as a CR-V

NSX ##### > ‘We’ve blown all our development cash on an insanely complex hybrid drivetrain. Do you think anyone will notice if we fit an interior from a Civic?’ > VERDICT Like a 918 for half a mil’ less – mind-blowing to drive, crap to sit in

HYUNDAI i10 ##### > Five-door city car that balances mature driving experience with strong value – even if it’s not as cheap as it was. Five-year warranty, too > VERDICT Basic motoring done not just well but with a dash of style. Mid-spec 1.0 our choice

i20 HATCH/COUPE/ACTIVE ##### > Update adds Active crossover to 5dr hatch and 3dr ‘coupe’; suitable for somnambulant warranty fiends only. Turbo triple lumpy > VERDICT Fur-lined tartan slippers, Horlicks and early to bed; repeat

i30 HATCH/TOURER ##### > Where the current crop of Hyundais got serious – which means it’s now in need of a facelift as the mainstream moves ahead again > VERDICT Tries hard but lacks imagination

i30N ##### > Ex-BMW M Division head Albert Biermann has worked his magic – Korea’s first proper hot hatch is very good indeed, and cheaper than a Golf GTI > VERDICT An intergalactic leap ahead for Hyundai’s image

G40 #####

i40 SALOON/TOURER #####

> Pint-sized road-legal racer. Two models: G40R (civilised version, with carpets) and GRDC (actually a race car with number plates) > VERDICT Tiny, twitchy and top fun. Pick the £35k GRDC and get free entry to race series

> Vast Mondeo rival with huge boot and lots of kit. Facelift resembles a lizard with an Audi grille for a mouth > VERDICT Nearly-but-not-quite mainstream alternative plays value card well

HONDA JAZZ ##### > Brilliantly packaged supermini with typical genius mismatch of brain and social skills. Ordinary performance, more refined than before > VERDICT If a Skoda Fabia had seats this smart, other superminis would call it a day

CIVIC ##### > The might of Honda’s engineering prowess delivers more space, clever new engines and an exterior that looks like it was drawn on a bus on the way into school > VERDICT Easy to admire, loving requires recreational drugs

CIVIC TYPE R ##### > Its many angles hide a much more rounded hot hatch than ever before. Driving one day to day much easier now but its speed and agility can still take your head off > VERDICT All the ills of the old FK2 have been resolved; it’s fast, practical, agile and easy to live with

HR-V ##### > It took Honda 10 years to build a second HR-V, and you’re left wondering why they bothered. Almost wilfully generic > VERDICT Platform’s magic packaging the only saving grace

CR-V ##### > Roomy but unremarkable SUV with a choice of two- or four-wheel drive. Unlike most Hondas

148 CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018

iX20 ##### > Compact MPV and Kia Venga’s ugly step-sister; roomy but ultimately forgettable > VERDICT Sorry, what were we talking about?

KONA ##### > Hyundai does a Nissan by trying to make a forgettable crossover less so by over-styling it. Rear space and boot tight but plenty of kit > VERDICT You’d have to like the looks to pick it over countless others

TUCSON ##### > Promising initial impressions of shiny-looking ix35 replacement tarnish quickly > VERDICT Dull to drive, duller inside, unrefined

SANTA FE ##### > Biggish SUV has always led Hyundai’s assault on the European market from the front. Comfortable, self-assured and easy to live with > VERDICT A Hyundai you can choose without shame. Looks fresher than Waitrose parsnips

i800 ##### > Massive van-based people carrier that’ll seat eight and still have space for their luggage. Ideal for part-time airport minicabbers > VERDICT It is what it is: a van with seats in. But it’s a nice van

GENESIS ##### > Luxury saloon hamstrung by unsuitable petrol engine and they-must-be-joking price tag > VERDICT Start of Hyundai’s move upmarket. Well, it worked out well for Infiniti. Oh, wait…

IONIQ ##### > Korean take on the Prius minus Gwyneth Paltrow smugness and drawn-in-the-dark exterior. Hybrid, EV or upcoming PHEV – something in all shades of green > VERDICT Challenges neither pulse nor helmsmanship

INFINITI Q30 ##### > It’s an A-Class in an alternative frock – a slow A-Class at that. Suspension and seats comfy, just don’t look too closely at the dash > VERDICT The fat goth of the premium hatchback segment

Q50 ##### > US-aimed Japanese premium product that’s mostly forgettable. Sport Tech model has stonking V6 > VERDICT The hot one is a surprise but it’s not a car that will worry BMW or Merc

Q60 ##### > Shapely coupe has quirkiness in spades. Tech overkill includes slightly odd drive-by-wire steering while porky weight dulls performance > VERDICT Capable and direct, but those words don’t scream ‘fun’, do they?

Q70 ##### > Does it look like a rubbish Maser QP, or a slightly cooler Daewoo Leganza? Either way it’s a novelty act without the novelty > VERDICT Worth considering over a 5-series, but only if Harald Quandt ran off with your wife

QX50 ##### > Blandly styled EX crossover got a new badge but precious few new fans. Well equipped, but costly to run and not that great to drive > VERDICT Nothing to see here, people, move on – to your local BMW dealer and its excellent X3

QX70##### > Striking jumbo jeep comes with more kit than a Knight Rider convention but the lavish cabin is too small and the fuel and tax bills anything but > VERDICT Taxi for Infiniti! Porsche’s Cayenne has this one covered, old timer

JAGUAR XE ##### > Straight-bat styling hides exotic aluminium chassis and class-leading handling. Bit tight on space, though, and engines not a high point > VERDICT Rivals are better packaged but this is the driver’s car in the class and a proper little Jag

XF ##### > Second-gen XF now 75% aluminium, looks like an over-inflated XE; bigger inside, smaller outside, still a great steer > VERDICT Diddy diesels moo more than a dairy; insert your own joke about cats and cream

XJ ##### > Questionable styling but unquestionably an excellent steer – although passengers may mutiny. Interior looks luxurious but lacks intelligence, even if it’s fitted with the latest infotainment > VERDICT Hollywood baddies’ limo of choice. Flawed

XJR ##### > Absurdly track-ready limo builds on already ballistic XJ Supersport, but bumps power up to 543bhp and tightens chassis at expense of ride > VERDICT More rare-groove than Elvis’s first acetate, but spectacular – if you’re sitting in the front


by nasty CVT > VERDICT So close. Give this a proper auto ’box and it would be right up there

F-TYPE COUPE/ROADSTER #####

KIA

LAMBORGHINI

> Posh pauper’s Aston sounds superb, goes well too. Forget basic V6 and choose from V6S and mental V8S. Now with manual and 4wd options > VERDICT So nearly sublime, but Cayman/ Boxster duo cost less, entertain more

PICANTO #####

HURACAN #####

> Now has an angry face and there’s a feisty turbo triple. GT Line comes with amped-up looks > VERDICT Accomplished; avoid base 1.0

> Way more accomplished Gallardo successor, twinned with new R8. Dual-clutch gearbox mandatory, 602bhp V10 flicks Vs at turbos > VERDICT Beats 488 for aural and visual thrills but nothing else. So we’ll have the Spyder

F-TYPE R #####

RIO #####

> Supercharged 543bhp almost too much fun in rear-wheel-drive form (but still less knife-edge than V8S); 4wd available if you’ve left bravery pills at home > VERDICT All this drama or an ‘ordinary’ 911? Tough choice…

> Long on space, short on enjoyment, life with a Rio is no carnival. Diesel refinement will have you driving to a favela in the hope of a carjacking > VERDICT White-goods car gets the basics right but there are many better rivals

F-TYPE SVR #####

STONIC #####

> JLR’s SVO black ops division delivers a 567bhp all-wheel-drive F-type that goes and sounds like an elephant on MDMA > VERDICT Quilted leather and 200mph – but terrible hi-fi for a car that costs twice the entry V6

> Her name is Rio and she’s put on a bit of weight. Kia’s first stab at a bestseller has a hard ride but it’s much more practical than a Juke > VERDICT Looks good but just as forgettable to drive as any other baby crossover

E-PACE #####

CEED HATCH/SW/PROCEED #####

> No, not the electric one, the baby F-Pace NEW ENTRY one. Wears the Evoque’s undercrackers and can be had with same engine as the 4-cyl F-type, so there’s a solid baseline for it to sell in the bazillions. Top spec incredibly expensive, mind > VERDICT Handsome and filled with tech but lacks polish

F-PACE ##### > Jag’s first SUV is a road-biased Macan botherer. Built light to be nimble; body control brilliance and pokey engines prove family DNA > VERDICT Macan remains most sporting choice, but more rounded F-Pace has plenty of bite

JEEP RENEGADE ##### > Strange but true: junior Jeep is built in Italy alongside Fiat 500X that donates its platform. Even stranger: it’s not terrible > VERDICT Only the top Trailhawk cuts it in the rough

COMPASS ##### > Qashqai rival misses the mark. Looks imposing and Trailhawk very good in the rough, but smaller Renegade more charming > VERDICT Almost as forgettable as the previous Compass

CHEROKEE ##### > Gimlet-eyed Discovery Sport rival looks like the banjo-playing inbred from Deliverance. Despite generous kit, we’d leave it on the porch > VERDICT Feels too cheap to be premium, too pricey/ugly to beat Qashqai

GRAND CHEROKEE ##### > Proper off-road credentials and sensible running costs, but feels cheap. Ludicrous SRT8 version demolishes 62mph in five dead > VERDICT Makes sense at $30k in the US, but doesn’t drive or feel like a premium car

WRANGLER ##### > Incredible off-road, and better than a Defender on it, but that’s like saying Pol Pot was more benevolent than Stalin > VERDICT When North Korea nukes us, this cold war cast-off will be all that’s left moving

KOËNIGSEGG AGERA ##### > Evolution of Lex Luthor’s original CC8S supercar features carbonfibre wheels and twinturbo 5.0 V8. R version even runs on E85 biofuel > VERDICT Yahoo! Yin to Volvo’s yang keeps Sweden’s car output balanced

> Golf wannabe is big on equipment and not bad to drive. Ceed is five-door, Proceed gets three, SW is the wagon > VERDICT Now with downsized turbo engines. Europe still ahead. Just

SOUL ##### > Improved second-gen chunky spunky SUV better to drive but ride and noise suppression poor. Petrol version rubbish, but much cheaper > VERDICT A Korean with character but other SUVs are more rounded (in both senses)

OPTIMA ##### > Sexless Mondeo clone cobbles together some mojo via the addition of sharp-suited Sportswagon and a plug-in hybrid > VERDICT All the car you’ll ever need, but not the car you want

VENGA ##### > Weird sit-up supermini-cum-MPV packs Focus space into near-city-car dimensions. Hard to get comfy though. 1.4 petrol best > VERDICT Too pricey and too ordinary to drive for us to care

CARENS ##### > Big, versatile, value-packed seven-seater. Go diesel – 1.6 petrol is wheezier than emphysemariddled asthmatic with a punctured lung > VERDICT For all its pseudo-premium Euro aspirations, this is the stuff Kia still does best

GS/GSF #####

AVENTADOR S ##### > Aventador hits the sweet spot: old enough to sort the gripes from new and young enough to not yet be the subject of 31 run-out limited editions. Semi life-affirming > VERDICT Pose to talent ratio heading in right direction

AVENTADOR/SV ##### > The F12 may be better in every respect, but this is what a supercar should look like. Limitedrun Aventador SV closes that gap with shocking power and agility > VERDICT SV is the one to have. Sub-7min ’Ring lap makes the hybrid hypercar crew look stupidly expensive

LAND ROVER

DISCOVERY #####

LC500 #####

> Gen-5 Disco can climb mountains and social strata with equal equanimity; this is Land Rover in the 21st Century. Worryingly close to Range Rover, slightly frustrating engine choice > VERDICT The best seven-seat party wagon money can buy

> A serious sports car from the most serious of car makers gets clever hybrid or tasty V8, 10-speed automatic and less bovine acoustics. It’s even quite sexy > VERDICT It’s no longer the Japanese Mercedes

RANGE ROVER EVOQUE ##### > Posh mum’s SUV, now also a convertible, solving the interior’s claustrophobia-triggering tendencies. Ingenium engines commendably hushed > VERDICT Pricey, but perfectly pitched

RANGE ROVER VELAR ##### > Sport-lite or Evoque-plus? Either way, Land Rover’s centrally placed SUV is handsome, capable, well finished and worthy of its name > VERDICT The new benchmark Range Rover

RANGE ROVER ##### > Ambitious new flagship SUV reckons it’s a real > A benchmark in luxury SUVs. V6 diesel Land Rover rival. Now bigger than ever, and so is IN the price: up to £40k. Only engine is a 2.2 diesel BEST CLASS perfectly acceptable, supercharged V8 petrol hilarious > VERDICT The perfect car > VERDICT Impressive, but lacks the badge and for smuggling cash to Switzerland, skiing, turning performance of genuine premium off-roaders up at a ball, game shooting and being smug

X-BOW ##### > 22nd century Ariel Atom mixes carbon construction with hardy Audi turbo’d 2.0 four > VERDICT Big money, big grins, but single-seat BAC Mono gives more race car-like experience

RX ##### > Looks like Lord Vader’s helmet with wheels on, but interior opulence and general tranquillity make up for idiosyncratic infotainment issues > VERDICT Build quality and refinement to save the galaxy, even if the hybrid tech won’t

RC/RCF #####

RANGE ROVER SPORT #####

KTM

NX ##### > Trumps Audi Q5 with a fabulous interior and arrest-me (for persecuting curves) exterior design. Fwd or 4wd with electric motor at rear > VERDICT Doesn’t work as a driver’s car, so take the NX300h hybrid over faster, costlier NX200t

> RCF’s old-school unblown V8 completes charismatic package that shocked M4 in our Giant Test. Elegance of regular range can’t overcome lack of diesel option > VERDICT Deserve more success than they’ll likely get

> As luxurious as a Rangie, as practical as a Disco, better looking than an Evoque and could follow a Defender cross country. Add in impressive handling and ballistic SVR and diesel versions > VERDICT Nobody likes a show-off

> Handsome four-door grand tourer has a mountain to climb to win over German exec buyers but it’s comfy and a head-turner. Interior not as well-finished or techy as rivals > VERDICT A solid first effort; V6 GT-S is playful

> Monstrously expensive, very refined > VERDICT Built for those in the back, while the S-Class makes every seat count

DISCOVERY SPORT #####

SPORTAGE #####

STINGER #####

LS ##### REPLACED SOON

> ‘Educated, professional luxury SUV desperately seeking decent diesel engine.’ Ingenium replied. Happy ever after? > VERDICT Comfy silence a promising start. We’ll know it’s love when they get the interior decorators in

> All-new, all-turbo SUV truly handles and rides but somehow a picture of Mr Potato Head’s face got mixed up with the final blueprints > VERDICT Improved, except to look at

SORENTO #####

> Twin-pronged petrol hybrid cooking range now spiced up by GSF 5.0 V8. Lack of turbos admirable but like hunting M5 bear with a peashooter > VERDICT 300h makes company car sense, wilfully different GSF good fun

LOTUS ELISE ##### > Reminds just how connected cars used to be. Slothful base 1.6 reminds how they used to go, too, so pick 1.8. Alfa 4C is a pricey, pale imitation > VERDICT Still sensational, but a 10-year-old example does the same job for half the price

EXIGE ##### > Gym-bunny Elise with supercharged V6 retains beautifully connected unassisted steering. Superb new 350 Sport turns up the wick > VERDICT The Lotus our tyre-frying Ben Barry would buy. Make of that what you will

EVORA 400 ##### > Thoroughly refreshed Evora loses its looks but gains easier access and thumping supercharged 400bhp > VERDICT The chassis and steering are Lotus at its sparkling best. Sublime, but you’ll still buy a Cayman

McLAREN

LEXUS

540C #####

CT #####

> The world’s first decontented supercar is still worth donating a ball to put on your driveway. Entry-level doesn’t get any better > VERDICT The work of a very focused company somewhere near the top of its game

> Pig-ugly premium Prius a mix of decent

STEER CLEAR handling, woeful performance and a ride so poor it makes a black cab feel like an S-Class > VERDICT Wouldn’t merit a single sale if company car tax bills were less CO2-focused

IS ##### > Sharp-suited, well-specced 3-series rival finally gets decent rear space. Good chassis, but 250 V6 irrelevant, and frugal hybrid hobbled

570S/570GT ##### > Base McLaren ditches carbon body and super-trick suspension, but keeps carbon MonoCell and twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8. Now available with glass hatchback, too > VERDICT S and GT performance near identical; both make 911 Turbo S feel too normal

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK 149


McLAREN > NISSAN 720S ★★★★★ > Big Mac’s 650S replacement turns the wick up and is measurably better in every way than a 488. Maranello won’t be pleased > VERDICT Obscenely fast and engaging – we just wish it was louder

675LT ★★★★★ > Upgraded 650S with 666bhp, stiffer suspension, faster gearshifts, quicker steering and 100kg less weight. Whatever deal Woking’s done with the devil, it’s worked > VERDICT This is the McLaren you’ve been looking for

P1 ★★★★★ > £1m hybrid hypercar with aero straight from McLaren’s F1 brains. All sold, and if you haven’t got one you can’t have track-only GTR either > VERDICT Astounding, but LaFerrari feels more special (as it should for £400k more)

MASERATI GHIBLI ★★★★★ > The small exec you wish you owned still drives great, still looks the business, still doesn’t have the four-cylinder diesel that will get it on your shopping list. A shame > VERDICT An alcohol-free Quattroporte

QUATTROPORTE GTS ★★★★★ > Because Ferrari doesn’t ‘do’ saloons you can have a brilliant blend of Maranello turbo V8 wrapped in some gracefully ageing Maserati bits. Remains the coolest four-door car money can buy > VERDICT It won’t let you in unless you’re in a suit or chinos

GRAN TURISMO/GRAN CABRIO ★★★★★ > Four genuine seats a rarity in this class, but fill them and you’ll regret choosing the weedy 4.2 over the 4.7 at the first sniff of a hill > VERDICT Podgy, pretty, practical GT for folk who hate four-door faux coupes. And luggage

GT MC STRADALE ★★★★★ > Defies hulking 1770kg mass (and that’s after a 110kg diet) and modest 444bhp to deliver an engaging driving experience. Epic noise > VERDICT Massively underrated. A GT3 for an Italian lothario with a ’Ring season pass

LEVANTE ★★★★★ > Maserati’s long-awaited SUV is better than the Ghibli. And the UK is getting petrol, after initially being threatened with diesel-only line-up > VERDICT Far from flawless but it’ll show you a good time

MAZDA 2 ★★★★★ > Shot-in-the-arm supermini packs good value, handling and looks, leaving sweat marks on the shirts of the VW Polo marketing team > VERDICT Under-radar Fiesta threatener gatecrashes the top table

3 HATCH/SALOON/ESTATE ★★★★★ > Another Mazda that’s great to drive and cheap to run. You like shifting gears? You’ll love the 118bhp unblown 1.5. If not, go diesel > VERDICT Don’t buy a family hatchback until you’ve tried one. Oh, a Golf? Apart from that

6 SALOON/TOURER ★★★★★ > Boss won’t let you have a BMW 3-series? This makes an impressive alternative. Handles well but rides like the tyres have DTs > VERDICT Swoopily styled, tax friendly, entertaining alternative to po-faced VW Passat

CX-3 ★★★★★ > Late arrival to the compact crossover party, but worth a look thanks to smart cabin and crisp, engaging drive. Pity about the firm ride > VERDICT Pricey, but better than most and well equipped. Ideal MX-5 social life support truck

CX-5 ★★★★★ > How an SUV should drive. Better than ever, still unfairly ignored over inferior rivals > VERDICT It’s the closest you’ll ever get to a five-seat MX-5

> VERDICT Brilliantly uncomplicated budget sports car. Dink the GTI for this

> VERDICT Howard Hughes would approve, but he went crazy in the end

being practical > VERDICT Better than ever to own, even if you love it a little less

MX-5 RF ★★★★★

S63/S65 AMG ★★★★★

COOPER S/JCW ★★★★★

> When a folding fabric roof above your head is just too common to contemplate, pay more for the heavier and more complicated RF and never fold the bloody roof down anyway > VERDICT Right car in the wrong spec

> Twin-turbo 577bhp V8 and 621bhp V12 S-Class variants, because being richer than the world isn’t enough and you need to out-drag it, too > VERDICT S63 V8 is bonkers, S65 V12 utterly certifiable. Does your chauffeur deserve it?

> Upsized BMW 2.0-litre four-pot-powered 228bhp JCW most powerful Mini ever. Terrific turbo’d fun, if a tad overwrought and synthetic > VERDICT Beware the cost of the options list

MERCEDES A-CLASS ★★★★★ > Midlife refresh has softened the A-Class, but it’s still a little tasteless > VERDICT Expensive and cramped – A3 and 1-series do it better

GLA ★★★★★ > Confused A-Class on stilts with lifestyle pretensions and unnecessary surplus of interior air vents. GLA45 AMG is entertaining but simply unnecessary > VERDICT An A-Class for the bewildered. Maybe you thought you were ordering a GLC?

A45 AMG ★★★★★

GLC ★★★★★

> Mad turbo four-pot now makes 367bhp and 350lb ft. Goes like a banker who knows the game is up; almost as expensive > VERDICT Option the Dynamic Plus pack with LSD as well

> GLK replacement project, now available in right-hand drive. Sounds like you shouldn’t care, but the interior might just make you moist > VERDICT Rivals are cheaper, better to drive – GLC makes you feel special inside

B-CLASS ★★★★★ > Posh MPV big brother to the A-Class misses out on the looks and the charisma, but is far more homely and just as technically savvy > VERDICT So boring the BMW 2-series Active Tourer actually begins to make sense

CLA SALOON/SHOOTING BRAKE ★★★★★

G-CLASS ★★★★★ > Cold War relic that’s so solidly built it could ram raid a bank vault. Obscene special editions a growing – literally – Mercedes obsession > VERDICT You shouldn’t want one, but… Will outlast any Defender. And possibly the planet

GLE/GLE COUPE ★★★★★

> CLS clone based on the A-Class, now with swoopy Shooting Brake estate. Lacks gravitas of former and sex appeal of latter > VERDICT Just because you can make something smaller doesn’t mean you should

> Rebadged M-Class is heavy, ponderous and depressingly cheap inside. Plug-in hybrid plays the tech card, new Coupe an alternative to X6 > VERDICT As you were: it’s perfectly adequate in a class dominated by the outstanding

C-CLASS SALOON/ESTATE ★★★★★

GLS ★★★★★

FACELIFT SOON

> Latest C impresses with mini-S-Class looks and almost all the same on-board tech. Denies muttering it wishes the 3-series would drop dead > VERDICT BMW still better to drive, but if you want a relaxing techno cocoon, this is it

C-CLASS COUPE ★★★★★ > All-new sexpot version of latest C-Class (no shrinking violet itself) now 10cm longer and available with air suspension. Still tight in the back > VERDICT Much more of an event than the 4-series, but new A5 right back in the game

C63 AMG ★★★★★ > Sounds madder than ever despite switch to bi-turbo 4.0 V8; coupe gets unique 12-link rear suspension for sharper responses > VERDICT Saloon, estate or coupe, you get mega traction and one of the best turbo engines ever

E-CLASS SALOON/ESTATE ★★★★★ > It may look like a fat C-Class but this techno tour-de-force thinks it can drive better than you. Exceptional interior out-luxes all comers > VERDICT New 4-cyl diesel so smooth it churns motorway miles into butter

E-CLASS COUPE ★★★★★ > Swish, clever and satisfyingly capable, as long as there’s six cylinders up front. Like coupes used to be before everyone decided they needed to be ‘Ring-meisters > VERDICT Middle age has never been so appealing

AMG E63 ★★★★★ > Only AMG would offer the E63 with an all-wheel-drive system that you can switch off in Drift Mode. Which is exactly why you should buy one, and possibly open an account at Kwik Fit > VERDICT Go S or go home

CLS/SHOOTING BRAKE ★★★★★ > The word ‘coupaloon’ is banned from these pages. Which is fine, because we’re all slightly in love with the glamorous Shooting Brake > VERDICT Second-gen version of the original four-door coupe continues to lead the pack

REPLACED SOON

S-CLASS ★★★★★ > Enormously technically accomplished, with camera-guided ride quality and stacks of safety kit. Maybach and Pullman variants immensely flash > VERDICT Makes 7-series/A8 seem like toys. Captains of industry should insist on it

> Luxo-monster seven-seater lacks Range Rover panache but it’s comfy and refined, and the infotainment doesn’t come from Poundland > VERDICT Active anti-roll essential, but otherwise it’s a brilliant bus

SLC ★★★★★ > Buy the SLC43 AMG and it’s like an uglier but cheaper F-type with a nicer interior. Buy any other SLC and you’ve lost your mind > VERDICT Come back 718 Boxster, all is forgiven

COUNTRYMAN/PACEMAN ★★★★★ > Countryman has been replaced for 2017, but the three-door Paceman is still spun off the old, far inferior, Countryman > VERDICT Vastly improved Countryman now a strong SUV

MITSUBISHI MIRAGE ★★★★★ > Facelift can’t hide the Mirage’s catastrophic lack of style or charm. As well suited to the small car segment as a Sopwith Camel is to executive short-haul flights > VERDICT Want your kids to stay off the roads? Buy them one

ASX ★★★★★ > Box-ticking small SUV feels like it was designed on a spreadsheet. At least it’s relatively cheap and well kitted > VERDICT Best bought on the internet

ECLIPSE CROSS ★★★★★ > The last of the old Mitsubishis or the first of the new Renault-Nissan ones? Off-road ability says former, but cushy ride and renewed interior quality says latter > VERDICT Petrol-CVT combo sounds wrong but it’s civilised and looks sharp

SHOGUN ★★★★★ > Great-value old-school workhorse for those whose workplace is covered in mud, oil or bomb craters. Big, noisy diesel, chunky underpinnings and reliable, with hose-down cabin > VERDICT If you don’t think you need this car, you don’t need this car

SL ★★★★★

OUTLANDER ★★★★★

> The plastic surgeon was worth every penny: post-facelift SL is far more MILF than Morph. Turning up the sporty makes the most of the super stiff structure, too > VERDICT Think twice about that Ferrari California. No, seriously

> Mid-life overhaul brings sleeker looks and lifts cabin ambience by miles. Diesel still a bit of a tractor but PHEV comfy and refined > VERDICT The UK’s best-selling plug-in hybrid finally makes sense

AMG GT ★★★★★ > SLS replacement is smaller (just), cheaper (considerably) and blessed with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 > VERDICT It’s got the muscle but maybe not the finesse

AMG GT C ROADSTER ★★★★★ > Roadster delivers extra buzz without massive compromise, at massive expense > VERDICT Current GT sweet spot, for five minutes at least

MG MG3 ★★★★★ > Tough-looking, spacious supermini has handling that lives up to the promise of that badge. As does the woeful build, crap engine and concrete ride > VERDICT The Chinese are coming! But so far they’ve only got to Tajikistan

GS ★★★★★ > Spacious, duck-faced SUV hamstrung by coarse 1.5 turbo petrol, shonky gearboxes and shoddy interior. Handles okay, if you can hack the firm ride > VERDICT Cheap, but not sufficiently so. Dacia will sleep well tonight

ZS ★★★★★ > Was called the ZS, then XS, then ZS again. Also looks a lot like a Chinese knock-off of a Mazda CX-3 and has the knock-off driving dynamics, build quality and price to match > VERDICT It’s quite an achievement to come stone dead last in the most competitive car sector out there

MINI

MX-5 ★★★★★

S-CLASS COUPE/CABRIOLET ★★★★★

HATCH/CONVERTIBLE ★★★★★

> Shorter than the ’89 original, and in real terms half the price. 1.5 sweet but a little slow; 158bhp 2.0 quicker but charismatically challenged

> Over 5m of barking mad indulgence; Coupe carries it off like Errol Flynn on a bender but, like a model-turned-MP, will regret going topless

> Bigger and less charming, but lovely engines are smooth and peppy, while ride has improved without ruining handling. Five-door in danger of

150 CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018

CLUBMAN ★★★★★ > Replace circus-freakery of old one with full complement of portals, add longer wheelbase, bigger boot; now bake > VERDICT Loaf-alike maxi-Mini freshness, the grown-ups’ choice

MORGAN 3-WHEELER ★★★★★ > As comfortable as riding over Niagara Falls in a barrel and equally sane. Not as quick as it feels, but quick enough for a three-wheeler on bike tyres > VERDICT Brilliant Caterham alternative without the macho trackday posturing

AERO ★★★★★ > Drop-top was first of the new-era Morgans and goes it alone since Aero Supersports, Coupe and Squiffy Perkins bought it at the Somme > VERDICT Two worlds collide. And with 367bhp they may not be the only ones doing the colliding

PLUS 4/FOUR FOUR/ROADSTER ★★★★★ > Entry-level Mog still with ‘traditional’ ash frame and ‘traditional’ (ie, awful) dynamics. Four-seat 4/4 is surprise eco champ: 44mpg > VERDICT Cheap, considering the craftsmanship, even at £33k, but if you want an old car, buy an old car

PLUS 8 ★★★★★ > Don’t be fooled by tally-ho styling, 8 is built on ‘modern’ bonded and riveted Aero chassis. Fidgety like a child with worms > VERDICT Classic Morgan style, modern BMW V8 poke, manners like a five-term borstal veteran

NISSAN MICRA ★★★★★ > So much better than the old car, the current Micra is on Wikipedia right now deleting all mention of its predecessor. Proves that a car designed by Europeans will appeal to Europeans, amazingly > VERDICT Bigger and better, and now providing a serious alternative to the latest Fiesta


PRIVATE TREATY SALE

CAR BODY PRODUCTION LINES FOR S80, V70, V70CC, S60 AND V60 AND I5 DIESEL ENGINE ASSEMBLY LINES CLOSING DATE: 28 February 2018

LOCATION OF ASSETS: Torslanda and Skovde, Sweden

FEATURING: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Car Under Body Spot Welding Production Line Car Frame Spot Welding Production Line A Car Frame Spot Welding Production Line B Car Body Inner R/H Side Spot Welding Production Line Car Body Inner L/H Side Spot Welding Production Line Car Assembly Preweld and Ringframe Spot Welding Production Line Car Body Side Outer Spot Welding Production Line Car Underbody Front End And Dash Spot Welding Production Line Car Underbody Cowl + Dash LWR Production Line Car Underbody Front Floor Spot Welding Production Line Car Underbody Ladder Spot Welding Production Line Car Underbody Rear Floor Panel Spot Welding Production Line Car Underbody Rear Floor CPL Spot Welding Production Line Car Body Side Inner Spot Welding Production Line Car Bodyside Centre L/H Spot Welding Production Line Car Bodyside Centre R/H Spot Welding Production Line i5 Diesel Engine Base Assembly Line i5 Diesel Engine Base Assembly Stock Holding System i5 Diesel Engine Final Assembly Line

To view and bid on the lots, visit: For further information, please contact:

LEIGH MCCARRON Tel: 00447901502682 Email: help@go-dove.com

http://tiny.cc/561307_1


NISSAN > TOYOTA JUKE ##### > Mould-breaking compact crossover; you think it would look like that if the mould hadn’t broken? Cheap interior and so-so dynamics belie the hype > VERDICT Does it still count as ‘different’ if everybody’s got one?

NOTE ##### > Like a Honda Jazz with middle-age spread, this is a small, practical MPV-hatch with limited aspirations to greatness > VERDICT An automotive cardigan: deeply uncool but good at what it does

LEAF ##### > Gawky looking EV pioneer > VERDICT BMW i3 far funkier, Renault Zoe far cheaper, internal combustion still superior. Beam us up

REPLACED SOON

PULSAR ##### > So dull it can only be explained by a conspiracy theory claiming it owes its entire existence to a long-range Qashqai sales-boost strategy > VERDICT Buy a Focus. Or a Golf. Or a Ceed. Or an Auris. Okay, maybe not an Auris…

QASHQAI ##### > Crossover for the masses gets more luxury and a facelift > VERDICT It’s no Volvo XC but still has huge family appeal

X-TRAIL ##### > The X-Trail used to be a rough-tough off-roader apparently designed on an Etch-a-Sketch. Now it’s a Qashqai put through a photocopier at +10% > VERDICT It still ain’t exciting. But it’s probably going to sell a lot better

GT-R ##### > Now with a slightly thicker veneer of luxury (and another 20bhp) – but still basically a hardcase moments from rage > VERDICT Drivetrain sounds like a drum kit falling down the stairs; leaves your brain feeling much the same

PAGANI HYUARA ##### > Spectacular cottage industry supercar with active aero, AMG-built 720bhp twin-turbo V12 and an interior more decadent than a Roman orgy > VERDICT Want one but they’re all sold

PEUGEOT 108 ##### > Pug-faced city car. Go for 82bhp 1.2: the 68bhp 1.0 is so slow we were all monkeys when it set off and it still hasn’t hit 60mph > VERDICT Reasonable no-frills city car but boot and rear space tight. Skoda Citigo is better

208 ##### > Refresh more than just a prettier face as dynamic update adds handling chops to 208’s interior chic > VERDICT Pug’s recovered that VaVaVoom from the back of the sofa. No, wait – that’s the other lot

308 HATCH/SW ESTATE ##### > Hushed 308 at its best when eating motorway miles, or when you’re watching it out of the window of your Golf. Fiddly touchscreen > VERDICT Hatch isn’t up to scratch, but roomier SW wagon is worth a look

308 GTi ##### > Discreet styling hides playful proclivities; LSD keeps things tight up front while fantastic chassis delivers lively rear > VERDICT 250 and 270 variants both great, but 270 gets more kit

508 SALOON/ESTATE ##### > Little-seen XL Pug with unconvincing cod German accent. HYbrid4 gets 4wd via 37bhp ’leccy motor on rear wheels > VERDICT RXH is poor man’s Audi Allroad. Rest of range is padding on your company car list

PARTNER TEPEE ##### > Spacious, versatile Tepee so useful it could almost be a van. Funny, that. More practical than a regular MPV, drives okay > VERDICT Make your own clothes? Live in a yurt? This is the car/van for you

2008 ##### > Welly-wearing 208 gets a facelift which hits on the idea of actually resembling an SUV, and

The home for all your car maintenance and ownership needs at a stroke makes a decent car more credible > VERDICT Not so much leaping on the SUV bandwagon as hitching a ride… but it’s an attractive hitchhiker

3008 ##### > Tell friends you’ve bought one and they’ll laugh until they see it. Sharp to look at, surprisingly good fun to drive and not too weird > VERDICT Just make it absolutely clear you’ve not bought the old one

SPEC EXPERT BUILD THE PERFECT PORSCHE CAYENNE

You can go nuts with the options list on Porsche’s new third-gen SUV – or aim for a smart compromise like this

5008 ##### > Edgy design inside and out hides genuine practicality and, in the 5008, seven seats. Rejoice as Peugeot demonstrates it really has got its act together > VERDICT Annoy the Germans and buy French

PORSCHE 718 BOXSTER ##### > The turbo revolution continues as Boxster bins the six for a brace of faster forced-induction fours. Updated face now flatter than Brian Harvey’s > VERDICT Whole lotta lag; chassis still a stairway to heaven

718 CAYMAN ##### > Efficiency march means sublime outgoing model ditches choral flat-six for punchy but industrial turbo four. Gets uglier in the process, still handles like you wish all cars would > VERDICT Better by the numbers but... know any nice 981s for sale?

CAYMAN GT4 ##### > Junior GT3 is first Cayman to get more power than current 911: 380bhp, manual ’box, LSD and a grin wider than a Glasgow smile > VERDICT Porsche finally admits that the Cayman and not the 911 is its real sports coupe

911 ##### > 991.2 may not look much different but under the skin lurks a whole new range of turbocharged engines. The most grown-up 911 yet > VERDICT Rear-engined appeal lives on. Proper Turbo now utterly ferocious, Turbo S unhinged

PORSCHE 911 GT2 RS ##### NEW > As close to a racing-spec 911 you can get ENTRY and still deserves its Widowmaker nickname; raw, blisteringly quick and sounds truly evil > VERDICT Is it REALLY worth £100k more than the GT3?

911 GT3 ##### > Yes, another brilliant 911, but you didn’t really think Porsche would get this one wrong, did you? Optional manual ‘box makes car nerds everywhere weak at the knees > VERDICT More accessible, more fun and more GT3-ish

911R ##### > The 911 that Porsche secretly wants the 911 still to be. It’s an anti-991.2: a non-turbo 4.0 bruiser in retro disguise, with 493bhp and manual ’box > VERDICT Supple, poised, supreme fun. But we’d still have a Cayman GT4

918 ##### > Epic 4wd hybrid can waste GTis with 6sec 0-62mph electric mode, then slay Lambos by adding 600bhp V8. Superb electric steering, too > VERDICT Almost overshadowed in the P1-LaFerrari posturing war, but easily as good

MACAN ##### > Baby Cayenne is even better than dad – BEST IN and better than the rival Evoque too. Base CLASS car with Golf GTI 2.0 makes no sense when S and S Diesel are pennies more > VERDICT GT3 RS for trackdays, Cayman GT4 for weekends, this for everything else. Sorted

Start with the right engine. We reckon that’s the 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 found in the Cayenne S. Of course the Cayenne Turbo might be the choice for some, but the Cayenne S offers plenty of performance without asking quite so much from your bank account – you’d need an extra £30,000 to get on the Turbo ladder. Starting price: £68,330

The Cayenne S comes with a 12.3-inch full-HD screen, a high centre console with Panamerainspired switchgear and lots of chunky details. The well-built and tech-heavy interior works well in the standard black leather, boosted here by a textured aluminium dashboard finish (£548). Park your backside in the Adaptive sports seats (£1406) with seat heating (£308) and embossed Porsche crests on the headrests (£320), while your passengers will benefit from the panoramic sunroof (£1422). Running total: £84,136

Some of the money you’ve saved on the engine can be wisely invested in the cosmetics and some chassis upgrades. Biscay Blue paint (£749) is new to the thirdgen car, and the 21-inch Exclusive wheels (£2697) come with sporty wheelarch extensions. Adaptive air suspension (£1511), Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (£2315), the Sport Chrono Package (£774), rear-axle steering (£1448) and Power Steering Plus (£203) are all optioned here. So’s the Surface Coated Brake system (£2105), which reduces wear and dust. Running total: £80,132

You might expect them to be standard-fit on a £70k car, but in fact you need to spend more to get adaptive cruise control (£1203), reversing camera (£480) and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror (£294). And while you’re at it, the Bose surroundsound system (£956) offers 14 loudspeakers including a subwoofer and a total system output of 710 watts with a stack of sound enhancement technology. Total price: £87,069

CAYENNE ##### > Porsche’s cash-cow is masterclass in how to make a big SUV handle and slick Panameraderived interior is great place to sit and be. Turbo brutally fast, too, but whole thing feels anally retentive > VERDICT Impressively capable but Macan more engaging

PANAMERA ##### > The Mk1 was just throat-clearing; this Mk2 is the opera. Drips with tech, innovation and better dynamics – and it looks perfect > VERDICT A lesson in making nonsensical niches make perfect sense

152 CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK | February 2018

TOTAL PRICE: £87,069


RADICAL

ROLLS-ROYCE

RAPID HATCH/SPACEBACK ★★★★★

SR3 SL ★★★★★

GHOST ★★★★★

> Properly type-approved (street legal) SR3 gets a 300bhp blown Ford 2.0 instead of a motorcycle engine, a heater and even a 12v socket. It’s almost lavish > VERDICT Toned down for occasional road use but still hairier than a cave man with hypertrichosis

> A Phantom for millionaires not billionaires > VERDICT Perfectly built, highly individual

> Long, narrow notchback hatchback. Big boot. Spaceback is shorter, more ‘stylish’, still dross > VERDICT Unless you’ve got a lot of potatoes and no other way to carry them, just don’t

WRAITH ★★★★★

OCTAVIA HATCH/ESTATE ★★★★★

> A 624bhp twin-turbo V12 sporting vehicle that drives like no other. Dismisses distance but would never lower itself to squealing through bends > VERDICT Whisper it, but Rolls has produced an amazing driver’s car

> Basically the same as a Golf and A3, but bigger, cheaper and more functional. Hot vRS versions old-school ballistic fun. 4x4s practical > VERDICT It’s a lot of car for the money

RXC TURBO ★★★★★ > Play out those Le Mans fantasies on the commute with this Peterborough-built Polaris. Sequential gearbox welcome in town like an EDL demo > VERDICT When you’ve outgrown your Caterhams and 911 GT3s, here’s the answer

RENAULT

ROLLS-ROYCE PHANTOM ★★★★★ > Enough opulence to make Blenheim Palace look like an abandoned warehouse yet just the right amount of tech and personalisation to keep start-up tech billionaires happy > VERDICT By far the world’s best luxury car

TWIZY ★★★★★

DAWN ★★★★★

> Part electric scooter, part social experiment, it’s easy to love the doorless Twizy, especially on balmy evenings along La Croisette. Grimy days in Doncaster a tougher ask > VERDICT Transportation of the future, if it’s never wet in the future and you like chatting at traffic lights

> Wraith with the roof cut off – although actually 80% of the exterior panels are new. Best-looking Roller, it rides like a liner and costs more than a VW software decision > VERDICT Nothing between the stars and the stars

ZOE 40 ★★★★★ > Splendid Zoe solves range anxiety by clever new battery with more power, potentially induces wealth anxiety instead with £4000 price premium. Unless you’re smart and lease it of course > VERDICT At least you can guarantee the emissions are genuine

TWINGO ★★★★★ > Rear-engined rwd runabout isn’t as nippy as it sounds, but is roomy, with clever smartphone connectivity. More cheeky than sister Smart, and cheaper > VERDICT Lower-power version with ’80s F1 Turbo paintjob the way to go

CLIO ★★★★★

MII ★★★★★ > Tedious-looking city-box is far less funky than Renault’s Twingo but roomier and good to drive. You don’t look at the mantelpiece, and all that > VERDICT VW Up more desirable, pretty Skoda Citigo cheaper. Siesta time in Seat’s prod dept?

IBIZA ★★★★★ > Angular Spanish supermini nabs A0 platform before VW, thoroughly grows up in the process. FR versions irritatingly don’t look that sporty any more > VERDICT Ibiza by name, but no longer by nature

IBIZA CUPRA ★★★★★

> Welcome return to form for the five-door Clio with even boggo ones looking handsome, a well sorted cabin and sprightly driving qualities. Three-cylinder turbo petrol a (slowish) hoot > VERDICT Fiesta more fun, Clio more stylish

> Update to 189bhp 1.8 turbo with manual ’box makes this a brilliant budget blast. Great interior, finessed details, tempting choice > VERDICT Fiesta ST for thrills, this for everything else

CLIO RS ★★★★★

TOLEDO ★★★★★

> Remember when Clio RS was king of the hill? No? Probably for the best, because even new, more powerful RS Trophy can’t offset awful auto gearbox > VERDICT Brings its own Trophy but still doesn’t win. Rumoured RS Wooden Spoon version is pure speculation

CAPTUR ★★★★★ > It’s a Clio on stilts – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. No 4x4 pretensions means focus is on personalisation. Good engines. It’s no Juke to drive > VERDICT Technicolor clown car if you’re not careful with the spec, otherwise okay

MEGANE ★★★★★ > All-new French Golf looks like a foie-grased Clio outside and a low-rent Tesla inside. Is thus an instant improvement over the old one > VERDICT Renault Sport-fettled GT with rearwheel steering a keen drive, too. Sacré bleu!

MEGANE RS ★★★★★ > Raucous 2.0 turbo, manual ’box, awesome chassis – this a proper, pulse-spiking hot hatch > VERDICT Buy one before they ruin it like the latest RS Clio

REPLACED SOON

SCENIC ★★★★★ > Fourth-generation compact MPV trades the practicality that made your wife want one for an exterior sharp enough that you’ll consider having more kids, although the stiff ride could see you arrive too early > VERDICT Console your manhood with the fact that 20s are standard

KADJAR ★★★★★ > Nissan may rue the day it left the parts BEST IN store door ‘Kadjar’, as Renault’s take on the CLASS Qashqai bests the original in every way > VERDICT Aggressive pricing, smooth ride, great refinement, squishy seats

SUPERB SALOON/ESTATE ★★★★★

OUTBACK ★★★★★ > The unloved Legacy’s only UK legacy is this Allroad-style crossover. It’s huge inside and the 4x4 look isn’t all for show > VERDICT Dependable, not desirable

YETI ★★★★★ > Ikea wardrobe on wheels – so practical you’ll DIES SOON wonder how you ever lived without it. Good news is you don’t have to assemble it yourself > VERDICT Bigger engines are better. Choose Outdoor model for that rugged look. Grrr

KODIAQ ★★★★★

SMART

> OAP special whose sole interesting

saloon, it’s actually a boring hatch! Massive interior > VERDICT This and identical Skoda Rapid duke it out for UK’s dullest car. Czech please!

SWIFT ★★★★★

FORFOUR ★★★★★ > Renault/Merc tie-up means ForFour is accomplished with a classy cabin, although ludicrous pricing seem at odds with budget city car buyers > VERDICT Sister car Twingo is more than two grand cheaper. Work that out

SSANGYONG > Borderline rubbish to drive but more practical than the Teflon-coated trousers you’re probably wearing if you’re giving it serious consideration > VERDICT Huge, handy and hellish value, but we’d have a pre-reg Qashqai or CX-5 any day

REXTON ★★★★★ > SY’s poshest SUV yet, which admittedly isn’t saying a huge amount. Think old Discovery and you’re not actually that far off > VERDICT Far less rubbish than the last one

LEON CUPRA ★★★★★

TURISMO ★★★★★

> Much to the amusement of tyre manufacturers everywhere, the front-wheel-drive Leon Cupra now has 297bhp. GTI who? > VERDICT Ballistic, and best bought with a manual transmission

> Less odious than the old Rodius, but every bit as practical, this giant seven-seater is slower than the Crossrail boring machine > VERDICT Has minicab written all over it, or soon will, which will handily help disguise the ugliness

ALHAMBRA ★★★★★

KOLEOS ★★★★★

FABIA HATCH/ESTATE ★★★★★ > Very mature little supermini with bodywork creases a Corby trouser press would be proud of. Estate version ideal for Jack Russells > VERDICT Roomy, well made and unexciting – like a low-rent VW Polo. Which is what it is

VITARA ★★★★★ > Two-tone cross-dresser to rival the Juke, with a handsome body and usefully economical diesel engine. Cabin could do with some work, though > VERDICT Rutting rhinos and pink paint are a thing of the past: it’s a serious family car now

TESLA TESLA MODEL S ★★★★★ > Electro-rocket gets a new face and in P100D guise kidney-thumping amounts of acceleration. The future, with a cabin from the recent past > VERDICT Crush supercars, emit nothing

TESLA MODEL X ★★★★★ > You can scare the bejeezus out of your six passengers by reaching 62mph from zero in 3.1 seconds. Effective, albeit in one dimension > VERDICT Musky

SKODA

> A five-seat-only X-Trail that took a gap year living at a French vineyard and has come back with an accent, more stylish clothes and an avant-garde view on life. Façade doesn’t hide its Nissan roots > VERDICT Neither great nor rubbish – c’est bof

JIMNY ★★★★★ > A box with four-wheel-drive bolted onto the bottom, and a 1.3-petrol engine hanging out front. There are seats too > VERDICT Simple

TIVOLI ★★★★★

SUBARU

CITIGO ★★★★★

SX4 S-CROSS ★★★★★ > The cheap way to clone a Qashqai. Won’t score any points for style, in fact you might hide it at the back of the school car park. Diesel is the best bet – you’ll have to stop and get out less > VERDICT A crossover to be cross over

> There’s no getting away from it: Korea’s also-ran car maker has built a contender. Great value, spacious and – shock – well-finished inside > VERDICT Dross heritage now under threat

> Subtlest of subtle facelifts belies 15% efficiency improvement. Still a big box with slidey IMPREZA ★★★★★ doors and seven proper seats; put your family first > Yes, it still exists beyond WRX and STi. No, for a change > VERDICT Genetically identical to REPLACED the VW Sharan, but nearly £2k less SOON you don’t want one. Boggo Impreza reduced to a 1.6 petrol hatchback only with optional CVT. Shudder > VERDICT Have you got a brand new combine harvester? It’s probably a better drive than this > Skoda’s all but identical version of the VW Up and Seat Mii. Pick your badge – they’re all well packaged but too noisy and slow > VERDICT Cheaper than the Up, but not by much. Hyundai i10 also worth a look. Yes, actual advice!

CELERIO ★★★★★ > Braking-phobic city car otherwise spacious, full of kit and cheap. Three-cylinder petrol only plus all the handling vim of a B&Q Value wheelbarrow > VERDICT Dowdy and rowdy. Be glad you’ve got DAB and a cupholder > An unsung hero, and not just the excellent 134bhp Sport. Handles well, spacious and cheap. Upgraded Dualjet motor sweet > VERDICT Buy one and challenge anyone who questions your choice to a fistfight

LEON HATCH/ESTATE ★★★★★

ATECA ★★★★★

SUZUKI

FORTWO ★★★★★

> Mid-life evolution for Leon means new engines and tech, plus non-surgical facelift. Will still be shunned for a Golf > VERDICT Eminently likeable, just by too few buyers

> Spanish latecomer to the SUV party gets the dress code right, isn’t the life and soul but neither will it bore you into leaving early. Another sangria please! > VERDICT SE, petrol, Manuel (‘I am from Barcelona!’)

BRZ ★★★★★ >Gloriously simple but under-nourished reardrive boxer coupe, crying out for a supercharger. Toyota GT86 twin marginally more fun > VERDICT Loveable car we wanted them to make but you don’t want to buy

> Wider than the last one, with a much better ride, higher quality cabin and slicker auto > VERDICT A brilliant city runabout

KORANDO ★★★★★

STEER CLEAR feature is that while it looks like a boring

FORESTER ★★★★★ > Appealingly functional square-rigger the kind of crossover that existed before we had ‘lifestyles’. Good on road, great off it, but not cheap > VERDICT Old-school Subaru honest, charming. Tweed cap, pipe, sheep flock optional

> So vast inside it echoes. Sharp lines, stacks of kit, double the number of umbrellas. Shame about dull interior and stiff price > VERDICT All the family car you’ll ever need. Only bigger

> Commendably vast SUV takes the Octavia’s approach by bulking out on a shared platform, but unfortunately doesn’t share its dazzling personality > VERDICT The most comfortable place to die a little inside

SEAT

XV ★★★★★ > Hopelessly expensive half-way SUV half-wit. Suspension thumps so intrusive you’ll think the Stomp musical is performing in the wheelarches > VERDICT Also-ran in tough crossover market

TOYOTA AYGO ★★★★★ > Cramped city car with a characterful three-pot motor is as cheap to run as it feels. See also Citroën C1, Pug 108 – basically the same car, with details and dealers the only differences > VERDICT As ‘Up’hill struggles go, battling VW with this is like climbing north face of the Aygo

WRX/STI ★★★★★

YARIS ★★★★★

> Sorry WRX, I’m breaking up with you. It’s not you, it’s me. No, it is you, it’s definitely you and your crashy ride, nasty dash and inflexible engine > VERDICT Brilliant, on its day, in its day. But that was yesterday, so let’s call it a day

> Sizeable but soulless, Yaris can’t match rivals’ dynamics or pocket luxury feel. Clever but costly hybrid version slashes fuel bills and boot space > VERDICT Largely joyless supermini last to be picked for the school football team

LEVORG ★★★★★

AURIS ★★★★★

> Impreza estate with a silly name. Single choice of 1.6 petrol with CVT auto and 4wd means it’s got a silly drivetrain too > VERDICT Levorg is grovel backwards; dealers may need to. Niche

> Most Aurises sold are hybrids, mainly because the rest of the range is pants > VERDICT Only worth picking as company wheels if you have a Starbucks-like aversion to paying tax

February 2018 | SUBSCRIBE AND SAVE UP TO 61%! GRE ATMAGA ZINES.CO.UK 153


TOYOTA > VOLVO PRIUS ##### > Prius v4.0 boasts entirely new structure, improved suspension, and is no longer totally joyless to drive > VERDICT A Toyota hybrid that handles. Electric-only range still pathetic

MIRAI ##### > Weird on the outside, Star Trek on the inside and a hydrogen fuel-cell underneath. Drives just like a very refined regular car > VERDICT We’re convinced by the tech, but there’s nowhere to refuel it yet

AVENSIS SALOON/TOURER ##### > Does little well – despite new BMW diesels. Tourer marginally more stylish than saloon > VERDICT White goods

VERSO ##### > Safe, stodgy seven-seater with snore-worthy chassis and a big-selling 1.6 diesel that feels like half its horses are asleep too > VERDICT Inferior to Ford C-Max and Citroën Picasso

C-HR ##### > Compact crossover that’s stylish, huge fun and kooky inside too > VERDICT Buy one and Toyota will never make another dull car. Possibly

RAV4 ##### > Was a soft-roader pioneer back in ’94 but has settled for fluffy slippers in its old age. Trump card is boot big enough for a casino table > VERDICT Roomy, reasonable, unremarkable. More dynamic SUVs deserve your dosh

LAND CRUISER/V8 ##### > Both bare-knuckle ladder-frame brawlers that wouldn’t know a latte if you spilt it on their rigger’s boots > VERDICT Rough, but if we were stranded in the desert we’d trust it over a Rangie

GT86 ##### > The slowest fast car you can buy is slightly better than before thanks to new aero, revised suspension and better cloth trim. B-road heaven > VERDICT As pure as Jon Snow. Both of them

VAUXHALL VIVA ##### > It may look like it was dropped before it had set, but is comfy, roomy and refined for a city car, and comes with plenty of standard kit > VERDICT More generous than it may appear at first glance. We’d still buy an Up, though

ADAM/ADAM ROCKS ##### > Obese Fiat 500 wannabe with huge options list and comedy naming shtick. Adam S warm hatch worth a thought; Rocks crossover flaccid > VERDICT Revitalised by new 1.0-litre turbo triple. Buy a paper bag and try it

CORSA ##### > Made-over Corsa looks like a candidate for When Plastic Surgery Goes Bad, but it is more refined and better to drive. 1.0T a good motor > VERDICT Vauxhall keeps trying, but Fiesta still cheerfully waving from way out in front

CORSA VXR ##### > Luton’s hooligan now smoother round the

edges. Unless you pay extra for the slippy diff and hardcore suspension > VERDICT Better but still not best. Lacks Ford Fiesta ST’s sparkle

ASTRA HATCH/ESTATE ##### > Massive step forward in terms of driving dynamics and interior design, plus added techno-charm > VERDICT In hatchback grandmother’s footsteps, Focus and Golf turn round to find Astra standing right behind them

ASTRA GTC/VXR ##### > 3dr stylish enough to stand comparison to Scirocco. VXR fearsomely fast but moody > VERDICT The sexiest Vauxhall. Let’s hope replacement doesn’t lose its mojo

REPLACED SOON

CASCADA ##### > Brave attempt to take on German compact cabriolets, but chassis has less integrity than Sepp Blatter. Good value if you don’t mind the image (What image? Exactly!) > VERDICT Marty McFly wouldn’t. Doc Emmett Brown just might

INSIGNIA GRAND SPORT ##### > Lack of inspiration makes it too close to how you’d hope an Insignia isn’t > VERDICT Fine if you’re given one

CROSSLAND X ##### > Practical Meriva replacement sits beside the Mokka X for size. Designed to be the more pragmatic choice > VERDICT Genuinely practical if as dull as Luton’s skyline to drive

> VERDICT Not a revolution but a spacious small car with a strong, appealing image

POLO GTI #####

T-ROC ##### > Golf-sized SUV aimed at hashtagging, selfie stick-wielding millennials. Massive tech options list and scope for personalisation make up for brittle interior and hefty price tag > VERDICT The funkiest VW

GOLF HATCH/ESTATE ##### > What every rival would like to be if only it BEST IN could get away with charging this much. CLASS Tweaked and preened but perpetually desirable, made for a life of Waitrose car parks > VERDICT Never knowingly undersold

GOLF CABRIOLET ##### > The swot’s sexy top-dropping sister promises open-air thrills but remains a sensible homebody at heart > VERDICT Or will you always be thinking about the A3 Cabriolet you almost bought?

GOLF GTD/GTI/R ##### > GTD is your dad in running shoes. GTI is BEST IN your dad when he was wild, young and CLASS free. R is your dad having a mid-life crisis. All are ace > VERDICT After seven generations, VW has this hot-hatch thing nailed

GRANDLAND X #####

GOLF SV ##### > The artist formerly known as the Golf Plus. And by ‘artist’ we mean medium-sized MPV. The car you always knew the Golf would grow up to be > VERDICT Not a bad choice, but now the BMW 2-series Active Tourer is breathing down its neck

ZAFIRA TOURER #####

MOKKA X ##### > Facelift filed under ‘about f***ing time too’, Mokka gets a better cabin, some new engines and pointless suffix. Driving misery reduced by half > VERDICT X marks the spot where the ball was – about five years ago

VXR8 ##### > 577bhp Aussie import that’s £20k cheaper than a BMW M5. Optional automatic gearbox’s bid to add sophistication is akin to serving lager in cut crystal glasses. But who gives a 4X? > VERDICT Big, brutish charm

MALOO ##### > Never before have so many stereotypes been incorporated into a single vehicle. Spectacularly fast, absurd, useless, Australian and brilliant all at the same time > VERDICT The fastest way to stick it to the taxman

> The people’s Porsche Cayenne. Do the people still want their own Cayenne? Well, it is nearly £10k cheaper… > VERDICT Big, comfy, competent SUV. Great on and off road

> Baby GTI right down to the tartan seats. Vastly improved by introduction of manual gearbox > VERDICT Surprisingly strong value

BEETLE HATCH/CABRIO ##### > Although better to drive it lacks the design purity of its predecessor and the charm of the original > VERDICT Even hipsters are, like, so totally over this cynical marketing exercise, man

PASSAT SALOON/ESTATE ##### > Interior design and refinement so good it shames some limos, cutting-edge kit and elegant looks. If only it wasn’t so dull to drive > VERDICT Mega mile-muncher for the undemanding. Aesthete to Mondeo’s athlete

ARTEON ##### >Here we go again: Volkswagen tries to be properly premium and almost pulls it off. Great interior, huge boot and there’s standard safety tech aplenty, but it’s a bit dull > VERDICT For saloon fans… or those who can’t afford a BMW

TOURAN ##### > It’s still more Millets than House of Fraser, but the all-new Touran does family stuff well > VERDICT MPV meets MQB, nearly goes VIP

VOLVO V40 ##### > Smart Swede in a sector dominated by Germans. Efficient D4 engine and impressive kit, but it’s a bit bloated in seat, suspension and steering feel > VERDICT Sitting uncomfortably between Golf and A3. A rock and hard place

VOLVO XC40 ##### > No thriller to steer but fetching premium NEW ENTRY crossover has sharp look, practical interior and charming personality > VERDICT Feels good to be in and it’ll look after you

V60 ##### > A Frenchman who can’t cook. A Jackson who can’t dance. A Volvo estate which can’t carry much. Why? > VERDICT Handsome, safe, efficient estate hamstrung by one issue…

V90 ##### > Sacrilegiously abandons the space race for style while prioritising comfort and refinement over German machismo. Lovely inside; fivedoor version of the S90. A genuine alternative to the 5-series, E-Class and A6 now > VERDICT If there’s such a thing as Swedish zen, this is it

S90 ##### > Smart-looking, well-crafted and adepthandling exec saloon dances a merry jig on the grave of unloved outgoing S80; four-door version of the V90 > VERDICT Loudly purring Swedish cat enters the 5-series/E-Class pigeon enclosure

XC60 ##### > It’s now a shrunken XC90, which is no bad thing. Calming isolation chamber on wheels > VERDICT Surprisingly good to drive now and super safe

XC70 ##### > A V70 in breeches, with raised ride height and 4x4 option. Awd starts at less than 40 grand, which is good value if you find SUVs crass > VERDICT If you don’t like having a dozen brace of shot pheasant in your boot, don’t buy one of these

VOLKSWAGEN

SHARAN #####

XC90 #####

UP #####

> Large seven-seater sliding-door people carrier > VERDICT Nice enough but made to look silly by all-but-identical and cheaper Seat Alhambra

> Box on wheels is the kind of city car the Japanese have been building for years, except this is much better quality and has a VW badge

> Accomplished but predictable. Have Seat or

> It was worth the wait for Volvo to evolve the XC90 this far: luxurious seven-seat interior, clever safety tech, efficient 4-cyl and plug-in drivetrains, refined drive > VERDICT One of the most complete cars on sale, of any style, at any price

TIGUAN #####

PORSCHE 718 BOXSTER GTS £1026pm

Who cares if it’s winter? Grab yourself a sporty convertible

MAZDA MX-5 RF 1.5 SPORT NAV £299pm

BMW M240i CONVERTIBLE £430pm

Not a huge step down from the V6

Hottest 718 drop-top yet

Metal roof a blessing and a curse

95% of the M2 plus roofless thrills

> Spec 2.0-litre turbo 4-cyl, rwd, 8-spd

> Spec 2.5-litre turbo flat-four, rwd,

> Spec 1.5-litre 4-cyl, rwd, 6-spd manual,

> Spec 3.0-litre turbo 6-cyl, rwd,

auto, 296bhp, 39.2mpg > List price £59,085 > Initial payment £5557.95; then £617.55/month for 48 months > Mileage allowance 10,000 miles > Via fleetprices.co.uk

6-spd manual, 362bhp, 31.4mpg > List price £62,962 > Initial payment £9234.32; then £1026.04/month for 36 months > Mileage allowance 10,000 miles > Via futurevehicleleasing.co.uk

130bhp, 46.3mpg > List price £24,895 > Initial payment £2,692.22; then £299.14/month for 48 months > Mileage allowance 10,000 miles > Via fleetprices.co.uk

6-spd manual, 335bhp, 34mpg > List price £39,615 > Initial payment £3873.31; then £430.37/month for 48 months > Mileage allowance 10,000 miles > Via fleetprices.co.uk

February 2018 | CARMAGA ZINE.CO.UK 154

All prices inclusive of VAT and correct at time of going to press

LEASE ACADEMY: FOUR-POT DROP-TOPS JAGUAR F-TYPE R-DYNAMIC £618pm

TOUAREG #####

POLO ##### > Mini-Golf isn’t that mini any more. It’s practical, has a sharp interior and well built… but so’s the Seat Ibiza > VERDICT Accomplished but lacking the fun factor

> It’s a Pug 3008 in disguise, but different enough to appeal in its own right. Not exciting, but a very good family crossover > VERDICT Up there with the Astra as Vauxhall’s top car

> Large MPV with slick seating arrangement. Struggles in the face of S-Max greatness > VERDICT Accomplished but out-flanked by crossovers’ rise to dominance

Skoda made more of the platform with their versions? > VERDICT No sex please, we’re VW


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Innovative French cars More often than not it’s been French car makers who’ve taken the big leaps into the unknown, whether by accident or design. By Colin Overland

1

2

MATRA-SIMCA RANCHO

RENAULT AVANTIME

All the funkiest off-road stuff slung together into an intriguing package for on-road drivers. So far ahead of its time that it would still look fresh if it were launched today, 40 years on. It came with all sorts of rufty-tufty cladding but was only ever front-drive, even the version with a winch.

Close to genius in its originality and defiance of ready categorisation. Based on the Espace, but not intended as family transport, the 20012003 Avantime had two large and inventively hinged doors, no B-pillars and four opulent seats, the rear duo being higher than the front.

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CITROËN DS We’ve raved about this so often that regular readers will know the litany off by heart: hydro-pneumatic selflevelling suspension, first production car with disc brakes, power steering,

automated clutch, fibreglass roof, slick aero… It ran from 1955 to 1975, and there were several redesigns, with directional headlights available from 1967. And unlike many of these cars, it was a big and immediate hit.

4

5

6

7

RENAULT ESPACE

CITROËN 2CV

RENAULT 16

RENAULT 5 TURBO

The 1984 Espace is the first recognisable Euro MPV. Devised as a replacement for the Rancho, PSA didn’t fancy it and the idea ended up at Renault instead. The MPV may have run its course now, but it was a good run, based on the insight that if you have two kids, they have friends.

Transport for the masses. From 1948, the simple, affordable, air-cooled 2CV got generations of French workers off their horses and carts and stupid motorised bicycles and on to four wheels. Tremendous packaging and ride quality, and took the radial tyre overground.

The first front-wheel-drive familysized hatchback. Running from 1965 to 1980, it was a huge sales success across Europe, tapping into demand for something modern, practical, super comfortable and a little bit funky. It also had an aluminium engine and electric cooling fan.

Not to be confused with any other R5, this was the mid-engined one from 1980, and it was wild, at least as a road car. It started as a rally car, picking up the gauntlet thrown down by the Lancia Stratos. The engine was a 1.4 turbo four, making about 160bhp and driving through the rear wheels.

8

PEUGEOT 1007 Not so much ahead of its time as living in a parallel universe. It’s not unusual these days for cars to have van-style sliding doors, but these were the front doors, not the rears. Blazed a trail in 2005 for car names with 00 in the middle, which proved to be excitingly controversial when the Bond franchise chiefs took exception, and was fixed by a belated insistence that it was pronounced ten-oh-seven or one thousand and seven.

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9

10

CITROËN TRACTION AVANT

RENAULT SCENIC

The name translates as front-wheel drive. It wasn’t the first, but it brought the system to the mass market in 1934, along with a unitary body/chassis rather than a separate frame and coach-built body. The combination was good for packaging, weight reduction and cost.

The Espace, but smaller. Not exactly genius on paper, but the first compact MPV, launched in 1996, worked a treat in the showroom and on the road. At one point they were bashing out 2500 a day. It grew into the Grand Espace, which makes even less sense on paper but works brilliantly well.

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