BMW Reveal The New M3 GTS

•November 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment
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The V8 engine has never sounded so good

The car fanatic could pick out the sound of 2.5 litre Subaru Boxer engine, tell you how far away it is and then disclose the brand of socks the person driving has on. They could also, by way of placing their ear on the pavement like some Marks and Spencer wearing Indian chief, hear the nearest AMG V8’s location. When it comes to an Italian V8 or V10, they needn’t say a thing. The fact they are waddling off to the closest public amenity clutching their corduroys is evidence to suggest one is about.

There are engines of all sizes that make glorious sounds, reminding the car lover why bigger and louder is better and that the Toyota Prius is about as cool as David Dickinson’s wardrobe. However, despite the classic engine sounds of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati taking the limelight, there is an unsung hero from Germany that I believe needs attention.

The BMW E46 M3 with its 3.2 litre straight six engine produced one of the finest exhaust notes ever to kill the countryside. It is hard to put your finger on what it actually sounds like, it is that unique, but its four exhausts simply rasp to life at 5,000 rpm like no other automobile.

So when BMW announced they were doing away which this for the 2009 M3, I felt an era had passed. Instead a V8 was used, not a sound I am too fond of, unless it is coming from a raw American muscle car. The modern German V8’s are a world away from the downtown red-light district quarter-mile drag races from the land of the free, and sure enough upon its release I found the new M3 a bit like listening to Barry White with flu.

Do not fear though, for BMW have been working hard on a new version released today: the new M3 GTS. The promotional video gets straight to the point, bellowing out an exhaust note that has re-kindled my love for this car. You can’t deny BMW have always been cutting-edge with the M3, never compromising on true driving performance, but the complete package was gone with a V8 sound, until now.

The new car will feature a 4.4 litre V8 pushing out 450bhp through a 7 speed gearbox. The car has been extensively modified from the standard M3 with a lighter interior and spoiler and front splitter additions to improve handling even more. BMW will be making the cars to order at a staggering 115,000 Euros each. For that price let’s hope it comes in other colours because his wardrobe is not the only un-cool thing about David Dickinson…

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Mercedes Release New Pictures of SLS AMG

•November 3, 2009 • Leave a Comment
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Beauty based on the 1950's

Mecedes Benz have released a set of teasing pictures and videos showcasing its 2010 venture, the SLS AMG. The German tuning house AMG have been around since 1967 originally starting out as a racing engine producer, more recently discovering a penchant for making V8 engines bigger and louder than Brian Blessed.

Sadly, although I am not completely sure of this great comedic actor’s accumulated wealth, you normally have to be Brian to own these top end German motors. Mercedes has always kept a toe in the door with its supercars, then it stuck a full leg and maybe a bit of hip in with the Mercedes McLaren SLR.

When one goes through the archives of Mercedes supercar production, to be honest, it could be stored in my top drawer. I find it hard to include cars such as the C, E and S classes that had the AMG tuning treatment. They were designed to cart middle class people around in luxury, sticking a great working class V8  in the front just causes an awkward tension, just before over-steering into a concrete political debate.

So then we are left with the CLR GT which was a racing car, the AMG DTM cars again used for the track, the CLK GTR recently sold for £500,000 a piece and the McLaren SLR. Any others were either concepts or so old they were driven by Bruce Forsyth down the Iron Curtain in 1547 or whenever it was.

One other car stands out though, if not for outright power and performance, for its indescribably beautiful design – of course we are talking about the 300 SL. In 1954, 212 hp and a 160 mph top speed was incredible, its ‘gullwing’ doors opening to reveal a well machined two fingers up to being 1950’s and uncomfortably reserved.

This is the brilliance the SLS AMG is based on, the 2010 car looks stunning and with its 6.3 litre naturally aspirated V8 engine, it has enough grunt to force a trouser change from Brucey. 571 hp will propel you to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds, but rest assured AMG will have been there from step one and its chassis will be perfect for the job in hand.

The car is expected to set buyers back around £200,000. It’s nice to see you, to see you is…not going to happen.

Volkswagen Golf and Scirocco ‘R’ go on Sale

•November 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment
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A break from the usual

The Volkswagen Golf has never been an exciting car. True, it does everything a car needs to do better than most of the opposition, but in its standard form the Golf reeks of automotive disinterest.

However, it is hard to try and convey this when the Volkswagen sells extremely well. People buy it for exceptional build quality, good reliability and a premium German brand. Yet, the man sat behind the wheel of a standard Golf is the man who was about to click ‘buy’ on the Alfa Romeo website, came over a bit sweaty and followed his head.

The Golf GTI is a bit more impressive, again achieving the perfect balance of being brilliant fun while extremely practical for a reasonable price reflecting its build quality. Yet if the standard Golf is a Latte, the GTI is a Cappuccino, a bit more powerful but basically a Latte in a sweet frothy disguise.

The coffee liqueur comes in the shape of the Golf R32, a 3.2 litre, 246 bhp, 155 mph espresso and whisky which up until 2008 stood as the top spec Golf. However Volkswagen have now released a new version of the R32, rebranding the hottest hatch as simply ‘R.’

Both the 2010 Golf and Scirroco will be given the ‘R’ treatment, both using the VW 2.0 litre four cylinder turbo charged unit giving out around 260 bhp.

The Scirocco R will bring 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, blending beautiful design with practicality that wont impinge on pure driving pleasure. The Golf R, with its four wheel drive system will do 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds, taking the crown as the fastest accelerating golf ever produced.

When you look back to cars such as the Ferrari 355 GTs F1, a car steeped in motor sport heritage and premium Italian design, the Golf will only be a second behind it to 60 mph. It is amazing to think that in 1994 when the 355 was released, 4.7 seconds cost upwards of £100,000. Now you can spend less than £31,000 and be close enough to see the 355 driver’s brand of cravat.

The two cars are both now on sale with delivery being February 2010, the Scirocco costing from £26,945 and the Golf from £28,930. Affordable motoring excellence has never looked this good, the R badge really does mean a sensibility saturated in Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Porsche Hint at New Grand Tourer

•October 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

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A Grand Tourer to rival Ferrari, Bentley and Aston Martin

 

Porsche seems to have most bases covered when it comes to customer needs. Quite simply, if you are a hairdresser there is the Boxster, a hairdressing chain director the Boxster S or a footballer; the cabriolet 911.

If you reside in Britain but ski for the New Year there is the Cayenne, if you are bored with the BMW M3 and Audi S4 there is the Caymen and for mincing about the various flagship streets of Europe there is the new Panamera.

So, everything is done and dusted then, no more stereotypes to please – everyone is a winner. Well apparently not, as Porsche have revealed plans for seven new variations. Arguably the most exciting of these will be a revival of the glorious Porsche 928, a beautifully crafted Grand Tourer based around the Panamera.

The old 928 produced between 1978 and 1995 was revolutionary for the German carmaker. Porsche engineers were driving down the autobahn and noticed a large cavity protruding from the front, deciding this would be an excellent place to put an engine. A big V8 engine.

The new 928, reckoned to be release around 2013 will follow Panamera engine structures, that means a 4.8 litre V8 producing 400hp, or a turbocharged 500hp version.

Of course apart from reviving a legendary model, Porsche are aware of a market they haven‘t taken a share of as yet. Ferrari’s 599 GTB, Bentley’s Continental GT and Aston Martin’s DB9 all allow the owner to breakfast at Harrods and spend the afternoon returning that jacket to Burberry Milan.

Intercontinental luxury travel is what the new 928 will aim to deliver, expanding the boot size from 100 to 320 litres means plenty of room for posh clobber and a suggested price tag of 90,000 euros is easily cheaper than rivals. At 60,000 Euros cheaper than a Bentley you will have nearly saved enough for a coffee in Calais on the way back.

The 928 is a gorgeous looking car, harping back to a time when Porsche experimented and got it right. At this price, the build quality, reliability and efficiency of Porsche will be hard to ignore if you are in the market for a Grand Tourer.

Mugen Produce Hotter Hot-Hatch

•October 27, 2009 • Leave a Comment
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A costly alternative to the Focus and Megane RS

In an article on the new Renault Megane RS from Motor Journalist, we learnt how the French street racer was value for money and how the Ford Focus RS’s computer interrupted like Jeremy Paxman. Now it seems another hot hatch has been released onto the market, supposedly for the connoisseur.

By the time I had decided that connoisseurs in hot hatches shop at JJB sports and are all called Dave, I had packed away my quill and was pacing from the parchment. When the price flashed up, genuine worry was brought on by the possibility of assessing the Tokyo Motor Show again.

Something kept my attention though, from the deep fissure of a petrol head’s being comes an inability to disregard screaming RPM and blistering performance. However, with this car, that is really all that keeps it interesting.

Mugen, Honda’s tuning division, has come up with its own Civic Type R – meaning a 20% power gain from its 2.0 litre i-VTECH engine. Put your cheque book away though, because 20% added amounts to 240 bhp, not exactly mind blowing performance.

There is a lot of hype over the car’s credentials, hand-built this and race track ready-road legal tyre that. Well my bed was hand built, by me actually. Furthermore having these tyres is a death wish in Britain’s climate. You’ll be taking your hand built camshaft, pistons and air intakes home with you in a bag, along with your limbs, after a passerby has shovelled your remnants off a tree.

Mugen has gone beyond the call of duty to make the Type R totally unusable. They have stripped away the back seats, stuck composite jewellery on it to make it look fast and painted them all white. “Championship White” apparently. The only championship a Mugen Type R owner will contend in will be one of financial discussion with the wife.

£38,599 is a lot of money to pay to look like a fat Colin Mcrae parked outside Wine Rack. Yet it is what one will have to part with if they want the chance to own a car less powerful than a ford focus and less beautiful than a Renault Megane.

Suzuki Inspires a Sigh of Relief at Tokyo

•October 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment

 

The Suzuki's power and good looks inspire confidence

The Suzuki's power and good looks inspire confidence

The Tokyo Motor show is well under way now, with the main focus being on the future: ‘green’ motoring based on electricity and hybrids. If you consider this together with the pulling out of many leading car manufacturers around the world, it all sounds rather dull.

There is an ancient saying, devoid of maturity and saturated with pessimistic sarcasm maybe, but never failing to convey pure meaning. It reads thus: ‘you can’t polish a turd.’ The electric car will probably save the world we live in. It will provide affordable motoring for the human race, while at the same time, strive to maintain our surroundings for the generations of tomorrow.

However, taking your electric car for a thrash on a Sunday would never be the same. The way a combustion  engine vibrates its way to your soul, the way it sends a V8 exhaust note shimmering across open countryside, the way it allows for a personal physical connection between man and machine.

Apart from that though, how are footballers expected to pull up outside night-clubs with no V10 to drown out what people really think of them. A sad time for all.

However, just as small deer and lesser-spotted carpet moles were heard chanting in celebration at a future of electric motoring, Suzuki have promised a glimmer of hope. Its new ‘Kizashi’ looks set to keep the critters up all winter, with a 2.4 litre DOHC inline-four projecting the sound of 185 hp ringing down the badger set.

Suzuki, thus far, have produced cars that do the job without complaining. They are reliable, cheap to run and not exactly ugly, but they have never been objects of desire. With this new Kizashi though, 0-60 mph comes in 7.5 seconds and when you are bored of its engine note there is a 425 watt hi-fi to play with.

The Suzuki can keep up with cars twice the price and offers the sort of luxury you might have thought you couldn’t afford. More basic models could be around £13,000 and for a top of the range machine you are looking at £16,500, but for that price the only complaint will be a formal one from Ratty and Moley.

Sporty New Estate at Tokyo for Subaru

•October 21, 2009 • Leave a Comment
Like an Impreza STI but longer

Like an Impreza STI but longer

When you ask someone about cars you usually receive one of three responses. Either ‘I want something that gets me from A to B’, at which point you leave them to eat their packaged sandwich by themselves on a lonely bus seat. Then the people who like cars but don’t know an awful lot about them will without doubt use the words “Aston Martin”, “DB9” and “beautiful” during what they next say.

The group who take a real interest in motoring all have one thing in common too; a certain embarrassment. There is always a car which gets the motoring fan excited when it shouldn’t, a guilty pleasure if you will.

Mine has always been the Subaru Impreza. At this point, men and women with extremely blonde hair in blue and yellow clothing, standing on a gravelly bank in deep Scandinavia, will perform a sharp intake of breath. The Subaru Impreza a guilty pleasure?

For all its staggering road holding ability, acceleration and value for money that makes the Impreza a great automobile, there is no doubting its bad points. First of all it is not the prettiest car out of Japan, like a 5th round Miss World contestant it cleans up well but that’s about it.

Secondly if you own a topaz blue Impreza with gold wheels you don’t look like a rally driver. What you do look like is not suitable for publishing in the Queen’s English, the House of Commons should pass legislation on this colour combination on our roads.

However, nothing beats the burble of a Subaru Boxer engine on a crisp morning while out running the frost-bitten meanderings of Dorset. In black paint and the right wheels it warms my heart.

So the news that Subaru have revealed this concept at the Tokyo Motor Show called the ‘Exiga’ generated some excitement. Admittedly it is an estate and it does have seven seats, but it’s all these things with an STI badge stuck on the boot. This means rally car heritage in an otherwise normal release.

It comes with a 2.0 litre engine tuned by Tecnica International (STI), meaning plenty of grunt on the way to your local National Trust house and gardens. Your dog will be happy with STI springs, torsion bars, lower support bars and rear flexible support bars as standard; keeping the long chassis (and Rover) in line.

Leather seats and sporty accessories make this sports estate an appealing choice, yet only 300 are set to be produced when orders start in March 2010.