Saturday, 31 March 2012

Toyota GT 86 UK Prices Announced - Comparison Time!

2012 Toyota GT 86
So the UK prices for the Toyota GT 86 have been announced at last. Here's how it compares to a few of the other sporty ~200 horsepower cars out there (before optional extras):

RWD Mercedes-Benz SLK 250* BlueEfficiency (6MT) = £33,390
FWD Audi TT Black Edition 2.0 TFSI (6MT) = £30,380
RWD BMW 125i M-Sport Coupé (6MT) = £27,380
FWD Volkswagen Golf GTI (6MT) = £25,330
RWD Toyota GT 86 (6MT) = £24,995
FWD Volkswagen Scirocco 2.0 TSI (6MT) = £24,960
FWD Peugeot RCZ THP 200 (6MT) = £23,595
RWD Mazda MX-5 RC (6MT) = £22,995**
FWD Renaultsport Clio 200 Cup (6MT) = £17120***

*The 250 bears no direct relevance to the engine itself, a 204bhp 1.8 Turbo. It's just more powerful than the SLK 200.
**The MX-5 RC (RC = folding metal roof) only has 160hp, but I included it because it shares most of the same aims.
***Cup chassis has sports suspension, less luxuries and costs £1000 less than the standard Clio 200. Well, less car, less cost. Makes sense.

What do we think, viewers? Worth it? Apparently the Subaru BRZ twin will be a couple of grand more than the Toyota, but then the stripped-out version - whatever it'll be called here - is also heading to Blighty, which will have no extra anything on it (we're even talking narrower steel wheels and no stereo here) and cost around £16,200 (assuming a direct conversion from Yen), plus taxes. If you're looking for direct rivals in terms of handling, I've highlighted the rear-wheel-drive ones for you. Unsurprisingly in these times, there aren't that many cheap FR sports cars to choose from (compared to all the other hot hatches I didn't list). There is also the Ginetta G40R, a road version of the British marque's junior one-make series car which utilises a 2.0 Ford Duratec engine producing 175bhp and costs £29,950, but, as the feather-light 840kg weight figure suggests, that's a pretty raw experience, whereas the GT 86 comes standard with dual-zone climate control, sports seats, bi-xenon headlights and 17-inch alloy wheels (and weighs 1220kg, not the heaviest by any means, but certainly porky compared to the semi-racecar Ginetta). The rival I'd be looking at, though, is the BMW 125i Coupé, now only available in the pricey M-Sport trim. If the Subarota (or Toyobaru if you like) can compete in the corners with the BMW, I'd certainly be happy to save £2385 and spend it on Volk TE37s and spare tyres and brake pads for Sundays at Thruxton! The only thing potentially holding me back - complete lack of money aside - is that a nice used Honda NSX is also around that price. A tough decision...

The optional extras are listed above. "Toyota Touch and Go" is a system that includes sat-nav, a reversing camera and bluetooth phone connectivity, the latter of which being something I'd never, ever use (why bother?). Also, the automatic one is £1500 extra for the wrong gearbox. It's like being penalised for missing the point!

Oh, and if you're still struggling to tell the difference between GT 86 and BRZ on the outside, think of it this way:
Happy BRZ vs Serious GT 86
The Subaru is a happy car, whereas the Toyota has a serious face. I'll let you decide whether this difference represents each brand's entire range or not.

Video Saturday - Harris Vs Needell

Uploaded: 28/3/12
Running Time: 11:56
Views When Posted: 42,915

Uploaded: 27/3/12
Running Time: 5:52
Views When Posted: 118,631

I have previously mentioned that I enjoy Chris Harris's videos for the Drive Channel on YouTube, because he's being completely honest and is clearly very enthusiastic about what he's doing. I even thought for a moment that he could present TopGear, except that really there's no room for actual motoring journalism in that show anymore.

Tiff Needell, however, has presented TopGear (1987-2001), which was in no way his only noteworthy activity - he was a Formula 1 driver for all of two races in 1980, retiring from the Belgian GP in Zolder with engine troubles and failing to qualify for Monaco. His sportscar racing career lasted slightly longer, but ultimately managed a 3rd place finish in Le Mans in 1990 (after many less successful attempts) and 2nd in the FIA GT1 Championship in 1998. Now he does odd bits here and there, mostly tin-tops and historic racing, in-between TV work.

So his racing career hardly set the world alight, but you know the phrase "Those that can't [quite] do, teach". He was drafted in by TopGear to act as an "Emergency Stig" during what historians will call 'The Great Unhelmeting' to teach film director Danny Boyle to lap the Kia Cee'd in the fastest wet lap time by some margin (until Boris Becker came along). He also went on to present Fifth Gear, and is now making Chris-Harris-Style videos for evo Magazine. His wealth of experience makes his an opinion worth listening to, but which do you prefer? Are you a Harris-monkey or a Needell-needer?

To help you decide, here are their latest videos, one with Tiff comparing the Porsche 991 Carrera S with the much faster 2012 Nissan GT-R and one looking over the history of the Mercedes-Benz SL (and cruelly missing out the '90s and '00s models) with Chris, who then drives the new one.


Thursday, 29 March 2012

Hey, Wokingham Drivers! You're All Stupid For Panic-Buying Fuel!

Shell filling station, Wokingham. It wasn't long ago the top number said 115.9 instead of 140.9...
I just went for a walk and the local petrol station had a queue backing out onto the main road. All because there might be a fuel strike, which can only be done with seven days' notice, which hasn't even been given yet! This is all because of the government saying it could happen. It's just idiotic...

I'm a proud car fan and driving enthusiast, who commutes seven-odd miles to college three days a week (as well as other outings), and if there IS a fuel strike and I start running low, I can just take the train. It doesn't bother me much, because there's nothing I can do about it and trains in the UK aren't all that bad, pricey tickets aside. Plus going on more walks will hopefully shed some weight. It wouldn't be the same as going for a drive, but part of the footpath near my house is basically Eau Rouge, and there are many trees and fields, so it's not all bad.

It's better than wasting money filling up all at once, emptying all the petrol stations and actually causing the fuel strike that you're panicking about potentially happening. Plus, as someone pointed out to me, filling up now and then being told there'll be a fuel strike in 7 days means that you'll run out of petrol just as the strike happens, so what the hell's the point?

With all that in mind, look at these people, and know that every filling station in the area - probably the country - is just the same today.

Short-sighted idiots. All of them.

Why The F*ck Is The 7 On GT5's Lap Counter Off-Centre?

(Based on this rant from Gizmodo's own personal Jesus)

This is freaking me out today. You see, I hardly look at my lap number during Gran Turismo 5's LM24. But today I did. I looked at that pixel-perfect, beautiful TV screen and this problem got instantly into my eye, like a white hot scalpel pinching through my retina until it reached the back of my skull.

See what I mean? Can you see IT? The 7 is off centre. Instead of being optically centered, it's geometrically centered. So it just looks wrong. Really, what happened there, Kaz? Where did all that love for attention to detail go? Out the fucking window of your silver GT-R, that's where.

Perhaps this is some kind of cruel April Fools joke from Polyphony Digital. Maybe they are all at the office, hahahing at their clever joke. OK. I don't find it fucking funny, but I understand your desire to torture your users.

But what about if it's not? What about if Update 2.06 comes and the 7 goes off centre again? What will happen then? Would they issue a game recall? Would they fix this in Gran Turismo 6? Would Kazunori send emails saying that we are looking at the screen in the wrong way? Would he argue that all games have the 7 incorrectly centred? Would Polyphony give us transparent vinyl overlays with a correctly aligned 7 to place over the screen every 7th or 70th lap? Can this really be fixed in a future software patch? Would Sony's spokesperson say that Forza's number 7 sucks so much that it actually looks like a 2?

Seriously, I'm not even bloody joking here [actually I am, but carry on]. This 7 centre alignment is the biggest bollocking to come out of Polyphony Digital since GT Academy US's shortcut fiasco.

Fuck this. I keep looking at it and it's driving me bonkers. I'm turning the PS3 off today.

Another look at the offending 7. And yes, I also have an Xbox.
I'd like to mention again that this is a sarcastic rant inspired by someone else, although the misaligned 7 does mess with my inner pedant a little whenever I see it...

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Video Sunday - When Ferrari Used To Win

Uploaded: 23/3/12
Running Time: 5:36
Views When Posted: 3,862

So Ferrari don't appear to be doing very well this season so far. Hopefully the Scuderia can get their act together, although I am enjoying McLaren beating Red Bull. At any rate, Ferrari run a programme called Corse Clienti, where the obscenely rich people who can buy old Formula 1 cars get to run them, with support from Ferrari technicians, a bit like the XX program where you spend a million quid and get to use your car at track sessions every now and again. Thankfully, Dutch YouTube supercar guy Jorrie2 was on hand at a recent session at the Nürburgring F1 circuit to record V8s, V10s and V12s all in the same place.

Prepare your ears. This is a good one.

EDIT: After seeing the Malaysian GP, I think I should take back the whole "not winning anymore" quip! Reports of the first two races will appear soon-ish, in highlight form. A full race report of the Chinese GP will follow and actually be on time.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Hey Tuners, Leave The McLaren MP4-12C Alone!

McLaren MP4-12C vs Mansory MP4-12C. Not an improvement
At the Geneva Motor Show, highlights of which you can find three posts down, no less than four tuning companies turned up with a modded McLaren MP4-12C paraded like a carnival freak on their show stand, and they're not even the only ones at it either - two other tuning companies (including Hennessey) have or are planning to attempt to turn an exceptionally talented supercar and the first mid-engined GT car for years into a gaudy rice rocket. Why target the McLaren? Because they've already shat all over the other supercars? I don't like this ganging-up-on-the-new-kid business...

Video Friday - Ferrari SP12 Leaving The Morning After

Uploaded: 22/3/12
Running Time: 1:46
Views When Posted: 7,589

So yesterday I reported on the special one-off homage to the Ferrari 512BB that Ferrari's Special Projects division made for Eric Clapton (scroll down to read about it and see more pictures). According to the video title - which was uploaded by popular British supercar YouTuber Shmee150 but not filmed by him, he says - the SP12 is worth £3million. Where that number came from, I don't know, but still, when every inch of the car has been personalised and finished to the very highest quality just for you, you can expect Ferrari to start charging that kind of money for it. At any rate, that idle definitely sounds like a normal 458 Italia, if you can call 125bhp-per-litre and a 9000rpm redline normal, and you basically get to have a look all the way round it.

The description says of the cinematography: "This footage was shot for Shmee150, fairly discretely hence the wobbles and lack of focus while the car was outside. I must apologise for the imperfect quality but felt the unique footage of this one-of-one car was worth posting." Worth it indeed.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Eric Clapton's Ferrari SP12 Is A Modern 512BB Without The 12

If you're super-mega-rich, and if Ferrari really like you, then you can go over there and ask them to build the car of your dreams. Music legend and massive Ferrari fan Eric Clapton happens to be super-mega-rich, so he did just that and asked them to make a special version of the 458 Italia that pays homage to the 512BB of the 1970s with retro touches, two-tone paint and Enzo headlights. One word - YUMMY.

2012 Geneva Motor Show - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and The Mildly Interesting

Carrozeria Touring Superleggera Disco Volante 2012. Inspiration in background
So the Geneva motor show has now come and gone, and with it, about 95 cars of varying importance have been unveiled or shown off under the lights for the first time in Europe. Obviously I'm not going to tell you about all of them, but because there are quite so many, here's a selection of the the cars worth caring about - IMO - categorised under the headers mentioned in the title (10 good, 7 bad, 9 ugly and 12 mildly interesting, making 38 overall). This'll be a long one, but stick with it. You'll learn stuff. Hopefully. Also, sorry it's a little late, I had stuff to do.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Video ***day - Chris Harris on the 981 Boxster S

Uploaded: 14/3/12
Running Time: 11:41
Views When Posted: 303

I'm posting this now and not on the weekend for two very good reasons. One, the Geneva Motor Show update is taking ages because I have two university interviews this weekend and it'll have to wait (it's going to be long due to the sheer number of noteworthy cars there... I think it'll need a Wikipedia-esque Contents box thing), and regular readers - if there are any - might need something to keep them ticking over. Two, because I'll be having these interviews, my weekend will be spent a) driving great distances, b) stunning interviewers with my kind-of-OK portfolio, or c) recovering at home watching the Australian Grand Prix on BBC1, so I won't think to post a video.

The reason I'm posting this video at all is because I really like the new Drive Channel's videos by evo writer Chris Harris. Much unlike the fame-corrupted show and globalised franchise that is now TopGear, his videos are as long as they have to be, not edited down to fit in a TV schedule. Better than that, they're nothing but a petrol-blooded car enthusiast telling you what he thinks about the car he's in, with enough background knowledge to make you trust his every opinion and an ability to communicate his thoughts and feelings in much the same way that the steering apparently tells you what's going on in the 987 Boxster that the above car replaces. You're never left in the dark by Chris Harris - there's no way he could lie to you about the car he's in, because his thoughts are as visible as they are audible most of the time.

I would say that he should present TopGear, but then he'd have to do what they do, and I don't think he's enough of a clown to pull that off sometimes. At any rate, I love the new Porsche Boxster, so I'm glad that he does too. Y'know, seeing as he's actually driven it and all.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Video Sunday - Oak + Morgan = Wood

Uploaded: 2/3/12
Running Time: 2:14
Views When Posted: 19,724

Fair Warning: This video is epically loud when the engine noises kick in.

Morgan. The age-old British sports car company is still at it, having survived through the times that put all its rivals out of business by making the same good old-fashioned classical British sports car... except they aren't that "Classical" anymore. The Aero Supersports on a aluminium frame and was powered by a 4.4 BMW V8. The new version of the Plus 8 Roadster really is new, sitting on a revise version of the same non-wood frame. There's even - shock horror - an electric version! To celebrate their new found love of present-day technology, they're taking on the Le Mans 24 Hours. Unfortunately their epic little 3-Wheeler isn't eligible in the GTE class, so they're entering the LMP2 class to fight Lotus with... someone else's car.

The video above doesn't really explain much, but to commemorate the death of the wood chassis they're joining up with OAK Racing (at least I assume the irony is not lost on them), who did very well last year and are contesting the 24 in 2012 with a Judd V8-powered Pescarolo chassis. Morgan are actually doing this for two reasons: Their cars are very popular in France, and this is the premier motor race in France (and arguably the world), so there's a good marketing opportunity, but also, the JUDD V8 has the same BMW block as their road cars, so there's the chance for some technology-sharing that presumably could benefit both companies... and the ears of bystanders.

Enjoy! Unless you've already watched it... in which case I hope you enjoyed it!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Video Saturday - Art Meets Science

*Unfortunately, this video is "unlisted", meaning only those with the link can see it. As such, I can't embed it on here because the tool to do that uses a search engine that can't see it...

Here's the link (opens in another tab):

Uploaded: 9/3/12
Running Time: 14:37
Views When Posted: 2,382

The Pagani Huayra was featured on here (and many other sites) just over a year ago. Now that it's available for people with a million euros to buy, Pagani have made this documentary showing the care and attention that goes into each car, as well as explaining the aerodynamics and - crucially - teaching you how to, finally, pronounce 'Huayra' properly. I've been telling people that it's like "Juan" with a 'yra' on the end (so Hhwai-rah), but it turns out that the 'H' is silent, so you just say "Why-rah". The 15-minute mini-doc also deatures some tasty thunder from that 6.0 V12TT provided by Mercedes-Benz's AMG division. It shares the block of the engine with the S-Class S63 AMG, but it's so extensively modified from the S63's engine that it has its own part number within AMG (M158). The low-pitched golden beast produces 730PS (720bhp) and 737lb/ft (1000NM) of torque, which is enough to propel the 1350kg car from 0-60mph in 3.3 seconds and on to what just so happens to be a top speed of 230mph (370km/h). It may cost a lot more than a Lamborghini Aventador, but as you'll see in the video, it's worth it.

Below are images of the Huayra at the Geneva Motor Show, a report of which is on its way. One's a normal one in a fetching pearlescent white with black details, while the other is a special edition finished in clearcoat called the Carbon Edition. While you may think they simply haven't painted it, the body is normally the same CarboTanium composite as the chassis, whereas this is in lighter-but-more-brittle pure carbon fibre. I think I prefer it painted, myself.

Friday, 9 March 2012

MR VTEC Turbo Mini Is The Definition of Insane

Madness Itself
The Mini is great for many reasons - no, I'm not talking about the BMW 0-Series, that's just a silly retro box - and one of these reasons is that its very basic layout and clever design makes it an ideal base for affordable tuning. There are many methods for turning the humble small car into a pocket rocket; some people simply use a bigger, heavily tuned A-Series engine, some swap in a motorbike engine from a Suzuki Hayabusa or a Yamaha R1, and some put slightly bigger engines from other cars in, such as a Vauxhall 1.4 or a manic, high-revving Honda VTEC engine. Madder people than most even go to an organisation like Zcars, who will throw in a rollcage and convert the quintessential front-drive car into a mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive missile. This example here takes even the craziest of the above one step further...

Monday, 5 March 2012

Marussia MR01 and HRT F112 - Welcome To The Back Of The Grid

2012 Marussia MR01
When McLaren revealed the MP4-27 following the Caterham CT01, there was hope that the ugly new "stepped nose" seen on the Caterham would be a little less frequent on the 2012 F1 grid than many had feared. Alas, the McLaren proved to be the only smooth-nosed Formula 1 car in 2012...... UNTIL TODAY! This is the new Marussia MR01, brought about by a Sheffield-based organisation formerly known as Virgin Racing (which has engaged in sponsorship intercourse and can thus no longer be called Virgin). It looks... well, it looks like a mid-field GP2 car from this angle, partially thanks to the simple new livery, but the team are confident that it won't have the same pace as a mid-field GP2 car. There's just one problem...

Video Monday - And Now I Shall Stop The Startwatch

Uploaded: 8/7/08
Running Time: 1:08
Views When Posted: 75,558

After showing you a man driven insane when experiencing the heat of competition, here are a couple of videos of people who go a bit mad just when watching the heat of competition. The first one is the voice of Formula 1, Murray Walker OBE, revealing that he would love to apply his talents and... unique style to a very different sport. I shall say no more than that in fear of spoiling the video...

If you were expecting motorsport, here's proof that the only people who can hold a candle to the great Murray Walker are the ballistic Japanese commentators in the video below:

Uploaded: 18/8/11
Running Time: 5:05
Views When Posted: 2626


Sunday, 4 March 2012

Video Sunday - NEMESIIIIS!!!!

Uploaded: 30/5/07
Running Time: 1:50
Views When Posted: 399,562

This needs very little introduction, and while it's only 1 minute and 50 seconds long - and therefore probably won't take up much of your Sunday - I suspect you might play it more than once. This is one man's descent into madness as he in his old Porsche 911 chases a late '90s Ford Mustang around a track. Enjoy it.

Friday, 2 March 2012

SBV8 One-Year/20000-Hit Review

SBV8 Stats Page (yeah, I'm still using the old view)
So it's now been over a year since I started blogging. I didn't really know what to expect when I started, it was just to start brushing up on my writing skills a bit and rant about stuff I didn't have an opportunity to rant about on other car sites, and that still happens from time to time, although I haven't ranted for a while now. Unfortunately, it's also becoming something of a procrastination tool, which is evident by the fact that in just over two months I've written half as many posts as I did all year in 2011! This is the 50th of 2012, which I guess I could treat as a landmark too. Sort of. at any rate, you can see what most people are looking at above, and you can also see that the greatly increased frequency of posts has produced results of sorts, as there's a nice big spike where 2012 started. January '12 was the higher than any month last year on its own, then February sticks out like the rear wing on a Plymouth Superbird because over 300 people clicked on my F1 2011/12 Winter Update, which I guess turned out to be very helpful for some of you, so, er, glad I could help! More after the jump, as they say.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Two Ways To Love A Car

A good car is two things. It is a beautiful mobile sculpture, and it is an engaging and thrilling machine. What we have here are two cars that are focused on opposite sides of this coin, one from a big-time Italian design house, and one from a small-time German sports car company. Can you guess which one's which? Well yes, of course you can. Hopefully. In the cream corner, we have the Pininfarina Cambiano Concept, while in the part-red-part-naked corner, we have the Roding Roadster 23. Time for round two of the sporty saloon-versus-flyweight-sports-car pointless wrestling league!