|Carrozeria Touring Superleggera Disco Volante 2012. Inspiration in background
Click these to jump to each section if you want - GOOD, BAD, UGLY, MILDLY INTERESTING.
This is only the second ever Jag-wagon, but because it's based on a model that people actually like, the XF Sportbrake ought to make a better job of it than the X-Type estate did. The plus-size XF is of course competing with the E-Class, A6 and 5-Series estates, and manages to fit in 1675 litres of whatever you like if you fold the seats down, as well as give rear occupants 48mm more headroom. In terms of design touches, the new roof ends with a blacked-out D-pillar, which I think looks a lot better on the more upright estate than on the sleek New XJ. This means the roof just flicks off the top, which looks pretty cool. On these pre-production cars, the chrome line atop the window doesn't seem to follow a completely straight line - with the saloon's front door attached to a new body, there's a slight kink. You have to look closely, and I haven't given you the best picture to inspect, but hopefully they iron it out for production. On that front, it won't be available in America due to the bumper and some other bits not meeting US regulations (which are silly anyway), so it'll be diesel-only to start off, with a 2.2 four-cylinder turbo and two versions of the much-liked 3.0 V6 turbo diesel, the faster of which makes 275bhp and a meaty 442lb/ft.
One word describes this car; Windy. The Aventador J is essentially a normal Aventador, but topless and with a bodykit that some think would appear on the eventual hot version. To make this, Lamborghini had to change the chassis to keep it rigid enough, and according to TopGear, "It's made of woven carbon fibres soaked with epoxy resin that apparently stabilises the structure but keeps the material soft - almost like a high-tech fabric - and thus, it can be made into any shape". Clever. Despite being reinforced, the lack of roof and gadgets - who needs air conditioning when you've got plain old wind? - will make it lighter than the Aventadors you can actually buy. It still has the same 700 horsepower too, so... yeah. Windy. Bring a helmet and some balls. Except you can't. Because it's a one-off. So there. Maybe it'll appear in Forza 4.
So SAAB is dead, and Volvo's new style regime may mean that they slowly fill the void, but now, if you want Sweden's unique brand of lunacy, you'd best head over to Koenigsegg, where it's free to roam wherever it wants (and hasn't been diluted by an American giant). The new car has been around for a couple of years now, and yet it still hasn't appeared on TopGear, which seems odd. At any rate, the Agera R has seen some upgrades to ensure it stays on top of the pack - pre-upgrade, the R is the fastest car from 0-300-0km/h (0-186-0mph)... In The World. Unfortunately, while the 2004 CCR was the fastest car in the world at 245mph and the Stig-bothering CCX was supposedly even faster, Koenigsegg can't measure the top speed, because the only place that they could reach the top speed of their cars is Ehra-Lessien, which, like Bugatti, is owned by VW. Anyway, the new Agera R features *breathe in*: hollow one-piece carbon fibre wheels that save 20kg (a world-first), nano-surfaced cylinder sleeves for less friction and more fuel economy, a new ECU, a new in-house stability system, Triplex suspension by Öhlins Racing, a lighter exhaust that improves the performance of the rear diffuser, new winglets in the front corners to add 20kg of downforce and an extra 250rpm at the top, adding 20 horsepower to the normal Agera and 35bhp to the R version running E85 fuel. *breathe in again* *exhale*. All this makes it faster, of course. The 1140bhp R version - with 833bhp/tonne - will go from 0-200mph in 17.68 seconds. That. Is. Fast. The top speed is reckoned to be around 275mph, but we may never find out for sure...
Supercars aren't the only interesting things, of course. This is the Citroën DS4 Racing Concept, which is a concept version of the DS4 made by Citroën Racing. See, naming cars is easy. Making their cars pretty appears to be easy for the French firm too, especially as it even looks good in a colour I'm calling "Matte Elephant". This rolling sculpture is propelled by a 1.6 Turbo four producing an impressive 256bhp while only emitting 155g/km of CO2. Oh technology. Because the normal DS4 is a high-riding luxo-hatch, it had to be lowered pretty far to make it racy. Citroën Racing has lowered it by 35mm over 19" wheels, which are necessary to house the enormous 380mm carbon brakes. There's no word on production likelihood, but it's hardly made of velvet and powered by a perpetual motion machine, so expect it to appear in the next 12 months tops. They should build it, especially as they've had to make 200 more DS3 Racings after selling the first run so quickly.
The DS4 Racing wasn't the only new French hot hatch masquerading as a concept car. Peugeot has seen the DS3 Racing do well and now wants to capitalise with a GTi version of its platform twin, the 208. Supposedly, this will mark the spiritual return of the original FF hoon machine (if not quite the first hot hatch), the 205 GTi. I should hope so, considering how overweight and underpowered the 207 GTi was, this could be their Golf Mk.V, where the flabby past-it car is replaced by something prettier that "gets it". Instead of "more is better", the 208 follows the mentality of "less is more" when it comes to weight; spec-for-spec, it's about 100kg lighter than an equivalent 207, so a lighter GTi with the PSA/BMW engine used in the DS3 and the BMW Cooper S (making 200bhp and mated to a 6-speed manual) should be one tasty dish indeed... but will it mark a return for Peugeot to the premier league of hot hatches? They'll have the indomitable Renaultsport to topple if they want to really make their mark, and the Clio 200 is widely considered the best hot hatch on sale, so it's a tough challenge. Considering that Peugeot pulled out of endurance racing to focus on road cars, there's every hope...
Now for concept cars that are actually just concept cars, with famous Italian design house Giugiaro bringing us this, the Brivido Concept. Brivido means thrill in Italian, and the glass cutting into the doors mixed with, on this one, Martini Racing colours, it certainly does thrill the eyes, even if it is reminiscent of the Bertone Marzal from the 1970s, which did many of the same things (but sans livery), including having a massive gullwing door on each side to give access to four seats. Under the striking skin this is actually a VW (they bought Giugiaro a couple of years ago), so it's fully functional and features a 3.0 V6 with an electric motor. 360bhp means that 0-60 supposedly takes 5.8 seconds and it'll go as fast as a Porsche Cayman S, at 171mph, thanks to that smooth body. As well as this one, there was a metallic red car with opening doors and a full interior, but this one looks cooler with its big rear wing. In fact, it almost looks like a car you unlock late-on in a game like Burnout or Split/Second.
An Italian design house you may not have heard of before - Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera - has remixed an oddity from the sixty years ago. The 1952 Alfa Romeo Disco Volante (Flying Saucer in Italian) was a limited-run racing car that didn't see much success, but was remembered for its distinctive looks. The idea of it being a Flying Saucer works better with the roofless Spider version, but Carrozzeria Touring have styled the new car after the Coupé version. What gives them the right to do this? Well they styled the original car, so they've got every right to celebrate its 60th anniversary, especially when it means taking an Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione and re-bodying it in something this good-looking (and the 8C's no minger). The hand-beaten aluminium forms take clearly after the original car, while combining it with the 8C's dimensions and a more modern style. Apparently, they are planning to build a very small number of production cars, so if your one-of-500 Alfa 8C Competiziones doesn't feel special enough, pay the Carrozzeria and they'll make sure you feel unique by making your 450bhp, 4.7-litre V8-powered sex machine fly like a saucer. Just don't race it. You'll lose. In style.
As we all know, Lotus is doomed. Not only are Proton - their main source of money - are selling them off, but with new CEO Dany Bahar at the helm, they're planning to stop making lightweight driver's cars and start making the same premium fluff as everyone else, which is a bad thing. Thankfully, they're spending "the beginning of the end" trying to ease us in with the Exige V6, which was unveiled at the Frankfurt show last year. Yes, it was the first Elise-based car to weigh more than 1000kg, but they weighed it down with engine, not gadgets and leather, so it was relatively OK. Now, they've made a roofless version with no rear spoiler on it and called it the Exige Roadster. The only thing is, the Exige differs from the Elise by being a coupé, so surely this is just a facelifted Elise with a longer rear end to accommodate the new engine? At any rate, the 1.8-litre Toyota engine has been swapped out for a 3.5-litre... Toyota engine. This one's the supercharged V6 from an Evora S though, so it ought to be quick... and it is; 0-60 takes just 3.8 seconds, 0.3s faster than the lighter 4-cylinder Exige S, although to be honest not managing 100bhp-per-litre in 2012 is quite disappointing. Direct Injection and some other tweaking would get it up to the same 345bhp and 295lb/ft (or maybe more torque) without the added weight of a supercharger, I reckon. Who knows? All I know is this should be a great car to have in a video game, with its 319bhp/tonne (a more important figure anyway) and those quite tasty looks. The metallic dark blue paint is working particularly well here.
People say you only buy a Porsche Boxster/Cayman if you can't afford a 911. Nonsense. The Boxster has long been the benchmark in the £30-40k roadster category where the Z4, 370Z, TT V6 and various others live, mixing Porsche's perfectionism with mid-engine balance to make something equally tasty in many ways. Besides, the post-facelift Cayman S fitted with a locking LSD was arguably faster and better than a 997.5 Carrera over the right road. Now, the third-generation Boxster is upon us, and it finally has its own style to go with its own character, courtesy of, for the first time, bespoke doors. According to the project head, the other two Boxsters (986 and 987) had 911 doors, and had to be styled to make them fit in, but the brand new Type 981 you see here doesn't, meaning it can be its own thing once and for all. For me though, the best bit of design is the rear pop-up spoiler, which blends seamlessly into the raised reverse-light LEDs, blending it seamlessly into the tail lights. It might be difficult to see in this picture, but it looks really cool, trust me. Unlike the Cayman and Panamera, this is available straight away in S and non-S, instead of making you wait for the base model, which is powered by a new 2.7-litre Direct-Injection flat-six (replacing the 2.9) making 265bhp and hitting 60 in just over 5.5 seconds, while the 3.4-litre S makes a meatier 315bhp and hitting 60 half a second quicker than the 2.7. The wheelbase is 60mm longer, and both versions are around 15% more fuel-efficient than the 987 Boxsters, and are available with either a 6-speed manual (the correct 'box) or a 7-speed PDK (for lazy people). It'll also cost a bit more than before, but won't impede on the new Type 991 911. It's all good.
As well as the ten cars above, I've also reported on the new Ferrari F12berlinetta, Pininfarina Cambiano, Rodind Roadster 23 (pictured), Infiniti Emerg-E and the Pagani Huayra Carbon Edition. No point writing about them again really, is there? I will say that front-end pictures of the Roding have now appeared, and it looks angry. I can dig it, although I'd want one with the doors painted. Apparently after the 23 exposed-carbon ones, they might make "normal" ones with more paint, presumably only if it's popular enough to keep making. They are only a small company after all. Some people mention the Audi R8 when they see this, but that's just because of the black slats. I think it looks cool in a Teutonic form-meets-function way. Also, luxury Peugeot fans (are there any?) might like the 208 XY Concept, made as an antithesis to the GTI Concept above.
I don't like the Evoque. Even if it is as good off-road as a Discovery while being notably cheaper than a real Range Rover, there's something about it that I just don't like. Maybe it's because I prefer to think of mud-plugging Defenders and mountain climbing Rangies when I think of Land Rover, and the Évoque is really destined to be a fancy-looking on-roader for trendy London folk to look rich and stylish in, i.e. the exact opposite of the Land Rover mentality. Of course, like all stylish cars, there must be a convertible version. Land Rover will tell you the original Defender was roofless, and they're right, but the outside world will tell you that the Nissan Murano is now available as a convertible, and I fear that's the real motivation here. Fill every niche and you'll make more money, that's the reason this exists. Being bigger than the SLK you would've bought will make you look more important. You're not, but that doesn't matter to you, does it?
Erm, I actually have no idea what the hell this is. It's made by Sbarro, who normally make very weird-looking cars, so this fits in with that. It was apparently inspired by F1 cars, in that it has open wheels and wings, and it's a 1+2-seater like the McLaren F1 supercar. It also has a 700-horsepower 4.0 V8-- oh wait, my mistake, no it doesn't. It has a 400-horsepower 7.0 V8. That's 57 horsepower-per-litre, which is a low amount of horsepower-per-litre, especially for something supposedly inspired by Formula One cars. A 7.0 Corvette Z06 makes 72bhp/litre as a frame of reference, whereas F1 cars make 288bhp/litre (admittedly that's very, very high). There's very little info about this car out there, so I don't know what it weighs, but it's probably hovering around 1000kg or less... unless making it out of pure Whatthefuck has made it heavier.
Rappers will love it. Let me just get that out of the way so I can move on and tell you that this is the first ever Bentley SUV... except that it isn't quite. The EXP 9 F Concept is powered by Bentley's 6.0 W12TT and is actually yet another VW Touareg clone to go with the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7, and it looks... hideous. I may come across as anti-SUV every now and again (I'm not really, I just don't like the flashy stuff), but to like this, you'd have to be anti-sight and have someone describe it to you in an idealised way over the phone. The idea of a Bentley SUV in itself kind of makes sense nowadays, thanks to the huge success of the also-hideous Porsche Cayenne, the first modern "prestige SUV", but that in itself is a tragic thing. At any rate, the front looks like a Studebaker Lark, the middle looks like a chintzy slab-sided Continental Flying Spur and the back looks like a crap rip-off of an '80s Range Rover. It's also a sad, sad sign of the times.
Having been met with almost universal criticism for its design, the EXP 9 F will now be redesigned before it gets a proper name and goes on sale. That way you can only hate it for what is signifies, not because it makes you want to shit all over your own eyes in order to make it go away.
|If you think this angle isn't so ugly, you should see the back.
I don't think I've actually published the rant where I rip on SUVs like this one, so I'll use the very minor (and therefore insufficient) facelift of the X6 to condense it into one paragraph: This pointless, vomit-inducing lump of cynical marketing turd is everything that's wrong with "premium" or "prestige" cars these days. It exists in the BMW range not to excel off-road (because it doesn't, that would require an X5), not to be the ideal car on-road (because it isn't, that would be a 530d Touring), but to look flashy. That's it. Anyone who buys one of these over something else is saying that they want to look rich by having a big imposing sports-SUV. Except that "Sports SUV" extends out to "Sports Sports Utility Vehicle", which doesn't make any sense. The car itself is equally paradoxical - if you own one of these, what it actually says is that that you wanted a sports car, an off-roader and a big GT car, but couldn't afford them all, so you bought something shiny that's a compromise of all those things, and that makes you look like more of a douchebag than if Jersey Shore, Geordie Shore, The Hills, "TOWIE" and Made In Chelsea were all put into the Large Hardon Collider and fused into one person, and that, like the X6, is an abomination that must die immediately. There's no need for it - for each thing it can't quite do, there's a car that can do it that's prettier and less costly. It's the stupidest car I've ever had the misfortune of seeing, and many inept 'prestige SUVs' of varying sizes follow in its wake [exhibit A above], which is the most depressing thing of all. Now get off my lawn.
Not content with spoiling SUVs for everyone, BMW also enjoys spoiling the Mini as well, by turning it into a cramped, expensive retro box and pretending it's still British by, well, building it in Oxford, actually. Anyway, they clearly had better things to do than come up with an interesting concept for their "MINI" brand, because all they've done is take the rear glass and the rear seats out of a Clubman almost-estate and patronise Britain by making a sign-writer's van called the Clubvan. Originally, it said High BUCKINGHAM ---Signwriter--- on it, but I think this photoshopped one's much better, as it actually makes it vaguely worth giving the tiniest fuck about. Can you think of a ruder or more suggestive thing to write in delicate script font on here? Go for it!
I'm not kidding when I say this: The 500L exists because Americans are too big. After sales of the 500 in the US were less than revolutionary (although not as bad as the GM Volt), Fiat are now giving the Land That Loves More a more powerful version (the ABARTH 500 with the Essesse kit as standard) and this bigger version for when you want to put four or even five Americans in it. The L most likely stands for Large, and the bigger Cinquecento is actually based on a Fiat Punto, but stretched out like a Floridian's trousers. Like the Bentley, as an idea it kind of makes sense, but the aesthetics let it down a bit - the poor thing looks so bloated it's like looking at a fat kid who's optimistic and yet secretly ashamed of the fact that he eats so much, which makes it seem slightly tragic. Go for a run and eat some vegetables, 500L. Then you can look like the other 500s.
To cheer you up after that slightly mean poke at the 500L, here's a silly tuner car for you to laugh at, in preparation for the Ugly category that will be filled with the worst of the worst. The famous VW/Audi tuner has experimented further into the idea that adding stripes on a car makes it go faster. The latest innovation appears to be to make use of the negative space around the stripes to make a classic double-stripe that isn't actually there, thus tricking the air into flowing over it faster, adding anything up to 30 horsepower. To increase the top speed by upwards of 10mph, they've swapped the wheels for vented Liquorice Allsorts and given it RED BITS. Everyone knows that, like stripes, red bits make cars go faster, as proven by the REAL SCIENCE that's also used in hair care products, according to trusted TV adverts. In the end, though, what we have here is basically a VW Up! with a rorty exhaust and stiffer suspension that looks like it's getting ready to enter the Cambodian Midget Fighting League.
Have you ever looked at the Volvo C30 - in white with its black bodykit - and thought to yourself "You know what, I wish that was much fatter and was actually black with a white bodykit, but even then, it needs something... ah! How about we style it like a grumpy Range Rover with lots of very narrow lights and windows, then add some unnecessary vents and 22" wheels that somehow look cheap. Then it'll be perfect"? If so, please render yourself unable to conceive for the good of mankind. We already have someone with your brand of crazy working at Hamann, and we bloody well don't need another one!
Have you ever looked at a Volvo C30 - in white with its black bodykit - and thought to yourself "Fuck this, I want the black to be on the bonnet, which should be covered in pointless vents, and the wheels, which should be enormous. Then, I want to style it like a Mercedes SLS and paint the rest of the body, which should be covered in pointless vents, in arrest-me red, before putting Pegasus badges on it and calling it Hawk for no apparent reason whatsoever. Then it'll be perfect"? If so, please render yourself unable to conceive for the good of mankind. We already have someone with your brand of crazy working at Hamann, and we bloody well don't need another one!
Alarmingly, this car isn't the product of a tuning company, but of the manufacturer themselves. The JCW version of the BMW MAXI has 215 horsepower, All-Wheel-Drive, 10mm lower suspension and a body covered in horrid and gaudy tat, including 18" chrome wheels and a RED-on-black colour scheme. Maybe they watch Ant and Dec's quiz show. This silly box will be forced on you at some point in the near future. Expect it to cost slightly too much and be completely out-paced and out-cornered by the cheaper hatchback Cooper S JCW, rendering this sports blob as pointless as an X6. It's like putting the Michelin Man in a tracksuit and trainers...
I actually know this to be quite a clever car. It's so stiff, for example, that it doesn't need a B-Pillar, meaning the sliding rear doors and pivoting front ones open up a huge hole in the side of the car that makes access inside incredibly easy. But just look at it. It's the EXP 9 F and the 500L all over again. The B-Max (which is smaller than a C-Max, as if by coincidence) looks like a catfish with a fat lip. While the styling cues are typical of Ford's "Kinetic Design" philosophy, every proportion of the car - from this angle, at least - is wrong. The front looks too big for the rest of it, and you could do a fairly accurate impression of a B-Max by pushing your bottom lip out with your tongue and stretching your face backwards a little bit while looking slightly fed up. Or something like that.
Words cannot describe how horrendously hideous this car looks now it's been raped by the small ugly penis that is Mansory, a tuner for whom I have nothing but hatred, so I'll just have to use lots of very similar words to get as close as I can. It's so overwhelmingly overdone from every single angle that it would even be rejected by an energy drink junkie hooked on Need For Speed: Undercover, which is where it looks like it came from, and were it deserves to stay. The fact that this was once a Lamborghini Aventador is the main reason I despise this particular organisation; the cars they choose to modify, the cars they decide aren't good enough, are in fact the best cars in the world already - the Bugatti Veyron, RR Phantom, Ferrari 458, the list goes on - so why do they feel they have to insult the companies that make such a huge effort to conquer the motoring world by turning their creations into the automotive equivalent of a cheap-looking gold-digging harlot? It boggles my mind that this shit is even allowed. It's hideous. Anyone who disagrees can have their eyes removed, put inside their wallet and thrown into a volcano.
OK ok, let's not forget: all beauty is subjective. It's important that you - and I - remember that while reading through the Ugly section. It's also important that you don't look at the FT-Bh (presumably short for FutureToyota-Boxfish hybrid) for too long, otherwise you will slowly be overcome by an irrepressible urge to grab a bottle of bleach and just pour it all over your face in the hope that you never have to gaze upon it again. The irony of this is that if you survive, your face will end up being just as terrible and deformed as this demented creature. If you're blind and/or having this read to you - perfectly likely given the last five cars we've looked at - then it's worth telling you that the reader just recoiled in horror upon seeing this car. Let us pray that we never see it again...
Not that I want to suggest you're ignorant, but you probably haven't heard of Valmet. The Finnish company is a bit like Magna-Steyr, in that it makes its money building other people's cars. They used to build Porsches and some SAABs, but now they make the Fisker Karma and the Th!nk, both of which are electric cars, so to show off how good they are at making EVs, they've made a concept car you won't forget in a hurry. Rather than suggest that it's melted, which everyone else has done, I'm going to suggest that they vacuum-formed the bodywork over a mould that was slightly too small, and then forgot to trim off the edges. The body has also gone right through the electric motor (or possibly battery) that sits atop the rear deck, which I think looks kinda cool. This is still the best section for it though, unfortunately. To add to the sheer confusion, they've also given it the spinning weapon from Hypnodisc and restyled it to look like a Tron prop. Apparently, this could be a wireless 'induction charger' that gathers energy when electricity jumps to it from a very close power source, much like the charger for an electric toothbrush. While that's fairly clever, and induction charging is something more and more companies are investigating, it's probably best for Valmet to stick to building other people's cars, such as Marussia (yes, that Marussia), who've recently signed a contract with them to build their road cars.
Have you ever looked at a Volvo C30 - in white with its black bodykit - and thought to yourself "y'know, that could do with more doors. It would also look MUCH better if it was enormous and had a large number of gaping holes in the front, the black bit on the bonnet - which should be covered in pointless vents - and enormous black wheels. Mmm, yes. Then it should have lots of gaps in the side styled to look like more pointless vents. To really make it a worthwhile car, it should be renamed as something that doesn't make any sense. THEN it would be perfection itself"? If so, please render yourself unable to conceive for the good of mankind. We already have someone with your brand of crazy working at Hamann, and we bloody well don't need another one!
No list of ugly is complete without a tuned Cayenne, and after that I think we can all only deal with one more bout of ugly. This is a trio of BMWs, as you can see. While I've slowly got used to their current styling philosophy, there's something not quite right about the new 1 and 3-Series. These versions certainly don't fix the problem, with a carbon fibre goatee and a tacky offset stripe each (except the 5er for some reason). Surprisingly, like the JCW above, these aren't actually from some two-bit tuning company, but from BMW themselves. Why? Why would you take a relatively understated German executive car (or a 1-Series) and doll it up in showy carbon bits and a boy-racer stripe? I think BMW have missed the point here; one could theorise that they have caught on to the fact that many of their drivers are dicks. Not all of them, I hasten to add, but quite a lot of BMW drivers are dicks (although now it's actually Audi A4s you want to watch out for in the UK more than any other German car driver). However, BMW, that doesn't mean they want to express the fact that they're dicks. They want the complete disregard for indicators and following distances to do the talking for them as they try to make clear that they're more important than other people. Making their cars look as impatient and ugly as they are would wreck it for them.
THE MILDLY INTERESTING:
If you thought the Aventador J was windy, how about the world's fastest convertible? To make sure they definitely got every version out of the Veyron they could, Bugatti have now combined the Grand Sport (topless version) and the Super Sport (270mph version) to make the Grand Sport Vitesse, so called because Grand Sport Super Sport - or GSSS - just sounds silly. This is actually the eleventh official version of the world's fastest car, and features the SS's uprated 8.0 W16TTTT (yes, that's the right number of Ts) along with a removable glass panel and an absurdly expensive rectangular umbrella to plug the hole when it's raining. When it's not raining, 1200PS (1183bhp) and a tremendous 1106lb/ft of torque propel the GS Vitesse up to 60 in 2.6 seconds, to 125mph in 7.1 seconds, and then up to 186mph (300km/h) in a staggering 16 seconds. The acceleration is matched by the brakes - the 400mm front discs and 380mm rear ones, all carbon ceramic, take you down from 186mph to a standstill in just 7.9 seconds. The top speed is lower, seeing as it's 152kg heavier at 1990kg, but it's still 255mph, which should be fast enough for most people who have never been to space. To make sure it's not to harsh for posing in Monaco, there are three suspension settings, James May, normal and Top Speed (which could also be called James May). Lastly, yes, it is available in other, non-hideous colour schemes.
Every time a hot hatch comes out, a portion of the internet complains that it's Front-Wheel-Drive. That's silly, of course, although a short-wheelbase AWD turbo car is an enticing prospect, especially of you follow rallying at all. That's where Audi come in, even though they don't actually rally cars any more. Nevertheless, the A1 Quattro you see here celebrates the 1980s S1 Quattro rally cars, which were the first to use AWD and changed the sport forever. Featuring a 2.0 TFSI engine, the turbo nutter sends 256bhp and 258lb/ft through all four wheels via a six speed manual gearbox and beefed-up suspension, which makes sure the 18" turbine-style wheels don't throw the body around too much. Just 333 of these cars will be available worldwide, and it will cost an eye-watering £41,000. If you bought this and then saw Audi release a cheaper and more refined S1 in a few months' time, you'd be pretty pissed off...
This is the new Audi A3. It sits on the new MQB platform that it shares with the as-yet-unreleased Mk.VII Golf and doubtless a few Seats and Škodas in due course. It looks like an A1 (sans Quattro bodykit), but bigger. It's 12mm wider than the old A3 and has a 23mm-longer wheelbase, but is the same overall length and height as before. It will be available from launch with a range of direct-injection engines from 1.4-1.8, and a 2.0 TDI diesel. You can have a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed DCT. So, er... yeah. That's pretty much it. The interior's also nicer.
I mentioned Magna-Steyr above when talking about Valmet, because these guys do business by building other cars, like the BMW X3 and some Porsches, Aston Martins and Ferraris. Thus, you can assume this concept of theirs will be well-made, but that's not the point of it. You see, this is actually a "three-in-one" crossover with a changing roof, kind of like the Citroën C3 Pluriel except not shit. In this form it's a 5-seat SUV, but the rooftop opens up in two parts to either make a convertible or be combined with a folded-down rear seat to make a pickup truck. Of course, because the green roof bars stay in place, this takes a bit of imagination, and I can't seem to find a decent shot of the back doing its thing, but it's mildly interesting. I say mildly because it'll never, ever get built.
GREAT NEWS! The new Dacia Lodgy will go on sale in Europe with prices starting at €9,900! With Dacia launching in the UK some time very soon, it ought to pop over here and give the B-Max and Citroën Picassos a run for their (extra) money. Alas, the Sandero probably won't launch in the UK, partly because I think Renault - who own the Romanian brand - don't want it to impede on the Clio or Megane, but also because there are literally dozens of different hatchback models to choose from already, and it would struggle to make a success of it, cult TopGear following or not. The Duster SUV and this Lodgy MPV, on the other hand, fill a genuine hole as properly useful cars that are much cheaper to buy than potential rivals (the Duster is only about £11,000 for the base model and has full AWD and offroadability, like a Lada Niva except not shit). I think this is either a huge 5-seater or a 5+2 like a C4 Picasso, so there'll be plenty of these parking near schools soon-ish.
Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to the future of the past. This is the Morgan Plus E Roadster, and while it may look like your ordinary Plus 8 (which, by the way, is the lightest V8 passenger car in the world), it's actually electric, as the 'E' probably told you. More than that, it's not sitting on an ash wood chassis. You don't have to grow a tree to build a Morgan anymore, as this car sits on an aluminium frame very similar to that of the Aero [various suffixes], making this much more modern than it looks, despite those wheels. What sets it apart from other EVs is that the motor is mounted in the transmission tunnel and is connected to a traditional (well, it would be, wouldn't it?) 5-speed manual gearbox and a conventional clutch. Quite how they did that, I don't know, as Tesla tried a multi-speed gearbox and it didn't work, but at any rate that means you get acceleration and top speed, whereas even the Tesla Roadster makes do with just the former. Morgan wanted to see how much fun an electric car can be, so while pipe-smokers (read: Morgan fans) might scoff, EV fans will rejoice at this creation. To be honest I quite like it.
To make up for the electric car I just said I like, here's a matte black Mercedes-Benz with an enormous engine in it. This is the BRABUS Bullit Coupé 800, and as the name suggests, it's a 2-door version of their C-Class-based Bullit and it has 800 horsepower. That should be enough for anyone, really. The madmen at BRABUS have squeezed a 6.3-litre Twin-Turbo V12 in the front of the C-Class, which makes an Earth-shattering 1047lb/ft of torque, which had to be limited to "only" 811 to stop it from tearing the gearbox to shreds (not joking). If you can somehow get it to put all that power down to the road, it'll do 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds, 0-125mph in 9.8 seconds, 0-186mph (300km/h) in 23.8 seconds and finally run out of fury at around 230mph. That puts it roughly level with the Pagani Huayra, which costs a LOT more, although at half a million dollars, this isn't exactly cheap either. Typical madness from BRABUS, really. Excellent.
For those of you that haven't completed L.A.Noire, the Cisitalia 202 is a classic car that looks much newer than it actually is. Having inspired the "pontoon" style movement that gave us most of the sexy Italian cars of the 1950s and very early '60s, the 202 is actually from 1947, and was dubbed "the most beautiful Italian car I've ever seen" by Henry Ford. In an age of running boards and vertical windscreens, the world had never seen anything like the Cisitalia 202. Unfortunately, we have seen it now, so this remake by Italian design house IED doesn't really have the same impact as the original. It does look pretty cool though, with the smooth shapes and large side crease that, ironically, almost looks like a running board. Integrating the front and rear lights into a kind of black ring thing makes it look slightly weird, but with a V8 supposedly in the front making 450bhp for the rear wheels to eat up, I can dig it.
We all knew it was coming, and now it's here. Its predictability is why it's here and not in the Good section, but actually this has been very eagerly awaited by Fast Ford fans and Americans alike, because not only is the Ford normally the benchmark in every class (in Europe at least), but America, which is starved of hot hatches, may well get this one, which features a rally-style 1.6 Turbo four making 180bhp (well, OK, the actual WRC car makes 280bhp, but that's also AWD, whereas this isn't due to cost and complexity), as well as 178lb/ft of torque, which I suspect will come in very early. The current-generation Fiesta has such a good chassis that it's been screaming out for a hot version, and now the Vauxhall Corsa VXR, VW Polo GTI, BMW Cooper S, Renaultsport Clio 200 and Citroën DS3 Racing should be watching their backs. I wonder if Lamborghini are OK with them using identical wheels to the Sesto Elemento...
Nuccio Bertone is the son of Giovanni, whose eponymous design house responsible for the design house that gave us the Lamborghini Miura and Countach, Lancia Stratos, the Alfa Romeo BAT concepts, Ferrari 308 and Fiat X1/9, not to mention the legendarily gorgeous Škoda Favorit (Google it... *trollface*). This orange-roofed tribute to Nuccio, who took over in 1950 and died in 1997, evidently takes inspiration from the 1970s wedge-shaped supercars it invented and became famous for, with modern creases and curves added in as well. It looks unusual, and is perhaps not sexy in the traditional sense, but I like it. The front has lots of rhomboid holes in it, which remind me of the 2010 Bertone Mantide (man-ti-dé, not man-tide), which was based on a Corvette ZR1 of all things, and the Nuccio is fully functional as well, with a mid-mounted 4.3-litre V8 making 480bhp. Instead of a rear window, it features something that I would put on my cars - a rear-view camera.
You see, wedge supercars never had very good visibility, and this isn't the first one to have none at all, and indeed family cars with lots of headrests and occupants to look past sometimes make it hard to get a clear view behind you, which is important, so having a camera atop the rear window (or between the "twin peaks" in this case) and replacing the rear-view mirror with a similarly-sized screen would surely fix that problem and perhaps be combines with distance sensors to help you reverse and stuff. Alas, it's a bit too expensive an idea for the Dacia Lodgys of the world, and because I'd still put rear windows on cars, people might ask what the point of it is... in which case I'd repeat what I've just been saying.
The Smart car is very small. Electric cars have a short range. Therefore, Smart EV is surely an ideal car for Swiss maniacs Rinspeed to have a go at improving. Their solution to these problems, in their minds, is to attach a second axle at the back, which is driven by eithe ran engine or an electric motor, depending on which one you add. The docking trailer - which requires you to remove the rear bumper - can also be a pizza delivery box, pickup load bed, mobile disco or really anything you want. I'd get one with a Hayabusa engine in it so you get the instant torque from the electric motor followed by screaming fury as you way too fast for a car this size and shape should reasonably be going. Just for fun.
The "Carbon Edition" itself is not in the least bit interesting, but the Evora GTE as a whole is something I'm surprised not to hear more about. Is it available? Apparently it is, at least as an LE, but the better question is; What sets it apart from the normal Evora? The answer to that is a weight loss of 105kg and a power gain of around 100bhp over the Supercharged Evora S. That makes the car you see here - which is also available in not-tacky - a 440bhp Lotus weighing 1225kg with a focus on being an out-and-out sports car. There's only one hitch. It's only available with a flappy-paddle gearbox. I bet they call that "F1-inspired" (which also explains why they painted a mankini on it), but as I've said before, non-maunal sports/supercars are bad. Thus, this is awesome, but the beginning of the end...
Also, Koenigsegg is developing a version of its Twin-Turbo V8 that doesn't have any cams. Instead, it will use pneumatic-controlled valves to individually regulate each cylinder. This will reportedly enable the engine to have infinitely variable valve lift (kind of like Fiat MultiAir) and integrated cylinder deactivation technology, all of which could improve fuel efficiency by 30%. Sounds pretty cool. It could also sound pretty cool.
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