Displaying items by tag: Sport Cars

Sunday, 02 October 2022 04:24

2023 BMW M4 CSL Is Not for the Faint of Heart

This ultimate M car is BMW's answer to the Porsche 911 GT3 and the upcoming Mercedes-AMG C63 S E-Performance.

At an indicated 274 km/h (170 mph) on the Autobahn A94 Munich-Passau in the 2023 BMW M4 CSL, we muster the last crumbs of courage and stretch out the right foot all the way. Guess what happens? The thing downshifts into seventh. At a ludicrous 5800 rpm, a token 1400 rpm below the redline—ignoring the danger to the driver's ancient heart. At 300 km/h sharp (186 mph), it upshifts into eighth again, still accelerating, but now with the digital speed readout increasing by 1 km/h at a time. (It’s 5:30 a.m., and there's no traffic in sight, so the relative risk is at its lowest.) Theoretically, this ultimate M car is capped at 191 mph. But what looked at first like a barely noticeable kink up ahead in the freeway suddenly felt like A Very Serious Corner. "Never lift"? T-shirts rarely tell the true story, but the rearview mirror always does. And it showed the driver grinning from ear to ear.

The M4 CSL is BMW's answer to the Porsche 911 GT3 and the upcoming Mercedes-AMG C63 S E-Performance. Like the hardest-core 911s, this BMW is strictly rear-wheel drive, and it shows, especially in the wet with Michelin Cup 2 R tires, which should only be legal in sunshine states, not in Bavaria. Compared to this beast, every other M4 is a kitten. For a start, the CSL is a claimed 190 pounds lighter than the base model. You can feel the weight savings, and you can also hear it. Stripped of its back seat, the rear compartment has mutated into a giant boom box. Some 24 pounds of removed sound-deadening material exacerbate the acoustic assault, with the carbon-fiber roof capping the resonance chamber, and the titanium exhaust designed to raise goosebumps. A whopping 53 pounds were saved by replacing the standard seats with carbon-fiber screw-clamps billed as sports buckets. Upping the pain coefficient of the seats is the lowered and stiffened suspension.

The first 20 miles are an I-hate-this-car experience. The 275/35ZR-19 and 285/30ZR-20 tires wriggle along like a quartet of eels. The dampers in Sport Plus are devoted wholly to shock, not absorption. The steering is initially too light to be trusted. And every blip of the throttle strikes your nervous system like lightning. You never relax in the M4 CSL, but the initial angst eventually does recede as curiosity replaces it, followed by the first bouts of let's call it confidence. In Sport, with tire temperatures at last where they should be, we finally dare to dive into the car's deep talent pool and snorkel for all the revelations it harbors. Like more cornering grip than a gallon of Loctite and more poise than such a zero-tolerance setup should be allowed to muster.

The CSL engine is the ultimate variation of the M division’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo straight-six. Its output is boosted from the base model's 473 horsepower and 406 pound-feet to 543 horsepower and 479 pound-feet. That's the good news. The bad news is the money thing. At a starting price of $140,895, one could buy two base M4s for the cost of a CSL with a few options. And BMW has closed the order books even before the first of the 1000 limited-edition models was delivered to a customer. Scarcity alone should make the striped-and-winged lightweight special an instant blue-chip investment—but is it? Although the CSL is exceptionally involving and outright faster than its siblings by some margin, our estimated zero-to-60 time of 3.3 seconds is eclipsed by the comparatively inconspicuous M4 Competition xDrive, which may be down 40 horsepower but has the same torque and hits 60 in 2.8 seconds, all for about $60K less.

After just over 200 miles, we had to pit for fuel. The mileage? An OPEC-friendly 12 mpg. But what the hell? It finally stopped raining, and the winding route back to Munich promised a familiar Garden of Eden dotted with twisties and free of radar traps. Time to forget the tame preset M1 program and dial in the devil's own M2 composition instead. The preferred algorithm looked like this: engine in Sport Plus, gearbox in the S3 quick-shift setting, chassis in Comfort (compliance is control), DSC in MDM (M Dynamic Mode), steering and brakes in Sport.

Despite certain NVH conspicuities, the CSL drivetrain epitomizes absolute seamlessness. Hard acceleration brutality beams you through time and space, accompanied by a howling, growling, barely filtered soundtrack. The initially explosive, then increasingly progressive forward thrust has its antidote in the simply stupefying carbon-ceramic brakes. There's no doubt about it: This car makes your eyes pop out in one take only to flatten the earlobes in the next. It quite simply redefines the Ultimate Driving Machine.

Source: caranddriver.com

Published in BMW
Tagged under
Saturday, 24 September 2022 06:31

Everyone wants a Ferrari Purosangue

According to reports from Italy, Ferrari has been swamped with orders for its €390,000 Purosangue crossover and could be forced to close its order book.

Unlike competing luxury brands whose SUVs often make up the lion's share of their sales, Ferrari has decided to limit production of its first crossover to no more than 20 percent of annual production in order to maintain exclusivity.

Even assuming that Ferrari's total production of all models rises to 15,000 with the addition of the new model line, that still only amounts to 3,000 cars per year. And that may not be nearly enough to keep up with demand, Jutarnji.hr states.

"We risk not being able to meet demand and may very soon have to close orders," said Ferrari's chief commercial and marketing officer, Enrico Galliera.

The Purosangue uses a naturally aspirated V12 under the hood, a feature that none of its performance-focused competitors offer, which may explain the rush of pre-orders. Galliera claims interest "exploded" when the company announced the Purosangue would use a V12.

Ferrari is likely to add smaller-capacity hybrid models later, borrowing either the hybrid V8 powertrain from the SF90 or the electrified V6 engine from the 296 GTB, whose 3.0-liter capacity would help avoid the heavy taxes imposed on big engines in China where the model is likely to be very popular.

Still, the V12 in the Purosangue is likely to be a big factor in convincing existing die-hard Ferrari owners that the Purosangue is worthy of wearing the Ferrari badge. Ferrari says it will prioritize delivery to current owners over buyers new to the marque.

"Every Ferrari owner wants to own a Purosangua and we have to reward them, because they are the ones who made Ferrari what it is today," Galliera told Automotive News Europe.

Published in Blog/News
Saturday, 20 August 2022 03:57

Bugatti W16 Mistral

Ever since the Veyron was introduced in 2005, the W16 engine has been the heart of every Bugatti. The passenger car that brings the W16 era to an end was always destined to be special: exclusive, elegant and powerful.

It has to be the best of its kind. This is the W16 Mistral: the ultimate roadster.

Mate Rimac, CEO of Bugatti Rimac, states: “For the final appearance of Bugatti's legendary W16 engine, we knew we had to build a roadster. More than 40% of all Bugatti vehicles ever built were open-top, establishing a long line of performance icons that - to this day - are revered around the world. There has been no roadster in the Chiron era until today, so the introduction of the Bugatti W16 Mistral continues this legacy, driven by overwhelming demand from our customers to experience the powerful performance of our iconic engine. The W16 Mistral opens the next chapter in the story of the Bugatti roadster, inspired by a century-long legend."

For a car as evocative and important as this one, a lot of attention was paid to the name it should bear. Far more than a simple development of the Chiron, the roadster needed a name associated with freedom, elegance and speed. The inspiration came from the mistral, a strong wind that blows from the Rhône valley, through the cities of the Cote d'Azur in southern France and into the Mediterranean. And with an engine so central to the character of this roadster, it stands side by side with this powerful wind: the W16 Mistral.

Built around the definitive incarnation of the 1600bhp W16 engine, the W16 Mistral offers performance unlike any open-top car offered to date.

Achim Anscheidt, Bugatti Design Director, points out: "We know that the W16 Mistral will always hold significance in the Bugatti story, marking the last time that perhaps a better automotive powertrain was used in a road-going production car." We, as a design team, felt enormous pressure to deliver a style that would immediately convey this momentous moment, drawing inspiration from some of the most beautiful roadsters in Bugatti's history."

Their muse would be the 1934 Bugatti Type 57 Roadster Grand Raid, a sporty roadster that represents the pinnacle of elegant design. Finished in two-tone black and yellow, it provides the perfect inspiration for this watershed moment in the Bugatti story. The Bugatti W16 Mistral debuts in colors inspired by the Bugatti Type 57 Roadster Grand Raid; warm black with hints of brown and subtle yellow accents. Not only is it a tribute to the iconic body, but also to Ettore Bugatti, who chose the black and yellow combination for many of his personal cars, including his Type 41 Royale. For brand enthusiasts, it's a timeless visual pairing.

The W16 Mistral captures the essence of the Grand Raid's V-shaped windshield and develops it into a modern work of art. The curved windscreen that seemingly wraps around the A-pillars blends seamlessly with the side windows and creates a 'visor' effect that hints at the levels of motorsport performance offered by the W16 Mistral. The windshield itself is a marvel of engineering, curved enough to create a rounded visor design, without distorting the driver's vision. The upper line of the windshield and side windows flows deliberately around the side air intakes. This character line then flows back under the side glass.

Anscheidt continues: "To reflect the new character of the W16 Mistral, we also completely reinvented its front end, in line with the vertical layout of our unique or rare models such as the Divo and La Voiture Noire. It is immediately imbued with a sense of exclusivity; the vertically stacked headlights have been completely customized, and the familiar horseshoe-shaped grille has been reimagined to be much more three-dimensional; both deeper and wider.

Designing a car like the W16 Mistral requires careful practice of Bugatti's 'Form Follows Performance' design mantra, with every component written not only to set new standards for beauty, but also to play a role in achieving entirely new levels of performance.

Frank Heyl, deputy director of design at Bugatti, said: “The headlights themselves are intricately shaped, including a four-light signature that subtly hints at the W16 Mistral's four-wheel drive and four turbochargers. But their three-dimensional surface also functions as an aerodynamic aid that directs air through the light and out through the wheel arches to improve aerodynamic drag."

But the functional design highlights don't end there. The new induction air vents behind the headrests have been developed from the ground up with rigorous rollover tests in mind, so each one is made from a carbon fiber structure that can support the full weight of the car in the event of a rollover. This new intake layout also enriches the driver's W16 experience, accentuating the orchestra between the low, powerful, rumbling 

of this sound. It is an unsurpassed auditory sensation in the automotive world.

To develop unparalleled levels of elegance and excitement, the Bugatti W16 Mistral features the latest engineering innovations. Bugatti's advanced composite materials are paired with state-of-the-art 3D printed titanium and aluminum components to ensure striking design, superior performance and rugged reliability.

Detailed analysis of the W16 Mistral's dynamic stiffness allowed engineers to develop lightweight solutions that would ensure optimal handling and performance in the most extreme conditions.

The interior of the Bugatti W16 Mistral has been carefully refined to provide an experience that is both elegant and luxurious, yet functional enough to ensure that all information is easily visible at speeds of up to 420 km/h. Dedication to the quality of materials remains a hallmark of Bugatti design. But in this swan song for W16, there's also a brand new design.

For example, the leather used on the newly designed door panels, meticulously tested and manufactured to Bugatti quality standards with a vision of regular use over a hundred years into the future. And in a nod to the W16 Mistral's illustrious predecessors, the gearbox - made from a solid block of aluminum - with a touch of wood and an amber insert with the famous 'dancing elephant' sculpture locked inside. Iterations of this sculpture featured the hood of the legendary Type 41 Royale.

When Bugatti's last roadster, the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse, set a world speed record of 408.84 km/h in 2013, its 8.0-liter W16 had 1,200 hp. The W16 Mistral has 1600 hp, using the same engine that powered the Chiron Super Sport 300+ to record speed in 2019. There can only be one goal: to become the fastest roadster in the world once again.

Mate Rimac continues: "The unification of the roadster format and our W16 powertrain is absolute perfection." With the roof removed and a pair of large air intakes directly behind your head feeding around 70,000 liters of air through the engine every minute at full capacity, driving the Bugatti W16 Mistral connects you to the intricate workings of this revolutionary drive like no other Bugatti has ever done. "What we're also continuing with the W16 Mistral is the legacy of Bugatti roadsters, each unmatched in design, performance and rarity, stretching back to the origins of Bugatti." The Type 40, Type 41 Royale, Type 55 Roadster, Type 57 Roadster Grand Raid that inspired this car, or even the incredible elegance of the Type 57SC Corsica Roadster - Bugatti has always been associated with the purity of open-top driving. So, although the W16's legacy on the road ends with the W16 Mistral, we continue the legacy of the roadster, first established by Ettore Bugatti over a century ago."

Only 99 examples of the Bugatti W16 Mistral will be produced, priced at €5 million net, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2024. The entire production run of the W16 Mistral has already been sold out.

Published in Blog/News
Wednesday, 15 December 2021 04:56

New Porsche Taycan GTS Sport Turismo 2022 review

The new Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo adds a bigger boot and more headroom to the electric supercar’s growing range 


The Porsche Taycan GTS Sport Turismo finally proves that EVs really can be as exciting to drive as they are fast, as practical to use as they are desirable – albeit at a high price here. There are few excuses required for this car. It even has a 313-mile range and can be charged to 80 per cent of this in less than 23 minutes. If this is the future, it’s not just bright, it’s downright brilliant.

Porsche’s Taycan GTS Sport Turismo could be its best electric car yet. It looks great, goes like stink, is beautifully designed and engineered, and – with just a couple of small caveats – it drives quite brilliantly.

So although it costs a whopping £104,990, it requires few excuses to justify, and when you compare it with its closest brother from within Porsche’s own petrol-engined line-up – the similarly styled Panamera GTS Sport Turismo – the list of excuses actually gets shorter.

It’s more than £5,000 cheaper than the Panamera GTS ST. It also offers more power and torque, at 590bhp and 850Nm, so in simple terms it’s just faster: 0-62mph takes 3.7 seconds in the Taycan, 3.9 in the Panamera. Plus, of course, from an ecological point of view, the Taycan GTS is operating in an entirely different universe.

So what are the compromises? Well, it’s the same old triumvirate on the surface; weight, range and charging time. Except even in these areas the Taycan GTS no longer seems all that out-moded.

Its 2,370kg kerbweight doesn’t cripple its dynamic ability. On winding roads the GTS Sport Turismo serves up a lovely mix of ride, handling and steering precision. Its steering is especially crisp, its body control and traction both spookily good given the sheer weight the GTS carries, and, at last, even its brakes inspire real confidence. So the GTS drives as good as it looks, in other words.

Porsche has even managed to solve the often thorny EV issue of sound, too, by giving the Taycan GTS an intriguing new voice. One that includes blips on downshifts between the two gear ratios and a variety of screams and fizzes under acceleration that really do add to the car’s driver appeal.

Also not to be undersold is the extra hit of practicality the Sport Turismo bodyshell brings. In the front it’s familiar enough territory, albeit with a variety of welcome GTS touches to elevate the cabin; good sports seats make a difference, too. But in the rear there’s a lot more headroom and a much bigger boot (446 litres).

It also comes equipped with most, if not quite all the goodies you’d want as standard. Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management is included, for example. But you’ll need to pay extra for our car’s four-wheel steering and its upgraded surround-sound audio system.

And the other caveats? One, the battery still takes 23 minutes to charge from 5 to 80 per cent, and even this requires the most rapid charger possible. But that’s electric cars for you, and the Taycan is one of the fastest to replenish. 

Two, it does chew through its theoretical 313-mile range dramatically if you drive hard, to a point where its real-world range is nearer 200 miles if you’re going for it. Then again, a Panamera GTS would quaff a tank of petrol at a broadly similar rate, which would cost you £135.

Finally, and only if we’re being picky here, the Taycan GTS feels a touch cumbersome under full brakes when you’re going downhill from a big speed into a slow corner. You just need to be fully aware of the physics involved under such circumstances.

Model: Porsche Taycan GTS Sport Turismo
Price: £104,990
Battery/motor: 93.4kWh/2x e-motor
Power/torque: 590bhp/850Nm
Transmission: Two-speed automatic, four-wheel drive 
0-62mph: 3.7 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Range: 313 miles
Charging: 270kW (5-80% in 23mins)
On sale: Now


Published in Porsche

The GTS lives in the Goldilocks zone where driver-focused handling meets prodigious power.


It would be an understatement to say that the Porsche Taycan has been a raging success. In just two years, this svelte four-door electric sport sedan has already begun to outsell the vaunted Porsche 911, the iconic heart and soul of the brand. It has also proven wildly successful even when compared to Tesla, the established EV juggernaut. Through the first three quarters of 2021, Taycan sales far outstripped those of the Model S and Model X combined. Porsche is keeping up the pressure by introducing the new-for-'22 Taycan GTS, a stunning driver-focused variant that neatly slots into a price and performance gap in the Taycan lineup.

2022 taycan sport turismo gts
2022 taycan sport turismo gts
The blacked-out theme continues inside, where you'll find a GTS interior dominated by black Race-Tex, Porsche's faux-suede material. It's the primary treatment on the standard 18-way adaptive sport seats, the headliner, roof pillars, and sun visors. It covers the horizontal design axis below the dash top and the central spine that divides the cockpit. It's also the grippy wrapping material on the multifunction GT sport steering wheel, which is equipped with a prominent driving mode dial because the Sport Chrono package comes standard on the GTS. The cabin also features red stitching throughout, and dark-finish brushed-aluminum trim—unless you opt for matte-black carbon fiber, as in our car. As an option, there's a panoramic sunroof with a new Variable Light Control system, an embedded array of nine massive car-spanning LCD segments that can be manipulated using a touchscreen interface.

We've driven many flavors of the Taycan, and they've always impressed. But the GTS takes it to another level, with an intentionally more driver-focused setup that delivers the kind of fierce capability that's implied by its no-nonsense looks. The same adaptive air suspension and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) systems are present, but they've been thoroughly recalibrated with the aim of creating a more neutral cornering attitude and better turn-in response. The tweaks extend to the standard Torque Vectoring Plus and Power Steering Plus systems, as well as the optional rear-steer system and PDCC adaptive anti-roll bars. The engineering team has absolutely succeeded, as the front end feels far more responsive when pushed hard in tight bends. The buildup of steering effort in all types of corners is especially authentic because the electric power-steering system utilizes a unique feedback loop that considers the road forces pushing in from the tie-rod ends and tweaks the level of assist according to the GTS playbook.

2022 taycan sport turismo gts
A good deal of our driving occurred on the Big Willow track at Willow Springs, and here the Taycan GTS proved to be a potent track car with predictable and approachable limits. This venerable track needs repaving, but the cracked surface only served to show how tenacious, unruffled, and downright smooth the GTS can be when pushed hard on a less-than-perfect surface. We nudged the limits of the stability-control system on a tight right-hander that crests a hill, but a one-second press of the Traction Management button toggled the system to Sport mode and expanded the intervention limits enough to get through the same section with our foot hard on the accelerator the next time around.

Afterwards, we were fully able to review and break down the game film via the Porsche Track Precision app for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Controlled via the main touchscreen, these apps integrate data streaming from the car's onboard systems with a smartphone camera or Bluetooth-connected GoPro to produce detailed driving traces that are fully synchronized with video. The Taycan GTS represents the first integration of this app in a Porsche four-door, and it can absolutely produce performance worthy of this level of track-day nerdery.

2022 taycan sport turismo gts
Once again, Porsche has proven that the GTS trim level is the one that driving enthusiasts should slaver over. The 2022 Porsche Taycan GTS does not have as much ultimate horsepower or straight-line punch as the Turbo and Turbo S, but it's no slouch, and you can absolutely wring it out when the road turns twisty. It starts at $132,750, but as with any Porsche, you can inflate that quite a bit with options. Our sample car was priced at $180,070. Deliveries are set to begin in early 2022, but the order books are open now. If you have the means, we suggest you get cracking, because Taycans of all stripes are in increasingly high demand. The Taycan GTS will only add more fuel to the fire.
Published in Porsche

As Audi's version of the Porsche Taycan, the new RS e-tron GT is an exciting, Tesla-chasing ride.

The sound Audi should have used—and the one playing in my head right before hitting the accelerator—is the adrenaline-juicing click, click, click of a roller coaster on an upward climb. Flooring an e-tron GT produces the same lung-flattening rush of acceleration as a coaster in freefall.

2022 audi rs etron gt
 HIGHS: Sub-three-second runs to 60 mph, decent range, advanced chassis tech, unabashedly modern design.

The e-tron GT has a twin at the Porsche dealer—the e-tron shares its platform, 800-volt electrical architecture, front and rear electric motors, two-speed automatic transmission at the rear axle, air springs, and all-wheel steering with the Porsche Taycan. While the Taycan offers a single-motor, rear-wheel-drive setup as well as the dual-motor-driven AWD 4S, Turbo, Turbo S, and Cross Turismo, at least for now, the all-wheel-drive GT comes two ways: the 522-hp e-tron GT and the 637-hp RS e-tron GT. Accessing all of those horses requires launch control, and then you only get the power for 2.5 seconds.

2022 audi rs etron gt

The e-tron GT and RS's range figures will likely mean more to buyers. Per the EPA, the GT is good for 238 miles and the RS is rated at 232. Our testing of the RS revealed 240 miles of range, with our example averaging 71 MPGe overall and 83 MPGe on our 75-mph highway test, the latter result just beating its combined federal rating by 1 MPGe. Again, those are decent figures, but not the kind that leads to bragging among big-dollar EVs, especially if the conversation turns to Teslas.

2022 audi rs etron gt

LOWS: Performance trails comparably fast four-doors, unusually high noise levels for an EV, steep six-figure price.

On the road, the RS GT tours grandly. It hums and hauls so smoothly that the big numbers on the speedometer readout might come as a surprise. The low, hefty weight of electric cars—our RS test car tipped the scales at 5171 pounds—works in their favor when it comes to stable cornering, and 590 electric horses are more than enough to reshape your eyeballs. The GT's biggest challenges come from not having the longest range and not being the quickest or flashiest thrill ride in the park.

Audi gets points for using the steering-wheel paddles to control regenerative braking. It's just the sort of setting you might want to change on the fly, say, heading down a steep hill or coasting along in highway traffic, and being able to adjust it without having to dive into a settings menu is smart. The middle setting will feel the most familiar to gas-engine aficionados, and the max regen is almost but not quite aggressive enough to allow for one-pedal driving. The RS offers rear-wheel steering as an option. When fitted, the rear wheels also turn in phase with the fronts to improve high-speed stability; below 30 mph, the rears turn opposite to tighten maneuverability. Steering efforts are light, almost too light at slow speeds if the car is equipped with optional Power Steering Plus, which just boosts the steering assist to feathery at low speed. But once you get used to it, you'll be flipping tight U-turns just for the fun of it.

2022 audi rs etron gt
Fitted with 21-inch Goodyear Eagle Asymmetric 5 summer tires, the RS's 157-foot stop from 70 mph is in the hunt with the figures of other hot four-doors. But its 0.93 g of grip on the skidpad is rather modest for a modern sports sedan—electric or otherwise—some of which have posted well over 1.00 g of stick in our testing.

Audi tilts the GT's controls toward the driver, and everything you need is within easy reach. EVs have conditioned us to expect tech-focused or even minimalist interiors. The GT has a crisp digital display in front of the driver and a 10.1-inch touchscreen in the middle of the instrument panel, but there are—gasp—buttons for the climate control.

2022 audi rs etron gt
The GT does play into another electric-car expectation, however, that of the environmentally conscious and possibly vegan buyer. Leather-free interiors and recycled materials come standard, but if you want to sit on cow hides you can order up a less vegan-friendly version. Whether your seats were once alive or never alive, the GT supposedly seats five; just be sure to call shotgun. No one will enjoy the middle seat in the back. Legroom for the outboard rear seats is excellent thanks to cutouts in the battery, which mean deeper pockets for your tootsies. Headroom isn't as generous, as you pay for the stylish sweep of the roof with tiny back windows and an encroaching C-pillar. Somewhat surprisingly, the 71 decibels of sound in the RS at 70 mph are several decibels greater than we've experienced in comparable EVs, and it's even a touch louder than we've measured in a fire-breathing RS7.
2022 audi rs etron gt
Audi's brave new EVs start at $103,445 for the e-tron GT, a price that lines up with the Taycan 4S, which needs 3.4 seconds to eclipse 60 mph. Bring a $100,690 check to the Tesla store and you'll drive away in the quicker Model S. The RS version, with its carbon-fiber roof and extra power, starts at $143,445. That money would put you into an 1100-hp Model S Plaid+ AWD, which is likely to be the quickest EV we'll have tested once we get our hands on one. Complete with the comprehensive $20,350 Year One package, our RS GT carried a hefty $164,390 as-tested price.

Sizewise, the e-tron is about same length as an A7, but it's dramatically lower and wider. The wide rear end and taillights look particularly great, but in front, the wide crossbar through the grille visually weighs down the front end. Overall, the e-tron GT reads elegant and muscular. It's not a game changer coming after the Taycan or even the still-powerful grandfather of the segment, the Model S, but it's quite a ride.


Published in Audi
Wednesday, 10 November 2021 06:47

New Ferrari 812 Competizione 2021 review

We hit the track with the Ferrari 812 Competizione, the extreme version of the 812 Superfast



The 812 Competizione is a force of nature. The engine is an event simply in itself, but it’s combined here with exploitable handling that makes this ultimate Ferrari immensely enjoyable to drive and surprisingly forgiving too, given the performance on offer. As Ferrari’s special series cars go, the Competizione is a wonderful way to celebrate its superb V12.

Even Ferrari isn’t immune to the onset of electrification, announcing it will build its first full EV in 2025. But until all of the iconic brand’s cars have to go electric, we’ll receive some special models as homages to the internal combustion engine that distil Ferrari’s knowledge when it comes to building pure-petrol-powered sports cars.

The 812 Competizione is exactly that, a limited-run, tuned and honed version of the already-ballistic 812 Superfast. It’s also available as an Aperta convertible and costs an eyewatering £446,970 before options. But even if you can afford one, you’re too late. They’re all already sold.

And you will want one, because the spec is mouthwatering. Ferrari’s 6.5-litre V12 has been uprated to 819bhp and features new titanium con rods, new pistons, a redesigned crankshaft and a new intake manifold.

The dual-clutch gearbox has been recalibrated for five per cent faster shifts and the independent rear-wheel steering has necessitated a new version of Ferrari’s masterful Side Slip Control set-up. The car is 38kg lighter than the standard 812 and its reworked body produces more downforce.

The Competizione is a physically imposing thing, too. Standing next to it is intimidating due to its sheer size, and the knowledge of that extraordinary power under that long bonnet. Once inside, it’ll be familiar to anyone who has driven the 812 Superfast, with its multifunction screens and large rev counter, although the gear selector is new. Alcantara seems to cover almost every surface, and where it doesn’t, carbon fibre enhances that hardcore vibe.

The engine erupts into life, dominating your thoughts. It’s responsive right from the off and pulls with urgency even at low revs, but hold your foot down and the acceleration becomes savage.

Even so, the big V12 has more to give, the note by now a high-pitched scream, and the speed building incredibly rapidly until it feels as though it simply has to burst. But it doesn’t, and only when the gearshift lights start blinking away on the top of the steering wheel, as the 9,500rpm rev limiter cuts in, do you grab the right-hand paddle and select the next gear.

Keep going like this and the Ferrari will hit 62mph in just 2.9 seconds; really letting the Competizione have its head is not something to be undertaken lightly.

Once you’ve grown at least a little used to the level of performance that’s on offer here, other aspects of the Competizione begin to come to the fore.

The steering is light, and very fast, but it doesn’t seem to make the car at all nervous, and the huge amount of grip available is soon obvious. The nose darts for the inside of a corner, but the rear of the car doesn’t feel like it wants to break free – at least, that is, until you put the power down a bit early, and then those previously sticky Michelin tyres are soon sliding. 

Doing this isn’t as frightening as it sounds, at least at more sensible speeds, because the Competizione communicates so clearly to the driver what is happening, and much of this surprising friendliness must be due to that independent rear-wheel steering, plus the superb electronics.

The brakes also clearly have the power to contain the car, no matter how powerful it is. However, after the abuse they received on track there was some suggestion that they were beginning to struggle.

Model: Ferrari 812 Competizione
Price: £446,970
Engine: 6.5-litre V12
Power/torque: 819bhp/692Nm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto, rear-wheel drive 
0-62mph: 2.9 seconds
Top speed: 211mph+
Economy: TBC
On sale: Sold out


Published in Ferari
Wednesday, 27 October 2021 03:20

2022 Audi RS3 Is Music to Our Ears

Audi's redesigned five-cylinder RS3 sports sedan is as vocal as it is potent.

With 401 horsepower available—one pony more than before—the RS3's boosted five-pot pulls hard to its 7000-rpm redline with fervent glee. To say that it has character is an understatement—delightfully vocal and charismatic, this is an engine that can seem uncannily human across its rev range. Which makes sense, as its odd-cylinder warble is a sound that any human could impersonate. A new active exhaust delivers even more of that aural drama through the tailpipes. Normally we eschew engine-sound augmentation through stereo speakers, but it only adds to the excitement in the RS3. Windows up or down, this Audi will have you searching out tunnels on your daily commute.

2022 audi rs3 sedan
2022 audi rs3 sedan

For even greater control, it's easy to change the gearbox's demeanor through the various drive modes, which also alter the engine's responsiveness, the weight and feel of the steering, and the firmness of the adaptive dampers. We bypassed the Efficiency and Comfort settings, finding Auto to be nicely adept at adjusting the parameters based on our driving habits. Dynamic mode heightens all the car's senses and holds gears at redline in manual mode. Most intriguing was the customizable RS Performance mode, which for the first time in the RS3 allows the amount of torque sent to the rear wheels to be adjusted. Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system is almost too effective in most cases, wrangling the engine's might in a deliberate, almost clinical fashion. But the RS3's all-wheel-drive system is designed to be a frisky complement to its engine's sonorous antics. The system employs two independent clutch packs that can route 100 percent of the torque sent to the rear axle to either rear wheel, helping the car rotate around corners.

There's even a dedicated RS Torque Rear mode in the car's Drive Select menu, which is a drift mode in all but name. In practice, however, this setting only lets you wag the RS3's tail so much. Despite the implied benefits of the rear-torque bias, this remains a predominantly front-wheel-drive-based setup. Similar to how the previous RS3 could be outfitted, the new car rolls on tires that are wider in front than in back, 265/30R-19s to the rear 245/35R-19s. And since only 50 percent of the engine's torque can be routed rearward, the RS3 can't break its back end loose with the same impulsivity of, say, a BMW M2. It takes deliberate effort and a heavy right foot to overcome the chassis's natural inclination towards understeer, and once you cross that limit of adhesion it requires persistence to keep it dancing on that edge.

2022 audi rs3 sedan

Making the most of RS Torque Rear on the track also requires diligence, plus a bit of trust on the driver's part. Our drive included laps on Greece's Athens Circuit, a tight 1.3-mile track featuring a short straight and 10 corners. Taking the conservative all-wheel-drive line into turns yielded no help from the RS3's torque-vectoring rear axle. It's best to be more aggressive on corner entry and ignore your instincts to back off the throttle. Just before the front end begins to plow wide, mat the throttle to shuffle the torque to the rear axle and let the all-wheel-drive system's programming sort it out. That's not to say the RS3 isn't potent when pushed hard. Audi test driver Frank Stippler recently posted a 7:40.8 lap around the Nürburgring, beating the time set by, among other all-wheel-drive rockets, the original Bugatti Veyron.

On the open road, the RS3 feels much more in its environment. With its adaptive dampers in their comfort setting, this diminutive sedan evokes the composure and stability of its larger Audi brethren. Up front, the strut suspension features model-specific pivot bearings that add nearly a degree of negative camber compared to the regular A3. A multilink setup sits in back, along with a hollow anti-roll bar and a half-degree of additional negative camber. Overall, the RS3 rides 1.0 inch lower than the A3 and 0.4 inch lower than the S3. Top speed is governed to 155 mph, although opting for the RS Dynamic package ups that to 180 mph.

2022 audi rs3 sedan
Look beyond its performance and the RS3 receives the same updates found in the new A3 and S3. The interior features a far more premium look, thanks in large part to the 10.1-inch touchscreen that's now integrated into the dash. The 12.3-inch configurable digital instrument cluster is flanked by vents that resemble motorcycle grips. An RS design package adds either red or green accents to those vents, plus color-keyed seatbelts and contrast stitching on the seats, though we're less enamored by the dinky-looking shift toggle on the center console. Also somewhat out of place are the acres of gloss black plastic adorning the car's front end, which look a bit unfinished and appear at odds with the rest of the tastefully aggressive sheetmetal.

Gaping face notwithstanding, the RS3 is a superb evolution of Audi's original brand-defining formula. If this sounds like a fitting way to celebrate the sonic joy of its odd yet charming powertrain, you'll have to wait early next year to buy one in the United States. Pricing has yet to be announced, but we expect it to start just under $60,000. Endearingly eccentric and capable as the RS3 may be, it's hard to predict how long Audi will continue to support this niche segment with a near-bespoke engine. Although we're down for whatever the future brings, we hope the brand leans on its EV engineers to create soundtracks that are as glorious as the RS3's.


Published in Audi
Tagged under
Thursday, 16 September 2021 04:56

New Porsche Taycan 4S Cross Turismo 2021 review

With a lower price tag and more boot space, the all-electric Porsche Taycan 4S Cross Turismo is the perfect all rounder 


There are very few chinks in the armour of this more affordable Porsche Taycan 4S Cross Turismo. It’s still more than fast enough, handles beautifully, balances this with plenty of comfort and refinement, and offers plenty of tech. It’s still a pricey machine in isolation, but the quality of the driving experience, the interior and the technology live up to expectations – and in a more practical estate body style with even more comfort, the Taycan has never been so appealing.

We’ve sampled Porsche’s more practical, slightly more rugged Taycan Cross Turismo electric car in high-performance (and pricey) Turbo form, but as is the way with the German brand, more affordable models always follow close behind – and so it is that we’re driving this less powerful ‘4S’ version of the Taycan Cross Turismo.

More affordable is a relative term given it costs from £88,270, and with the test car we tried coming in at £102,961 with options. But nonetheless, at £117,960 for the Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo, and £140,360 for the Turbo S, this 4S certainly lowers the barrier to Taycan CT ownership.

For that price you still get the 93.4kWh Performance Battery Plus, which offers a maximum claimed range of 277 miles. With up to 270kW DC charging capability, if you can find a point fast enough, a five to 80 per cent charge will take less than 23 minutes thanks to the Taycan’s 800v electric architecture. You can also opt for a 22kW AC on-board charger for an extra £1,179, but given an 11kW charger is standard, we wouldn’t bother.

The mid-speed punch is still incredibly rapid and is controlled by a chassis that is sublime. It proves electric cars needn’t all be the same to drive; the Taycan in all its forms reinforces that EVs can have character and be enjoyable, and in the Cross Turismo it’s even better. This stems from the slightly raised ride height, by 20mm compared with the standard Taycan saloon, or 30mm on our test car that was equipped with the £1,161 Off-road Design Package.

This extra suspension travel for the adaptive air system means that, even on 20-inch alloy wheels, the Porsche rides beautifully over torn country roads and at low to medium speed in built up areas, where the near-silent powertrain also means refinement is excellent. In fact, even on the motorway the Taycan is superbly quiet – doubly impressive given the Cross Turismo has a big hatchback compared with the standard saloon. 

Sometimes at higher speed over sharp crests in the road the suspension’s fluidity breaks down, causing a noticeable thump, but this is rare – and even when it does the Cross Turismo controls its weight relatively well. You’re always aware of its mass, but the chassis contains it and delivers reassuring handling; only when you really start to push does the car struggle to cope. And the Cross Turismo does invite you to push, because the steering is the best of any electric car. All Taycans offer a wonderful weight, beautifully direct response and even a hint of feedback.

 There is one drawback to its dynamic ability though. While the power delivery is mostly smooth, if you ask for maximum acceleration coming out of a slow corner you can feel the rear-mounted two-speed transmission drop down into its lower ratio before the Cross Turismo thrusts forward. It’s far from frustrating, but in a machine whose engineering is otherwise incredibly highly polished, it’s an odd anomaly.

This feeling of polish extends to the cabin, as like the Taycan saloon, the three-screen set-up is crisp, quick to respond and looks great. It marries this easy-on-the-eye appearance with strong functionality, too.

Unlike the Taycan saloon the Cross Turismo is more of a shooting brake estate, with a hatchback that reveals a 446-litre boot, making it a more practical option. There’s an 84-litre storage compartment in the front for charging cables, too. Space in the rear is great despite the low roofline; there’s a chunky sill to climb over, but once you’re sitting back there, head and legroom are fine.

Combined with efficiency of more than four miles/kWh over a mixed test route that explored the Taycan’s performance frequently, it’s even efficient, so at least the running costs should be easy to bear – and you can’t say that about many £90,000 estate cars with this level of performance.

Model: Porsche Taycan 4S Cross Turismo
Price:  £88,270
Battery/motor:  93.4kWh, 2x electric motors
Power/torque:  563bhp/650Nm
Transmission:  Two-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph:  4.1 seconds
Top speed:  149mph
Range/charging:  277miles/270kW DC (5-80% 23mins)
On sale:  Now


Published in Porsche
Monday, 30 August 2021 05:59

Range Rover Sport PHEV SUV review

“The Range Rover Sport PHEV could prove to be far cheaper to run than other models in the range, and it’s more luxurious, too”



  • 31-mile electric range
  • Low CO2 emissions
  • Good to drive


  • Reduced practicality
  • Thirsty once batteries run out
  • Less suited to high-mileage drivers

The Range Rover Sport P400e plug-in hybrid arrived as part of a range update, and brought with it an option in the luxury SUV’s range that will be of great interest to company car drivers. Tax rates and running costs will be significantly lower than for other versions of this big, heavy car, yet it offers an impressive level of comfort and luxury.

There are plenty of alternatives, including the Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, Audi Q7 e-tron, BMW X5 xDrive40e and Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid. The Range Rover Sport has only around 26 miles of all-electric range, so it falls behind some of these rivals when it comes to commuting on battery power alone.

The Sport features a 297bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and a 114bhp electric motor, so it can go from 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds. It’s not just about the power, though, because the electric motor means low-speed driving is as quiet as it gets. Of course, this being a Range Rover the electric motor’s instant torque means it’s a superb off-roader as well – although most owners never go near so much as a muddy field.

The interior is as luxurious as you would expect given the brand’s credentials. Materials are high quality and there’s plenty of tech, including a dual-screen infotainment system with all the modern features you need. One area the PHEV model does lose out is with boot space, because of the space taken up by the hybrid batteries. There’s no seven-seat option here, either, and the plug-in model’s maximum towing weight is lower than for other versions.

From the outside, you might not think you are even looking at an electrified car. The only clues lie in the charging port on the front – and even this is hidden away most of the time – and the badges.

The Range Rover plug-in makes the most sense for those who don’t tend to do a lot of long trips but can’t quite make the jump to a fully electric car just yet. Yet the Range Rover Sport P400e is possibly the most luxurious model in the range to drive, because of the near-silent low-speed running when the engine is off. We’d still stick with a diesel model if you do a lot of motorway trips, though.

MPG, running costs & CO2

 If you regularly cover short distances, the Range Rover Sport P400e makes a lot of sense

The Range Rover Sport P400e might have a relatively thirsty 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, but combining this with an electric motor and battery pack means running costs can be significantly reduced. As with all plug-in hybrids, this benefit diminishes the further you drive – and if you don’t have access to a charging point – so the P400e is best suited to motorists with a fairly short commute who can top up the batteries frequently.

Thanks to the 13.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the Range Rover Sport can travel for up to 26 miles on electricity alone, boosting its official fuel economy figure to 88mpg – a huge improvement over the 27.4mpg of the equivalent petrol-only model. While this figure will obviously depend on how you drive the P400e, its 72g/km CO2 emissions figure is fixed, which means this is by far the cheapest Range Rover Sport for company car drivers. Its 18 per cent Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band compares with 37 per cent for the standard Si4 petrol.

 Compared with its closest rivals, the P400e betters the 25-mile range and 75g/km CO2 emissions of the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, while the Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine manages just 59g/km of CO2 and 134.5mpg, and has a slightly lower, 25-mile range on battery power.

Road tax for the P400e costs the discounted VED (road tax) rate each year. However, there’s also the additional surcharge in years two to six owing to the fact the hybrid costs more than £40,000 to buy.

Charging the P400e at home takes around 7.5 hours using the standard 10-amp cable, but this can be sped up to under three hours using rapid charging with a dedicated wall box and 32-amp cable. The charging port is located in the front grille, making it easier to park facing public charging posts.

Engines, drive & performance

 The P400e is no slouch, but it’s less fun to drive when the batteries are depleted

The Range Rover Sport’s P400e badge signifies its power level, because its turbocharged 297bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor combined produce up to 399bhp. This PHEV certainly isn’t short of power, then, sprinting from 0-62mph in just 6.3 seconds, before hitting a maximum speed of 137mph. This is only four-tenths faster than the petrol model, but the P400e feels very different to drive, especially in town. Here, electric power allows the Sport to accelerate briskly from a standstill with little fuss or noise – attributes that suit its character. It's just a shame the P400e can hesitate when asked to accelerate from a rolling start at a junction or roundabout – a frustrating sensation.

Back on the road, it’s when the battery pack is depleted that the Sport P400e makes least sense. With a small engine and more weight to lug around, it needs working fairly hard and emits a vocal whine that’s at odds with the Range Rover’s luxurious character.

Tackle a winding road and the P400e does a better job of disguising its weight, serving up impressive agility and grip for a big SUV. It’s sharper than the XC90 that majors on comfort, while being slightly less driver focused than the Cayenne.

Interior & comfort

 The Sport is just as luxurious as ever, but now has more up-to-date technology

Inside, the Range Rover Sport is just as luxurious as ever, with swathes of leather covering virtually every surface and metal trim that’s cool to the touch. The PHEV features the brand’s Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, with two 10-inch displays stacked on top of each other. These are crystal clear and look great, with the top display taking care of sat-nav and media, while the bottom screen is used for vehicle settings. It largely works well, but smartphone integration still lags behind rivals such as the Audi Q7 – and it's a bit of a fingerprint magnet.

There are plenty of places to charge your smart devices, with up to 12 power points dotted around the interior, as well as two traditional power sockets to charge laptops and other devices that need more juice than a USB port can provide. You can essentially turn the Sport into an office away from home – or family entertainment centre – at the drop of a hat. The introduction of the Activity Key from the Jaguar F-Pace means you can also take a waterproof wristband on your outdoor adventures instead of the key and use it to unlock the car when you get back.

Practicality & boot space

 The battery pack reduces load space and towing ability slightly, but they’re still beyond what most families will need

It has a lower roofline and sleeker shape than the standard Range Rover, or a Volvo XC90 for that matter, but the Range Rover Sport is still a large SUV. It can carry five adults in comfort, with well shaped leather seats providing plenty of support.

However, there have been some compromises in practicality in order to fit the battery pack and electric motor. In the standard Sport, there’s up to 780 litre of luggage space, but this is reduced by up to 79 litres in the P400e, while the boot floor is also raised up by 46mm. Perhaps more significantly for families, there’s also no longer the option of the 5+2 seating layout that makes the Sport an occasional seven-seater, because there’s no room to stow the third row in the boot.
Towing has been made simpler, thanks to Advanced Tow Assist, a driving aid that allows you to guide a trailer into place using the reversing camera and turning the rotary controller to steer its path. The on-board computer then automatically works out the correct steering inputs required. It’s worth noting that the P400e can tow between 500-1,000kg less than other Sports, but its maximum trailer weight of 2,500kg is still more than enough to pull a large caravan.

Reliability & safety

 Land Rover doesn’t have the best reliability record, but the Sport is loaded with safety equipment

Land Rover doesn’t have the best reputation for reliability, and in our 2021 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey it finished in 22nd place – although that’s actually an improvement over previous years.

While the Range Rover Sport hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP, safety should be less of a worry. Both the fully fledged Range Rover and the Range Rover Velar managed a five-star result, so there’s little reason to think the Sport would do worse. It shares most of those models’ safety kit after all, including features such as autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and electronics designed to help prevent rollover accidents.

Price, value for money & options

 For the right type of driver, the Sport PHEV could bring real cost benefits

Depending on its specification, the 400bhp plug-in hybrid P400e costs around £4,000 more than a Range Rover Sport fitted with a 300bhp V6 diesel engine. Some will consider this a bargain, especially company car drivers considering the potential tax savings – although we’re talking about a car costing well over £70,000 here, so it’s all relative.

However, the savings only really make sense if you plan on driving on electric power a large proportion of the time. If you often drive more than 30 miles a day, or on long trips, a diesel will probably make more sense.


Published in Land Rover
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