The Best looking everyday cars

Vauxhall InsigniaThere are a lot of cars on the roads today, most are just shapeless blobs that fade away into the background but occasionally there are cars that like to stand out from the crowd, not million pound super cars, not one off special editions just your everyday family saloon. Here are just some of the cars that stand out against the dull grey background and ooze style, design and creativity.

Citroen C6Citroen C6: Now when all cars are commissioned we see countless design drawings and fantasy sketches that make any car look cool and stylish, but rarely does the final production model look anything like the concept car let alone these initial design drawings. The Citroen C6 is the exception, this big executive saloon has so many interesting features I could write this whole article on just this car. Everything from its concave rear window to its sweeping lines stand out from the sea of German black and grey boxes. Unfortunately the public didn’t agree and the C6 was a flop but every now and again you’ll see a C6 on the roads and think that is just a special design that we rarely see these days.

Ford MondeoFord Mondeo: It’s weird that the Mondeo isn’t the only car on the road these days, one of the best cars to drive in its class, affordable and good looking are just some of the reasons the Mondeo should lead the way for car design, and whilst popular it isn’t the world dominating car it was from the late 90’s to early 2000’s. But weirdly it is the best looking it has ever been, its sloping rear screen makes the Mondeo look sleek whilst its front end is quietly aggressive and purposeful. Top Gear did a news piece on the show by briefly revealing an image of the Mondeo and asking the audience what they thought it was. The audience thought it was an Aston Martin, and that’s as higher praise as I can think offer to describe your everyday family saloon.

Renault Laguna CoupeRenault Laguna Coupe: The Renault Laguna had always been a bit of a slush box prior to 2007 it was a fairly mundane cheap saloon but nothing more. It felt like Renault had cared more about their safety ratings than how the car looked and drove, but that all changed in 2007 when Renault unveiled the amazing Laguna Coupe. Suddenly Renault were the centre of attention again with this amazing sweeping coupe that most Italians would be jealous of. But again it seems the public couldn’t recognise good design and the Renault Laguna again flopped with Renault pulling the plug entirely in 2015 with the Lagunas replacement the also great looking Renault Talisman not even being sold in the UK.

Vauxhall Insignia 2Vauxhall Insignia: Vauxhall’s previous attempts at a good-looking saloon only went as far as the Vectra, ie not well. But since the introduction of the Insignia replacement in 2008 the company has been going from strength to strength improving on the design with every iteration. The current version of the Insignia also manages the difficult task of looking good in both saloon and estate form. The Insignias best achievement is to fade into the background. It doesn’t try to hard like you could say about the Citroen C6 previously mentioned, you could just pass by it in the multi storey car park, but when you do look it grabs your attention and holds your attention till it goes out of sight.

Volvo S90Volvo S90: Much like Renault on this list Volvo were better known for their safety rather than their stylish design, but in the S90’s case it manages both. Volvo has been on a roll as of late, the XC90 looks fantastic, the XC60 and XC40 the same. The S90 is just the next in line of great looking Volvo cars. Volvo are on the ups with the S90 and are taking direct aim at the German elite from Mercedes Audi and BMW. Its smart front end makes a change from the rather boring styling of previous Volvos, and its striking rear end is dramatically different from Volvos of the past making the S90 one to look out for on the roads.

What do you think are the best looking everyday cars on the roads today, let us know in the comments.

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Ken Blocks TERRAKHANA!

Ken Block has finally unveiled his newest gymkhana video. What makes this one different to all his other videos? This time its on dirt. Called Terrakhana, the video sees Block throwing his new 600BHP Ford Fiesta ST RX43 round the Swing arm city in Utah. Block and his Fiesta battle the dirt and the dust of the desert in an impressive drifting spectacle.

Ken Block

But I was a little underwhelmed by the video, it was an impressive show of skill by Block but so were his previous videos, which were in much more enclosed spaces making the movements more precise and more impressive. In Terrakhana Block is unlikely to hit anything major for miles around, carving the steep bowls of the Swing arm city although looking cool provides little danger and once you’ve seen it once its not as impressive the next time.

Ken Block Terrakhana

When Ken approaches a steep cliff he just drifts around it and whilst still impressive, we’ve seen it earlier in the video where he got closer to the edge of the ridge and turned at the latest possible moment, the giant cliff was meant to be the pinnacle of the video but ended up disappointing. When I saw the cliff I expected Block to jump off the edge, although realistically this would have ended in just a crater of blood oil petrol and a burning pair of DC shoes. This video had a shortage of the amazing heart stopping moments of his previous videos and lacked the edge of your seat finale we have all come to love. Hopefully Ken can return to form in his next video which will hopefully star his new twin turbo Hoonicorn V2.

What did you think of Ken’s latest Gymkhana video, sound off in the comments.

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Ford announce the ’67 Heritage edition GT

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Do you remember when everyone joked that Porsche had the laziest designers ever who just released the same 911 every year for 50 years, and then Mitsubishi out did them with the Evo 9 looking exactly the same as the Evo 8. Well Ford seem to be looking to bring back the idea with their new special edition GT. The Ford GT ’67 Heritage edition is built to celebrate 50 years since Fords victory at Le Mans in 1967. Sound familiar yet, well let me remind you that last year before the first GT had even been built Ford announced the 66’ Heritage edition, built to celebrate 50 years since their victory at Le Mans in 1966. The ’66 Heritage edition came with a new paintjob to resemble the 1966 winning car along with special interior parts and badges, no more power or less weight, just a paint job.

The new ’67 Heritage edition is more of the same, no power upgrades just a new paint job and some badges. Ford say: “The Ford GT ’67 Heritage edition features a gloss-finish Race Red exterior with white stripes and exposed carbon package. The car sports Frozen White No. 1 hood and door graphics, and 20-inch one-piece forged aluminium wheels in silver satin clearcoat with black lug nuts. Red calipers and silver rearview mirror caps complete the look.”

The interior see shockingly similar upgrades to the ’66 Heritage edition as well with new leather trim for the carbon fibre seats with red stitching to match the exterior, the seatbelt webbing is now red as well. Other changes include, “Paddle shifters that are anodized grey, and satin dark stainless appliques are used on the instrument panel, door register bezels and X-brace.”

Almost identical upgrades to the ’66 Heritage edition besides the colour. I’m now predicting we will see a ’68 Heritage edition and ’69 Heritage edition as well in the coming years to celebrate Fords victories at Le Mans. But I hope Ford learn their lesson and give the car more than just a shiny new paintjob and interior because all this looks like is a quick cash grab for a pseudo special edition, that had no additional features or specialties.

What do you think of the ’67 Heritage edition, quick cash grab or a great celebration of Fords victory, let me know in the comments.

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Jim on Cars 2016 Car of the year

So its that time of year again, the time where I wrack my brains for everything that came out in 2016 and narrow it down to 4 fantastic cars and one amazing one, that’s right its car of the year time.

Mercedes-AMG GT R ( C 190), 2016

  1. Mercedes AMG GTR

Last year it was a toss up between the standard AMG GT and the Mazda MX5, the MX5 just beat out the Merc thanks to its giant killing nature and world-beating amount of fun for such a small cheap car. This year however Mercedes has upped their game, the AMG GTR retains all of the amazing features of the standard car but now with a 585BHP twin turbo V8 under the bonnet and suspension tuned at the Nurburgring the AMG GTR earns its place on this list. And with a paint job called AMG Green Hell Magno how could it not make it.

porsche-911r

  1. Porsche 911R

I have been very critical of the 911 for a while now, even naming it the most overrated car in history (Click Here) I never liked the way it hadn’t changed in over 50 years and Porsche stubbornly kept it rear engined (although its moving forward at a frightening pace). Its quite clearly holding Porsche back as the brilliant Cayman GT4 showed last year, if Porsche gave the engineers the opportunity to push themselves they could create the greatest drivers car the world has ever seen, but no we just get the 911 year after year. But the 911R could be a sign of change from the Germans, doing away with the flashy rear wings of the GT3 GT2 and Turbo models in favour of a much more subtle design, favouring mechanincal grip over downforce. The 911R is a mechanical marvel taking the driver back to the old days, where it was a drivers skill that kept him on the road rather than the electronic aids. The 911R is the best 911 ever and will hopefully show the way Porsche are going rather than being a reminder of the good ole days.

ford-focus-rs

  1. Ford Focus RS

Weirdly the difficult decision this year was not choosing what the top car would be but rather the podium finishers. It was a choice of either my heart or my head, but I feel I’ve made the right choice in putting the RS in third. I am a massive Ford fan and the Focus RS is a fantastic car, it’s the rally bred monster we’ve been wanting for years. Its 2.3 litre turbocharged ecoboost engine along with All wheel drive make it a true hot hatch rivalling that of the Mercedes A45 AMG and the Golf R. And its got Drift mode! The Focus RS is one of my favourite cars this year, its handling and power combined make it a true world beater and all this starting at just over £30,000.

bmw-m2

  1. BMW M2

Just beating out the Focus RS is the BMW M2 and as you may have guessed this was my heads choice rather than my hearts. The M2’s predecessor the 1M Coupe was a really impressive car both on the track and on the road but somehow the M2 is even better its 370BHP engine powers the car to 62 in 4.3 seconds and on to the electronically limited top speed of 155MPH. the M2 is reminiscent of so many great cars, the 2002 Turbo, the original M3 even out side the Bavarian Motor Works in the MK2 VW Golf. The M2’s strength comes from its past, it carries the characteristics of some fantastic car and combines them into a greatest hits album for the ages.

alfa-romeo-giulia-quadrifoglio

  1. Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Yes the car with the most Italian name in history has come out on top. When Alfa announced they were making a sports car to rival the M3 many laughed, they thought it would be a Chrysler 300C in drag and would fall far below the par set by the BMW, but those people were wrong. The Giulia is a bespoke Alfa Romeo with style and performance combined into sheer magnificence. The 2.9 litre biturbo V6 is operatic in comparison to the M3’s rather drab straight 6. The 510 horse power of the Alfa are some of the most boisterous rampant horses seen in recent times. Whereas the BMW M2 wins your head and the Focus RS wins your heart the Alfa wins both, its one of the most interesting and exciting cars on the road today and is truly deserving of my car of the year award

Congratulations Alfa Romeo

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The Big names join together for Electric cars

electric-chargine

The car industry has reached a major milestone this week, by coming together to share knowledge and capabilities to further the evolution of electric cars. the BMW group, Daimler, Ford and the VW group including Audi and Porsche have come together to provide an ultra fast high power charging network across Europe. The plan is to evolve the charging process to the point that it is as quick and convenient as filling up a conventional car.

BMW: “This high-power charging network provides motorists with another strong argument to move towards electric mobility”, says Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG.“The BMW Group has initiated numerous public charging infrastructure projects over the last years. The joint project is another major milestone clearly demonstrating that competitors are combining forces to ramp-up e-mobility.”

Daimler: “The breakthrough of e-mobility requires two things: convincing vehicles and a comprehensive charging infrastructure. With our new brand EQ, we are launching our electric product offensive: by 2025, our portfolio will include more than ten fully electric passenger cars. Together with our partners, we are now installing the highest-powered charging infrastructure in Europe”, says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “The availability of high-power stations allows long-distance e-mobility for the first time and will convince more and more customers to opt for an electric vehicle.”

Ford: A reliable, ultra-fast charging infrastructure is important for mass consumer adoption and has the potential to transform the possibilities for electric driving”, says Mark Fields, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company. “Ford is committed to developing vehicles and technologies that make people’s lives better, and this charging network will make it easier and more practical for customers across Europe to own electrified vehicles.”

Audi:
“We intend to create a network that allows our customers on long-distance trips to use a coffee break for recharging”, says Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. “Reliable fast charging services are a key factor for drivers to choose an electric vehicle. With this cooperation we want to boost a broader market adoption of e-mobility and speed up the shift towards emission-free driving.”

Porsche: “There are two decisive aspects for us: ultra-fast charging and placing the charging stations at the right positions”, says Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG. “Together, these two factors enable us to travel in an all-electrically powered car as in a conventional combustion engine vehicle. As automobile manufacturer, we actively shape our future, not only by developing all-electrically powered vehicles but by building up the necessary infrastructure as well.”

This is certainly a huge step for the electric car, a unified motor industry is almost unstoppable in terms of innovation, creativity and design and if the companies can maintain this partnership, the forward thinking nature of the group will finally bring the electric car into being a viable option for everyone on the road, not just little old ladies who only go out once a week and have an annual mileage of less than 1000 miles.

Hyundai reveal the RN30 Concept, should Ford be worried?

hyundai-rn30

The Ford Focus RS is one of the best hot hatches on sale today and is a market leader for Ford. But with success comes rivals, and at the Paris Motor show Hyundai revealed the RN30 Concept an exciting looking machine aimed straight at the Focus RS. Now some of you may be sniggering thinking that Hyundai couldn’t possibly compete with the might of Ford. But over the past few years Hyundai has slowly become a maker of good cars, the i10, i20 and i30 are all surprisingly fun to drive, cheap to run and I think not completely hideous to look at. This may be all well and good but you may say that Hyundai aren’t the sort of company with a sporting background, but again you’d be wrong the Hyundai i20 rally car has been taking on the big boys of the rally world, even getting a 1-2 finish in the German rally in 2014.

hyundai-rn30-2

To compete with Ford though Hyundai would really have to up their game though, and they have the RN30, powered by a brand new 2.0 litre turbo unit the RN30 has a impressive 380BHP and 332lb-ft of torque easily rivalling the figures of the Focus RS, and Hyundai have even made sure that all the parts of the engine are forged rather than cast, providing more strength and durability. To match the Focus RS the RN30 even has all wheel drive to make sure all that power gets transferred to the road, and not just a plume of tyre smoke. Hyundai also boast that: “The Electronic Variable Exhaust system provides a surge of aural pleasure by emitting a strong exhaust sound consistent with the visceral sensations produced by the rapid acceleration.” In other words it sounds good.

hyundai-rn30-3

Hyundai say the focus has been given to get the RN30 as light as possible with a low centre of gravity. Instead of using carbon fibre like in most high performance car, Hyundai decided to go for plastic (doesn’t really have the same ring to it does it) Hyundai say: This weight-saving innovation is light, highly durable and environmentally-friendly and is used throughout the new concept to help boost handling and acceleration. Whilst based on the new i30 the RN30 has received a number of visual upgrades including aggressive rear wing and diffuser along with a large splitter at the front, all to help with downforce. The new body kit on the RN30 gives the car a very aggressive stance with wide arches and vents coming out of everywhere you look.

hyundai-rn30-7

So can the RN30 compete with the Focus RS, on paper it can, the figures coming from Hyundai are really impressive and give a sign of what to look out for in the future from Hyundai’s N Division. Until the RN30 is green lit by Hyundai and is no longer just a concept we may never know how it actually performs on the road. Where the Focus RS tries to be great everywhere, it very much seems that the RN30 is trying to be a track car rather than a hot hatch, the aggressive stripped out interior is a far cry from Fords comfortable Recaros. If and when the RN30 makes it to showrooms we will likely have another big fast Ford fro it to compete with anyway. Sadly the RN30 looks like merely a pipe dream at the moment.

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Ken Block goes back to his roots in Gymkhana 9 Raw industrial playground

 

So the latest of Ken Blocks Gymkhana videos is up online, and frankly I’m a little disappointed, Gymkhana 9 as you see above see Block go back to his early Gymkhana videos, big open disused industrial area, 600BHP Focus RSX and extreme driving. Over the years Kens videos have gotten bigger and bigger with larger and larger spectacles taking place in LA San Francisco and even Abu Dhabi and what has been consistently great is the driving and stunts performed during it.

But as the budgets have gotten bigger and bigger, so have the expectations, I had expected to be amazed by the new and unique stunts performed, but I was completely underwhelmed, maybe I have come to expect too much from his videos. Block did donut around a Ford Raptor suspended from a chopper, which was impressive, but then he donutted close to water and drifted in front of a train, both things I’ve seen before, and frankly seen done better.

Ken has lost the ability to shock me I think, I expect bigger and bigger stunts to the point where it’s impossible for the videos to deliver. Hopefully this film was just a misstep and in Gymkhana 10 (or X as it will almost certainly be called) he finds a way to step his game up. But sadly this video wasn’t one of his best. But here it is anyway.

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Ford Focus RS500 to get 400BHP

New Focus RS

How do you take an amazing car and make it better, just ask Ford. The base model Focus is one of the best hatchbacks on the roads today, and Ford made it so much better by adding 350BHP, 4 wheel-drive and of course drift mode. But how do you then improve on that. Making an amazing car just leaves you with nowhere to go, but of course Ford are going to find a way. The Focus RS500 hasn’t yet been fully green lit but if rumours are true the RS500 could see more than 400BHP along with a whole host of other upgrades.

Focus RS500 spy shot

If spy shots of the RS500 at the Nurburgring are anything to go by we could see slight body modifications as well. These include a larger boot spoiler and a vented bonnet, this looks to be teamed with a much bigger hardcore brake setup. The 500 RS500s to be built are expected to go on sale for around the £45,000 mark, and looks to go up against the likes of the Mercedes A45 AMG and the BMW M2. According to AutoCar we could expect to see performance increases of more than 0.5 second taking the 0-62 time from 4.7 to 4.2 and take the top speed up to 167MPH. the Focus RS500 is expected to be green lit by the end of the year with sales starting mid 2017.

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Ford GT ’66 Heritage edition announced

 

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The New Ford GT isn’t even available yet and already Ford have announced the GT ’66 Heritage edition which pays homage to the 1966 Le Mans of Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, the same race that gave Ford a 1,2,3 finish. Although no performance upgrades have been announced the GT ’66 Heritage does have a special interior and exterior paint job.

The already impressive looking GT gains a Shadow Black exterior with silver stripes and is available in either matt or gloss finishes. The GT ’66 Heritage comes with exclusive 20 inch aluminium wheels finished in gold, with black nuts. The exterior is complete with the Frozen white #2 on both the doors and bonnet to mirror the race winning car of 1966.

The interior of the limited edition model wraps the Ford GT carbon-fiber seats in Ebony leather, with pillowed inserts and the seats’ head restraints and the steering wheel are debossed with the Ford GT logo. The instrument panel, pillars and headliner also features an Ebony-leather wrap. Like the 1966 race car, the steering wheel is leather wrapped, with seat belts featuring a unique blue webbing. Rounding out the modifications to the GT ’66 Heritage Edition are a unique serialized identification plate.

Garen Nicoghosian, exterior design manager for the car, says the team set out to highlight where it all started with the Ford GT. “While the looks are distinctly based on the GT40 Mark II race car,” he says, “we’ve accentuated new styling cues to provide a modern interpretation.”

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Ken Block’s Gymkhana 8 is insane

Ok so what do a plane, a helicopter in flight and a two wheelin’ Raptor have in common, that’s right Ken Block donuts them all in his new Gymkhana video, Gymkhana 8, to be honest I could just copy and paste my last description of Gymkhana 7 as they are both very similar. In 8 Ken drifts and donuts his way round Dubai, in his Ford Fiesta (in a rather fetching new livery) and donuts a moving Ford Raptor driving on two wheels, along with a flying helicopter and a Boeing 747.

Another part of Gymkhana 8 features Ken putting his Fiesta through its paces in a drag race against a Ferrari F12, a Lexus LFA, a Lamborghini Aventador and a Bugatti Veyron. Now there may be some filming trickery here but the little 600+ horsepower Fiesta beats the lot. The common complaint about the Gymkhana videos by internet idiots, is “oh its faked he does so many tries at it you can see the skid marks.” And yes this is true but that doesn’t make it any less of an amazing feat of driving insanity.

Also Ken teases his next Gymkhana video in which he’ll be driving a heavily modified version of the new Ford Focus RS, called the RX which quite frankly will be insane. We only see a rendering of the car for the moment but watch this space.