The Nurburgring ruins everything

Nurburgring

I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Nurburgring, it seems car makers believe if a car can put a good time in at the ‘green hell’ then it’ll work well everywhere, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Carmakers in recent years appear to be under the impression that every performance car under the sun has to have taken a trip to Germany to prove its worth but this is simply untrue. What the Nurburgring has led to is a string of performance cars that are hard riding unforgiving death traps, because to perform well at the ‘Ring a car has to live on a knife edge, yes a racing driver at his best could set records in a specially designed car developed at the Nurburgring but your ordinary driver will suddenly end up upside down in a ditch possibly on fire all because his car oversteered unexpectedly when the driver ran out of talent.

Renault Megane R26RThe Nurburgring has also led to completely unnecessary cars to be developed there all for this imaginary badge of honour, why on earth does a high riding SUV need a good ring time. I have no idea but Lamborghini must because they took the Urus there for development. The Nurburgring also spoils perfectly well performing cars that were great before they went to the ‘Ring, the Renault Megane for example was a fantastic fun little hot hatch that was incredibly quick on a back road and could keep up with anything. Once the Frenchmen found the Nurburgring however we ended up with the completely idiotic Megane R26.R a modified version of the once great R26 giving it a useless roll cage, which removed the rear seats and five point harnesses which made the result a unusable mess that only worked on the one day it wasn’t raining and you were at a track.

McLaren P1The Nurburgring even managed to ruin the good old pub argument of which car was better, it used to be an argument of this car has more power, but this car is lighter, but this car has a faster 0-60 time, but this car has a better power to weight ratio. Now the argument goes: it has a faster time at the Nurburgring and that person will absolutely refuse to hear any other argument. The ‘Ring is seen as this anointing by god of a good car when in reality it’s a statement that this car performs well on one track in the world that the owner will never even go to, but in the everyday world it is a nightmare and could one day kill you for no obvious reason other than it was raining.

Nurburgring Crash

So in conclusion of this rant about the Nurburgring it is not the be all and end all. The Nurburgring is just another racetrack, a car that performs well on the road is far more interesting than a track bred uncomfortable unrestricted race car. This obsession with the ‘Ring needs to end before car enthusiasts around the world only care about a time that is essentially meaningless. There will always be a faster car as new cars released every day, a ring time is only relevant for about as long as it takes to get round the ‘Ring.

What do you think about the mythical Nurburgring, let us know in the comments.

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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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Top 5 stupidest names in motoring

A name can make or break a car. The name is the first impression most people get of a car, so calling your car a weird, funny or just plain not thought out name can ruin that car entirely, even if the actual car is great. A good name should represent the characteristics of the car itself, be it a flamboyant Italian Maranello or an aggressive brutish Charger. The name is everything. Some companies don’t really think this through very well so here are the top 5 stupidest names in motoring.

Nissan Sylvia

  1. Nissan Sylvia

Giving a car a human name is a gamble, you’ll never see the Ford Dave or the Aston Martin Martin. Sometimes it can work such as the Ferrari Dino, then there’s the Sylvia. Sylvia is a grandmothers name, it’s your older relative who gives you sweets when your parents aren’t watching. What it isn’t is a rear wheel drive coupe loved by drifters around the world for its easy modibility and tail happy action.

Mitsubishi Starion

  1. Mitsubishi Starion

The Mitsubishi Starion was a surprisingly good car, designed to go up against the Mustang in America an urban myth would tell you it was meant to be called the Stallion but due to a language barrier between the European and Japanese wings of Mitsubishi it ended up being called the Starion. Now its one thing to think up a bad name for a car it’s another to call it completely the wrong thing entirely. Another of Mitsubishi’s naming disasters came from the Pajero which in Spanish means masturbator/ wanker not a great showing from Mitsubishi.

Toyota Urban Cruiser

  1. Toyota Urban Cruiser

There are bad names out there and then there’s Urban Cruiser. An Urban Cruiser sounds like someone who’s not allowed within 500 metres of a school, its an especially bad name for family run about used to take the kids to school and go shopping in. The Urban Cruiser is not a car you’d boast about in the pub to your mates.

VW Sedric

  1. Nissan Cedric/ VW Sedric

Nissan really had a problem with naming cars in the past. The Nissan Cedric was an incredibly dull 4 door saloon designed with a ruler. Cedric is not in anyway an exciting name for a car. Which is why its all the more surprising that VW have brought the name back for one of their new self driving cars, and they’ve spelt it wrong. The VW Sedric is a very odd looking thing. It appears to be a box with enclosed wheels, and a face for some reason.

Renault Wind

  1. Renault Wind

I’d liked to have been a fly on the wall in the Renault offices when someone put forward the name Wind for their new two seater roadster. You may as well call your car the Renault Fart. How many people did that have to go through till it received the ok? You’re telling me nobody thought it was a bad idea. You couldn’t hold your head up high in the pub and say I drive a Renault Wind, you’d be laughed out the door, and off a cliff. The Wind was a cute little two door roadster that I actually quite like except for the name, obviously.

What are some more horrible names for cars you can think of sound off in the comments.

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Alpine show off the new A110

 

alpine-a110-1

Alpine have released new images of the new A110 set to be revealed fully at the Geneva motor show next month. The small lightweight sports car is looking to take on the likes of the Porsche Cayman. The A110 takes its name from the classic Alpine of the 60’s, and the styling is clearly taking cues from the original with the large bulbous headlights and sweeping curved body.

alpine-a110-2

The A110 is set to take on the Cayman, armed with a full aluminium body and experts are expecting a weight of just over 1000KG. The small lightweight sports car is making a comeback recently and Renault (who own the Alpine brand) are looking to get in on the action with the A110. Taking inspiration from the Alfa Romeo 4C and the Toyota GT86, the Alpine has smaller wheel and tyres to try to add to the drivability of the car rather than out right power and speed. The focus is fun rather the breaking records. The A110 is also expected to go on sale in mid 2018 with a price tag of just under £50,000.

What do you think of the rebirth of the Alpine brand, sound off in the comments.

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Renault to unleash sporty new Clio at Monaco Grand Prix

 

Renault Clio RS

Renault are set to reveal the new hottest version of the Clio, a special version of the Clio RS. Patrice Ratti, Managing Director of Renault Sport Cars, said: “We successfully completed the project of a slightly crazy car. It was a joint effort by the Renault Sport Cars and Renault Sport Racing teams. This Clio R.S. refines the expertise of Renault Sport engineers whilst exploring new avenues for the future”.

The new RS is expected to have the engine and running gear from the current Renault Megane RS, which could mean upwards of 271 BHP from the 2.0 litre unit . the bodywork for the new Clio is expected to be rather extreme by the looks of the only image Renault released (see above) with an aggressive rear spoiler and a rather svelte front splitter only 500 of them are expected to be made and are looking to go up against the likes of the Fiesta ST (or the long rumoured Fiesta RS).

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Alpine are Back!

Alpine Vision 2

Alpine the long dead sports car manufacturer are back with a brand new car set for release in 2017. The Vision concept is set for a full reveal at next months Geneva Motor show. Now whilst most sports cars are known for monstering the track, Alpine are better known for their rally pedigree, even winning the World Rally Championship in 1967 with an A110 with Bernard Tramont behind the wheel.

Alpine Vision

Now the new Alpine is looking to take on the likes of the Porsche Cayman and the Alfa Romeo 4C, with a price tag of around £40,000 they are certainly heading in the right direction. The looks of the new Alpine that are clearly reminiscent of the A110, they are clearly trying to retain some brand recognition for the classic 60’s racer.

Alpine Vision Rear

Renault bought out Alpine in 1997, and are behind the new relaunch that has been rumoured since 2008. A 50 50 deal was made with Caterham to relaunch the brand in 2012 but Renault bought out Caterham in 2014 after financial problems for the British manufacturer. Originally the aimed curb weight for the Alpine was 1000kg but this would have required expensive lightweight body panels made out of carbon fibre.

Alpine Vision side

Renault has planned production to take place at their Dieppe plant, which was actually the original Alpine plant that Renault bought out in 97. The plant currently produces most Renault sport models. Renault have boasted that the new Alpine will have a sub 4.5 second 0-62 time. The engine is understood to be a 1.8 litre turbo charged unit developed from the Clio RS’ 1.6. power is expected to be between 250 and 300BHP. There has been no word on whether the Alpine will return to the WRC.

Images courtesy of Autocar

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The Emissions Scandal Rolls On

 

Renault Clio RS.jpg

Last year when VW were found to be using a cheat device in the emissions system for there diesel cars it was shocking and is going to cost VW a lot of money not just in recalls but in compensation as well and possibly lawsuits. So it would be incredible if any other company would be found to be cheating their emissions. VW has set the example in how not to do it, so surely nobody else would do it. Well no Renault recently had their factories raided by police in relation to the emissions scandal. It is believed that several computers owned by company directors have been seized following the raid.

Renault Megane.jpg

Despite the raids on the company Renault are confident their cars will pass the tests set up in the investigation with flying colours. Despite this the damage may have already been done as company shares dropped by 20% following the raid. Renault were supposedly meant to be one of the companies calling for stricter regulations after the initial scandal.

Vauxhall Zafira

The car industry is under close scrutiny after VW, and Ford and Mercedes are also said to be under investigation. Vauxhall were quick to deny a defeat device after BBC Panorama ran an investigation on the Vauxhall Zafira and found that it was cheating on emissions as well.

Dacia Sandero RS coming to South America

Sandero RS

Photos courtesy of Autocar

Good News! Renault has unveiled a performance version of the Dacia Sandero. The bad news however is that it will only be available in Latin America. The car was revealed at the Buenos Aires motor show in Argentina, and has a 2.0 litre engine that puts out nearly 150BHP. I really hope they bring the Sandero RS to Europe like they did with the original. The Sandero whilst being extraordinarily cheap is also fun to drive, and a performance version makes it even better.

Sandero RS 2

As well as a bigger engine the new car also gets sportier suspension along with ESC and better brake and steering setups. Renaultsport boss Patrice Ratti said to Autocar last year that “A Sandero is lighter than a Clio, so you don’t need that much power,” if they were to being it to the UK I would like to see an increase in power to get it somewhere close to the 200BHP mark however. I think in the UK the Sandero RS would be going up against the likes of the Fiesta ST and the 208 GTI. Please Renault at least consider bringing it to the UK the Sandero is a great car and we deserve a fast version.

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