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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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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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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Audi Reveal the New TT RS

 

Audi TT RS Roadster, Audi TT RS Coupé

Audi have revealed both the coupe and convertible versions of every airhostess’s favourite car. Except that the new model looks significantly more masculine with an aggressive new front bumper and a large ficed rear spoiler teamed with twon exhausts , the new TT RS oozes aggression and is looking to take on the likes of the BMW Z4 and the Porsche Cayman.

Audi TT RS CoupéThe RS features an impressive 400 BHP from a 2.5 litre 5-cylinder engine teamed with Audi’s signature Quattro 4 wheel drive system and a 7-speed S-Tronic gearbox. Those bring the TT RS a supercar rivalling 0-62 time of 3.7 seconds (3.9 in convertible form) and on to a top speed limited to 155 MPH.

Audi TT RS Roadster

Dr Stefan Knirsch, Audi Board Member for Technical Development says: “The new aluminum five-cylinder engine delivers 400 hp, which is 60 hp more than its predecessor. Together with the Quattro drive, it ensures sporty driving pleasure with maximum traction.”

Audi TT RS Roadster

“Controls and display in the new TT RS are focused completely on the driver. All information is displayed as standard on the fully digital Audi virtual cockpit with 12.3 inch screen. The driver can choose from three views, including a special RS screen that highlights the rev counter and provides information on tire pressure, torque, and g‑force, among other things.”

Audi TT RS Coupé

The TT RS is looking to launch in late 2016 with a price tag of just over £50,000 similar in price to a comparable Cayman and Z4 although a new Z4 may be in the Pipeline over at BMW which could scupper Audi plans.

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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.

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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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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The Geneva Motorshow

Apologies for the lateness of this post this is due to the Geneva Motor show last week and I didn’t want to miss anything so I will give you an extra long post now.

Geneva 1

First of all I want to talk about Aston Martin, lately I’ve felt that Aston has been trundling along just fine, the trouble is a lot of their cars are the same they all have the same 6.0 litre V12 although giving slightly different power each time, and their cars look roughly similar to the DB9. Vantage, mini DB9, Vanquish, expensive DB9, One 77, expensive DB9 and of course the DBS is a DB9 sport and with their new car shown of at Geneve we finally have a track day DB9, its called the Vulcan and isn’t road legal. Think of it in the same light as the Ferrari FXX or the Pagani Zonda R.

Geneva 3

Secondly we have the new Koenigsegg Regera a car with monstrous power (1782BHP to be exact) from a hybrid V8 with three electric motors attached. I think we have come to the point when I have to say is that really necessary almost 1800BHP and it only goes 0-62 in 3.2 seconds and up to 250MPH in 20 seconds, the Veyron has already done that and shocked the world when it did, it doesn’t need doing again. Also apparently according to Andreas Petre, Koenigsegg’s director of sales in Asia, Middle East, Africa and Oceana, it wouldn’t be difficult to drive on the road: “It has very sophisticated ESP, traction control, active chassis and aerodynamics. It’s like a very fast Tesla with a beautiful sound.” I doubt that very much so.

Geneva 4

McLaren showed off an update to the 650S already, they call it the 675LT(LT referring to F1 long tail of the past) and its supposed to be a harder faster version of the 650S. It’s said to go 0-62 in 2.9 seconds (see Koenigsegg you’ve already been beaten) with a devil enticing 666BHP from a twin turbo V8. The 675LT is also lighter than the 650S, with a dry weight of 1280KG it weighs 100KG less. Only 500 are set to be sold worldwide for a easily affordable £259,500. (Right where’s my checkbook)

Geneva 2

Porsche showed off the old 911 GT3, sorry the new GT3 (so hard to tell the difference these days) with a 4.0 litre 6 cylinder engine it produces 493BHP. After that its essentially the same old story, fast version of fast car that goes fast blah blah blah.

Geneva 5

Anyway Bentley have brought a nice new Aston Martin shaped car to Geneva in the EXP 10 Speed 6 and I have to say I really don’t like the front end of this car, it looks like that hideous Japanese Mitsuoka Arochi that nobody cared about. The Speed 6 is to go one sale within the next 3 years alongside the Continental GT for £120,000. Bentley says it will be a hybrid, however it is more likely to use the same 4.0 litre V8 used in other Bentleys.

Geneva 6

In other news Morgan revealed another car from their past in the Aero 8, they say its all new however it looks suspiciously like the old Aero 8 right down to the cross eyes. It also uses the same engine a BMW sourced V8 that other Morgan’s used. So it looks as if they have brought a car back from the past, who would’ve expected that from Morgan.

Photos courtesy of Autocar

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Ford have revealed the new King of the Hot Hatches

New Focus RS

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you may have realised that I’m quite a large fan of Fords.(which is why I haven’t mentioned the new Ferrari 458 replacement the 488 GTB more on that soon) I just love the way they have two different styles for different markets, the big brutish V8 cars of the US and the small nippy cars of the European market.

One of the best cars from the European market is the Focus RS, the front wheel drive daddy of the hot hatch market is phenomenal and carries the Rally heritage of the old school Fords.

New Focus RS rear

Ford have just revealed the new RS and frankly it’s much better than Ford’s showing at Detroit a few weeks back (only one V8 come on Ford) the new four wheel drive RS shares its engine with the new Euro Mustang a 2.3 turbo-charged Ecoboost engine pushing out 318BHP.

The New RS is almost certainly going to be the top hot hatch of the year and with a sub £30K price tag is affordable as well. Of course as always the RS’s biggest strength is that underneath all the big brash body kits and spoilers it’s still a Focus arguably the best hatchback on sale today. This also means that the new RS will be comfortable enough and easy enough to drive everyday whilst also being able to set your hair on fire on the track.

Frankly I feel that Ford have made up for the mistakes on the new V6 in the GT with this surely fantastic hot hatch.

Ordered a Civic type R, kept the receipt did you

The Classic look of the BBS RS

Image

BBS wheels have been going for believe it or not over 40 years and there most iconic design is the RS. The wheel that suits all cars from classic modern Jap or German the BBS RS will go with pretty much any car. This has caused there to be many copies and replicas some look cheap and nasty others look really quite good.

 Image

Back in the good old days of the BTCC many of the factory teams used RS’s on their cars. Some may say they are just wheels but to a true petrol head a good original set of BBS RS are gorgeous and the timeless design will live on in the modified car world, be it on MK1 and 2 Golfs or even Jap imports.

 Image

It’s quite hard to pick up a nice cheap set but if you look around the interweb on forums and keep a close eye on eBay but be prepared to pay easily over £1000 for a half decent set.