Grr. Look at me. I’m on a motorbike.
Self-appointed guardians of Ferrari’s soul gave the company a right kicking when it launched the California five years ago. Apparently, to build a relatively usable convertible was none of Ferrari’s business. Even though some of its past greats, like the 330 GTS and 250 GT California, were exactly that format. And, actually, the California has been one of the best-selling Ferraris ever.
Now there’s another storm brewing because the new California, the T, has a turbocharged engine. Again, the voices are raised that it’s not what we want from Ferrari, thank you very much. Even though some of the past greats, such as the 288 GTO and F40, also had just that sort of engine.
Hey, be happy people… it’s not like it’s a diesel SUV or anything. But the decision to go turbo always carried a risk, openly acknowledged by Ferrari engineers, that the result would emerge bereft of the blazing-fast throttle response, primal scream and dizzying revs that make the current generation of Ferrari engines so life-enhancing.
If Ferrari knew it was risky, why do it? Fuel consumption. Contrary to myth, Ferrari can’t just lose its thirst and CO2 numbers in the giant bulk of Fiat’s average. For this purpose, it stands independently. But neither is it bound to the same 90g/km target as the mass manufacturers. Ferrari, along with McLaren, Aston and others, gets an exemption as a small manufacturer, but only so long as it shows willing and gets its CO2 onto a clear downward trend. The Cali T has dropped to 250g/km from the old V8’s 299, and they say the real-world consumption will fall in similar ratio. [x]
It’s the brand new Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster; an Aston that uses the excellent recipe of small car, bloody huge engine and rear-wheel-drive. And as you can see, it’s a pretty, squat little thing. It’s also really bloody fast.
Well, fast for an Aston, anyway. It’s basically the V12 Vantage Swithout a roof, and in doing so becomes the fastest-accelerating Aston Roadster ever built.
This is largely thanks to the same ‘AM28’ 6.0-litre V12 that features in the Vantage S Coupe. And because the roof comes down, you can revel in the noise of that simply marvellous 6.0-litre V12 even more. [x]
The cars featured in Top Gear’s The Perfect Road Trip special are a sight to see, but do you ever wonder how much it would cost to take them for a joyride?
Let’s countdown the priciest rides Richard and Jeremy take on their whirlwind tour of Europe.
12) Model T Ford
The model T Ford was the best-selling car in it’s hay day (the car reached mass production in 1908). Jeremy and Richard have some trouble maneuvering this piece of vehicular history but they sure look good doing it. In the 1900s, it would only cost you $825, but to get this showroom trophy on the road today it’d be about $18,000.
11) Ford Fiesta ST
For about $22,000 you can take on steep inclines and curvy roads like Richard did in the Ford Fiesta ST. This push-to-start hatchback can reach 197 horsepower, boasts aluminum pedals, and comes equipped with SYNC (a voice-activated entertainment system from MyFord Touch).
10) VW Golf GTI
On their way from Bra, Italy to the French Riviera, Jeremy and Richard trade in their luxury cars for more economical modes of transport. Jeremy cruises down the switchback roads in the Volkswagen Golf GTI. The MSRP going rate for this car is $24,995.
You can continue reading the rest of the article over here and watch Top Gear: The Perfect Road Trip tonight, July 14th at 9/8c on BBC America.
ABCs of Top Gear → Height differences
Is this the most important car of 2014? Paul Horrell reports from Venice Beach and beyond.
Surely Venice Beach – California’s longtime centre of the humous-fed and the countercultural – shouldn’t go quite so big on a £100,000 German sports car. But by 8am, as the place blinks itself awake, the i8 is already driving people berserk. “Woo, that’s sick, man,” offers an early-rising surfer. “Is it a 2014 or a 2015? It’s a hybrid? Runs on energy an’ all that? Tesla ain’t got s**t on this, man.” OK, he might not be entirely up to speed on the physics of the topic, but round here alternative-propulsion cars are hot, and one that looks like the i8 is hot squared.
Which is all very fine if you commute on a skateboard, but Venice Beach can’t expose whether the i8 passes muster to the Top Gear mindset. We need to be clear of traffic and onlookers. Twenty miles away, the Santa Monica mountains rise from the coast. So I fold myself inelegantly up, scramble over the i8’s high sill, pull down the wing door, strap in and touch the e-drive button. Silently the i8 glides off in the direction of some of California’s best roads. [x]
And here’s the car that must fill them. This is the new 650S GT3, and is McLaren’s track-only GT racer that’s set to compete in races from the 2015 season onwards.
And, as you can see, it’s based on the new 650S road car that takes over from the 12C. Underneath sits the same MonoCell chassis, while up top is a rather angry incarnation of the new 650S’s body: wider, squatter, larger air intakes, more aggressive splitter, carbon fibre bodywork and a huge fixed rear wing.
Then there’s the FIA-approved rollcage, a digital dash, a new McLaren GT-developed race seat with moulded seat inserts - said to increase driver comfort for endurance racing - itself bolted directly to the chassis, along with better ventilation and driver cooling. Remember, it gets hot in there. [x]
As days go, today was a good one. Right up to the first braking zone, at least.
Alone in an original Audi Quattro from 1980, the problem dawned on me just a little too late, going a little too fast. Alone in an original Audi Quattro from 1980 meant using brakes from an original Audi Quattro from 1980. There was very little run off into some concrete. Brakes were applied. Little happened. Thoughts quickly degenerated from ‘wow, today is excellent,’ to ‘wow, I wonder how they’ll identify me when I’ve been smeared across a wall’.
Thankfully, whatever cosmic forces are at work upstairs appeared to be in a good mood, and enough speed was scrubbed from the Audi to turn into the hairpin - tyres squealing - without understeering out of shot and into concrete. Phew. Embarassing phonecall to Audi AG avoided, I pulled over to take stock.
It’s a blinder, this original Quattro. Built in 1980 as a showpiece, it’s a snapshot of a company on the cusp of building a legacy as a technological innovator. And it all spawned from a German military-spec off-roader, the 4WD VW Iltis. Audi chassis engineer at the time, Jörg Bensinger, clearly had a Top Gear moment: why not use such a four-wheel-drive system in a road-going car? [x]
just watching topgear eating some pie and look what I found