Few people ever see an original Shelby Cobra, fewer still get to drive one… must be Richard’s lucky day.
Its almost brutal acceleration. Its terrific body control. The way it hustles into corners. The way the suspension, quite firm at town speed, starts to stretch itself and breathe as the car gathers speed, allowing the body to flow gracefully over these difficult surfaces whiles the tyres securely track the tarmac beneath. The bellowing exhaust, the cackles and pops as it shifts gears.
The F-Type has clearly got an edge and an attitude that no Jaguar has had before. It’s a punchy little thing, a proper sports car and no mistake….
As we’ve been waiting for a proper Jaguar sports car for decades, this is all terribly exciting.
Making its debut on Audi’s stand at the Detroit Motor Show, alongside the SQ5, Ingolstadt’s latest RS model appears as some well-timed artillery against the also very recently announced BMW M6 Gran Coupe.
It’s based on the Audi A7, naturally, but only in body shape doth this RS7 share any sibling genetics. Because underneath rests the same twin-turbocharged, 4.0-litre V8 engine as used in the upcoming RS6 Avant (itself only announced last month). At this rate we’ll be getting a new RS-model every few minutes.
So that V8. It’s the same one used by Bentley, and Audi in the S8, producing some 552bhp and 516lb ft of torque, which if you’re unaware, is a significant amount of firepower. Audi reckons that - mated to a standard eight-speed automatic box and quattro four-wheel-drive - the new RS7 will accelerate from 0-62mph in just 3.9 seconds and hit a limited top speed of 155mph.
Tick the ‘Dynamic Plus’ pack and you’ll raise that top speed to 189mph. Nice. Incidentally, the M6 Gran Coupe’s pub-lording stats are 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds and the possibility of 189mph. Clearly, the battle for pub supremacy is won in tenths.
America, arise. Here’s your newly-minted hero. And Europe, you can forget your old-world snobbishness. America’s great sports car is today re-born. It’s recognisably a Corvette, but its every component has had a hard-reset. If you want your hammering front-engined V8 rumble to come wrapped in the iridescent technologies of our age, you’ve come to the right place.
Brutal statistics first. It makes 450bhp and 450 torques from its all-new V8, and cracks 60mph from rest in under four smokin’ seconds. Chevy people are so pleased with this, they’ve slapped on a badge historically reserved for some of the most knee-trembling Vettes of all. Yes, this one’s a Stingray.
And that name, and those numbers, are just for the base model. What sort of craziness they’ll unleash for the later ‘performance’ versions we can only begin to imagine.
Get all the details at BBC Top Gear
So this facelifted Z4 then. It now comes with a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four-pot that sits on the entry point of Z4 ownership, and one that heeds BMW’s labelling strategy by not being a ‘20i’, but a ‘sDrive18i’. Power sits at 156bhp and 177lb ft of torque, available between 1,250rpm and 4,400rpm. That’s good for a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds with the standard six-speed manual, which is a full second off the next model up, 184bhp sDrive20i. Spec the eight speed sports auto ‘box and the time rises to 8.1 secs, while top speed is 137mph.
Outside, the revisions are minor, but you’ll notice the LED lights have gone all Avatar thanks to their “strikingly three-dimensional design”, while there’s a newly designed tapered surround for the side indicators. There are three new colour options - grey, silver and orange - together with a new equipment pack named ‘Design Pure Traction’. Spec it, and you’ll be privy to an orange and black interior that looks nothing like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, Alcantara on the door trim, and a metal weave strip. There are new 17in and 18in wheel designs in a ‘V’ spoke design, too.
Deets at TopGear.com
You thought Jeremy would immediately pick the most expensive or most powerful car here, didn’t you? Well, he didn’t… he picked one of the cheapest and least powerful. But he had his reasons. The Toyota GT86 is a new way of looking at an old problem: how to have fun in a reasonably priced car. Now, TG has a long association with cheap thrills, but the GT86 tries very hard to re-educate a generation of hot-hatch motorists on the joys of rear-wheel drive. And it succeeds, by being exciting, relatively cheap and accessible to mere mortals. It’s good, people. Be excited.
“I like the GT86 because it’s come barrelling into the bottom end of the marketplace with a big dirty smile on its face and a suggestion in the way it stands that it wants to have fun with your middle parts. It’s a car designed for one thing only: fun.”
Let’s talk power and torque. Power in the new car is up 40bhp over the XFR, and torque 41ft lbs, bringing the grand total to 550bhp and 501ft lbs from the 5.0-litre supercharged V8. Amazingly, this boost in power hasn’t had an impact on the fuel consumption and emissions as they’re still 24.4mpg and 270 g/km.
But numbers like this put it toe-to-toe with Stig’s favourite sideways saloon, the BMW M5. The Jag will hit 62mph in just 4.4 seconds (just 0.1 seconds slower than the M5), and it will go a lot faster: the XFR-S is limited to 186mph, where the M5 has its reins pulled in at 155mph.
The Jags eight-speed transmission comes packaged with tech developed for the impending F-Type called ‘Quickshift’. Quickshift aims to get you the quickest and crispest shifts when you want them by anlaysing road conditions, throttle and steering input. If you’re being a bit lairy, it’ll throw cogs at you like Donkey Kong throwing barrels, but if you’re being a bit more relaxed and gentle with the throttle it will change the shift to something a bit smoother and lower down the rev band.
Frankly, if it’s anything like the last car to get the R-S treatment from Jaguar Land Rover’s specialist ETO division, the XKR-S, you’ll be shifting hard. The fast XK is rightly lauded for its glorious noise, and in the XFR-S they’ve replaced the silencer from the standard car with an X-piece and near straight-through rear pipes. Expect that characteristic crackle on the overrun.
More at TopGear.com
It’s true to say that there’s a paucity of boggo Porsches, but, as far as it goes, this 2.7-litre, 265bhp Boxster is it. It’s got optional wheels and a couple of other bits, but is more or less a basic Boxster.
Which means the least powerful engine, with the least expensive manual six-speed gearbox, and mostly passive or standard systems operating on the rest. And it just might be the best version.
Porsche’s people like to claim the new Cayenne GTS brings ‘emotion’ to its insanely popular SUV range. And they’re right. That emotion mainly being: “How in God’s name am I managing to corner this fast in a two-tonne 4x4?”
The Cayenne is a Porsche that will always split opinion, but, once you’re on the move, it’s always had that essential Stuttgart DNA. It shrinks around you in a way that the BMW X5s and Audi Q5s of this world simply can’t match. And the GTS version moves the game on once again.
The normally aspirated 4.8-litre V8 from the Cayenne S has been fettled to release another 20bhp, up to 414bhp, with peak torque of 380lb ft coming in at 3,500rpm. It’s also 160kg lighter than its predecessor, all of which means a 0-62mph time of 5.7secs and a vmax of 162mph.
The suspension is lowered on a completely revised chassis set-up: by 24mm on the standard steel springs or 20mm if you choose air suspension. Plus, of course, there’s Porsche’s familiar alphabet soup of options. Trick active suspension management (PASM) is fitted as standard, but for the full ‘emotion’ described above, you’ll want Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) to further reduce body roll, and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) to improve handling.
The result? The best-handling SUV we’ve driven to date. With the Sport button pressed, the steering response and lack of roll is remarkable: just point and go. It’s only really when braking from speed that you become aware of all that mass surrounding you.