RRM’s 250bhp Abarth reckons it can smash a Lotus Exige around a race track. Still looks adorable.
There’s something adorably incongruous about the world’s desire to turn the bug-eyed, cute-as-a-very-cute-button Fiat 500 into a circuit-devouring sports-thing. Like arming a Labrador puppy with a claymore.
From Fiat’s own Abarth efforts to aftermarket tuning jobs, it seems everyone wants to turn the little 500 nasty.
But we’ve not yet seen one nastier than Road Race Motorsports’ shot at a Cinquecentro, creating what it calls the ‘500 M1 Turbo Tallini Competizione’, a name rather longer than the car itself.
The American-fettled 500 M1 (let’s go with that for brevity) is a road-legal track-day special that, promises RRM, can keep pace with a Lotus Exige around a circuit. That’s fighting talk. [x]
The design mind behind the Bronco is taking it back with all-electric Tesla-based aluminium rocket.
Meet the Icon Helios, an Californian dream machine packing an all-electric platform, and bodywork surely dreamed up when Howard Hughes got drunk with Gordon Buehrig.
Actually, that’s the analogy Icon’s owner, Jonathan Ward, uses to explain his latest vision. “One way or another,” he revealed on Twitter, “I will build this car. Looking for the right client to commission it.”
A bit of history, first. Icon is famous for building one of TG’s favouritest ever cars, the Bronco; a reworked 1972 monster with an entirely new chassis underneath, a box-fresh 5.0-litre V8 up front and a good, solid slug of 400bhp and 400lb ft of torque.
There’s a purpose built Atlas II transfer case, custom Dynatrac Dana solid-axle assemblies and independent coilover suspension by Eiback and Fox Racing. So it’s a serious, serious bit of kit. [x]
EXCLUSIVE: TG brings you the 1400bhp twin-turbo Texan aiming to smash the production speed record. Be afraid.
Here it is, a world-first look at Hennessey’s Venom F5, Texas’s V8 twin-turbo hyper-thing aiming not just to go quicker than the 268mph Veyron Super Sport, but blow the pesky Bugatti into the weeds, targeting a top speed of 290mph. Perhaps even more.
"I think something in the 290mph range will be possible," boss John Hennessey tells TG in an exclusive interview. Normally a claim so big from a manufacturer so small should be taken with a pretty hefty helping of scepticism. But don’t forget Hennessey has form.
As you’ll likely be aware, earlier this year Hennessey’s first hypercar, the 1,244bhp Venom, hit 270.49mph on Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center runway: faster than the Veyron Super Sport’s 269.86mph recorded vmax (the Bugatti’s official 267.86mph figure, if you’re wondering, was the average of its upwind and downwind runs at Ehra-Lessien). [x]
Yep, that just happened: Japan to get a modified Note ‘built for speed’
Nismo, Nissan’s official tuning arm, has announced that it will build a sporty, modified version of its Note mini-MPV. It’s called the Note Nismo.
Yep, you can brush aside you GT-R Nismo and 370Z Nismo; now the game’s all about mini-MPVs. Nissan has confirmed that this little speed-merchant will be available in two grades, the Note Nismo and the Note Nismo S.
It’s been built to celebrate Nismo’s 30th anniversary, and will feature a “specially tuned engine” with a five-speed manual gearbox, providing a “fruitful supply of low-end torque”. We are crossing all fingers and toes that this specially tuned engine is the GT-R’s twin-turbo V6. We appreciate just how unlikely this is, but whatever. [x]
Aston Martin revives Lagonda badge for range-topping four-door for the Middle East
Aston Martin has announced it will revive the ‘Lagonda’ badge for a limited run of an exclusive new super saloon.
The as-yet unnamed Aston Martin Lagonda four-door supercar will hit production early next year, and promises to be “the fastest of fast cars”, though at present, it’s only being offered exclusively for the Middle East. Blame ‘market demand’, or something.
Though Aston is being coy with the details, we’re told the car will sit on the firm’s ageing VH chassis architecture - on which all current Aston Martins are based - and will take design inspiration from the boxy, wedge-shaped Lagonda of 1976. That’s right, the company has decided to use the 1970s as design inspiration. [x]
Head of VW Group design confirms next hypercar is on its way. And it will be ‘art’
Get ready. The head of Volkswagen Group design has confirmed to TopGear.com that work on the next Bugatti model is well underway, with an expected launch in early 2016.
Walter de Silva, who has headed up VW Group’s design since 2007, said “we’re working hard at Bugatti, but don’t worry, it’s coming. I cannot predict exactly, but at the end of 2015 or early 2016, we’ll see the new Bugatti.”
De Silva wouldn’t confirm exactly what form this new car would take, but did concede that it “won’t be a Veyron replacement, it’ll be more than that. We’re investigating all avenues at the moment”.
He remained confident, however, it will be something incredible. “For me, Bugatti is not a car,” de Silva said, “it is a piece of art. You have to understand this. You are in another range when you talk about Bugatti. No, forget that, you play in another league with Bugatti. When you buy a Bugatti, you buy a piece of art. It’s a story, and I would like to transfer the Bugatti idea in this way.” [x]
Crewe boss Durheimer confirms next year’s SUV will be followed by ‘fifth model line’. Is it an Aston Vantage rival?
Bentley could follow next year’s SUV with a return to two-seat sports cars to sit below the Continental GT, according to incoming boss Wolfgang Durheimer.
Durheimer – returning to Bentley’s top seat after a two-year absence – stated that, after the arrival of the SUV late in 2015, Bentley will introduce a fifth model line, following Conti GT, Flying Spur, Mulsanne and that SUV.
Though he was clear the shape of that fifth model has not yet been decided, Durheimer admitted it had been narrowed down to the choice of two: either an as-yet-unspecified model to sit between £150,000 Conti GT and £230,000 Mulsanne, or a two-seater sports car that could undercut the cheapest Continental GT. TopGear knows which of these it wants to see.
So how might an entry-level, two-seat Bentley look? Well, it seems unlikely it’d clock in cheap enough to rival, say, the Jaguar F-Type. When TopGear asked if he could imagine a Bentley half the price of the cheapest Continental GT – meaning a tag somewhere around £65,000 – Durheimer seemed reluctant to stoop so low. [x]
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]