If you’re a deep pocketed individual, your idea of a family car or a car that’ll suit your needs – that of having a chauffeur drive while you sit at the back and sip champagne – would range from an S-Class to a 7 Series or an AS. And if you’re a deep pocketed individual with taste, you’d probably consider the Bentley Flying Spur or a Maserati Quattroporte as your perfect family car. But if you’re areal petrolhead and a track day is your idea of a perfect weekend, you’d probably fancy a Porsche. Continue reading “The Luxury Of Driving A Porsche Panamera Turbo”
THESE BEING THE PAGES OF EVO, it’s inevitable that some flavour of Porsche 911 features in a “used alternatives’ piece. We just can’t help ourselves, can we? Truth be told, good used 911s are often the pinto burst many a hopeful new coupe’s bubble, for they are always perceived to be at least a league above ’whatever they’re compared with. Continue reading “Porsche 911 Carrera GTS”
He pokes his head through the window, letting in a short blast of chilled air as he does so, before inspecting which buttons relating to Porsche’s Stability Management are switched on. Ahead lies a row of cones with the purpose to zigzag between them in a fluid motion. One caveat to all this… we’re on ice.
Four-seat grand tourer bids to redefine performance in the luxury class
Model tested: 4S Diesel Price: £91,778 Power: 416bhp Torque: 627lb ft 0-60mph: 4.1sec 30-70mph in fourth: 4.9sec Fuel economy: 31.6mpg C02 emissions: 176g/km
By 2009 Porsche had well established the idea of its badge appearing on the prow of a five-door model. Seven years of the Cayenne had left an indelible mark on the brand; if the conditions were right, it was capable of anything, no matter what tradition had previously dictated.
Do the new GTS derivatives hit the sweet spot in the 911 range? To find out, we drive both four and two-wheel-drive versions
They know how to do it, don’t they? There’s a reason the greatest sports car of all time is also one of the most successful sports cars of all time. Beyond the fact that it’s the greatest, they give you options.
For those who find the base Porsche 911 Carrera too tepid while the GT3 variant too extreme or impractical, the German sports car maker bridges this gap with the GTS model range, where within this specific line-up customers can opt for varying levels of performance, depending on the model they choose. The 911 GTS range is made up of five versions; the 911 Carrera GTS with rear-wheel drive, the 911 Carrera 4 GTS with all-wheel drive – both of the above available as a Coup£ and Cabriolet – and the 911 Targa 4 GTS. Continue reading “Porsche Is Ready To Show The GTS Range For The 911”
Audi claims its latest TT RS is a serious contender, Porsche that its new four- cylinder 718 Cayman S is still the pick of its class, while BMW’s M2 has all the ingredients to be the best sports coupe of all. So which wins the fight?
The decision to shift the 4.0-litre six-cylinder motor of the new Porsche 911RSR racing car to a mid-engined configuration does not spell the beginning of the end for iconic rear-engined 911s, according to Porsche’s motorsportboss, Frank Walliser.
The twins that define perfection… …for very different reasons
Human beings have a habit of wistfully wishing for a future that contains more of the past, and more often than not these retrospective yearnings are badly misplaced. Anyone denouncing the 2016 Formula One season as tripe would do well to watch some mid-Eighties turbo-era races from the “Golden Era” to remind themselves of the yawn-fest it usually became. But in the world of driving, it is hard to escape the fact that the older ways might well be more fun. The Porsche 911R is evidential proof.
You have to choose your vocabulary quite carefully when describing this machine, not least because calling a 911 “backwards-looking” musters images of Seventies Porsches entering shrubbery on damp days. But this is a performance car from yesterday: it uses a 493bhp atmospheric motor, accessed through a six-speed manual gearbox. It has no hybridity, torque – vectoring or delusions of being anything other than a car to enjoy. It would have had no rear steering had Porsche found a way to argue that it didn’t improve the driving experience. But it couldn’t, so it remained.
This is a car whose philosophical presence far outweighs its mechanical achievements. Porsche took all the expensive bits from a 991 GT3 RS, binned the wide body and wing plumage and developed the manual transmission it promised it would never develop when it announced its new paddle-only future with the 991 GT3 back in 2013. In short, Porsche responded to public pressure and made the 911 that 911 saddos wanted.
The results exceed expectations: that yowling six feels 50bhp stronger than it does attached to a dual-clutch transmission, the chassis draws you into the experience in a way no other competitor can and, of course, the gearchange is a thing of wonder. The 911 R moves the narrative of performance away from Nürburgring lap times and other such nonsense to the nitty-gritty of simply enjoying the way a car drives, and how it makes the driver feel. And in this most fundamental category it is one of the best performance cars ever built.
Who’s the Daddy?
Porsche 718 Boxster: You’d think this machine Daddy enough without the need to big-up engine downsizing through genuflection to the flat-four racing 718s of the mid-20th century. Begs the question: has the Boxster gained a pedigree but lost a soul?
Audi TT Roadster: Designed to be first a roadster, then a coupe. Successive facelifts may have chiselled away at the Rubenesque purity of the original motorised builder’s bicep, but its popularity remains undiminished. Easy to see why.
Wind in the Hair or Wig in the Willows?
Porsche 718 Boxster: Lift or lower superb hood at up to 40mph in under 10 seconds; weather will never pee on your popsy’s firework. Nor will airflow incite her bangs to lash the Ray-Bans clean off her face.
Audi TT Roadster: Snug, triple-layer roof removed in 10 seconds at up to 31 mph. Hair removed considerably more rapidly unless you opt for £425 retractable wind deflector aft. Roof stowage requirements make rear seats valid only for taking cat to vet.
Shoehorn Squeeze or Horn of Plenty?
Porsche 718 Boxster: Alluring, tauter carapace a far cry from the original pushmi-pullyu houses classic Porsche interior with lightly breathed-on dash and 911 touchscreen. Superb driving position. Shift paddles untouchably hot after sunbathing.
Audi TT Roadster: Audi interior quality undiminished as the decades canter by. Location of HVAC controls within air vents the finest interior design step forward in eons, Virtual Cockpit less so, with HMI control now annoyingly less intuitive.
Kitchen Sink or Kitsch Missing Link?
Porsche 718 Boxster: The former, but it would be good to see a base spec car one day… This specimen notches up over £11,000 in options, of which only £1922 is the PDK transmission, and £1025 the sat-nav.
Audi TT Roadster: All the gear, and astonishing attention to detail. Where else will you find an auto-dimming driver’s door mirror and a microphone sewn into the seat belt to abet legible phone conversation with the lid off?
Time is a jet Plane; it Moves too Fast…
Porsche 718 Boxster: Alas, gone is the lure of the lycanthrope lurking at peak revs, but four cylinders a mysteriously better fit here than in the Cayman. PDK a joy in manual override, especially with self-blipping change-downs in Sport mode.
Audi TT Roadster: Feels quicker than the Mercedes despite bald statistics, and gruff engine note sounds far better to boot. Extraordinarily smooth gearshift – the belch of a well-fed hippo the only indication of cog swapping.
Seat of the Pant or Pants with a Seat?
Porsche 718 Boxster: Still a sublime drive; outstanding agility and grip combined with monstrous brakes and the most fluid, comfortable ride here. Entertainment shackled by soundtrack unless you ignore noises off and properly nail it at all times.
Audi TT Roadster: Over-firm ride courtesy of S Line set-up, but steers, and sticks, better than SLC. Pleasingly sharp handling, and so tenacious it’s hard to believe it’s front-wheel drive. The odd body shiver doesn’t detract from enthralling drive.
Porsche 718 Boxster
Engine: 1988cc turbo flat-four
Power: 296bhp @ 6500rpm
Torque: 280lb ft @ 1950-4500rpm
Transmission: six-speed automatic with manual override, rear-wheel drive
Top speed: 170mph
On sale: Now
Audi TT Roadster
Engine: 1984cc turbo 4-cyl
Power: 227bhp @ 6200rpm
Torque: 273lb ft @ 1600-4300rpm
Transmission: six-speed automatic with manual override, front-wheel drive
Top speed: 155mph
On sale: Now
Porsche 718 Boxster:
We still love it, but where’s the fun in a jolly good spanking without the reward of the requisite aural returns? Evelyn Glennie would love it more. 4/5
Audi TT Roadster:
Entirely practical, and delightfully easy to hustle along surprisingly quickly. A shoo-in if you can’t stretch to a Boxster. 4/5
You and I already know the road-going Porsche Cayman GT4 is one of the finest sports cars money can buy. Or rather could buy, if it wasn’t sold out. So logic dictates the Clubsport, the GT4’s racing alter-ego, could be about as fun as driving a car gets.
Eligible for a variety of racing series around the world and aimed at private buyers and teams alike, it’s a track-only twin to the road car. And twin really is the operative term; it says much for the standard GT4’s inherent track-readiness that the road-to-race conversion job list for Porsche’s engineers wasn’t a long one. Other than a raised oil level, the engine’s completely untouched, so it’s the same howling 3.8-litre 380bhp naturally aspirated flat-six we know and love. The purist-friendly GT4 road car is manual-only, but racing drivers don’t care about tactility or involvement when shift-speed is king and a missed gear can mean missing a race win, so the Clubsport is PDK all the way.
Just as the GT4 road car’s front axle is nicked from the 911 GT3, the Clubsport takes its front suspension from the 911 GT3 Cup race car, but other than a broader lip on the rear spoiler, the bodywork’s more or less untouched. Roosting on its air jacks here in the Lausitzring circuit’s garages, fat slicks filling its arches, it looks delicious.
Thread yourself through the rollcage and you’ll find yourself sat inside the Cayman’s body-in-white, with a few disembodied pieces of switchgear floating surreally in the otherwise naked interior; electric window and mirror switches, air-con controls (not a sop to comfort, a must in long endurance racing stints), and the Cayman’s regular instrument panel, forlornly displaying a warning from the tyre pressure monitoring system nonplussed by the slicks.
Much of the weight saving’s undone by the reassuringly beefy rollcage, so the 1300kg Clubsport weighs only around 40kg less than the road car. It’s so much more agile, however, you’d swear it was half the weight. With the help of the slicks and a clever 12-stage ABS system, you can leave your braking impossibly late, waiting until you’re practically in the corner before you punch the pedal, and when you turn in, the tyres bite and bolt for the apex where the road car scrubs into gentle understeer.
Proof as ever that a road car, even one as hardcore as the GT4, will never pass a fitness test against a racing car. The street car sounds the more sonorous of the two, the racer losing a little of that yowling tone in its journey around the sparse interior. It’s thrillingly savage from the outside though, six very angry-sounding cylinders reverberating around the empty grandstands and intermittently yelping as the revs flare automatically with every downshift.
Less expensive than a bespoke racing gearbox but still effective on track, the PDK ’box fits perfectly with the Clubsport’s target audience of novice to intermediate drivers. As does the car itself; friendly but thrillingly agile on the limit, it’s every bit as much fun as you’d imagine. To race one for real, dicing with swarms of rival GT cars, must be heaven itself.
Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport
Price: £81,000 plus VAT (in non-race ‘trackday’ spec)
Engine: 3800cc 34v V6 flat-six
Power: 380bhp @ 7400rpm
Torque: 310lb ft @ 4750-6000rpm
Transmission: six-speed PDK, limited-slip driff, rearwheel-drive
Top speed: 180mph (est)
On sale: Now
Anybody who has raced, or dreams of racing, wants one
We say: sharp looks, plentiful tech, plush interior. Still fast
A facelifted Panamera?
Nope, it’s an all-new model. Every single part has changed, whatever the similar (though perter) looks suggest. This Turbo is the fastest for now. Its new 4.0-litre VU engine houses two turbos inside its vee, like a Mercedes AMG GT, while four of the cylinders deactivate at a cruise. Peak outputs are 542bhp and 568lb ft, enough on paper for a 8.6-second 0-62mph time and 190mph top speed.
What about on tarmac?
Feels even quicker, if we’re honest. Engage Launch Control and it propels itself at the horizon in an utterly rude manner, while an empty, three-lane autobahn nicely exhibited the Panamera’s effort-free lunge to (and slightly past) its claimed vmax. Given it weighs two tonnes, it’s an improbably quick car. Yet standard four-wheel drive and a smooth, eight-speed PDK gearbox (the latter new to Panameras with the Mkll) ensure it’s all very fuss-free.
Is it fun enough?
Upon first impression, it’s not as involving as its famous badge might promise. But this is not meant to be a four-door 911 R. And with the standard air suspension in its most hunkered-down mode and the (optional) four-wheel-steering system doing its thing, the speed you can take into, and then carry through, corners is simply mind-boggling. The novelty of maintaining so much speed in something so large can’t fail to make you grin. But it really is large; heavier and wider than before, it’ll feel enormous on British B-roads.
Like the last Panamera, it’s actually a five-door hatch, though there are only two seats in the back. Space isn’t abundant for rear passengers, but they do get screens and displays to play with. Tech as a whole is several levels above its predecessor, with options including night vision (to make you feel like you’re in a Police Camera Action! chase) and the beginnings of self-driving systems via a satnav-orchestrated active cruise control system.
But $139k. Really?
Yep, end that’s before those fancy extras. Adding another $25k will be o doddle. But while it pegs the driver lower down in its priorities thon other Porsches, the new Panamera simultaneously takes the brand’s luxury credentials to new heights.
We say: Stuttgart manages to split its own sporty SUV range
As a single exhibit to sum up where we’re at, car-wise, in 2016, you could do worse than the steering wheel for our test Macan GTS, a plump number clad lavishly (and optionally) in Alcantara. Not the first Alcantara-clad steering wheel to feature on an SUV, true, and undoubtedly not the last. But that’s rather the point: we now live in a world where it’s not considered weird to skin the steering apparatus of your family 4×4 in a material once the preserve of high-end motorsport.
In fairness, the Macan GTS befits its Alcantara wheel, insomuch as any SUV can. It may not be the fastest crossover out there – hell, it’s not even the fastest Macan, giving away 40bhp to the Turbo – but it’s perhaps the sportiest of the bunch. It is, effectively, a Macan S with a mite more power and mite more bite, that car’s 3.0-litre V6 turbo engine gaining a couple of exhaust and engine tweaks to raise output to 360bhp.
Porsche has suffered (justified) flak for turbocharging the Cayman and Boxster, but its torque-on-tap character fits the Macan rather well. On sweeping A-roads, the GTS punts along at an unseemly lick, disguising its substantial bulk to spooky effect. It manages that Porsche trick of feeling more mechanical, more engineery, than its rivals: the 7spd PDK is irrefutable, and there’s even a hint of feel through that grandly upholstered steering wheel. Grip, too, is commodious. If you manage to unstick the GTS on the public road, congratulations: you’re well on the way to a significant crash.
Issues? We averaged 22mpg, which is few mpgs. And there’s no denying that, for Porsche’s smallest SUV, the Macan doesn’t feel all that small on the road. Put it this way: if you regularly drive country lanes, you might want to pop a few quid in the ‘replacement wing mirrors’ pot.
But given sufficient breadth of tarmac, the GTS nails its curiously contradictory brief with gusto. OK, for most Brits the Macan Diesel S – with its 430-odd foot-pounds of torque and promise of 40mpg motoring – should be all the fast Porsche SUV ever reasonably required, but there’s something oddly appealing about the GTS’s defiantly sporting bent, Alcantara and all.
Once ungainly but now blooming, Porsche’s coupe-like limo-cum-sports car emerges from finishing school as the Mk2 Panamera
Phrases you never hear in car dealerships, no. 1: ‘What I’m really after is a four-seater coupe, preferably really expensive.’ But Porsche has always been the king of answering questions nobody asked, and has made such of a success of it few of us can now imagine a world without Cayenne, Macan… or Panamera.
The all-new Panam is born, dripping with technology, innovation, improved dynamics and handsome new looks, into a niche where rivals don’t ever seem entirely comfortable. The rare Aston Rapide, the raw Merc CLS, the flabby BMW M6 GranCoupe, the identikit Audi RS7 – all are good without actually winning hearts or minds. And you can add the first Panamera to that list too. The Mk2, however, could be the car to set the segment alight.
This is the first model based on the brand-new modular rwd/awd architecture dubbed MSB, which has been developed by Porsche but will also underpin next year’s Bentley Continental/Flying Spur among others. MSB is a front/mid-engine layout designed for a sweet handling balance even without that transaxle counterweight. Its aluminium-intensive body is lighter, stiffer and easier to adapt for additional bodystyles such as the confirmed shooting brake or the tentative 929 coupe/convertible. Thanks to the long wheelbase, the short front overhang and the low roofline, the proportions are sleek and sexy. It’s a long vehicle though, measuring more than five metres from bumper to bumper, and at 1920kg it is only a touch fighter than the Bugatti Chiron. Even though the Panamera turbo can storm up the speed ladder with almost the same alacrity as its 911-based namesake, the four-door Porsche doubles up as a spacious luxury saloon and it is, especially when you’re prepared to shell out a few extra grand, sumptuously equipped.
The new 4.0-litre 542bhp V8 turbo replaces the barely less muscular but heavier and thirstier 4.8-litre unit. In unison with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission (that’s one extra ratio at no extra cost – they’re really spoiling us!) and a more adventurously laid-out awd system (no prize for guessing in which direction it sends surplus torque), the 32-valve thunderbolt accelerates this anti-establishment four-seater in only 3.6sec from 0-62mph when in Sport Plus mode. In view of the considerable mass and weight, a launch-controlled take-off is always a serious event, and the relentless initial urge keeps increasing up to 125mph when a kind of second-wind thrust pushes the car to about 175mph. From there, it takes a while to climb the 191mph top speed summit. In real life, these numbers are put into perspective by strengths which actually matter, like the explosive in-gear kick, the eagerness to shift down a couple of notches on throttle order, and the inherent voracity for that 680 orpm redline.
Drive this car with more than just a faint trace of enthusiasm, and the transmission will almost immediately adapt, idling the top two ratios, shifting down earlier and holding on to a gear quite a bit longer. Only on the Autobahn do you need seventh gear to max this bespoilered beast. Officially, the average consumption works out at 3ompg, but when the devil inside gets the better of you, don’t be surprised if the on-board computer displays 14.7mpg as it did in our test car. You guessed it: Panamera ownership is not a cheap pleasure. After all, the four 2iin tyres need replacing every so often, the base price can be easily boosted by succumbing to certain persuasions, and when the resale value starts plummeting as it undoubtedly will before long, it’s probably best to be immune to high-anxiety.
PORSCHE HAS SWELLED its second-generation Panamera line-up with an entry-level model powered by a new 3.0-litre V6 turbo petrol engine and a long-wheelbase version called the Panamera Executive. In total, there are six new models: the Panamera and its four-wheel-drive sibling, the Panamera 4, and a quartet of long-wheelbase four-wheel-drive models: Panamera 4 Executive, Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Executive, Panamera 4S Executive and Panamera Turbo Executive.
Making their public debut at this week’s Los Angeles motor show, the models will be launched in the UK in April 2017. Prices will kick off at £66,386 for the Panamera and £76,034 for the Panamera Executive, whose key rival, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class L, starts from £74,250. The Panamera and Panamera 4 are powered by a twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine. Shared with the Audi S4, S5 Coupe and S5 Sportback, it produces 325bhp – 20bhp more than the older, naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V6 engine it replaces.
The new V6 is claimed to provide fuel savings of up to 3.6mpg over its predecessor, although official consumption figures are yet to be revealed. The same V6 is also offered in the Panamera 4 Executive. The Panamera 4S Executive runs a 434bhp twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 and the Panamera Turbo Executive has a 542bhp twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8. The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Executive uses a twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 in combination with an electric motor mounted in the front of the standard eight-speed automatic gearbox for an overall output of 456bhp.
The Panamera Executives have a wheelbase that’s 150mm longer than the regular Panamera’s, at 3100mm, which extends the overall length to 5200mm. They are also better equipped. Standard Executive features include a panoramic roof, heated seats with electric adjustment both front and rear and adaptive air suspension with variable damper control as part of their Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system.
The Panamera 4S Executive and Panamera Turbo Executive also receive rear-wheel steering and soft-close doors, with the Turbo model adding four-zone climate control, LED main beam headlights with the Porsche Dynamic Light System and ambient lighting. As an option, the Panamera Executives are available with a new rear centre console that can be equipped with two integrated folding tables and an antenna connection for smartphones.
Well, this Macan is lightened, but not because of carbon fibre or magnesium. It just has a smaller engine. A 2.0-litre four-cylinder one. In a Porsche. That’s like coming for a tiger and having to make do with a leopard.
Which is why we are in this place. The Borivali National Park. An anomaly of a jungle amid Mumbai’s concrete jungle. This metropolitan city, this city that never sleeps, this financial capital of India, this city where real estate is ridiculously priced, this city that keeps making repeated attempts at eating away at this 104 square kilometres of wild .But the wild has endured.
But it’s a wild that poses a lot of challenges. Challenges that need a specific mix of skills. Proper big cats like the lion and the tiger need massive territory, specific kind of game and minimal interference from civilisation. A bit like specialist sportscars and off-roaders. They excel at one thing, but are all at sea at others. And it’s only the leopard with its mix of compact size, power-to-weight ratio, the ability to climb trees and its ability to hunt down small, large, wild and urban game that can survive this peculiar environment surrounded by an urban jungle. And the subsequent man-animal conflict that arises out of living on the periphery of a forest surrounded by civilisation.
It’s this mix of talents like the leopard’s that has seen the crossover prosper. These vehicles somehow manage to have just that much bite to handle a curvy mountain road, an arrow-straight, high-speed express way, an unpaved dust-track, a few gentle rocks and some not-so-deep slush. In the decade or so that the properly sporty crossover – Porsche Cayenne, BMWX5 – has been around, it’s the Porsche Macan that has properly taken its evolution to the next level. The Macan perfectly embodies the leopard of Mumbai. It’s the right size unlike the very large tiger or lion. Just like the leopard isn’t fussy about what food it eats, the Macan doesn’t get too hung up over the nature or shape of its terrain.
Which brings me back to this Macan. With a severely down sized engine and usefully down sized price, it’s the embodiment of the Mumbai leopard. It makes the maximum out of the minimum. It makes 248 bhp out of something that displaces just two litres of cubic space.
On the road, it feels more like 300. I just couldn’t make out there’s a turbo in there. There’s absolutely no lag, no delay, no pondering, no reminiscing. Floor the throttle and the Macan springs forward like a leopard making that final leap at its prey. The best bit in all of this is that there’s a smooth, rhythmic, refined growl all through the rev range. The kind that’s not too loud. But enough to let you know it’s in the vicinity.
T he Macan handles impeccably. And being smaller than the Cayenne or other full-sized SUVs, clearly works to its advantage. Just like the leopard’ slighter weight and sharp claws help it climb up a tree with a heavy kill in its mouth in a way no other big cat can. It is this dexterity and lightness you enjoy the most in this Macan. In typical Porsche fashion, the Macan does a brilliant job with road dynamics. You’ll always sbe told that you have to compromise on comfort for handling, or handling for comfort, or both for steering feel. The Macan does all three effortlessly.
Just as effortless as it is for a leopard to hide in plain sight in the thick foliage in the National Park with its dappled coat. What really elevates the Macan performance with such meagre resources at its disposal is that PDK transmission. The doppel-whatever immensely German sounding name remains the best transmission in the business.
It’s proof that with a smart gearbox, there is replacement for displacement. Besides, this Macan comes with the option of Launch Control. And like all Porsches, activating it is as effortless as getting its claws out is for a leopard. Activate Sport Plus, switch off traction control, depress brakes and slam the throttle. You will hit a 100 in 6.7 seconds.
Considering the Macan Turbo can do it in 4.6, that’s not shabby at all. And unlike other launch control systems that will give you a million engine, clutch and transmission heating warnings after a couple of attempts, the Porsche patiently allows you to keep at it repeatedly. It’s the same patience the leopard displays as it waits for that opportune moment to make a strike that counts. This Macan is what you get after constant improvements and evolution of a breed. It handles much better than many specially- developed sportscars.
Ride much more comfortably than a lot of luxury cars and in the national park, in the lair of the leopard, the Macan drove through swamps, rocks and dust tracks. Of course, there’s one thing it couldn’t do that any leopard can effortlessly do, go into the deepest of thickets.
In fact, compared to other big shots of the Porsche SUV family, the Cayennes and the Macan Turbos, this little crossover with its humbler engine punches much above its weight. I have always been critical of the Cayenne GTS and Turbo, the Macan Turbo and other big cats of the Porsche SUV family of being splendid to drive but lacking in that last bit of drama.
But this 2.0-litre turbo has just the right amount of growl and bite to never make you miss the addition al performance of the more expensive Turbo or the torque-laden and pricier diesel in the real world.
This car makes you realise how simple it is to make a magnificent supercar or an all-conquering off-roader. These two extremes of the automobile are often the pinnacles, the torch bearers, top-of-their-foodchain flagships of the companies that make them. A statement of their prowess, their tech, their expertise. Just like the lion and the tiger are statements of magnificence and pride of a region’s wildlife.
But in all of this, it’s the small, shy, tenacious, middle-of-the-road leopard that thrives in a not-so-ideal world where the wild is forever under threat to be tamed and cleared. It could either give up and give in, or adapt, improvise and survive. Just like the Macan, which has proper doses of the wild, of cunning and of improvisation to survive a world that’s just not a simple straight road. Whether you are civilised or you are wild.
Engine: 1984cc, 4cyl, turbo petrol
Transmission: 7A, AWD
Fuel capacity: 65 litres
80-0kph: 23.8metre; 2.4 seconds
City efficiency: 5.3kpl
Highway efficiency: 7.5kpl
Approx range: 420km
Pros: Ride, handling, steering feel, gearbox, power delivery, pace
Cons: Tyre noise at high speed, standard equipment
Bottom line: Not terribly fuel-efficient, but doesn’t make you miss bigger, more powerful, more expensive engines one bit.
BMW, Honda, and Porsche have built some of the finest naturally aspired engines in the world. In the last two years, they have all turned their backs on tradition in favor of turbocharged engines for their most iconic models. So what have the M3, Civic Type R and 911 gained? And perhaps more important, what have they lost?
The BMW M3s
It’s hard for turbocharged engines to feel special, to have charisma, when by their very nature they can’t offer the same noise, response and high-rev drama. And that’s what we like about engines — the combination of our sense s being spiked matched to drivability both pulling in the same direction. Conversely, it’s when turbos have holes in their drivability that they tend to be exciting.
I drove a 1995 Audi RS2 recently. If you wanted to come out of the corner quickly, you had to accelerate before you turned in, then hold on tight and pray you got the timing right. It made me plan and concentrate, whereas the latest crop is designed to be as easy to use as possible. Maybe that’s where we’re going wrong — we ought to enjoy turbos for what they are, not hope they can impersonate an atmospheric engine so closely that we won’t be able to tell the difference.
Either way,we want to press the pedal and go, not sit around for a few seconds twiddling our thumbs and watching the overtaking gap narrow. Select Sport Plus in the BMW M3 and, provided you’ve been driving fairly sportily, it’ll notice this and use the engine airflow, even off-throttle, to keep the turbo spin ning at over 120,000rpm. So when you press go, you‘re ally do go. Fit the M Performance exhaust, and you counter almost all the noise criticisms, too.
The new M3 makes a fine fist of turbo-charging, almost too fine, because one of the things we‘ve criticized it for was making the performance too accessible. Picky, us? Now this is close to being a no-win situation, but it is true that we want an engine to have a sense of crescendo, to build and build as the revs climb, and as with most turbo cars, the M3’s torque curve is more convex, bulging lowdown and tailing off at the top, rather than developing through a concave arc into a screaming peak. In this instance, I’m not saying it tails off with a whimper rather than a bang, more that you’re already traveling so fast that holding on for the last 2,000rpm is not only unnecessary but might well invite the wrong sort of attention.
And in the case of the M3, it’s following on from twoofthe all-time greats—the E46M3’s 3.2-liter 343hp straight-six and the E92’s 414hp 4.0-liter V8. Of the two it was the older one that was my favorite — the six was a masterpiece: crisp, responsive, stunning to listen to. It took six cylinders as far as they could go, meaning BMW had to turn to eight for its re placement. BMW got that one pretty much bang on, too. It was always a relatively heavy drinker, but the way it revs through to 8,400rpm is pure magnificence, especially the arc over the last 2,000rpm.
It’s also a smoother, more consistent driving experience than the new one. I’ve touched on this before, but I believe BMW, concerned about how a turbo M3 would be perceived, deliberately made it challenging to drive quickly so it wouldn’t be se en as a cop out. Does that make it better?
No — by a slim margin, the old one gets my vote.
The Honda Civic Type Rs
In away, it’s surprising Honda held out for so long. When the red Civic Type R you see here was launched back in 2007, most of its rivals were already turbocharged. Take the MkV Volkswagen Golf GTI. It had the same power as the 198hp Civic, but over 80Nm more than the 192Nm the Honda could muster, delivered almost 4,000rpm further down the rev range.
Unsurprisingly the Civic, with its engine largely carried over from the 2001 EP3 TypeR, was criticized for being off the pace. But Honda held out, trusting in VTEC and high revs to do the business. And to a certain extent it did — and still does today. This naturally aspirated 2.0-liter is sharp and tingly. With intake and outflow of gases un impeded, response is immediate and it’ll happily so arround to 8,500rpm — thats’ easily l,500rpm beyond the upper reaches of the turbo’s range. It sounds eager and determined, with the engine building to a climax.
But the overriding impression is of a car that delivers much noise and drama for little progress. That’s not a criticism that can be leveled at the new one. The step-up in performance between the two generations is easily the biggest here — over 50% more power, over 100% more torque. Put your foot down at 50kph in fourth gear, and 10.7sec later you’ll have passed 160kph. The old Civic won’t be alongfor another 8sec.
But the initial lunge, that moment when you go for an overtake, there’s a lot less between the two. The new Civic suffers from considerable turbo lag. Side by side at 40kph on Dunsfold’s runway, old kept new honest for a four count before the turbo hooked up and thrust the monstrously winged Civic into the distance. At higher revs the issue is smaller,but it’s clear Honda still has to perfect turbocharging.
There is noise, but it’s flat and bland, lacks tonal definition or the sense that it’s working hard. The Civic’s blower is monoscroll, which means the impeller blades are fixed rather than having the variable geometry that allows carmakers to tune engine response and torque delivery via the turbos as well as the motor. Since the turbo behaves the same across the rev range, it allows you to feel some of the four-cylinder’s power characteristics, not least the step in performance when the VTEC kicks in. T urbos, especially variable-geometry ones, have a tendency to smother not just noise,but character — it’s one of our chief blower bugbears.
But because you don’t have to rev the knickers out of the new one to get places, economy is pleasingly strong — we had along-term car and it averaged 14km/L,where the old one returns around 11km/L. In saved cost and gained range that’s a difference worth having. As is the power and speed. This is relatively simple first generation turbocharging,and there’s a certain charm to its lag and heavy punch— the turbo Civic feels raw but rewarding. Yes, it’s missing the top-end snap and snarl, the aural pleasure, but of the two, old and new, it’s the one to have.
The Porsche 911s
The common beliefis that firms have been forced to adopt turbocharging due to emissions and wanting to improve economy. By and large that’s true. Only with the proviso that the benefits seen on the EU fuel cycle, which tests cars so gently that the turbo almost never wakes up, aren’t then matched by the reality.
However, there’s another reason: power.
When I went on the launch of the new, turbo Porsche 911,one of the engineers openly told me that if they didn’t turn to turbos, they wouldn’t be able to match the power figures of their rivals. Forget noise, lag and all the rest, it’s the headline figures of speed and economy th at sell cars and at least until the official tests get a makeover, turbo cars fare better on a spec sheet.
Theeveryone-else-is-doing-it-so-we-must-too mantra is a powerful one — no one wants to be left behind on technological development,so we all follow each other down the same paths (or cul-de-sacs, depending on your perspective). But what does that matter when it comes to actual driving? Do you actually notice that the new car runs from 50kph to 160kph in fourth gear in 10.6sec, where the old one took 14sec?
You can see the difference in the figures alright,but in reality it’s the old one that feels faster at the top end. And more special. The old 3.8-liter flat-six is mesmerizing. It’s guttural at low speed, chuntering around, then as the revs rise it clears its throat and starts to howl, the noise developing with every single revgained. It’s multifaceted magnificence.
To a certain extent, Honda and BMW have managed to alleviate the concerns about the move away from natural aspiration with, in Honda’s case, a massive power increase, and in BMWs, by focusing on noise and minimizing turbo lag. Porsche has followed BMW’s example and in isolation the new twin-turbo 911 is a responsive, noisy thing.
And yet, compared to its predecessor, it’s now not an engine you feel particularly inclined to play with. It feels more professional, smooth and hushed, where the old one was so charismatic and enthusiastic about getting places you couldn’t help but join in. It made the whole driving experience come to life. The counter-argument is that turbocharging improves everyday drivability. Overtaking becomes more effortless, you can run longer gearing and still have plenty of mid-range urge, noise levels are lower. For 90% ofthe driving you do, it makes more sense. But these are sports cars, and the 10% matters. And that’s why I’d have the original: the engine, the car’s heart, was a classic.
We haven’t learned anything new here,but the comparison has allowed both turbos and natural breathers to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of each other. Put most people in a naturally aspirated car and they’d miss the torque, update them to the turbo and they’d protest about the noise and delay. Legislation and the very real need to lower emissions ensures turbocharging is here to stay, but it’s incumbent on the car firms to make it the best it can be, so that turbo can not only imitate natural aspiration, but actually move the game on.
Fisker Inc Will launch a new electric vehicle next year that makes use of innovative graphene battery technology to enable a range of more than 400 miles. The Fisker EMotion, the first model from car designer Henrik Fisker’s new company, will be a high-priced, low-volume model with a carbonfibre and aluminium structure and batteries stored in the floor. It has sports car styling and features four gull wing doors, but the cabin is claimed to offer the space of a more practical body shape. “The entire cabin has been moved forward very much and we lowered the bonnet to get better aerodynamics,” Fisker told Autocar. “Because of the better packaging of an EV, we have been able to create a more dynamic and sporty design, but the leg room is on par with large luxury saloons’.” The EMotion will have batteries developed by Fisker Nanotech, Fisker Inc’s sister company and battery division.
The company claims graphene technology will enable a longer range, faster charging times and a longer battery life. Top speed is put at 161mph. The car will be built by VLF -a company that Fisker partly owns – and have the necessary hardware for autonomous drive modes. The software for this will be developed and supplied by external companies in a move that, Fisker believes, will help to streamline costs and maximise efficiency. “There will also be a second, higher-volume and lower-cost model to follow,” he said. “Production for that will be handled by an established car maker, because they have really mastered high-volume, high-quality car production.” Fisker confirmed that the EMotion will be built on a modular EV platform. “It will be scalable, so more models can be created from it,” he said.
Chinese car maker Zotye Auto is again under fire for a copycat design, in this instance fora new SUV called the SR9 that closely resembles the Porsche Macan.
Although Porsche threatened legal action when the SR9 was shown as a concept in 2014, the German maker has yet to officially sue for copyright infringement, according to officials at the firm’s HQ in Stuttgart.
The comparison of these pictures reveal the extent of Zotye’s plagiarism. As well as aping the overall proportionsand silhouette of the Macan, the SR9, which costs from £12,300 and is offered with a Mitsubishi-sourced 187bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, also features similar shut lines and exterior detailing. The SR9’s interior also bears a striking resemblance to the Macan’s.
Zotye is well known for its plagiarism of successful car designs. TheYongkang-based car maker currently sells the SR7, which is heavily reminiscent of the Audi Q3, and the T600, which is styled to resemble the Audi Q5.
Other copy cat models within its range include the Damai X5, a close take on the Volkswagen Tiguan, an d the recently unveiled Damai X7, a clone of the Volkswagen Crossblue Coupe concept.
Zotye Auto was founded in 2005. Its first model was the RX6400, a compact SUV bearing a close resemblan ce to the Daihatsu Terios R.
Copycat designs are less prevalent in Chinese car design these days but do still occur.
A high-profile ongoing case is that of the Range Rover Evoque and LandWindX7.
PORSCHE FANBOYS are a sensitive bunch, prone to fits of fluster when the brand’s sacred cows are slaughtered in the name of progress. The latest threat to their sanity is the 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster, a disruptive newcomer whose subtly tweaked bodywork cloaks an engine that subtracts two cylinders and adds a turbocharger. Purists are likely to dismiss the new Boxster’s 2.0- and 2.5-liter powerplants, the first four-bangers from Zuffenhausen in more than two decades. (See one of the original 718’s in the black-and-white photo below.) Their concerns are entirely comprehensible; after all, when was the last time a $69,450 German sports car shared its engine layout and displacement with a Subaru? Sidestep the small-engine stigma and the Boxster’s creds are compelling: 35 units more horsepower (for up to 350), gobs more torque, and a 4.4-second sprint to 60 mph.
Coupled with its featherlike weight, these factors enable a fully loaded 2.5-liter-engined S model to reach 60 as quickly as the mighty V-12-powered Mercedes-AMG S65 coupe. It not only attains an autobahn-worthy 177 mph but also enables you to go farther between fill-ups courtesy of a bump in fuel economy.
There’s more to an exceptional sports car than numbers, and the old, naturally aspirated Boxster endeared itself to enthusiasts with its free-flowing exhaust note, a mellifluous wail so gloriously singsongy it induced goose bumps. The new soundtrack is neither shy nor retiring (especially when spec’d with the optional Sport Exhaust package, which cranks up the bass-heavy thrum at the touch of a button). But the voluptuous song of its predecessor is gone, which will undoubtedly trigger wailing among diehards.
On the flip side, the retuned suspension enables the 718 to glide over twisting tarmac like a sidewinder, absorbing bumps while pivoting around its center axis. That sense of delightful maneuverability is aided by crisp steering that broadcasts a clear indication of where the tires meet the road.
You can love to hate the idea of a spendy open-air sled with a downsized engine, but the new Boxster shines where it really counts: on jagged mountain passes where man and machine commune.
The third-gen 718 has transmogrified from an innocuously cute convertible into a seriously potent yet—given its tiny engine—oddly paradoxical performance weapon. Porsche is on a mission to advance the Boxster lineup into the 21st century while meeting tightening emissions standards, and this particular solution may irk the ears of its most ardent critics. But the 718 satisfies where it matters the most: the seat of the pants.
Porsche has unveiled the fourth model in its Panamera luxury saloon line-up: the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid. The second-generation plug-in hybrid model follows the launch of the Panamera 4S, 4S Diesel and Turbo two months ago. One of two petrol-electric hybrid models planned to join the new Panamera line-up, the 456bhp, four-wheel-drive E-Hybrid is set to make its public debut at the Paris motor show later this month. Priced from £79,915, it succeeds the earlier S E-Hybrid with a 31-mile electric range and combined economy of 113mpg, along with a 4.6sec 0-62mph time and a 173mph top speed.
At the heart of the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid is a newly developed petrol-electric powertrain that is also set to appear in next year’s Cayenne E-Hybrid. It uses Porsche’s recently unveiled twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine, which produces 325bhp and 332lb ft, in combination with a gearbox-mounted electric motor capable of delivering upto134bhpand 295lbft, for combined system outputs of 456bhp and 5161b ft. This provides the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid with 46bhp and 811b ft more than the first-generation Panamera S E-Hybrid it replaces.
It is also 22bhp and 111 lb ft up on the second-generation Panamera 4S, which is powered by a more highly tuned version of Porsche’s twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6, albeit without the assistance of an electric motor. Significantly, Porsche has altered the programming of the electric motor to provide greater emphasis on performance. It now works in tandem with the petrol engine the moment the throttle is depressed. Previously, the throttle needed to be 80% engaged before the electric motor combined with the combustion engine.
The result is a 0.9sec reduction in the 0-62mph time, along with a 5mph increase in top speed over its predecessor. Despite this, the new model’s average C02 emissions are just 56g/km on the European test cycle. As on other second-generation Panamera models revealed to date, drive is channelled to the road through a new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and multi-plate clutch four-wheel drive system, The earlier Panamera S E-Hybrid used an eight-speed, torque converter-equipped automatic transmission.
There are six driving modes, including the Sport and Sport Plus settings of other new Panameras equipped with the Sport Chrono package, along with the E-Hybrid-specific modes of E-power, Hybrid Auto, E-Hold and E-Charge.
As with its predecessor, Porsche’s latest hybrid is programmed to start in E-power mode. With a full battery, it is said to provide an electric range of up to 31 miles at speeds limited to 87mph. Power for the Panamera E-Hybrid’s electric motor is provided by a liquid-cooled lithium ion battery.
Despite offering a 4.7kWh increase in capacity at 14.1kWh, it is claimed to weigh no more than the unit used by the previous hybrid Panamera. Porsche says the battery can be charged in 5.8 hours using a standard 3.6kW charger, while an optional 7.2kW charger is claimed to reduce the charging time to 3.6 hours.
Charging can be started via the Porsche Communication Management infotainment system or remotely via the Porsche Car Connect app. Additionally, an auxiliary air conditioner now allows the cabin to be cooled during charging. A so-called power meter allows the driver to keep tabs on the operation of the hybrid powertrain via a standard 12.3in display. Similar to that found on the 918 Spyder, it provides detailed data on energy stores, including the amount of electrical energy being used in real time as well as that recovered through recuperation.
There is also a “boost assistant’, which displays the energy available for boosting performance via the electric motor, and a “hybrid assistant’, which provides information on how to regulate the electric drive for maximum economy. The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid rides on a standard air suspension. The newly developed system uses a three-chamber design in combination with electronic damper control and dynamic chassis control that supports torque vectoring and active roll stabilisation.