Tempted by life on the left

I have a very good car industry chum based in America who does truly terrible things. He sends teaser advertisements my way, forwards Florida dealer emails and generally makes the prospect of buying something cheap, gaudy and - Stateside - incredibly appealing.

21 August 2009
Anything goes

Jaguar XFR v Jaguar Mk2

A day passed in a Jaguar XFR is always one well spent, but the one I’ve just had was made way more special by the growling presence of an original Mk2 complete with the full fat, 3.8-litre motor Morse could never afford. We were making a video featuring Jaguar’s two greatest sporting saloons, whose respective introductions just happen to have been separated by precisely half a century.

21 August 2009
Tester’s notes

No need to Focus on more power

If you have driven the Ford Focus RS there may be a couple of things you might change. The seating position is too high for example and the carbon-look interior borders on tacky.<br>&nbsp;<br>There is one thing the RS certainly doesn’t need though, and that’s a fat slice of extra power and torque.

21 August 2009
Anything goes

Hillclimbing in an Aston

I’m keeping a close eye on this weekend’s weather forecast and the race calendars after having my appetite for watching motorsport re-whetted by last weekend’s lovely hillclimb at Shelsley Walsh. If you’ve never been to Shelsley before – as I hadn’t – it’s well worth the visit. A few miles west of Worcester it’s a 1000 yard hillclimb nestled in what’s a distinctly pretty setting for a motorsport venue, tucked as it is into the Malvern hills. It has been used since 1905, making it the world’s oldest motorsport venue still in use.

20 August 2009
Motorsport

Is the Noble M600 worth &#163;200K?

When the Noble M600 rolled off a transporter into the Autocar studio for an exclusive photo shoot the good news is it looked like it would justify its rumoured £100,000 price tag. Then we found out the M600 will cost double that.<br>&nbsp;<br>This is obviously a whole different ball game and in an instant changes the way you look at the car. The Noble went from undercutting a Porsche 911 Turbo to a 911 Turbo, a Cayenne, a Cayman and change for some track days.

19 August 2009
Anything goes

Czech bound

18 August 2009

Renault fine is the fairest decision

When does a slight mistake stray over the boundaries into negligence? That was a question which obviously preoccupied the FIA stewards at the recent Hungarian Grand Prix when they concluded that a one race suspension was the appropriate penalty for the Renault team after Fernando Alonso’s car shed its insecurely fastened right front wheel shortly after a routine pit stop. Having watched the re-run of this incident – and mindful of the death of Henry Surtees the previous weekend at Brands Hatch in addition to Felipe Massa’s qualifying accident the previous day – a chill went down my spine. How easy it would have been for Fernando himself to have become another victim, but thankfully the errant wheel bounced harmlessly to a halt at the track side.

18 August 2009
Motorsport

Is the RCZ really a return to sporting Peugeots?

I was talking to someone at Peugeot the other day about the new RCZ and its importance for the brand. In a roundabout way I wanted to broach the subject of whether this could indicate a return to the affordable sporting Peugeots that are so sorely missed. I thought he would be very defensive of the company’s position and refute any suggestion it had turned its back on fast cars, but it wasn’t the case. Instead the chap was very understanding and said it had been Peugeot’s desire to become a "responsible" brand, hence the more sensible approach, and this had now been achieved. Now it was time to go back to "re-establish our sporting credentials" where his exact words.

17 August 2009

Audi's bright idea

I often find myself becoming a sceptical old git in the presence of some of the new kit that gets loaded onto cars. I've still never found an electric handbrake that I like, or a keyless start system that beats having an actual key. But a recent discovery proved that, to give a bit of credit where it's due, there are still some good new ideas being hatched out there. I was exploring the depths of the various sub-menus in an A4 Allroad's MMI system when I stumbled across a switchable headlamp beam converter.

17 August 2009
Tester’s notes

First impressions of the Bentley Mulsanne

The only other car sitting alongside the new Mulsanne on Pebble Beach’s immaculate turf was the Bentley 8.0-litre. Not just any old 8-litre either. It was only the second one ever made and W.O.’s personal car. Just to recap, the 8.0-litre was the last car that the company produced before W.O. was forced to sell his company to Rolls-Royce in 1931. The not so subtle message therefore is that this Mulsanne is the first ‘proper’ big Bentley produced at Crewe for nearly 80 years and, according to the company’s current boss Dr Franz-Josef Pfaegen, the sort of car that W.O. himself would have made.

16 August 2009
Motor shows

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