The Autosport International show has opened its doors to the public today and with it, launched the new 2012 motorsport season. Included in the show, is a special Senna Tribute Display, which features the F1 legend's karts and cars that launched his international motorsport career.
Special guest appearances include Force India driver Paul Di Resta, as well as 13-time grand prix winner David Coulthard and F1 anchorman Jake Humphrey.
Of the new metal at the show, it was BMW which continued to impress crowds with the first official UK unveil of the new BMW 3-series - which you can see on the Autocar stand. On sale in February, the new model will initially come with the choice of three engines in four models – the 320d, 320d EfficientDynamics, 328i and 301bhp 335i. Come March, the entry-level diesels and 320i petrol version join the line-up.
Another UK first reveal came from Porsche, which pulled in show-goers with its stunning carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) Porsche 918 RSR concept. Based on the 918 Spyder (first seen in Geneva in 2010), the new mid-engined racer concept combines the firm's flywheel and electric motor technology used in the 911 GT3 R Hybrid racer, which combines a 555bhp (at a heady 10,300rpm) V8 engine with two 201bhp electric motors for a total output of 756bhp.
Noble Automotive also impressed with its special edition carbonfibre Noble M600. The striking 225mph M600 features a fully exposed, dark blue carbonfibre body and "offers those serious about their driving an alternative philosophy and a more rewarding driving experience,” according to company managing director Pete Boutwood. As yet, pricing hasn't been decided, but the standard car starts from £200,000.
At the budget end of the pricing spectrum, two new kit car models from Brit firms SDR Sportscars and R-Tec Motorsports (RTM) were also shown. The SDR V-Storm is a 1+2 seater powered by a Subaru Impreza-derived turbocharged flat-four, which produces 300bhp. The sprint to 62mph is dispatched in around three seconds and prices start from £21,995, ready-made.
RTM's new mid-engined, rear-wheel drive La Bala kit car features a tubular chassis with integrated six-point roll cage and borrows the steering and braking system from the latest-generation Toyota MR2. The model on show at the AIS - the R Kit package - costs from £35,580 and is powered by a Vauxhall VXR 1.6-turbo engine, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
If you're coming to the show over the next three days make sure you visit the Autocar stand, to get up close and personal with the all-new BMW 3-series, as well as the Ginetta G60, Range Rover Evoque and our award winning Porsche Cayman R. On top of this, Autocar’s road test team will be holding live Q&As with the public, discussing 2011’s stand-out cars and highlight moments.