New Bentley Conti; next-gen Focus ST; Lotus' Aston rival; Countryman; Bloodhound SSC visit; Zonda R
23 December 2010

It's fair to say that our news desk was not short of material to fill the pages during September. We not only brought you pictures of the all-new Bentley Continental (which looked remarkably similar to the existing car), the next-generation Ford Focus ST and its natural rival, the Vauxhall Astra VXR, but we also reported the news that Lotus was planning an Aston Martin rival. This, though, turned out to be the tip of the iceberg, as we would see at the Paris show the following month.

With the Mini Countryman arriving on UK soil, we also scooped the news of Mini's plans to build a 4x4 coupé, as detailed in our breakdown of the entire future Mini range.

See the September 2010 pics here

And while we were in a contemplative mood, we also looked at the future for Saab and Volvo. Hilton Holloway considered where the two brands have come from and, with both now in the hands of new owners, where they will need to go.

We looked at some British success stories in September, too. We had a nose around at Ginetta, which is buoyantly producing sports cars and racing cars that provide some exceptional racing. And we spent some quality time with the team of Bloodhound SSC, upon which construction started in September.

A few numbers from the visit: "Team calculations say Bloodhound will accelerate from 100mph to 1000mph in 25 seconds. The jet will do all the work to 350mph, when SSC driver, Andy Green, will press a button on his steering wheel to fire the rocket, and acceleration will increase to 2g. Seven or eight seconds later, at about 650mph, parts of the airflow over the car start to go transonic – a phase that can alter aerodynamics in ways that aren't entirely predictable." The plan is to build Bloodhound SSC throughout next year, and have it ready to roll by the end of it.

Slightly slower, but feeling plenty brisk enough, was the Ariel Atom V8 we drove. A bit too briefly, to be honest; we didn't get a chance to throw it down a long, straight stretch of asphalt as we'd hoped. But we will get to next spring, once production models start appearing. Slower again but little less amusing was Caterham's new Monaco edition of the Seven.

Also in September, Ferrari cured the 458 Italia's fiery problems and we drove a 739bhp Pagani Zonda R, a £1.5 million cheerio for the Zonda before its replacement. "Only in Italy can you turn up at an aerodrome, ask if they have many flights landing and, if not, whether they would let you run a 217mph V12 track car."

Back in the UK, we drove a race car that presented far fewer noise pollution issues. When Jamie Corstorphine tried Citroën's 160mph electric Survolt concept car at Thruxton, he concluded: "If ever a race series befitted a support slot at next year’s Monaco GP, it is the Survolt's."

Not to be outdone by its compatriots, Renault also revealed an all-electric concept car: the DeZir. As Matt Saunders discovered, the was about much more than a new power source. Its purpose was also to signal a new design direction for Renault. Rounding off our electric September, Steve Cropley compared the Nissan Leaf and Vauxhall Ampera.

Returning to petrol power, and in a prequel to the Britain's Best Driver's Car contest scheduled for October, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS saw off the BMW M3 GTR when we tested the pair in Germany.

Read a month-by-month review of 2010

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