The Geneva motor show always ensures we’ve got some tasty stuff on the cover of Autocar during March, but this year the month got off to a rather bigger flier. Autocar published its 5000th road test – the latest in a line that stretches back to when Autocar created the concept in 1928 and road tested the Austin Seven (Gordon England Sunshine Saloon, if you’re interested).
The subject of road test number one cost £170. Road test number 5000 was the most expensive, and fastest, car we’d ever tested: the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport. It hit 60mph in 2.6sec. Or about as long as it takes to change gear in an Austin Seven.
Away from the fuzzy glow that comes from knowing we’re working at a magazine with more heritage than any other in this business, in March we did also get excited about that aforementioned Geneva show. With good reason, too. Alfa Romeo probably stole the show – certainly our front cover – with its 4C concept car, a mid engined, Lotus Elise-sized two-seat sports car. We remain as desperate now as we were then for Alfa to put it into production.
There were some other show crackers, too, including the production variant of Ferrari’s FF four-wheel-drive super-coupé, the 1100bhp Koenigsegg Agera R and the Morgan Threewheeler. And, more sensibly, the Skoda Vision D concept and an 88mpg Kia Rio.
Aside from that, what did we drive? Most significant, from an enthusiast’s perspective, was the Porsche Cayman R, which would later take overall honours in our Britain’s Best Driver’s Car contest. On the week we drove it, though, it had to settle for second billing in terms of magazine pages, behind the all-new Mercedes-Benz SLK. Little question about which is the better car, mind you.
We also got a steer in two other tidy driver’s cars: the Audi RS3, a car of outstanding grunt and grip but not so much finesse to go with it; and Aston Martin’s V8 Vantage S. New Astons may not look much different from each other, but they get better and better to drive. The Vantage S is now the best car Aston makes.
The Aston wasn’t the only interesting new British car we drove in March. Steve Cropley got behind the wheel of a development version of Jaguar’s 2.2-litre, four-cylinder XF diesel and came away impressed. “It’s a real Jaguar,” he said.
Less impressive was the long-awaited MG 6, which has a promising chassis but too many other flaws to tempt all but the most hardcore of enthusiasts away from some supremely impressive competition.
And then, right at the end of one of those rare months when we publish five magazines, came our drive of the FF, the Ferrari that had earlier been unveiled at Geneva. Given the chance, our correspondent would “happily have driven it the 838 miles back to London”. If that’s not a ringing endorsement for a GT car, we don’t know what is.