All posts in “Features”

Project Exposure: World’s Only BMW M3 CS Wagon – The Netherlands

It was one of those Sunday afternoons where you have a baby on the way, a couple of sports cars in the garage and a boring F1 race on TV. Then it suddenly hits you that one of your precious toys has to go in order to make room for the dreaded family minivan.

But for Sander a car tuner based in The Netherlands, this meant a new opportunity to get creative. It all began in 2019 when he acquired a BMW M3 CS which if we are being entirely honest isn’t the first choice that comes to mind when shopping for a family car. The 2018 BMW M3 CS weighs 50kg lighter than the regular M3 sedan, engine output was increased to 460hp and 601nm of torque. Production was limited to just 1,200 units worldwide.

He bought the car with a low mileage of only 5,000km at a time when they were trading above the €120,000 mark. In the car enthusiast world, a family car is defined as a vehicle that combines performance, spacious cabin and extra room for the dogs while retaining good looks or an acceptable design. So instead of acquiring a soulless minivan like regular people, Sander decided to convert his newly acquired M3 CS sedan into a wagon or Touring in BMW language.

I recently had a quick seat down with him where he answered key questions regarding his 1 of 1 project car, below is the script.

1. What was your motivation for the project?

Sander: I have had many sport cars but when we were expecting a baby I wanted to make my ultimate family racer and that’s when i decided to build a performance wagon using my already existing M3 CS sedan.

2. When did you start the project?

Sander: I bought the M3 CS on 6-12-2019, and from that moment we have worked every spare minute on the project to where it is now.

3. What is the base car/donor car?

Sander: The Base car was a 2013 BMW F31 316d Touring. The donor car was my then newly acquired 2018 BMW F80 M3 CS. I only used the body and trunk lid from the F31, all the other parts until the last bolt has come off the M3 CS.

4. What modifications did you do.

Sander: I could list a whole notebook of parts especially since the project is evolving on a daily basis. Nonetheless, here are the key modifications.
– Concaver Forged Wheels 20×9,5 and 20x11j
– KW HAS spring set
– Carbonworks Caron Front Lip
– Carbonworks Carbon Side Skirts
– Carbonworks Carbon Rear Diffuser
– Custom made Rear Spoiler

All major parts are still OEM, and these were basically copy and paste from the M3 CS.

5. What are your current output numbers (hp/torque)

Sander: It’s still the stock CS engine with 460hp and 601nm torque

6. How long did it take?

Sander: 9 months or 600 hours to complete the project.

7. How much does it cost to build an F81 M3 Wagon.

Sander: Depends on how you do it. The donor M3 CS was only 6 months old and 5000km on the cluster so that was very expensive. But I have done almost all the work myself. If you would take a crashed 2015 M3 and do most work yourself you will end up spending around 50 to 60K.

8. What do you think of upcoming G81 M3 Wagon, will you get one?

Sander: I love it, I wasn’t too sure about the new front but it’s slowly growing on me. But when I compare it with the F8x front I still do think the F8x front looks better. Maybe I should built one with a custom front?🤔

9. What did you do with the MC CS chassis?

Sander: I already sold that old iron and got 60 euro for it 😂

You can follow Sander and his project on Instagram at @f81cs

Fastest Car in the World: $3.9 Million Bugatti Chiron Super Sport Revealed

It’s now official! Meet the new Bugatti Chiron Super Sport which is limited to just 30 units. This is the fastest Bugatti car to date, and easily the fastest car in the world. It is after all built upon the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ which became the first car to cross the 300MPH barrier by achieving a top speed of 304.773 mph (490.484 km/h) back in 2019. The Super Sport 300+ was a prototype, the road going versions will have a speed limiter just like the Veyron Super Sport. The new (limited) top speed will be 440km/h.

The price of the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport is €3.2 million euros or an equivalent of $3.9 million dollars.

Moving on to the car, the body of the new Chiron Super Sport generates immense downforce in order to counter the uplift forces exerted on the body when the vehicle is at speeds of over 440km/h as well as improve the balance.

The rear part of the vehicle has been increased by 25cm so as to hold the laminar flow for a long period of time, the diffuser cross-section has also been enlarged and as a result, the rear trailing surface is 44cm lower and the slipstream and wind resistance generated are reduced as well.

Bugatti shifted the exhaust system of the new Chiron from the central to the side with the pipes aligned vertically in order to enhance the performance of the diffuser and create more space. Additionally, the side air curtains and the air intakes at the front minimizes drag and improves the air flow from the front to the wheel arches and over the side radiators.

Each fender consists of nine exhaust air holes for releasing air pressure from the wells of the front wheels ergo streamlined downforce is generated at the front axle, the outlets at the back of the front wheel arches help balance out the aerodynamic loads.

The Chiron Super Sport is powered an improved 8.0 liter W16 quad turbo engine that generates a maximum power output of 1,176kW/ 1,600PS and 1,600Nm of torque accessible between 2000 rpm and 7000 rpm instead of up to 6000rpm. The rpm of the engine was increased from 6,800 rpm to 7,100 rpm in order to improve the agility and performance of the vehicle.

In addition, the Chiron is capable of accelerating from 0-200km/h in 5.8 seconds, 0-300km/h in 12.1 seconds and the acceleration from 0-400km/h is 7% faster compared to the standard Chiron. The performance improvement of the Chiron Super Sport was created by the larger turbochargers with efficient compressor wheels, therefore the seven-gear dual-clutch transmission is at full load and full speed transitions from 6th to 7th gear at 403 km/h. The 7th gear boasts a 3.6% longer transmission.

The new Chiron Super Sports features newly developed Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires which have been optimized for top speeds, offer greater rigidity and they are the only tires capable of up to 500km/h consistently. This is made possible due to the reinforced belts capable of coping with immense forces.

The interior of the Chiron Super Sport consists of a blend of leather and polished aluminium as well as hi-tech carbon fiber applications. The interior is suited to high speed continental trips. On the other hand, the exterior features carbon fibre elements, inclined headlamps and new five-Y-spoke design aluminium wheels available for the Super Sport exclusively.

Additionally, wheels in a diamond-cut design and Magnesium wheels that further reduce weight of the mass are also available as options.

The Chiron Super Sport will be limited to 30 units only featuring similar design and color elements. The first nine units are scheduled for delivery in early 2022 at a price tag of 3.2million euros each.

$13.3 Million Bugatti La Voiture Noire Finally Delivered to Mysterious Buyer

The 1 of 1 Bugatti La Voiture Noire has finally been delivered to its owner after 2 years of extensive development and testing.

La Voiture Noire meaning ‘the black car’ was named by Ettore Bugatti’s son Jean after the Type 57 SC Atlantic that disappeared shortly before World War 2. The vehicle is a minimalist coupe similar to the 57 SC Atlantic thanks to the reduced lines, reduced essentials as well as the lack of a large rear wing.

The engineers and designers of the La Voiture Noire have reimagined the historic vehicle and developed a specific shape and style including the dorsal seam down the centerline, an extended front section and the clear lines adorned on the rear. The body of the new model has been finished in visible carbon fibre with a ‘Black Carbon Glossy’ clear coat.

In addition, the finishing doesn’t generate any reflections virtually, the bumpers are gently integrated into the bodywork and the windscreen appears to merge with the side windows like a helmet visor. The attitude of the vehicle has been transformed from a hyper sports car to a grand tourer because the surface of the vehicle appears to have been cast in one piece thanks to the lack of disruptive lines.

The La Voiture Noire features extraordinary details including 25+ individually milled lights elements on each headlamp, each cell of the 3D-printed front grille has been examined to perfection, the rear light features a single-piece surround with no joints for the first time and the new parametric design at the front and rear enables the vehicle to appear sealed but they are actually air-permeable. The six individual tailpipes serve as a nod to the vehicle’s template.

The interior of the new model features grain leather in Havana Brown based on the historic model and aluminium inlays on the centre console, centre spine and the doors. The car also consists of several drive modes that can be changed through a sophisticated rosewood switch.

Bugatti engineers built the La Voiture Noire in just 2 years, each part of the vehicle had to go through extensive Bugatti tests and quality procedures before they were used. The tests took place in the wind tunnel, on test benches and on the track.

Additionally, the bodywork modifications, thermodynamics, cooling, wheels and wheelbases all require perfect coordination in order to ensure new balance. The extended wheelbase and the new bodywork result in new aerodynamics and handling worthy of a grand tourer.

The question remains, who is the mysterious buyer?

Father’s Day Gift Guide 2021: Style

Does dad’s wardrobe need a bit of a style upgrade this summer? We’ve got you covered. Sure a handmade tie and a college sweatshirt are nice, but dad deserves some garments he can feel confident…

The post Father’s Day Gift Guide 2021: Style first appeared on Cool Material.

Essential Vinyl: 30 Albums Every Record Collector Must Own

Although streaming reigns supreme in the music world, the physical medium has returned with a vengeance. Vinyl record sales have been at an all-time high since the advent of the streaming age. And everyone from…

The post Essential Vinyl: 30 Albums Every Record Collector Must Own first appeared on Cool Material.

The 12 Best Meditation Apps to Help You Chill the F*ck Out

Best-Meditation-Apps

Finding quiet moments of calm in today’s world feels like an impossible task. Especially as the world returns to “normalcy,” it’s crucial we carve out some time for ourselves. Whether it’s a walk in the…

The post The 12 Best Meditation Apps to Help You Chill the F*ck Out first appeared on Cool Material.

Rise and Fall of the Godzilla: Nissan GT-R and its Dimming Popularity

Flashback

In 2001 Nissan showed a concept vehicle at the Tokyo Motor Show, previewing the next GT-R and this was about the same time when the R34 GT-R production was approaching its end. The R34 GT-R production only lasted 4 years, back then GT-Rs were only produced for the local market. With the new concept, Nissan envisioned a model that would be sold across the seas in the USA and Europe.

2001 Nissan GT-R Concept
2001 Nissan GT-R Concept

That concept was refreshed once more in 2005 long after the Skyline GT-R production had ended. The new concept was closer to the production model, with Nissan insisting the production model would be 80% based on this concept.

2005 Nissan GT-R Concept
2005 Nissan GT-R Concept

At the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, Nissan lived up to their promise and revealed a production ready Nissan GT-R. They dropped the ‘Skyline’ name and positioned the new GT-R as the flagship model, a supercar, a Japanese supercar, born and bred. The Skyline name would continue to appear on regular Nissan models starting with the V35.

The new Nissan GT-R became the first GT-R to be made available in multiple markets outside of Japan, they included the US, Canada and Europe. Japanese cars were available from December 2007, USA cars from July 2008 and European cars from March 2009. It was quite a big deal, Nissan introduced GT-R service centers in these markets with trained technicians to support new ownership. Like AMG the engines are hand built, in this case by special technicians in Yokohama, they were only four at the beginning and have a special name – Takumi Craftsmens.

2007 Nissan GT-R with mask
2007 Nissan GT-R with mask

In Japan, pre-orders stood at 2,282 after 2 months of official announcement and over 2000 for the then new Skyline Coupe.

The Rise

Immediately after release the GT-R was both a success in the media and sales wise. Key to this success was the pricing strategy that Nissan used at the time. The R34 GT-R was a very affordable model by the time production was brought to an end, and very few markets allowed proper importation of these cars. When the new GT-R was introduced, it brought with it a new definition of ‘JDM sports car’, redefining the JDM tuning culture and most important, introducing a new exotic character to JDM sports cars. Shirō Nakamura who was head creative officer at the time insisted that the GT-R is not a copy of any European sports car, which was very true.

Using USA pricing as reference, the 2008 Nissan GT-R had a start price of $69,850 for the base model. It was praised for being the most affordable supercar at the time, it had supercar performance for a bargain. It was compared to the Porsche 911 Turbo, both cars had six cylinder turbocharged engines producing 480hp at the time. But the Porsche’s price was almost double that of the GT-R, with a MSRP of $130k.

The performance also contributed to its popularity, at this point the internet had clans of GT-R fan boys who helped drive its popularity even higher. And for a good reason, not many cars at the time did 0-100km/h in 3.8s (or less) and a top speed of 313km/h for just $69k. Sorry, let me rephrase that, not many supercars offered this kind of performance for a price of just $69k. YouTube was filled with videos of $200k+ cars getting ‘humiliated’ by this newly introduced Japanese supercar.

Gidi ETS GT-R 3000hp
Gidi ETS GT-R 3000hp

Then came the tuning culture, if there has ever been an opportune moment for tuners of the 21st century, it has been through the Nissan GT-R. Drag strips have never been the same as tuning shops began fielding heavily built GT-Rs. From 1/4 mile to 1/2 mile speed events, the GT-R has proven to be a reliable platform for speed and big power mods. ETS and AMS are some of the most popular GT-R tuning shops, with their GT-Rs featuring power mods of up to 3000hp. We have even done a post on the fastest GT-Rs in the world, the post is now outdated but it should give you a vivid idea.

Fastest Nissan GT-Rs in the World 2017-18

Ingenuity also did play a role in the initial success. See, for most new European sports cars, early feedback is always something like “looks like a corvette”, “looks like a Ferrari and McLaren combined” or “that’s an Audi underneath”. With the GT-R, everything from design to the powertrain was proudly Japanese. And deservedly so, as this was a fate that required an intense sense of belonging, nationalism, pride and deeply rooted traditions.

So, if you wanted a cheap/affordable supercar with the performance of a Ferrari, a Nissan GT-R came to mind. Second hand prices were also very attractive, ranging between $30-40k for the early 2008-2010 models. The first facelift came in 2011, right about the time when sales started dwindling.

The Fall

Pricing of the Nissan GT-R began to change drastically after the first year. Below is a pricing table, with USA pricing as a reference.

Nissan GT-R Price History

Year Start Price
2008 Nissan GT-R $69,850
2009 Nissan GT-R $76,840
2010 Nissan GT-R $80,790
2011 Nissan GT-R $84,060
2012 Nissan GT-R $89,950
2013 Nissan GT-R $96,820
2014 Nissan GT-R $99,590
2015 Nissan GT-R $101,770
2016 Nissan GT-R $101,770
2017 Nissan GT-R $109,990
2018 Nissan GT-R $99,990
2019 Nissan GT-R $99,990
2020 Nissan GT-R $113,540
2021 Nissan GT-R $113,540

Nissan GT-R prices 2008-2021

Now, there are a few obvious reasons as to why the pricing increased over the years. Key among them being car prices around the world have increased too especially among sports cars; likewise, cost of production and cost of living has increased. Nissan have also made several changes to the GT-R over the years, mainly focusing on performance and looks.

But even so, the GT-R was no longer the affordable car it used to be. Second hand prices began to shoot up too. In 2009 the price increased by almost $7,000, that’s quite a hefty price increase for a car that is virtually the same with model year being the only change. By 2015, the price had passed the $100k. The GT-R officially became a $100k car, that’s territory associated with European sports cars. Not even fan boys could explain the reason behind that strategy. To add salt to the injury, the price hit $110k 2 years later. While all this was happening, sales figures were telling a different story – and numbers don’t lie.

Nissan GT-R Sales Numbers

Year Europe USA
2008 1,730
2009 1,987 1,534
2010 1,078 877
2011 889 1,294
2012 738 1,188
2013 480 1,236
2014 503 1,436
2015 486 1,105
2016 618 698
2017 816 578
2018 524 538
2019 389 331
2020 301

Nissan GT-R Sales Numbers USA and Europe 2008-2020

US and EU consumer habits are different, while there is a ready market for a $100k Japanese sports car in the US, there is a hefty competition in Europe for the same price bracket. In that regard, European sales were the first to show signs of weakness over the years followed by the US sales.

At one point in 2018, Nissan did reduce the price to $99k (a moment of panic i suppose) but this had little effect, it was no longer the same $69k car. They increased the price once more after realizing the strategy was fruitless. One can only wonder if the GT-R should have remained the same 480hp sports car from 2008 with only minimal design changes, and maybe the price would still be under $80k. Solo un pensamiento…

Speaking of changes, it’s hard to imagine the Nissan GT-R has been in production for over 10 years, 14 years to be exact. I mean, for a sports car worth $100k plus, the least we expected is a new generation to match rival offerings. I know, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it , pero aún…

Original rivals were the 997 Turbo, 2 generations have come so far and the current 992 Turbo is hardly a rival given how far Porsche has pushed the limits with the 992 model. Or is it?. The sports car industry is ruthless at the moment, with mixed emotions stemming from current electrification vs ICE storm. There are new players born everyday and so many options for consumers willing to spend $100k on a car. The GT-R has had countless facelifts in both standard and Nismo guise, but facelifts come at a cost especially when the competition is steering the market towards a different direction.

Then comes the interior, you have to agree that once a product like a sports car enters the $100k price range, then a lot is required of it. Japanese interiors have never been the nicest in the industry, that’s because they focus on affordable mass produced cars. No problem in that, a $30k crossover like a Rav4 that is reliable till the end of times? The interior is least of our worries when it comes to such cars, reliability is what you want in a daily driver for that price range.

The GT-R interior has never been one to win an award either, but for the initial price it was sold at nobody cared for plastic inside a supercar. In fact, Corvettes have featured similar interiors over the years but the popularity lives on due to the pricing. The only difference is that GM doesn’t increase Corvette pricing by 10 grand every 2 years, the new C8 for example has a lower starting price than some averagely spec’d European hot hatches.

Look, nobody is asking for a Maybach interior in a GT-R, but if consumers are to pay $100k plus for a sports car then we could do with a much nicer interior, there is already too much plastic in the oceans.

So What’s Next?

We expect a new generation of the GT-R in the next 2-3 years, could be more seeing that they just revealed a new facelift for the Nismo as model year 2022. The GT-R has the longest production run of any modern supercar, timing has been unfortunate too. If Nissan is to replace the current generation, they have a lot to consider including electrification to beat tight regulations on emissions. The GT-R has never lacked in the power department, and hybridization would only mean more weight for an already heavy sports car, this and other factors could be the reason Nissan has delayed it’s replacement.

But can the Godzilla get back to its former days of glory? Of course, there is always room for a new affordable supercar. Keyword being affordable, go back to the very basics used in 2008 during introduction. If GM can do it with the Corvette for decades, then Nissan can do it too. If the current pricing strategy is to be used on the successor, then we are looking at a starting price of $120-140k for a base GT-R, that would require some major improvements over the current model for consumers to consider it in large numbers.

One thing remains unchanged, the exterior design of the Nissan GT-R stays true to tradition, unique and genuine. We can only hope that the successor will not fall victim to the bland nature of current design trends.

2021 Alpine A110 Colour Edition Review

Sports cars built with driving pleasure as their primary purpose are few and far between these days. Yes, there are super cars available in abundance, but sports cars without six-figure price tags are becoming rarer as business cases and the green revolution begin defining the industry. As a result, the world of enthusiasts was taken aback when Renault revived the name of a 70’s rally legend. The Alpine A110 was born again at the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show and journalists from across the globe salivated. Why? Well, with an 1,110 kilogram kerb weight, the A110 was the lightweight sports cars we had all been waiting for.

Initial road tests hailed the Alpine as a car that redefined the sector. A couple of years later, I have the chance to see what all the fuss was about. I’ll be honest, the first impressions were not good. The Alpine wears no Renault badges, but when you get in the quality is what you would expect in a £20,000 Clio, not a halo product designed to rival a Porsche Cayman which is built to feel as good as a Panamera or 911. Some of the plastics are sub par, the infotainment screen escaped 2009 and some of the controls, such as the cruise control switch on arm rest, are frankly bizarre. The Recaro seats are brilliant but outclass the rest of the cabin – it really feels like a mix of many different automobiles.

As ever, I spent the first day with this press car doing what I do on my day-to-day routine, trundling around the city getting coffee and running errands. The A110 feels small on the road which is surprising and pleasing in equal measure at a time when a 992 911 occupies almost every millimetre of a European lane. Being the Colour Edition, the A110 I am driving features 4mm lower suspension and 50% stiffer spring and 100% stiffer anti-roll bars then the standard A110 and it did feel a touch too firm at low speeds on poor surfaces. As you may have gauged, I was not understanding what the allure of the little sports cars was. I was more annoyed that there was no cabin storage space (not even door bins), the infotainment was slow, laggy and was not intuitive, that the front boot was as deep as an over baking tray and that the rear boot would barely fit a thick coat let alone any substantial shopping. Being mid-engined, the boot gets very warm adding to the issues. The front truck release is in the passenger footwell and is a struggle to reach from the driving seat, this is borderline comical.

Day two is all about exploiting a cars dynamic capabilities, finally the Alpine A110 came into its comfort zone. Sport Mode engaged, the punchy little 4-cylinder becomes more vocal, the steering weights up and the car feels much more engaging. Hold down the wheel mounted Sport button and track mode is engaged, the entire dash layout changes to display a whole host of information from steering angle to g forces. The ESC is slackened and this is where this 288bhp pocket rocket starts to make sense. Lightness is the overriding sensation, as is feel through that fixed bucket seat. The Getrag DCT even starts to feel well suited to the engine as the shifts are quick and accompanied by giggle educing parps on shifts. With 320Nm to pelt such a light car down the road, the sensation is speed is entertaining.

There is a balance and connection that is encouraging and brings confidence to push harder and harder as the drive becomes all the more rewarding. The steering is quick, there is little feel but enough to understand where grip levels are. With the ESC in track, the rear end comes into play too. Remember the ride I complained about? Well, despite not having adaptive dampers, the ride becomes much more refined as the speeds build. The entire package comes together to result in one of the most satisfying and exiting cars I have driven in a long time with fabulous poise. The feeling of lightness will stay in my memory for a long time to come.

Yes, it may not be practical or cheap (£62,958 as tested) but it offers something no other car on sale today aside from a Lotus Elise can come close to matching. I tip my hat to Renault for being so dedicated in their pursuit of driver engagement. I hope that many people get behind the wheel of the A110 to understand what the engineers in Dieppe have managed to achieve, this car is magnificent.

2020 Audi R8 Rear Wheel Drive Review

It is hard to believe that the Audi R8 is almost 15-years-old, seeing the first generation V8 on the road is still a treat – few cars have aged as well. Since its inception, the R8 has morphed from a mid-engined sports cars battling the likes of the Porsche 911 Carrera range, into a red blooded supercar with a heart shared with a Lamborghini and a price tag the makes it a very different proposition from the car Tony Stark used to daily. The current R8 range has shrunk to just three options, gone are the V8 or manual options. All powered by 5.2-litre V10 engines and available in Coupe and Spyder forms, perspective buyers can have the full fat Performance Quattro with 612bhp, the semi-skimmed 562bhp V10 Quattro or the entry level model that is the subject of this review, the V10 RWD with ‘just’ 533bhp. The difference is price between the range topper (£144,950) and the RWD (£114,435) is noteworthy and arguably makes the RWD on of the most attainable entry level supercars on the market, but does it make it any less desirable?

To me, the R8 RWD is the most compelling R8 in the current line up. The Performance variant is great, but to me it was too easy to find the limits, something I discovered just a handful of laps into my stint putting it to the test at the fearsome Ascari Race Resort in Spain in 2018. With all of the driver aids disengaged understeer would creep in earlier than expected before suddenly transitioning into snap oversteer. Admittedly, things were much better when pushing the AWD car when fitted with Cup 2 Michelins and not the PS4S.

The first impression of the 2020 R8 Rear Wheel Drive is that the front feels more immediate and communicative than the rest of the range. That being said, the numbness of the steering has not been cured, yes, you can feel a little more of the road, but there is a distinct lack of understanding of how the rubber is interacting with the surface. But let’s be realistic, this is not a Porsche GT3, the R8 is a car with a much broader appeal. Where the GT3 with its (optional) fire extinguisher, cage and harnesses is set to drive to a track day, set immense apex speeds and then drive you home, the R8 is better focused to being the daily driver that will double as the stylish supercar that will turn heads outside your favourite restaurant. There are no adjustable dampers (optional on the AWD variants) so the ride has to be as well suited to a country road as the city centre speed humps. It is well judged but it is a touch unrefined at lower speeds. Anything above 50km/h is well damped, below that it is what I would describe as ‘jiggly’. The interior is well designed and fairly spacious. Whilst the cabin still feels modern, the MMI does feel dated, CarPlay is a bonus but the entire interface does feel a generation old.

But what is it like to push on a fast flowing road? I drove the banana yellow (technically Las Vegas Yellow) RWD for 600 miles, most of which were on some of the best roads in England. Once you learn to modulate the grabby brakes and not expect to be able to feel the surface of the road you can start to find the limits of the 2020 Audi R8 Rear Wheel Drive. The experience is dominated by that mighty 5.2-litre V10 and the transmission. With a redline at 8,500 and no turbochargers in sight (woohoo!) you really have to eke out the revs. Nothing really happens before 3,000 but then things get interesting.

As you reach 4,000 the V10 really starts to come on song. Hang on and relish the bark of the V10 as it reaches peak torque (540Nm) at 6,400rpm and peak power all the way up at 7,900. By the time you’re at 8,500 you’ll be hurtling towards the next corner having enjoyed one of the greatest automotive symphonies in production today. As you hit the brakes (ceramics are not available on the RWD) you’ll pull on the disappointingly small and plastic downshift paddle and enjoy the yelps of the engine as the 7-speed DCT makes quick work of the shifts. When left to its own devices, the transmission is overly eager and seems to constantly be shifting, but the changes are smooth and seamless. Beware of kick down in the auto modes, the gearbox, alarmingly, likes to downshift into the redline.

The Pirelli P Zeros fitted to my test car and mighty and breaking traction is easier said than done. The traction control system is very quick to cut the power and stop any hooliganism so I was forced to set the traction control to its halfway/dynamic setting which was well judged and allowed a little freedom when really pushing on. But even with all of the systems off, this mid engined layout combined with the Pirelli rubber meant that the RWD would usually fire itself out of a corner with little to no drama unless you’ve got a very open space to let the R8 off the leash. Find some space and the R8 feels fast too, 0-100 is done in 3.1 and the 2020 R8 Rear Wheel Drive will keep going until it reaches 324km/h.

The 2020 Audi R8 Rear Wheel Drive is the cheapest R8 in the range, but it offers more excitement and entertainment than the other cars in the range. Day-to-day it is just as usable, practical and enjoyable as the all-wheel-drive models, aside from the jiggly ride. The engine is marvellous and that alone is a reason to seriously consider this car, after all, it seems this and the RWD Huracan are the only two-wheel-driven supercars armed with a V10 on sale. It may not be the most thrilling, driver focused supercar on sale today, but that does not mean that it is not a joy to jump into a drive.

2022 BMW M3 Competition Review

The BMW M3 is one of the most important new performance cars launched this year. My personal experience with BMW’s iconic performance saloon goes back a few years so I jumped at the opportunity to test the new M3.

The all-new BMW M3 builds on the G20 BMW 3-Series Sedan launched in 2019. The 3-Series received a proper make-over from M GmbH to become a true performance limousine. The new M3 is offered in two variants; the ‘base’ M3 Sedan with manual gearbox and 480hp / 550Nm and the M3 Sedan Competition with 8-Speed M Steptronic and 510hp and 650Nm. We cheer the fact that BMW offers the M3 with a manual despite the fact it is slower (4.2 sec from 0-100 km/h vs 3.9 sec) and not offered in all markets around the world.

In this review we focus on the faster M3 Competition. Our Isle of Man Green M3 Competition came with M sport seats and all the bells and whistles BMW has to offer for the new M3, except adaptive cruise control. Optionally there are M carbon bucket seats available which give the car a very sporty look and feel. However tall people probably want to stick with the standard seats that come with a height adjustable headrest.

The M3 cockpit is very driver-oriented and all the relevant features are, still, available at the tip of a button. Again some praise is due for BMW’s conservative attitude to the interior. It may not look as sleek as the all-touch interiors from some competitors, but from a driver’s perspective it is a absolute pleasure. The software of BMW’s infotainment can do with a small user-friendly make-over but the controls itself with iDrive should stay as-is for as long as possible.

Now let’s talk about the pink elephant in the room. Design-wise the new BMW M3 and M4 are some of the most talked about new cars in recent years. This primarily due to the huge kidney grill that both cars received. I must say I wasn’t a fan from the moment I first saw this type of grill of the BMW 4 Concept at the IAA in 2019. It may not win a beauty contest but it is one of the most aggressive designs on the market at the moment and there might just be an audience for it.

Another thing that strikes me is the sheer size of the new M3. The base 3-Series is already a big car but the M3 with the wider fenders looks huge. I hope we reach a point soon where cars become slightly smaller and nimbler again. But in times where an electrified compact car weighs over 2 tonnes already, there is little hope cars will really become smaller and lighter any time soon.

Firing up the three-litre six-in-line is accompanied with a full-bodied sound inside. Outside the soundtrack is not quite as voluminous but that is due to the meanwhile well-known EU restrictions. Customers in the US should be in luck as their M3 and M4s should be significantly louder as their European counterparts. Throughout the journey the engineered tune gives a great sense of performance and speed and never feels artificial.

Performance-wise there is very little to complain about. It beats the last generation M3 CS which was the strongest M3 to date. Fans of the brand know that the Competition badge stands for that extra level of sportiness. And totally in line with that philosophy the bandwidth between comfort and sport is quite narrow. In comfort mode the suspension is still stiff and the car feels properly planted to a point where the title comfort is almost misleading.

The two M buttons on the steering wheel allow the driver to setup two preferred driving profiles. In the profile everything from steering and brake feel to gear changes and ESP can be set to the users preference and activated at the tip of a button. A new feature is the M Drift analyser, similar to the drift aid found in the McLaren 720S, which allows novices to set an invisible hand from level 0 (no traction control) to level 10 (impossible to drift). Although this is a gimmick that few customers will use frequently to drift, it does come in very handy on the race track when the course is wet.

I drove the new M3 Competition on a mixed route with unlimited German autobahn and flowing German b-roads. On the autobahn it is perfect when driven hard but a bit nervous when just cruising along. The 290 km/h top speed is reached with ease and the various sprints show just how strong this engine is. Leaving the highways behind, the car just loves the smooth sweeping bends of the hilly countryside west of Munich. It is very tail-happy accelerating out of tighter bends, just as a true M3 should be.

Overall the new BMW M3 Competition is a very good performance car. It has a great number of incredible details and the level of finishing is close to perfection. If you are looking for a performance car with aggressive styling and performance and handling to match; this is the car to get. It is very much a car to love or to hate.

Project Exposure: YouTuber’s $500k Lamborghini Huracan Evo Aperta 840hp

To stay above the game on YouTube, content is everything – outstanding content. In this week’s feature of Project Exposure, we have popular car YouTuber Daily Driven Exotics who decided to convert a brand new Lamborghini Huracan Evo Spyder into a speedster, or Aperta as they named it. Speedsters are quite trendy now among supercar manufacturers, we have the Monza SP from Ferrari, V12 Speedster from Aston Martin, Elva from McLaren and even a one-off SC20 from Lamborghini.

Damon of DDE decided to create his own speedster using a brand new Lamborghini Huracan Evo RWD Spyder he picked up from Lamborghini Vancouver. The Huracan Evo is essentially a facelift model for the Huracan range which was refreshed in 2019. Choosing a Huracan Evo Spyder as the base car meant that the DDE team only needed to do a windshield delete during the conversion. This work was done by Vancouver based SR Auto Group.

The stock car comes with a 5.2L naturally aspirated V10 producing 630hp and 601nm of torque. DDE opted for more power via a new VF Engineering Supercharger and engine tune. The outcome was a 840whp RWD Huracan Evo Aperta. Being a YouTuber car, sound is everything, here they installed a Fi Valved Sport Exhaust + Sport Cats. Little of what the Huracan Evo Spyder came with was intact up to this point, the body also went through a significant amount of change.

The body changes included Vorsteiner Vincenzo Edizione Aero front fenders with integrated vents and splash carbon Matrix PP Glossy. In addition to that, they also installed Vorsteiner Vincenzo Edizione Aero side blades.

Protective Film Solutions stepped in to enhance the visual look with their 3M Fluorescent Satin Yellow and Gloss Lamination 2 layer vinyl. This was installed by Wrap Workz Vancouver.

Huracan Aperta Side

To finish off the look, a set of Vorsteiner V-FF 109 wheels in Satin Black were fitted, wrapped in Gladiator XComp Performance tires. You can follow more of the car’s action on the DDE YouTube channel, there is talk about them recreating the same project with an SVJ Roadster!

If you would like to get your car featured on “Project Exposure”, please write us a DM on Instagram or contact me directly via Twitter.

10 Widebody Kits for Your Toyota GR Supra (with Prices)

Supra culture is hotter than ever, with tuners around the world developing all sorts of parts from performance to aesthetics. The GR Supra shares a powertrain and other parts with the BMW G29 Z4, they even share the same assembly but as soon as they leave the doors of the Austrian factory everything changes. One is built for open top fun, the other is built to take any form of abuse from the JDM culture.

With the new GR Supra taking the market by storm, one of the most common mod by enthusiasts is a widebody kit. While the market is filled with lots of kits and stand alone parts, we decided to list down 10 popular widebody kits that you can get for your Supra. Enjoy!

1. PANDEM GR SUPRA WIDEBODY KIT

Also known as Rocket Bunny. Pandem and Rocket Bunny are both brand names owned by TRA Kyoto Japan. The V1 kits comes complete with a wing. There is also a V1.5 kit, which will be followed by a V2 and V3 as per their tradition.

PRICE: From $8,000 full kit

Rocket Bunny GR Supra. Photo by Driving Line

2. VARIS GR SUPRA WIDEBODY KIT

Here you have the option for the Varis Arising I full kit or the Varis Supreme kit.

PRICE: $17,985 for the Varis Arising I
PRICE: $25,590 for the Varis Supreme

VARIS SUPREME SUPRA
VARIS SUPREME SUPRA danielksong on Instagram

3. HKS GR SUPRA WIDEBODY KIT

HKS offers a variety of parts for the GR Supra. The widebody kit with a wing set is just part of the bigger catalog. You can choose performance parts from exhaust systems to intake systems and of course their popular coilover sets for all driving conditions as part of the suspension upgrade.

PRICE: from $10,000 full Kit

HKS GR SUPRA WIDEBODY

4. STREET HUNTER GR SUPRA WIDEBODY KIT

Street Hunter Design kit is popular in the US and seems to have a significant usage overseas too. Probably because of their pocket friendly price.

PRICE: from $7,000 full kit

Street Hunter Design Supra

5. TOM’S RACING GR SUPRA WIDEBODY KIT

Revealed at the Tokyo Auto Salon earlier in the year. The kit is limited to 99 pieces. The company will likely have a non limited version 2.

PRICE: from $10,000 (apprx)

6. KUHL RACING GR SUPRA WIDEBODY KIT

Japan racing team and performance shop is not new to the tuning industry. For the GR Supra they have a normal body kit, widebody kit and an extreme drift widebody kit. The latter is based on Masato Kawabata’s GR Supra.

PRICE: from $9,250 full kit

7. LIBERTY WALK GR SUPRA WIDEBODY KIT

Liberty Walk needs no introduction when it comes to widebody kits. They take extreme to a whole new level and will create a widebody kit for almost any car. The complete kit comes in two forms, one with the standard bonnet and the other with a bonnet hood.

PRICE: from $14,850 full kit

8. JONSIBAL GR SUPRA WIDEBODY KIT

3D artist Jonsbal has created some of the most popular widebody kits on the internet. Most of these kits are special commissions by car collectors while others are collaborations with tuning shops. The Jonsibal GR Supra stands out from the crowd, the Supra shown here was commissioned by Papadakis Racing. A 1000hp drift machine and apparently the fastest Toyota in Formula D!

Price: Upon Request

Papadakis Racing Supra GR Rear

9. PRIOR DESIGN GR SUPRA WIDEBODY KIT

This European tuner wants a share of the Supra market too. They are not new to widebody kits, having done numerous kits for German marques over the years.

PRICE: on request

PRIOR DESIGN GR SUPRA

10. SARD TUNING GR SUPRA WIDEBODY KIT

Japanese tuner who is selling their bodykit as a package. You get a full engine tuning and exterior modifications. The 3.0L turbo straight six engine rated at 382hp gets tuned to 500hp thanks to a new Borg-Warner turbo and ECU tuning among other items. The bodykit and 20 inch wheels finish off the look. They will only build 20 cars, a series production kit could however come in future.

PRICE: $120,000 including the car.

SARD TUNING GR SUPRA

Most Popular Lamborghini Urus Bodykits in 2020/2021

It’s the most popular super SUV in the world right now. The Lamborghini Urus is by far the best selling Lamborghini ever made, over 70% of the Urus sales are from buyers new to the brand according to the company figures. That said, tuners did not waste any time with this model either. Most Urus owners want to take it a notch higher by having a different-looking car from the crowd. This is where real money is made – the aftermarket scene.

While most owners only touch the basics (wheels and a wrap just to name a few), a significant number will invest in a whole makeover kit. Below are the most popular Lamborghini Urus bodykits in the market right now.

Novitec Lamborghini Urus – Novitec Esteso

Novitec Lamborghini Urus Esteso by Nino Hooymans Exclusive
Photo by Bas Fransen

As wide as they get. The Novitec kit will come with widebody parts, 23-inch wheels and a new exhaust system. It is aptly known as the Novitec Esteso kit. They will also tune your engine to 782hp and up to 1,032nm!

Mansory Lamborghini Urus – Mansory Venatus Evo

Mansory Lamborghini Urus
The Mansory kit needs no introduction either, the entire front apron has been restyled before the application of a widebody kit. You have the option of all types of carbon fiber materials including naked carbon, forged carbon and painted carbon. Engine tuning will bump up the power all the way to 810hp. They call it the Mansory Venatus Evo.

Price Gross: €556,800
Price Net: €480,000

1016 Lamborghini Urus


If you come across a widebody Urus in North America, chances are it’s equipped with a 1016 Industries bodykit. A quick #urus search on instagram will reveal several of them in different shades. The pricing is also friendly with a start price of around $30k.

TopCar Lamborghini Urus

TopCar Urus
TopCar has been active for quite sometime now and when the Urus was launched they jumped on board with their unique offering. They particularly specialize in carbon fiber parts, don’t be surprised to find your Pagani sharing the same quality of carbon fiber as a TopCar Urus. The bodykit is also priced fairly with prices starting around 40,000 euros.

Manhart x TopCar

They also teamed up with performance specialist Manhart for extra power. This combo will give you an all round package with 800hp and 1040nm torque. Your sound will also improve thanks to the Manhart Slip-on Exhaust with Valve Control, Downpipes Sport with 300 Cells HJS Catalytic Converters. The 4 x 100 mm tailpipes can either be finished in Carbon or Ceramic Coating.

Prior Design Lamborghini Urus

Prior Design Urus
European widebody specialists with bases around the world. Prior Design has been known to create widebody kits for almost all performance sports cars. Their Lamborghini Urus is no exception. The kit has everything from modified air intakes, diffusers, side skirts and spoilers. The kit is designed by Roberto Geissini.

Urban Automotive Lamborghini Urus

Urban Automotive Urus
UK based aftermarket design company is not only known for their G Wagon kits, but their extensive line of kits covering other brands. They became the first to offer a bodykit for the new Land Rover Defender. Their Urus kit is designed by Nero Design LTD and it comes with items such as Carbon fibre rear diffuser, Carbon fibre wide arch add-on, 2 piece carbon fibre rear wing, vents, intakes and more.

Reyvany Lamborghini Urus

Keyvany Urus
Relatively new in the scene, the company was founded in 2018 by experts in the world of vehicle customization. Their Lamborghini Urus kit was an internet sensation, extreme with a full interior overhaul. They call it the Keyrus. The outside begins with a $50,000 widebody kit made entirely out of carbon fiber. Other parts include a straight pipe exhaust system, carbon hood, carbon roof spoiler and more.
Keyvany Urus front

First Drive: Maserati MC20 – The Start of a New Era

The launch of the Maserati MC20 supercar in September 2020 marked the tangible start of a new era for Maserati. The MC20 is only the first part of a 5 billion Euro investment program launched by FCA to strengthen its brands and production locations in Italy. And Maserati is taking a prominent role in the program. On this sunny day in November I find myself at the Viale Ciro Menotti plant in Modena to take a look at the revamped factory and see what the MC20 is like to drive. 

Before we move on to the car itself Maserati is keen to show what the FCA commitment meant for the Viale Ciro Menotti plant in downtown Modena, home of Maserati since 1940. Up until the end of last year the GranTurismo and GranCabrios were built here along with specific Alfa Romeo performance models. All Maserati models and said Alfas used engines produced by Ferrari a mere 20 kilometers away. But with the Ferrari engine deal expiring next year Maserati has decided to take things in-house. 

Maserati Factory Viale Ciro Menotti Modena
The Maserati Factory at Viale Ciro Menotti in Modena 40 years ago

Walking through the gates at Viale Ciro Menotti feels a bit like time travel. The beautiful red brick factory buildings remind of past times. But these nostalgic feelings fade quickly once you see the modern and high-tech interior. Maserati invested a great deal of time and money into bringing the aging factory up to the latest standards while respecting the location’s heritage. 

A new engine lab has been added to the Modena factory along with a new paintshop, an electric- and hybrid engine test center and an upcoming customization workshop. The Modena plant will be the key production location for the production of the MC20 and its derivatives. Other Maserati models like the Ghibli, Quattroporte, Levante and the successor of the GranTurismo will be built in Turin. 

Following the tour of the factory it is time to take a closer look at the new Maserati MC20 and take it out of a spin on nearby Autodromo di Modena. The test car is still a pre-production prototype and covered in stickers. Since I was not able to attend the official launch beginning of September it is the first time seeing the MC20 in the flesh. And it is surprising how much wider the MC20 is in real life. The proportions or silhouette make it look a lot smaller than it really is in pictures. 

The front and the rear are unmistakingly Maserati. The front is characterized by a large mouth with centrally mounted Tridente and a front splitter running the full width of the car.  The side profile is inspired by the famous Maserati MC12.  The rear is characterised by the full width tail-lip, LED rear lights, a centrally mounted double exhaust and diffusor. A nice touch is the Tridente shape of the cooling holes in the engine cover below which the new engine is found. 

Unlike the famous MC12, the 20 in the name MC20 does not refer to the number of cylinders but to the year of release. The Maserati MC20 comes equipped with the brand new Maserati Nettuno engine, a 3.0 twin turbo V6 engine with twin combustion technology. This technology is derived from Formula 1 and helps reach new levels of performance. The performance figures are impressive; 630hp and 730Nm of torque. Enough for a sprint from 0-100 km/h in 2.9 seconds, 0-200 km/h in under 8.8 seconds and a top speed in excess of 325 km/h. 

The V6 has a 90 degree configuration to lower the center of gravity with the turbochargers mounted below the engine. The engine is paired with an 8-speed double clutch gearbox which comes with a Mechanical (standard) or a Electronic (optional) Limited-Slip Differential. 

From the start of the project about 2 years ago weight and a low center of gravity were among the key goals of the development team. The MC20 has a carbon fibre monocoque that weighs only 100 kg and ensures both safety as well as a rigid chassis. Instead of active aerodynamics the team decided to use passive aerodynamics only to save further weight. The efforts resulted in a kerb weight of less than 1,500 kg and a very low center of gravity. The MC20 has Double-wishbone suspension front and rear with adaptive dampers. The brakes are provided by Brembo and carbon ceramic brakes are available as an optional extra. 

As I open up the butterfly doors I’m in for some surprises. Unlike other mid-engined supercars with a carbon tub the doorsill is very narrow and the door opening especially towards the front rather large so it is very easy to get in- and out of the car. As I slide into the driver’s seat I also notice there is a lot more space than I was expecting. The low sleek center console finished in carbon fibre not only looks great but also adds a lot to the sense of space. 

The interior itself is crafted like a work of art. Leather, alcantara and carbon fibre are used in symbiosis to create a functional and driver oriented cockpit with very high aesthetic qualities. The number of buttons is reduced to a minimum with only the selection wheel for the five different drive modes (Wet, GT, Sport, Corsa and ESC off), the Drive / Manual gearbox selection button, reverse selection button, the window controls and a volume button on the center console. Nearly all other controls are either found at the wheel or in the landscape sized touchscreen display in the center. The driver display is also fully digital and displays all relevant information and adapts based on the chosen drive program. 

Firing up the twin turbo V6 is done with a button on the steering wheel. It does sound quite good for a V6 but obviously is no match for the V8 of the GranTurismo or the V12 of the MC12. A problem that Maserati like other manufacturers have to deal with are the ever stricter regulations for emissions and noise. US customers will be lucky, their MC20s will be significantly louder than their European counterparts. 

After a short drive through the center of Modena, with its cobblestone streets ideal to experience the MC20s relative comfort on rough roads, we arrive at the Autodromo di Modena. It is not my first time here and following a quick briefing it is time to find out what the MC20 is all about. 

Already after the first lap I’m blown away by the new MC20. Accelerating down the main straight I’m pressed firmly into the seat all the way to the braking point for the first corner. The steering is direct, precise and body roll virtually non-existent. The stopping power is equally impressive but the carbon ceramics might be a bit much for customers who will use it primarily as a road car. 

The gear changes are near instant but I don’t like the fact that it skips from 3rd to 1st gear when shifting down for a tighter corner. Although this will probably be changed in the production car. Switching back from Corsa to Sport and GT mode I can feel the car soften and become more forgiving for every day use. 

It is worth mentioning that virtual vehicle development and one of the world’s most advanced driving simulators at Maserati’s Innovation Lab on the other side of Modena played a key role in development of the MC20. The use of simulation and virtual car mathematics allowed Maserati to test more parameters in a shorter time, reducing development time and reaching better results. Setups created digitally were then installed in real world prototypes and tested extensively on the road and track to validate the results. This process led to the MC20 I was able to test today.

In addition to the standard equipment customers can choose from a range of optional extras including a nose-lift system, Sonus faber High-Premium Audio System, exposed carbon fibre parts and carbon ceramic brakes. 

The MC20 is just the start of a complete line-up. Next year we will also see a MC20 Spider followed by a battery-electric version the year after. It is no secret that Maserati also aims to return to motorsport with a dedicated racing version of the MC20. This platform versatility gives the MC20 a certain edge over the competition. Production of the MC20 starts in January 2021 with first customer deliveries expected at the end of Q1 in Europe followed by the US in July 2021. 

The Maserati MC20 is one of the most surprising new cars of this year and it exceeded my expectations in almost every regard. It truly marks the start of a new era for Maserati. 

10 Secret Porsches that You Didn’t Know About

Porsche just released a series called “Unseen”, it covers secret models from the past decade that were never shown to the public. Here they are:

Ferrari F8 Spider Review – Roofless Driving Perfection

It is 9.30 sharp when I walk through the gates of the Ferrari factory in an eerily quiet Maranello. In one of the two parking spots in front of the iconic factory building a Giallo Modena yellow Ferrari F8 Spider is waiting for me. Following one of the quickest and easiest test car handovers in years I’m out through the gate as fast as I came in. 

The Ferrari F8 Spider is the successor to the 488 Spider launched in late 2015. The 3.9 liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine internally known as F154CD delivers the same output as the 2018 488 Pista Spider. While delivering 720hp and 770Nm of torque the F8 Spider can sprint from 0-100 km/h in 2.9 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 8.2 seconds and continue to accelerate until the top speed of 340 km/h. Weighing in at just 1,400 kilograms the F8 has a power-to-weight ratio of less than 2 kg per hp. It is the most powerful and possibly last non-hybrid Ferrari V8 produced to date. 

Ferrari F8 Spider

Despite my test drive taking place at the beginning of November the sky is blue and the outside temperature already passed 15 degrees this morning. So it is time to drop the folding hardtop by pressing the button in the center console. In around 14 seconds the roof drops down and this can be done up to speeds of 45 km/h. One of my favorite features of this kind of roof is the small rear window you can open while the roof is up; it keeps the wind noise out but let’s all the beautiful tunes of the mid-engined V8 in. 

Design-wise the new F8 Tributo and F8 Spider continue in the footsteps of the stunning and incredibly sexy Pista. The S-Duct dominates the front of the car and the new side intakes and slimmer, longer LED lights give the front a wider and more aggressive appearance. The large air intakes are moved slightly further back to improve the airflow to the engine. The sideskirts taper outwards towards the rear wheel. It is a part of the car you will want to clean after every drive as they seem to catch a lot of dirt coming from the front wheels and seemingly the only part where form and function don’t go hand in hand. 

Ferrari F8 Spider front

For the first time since the F430 quad tail lights returned. Photos don’t do justice to the level of depth these LED lights provide in real life. The lower part of the rear is very similar to the Pista with a wide diffuser and two large exhaust pipes. Being a spider the engine is hidden mostly below the foldable hard top. 

Ferrari F8 Spider LED Rear Lights

The quality of the design continues beyond what you can see on first glimpse. Under the front bonnet beautifully sculptured carbon covers the inside around the actual trunk. It is details like this that set Ferrari apart from the competition. 

Ferrari F8 Spider Front bonnet luggage space

The inside of the F8 Spider is dominated by leather and carbon fibre. The carbon fibre racing seats are a perfect fit. And although the convertible has slightly less space than the F8 Tributo there is enough space to sit comfortably even for taller people. Being 1,90m tall myself I struggle to sit well in many mid-engined sports cars but in the F8 Spider I had no issues at all. This also thanks to the extremely low and elegant center console that provides both excellent leg space as well as a general sense of space. 

Ferrari F8 Spider Interior with Carbon Racing Seats

Ferrari’s have always been extremely driver oriented and the F8 Spider makes no exception. All vital controls are located directly on the steering wheel; including indicators (takes some getting used too), big beam, engine start / stop, dampers, voice control and phone, wipers and last but not least the Manettino which allows quick and uncomplicated change of drive programs from Wet and Sport to Race, TC off and finally ESP off. 

Ferrari F8 Spider HMI Passenger display

Unlike most other new cars the only touch screen is solely for the passenger. The driver can control everything by the touch of a button and I wish more manufacturers would follow this example. Key driver information is displayed only on two displays on either side of the rev counter. 

Ferrari F8 Spider Des

Time to find out what it is like to drive the F8 Spider. Normally I head South from Maranello straight into the mountains but this time I want to go East and find some new locations. The first part of the journey takes me via the truck heavy SP467 with its dense traffic and destroyed road surface. Not ideal for a 720hp V8 supercar but with the soft damper setting the F8 copes well. 

Ferrari F8 Spider

Leaving the main road and the traffic behind me as I head into the hills I can let the engine howl a bit more. The V8 packs an incredible punch and presses me firmly into my seat as I sprint from bend to bend on the first empty mountain road. The audible drama is not quite as it used to be but this is mainly due to the EU and their emissions (OPF) and sound restrictions that Ferrari has to comply with.

What is remarkable is the balance and predictability; the throttle, braking and steering are all equally easy to dose and give you a perfect sense of control. This makes that the Ferrari F8 Spider doesn’t feel like a 720hp supercar, and all the glitches that normally come with it, when you are cruising in town or in traffic but as soon as you find that perfect bit of road or hit the track it morphs into a breathtaking razor sharp machine within a split second.

Ferrari F8 Spider roof down

By chance we find a mountain road with sunlight peeking through the trees for our photographer Philipp Rupprecht to work his magic on the Ferrari F8 Spider. 

2021 Ferrari F8 Spider Rear

Ferrari F8 Spider

Ferrari F8 Spider GTspirit 86

On the second part of my journey the roads straighten and are much smoother, yet the F8 is so incredibly fast that it is hard to enjoy the full potential on any public road. From an engineering perspective we live in incredible times that you have to take a mid-engined convertible on track to utilize it to its maximum. Nonetheless I can think of few things more enjoyable than driving through the Italian hills with a prancing horse while the wind rushes through my hair.  

Ferrari F8 Spider GTspirit 91

A day with a Ferrari is always too short. If it wasn’t just for the experience itself, it is for the wonderful things that just happen when you travel through Italy in such a car. A restaurant owner obliging you to park on the no-parking space directly in front of his locale, to kids smiling from ear to ear when they see the car.   

Ferrari F8 Spider Giallo Modena Yellow

After returning the Ferrari F8 Spider at the same place where I picked it up this morning it is time to reflect. The F8 Spider is incredibly close to automotive perfection. Stunning design paired with a driver-oriented cockpit without touch screens which is a relief for true drivers. The available performance is more than sufficient in all situations except maybe at a hypercar trackday. All of my comments sound like whining at the highest level, only the lack of volume in the soundtrack is something that impacts the otherwise perfect score.

2021 992 Porsche 911 Turbo Review

The 992 Porsche 911 Turbo S took the world by storm in 2020 with many hailing it as the best 911 Turbo S ever to be unleashed my the team in Stuttgart. The numbers are bombastic. 650bhp, 800Nm, 0-100 in 2.7, a top speed of 330km/h and a price tag starting at £155,970 before options. Impressive, but is it necessary? This is a super-GT car that is more likely to find itself on the a morning commute with a child in the back than going flat out on the Nordschleife.

Porsche know this and offer a Turbo with the ’S’ knocked off the rear end. A Porsche Turbo, without the S, is still a speed and numbers freak, but not to the same extent as the biggest baddest S model. That being said, 580bhp, 750Nm, 0-100 in 2.8, a top speed of 320km/h and a £134,400 are certainly not modest, by any measure. 70bhp, 50Nm, 0.1 to 100, 21km/h at the top end and £22k are all that separate the two. Visually you’ll have to be a proper Porsche nerd to tell the two apart, especially now that S and non-S can be specced with the same wheels and badges on the rear deck. To my knowledge, the only badges that cannot be hidden are on the screens, door sills or the extendable front splitter. Debdage it and don’t let anyone in and they’ll never know you’re not in an S. The other telltale sign is the yellow brake callipers that are standard on the Turbo S to denote the PCCB ceramic brakes, but you can option identical brakes and callipers on the Turbo.

Can the Turbo show itself to be just as well rounded and the S? I flew to Germany to the Porsche Experience Centre, Hockenheim to find out. I will forever love Porsche for never messing around on launch events. I had almost an hour on track with the Turbo to gather my thoughts on how the car performed and I learnt a lot. Initial impressions are dominated by the tremendous and unrelenting force that the rear mounted 3.7-litre flat-six twin turbo engine send to all four wheel via an eight-speed PDK gearbox.

Why anyone would need the extra 70 horses, I’m not quite sure. The what the power in sent to the wheels along with the sublime PDK shifts means the Turbo launches itself from one apex to the next. Slowing down is just as impressive an experience as the car I am in is fitted with the PCCB brakes which cost around €10,000(!) and bring the 1,640 kilogram 911 to a halt with tremendous force and feel in the pedal – the confidence is unparalleled. The same can be said for the chassis, too. Th example I was piloting featured the firmer 10 mm lower PASM Sports suspension designed to enhance the agility of the new 911 Turbo. There was not a hint of roll in the body and through the fast Hockenheim GP sweeping bends the body composure was mighty. The adjustability on the limit was so soft, approachable and confidence inspiring.

This really is one of the finest allrounders on sale today. It is refined, quiet and comfortable on the road and an absolute joy to drive on circuit. That being said, it is not as focused as something like a McLaren 570S or Lamborghini Huracan, but they are not worthy of mention in the same breath when considering a daily driver. The 992 Turbo really is the Swiss Army Knife of the automotive world. It is perfectly at home in city traffic, crossing a continent or pounding around a racetrack. There really is no substitute. The Turbo offers a more affordable package than the Turbo S and one that, in the real world, left me wanting nothing more.

2021 BMW iX3 Review

I’ll be honest, I am not a fan of electric cars. Having experienced battery powered offerings ranging from the Renault Zoe to the Porsche Taycan Turbo S, I can categorically say that I am not ready to drop my addiction to fossil juice for the volt life. That being said, there are a few applications in which I can picture myself driving an electric car – short, mundane and preplanned journeys. I have suffered from the stress and anguish of range anxiety on road Trips on which I’ve spent more time staring at the battery percentage and range than I did enjoying the views or fabulous roads.

The BMW iX3 is not intended to be used for cross country cruises or for blasting up mountain passes. This is a car for the school run, weekly shop and the odd trip to visit friends and family on the weekends. That is not to say it cannot cross continents, it can but there are other X3s better suited to such applications. This is the first BMW model to be available with petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid or full EV powertrains to choose from.

With ‘the power of choice’ in mind, I hit the road in the iX3 to see what this 286 horsepower ‘Sport Activity Vehicle’ with a claimed WLTP range of 460 kilometres felt like. I tried to be sensible and drive in a fashion I imagine a buyer of such a car would, but as with all electric cars, I immediately engaged sport mode and floored it. The instant torque was amusing, the way that 2.2 tonnes shifted was impressive and the accompanying, configurable ‘drive sound’ added some character. 0-100km/h is dispatched in a respectable 6.8 seconds with the top speed capped at 180.

After a few accelerations the novelty wore off and I set about driving the car the way it was intended to be. I turned my attention to the braking regeneration options starting with ‘one-pedal’ driving. This was surprisingly good fun, I challenged myself to not use the brake pedal at all, it took some focus but was achievable after a few minutes of experimentation. I could not get comfortable with was the ‘adaptive’ mode where the braking force would automatically adjust itself using the navigation system to bring the car to a standstill without using the brakes. The level two autonomous systems worked brilliantly, only requiring assistance at traffic lights, roundabouts and coming to a stop with no car ahead of you on the road. I found myself trusting the systems almost immediately. The steering was accurate and did not have iX3 bouncing between the white lines.

When the twisty roads between towns presented themselves, I took control and engaged sport mode with maximum regeneration and found myself having much more fun than expected. Yes, the inherent feel and feedback in minimal, but the steering is quick and sharp and when applying max power out of bends there were noticeable rear-wheel-drive characteristics to be felt. Back to real world testing – the iX3 handled its weight with grace, the ride was firm in sport but the adaptive dampers meant this could easily be remedied. Being electric meant that wind and road noise could be intrusive at higher autobahn speeds, but not to uncomfortable levels. The cabin was well appointed and the usual BMW iDrive goodies are all you could want from an infotainment system. You could never tell this is a BMW that had been built in China. There was almost as much space as in a conventionally powered X3, the only difference was the marginally shallower boot as the electric motors hid beneath the boot floor.

As mentioned in the opening of this review, I can see the application and allure of having an electric car and this 150kW offering which can be charged from 0-80% in 34 minutes on an IONITY fast charger, certainly makes a case for itself. It is as comfortable and capable as I hoped with an added sense of humour. If you’re in the market for an electric family car that can take care of your simple commutes this may well be the car for you!

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2020 BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupé Review

Size matters – but does 200mm make a difference? This seemingly small measure is what differentiates the 2020 BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupé from the M8, minus the GC nomenclature. However, 200mm means this M8 can accommodate an extra pair of doors and seating for five. With four in the back things are habitable. Headroom is not great, but if you wiggle them around a bit, two 6-foot adults could handle a long journey back there. You can try and shoehorn a fifth in, but they have to straddle the central armrest and make everything a little too cosy in the back seats.

Enough of the practicalities, this is an M car and all I care about is how this massive twin-turbo V8 powered 625bhp brute performs. With xDrive 553lb ft, and 0-100 banished in a supercar worthy 3.2 seconds, the numbers look good near identical to the two-door, making it BMW’s equal-fastest production model.

The xDrive means the power can be utilised, even on the road and in almost any conditions. However, weighing in at 2,055 kilograms means that this is a car which you have to consider the laws of physics in. The way speed builds is borderline scary and you’ll swear that the speedometer is making things up as the numbers rapidly approach and fly past legal limits. With a bewildering number of settings for the steering, engine, suspension and exhaust, you’ll have to find what suits you. With everything in the most aggressive settings things are a handful and the car bounces up and over bumps. Knock the suspension back into comfort and leave everything in full attack mode with the traction control in M Dynamic Mode and you’ll be having a fabulous time. The traction control system in MDM means you can apply proper slip angles on the throttle and let the xDrive system display a true sense of humour. You can, of course go to fourth base and engage rear-wheel-drive mode, but with the weight and all of that power I was not brave enough to explore this on a wet British country road, there is no way to have 100% of the power being sent to the rear with any assistance systems engaged, you are on your own.

The M8 Competition Gran Coupé does handle surprisingly well for a car of this size, I would argue that it is a viable alternative to the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door which is worthy praise, indeed. There is a surprising amount of feedback in a car this size, but do not expect it to be as engaging as a BMW M2 CS, this is still designed to be a comfortable daily driver. This is where the M8 Competition Gran Coupé excels. The way it can be transformed from a taught speed freak into a sedate city cruiser with undeniable presence is astonishing and impressive in equal measure.

As great as a cruiser/daily driver the M8 Competition Gran Coupé is, it cannot disguise its large dimensions. The M8 coupe felt like a big car with a surprisingly small cabin and the M8 Competition Gran Coupé is not much different. On the road is looks large, I caught a glimpse of the reflection of myself in a shop window and laughed at how gargantuan the car looked. I also noticed that the car is a very good looking thing, to my eye anyway. The interior is a fantastic place to soak up the miles with all of the latest tech you could come to expect from a car priced at more than €130,000.

I would strongly recommend the M8 Competition Gran Coupé. It offers supercar performance, saloon car usability and a compelling breadth of ability. The biggest problem with the M8 Competition Gran Coupé is the BMW M5 Competition. It fulfils the same philosophy at a much lesser price. If I had the choice and did not have to consider price, the striking design and imposing face of the M8 Competition Gran Coupé would have my vote, but both would be a pleasure to own.