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Episode 7 of BBC Top Gear ends the season on a high note

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Article source: http://www.autoblog.com/2017/04/24/episode-7-of-bbc-top-gear-ends-season/

Porsche 911 GT3 review: 493bhp supercar tested

So what’s new about the Porsche 911 GT3?

Besides the famous reintroduction of the manual gearbox? Well, you’re potentially asking the wrong question. A better one would be: how does this differ from the GT3 RS? Because what we have here is a 911 GT3 that’s replaced its 3.8-litre flat six with a 4.0-litre and gained rear-wheel steering. OK, it does without the magnesium roof, the wider turbo body and vents over the front wheels to improve downforce, but it’s only 10kg heavier and has the same 493bhp and 339lb ft outputs.

It’s the same engine as the GT3 RS, then?

Porsche says not, insisting that it’s a lightly altered version of the engine from the 911 Cup and RSR racers (where it produces 485 and 510bhp respectively). But that’s basically a lightly altered version of the GT3 RS motor, so we’re just going round in circles here.

What is true is that like the gen 1 991 GT3, this one revs to 9,000rpm, 200rpm beyond the RS. So the internals are new, lowering friction and operating temperatures, and enabling that lofty rev peak.

OK, but what about the manual gearbox?

Can’t tell you. This one’s a PDK. I know, I know, we were as frustrated by that as you are, but this was the first right hand drive car Porsche could get to the UK, so we had no choice.

However, I already know the six-speed manual from the 911R. So I can tell you it’s got a short, sweet shift and that even though I haven’t driven it yet, if I was buying a GT3, I’d have mine with the manual and be happy that I’d made the wrong choice.

Wrong choice? How?

Look, I’m delighted that Porsche has had the guts to back down and give purists what they want. But I also know just how good PDK has become and just how well it works with this engine. I’d have the manual not because, in time, it might be the more collectable one, but because of the extra interactivity it offers. The fact it slows you down and makes you concentrate more.

And despite being 17kg lighter, it is slower. Spec the manual and the 0-62mph rises from 3.4secs to 3.9 (although the top speed actually climbs 1mph to 199mph).

And how is it with the PDK?

Stunning. I think this might now be the very best of all the twin clutch boxes. Pull a paddle and it’s zero-shift, instant response. So getting the best out of this engine is simple. And that shouldn’t be overlooked, because a GT3 caught off guard and out of its operating rev band isn’t that responsive.

No turbos remember? But if you’re caught in a high gear at low revs, just pull and hold the left paddle and it’ll select the lowest gear for your road speed that it can. In the manual it’ll take much longer to dig yourself out of trouble.

But either way, oh-my-God-the-engine. You forget what it’s like when a feral flat six goes stratospheric, soars past 7,000rpm and enters a world beyond the realm of turbos. It’s tremendous.

Thickly muscular low down, then strident through the mid-range, which develops into this yelping, screaming top end. The first time I accelerated hard in the new GT3 it actually shocked me with how hard it hit. The noise is penetrating – it makes little difference whether you enable the sports exhaust or not – and there’s this fabulous way the engine note brightens and hardens as the acceleration builds to a punishing crescendo. It’s transcendental, taking on a life of its own.

When the 991 GT3 first appeared four years ago I remember writing that it was so special, yet usable, that I’d happily have it as my daily 911. As the rest of the range has moved to turbocharging, that’s even more the case now. Maybe I would want the PDK then – the more I think about it, the tougher the gearbox choice becomes. Either way, the GT3 is now more distanced from the rest of the 911 range.

How does it drive?

It’s outstanding. The damping is firm but so polished and communicative, the steering doesn’t wriggle and writhe quite as communicatively as of old, but by modern standards it’s stunning, and provides stability and information and confidence in abundance. So much so that you notice the front end just misses a fraction of turn-in bite at road speeds. I know that’ll be there on track, where you’ll have higher tyre temperatures and be able to trail brake to the apex, keeping weight on the nose – just what a rear-engined 911 loves.

The rear axle is mega. The drive is so prompt that it feels like there’s a rigid link from right foot to rubber and the behaviour as the speeds build is immaculate. Corners get zapped, the engine howls, the suspension dances – it’s all good. And it rides with such dexterity that, while you wouldn’t call it comfortable, you can say that you always move in sync with the car, so you’re not jiggled about inside, but instead move in time with it. Yep, you really could run one of these as your daily motor and not suffer.

What’s it like inside?

Driving position perfection, if that isn’t too strong. This one came with the one-piece carbon bucket seats (£3,324) that hug hard, locking you in position. You’re sat low, your hands fall on to a perfect proportioned steering wheel (now the smaller diameter rim from the 918 Spyder). Everything feels so right.

And it’s so nice to look down at the centre console and have so few choices to make. Dampers on/off. Exhaust on/off. Gearbox sport mode on/off. That’s it. It means you have a natural, unadulterated car here, the one the engineers want you to drive, not the one the marketing department insists you have.

Sport dampers interfere with the ride more than help it, launch control – as you can see in the video below – is ridiculous. The £6,498 carbon ceramic brakes don’t fall into the trap of being over-servoed at the top of their travel, but are so good when you get some pressure into them.

What’s the conclusion then?

It feels small and light and narrow and hard and fast. You drive it and on a British B-road, wonder why almost everyone else gets it so wrong. You don’t need more speed than this and I’m not sure there are many cars that deliver more sensation. Certainly none at this money. For the ability and engineering on offer here, £111,802 is a bargain.

Specs
3996cc flat 6cyl, RWD, 493bhp @8250rpm, 339lb ft @6000rpm, 22.2mpg, 288g/km CO2, 0-62mph in 3.4secs, 198mph, 1430kg, £111,802

Video:

Photography: Rowan Horncastle

Article source: https://www.topgear.com/car-reviews/porsche/gt3-2dr-pdk/first-drive-0

The Clarkson Review: Renault Twingo GT

WHEN RENAULT introduced its latest Twingo, many motoring journalists scoffed. They said it was slow, and that if you pushed it hard through the corners, it would understeer instead of settling into a nice, smoky drift.

Well, I’m sorry for gaping in astonishment like a wounded fish, but what were they expecting? It’s a city car with a rear engine that would be dismissed by coffee lovers as too weak to grind their beans. So of course it wasn’t going to be fast, and of course its tail wouldn’t swing wide in the corners, because it would mostly be driven by the sort of people who’d crap themselves if it did.

Criticising the baby Renault for not being an out-and-out racer is like buying a record player and criticising it for not being any good at unblocking the sink.


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The problem is that Renault put the engine at the back. So everyone thought, “Well, if it’s there, as it is in a Porsche 911, then it must feel like a Porsche 911.” Er, no. The engine in a small Peugeot is at the front, as it is in a Ferrari California, but the two cars feel alike only in the sense that you must sit down to drive them.

And speaking of Peugeot: a friend of mine recently bought a horrible 108 for his daughter. “Why have you done that?” I wailed. “You must hate her. It’s a terrible car.” He listened as I droned on about how tinny it was, and how everything inside felt cheap, and then he said, “Yes. But she gets three years’ free insurance, which saves me six grand.”

This is what we tend to forget in this business. While we are looking for handling anomalies as we drift through Stowe corner at 120mph, it doesn’t occur to us that most people care about safety and running costs and don’t care about tread shuffle or an ability to deal smoothly with mid-corner bumps when you’re at the limit.

Which brings me back to the Twingo. I didn’t like it either, really, because I can’t see the point of a “city car”. Yes, it costs about 75p, but that is hardly good value if you have to leave it at home every time you want to travel more than 30 miles.

You may sneer at this. You may say that if it has an engine, it’s perfectly capable of motorway travel. And who cares if it’s a bit bouncy and noisy and strained? Hmmm. This argument doesn’t wash, because, actually, a very small car with a very small engine is not really capable of handling a motorway.

You put your foot down on the slip road and accelerate so hard that the valves start to make dents in the bonnet, but you’ll barely be doing 55mph by the time you’re ready to join the motorway. Which is a problem, because your path to the inside lane is blocked by a lorry doing 56mph.

‘It’s a hoot to out-accelerate most family saloons and then bomb along in a car that really belongs in a Hot Wheels set’

What do you do? You can’t pull out, because you’ll be squidged. You can’t accelerate, because the engine is giving all it’s got to give. And you can’t slow down, because it would take too long to get back up to a reasonable speed again.

Then there’s the issue of hills. In my daughter’s old Fiesta, which had a 0.00001-litre engine, you’d have to start thinking about the M40 incline over the Chilterns when you were still several miles north of Banbury. And even then you’d reach the summit huffing and puffing like me when I walk to the top of the stairs.

Off the motorway things are no better, because in a small-engined small car you are forced to drive at the speed of the driver in front. If he’s on a tractor, this is very annoying. It is so annoying that eventually you will attempt to overtake, and this will result in your death because you simply do not have the grunt to get past in much less than four hours.

Make no mistake, then. Cars designed to work only in the city are silly, because in the city you have Ubers and proper cabs and Tubes and buses and bicycle lanes. It’s the one place you don’t need a car. And in the place where you do — which is everywhere else — city cars are noisy and dangerous.

And that brings me to the Renault Twingo GT. It started in life as a city car, but it has been breathed on to give it some real-world poke. It still has a tiny, 0.9-litre three-cylinder engine, but it’s turbocharged, so it produces a thrummy, off-beat 108 brake horsepower. This is a car that sounds like one of those very small dogs that growl the growl of a Great Dane. I liked it. It was amusing.

And I liked the speed too. I know 108bhp doesn’t sound much, but it’s what you used to get from the original Golf GTI. And no one said that was too slow for motorways.

The power delivery is a bit weird — it comes in lumps — but it’s a hoot to out-accelerate most family saloons and then bomb along in a car that really belongs in a Hot Wheels set.

The way it handles is less impressive. The steering is done by guesswork — there’s no feel at all — and you never have any clue that the engine’s at the back. Sporty it is not. And that’s fine, because this, after all, is a car designed for the city that happens to have the poke to deal with everywhere else as well.

And it looks tremendous. It’s pretty anyway, and with a dinky rear air scoop to feed the turbo, and twin exhausts, it’s brilliant. Mine was fitted with the optional stripes, which made it feel like a soap-box racer and me feel I was nine. It made me smile.

And that’s before we get to the really impressive stuff. I went out one night with another grown-up in the front and three teenagers in the back. There was quite a lot of complaining, I admit, but the fact is that we fitted. And if I accelerated hard, the whizzy little engine drowned out the moaning.


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The only problem with doing this is that the engine gets hot, which means anything you have in the boot gets hot too. This is a car that can turn your weekly shop into a delicious, piping-hot omelette before you get home.

Oh, and then there’s the turning circle: it seems to be able to turn in its own length. It makes a black cab look cumbersome.

So there we are: a nifty, practical car that looks good, goes well and makes you happy. And all for £14,000. It hasn’t won many fans with writers in the specialist press, because they still think it should go and handle like a 911. But I liked it a lot, because the comparison never entered my head.

Head to head: Renault Twingo GT v Abarth 595

 

Write to us at driving@sunday-times.co.uk, or Driving, The Sunday Times, 1 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9GF

Article source: https://www.driving.co.uk/car-reviews/the-clarkson-review-renault-twingo-gt/

Assetto Corsa review: PS4 Pro Boost mode makes this more of a match for GT Sport

Assetto Corsa seems to be a game that just gets better and better. Occasionally, players get treated to new DLCs with extra tracks and cars, and now it looks some gamers can get better graphics, too. A new patch means those with a PS4 Pro are able to get supercharged visuals in Assetto Corsa, and gamers are saying there’s a significant improvement.

To be clear, the new patch isn’t a PS4 Pro optimisation update, like we’ve seen from several developers, and instead comes from Sony itself. Simply put, it’s a universal Boost Mode that gives extra power to games that aren’t specifically optimised for the PS4 Pro, and it appears to have a big effect on Assetto Corsa.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a PS4 Pro to test this out, but several videos on YouTube are reporting a solid 60fps frame rate from the game when using Boost Mode – and that’s hugely important for smoothness and the perception of speed. It’s important to note that the 60fps mode in Boost mode is also constant when there are multiple cars on track.

Because this improvement is just a product of Boost Mode, Assetto Corsa doesn’t have any additional graphical improvements – like better shading, or lighting effects, but it still looks better than it used to. Is this another reason to buy a PS4 Pro, or a reason for PS4 Pro owners to look at Assetto Corsa? Check out the Digital Foundry video below.

Porsche Pack review

Assetto Corsa has been out for a few months now, and Kunos Simulazioni has begun to add new content to the game, in the form of DLCs. The latest DLC finally brings Porsche to the mix, and as you’d expect from Assetto Corsa, the results are incredible. Below you’ll find my review of the Porsche Pack Vol 1, and after that my original review of Assetto Corsa on the PS4. I’ve now also added a section about multiplayer.

Volume one of the Porsche Pack includes some legendary cars, along with a few Porsches you’re likely to see on the road in 2016. There are the relatively tame road-going cars such as the 911 Carrera S and the 718 Cayman S – but the rest of the pack include a range of vintage, exotic – and frankly crazy – cars.

The Porsche 911 RSR 3.0 is a well-balanced classic. As soon as you select the in-car view, it’s clear that Kunos Simulazioni has paid close attention to all the cars in the Porsche Pack. Subtle touches such as windscreen-wiper smudges and dusty dials make the 911 RSR and other cars here look amazing – and slightly better than the other original ones.

Then there’s the 935/78 ‘Moby Dick’, which couldn’t be more different. It’s the most powerful 911 ever made, and streamlined bodywork means it looks amazing – but huge turbo lag means it’s incredibly difficult to control. The Porsche 917/30 Spyder sounds fantastic, and does have impressive aerodynamic grip – but its turbo response can be measured with a calendar. To get the most out of these cars, you essentially have to tiptoe around corners and point them straight – if you’re still turning when the boost kicks in, you’ll probably end up spinning into the scenery.

The 918 Spyder and GT4 Clubsport are the final two cars in the pack, and both are impressive. As you’d expect from a GT4 car, the Cayman is extremely well balanced, and invites you to throw it round. When you do take things a bit too far, it’s pretty forgiving and easy to correct.

In contrast, the 918 Spyder is a beast, but in the best way. In real life it’s the ultimate Porsche in 2016, and uses a 4.6-litre V8 along with two electric motors to create a total power output of 654kW. In the game, it’s equally powerful – and Kunos Simulazioni has really captured the ridiculous power delivery you can achieve when combining petrol with electricity. There are three hybrid modes including hotlap mode, and you can change the percentage of energy recovery per lap. The only issue? It seems to have pitiful brakes, so you usually have to brake around 50m earlier than you’d expect.

Assetto Corsa review

The Mercedes-AMG GT3 has to be one of the most brutish racing cars around, and yet here I am, threading it round the thin, tarmac ribbon of the Nordschleife. Every year, drivers coax powerful GT cars like this one through the timeless curves of the Green Hell – and attempting the feat in Kunos Simulazioni’s Assetto Corsa is an incredible experience.

I’m tiptoeing around it at first, but the more I drive, the more I understand what the car can do. That’s when I decide to push the Mercedes that bit harder; I get on the gas earlier and earlier on every exit, touching the kerbs as I launch out, confident I can predict how the car will behave. After a while I’m braking hard, turning and wrestling the Merc through every delicate twist, taming its 6.2-litre V8 and using the manual gearing to my advantage. For the past 15 minutes or so I haven’t been thinking about racing – just driving instinctively. This is what playing Assetto Corsa is like, and it’s probably one of the best driving experiences around on the PS4 and Xbox One.

If you’re primarily a console gamer, chances are you’ve heard of Forza and GT Sport, but Assetto Corsa’s probably a little less familiar. That’s because for the past two years Assetto Corsa has been a PC-only game, developed by a small dedicated studio and a dedicated community of sim-racers. However, these niche, sim-based beginnings are glaringly obvious when you first boot it up, and they’re both a blessing and a curse depending on how you like your racing games.

For example, it’s clear that Kunos doesn’t have the budget or the manpower of the teams behind games such as Gran Turismo Sport and Forza Horizons 3, as Assetto Corsa’s menus look like something from a PS1 game. They’re pretty bare, too, but you’ll still find options for Time Attack, Quick Race and Hot Lap modes, along with a Multiplayer mode for racing online.

There’s also a Career mode here, but if you’re expecting something like F1 2016’s immersive decade-long career campaign, then you’ll be disappointed. The Career mode here is just a collection of tasks you get to unlock, but it does force you to drive in different cars. There’s a Special Events mode, too, but once again it’s only a superficial selection of tasks in different cars.

While races can be close, pushing you to nail every exit and work for your track position, the AI isn’t great. It’s not as bad as early Gran Turismo games, where your opponents would all drive in single file, but they’re often good at taking you out the race completely. At tracks such as Spa, I was spun out by the AI several times – so much so that I decided to play it safe after my tenth restart.

As for the graphics? Take a spin around somewhere such as Brands Hatch and Assetto Corsa looks nice, but it lacks the jaw-dropping visual we’ve seen in games such as Driveclub – or even the latest trailer of GT Sport. There are some nice touches – especially the reflection of the dashboard in the windscreen when it’s sunny – but overall Assetto Corsa just isn’t as lovely as you might expect for a simulation game. When combined with a total lack of Night mode, and no weather either – something most of its rivals included years ago – Assetto Corsa falls behind in presentation.

Assetto Corsa can’t compete when it comes to the sheer amount of content offered by other games, either. Where Project Cars and GT Sport put hundreds of cars and countless tracks at your disposal, Assetto Corsa gives you around 100 cars and only a few tracks.

That said, it’s probably a bit unfair to compare Assetto Corsa to the likes of GT Sport and Project Cars, because it’s a very different beast. Everything in this game caters towards those who love driving, and that has to be admired. Firstly, Assetto Corsa includes some unlikely but brilliant tracks that will appeal to petrol heads. Larger international tracks like Silverstone, Spa and Barcelona are here, but they’re mixed with legendary circuits like Nordschleife, Brands Hatch, and even Mugello.

It’s the same with the cars, too. The infamous 1989 Sauber C9 is here, and so is the Ferrari 458, a McLaren 650S GT3 and incredible Lotus 98T – by far one of the most powerful, unruly cars in the game. Each car feels different as well, and driving can often be a process of learning each vehicle.

A Mercedes-AMG GT3, for example, feels far less composed through corners than something as squat as an Audi R8 LMS car, and it’s down to you to adapt your driving style to get the most out of it. Playing with the incredible Lotus 98T is another thing altogether, and trying to coax the 1,000bhp, turbocharged car around Brands Hatch gives you an idea of just how good drivers such as Senna, Mansell and Prost really were.

If you’re worried about difficulty levels, you shouldn’t be. Like most racing games nowadays, Assetto Corsa gives you a range of assists, from ABS to traction control to an ideal racing line – and you’re able to change the last two in gradients. This game is certainly playable with a controller, but pad players will only scratch the surface of the game’s physics and tyre simulation, so you’ll really need a steering wheel such as the Thrustmaster T300RS to get the most out of it.

While you’re taming each car, you’ll also experience some of the best engine noises in any game. When watching replays from the outside, engines growl and reverberate in the stands, while in-car engine noises are even better. Kunos Simulazioni has captured every whine of the transmission, every pop on the overrun, every whistle of a turbo, and the results sound incredible.

Multiplayer

I’ve been playing Assetto Corsa for the past few months, so it’s now possible to talk about the multiplayer mode – and on the whole it’s not great. Online races themselves can be fun, frantic and enjoyable – probably because of the type of player Assetto Corsa attracts – but everything else is slightly shambolic.

The lobby is pretty confusing, so finding a game itself is pretty unintuitive.  And once you do, it’s hard to know how to get into a race. You’ll often be trapped in qualifying sessions, only to find your car moved to the grid seemingly at random. There are no replays for online races either, so even if you do have a good race, there’ll be no way to relive it – other than your recorded gameplay. Sometimes Assetto Corsa feels like a game made by a huge studio, and other times it’s clear just how small the project is. Sadly, the multiplayer reminds you of the latter.

It’s a shame really, because the Assetto Corsa console community deserves better. On the whole, Assetto Corsa racers are great at close racing, and I was rarely punted off the track – if anything the AI is much worse. The racing is great, it’s just getting there that’s the problem.

Verdict

If you’re a casual racer and enjoy games such as Need for Speed and Forza Horizon, this isn’t a game for you. Even Forza 6 and GT Sport fans might find themselves wandering, so if you’re after a Career mode and lots of content and challenges, I’d suggest you look elsewhere.

However, while Assetto Corsa isn’t the most complete driving game on the PS4 and Xbox One, it certainly offers the best driving and racing feel by a country mile. If correcting slides, balancing the throttle, and fiddling with brake bias from corner to corner sounds like your idea of fun, Assetto Corsa has no equal on consoles.

Article source: http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/games/1405068/assetto-corsa-review-ps4-pro-boost-mode-makes-this-more-of-a-match-for-gt-sport

Porsche Panamera Reviews

porsche panamera reviews

Our latest Porsche Panamera Reviews

Read all our Porsche Panamera reviews here. Porsche’s first luxury four-door sedan, the Panamera first hit the market just recently in 2010 to a barrage of criticism from the hardcore Porsche enthusiasts. Despite the noise, the Panamera continues to sell well, seeing a facelift in 2013, a variety of hybrid models, and in 2017, a wagon variant called the Panamera Sport Turismo that will likely cater more to families and less to the executive types the car was originally designed for.

First unveiled at the Shanghai International Auto Show in April 2009, the Porsche Panamera is the automakers first proper production luxury sedan. Porsche purists may disapprove of the idea of a four-door Porsche, but they also did when the Cayenne first hit the market over ten years – and the Cayenne is now the company’s best-selling vehicle. The Panamera finds a front-engine with two-wheel drive, with an all-wheel drive version also available. Three years after its Shanghai debut, the Panamera was offered in a hybrid and diesel version in 2011, and in 2013 a refreshed facelift was announced for the sedan; also a plug-in hybrid version -the e-Hybrid – began selling in the US in late 2013.

For 2018, Porsche introduces the all-new Panamera Sport Turismo: their 4-door saloon taking on more of a wagon look including seating for 3 in the back and redesigned rear styling unlike the other Panameras in the lineup.

Article source: http://www.tractionlife.com/new-cars/car-reviews/porsche-reviews/panamera-reviews/

2 new Porsche cars, 2 videos that’ll excite your soul

Are you looking for a luxury car that really stands out from the pack and leaves others in a cloud of dust? Last month at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, Porsche celebrated the world premiere of the new 2018 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid and Panamera Sport Turismo, and announced that both models are scheduled to hit the Canadian market this fall.

We invite you to click on the link to learn a bit more about them, and also don’t miss the two incredible videos below:

Article source: https://www.auto123.com/en/news/new-porsche-panamera-videos/63587/

Assetto Corsa review: PS4 Pro Boost mode makes things even better

Assetto Corsa seems to be a game that just gets better and better. Occasionally, players get treated to new DLCs with extra tracks and cars, and now it looks some gamers can get better graphics, too. A new patch means those with a PS4 Pro are able to get supercharged visuals in Assetto Corsa, and gamers are saying there’s a significant improvement.

To be clear, the new patch isn’t a PS4 Pro optimisation update, like we’ve seen from several developers, and instead comes from Sony itself. Simply put, it’s a universal Boost Mode that gives extra power to games that aren’t specifically optimised for the PS4 Pro, and it appears to have a big effect on Assetto Corsa.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a PS4 Pro to test this out, but several videos on YouTube are reporting a solid 60fps frame rate from the game when using Boost Mode – and that’s hugely important for smoothness and the perception of speed. It’s important to note that the 60fps mode in Boost mode is also constant when there are multiple cars on track.

Because this improvement is just a product of Boost Mode, Assetto Corsa doesn’t have any additional graphical improvements – like better shading, or lighting effects, but it still looks better than it used to. Is this another reason to buy a PS4 Pro, or a reason for PS4 Pro owners to look at Assetto Corsa? Check out the Digital Foundry video below.

Porsche Pack review

Assetto Corsa has been out for a few months now, and Kunos Simulazioni has begun to add new content to the game, in the form of DLCs. The latest DLC finally brings Porsche to the mix, and as you’d expect from Assetto Corsa, the results are incredible. Below you’ll find my review of the Porsche Pack Vol 1, and after that my original review of Assetto Corsa on the PS4. I’ve now also added a section about multiplayer.

Volume one of the Porsche Pack includes some legendary cars, along with a few Porsches you’re likely to see on the road in 2016. There are the relatively tame road-going cars such as the 911 Carrera S and the 718 Cayman S – but the rest of the pack include a range of vintage, exotic – and frankly crazy – cars.

The Porsche 911 RSR 3.0 is a well-balanced classic. As soon as you select the in-car view, it’s clear that Kunos Simulazioni has paid close attention to all the cars in the Porsche Pack. Subtle touches such as windscreen-wiper smudges and dusty dials make the 911 RSR and other cars here look amazing – and slightly better than the other original ones.

Then there’s the 935/78 ‘Moby Dick’, which couldn’t be more different. It’s the most powerful 911 ever made, and streamlined bodywork means it looks amazing – but huge turbo lag means it’s incredibly difficult to control. The Porsche 917/30 Spyder sounds fantastic, and does have impressive aerodynamic grip – but its turbo response can be measured with a calendar. To get the most out of these cars, you essentially have to tiptoe around corners and point them straight – if you’re still turning when the boost kicks in, you’ll probably end up spinning into the scenery.

The 918 Spyder and GT4 Clubsport are the final two cars in the pack, and both are impressive. As you’d expect from a GT4 car, the Cayman is extremely well balanced, and invites you to throw it round. When you do take things a bit too far, it’s pretty forgiving and easy to correct.

In contrast, the 918 Spyder is a beast, but in the best way. In real life it’s the ultimate Porsche in 2016, and uses a 4.6-litre V8 along with two electric motors to create a total power output of 654kW. In the game, it’s equally powerful – and Kunos Simulazioni has really captured the ridiculous power delivery you can achieve when combining petrol with electricity. There are three hybrid modes including hotlap mode, and you can change the percentage of energy recovery per lap. The only issue? It seems to have pitiful brakes, so you usually have to brake around 50m earlier than you’d expect.

Assetto Corsa review

The Mercedes-AMG GT3 has to be one of the most brutish racing cars around, and yet here I am, threading it round the thin, tarmac ribbon of the Nordschleife. Every year, drivers coax powerful GT cars like this one through the timeless curves of the Green Hell – and attempting the feat in Kunos Simulazioni’s Assetto Corsa is an incredible experience.

I’m tiptoeing around it at first, but the more I drive, the more I understand what the car can do. That’s when I decide to push the Mercedes that bit harder; I get on the gas earlier and earlier on every exit, touching the kerbs as I launch out, confident I can predict how the car will behave. After a while I’m braking hard, turning and wrestling the Merc through every delicate twist, taming its 6.2-litre V8 and using the manual gearing to my advantage. For the past 15 minutes or so I haven’t been thinking about racing – just driving instinctively. This is what playing Assetto Corsa is like, and it’s probably one of the best driving experiences around on the PS4 and Xbox One.

If you’re primarily a console gamer, chances are you’ve heard of Forza and GT Sport, but Assetto Corsa’s probably a little less familiar. That’s because for the past two years Assetto Corsa has been a PC-only game, developed by a small dedicated studio and a dedicated community of sim-racers. However, these niche, sim-based beginnings are glaringly obvious when you first boot it up, and they’re both a blessing and a curse depending on how you like your racing games.

For example, it’s clear that Kunos doesn’t have the budget or the manpower of the teams behind games such as Gran Turismo Sport and Forza Horizons 3, as Assetto Corsa’s menus look like something from a PS1 game. They’re pretty bare, too, but you’ll still find options for Time Attack, Quick Race and Hot Lap modes, along with a Multiplayer mode for racing online.

There’s also a Career mode here, but if you’re expecting something like F1 2016’s immersive decade-long career campaign, then you’ll be disappointed. The Career mode here is just a collection of tasks you get to unlock, but it does force you to drive in different cars. There’s a Special Events mode, too, but once again it’s only a superficial selection of tasks in different cars.

While races can be close, pushing you to nail every exit and work for your track position, the AI isn’t great. It’s not as bad as early Gran Turismo games, where your opponents would all drive in single file, but they’re often good at taking you out the race completely. At tracks such as Spa, I was spun out by the AI several times – so much so that I decided to play it safe after my tenth restart.

As for the graphics? Take a spin around somewhere such as Brands Hatch and Assetto Corsa looks nice, but it lacks the jaw-dropping visual we’ve seen in games such as Driveclub – or even the latest trailer of GT Sport. There are some nice touches – especially the reflection of the dashboard in the windscreen when it’s sunny – but overall Assetto Corsa just isn’t as lovely as you might expect for a simulation game. When combined with a total lack of Night mode, and no weather either – something most of its rivals included years ago – Assetto Corsa falls behind in presentation.

Assetto Corsa can’t compete when it comes to the sheer amount of content offered by other games, either. Where Project Cars and GT Sport put hundreds of cars and countless tracks at your disposal, Assetto Corsa gives you around 100 cars and only a few tracks.

That said, it’s probably a bit unfair to compare Assetto Corsa to the likes of GT Sport and Project Cars, because it’s a very different beast. Everything in this game caters towards those who love driving, and that has to be admired. Firstly, Assetto Corsa includes some unlikely but brilliant tracks that will appeal to petrol heads. Larger international tracks like Silverstone, Spa and Barcelona are here, but they’re mixed with legendary circuits like Nordschleife, Brands Hatch, and even Mugello.

It’s the same with the cars, too. The infamous 1989 Sauber C9 is here, and so is the Ferrari 458, a McLaren 650S GT3 and incredible Lotus 98T – by far one of the most powerful, unruly cars in the game. Each car feels different as well, and driving can often be a process of learning each vehicle.

A Mercedes-AMG GT3, for example, feels far less composed through corners than something as squat as an Audi R8 LMS car, and it’s down to you to adapt your driving style to get the most out of it. Playing with the incredible Lotus 98T is another thing altogether, and trying to coax the 1,000bhp, turbocharged car around Brands Hatch gives you an idea of just how good drivers such as Senna, Mansell and Prost really were.

If you’re worried about difficulty levels, you shouldn’t be. Like most racing games nowadays, Assetto Corsa gives you a range of assists, from ABS to traction control to an ideal racing line – and you’re able to change the last two in gradients. This game is certainly playable with a controller, but pad players will only scratch the surface of the game’s physics and tyre simulation, so you’ll really need a steering wheel such as the Thrustmaster T300RS to get the most out of it.

While you’re taming each car, you’ll also experience some of the best engine noises in any game. When watching replays from the outside, engines growl and reverberate in the stands, while in-car engine noises are even better. Kunos Simulazioni has captured every whine of the transmission, every pop on the overrun, every whistle of a turbo, and the results sound incredible.

Multiplayer

I’ve been playing Assetto Corsa for the past few months, so it’s now possible to talk about the multiplayer mode – and on the whole it’s not great. Online races themselves can be fun, frantic and enjoyable – probably because of the type of player Assetto Corsa attracts – but everything else is slightly shambolic.

The lobby is pretty confusing, so finding a game itself is pretty unintuitive.  And once you do, it’s hard to know how to get into a race. You’ll often be trapped in qualifying sessions, only to find your car moved to the grid seemingly at random. There are no replays for online races either, so even if you do have a good race, there’ll be no way to relive it – other than your recorded gameplay. Sometimes Assetto Corsa feels like a game made by a huge studio, and other times it’s clear just how small the project is. Sadly, the multiplayer reminds you of the latter.

It’s a shame really, because the Assetto Corsa console community deserves better. On the whole, Assetto Corsa racers are great at close racing, and I was rarely punted off the track – if anything the AI is much worse. The racing is great, it’s just getting there that’s the problem.

Verdict

If you’re a casual racer and enjoy games such as Need for Speed and Forza Horizon, this isn’t a game for you. Even Forza 6 and GT Sport fans might find themselves wandering, so if you’re after a Career mode and lots of content and challenges, I’d suggest you look elsewhere.

However, while Assetto Corsa isn’t the most complete driving game on the PS4 and Xbox One, it certainly offers the best driving and racing feel by a country mile. If correcting slides, balancing the throttle, and fiddling with brake bias from corner to corner sounds like your idea of fun, Assetto Corsa has no equal on consoles.

Article source: http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/games/1405068/assetto-corsa-review-ps4-pro-boost-mode-makes-things-even-better

Used Maserati Ghibli Gets Massacred During Review


If you were planning on never purchasing a Maserati Ghibli, this review will do everything short of straight out erasing this car from your memory.

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. This here isn’t a review of a 2017 Ghibli. This is a used, 2015 model, which means
it’s missing updates such as the new infotainment system, air quality sensors or a wide array of active safety systems.

Yet, it’s still a Maserati. It still has a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 unit, good for 404 HP (410 PS) – which by the way, sounds properly Italian. However, you could say that Doug DeMuro was not too impressed.

After spending a few days with this 2015 Maserati Ghibli, he concluded that the car is by no means worth $80,000 or more. He also started to take it apart systematically, toying with its feelings as if he was a movie villain looking to ruin the hero’s life before finally eliminating him.

The thing is, we can’t exactly fault him for his conclusions – as many of his observations are really obvious and hard to ignore. And yes, the build quality can be described as questionable, especially for a car that costs this much.

We’ll let you find out everything else that’s wrong with the car by watching the clip – but be warned, it’s so brutal, you may even end up deleting the Ghibli from your virtual garage in Forza.

VIDEO

Article source: http://www.carscoops.com/2017/04/used-maserati-ghibli-gets-massacred.html

One Week With: 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE

I can’t help but think, “Who needs an 8,250 rpm redline?” as I row the long-geared Tremec unit as the glorious LT1 V-8 of the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE shouts at the world. Sure, Ford’s Shelby GT350 sounds amazing, but this LT1 is quicker to 60 mph than the flat-plane crank-powered V-8 Mustang (4.2 seconds to 4.3), and it feels as if I’m revving past 8,000 rpm even though I’m shifting at 7,000. That’s the magic of the SS 1LE: It feels like a high-dollar German sports car, and a damn good one at that.

The Camaro SS 1LE uses the same 455-horsepower, 455 lb-ft, 6.2-liter 16-valve LT1 V-8 found in the standard Camaro SS. Nothing else in the powertrain is different, though the 1LE gets a short-throw shifter. Peak power arrives at 6,000 rpm and peak torque at 4,400. Yet, when developing the base SS, like Porsche’s new turbo engines, Chevrolet allowed its V-8 to rev past peak performance to better engage the driver.

And engage it does.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE rear three quarter 03

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE rear three quarter 03

On open stretches of highway, you’ll find yourself dropping down a gear and crushing the accelerator, unleashing the Camaro SS 1LE’s fury of power and torque. But you won’t want to shift until it screams at 7,000 rpm, letting your foot stay plastered to pedal as the flood of noise fills the cabin. Power swells, but it doesn’t rapidly build as it does in a Ferrari, McLaren, or Porsche. Instead, the gradual buildup of power indeed makes the car feel like it has a higher redline, similar to the GT350 and its full stop 8,250 top end.

It’s that feeling that will make you keep coming back to the Camaro SS 1LE day after day. To get you coming back week after week though, the car’s excellent suspension befits the Camaro’s recent race-car heritage.

Before the fifth generation, the Camaro was dealt the same “couldn’t turn to save its life” plight as other ponycars. The car was a straight-line animal and not much else. Then, a rebellion. Independent rear suspension led to magnetorheological shocks, which led to the last generation’s Multimatic Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve shocks (DSSV) optioned in the magnificent Camaro Z/28.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE front view 03

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE front view 03

And while the new 1LE doesn’t use those DSSV pieces, it gets updated, upgraded, and reworked magnetorheological dampers, springs, and stabilizer bars that transform the Camaro SS 1LE from daily commuter to “holy [expletive], how am I going so fast around a turn” with a push of a button. With these upgrades, the Camaro SS 1LE ties — ties! — the last generation Z/28 around Chevrolet’s proving grounds, despite using less-sticky tires and non-carbon-ceramic brakes. But what do all these stats, figures, and performance metrics mean in the real world? How does the car make you feel?

Sunlight fading, a cool breeze wafting its way through the canyons, I’m propelled by furious noise. The Camaro SS 1LE is in Sport mode, with firmer dampening, heavier steering, exhaust baffles open. Throttle response is increased, and traction control is off. I don’t need it. The Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar tires are sticky enough and the slick electronic limited-slip differential sends power to the rear so perfectly that when I come out of a turn hot, the slide is controllable and hysterically good fun.

A puff of tire smoke trailing behind, the car lazily revs to 7,000 before I grab third gear. Vibrations, noise, and the guttural menace of the Camaro SS 1LE vibrates through the suede steering wheel, detailing the rocks and road imperfections. It’s not as communicative as, say, a Porsche 718 Cayman S, but you have to remember this car weighs nearly 3,500 pounds. Yet there’s never a sense of disconnect, letting me confidently push the car.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE front three quarter 03

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE front three quarter 03

Up ahead, a sharp switchback with an off camber exit nears. I wait to push the aggressive six-piston Brembo brakes deeper into the turn. Nonplussed, the car shrugs and almost destructively bites into the road, nearly halting my forward momentum. The Camaro holds the radius and barely wriggles or writhes out of the turn that normally upsets rear-wheel-drive sports cars with this much horsepower. I’ve been grinning since I started my run, but after that turn and believing I — by myself and not the car and all its amazing systems — nailed that turn, the smile has become wider.

Through each turn, I make a quick glance at the Camaro’s g-meter. I know it’s pedantic and really belongs on a racetrack, but according to Chevrolet, the Camaro SS 1LE can clip 1 lateral g, and I can’t help but try to hit those lofty performance stats. I see 0.76 g, 0.88, 0.93. Close. For a road car, however, on non-slick tires and carrying a fair amount of heft, that’s hugely impressive, especially on such uneven, pockmarked pavement.

When Chevrolet unveiled the Camaro SS 1LE, chief engineer Al Oppenheiser said, “The Camaro 1LE package follows a recipe any track-day enthusiast will appreciate.” And while that’s probably true, it’s up here, in the mountains railing the Krypton Green Camaro, leaving behind a wake of summer-rated tire smoke and aural enchantment, where enthusiasts will truly appreciate just what Chevrolet has built.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE front three quarter 04

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE front three quarter 04

Yet, everything isn’t sunshine and growly V-8s. There are two problems I’d love Chevrolet to fix: the heavily bolstered seat and the irritating “Skip Shift” transmission programming.

I’m not exactly the slimmest, trimmest, or fittest individual. Nor am I the star of TLC’s “My 600-lb Life.” Yet that’s how I felt as I tried to squeeze my 220-pound frame into the bolstered Recaro seats. The problem isn’t so much the sides as it is the thigh bolstering. The channel that makes up the seat pad is far too tight for me. I end up feeling as if I’m sitting only partially in the seat. Shifting my weight, I either have my right or left butt cheek on the bolsters. On long commutes through Los Angeles traffic, it can get somewhat painful. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I need to lay off the burgers and bratwurst. But then again, I’m not exactly Andre the Giant.

Beyond the seats, the interior offers some hard plastics and a few inexpensive trimmings, but overall it is comfortable if a bit claustrophobic. Standing outside the car, you’d expect the interior to be roomier, as the exterior’s lovely old-school looks and dimensions feel larger than your average sports car. But get inside, and everything is tightly packed. And don’t even think about putting a full-sized adult in the rear seats unless you bring a bone saw or know how to origami a person.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE fender

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE fender

After killing The Incredible Hulk and putting his skin on as a wrap, the #Chevrolet #Camaro SS 1LE went to get breakfast. (It’s not actually a wrap, its paint, I just had to make the joke work)

A post shared by Kirill Ougarov (@kougarov) on Mar 9, 2017 at 7:17am PST

As for the long-standing Skip Shift transmission programming, it is designed to save fuel when shifting at lower rpms — 35 percent throttle or less. From first gear, the transmission gate will lock out second in favor of skipping to fourth with almost no revs. It doesn’t always feel as if there really is any rhyme or reason to when the computer decides to lock you out of the process, either. Throughout a week with the car, I couldn’t accurately find that 35 percent or less cutoff, and it instead always caught me by surprise. Yet the way this car drives as you approach the limit will make you forgive its little hiccups.

Detroit’s reigning sports-car maker has taken a heavy, lumbering, old-world type of car and built a dominant, yet pliable, monster for the road. The Camaro’s anachronistic exterior may befuddle you at first, but the engineering underneath will make anyone a believer. If you’re thinking about getting a track-ready muscle car, one that pushes you and sounds magnificent, look no further as the 2017 Camaro SS 1LE is one of the best performance cars on the market.

Brawler. : : #brawler #NoBoringCars #growl #wakethedead #donthategetav8 #1le #ss1le #ss #camaro #camero #v8 #chevyperformance #chevrolet #getoutanddrive #drifttheapex

A post shared by Jonathon Klein (@jonathon_klein) on Apr 17, 2017 at 8:23am PDT

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Article source: http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-chevrolet-camaro-ss-1le-review-one-week/

2017 Subaru Impreza review

From a distance, the new Subaru Impreza looks a lot like the old one. It has a very similar shape.

And why shouldn’t it?

Subaru owners are as loyal as they come and, to many, their cars have achieved icon status on par with the VW Golf, or even the Porsche 911. You don’t want to rock that boat too hard.

But get closer and you start to notice that the blockiness is gone, like a chiseled wood sculpture that’s spent some time on the sanding table. It seems very polished.

Expand / Contract

(Subaru)

And it is. Despite any resemblance to last year’s model, the 2017 Impreza is built on an all-new modular platform that will be used for new models of every Subaru family car and crossover in the coming years. And for the first time, it’s made in America, alongside the Legacy and Outback, in Indiana.

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It’s bigger, too. The 2017 Impreza has the most passenger space of any compact sedan or five-door hatchback, the two varieties it’s available in.

Expand / Contract

(Subaru)

Not that the Impreza it replaced felt very small, but it did feel a little cheap. There was too much hard plastic, and it was noisy. It may have been as reliable as a marble statue of a cocker spaniel, but it was about as refined as a tramp.

Not so, this one. You’ll thoroughly enjoy finding out how long you can drive it before it finally breaks down. The interior is trimmed in soft, top-notch materials, the background sounds have been turned way down and the ride is as good as anything in the class — better if you hit a rutty dirt road. And since this is a Subaru, you will.

The visibility is also outstanding. A low beltline and thin roof pillars offer a panoramic forward view that won’t have you wishing you were sitting high up in an SUV. But if you really need a loftier perspective,  the new jacked-up Crosstrek version of the Impreza will be available in a few months.

As always, the $19,215 Impreza comes standard with all-wheel-drive, and aside from the ancient Mitsubishi Lancer, it’s the only mainstream compact sedan/hatchback that offers it — an open secret to its sales success that, surprisingly, hasn’t caught on across the segment.

Another is its safety. Equipped with Subaru’s optional Eyesight, which uses stereo cameras to enable pedestrian-detecting automatic emergency braking, the Impreza earns perfect scores on both the NHTSA and IIHS ratings.

Eyesight also manages adaptive cruise control and a lane departure prevention system that’s as hands-off effective as anything short of what the top luxury brands offer. Of course, like many of these systems, it doesn’t actually let you keep your hands off the wheel for very long before it deactivates, but it gives you the strong impression that you could.

The one thing missing from this Impreza is power. It still uses a sewing-machine smooth 2.0-liter flat-four boxer engine that has only 152 hp and no torque to speak of. It’s very efficient, though, delivering 38 mpg on the highway in the sedan and 37 mpg in the five-door, the highest MPG of any all-wheel-drive car. If you want more oomph, wait a year or two until the next-generation Impreza-based high performance WRX comes out.

That car should be outstanding, because the Impreza is already very engaging to drive, even with the optional CVT automatic. The steering has weight to it, and the Impreza feels like it’s on rails when you give it power in a turn, the all-wheel-drive system seamlessly shuffling it around to track right down the middle of the road.

And if you buy the optional built-in navigation system, you’ll have no trouble finding new ones to drive it on. All Imprezas also have smartphone-enabled Apple and Google maps integration and a Magellan app that gives you four ways to get directions, plus whoever’s in the passenger seat. It should be the official car of the Redundancy Department of Redundancy. And there’s an eBird bird spotting app that’s probably the most Subaru thing ever.

For the past year or so, the Honda Civic has been the clear-cut best-in-class compact car, but this excellent new Impreza has clouded things.

If the skies open up, I think I know which one I’d rather be in.

———-

2017 Subaru Impreza 5-Door

Base price: $19,715

As tested: $29,260

Type: 4-door, 5-passenger hatchback

Engine: 2.0-liter flat-4-cylinder

Power: 152 hp/148 lb-ft

Transmission: CVT automatic

MPG: 28 city/37 hwy

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor. You can follow him on Twitter @garygastelu and @foxcarreport

Article source: http://www.foxnews.com/auto/2017/04/21/2017-subaru-impreza-review.html