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Jaguar F-Type Convertible review

The drop top that signified Jaguar’s return to the sports car sector

Finally in 2013 the long-awaited successor to the iconic Jaguar E-Type arrived, named – of course – the F-Type. With drop-dead gorgeous looks penned by designer Ian Callum, it would undoubtedly sell on style alone. But, this wouldn’t do for Jaguar, or driving enthusiasts.

Instead, the brand has the Porsche Boxster and 911 Cabriolet firmly in its sights, so has had to make its latest model better in every respect. Quality, handling and comfort have all been honed and the result is a very special car.

The entry-level F-Type comes with a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 producing 335bhp, so it’s hardly a slouch. But, we’d recommend the V6 S, with the same engine tuned to 375bhp, launching the rear-wheel drive Jag from 0-62mph 4.8 seconds and giving it a top speed of 171mph. If that’s not quick enough for you, there’s a V8 version with a supercar-rivalling 542bhp.

Power in most F-Types is dealt with by an eight-speed ‘Quickshift’ automatic, with paddle shifters found behind the steering wheel for when the mood takes you. Left to its own devices this is an admirably smooth gearbox, making the F-Type easy to drive in town. Select ‘Dynamic’ mode with the toggle switch on the centre console and gears select with greater ferocity and an accompanying explosion from the exhaust. Exciting stuff. We tested the V6 S and found its exhaust note utterly addictive, especially when the Active Sports Exhaust button is pressed to make it even louder.

Introduced for 2015, there’s also the option of a six-speed manual gearbox (Jaguar’s first since the X-Type) if you go for the V6 or V6 S and all-wheel drive as an option for the V6 S and V8 R. The availability of a manual ‘box should appeal to driving purists, but it’s not as slick as you’ll find in a Porsche, and this is one occasion where we’d plump for the automatic, as it suits the car incredibly well. But, with a reputation for smoking the rear tyres rather easily, four-wheel drive is something we’d wholeheartedly recommend, particularly if you often drive in cold or wet weather.

The F-Type has really responsive steering, so it takes hardly any effort to tackle corners, but despite this it also feels pleasingly settled at motorway speeds. Understeer is never an issue and neither is body roll, the F-Type simply slices through corners. Both the ‘S’ and ‘R’ versions feature active suspension able to adjust their stiffness hundreds of times each second to take account of conditions and even hard braking and acceleration.

In fact, the only time the F-Type can be a handful is under acceleration, particularly in winter when we drove it. Skilled drivers will love its willingness to slide, but most should find the traction control and winter driving mode keeps things neat and tidy.

Both the ‘S’ and ‘R’ versions feature active suspension able to adjust their stiffness hundreds of times each second to take account of conditions and even hard braking and acceleration.

Did you know?

The Jaguar F-Type is built in the Castle Bromwich plant in the West Midlands and was designed at Jaguar’s global HQ at Whitely, on the outskirts of Coventry.

The standard seats are supportive and extremely low-slung, helping you take advantage of the F-Types cornering abilities. It’s easy to get comfortable and we found the steering wheel to be just the right size, while there was plenty of room for our feet in the deep foot well. The roof drops with the press of a button and can raise in 12 seconds at speeds up to 30mph.

There’s plenty to get the heart racing, from the pulsing start/stop button when you first get in the car, to the oversized numbers in the rev counter and copper paddle shifters. If we have any criticism, we wish these felt more metallic to the touch and, while the infotainment system is comprehensive in what it can do, the graphics look slightly dated.

While these are hardly deal-breakers, the boot might be. It measures just 200-litres and isn’t the most useful shape, so even short weekend trips will require soft bags and very careful packing. At least folding the roof down has no impact on this, unlike some rivals. The F-Type Coupe has a larger 407-litre boot if you do need more space.

The F-Type Convertible costs from £56,745, placing it between the Porsche Boxster and the 350bhp 911 Cabriolet, the latter starting from £82k, considerably more than the F-Type, making the Jaguar appear good value.

Fuel economy only drops from 33.6.4mpg to 32.8mpg (emissions increasing from 199 to 203g/km) when you go from the standard V6 to the V6 S, so there’s almost no cost disadvantage with the extra power. But, choosing either V6 in manual guise ups the emissions to 234g/km of CO2. It’s, also a different story for the 5.0-litre V8, with high running costs of 26.4mpg and emissions of 255g/km of CO2 making it expensive to tax.

It’s a different story for the 5.0-litre V8, with high running costs of 26.4mpg and emissions of 255g/km of CO2 making it expensive to tax.

The Jaguar F-Type Convertible is a stunning car, both in terms of the way it looks and the smile it puts on your face. Even driving slowly or through town, the wonderful burble from its exhaust will prove irresistible to anyone who loves cars. The Coupe is arguably even better resolved, but for some the extra rush of driving with the roof down will make the soft-top their only choice. Now Jaguar has added manual and four-wheel drive versions to the line-up, the F-Type should suit an even wider group of driving enthusiasts.

Article source: https://www.carkeys.co.uk/car-reviews/jaguar-f-type-convertible-review

Porsche 911 Coupe review

When Porsche was developing its latest 911 (known both within the company and to well-informed enthusiasts as the 991 series) for its launch in 2012, it was careful to maintain the basic shape and layout which had already proved successful over half a century. In other ways, however, the new car was quite radical, being larger than any of its predecessors but at the same time lighter, thanks partly to the use of aluminium in its construction.

There are several body styles, but the Coupe remains the most familiar and, to some people, soul-stirring. It’s available with the greatest variety of engines, all of them with six cylinders and capacities of between 3.4 and

3.8 litres. Power outputs range from 345bhp to 552bhp. Some models send their power to the rear wheels only, some to all four, and there’s a choice of manual and PDK twin-clutch semi-automatic gearboxes, both with seven speeds.

Very few 911s have a 0-62mph of over five seconds, and none of them are Coupes. The figure for the entry-level Carrera manual is 4.8 seconds, helped considerably by the enormous traction created by having the weight of the engine mounted over the driven wheels. The Carrera 4 is, curiously enough, a tenth slower, partly because four-wheel drive doesn’t make much difference in this case and partly because it’s 50kg heavier. The PDK gearbox reduces the 0-62mph time by two tenths, and you can shave off two more by specifying the optional Sport Plus package.

Turbocharged models can do the same run in 3.5 seconds or less, the best figure being 3.1 for the Turbo S. Unlike several other German manufacturers, Porsche does not adhere to a “gentleman’s agreement” to limit top speed to 155mph. Every 911 Coupe can go faster than this, the lowest figure being 177mph and the highest 198mph.

You have to push the engines hard to get the best out of them, but they provide a more than adequate amount of power at low revs. They sound good, too, with four distinct notes as you accelerate the lower-powered units through the rev range. The PDK transmission is very easy to use, the manual less so because there are so many gears to select. Heavy spring loading of the lever means it’s easy to go straight from seventh to fourth when you were aiming for sixth, but the shift quality is pleasantly firm and precise.

The rear-heavy layout is inherently unstable, and while it may have been acceptable when the original 911 was launched in 1963 it caused considerable problems in later years. Porsche’s attempt to sell front-engined sports cars instead, starting in the late 1970s, eventually failed because customers kept wanting to buy 911s, so the company had to tame its most famous models handling while also increasing power outputs.

With the 991 series it has gone about as far as the laws of physics will allow. The position of the engine still affects the car’s behaviour over crest and through dips, and there remains some hesitation as you turn in to a corner, but nowadays you would have to try very hard to achieve the tail slides which could so easily catch out an unwary driver in previous years.

The ride quality of the less performance-oriented models is superb, even with optional sports suspension and 20-inch wheels, and makes them qualify as comfortable long-distance grand tourers rather than out-and-out sports cars, though they can also be very effective on a race circuit.

The ride quality of the less performance-oriented models is superb, even with optional sports suspension and 20-inch wheels.

Did you know?

The original model was going to be called the 901, but Peugeot objected as it had dibs on three-number car names with a central zero. Porsche made the necessary adjustment before putting the 911 on sale.

The days of 911s having a few dials and minor controls scattered around a drab interior are long gone. Sitting inside the current model without going anywhere is a pleasure in itself. The design is very attractive and the materials are high-quality.

There’s a lot of room for two tall people in the front. There are rear seats but they’re not suitable for anyone larger than a small child and are more likely to be used as additional luggage space.

Some items will in fact have to go there because there’s no room for them anywhere else. The luggage compartment is under the bonnet and has a smaller capacity than the average city car at 145 litres for the rear-wheel drive models and just 125 litres for the 4x4s.

Satellite navigation, DAB digital radio and dual-zone air-conditioning are fitted as standard across the range, but you have to pay extra for cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, keyless entry, Park Assist and a reversing camera.

Porsche’s willingness to charge you for equipment that might have been fitted as standard doesn’t sit well with pricing which starts at over £73,000. For those who can take this to extremes, several of the more powerful models cost significantly more than £100,000.

Running costs need not necessarily be very high. The entry-level Carrera with the PDK gearbox has the best combined fuel economy and CO2 emissions in the range at 34.4mpg and 191g/km, and has the lowest annual Vehicle Excise Duty payments at £265 (a trifling amount in comparison with the purchase price). Achieving much more than 30mpg might be a struggle, but you could manage it if you didn’t make full use of the performance, which is by no means the only appealing part of the driving experience.

The 552bhp Turbo S has official figures of 29.1mpg and 227g/km, though you’re unlikely to match the former. The GT3, described in another article, is much less environmentally friendly and will cost a great deal more to tax.

 

Running costs need not necessarily be very high. The entry-level Carrera with the PDK gearbox has the best combined fuel economy.

For some people, simply owning a 911 will be enough, regardless of what it’s like. The more critical of us love the interior and engine note, and greatly admire the way Porsche has come close to resolving the unresolvable handling problems caused by the engine location. Practicality is terrible and Porsche’s pricing policy can justly be criticised, but the current 911 is nevertheless a wonderful car, and we wouldn’t blame anyone for wanting to own one.

Article source: https://www.carkeys.co.uk/car-reviews/porsche-911-coupe-review

2018 Audi RS5 first drive: Audi Sport Quattro, revisited

Enthusiasts know exactly what an M badge means when it’s plastered to the back of a BMW. Mercedes-Benz doesn’t have to explain AMG to anyone. But as good as Audi’s S and RS machines are, the performance arm that produces them, Audi Sport, is far less known. And that was even more true when that brand was called Quattro. Compared to its rivals, owning one of Audi’s RS models was almost like belonging to an underground club — a well-kept performance car secret. That’s fun for Audi fans, but that’s certainly not an ideal strategy for increasing sales.

“Quattro was not a fitting name,” Stephan Winkelmann, former Lamborghini CEO and new head of Audi Sport, told us over dinner at the launch of the RS5. “It’s the name of the equipment on the car, not the car company. The name Audi Sport was easy to choose because we have the motorsport heritage — our DNA is motorsports.”

And the car that is perhaps the closest production car evolution and representation of Audi’s storied motorsports history is the all-new RS5. It’s the spiritual successor to the Audi Sport Quattro, a car that was built to dominate rally racing and generated four world championship titles in the 1980s.

The RS5 is freshly minted for 2018 and no, it doesn’t have a fire-breathing inline-five like the Sport Quattro. But it does share the two-door coupe layout, tough-looking blistered fenders and plenty of turbocharged horsepower. This is the second-generation RS5, and under the aluminum hood is a 2.9-liter six-cylinder engine with twin turbochargers (each feeding one cylinder bank) nestled deep inside the V. It generates a solid 450 hp from 5,700 rpm until 6,700 rpm.

Audi devotees will remember that a 4.2-liter V8 with the exact same horsepower spec was at the heart of the last RS5. The difference was, that engine made its power all the way up at 8,250 rpm. It was a screamer with gorgeous red valve covers. And we loved it. The new V6, however, delivers what the old engine couldn’t: low end torque. At its core, it’s a slightly shorter-stroke evolution of the 3.0-liter V6 in the S5. Thanks to those twin turbos, it puts down 125 lb-ft more torque than the old V8 for a total of 442 lb-ft. And it does all this torque production way down at 1,900 rpm and keeps cranking it out all the way to 5,000 rpm. Downsizing from a V8 to a V6 saves quite a bit of weight, too: The new engine is 68.3 pounds lighter.

It’s also fitted beneath the nose of the Porsche Panamera 4S. The only difference between the engines in both cars is how the air cleaners are packaged. Audi Sport makes it very clear, though, that this engine was developed by Audi.

The V6 is channeled to a ZF eight-speed automatic. This transmission is in the same family as the eight-speed in the S5. But according to Stephan Reil, head of technical development for Audi Sport, there are unique gear ratios and stronger clutches here. So why no manual transmission?

“We don’t have a standard transmission that can handle 442 lb-ft of torque,” says Reil. “We’d have to develop a new one, and less than 10 percent of the buyers would choose it.”

Torque is distributed to all four wheels through the same Torsen-based, mechanical all-wheel-drive system as the S5. Under normal conditions, it sends 40 percent of the torque to the front axle and 60 percent to the rear. When necessary, a maximum of 85 percent can be sent rearward. Audi’s torque-vectoring rear sport differential has unique tuning here and changes its behavior based on the drivetrain settings within the Audi Drive Select menus — less torque is sent across the axle in comfort and auto modes, and more in dynamic.

One of the strongest visual clues separating this car from an S5 are those flared fenders. The fenders themselves are completely new stamped steel parts, and each one bulges out 0.6 inch and has faux, but nonetheless cool, black vent grilles to help accentuate them. The RS5’s bodywork is generally crisper and more aggressive than the last one. It looks positively tough on the road.

European RS5s have an optional carbon-fiber roof. Sadly, because of U.S. crash regulations, our cars cannot be fitted with the roof. It’s about 60 pounds lighter than our sunroof-equipped steel roof. However, compared to the last RS5, this new one weighs 132.3 fewer pounds overall.


2018 Audi S5 Sportback review and first drive

The basic architecture of the RS5’s suspension remains unchanged compared to the S5. However, there are some important upgrades. The RS5 has springs that are about 0.3 inch lower than the ones in the S5, with an increase in spring rate of about 15-20 percent. Audi Sport uses bushings in the control arms with a stiffer rubber compound, as well as roll bars with a unique torsion rate for the RS5. The flared fenders were required because the RS5 does indeed have a wider track. At the front, that comes from the greater offset in the 9-inch wide, 20-inch tall wheels. At the rear, the wheel-mounting flange is actually 0.2 inch wider, too. The Dynamic Ride Control (DRC) dampers are optional, but Audi says nearly everyone opts for them. These three stage adjustable dampers are tied together across the chassis, linking opposite corners with a central valve. The dampers are designed to reduce roll and pitch and are controlled by the Drive Select system menu.

The RS5’s option list is relatively short. The Dynamic package includes a sport exhaust with black tips, red-painted brake calipers and the dynamic ride control suspension. The Dynamic-plus package adds ceramic front brakes, a direct tire pressure-monitoring system, a carbon-fiber engine cover and a top speed raised from 155 mph to 174 mph. And finally, the RS Driver Assistance package includes an upgraded top view camera system, head-up display, high-beam assistant, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition.


2018 Audi S5 Sportback

The Execution

Dig deep into the throttle of the new RS5 and there’s a wall of torque that hits right away and never seems to let up. The eight-speed’s tightly spaced ratios keep those turbos building boost at a relentless pace. In sport mode, the automatic shifts as quickly as any of the best dual-clutch gearboxes. Audi estimates it will hit 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. There’s a manual mode that will hold onto a gear until you’re ready to shift, and it’s helpfully accompanied by a rainbow of shift warning lights on the tach. The dial is green until just past 4,000 rpm, then yellow up to about 6,000 rpm and then, finally, red past 6,500, at which point the dial flashes if you haven’t yet pulled the paddle.

But to get the quickest times, you’ll need to engage Launch Control.

Select dynamic mode, turn the ESC down a notch or completely off and then floor the throttle and brake at the same time. The engine revs will rise to 2,500 rpm, you let off the brake and you’re gone.

“In a dual-clutch gearbox, you open one clutch, close another and cut the engine power for a split second in Launch Control,” says Reil. “Here, we’re not shutting down the engine, so there’s a little abrupt jump at the gear change. It improves 0-60-mph acceleration by one-tenth of a second.”

And there’s a stirring, silky whoosh from those turbos and a V6 growl as you keep the pedal planted with these little pops and snorts from the exhaust as it shifts.

“At low revs, the engine makes nearly no sound,” Reil says. “So, from idle to 3,000 rpm, we have a sound actor mounted at the base of the windshield to make low frequency sounds.”

Is it as exciting as the old high-revving V8 in the last RS5? No, not quite. But here’s the thing, that’s the only thing you might miss from that car. The new RS5 is not only a far easier car to drive quickly, but thanks to all that torque, it’s also better around town.

 


2019 Audi A8 preview

On the tight, hairpin roads of the Pyrenees mountains where we spent two days piloting the RS5, the drivetrain’s short gearing and the relentless torque of the turbocharged V6 made connecting those curves effortless. That was true whether we were hammering the car approaching the limits of our bravery or just cruising at a comfortably quick pace. It’s always agile and always composed. This powertrain is potent all the time too, not just at the top of the rev band like the old V8 RS5. We liked drive select set to individual mode, which let us put the engine/gearbox, steering, differential and engine sound to dynamic but dial back the suspension to comfort. The dynamic suspension mode feels a bit too stiff and busy over these roads. Perhaps that setting is more suitable to a track.

Audi’s interior design and execution is still some of the best in the luxury car world. Our particular test car had plush Alcantara coverings on the steering wheel, shifter and door panels. And the heavily bolstered massaging sport seats are supremely comfy. It all made gobbling up the 200-mile trek between the airport in Toulouse, France, to Andorra and back totally undemanding. And that’s maybe this car’s greatest strength. It’s a master at covering ground very quickly on any type of road while delivering a sense of serenity in the cabin.

We didn’t have a chance to push the car to its limit on a track. But Reil and the Audi Sport team practically lived at the Nurburgring with the RS5. They spent about three weeks at the beginning of the development process durability testing over 5,000 miles on the Nordschleife. And then they returned for another 5,000 before the car was released for production. Reil wouldn’t divulge an official lap time but says the RS5 can do the job comfortably in under eight minutes — you probably could have guessed that.  


2018 Audi SQ5 First Drive A Benchmark Updated

The Takeaway

This all-new RS5 is a vast improvement over the last one. Yes, it’s lost a bit of that high-revving excitement from the old V8. But it’s gained so much more breadth of capability. It’s a quicker car around town and in the hills, too. It’s also a car that we can confidently say would be a great daily driver.

Audi says the RS5 will start somewhere around $70,000 when it arrives stateside this winter. The RS5 is just the first of many new Audi Sport models due to arrive soon. Winkelmann says the lineup will broaden from the 10 models the company produces today to 16 by 2020. And the next one we’re likely to see is a Sportback version of the RS5.


Ben Stewart


Ben Stewart

– Ben Stewart has spent the past two decades reviewing cars and reporting on automotive culture and technology.

See more by this author»

On Sale: Winter 2018

Base Price: $70,000 (est.)

Drivetrain: 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6, eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

Output: 450 hp @ 5,700-6,700 rpm, 442 lb-ft of torque @ 1,900-5,000 rpm

Curb Weight: 3,649 lb

Pros: Crisp style, endless torque, docile daily driver

Cons: Engine lacks high-rev flavor, no manual transmission

Article source: http://autoweek.com/article/car-reviews/2018-audi-rs5-review-audi-sport-quattro-revisited

Mercedes-AMG GT R vs Porsche 911 GT3 twin test review (2017)

► Porsche GT3 vs Merc-AMG GT R
► Brutal sports car twin test review
► Which Stuttgart sports car wins? 

Autobahn! At last, the speed limit lifts, from 80 to 100 to 120km/h to unlimited. But it takes another 60 clicks for the traffic to thin out and vacate the fast lane. The day’s first chance to give ’em stick opens on the oldest stretch of the A92 between Munich and the foothills of the Bavarian Forest. And when that opportunity does finally arise, we grab it with both hands. 

At a more modest pace these curves through the pan-flat plains would be barely noticeable, but at 150mph-plus a close reading of the road ahead is essential. The porous slabs of concrete have drifted apart over the years, millions of trucks have carved out wavy washboard ruts, and there are some sudden and drastic camber changes. Although the morning is dry and calm, the single-digit temperature read-outs suggest that grip may be an issue over bridges still damp from the night and through the wooded sections.

The new 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 is leading when the first proper gap presents itself, but it could easily be the other way around. As  both drivers simultaneously engage go-for-it-mode, the Mercedes-AMG GT R gains ground quickly, thanks to its big power advantage. In just about any gear, from the word go all the way to the near-200mph top speed, the Merc is at least as fast as the Porsche. And yet the driver of the 911 couldn’t care less; he’s too busy with his foot to the floor, celebrating each blaring 9000rpm upshift.

Here and now, driven like this, these two Stuttgart sports cars are closely matched. But there are as many differences as there are similarities. They’re both rear-wheel-drive coupes with seven-speed, twin-clutch transmissions. But the Mercedes, with its front-mounted twin-turbo V8, has an 84bhp/177lb ft advantage over the Porsche; the Porsche, with its rear-mounted, naturally aspirated, horizontally opposed six, is shorter and lighter.

Two titans of Stuttgart: GT R vs GT3

At times the AMG seems like it’s trying to be two cars in one. In Comfort mode, with the transmission locked in Drive, it’s a laid-back rumbler with drawn-in claws and half-closed LED eyes. In Sport and even more so in Sport Plus, however, all hell breaks loose, with full-throttle manoeuvres accompanied by acoustic earthquakes which come and go in waves, accentuated by fake heeling and toeing, chip-generated lift-off misfiring and that howling part-throttle wah-wah.

It’s quite something. So’s the GT3, especially on twistier roads, which it attacks with verve. Beneath the go-faster body, a battalion of high-tech helpers are working a thousand minor miracles a second, juggling rear-wheel steering, adjustable dampers, big tyres, active engine mounts and sophisticated electronics into a breathtakingly dynamic whole.

To find out what else it can do, and to see how it holds up against an AMG clearly designed to muscle into Porsche territory, we’ve devised an adrenaline-fuelled 48-hour itinerary that includes some lengthy flat-out stints, but also some of the trickiest Austrian back roads, syrupy city crawling and one solid flat-out hour on the Wachauring racetrack near Melk. 

Porsche 911 GT3 interior

When we compared the first AMG GT S to the 911 Carrera GTS, it was the Porsche’s in-built agility that sealed the deal for the marque from the southern side of Stuttgart. Three years later, we’re back with a lookalike twosome, but this time the big bad Benz has so much more under its long bonnet, which explains why it keeps winning the dragstrip duels on the autobahn – there’s just so much in-gear punch. Every time a longish straight comes into sight, the Merc makes up what it lost through the preceding set of corners.

More comparison test reviews by CAR magazine

Mercedes-AMG GT R vs Porsche 911 GT3: the stat-off

High-revving naturally aspirated flat six or twin-turbo V8? Redlined at 9000rpm, the 4.0-litre Porsche engine needs 8250rpm to deliver max power and 6000rpm to establish max torque. Although it gained 25bhp and 15lb ft over the previous vintage, 493bhp and 339lb ft are no real threat to the 577bhp and 516lb ft posted by the team from the northern fringe of Stuttgart.

Since the manual version loses half a second to the more purposeful two-pedal edition in the 0-62mph sprint, we’ve picked the no-cost PDK option for this shootout. It’s a claimed 3.4 against 3.6sec victory for the 911, but in our head-to-head comparison the Benz is every bit as quick. 

As we head east towards Vienna, loosely following the river Danube on a very mixed set of roads, the cars’ different characters emerge. The GT R is more GT than R; the GT3 is more R than GT (although a sharper GT3 RS is still to come). Despite its slightly more compliant suspension, the Porsche struggles to relax, let go, drop revs. Instead, it is totally committed at all times, noisily hurling loose chippings through the echo-chamber wheelarches, highlighting the aggressively informative low-speed ride, letting the manly intake rasp and the dense exhaust rumble do the talking. 

The new 2017 Porsche 911 GT3, 991.2 generation

In the rolling hills near Vienna, on the far side of the busy commuter belt, we pull out all the stops in Germany’s finest sports cars. Once more, the different engineering approaches offer a mix of strengths and weaknesses. Traction? Advantage Porsche, which can put all the weight and energy on its hind legs at all times. Turn-in? A dead heat, at least in the dry when the front tyres bite until the entry speed is simply too silly for public roads. Mid-range grunt? Advantage GT R. The peak torque, on tap all the way from 1900 to 5500rpm, is more than a match for the extra 2000rpm the Porsche driver can squeeze out of the boxer engine.

Although both coupes are crammed with high technology,  cold rubber gives iffy traction and cornering grip can be a guessing game. While the AMG is always liable to wriggle its tail before ESP quickly catches it, 911s have been known to understeer into oblivion and oversteer tail-first into the ditch. The GT3 mitigates this inherent vice by offering a ‘paddle neutral’ feature, which disconnects the rear wheels from the drivetrain the instant both shift paddles are pulled. It works, but first you must remember it exists, and then do what you have never done before, in defiance of your instincts. 

Ride, handling: which is best at a B-road blast?

In both cars, the driver needs quick reactions whenever ample oomph meets dubious grip. Through the open bends which snake up and down the Danube valley, it’s a game of release and catch, pumping the throttle and constantly adjusting the steering angle. It’s a little easier to kick the more frivolous GT R into play mode than the staunch 911, but as soon as the rear end veers sideways the AMG is a bit of a handful.

Perhaps switching off ESP altogether wasn’t such a wise move. Perhaps we should instead play some more with the multi-mode traction control device which harbours eight stages of drama, from mild to wild.

The geometric buttons in the old-fashioned centre console of the GT3 invite you to turn up the exhaust volume, adjust the shock absorber calibration, speed up the drivetrain response, and deactivate ESP either on its own or together with ASR (automatic slip regulation). It’s a straightforward arrangement – no drive mode selector, no tweaking of springs and steering, no personalised mix-and-match programme.

In classic GT tradition, this is a 911 served straight up, no ice and no water, without tonic or Coke. It’s a slightly more accessible set-up than the previous GT3, with fewer rough edges, totally involving yet charmingly viceless.

The GT R is loud, flashy and outlandishly fast. In contrast to the almost austere driver environment favoured by Porsche, the AMG is a true luxo-sport steamhammer, an insatiable long-distance mile-gobbler, a pragmatically practical daily driver. From the mean sharktooth grille over the monstrously overcrowded cockpit to the bouquet of driver assisting mod cons, this is a Mercedes-Benz as much as it is a bespoke AMG creation. Despite the bulk, the cabin space is snug, but the boot is easily accessible and big enough at 350 litres, versus the meagre 125 litres of the Porsche. Like the GT3, the GT R comes with unheated body-hugging racing buckets which are adjustable solely in reach.

AMG GT R oversteer: it'll slide and drift all day long

By lunchtime on day two we’ve ticked most of our boxes. The urgent autobahn stints have sucked two tankfuls dry, the concerted attack on the twisties has coated the wheels with layers of furry brake dust, our cornering adventures have shaved measurable amounts of rubber off all the tyres, the tight alleyways in Vienna have made us fear for the jewelled wheels and the Merc’s massive mirrors. And then it’s time for our laps of the demanding Wachauring. With the exception of a second-gear corner at the end of the start-finish straight, it´s all third and fourth-gear stuff.

A shower pushes the grip level from low to high risk. In view of the cold tyres and the marbles framing the racing line, ambition quickly gives way to caution. Under blue skies, the AMG goes out first to set the pace, and what an awesome pace it is. Do not underestimate this car: it is more than a low-end torque monster, a master of powerslide, a horizon-hungry zoom lens on wheels. Its talents also shine on the track, where it exhibits very quick and precise steering, mighty braking and formidable grip, achieved with sombrero-sized ventilated and cross-drilled discs, special-compound Michelin tyres (275/30 ZR19, 325/30 ZR20), trick suspension, an electronically controlled limited-slip diff and a variable-rate steering which takes g-force into consideration.

Even on warm rubber, moments of tentative understeer are taking turns with angry shoulder-shrugging antics, so traction control definitely has a role to play, and the shift points need to be scaled back by 1000rpm or so in either direction. A couple of laps later, grip is back in full force, so we zoom in on the limit again by tightening the line, straddling the kerbs and stretching the braking points. Turn-in is reassuringly positive now, torque begs to be fed earlier and earlier still, and soon enough the right hand is once more reaching for that magic yellow traction control knob. 

Verdict

While the first AMG GT was a potent poseur, the new GT R is a competent and rewarding road and track tool.

Stepping from the AMG into the Porsche is like entering a different universe – one that revels in high revs, late upshifts and even later braking. Yes, there is again pupil-widening understeer on the slippery approach to that dropping left-hander, but a brief pull at both shift paddles interrupts the push from behind, making the front tyres rebond at once with the tarmac while encouraging rear-wheel steering to tighten the arc. The 911 pushes, kicks and tugs when accelerating hard past apexes and through corners, as does the fierce GT R.

There is no clear winner here. The GT3 is clearly the smaller and lighter car. It lays the power down like a steamhammer on steroids, and defies g-forces long and hard. But it cannot pull away from the AMG. The GT R is as fast if not a touch faster, and an equally exciting drive. Simply, there is no duff choice here.

Mercedes-AMG GT R vs Porsche 911 GT3 twin test review

Specs, performance, prices

Porsche 911 GT3

Price £111,802
Engine 3996cc 24v naturally-aspirated flat-six, 493bhp @ 8250rpm, 339lb ft @ 6000rpm
Transmission 7-speed twin-clutch auto, rear-wheel drive
Performance 3.4sec 0-62mph, 197mph, 22.2mpg, 288g/km CO2
Suspension Independent strut front, multi-link rear
Weight 1430kg
On sale Now
Rating ★★★★★

Mercedes-AMG GT R

Price £143,245
Engine 3982cc 32v twin-turbo V8, 577bhp @ 6250rpm, 516lb ft @ 1900rpm
Transmission Seven-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Performance 3.6sec 0-62mph, 198mph, 24.8mpg, 259g/km CO2
Suspension Double wishbone all round
Weight 1630kg
On sale Now
Rating ★★★★★

Article source: http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/car-reviews/comparison/2017/mercedes-amg-gt-r-vs-porsche-911-gt3-twin-test-review-2017/

Porsche 911 GTS review: why cheapest is best

Yet another new Porsche 911?

“Oh God,” you’re thinking. “Porsche has given the 911 a new ashtray lid and so Top Gear have found another excuse to write about a car I’ve seen a thousand times before.”

And yes, this Carrera GTS doesn’t look an awful lot different to the plethora of 911s that have gone before it, never mind the other 36 versions of 911 you can currently buy. But pop your anorak on and you might just spot that this is one of the very best.

While there are numerous iterations of Carrera GTS, spanning coupes, cabrios and Targas, two- and four-wheel drive and manual and paddleshift gearboxes, the cheapest is the one you want: a RWD manual coupe.

Just like the 911 R, then…

Yup. The magic of the GTS badge is that it brings quite a lot of the sharpness of Porsche’s motorsport cars – the GT3s and so on – but combines it with the everyday usability associated with the Carrera.

Keep the spec simple – avoiding 4WD, an automatic gearbox and a folding roof – and you’re as close to the 911 R’s ethos as possible. But there are still back seats, and it costs less than £100,000.

That’s still a lot of money.

It’s a lot of car, though. Driving this GTS for a few days made me think about how chuffing brilliant I’d feel if I’d just bought one in this spec and driven it home for the first time. Which led me to ponder whether I’d have this, a McLaren 570S or an Audi R8 as my ‘everyday car’ in the dream garage. Yep, GTS spec lifts the standard 911 into that kind of company.

What’s so special about it?

Porsche has basically ticked the most exciting options boxes on your behalf. The 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat-six engine gets the ‘Powerkit’ pack that takes it up 444bhp, there’s 20mm lower sports suspension and the wheels are some fine looking 20in items.

There’s also some tasteful trim upgrades inside and out; silver detailing makes way for black and there’s sheets and sheets of suede-like Alcantara, most notably over the entire steering wheel rim. Everything just feels right.

Can it really be compared to proper supercars?

I think so. While it exhibits a power deficit compared to an R8 or 570S, it would hardly feel left behind on the road. It’s a monstrously fast car, this, and certainly as quick as you really want (or need) your road car to be. Its 0-62mph time is 4.1secs, its top speed 193mph. And Porsche is famously conservative with its quotes.

And while the 911 Carrera’s switch to turbocharging was a big deal when it was announced, it’s not something to fret about. This engine doesn’t quite howl like its forebears, but it still loves to rev. And with full control over the gearbox, you’ll love to rev it.

Yes, the old-fashioned gearbox…

It’s not as quick or as user-friendly as the optional PDK transmission, and nor, we suspect, will it prove as popular. But not only does it save you nearly three grand, it’s also a lot more satisfying to use.

The biting point of the clutch takes some adjusting to, but otherwise it’s a brilliant example of why manuals still have a place in performance cars. It’s got seven speeds, which is easy to forget at first, as the car cruises very well in sixth.

But it’s rare you’ll ever get tangled at the top end of the gearbox, and even five years on from Porsche’s first seven-speed manual, there’s still curious fun to be extracted from going down from seventh to third when a dual carriageway merges into a roundabout. With a ‘box this good, you might as well make it four separate changes…

How’s the grip? Do you miss AWD?

It’s been unrelentingly warm in the south of England recently, so conditions were rarely less than perfect in our time with the GTS. It was always utterly faithful. Corner harder and you can get a degree of movement at the rear, particularly with the eager turn-in of the optional rear-wheel steering (£1,592), but so wonderful is the steering, that you know exactly what’s going on. This is one of the best electronic steering setups ever.

Most importantly, it controls a car that’s both extremely competent and lots of fun. The two aren’t always compatible. The ride is noticeably firmer than a regular Carrera, but it’s just a nice reminder that you’ve specced something a little more serious.

And how’s the ashtray lid?

Our car didn’t have the requisite £38 ‘smoking package’ to find out, sadly. The rest of the interior is smarter than ever, though. Like all recent 911s, you get proper mobile phone mirroring on the touchscreen, and a smartphone-like layout even when you don’t have any devices plugged in.

The age-old 911 dial layout remains – five circular readouts with the rev-counter in the middle – but everything around it has been brought up to date. I’m not a fan of the fiddly buttons on the steering wheel, but Porsche still lets you have one free of buttons. I like that. I like the whole thing. It’s the best Carrera you can buy, and if you need back seats, the most fun 911 on sale.

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

2018 Bentley Continental GT

Drifting on packed snow with the throttle nailed and the tail cocked full hooligan is questionable behavior in a $200,000-plus Bentley Continental GT Speed—especially when it’s a prototype only two-thirds of the way through its final development schedule. But such activity, plus three encounters with roving reindeer herds, is par for the course when you’re embedded with Bentley’s top engineers wrapping up their winter test routines near the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland.

Full disclosure: This report deviates from our first-drive review norms. While we did drive a camouflaged third-generation Continental GT, scheduled to appear in final form at this fall’s Frankfurt auto show, for every minute in the driver’s seat we experienced an hour as a passenger. Compensation came in the form of unrestricted dialogue with three of Bentley’s top engineers: head of quality Jürgen Kern, powertrain chief Paul Williams, and whole-vehicle engineering director Cameron Paterson.

Bentley’s supercoupe is essentially an eleven-tenths-scale, five-times-as-expensive, 200-mph Britain-built Chevrolet Camaro SS. Other than clinically jaded journalists, no one really needs such a car, though there are scores of lucky souls who want them: captains of industry, stock-market manipulators, oil sheiks, and pro athletes, for instance.

This is some of the grandest touring that a very large heap of money will buy. While exceeding the GT’s previous blend of speed, poise, and luxury sounds like a film entitled Mission: Unlikely, that’s exactly what the third-generation 2018 model is engineered to do.


More Audi or More Porsche?

According to Paterson, this endeavor began more than four years ago when Bentley set about replacing the current GT, which uses underpinnings it shared with the late Volkswagen Phaeton. The VW Group store offered two platform candidates—one engineered by Porsche, the other by Audi. Several factors tilted the decision in the Porsche direction. Bentley CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer, who spent a fruitful decade at Porsche, aspires to purge the winged-B brand’s stodginess through participation in GT3 road racing and by appealing to a younger clientele with more agile products. To that end, Porsche’s MSB platform offered tantalizing credentials: more aluminum to trim hundreds of pounds of weight, significantly better weight distribution (achieved by shifting the front axle several inches forward to pass through, instead of behind, the engine), and ready hybridization.

Shifting to the Porsche platform makes the Continental GT a kissing cousin to the new Panamera, but Paterson is quick to note that Bentley’s core virtues—superb performance combined with sublime comfort and luxury—distinguish this touring coupe from Porsche’s four-door flagship.


W-12 Driving All Four

The building blocks discussed with the Bentley boys are impressive. To supplement the 300-to-400-pound weight loss, aero drag has been reduced. The new twin-turbo 6.0-liter W-12 is a claimed 18 percent more fuel efficient, contributing to an overall mileage gain of some 20 percent. No final power or fuel-economy figures have been released, but Bentley promises the new Continental GT’s W-12 will make “more” than 592 horsepower and 530 lb-ft of torque. The company projects a sub-4.0-second zero-to-60-mph time and a top speed in excess of 200 mph.

A new ZF eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission sends torque to both axles through a variable clutch that energizes the front wheels on demand to minimize rear-tire meltdown during acceleration and front tire scrub during hard cornering. A key thing to know here is that the Bentley’s new all-wheel-drive system (standard in this W-12 model—we’ve been told nothing about any equivalent to today’s V-8 version) operates in 100 percent rear-drive mode by default and shifts torque to the front wheels only when it detects slip at the rear. Previously, an AWD Bentley was more Audi-like in distributing torque to all four wheels all the time (in a 40/60 front-to-rear proportion). While the outgoing Continental is already one of our favorites in the ultra-GT class, this new edition seems like the quarter horse that sent the old gray mare to pasture.

Given the combined 680 horsepower Porsche packs into the 2018 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, I asked powertrain engineer Williams why he favors pistons over electrons. He’s convinced there’s another decade of life left in the twin-turbo W-12 that Bentley builds at its Crewe, England, factory, largely because it’s so steeped in advanced technology.

“This 12-cylinder has a creamy sound perfectly in tune with the Bentley character,” he said. “The W configuration is substantially shorter than a V-12, so we’re able to mount the engine rearward without consuming cabin space. But it’s the wealth of special features we’ve engineered into this engine that will keep it viable for years to come.”

That list includes both direct and port fuel injection, variable intake and exhaust valve timing, and dual-scroll Bosch-Mahle turbochargers. To improve cruising mileage, the passenger-side bank of six cylinders shuts down on cue. A blanket of acoustic foam surrounding the fuel pumps and injectors hushes noise radiating from this praiseworthy powerhouse.

Engineer Paterson is especially proud of the muffler valves, which transition seamlessly between loud and soft modes without initiating booming or wailing sounds. “We use no contrived or artificial sounds in the GT,” he added, “so what you hear during full-throttle acceleration are the natural baritone notes produced by our W-12. Our goal is to combine a soothing, serene environment for long cruises with a powerful and entertaining spirit when the driver chooses to celebrate the sporty side of his GT’s character.”

The exhaust tuning was far from complete in the two prototypes we rode in, and snow-packed, speed-limited roads offered no opportunity to exploit the 12 cylinders plus two turbos’ worth of power at our disposal. That said, we can vouch for the quiet part of the Conti GT’s personality. During cruising, the only sound was the muted crunch of Pirelli winter tires scrabbling for grip. Even that noise will be diminished, according to Paterson, because of the foam inserts that will blanket the inside of each tire carcass once production begins.


Quality and Refinement

Three-chamber air springs with continuously variable damping and isolated front and rear subframes are part of Porsche’s platform plan. Seat height is approximately one inch higher than in the Panamera but an inch lower than in today’s Continental GT. Expecting to find a cramped rear seat, we instead found ample knee, head, and leg room back there. This is the Ford Mustang GT that went to heaven, as far as plus-two riders are concerned.

Paterson and Williams both took note of a few improprieties remaining in the new dual-clutch eight-speed automatic transmission. Refinement is harder to achieve with no torque converter to soothe launches, and in spite of the 100 messages per second flowing between the engine and transmission on a dedicated communications link, an occasional lurch or clunk spoils the driveline bliss, typically during the first-to-second-gear upshift.

Since he’s responsible for every aspect of quality, we asked Paterson how he defines that oft quoted word in the Bentley context. His answer made it clear that we weren’t the first to ask that question. “We divide quality into three distinct categories. The first, geometric quality, is the perfect fit of adjoining components inside and out of the car. Next, and of equal importance, is functional quality; assuring that every feature in the vehicle—from the twist of a control knob to the action of the transmission shifter—works exactly as you’d expect it to. Emotional quality, the third and arguably most important category, is what separates any Bentley from every other automobile. This is the blend of agility, sporting performance, and class-leading refinement we discussed earlier. Bentleys are cars you don’t necessarily need but want because of the distinctive feeling they impart during driving.” The beauty of these thumbnail explanations of subtle concepts such as quality is that they’re handy for explaining the brand’s character traits, nurtured for decades, to outsiders and newcomers.

Paterson adds that perfecting function is why his team is living with these prototypes. Pointing out the receptacle notched into both sides of the center console, he explained that they were added as a convenient spot for cellphones. “Unfortunately, the bottom of the pocket was sloped in such a way that, during hard acceleration, phones were launched into the back seat,” he said. “While we all agree that these receptacles are excellent features, their shape will change in the next generation of prototypes to hone their function.”


Just Enough Technology

The Bentley Bentayga advanced the cause of electronic display technology with a digital center screen combined with classic analog driver instruments, but the Continental GT is all digital. While we admire how expeditiously the tachometer needle moves across the bright dial to the 6300-rpm redline, Paterson believes the motion is too twitchy for Bentley customers and said it will be slowed a touch. A second cabin highlight is a three-position center dash screen, affectionately known as the Toblerone because its cross section resembles that of the triangular Swiss chocolate bar. In the first position, the 10-inch-diagonal panel is lovely wood veneer matched perfectly to the surrounding interior surfaces. Stop two is a touchscreen configured primarily for navigation. The third choice is what Paterson calls supplementary performance gauges. Given the Continental’s innate vitality, that last option should be entertaining. Unfortunately, the prototype’s nav screen doesn’t rotate, and the gaps between it and its surroundings are wide enough to swallow a pencil.

Heartening news: Bentley is in no hurry to pursue autonomous driving. “Bentleys are driver’s cars,” Paterson reminded us. “We’ll be competitive, but we have no intention to lead with that technology. We want the driver always in control, so automatic steering is of little interest to us except for possibly providing the driver a break during long cross-country journeys.”

This philosophy relates to how the electric power steering, also shared with Porsche, is tuned for the desired Bentley feel. Paterson defined the goal as isolation from any bad news emanating from the road surface with a clear feel of what the front tires are doing during spirited driving.


Wheeling on Ice

Out in the middle of a frozen lake located a few miles south of the Arctic Circle, we finally have the opportunity to take the pulse of the new Continental GT from the driver’s seat. A few laps with all safety systems active convince us that this edition is indeed far more agile and responsive than the car it replaces. Twisting what the Bentley boys call the “charisma” control (it’s a driving-mode knob) to the Sport setting allows more entertaining drift angles. Co-driver Paterson goads us to flatten the accelerator while dialing in the appropriate countersteer to hold an arc at the outer edge of the packed 1000-foot-diameter circle. The key is to minimize steering inputs so that the stability system understands exactly where you want to go. What surprises are the steering’s speed, reasonable effort, and the tangible feedback it provides even on this slippery surface. Very Porsche-like, we tell our host, a compliment he accepts in stride.

With stability control clicked off, the drift task is more challenging but still at the driver’s disposal. Unfortunately, before we make friends with this facet of the Conti GT’s feisty personality, one of the 100 onboard electronic controllers calls a halt and terminates the fun. Engineering analysis reveals that the rear differential may be overheating, even though the ambient temperature is below freezing. Various fixes have been devised, but installing them will have to wait for the next generation of prototypes.

Exposure to a three-quarters-baked prototype is an experience we seldom enjoy—for obvious reasons. Makers always strive to showcase perfect products in ideal circumstances, and this trip to Lapland was anything but that. The best part was learning how serious Bentley is about building a GT coupe that’s a quantum leap over not only the competition but also the company’s past achievements. Now that we’ve had our share of turning left flat out on an ice rink, we can’t wait to light off Bentley’s bolide on dry pavement.

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What the experts say about the 2017 Jaguar F-Type

Boston.com Cars is your go-to resource for coverage of local car news, events, and reviews. In the market for a car or truck? Check out our new car specials and used car specials curated by our local dealer network.

In this ongoing series, Boston.com talks with automotive authorities about why you should consider driving — or avoiding — a specific model.

2017 Jaguar F-Type

When Jaguar launched its performance-oriented F-Type coupe five years ago, the British brand showed that an upper crust pedigree needn’t preclude a track-inspired sports car. Jaguar’s first sports car since retiring the storied E-Type (the one that Enzo Ferrari called “the most beautiful car ever made”) decades earlier, the F-Type marked Jaguar’s return to the luxury performance segment and proved that it could play against rival models from Porsche and Mercedes-Benz.

The two-seater luxury sports car is fierce yet elegant. It rumbles to life with a satisfying growl (louder in the V8 models) when you jab the push-button ignition but glides along winding roads and passes other cars on the highway with grace. Convertible variants sport an automatic three-layer fabric top that opens and closes with so much fanfare that it transforms the act into a rubbernecking event. Inside, the F-Type is decked in textured aluminum and synthetic leather trim; the upholstery is leather and synthetic suede. Bluetooth and the Jaguar InControl infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen come standard.

The F-Type comes in four trims – base, S, R, and SVR – and each is available as a coupe or a convertible. The base model runs on a 340-horsepower, 3.0-liter supercharged V6. The F-Type S increases output to 380 horsepower, while the R trim upgrades to a 550-horsepower, 5.0-liter supercharged V8. The newest edition, the 575-horsepower F-Type SVR, uses the same 5.0-liter supercharged V8 that the automaker’s other SVR-badged vehicle, the Range Rover Sport, already wears. All engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual. All-wheel-drive models must be mated to the automatic transmission.

Of course, all this high-powered fun comes at the cost of fuel efficiency. The base model delivers 20 mpg around town and 28 mpg on the highway. Those numbers fall depending on the trim, transmission, and drivetrain. The top-of-the-line SVR gets 15 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.

The F-Type has not been rated for crashworthiness by either of the two federal safety ratings agencies. The sports car’s upper trims can be equipped with a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, and reverse traffic detection.

The starting price for the Jaguar F-Type ranges between $61,400 for the base model coupe and $125,950 for the top-of-the-line SVR model.

What the experts say

Formidable power

“The F-Type is proof how far Jaguar has come in just a few years. As recently as 2012 nobody would have believed the British brand could produce a viable 911 alternative. But it did, with a sports car offering every bit as much steering feel, braking confidence, and dynamic precision as the iconic Porsche. Roll in the F-Type’s rhapsodic exhaust note and seductive silhouette, and one could argue the Jag’s advantage, at least in pure emotional terms. Regardless, the F-Type puts Jaguar in that rarefied air so many automakers forever chase but few get to breath. It’s a covetable performance car, worthy of poster status on the walls of teenage — and adult — enthusiasts.” Karl Brauer, executive publisher at Kelley Blue Book

Curb envy

“The Jaguar F-Type is a car that embodies something incredibly rare in modern automotive — elegance. Few cars on the road today are such head turners, even in this price range. Even more impressive is the fact that the F-Type is the best looking car from Jaguar since the unparalleled E-Type, which debuted in 1961. Jaguar also wisely offers the F-Type in a range of options for pricing and performance, enabling design enthusiasts to have a car that’s very user-friendly and now, with the 575-horsepower SVR, one can get a true sports car. In terms of handling, its brakes and steering are wonderfully responsive. The engines noises range from a silent purr to a powerful roar, which comes in handy when trying to impress friends at the country club. While the overall driving experience is on par with its competitors, the fact that it is so beautifully refined puts the F-Type in a class of its own. It has done the E-Type proud.” – Amelia Dalgaard, founder of Motorhead Mama blog

High-performance model

“The new Jaguar F-Type SVR is the ultimate balance of sport and sophisticated luxury. The F-Type looks equally the part in front of the red carpet or the race track. With 575 horsepower, the car has quite the performance ability. SVR is well designed to span between a sports car and a luxury touring coupe, with variable suspension and drivetrain settings available for any mood. The interior is all Jaguar with beautifully quilted leather seating and stitched leather everywhere your eye can fall. You want to sit in this car. The exterior design is equally stunning, with classic low sweeping lines. There are not many cars that garner more attention at a stop light.”George Chambers, executive general manager, Herb Chambers Jaguar Land Rover Sudbury

Article source: https://www.boston.com/cars/car-guides/2017/07/07/what-the-experts-say-about-the-2017-jaguar-f-type

Porsche 911 GTS review: why cheapest is best | Top Gear

Yet another new Porsche 911?

“Oh God,” you’re thinking. “Porsche has given the 911 a new ashtray lid and so Top Gear have found another excuse to write about a car I’ve seen a thousand times before.”

And yes, this Carrera GTS doesn’t look an awful lot different to the plethora of 911s that have gone before it, never mind the other 36 versions of 911 you can currently buy. But pop your anorak on and you might just spot that this is one of the very best.

While there are numerous iterations of Carrera GTS, spanning coupes, cabrios and Targas, two- and four-wheel drive and manual and paddleshift gearboxes, the cheapest is the one you want: a RWD manual coupe.

Just like the 911 R, then…

Yup. The magic of the GTS badge is that it brings quite a lot of the sharpness of Porsche’s motorsport cars – the GT3s and so on – but combines it with the everyday usability associated with the Carrera.

Keep the spec simple – avoiding 4WD, an automatic gearbox and a folding roof – and you’re as close to the 911 R’s ethos as possible. But there are still back seats, and it costs less than £100,000.

That’s still a lot of money.

It’s a lot of car, though. Driving this GTS for a few days made me think about how chuffing brilliant I’d feel if I’d just bought one in this spec and driven it home for the first time. Which led me to ponder whether I’d have this, a McLaren 570S or an Audi R8 as my ‘everyday car’ in the dream garage. Yep, GTS spec lifts the standard 911 into that kind of company.

What’s so special about it?

Porsche has basically ticked the most exciting options boxes on your behalf. The 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat-six engine gets the ‘Powerkit’ pack that takes it up 444bhp, there’s 20mm lower sports suspension and the wheels are some fine looking 20in items.

There’s also some tasteful trim upgrades inside and out; silver detailing makes way for black and there’s sheets and sheets of suede-like Alcantara, most notably over the entire steering wheel rim. Everything just feels right.

Can it really be compared to proper supercars?

I think so. While it exhibits a power deficit compared to an R8 or 570S, it would hardly feel left behind on the road. It’s a monstrously fast car, this, and certainly as quick as you really want (or need) your road car to be. Its 0-62mph time is 4.1secs, its top speed 193mph. And Porsche is famously conservative with its quotes.

And while the 911 Carrera’s switch to turbocharging was a big deal when it was announced, it’s not something to fret about. This engine doesn’t quite howl like its forebears, but it still loves to rev. And with full control over the gearbox, you’ll love to rev it.

Yes, the old-fashioned gearbox…

It’s not as quick or as user-friendly as the optional PDK transmission, and nor, we suspect, will it prove as popular. But not only does it save you nearly three grand, it’s also a lot more satisfying to use.

The biting point of the clutch takes some adjusting to, but otherwise it’s a brilliant example of why manuals still have a place in performance cars. It’s got seven speeds, which is easy to forget at first, as the car cruises very well in sixth.

But it’s rare you’ll ever get tangled at the top end of the gearbox, and even five years on from Porsche’s first seven-speed manual, there’s still curious fun to be extracted from going down from seventh to third when a dual carriageway merges into a roundabout. With a ‘box this good, you might as well make it four separate changes…

How’s the grip? Do you miss AWD?

It’s been unrelentingly warm in the south of England recently, so conditions were rarely less than perfect in our time with the GTS. It was always utterly faithful. Corner harder and you can get a degree of movement at the rear, particularly with the eager turn-in of the optional rear-wheel steering (£1,592), but so wonderful is the steering, that you know exactly what’s going on. This is one of the best electronic steering setups ever.

Most importantly, it controls a car that’s both extremely competent and lots of fun. The two aren’t always compatible. The ride is noticeably firmer than a regular Carrera, but it’s just a nice reminder that you’ve specced something a little more serious.

And how’s the ashtray lid?

Our car didn’t have the requisite £38 ‘smoking package’ to find out, sadly. The rest of the interior is smarter than ever, though. Like all recent 911s, you get proper mobile phone mirroring on the touchscreen, and a smartphone-like layout even when you don’t have any devices plugged in.

The age-old 911 dial layout remains – five circular readouts with the rev-counter in the middle – but everything around it has been brought up to date. I’m not a fan of the fiddly buttons on the steering wheel, but Porsche still lets you have one free of buttons. I like that. I like the whole thing. It’s the best Carrera you can buy, and if you need back seats, the most fun 911 on sale.

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

2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive first drive review

Few cars match the pace and panache of Porsche’s 911 Turbo S.

Priced from $456,200 (plus on-roads), that car is a benchmark blend of supercar speed and everyday liveability, even if it can’t quite match the exclusivity of top-tier supercars built in Italy and beyond.

So Porsche has returned to familiar territory in hope of wooing 500 well-heeled enthusiasts away from the likes of Ferrari or Bentley with a more potent and lavishly appointed version of its high-performance coupe.

Porsche

Available for a whopping $590,700 plus on-road costs, the new 911 Turbo S Exclusive represents a return to form for Porsche’s rebranded Exclusive Manufaktur bespoke department. Following in the footsteps of the previous-generation 911 Sport Classic and Speedster, the new coupe features a smattering of precious brushstrokes that combine to create something special.

This car serves to highlight the considerable abilities of Exclusive Manufaktur, which adds finishing touches to around 15,000 cars each year. The vast majority of those do not go to the lengths of this model, benefiting instead from minor changes such as larger wheels, body kits, louder exhausts, sporty mirrors or a litany of interior add-ons.

The Turbo S Exclusive benefits from much of what Porsche can offer without exhausting the full gamut of potential options that can bring more than 600 opportunities for customisation.

Finished in golden yellow metallic paint with numerous carbon fibre highlights, the Exclusive features a colour never before offered on Porsche sports cars. The manufacturer will also sell you a car in white or grey, but it expects the majority of customers will run with the hero hue.

Porsche

Standing apart visually from the regular 911 Turbo with the aid of new wheels, a carbon fibre roof, bonnet, side sills, engine cover and mirrors, this model also benefits from a sport design body kit available as an optional extra on lesser models.

But some of its features aren’t found on other cars.

One of those is a retuned engine that produces a staggering 426kW of power - 19kw more than the standard Turbo S. That seems purely for bragging rights, as I couldn’t really feel a seat-of-the-pants difference in speed.

The stopwatch agrees, as Porsche claims identical 0-100km/h times (2.9s) and top speeds (330km/h) for the Turbo S and its Exclusive spinoff. Engineers reckon the new model is three tenths of a second quicker to 200km/h, reaching the mark in 9.6 seconds.

We didn’t test that claim.

Porsche

But we can say the Turbo S continues to offer ludicrous levels of acceleration, bringing real-world speed even the wild rear-wheel-drive GT2 RS may struggle to match. Porsche guru and former world rally champion Walter Rohrl reckons this new Turbo S is Porsche’s quickest model for a cross-country assault on regular roads, thanks to its prodigious torque and superior all-wheel-drive traction. We believe him.

A brief drive in the countryside surrounding Stuttgart revealed that the Exclusive has lost none of the Turbo S’ composure, feeling planted and purposeful no matter the circumstance. The active suspension, omnipotent 410mm-diameter carbon brakes and fat 305mm-wide rear tyres work in harmony to create an effortless machine capable of flattering novice drivers and testing professionals.

If your name isn’t Walter, Webber or Winterbottom, this is way more car than you’ll ever need. But that also goes for the regular Turbo.

Even so, driving thrills are a small element of this Exclusive car’s purpose.

Porsche

Made from lightweight aluminium, its race-like 20-inch centre-lock wheels are milled to a fine shape before a four-day painting process begins. Technicians hand-spray each wheel with golden yellow paint before covering that with a glossy black coat. They then use a laser to artfully burn away parts of the black layer, revealing fine gold highlights that pick out the wheel’s rim and spokes.

The Exclusive’s carbon fibre bonnet is completed in a similarly painstaking process that leaves the car with unpainted GT stripes that reveal its carbon fibre form. The bonnet’s painting process unfolds over three weeks, around seven days longer than it takes the team to assemble intricate carbon fibre rear air vents.

Stripes

Black and gold calipers for oversized carbon ceramic brakes are unique to this limited-edition model, though it shares a carbon fibre roof with the ultra-focused GT2 RS track car.

The Turbo S Exclusive offers the most decadent interior of all the current-generation 911s, highlighted by new carbon fibre trim interwoven with golden-coloured copper thread. Its leather steering wheel, seats, dash and centre console are stitched using gold-coloured thread to match the exterior paint, and the heated and cooled 18-way adjustable chairs feature striped perforations that reveal yellow fabric underneath a black veneer. The same treatment is mirrored in black Alcantara roof lining as well as a central tachometer home to twin racing stripes. Illuminated carbon fibre door sills and handcrafted jewel-like exterior badges seal the deal.

Turbo

There is also a matching watch that mimics the car’s colour scheme and design details. While Porsche’s Australian arm hasn’t finalised pricing for the timepiece, we wouldn’t expect much change from $20,000.

You might think this is all a bit heavy-handed or overwrought, particularly for a brand with Porsche’s usually crisp, tech-focused design ethos.

And you might be right.

Porsche

It does feel a little too much, almost as though the brand went out of its way to craft a car for the title antagonist in Austin Powers’ Goldmember. While the golden elements do tie together neatly, this isn’t remotely the sort of treatment I would personally specify in a 911.

But here’s the thing: my current personal car has black paint, black wheels, black leather, black badges and black window tinting, and Porsche will build you one of these - or any of its cars – with those exact features. I love that.

You certainly don’t have to have the gold paint, wheels or interior trim – you can specify the Turbo S Exclusive almost any way you like. Rarer than the discontinued 911 R, upcoming GT2 RS or hotly anticipated GT3, the new model is limited to just 500 handcrafted examples of Porsche’s finest craftsmanship.

Porsche

And that’s the point of the exercise.

While few cars can match the way a 911 Turbo performs, fewer still have the sort of customisation or attention to detail offered by Porsche.

2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive pricing and specifications

Price: From $590,700 plus on-road costs

Engine: 3.8-litre six-cylinder twin-turbo

Power: 446kW at 6750rpm

Torque: 750Nm at 2250-4000rpm

Transmission: Seven-speed auto, all-wheel-drive

Fuel use: 9.1L/100km

Article source: http://www.drive.com.au/new-car-reviews/2017-porsche-911-turbo-s-exclusive-first-drive-review-20170705-gx5n9n.html

Mercedes-AMG GT R vs Porsche 911 GT3 twin test review (2017) by …

► Porsche GT3 vs Merc-AMG GT R
► Brutal sports car twin test review
► Which Stuttgart sports car wins? 

Autobahn! At last, the speed limit lifts, from 80 to 100 to 120km/h to unlimited. But it takes another 60 clicks for the traffic to thin out and vacate the fast lane. The day’s first chance to give ’em stick opens on the oldest stretch of the A92 between Munich and the foothills of the Bavarian Forest. And when that opportunity does finally arise, we grab it with both hands. 

At a more modest pace these curves through the pan-flat plains would be barely noticeable, but at 150mph-plus a close reading of the road ahead is essential. The porous slabs of concrete have drifted apart over the years, millions of trucks have carved out wavy washboard ruts, and there are some sudden and drastic camber changes. Although the morning is dry and calm, the single-digit temperature read-outs suggest that grip may be an issue over bridges still damp from the night and through the wooded sections.

The new 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 is leading when the first proper gap presents itself, but it could easily be the other way around. As  both drivers simultaneously engage go-for-it-mode, the Mercedes-AMG GT R gains ground quickly, thanks to its big power advantage. In just about any gear, from the word go all the way to the near-200mph top speed, the Merc is at least as fast as the Porsche. And yet the driver of the 911 couldn’t care less; he’s too busy with his foot to the floor, celebrating each blaring 9000rpm upshift.

Here and now, driven like this, these two Stuttgart sports cars are closely matched. But there are as many differences as there are similarities. They’re both rear-wheel-drive coupes with seven-speed, twin-clutch transmissions. But the Mercedes, with its front-mounted twin-turbo V8, has an 84bhp/177lb ft advantage over the Porsche; the Porsche, with its rear-mounted, naturally aspirated, horizontally opposed six, is shorter and lighter.

Two titans of Stuttgart: GT R vs GT3

At times the AMG seems like it’s trying to be two cars in one. In Comfort mode, with the transmission locked in Drive, it’s a laid-back rumbler with drawn-in claws and half-closed LED eyes. In Sport and even more so in Sport Plus, however, all hell breaks loose, with full-throttle manoeuvres accompanied by acoustic earthquakes which come and go in waves, accentuated by fake heeling and toeing, chip-generated lift-off misfiring and that howling part-throttle wah-wah.

It’s quite something. So’s the GT3, especially on twistier roads, which it attacks with verve. Beneath the go-faster body, a battalion of high-tech helpers are working a thousand minor miracles a second, juggling rear-wheel steering, adjustable dampers, big tyres, active engine mounts and sophisticated electronics into a breathtakingly dynamic whole.

To find out what else it can do, and to see how it holds up against an AMG clearly designed to muscle into Porsche territory, we’ve devised an adrenaline-fuelled 48-hour itinerary that includes some lengthy flat-out stints, but also some of the trickiest Austrian back roads, syrupy city crawling and one solid flat-out hour on the Wachauring racetrack near Melk. 

Porsche 911 GT3 interior

When we compared the first AMG GT S to the 911 Carrera GTS, it was the Porsche’s in-built agility that sealed the deal for the marque from the southern side of Stuttgart. Three years later, we’re back with a lookalike twosome, but this time the big bad Benz has so much more under its long bonnet, which explains why it keeps winning the dragstrip duels on the autobahn – there’s just so much in-gear punch. Every time a longish straight comes into sight, the Merc makes up what it lost through the preceding set of corners.

More comparison test reviews by CAR magazine

Mercedes-AMG GT R vs Porsche 911 GT3: the stat-off

High-revving naturally aspirated flat six or twin-turbo V8? Redlined at 9000rpm, the 4.0-litre Porsche engine needs 8250rpm to deliver max power and 6000rpm to establish max torque. Although it gained 25bhp and 15lb ft over the previous vintage, 493bhp and 339lb ft are no real threat to the 577bhp and 516lb ft posted by the team from the northern fringe of Stuttgart.

Since the manual version loses half a second to the more purposeful two-pedal edition in the 0-62mph sprint, we’ve picked the no-cost PDK option for this shootout. It’s a claimed 3.4 against 3.6sec victory for the 911, but in our head-to-head comparison the Benz is every bit as quick. 

As we head east towards Vienna, loosely following the river Danube on a very mixed set of roads, the cars’ different characters emerge. The GT R is more GT than R; the GT3 is more R than GT (although a sharper GT3 RS is still to come). Despite its slightly more compliant suspension, the Porsche struggles to relax, let go, drop revs. Instead, it is totally committed at all times, noisily hurling loose chippings through the echo-chamber wheelarches, highlighting the aggressively informative low-speed ride, letting the manly intake rasp and the dense exhaust rumble do the talking. 

The new 2017 Porsche 911 GT3, 991.2 generation

In the rolling hills near Vienna, on the far side of the busy commuter belt, we pull out all the stops in Germany’s finest sports cars. Once more, the different engineering approaches offer a mix of strengths and weaknesses. Traction? Advantage Porsche, which can put all the weight and energy on its hind legs at all times. Turn-in? A dead heat, at least in the dry when the front tyres bite until the entry speed is simply too silly for public roads. Mid-range grunt? Advantage GT R. The peak torque, on tap all the way from 1900 to 5500rpm, is more than a match for the extra 2000rpm the Porsche driver can squeeze out of the boxer engine.

Although both coupes are crammed with high technology,  cold rubber gives iffy traction and cornering grip can be a guessing game. While the AMG is always liable to wriggle its tail before ESP quickly catches it, 911s have been known to understeer into oblivion and oversteer tail-first into the ditch. The GT3 mitigates this inherent vice by offering a ‘paddle neutral’ feature, which disconnects the rear wheels from the drivetrain the instant both shift paddles are pulled. It works, but first you must remember it exists, and then do what you have never done before, in defiance of your instincts. 

Ride, handling: which is best at a B-road blast?

In both cars, the driver needs quick reactions whenever ample oomph meets dubious grip. Through the open bends which snake up and down the Danube valley, it’s a game of release and catch, pumping the throttle and constantly adjusting the steering angle. It’s a little easier to kick the more frivolous GT R into play mode than the staunch 911, but as soon as the rear end veers sideways the AMG is a bit of a handful.

Perhaps switching off ESP altogether wasn’t such a wise move. Perhaps we should instead play some more with the multi-mode traction control device which harbours eight stages of drama, from mild to wild.

The geometric buttons in the old-fashioned centre console of the GT3 invite you to turn up the exhaust volume, adjust the shock absorber calibration, speed up the drivetrain response, and deactivate ESP either on its own or together with ASR (automatic slip regulation). It’s a straightforward arrangement – no drive mode selector, no tweaking of springs and steering, no personalised mix-and-match programme.

In classic GT tradition, this is a 911 served straight up, no ice and no water, without tonic or Coke. It’s a slightly more accessible set-up than the previous GT3, with fewer rough edges, totally involving yet charmingly viceless.

The GT R is loud, flashy and outlandishly fast. In contrast to the almost austere driver environment favoured by Porsche, the AMG is a true luxo-sport steamhammer, an insatiable long-distance mile-gobbler, a pragmatically practical daily driver. From the mean sharktooth grille over the monstrously overcrowded cockpit to the bouquet of driver assisting mod cons, this is a Mercedes-Benz as much as it is a bespoke AMG creation. Despite the bulk, the cabin space is snug, but the boot is easily accessible and big enough at 350 litres, versus the meagre 125 litres of the Porsche. Like the GT3, the GT R comes with unheated body-hugging racing buckets which are adjustable solely in reach.

AMG GT R oversteer: it'll slide and drift all day long

By lunchtime on day two we’ve ticked most of our boxes. The urgent autobahn stints have sucked two tankfuls dry, the concerted attack on the twisties has coated the wheels with layers of furry brake dust, our cornering adventures have shaved measurable amounts of rubber off all the tyres, the tight alleyways in Vienna have made us fear for the jewelled wheels and the Merc’s massive mirrors. And then it’s time for our laps of the demanding Wachauring. With the exception of a second-gear corner at the end of the start-finish straight, it´s all third and fourth-gear stuff.

A shower pushes the grip level from low to high risk. In view of the cold tyres and the marbles framing the racing line, ambition quickly gives way to caution. Under blue skies, the AMG goes out first to set the pace, and what an awesome pace it is. Do not underestimate this car: it is more than a low-end torque monster, a master of powerslide, a horizon-hungry zoom lens on wheels. Its talents also shine on the track, where it exhibits very quick and precise steering, mighty braking and formidable grip, achieved with sombrero-sized ventilated and cross-drilled discs, special-compound Michelin tyres (275/30 ZR19, 325/30 ZR20), trick suspension, an electronically controlled limited-slip diff and a variable-rate steering which takes g-force into consideration.

Even on warm rubber, moments of tentative understeer are taking turns with angry shoulder-shrugging antics, so traction control definitely has a role to play, and the shift points need to be scaled back by 1000rpm or so in either direction. A couple of laps later, grip is back in full force, so we zoom in on the limit again by tightening the line, straddling the kerbs and stretching the braking points. Turn-in is reassuringly positive now, torque begs to be fed earlier and earlier still, and soon enough the right hand is once more reaching for that magic yellow traction control knob. 

Verdict

While the first AMG GT was a potent poseur, the new GT R is a competent and rewarding road and track tool.

Stepping from the AMG into the Porsche is like entering a different universe – one that revels in high revs, late upshifts and even later braking. Yes, there is again pupil-widening understeer on the slippery approach to that dropping left-hander, but a brief pull at both shift paddles interrupts the push from behind, making the front tyres rebond at once with the tarmac while encouraging rear-wheel steering to tighten the arc. The 911 pushes, kicks and tugs when accelerating hard past apexes and through corners, as does the fierce GT R.

There is no clear winner here. The GT3 is clearly the smaller and lighter car. It lays the power down like a steamhammer on steroids, and defies g-forces long and hard. But it cannot pull away from the AMG. The GT R is as fast if not a touch faster, and an equally exciting drive. Simply, there is no duff choice here.

Mercedes-AMG GT R vs Porsche 911 GT3 twin test review

Specs, performance, prices

Porsche 911 GT3

Price £111,802
Engine 3996cc 24v naturally-aspirated flat-six, 493bhp @ 8250rpm, 339lb ft @ 6000rpm
Transmission 7-speed twin-clutch auto, rear-wheel drive
Performance 3.4sec 0-62mph, 197mph, 22.2mpg, 288g/km CO2
Suspension Independent strut front, multi-link rear
Weight 1430kg
On sale Now
Rating ★★★★★

Mercedes-AMG GT R

Price £143,245
Engine 3982cc 32v twin-turbo V8, 577bhp @ 6250rpm, 516lb ft @ 1900rpm
Transmission Seven-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Performance 3.6sec 0-62mph, 198mph, 24.8mpg, 259g/km CO2
Suspension Double wishbone all round
Weight 1630kg
On sale Now
Rating ★★★★★

Article source: http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/car-reviews/comparison/2017/mercedes-amg-gt-r-vs-porsche-911-gt3-twin-test-review-2017/