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James Ruppert: For truly bargain bangers, go East - Autocar
Far East budget brands do a great line in good-value used cars
I am not sure if there really is such a thing as a used car world atlas any more, where you can point at a region of the globe and declare that everything built there is as solid as a rock. Building cars is a complicated international business, but I still like suggesting that anything from the Far East is probably great. That doesnt necessarily mean Japanese, and Korean cars dont necessarily have to be Kias or Hyundais. Remember Proton? They were big in Norfolk for a while and existed as a value brand, sometimes with added Lotus handling magic. The best thing about them, apart from second-hand Mitsubishi technology, was the fact that they were bought exclusively by family buyers on a budget. Today, these are great value, and I was rather taken by the marginal £745 wanted for a one-family-owned 2010 Gen-2 GLS with just 40,000 miles. The seller was honest enough to include the parking-by-touch damage to a lot of the bodywork. I was also attracted to a 2008 dealer-sold model with 74,000 miles and three owners for £920, which at least had a warranty. I like the small brick-like Savvy, too, and a 2009 54,000-mile example was just £1200, but I mustnt fall down the Proton rabbit hole. Still with a P: Perodua, anyone? These are reheated Daihatsus and were certainly cheap as chips new. The majority of them are the old Cuore, rebadged as a Kelisa. These are so good that the decent ones have not depreciated by very much at all. You will pay around £1800 to £2000 for quite a dated little shopper, although there are some very low-mileage examples. The later shape of its Myvi successor is a better buy, and I came across a 1.3 SXI example from 2010, a one-family-owned car with 73,000 miles. There was some service history, but it seemed a fine buy at £1495. If you dont want a happy shopper but something instead to tow and to work and to definitely not show off, then it has to be a Ssangyong. They are very much great-value 4x4s when brand new and also have a decent warranty, but theyre just as impressive as used cars. If you need seats, I came across a 2014 Turismo 2.0 with seven of them in leather and 75,000 miles for just £7000. Alternatively, for £250 less, a 2014 Rexton EX 2.0 also has seven seats and the one I saw has 98,000 miles under its wheels. If thats too big, a hatchback Tivoli from 2017 with 14,000 miles is £8000. You could even join the fun with a pick-up truck: how about a 2012 Great Wall Steed with leather seats for just £2990? Its no VW Amarok but, at that money, whos arguing? Tales from Ruppert's garage
Ferrari Roma 2021 UK review - Autocar
Is this V8-engined 2+2 coupé a sports car or a GT? A wet winter’s day on difficult English roads provides an interesting answer
The problem with Ferrari launches is that hacks have to try doubly hard to remain objective. Usually held in northern Italy, often at and around the factory, they treat you to superb and almost-always dry roads, the legendary Fiorano test track and, as if that werent sufficient, dinner at a restaurant called Montana, whose pasta alone constitutes reason enough to get on the plane. Its hard not to feel at least tolerably well disposed towards a car presented in such circumstances. Well, this one was going to be different. A diary clash meant I had to skip the Roma main event in sun-scorched Italy back in August, so if we were to meet at all in 2020, it would be in December in southeast England, where the roads could be guaranteed to be busy, the weather as wet as it was cold and lunch a sandwich in a bag. Actually, I wasnt sad at all. Like most people, Im not knocked out by the idea of spending a couple of hours at 35,000ft in a thin aluminium tube in the company of a few hundred strangers right now, and the prospect of being introduced to a brand-new Ferrari in the all too real world was rather compelling: if the Roma could find a way of working here, it would work pretty much anywhere. This was an away game for Ferrari, and I wondered if it would show. Around Goodwood, where I drove it for the very first time, it most certainly did. Any rear-drive car with over 600bhp is likely to keep you busy on a soaking, not-far-off-freezing track, but when that track is one that combines fast and fear like no other in the land, you had better have your wits about you. Or, alternatively, your safety systems on. These days, Ferraris traction and stability controls are as good as youll find, and if you keep the manettino controller in either Wet or Comfort mode, thats what youll find out: the Roma circulates the track very cleanly and rather slowly, the electronics anticipating slip and shutting it down before it has a chance to develop. In Sport mode, its rather unsatisfactory, because it suggests its going to allow the car to yaw a little but then doesnt allow it. So you put it into Race mode and are instantly busier than you would ever want to be in a car and on a track like this. In extremis, it did seem able to step in and save you from yourself, but the earth banks are very close at Goodwood and wet grass so slippery that once youve left the track, you seem to accelerate towards the scene of your accident, so I didnt pursue the matter further. Once I had discovered that it would spin its wheels in fifth gear, I concluded that there wasnt much more to be learned here other than how one might reduce by one the global Roma population, so I gave up the track work and headed out onto the public road instead. And here, once I had realised that you need to press the manettino to access the Bumpy Road mode so essential to progress on British back roads, I continued my search for a still unanswered question.
Sleeping beauty: waking the only road-legal Toyota GT-One - Autocar
The sole road-going GT-One is being raised from a two-decade slumber. We visit its secret lair to see progress
Toyota, with its 360,000 employees and status as the worlds largest car maker, can be a confusing beast. In the new GR Supra it chose to revive perhaps its greatest hit, yet did so by way of a lukewarm twin to the BMW Z4. At the same time, and despite the fact that it refuses to give the current Corolla the powertrain its superb TNGA platform craves, the companys engineers have recently blown the doors clean off the hot hatch class with a bespoke four-wheel-drive take on the humble Yaris. Evidently, what Toyota could do and what it actually does dont always align. So perhaps its no surprise to learn that while the brand has hidden in its possession one of the most droolworthy motorsport relics anywhere on planet Earth, the ultimate fate of the car is currently unclear. In fairness, there are only so many things you can do with the one road-legal GT-One ever to exist. Fewer still when those fabulous and unmistakable scarlet curves have travelled just 12 or so miles in the cars quiet 22-year life. It isnt currently running. Of course it isnt. But how and indeed whether to get it going again is currently being discussed. At least in an official sense. Thanks to the passion of one or two old hands in the engineering and service department, who begin their work in the small hours, the process of breathing life back into this homologation monster has already quietly begun. Autocar was lucky enough to witness GT-One K-LM 1998 in a partially stripped-down state, which is something to be savoured. Beyond Toyotas amazing collection of largely successful World Rally Championship cars, mainly ill-fated Formula 1 cars and occasionally brilliant top-tier sports car racers that slumbers in a cavernous basement whose roof is formed by the undersides of the facilitys two very loud wind tunnels, the marque has no official historics department in Europe. It means ad hoc work like that currently happening to K-LM isnt something one can come and witness at any time, as one might at Porsche or Mercedes. The facility itself is Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe GmbH (TGR-E) formerly known as Toyota Motorsport GmbH, and located just outside Cologne. Rather than being a dedicated motorsport hub, this is an R&D centre that heavily supports the current WRC and World Endurance Championship efforts and was once home to the F1 team before the cord was cut in 2009 after seven winless years. But we dont talk about that too much, because its still an uncomfortable topic. In the tiled workshops at TGR-E, youll also now find development cars for the GR Supra and GR Yaris projects, because a portion of the 300 staff on site are now there to support the development of Toyotas fruitier road cars. Its in one of these workshops that K-LM 1998 resides, near one of the GT4 Supras, its bodywork removed and spotless innards on display. Originally reverse-engineered from the competition car that would have won Le Mans in 1999 were it not for a tyre blowout before the final pit stop, this is surely one of the very loosest interpretations of a road-legal car. You could very easily forget that, for homologation purposes, it had to pass the same TUV assessment (Germanys MOT equivalent) as any normal road car at the time.
Raeder's Choice: meeting Manthey Racing - Autocar
The Raeder brothers at Manthey Racing create the cars Porsche Motorsport engineers dream of making
And they proved exceptionally good at it. The pair eventually made big ripples when their Ford GT, developed on a shoestrings shoestring, qualified on pole for the 2009 Nürburgring 24 Hours ahead of four works Audi R8 LMS cars and the Porsche works 911 GT3 RSR run by bearded Olaf himself. Two years later came the pivotal race. Having seen first-hand what Raeder Motorsport could do with almost no money, then boss of Audi Quattro GmbH and Nürburgring regular Werner Frowein handed it the contract to build the TT RS racing car. And it was in 2011 that one of these front-driven Audis, in damp conditions, won the six-hour ADAC Ruhr-Pokal-Rennen race ahead of no fewer than 30 GT3 cars. Remarkable doesnt begin to describe it, and clearly Olaf Manthey thought so, too. Olaf was the first to come and shake our hands, recalls Nicki, still as proud now as he and his brother had been that very evening, when they related the moment to their motorsport-agnostic parents. So enthusiastic were Nicki and Martin that their mother (who else?) tracked down an email address for Herr Manthey to thank him for the moral support. Olafs lengthy reply floored them all when he wrote how, after the death of his own son in 2007, he had resigned himself to having nobody to follow in his footsteps, but now hoped to have the Raeder brothers take the reins at Manthey Racing. By 2013, Raeder Motorsport had been integrated into the wider Manthey Racing business, Porsche had taken the majority share in the team and Olaf had handed operational control to Nicki and Martin. Seven years since then, Manthey Racings turnover has increased sixfold to around 45 million, with the Porsche contract for WEC and Le Mans accounting for around 20% of that. The business has also diversified, not least with those MR packages for the GT3 and GT2 RS, and it is an MR-equipped GT2 RS that until recently held the Nordschleife lap record for road cars, with a time seven seconds quicker than the standard cars. Does that irritate Porsche? Actually, no. It goes back to the notion of Porsche engineers living out their fantasies. Its a literal claim. Since 2015, when contact was first established, the Raeders and Preuninger have tentatively built an effective and beneficial feedback loop when it comes to developing not only the factory-spec GT cars but also the more explicit MR kits.
Nissan GT-R Nismo 2020 UK review - Autocar
The mighty 2+2 sports car that can devour supercars whole on challenging UK roads has been upgraded to make it even quicker
Inside, there is a fantastic suede-ish-covered steering wheel and new Recaro seats that offer brilliant lateral support. The interior got a host of upgrades in 2017, with plenty of carbonfibre on display and some nicely stitched leather. And the retention of analogue instruments and the presence of plenty of other physical buttons mean that, although visually ageing, it remains more usable than some cars in which controls have migrated to an all-seeing digital system. The price is pretty modern, mind. In 2015, the Nismo started at around £125,000, which had increased to £149,995 by 2017 and, well, look away now for your 2021 costs. The new Nismo is £180,095. But, then, its a supercar, isnt it? Well. I dont know. Supercars have two seats and an engine in the middle and the GT-R is not like that. Its also 1703kg, yet its not as plush as, say, an Aston Martin, nor as compact as a Porsche 911. Its a car that almost sits in its own class and thats reflected by the way it drives. It is hard and intense. There are different modes for the dampers, including Comfort, which I think might have been called that as a joke. The GT-R Nismo is not a comfortable car, grumbling over surface imperfections and sometimes when there arent surface imperfections, either. But it does get better as you go faster. So, too, does the steering. At normal road speeds, its quite light and theres a little bit of nothing just off straight-ahead, but then as you steer a few more degrees, a lot happens quite quickly. Disconcerting, but again better if you go faster, where its heavier and less nervy and starts to transmit road feel. The brakes are good at any speed, but the best pedal feel comes when the discs are warm. Under harder braking, and on smoother roads, the GT-R is less affected by tramlining than it is if youre driving it mildly. High-level single-seaters and sports racing cars do this sort of thing to an extreme: if a driver fails to keep the tyres and brakes warm enough, performance and mechanical grip fall away to the extent that tyre grip runs out before the speed where aerodynamics help it go faster. The GT-R Nismo isnt an animal to that extent. It is a 1700kg road-registered car, after all. But similarly, you dont get a huge amount back going slowly. And on the road at this time of year in the rain, theres a limit to how warm you can get it. Its worth the effort, though. The Dunlop SportMaxx rubber (255/40 R20 at the front and 285/35 R20 at the rear) finds more purchase than you might think, the nose is direct if you bleed the brakes off gently into a corner, and then the power will shuffle itself around to allow a little rear-biased shimmy on the way out of a bend, which feels very natural and secure.
Nearly new buying guide: Aston Martin DB11 - Autocar
This luxurious GT is as good to drive as it is to look at. We find out more
It might rank as the understatement of the decade to say that when the DB11 was launched in 2016, it was a fairly important car for Aston Martin. Never a company to prosper with quite the financial success youd imagine a maker of such desirable and expensive sports cars might do, the DB11 arrived at what could be called a make or break time for the British firm. Luckily the car was liked by the press, the public and the people who bought it, so the work Aston had put in was certainly justified. It sat on a brand-new platform, for one, and it borrowed a lot of technology from Astons partner, Mercedes. The DB11 is made mostly from aluminium, too, which is light, except where its made of magnesium, which is even lighter, and on top of that a lot of work went into making its graceful and arresting shape aerodynamic, so it not only looks like a million dollars but also goes like it. Under that voluptuous bonnet was an initial choice of either a twinturbo 4.0-litre V8 or a 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12. Some buyers felt a proper GT Aston should always have a V12, but they were in the minority and the engine was discontinued last year. Although it turns out that Aston didnt really discontinue the DB11 V12 after all, it simply rebranded it as the DB11 AMR (for Aston Martin Racing). Those seeking some wind-inthe-hair action might look to the convertible Volante version, which, if anything, looks even more divine than the closed-top coupé. Volante buyers will have to make do with just the V8 option, and inevitably 110kg of extra weight, but one look at this beautiful machine should be enough to convince most people to overlook such trivialities. Its fair to say the DB11 marked a return to form for Aston. All the engine choices sound glorious and respond to the pedal with alacrity. The V8 is the most entertaining, which is odd, it being the cheaper version, but its fast and its fun to drive. Thats because its lighter than the V12, and lightness is a good thing when it comes to steering and handling. Inside, the driving position is spot on. Theres plenty of adjustability in the seat and steering wheel, although visibility is limited by those stylish thick pillars. Fit and finish retains the best bits from Aston Martins of old, however, with soft, hand-stitched leather sitting side by side with wood or carbonfibre trim highlights. And all those bits that look like metal in the interior really are metal, including the air vents. Space up front is fine, but as you might expect, given the rakish profile, the rear seats are best reserved for tiny children or suitcases. Speaking of which, the boot is a little on the small side, although you can squeeze in a couple of overnight bags.
New Lamborghini SC20 is 759bhp open-roof track weapon - Autocar
Sant'Agata's racing arm creates one-off V12 speedster inspired by the firm's most outlandish models
Lamborghini has revealed the SC20, a unique 759bhp track car that can also be driven legally on the road. The second of two one-off projects engineered by Lamborghinis Squadra Corse racing arm, the SC20 combines styling cues from the Diablo VT Roadster, Aventador J, Veneno Roadster and Concept S, creating a dramatic combination of creativity and racing attitude, according to Lamborghini. Other chief influences on the car include the Huracán GT3 Evo racer, which was the inspiration for the SC20s pronounced front hood air intakes, and the Essenza SCV12, which has influenced the SC20s sides. The new track car, which was designed by Lamborghinis Centro Stile design centre, is based around a carbonfibre body with a large adjustable carbonfibre rear wing able to be set in three positions: low, medium and high load. The body is painted white, as specified by the buyer, with prominent blue accents inside and out. The inside is themed blue, white and black, while carbonfibre appears on the dashboard cover, firewall, door panels, centre console and steering wheel detailing. The SC20 is powered by Lamborghinis venerable 6.5-litre V12 engine generating 759bhp. It's delivered to all four wheels through a seven-speed ISG gearbox and a central electronic differential. The car rides on Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres mounted on aluminum rims that are 20in in diameter at the front and 21in at the rear. Lamborghini chief technical officer Maurizio Reggiani said: The SC20 is a combination of sophisticated engineering, Italian craftsmanship, sportiness and advanced design. It is also an example of applying our V12 engine and carbonfibre to a radical open-top vehicle that unmistakably carries the Lamborghini DNA. The SC20 is the second one-off Squadra Corsa project built for a customer, following the SC18 in 2018. That car was based on the Aventador, also drawing on the same 759bhp V12 powertrain used by the Aventador SVJ. READ MORE Lamborghini considers 2021 Le Mans entry Lamborghini Huracán STO is road-legal Super Trofeo racer Lamborghini Sián: 808bhp hybrid hypercar gains Roadster variant
My life in 12 cars: McLaren Automotive boss Mike Flewitt - Autocar
McLaren Automotive’s boss retraces his steps from fitting parcel shelves in a Ford factory to being the driving force behind a world-class supercar maker
Mike Flewitt, boss of McLaren Automotive since 2013, is a rarity among car company CEOs as an instinctive and passionate lover of cars both at work and when his time is his own. Many contemporaries seek the car guy label, but few can justify it to the extent that Flewitt does, reading and researching car stuff for fun, racing his classic Lotus collection on weekends or supporting his wife Mias ever-more remarkable progress to the top step of the podium in the British GT Championship. It wasnt always like that. Nobody in Liverpool-born Flewitts family had any special love of cars. His father was an academic and his mother a teacher. Neither of his siblings (the elder brother who is now a judge and the younger sister who got into teaching) showed much automotive interest. Mike, although always mechanically interested as a child, was more likely to be fettling bicycles than dreaming of cars like many of his contemporaries. But a saffron-yellow Triumph Herald changed all that. 1962 Triumph Herald 13/60 Convertible Young Flewitt was working in a local sports shop to earn pocket money and unexpectedly came into a £200 insurance payout when his best bicycle was stolen. To replace the bike, he bought the Herald for £250 from a lady who also worked in the sports shop because it seemed kinda cool. An Austin-Healey Sprite Mk4 would have been even cooler still, he recalls, but a teenagers insurance premiums would have cost more than the car. Still, the Herald played the key role of getting Flewitt into cars. I absolutely loved that car, he says. It was pretty decent to drive and dead easy to work on because of the separate chassis and the way its whole front body section lifted away. I enjoyed solving the sort of problems you could see and touch still do. I had an extremely oily Haynes manual that I used to follow religiously. Working on that Herald taught me to love cars, and now theyre my whole life. The Herald took 19-year-old Flewitt off to the University of Liverpool to study economics, but he soon found the experience lacked relevance so after a year he started work in the Ford factory at Halewood, 10 minutes from home, at first fitting rear parcel shelves on the production line. Soon he was accepted as a technical apprentice, which involved regular trips to Ford HQ in Essex plus college training on day release. That set him on a 12-year Ford journey from trainee through foreman, supervisor and manufacturing engineer (he began studying again at the University of Salford in his late twenties) to area manager. 1972 Lotus Elan +2S 130/5 Early in his Ford phase, Flewitt developed what would become a lifelong love of the Lotus marque, aided initially by the launch of the magazine Practical Classics and by a well-thumbed Chris Harvey book on the Elan (he still has it). What would become a lifelong itch to know more soon led to more reading; he became captivated by the unique aura of Lotus founder Colin Chapman. He was an inspired engineer, a great leader-businessman and a brilliant driver, says Flewitt, much the same as Bruce McLaren was. These days, those would be three distinct jobs, but these guys managed to do them all. Flewitt also fell under the spell of the incomparable Jim Clark, whose ability behind the wheel was so immense and so natural that the shy Scot simply couldnt understand why everyone couldnt do it. It seemed natural that the Herald should give way (via a Mini) to three years ownership of an old Lotus Elan +2S 130/5, yellow with a metalflake yellow top.
Transatlantic tussle: Porsche 911 meets C8 Chevrolet Corvette - Autocar
The Corvette has gone mid-engined for the first time in its 67-year history. Time to see how the American compares with Europe's finest
Right, its here. Sort of. Its not officially here, but well come to that later. This is the new, eighth-generation Chevrolet Corvette, the C8 Stingray, and, for the first time in its 67 years, this all-American hero, beloved by everyone from blue-collar workers to astronauts and presidents (Joe Biden owns a 1967 model), is being sold with an engine in its middle. It will also late next year at the earliest come with a steering wheel on the right-hand side. More on that later, too. If you want a C8 now, you can have one, but your options are limited to importing one yourself or sourcing one via a UK importer. Thats quite tempting on the face of it, because the base Corvette price in the US is less than that of the Porsche 718 Cayman, at just under $60,000 (about £44,000). But the reality is that it doesnt work out that way once youve done the maths and added the premium, taxes, shipping and then some more taxes. But if you do, the car you end up with might look something like this. This is a Corvette with a few options, of which there are many available. Its in the 3LT trim level (about $11,000 more than standard), which means its top-spec, but more pertinently its equipped with the Z51 performance pack ($5000) and more, which all add so much to the price that its quite easy to end up with an $85,000 car even in the US. Every Corvette has a naturally aspirated 6.2-litre pushrod V8 engine mounted in its middle. Theres an aluminium monocoque with aluminium subframes front and rear and composite bodywork, with double-wishbone suspension all-round and magnetic adaptive dampers (another $1895). Specify the Z51 kit and power is raised to 495bhp, plus you get bigger brake discs, more aerodynamic addenda and sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres in place of all-season rubber, a sports exhaust and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. So you definitely want the Z51 pack. But whatever spec you choose, the C8 comes with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox; theres no manual for the first time ever. I remember going on a Corvette launch where I was told that purists of the brand wouldnt stand for it if a Vette didnt have leaf-sprung suspension on at least one axle. But now? They will whistle: daaaaang son, this has got all the trademarks of one of them fancy European sports cars. So weve brought one along to meet it. Its a Porsche 911 Carrera, editor Mark Tisshaws long-termer, which comes in at £82,793 before options and £90,891 as tested. We will come back to the money, I promise, but it costs less than this Corvette. It has less power as well with 380bhp from its turbocharged 3.0-litre flat six, by quite a margin. But a comparative paucity of power has seldom stopped 911s before.
Volkswagen Golf R 2021 review - Autocar
Most potent Golf to wear the R badge is a deliciously powerful yet well-balanced hot hatchback
The new seats, with heavily sculptured squabs, are especially snug and quite supportive. They offer a good range of adjustment, allowing you to sit low, and there is also plenty of adjustability in the steering column. The dashboard is well built, though the shiny hard plastics on some sections does give it a slightly cheap look, despite the inclusion of more agreeable materials elsewhere. The two digital displays then deliver sharp graphics at high resolution, though the central infotainment display in our test car was particularly slow to respond at times. Which isnt something you can say for the Golf Rs accelerative ability. With a 0-62mph time of 4.7sec, the new model doesnt match the claimed 4.6sec of its predecessor but it equals the official times quoted for the BMW M135i and Mercedes-AMG A35, and comfortably beats the 6.2sec of the Golf GTI Clubsport. And the Golf R also feels quicker than the figures. The manner in which it launches from a standing start is nothing short of spectacular. Load it up with revs with the launch-control and it explodes away in Race mode with great determination. Theres momentary slip at the front wheels before the drive is properly apportioned, but from then on the driveline is tremendously effective at placing the Golf Rs reserves to the road. Low-end response from this EA888 unit also seems to have improved. There is now a more natural, gradual build-up of turbocharger boost pressure below 2000rpm, after which the broad spread of torque makes this engine hugely tractive just as before. Equally, this engine now revs more freely as it approaches the 6700rpm cut-out. And you get this breadth whatever the driving mode. Neither does the process of selecting the most responsive driving mode feel so laborious, either. One press of the new R button on the left-hand spoke of the steering wheel instantly sets all the various functions engine, steering, gearbox, four-wheel-drive system and dampers into their most aggressively tuned state, at which the new Golf R feels deliciously responsive and eager. The added urgency brought by the reworked engine is supplemented by an improved action to the new Golf Rs DSG gearbox, which delivers smoother and faster shifts than the older unit used by its predecessor, most notably on downshifts. Indeed, the new Golf R delivers a good deal of feel and involvement more so than in any previous incarnation. It is always more intense and engaging than the Golf GTI over any given road. However, while the variable-ratio steering system is very accurate, eager to self-centre and quite communicative, the lightness evident at lower speeds lingers, even when youre pushing hard out on the open road. As confidence-inspiring as the new car is, it would be even more memorable with some meaningful weight to the helm. That said, the result of the new chassis tweaks is an almost total absence of understeer, even on these winter tyres, for which the torque-vectoring system has to take some credit. Theres a very brief moment of push at the front end under power into tighter corners, but the Golf R is truly throttle adjustable and with it hugely enjoyable to hustle along.
Cupra Ateca 2020 UK review - Autocar
Cupra's performance SUV gets mid-life tweaks but is it now outshone by the newer Formentor?
Its the same story inside, and this is fundamentally where the Ateca looks most outdated these days. Sure, theres now a digital cockpit, better voice control and a supportive pair of Alcantara sports seats, but our car lacked the new wheel design with a neat, Audi R8-style integrated engine start button. It also doesnt get the newer, more minimalist dashboard design, and although it does use the latest infotainment software and digital dials, it doesnt receive the high-mounted glossy touchscreen panel of its siblings. Frankly, were not huge fans of the new designs lack of physical climate control switchgear, but while the button-heavier Ateca is more ergonomically sound, it does seem quite dark, bland and oh-so-2016 in there. The Ateca is still the space champion of Cupra, though, with the clear intent being that the Formentor functions as a style-led coupé alternative. Although shorter, the Ateca is a full 150mm taller, with easier ingress and egress, more rear head room and a slightly bigger boot. But the Formentor is a chunk longer to account for its sloping rear end. To be honest, both are plenty roomy enough for most family needs and the Ateca isnt substantially better in that respect. Perhaps by virtue of it being the new kid on the block, the Formentor is 10bhp more powerful than the Ateca, which has the same 296bhp 2.0-litre turbo EA888 unit as the pre-facelift car. However, off-the-line pace of the latter has improved via revisions to the all-wheel drive system and throttle mapping, taking the 0-62mph time just below the five-second mark. Youd have to drive it back-to-back with the pre-facelife car to really discern a difference, we reckon. And, more to the point, the same issue we raised when reviewing the outgoing model remains, in that, due to a combination of being higher off the road and significantly heavier than something like a Cupra Leon, it doesnt feel quite as fast as the figures suggest during in-gear acceleration. The kick in the back youd get from the engine-sharing VW Group hot hatchback equivalents is dulled a little, although without that context, its still an agreeably rapid SUV with an engine of stellar flexibility, if not a great well of character. The whip-crack dual-clutch automatic changes, accompanied by the now-traditional EA888 exhaust fart, do increase the theatre, though. Once again, familiarity reigns in the updated cars overall dynamics. As before, adaptive chassis control is standard, while the only notable revisions are tweaks to the steering set-up and a new Brembo brake option (not fitted to our car). Its capable, effective and composed, but far from perfect. Even with the dampers in their slackest mode, there isnt quite enough compliance for our liking. You can never really escape the feeling that engineers accepted compromise here to help prop up the tall, heavy body to a respectable degree in harder driving. Which could be fine, but on Britains gnarliest road sections, the vertical bounce and crash of pothole impacts can grate.
New sim racing series partners F1 stars with esports drivers - Autocar
VCO ProSIM racing series will see racers including Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean drive alongside professional gamers
A new sim racing series beginning this week will see professional esports drivers partnered with current and former real-world motorsport stars. The Virtual Competition Organisation (VCO) ProSIM series has signed up current F1 drivers Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean, former stars Rubens Barrichello and Timo Glock, and racers from other disciplines including Indycar winner Tony Kanaan and Le Mans driver Charlie Martin. The eight event series uses the established PC game iRacing and features a total of 92 competitors in 46 teams, with each professional driver paired with an esports pro. Teams will race in identical virtual Dallara Formula 3 cars, with a mandatory pit stop for driver changes - a first for an F3-based series. The esports racers will begin each event with a "fun race" opener, where the car and track are only announced two hours before the race begins. The current crop of Formula One drivers are no strangers to sim racing, but Haas driver Grosjean was among the first to launch his own esports team. Since the lockdown there has been a boom in esports in general, the R8G Sim Racing owner explained. I enjoy working with the guys, owning the team, but above all racing with them. The opening event will be held on the Twin Ring Motegi circuit, with fans on social media voting to see their favourite track. It will see the pro drivers contesting qualifying and the final stint, and the esports racers driving for the start and opening stint of each 40-minute race. That order is then reversed for each subsequent event. Qualifying is going to be intense, Red Bull Racing eSports driver Sebastian Job said. The two Maxes (Verstappen and Benecke) are the favourites, but its a ten minute session and well all be out on track. Its impossible to predict. Drivers are competing for a $50,000 (£38,000) total prize fund, and the winner of the Fun Cup will also earn a personalised SiFaT Performance simulator rig. Points will be awarded down to the 30th position, with the season set to conclude in March next year. The first event begins tonight at 1900hrs GMT and will be streamed live on YouTube. READ MORE Virtual motors, real racing: The success story of esports Can virtual racing replace the real thing? Virtual racing was booming before lockdown you just didn't notice