If you are anything like me, you probably had serious FOMO over the past few days, as your Instagram feed was filled with images and videos of the McLaren Senna – being driven around the Estoril race track for the launch in Portugal. And what a car it is, some say its ugly, but I say its capabilities make it beautiful. We are not here to talk about the Senna however, we are here to talk about the latest model to McLarens Sports Series range – the McLaren 600LT.
At first glance, your mind may fill you with images of the 570s and tell you that this vehicle looks remarkability similar to it. It does, until you start to stare and not simply glance. You see, LT stands for Longtail, and this is the fourth McLaren in history to feature this iconic name. What is a Longtail all about? Better aerodynamics, increased power, reduced weight, track-focused dynamics and enhanced driver engagement.
While based on a 570S Coupe, the 600LT is 74mm longer and a staggering 96kg lighter. Weight reduction is achieved through carbon-fibre racing seats and carbon-fibre bodywork, even the unique top-exit exhausts offer a substantial weight saving. Let’s talk about the good stuff, 441kW and 620Nm from the 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine. This increased power output coupled with the weight saving and uprated aerodynamics go hand in hand with forged aluminium double-wishbone suspension, a lightweight braking system, bespoke track-focused Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres and quicker steering and throttle response setup.
The McLaren 600LT on paper should deliver a fantastic driving experience on and off the racetrack, which is in essence what a LT is all about. Let’s just take a moment to admire the top-exit exhaust system…
McLaren 600LT Pricing in South Africa.
Each and every 600LT will be hand built in the UK, while volume will also be strictly limited. Production will begin in October 2018 and last for around 12 months. Pricing is from £185, 500 – which at the time of writing converts to R3,3 Million.
Does the new Volkswagen Polo GTI replace the Golf?
So the new Volkswagen Polo GTI has a 2.0 –liter engine bru? It’s bigger man? So why then do I need to buy a Golf GTI?
These are the types of questions that have been drummed in my ears every time the new Polo GTI comes up in conversation, and while many may think the new Polo GTI makes the Golf obsolete, it doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, the Polo GTI has come along way, it’s more refined, faster, produces more power, even better in the corners and cheaper than the model it replaces. Yet it’s still not a Golf, and that isn’t a chirp either…
You see, after Francisco and I spent the weekend in Cape Town with the GTI siblings, while chopping and changing vehicles and destinations, we really experienced what each model had to offer.
For example, jump from the Golf into the Polo and you will instantly notice a difference in build quality. A Golf feels sturdier, stronger and safer, while the interior trim has a certain solidness to it. However, when reversing the order, the younger brother highlights a sense of fun and nimbleness which isn’t as present in Golf GTI. Added to this, the XDS differential which is fitted as standard and was originally found on the Clubsport, really does make it a treat in the bends.
So why would you spend the extra R172K on a Golf GTI. Well if you have a family the extra space is a gold mine, you will probably favour the added luxury and features too while knowing you have chosen a vehicle with more presence and solidness. It also produces more power and feels slightly more exhilarating in a straight line while quite frankly being more “grown-up”.
But, if you don’t have a family, are a young professional and looking to fly high on your way to work and fly off Chapman’s peak on the weekends (the XDS might save you), the Polo GTI takes the cake. It’s less of a car because you don’t need more, it’s extremely fun to drive and has a bunch of laka tech.
It’s quite simple really, ask yourself how many kids you have and use this simple formula.
Yes, if you’re a family man looking for a visceral GTI experience then you most likely already have the answer. For me, I’m rocking the Polo GTI, and my wife and I can roll around looking too cool for the school run.
New VW Polo GTI Pricing in South Africa
Polo GTI: R375,900
As standard, a decent spec is on offer which includes items such as Leather Multifunction Steering Wheel, Front fog lamps, Rest Assist, Composition Media with iPod/iPhone Interface, App-Connect, 2 USB Interfaces, Cruise Control.
For just over R400,000 you can have a very nicely specced Polo GTI.
Get speccing: https://www.vw.co.za/app/configurator/vw-za/en
A mid-sized family orientated SUV with 375kW and 700Nm may sound quite preposterous, in fact, it can be likened to those superhuman toddler gymnasts you see on YouTube. At the age of four, their biceps are bigger than their little heads, causing you to ask, “why?”
Many may ask the same question when it comes to the new Mercedes AMG GLC 63 S. Personally, I didn’t ask why when learning about this car, because I’m a fan of speed and power in any shape or size. I can imagine many motorists share the same sentiments as me as well. What may seem like just a statement from Merc, is actually more than that, it’s a shift based on consumer behaviour. The reality is that many consumers who drive sedans are now changing their buying behaviour toward SUV’s, such as the GLC. Reasons such as safety, size and presence are all factors leading to this change. Then there are those who drive the performance variants of popular sedans, such as the burbling Mercedes AMG C63 or BMW’s M3. These guys need a replacement for the performance they’re used to, if they decide to do the SUV jump. The new GLC 63 S seems to be an answer, but can it provide the same thrills? Can an SUV provide as much fun, performance and driving experience as a sedan AMG, such as the C63 S? Let’s find out…
An early flight navigated me from Durban to Lanseria, where we jumped into a van and arrived at Zwartkops Raceway, which would be the base for our testing. The first few hours including a high speed “brake and steer” test, a slalom and drag races. While all this is was fun, it also showed us what we could expect from the GLC 63 S, when we would begin our full laps. Not only that, it showed us how much confidence Mercedes-Benz has in their vehicle. For example, our slalom runs started with ESP on, as we progressed we eventually were encouraged to switch of the car’s ESP system, allowing us to feel how the limited slip differential works when the vehicle is unencumbered by the safety systems.
It’s worth noting, the ESP system on the GLC 63 S is very sensitive, with good reason too – it’s still a family car. One with a lot of power. This vehicle also carries quite a bit of weight. In the wrong hands, it could lead to some not so desirable outcomes should an overenthusiastic overcook it. Back to the story.
So here we are, on the track and ready for some laps. We started with ESP on and gradually went through the modes until everything was off. Not half off, but “off off off” as we call it in the office. As you can imagine, with ESP in full force, throttle output is easily hampered coming out of corners, especially when power was applied sharply. From a safety perspective, it made sense but on a track, it can be annoying. Which sounds like a pointless statement because a track day in a GLC 63 S is more a treat for journalists, as opposed to a reality for an owner. Sport, Sport + and Race modes were also tested, which give you more freedom, more slip and more AMG noise on each mode – which by the way is fantastic. AMG have a whole division focused on exhaust sound – a great division if you ask me. I digress however…After a few laps toggling between various modes and even with ESP off, I became very frustrated with my track experience. I wasn’t getting what I expected out of the vehicle and quite frankly, I was unhappy with my laps. At each apex, when I wanted to power out of the corner, the car was cutting power quite abruptly – arrghh. This is not what I expected from a car that uses the 4Matic + system, the same one that is in the highly regarded Mercedes AMG E63 S, less the drift mode.
All is not lost.
On our slow down lap, I discussed with Francisco and the AMG Driving instructor. I explained that perhaps my driving style is wrong for this extremely powerful SUV. The instructor agreed and like a good coach during half time in a bag game, he gave me a few pointers to get the most out of a car of this size. So, after pumping myself up, we headed back onto the track. The aim? Turning in later, getting more steering into the corner before the apex, allowing me to unwind the lock before accelerating out of the corner. This would allow the GLC to not panic, causing the “fail safe” safety systems to activate even when they’re meant to be off off off. Again, a necessary measure for a family SUV.
The result? Pretty brilliant. The limited-slip diff worked well, sending power to the front when needed and pulling the GLC out of corners. After the little teething issues we began with, due to my driving style, the vehicle became the dynamic, fast and precise track weapon I wanted it to be. Not the words you expect to hear about an SUV – Merc is onto something with this setup.
So can an AMG SUV provide as much fun, performance and driving experience as a sedan variant, such as C63 S? Well, regarding performance, the head of the AMG driving academy told us that he could probably set similar laps times in the AMG GLC 63 S as he would in an AMG GT S, which is quite the statement to make. The question of fun and driving experience still needs to be answered however. I may be a young journalist, but over the past few years I’ve done my fair share of driving on and off the track. Honestly, driving the AMG GLC 63 S fast around a racetrack was one the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had to date. You may not be able to do tyre smoking drift sessions in the car, but the reality is even most who own C63 S’s can’t either – even though their vehicles can. So there’s not much to miss in that department. That being said, the GLC does allow for a fair bit of a movement, since it sends its power mostly to the rear tyres.
I probably enjoyed this track experience as much as I did, because I wasn’t really expecting the car to be as good as they say it is, it is an SUV after all. Or perhaps it was due to the fact that I had to work harder for cleaner laps. Either way, it was exhilarating and a good glimpse of the future of smaller performance SUV’s.