Tag: Performance

Alfa Romeo Stelvio – fast, fun but expensive.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Driven Review

If you are familiar with the team here at TheMotorist, you will know it consists of myself, Francisco and Richard. While the latter two happen to be brothers, Francisco and myself are born within a month of each other. Unfortunately for Richard, he has passed the “fun part” of his life already. What I mean by that is, he’s older than us and he has entered a stage of life that consists of nappies and mortgages. More often than not on some of our recent video projects, a good man who goes by the name of Andrew joins us. Andrew is the editor of Top Gear Magazine SA and happens to be the same age as Richard. Together, they share notes on child rearing and finding the best family doctor.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

So I feel it’s no coincidence then that the younger two of the group fell head over heels for the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, while the older bunch really didn’t fancy it that much. Maybe bigger issues in life have made them lose their sense of fun? Who knows. I’m not insinuating that the older you get, the more boring you become, I would never do that…never ever…

However, it seems that maybe the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is the SUV for the younger person even though you need older person money to afford it. It’s a catch 22 really. The Stelvio throws things at you, that you don’t expect – hot hatch driving dynamics being one of them. It’s quite surprising to be fooled into thinking you’re driving a Golf GTI, when you’re actually in a midsize SUV. Another thrilling factor about the Stelvio, is the fact that it’s rather quick. Put your foot down and you notice the digital speedometer climb rather quickly, much faster than expected – especially since it’s powered by a 2.0l turbocharged engine. Turn a corner and notice the front end turn in quite sharply. Again, more than expected. In the end, you find yourself becoming quite giddy in this vehicle, like when your parents would step out the house for some milk and you could be naughtier than usual. That’s what happens when you’re in a 206kW/400N.m Italian SUV with some heritage behind the brand.

You see, while many ( Richard and Andrew ) see SUV’s as only needing to be large vehicles with lots of space for your children, your friend’s children and the expensive bike you use once in a blue moon – the Stelvio offers more. Yes, it ticks the boxes when it comes to safety, it has a quality interior and offers modern technology. Above that, it’s also quite fast which makes it quite exciting – something other vehicles in the Alfa Romeo Stelvios league don’t offer. They may even be better than the Stelvio in other ways, but the Alfa brings with it a fun personality.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

The performance SUV segment is one that often causes debate. Some lament that they “don’t need to be SO sharp, or be THAT fast”, but the question is why not? Why can’t certain SUV’s offer both the practicality and space, whilst also being a little invigorating too? In the age of extensive choice, there’s a place for an SUV such as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. It’s not a full-blown eye-watering performance SUV (the QV variant will fill the gap). What it is however, is a good middle ground option.  

The thing is, the Stelvio will set you back R834 000, which is not exactly cheap. If you do some scratching around, you’re bound to find more value for money products. That being said, buying into the Alfa brand is never a purchase based on practicality, but rather one based on emotion. So, if you’re an Alfa lover, this SUV is for you because it does evoke emotion and kudos to them for staying true to their brand ethos. For me, the Stelvio is a great SUV. It looks the part, feels the part and drives the part too. As a future young dad, I’d appreciate a good thrill once in a while, when the princes and princesses are tucked away in bed of course. Now it’s just a matter of convincing Richard and Andrew.

 

Meet the McLaren Senna, a 789hp road-legal track car.

McLaren Senna

McLaren Senna – The ultimate road-legal track car

Any automotive vehicle named after one of the most legendary racing drivers to ever live, surely sounds like it’s going to impress. When that racing driver is the late Ayrton Senna, known as one of the fastest men to grace the circuit, it needs to do more than just impress, but rather blow us away. Welcome the McLaren Senna, the second vehicle in McLaren’s Ultimate Series, dubbed the ultimate road-legal track car.

McLaren Senna

You commit yourself to such a level where there is no compromise. You give everything you have; everything, absolutely everything.” – Ayton Senna

McLaren vehicles are known for their everyday supercar usability, the McLaren Senna is not that type of car. McLaren designed this vehicle to provide the purest connection between driver and vehicle and deliver the most intense circuit experience of any road going McLaren.

The exterior design immediately gives off a sense of speed, seriousness and performance. You may disagree, but the front end strikes me as a combination of a McLaren 720s and the Gumpert Appollo. Its sharp, edgy and features a multitude of scoops, lines and crevasses for aero purposes. In fact, McLaren says you cannot follow a single line from the front to the rear without it passing through a functional air intake or vent. It’s undoubtedly beautiful body is short and features a huge rear wing. HotWheels comes to mind, and we all know from our childhood days how awesome HotWheels cars were.

McLaren Senna

The visual carbon fibre elements are stunning, but what’s even more outstanding is that the lower half of the door side can be specified with glass as a replacement to the carbon fibre panel, increasing the sense of space inside the cabin and amplifying driver connection.

McLaren Senna

Sounds pretty wild, doesn’t it? It is. Over 789 hp (588kW) and 800Nm can be expected from the 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged v8, which is the most powerful internal combustion engine produced by McLaren for a road-going vehicle. It also features dry sump lubrication and a flat-plane crankshaft. There’s more, the McLaren Senna Is the lightest McLaren since its rebirth with a dry weight of just 1,198kg, it’s also the strongest thanks to the improved carbon fibre Monocage III chassis. Further, everybody panel bolted to this chassis isalso  made from carbon fibre, resulting in a power to weight ratio of nearly 500 kW per tonne.

McLaren Senna

With this level of power, you can imagine that much grip is required, and this comes in the form of ground-breaking front and rear active aerodynamics. Every part of the vehicle is not just an element of visual design, but rather an aid in an aerodynamic capacity to optimise downforce and balance. Assisting the active aerodynamics and the unmissable double diffuser is the RaceActive Chassis Control II (RCC II) hydraulic suspension system. This system compromises of double wishbone suspension and hydraulically interconnected two-valve dampers, which allow for bump and compression to be controlled individually. There is a Race Mode of course, which brings into play a lower ride height, lower centre of gravity and much stiffer suspension. This mode is activated by a roof-mounted switch. Comfort, Sport and Track modes are all accessed via the centre console.

McLaren Senna

Along with many elements of this car, the braking system is also the most advanced system ever fitted to a McLaren vehicle. We are not told much, just that it uses Carbon Ceramic discs and motorsport technologies. Bespoke Pirelli P Zero™ Trofeo R tyres are the choice of rubber, fitted to an ultra-lightweight race inspired alloy wheel.

As much as the McLaren Senna provides ground-breaking performance, McLaren also wanted this vehicle to provide a driving experience like no other. Noise contributes massively to this factor and McLaren engineers decided that the full mechanical symphony of the engine needed to be a sensory experience.  The driver will experience high-frequency sounds caused by rushing air into the roof-mounted intake, all while low-frequency engine sounds are transferred into the cockpit through unique engine mounts, which make it seem as if the V8 is sitting right alongside the driver. We can only imagine the noise provided by gear changes using the dual-clutch, seamless-shift, seven-speed gearbox.

McLaren Senna

Now, all we need to know is how fast it can go around Nurburgring!

McLaren Senna Pricing and availability

The McLaren Senna will be hand-assembled in, Production will be limited to 500 vehicles, each costing from £750,000 or R13.6M (at the time of writing) and all are already allocated.

 

The BMW 1M Coupe – Sheer Driving Pleasure personified.

BMW 1M Coupe

The BMW 1M Coupe Driven

BMW 1M Coupe

The Year was 2011 and the M-division boffins with the assistance of their rather expansive parts bin, saw it fit to introduce the most bonkers 1 Series ever, the BMW 1M Coupe. Now keen enthusiasts will note the backwards name, primarily due to the existence of the M1. The M1 was the 1970’s, Lamborghini and BMW collaborative effort at a supercar. It was Genesis and the daddy of the M-car movement.

Although they may not share this sacred name nor function as this is no homologation special, the 1M is more than fitting a candidate to behold the M badge. This entry into ‘Fast BMW’ history books is arguably one of the best yet – a disarray of old M3’s, in the form of a 6-speed manual and Rear end from the E90. A breathed on version of the again defunct N54 Twin-turbo engine and a rather boy-racer wide body kit, courtesy of the 55mm added to the track and a set of huge 19-inch wheels on super sticky rubber that filled the arches. Finished in Alpine White, Black or the rather bright “Sunburst Orange”, It sounded like the modern equivalent of the 2004 BMW M3 CSL – a lightweight, mega fast, mega fun car for attacking mountain passes. Much like the CSL, the 1M came in very limited numbers with only 64 reaching our sunny Republic, but more to the point, it took the then standard benchmark drivers cars and blow them out the water, with a package that left the likes of the Porsche Cayman R with a bloody nose – all with room for the monthly shop and small humans in the back.

BMW 1M Coupe

Numbers

Part of the 1M’s charisma is the significant focus on the basic formula for M car trickery. A sizable engine with numbers to match – 3.0-litres packing 250 kW and 450 N.m, 500 N.m on over-boost. Coupled with a lightweight short wheel base, rear wheel drive, 6-forward ratios, 3 pedals were figures of 4.1 seconds to 100 km/h and 250km/h. Not to mention the 50:50 weight distribution and the trick M Dynamic differential.

Driving the 1M Coupe

The leisurely beginnings to my drive began with the city- stop start traffic and the drooling faces of the many that understand the rarity of the little motor. The car is very compliant and handles our rough roads rather well, dare I say the ride is good. So too is the in-town fuel consumption, managing to sip an indicated 9.0 l/100 when behaving. The cabin is a comfortable place that’s well-appointed and has many of the amenities you’d expect from a luxury car but the only feature that soon grew of importance was the ‘M’ button on the Alcantara steering wheel.

BMW 1M Coupe

This transports you directly into the world of M car power games. The traction control is backed off to allow for some fun and the ride firmed up. The car is immense, and within the first corner it became abundantly clear that this was a seriously quick car, the shove is relentless and the acceleration suggests to a lot more than 250 kW, it’s properly rapid and this rapidness is not something that is lost in the corners with the initial entry into them being direct and precise and a clear understanding of the front wheels being communicated. The car feels so light and neutral no understeer nor oversteer, just pick a line and it pulls you through. The car is extremely confidence inspiring and has a strong sense of surety. The frankly insane corning speed is rather hard to understand, as this car seems to bend the laws of physics. The short wheelbase and big power do mean when you push a bit too hard, the rear can catch you out but it’s very predictable and can be caught rather easily. The fun aspect is huge it’s upsettingly quick, so quick that even the bright green, 2 wheeled playmates I had developed struggled to shake the BMW 1M through the corners. This thing is epic! The MDM rear diff is really rather good and will lock up the rear wheels for huge slides and the cornering balance and smooth power lets you pin the rear end out there like a vestigial limb.

BMW 1M Coupe

The 1M is challenging, sharp and very demanding of the driver, it’s also one of the best cars I’ve ever driven and possibly the hardest to review as it’s so engaging one forgets about consumerism and takes on the façade of a Bruno Spengler wrestling it around a track, it’s rather brilliant! Easily the best driver’s car, and a car that would get you into a lot of trouble. A thought that came over me when I realised how far I had driven away from the city and how quickly I had covered that distance

 

BMW 1M Price in South Africa

Pricing these days still around R800 000, it still demands a R300k premium over the original asking price, for a 6-year-old car, nut as they are few and far between and one of the best cars ever to birthed by the M-division if you have a spare R800k, buy two!

 

Khanye Ngwenya

Junior Writer

 

 

NISSAN GT-R 2017

Way back in 2007 a car came along which changed everything. Performance wise, this vehicle destroyed almost anything that was put against it, its acceleration was blistering and it’s on track performance was mind blowing. This vehicle was probably one of the most technically advanced cars of that era, many called it “the supercar slayer”. Yes, I’m talking about the Nissan GT-R R35. Recently at the SA Festival of Motoring, the new 2017 Edition was released with some slight adjustments and Refinements.

 

Performance

In the performance area, the hand built 3.8L V6 twin turbo has a power increase from 397 KW to 408 KW and a small torque increase of 4nm, bringing the total to 632 NM. This power increase comes from increased turbo boost and individual timing control on each cylinder, Nissan say these upgrades will also provide more performance in the mid-high rev range.

Along with the performance upgrades, the gearbox and gearshifts have also been improved.  These two factors added with Nissan’s state of the art launch control system gives a 0–100kph time of under 3 seconds, that’s Porsche Turbo S territory. Nissan has also added a new titanium exhaust system which unfortunately is “enhanced” by Nissan’s Active Sound Enhancement System, fake sound does not do it for me.

Handling upgrades have also taken place with a more rigid suspension structure and chassis to further improve track performance, Nissan also claims they have improved the everyday drive and comfort of this 2017 model.

 

Interior

Nissan has also worked on the interior with their aim to make it more  “upmarket” and simplified. The upmarket feel has been introduced with Nappa leather and “real” carbon fibre,  sound dampening and an acoustic glass windshield has also been installed to keep unwanted exterior noises out. I do wonder though if the acoustic glass will improve my wife’s in car singing voice ? after all, it is acoustic.

In their aim to simplify, Nissan has reduced the number of buttons in the cabin from 27 to 11 with most of the functions moving to an 8” touchscreen display. As long as the audio and A/C controls are not digitally controlled then I’m happy, that really gets on my wick.

 

Pricing

The 2017 GT-R will be available from September with the first batch already sold out. The Premium Edition comes in at a price of R1 950 000 and the Black Edition at R2 050 000. The supercar slayer is edging towards supercar prices!

 

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At last BMW’s M2 driven.

“The most anticipated BMW this year” is the term thrown around for Bavaria’s latest introduction to the family. As glossy as that phrase is, it’s true, an entry level M model is exactly what BMW has needed since their current offerings in the M stable have been slightly out of reach for many. Leveraging off of the popularity and cult culture around the 1M, BMW’s new M2 has big shoes to fill and new shoes to fill too. Maintaining the excitement of the current M cars whilst trying to create an “affordable” one aimed at new clients is a tough ask indeed. Have they succeeded in doing this? Have they created a future classic?

Frankenstein’s four wheels:

The M2 is basically a hybrid creature made up of majority M235i mixed with stolen body parts from the BMW M3/M4. Items such as the pistons, braking system and most importantly the M-Differential have all been morphed into this car to create a faster and more focused vehicle. To add to this a new exhaust system has been fitted, that adds both power and decibels to the beefy bruiser. The result is a 272kW/465Nm car with an over-boost function that spikes the torque figure to 500Nm when needed. A sonorous in line 3.0 litre six cylinder engine is welcome, especially in a segment that is primarily dominated by four pot’s making the same GTI-esque sound.

p90199694_highres_the-new-bmw-m2-coupe

Bag of chips?

Let it be known that the new BMW M2 is not an M4 rival, it’s disposition is not the same as its older brother. Whilst it shares some components with the M3/M4, it’s a car that you can really enjoy without the fear of being punched in the face by its brutish attitude, something the M4 does. That being said, the new BMW M2 is powerful, exciting and manageable behind the wheel. It’s the right combination of a non-intimidating yet highly intuitive compact sports coupe aimed at a new audience of M car drivers.

This car comes at the right time because the M4 has progressed from a car that could be somewhat “disrespected” to a car that can be lethal in the wrong hands and that’s not necessarily a good thing if you’re a younger buyer lacking experience. Interestingly the M3 (before the confusing name changes happened) was the car aimed at younger to middle-aged executives. Ever since the new generation of M3/M4’s came into production that changed, creating a gap for BMW in that segment, a gap that the Mercedes Benz A45 and Audi RS3 operate in. So to claw those clients back, this new M2 was created and from that perspective, BMW has succeeded in creating a car for that market.

p90199686_highres_the-new-bmw-m2-coupe

Purist car or not?

Another big question is if the new M2 is a true successor to the first BMW Frankenstein creation, the 1M? It must be noted that BMW’s focus has shifted between creating these cars. The 1M was a limited edition once off, manual only, enthusiast orientated car. Whereas the M2 is not a limited edition hardcore car, it’s a full production model that gives the buyer much more options than the 1M did. As a result the car may not have the same future appeal that the 1M has due to its limited numbers, but it may be remembered by many as their first M car instead.

If the M2 is remembered in such a manner, those will be good memories indeed. Memories of how exciting the car is to drive and how rev happy the engine is. Memories of how much grip the car has through tight corners and how controllable it is at high speed. Lastly for those really enthusiastic drivers, those memories will be documented through video shot by the GoPro app that allows you to film your lap time and share it with your friends. Yes the M2 may not be as wild as all the current M’s available, but it sure is wild enough for its potential target market. Visually, it forces onlookers to look twice and take in its wide stance, large intakes and quad exhausts, something young successful people will enjoy.

p90199697_highres_the-new-bmw-m2-coupe

At a starting price of R791 000 some may complain that this price is still too high, but looking at what you pay for super hatches such as the Mercedes A45 and the Audi RS3, you soon realise that the M2 is priced very similarly. If you are a purist, the manual version of the M2 would be something to consider as it’s the only car in this league to offer a third pedal. For everyday use and for incredibly fast gear changes, the M-DCT gearbox is the best option. Whatever guise you buy an M2 in though, guaranteed will be the smile on your face each time you open the garage and each time you get behind the wheel.