Tag: Supercars

The Porsche 911 GT3 is Simply Sublime!

“The clutch catches in the middle but don’t ride it; it’s either on or off, nothing in-between.” Those were our parting words from Porsche South Africa’s PR Manager as we aimed the nose of a manual Porsche GT3 to the horizon to prove why 3 pedals will always be better than 2. Times like this are few are very far in-between. My brain just couldn’t contain my excitement as my right foot had the pleasure of showing how to best use 375kW of raw power to the tune of a manual gearbox, all at my control. 

We leave the kind people of Porsche Center Cape Town and Francisco does the honours for us. From the passenger seat, the GT3 makes itself known from the get-go that this isn’t a car for the early morning school trips nor ambling around the city. Anyone that has driven an E platform BMW with early run flat tires will know of the harshness that I speak off. You forget on smooth roads but on a bad road, the suspension complains at the same rate as the passenger. The driver? As it quickly became my turn (older brother thing) all I cared for was to see the tachometer needle rush to its red line. Simple. 

We set off from a fuelling station and I’m in full control of this steed. From the first gear change, the action is weighted like what it should, and the whole experience feels like you are the conductor of a very intimate choir. The fast pedal urges you to mash it to the floor, the gear shift ready for its part of the song and the break in power, noise and acceleration is so brief, the throw of the gear knob so direct and short, that as a season driver who cut his teeth on wonky manuals, you thought trails into “surely, I’m doing this as quick as the PDK?” More on that later…

This love affair grows with every gearshift, with every meter that you get to hear that raspy exhaust note. Life couldn’t get any better, and it doesn’t. Smack, boom, bang, we hit Cape traffic on a Friday, near a mountain pass that’s been closed. The “Shark Blue” GT3 is now running bumper to bumper with all of the taxis, Polo’s and the infinite number of Ford Rangers from JHB that are now waiting for their CAA number plates.

It is at this time that you have to pull off your best impersonation of the characters of the Madagascar movies as now you are in the bluest of blue sports cars, in arguably one of the prettiest places on the world, smiling and waving. I have never seen so many motoring enthusiasts at once and since we weren’t going anywhere, we had window conversations about the car with almost everyone who lined up in either side. Could this be, could we be having fun, while the world goes through war, crimes against humans and not forgetting a pandemic?

We get to the bottom of the mountain pass and as we look up at the ribbon of tarmac. We see that it’s sparsely decorated with cars but while we are both in dreamland about this lack of cars, a Metro officer who was manning the intersection makes a beeline for the car. I roll down the window to which he also states that he seen that there is little to no traffic in front of us and that it would be a shame if he didn’t see and hear an enthusiastic launch. Ever the crowd pleaser, I happily obliged and chased the revs in each of the low gears and this set us up for some of the best corners that you can experience without going on a track, while still abiding – albeit closely – to the speed limit. 

The way the car changes direction is something I can’t get over. The part of your brain that monitors safety, being nice to others and importantly, how not to bang other people’s cars, is working overtime, as you come into a very tight hairpin at 65km/h. Yes, that doesn’t sound like much but when it’s a very acute angle and you trailed the brakes in and your mind says that “it’s about to oversteer” at any hint of throttle but then it doesn’t, and simply drives you out at a level of grip that doesn’t make sense, you are left gob-smacked as to the capabilities of this machine. At no time, did we come close to the GT3’s limit and that because its limit is so deep in its chassis that you really have to overdrive the GT3 to try and trip the car up.

We settled into our journey and now had an 80-kilometer drive along the coastline. Unlike its younger siblings, the GT3 Manual gets six ratios instead of seven and yes, this is my only bug bear with this set up. At the speed limit, the car sits at a rev range that has you looking for the next ratio. It’s not the worst of thing but for the five minutes that you have to take a call and not have to worry about something else that steering and changing gears, it pops up but as soon as you flex that right toe and things get moving again, you forget about that. Quick sticks!

Over at our overnight stop, we were greeted by the Porsche staff who were adamant that there was a bike that was Infront of us. There wasn’t…

The night was spent conversing about the new car and how Porsche keep moving the goal posts.  With the 991.2 version of the GT3 in RS guise, in my mind, is the epitome of motoring and just couldn’t figure out how it’s been made so much better but yet, seems so familiar. You look at the details and yes, a “Car Person” will be able to single out all of the differences but to untrained eye, it could be a “facelift” and not a new car. The heart of the beast was taken straight off its racing production line. With motorsport everything, it was the next logical step in the evolution of the GT3. The new suspension set up with helper springs made sure to make us look like heroes ensuring the car did most of the work.

The next day, our steed was changed, and the most important change was the re-introduction to the PDK box. Now let’s get one thing straight. No manufacture makes a double-clutch auto like Porsche. I would delve into what makes their iteration so unique and fast but that’s all you need to know. It will launch all day every day without any need to cool down or driver some 100 kilometers until you can do it again. It’s simply magic that they have put into the car, and it will respond to your every need, 99% of the time. The 1% is just in case something does fail and I’m being quoted in a dealership. 

The PDK changed the whole appeal of the car. I suddenly don’t have to be “on it” all the time. When you don’t have to worry about changing gears, you can spend more time taking in the experience as a whole and not looking at your line, while heal and toeing, while steering.

My summary of the GT3? `I don’t know what to expect with the RS version but a manual one of these with the with its gorgeous Subaru-eating rear wing is just the right stuff. In my mind, I’m quite the eccentric digital millionaire and for my imaginary spec, I’m doing a Manual Touring with retro fit rear seats for the kiddos and the wing, so we have somewhere to put the drinks and ice creams on our Sunday drive. 

Simply sublime.  

The hypercar of all hypercars: Mercedes-AMG Project One

Mercedes-AMG Project One

Mercedes-Benz AMG Project One

At one time or another, we have all fantasized about driving a Formula1 racing car on the road, I know I have. The sheer noise, brutal acceleration, and damn right craziness is something that would really drive the neighbors crazy. and set your hair on fire, in a good way.

Of Course, we know that driving a literal F1 car on the roads would be practically impossible, so let’s jump to the next best thing, the Mercedes-AMG Project One. Mercedes have been teasing us recently for what feels like an eon with very obscure images, but promised great things,  and low and behold, great things have been delivered.

The AMG Project One features a 1.6-Litre V6 enginethe difference here, though, is that this 1.6L-litre motor is derived directly from the 2015 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 racing car, plus an additional four electric motors, one situated on the turbo to eliminate lag and provide better throttle response than a naturally aspirated V8, another connected directly to the engine and two further electric motors to power the front wheels. The result? Staggering performance.  

Total power output is somewhere around the 1000 bhp mark (740 kW) with the two front motors producing 240 kW just on their own. Here is our favorite fact though, 0-200 km/h is said to be completed in just under 6 seconds, with a top speed eclipsing 350 km/h.

Power is delivered to the rear wheels via a new, madefromscratch, hydraulically activated 8-speed gearbox which can be operated in automatic mode, or manual via the shifter paddles. The AMG Project One does feature different driving modes which range from a full electric drive (with a range of 25 km) to highly dynamic for the most outright performance characteristics.

To make sure all of this power is put down effectively, the AMG Project One will be fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, specifically designed for the Project One. The front tyres will be 285/35 ZR 19 with the rears being much larger at 335/30 ZR 20. The forged wheels these tyres will be mated with are also unique and feature carbon fibre semi-covers for increased aerodynamic efficiency and carefully placed ventilation slots for more effective cooling of the weight-optimised ceramic high-performance compound braking system.

We can see from the images that the MercedesAMG Project One is a truly stunning car. Large, wide air intakes dominate the front end and give it a very aggressive look, and as the car slopes around, many Mercedes-Benz design cues come into play with large, bold wheel arches and a streamlined appeal. The rear-end houses long, thin aggressive rear lights and is very much dominated by the rear diffuser and a central, single exhaust, just like that of a F1 car. We can’t forget that unique roof scoop either, which draws massive amounts of air into the engine and also looks pretty awesome!

The interior is very minimalistic, but also very futuristic. You will not find one component in this car that is there just for visual purposes, every part has a function. The Formula 1 like steering wheel is adjustable, as well as the pedals and the backrests so the driver can achieve their most preferred driving position. Two digital screens also feature, but apart from that, a host of carbon fibre, small storage areas and A/C controls, power windows and the Mercedes COMMAND system, there is not much else to it.

Mercedes-AMG Project One Pricing

Pricing is said to be over $2.5 Million Dollars and all of the 275 models to be made are already spoken for. You will have to take yours into AMG every 50 000 km’s for a full engine rebuild, if you plan on driving it to that extent.

A Seven Year Project: Pagani Huayra Roadster

Give Horacio Pagani a wand and a robe and one could be forgiven for thinking that he is in fact a magical professor – what with his curvaceous silver locks and chiselled visage, he really does fit the role of Snape’s vertically challenged brother. However, with the unveiling of the Huayra Roadster, I am starting to question his muggleness more than ever…

Nothing could have quite prepared anybody for the sheer pornography that is the Huayra Roadster – from its squared off face to swishy bits above the taillights, it is a completely different box of frogs to the Huayra Coupe and that wasn’t exactly a Gremlin either.

Horacio himself recently described this project as having been the most difficult they have ever worked on, a statement which makes complete sense once you delve into what went into this work of art.

The project began in 2010 with the simple idea of creating a Huayra without a roof. Three years later, all the design work was scrapped and they began from scratch with the goal of creating a vehicle lighter than the Coupe still in mind.

Power comes from the M158 Twin Turbo V12 from Mercedes-AMG, built especially for Pagani and producing an immense 592 kW and over 1000 N.m from its 6.0-litres. All that torque is available, too, from just 2 400 RPM. This allows the Roadster to sprint to 100 km/h in under 3 seconds, obviously a relevant figure…

This power is fed through a new single-clutch automated manual transmission developed for the Huayra BC and while not as immediate as its double-clutch counterparts, its lightweight construction offsets the slower shift time allowing a better power-to-weight ratio than if a double-clutch unit were to be used. The gearbox is also mounted transversely which reduces the polar inertia of the vehicle, just in case you were wondering.

Most impressive, however, is that the Roadster is some 25% lighter than the Coupe, yet 50% more rigid. A feat like this is almost unheard of in the automotive sphere, especially when one considers just how wiggly a car becomes when its roof is removed.

Other highlights include special Pirelli tyres with Horacio’s initials on them (how ostentatious) new carbon-ceramic brakes, a new ESP system and two roofs – one a glass and carbon-fibre jobby which only fits into one orifice in the vehicle – the one above your head – and the other a tent which can quickly be erected in the event of sudden moisture.

Only 100 will be made and they have all been sold for a ridiculous outlay of $2.8 million Dollars.  I now urge you to zoom into these images and ogle at the attention to detail that has gone into this vehicle.

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