Ford F-150: Two-Minute Road Test

Ford F-150: Two-Minute Road Test

Ford F-150: Two-Minute Road Test

This is America’s best-selling vehicle. While Ford sells Fiestas by the bucketload over here, in the States they prefer a big-ass truck. And it is huge. Sitting above the Ranger in Ford’s line-up, the F-150 is the entry-level F-Series truck. Above it are the F-250, F-350 and F-450.

While it hasn’t downsized – doing so would mess with Ford’s winning formula, it has got lighter for the latest generation model. More than 300kg has been knocked off the total mass thanks to extensive use of aluminium.

What are its rivals?

Although the F-150 is by far the biggest seller, it still has plenty in the way of competition – in the States, at least. Biggies (literally) include the Dodge Ram 1500 and GM’s Chevrolet Silverado. There’s also the Nissan Titan and the smaller Honda Ridgeline.

Which engines does it use?

Which engines does it use?

Even the huge F-150 hasn’t escaped Ford’s Ecoboost programme. Engines include an entry-level 3.5-litre V6 and a twin-turbocharged 2.7-litre V6 (tested here). Topping the range, there’s a 5.0-litre V8, for the true American pick-up experience.

What’s it like to drive?

It’s about as American as vehicles come. So the steering is unnervingly light (that’s how they like it in the States), and the brakes offer very little in the way of feel. But the sound of the 2.7-litre V6 Ecoboost we tried is fantastic – and with a 0-60mph time of 6.1 seconds, it’s anything but sluggish.

Which engines does it use?

Fuel economy and running costs

If economy is on your mind, this isn’t the vehicle for you. The 2.7-litre Ecoboost officially returns a combined American 22.0mpg – that’s 26.4mpg. Make the most of that vocal engine, and you’ll easily see that drop far into the teens.

Is it practical?

Hell yeah. Or at least, it is if you don’t really need a boot. There’s a massive 1.7-metre load bay, and there’s practically BMW 7 Series levels of rear legroom.

Ford F-150: Two-Minute Road Test

What about safety?

Basic physics suggests that, if you’re driving something with the mass of a Ford F-150, you’re likely to come off better in a collision with a Smart Car. Despite now being constructed broadly of aluminium (rather than heavy-weight steel), it scored five stars in crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s safety tests.

Which version should I go for?

The 2.7-litre V6 makes sense to us – it’s certainly quick enough, considering the slightly iffy handling and brakes. It also sounds good and is better than the others on fuel (OK, less bad…).

Ford F-150: Two-Minute Road Test

Should I buy one?

You can’t. At least, not officially, if you’re in the UK. That’s not a complaint – it towers over things like the Audi Q7, so would make very little sense on our small, congested roads. But it doesn’t stop us wanting to import one.

Pub fact

Every 19 seconds someone is buying a Ford truck, with the F-Series range accounting for 90% of Ford’s profits globally.

Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Porsche fan wins claim after dealer sells 'his' 911 GT3 RS

Porsche 911 GT3 RS

When Kevin Hughes put down a £10,000 deposit on a last-of-the-line Porsche 911 GT3 RS, he believed he was the first in the queue.

Unfortunately for Mr Hughes, the Porsche Centre in Bolton sold the hardcore Porsche to a customer further down the waiting list, shattering his dreams of owning one of the 30 cars allocated to the UK.

Porsche ceased production of the 997 GT3 RS in 2011, building a total of 600 units, each one costing just shy of £130,000. Mr Hughes – the owner of a classic car restoration business – used part of his pension to secure the super-rare Porsche and was told he would be “first in the queue” if the dealer was chosen to receive one of the 30 UK cars.

Porsche Centre Bolton was chosen to receive a car, but rather than contacting Mr Hughes with the good news, it chose to inform him no cars had been allocated, and his deposit was returned.

[bctt tweet=”It was ‘as plain as pikestaff’ that the two parties had a legally-binding contract.”]

Mr Hughes later discovered the act of dishonesty and took the dealership to court. At first, his claim was rejected, with the judge at the Preston County Court arguing Mr Hughes had made merely an “expression of interest” and that by having his deposit returned he had suffered no financial loss.

Undeterred, Mr Hughes took the matter to the Court of Appeal, where the judge ruled in his favour, awarding him £35,000 in damages. This figure is based on an estimate between the price he would have paid for the GT3 RS and the value of the car today.

The Porsche dealer’s parent company, Pendragon Sabre Ltd, has also been ordered to pay £50,000 towards Mr Hughes’ legal costs, but the final bill is likely to run into six figures. In summing up, the judge said it was “as plain as pikestaff” that the two parties had a legally-binding contract and that Mr Hughes had done more than “express an interest” in the highly sought-after Porsche.

It remains to be seen whether or not Mr Hughes will manage to secure a secondhand Porsche 911 GT3 RS. He could, of course, spend upwards of £131,296 on a 991 GT3 RS, but we doubt he’ll be visiting the Porsche Centre in Bolton any time soon.

Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Porsche fan wins claim after dealer sells ‘his’ 911 GT3 RS

Porsche 911 GT3 RS

When Kevin Hughes put down a £10,000 deposit on a last-of-the-line Porsche 911 GT3 RS, he believed he was the first in the queue.

Unfortunately for Mr Hughes, the Porsche Centre in Bolton sold the hardcore Porsche to a customer further down the waiting list, shattering his dreams of owning one of the 30 cars allocated to the UK.

Porsche ceased production of the 997 GT3 RS in 2011, building a total of 600 units, each one costing just shy of £130,000. Mr Hughes – the owner of a classic car restoration business – used part of his pension to secure the super-rare Porsche and was told he would be “first in the queue” if the dealer was chosen to receive one of the 30 UK cars.

Porsche Centre Bolton was chosen to receive a car, but rather than contacting Mr Hughes with the good news, it chose to inform him no cars had been allocated, and his deposit was returned.

[bctt tweet=”It was ‘as plain as pikestaff’ that the two parties had a legally-binding contract.”]

Mr Hughes later discovered the act of dishonesty and took the dealership to court. At first, his claim was rejected, with the judge at the Preston County Court arguing Mr Hughes had made merely an “expression of interest” and that by having his deposit returned he had suffered no financial loss.

Undeterred, Mr Hughes took the matter to the Court of Appeal, where the judge ruled in his favour, awarding him £35,000 in damages. This figure is based on an estimate between the price he would have paid for the GT3 RS and the value of the car today.

The Porsche dealer’s parent company, Pendragon Sabre Ltd, has also been ordered to pay £50,000 towards Mr Hughes’ legal costs, but the final bill is likely to run into six figures. In summing up, the judge said it was “as plain as pikestaff” that the two parties had a legally-binding contract and that Mr Hughes had done more than “express an interest” in the highly sought-after Porsche.

It remains to be seen whether or not Mr Hughes will manage to secure a secondhand Porsche 911 GT3 RS. He could, of course, spend upwards of £131,296 on a 991 GT3 RS, but we doubt he’ll be visiting the Porsche Centre in Bolton any time soon.

Autonomous speed enforcement

Motorists beware: the Robocop Enforcement Trailer is coming

Autonomous speed enforcement

Be afraid. Be very afraid. If you thought you had the upper hand over average speed cameras, mobile safety cameras and fixed Gatsos, all that could be about to change. The Vitronic Enforcement Trailer is coming and it hasn’t had any dinner.

This autonomous speed enforcement system is able to reach parts other speed cameras cannot reach, including areas without power supply and in situations where it would be too hazardous for a human to set up a mobile device. With the Enforcement Trailer, there’s simply no hiding place.

The French Ministry has already purchased 150 of these menacing machines, with 50 already in operation in France. So you may have been caught by an Enforcement Trailer – you just don’t know it yet. And be warned: there’s every chance these Robocops of the roadside will venture across the English Channel and into the UK.

Vitronic is probably one of the biggest companies you’ve never heard of. From its Wiesbaden headquarters it specialises in industrial automation, logistics and traffic technology; supplying speed and red light enforcement systems and license plate readers to the public and private sectors. Many toll system operators use its TollChecker system to automate toll collection and enforcement.

Doesn’t eat, sleep or drink for five days

Vitronic autonomous speed camera

According to the German firm, the Enforcement Trailer makes “zero demands on the local infrastructure” and is ideal for rural roads, work zones and areas where it can be left unprotected for long periods of time. A long battery life and armoured shell ensures it can catch the maximum number of speeding drivers over the longest period of time.

Indeed, the Enforcement Trailer – a name that in itself sounds rather sinister – has an independent power supply based on high-performance batteries, enabling an uninterrupted operation for five days. Asking a safety camera operator to work for five days without a break would be unethical. Not to mention illegal.

[bctt tweet=”Asking a safety camera operator to work for five days without a break would be unethical. Not to mention illegal.” via=”no”]

Crucially, the light radar technology allows authorities to enforce speed limits of all vehicles across all lanes simultaneously. Variable speed limits and bans on through traffic specific to certain times, lanes and vehicle classes can also be monitored. In short, the Enforcement Trailer has got your number and if you’re up to no good, there’s simply no hiding place.

Hates humans, loves catching offenders

Scary speed camera

An integrated modem transfers case data wirelessly via GSM and enables remote access to the measuring system. This means no human intervention is required between the time of installation and removal. At which point the Enforcement Trailer is dragged away, kicking and screaming, pleading for more action.

Vitronic claims it can be transported by virtually any vehicle that has a tow-bar and it even has its own remote-controlled engine for precise alignment. Once at ground level it’s extremely difficult for unauthorised parties to remove it, with the armoured shell and alarm system helping to protect it from anyone who may have been caught by the box that’s set to launch its own war on speed.

They may look like a cross between a cash machine and a recycling bin, but they could soon be coming to a roadside near you. We have just one question: assuming the Enforcement Trailer is not monitored by CCTV, what’s to stop someone sticking a blanket over the top, therefore rendering Robocop useless?

Answers on a postcard.

Ford Focus RS review: 2016 first drive

Ford Focus RS review: 2016 first drive

Ford Focus RS review: 2016 first drive

If the Golf GTI is a middle-class manager in a tracksuit, the Ford Focus RS is a hooligan with a hatchback. It’s a rough diamond, a car your mother probably wouldn’t like.

Well, that’s the perceived wisdom anyway. But while the fastest Focus has always been something of a blunt instrument, this third-generation car is a more sophisticated beast.


Read more:


For starters, it has four-wheel drive with torque vectoring between the rear wheels. In theory, that should banish memories of the Mk1 Focus RS’s tyre-scrabbling torque steer for good.

It also looks relatively subtle. There’s no outrageous bodykit, no whale-tail wing and no fluorescent green paint. Indeed, this is the first Focus RS without custom, RS-specific body panels.

Even the interior is pretty restrained. A pair of Recaro sports seats, a smattering of extra gauges atop the dashboard – and that’s your lot.

But don’t go thinking the RS has gone soft. Its 2.3-litre 350hp engine – shared with the Ford Mustang – blasts the car to 62mph in 4.7 seconds. That’s quicker than a Ferrari 288 GTO or Nissan Skyline R34. Top speed is 165mph.

Four-pot Brembo brakes and sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres add competition kudos, while something called Drift Mode can ‘help the driver achieve controlled oversteer drifts’. Yes, you read that right, the RS has a button to make it go sideways.

For all its ferocious performance, one of the most impressive stats about the Focus RS is its price. At £29,995, it costs the same as the 310hp front-wheel-drive Honda Civic Type R – and £1,780 less than the 300hp Volkswagen Golf R (five-door hatch).

Clearly then, this is a car of contrasts. Has the ASBO Focus finally grown-up? And if so, is that a good thing? Only one way to find out…

On the road

2016 Ford Focus RS: On the road

Former Stig Ben Collins describes the RS as having “the beating heart of a rally car.” And while some say that, as a paid test-driver for Ford, he may be biased, the Top Gear star does have a point.

You see, rally cars are adept at going sideways. Years of watching tail-wagging Mk1 and Mk2 Escorts – the Focus’s ancient ancestors – has taught us that. And, after a tyre-smoking track session in Valencia, it’s clear the RS will go very sideways indeed.

Selecting Drift Mode gives the 4WD system a rearward bias, softening the dampers for lurid, laugh-out-loud slides on demand. It’s progressive, easy to control and fabulous fun. Especially if somebody else (i.e. Ford) is picking up the tab for new tyres.

Fortunately, the Focus RS is just as impressive in the real world – perhaps more so. Throw it into a corner and it simply grips, with layers of fine-tuned feedback fizzing through the steering wheel and awesome 4WD traction as it slingshots you away.

Best of all, it has a smidgen of rear-wheel-drive attitude. So instead of understeering (running wide) when you push it hard, the tail-end nudges subtly sideways. It’s a remarkably easy car to drive fast.

2016 Ford Focus RS: On the road

And boy, is it fast. Use the Launch Control function – which holds the revs, then dumps the clutch for a full-bore getaway – and it literally thumps you in the back. And unlike some turbocharged engines, it doesn’t run out of revs; power keeps on coming, all the way to the 6,500rpm redline.

It sounds pretty special, too. The engine growls menacingly, while the two drainpipe-sized exhausts spit and pop on the over-run. Balding boy racers (and we’re including ourselves there) will love it.

Downsides? Well, the ride is predictably firm on stiffened suspension and standard-fit 19-inch alloys. It’s less hyperactive than a Fiesta ST, though – we could certainly live with it.

Also, unlike the VW Golf R, there’s no semi-automatic gearbox option; you’ll have to swap cogs yourself. But seriously, we could live with that, too.

On the inside

2016 Ford Focus RS: On the inside

Remember the original Mk1 Focus RS interior? If you do, you’d probably rather forget it. Bright blue stripes on the seats, doors and steering wheel meant was decidedly more Halfords than, er, Harrods.

Thankfully, the Mk3 RS is considerably classier. Recaro sports seats, similar to those in the Fiesta and Focus ST, are the most obvious departure from the common-or-garden Focus. Our car, however, had the race-style Recaro buckets – an expensive option at £1,145.

Side-squeezing seats aside, this is still a Ford Focus, which means a comfortable driving position, decent all-round visibility and enough room for five adults. Admittedly, the rear diff means there’s less luggage space than a regular Focus, but there’s no doubt you could run one as a family car. And trust us, your kids would love you for it.

Standard equipment on the RS includes dual-zone air conditioning, xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, a heated windscreen and a touchscreen media system with DAB radio and nine speakers.

Sat nav (£465) and automatic emergency braking (£200) are both worthwhile extras, while Ford says 89% of buyers have selected the Luxury Pack (£1,000), which adds cruise control, keyless entry, power-folding door mirrors, rear parking sensors and tinted glass.

There are tempting fripperies, too, such as blue-painted brake callipers (£100), black alloy wheels (£595) and that signature Nitrous Blue paint (£745). You’ll need iron resolve (or just shallow pockets) to keep your RS down to that headline-grabbing £29,995 price tag.

Running costs

2016 Ford Focus RS: Running costs

We know the Focus RS is relatively affordable to buy. But then so is a 20-year-old Bentley – that doesn’t mean it won’t break the bank when it comes to running costs.

The first hurdle for many potential RS owners to get over will be a group 40A insurance rating. If you’re under 25, you might as well as well stop reading now.

On the plus side, the 2.3-litre Ecoboost petrol engine doesn’t require a Bentley-sized budget when it comes to fuel. Official economy is 36.7mpg, with CO2 emissions of 175g/km. That equates to car tax of £375 in the first year and £205 per year thereafter.

Oh, we forgot mention the second hurdle: driving the RS sensibly enough to get anywhere near the economy figures promised. We barely scraped 20mpg, although our test route was littered with fabulous mountain roads and we didn’t spare the horses. Well, would you?

Ford RS models have cult status among car enthusiasts, and that – combined with limited production volume – means resale values are likely to be strong. Just look at how prices for the Mk1 Focus RS are now creeping upwards.

If you’re one of the 2,300 UK buyers who has already placed a deposit, you might even make a short-term profit. Latecomers to the RS party will doubtless be keen to jump the queue…

Verdict

2016 Ford Focus RS: Verdict

After two days of intensive driving in the Focus RS, we’re still buzzing. Handing back the keys at Valencia airport felt genuinely painful.

Ford has kept us waiting a long time for this car, but it doesn’t disappoint. It’s something quite special, a genuinely five-star hot hatch that takes its place alongside the Fiesta ST, Escort Cosworth and other notable fast Fords in the pantheon of greats.

Ford chassis engineer Richard Parry-Jones famously said that a lot could be learned about a car in the first 50 metres of driving. The Focus RS has that inherent ‘rightness’ in its control weights and responses – and that makes it enjoyable drive at any speed. Yes, a deserted Spanish mountain or private race track probably helps, but they’re certainly not essential.

Lest we forget, there are some very capable rivals out there. You may prefer the sober styling and nicer interior of the VW Golf R, or the indeed the frenetic high-rev thrills of the Honda Civic Type R.

For our money, though, nothing this side of BMW M135i matches the dynamic panache of the RS. And the BMW is £2,500 more expensive and markedly less practical.

The Focus has grown-up… a little. But it’s still one of the quickest, most visceral and most downright exciting cars on the right side of £50,000. And your mother still won’t like it. Amen to that.

What the others say

Ford Focus RS 2.3 Ecoboost 5dr

Price: £29,995
Engine: 2.3-litre petrol
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Power: 350hp
Torque: 347lb ft
0-62mph: 4.7 seconds
Top speed: 165mph
Fuel economy: 36.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 175g/km

Lotus Exige Sport 350 2016

A Lotus a day helps 2015 sales make headway

Lotus Exige Sport 350 2016Lotus continues to recover from its post-Dany Bahar nadir, with full-year 2015 new car registrations for the UK reaching 375 units, compared to 235 cars the previous year.

The 2015 success means Lotus sales grew 60% in a year and have returned to the level they were at in 2010 – and with seven new dealers appointed in 2015 alone, the firm is hopeful of more growth in 2016.

There are two dealers in London alone – the first time Lotus has been represented in Britain’s capital since 2009. It plans to bring on more dealers to further grow the 16-retailer total in 2016.


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UK dealer growth is matched globally too: from having 138 dealers in May 2014, Lotus now has 202 retailers worldwide, again with more planned.

“Substantial” sales growth in Germany, France and Italy will help encourage this new dealer push.

New and improved cars are behind its recovery drive: successes include the Evora 400, Exige Sport 350 and the Elises Sport and Sport 220.

Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus plc, said, “These are excellent sales results and prove definitively that Lotus is back!”

Now for the all-new cars to cement this return to growth and profitability, Lotus…

A collection of British-built cars

British car production breaks records in 2015

A collection of British-built carsMore than 1.2 million cars were exported from British car factories in 2015, setting a new all-time record – an achievement the SMMT’s chief executive Mike Hawes described as a deserved and hard fought for result.

The UK production total of 1,587677 vehicles in 2015 is also a 10-year high, rising 3.9% in a year and putting British factories on track to break the record of most cars ever built within a few years.

That’s a record that’s stood since the early 1970s.

Over 3 in 4 cars built here were exported, reports the SMMT in its analysis of 2015 results, most of which went to Europe: the EU accounts for 57.5% of all UK car exports. And these export results has delighted Chancellor George Osborne.

“Today we see the industry going from strength to strength.

“I am hugely encouraged that manufacturing is at a 10-year high and exports ‎are at a record level. All this means jobs and the security of a pay packet for workers and their families.”

The challenge now, he added, is to ensure Britain remains a “global leader in car production”.

No guarantees

It wasn’t all good news though. Weaknesses in China mean demand there fell 37.5%, which will be worrying to the UK’s premium car manufactures who were sending growing numbers of high-value cars there.

Russia was also down 69.4%, reflecting economic troubles. Hawes reflected this but added that “despite export challenges in some key markets such as Russia and China, foreign demand for British-built cars has been strong.

“Continued growth in an intensely competitive global marketplace is far from guaranteed, however, and depends heavily on global economic conditions and political stability.”

This year’s EU referendum is also a potential obstacle – and the SMMT made it clear which was the best choice for the UK car industry.

“Europe is our biggest trading partner and the UK’s membership of the European Union is vital for the automotive sector in order to secure future growth and jobs.”

Top 10 markets for British built cars

  1. EU: 57.5%
  2. US: 10.9%
  3. China: 7.0%
  4. Turkey: 2.8%
  5. Australia: 2.8%
  6. Russia: 2.0%
  7. Japan: 1.8%
  8. South Korea: 1.7%
  9. Canada: 1.2%
  10. Israel: 1.2%
Porsche 911 Turbo S 2016

2016 Porsche 911 Turbo S review: first drive

Porsche 911 Turbo S 2016Now all the non-GT3 Porsche 911s are turbocharged, where does this leave the Turbo turbo? Has Porsche unintentionally diluted the power-oozing daddy of its range in the pursuit of more power, cleaner exhausts and modernity?

Not a bit, snorts product line boss August Achleitner as he prepares to tell us all about the 2016 Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S range. The deep breath before his hour-long presentation at the Kyalami race track in South Africa is not for effect.

See, there’s been a Porsche 911 Turbo for 40 years now, all the time with one goal: packing in as much power as possible into a compact 911-sized silhouette. In the early days, this was far too much power for the chassis to cope with, and the 911 Turbo duly developed a reputation as a bit of a demonic animal. Which actually did it no harm whatsoever.

Porsche 911 Turbo S 2016

These days, it has four-wheel drive, so you don’t have to worry about that. The bigger challenge is not losing the back end of the car, but losing your licence each and every time you drive it. It’s been sanitised, but the 911 Turbo is still ferocious.

For 2016, the regular £126,925 Turbo now produces 520hp, 20hp more than before. The one that most buyers go for, the Turbo S, throws out 580hp: in a 911-sized car, that delivers a 205mph top speed and a 0-62mph time of just 2.9 seconds. For £145,614. Makes even that heady price tag seem cheap.

Porsche’s even engineered a clever anti-lag system that maintains turbo boost when cornering, but without ruining fuel economy: yes, it’s greener too, averaging 31mpg (2mpg more than before) and emitting 212g/km CO2.

It all means the new 911 Turbo S is the first one to do more than 200mph, the first one to dip below 3.0 seconds 0-62mph, the first one to average over 30mpg. Looks like the daddy’s reasserted his status alright.

You’ll spot the new Turbos from their (and excuse the Porsche code-geek speak) 991-II 3D rear lights, new headlights with four-point running lights, modified front aero details, smooth new doorhandles and a fancy three-part rear lid with decidedly 70s-style louvres.

Oh, and also from the fact it may now, for the first time ever, actually be going sideways in safety, rather than in the seconds before a crash. See, Porsche’s developed a new PSM Sport mode for its stability control system that, a bit like the Ford Focus RS’s system, allows controlled tail-out fun without spitting you off the road.

The hour’s up. Achleitner’s voice has gone. It may not look like it’s much-changed, but Porsche hasn’t half been busy reasserting the Turbo’s status with this facelift. Time to find out if it’s been worth it.

On the road

Porsche 911 Turbo S 2016

It’s stupendously fast. Goes without saying: so was the old one. That 0-62mph time of 2.9 seconds is a worst case scenario and, thanks to launch control, it’s ever-repeatable. More than 1G is generated during acceleration and the intensity of it stomach-churning.

Unbelievably though, this one feels even faster. Frankly, it’s hard to tell much difference in pure acceleration: this is different degrees of ludicrous. But on the road, the 991-II Turbo S certainly does feel even more energetic and electrifying than before.

This is because engine response is improved. The anti-lag system, called dynamic boost, virtually eliminates any delay before power floods you when going back on the throttle in corners: on switchback roads, where you’re constantly on and off the accelerator, it feels significantly crisper and, as such, faster.

Porsche 911 Turbo S 2016

You can further enhance this by twisting the mode switch into Sport and Sport Plus mode. You can also ‘supercharge’ the Turbo S for 20 seconds by jabbing the Sport Response mode in the middle. It preconditions the car for 20 seconds by retarding the ignition, opening the throttle valve, closing the variable turbo vanes and reprofiling the PDK shift pattern. It’s like a caffeine hit for the car and is utterly addictive.

Incidentally, you engage the drift-ace PSM Sport mode by briefly pressing the PSM button: it’s independent of the modes above. So you perhaps can have your slide slice of cake and eat it.

You can manage the gears yourself, using steering wheel paddles or the PDK shifter that’s now the correct ‘forward-for-downshift’ way round. Frankly, we left it in Sport Plus and found little complaint: the rare moments we would like a lower gear were quickly sorted by jabbing Sport Response.

The 911 Turbo S is fitted with Porsche Carbon Ceramic Brakes as standard, the gigantic 410mm stoppers that are totally tireless and more than up for the task of shedding the car’s fiendish speed on a circuit. Sensible: you’d have to option them up even on the standard Turbo.

Ride and handling? Why, it’s a Porsche 911, so it’s extremely good. The ride’s firmer than in less incendiary variants, and the sheer brute engineering gone into making all that engine power (and the not-insubstantial 553lb ft of torque) work without ripping the drivetrain apart means it’s not as delicate or adjustable. Some will have more fun in a regular Carrera. But it’s still mighty.

Scratching beneath the surface reveals a responsive, alert, surprisingly involving all-wheel drive car. You feel enormously confident using its exaggerated power, particularly power-oversteering out of corners when on track, or feeling the front end bite rather than understeer.

In some ways, it’s as chuckable as a hot hatch and responds to being driven as such. But will then ease you back home in taut but cushioned comfort afterwards.

On the inside

Porsche 911 Turbo S 2016

Turbo S spec means a load of luxurious equipment as standard. Standout is the new PCM4 infotainment system, now featuring Apple CarPlay, online sat nav maps plus pinch and swipe functionality all hidden behind a flush-fit glass screen.

There are new trim colours inside for those with deep pockets. Saddle brown and bordeaux red leather give a retro touch; two-tone black and bordeaux red is now the standard colourscheme on the Turbo S. New options that might be useful in daily use include lane departure warning; standard is post-collision auto-braking, which hopefully you’ll never use.

Porsche 911 Turbo S 2016

The 360mm GT sport steering wheel is perfectly round and a lovely thing to hold. Better to hold than to look at: there’s too much shiny chintz on it, and the fake boltheads on the silver bits are awful.

It generally feels a very plush, luxurious car. Noise levels seem down on before, there’s a Bose sound system as standard and the high-back sport seats are excellent – far better to sit in than you expect from their relatively understated appearance.

You’d have no complaint if you wanted to use one every day. And you’d almost certainly wear the plastic to a shine on that Sport Response button.

Running costs

Porsche 911 Turbo S 2016

The 911 Turbo S will cost more to run than a regular Porsche, without question. It’s a rocketship of technology and, while this probably won’t go wrong or become a nightmare, servicing is a must and will be pricier than for other 911s.

It will also run through tyres pretty quickly if you use its power enthusiastically: that’s pure physics rather than any fault of the car. The 305/30 ZR 20 steamrollers on the back won’t come cheap.

At least the PCCB carbon ceramic brake discs should last the lifetime of the car – that’s part of their appeal (and partly how Porsche justifies the expense to those who option them).

Remember too, this is a Porsche. It’s epically fast but has been engineered to be as robust after 100,000 miles as it is out the box. Go, use that acceleration time and again in confidence….

Verdict

Porsche 911 Turbo S 2016

The Porsche 911 Turbo has always been a fantastically powerful car; the 2016 model continues that tradition, only adds in even more control and vivacity when you want to sense more than just warp speed.

The clever anti-lag solves a grumble that the turbo’s powertrain was a bit dull to use. The brilliant Sport Response button electrocutes it further if you really want a quickfire buzz. The chassis is enormously capable once you start digging in (which requires both speed and, ideally, a racetrack).

It’s still the boss of the 911 range. There was a GT3 RS sitting in the pits: ooh, we’d love to drive that, we said. No point, they said: the Turbo S is quicker. Of the modern stuff, only the 918 Spyder is (a bit) quicker, and you can’t buy that anymore. This is a FAST car.

Too fast? Most of us would get all the speed we want, and more, from a regular Carrera 4S. This would save us half the price of that car again – that’s how ferociously expensive the 911 Turbo S is. For some, there’s the rub with the Turbo: do the turbos make the Turbo turbo irrelevant?

We think not. It still has a place. It’s wildly powerful, has more of the ‘right’ sort of thrilling than ever, and has bragging rights coming out its ears. Status rediscovered, we say.

Specifications: 2016 Porsche 911 Turbo S

Price: £145,773
Engine: 3.8-litre flat-six twin-turbo petrol
Gearbox: Seven-speed PDK
Power: 580hp
Torque: 553lb ft
0-62mph: 2.9 seconds (PDK + Sport Plus)
Top speed: 205mph
Fuel economy: 31.0mpg
CO2 emissions: 212g/km (PDK)

Porsche 911 Carrera 4S 2016

2016 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S review: first drive

Porsche 911 Carrera 4S 2016As with the latest 911 Carrera, Porsche’s installed its new 3.0-litre bi-turbo flat-six engine into the 911 Carrera 4 for 2016. That’s 4 for four-wheel drive and, in the car we drove, 4S for a 420hp engine instead of a 370hp one.

Such is progress. The old 3.4-litre and 3.8-litre non-turbo engines simply aren’t efficient enough these days, which is why every 911 apart from the GT3 is now turbocharged. As the Carrera 4 is already the ‘saner’ option to the rear-drive Carrera, what is there to get excited about here?

The fact Porsche’s claiming to have put all that extra pulling power to good sporting effect, that’s what. The faster engine – capable of 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds in C4 guise, or 3.8 seconds as the C4S – makes the AWD 911s faster than their RWD equivalents for the first time, but performance isn’t the big story here. The chassis is.

All AWD 911s now get PASM adaptive damping as standard, now 10mm lower. Drop it a further 10mm with the C4S’ optional sport chassis; the S also offers optional rear axle steering, like on the GT3. You can even get a front axle lift system that pumps the nose up 40mm to stop it grinding on steep car parks.

Significantly, all Carrera 4 now get the electro-hydraulic PTM system from the 911 Turbo. It’s a cleverer, faster-acting system “that can place the torque exactly where we want it, immediately”.

For the 1 in 3 911 buyers who choose AWD, most take the PDK twin-clutch auto. This now has a vibration-reducing flywheel, ‘virtual’ gears that slip the clutches to cut revs (it’s wear-free, says Porsche) and, joy, racing-style manual shift logic: pull back for upshifts, punch it forward for downshifts.

Speaking of feeling racy, a new PSM Sport stability control setting is available, letting you drift and slide with a safety net. You get this with the optional Sport Chrono’s new steering wheel Mode Switch; the standard 375mm 918-Spyder steering wheel can be optionally swapped to an even smaller 360mm GT sport rim.

Porsche 911 Carrera 4S 2016

Big changes beneath, but typically Porsche understatement on top for the 991-II Carrera 4 range. Even so, the new headlight’s four-point running lights, 3D rear lights, fancier connecting light bar and louvre-packed new rear lid stand out, as do the new AWD-specific Carmine red and Miami blue colours. Inside, all-new PCM infotainment is a huge improvement too.

So this is more than just a new engine. Porsche seems to have made the AWD 911s, long perceived as the ‘softer’ choice, promisingly sporty for the first time. Appetites whetted, we hit the track in South Africa to find out exactly what the £5k premium over a RWD 911 buys.

On the road

Porsche 911 Carrera 4S 2016

Porsche hasn’t just standardised the previously-C4S-only PASM suspension on the Carrera 4 range, it has honed it too, with tweaks to the dampers and control systems themselves: all small, constant-evolution stuff that nevertheless makes it better than before.

The once-controversial electric power steering is now barely an issue, for example. It’s linear, satisfying and precise. Road noise seems less prominent than before. Suspension compliance and control are even more uncannily good, both absorbent yet taut.

If you’re worried the new 3.0-litre bi-turbo engine is no longer authentically Porsche, rest easy. The flat-six sound effects remain, it still blares loudly at high revs and still feels crisp and sharp when driven hard.

Yes, you can feel a delay when you press the throttle before the surge floods in – but this in part is because that surge is so much greater than before. The old Carrera 4S 3.8 had less pulling power than this, at a peaky 5,600rpm. The new 4S has more torque, spread flat from 1,700-5,000rpm.

In other words, it delivers more drive as much as 3,900rpm sooner than the old car. This extraordinary statistic is why the new car feels so much more vibrant in daily use. Even if you’re really lazy, it’s still a quick car: turn the Mode Switch to S or S+ and it’s appreciably more reactive yet without demanding ultra-high revs.

You can almost completely eliminate turbo lag by jabbing the Sport Response button. This energises the car into something not far shy of a 911 Turbo for 20 seconds at a time and is a gimmick far more satisfying to use than you’d first think.

And, flat out, it’s as fast as you’d ever wish. As fast as a 911 Turbo from a generation or two ago. With focus in corners that’s fully supercar and not at all unfocused. Carrera 4 the soft touch of the 911 range? No more.

Indeed, the extra confidence and alertness with which it corners may well take you by surprise. By adopting the Turbo’s PTM system, Porsche’s able to make more precise use of all-wheel drive: understeer is quelled at last, the default attitude is rear-led and it will even allow (controlled) oversteer if you wish.

It will be interesting to find out just how significant the sportified new Carrera 4 AWD system proves on UK roads: here in South Africa, it was an unexpectedly pleasing discovery.

On the inside

Porsche 911 Carrera 4S 2016

The interior of the 911-II isn’t that much different to the previous generation car, save for one significant upgrade: the PCM4 touchscreen infotainment system. Jam-packed with surprise and delight features, it’s like switching from an old Nokia to the latest smartphone.

Apple CarPlay works beautifully, the new sat nav system is crisp and responsive, scrolling through album tracks is a pleasure.

It’s easy to use as Porsche has retained the hard keys of the old car: an engineer told us when you’re driving fast, the last thing you want to be doing is squinting at an infotainment screen to find the nav display. Of course, 911s are always driven fast.

Clear dials are many in number, and to further satisfy those for whom more clocks is better, the multi-function screen next to the speedo now has even more monitoring options – chiefly, of course, turbo boost.

Ironically then, the biggest gripe is the fiddly climate control buttons further down, along with multitude of auxiliary switches on the centre console. We counted 30 in all, plus a couple of push-pull toggles. It’s a few too many, Porsche.

Other familiar 911 attributes include the handier-than-you-think rear seats, enveloping front seats, tight door pockets and the fact there’s still nowhere to store your smartphone (the latter despite PCM4 connecting so well with it…).

Running costs

Economy’s up by over 4mpg on paper, and Porsche reckons it could be better still in practice. Engine stop-start is smarter, for example: it will turn off the engine as you coast to a halt rather than waiting for a complete stop. Every little helps.

The virtual gears you get in PDK are clever too. Lift off when cruising and the revs still drop to idle, as before, in coasting mode. But whereas previously they jumped back to where they were when you went back on the accelerator, they can now sit at a lower, ‘intermediate’ rev point thanks to the virtual gears. Press the pedal more and normality is restored. Fuel-saving tech gets cleverer and cleverer.

It should be cheaper to run and the lower emissions will further help the 911’s already glowing retained values. PCM4 infotainment is future-proofed too, meaning you won’t have to waste time (and money) trying to link your car with 2017’s newest smartphone.

It quickly gets expensive though. PDK is an immediate £2,388 must-have. You’ll want metallic paint (£801), reversing camera (£1,085), rear wiper (£234): that’s £95k before you’ve even opened the door. And you won’t get your full whack of the likely £10k you’ll easily spend on options back when you trade it: worth bearing in mind…

Verdict

The 2016 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S has a new engine, new interior tech, new all-wheel drive system… and just the mildest visual tweaks of lights, rear lids and doorhandles to show for it.

Don’t be fooled by appearances. It’s a car with a different character and, arguably for its key buyers, more well-rounded appeal. People buy 911s to be brilliant everyday supercars. This is probably the best £90k daily driver supercar there is.

The engine, despite our worries, still delivers 911 character and sounds more charismatic than we expected. The step-up in drive and pulling power is welcome too, making it a faster car in the majority of situations.

Over long distances, it’s a precise and very satisfying car to spend time with; on the racetrack, the extra bite and precision of the four-wheel drive sorts out the understeer that used to blight the Carrera 4 and makes it a viable, fun alternative to a rear-drive Carrera for those not so fussed by on-the-limit dramatics.

Does it feel quite as special as the non-turbo car? No. Is it a better car overall? Unquestionably. Buyers are going to be impressed, even if they don’t yet realise it yet from looking at the configurator…

Specifications: 2016 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S

Price: £90,843
Engine: 3.0-litre flat-six twin-turbo petrol
Gearbox: Seven-speed manual/seven-speed PDK
Power: 420hp
Torque: 368lb ft
0-62mph: 3.8 seconds (PDK + Sport Plus)
Top speed: 188mph
Fuel economy: 35.7mpg (PDK)
CO2 emissions: 180g/km (PDK)

2016 DS3 revealed - it's no longer a Citroen!

New DS3 revealed – it's no longer a Citroen!

2016 DS3 revealed - it's no longer a Citroen!

Citroen’s now stand-alone offshoot DS Automobiles has revealed its new DS3 supermini at an event in Paris.

It’s an important car for the premium brand as, when sold by Citroen, the DS3 was by far its biggest seller – especially in the UK, where more were sold than in France or any other market.


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Since its launch in 2010, 390,000 DS3 hatch and cabrio models have been sold worldwide.

This new model is based on the same underpinnings as its predecessor, but has been blinged-up in a bid to take it further upmarket with the DS brand.

It now features the trademark DS grille (note the absence of any Citroen chevrons), along with ‘DS wings’ running around the grille and below the headlights.

The big news for hot hatch fans is the introduction of a new ‘Performance’ model, powered by a 208hp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, emitting 125g/km CO2. Performance figures are yet to be confirmed – but expect them to be similar to the previous limited edition DS3 Racing, which sported a £23,100 price tag and could hit 62mph in 6.5 seconds.

2016 DS3 revealed - it's no longer a Citroen!

The Performance trim will come with a six-speed manual gearbox, as well as a Torsen limited slip diff. It’s been lowered, too – by 15mm, and its front and rear tracks have been widened. Larger brakes are fitted as standard (with Brembo calipers) and it’s available in four colours – and with special Performance graphics.

Other engines have been carried over from the previous model – ranging from a 1.2-litre 81hp three-cylinder petrol, to a 120hp BlueHDi diesel. For the first time, buyers can opt for a 130hp three-cylinder petrol, emitting 105g/km CO2 and returning a combined MPG figure of 62.8.

Inside will be familiar to anyone who’s driven the outgoing DS3, but with a new infotainment system to appeal to a young target market. It comprises a seven-inch touchscreen (replacing 20 buttons from its previously cluttered dash), including Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink connectivity.

Prices for the new DS3 are yet to be confirmed, but expect a small increase over the outgoing model – which currently starts at £13,295. The new range will arrive in dealerships from February, when prices will also be announced.

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