Porsche 911 GT2 RS is the most powerful 911 ever

Porsche 911 GT2 RSPorsche has revealed the new 911 GT2 RS at the Goodwood Festival of Speed – a 700hp 3.8-litre twin-turbo beast that’s the most powerful Porsche road car ever made. It can do 211mph, 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds, weighs less than 1500kg and, simply, is the most ferocious iteration yet of the world’s most famous sports car.

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Porsche already pushed the turbo motor from 580hp to 607hp in the 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series. The GT2 RS adds a ludicrous amount of extra power, so much so that it needs a custom-built seven-speed PDK gearbox that’s strong enough to cope. Porsche is promising a mesmerising sound, even for a turbo engine, thanks to a lightweight titanium exhaust that weighs a hefty 7kg less than the standard system and delivers a noise that’s “without precedent”.

It puts all this power to the ground through steamroller-like 325/30 ZR21 rear tyres (the widest ever fitted to a 911), with 265/35 ZR 20s at the front. Stopping is courtesy of standard Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes and, through the corners, rear axle steering and specially calibrated stability control give it the dynamics to match its crazy power output.

Of course, there’s lots of lightweight stuff: carbon fibre reinforced plastic is used for the front wings (and their vents), door mirrors, air intakes, bonnet and some of the rear end. Meanwhile, Porsche has actually made the roof from magnesium.

You can go further, too. Remember how you could have an optional Weissach package with the 918 Spyder hypercar? You now can with the new GT2 RS. Saving 30kg, it includes yet more carbon fibre reinforced plastic and titanium bits: we’re talking carbon fibre anti-roll bars here, magnesium wheels, a carbon fibre roof – with a body-coloured central stripe on the luggage compartment lid and roof to differentiate the Weissach cars.

Surprisingly, Porsche leaves the Chrono Package on the options list, so you’ll have to pay extra if you want to monitor your lap times. As you undoubtedly will, particularly as the system now includes a lap trigger – with the Porsche Track Precision app and some external timing markers on a course, you can ‘cross the beam’ just like they do in F1. That’s surely a must-have, no?

This is the second special Porsche to have its own watch. Porsche Design has worked with Porsche Motorsport to create the 911 GT2 RS Chronograph – using Porsche Design’s very first clock movement, which took it three years to develop. It includes a motorsport-inspired ‘flyback’ function, that automatically does all the choreography used when timing laps. Again, priorities.

The watch costs €9,450 in Germany. The car? It’s from €285,220, which equates to roughly £251,000 in the UK (and £8,300 for the watch). We’re at Goodwood this weekend to hear more from Porsche bosses about the new 911 GT2 RS. 

Mark Webber: “She’s a beast”

Porsche racer Mark Webber helped reveal the new 911 GT2 RS at the Goodwood Motor Circuit. “This is probably the 911 I’ve driven most pre-launch,” he said. “Andreas (Preuninger, Porsche GT boss) got me on board… I’ve already driven it plenty, including at the Nürburgring. Believe me, it’s a beast…”

Apparently, some of Webber’s ex-F1 buddies are already on the phone to him, seeing if he can get them ahead in the waiting list. But it sounds like it’s on Webber’s hit list, too – because of it’s all-round usability. It’s comfortable and usable on public roads,” says Porsche. “Compared to the last GT2 RS, we have civilised it, a little bit.”

Webber picked up on this. “A lot of the GT cars I have in the family… I always take navi and air con.” Not that this has at all softened it, he added. “In general, she’s a thoroughbred, an absolute beast, but you can take it on the road no problem.”

In pictures: New Porsche 911 GT2 RS

Parents warned: turn your engines off outside schools or face fines

Parents warned: turn your engines off outside schools or face fines

Councils need to do more to encourage parents to turn their engines off outside schools and prevent harm caused by air pollution. That’s according to guidance published this morning by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellent (NICE), which suggests fines should be handed out to drivers of idling vehicles outside schools, hospitals and care homes.

The health organisation says children and elderly people are at high risk from air pollution, and ‘no idling’ zones should be introduced across the country in a bid to tackle the crisis. This means councils could follow the lead of Westminster City Council, which already hands out £80 fines to drivers who leave their engines running while parked.

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The proposals are backed by the RAC, which says schools should take responsibility for encouraging parents to turn their engines off while waiting for children.

“We welcome the principle of no-idling zones, especially outside schools, hospitals and care homes,” said the RAC’s roads policy spokesman, Nick Lyes. “No one should have to suffer dirty air as a result of a driver leaving their engine on unnecessarily. Sadly, many drivers don’t realise the harm they are causing by doing this.

“Schools should work closely with local authorities to first encourage parents to switch their engines off. It’s right that those that then persist in leaving them on should be subject to a charge.”

NICE also advises planting more pollution-absorbing trees in urban areas, as well as encouraging the take up of electric cars. It also says motorists should be educated on how to drive economically, and encouraging cycling rather than driving.

Public Health England estimates long-term exposure to air pollution in city centres could contribute to 25,000 deaths a year in England.

Vignale verdict: is this posh Fiesta really worth £20,000?

Vignale verdict: is this posh Fiesta really worth £20,000?

With the launch of the seventh-generation Fiesta, Ford is giving it the Vignale treatment. That means a plush interior, with quilted leather seats, a premium audio system and various soft-touch fabrics – while the exterior features splashes of chrome and bespoke 17- (or optional 18-) inch wheels. But there’s a sting – this upmarket Fiesta starts at £19,345 for the 125hp 1.0-litre Ecoboost, rising to £21,225 for the 1.5-litre TDCi. That’s a lot of money for a Fiesta – but we reckon it could be worth every penny. Here’s why.

How does it drive?

Vignale verdict: is this posh Fiesta really worth £20,000?

The Ford Fiesta has always enjoyed a reputation for being the best handling supermini on sale, and enthusiastic drivers will be pleased to hear that this remains the case for the new model. A 30mm wider front track and a 4mm longer wheelbase, combined with a lighter anti-roll bar contribute to an even more agile supermini, boasting an impressive 10 percent more cornering grip (it wasn’t exactly lacking in this department before). It won’t matter for most customers – but those buyers who enjoy a sporty driving experience will be just as satisfied with the Fiesta as they were before.

We tried the Vignale with the 140hp 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine (also available in 100hp and 125hp guises), as well as the 120hp 1.5-litre TDCi diesel is the lesser Titanium trim.

Private buyers would be better opting for the petrol, unless they cover really high miles. It’s a lively, characterful engine in the higher power outputs – providing the typical three-cylinder thrum as you’d expect as the revs are loaded on, but perfectly refined when driven sensibly. Refinement has clearly been a key area of improvement with the new Fiesta. It feels like a much bigger, almost premium car – but surprisingly, in Vignale guise, some of that refinement is lost thanks to the large alloy wheels transferring lumps and bumps into the cabin, and the standard panoramic sunroof creating a degree of extra wind noise at speed.

But does the Vignale feel premium?

Vignale verdict: is this posh Fiesta really worth £20,000?

We’ve been a little cynical about the Vignale brand so far. When we first drove a Vignale model, it was the Mondeo – which we complained didn’t feel special enough for the near-£30,000 start price. Complaints included a shortage of Vignale badges in the cabin (if you’ve spent more on a designer label, you want to be told about it all the time, right?), while the addition of upmarket materials made the hard plastics look a bit naff. Even the Sony-branded stereo, while sounding very good, took away from the premium feel of the car.

The Fiesta Vignale includes a B&O Play sound system which includes nine speakers dotted around the car, plus a boot-mounted 200mm subwoofer replacing the spare wheel (you’ll get a repair kit instead). Ford says its engineers spent a year trialling more than 5,000 tracks from Adele to Jay-Z to ensure its premium sound system is up to the standards picky Vignale customers would expect. It sounds brilliant – with next to no distortion at high volume – and a selectable surround sound profile completes the experience. If you’re a big music fan and can’t justify a higher-end Fiesta with the upgraded music system included, we’d highly recommend spending the £300 – £600 (depending on whether you want sat-nav or not) to select it as an option.

Ford says it has concentrated on improving small areas that improve a driver or passenger’s experience of the car. For example, the Vignale’s lovely leather seats have been designed to resist coffee spills and the dye from a new pair of jeans. Robotic buttocks ‘sat’ in the seats 25,000 times during testing to test their durability, while the doors now take 20 percent less effort to close.

These things add up… and we’re not finished. Customers of the outgoing model complained that the wipers didn’t reach enough of the windscreen, so now they’ve been redesigned and cover a 13 percent bigger area. Even the fuel filler cap has been tweaked to reduce spillage.

Most of these improvements have been made across the entire Fiesta range – and it’s true that the Fiesta now feels a classier product than before, no matter which trim level you select. But spending more than £20,000 on possibly the most upmarket supermini available doesn’t seem daft, either.

While the interior of the standard Fiesta is hugely improved over its (almost woeful) predecessor, the Vignale could comfortably lose the Ford badges and compete with the likes of the Audi A1. In fact, we’d go a step further and say it feels more premium than the Audi A1. Sure, if you look very closely you’ll find the odd reminder that you’re in a Fiesta – the plastic on the door panels is a little hard, for example, while the switchgear is unmistakeably Ford. This doesn’t detract from the overall sense that you’re driving a premium product, however.

Is the infotainment system better than before?

Vignale verdict: is this posh Fiesta really worth £20,000?

Massively. While Ford has always lagged behind the times in terms of infotainment (remember that tiny, blue screen hidden in the dash of the outgoing Fiesta?), the new model’s eight-inch system (standard on Titanium X and Vignale) is leagues ahead and could even claim to be one of the best on offer in a supermini. It’s quick and easy to use, with no lag and clear directions from the sat-nav. Connecting your phone takes very little time at all, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is available across the range.

If we were being critical, not everyone will be a fan of the ‘stuck on the dash’ look that Mercedes started, but there are worse things to be doing than following trends started by the premium German manufacturers.

And the verdict?

Most people will struggle to justify spending top wack on a Fiesta with all the frills. But – and this is a first for any Vignale we’ve driven – you probably won’t regret splashing the cash if you’re in a position to do so. It doesn’t feel like a Fiesta, it feels like a premium model with all the kit of a much bigger (and more expensive) car.

If you can’t stretch to a Vignale, the rest of the new Fiesta range is equally likeable. The best traits of the previous car – its excellent chassis, impressive engines and good value for money – have been built on, with the Fiesta finally boasting an interior deserving of its ‘Britain’s favourite car’ title. Some will find the design a little underwhelming – but with a million examples of the going model sold in the UK alone since 2008, Ford was always going to play it a little safe.

We’re sure the Ford Fiesta will continue to outsell everything else in Britain in 2018 – and we can honestly say it fully deserves to.

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Revealed: the safest used first cars for new drivers

Revealed: the safest used first cars for new drivers

Co-op Insurance, in partnership with Thatcham Research, has revealed the top five safest used first cars for young drivers. The Safety Used First Car Award – catchy name, right? – is based on a unique formula devised by the two organisations. Read to discover which cars put safety first.

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5. Kia Rio

In order to be considered for the award, all cars must be a supermini or city car, have a five-star Euro NCAP rating, CO2 emissions of 120g/km or less, available to purchase used for £5,000 or less, and have a low insurance group rating. So while you can’t drive a Ford Mustang, the Kia Rio is within reach. Oh, you lucky things.

4. Toyota Yaris

The excitement continues with the news that the Toyota Yaris is named as the fourth best safest used car for young drivers. Quentin Willson said: “I’m really pleased that Co-op Insurance is revisiting their safest used car campaign and even more so that they’re focusing on safety on second hand cars for young drivers.”

3. SEAT Mii

According to Co-op Insurance, only 31% of young drivers say they consider safety when choosing a vehicle, while 75% of young drivers don’t know about vital safety devices including ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking). Meanwhile, the SEAT Mii finishes third.

2. Volkswagen Up

Next up is the, ahem, Volkswagen Up. In fact, without wishing to ruin the potential cliffhanger, we can reveal that Volkswagen Group’s city car dominates the top three places. Which means there are no prizes for guessing the car at the top of the class…

1. Skoda Citigo

Yes, it’s the Skoda Citigo. Quentin Willson said: “Generally, first time drivers have less disposable income to spend on first cars and so price does become a priority, but just because they’re buying second hand doesn’t mean that they should compromise on safety.” Truth is, the Up, Mii and Citigo are probably the best city cars money can buy.

Safest used cars for families

Safest used cars for families

But what if you’re all grown up and your first car is a dim and distant memory? Good news: Co-op Insurance and Thatcham Research has created a list of the top 10 safest used cars of 2017. To be considered, all cars must have a five-star Euro NCAP rating, CO2 emissions of 120g/km or less, and be available for £15,000 or less.

10. Volvo V40

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we find a Volvo on the list. The V40 made the headlines in 2012 when it set a new record safety score in the Euro NCAP crash test. The five-door hatchback scored 98% for adult protection, with the V40 praised for its main structure, driver assistance systems and pedestrian safety.

9. Peugeot 308

The Peugeot 308, a former European Car of the Year, was tested back in 2013 when it was awarded the maximum five-star safety rating. It scored particularly well for adult protection (92%) and safety assist (81%). Prices start from around the £7,000 mark.

8. Nissan Qashqai

The Safest Used Car Awards were launched in 2016. Last year, the Nissan Qashqai finished third, but just like the Peugeot 308, it falls five places in 2017. Such is the popularity of the crossover, there’s no shortage of Qashqai models for sale on the used market.

7. Volkswagen Golf

All cars in the Co-op awards were evaluated for crashworthiness, including ratings for adult and pedestrian protection, ESC as standard and the availability of AEB. The Volkswagen Golf is a new entry in the 2017 awards.

6. Volkswagen Touran

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research, commented: “Autonomous Emergency Braking and Electronic Stability Control are second only to the seatbelt in terms of being life savers. They are critical in preventing the most common crashes that young drivers have.” The Volkswagen Touran finishes sixth.

5. BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

The front-wheel drive 2 Series Active Tourer might upset the BMW purists, but it has done enough to impress the judges. BMW’s first compact MPV was launched in 2014 and used prices sneak below the Co-op’s £15,000 or less criteria.

4. Volkswagen Golf SV

The Volkswagen Golf SV is the more practical version of the Golf hatchback and a replacement for the earlier model: the Golf Plus. In Europe, it is known as the Sportsvan, hence the SV. Not that there’s anything remotely sporty about this Golf, but at least it offers more hat room.

3. Toyota Auris

In third place we find the British-built Toyota Auris. It offers a choice of petrol, diesel and petrol-hybrid powertrains and is available in hatchback and estate body styles. The name is based on the latin word for ‘gold’. Sadly, the Auris could only manage a bronze medal in the Co-op awards…

2. Mazda 3

Without wishing to go all ‘Top of the Pops’, the Mazda 3 climbs three places in the 2017 chart. It’s one of the most underrated cars in the family hatchback segment and as such makes a great used buy. A 2014 model could set you back as little as £7,500.

1. Volvo V40 with safety pack

Wait, haven’t we seen the Volvo V40 already? This time, the family hatchback is fitted with the optional safety pack, cementing its place at the top of the Co-op chart. Quentin Willson didn’t provide a quote about the V40, but if he did he’d probably say “jolly well done, Volvo”.

Wild new Aston Martin Vulcan AMR Pro kit revealed

Aston Martin Vulcan AMR ProAston Martin has revealed a special new AMR Pro upgrade pack for the 24 lucky owners of its Vulcan track-only hypercar at the 2017 Goodwood Festival of Speed. The dramatic aero kit developed by Aston’s new AMR performance division can be retro-fitted to any current Vulcan, if its owner so wishes. Seriously, who’ll be able to resist?

Aston says the significant extra downforce it generates delivers faster lap times and greater responsiveness – something aided by shorter gearing that also comes as part of the pack. “Improvements that underline its status as one of the world’s most extreme and exclusive track cars,” reckons the firm.

Following a similar approach to that of F1 race teams, where aero upgrades are constantly rolled out during a season, the crowning feature of the new kit is its massive dual-plane rear wing, replacing the original single-plane setup. The vast structure has a 20mm Gurney flap on its trailing edge, plus slotted wing endplates which themselves carry 15mm Gurneys.

The increase in downforce is massive. Aston uses Newton metres, and says the increase is from 3150Nm to 4000Nm. For context, the AMR Vantage GTE that has just won the Le Mans 24 Hours has a rear wing that generates 3104Nm…

Such a monumental increase in rear downforce also moves the car’s centre of pressure forward, which is good news for traction, steering response and front-end grip, says Aston. Other aero features include louvered panels at the front, big dive planes on the sides of the nose and an even larger front splitter.

Aston Martin Racing works driver Darren Turner has been involved with the Vulcan project from the start, even tutoring many of the owners over the two years since deliveries began. “It’s an incredible car in every respect,” he says: “Looks, sound and of course, performance. We worked hard to ensure it’s not a monster to drive, so it was important the AMR Pro upgrade remains true to that objective. By increasing the overall level of downforce front and rear, but also improving the balance of the car we’ve done just that.

“Together with the shortened gearing, which makes it even more punchy when you accelerate through the gears, the Aston Martin Vulcan AMR Pro feels more agile and responsive to steering inputs. When you get the aero working through a fast corner it really is an unbelievable feeling.”

Aston Martin vice president David King admits that once Aston had built and delivered the 24 Vulcans, it started thinking about how to make them faster. “And so the Aston Martin Vulcan AMR Pro was born. The shorter gearing makes for truly explosive acceleration between the corners, while the aero package’s increased downforce and improved balance gives our customers the all-important confidence to explore the extraordinary performance on offer.”

Any lucky owners who want to make the upgrade can instruct Q by Aston Martin Advanced Operations to do the work. Some of them have already done so, and the first modified Vulcans will be ready by the autumn. In the meantime, those visiting the Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend can have a first look at the extreme new Vulcan AMR Pro. How many owners will be amongst them, dusting off their chequebooks, we wonder…

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Rising costs forcing young drivers off the road


Rising insurance costs, mounting debts and the cost of lessons are to blame for young people being priced out of driving. That’s according to research commissioned by InsuretheGap, which found that 22% of under 25s cannot afford to learn to drive.

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) says that the average cost of a driving lesson in the UK is £24, and you’ll need to factor in the cost of a provisional licence (£34 if you pay online), the theory test (£23), and a practical driving test (£62 weekdays or £75 evenings, weekends and bank holidays).

Assuming you have 10 lessons, that’s a total cost of £359, before you’ve considered the cost of insurance and the actual car. Passing first time could save you time and money.

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Car insurance is a further barrier, with the average cost of a policy just under £3,900 for a 17- to 20-year-old driver. Little wonder, then, that an online petition called for car insurance for 18- to 25-year-olds to be capped at £1,200 a year.

InsuretheGap’s survey went on to say that without the support of parents or a bank loan, a quarter of young drivers would be unable to buy a car, and 24% said they would like to buy a car but would be unable to cover the running costs.

“When one in six jobs specifies that the applicant must have a driving licence, this generation are potentially being held back by their lack of wheels,” said Ben Wooltorton, director at InsuretheGap.com.

“The RAC Foundation analysed 847,000 job vacancies last year and found that jobs requiring a valid licence ranged from a zoo worker, a chef, sales consultant, security guard, hairdresser and even gymnastics coach, so we’re not just talking about driving jobs here”.

If you want to go out, don’t buy a car

Meanwhile, a similar study into the cost of motoring conducted by Admiral found that motorists under the age of 25 are having to fork out £3,435 a year to stay behind the wheel. This cost is broken as follows:

  • Fuel: £1,077
  • Insurance: £1,014
  • Maintenance: £558
  • Vehicle Excise Duty: £411
  • MOT costs: £375

The research claims that motoring is forcing young drivers to sacrifice social plans to stay on the road. Around two-thirds shelved plans to go shopping, while 60% decided against attending a music festival. Nearly half of under 25s were forced into abandoning holiday plans and smartphone upgrades, while 60% cancelled a romantic date.

Let’s just hope you love your car enough to forgo the opportunity for a candlelit meal with somebody you ‘met’ on Tinder.

Aston Martin DB11 V8: the Mercedes-engined Aston

2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8The Aston Martin DB11 V8 is the British luxury supercar firm’s first model to receive an engine from Mercedes-AMG – a 510hp 4.0-litre twin-turbo that’s capable of 187mph and 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds. It’s not just a stock Merc engine either, but one fully tailored to feel (and sound) like an Aston rather than an AMG.

It’s not replacing the V12 engine Aston launched the DB11 with, but complementing it. “Of course, the V12-engined variant is an icon – an ultimate, if you like, but the V8 is very much its own car,” says Aston Martin tech chief Max Szwaj. “It has been hugely rewarding to out our own stamp on this new engine – both in the way it sounds and performs – and to use its impressive attributes as the impetus to reveal a little more of the DB11’s sporting character.”

It’s a greener choice of engine, too: the new DB11 V8 can do 28.5mpg on the official EU test, and emits 230g/km – an important bit better than the sub-25mpg and top-rate-tax CO2 of 265g/km for the V12. But as we’ll see, economy isn’t the prime reason Aston’s introduced it…

To the core Mercedes-AMG V8, Aston has designed a new air intake and exhaust, and fitted racing-style dry-sump oil lubrication. The latter means it’s sat in the car as low as possible – which, with a hefty 176kg weight saving over the V12, means the V8 DB11 should be a more agile DB11.

2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8

Indeed, Aston has exploited this with revisions to the suspension that stretch to springs, dampers, anti-roll bars, geometry, suspension bushing and the ESP software itself. Incidentally, the ECU software for the engine is new, too – that’s how far the Gaydon-based firm has gone to give the V8 a unique feel different to any Mercedes-AMG.

“With this new V8 engine option,” said Aston Martin president and CEO Dr Andy Palmer, “we have broadened [the car’s] appeal by offering a car that will bring the DB11 to more customers around the world while still blessed with the exceptional performance and memorable character that sets Aston Martin apart from its rivals.”

Dr Palmer insists the V8 is no half-fat option, either. “Having driven the car during its development phase, it is not just the engine that has changed the character of the car, but also the resulting dynamic changes to create a remarkable GT car with its own distinct personality from the V12.”

How will car-spotters be able to differentiate the new DB11 V8? From its dark headlamp bezels, different type of alloy wheel finish and, the real differentiator, two bonnet vents instead of four. Choose from either a black or titanium mesh – again, unique to the V8. Otherwise, the two DB11s are pretty much identical. Just as Aston intended: it’s the driver that should feel the difference, not car-spotters.

So, how much is the new DB11 V8? Not from the £159,955 starter price of the V12, but a slightly more accessible £144,900. That £15k saving means it sits below the Ferrari California T, above the Audi R8 above a McLaren 540C and below a 570GT. It also drops below the $200k mark in the U.S: pricing in North America starts from $198,995.

However, it’s China where the DB11 V8 is expected to really clean up. Over there, taxation is based on engine capacity, meaning a 6.0-litre V12 is taxed heavily. By taking 2000cc out of the motor, Aston says the “significant” benefits in costs will now give the DB11 much more potential in the huge Chinese luxury car market. Keen to know more? See it for the first time this weekend at the 2017 Goodwood Festival of Speed. 

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600hp Jaguar XE SV Project 8 is the most powerful Jag ever

2018 Jaguar XE SV Project 8Jaguar has unleashed an amazing 600hp 5.0-litre V8 saloon car, the XE SV Project 8, which it says belongs on the track, delivers supercar performance – and is soon to go on sale in limited numbers, each retailing for £149,995.

The latest Jaguar ‘Project’ car developed by the firm’s crack new Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division in Coventry, the XE SV Project 8 follows on from the limited-to-250 F-Type Project 7. This time, it’s making 300, each capable of hitting 200mph and rushing from 0-60mph in just 3.3 seconds. The company is not exaggerating when it says it’s a four-door supercar.

Why has Jaguar created it? Why, because it can, says SVO director Mark Stanton. More specifically, because it wants to: it’s created a huge buzz within the division’s still-new team, he said. “This is the car we came here to do.” It’s also a car virtually without rival – not even the mighty BMW M4 GTS can live with it, bosses cheerily point out.

The lengths Jaguar has gone to with the engineering are remarkable. Aside from the stupendous power and pace, the chassis has been given a full track-focused makeover, with adjustable ride height and aerodynamics, all-new Carbon Ceramic Braking system, F1-spec silicon nitride ceramic wheel bearings and an oil-cooled active rear electronic differential. Jaguar fits 20-inch forged alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.  

But as you can probably tell from the images, the aero upgrades are even more extreme, all done to keep the car stable at 200mph yet with lots of downforce for corners. Only the roof and front doors are unchanged; everything else is new, from 55mm wider rear wings, to new and more flared aluminium rear doors, to carbon fibre front wings that are flared 19mm and have cut-away lower edges. The front bumper is carbon fibre as well, as is the front splitter, as is the bonnet.

The body changes are so extensive, even the headlights have moved forward – an almost unprecedented engineering change, mainly because doing so is very expensive. Jaguar could do it because every relevant panel was changing anyway… and moving the headlights was the only way to fit in those 20-inch Michelin Sport Cup 2 tyres it said were essential to deliver the on-track performance. Literally, it’s a no-compromise car.

Hence the rear wing. Not everyone will like it, say the team, but it’s a must-have, because it defines this car. “With such extensive aero changes at the front, the only way to balance it is with this size of rear wing. It’s thus a fundamental part of this car.” The aero pack delivers a massive 205 percent reduction in weight, and it generates 122kg of downforce at 186mph. “25 percent more than Project 8’s nearest competitor,” Jaguar gleefully points out.

It gets better. You can actually get a two-seater version – yes, an XE Project 8 with opening rear doors, but no rear seats… because a half roll cage has been welded in instead. It’s 12.2kg lighter thanks to carbon fibre racing front seats, complete with harnesses, and Track Pack Project 8s also get a gloss black roof and racing stripe decals. Sadly, North American customers, the Track Pack is not available in the US or Canada: blame homologation regulations…

Track-focused attention to detail stretches inside to the instrument binnacle, which has an Alcantara covering so it doesn’t reflect in the windscreen. There are aluminium gearshift paddles and instead of Jag’s normal rotary gearshifter, the pistol-grip level from the F-Type has been fitted instead.

2018 Jaguar XE SV Project 8

Colours comprise a basic choice of eight: the normal XE Fuji White, Narvik Black or Caldera Red, plus five SVO Design colours: Valencia Orange, Velocity Blue, Meribel White, Verbier Silver or Corris Grey satin matt. There’s plenty more personalisation options on top and SVO bosses reckon no two Project 8s will look the same.

For the first time, all Project 8 XEs will be built from the ground up at the bespoke JLR Oxford Road site in Coventry – by hand, on a brand new production line. “Project 8 is a great example of what happens when enthusiastic designers, engineers and manufacturing specialists are given the opportunity to create an extreme performance sports car without compromise,” said SVO MD John Edwards.

The Jaguar XE SV Project 8 will make it world dynamic debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on 30 June; production will begin later this year for what Jaguar design director says “is one of the most extreme vehicles we have ever created, but [which is] still very much a Jaguar”.

For sale: the ultimate hot hatch

Peugeot 205 T16Jean Todt isn’t the kind of guy who makes false promises. So when he arrived at a London press conference in 1981 with a pledge to build a championship-winning rally car by 1985, he was to be taken seriously.

This was the very genesis of the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 – or T16 for short – a car that would enjoy three years of success in the manic Group B era of world rallying, including total dominance in 1985 and 1986.

With a very special Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 heading to auction at the Artcurial sale in Monaco, we take a brief look at one of the greatest cars ever to grace the world rally circuit. You’ll need to dig deep, as this particular car is very special.

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One vision: to end Audi’s dominance

Jean Todt arrived at the newly-formed Peugeot Talbot Sport team having enjoyed success as a co-driver with Guy Fréquelin in the 1981 World Rally Championship. In a Talbot Sunbeam-Lotus, the pair finished first in the manufacturers’ championship, with Fréquelin narrowly missing out to Ari Vatanen in the drivers’ title challenge.

Indeed, the aforementioned press conference was held at the conclusion of the 1981 championship, by which time Peugeot – inspired by the success of the British-based Talbot Sunbeam-Lotus team – had decided to throw its considerable might behind a challenge for the title.

Peugeot-Talbot had toyed with the idea of creating a mid-engined/rear-wheel drive version of the Chrysler Horizon, but Audi’s trailblazing Quattro led to a change of plan. The future was four-wheel drive and Peugeot knew it had to adapt or face defeat.

That the 205 T16 would be so successful should come as no surprise: Peugeot’s approach to its development was as all-encompassing as it was brilliant. Todt’s single-mindedness and dogged determination was matched by the full backing of the Peugeot board. The company threw serious money at the project, offering Todt what was essentially an unlimited budget.

The requirement to build 200 road cars for homologation purposes was considered from the outset and Peugeot’s marketing department knew full well what an all-conquering rally car could do for sales of its more mundane models. The standard 205 was still two years away from reaching Peugeot showrooms.

This, of course, meant that the 205 T16 had to look like the conventional 205 front-wheel drive hatchback. And, indeed, in isolation there’s more than a passing resemblance between the two cars.

But something has to give when you’re creating a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive rally car aimed squarely at ending the dominance of the Audi Quattro. The 205 T16 is pumped up to the max – complete with longer wheelbase and wild haunches – as if a regular 205 had consumed one too many tins of spinach. Dare we suggest that Gérard Welter’s regular 205 is the more aesthetically pleasing of the two?

A timetable for successPeugeot 205 T16

Peugeot’s timetable for the project was tight and rigid. The engine – a 1775cc turbocharged unit based on the four-cylinder XU block – was chosen in February 1982, while the first mock-up of the exterior was completed just two months later.

The first major prototype parts were available in September of the same year, ahead of the construction of the first prototype in November. The first car ran in February 1983 before the 205 T16 was homologated in 1984.

By August 1984, the Peugeot 205 T16 had secured its first big win, with Ari Vatanen and Terry Harryman guiding the car to victory at the 1000 Lakes Rally, ahead of a pair of Lancia 037s.

The team enjoyed a terrific end to the season, picking up wins at the San Remo and Lombard RAC rallies: enough to secure fourth place in the overall standings. The writing was on the wall for Audi: it was about to lose its favourite game.

Ari Vatanen started the 1985 season with two back-to-back victories, but it was Timo Salonen who picked up the pace, most notably following Vatanen’s near-fatal crash in Argentina. This was also the year in which Attilio Bettega was killed at the wheel of his Lancia 037.

Salonen secured the title in his first season for Peugeot in what was the 205 T16’s first complete championship. Peugeot won again in 1986, with Juha Kankkunen winning the drivers’ title and Salonen finishing third.

Sadly, following devastating crashes in Portugal and France, the development of Group B cars was frozen in 1986 and teams were banned from competing in 1987. This signalled the end for the 205 T16, at least from a WRC perspective, although it went on to enjoy success in Rally Raid, Pikes’ Peak and rallycross.

The 205 T16 also led to the development of the Peugeot 405 T16 Grand Raid and Citroen ZX Rallye Raid cars. Its legacy lived on, as would its place in the motorsport history books.

One for the roadPeugeot 205 T16

Of course, the rally hero is only half the story, because Peugeot built 200 road-going 205 T16s to satisfy homologation rules. All would be left-hand drive, finished in the same shade of grey and assembled at the old Simca factory in Poissy.

But while the rally version developed between 340hp and 550hp depending on spec, the road-going version was forced to ‘make do’ with 200hp. It was enough to give the 205 T16 a top speed of 130mph and a 0-62mph time of six seconds dead.

Just imagine seeing one of these parked in a dealer showroom. At a penny short of £27,000, Peugeot was, in the words of Car magazine, asking “Ferrari money for a 1800cc Peugeot”, at a time when nine of 10 enquiries were about diesels!

It would take a certain somebody to dismiss the cheaper and quicker Porsche 911 3.2 Carrera in favour of a French wideboy. If you were one of the enlightened few, we salute you.

There were some similarities with the 205 driven by your mum in the mid 80s. The doors, windscreen, headlights and grille are at least faithful to the car you’d find in the supermarket car park.

But while you might raise the hatchback to load your groceries into a regular 205, doing so in a T16 would merely unveil the engine sat behind the two seats. In terms of kerb appeal, the 205 T16’s rear clamshell must be up there with the 300 SL’s ‘Gullwing’ doors and the Miura’s headlight ‘eyelashes’.

It was, of course, designed to be purely functional, providing access to the car’s structure, engine and four-wheel drive transmission. Such ease of servicing between rally stages would have been hugely beneficial to Peugeot Talbot Sport, not to mention your local Peugeot mechanic.

Some sacrifices would have to be made in order to live this homologation special. The 205 T16 isn’t what you’d call practical, with the front ‘boot’ filled with the spare wheel, ancillaries and petrol filler cap. And although Peugeot added some sound insulation to the cabin, there’s only so much you can do when the engine is situated behind your head. And contemporary reviews point to the wail of the turbochargers as being as pleasant as fingernails on a blackboard.

But does this matter? It’s not as though Peugeot didn’t offer a more useable, accessible and cheaper alternative. Besides, the creation of the roadcar allowed the T16 to go racing, and we can all raise a glass to that.

The best 205 T16 in the world?Peugeot 205 T16

You’ll need to dig very deep in order to secure the example being auctioned at the Artcurial sale. The pre-auction estimate of €275,000 – €325,000 (£243,000 – £287,000) reflects the very special nature of car number nine.

It is one of four T16s finished in the same pearl white as the works cars, as ordered by Jean Todt. The cars were reserved for key figures in the model’s history, namely: Jean Todt, Jean Boillot, Didier Pironi and André de Cortanze.

Number nine was presented to André de Cortanze, the then technical director of Peugeot Sport, who played an integral part in the development of the T16. He requested that his car was fitted with an alarm, radio and telephone, although it’s unclear whether he actually made use of said items.

That’s because the car has covered a mere 284 kilometres from new and as such is presented in original condition. Little wonder the pre-auction estimate is so punchy. For reference, a ‘regular’ 205 T16 sold at Bonhams’ Quail Lodge Auction for £155,451 in 2016.

But don’t worry if you can’t stretch to the Artcurial car, Bonhams is offering another 205 T16 at the 2017 Quail Lodge Auction in August. Precise details are unknown, but we do know that it has covered just 1,200 kilometres.

Turns out that Peugeot 205 T16s are like World Rally Championship titles: you wait an age for one to come up and then you find two in quick succession.

Peugeot 205 T16, Graham Robson
Car, March 1985