12 Sep 2014

Driven – Audi R8 V10 Spyder 5.2FSI Quattro

Colin Hubbard reviewed the hardtop Audi R8 V10 back in July.  Here's his review of the convertible R8 V10 Spyder

Audi R8 V10 Spyder 5.2FSI Quattro
Audi R8 V10 Spyder 5.2FSI Quattro

The test car was finished in pearl effect phantom black and, along with titanium-finished double arm 19 inch alloys, looked staggeringly good with the hood up or down.

The other staggering item is the price - nearly £130,000 on the road - some £10,000 more than the hardtop but it does come with everything you need or want in a supercar.

And supercar this is, not only does it have the performance to back the name up but the open cockpit amplifies the driving experience.

Power is supplied by the same Lamborghini derived 5.2 V10 as the hardtop but the spyder carries an additional 75kg from its electrically folding soft top, additional bracing and a powered rear glass window. Magnesium in the roof structure helps save a little weight but performance is still marginally blunted, taking half a second extra to 62mph  - 4.1 seconds - and with a top speed of 194mph it only loses 1mph to the hardtop.

The chassis is quattro equipped so is all wheel drive with a varying split of power to the front and rear wheels depending on conditions and traction. The suspension is electromagnetic dampers and coil springs which feels as fresh today as when the R8 was originally launched, magic carpet to tight and taut at the touch of a button.

Thankfully the test car was fitted with steel disks - Audi's new cross-drilled wavy disks in this instance, to save unsprung weight. Not only do they look great but along with the multi-piston calipers they slow the car's 1,645kg down with ease and offer excellent modulation.
Audi R8 V10 Spyder 5.2FSI Quattro
Audi R8 V10 Spyder 5.2FSI Quattro

From the outside it looks very classy, black really suits the Spyder and highlights the curve on the engine cover nicely. Unfortunately due to a complicated folding soft top the R8 loses the glass engine cover but all is forgiven as the overall shape is stunning.

Even with the hood up it retains its good looks although the hood arches down unnecessarily toward the rear to retain the sleek lines, while the vertical rear window is electrically retractable and can be operated independently of the roof.

Inside is familiar R8 territory being classy rather than shouty unlike its Italian sister. To be honest the new R8 will be welcome as it hasn't changed since it was launched in 2006 but time has been kind and it's still a nice place to be.

The obvious benefit of a soft top is the infinite roof height and the wind in the hair driving experience but what you get in the R8 is the sound of that glorious V10 engine mounted just inches behind you.

Prod the starter button to wake the engine and it barks loudly at you, the cloth hood not insulating your ears the same way the tin top does. As it's a gloriously sunny day the hood is lowered straight away (in 19 seconds) although it can be lowered at up to 31 mph.

Out of the launch venue and the R8 rode the speed bumps easily. Even though it's a low car it is still everyday friendly and as I hadn't pressed the sport button yet the dampers were still in their softer setting.
Audi R8 V10 Spyder 5.2FSI Quattro
Audi R8 V10 Spyder 5.2FSI Quattro

Once on the open the road the Spyder comes into its own. You can hear and feel the V10 howling and popping as if it's in the cabin. When you experience the sound and feel the wind rushing around you the small dent in acceleration from the hard top is instantly forgotten and it feels just as fast.

There is a little chassis flex, even though the aluminium spaceframe chassis features some elements of carbon composites this supermaterial can't quite match the rigidity of a hardtop when the roof is cut away. It's acceptable though and doesn't affect the overall driving experience.

As it was a dry day and the R8 is all wheel drive grip is predictably impressive. On curvy roads the back wants to push out a little under hard acceleration and the front end is light but digs in well

Now it's time to press the sport button which turns the hard top V10 into an animal. No change in the Spyder and it quickly drops a couple of cogs of the S-Tronic gearbox. Now the howls and pops are more HOWLS and POPS which wake you like a glug of energy drink.

The metal particles in the dampers are charged,  thickening the viscosity of the fluid so the damping is firmer. The beauty of this system is that they are still constantly adjusted many times a second so while the ride is firmed up the chassis is not bone jarringly hard. The ride is now excitable and also a little jumpy, but not brittle so it flows with the road, finding traction where a firmly damped car would skip.

The changes in sport mode transform the experience and the whole car comes alive like a child on its second bag of Haribo. Suddenly that extra £10,000 seems like money well spent and on a sunny day I can't think of another car I would want to be in.
Audi R8 V10 Spyder 5.2FSI Quattro
Audi R8 V10 Spyder 5.2FSI Quattro

As the roads twist and turn and the Spyder gets into its groove and covers ground incredibly quickly and competently, the 10 fizzing cylinders just behind you with little in the way of silencing, you feel like you are in your own exotic amphitheatre.

Part of the driving route is on the motorway so I raised the hood to test the sound deadening properties at speed. At a steady 70mph on a busy road sound is muted and quiet enough for a conversation without shouting.

As I exited the motorway I opened the rear window which reveals an entirely different character to the car. Instead of the wind whistling in your ears and rushing past your face all is now calm, the engine note clearer but no less loud.

I also noted a whirring sound like a belt driven supercharger with the back window down that I didn't notice with the hood down. It's a strange noise but one I liked and which added to the driving experience.

As I passed into a built up area where the speed limit reduced from 60mph to 30mph I was still in sport mode so the 7 speed gearbox changes down 3 gears - with each change it auto blips the throttle - thrum, thrum, thrum. It's too much for urban areas so I pressed the sport button to put it back to the default setting to avoid looking like some attention seeking footballer.

After a few more miles I gave it one last blast, with the sun beating down on my face, the wind in my stubble and the hairs on the back of my neck tingling from the high pitched V10.

As I parked up I thought back to the price and wonder if Audi is asking too much for this ultimate incarnation of the R8. It only takes a nanosecond to answer and it's an absolute no. Yes it's not as flamboyant as the £60,000 more expensive Lamborghini but it is a hell of a lot classier instead, being a car for the restrained type. More Bond than Beckham.

Stats


Price - £124,650 (£129,005 as tested)
Engine – 5.2 litre, V10, petrol
Transmission – 7 Speed S-Tronic
0-62mph – 4.1 seconds
Top speed - 194 mph
Power - 517bhp at 8,000rpm
Torque - 391lb ft
Economy - 19mpg combined
CO2 - 349 g/km
Kerb weight - 1720kg
Audi R8 V10 Spyder 5.2FSI Quattro
Audi R8 V10 Spyder 5.2FSI Quattro

Audi R8 V10 Spyder 5.2FSI Quattro
Audi R8 V10 Spyder 5.2FSI Quattro

Audi R8 V10 Spyder 5.2FSI Quattro
Audi R8 V10 Spyder 5.2FSI Quattro

Audi R8 V10 Spyder 5.2FSI Quattro
Audi R8 V10 Spyder 5.2FSI Quattro


11 Sep 2014

2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian Review

Matt Hubbard reviews the Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian twin-cab pick-up

2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian
2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian
The Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian is essentially a work-horse.  Underneath the stylish bodywork is a ladder chassis with leaf-spring suspension at the rear, in order to accommodate a 1,100kg payload in the load-bay.

But step into the cabin and you're in a leather clad, gizmo laden car with heated seats, cruise control, infotainment system, automatic lights and wipers and electric windows.

It's this trade-off between utilitarianism and luxury that has seen the L200, and other pick-ups, move from the building site to the school car park.

And it's easy to see why.  In my week with the L200 Barbarian I used it to move several items around that most cars wouldn't have accommodated - a ton of junk to the tip prior to a house move, a bed, a lawnmower.  When you have the capacity to move these things you do.  Instead of wondering how you're going to get that old sofa to the tip you just chuck it in the back of the L200 and take it yourself.

And this with a car that has an interior that's as good as any other SUV.

There are down sides though.

Whilst the interior is on the surface as good as it is in, say, a Toyota RAV4 it's less well thought out and has several flaws.  The seats look nice but they're hard and not very supportive.  The driving position is odd.  The floor is quite high and the chairs quite low but the pedals aren't deep as they are in a sports car.  Add in that the steering wheel doesn't adjust for reach and you need short legs and long arms to get really comfortable.

The infotainment unit is an aftermarket Kenwood affair.  It covers all the bases (USB, Bluetooth, DAB, satnav etc) but is fiddly to use and the sound quality from the speakers is terrible.

The heated seats and rear window button are hidden away under the dash so you have to lean down to see them.

The ride and handling are poor, as a result of the L200's height and leaf spring suspension.  It's bouncy and leans in corners.
2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian
2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian

The engine and gearbox are pretty good.  Only one engine is offered in the L200.  In the Barbarian it has 175bhp (in lesser models it has 134bhp) and 258lb ft of torque.  The gearbox in the test car was a 5-speed automatic.  5 speeds may be considered too few nowadays but the combination of engine and gearbox works fine and makes for surprisingly spritely performance.

Economy is not as good in mid-size SUVs.  The official figure is 32.1mpg but I saw 24mpg over the course of a week, although that was based mainly on shorter trips on local roads rather than long motorway miles.

The car's off-road capabilities are good.  It can run in rear wheel drive or four wheel drive with or without locking differentials.  That and the massive suspension travel and grippy tyres make it capable of going as far off road as even the most capable SUVs. The fact it is lighter, at 1,865kg, than bigger SUVs helps too.

On paper and on the road the Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian doesn't really stack up against similarly priced SUVs.  Having said that I liked it enormously.  It has a character that can only be experienced by spending time with it.

The more I drove it the more I forgave its flaws and the more I appreciated its abilities.

Bear in mind the L200 range starts at £17,400 (after tax, it's 20% cheaper for businesses), and the Barbarian is almost at the top of the range, it's not unreasonably priced.

If you're not a builder but fancy running a twin cab pick-up in lieu of an SUV for its load-lugging and off-roading capabilities and the fact it looks good and stands out from the crowd then you won't be dissapointed in the Barbarian.

Just don't forget that underneath it is quite agricultural.

Stats


Price - £28,798
Engine - 2.5 litre, 4-cylinder, turbocharged, diesel
Transmission - 5-speed automatic
0-60mph - 12.1 seconds
Top speed - 111 mph
Power - 175 bhp
Torque - 258 lb ft/400 Nm
Economy - 32.1 mpg
CO2 - 208 g/km
Kerb weight - 1,865 kg



2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian
2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian

2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian
2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian

2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian
2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian

2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian
2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian

2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian
2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian

2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian
2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian

2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian
2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian


10 Sep 2014

2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible - Photos, Specs And Price

BMW has chopped the roof off the 2-Series Coupe to bring us the 2-Series convertible

2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible
2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible

The 2-Series Coupe is one of the best looking models in the BMW range and that seems to have translated to the convertible, although at the rear the waistline looks a tad high and the wheels too small.

It'll come with four engines and three trim levels - Sport, Luxury and M Sport.  It also comes with the coveted M badge as the M235i.

The soft top (thank goodness BMW didn't go for a folding hard-top) raises or lowers in 20 seconds at up to 30mph and seats four.

The BMW 2-Series Convertible will go on sale in February 2015.  Prices and specs are shown below.


ModelPower
hp
Torque   Nm0-62mph secondsTop
Speed
mph
Combined mpgCO2
Emissions g/km
Price
BMW 220i Sport Convertible1842707.5 (7.6)144 (140)41.5 (44.1)159 (149)£29,180
BMW 228i M Sport Convertible2453506.1 (6.0)155* (155*)41.5 (42.8)159 (154)£31,550
BMW M235i
Convertible
3264505.2 (5.0)155* (155*)33.2 (35.8)199 (184)£37,710
BMW 220d Sport Convertible1904007.5 (7.4)140 (140)60.1 (64.2)124 (116)£29,965
2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible

2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible

2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible

2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible

2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible

2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible

2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible

2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible

2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible

2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible

2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible

2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible

2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible

2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible

2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible

By Matt Hubbard



9 Sep 2014

Mercedes-AMG GT - Photos, Specs And Price

This is the Mercedes-AMG GT, which is smaller and cheaper than the SLS and is pitched against the Porsche 911 and Jaguar F-Type.

Mercedes-AMG GT
Mercedes-AMG GT

Way to go Mercedes. The new curvaceous bodywork certainly splits opinions. It works on some cars but not so much on others, however on the AMG GT it works a treat.

You might have noticed the lack of Benz in the name. The GT was designed by AMG, the engine will be built by AMG in Affalterbach and the rest of the car in Sindelfingen by Mercedes-Benz.

It's a 2-seater sports car that weighs 1540kg and is powered by a 4-litre twin-turbo V8 mated to a 7-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission. The standard GT model gets 462bhp and 600Nm of torque whilst the GT S has 510bhp and 650Nm.  0-60 takes 4 seconds in the GT and 3.8 in the GT S. Top speeds are 189mph and 193bhp.

It's rear wheel drive and gets a mechanical limited slip diff in the GT and an electronically controlled version in the S.

Despite that V8 up front weight distribution is 47:53 front to rear.  The suspension is double wishbones front and back.  The GT S gets electronically controlled damping whilst it's passive in the GT.

Prices have yet to be officially released but Autocar reports that the GT will cost £95,000 and the GT DS £110,000.

The Mercedes-AMG GT will be available in the UK from April 2015.
Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT

By Matt Hubbard