12 Jan 2014

Catch-Up Corner - Lexus RC F, A Faster Roller, A Speedy Seat, An AMG GLA And A Nissan Taxi

Graham King takes a look at some stories we missed this week

Don't order that M4 just yet

Lexus RC F

The motoring world is going to burst with excitement later this year when the BMW M4 (nee M3 Coupe) is launched. But it's going to face some stiff competition in the battle for mid-size super coupe supremacy from the Lexus RC F. Where the Beemer has a 3.0-litre, twin-turbo straight-six making a respectable 431bhp, the Lexus has a gigantic 5.0-litre V8 with "well above 450bhp".

On the one hand, the M4 will be more precise and comes with a manual gearbox. On the other, the RC F looks better and will be a lot more dramatic. It's the difference between a tightly controlled opera and a raucous musical. I loved the stage version of Happy Days...

Ghost with more go

Rolls-Royce Ghost V-Specification

If the surprisingly quick Rolls-Royce Ghost isn't quite fast enough for you, don't worry as Rolls have turned up the wick a bit to create the Ghost V-Specification. Apart from some nice trim details and shiny 21in wheels, the big change is the extra 30bhp under the bonnet. The total output jumps to 601bhp, halfway between the standard saloon and the related Wraith coupe. The increase drops the 0-60mph time 0.3secs to 4.7secs. Which isn't very much in a 2.5ton drawing room on wheels. You can have a V-Spec Extended Wheelbase version if you want to be terrified by your chaffeur.

Speedy SEAT

Seat Leon Cupra 280

SEAT have introduced the all-new Leon Cupra. For the first time you can have a three-door version in the rather handsome Leon SC, though the five-door is a looker itself. As with the previous generation, the new Cupra is fast, spacious, good value (the difference between SC and 5dr is £300) and now it's surprisingly frugal too - the manuals return a claimed 44.1mpg, DSG's 42.2mpg.

If you want the fastest version get the Cupra 280 DSG, which does 0-62mph in 5.7secs and 155mph flat-out. The best value is the 265bhp SC Cupra, which is only 0.2secs slower to 62mph, still does 155mph and costs less than £26,000.

Mercedes GLA now with extra giddy-up

Mercedes GLA45 AMG

Mercedes' new A-Class-based crossover, the GLA-Class, arrives later this year. If the run-of-the-mill petrols and diesels don't do it for you, you might be interested in this, the GLA45 AMG. As the name suggests, it shares its engine and running gear with A45/CLA45. So that means a 2.0-litre, turbocharged 'four', developing a slightly swivel-eyed 355bhp, connected to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch 'box. 0-62mph takes 4.8secs and top speed is limited to 155mph. I'm not entirely sure why you would buy one, considering it won't be quite as good to drive as the A45. But that sort of thing doesn't matter in markets like China, where they love this kind of thing and probably where most GLA's will sell.

The new face of London black cabs

Nissan NV200 Taxi for London

Nissan is entering the cut throat world of London's taxi trade with this NV200 van-based interpretation of the black cab. In many ways, it really shows up quite how archaic the traditional LTI TX has become, particularly in environmental terms. The Nissan's 1.6 petrol/CVT powertrain will be more economical and a lot cleaner than the ancient diesels used by LTI, producing a less noxious and particulate emissions (there will be a zero-emissions version later on). Its even been modified to achieve the required 25ft turning circle, hence the stretched front wheelarches.

But there is one modification that was completely unnecessary. The regular NV200 is an innocuous-looking thing, but for some reason for this version, Nissan has tried to emulate the 'traditional' black cab nose. I'll leave you to your opinions. The Nissan NV200 Taxi for London, to give it its full name, will hit the streets of our nation's capital in December.

By Graham King