Volkswagen Golf GTE hybrid – no earplugs required…

 

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June 16 After a week of madness in the Caterham Seven, it’s something of a relief to be able to step into a car without the need for ear-plugs or having to perform a double-jointed manoeuvre to squeeze aboard. Working windscreen wipers are a bonus too.

There’s also an element of cool about this particular Golf. Based on the world’s benchmark hatchback, here’s a car that gives you instant eco credibility in a brilliant all round package.

Unfortunately, what’s hard to ignore is the price. I’d be fascinated to know what kind of person will pay £33k for a hybrid Golf. If they want economy, a TDI version will more than equal it. If they want speed, the R is a class leader.

I’m just not sure the GTE offers enough to warrant that price tag. Slice off £8k and I’d be first in the queue…

The Caterham Seven 620S is just too extreme for British roads

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June 14 I used to have a Caterham savings account when I was younger – that’s how determined I was to own one. Then life got in the way and I bought a BMW estate.

I mention that because I love the little car but I’m not sure the 620S really has any place on British roads now. I drive a lot of high performance vehicles but this particular Caterham is too extreme, too powerful and too unforgiving for our congested highways.

On a track it’s a different story. The Seven brings supercar thrills to the masses at fraction of the cost. There’s nothing else for this sort of money that will excite so much.

But crawling through traffic, trying to keep within speed limits and not piling off through a hedge in the wet are not strong points of the Caterham 620S.

For once, I’d say buy one of the many less powerful models. I guarantee you will have just as much fun and life to drive anther day…

Caterham Seven – when the wipers failed on the motorway I cursed it

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June 13 I once won a set of tyres driving a Caterham Seven on a handling course. Based on the original Lotus Seven, the Caterham version has changed little since the original Colin Chapman design of 1957. It’s a brilliant handling car but bonkers to the core.

This 620S model is the maddest of them all. And I mean mad. Kicking out 310bhp at 7,350 revs, you need all your wits about you to enjoy a motor that will go sideways at the slightest opportunity.

My spell with the Seven started at Heathrow airport. The car was delivered with the roof down (mostly because it’s painfully hot inside with the canvass in place) and by the time I reached the M4 it was lashing with rain.

Stuck in traffic, I put an umbrella up. Then I made it to a filling station canopy and fought for 20 minutes popping the roof in place.

It still leaked of course but at least I wasn’t sitting in a puddle. Then the windscreen wipers stopped working. I became a Chinese acrobat trying to find the right fuse but discovered something else had broken instead.

So I drove the rest of my journey without wipers and cursed the day the car was born. It’ll get better but £45k for this Caterham is simply too much…

Great things come in Lamborghini-sized packages…

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June 12 Returning from Italy is always a drag. However, leaving behind a Lamborghini is even worse. Other supercars are available but I think I’ve found my automotive soulmate.

The Miura was the hook to being in Bologna but driving the Aventador and Huracan for the first time broke the spell of Mclaren which has been hanging over me for the last few weeks.

Now, you might think the 760bhp Aventador would seduce me but it was the considerably cheaper Huracan that proved the easier, more accessible supercar.

I’m hoping Car Couture can get one on test before the end of the year, so watch this space. For the next few days I’m in a Caterham 7 620S. More on that tomorrow…

The Lamborghini Miura – a star car that reminds us how great motors were back in the sixties

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Where else could you expect a police convoy at 120mph? The Italians love their cars and thousands turned out on day one of the Lamborghini Miura 50th Anniversary Tour to watch these sixties supercars take to the road again.

Around 25 owners from around the world brought their cars to Bologna for the event – and with the average price of Miura now around £1.2 million, that’s an awful lot of expensive metal.

I drove a 1972 Miura SV, with no servo brakes, no power steering and a 4.0-litre lump behind me. It’s hot, tiring work and you drive by the water temperature gauge because the Miura is prone to overheating.

Tonight the tour is in Parma. Already two cars are off the road but I can’t help feeling the Lambo technicians will have their work cut out getting everybody to the final destination of Florence.

A iconic car that was ahead of its time, the Miura needs the wide open road to do what it does best. Sadly, not even Italy can offer that these days…

Miura, Miura, Miura! It’s 50 years of the great Italian supercar

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June 8 Would you like to travel to Italy and drive one of the greatest supercars of all time? Hmm, let me think about that for a nano second.

As sure as Donald Trump’s hair is made of carpet, I was going to be on that plane to Bologna.

Lamborghini is a relatively new company compared to many mainstream car-makers but the Muira gives the company every reason to celebrate.

Not sure what the next few days hold in store – apart from a lot of petrol and Italian cooing.

This trip is a non-stop Lambo fest but I’ll squeeze in as many images of the Miura as I can along the way… Plus a drive of the latest Aventador (pictured) and Hurracan.

The McLaren 650S belongs on the racetrack and not the road

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June 7 I didn’t appreciate how loud the 650S could be – until I watched it disappear down the driveway.

Even with the roof open, or the rear screen lowered, you don’t get the full blast of the McLaren exhausts like those stood behind it.

No wonder I’ve attracted so much attention. It makes the acoustic exhaust systems of Porsche, Bentley and even Maserati sound weedy by comparison.

Obviously, I’ll miss the McLaren but I should say this. It’s such an outrageous spectacle that I wonder what place it has on our roads.

After driving the 650S for five days I realised there are very few places you can enjoy half the power and performance it has on tap.

For that reason, I think it belongs on the racetrack and not on a British A road…

Warp factor 9 – the McLaren 650S just won’t stop accelerating

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It’s difficult trying to convey how fast the McLaren accelerates. I’ve driven the brilliant Nissan GT-R and all manner of exotica but the 650S is the first machine that leaves me in absolutely no doubt I could lose my driving license very quickly.

Because the windscreen is so large and the McLaren sits low on the road, it initially feels faster than the speedo read-out. Then I’ve become used to that and discovered guess what – the 650S is ridiculously fast.

At one stage yesterday, I actually had to double check the speedo wasn’t giving me a reading in kilometres. Nope, I really was still accelerating away at 95mph without fireworks from the engine.

Imagining travelling at light speed rather than mph. Other cars just become annoying blips on the radar – nothing stops the relentless surge of the 650S…

So, could you really live with a McLaren 650S as a daily drive?

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So, could you really live with a McLaren 650S as a daily drive? I mean, you might like to think you could but really – seven days a week?

Provided you don’t get paranoid about people pointing an iPhone at you on every corner, then possibly yes.

It’s comfortable enough – although getting in isn’t pretty – and the 650S comes with a couple of bonus features.

The first is a proper-sized boot under that front bonnet. It’s huge and large enough to hide the body of the McLaren dealer you’ve just stolen it from.

It also has a stalk on the steering column that allows the suspension to raise the car for uneven ground and creeping over speed bumps.

Obviously there’s no glove box, it’s pretty noise in the cabin and that large windscreen makes the cockpit warm in bright sunlight.

But yes, where do I sign?

The radio doesn’t work and it rattles but I still love the McLaren 650S Spider

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June 4 Well, apart from the radio packing up and the temperamental sat nav, this could be a one of the finest supercars I’ve driven.

There was also the sound of ‘something falling off’ when I encountered a small bump this morning – accompanied by a bit of a rattle from the front near-side suspension but let’s not split hairs.

Our test car tops £240k with all the extras it has fitted. I just wonder how I’d feel if I’d actually paid that price and not just a couple of tanks of high octane fuel. Possible a tad pissed off.

I know McLaren had reliability issues in the early days but I thought all that had been overcome by 2016?

At least I’m smiling. That’s the sign of a true love – when you can overlook the faults and just see the good stuff underneath.