Is the Mazda MX-5 really the best roadster on the market?

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I’m going to cough up from the start – I love the Fiat Spider. It looks retro cool and rather more interesting than the angular and modern Mazda.

It’s all a matter of personal taste but as much as I rate the MX-5, I can’t help hankering for the long, curvy bonnet of the Spider, which reminds me so much of the original Fiat 124 convertible.

There’s no doubt that next summer Fiat and Mazda will be slogging it out for the top roadster spot. The Japanese will beef up its range with the folding hard-top version – Fiat has the faster Abarth model available now too.

There may not be a cigarette paper to choose between them but I’m going to make my mind up over the next seven days.

Can the MX-5 win me back to the fold?

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The best seat in town? The Audi RS 7 Performance…

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I recently stayed at the Peninsula Hotel in Paris. One of the city’s finest places to book a room, it is famous for a long list of famous guests. George Gershwin composed An American In Paris there – the Vietnam peace accord was signed on the bar.

It also has some of the best loos in the world. I mean, these toilets are seriously high tech. Heated seats, multi-directional ‘wooshing’ jets and piped music to save your blushes.

The RS 7 is a pretty fine place to sit too. Multi-adjustable, heated and with a plethora of lumber supports, the quilted leather is very cool indeed.

They are certainly in Bentley territory – although I can’t find a messaging function. AAnd no heated steering wheel? There are so many functions on the wheel it’s sometimes difficult to find everything in a week (and I refuse to use the manual)…

After The Thrill Has Gone? – The Audi RS 7 Performance

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So why do you need to pay an extra £6,500 for the Performance version of the RS7? Well, it ramps up power by another 44bhp and adds another helping of torque too.

All splendid stuff for racing down a German autobahn but I’m still struggling to understand who would pay this much for a super coupe when there are all kinds of alternatives for around £100,000.

I can’t deny the thrill of driving a car like the Audi but even with 21-inch alloys, a sports exhaust system, privacy glass and blue stitiching on the sport seats, erm, it still looks like a A7 doesn’t it?

And most of all, it’s a difficult car to connect with. There’s very little feel through the steering and countless driving aids remove the sense of thrill.

Except in a straight line with your foot to the floor. And there are only so many times you can impress the missus doing that…

Audi RS 7 Performance – the originally wolf in sheep’s clothing

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I may not be in love with the jelly mould styling of the RS7 but there’s lots to like about the performance.

The Audi is the original wolf in sheep’s clothing. It does start with a bit of a growl from those two enormous tailpipes but otherwise, there’s very little to suggest how rapid the RS is.

And it is very quick. 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds officially – although it does feel quicker and considerably more refined than the 2.7 second Nissan GT-R.

And whereas the Nissan screams performance, this RS only hints at it. I wonder if that will bother some drivers who might prefer a more overt display of hairy-chestedness?

Me, I like understated – even if the RS 7 styling leaves me totally cold…

Does the Audi RS7 Performance really look like a £100k car?

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Inside the RS7 is a gorgeous place to sit. It’s refined from the quilted leather seats to the plush headlining – even the infotainment screen glides away neatly into the dashboard.

All good then? Perhaps not. The stretched coupe styling of the RS7 may be streamlined and muscular but to me it looks pretty dated these days.

The very nature of a four-door coupe means it has to be long and low but compared to BMW’s beautiful 6, the Audi is woefully average in profile.

I parked it next to a A7 TDI today and there was very little to set the £100k RS apart from its lesser sibling.

And if I was paying that much for a car it would have be a little bit more special…

 

Audi RS7 Performance – the secret supercar

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Some cars scream performance but in the world of luxury coupes a subtle approach is often preferred.

Forgetting the outrageous Nissan GT-R, machines like the Porsche Panamera, Mercedes CLS and BMW 6 Series are all about keeping the performance under wraps.

And so it is with the RS7. What we have here is a proper supercar dressed in sheep’s clothing. Sure, it looks brutal head on but otherwise there’s very little to suggest the Audi is anything other than an executive jellymould.

Until you put your foot down that is. Then the exhaust ports open, the 4.0-litre engine roads and the RS7 takes off like a stabbed rat.

It is quite ridiculously fast for such a big motor and could power on to 190mph.

Issues? Just the handling, which is strange considering this is a quattro! There’s very little feel through the steering wheel, so set the Drive Select setting to Dynamic for best results.

The Audi RS7 Performance – worth your hard-earned £100k?

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You wonder sometimes when manufacturers will reach an optimum level of performance for their cars. I’m not actually sure your average driver can tell whether one vehicle is 0.2 seconds faster to 60mph than another.

However, that is the point of the Performance – the ultimate incarnation of the ubiquitous A7. The RS version is quick but this one trims 0.2 seconds off the 60mph dash – oh and it will cost you £6,500 more too.

You’re only really going to spot the difference on a race track – and then I would argue that the 7 isn’t exactly the correct machine to be ripping around Silverstone in the first place.

Looking at the RS7 in front of me now, I’m already wondering who actually buys a car like this. Let’s take it out on the road to find out…