Exhausting? Why you don’t need comedy tail pipes in a McLaren 540C

If you’ve never driven a supercar the odd thing is that sometimes the impression of speed is not as great as you might have anticipated.

I’ve often wondered why this is – then I realised it’s because these cars are so good, so competent that you just don’t realise how fast you are travelling.

Maybe that’s why accoustic exhaust systems have become regular fit on so many models. They create the drama that feels like it is missing!

Th McLaren doesn’t have a screaming exhaust button and it’s all the better for it. The 540C is the cheapest car in their stable but it’s perhaps the most usable on an everyday basis.

I think I could have given my granny the keys to a 540C and she wouldn’t have felt intimidated.

You just need a bit more time inside the cabin to work out how everything works because that side of the McLaren does take some getting used to…

McLaren 540C – lets enjoy V8s while we still can…

Bad news usually comes in threes. Except when a friend announces he has cancer and it feels like the whole world has caved in.

I’ve been scrabbling around for words – what do you say to somebody who is younger than you and suffering like that?

That was yesterday. After kicking it around in my head for 24 hours I’ve decided the best way to cheer him up is to look forward and try and be as strong as he is.

So today, I’m going to buy him a fat, Havana cigar (he has one or two a year max) and take him for an outrageously fast drive in a McLaren.

I’m not sure either are that good for your health but WTF. According to Volvo, it sounds like V8s won’t be around much longer either.

Let’s enjoy them and life while we can…

The £25k DS 3 Performance – you’re having a laugh, Citroen…

If you’re of a certain age, you might remember the Peugeot 205 GTI. It was the only serious rival to the Golf GTI back in the day – cheaper fit out but tremendous fun on Saturday afternoon dash in the country.

Yesterday I took the DS 3 Performance to Goodwood Festival of Speed. Apart from the usual A27 snarl up and speed camera frenzy, there was limited chance to give the accelerator a tickle.

When I did, what I soon discovered is that the Performance is very much in the same mould as the 205 GTI. It’s a buzz-bomb of a hatch that demands to be driven hard.

The six-speed box encourages you to flick through the ratios – and you will soon be making changes like a rally driver. Well, almost. 205bhp in a car this size is quite a handful.

Issues? Well, this is a three-door and access to the rear seat is difficult, not helped by the heavyweight front seat backs. Surely Citroen could have fitted a more user-friendly system?

And then there’s the trim. Did the French have a warehouse full of leftovers from the 1980s? Cheap, nasty and nearly all the cubby spaces are useless. There’s nowhere to keep a small bottle of water in place on a fast corner.

£24K Citroen? You’re having a laugh, aren’t you?

Citroen DS 3 Performance – £25k for a tiny hot hatch?

You know a car is going to be a handful when every alloy wheel is scuffed on delivery. I imagine the boys and girls at Evo have been having difficulty keeping it in a straight line.

I’m already having difficulty understanding why the DS 3 Performance costs so much. True, it’s equipped with Brembo brakes, LED rear lights and those bruised 18-inch alloys.

But the interior trim is cloth and there’s nothing quality about the rest of the trim. Nothing to suggest it’s a cut above the Mini Cooper S anyway.

With the extra metallic paint and GT Pack, it is just shy of £25k! Well, let’s hope it drives good…

Enjoy the highway while you can – the smart roads are coming

I’ll tell you what’s sad about driving in the 21st century – the opportunities to actually enjoy a high performance car like the R8 Spyder are few and far between.

It’s Monday and I’ve just hacked 95 miles back from the Peak District in the Audi. I know what the engine can do, I’ve experienced the quattro handling before.

Yet I might as well have been in a Ford Focus. Seriously, there was NOWHERE I could give that V10 a prod. I’m starting to realise that I was lucky to have learnt to drive in the 1980s.

Which then makes me wonder, what is the point of fabulous cars like this? Where can we enjoy a McLaren, a Lamborghini, or even a lowly Mini Cooper S for that matter?

Soon, all our highways will be ‘smart’ roads and the fun will be gone for good. Enjoy it while you can, people…

 

‘Hurrah for the Audi R8 Spider’ cried Mr Toad

It’s that time of year when a gentleman’s thoughts turn to a pretty little convertible. You know the kind of thing – leather seats, lashings of power and a jolly loud exhaust.

Well, the R8 Spyder has all of those and more. Hurrah! I hear you say. And indeed you would be right. Except this particular Audi is a thoroughly modern monster that won’t take kindly to any thoughts by you of lifting the engine cover.

This a car absolutely loaded with technology. From the ten-cylinder engine squeezed in behind the driver’s head, to the virtual dashboard that feeds info on everything.

And I mean everything. There’s no centre infotainment screen you see, so getting the steering wheel adjustment just right is crucial, especially if you need to follow the sat nav.

Fortunately, there are no silly indicator switches on the steering wheel, like the Lamborghini – and the exhaust is only mad loud when you slip into sport mode.

I loved the R8 last time I drove it – I’m looking forward to another romance this week…

The sensational Porsche 911 Turbo S – but would I buy one?

You might think a £150,000 supercar branded Porsche would inspire a gush of words about the wonders of handling and performance.

The 911 Turbo is a brilliant driving machine. It does everything you expect and more – with a sensational 3.8 six-cylinder engine at its heart.

Virtually faultless but would I buy one? Despite its range of abilities and everyday usability (you can even squeeze a couple of child seats in the back!), the answer is no.

Quite simple, the 911 just doesn’t ‘move’ me like a McLaren or a Lamborghini Huracan – even the overlooked Audi R8 has more soul. I know each of those cars have their flaws but they come with the character and panache that has been squeezed out of the Porsche range in recent years.

If flat out performance is your mantra, the 911 should be top of your wish list. I’d rather arrive a few minutes later in a car worth more than the sum of its parts…