Tag Archive | "Porsche"

Boxster's Baby Brother?

The soon to be released Toyota GT-86 / Subaru BRZ sports cars might just be the start of a new trend in affordable roadsters for the masses. And why not? These two new cars are not about massive power and speed or luxury trimmings but rather about the lost art of proper driving. Where in the UK can you really unleash the might of an Aventador? In these small two-seaters you can concern yourself with the pleasures of the road at more normal speeds.

Anyone who has ever driven a Cayman or a Boxster knows just how good these cars are but they remain a little on the pricey side. Sure, you can pick up good examples in the used car market but they still have the expensive costs associated with the brand. The Toyota/Subaru alliance has shown that engaging cars can be offered with mass-market servicing and tyre costs to suit the average pocket. Now, it appears, Porsche have been keeping a beady eye on this trend.

Concept images are beginning to appear of the Porsche 9X1, a baby brother to the mighty Boxster which, if it comes to pass, could bring the company’s legendary thrills to a new generation of customers – and all for less than £30k. The Boxster is getting bigger, more powerful and more expensive so Porsche may well decide, with the might of the Volkswagen/Audi brand behind them, to push ahead with a back to basics car.

In recent years the clues have been there. In 2009 VW introduced it’s BlueSport concept and it has been reported that a production BlueSport model is under development, based on a platform – codenamed Mimo (for Mittelmotor, or mid-engine) or 9X1 – to be shared between the Audi, Volkswagen, and Porsche. The Audi version, related to the Audi e-Tron Detroit concept, may be named Audi R4 or R5. The Porsche variant is speculated to be the “spiritual successor” to the now legendary 356 roadster and will be positioned well below the current Boxster as the company”s entry-level model.

The rumour machine speculates that the 9X1 will be powered by a new 2.4L flat four engine offering up around 200bhp, not enough to challenge its big brother. Like the Japanese competition the handling is expected to be sharp and entertaining thanks to the lightweight chassis yet the car won’t have most the electronic wizardry offered elsewhere in the Porsche range, which should add to its back-to-basics appeal. If the car is built – and don’t we all already want one – it will be as a convertible, although a coupé is mooted. Go on Porsche – make our day!

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Sports Car Shoot-out

Do Aston Martin make the most desirable, useable, sports cars in the world? The answer, inevitably, is – yes and no. Certainly, their design is unquestionably beautiful but that ’s not really the be all and end all.

AM have just updated the smallest car in the range – the V8 Vantage. Most drivers would probably settle for an old one; it’s only hardened motoring journalists who nitpick about issues that ordinary folk wouldn’t notice but first reviews show that the car has definitely benefited from the changes, notably to its handling. The old car seemed to have a mind of its own on a winding, twisting road but now, thanks to faster steering, better tyres and improved pedal feel, the new car actually lets the driver be in control. The Sportshift transmission has been changed from 6 to 7 speed or there’s still a manual for the purist. So far so good, but there’s still issues regarding the interior layout and the overall driving experience, which is where Porsche come in.

The 911 has been with us for years with only the occasional updating and is a familiar sight on our roads. Because of its ‘yuppie’ history from the 1980s from which it has had a hard time escaping, the 911 hasn’t really had the exclusivity of the Aston, although prices are roughly the same. The Carrera has now been updated and is, as always, the same but different.

It still looks like the old car but this time the curves are more pronounced. It is at last a good looking motor. First reports say that it drives better than any of its predecessors. This may be because the engine has moved from right at the very back and crept inboard a bit to ensure the handling is top notch. Purists have decried the new electric steering as being without feel but, in truth, you’d have to be a serious grouch to really notice any difference and, in any event, if you’ve never previously owned a 911 then it won’t matter anyway. There’s even some concession to green politics with ‘stop-start’ and lower emissions.

Then there’s a third option – the Jaguar XKR. Like the Vantage, this sports car has a V8 engine, great looks and awesome performance. It is very refined on the road but has a small boot and rather poor rear visibility – but these are minor issues for what is a great car with an historic name.

These three cars all offer something special. They are all in the same ball park on price (around 80k or so!), have similar performance and beautiful design so the choice is down to individual preference and a fat wallet. The important thing is that they all make a great noise – the bark of the V8s and the howl of the flat six in the Porsche – and if this isn’t music to your ears then you can’t be a true petrol head and therefore wouldn’t be allowed one anyway.

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How Sportscar And Endurance Racing Could Take F1’s Crown

Sportscar and endurance racing has always been a brilliant breeding ground for road car technology. The cauldron of battle that is round the clock racing breeds performance with the necessity of reliability.

Disc brakes, double-clutch gearboxes, variable turbine turbo geometry, carbon-fibre brake discs and direct injection petrol engines are but a few inventions pioneered through endurance racing.

As manufacturers look to tighten their belts and the outlay for a full calendar of racing in the F1 circus carries on rising unabated, sportscar racing for many looks appealing.

With a direct link from racecar to road car there’s real benefit for the manufacturer, too. And then there’s the fans, the all important fans.

Without fans there’d be no motorsport, so with ticket prices for a Grand Prix almost prohibitively expensive and a full week’s ticket for five days worth of action, including a full 24 hours at the twice-round-the-clock French classic in Le Mans, sportscars really could steal F1’s crown.

It could rival it for on track action too. With BMW, Lamborghini, Corvette, Aston Martin, Porsche, Ferrari, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Audi, Peugeot, Ford and other bespoke racecar manufacturers like Oreca and Zytek confirmed for the new 2012 World Endurance Championship – set up after the settling of a feud between the ACO (the organisers of the Le Mans 24 hours) and the FIA – sonorous sounding automotive exotica lapping within tenths of a second of each other would surely draw crowds. And at a fraction of the cost.

It’s close racing that makes good viewing, not one team with the most money – thanks to backing by a certain Austrian energy drink – waltzing of into the distance unchallenged. With sportscar racing you get that.

After 24 hours of racing at the 2011 24 hours of Le Mans, less than 13 seconds separated the eventual winner and the second place car – now that’s close racing.

Formula 1 is definitely the pinnacle of on-track motorsport – no question. But big-cube V8 Corvettes rumbling by, shaking your chest cavity making it difficult to breathe, and wailing Aston Martin V12s screaming past blurring your vision they’re engine notes are that piercing, proves there is more than one way to skin the proverbial.

The new World Endurance Championship will hopefully bring with it more fans, meaning more money, meaning more manufacturers, creating a self-perpetuating cycle.


With all that high-powered metal on show, we can’t wait to see how the inaugural season pans out.

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