Ned Jasper – Friday Video – What makes a good car advert?

With one of the best car adverts of late banished from our TV screens, Ned takes aim at those making, and scrutinising, those commercials.
Audi R8 V10 plus
Nowadays, you’d be hard pushed to go out and not find an example of health and safety. We drive our cars with seat belts, airbags and countless electronic systems which prevent you from skidding of the road every time you’re a little heavy footed. As a result, countless lives have been saved and the world is a better place for it. But then we have “health and safety gone mad”. It’s a phrase we hear a lot these days, but is there any truth in this expression?

Actually, yes. I can’t speak for every aspect of modern society – that would take too long and be about as interesting as an empty pint glass – but what I can talk about is car advertisements. Now, it’s no secret that we’re quite partial to a good car ad, especially those from a certain four-ringed company. [Guilty as charged! – Editor]

But, how on earth does this relate to health and safety? Well, it’s because one of Audi’s latest R8 ads, The Eye, has been banned. If you don’t know what I’m talking about watch this:

Done that? Good. The ad in question was struck from our screens by the ASA (the Advertising Standards Authority) as it ‘linked speed with excitement’. I know. It turns out, a big, shiny, bright orange supercar is exciting, who’d thought?

The thing is though, the advert didn’t feature high speeds. Was it inferred? Well, yes. But all we saw was a 30mph tracking shot and a retina. To add insult to injury, the removal of what is one of the only interesting car advertisements currently on TV was down to ONE measly complaint.

It is because of things like this that almost all car adverts are now not only tedious, and stale, but also related in no way to the car in question. After all, the advertisement is supposed to make you want to buy the car, not hate it. The following is a small compilation of some of the worst car advertisements shown on TV, and don’t fear, because after you’ve sat through 4 minutes of dull, unimaginative drivel, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best car ads of all time.

Citroen C1

I wish I could magic a car out of a bus stop too! But I’m not Harry Potter, so I’ll just walk instead. Maybe ASA should step in here, before everyone tries to walk through a bus-stop and steal a car!

Toyota Aygo

Hilarious!…Not. Another great message, dress up as a seat and prank McDonald’s. I still know nothing about the car.

Toyota Aygo 2

Boy, am I excited! What could make me want to buy the car more than it driving through a maze full of balloons that change colour! That’s right Toyota, there IS a better way.

Peugeot 108

Brilliant, some moody lighting, and a montage of the car driving. If I need some wheels to meet a shady lover in the dead of night, I know where to look.

There. I’ve tried my best to inject the dullest part of this article with a comical interlude. But the facts remain that all of these adverts tell you nothing about the car. A car ad should be something that captivates, then charms us into wanting one more than our next breath. We want loud noises, aural symphonies, drifting, explosions, and chills down our spines. We want to feel like we’re watching an action movie, not a documentary!

Most of all, we want to react to it. We want that uncontrollable urge to tell everybody we’ve ever met just how cool the advert was. Or better still, we want to buy the car. Below is an eclectic mix of some of the very finest automotive advertising, so make a cup of tea, and sit down for the best 10 minutes you’ve spent on the internet today (probably).

E39 BMW M5

It’s spaceman meets family man. This video does without any iconic music or slick acting, It simply shocks you – or would have done back in the early noughties when this advert first hit TV screens. It leaves you to contemplate the thought of your neighbour’s new BMW outrunning a Saturn V rocket.

Peugeot 205 GTI

Do Bond’s budget cuts mean he’s ditched the Aston in favour of a cheeky little french hatchback? No. But who wouldn’t want a car that could beat an entire airforce? Perhaps it’s a little silly, but you’re talking about it, which means the advert’s worked.

Audi R8

Chillingly good. [I still have this one saved on my Sky+ box – Ed]

BMW M235i

That was cool, I want one just that little bit more now.

Audi R8

If you didn’t have a smile on your face by the end of that, you’ve got something wrong with you!

Now I’ve put the world to rights, and no doubt wasted your afternoon, maybe you’ll be a little more critical of the next car ad you see. I’ll leave you with two things. The first being this bonus clip – which is more of a short film than an advert – and the second being the overwhelming desire to own every car you’ve seen in the latter ads!

Bonus E39 BMW M5

Ned Jasper

BTCC 2016 – Knockhill – Reviewed and Rated

The annual trip to Scotland produced some fantastic racing, especially amongst the front runners, which hopefully now means we can forget about the driving standards furore of Snetterton.2016 BTCC Knockhill (C) BTCCThree of the most experienced drivers on the grid came to the fore with a win apiece, demonstrating outstanding defensive driving and a classic charge through the field. At the front, consistency was the key for Sam Tordoff as he regained the championship lead from Rob Collard.

Race One (1st Plato, 2nd Goff, 3rd Turkington)
Jason Plato started his 500th BTCC race from pole position after an incredibly tight qualifying session. Tom Ingram took 2nd ahead of Tordoff, Jack Goff, Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan. The championship leader, Collard, once again qualified poorly, down in 18th.

As the lights went out, the top 6 all got away well from the line, but there were echoes of Snetterton at the third corner as Matt Neal barged Adam Morgan off the track, which left Morgan well down the pack and Neal with a post-race verbal warning. This allowed the top 6 to pull out a gap on the rest of the field. Jordan was looking competitive in the opening laps and he was soon ahead of Turkington after a sweet move at the hairpin, but Turkington kept pace and re-took the position mid-race.

Ingram found himself under immense pressure from Tordoff and Goff, before the pair switched positions over the start-finish line. Goff continued his pursuit of Ingram and after a long, late lunge on the brakes into the hairpin, he succeeded in taking 2nd. Tordoff then set about Ingram too, but his challenge was halted by a safety car to recover Warren Scott’s stricken Subaru following an incident with Dan Welch.2016 BTCC Knockhill (C) Subaru UKAfter the safety car period ended, it was a quick sprint to the finish, but it was just enough time for Turkington to make a couple of brilliant moves to jump from 5th to 3rd. His first victim was Tordoff, who was almost overtaken by Jordan too, and then Ingram at the hairpin. However, it was Turkington’s teammate, Plato, who celebrated his 500th race with his 95th victory and he also became the 11th different winner of the season, equalling the BTCC season record. (more…)

Friday Video – Shocking New Ford F-150 Raptor

Ford Performance is quite proud of the shock absorbers fitted to the new Ford F-150 Raptor. So much so that they’ve made a video to celebrate. For us, it’s just an excuse to see the forthcoming pick-up truck looking awesome in the desert. 2017 Ford F-150 RaptorWhat’s so special about these shock absorbers? Having been jointly developed with Fox, the shockers are purpose-built to make the Raptor even better off-road and on.

At 3 inches in diameter, the special internals allow for lower pressure that makes the Raptor more comfortable on tarmac. There’s also an addition of 2 inches more suspension travel, with the fronts having 13 inches and the rears 13.9 inches. That’s quite a lot of movement!

More importantly, just enjoy the F-150 Raptor storming across sand dunes and rocks:

Friday Photo – Nissan Bladeglider hits Rio

Remember the ZEOD RC, and the DeltaWing before it? Nissan’s fascination with narrow-track and electric power continues, but now in the form of something that could actually appear on the street. Oh, and with a drift mode.2016 Nissan BladeGlider According to Nissan, this is the future of electric cars that enthusiasts shouldn’t be scared of. That a car can be fun, despite not burning fossil fuels inside, but relying on the gentle hum of batteries instead. Whilst the name sounds like something Gillette would sell, the BladeGlider is a very serious attempt at showcasing what the near-future might hold. This is the Leaf with excitement added: the drama of dihedral doors, an open roof, and technology from Williams Advanced Engineering beneath the radical styling. The narrow front-end and wider rear is lifted straight from the DeltaWing design, maximising aerodynamic efficiency. Cameras replace the wing mirrors for the same reason.2016 Nissan BladeGlider Previously displayed as “just a concept” in 2013, Nissan is using the 2016 Olympics to showcase the real-word potential of the BladeGlider. If you happen to be in Rio de Janeiro, and be a fancy VIP, you may well find yourself being shuttled around by the BladeGlider. That’s chauffeured around at considerable pace, too. With the equivalent of 268hp available, and a thumping 521 lb-ft of torque, the BladeGlider can hit 0-62mph in less than 5 seconds and go all the way to 115mph. Whilst that isn’t quite Tesla Model S Insane Mode fast, it’s certainly punchier than your average Leaf.2016 Nissan BladeGlider With each rear wheel using an individual electric motor, the BladeGlider’s real party trick is the ability to torque vector. Just like a Nissan GT-R, or a certain Ford Focus RS. Should the car detect understeer, it’ll send torque to the outside rear wheel to turn the car back onto line. But it also allows for added fun with the drift mode option – perhaps there is some extra karma from doing lairy drifts in an electric vehicle… (more…)

BTCC 2016 – Snetterton – Reviewed and Rated

After a long break BTCC finally returned this week. There was chaos at Snetterton, and our BTCC Correspondent has got stuck into the big debate about driving standards. Which side of the fence are you on about it?

2016 BTCC Snetterton

Hunter Abbott’s wrecked Chevrolet, following the incident at the start of race three (C) BTCC

The British Touring Car Championship returned at Snetterton following the traditional mid-season six week break and oh boy, it returned alright! Where to start? Three different winners? The first red flag? The second red flag? The camera gantry being rolled into by a flying Hunter Abbott? Drivers complaining about standards? The media complaining about safety?

It would be sensible to remind ourselves at the start of this article that, as Tim Harvey quite rightly pointed out on ITV’s coverage, all tickets state, ‘Motorsport is dangerous.’ Correct, it is. I don’t want to see anyone injured, whether it be minor or serious, nor do I want the unthinkable to happen and a driver be killed or anyone else for that matter. However, we must ask ourselves, why are we fans of the BTCC? Why are we fans of motorsport? We watch it because we want to see close, hard and fair racing. To achieve this, it naturally brings an element of risk and danger and it is something we have to accept if we want to watch motor racing. The debate to be had is how we control this danger. Has it become too dangerous?

Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s first race would suggest not. Qualifying saw Gordon Shedden take pole by the smallest of margins, 0.015s, from Colin Turkington who in turn was the smallest of margins, 0.013s, ahead of Adam Morgan. The gaps were amazingly small on what is the longest lap of the season. In addition to the amazingly close gaps, it was also amazing that it was the first Honda pole in over three years, since Donington Park in 2013.

2016 BTCC Snetterton

(C) BTCC

Race One (1st Turkington, 2nd Shedden, 3rd Jackson)
Turkington got away well from the line, but couldn’t quite take advantage of his start as Shedden retained the lead, but Mat Jackson was able to jump into 3rd. Andrew Jordan’s issues in qualifying were compounded by being pushed out onto the grass at the first corner, but he wasn’t the only one to experience trouble. Morgan was knocked sideways, but retained 5th, Alex Martin went off and Aron Smith picked up a problem to go with his ‘eye-catching’ new livery.

The opening laps saw Turkington keep Shedden honest and Morgan climbed back into 4th. Five drivers, including Turkington, were soon under investigation for a potential false-start, but none were found guilty come the end of the race. Half way through the race, Shedden still needed to be incredibly defensive to stave off Turkington’s attacks, but on lap 8 he could no longer repel the Ulsterman, as he made an outstanding move over several corners flipping from the inside to the outside and back to the inside again. Turkington’s move almost allowed Jackson to overtake Shedden too, but he couldn’t find a way by. Similarly to Turkington, Jason Plato felt as though he’d been held up by Tom Ingram and performed a similar move to his teammate on Ingram to take 5th. (more…)

Opinion – Why contemporary F1 is boring, statistically

The Hungarian Grand Prix is often regarded as being a processional affair, with limited overtaking opportunities. This weekend’s event is therefore unlikely to liven up a Formula 1 era that is the most one-sided in a generation. ESM’s editor has donned his anorak and crunched the numbers from 1998 to present.2016 Mercedes AMG F1 HamiltonCast your mind back to the year 2000 and you might recall the Millennium Dome, fears of the ‘Millennium Bug’ or even just the Willenium. Yeah, the latter really did happen. If you’re a Formula 1 fan you might remember it as the year Ferrari and Michael Schumacher started out on a five-year long display of hegemony over the World Championship.

But, after watching Lewis Hamilton take another victory at the British Grand Prix, it got us wondering as to whether the current Mercedes AMG streak out ranks even the 2000-2004 Ferrari era for dominance. Surprisingly it does, and by a fairly significant margin!

Let’s break it down to the most basic numbers in terms of wins during those title-claiming periods. For Ferrari this is from the 2000 Australian Grand Prix, to the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix. That covers some 85 races in total, of which Ferrari won 57 of them. In percentage terms that’s 67%, so just over two-thirds were won by the Scuderia in that seemingly endless period of Ferrari success.Ferrari F1 Dominance StatsSince the 2014 Australian Grand Prix, which saw the introduction of the new engine regulations, there has been 48 races. That’s counting the 2016 British Grand Prix – won by Lewis Hamilton, of course. In that period Mercedes AMG have taken 41 victories! Yes, seriously, in two and a half years, only seven races have been won by non-Mercedes drivers. That gives Mercedes AMG a win percentage of a staggering 85%!

Even more considerable is that they’ve claimed 94% of pole positions (45/48) in that time frame. For comparison, Ferrari only managed 59% of poles during their era of dominance. Taking over two-thirds of all fastest laps since the beginning of 2014, must also make Mercedes feel pretty smug about just how far ahead of the game they are.Mercedes AMG F1 DominanceEven in comparison to Red Bull, who many claimed to have made F1 dull during the period of Vettel domination, Mercedes-AMG still stands far ahead. With four back-to-back titles, Red Bull took wins in just over half (53%) of the 77 races entered. Pole positions percentages are also lower (66%) compared to Mercedes, with fastest laps at less than half  (45%) in total. Those who bemoaned the seemingly constant chain of Red Bull wins might be a little surprised, although Vettel’s nine-race winning streak at the end of 2013 is perhaps what people remember.
Red Bull Racing F1 Dominance Stats

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Tame Geek – 2016 Tesla Model S 90D Review

He’s been on the hunt for a while, but our good friend the Tame Geek has finally managed to track down a Tesla. Here’s his review which was first posted over on the Tame Geek ‘site.2016 Tesla Model S 90DA little of background if you don’t know why this car is important. In 2008 during the global financial apocalypse, it was more than the banks that took a hit – the American car industry was decimated too. During this time a chap called Elon Musk assumed control of a company he had invested in called Tesla. As CEO and product architect, he has been the most outspoken car company boss in recent memory. The thing is; he keeps his word. The product roadmap for Tesla brought the Roadster, the Model S, the recently launched Model X, and next years Model 3 to market and has spurred (scared) other manufacturers in to rushing forward with their electrification plans.

So with that background, you can see that this car is not only important in general, it’s important to me. I’ve been waiting to get behind the wheel of one of these for what feels like forever.

What is it?
The car as tested here is a Tesla Model S 90D. With Tesla we have new kinds of ‘engine’ designations to learn, so with this one, we have a car with dual-electric motors, hence the ‘D’. The 90 stands for the kWh (kilowatt-hours) of the battery. This number relates not just to power, but to range as well. So our Tesla is an all-wheel drive car, with a reported range of 346 miles per charge, and a 0-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds, with a sticker price of £81, 450 (excluding government incentives. Starting price of a Model S is £57,750 excluding incentives). Oh yeah and an equivalent 417bhp and 485ft-lb of torque, and a top speed of 155mph.2016 Tesla Model S 90D

What is it like as a car?
Like someone doing a really good impression of a celebrity. The Model S has borrowed some design cues from its Audi, Mazda and Jaguar competitors, which give it a distinctly European look and that is quite refreshing for an American car. At the crux of it, the Model S doesn’t feel like an American or a European car. It feels like a truly ‘World car’. A machine that would fit in anywhere and removes the bias of borders.
One of the nicest things about the Model S is the fact that some of the design details that are present are the kind of things you only see on concept cars and never in real production models. One of my weaknesses, frameless doors, are present, as are the door handles that slide in to the bodywork when the car is locked, or in motion. On the inside, we have a centre console area that would be filled with buttons in most cars but in the Model S is filled with high-definition display.
Said display is again filled with the kind of things the manufacturers have spent years talking about but never following though on to a great level.2016 Tesla Model S 90DFor instance, other cars have modems built-in, but the Model S uses it’s for access to Google Maps rather than a proprietary sat-nav and music streaming from a premium Spotify account (courtesy of Tesla). I thought that the big screen would have been more distracting, and a bit less useable than it was, but after many software updates it seems to be really quite practical. The design could use a little less skeuomorphism to be fair, but hell – this is one of the first cars in the world to have an upgradeable dash. (more…)

Photo Gallery – 2016 Newcastle NE1 Motor Show

Following the success of the first event in 2015, the NE1 Motor Show was back in Newcastle-upon-Tyne at the weekend. ESM went along to see what was new.2016 NE1 Motor Show Ford Mustang GT 001

New for this year was typical North East weather of grey skies and rain. Not perfect, but it did bring back memories of Goodwood from a fortnight previous at least. Seeing a Porsche 911 GT3 Rs and 718 Boxster S, both painted in Lava Orange, at the foot of Grey’s Monument did help brighten things up somewhat. Noticeable was the lack of representation from some marques seen at the 2015 event such as Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Nissan. As an event backed primarily by dealerships, recent restructuring in the North’s big dealer chains might be the reason why. But, regardless, there was still a decent selection of new metal on show:

Further down Grey Street was an array of modern and classic cars which, if we were being lazy, we could probably have just substituted our photos from last year for. Suffice to say lots seemed familiar, even down to the place and order in which they were parked. What did stand out this year was the love for the Ford Mustang. Both new and old, almost every shape of Blue Oval-wearing pony car appeared to be represented.

It’s worth remembering that the NE1 Motor Show is free, and designed to get people into the centre of Newcastle. Given the crowds present, despite the inclement weather on Saturday, it seems to have certainly succeeded again this year. We’ll look forward to 2017 – just surprise us by mixing the order up a little!

In-depth Launch Review – Updated 2016 Audi A3

As one of the key models in the Audi range, getting the refreshed A3 right is an important job. We drove all four body types, and various engines, to see if the A3 still has what it takes in a competitive market.2016 Audi A3 UK Launch

Backstory
In the same year England crashed out of Euro ’96, Audi launched an upmarket compact hatchback to the world. Suffice to say some things don’t change – not least when it comes to football and, two decades later, Audi has released a refreshed version of the third-generation A3. Accounting for over a quarter of all 166,708 Audi sales in the UK alone last year, the A3 is clearly a big deal for the marque.

Being such a big-seller, it’s perhaps understandable that Audi has taken a subtle evolutionary approach with this mid-lifecycle update. The original third generation A3 only went on sale in 2013, so this update comes quite soon in car terms. With a significant proportion of outgoing A3 models potentially still leveraged on personal finance or business lease deals, the last thing Audi needs is to be damaging residual values with radical restyling efforts. Plus, the A3 has always been the more mature hatchback in the VAG platform-sharing world.

2016 Audi A3 UK Launch

One of these is not like the others

Update and refreshed
Keeping that maturity in mind; reprofiled front and rear bumpers, the new Audi corporate grille, and updated lighting are the biggest changes on the outside. Xenon headlights are now standard across the range, whilst higher-spec versions get fancy LED units. There’s new colours, including the ESM-pleasing Vegas Yellow, and different alloy wheel designs. In short, you’re most probably going to be a real Audi geek to be able to spot the differences. But whilst it might appear similar to the outgoing version, the technology underneath is where the biggest changes have occurred.2016 Audi A3 SportbackVirtual Cockpit, first seen in the TT and R8, is the most important news for the revised A3. It’s on the options list but, once sampled, it would be a tough call not to tick that box. Having a 12.3” screen instead of conventional instrument dials makes so much sense, with the ability to see all information right in front of you. It renders the standard 7″ MMI display on the centre console essentially redundant, to the point we drove with it retracted most of the time. Thankfully that centre screen can be dropped and raised at the press of a button. It’s a novelty – but we approved.

Remember when infotainment controllers like MMI were controversial? Yeah, we’d forgotten about that, too. The revised MMI system in the new A3 is simpler, with fewer buttons and optional touchpad atop the main controller. We’re fussy when it comes to infotainment systems, but this version of MMI is genuinely a joy to use. It’s logical, responsive and also pretty good to look at. Furthermore, it proves that touchscreens aren’t always the answer to everything.

Being 2016, online connectivity is also a big deal. With the optional Technology Pack, buyers can have an embedded SIM card fitted at the factory, allowing access to the Internets immediately. It’s worth it for the integration of Google Earth and Google Street View into the navigation system alone. In fact, our notes from the test day labelled it as “awesome” which is probably all you need to know.

Safety and assistance systems from models higher up the Audi food chain also make an, optional, appearance in the new A3. Along with adaptive cruise control there’s emergency brake assist, active lane assist, and traffic jam assist. The latter allows the A3 to keep itself in lane, brake, and accelerate on congested roads. Make no mistake – this is the onward march of autonomous driving.

Aside from new technology, the changes inside are limited to new air vents, new steering wheel designs and… that’s about it. However, it still looks suitably modern, although it should do when the previous version is less than three years old. The minimalistic style, thanks to a dashboard not dominated by an infotainment screen, makes for an attractive and well-built interior.

Revised petrol engine choices now range from a new 113hp 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo, to a 1.4 TFSI (featuring cylinder-on-demand tech) producing 148hp, and a 2.0-litre TFSI unit with 187hp topping the range. Diesels feature a 108hp 1.6-litre TDI, and 2.0-litre TDI units in 148hp and 181hp flavours.

All engines have the option of the S tronic dual-clutch gearbox, with the most powerful engine variants available with quattro all-wheel drive. A new S3 with 306hp is also coming soon, but not present at this launch event, and there’ll be an RS3 with even more power in due course. That excites us – a lot.

On the road

A3 Saloon 1.4 TFSI CoD [S tronic] S Line016 Audi A3 Saloon S LineSay what you will about badge snobbery, but the A3 saloon has seemingly succeeded where the Volkswagen Jetta has failed. The four-door A3 has become a desirable compact sedan, no doubt helped by strong lines and balanced proportions on the outside. (more…)

Opinion – Why the resignation of Chris Evans gives hope for Top Gear

With news that Chris Evans has, quite publicly, quit as a Top Gear presenter after just one series, ESM reflects on what it means for the show.Top Gear Chris EvansIn a world where someone resigning from a top job has become almost commonplace, that Chris Evans threw the towel in quite so soon after the end of Top Gear’s series 23 is still a little surprising. Faced with falling viewer figures, despite the almost desperate protestations from Evans that they didn’t show the true picture, his position looked untenable. On social media much of the ire of Top Gear viewers was directed at him personally. News of a police investigation over historic accusations from the 1990s were probably the nail in the coffin.

Perhaps it’s also proof that the UK hasn’t become completely “anti-expert” in outlook, despite what the recent EU referendum might suggest. Whilst nobody can deny Evans is passionate about cars he isn’t an automotive journalist and, as the lead on a motoring show, that’s potentially a big deal. No, Matt Le Blanc isn’t a journalist, and nor is Sabine Schmitz or even Eddie Jordan, but they weren’t the ones plastered on the front of magazines and across adverts. He was the poster boy for the ‘new’ Top Gear and therefore the one most likely to take the flack if it failed.

It won’t have helped that not a week went by without some news story of a producer quitting, in-fighting between Evans and Le Blanc, and the cringeworthy spectacle of him puking his guts after being in-car with Sabine Schmitz. Whilst the latter might have been a way to try to inject some lighthearted humour, and make him appear human, it did little but make him seem unsuited to a job that involves testing performance cars. Becoming emotional and crying his eyes out over the McLaren F1 was also awkward and embarrassing to watch.

Evans had an almost unwinnable situation. He would never be Clarkson, yet had the job of anchoring Top Gear faced with an audience almost expecting him, and it, to fail. Whoever was the lead presenter for series 23 of Top Gear would have faced a metaphorical kicking from the media and those who watched each week. To counter that would have needed an almost superhuman dose of personality, knowledge and charm. Sadly, despite all his previous successes, Evans lacked those when it came to a motoring show.

For someone who owns a plethora of expensive supercars and classics, he ultimately failed to communicate that passion and excitement in a way that made his features palatable. Contrast that with the successes of Chris Harris and Rory Reid in conveying how a car makes you feel, but with some form of critical analysis, and the gulf between them and Evans becomes all too apparent. From the first episode we complained about how Evans seemed to be shouting constantly and, as the series continued, his voiceovers seemed to also be read with the basic delivery of a primary school presentation. (more…)