Opinion | Are new cars actually getting more expensive?

The new Volkswagen Golf, and the excellent revised GTI in particular, got us wondering. Just how much more expensive are new cars compared to their predecessors? 

2017 New Volkswagen Mk7.5 Golf GTI

Having already won rave reviews from both print and online media, the Mk7.5 Volkswagen Golf GTI is already attracting attention. Yet a lot of the Internet comments seem to take umbrage at one particular fact – the cost. To clarify, the new Golf GTI has a list price starting at £27,865. As with any modern car, there is the huge temptation to run wild with the extras, but that basic amount will get you a brand-new three-door GTI, with a manual gearbox. No options, no fancy technology packages, not even metallic paint. Signature GTI colours like Tornado Red will add an extra £250, with metallics needing £570. In short, it’s rather easy to spec’ a GTI which costs over £30,000. Shock, horror, Internet outrage.

The most recent time a new Golf GTI garnered such positive attention was with the introduction of the Mk5 in early 2005. After the lacklustre Mk4 effort, the all-new GTI was an absolute revelation. Tartan seats helped, too. Yet when first introduced, the new Mk5 GTI had a starting price of just £19,995. Yes really, less than £20,000, and although the amount did rise shortly afterward, that’s the value we’ve used for comparison.

2005 Volkswagen MkV Golf GTI

A difference of £7,870 equates to a substantial sounding 39.4% increase in those twelve years between 2005 and 2017! On the other hand, horsepower has gone from 197hp in the Mk5 GTI, to 230hp in the Mk7.5, a jump of only 17%. If it had followed the same pattern as pricing, new GTI models should be rolling out the factory with 274hp. So have Volkswagen left new GTI buyers shortchanged?

Well no, actually. Inflation on the cost of goods and services in the UK has risen on average by around 2.9% each year. That 2.9% figure is based on the Bank of England’s CPI information, and there is little difference when using inflation calculators that rely on RPI data instead. We’re not going to delve into A-Level economics and debate the differences here – this is a car blog, not the Financial Times.

2017 New Volkswagen Mk7.5 Golf GTI

Inflation between March 2005 and March 2017 totals roughly – wait for it – 39%. Meaning a new Mk7.5 Golf GTI costs within £75 of what the financial data tells us it should do in 2017. It also means we’re getting a better deal in 2017 with 230hp, and the continuous improvement in technology and specification that has taken place in the last decade. So the next time someone exclaims the new Golf GTI is far too expensive, feel free to shut them down with data.

We couldn’t just leave it at one car, however. The Golf GTI may happen to be a freak automotive bellwether, so we checked out the new Golf R, just to be sure. But this time we went even further back with our research. All the way back to 2002, and the introduction of the Mk4 R32. (more…)

Geneva 2017 | Lamborghini Huracán Performante

It’s bright orange, it’s got a huge rear wing, and it’s a Lamborghini. Of course we were going to feature the new Huracán Performante on EngageSportMode.

2017 Lamborghini Huracán Performante

The Performante is hardly a well-kept secret, as disguised test versions have been spotted out in the wild for months. We’ve also already seen the video of Lamborghini setting a new Nürburgring Nordschleife production car lap record of 6 minutes 52.01 seconds. Yet despite not being a surprise, it’s still a deeply impressive machine, and offers up more than the typical “less weight, more power” supercar special edition formula.

2017 Lamborghini Huracán Performante

 

For a start, Lamborghini has made use of Forged Composite technology, which sounds a little like a cross between regular carbon fibre and glass fibre construction. In short, it has allowed Lamborghini to craft bumpers, and other complex shapes, from a lightweight, but strong, material. The result is a saving of some 40kg, with the 4WD Performante clocking up a family hatchback-rivalling 1,382kg weight on the scales.

2017 Lamborghini Huracán Performante

The 5.2-litre V10 engine has also been updated, with output now 631hp at 8,000rpm. That’s an increase of 29hp over the regular Huracán, whilst torque has also increased from 413lb-ft to 442lb-ft. Proving that the effects of Dieselgate don’t quite appear to have reached Sant’Agata, CO2 emissions have increased to 302g/km – although we doubt that will be a major concern for any customers. Likewise the official combined fuel economy of 20.6mpg. Lamborghini is also keen to stress that the manifold cover is now bronze, in a knowing nod to previous special edition models. Exhaust noises are also said to be made even more aggressive, with a revised higher position.

2017 Lamborghini Huracán Performante

So far, so standard supercar upgrades. However, where the Performante does move things on is with the use of active aerodynamics system. Which actually sounds far better in Italian: Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva (ALA). Working on both the front spoiler, and vents in the rear engine cover, the ALA system can with between low drag and high downforce, or even allow aero vectoring. The latter shapes air flowing across the rear spoiler, and pushes the inside wheel harder into the ground to increase traction when cornering at high speed. Clearly this is more than just Lamborghini bolting on the biggest set of wings and spoiler they could find.

2017 Lamborghini Huracán Performante

Suspension settings have been stiffened by 10% over the regular Huracán, with optional magnetically adjustable dampers also available. The steering has also been recalibrated for better response and feel, although we wonder just how much you can fine tune a supercar. Braking is via carbon ceramic discs, with six-pot calipers at the front and four-pots gripping the rear. Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres are fitted to the 20″ wheels as standard, with optional track-orientated Pirelli Trofeo R rubber also on offer. (more…)

Ned Jasper | 2017 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

Ned Jasper is back, and he’s got the latest on the latest addition to the Porsche model range. It’s not rear-engined, but there’s certainly a lot going on out back!

2017 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

I’m told that good things come to those who wait. So, considering the Panamera Sport Turismo is the first Porsche estate car to leave Stuttgart since the company was founded back in 1931. It better be good! Thankfully, the first impressions are good. Very very good. The front half of the Sport Turismo is near enough identical to a ‘normal’ Panamera. That means handsome looks and road presence akin to that of a supercar.

2017 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

But it’s what happens around the back that matters. Gone is the standard Panamera’s slopping 911-esque roof line. In its place, is in my eyes, the best looking car rear end not just of the year, but of the last decade. The Porsche design language remains clear, with hints of 911 and Macan showing face. However, the combination of the squatted rear, combined with the giant muscular haunches, is just so spot on.

2017 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

The interior of the Sport Turismo remains near identical to that of the standard Panamera. That means svelte materials, contemporary shapes and angles, plus there’s a colour scheme almost as rich as the kind of person who can afford to buy one. Who knew brown could look so good, eh? Move towards the rear and you’ll begin to notice the differences. Or should I say, the difference! With the Sport Turismo being an estate after all, it was only right of Porsche to fit a proper rear bench. It seats three, and is capable of folding flat in 40:20:40 sections. Practical.

Despite the rather large exterior changes, the boot space isn’t too dissimilar to that of the standard Panamera, with the ST boasting just 25 litres extra space. That’s about the same size as a medium suitcase. The total room available is 520 litres or 1,390 with the rear seats folded down – Panamera van, anyone?! (more…)

New | Mercedes-Maybach G 650 Landaulet | Ultimate G

This could quite possibly be the weirdest answer to a question nobody has asked. Or, the perfect gift for the person who genuinely does already have everything. This G-Class is ideal for the crazy world of 2017.

2017 Mercedes-Maybach G 650 Landaulet

Important things first – the G 650 Landaulet is not going to be offered for sale in the UK. Sorry. We’re sure there’s whole tens of people now totally disappointed, but sadly it won’t be coming here. Blame it on Brexit, perhaps. So if you’re based in the UK, and in the market for a stupidly powerful and deeply luxurious (chauffeur driven) off-roader, you’ll need to find a new option.

2017 Mercedes-Maybach G 650 Landaulet

However, if you’re elsewhere in the world, you might be able to snag yourself one of the 99 units of this bizarre creation when it goes on sale in the Autumn. There’s no mention of price but, realistically, if you’re searching for something like this then cost isn’t really going to be an issue. Especially not when there’s a biturbo AMG V12 engine, making 630hp, that’ll average around 16mpg at best. Oh, and C02 emissions of 376g/km, which is probably on par with a coal-fired power station.

The G 650 Landaulet is probably similar in size to a power plant, measuring over 5.3metres in length and 2.2metres tall. Ground clearance, thanks to those portal axles first seen on the G 500 4×4², is a towering 450mm. It makes the standard fit wheels, wearing 325/55/R22 tyres, look relatively in proportion. The alloy wheels are ceramic polished, and feature ‘Landaulet’ lettering in them – just in case you ever forget what you’re driving.

2017 Mercedes-Maybach G 650 Landaulet

Traditionally used in relation to horse-drawn carriages, landaulet refers to a chauffeured vehicle with a folding soft-top over the rear seats. Typically intended for use by dignitaries and public figures, if you’re a vain tyrant – in a country with poor road surfaces – then this could be the machine for you.

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New | 2018 Dodge Durango SRT | HEMI muscle for the whole family!

Ever felt the need to subject five other people to the gut-wrenching sensation of being in a Hemi-powered muscle car? You’re in luck!

2018 Dodge Durango SRT

Does everything in the Dodge lineup really need a 392-cubic inch HEMI V8 engine? Where does this all stop? With the Durango SUV gaining the 6.4-litre engine, it now means 60% of Dodge model range in the USA comes with the option of that big ‘Apache’ motor. In fact, the Detroit company only needs to wedge it into the Journey crossover, and Grand Caravan MPV, to have complete coverage.

2018 Dodge Durango SRT

Until now the biggest engine on offer for the Durango was just the 5.7-litre (345-cubic inch) V8, producing 360hp and 390b-ft of torque. The new SRT goes much further, with horsepower upped to a faintly ludicrous 475hp and a corresponding 470lb-ft of twist. That’s sufficient for 0-60mph in just 4.4 seconds – a figure aided by the four-wheel drive system and eight-speed automatic transmission. Oh, and there’s a standard launch control just in case you need a hand getting off the line.

2018 Dodge Durango SRT

We’re pleased to find that the auto’ gearbox features a sport mode that reduces shift times by 50%, and sends up to 65% of torque to the rear wheels. Hitting sport also means stiffer suspension setting and adds steering feel. If you’re feeling really brave, there’s also a track mode which results in even faster shifts, more torque to the back wheels, and the stiffest suspension settings.

The National Hot Rod Association has certified the Durango SRT as being capable of running a standing quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds. For reference, the Dodge Challenger Hellcat manages the same distance in 10.8 seconds, but under 13 is probably fast enough for something with three rows of seats. Oh, and it’ll also tow 8,600b of weight – that’s 3,900kg!

2018 Dodge Durango SRT

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New Metal | 2018 Ford Mustang

The single most important part of this article? That the new 2018 Mustang is available with an ‘Orange Fury’ signature paint colour option. But there’s much more than just that, honest…

2018 Ford Mustang

Can you believe that the current sixth generation Ford Mustang has already been around for over three years? No, we couldn’t either, until we checked back through previous posts to find the first photos of the 2015 model year ‘Stang. So, after just over 36 months, Ford got Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to pull the covers off the new 2018 Mustang. We’re not even kidding about that.

2018 Ford Mustang

No, it doesn’t look hugely different. This is, after all, a mid-life facelift rather than a full on redesign of Ford’s pony car. The biggest external change is a new drooping snout, courtesy of a lower bonnet line and front grille, matched with more aggressive and angular headlights. The latter are now full-LED units, matching the LED taillamps found at the rear. Add in redesigned bumpers, plus extra exhaust tips for the 5.0 V8, and that is pretty much your lot. Not forgetting a choice of new alloy wheel designs, and paint colours, of course.

Spot the difference. 2018 model year is on the left.

Spot the difference. 2018 model year is on the left if you’re struggling to tell.

There’s the promise of more luxurious materials inside, with hand-stitching to the centre console cover, a new Mustang badge and – most significantly of all – a new key fob design. Ok, we’re perhaps being slightly flippant, but that’s due to the evolutionary nature of the styling updates.
In terms of technology, the addition of a customisable 12″ LCD instrument panel is a genuinely big deal, offering a choice of different display dependent on whether, normal, sport, or race mode is engaged. Preferred choices for suspension, steering and other settings can now be saved, avoiding all that annoying button pressing every time you get in the car. (more…)

News | Detroit 2017 | Kia Stinger GT

How do you ensure you get attention on the first day of the 2017 North American International Auto Show? Launch a stunning new sports saloon the night before. It certainly worked for Kia and the bold new Stinger.

2017 Kia Stinger GT

We’ve covered the Korean brands of Kia and Hyundai on ESM quite a lot. Their commitment to continuous improvement and rapid development, interesting design, and those lengthy warranties have always impressed us. The Hyundai i30 Turbo showed potential, and the Kia Cee’d GT has always garnered praise. So should we really be shocked by Kia launching a serious sports saloon?

2017 Kia Stinger GT

Perhaps not, but there will still be a lot of people less open-minded to try to win over here. Thankfully, the genuinely handsome and attractive styling of the Stinger should go a long way to persuading them. It’s probably the best interpretation of the Peter Schreyer’s vision for how Kia models should look. We can actually bring ourselves to forgive the front end of the latest Sportage now, just. The Stinger features the most aggressive version of the ‘Tiger Nose’ grille at the front, with some fearsome scoops and apertures. The rear three-quarter view is perhaps our favourite, as it seems to channel both US muscle car influence, combined with European elements, too.

2017 Kia Stinger GT

That international mixture is quite important, as the Stinger will be available on both sides of the Atlantic. But if the styling doesn’t quite do enough to convince buyers to consider it, the drivetrain will probably do the rest. The base Stinger features a 255bhp (with 260lb-ft of torque) 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, using an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Most importantly power goes to the rear wheels, unless you happen to live in a market where AWD appears on the options list. But pick the rear driver regardless, as it comes with a mechanical limited-slip differential. Mmm, yes, there’s drift potential here.

2017 Kia Stinger GT

However, the entry-level version isn’t what has got us most excited. No, the Stinger GT is the real reason that this becomes a big deal. Using the Lambda II T-GDI engine from the Genesis G90 saloon, the range-topping GT gets 365bhp from the 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6. Torque is an equally impressive 376lb-ft, with that peak available from just 1,400rpm. This all sounds suitably muscular, as does the claimed 0-62mph time of 5.1 seconds and top speed of 167mph. Indeed, we’re talking about a Kia with the potential to nail 0-60mph in 5 seconds. To think we wrote 2016 off as being crazy…

2017 Kia Stinger GT

Most importantly, one of the five drive mode choices is a sport mode. This adapts the Dynamic Stability Damping Control of the suspension system, weights up the steering, and also quickens throttle response and paddle-shift gearbox changes. Textbook sport mode integration – well done, Kia. We also deeply approve of the staggered 225/40/R19 and 255/35/R19 tyres fitted to the Stinger GT, along with vented Brembo brakes front and back. Kia has attempted to kit out the Stinger with a sizeable performance arsenal, which should hopefully translate to a genuine driver’s car.

2017 Kia Stinger GT

The interior is also driver focussed, with a TFT screen between the analogue dials detailing data such as lap times, G-forces, and engine oil temperature. The dashboard itself is neat, with slivers of satin chrome trim and circular air vents keeping it classy. We’re not huge fans of what resembles an iPad being stuck to the top of the dash, but the standard touchscreen will control what Kia promises to be an impressive standard sound system at least. There is also a Harman/Kardon 720 watt system, with 15 speakers and under-seat mounted subwoofers, on the options list as well.

Prices are not yet confirmed, but it’s safe to bet that this will be the most expensive Kia offered to date. European sales are expected to begin at the end of 2017, so we should get more information before then. Ultimately, we’re very impressed with the Stinger. Kia has produced a bespoke sports saloon, with genuine performance equipment and bold styling. We just hope it delivers on the high expectations it’s now set for itself.

 

EngageSportMode Awards 2016 | Part One

In many respects – like politics or celebrity deaths – 2016 was a challenging year. But, in the automotive world, things were far better. With the infamous hypothetical ‘macaroni and glitter’ trophies at the ready, these are the things which stood out the most in the last twelve months.

esm-2016-awards-part-one

No, it doesn’t matter that it’s already 2017. We always like to make sure the previous year is well and truly finished before hammering down our judgements. Here, in part one, we cover the cars from 2016 which are most deserving of our collective glory.

Best Car Driven in 2016 – BMW M2BMW M2 ESM 2016 Awards

Trying to narrow down the best thing driven in a year to just one single car is often a tough challenge. However, for 2016, this was pretty easy. We waited all day to try it at the SMMT Test Day in May, but it was completely worth it to get a shot at driving the BMW M2.

With a punchy engine, perfectly balanced chassis, and dimensions suited perfectly to Millbrook’s twisty Alpine circuit it was hard not to be immediately seduced. Whilst 365hp might seem fairly timid in the current horsepower wars, it gives the opportunity to exploit everything the M2 has to offer without feeling the need to hold back.

Like any good performance car it was possible to feel immediately connected with the M2, yet there’s still sufficient depth to know that spending longer with it would never prove to be boring. The seven-speed DCT dual-clutch gearbox is brutally effective at changing cogs, especially in Sport mode, even if purists might argue that the manual ‘box is the one to buy.

Add to this a – relatively – affordable starting price of just over £44,000, vaguely sensible running costs, and a compact size, it makes the M2 easy to justify as the single best car driven in 2016. Testing the M240i also demonstrated just how good the basic package beneath the M2 is, but also just how much more it adds to the equation.

Congratulations, BMW. The M2 was, unquestionably, the best car driven by ESM in 2016.

Honourable mentions – Mercedes-AMG A45 4MATIC, Rolls-Royce Phantom, BMW M240i

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Top Seven New Cars of 2016 | With Ned Jasper

Yeah, 2016 probably won’t go down as a vintage year in terms of global politics and current affairs. However, when it comes to new cars, it’s most certainly been a classic! As the man who has covered the biggest new releases for ESM this year, our man Ned Jasper picks his top seven.

Top 7 New Cars of 2016

Well, here it is. Christmas time 2016. That means festive tunes fill the airwaves, trees go up and presents are bought. That also means that it’s nearly the end of 2016. So let’s take a look back at some of the greatest new cars to come out this year. This is ESM’s top five new cars of 2016. Actually, it’s not. There were so many good contenders this year that we stretched it to seven! Yes, yes, I know I said that last year as well, but this year we really have had some rather special cars released. Here they are:

7. Porsche 718 Boxster S2016 718 Boxster SI know what you’re thinking. Great intro, best cars of 2016, and now I’m presenting you with a Porsche Boxster. What is going on? I had my reservations about this one too. This is the baby Porsche, only with fewer cylinders and a turbocharger. Not really a recipe for success is it? However, it’s been 11 months since this little gem was released and, I must say, it’s grown on me.

First, let’s talk about the heart of this little orange and black tiger. It’s down two cylinders from the previous model, but it’s up one turbo and a whole heap of power. What’s more, the Boxster S has a variable vane turbo – not necessarily something you would expect to find from this class of car.

So what about the rest of it? Underneath we have the same mid-engined, rear-wheel drive, sports car with a manual gearbox (PDK is available, too) that’s been entertaining drivers for nearly two decades. Despite the engine alterations, the recipe remains unchanged with superb handling and excellent composure. Only this time with a little more grunt. Well worthy of the number 7 spot.

 

6. McLaren 570GT2016 McLaren 570GT

You would think that with 562bhp, and a top speed of 204mph, the 570GT would undoubtedly be the fastest hatchback in the world. The thing is, it’s not even the fastest hatchback on this list – told you it was a good year! What the 570GT is, though, is a remarkable piece of British engineering. Not only is it a comfortable, usable supercar, it’s also stunningly good to look at, and actually practical.

First, the looks: unlike the other cars in the McLaren range, the 570GT is a little more mature. There’s no lurid paint and no stripped out interior on this show car. Instead we’ve got rich silver-grey paint, mixed with deep red leather. This car is, in my eyes, the best-looking McLaren of the lot. Now, I said it was a practical hatchback, and I wasn’t lying. In total, the 570GT has 370 litres of luggage space. Sure, it’s split between two different enclosures, but that’s still more space than a Ford Focus.

The 570GT is a remarkable piece of engineering and surely serves as proof that we’re living in a new age. No wonder McLaren has just churned out its 10,000th car!

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Friday Photo | 2016 BMW M6 GTLM Art Car by John Baldessari

If you’ve heard of John Baldessari, then you can consider yourself more educated than ESM when it comes to art. He’s the man responsible for the latest in a long line of BMW Art Cars. So just what is this M6 GTLM all about?

John Baldessari BMW M6 GTLM Art Car #19.

Actually, choosing the M6 GTLM as the basis for an artistic creation isn’t a bad place to start. We already happen to think it looks pretty damn good, and the fact it packs a 4.4-litre V8 with up to 585hp only adds to the appreciation. In actual fact, we got quite excited about it in naked carbon fibre form at the start of the year, so Mr Baldessari had a great canvas to work with.

John Baldessari BMW M6 GTLM Art Car #19.

Ok, we’ll admit it. We don’t quite get what the 85-year-old conceptual artist has done here. There’s some colourful spots and stripes, the word ‘FAST’ written on one flank, and a picture of the M6 on the other. Baldessari is famed for his love of minimalism and once had a canvas, only featuring some written words, sell for over $4m dollars. So seemingly this car must be good too, right? Like we said, we’re clearly not experts at this art game.John Baldessari BMW M6 GTLM Art Car #19.

According to the man himself, the red dot on the roof is there “so you can see it from above” whilst the whole concept turned out “playfully satirical” for him. The picture of the M6 GTLM, on the M6 GTLM itself, is meant to symbolise an ironic play on the multi-dimensionality of the race car as an art object. We’re not going to lie, that last sentence was also gleaned from the press release. (more…)