New – BMW M4 DTM Champion Edition

Saddened you couldn’t get your hands on a BMW M4 GTS? Worry no more! Now you can have one to honour a racing driver you’ve most probably never even heard of.2016 BMW M4 DTM Champion Edition

It’s a shame the DTM series doesn’t get more coverage in the UK, with close competition between 4.0-litre V8-powered coupes sounding like a rather attractive package. The fact it’s on BT Sport might not help, along with the love for our own British Touring Car Championship. Yet, despite somewhat of an unknown over here, BMW UK is going to be offering the M4 DTM Champion Edition.

2016 BMW M4 DTM Champion Edition

Built to celebrate Marco Wittman taking the 2016 DTM drivers’ title, this special edition seems to be a thinly disguised version of the M4 GTS which everyone went crazy for this year. In fact all the GTS goodness seems to be there – water-injection for the 3.0-litre straight-six turbo sees peak power of 493hp, along with torque of 443lb-ft. Yes, that’s identical to the GTS, as is the 0-62mph time of 3.8 seconds and 190mph top speed.

2016 BMW M4 DTM Champion Edition

In fact the roll cage inside, the big wing on the boot lid, and even the canards and splitter at the front end, are all taken direct from the GTS. Even the wheels are the same, save for being painted Orbit Grey, rather than featuring the wonderful orange details of the GTS. In short, if you can live with BMW Motorsport stickers and having to explain who Marco Wittman is, then this really is a GTS by another name.

2016 BMW M4 DTM Champion Edition


BTCC 2016 – Silverstone | Recapped and Rated |

Forgotten what happened in the BTCC last time out at Silverstone? You’re in luck, as ESM’s BTCC Correspondent is here to refresh your memory, and make predictions on tomorrow’s season finale.2016 BTCC SilverstoneEight drivers will go into the season finale at Brands Hatch with a chance of becoming the 2016 British Touring Car Championship champion following the latest rounds at Silverstone. Once again, the action-packed races produced three different winners and a bout of controversy.

Saturday’s qualifying brought a return to form for the MGs as Ashley Sutton took pole and teammate Josh Cook qualified third, with the duo sandwiching Tom Ingram. Andrew Jordan took fourth, Adam Morgan fifth and Rob Austin sixth, but championship leader Tordoff qualified poorly for the second meeting in a row, down in sixteenth.

2016 BTCC Silverstone

Race One (Sutton*, Cook*, 1st Ingram, 2nd Jordan, 3rd Austin)
The opening race was certainly lively, especially by first race standards. It started with Ingram taking the lead off the line and Jordan moving up the third, before cars swapped places up and down the grid, more regularly than normal. After a robust move to retain third, Jordan eventually lost out on the fifth lap as Cook powered through, while Sutton also closed on Ingram. It didn’t take long for Sutton to make his move and Cook was soon on the tail of the lead duo. Cook had a fantastic battle that lasted several corners with Ingram as he tried to make it an MG 1-2 and he succeeded following a little tap.


Ned Jasper | Tesla Model S 90 P90D

The Tesla Model S is kind of a big deal. No, scrap that, it’s a massive deal. We’ve heard from The Tame Geek when he drove one, but what is it like to be a passenger in the fastest four-door in the world? Ned found out.

tesla-model-s[Just a small disclaimer before I start the article, due to my age, I haven’t actually physically driven the car myself. I did, however, have a ride in the back, and this is my review from that perspective. Enjoy.]

2.8 seconds – that’s about the time it takes for you to decide whether or not you want to continue reading this article. Hopefully, it’s the former. But if you were in a Tesla P90D – with Ludicrous Mode – 2.8 seconds is the time it takes to blow your mind. Why? Because this 2.2-tonne family saloon can out-accelerate a Porsche 911 Turbo, that’s why! So in case you haven’t already guessed, 2.8 seconds is the 0-60mph time. Now, the way this thing looks.

The Model S came out in 2012, yet in the Spring of this year, we saw it oust its cocoon and flourish into quite a handsome brute. The combination of the long sloping roof line and powerful stance make spotting one on the roads an occasion. What’s more, the new eyelash-shaped wrap around headlights make it yet more menacing in the dark. Overall the Model S manages to mix a little bit of the future with much of the present. So even in 10 years time, I can’t imagine it looking dated.

With it being “the car of the future” and all, the Model S is inevitably a tech fest, and the whole car is adorned with little flourishes that do more that just please the eye. Those devilish lights, for example, are now full-LED and fully adaptive. The air suspension is fully adjustable too and, with the help of GPS mapping, the Model S will track where you’ve altered the suspension so that next time it can automatically do it for you. (more…)

Twin Test Review | VW Polo GTI vs SEAT Ibiza Cupra Black

On paper these two VAG family cousins share many similarities but, peel back the surface, and you’ll discover that things aren’t quite so homogenous. Which Spanish-built supermini wins out though?

SEAT Ibiza Cupra vs VW Polo GTI

If you’ve read our review of the SEAT Ibiza Cupra you’ll know there is a lot to like about this condensed hot hatch. However, sharing a powertrain and platform with the Polo GTI, through Volkswagen’s tried and tested badge-engineering, opens up obvious comparisons. We’ve broken our review down into several key areas, and found that things aren’t quite as predictable as you might imagine. Let’s get down to it:


This is evidently a subjective area, and neither Cupra nor GTI could be considered unattractive designs. Whether you prefer the basic Polo or Ibiza shape is personal taste, so we concentrated on the actual effort made to transform regular supermini into a hot hatch.SEAT Ibiza Cupra vs VW Polo GTISo what sets the GTI apart is the fact it looks more bespoke compared to the rest of the Polo range. From the red trim running across the grille into the headlights, to the honeycomb mesh and the GTI branding, it feels more special. Yes, it might be a scaled-down pastiche of the Golf GTI, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

On the other hand, the Ibiza Cupra struggles to separate itself from the hundreds of FR-badged imitators. Where it does differ is often through fussy styling, like the trapezoidal centre-exit exhaust or fake vents in the rear bumper. It’s still a good-looking car, but doesn’t quite do enough to make things feel distinctive. (more…)

BTCC 2016 – Rockingham | Recapped and Rated |

With BTCC back in action this weekend, here’s a reminder of what happened last time out along with ratings from our BTCC Correspondent.2016 BTCC RockinghamIt was yet another great day of racing in the BTCC, this time at Rockingham. There may have been a few more notable rough moves, but in general the closeness of the racing was incredible. There were once again three different winners on the day, but this time a BTCC record was broken as the 12th different winner of the season was crowned in the final race with the honour falling to Aron Smith. At the top of the standings, Sam Tordoff remains the man to beat after a couple of outstanding recovery drives after a nightmare qualifying session.

Race One 1st Gordon Shedden, 2nd Mat Jackson, 3rd Jason Plato
Race Two 1st Sam Tordoff, 2nd Andrew Jordan, 3rd Rob Collard
Race Three 1st Aron Smith, 2nd Gordon Shedden, 3rd Colin Turkington

2016 BTCC Rockingham

Championship Standings after Round 24 of 30: (more…)

2016 SEAT Ibiza Cupra 1.8 TSI | Review

With the current SEAT Ibiza nearing the end of a lengthy lifecycle, the Cupra has been hotted-up for one final fling. Is this Ibiza still up for all-night rave, or is it now more last tango in Benidorm?2016 SEAT Ibiza Cupra BlackYou remember 2008, right? A time when George W. Bush was still President of the United States, ‘Rockstar’ by Nickelback was inescapable, and the world was facing a humongous financial catastrophe. Ring any bells? At the same time as all that, SEAT was unleashing the fourth-generation Ibiza on the public. Cutting to the chase, this Ibiza has been around the block a few times.

After eight years, the fourth-gen Ibiza looks remarkably similar to the original Luc Donckerwolke design, despite having had two facelifts. It’s still an attractive car and, with the evolution of hot hatch styling in that time, manages to actually be relatively subtle compared to its rivals. Aside from the extra cut outs below the front grille, and the bespoke rear bumper and diffuser, you’d be hard-pressed to tell it apart from a cooking FR model.2016-seat-ibiza-cupra-black-review-004This particular test car was ‘Cupra Black’ spec, which means it gains black alloy wheels along with red brake calipers. There’s also additional interior equipment differences, but we’ll cover that later. Unless you have a serious dislike of gloss black alloy wheels, it’s most probably £800 well spent to upgrade.

The biggest alteration to this latest Ibiza Cupra is beneath the bonnet. Gone is the weird twincharged 1.4-litre petrol engine – which suffered a reputation for guzzling engine oil – that could only be had with a DSG dual-clutch gearbox. In comes a 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine from the EA888 VAG family. It has already seen service in the current Polo GTI and, as ESM’s Editor can attest, isn’t shy when it comes to twist.2016 SEAT Ibiza Cupra BlackWith 189hp and 236lb-ft of torque, the Cupra gains 12hp and 52lb-ft over the old 1.4 unit. As a result of the extra power, 0-62mph drops by 0.2 of a second to 6.7 seconds, whilst the top speed increases to 146mph. In case you’re wondering, both performance figures are identical to the Polo GTI, and are also ahead of the ubiquitous Ford Fiesta ST. So rest assured – you’ll have the bragging rights in a Halfords car park. (more…)

Friday Photo – BTCC Audi A4 quattro Super Tourer with Frank Biela

Twenty years ago the British Touring Car Championship was reaching peak popularity with global motorsport fans. On track, the 1996 season was being dominated by an all-conquering silver machine.1996 BTCC Audi A4 quattroFull disclosure – the Audi A4 quattro Super Tourer is, without doubt, the favourite BTCC machine of ESM‘s Editor. Ever. He even has the t-shirt, although it’s a little tight after nearly two decades… So the news that Audi Sport legend Frank Biela is going to be reunited with the A4 quattro this weekend is a big deal.1996 BTCC Audi A4 quattroIn 1996 the BTCC was one of the most competitive championships on the planet. To turn up and take both Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ titles at the first time of asking, was a huge achievement for Audi Sport, and a massive marketing boon for the Audi brand. Using all-wheel-drive gave the A4 a big advantage over two-wheel-drive rivals, resulting in Biela winning eight races in addition to taking another twelve podiums. Weight penalties in 1997 meant Biela could only fight to second in the championship, whilst for 1998 all-wheel-drive was banned from Super Touring.

Although the technical ability of the A4 quattro was immense, Frank Biela’s own personal talent cannot be understated. Along with the BTCC title, his career highlights include: five outright Le Mans wins (2000-2002, 2006, 2007), two American Le Mans Series wins (2003, 2005), 1991 DTM champion, 1993 French Touring Car champion, and 1995 Touring Car World Cup winner. For many racing drivers, winning one of the above would be immense, but to do all of them is off the chart. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, all those titles were taken behind the wheel of an Audi. Cut Biela open and you’ll probably find his veins arranged in the shape of the Audi badge, such is his association with the brand.

So it’s fitting that he’ll be driving the A4 quattro BTCC racer this weekend at Knockhill, doing parade laps as part of the David Leslie Super Touring Car Festival. It probably wouldn’t have been fair on everyone else to let him actually race, we imagine. To celebrate, Audi UK have shared a host of photos from that successful 1996 season. Enjoy:

F1 – Buttoned up, or down and out, for Jenson?

After a fairly dull and dismal Italian Grand Prix on track, the only major talking point from the weekend was McLaren’s 2017 driver lineup. Does it mean things are all over for JB?2016 Jenson ButtonIt’s a classic McLaren piece of stage management. Stoffel Vandoorne joins Fernando Alonso as the two race drivers for 2017, whilst Buttons retains an “ambassadorial” role within the McLaren universe. It means the team have an option should a) Vandoorne somehow prove to be useless, or b) Fernando Alonso decide he can’t be bothered with the same crap anymore. It also means the firm retains the ability to milk Jenson’s marketing appeal. No doubt there’ll be numerous videos of him drifting McLaren road cars and other race cars over the next twelve months.

2016 Jenson Button

Expect more of this in the next year.

McLaren are no stranger to having drivers take a sabbatical. Mika Häkkinen famously took one for the 2002 season which, curiously, was also announced just before the 2001 Italian Grand Prix. After being World Drivers’ Champion in 1998 and 1999, along with finishing as runner-up in 2000, Häkkinen has suffered a challenging 2001. With the desire to win having faded, and fear from big crashes lingering, it wasn’t a huge surprise that Häkkinen officially announced his retirement from Formula 1 in 2002, at the relatively young age of only 33. (more…)

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…)