Editorial

Stars of the Haynes International Motor Museum

With over 400 cars and motorbikes, the Haynes International Motor Museum in Somerset is packed with variety. These were some of our highlights on a recent visit.

Haynes International Motor Museum

First opened in 1985, the Haynes museum features 15 themed exhibitions, covering early motoring to modern supercars. We’ve broken down our photo highlights broadly in line with the layout of the museum so, without further delay:

The main halls include a range of French and German machinery, with certain exhibits guaranteed to excite motoring journalists. A brown Saab next to a Citroen 2CV, for instance…

(more…)

Editorial – Back on track

Things have been a little quiet around these parts of late. ESM’s editor apologises.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody

Sorry. ESM‘s content has been a little short of late, and that is solely my fault. Last year was a whirlwind of writing for others, and it meant finding the time and energy to write for ESM suffered. I know other bloggers have had the same challenges when gaining other outlets to write for, but the guilt of leaving ESM unattended has been eating away.

Being the place that kickstarted this whole writing thing for me, neglecting ESM is a bit like having your first hot hatch in the garage, but not making the effort to take it out for a drive on a regular basis. So after a slight hiatus, it’s time to get things going again.

As ever, I’m hugely grateful to ESM’s contributors who have helped keep new articles and stories appearing here. Proving just how great ESM’s contributors are, we have an excellent article coming up from Ned Jasper, covering one of the most important new cars of 2018.

So, once again, sorry for the radio silence.

Top 7 (or 8) New Cars of 2017 with Ned Jasper

Ned Jasper is back, and he’s picked out the best new cars we’ve seen during 2017. You might well be surprised by what takes the top honours!

Those of you who are regular readers of EngageSportMode will know that it has become somewhat of a tradition that each year at roughly this time, I take a look back through the years motoring new arrivals, and pick a select few to be crowned the best new cars of the year.

This year, however, there’s a slight problem with that. As, over the last 12 months or so, the only car I’ve actually had the chance to write about is the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo. Now the Panamera is an awesome machine, and undoubtedly one of the coolest cars to be released in 2017, being that it is both a Porsche and an estate. But it would end up being a rather short list.

Luckily for me, Editor John has been busy this year, so I’ll be pinching a some of the cars he’s written about. Plus I’ll add in one or two extras. Right, let’s get started, shall we?

7. Tesla RoadsterTop 7 New Cars of 2017

Elon Musk snuck in this little beast at the end of his Semi-truck presentation last month, and although it may have looked like an afterthought there, the engineering that’s behind it all certainly isn’t.

This is the car you want in a game of top trumps. Headline figures are as follows: 0-60mph in just 1.9 seconds – that will make it the quickest production car on the planet. It then goes on to run a 1/4-mile in 8.8 seconds, all the way to a top speed of over 250mph. No exact figure has been given, but it looks like they’ve got another certain speed record in their sights. All-electric range: is 620 miles. Impressive, sure, but considering the other two figures, I wouldn’t care even if it did half that.

(more…)

Opinion – Why the Volkswagen Jetta should be missed

The recently departed ‘Golf with a boot’ deserves more recognition says ESM’s editor.

Volkswagen Jetta Mk7

Last week’s news that the Jetta saloon would not longer feature on Volkswagen’s UK price list was hardly met with grief and distress. Nobody will be building statues to commemorate its passing, and no national day of mourning will be declared. Yet I think the humble Jetta deserves a better legacy than what it currently has.

Volkswagen Jetta Mk7

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the ‘other Volkswagen saloon’ has bitten the dust in the UK. Four-door versions of C-segment hatchbacks have always been a relatively niche market, with neither Ford nor Vauxhall offering saloon versions of the Focus or Astra respectively.

Volkswagen Jetta Mk7

The constant march of the crossover SUV won’t have helped, with a sensible sedan never going to win in a battle of desirability against the Tiguan or new T-Roc. (more…)

Friday Video | Bring back the BTCC TOCA Shootout for 2018

With the BTCC celebrating a diamond jubilee in 2018, something extra has been lined up for the Snetterton race weekend. ESM thinks it could do better, with a little inspiration from the 1990s.

1993 Ford Mondeo BTCC

How exactly do you celebrate a 60th anniversary of a motorsport series? Seemingly with a double-length 60 mile race, with separate qualifying round and the removal of standard championship ballast. And that’s it. Hmm. We can’t help but feel TOCA have taken a slightly safe approach to this, when something a little more special could have been conjured up.

Instead, ESM would like to see a return of the TOCA Shootout – a one-off non-championship race held at the end of the season, with the slowest driver eliminated at the end of each lap. With a pace car used to keep the field bunched close, it was made for entertainment.

None more so in 1993, when Formula 1 and Indy Car champion Nigel Mansell showed up – in his Ford Mondeo flat cap. Things didn’t quite go to plan for Nige, but the below video highlights what brought 66,000 people to Donington Park in late October:

Forget a double-length race – this is what the BTCC should use to celebrate a 60th anniversary. We’re not sure if Mr Mansell could be tempted back, but given the driving standards we’ve seen during 2017 a shootout-style event seems perfect for contemporary BTCC. With live TV coverage offered by ITV, the drama of a modern shootout essentially writes itself.

So come on Alan Gow, don’t phone this one in. Bring back the TOCA Shootout, flat caps and all.

Friday Video | Classic BTCC chaos

We’ve taken a close look at driving standards in the BTCC this week. Here’s a reminder that certain things don’t change.

BTCC Super Touring

After the controversy from last weekend’s Silverstone BTCC rounds, the question of how big a part contact should be allowed to play in a professional racing series is one which won’t go away. For some historic perspective, we’ve taken a trip back to 1999 and the peak of the Super Touring era, courtesy of this YouTube clip from Duke Video:

Collisions and questionable overtaking manoeuvres are nothing new to the BTCC, it just seems that 2017 has compacted several seasons of carnage into one neat package. We can only wait and see what the season finale will deliver on the 1st October.

BTCC 2017 | Snetterton – What did we learn?

A week is a long time. Here’s a reminder what happened last weekend when the BTCC circus rolled in to Norfolk. ESM’s BTCC Correspondent wasn’t too impressed with proceedings.

2017 BTCC Snetterton

The series returned following the summer sabbatical, but in all honesty, we didn’t really learn a great deal. After Croft, the championship looked like it was going to be a four-way battle and this weekend’s action confirmed this thought following heavy points hauls for the current top four.

Colin Turkington’s rear wheel drive power enabled him to make Jack Goff’s clear view of the track last no further than the first 100 metres or so and championship contender Turkington sped off into the distance, or so it seemed. An extremely rare mistake, or a slippery surface, halfway through the race caused Turkington to spin off, although he did eventually recover to seventh. Ash Sutton strengthened his championship position by hunting down Goff, who was set for his first win, and used his superior tyre grip to secure the victory.

2017 BTCC Snetterton

The day’s second race was again fairly dull until about half distance. However, this time it was a lights to flag victory for Sutton while all three BMWs hunted him down as a pack, although Goff ran second for quite some time. Rob Collard went into the weekend second in the championship and he needed a slight tap on Goff to achieve second in the race, although Turkington made a great move on him to secure the position for himself later in the race.2017 BTCC Snetterton

Sutton’s chance of winning all three races ended on an entertaining opening lap of the final race as a collision with Rob Austin ended both of their races, but Sutton later alleviated Austin of any blame, although it looked a rash move. Unlike the previous two races, most of the action in this race came at the start, rather than at the end. However, race leader Andrew Jordan suffered what appeared to be an electrical issue on the penultimate lap, whilst leading with a decent gap, which gifted the race win to championship leader, Gordon Shedden.

The victory meant that Shedden held on to his lead at the top of the standings, although with a reduced margin as the top four are now covered by eleven points. At the back of that pack, but most definitely in form is Sutton. Disregarding the retirement in the final race, Sutton had finished no lower than fourth in the previous eight races, winning four of them; serious championship form. (more…)

Editorial | Volvo – fully switched on from 2019?

If you’ve read the news lately, you could be forgiven for thinking that Volvo has killed the combustion engine. No, not quite, but you can’t blame the company for blowing its own trumpet a little. 

Volvo T8 Twin Engine Range

Given the past year, and the risk of being labelled a traitor or enemy of the people, we’d wonder if any organisation would be truly happy about making the front cover of the Daily Mail. But that’s exactly what Volvo got on Thursday, along with sizeable coverage in the The Times and The Guardian. The reaction on social media was slightly more mixed, with many pointing out that the newspapers and other had massively misunderstood the announcement by Volvo. This wasn’t ‘pure electric cars only’ as a strategy, and manufacturers like Lexus already offer hybrids across their model range.

Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine

Perhaps there was a, justifiable, element of resentment from other brands, that Volvo has stolen so much of the headlines with this announcement. For a carmaker to be on the front page of multiple newspapers and not to have done something wrong – Volkswagen – is rather rare. But that is exactly what Volvo achieved yesterday. Granted many mainstream journalists got completely the wrong end of the stick, and believed Volvo would banish the internal combustion engine completely by 2019. However, we imagine Volvo’s PR department were still rather pleased with the coverage all the same.

Volvo S90 T8 Twin-Engine

The truth is virtually all major manufacturers are going to need to further embrace hybrid and electric vehicles, in order to meet the EU’s 2021 target of fleet CO2 emissions averaging no more than 95g/km. That’s quite a tall order, and therefore the more ultra-low and zero-emissions cars a manufacturer has, the lower their overall fleet CO2 average. This is why Volvo is not dispensing with internal combustion in 2019, but merely ensuring it becomes a smaller part of their model range and, where still offered, includes some form of hybrid system to further reduce CO2 outputs. (more…)

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…)

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!

(more…)