Gallery Feature | Fifty Shades of (automotive) Grey

Over 17% of new car buyers picked grey last year, and it’s now the third most popular tone in the UK. But how many different types of grey can there really be? Quite a lot, actually.

50 Shades of Grey

For reference ESM’s Editor has never actually seen Fifty Shades of Grey, or read any of the books. However, he surmises that the plot revolves around a man who treats his interior designer quite badly, whilst she struggles to pick the right grey tones for his house. Plus, the lead character insists on one room painted red, in a tribute to Changing Rooms from the 1990s. Beyond that, who knows what happens, other than inspiring us to seek out fifty shades of grey paint offered on new cars.

We’ve taken these directly from the configurator websites for the respective manufacturer. As a result, the quality of some images is not the best. In the case of Skoda, it’s truly dreadful; like 8-bit Nintendo retro. We’ve tried to accommodate as many different brands as possible, but other greys are available. We’re also not sure how some of these can even be classed as grey in the first place.

Shades 1 to 10

Tasting Notes: (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!


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


Photo Gallery – 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed – Paddock Action

Despite weather that threatened to make Goodwood seem more like Glastonbury at times, the 2016 Festival of Speed proved to be as impressive as ever. ESM was there, for two days this time, getting up close and personal with as much of the machinery as possible. We could write 1,000s of words but, instead, we’ll give you the pictures first. 2016 Goodwood Festival of SpeedTrying to pick which photos to feature isn’t easy given the ridiculous selection of race and road cars on offer at the Festival of Speed. To try and keep things simple, we’ve broken it down into three galleries: the highlights from the paddock, what the manufacturers brought to the motor show, and cars in action tackling the hill climb. In this first gallery we’ve covered our favourites from the various paddocks at Goodwood, where it’s possible to be inches away from priceless racers and motorsport icons. We’ve also included what we found after the (long) trek to the rally stage at the top of the hill, and a special feature on BMW.

2016 Festival of Speed – Main Paddock

BMW Paddock Highlights
BMW was the featured marque at the Festival of Speed, so the brand accounted for a lot of the cars on display. Including one particular car that’s very dear to ESM’s heart.  (more…)

New – Ferrari GTC4Lusso

Ferrari’s FF has tried hard to be the practical V12 supercar. But now there’s a revised version with even more power. Let Ned Jasper give you all the details, including that new name.

2016 Ferrari GTC4LussoThis is the Ferrari GTC4Lusso (great name by the way, but we’ll get to that later), and it’s Ferrari’s latest attempt to try and market their cars at people with a family. Or indeed the kind of chap who likes to go on long cross-continent road trips with their mates, carrying all of their belongings, and traveling at speed. As to whether this exceptionally wealthy family man, or continent-crossing playboy, actually exists is another matter. But don’t let that put you off.

2016 Ferrari GTC4LussoOn paper the GTC4Lusso appears to be a relatively sane car. It’s dripping with technology, has four large and no doubt comfortable seats, boasts a usable boot, and is pumped full of safety features. There’s ample air bags, all wheel drive, and even a new four-wheel steer system (previously seen in the F12 tdf). This however is not a ‘sane’ car; it’s a Ferrari. That means that at this beast heart lies that same 6.3 V12 only this time it’s pumping out a whopping 681 bhp. That’s 30 more than the old FF could muster. Not only that, the reworked engine now gives a chunk more torque as well; 514 lb-ft to be exact. All of which means that this prancing horse can now gallop from 0-62 mph in 3.4 seconds (0.3 quicker than the FF), and it’ll keep on accelerating to 208MPH. This is a “family” car, remember.

At first glance, the GTC4Lusso seems to look almost identical to the car it replaces. Look a little deeper, however, and you’ll find that in actual fact almost every panel on the new car is different. Most noticeable of these alterations are the sexy little wing vents (similar to the gills of a shark), and the new more pronounced rear haunches. The latter allows the GTC4Lusso to sink a little further into the pavement, whilst also gain a more menacing road presence. The new bonnet and front grilles which, especially in grey, make the car look a lot more agile and bring strong connotations of the immense power which is lurking underneath. Finally, the rear. In my eyes – I’ve no doubt you’ll agree – the back of this car looks absolutely stunning. The whole car is already the automotive equivalent of a stunning Italian supermodel, but the rear end, now that’s the standout feature for me. The mixture of sharp razor-edged creases, and smooth free-flowing curves, make it an absolute feast for any like-minded petrol head. (more…)

EngageSportMode Awards 2015 – Part Two

The Awards for 2015 continues. No, we still don’t care that it’s now 2016, so just sit back and read which people and things caught our attention over the preceding twelve months. If you need it, you can find part one here.

2015 Awards p2

Person of the year – Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 2015

You don’t need EngageSportMode to tell you that Formula 1 in 2015 was a pretty dire affair. Whether it was the comically tragic debacle of McLaren-Honda, the constant money worries for Lotus, or Lewis Hamilton wrapping up the title virtually unchallenged, there was little to be positive about. Apart from one young Dutchman in his debut season. Yes, Max Verstappen was by far and away our highlight of F1 in 2015.

Having a father like Jos Verstappen clearly helps, and it meant the rookie Toro Rosso driver wasn’t flung blind into the F1 arena. He topped the list of most overtakes in a season, making some quite astounding manoeuvres to pass 49 cars in total. For comparison, the driver average was just 26.8 passes. His only major mistake came at Monaco when he tangled with Romain Grosjean, but rare is the young driver who manages perfection throughout an entire season.

At ESM we hope Max manages to maintain the same momentum in 2016, as he clearly has a huge amount of raw talent. Whilst saying he is a potential championship winner might be a little too hasty, with his youth and the correct management, there’s no reason why he couldn’t do it one day. Providing the Red Bull driver programme doesn’t spit him out the other end with no seat, as has happened to others before.

(C) Ferrari Media

We also had to tip our hat to a previous winner of this award: Sebastian Vettel. Having suffered a torrid 2014 at Red Bull, the four-time World Champion joined Ferrari and instantly seemed revitalised. Taking three wins and a host of other podium finishes, he outshone teammate Kimi Räikkönen substantially, whilst also looking to be actually enjoying himself again.

Honourable mention – Sebastian Vettel

BTCC Driver of the year – Matt Neal (chosen by ESM’s BTCC Correspondent)
BTCC 2015 Snetterton

ESM’s BTCC driver of the year is, once again, not an easy decision or clear-cut. There were many stand-out drives over the season that caught the eye, but consistency was naturally the key. Drivers deserving a place on the shortlist include Josh Cook, with a staggering 22 JST wins out of 30, and Tom Ingram. Both had outright podiums of their own including a brace of seconds for Ingram. Despite their final championship standing only being 2 places apart, Ingram scored significantly more points so you would favour him as ‘young gun’ of the year, although he doesn’t claim driver of the year. (more…)

Top 7 New Cars of 2015 with Ned Jasper

The end of 2015 is fast approaching so when our newest, and youngest, contributor suggested a rundown of the top new cars of 2015 we said yes! Ned has put together a list of the hottest metal from the past twelve months, so read on to see which one takes the glory.

ESM Top 7 New Cars 2015 Logo

Well, 2015, nobody can deny that it was a big year for ESM. Not only has it recruited its youngest ever member (myself), but also Mr ESM has tied the knot with Mrs ESM. Now as much as I would like to dwell on personal successes, I’m afraid I’ve been beaten to it. So go and have a read of John’s article first.

2015 has been a golden year in automotive terms. Over the past 12 months we’ve seen offerings from across the globe. Some pretty, some fast, some neither of those things, but they’re still exciting none the less. 
What you have before you are ESM’s favourites; the top 5 new cars of the year. Well, actually it’s not; there are seven. After whittling a list of 30+ cars down to just six. Torn between which one to drop I just included them all. Then I remembered about the M4 GTS. So seven it is.

7. Ford Focus RS
2015 Ford Focus RS 001

The Ford Focus RS; infinitely cool, ever practical thanks to its five-door hatch layout, and shockingly fast. This humble hatchback comes complete with 345bhp, a sub 5 second 0-62mph time (that’s 4.7 in case you were wondering) and looks to kill. In a market now mainly dominated by the Germans, this turbo tear-away has allowed the competition to take a step back and reconsider who is boss. This latest incarnation of the RS now features a comprehensive AWD system – just like the RS Cossies of old – the difference, this time, being that it can send up to 70% of torque to the rear tyres. This not only gives new levels of grip and performance but, as you would expect, makes it a lot more fun too. Let’s face it; anyone with even an ounce of petrol running in their veins wants one of these on their driveway. And… here comes the better news, they can, with a price of £30,000, it really is an every man’s car. We’ll take ours in Nitrous Blue, thanks.

6. Audi R8
2015 Geneva Audi R8 V10 plus

When creating this latest generation, Audi took what is one of the best sports cars on the market and turned it into a supercar. Gone is the 4.2 V8 of old, in its place is the beating heart of the Lamborghini-derived V10. 
There’s talk of an entry-level turbo V6 at some stage but, for now, were left with that cataclysmic V10 and the supreme V10 Plus. Which are both equally awe worthy. The ‘Plus’ boasts a 602bhp headline figure, a minuscule 3.2 seconds 0-62mph time and what is a rather fetching fixed rear spoiler. The ‘base’ V10 isn’t far off that either, although it sadly lacks the wing. The bigger power, sharpened looks and new tech really set this car off. It should make the perfect gift for millionaire playboys alike.

2015 BMW M4 GTS

The M4 was a bit of a last-minute choice really. The car itself isn’t a huge leap above the standard M4 in terms of performance. Stood beside the supercar royalty of this list it looks a little tame. But there was one factor that clinched it in the end. The looks. This car has served as my laptop wallpaper for the last few months now, and there hasn’t been a moment when I couldn’t stop ogling at it. That combination of dark grey and orange – much like ESM – is something that is so dazzling, so magnificent that it makes this car a true object of desire. The fact that it has 493bhp and can get to 62mph from rest in just 3.7 seconds is simply a bonus. Santa, if you’re reading this, above all else, this one please.

4. Porsche Cayman GT4
2015 Porsche Cayman GT4 001

If you’re looking for the blueprint of a driver’s car then this is it. When creating the GT4, Porsche have basically shoehorned all the best bits from the range into one complete package. Manual gearbox? Tick. Rear drive mid-engined layout? Tick. Tactile steering and exceptional levels of grip? Tick. The GT4 really has everything a keen driver could want. With the main focus of the GT4 set on the twisties, you would expect the car to lack slightly in the outright speed department. That’s where you’re wrong; the GT4 utilises the same flat-six borrowed from the Carrera S. However, mated with the lighter chassis, it allows the hardcore ‘baby’ Porka to spring from 0-62mph in just 4.4 seconds, and keep on accelerating to 183mph. I think it’s safe to say we all want one. (more…)

New – Ferrari F12tdf

When thinking about the Ferrari F12berlinetta, what would be the first thought that would come to mind? For the guys at Maranello ‘making it even faster’ seems to have been the first lightbulb that popped into mind.

2015 Ferrari F12tdfAlthough the future of Ferrari looks firmly set to be turbocharged – take the new 488 GTB, for example – the Italian firm is still very capable when it comes to natural aspiration. So capable that they’ve extracted 40bhp from the 6.3-litre V12 engine, taking total output for the F12tdf to a faintly ludicrous 770bhp. Torque is equally impressive, with 520lb-ft of it available at 6,750rpm.

2015 Ferrari F12tdfIt’s not all about power with the F12df though. All of the bodywork panels have been changed, which gives the tdf a far more aggressive stance. In fact, in the yellow and black colour scheme used for the press photos, the F12tdf has more than a passing resemblance to the Corvette C7.R racer. Thanks to the changes, the tdf produces 1.6 times mores downforce than the regular F12berlinetta, whilst also accommodating wider front wheels. A new ‘Virtual Short Wheelbase’ aids cornering through the use of rear wheel steering.

Despite the bigger bodywork and more technology Ferrari has hacked 110kg from the F12berlinetta which, when combined with the increased power output, results in explosive performance. 0-62mph happens in just 2.9 seconds, whilst 0-124mph is over in just 7.9 seconds. That’s quick; seriously quick. An Extreme Design braking system, borrowed from the LaFerrari, helps the F12tdf stop as fast as it goes.

The ‘tdf’ part of the name comes from the historic Tour de France race – the car one, not the bicycle one – that Ferrari dominated throughout most of the late 1950s and 1960s. As a 250 GT variant, the Tour de France cars used a Columbo V12 engine producing between 237 and 256hp – just slightly down on the modern F12tdf! However, with 250 GT Tour de France cars selling for $13.2m, you can bet the contemporary version will be something of a relative bargain. (more…)

Friday Photo – Frankfurt 2015 Gallery

This year’s Frankfurt Motor Show proved to be fairly impressive, with a host of big names revealing new products and concepts. Incredibly, this even included cars that hadn’t been previewed in a press release weeks beforehand! Who knew that was still possible? We’ve picked out some of the notable cars making an appearance in Germany. 

2015 Frankfurt

ESM actually spent the first Frankfurt press day helping out the good people at Motoring Research with their live blog. We heartily recommend you go and read it, especially for the Periscope video action from Andrew and Gav. Trust us, you’ll find yourself longing for a special edition Suzuki Jimny or at least learning where not to leave you bag on a motor show stand.

Possibly the biggest talking point of the whole Frankfurt show was the Bentley Bentayga SUV. Promising to be more luxurious than a Range Rover, but with epic performance from a W12 engine, it’s a pretty big deal. To some it’s a step too far for the Bentley brand, and the styling is also equally divisive. However, ESM is pretty sold on it – especially in orange. The Bugatti Vision Gran Turismo is just as mental in real life as in the initial photos – a definite showstopper. Oh, and yes that is a tent on the back of the Citroen Cactus M.

We’d already seen PR photos of the Ferrari 488 Spider, but it’s seemingly even more impressive in the metal. Some even going so far as to say it’s better looking than the GTB coupé. The Hyundai stand was one of contrasts, with the Korean company pushing its new “N” performance sub-brand with the rather mental 2025 Gran Turismo concept, alongside the Santa Fe and i20 Active. Jaguar’s F-Pace stole the pre-show excitement with a Guinness World Record-breaking launch event, whilst the MotoGP-engined Honda 2&4 concept proved to be a winner.


New Metal – Ferrari 488 Spider

Despite the fact we only got the turbocharged Ferrari 488 GTB less than six months ago, Maranello is clearly in the mood for spoiling us with news of the open-air Spider version.

2015 Ferrari 488 Spider

Whilst the internets may have gone slightly mad at hearing about a new Ferrari, it was hardly unpredictable. For as long as there has been a ‘baby’ V8 mid-engined Ferrari coupe (or Berlinetta, sorry), there has been an open-top version to match. From 308 right through to F430 and 458, there’s been the option to burn your head whilst you cruise around town. We just didn’t expect it so soon; Ferrari made us wait two years between the 458 Italia and subsequent Spider offering.

2015 Ferrari 488 Spider

Yet this is the first time we’ve seen a mid-engined, turbocharged, V8, open-top Ferrari since… well, the Italian-market only 328 GTS Turbo of 1989, actually. So although it’s not the very first forced-induction Spider, it’s one which the world outside of Italy will be able to buy. So I guess we can chalk that up as some kind of debut. Anyway, this is also Ferrari’s most powerful mid-engined V8 convertible, with the 661 bhp out eclipsing even the 597 bhp found in the epic 458 Speciale A.

As with the regular 488 GTB, torque is the big attraction, with a hefty 561 lb-ft available from just 3,000 rpm. The 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged V8 is mapped to deliver a fast throttle response, with Ferrari claiming a lag time of just 0.8 seconds between hitting the pedal and your insides being churned up. Where we’re genuinely impressed is with performance figures that are seriously close to the GTB, save for a 2 mph lower top speed at 203 mph. That means 0-62 mph in 3.0 seconds, and a still staggering but 0.4 seconds slower, 0-124 mph time of 8.7 seconds. Presumably, this is all so Spider owners no longer need to worry about feeling inferior when pulling alongside those with fixed-roof 488s. (more…)