Ford

Friday Video | Muted Mustang GT

The world of EngageSportMode is slightly sad this week, and Ford’s latest updates about the new 2018 Mustang GT aren’t really helping.

2018 Ford Mustang GT

Why the long face? Well, the nice man from Ford came and took our Mustang V8 GT Convertible away on Monday, and things just haven’t been the same since. No longer can we sleep soundly in the knowledge that 5.0-litres of eight-cylinder power is close at hand, or that our Shell loyalty card will be gaining new points soon. But, we’re also guessing that people nearby are glad not to be dealing with the immediate rain showers every time the roof was dropped, or hearing the tugboat burble of a big V8 motor.

2018 Ford Mustang GT

Although the 2018 Mustang won’t do anything about the weather, it would be able to help with the issue of noise. Whilst we didn’t find the V8 GT ‘Coyote’ engine to be ridiculously loud – it’s certainly no modified Subaru Impreza – it still made its presence known. Ford knows this, and that’s why the new 2018 ‘Stang is going to feature a “Good Neighbour Mode” on certain versions:

Using the active exhaust valves to quieten an engine is pretty novel to us, given that most cars with an exhaust button are there solely to make things louder. Which the new 2018 Mustang will also do, with Sport and Track mode settings that we certainly approve of. (more…)

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…)

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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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:

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…)

SMMT Test Day 2016 – Part One

Returning to the SMMT Test Day after the extravagant ‘twelve cars in one day‘ affair of last year, ESM promised to try to be more selective over driving choices this year. The result was certainly a varied motoring experience, to say the least.

SMMT Test Day 2016It’s the potentially the biggest day of the year for anyone who writes about cars, bringing manufacturers and media together in one place. The problem comes from being faced with well over 100 cars from almost 40 different manufacturers – there’s almost too much choice of what to drive. But there’s also the challenge of getting to drive the most popular stuff. The Ford Focus RS, Ford Mustang, Audi R8 and BMW M2 were big attractions, so ESM decided to take a slightly more left field approach this year.

Despite the promise to avoid the ‘drive everything that moves’ scenario, we still finished the day having tried a dozen of cars. Perhaps that is just our default setting at SMMT? Either way, here’s the lowdown on what we got behind the wheel of. Due to the sheer number of cars driven, we’ve split our day into two parts.

1. SEAT Ibiza Cupra2016 SEAT Ibiza CupraWhen is a VW Polo GTI not a Polo GTI? When it’s draped in the Spanish body of a SEAT Ibiza, that’s when. Having just literally climbed out of our Polo GTI, getting back in to the Ibiza Cupra felt instantly familiar. Everything fell into place rather quickly, which meant no delay in getting up to speed in testing it out. Interestingly, the doors rattle the same as the GTI where the body meets the seal. 2016 SEAT Ibiza CupraThere are some differences, however. The exhaust note warbles a bit more than the Polo, the gearshift throw is minutely shorter, and the suspension didn’t feel quite so rock-hard in sport mode. Quite possibly we’d need to spend more than just a few short minutes with the Ibiza Cupra to draw out the individual nuances. But it’s good, and if you pick this over a Polo GTI you’re not making a bad decision. Also, tip of the hat to SEAT’s press office for emailing details of the car being driven immediately. That’s impressive service.

ESM Rating: 8.5/10
Stats: £18,900, 1.8-litre I4 turbo, 189hp/236lb-ft, 0-62mph 6.7 seconds, 146mph top speed

2. Audi RS Q3 Performance2016 Audi RS Q3 PerformanceA quattro all-wheel-drive system connected to a five-cylinder turbocharged engine sounds like a recipe for a retro rally car, rather than a fast crossover. But that’s exactly what the RS Q3 packs underneath, and it makes for a fairly entertaining creation which lets you live out your Group B rally fantasies with the whole family. (more…)

Opinion – Seven fast estates we want to see built

The number of performance estates seems to have expanded massively in recent years but, here at ESM, that’s not enough for us. No, we’re greedy, and we want to see even more quick wagons on the market. To help we’ve come up with a septet that we think should happen.

Fast VW Estates

These aren’t just ‘pie in the sky’ ideas – we’ve picked out ones that, due to the wonders of modular platforms, could probably happen without too much engineering work. We’ve also rated them for desirability and feasibility, just to help point those manufacturers in the right direction…

1. BMW M3 Touring
BMW M3 TouringBMW has flirted with M Touring versions of the larger M5 twice in the past, and even went so far as building a concept E46 M3 Touring which never saw the light of day. Is now the time for a compact BMW performance estate?

The concept of a 431hp twin-turbocharged 3 Series Touring is rather appealing and, we imagine, adding M3 modifications to the estate bodyshell would make for quite an attractive proposition. Plus, BMW appears committed to covering every possible market niche these days, so this would just be one more addition. Think of it as karma for the 2 Series Active Tourer.

Sadly, market demand apparently means that this one falls quite far down the list of possibilities. BMW models are required to have global appeal and an M3 Touring is something that would seemingly only sell in Europe. Audi with the RS4, and Mercedes-Benz with the C 63 AMG, have somehow transgressed this problem, but the men in Munich aren’t convinced. Alpina is already doing a rather good job of building rapid 3 Series wagons, which doesn’t help our case.

Verdict
Desirability – 8/10
Feasibility – 6/10
Likelihood – 0/10 Probably more chance of an 2 Series Active Tourer M

2. Ford Focus RS EstateFocus RS EstateAlthough the hatchback might have only finally emerged, what better time to add a rapid load-lugger to the lineup as well.

The Focus RS hatch is a fairly awesome piece of kit, so making it more practical can only be a good thing, surely? Plus there’s already a Focus ST estate on sale, proving demand exists for quick wagons wearing the Blue Oval badge. With the Volkswagen Golf R notching up sales, there’s certainly buyers out there for estates based on extremely rapid hatchbacks. Plus, the thought of engaging Drift mode whilst on the way to the recycling centre has huge appeal.

Ford is already struggling to meet demand for the Focus RS hatch, so adding an estate variant might just be too much to handle. Although, as the RS is built on a regular production line with extra bits added later, surely there would be scope to squeeze a limited edition in there? There’s no precedent for RS estates, and we imagine that’s the excuse Ford would use to bat this away, but everything has to start somewhere. Also, this rendering by X-Tomi Design shows how good it could look.

Verdict
Desirability – 9/10
Feasibility – 8/10
Likelihood – 6.5/10 We’re still hoping on some ultra-limited edition opportunities.

3. Volkswagen Golf GTI Estate
04 VWYeah, this one pretty much only came to mind to help our OCD with VW’s current estate model range. As part of the performance estate lineup there’s a GTD, and an R, Variant but there’s no GTI version! That’s something which happens to unnerve us, ever so slightly, so we’d be a lot happier if Volkswagen just filled that gap. (more…)

Friday Photo – Design your very own Ford GT

Wanting your own slice of the Ford GT’s American pie? A new online configurator lets you live the dream.

2017 Ford GT ESMBe warned – just because you can now pick out the colours and trim you desire, doesn’t mean you can have one though. In a move that sounds more Maranello than Dearborn, those who want the EcoBoost-powered GT have to submit an application to Ford online. There’s no detail on just what criteria you’ll need to meet, but presumably being able to demonstrate you’re a longterm fan of the Blue Oval will help. We do suspect owning a string of Escorts and Fiestas might not be enough on this occasion, however. As Ford wants GT owners to be ambassadors for the brand, your social media worth is perhaps just as valuable as your money in these circumstances.

With an expected starting price of over $400,000 in the USA – UK prices haven’t even been confirmed yet – you’ll certainly need a bank balance as substantial as your number of Twitter followers. Those fortunate to snag one of the 500 cars will have it tailored to their exacting specifications by Ford’s very own concierge service. The experience won’t be the same as popping down to your local dealership we imagine, and this obviously fits with the aim of Ford to push products further upmarket. Something demonstrated by the recent ‘Vignale’ range of models.

For those of us unable to consider buying a GT, the online configurator is at least the chance to dream of what might appear on your drive following a substantial lottery win. Liquid Grey with Competition Orange stripes is, of course, the most ESM way to go. Although we do quite like Frozen White with Lightening Blue, or Triple Yellow with Shadow Black, or…

Five ways the Hyundai i30 Turbo beats the new Ford Focus RS

We’re not kidding when we say we’ve found a quintet of things that places the i30 Turbo ahead of the Focus RS. If you’re thinking of placing an order for Ford’s newest hero you might want to read these first. 

FocusRSvsi30Turbo001

We apologise that it may all seem a little BuzzFeed-esque, but it’s hard not to get swept up in the euphoria surrounding Ford’s new fast Focus. So just to ensure it definitely isn’t the second coming of Christ, we wondered if there was any way it could be beaten. Having just posted our review of the commendable Hyundai i30 Turbo, we decided to use that as a benchmark for comparison. Here’s how the Korean hatch can laud it over the fast Ford.

The i30 Turbo is cheaper!

Whilst the Focus RS is something of a performance bargain with a list price of £29,995, the i30 Turbo undercuts it by £7,395, starting at £22,600. That’s enough of a difference to buy 12,325 Kit Kats, or subscribe to Amazon Instant Video for nearly 94 years at current prices. Either a whole lot of biscuit goodness to work through, or so much streaming TV access that you’ll probably have to leave it in your will to someone. You won’t have either option with the Focus RS.

The i30 Turbo comes as a three door!

Ford’s move to making ‘world cars’ is a major undertaking to promote economies of scale, but it isn’t without problems. Whilst both previous generations of the Focus RS have featured three door bodyshells, the newest version only comes with five doors. It’s more practical, and will no doubt save the Blue Oval money, but there may always be that small part of you that yearns for fewer openings. Was the Escort RS Cosworth a five door? No, no it was not. But the i30 Turbo can be had with three apertures, and it’s actually the only i30 in the range to offer that choice. Exclusivity assured.

The i30 Turbo has better fuel economy!

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Friday Video – Engage Drift Mode

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this week, or just happen to have 02 as your mobile phone provider, there’s a fair chance you noticed that Ford finally unleashed the new Focus RS on the motoring press.

2016 Ford Focus RS

Whilst ESM hasn’t driven it yet – we’re not that important, you know – it’s safe to say Drift Mode has already become something of a legend amongst the motoring writers who have sampled it. If you’re wondering just what Drift Mode is, and how it manages to be even more fun than Sport Mode, then let former Top Gear Stig Ben Collins explain it for you. By former Stig we mean the old one who sold out many years ago:

Speaking of selling out, further to what we said on Twitter earlier in the week, EnagageSportMode is still willing to rebrand to EngageDriftMode if Ford wants to lend us a Focus RS for a while. Yes, we’re that willing to sell our souls here at ESM!