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…)

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 2015 – One day, Twelve cars [Part 1/3]

The annual SMMT Test Day is often described as being like Christmas for motoring writers, with a huge range of cars available to drive on the demanding Millbrook test track. So, is it really the automotive journalism nirvana it’s meant to be? You bet. SMMT-2015-108 With this being our first time at the SMMT Test Day, ESM didn’t quite know what to expect. Driving onto the famed mile straight at Millbrook – including some banked corner action – certainly got the adrenaline racing, ever so slightly. That was raised more, as the minibus pulled into the steering pad, covered with over 170 cars from almost 40 manufacturers. The deal at the SMMT Test Day is quite simple; which makes it even more special. Approach a friendly PR/media representative from a marque, ask if a car is available, and then be handed the keys after a quick check of your name badge. Be it 1.0-litre Suzuki Celerio or Rolls-Royce Phantom, the process is the same. That is what makes it an amazing experience.

As such, ESM made sure to try as many cars as we reasonably could in the time we were there. We managed twelve in the course of the day, with the option to drive direct rivals back-to-back hugely valuable. Time with each car is, relatively, limited if you want to make the most of what’s on offer, so the below are more initial impressions, rather than a full detailed road test. With the number of cars driven, we’ve broken this down into three parts:

Lexus RC F 2015 Lexus RC F Coupe 001What car to learn the formidable Millbrook Hill Route in? A 5.0-litre V8 coupe, with 470 bhp and rear-wheel drive of course. Fortunately, despite the power on offer, the RC F wasn’t too intimidating on the tight twists and turns. (C) SMMT 2015 Lexus RC F 006It’s certainly quick, has an excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox, and sounds superb. However, you’re also reminded of the 1,800kg kerb weight under braking, and there’s a little bit of confusion as to whether it’s more muscle car than pure sports car.

Inside there are obvious hints of the revered Lexus LFA in the shape of the centre console, and it’s as high-quality as you would expect. We’d question the choice of red-leather seats in a blue car, and Solar Flare orange would be our obvious pick of paintwork colour. The RC F is a curious car, and one we would love to spend more time in to figure out fully. There’s obvious talent beneath that coupé body, and one that seems to offer an interesting alternative to the BMW M4.

ESM Rating 8.5/10
Stats: £59,995, 5.0-litre V8, 470bhp/390lb-ft torque, 0-62mph 4.5 secs, 168mph top speed (more…)

Vauxhall’s April Fool’s Day Vivaro Taxi Kebabi

EngageSportMode finds kebabs to be a real guilty pleasure – a doner kebab at the end of a night out is a good thing. Vauxhall’s 2015 April Fool’s Day offering sounded just too tasty to be true. Press release follows:

Vauxhall Kebab 001For many years now, after a good night out, it’s almost been mandatory to get your taxi driver to stop off at the local kebab house for a quick doner. Now, thanks to Vauxhall’s ingenious new Taxi Kebabi, having your kebab and getting home are no longer a problem.

Vauxhall Kebab 002

Based upon the 9-seat Combi model, this class-defining Vivaro features two gas-fired spit rotisserie grills, salad bowls integrated into the arm rests, chilli dispensers and of course a tasty selection of sauces. (more…)

2015 Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam – The Review

As part of the Vauxhall Media Driving Day, we got the chance to try out the hottest addition to the Adam lineup. Does adding more power to the style-concious city car produce a true driver’s car? You’ll have to head on over to Motoring Research to find out the answer.

2015 Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam 001

Yes, that’s right. The full review of the Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam is available to read here courtesy of our good friends at Motoring Research. So is it more Adam Ant or Grandmaster Flash? You’ll just have to go find out won’t you!

Specification: 2015 Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam
Engine 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder
Gearbox Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power 148BHP
Torque 162lb-ft
0-62mph 8.5 seconds
Top speed 124mph
MPG 47.9mpg combined
CO2 139g/km
OTR Price £16,995
As Tested £19,425
(Forget About The Grey metallic paint £545; IntelliLink £275; Leather Recaro Seats £1,610)

Friday Photo – Vauxhall Media Day 2015

Earlier this week EngageSportMode was lucky enough to be invited along to the Vauxhall Media Driving Day. With the chance to get behind the wheel of some of the Griffin’s finest – both new and old –  we leapt at the chance and made our way down to Luton. We’ll have full reviews of the modern metal up shortly but in the mean time, here’s a flavour of the day in photo form:

Vauxhall Media Day 000If the above picture looks like a strange juxtaposition between old and new, that’s because it is. Along with all the new metal from the current Vauxhall line up, there was a selection of highlights from the Heritage Centre. If you’re unsure what the Heritage Centre is, essentially it’s a collection of cars (and vans) from Vauxhall’s origins all the way to present day. You won’t often see a Lotus Carlton, old school Nova SR and a 1918 Vauxhall D-Type under the same roof – but you will here. It’s well worth a visit if you can make it to one of the open days occasionally offered.

In between testing Vauxhall’s latest offerings, ESM got behind the wheel of these two classic models:

Vauxhall Chevette HS

Rear-wheel drive, dog-leg five-speed gearbox, no power steering and brakes that need a hefty shove to work. If you want a reminder of what performance cars used to be like, the Chevette HS is the one to go for. Made so the Vauxhall Dealer Team could go rallying back in the late 1970s, the Chevette HS is a loud – and slightly scary – trip down memory lane. 0-60 mph in 8.8 seconds mean it’s still relatively quick by modern standards, with plenty of grip from those wide wheels. It’s just a little bit mental, and guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

Vauxhall Mk3 Cavalier 2.5 V6 CDX

Some 15 years newer than the Chevette, but still two decades old now, the Mk3 Cavalier is probably the epitome of 1990s sales-rep motoring. Whilst it sounds like an obvious reference to make, the Cavalier really was the darling of the fleet world for a long time. However, you’d need to have exceeded all your sales targets to bag yourself a V6 CDX like this, with its wafty, smooth, 2.5 litre engine making 168 bhp and 169 lb-ft of torque. Although it’ll do 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds, really you just want to hang your jacket in the back window and cruise on down the motorway, probably listening to your R.E.M, or Blur, cassette tapes. We weirdly quite liked the Mk3 Cavalier, and could have happily driven it all the way home.

Lotus Carlton

Hands up, we didn’t actually get to try the Lotus Carlton. Unfortunately, as is the risk with older performance machinery, it was out of action on Wednesday. Maybe it’s for the best as, even parked inside, it looks menacing! The legend of the Lotus Carlton has existed since it first rolled of the production line back in 1990, with a 3.6 litre turbocharged engine making 377 bhp. For reference, a Ferrari 348 tb of the same time made only 300 bhp, and had a top speed slower than the 176+ mph of the Carlton! One for next time, we hope.

As noted, we’ll have more detailed write ups on the new stuff, but here’s a quick photo summary for now:

A huge thank you to the guys at Vauxhall Media for letting us be part of it. Whilst many manufacturers have historic cars collections, most are hidden away in dusty warehouses and never used. It’s hard not to admire Vauxhall for letting what would be museum pieces for many, get used on open roads. For that we’re genuinely grateful – and fingers crossed the Lotus Carlton is working next time!

Friday Photo – The Geneva 2015 ‘known knowns’ Gallery

A few years ago, Donald Rumsfeld made an infamous speech talking about things we know, and don’t know about. Ahead of the Geneva Motor Show next week, we’ve got a gallery covering the new cars we already know will be there. That’s mainly because the manufacturers have already spoilt the surprise by showing them to us. 

The past few weeks have seen a flurry of activity from automakers across the world, as they’ve revealed and announced all-new cars to be shown off at the Swiss show. Here’s a few of the ones we’ve already seen:

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Naturally, these are just a few of the highlights – there’ll be much more to see.  Of course, there’s also another category of cars – the ‘known unknowns’ – which includes ones we know will most probably be there, but don’t know the full details on. Like the Honda Civic Type R and the new Porsche 911 GT3 RS ; although so much information on the latter has been leaked, it might as well be a ‘known known’ now. But there are others, such as the expected Lamborghini Aventador SV and a mystery Bentley concept car. (more…)

New – Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam

EngageSportMode is left somewhat perplexed by Vauxhall’s Adam. On one hand, we like the randomness of the customisation options and interesting styling. But, on the other hand, is it trying slightly too hard to be cool? We’re not sure. So, does adding a hotter version to the range make things any clearer?

Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam 001Yes, it’s actually called the Grand Slam, being the quickest version of the ‘Slam’ trim level that’s meant to represent the sporty choice in the Adam range. If the idea of driving a car called the Adam Grand Slam makes you cringe, then you’re probably not the kind of buyer Vauxhall is trying to snag in the first place; just be glad it’s not called the ‘Totes Amazeballs’ edition.
2015 Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam 002Nomenclature aside, what makes this Adam so Grand? Well, chiefly, the 1.4 litre four-cylinder engine that makes 148 bhp (150 PS) and 162 lb-ft of torque. That’s a fairly substantial amount of power in a small car, with corresponding warm-hatch performance of 0-62 mph in 8.5 seconds and a 124 mph top speed. A six-speed manual gearbox transfers those horsepowers to the front wheels, whilst a Stop/Start system tries to keep fuel economy and C02 under control; 48.7 mpg and 139g/km respectively. (more…)

2014 April Fools’ Day Automotive Roundup

April Fools’ Day is that one opportunity each year for automotive PR teams and marketing departments to cut loose and show off their sense of humour. For the rest of the year it’s all about extolling the benefits of 5 year warranties, diesel engine balancer shafts and 0% finance, so April 1st is the chance to show off a little fun. We’ve already highlighted the efforts of BMW and MINI UK’s PR departments, but what has the rest of the motoring world been up to today?

Kicking things off – apologies for the pun – is Vauxhall with its Brazil 2014 World Cup themed Astra Copacabana. In addition to the fairly obvious Brazilian flag on the roof, there are footwells filled with sand, seats covered in turf from the Maracanã Stadium, a pair of flip-flops in the glovebox and a roof-mounted cocktail maker serving up Caipirinhas. The 200 PS 1.6 litre Turbo engine apparently boots the Copacabana from 0-62 mph in 2.6 seconds, and comes with a list price of £41,024.01.

ESM Verdict: Thumbs Up! We wouldn’t be surprised if various manufacturer do make some awful World Cup promotions come the summer time. At least this Copacabana doesn’t include a stereo which only plays Barry Manilow.  (more…)

Friday Photo – 2014 Geneva Motor Show Gallery

It’s been a busy week at the 84th Geneva International Motor Show with a number of launches and debuts. We’ve covered a lot of it here on EngageSportMode already, but here’s some our photo highlights:

V8 Vantage N430 special edition

Aston Martin V8 Vantage N430 special edition

A big week for the Audi, with the Audi S1 Sportback, RS4 Nogaro Blue special edition, new TT and TT quattro sport concept all on show. (more…)