Remember the ZEOD RC, and the DeltaWing before it? Nissan’s fascination with narrow-track and electric power continues, but now in the form of something that could actually appear on the street. Oh, and with a drift mode.According to Nissan, this is the future of electric cars that enthusiasts shouldn’t be scared of. That a car can be fun, despite not burning fossil fuels inside, but relying on the gentle hum of batteries instead. Whilst the name sounds like something Gillette would sell, the BladeGlider is a very serious attempt at showcasing what the near-future might hold. This is the Leaf with excitement added: the drama of dihedral doors, an open roof, and technology from Williams Advanced Engineering beneath the radical styling. The narrow front-end and wider rear is lifted straight from the DeltaWing design, maximising aerodynamic efficiency. Cameras replace the wing mirrors for the same reason.Previously displayed as “just a concept” in 2013, Nissan is using the 2016 Olympics to showcase the real-word potential of the BladeGlider. If you happen to be in Rio de Janeiro, and be a fancy VIP, you may well find yourself being shuttled around by the BladeGlider. That’s chauffeured around at considerable pace, too. With the equivalent of 268hp available, and a thumping 521 lb-ft of torque, the BladeGlider can hit 0-62mph in less than 5 seconds and go all the way to 115mph. Whilst that isn’t quite Tesla Model S Insane Mode fast, it’s certainly punchier than your average Leaf.With each rear wheel using an individual electric motor, the BladeGlider’s real party trick is the ability to torque vector. Just like a Nissan GT-R, or a certain Ford Focus RS. Should the car detect understeer, it’ll send torque to the outside rear wheel to turn the car back onto line. But it also allows for added fun with the drift mode option – perhaps there is some extra karma from doing lairy drifts in an electric vehicle… (more…)
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.
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 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.
Desirability – 8/10
Feasibility – 6/10
Likelihood – 0/10 Probably more chance of an 2 Series Active Tourer M
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.
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
Yeah, 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…)
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.
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!
Ok, there’s a little bit of artistic licence used in the title for today’s feature. But we do have ‘in-action’ footage of two of the hottest new cars from this week: the Porsche Cayman GT4 and the Ford Focus RS.
Both of these caused the Twittersphere to descend into meltdown it seems, especially Porsche officially announcing the Cayman GT4 just as everyone was going to bed. Thanks for that Zuffenhausen. So, without further ado, here’s the very yellow GT4 in a video showing a distinctly German sense of humour:
Although there’s not a huge deal of on-track footage, it’s safe to say the Cayman GT4 sounds rather awesome, and also appears to go sideways rather happily. On a side note, the video was made with the help of Skynamic – the firm responsible for the epic drone-cam video from the 2013 Monte Carlo rally. It’s worth checking out their website for the ‘intro’ movie alone.
Ford have taken a slightly less subtle approach for the Focus RS, employing Ken Block – of Gymkhana ‘hooning’ fame – to, well, hoon about in their new superhatch. Block has been taken on by Ford as a consultant, so we can expect the Focus RS to come with a free clip-on beard and pair of DC shoes. Maybe. We could mention something snarky about WRC too, but we’ll be kind on this occasion.
The video was obviously filmed before the official unveiling, hence the disguised bodywork, as Ken rips around Ford’s Cologne factory. Fun fact – the Focus isn’t actually produced at the Cologne plant, but at the Saarlouis factory instead; be sure to tell your friends that. Like the GT4, it’s clear the Focus RS is very capable of going sideways and makes a lot of noise too.
We’re tempted to ask which would you pick but, with the mid-engined coupe costing more than twice what the Focus RS probably will, it’s kind of an unfair question.
When Ford releases details and pictures of a new car wearing the RS badge, it’s a big deal. Does the third instalment of the Focus RS live up to the hype, and successfully carry on the ‘Rallye Sport’ lineage?
The biggest news is the fact the third generation Focus RS comes with All-Wheel-Drive. After almost 15 years of Ford telling us that the hottest Focus was more than capable of handling big power with just front-wheel drive alone, the new RS goes back to the old ways of AWD. Why the change? According to Ford it’s that they’ve now found an AWD system capable of giving ‘a new level of handling capability and driver enjoyment’ whilst dispensing with ‘the rulebook which says that AWD hatchbacks cannot be fun to drive’.
There’s a few manufacturers who would probably disagree with that last statement, especially makers of chief rivals such as Volkswagen with the Golf R, and Mercedes with the A45 AMG. Key to this new ‘fun’ approach is a special torque vectoring setup that allows up to 70% of the torque to be sent to the rear axle. The RS can also juggle 100% of that torque to a particular wheel, allowing tighter turn ins and the potential for controlled drifting action, apparently!
Perhaps it’s because the new Focus RS will be one of Ford’s ‘world cars’ and offered in numerous new markets, including the USA, that AWD beckoned. This global approach also explains the presence of the now ubiquitous 2.3 litre EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, already making an appearance in the new Mustang. (more…)