Motorsport | Can a Porsche 911 really be mid-engined?

With a new Porsche 911 RSR announced, EngageSportMode ponders if anything is truly sacred in 2016.

2017 Porsche 911 RSR

It’s fair to say that 2016 has been something of a rollercoaster ride. From Brexit, to Donald Trump, and even Boaty McBoatface this has certainly not been a ‘normal’ year. However, amongst the madness, there’s always certain automotive things you can count on, right? A Mercedes driver will win the Formula 1 World Championship, more SUV models will be announced at every motor show, and a Porsche 911 has a rear-mounted engine.

After the LA Auto Show, only two of the above statements can be counted on to be true. Yes, 2016 has got to the most hallowed of sports cars – the Porsche 911. Admittedly it’s not a 911 road car, but the RSR racer instead. Yet there’s still something slightly unsettling about a 911 not featuring an engine behind the rear axle.

Porsche claims to have taken advantage of Le Mans GT regulations by moving the engine to “be positioned in front of the rear axle” along with various other technical developments. It’s still powered by a naturally aspirated flat-six – none of the that flat-four turbo nonsense here – but surely a rear-engine position is what makes a 911, well… a 911? It’s probably the key defining feature of the 911 model, as a mid-engined Porsche coupé is actually just a Cayman. (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…

Game On – Volkswagen GTI Supersport Vision GT

Gran Turismo 6 has been kicking around for a while now, with a next-generation console GT7 still some way off. As such, Polyphony is still encouraging manufacturers to add more content to the PS3 game in the form of ‘Vision’ concepts.

VW GTI Supersport Vision Gran Turismo

Volkswagen has already contributed to Gran Turismo 6 with the mental Vision Roadster from last year. But it’s decided to offer up another digital concept in the form of this GTI Supersport. Safe to say, it’s also pretty crazy.

VW GTI Supersport Vision Gran Turismo

With a 503PS turbocharged VR6 engine and a 7-Speed DSG gearbox, there’s no doubting the virtual firepower of the GTI Supersport Vision GT. Unlike a normal Golf GTI, there’s a 4MOTION 4WD system to keep all that power under control, and 20″ wheels to, well, just look cool! The 0-62mph sprint happens in just 3.6 seconds, and there’s a top speed of over 186mph.

Freed from the shackles of practicality and road safety laws, it’s also meant Volkswagen’s designers could really let loose with the bodywork. The GTI Supersport does, however, still maintain obvious Golf GTI cues like the red trim running through the grille and headlights, and the daytime running lights in the outer reaches of the front bumper. (more…)

The Mazda MX-5 GT Just Got Real!

If you’ve been reading EngageSportMode for a while, then you’ll know the Mazda MX-5 GT Concept shown at the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed ended up being one of our stars of the show. It also picked up a prize in the 2012 ESM Awards. Now, thanks to Jota Sport, concept becomes reality.

JOTA Mazda MX-5 GT 001

The heart of the GT Concept has lived on virtually unchanged from the one which roared up the Goodwood hill last year. Jota has taken the standard naturally aspirated 2.0 litre engine and extracted 203 bhp from it, resulting in a 0-60 mph time of just 6.4 seconds; some 1.5 seconds quicker than the regular car. Top speed is limited to 140 mph, with fuel consumption alleged to be unchanged from the standard vehicle.

Bilstein dampers are fitted to enhance what is, arguably, and already sweet handing car. Full road and track Öhlins suspension is available as an option for those who really want to push their MX-5 to the limit. A carbon fibre rear diffuser is fitted to aid aerodynamics, whilst a jutting carbon front splitter and rear boot lip spoiler can all be added at extra cost. If they’re anything like the ones fitted to the GT Concept, ESM would certainly be ticking those boxes.

One thing which, sadly, doesn’t make the extras list is the retina searing orange paintwork of the Concept. Instead you’re given the choice of white pearl (pictured above), true red and aluminium silver metallic. All three options come with the roof painted brilliant black and stylish anthracite-finish alloy wheels.  (more…)

New Volkswagen up! Special Editions

EngageSportMode is a genuine fan of the Volkswagen up!. When we tested the base-model Take up! last year, we were hugely impressed with its value for money, perky performance and VW quality. We suggested that should you want a new city-car, you had no other viable option.

It’s also worth pointing out that we were a little bit amused by some of the names Volkswagen had come up with for the up!’s trim-levels. However, in a world where a major car manufacturer sees fit to call a car Adam, then clearly any sense when it comes to nomenclature has gone out the window.

Along with announcing that the fully electric, and Yorkshire accented, e-up! will hit the UK in 2014, Volkswagen have also announced two new special editions aimed at fans of “loud music, great-looking small cars and questionable puns”. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Groove up! and Rock up! editions!

This is the Rock up! edition. Looks good!

This is the Rock up! edition. Looks good!

The Rock up! features that distinctive anthracite body-stripe, full bodykit and rear spoiler and rolls on 16″ alloy wheels. I think the bigger “Upsilon” rims really give the up! some presence, and makes ESM very excited for a GT or GTI version.

Upping (sorry) the equipment count even higher, the Groove up! comes fitted with a 300w Fender sound system with 6-speakers, amplifier and subwoofer! Further kit includes a leather trimmed (with orange stitching) steering wheel, gear lever and handbrake to complement black seats with more orange stitching. The Groove up! also rolls on the same “Upsilon” wheels as the Rock up!, but the lacks the former’s bodykit.

Both feature the 1.0 litre 3-cylinder engine with 75bhp, with the Groove up! starting at £11,640 whilst the edgier Rock up! costs from £12,980. Buy now, collect in July.

In all seriousness, the up! continues to be ESM’s recommend city-car, and these two cunningly named special-editions just further the appeal. We’re still waiting on the proper sporty offering, hopefully with the beloved 1.2 litre turbo motor! Fingers crossed.