Alternatively known as a 'Scooby-Doo' or 'Scooby' and many more names around the world. The Subaru Impreza WRX STi is an iconic car! Since it's launch in 1992 and with the help of a few World Rally Championship (WRC) wins. The Subaru manufacturer has become a household name for high performance sports cars. Quite a change from the old 4WD farm vehicles which were often found around the country side. Today the Subaru Impreza, is a family friendly 4 or 5-door saloon with plenty of space for the shopping and a couple of kids. (Ed. Err! yeah right! That's not what the Impreza is about!). Ok, the Subaru Impreza WRX STi is a 300+ bhp, all-wheel-drive, super-grippy, great sounding, performance, supercar for the people! There, that's better!....
The Subaru Impreza WRX STi was born and bread on the Rally Stages across the world. What makes the Subaru Impreza so popular is that you can get that same performance and control on the road for an affordable price in the form of the Impreza WRX, STI and special editions.
So why the fascination with the Subaru Impreza. Well for me I think like most people it started in 1995 after a famous fellow Scotsman by the name Colin McRae took the Subaru Impreza 555 WRC out for a few weekend drives and won the World Rally Championship (WRC). At the time I was 15 years old and dreaming about driving like a loony round the streets of my local town and a rally car for he road in the form of the Subaru Impreza could of made that possible. If it weren't for the fact I couldn't afford on nor did I have a driving licence. (minor problems).
Today, I've got my driving licence and matured a bit, no more dreams of terrorising old people and stray cats zooming around like a boy racer. Instead I needed to prove to myself that I could drive sensibly, so went out and did an Advanced Driving course and now I am a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and saving money on my car insurance each year. Not only that, but the course has seriously improved my driving. In fact it's a transformation. Just as well really. Although I still haven't got my hands on a Subaru Impreza WRX (preferably STi), at least I know I've greatly reduced the chances of killing myself behind the wheel of one on the public roads. Might sound lame, but I'm proud of it, so there!! At least now I can enjoy the full potential of what a performance car like as the Subaru Impreza WRX STi has to offer while keeping safe.
So why the Subaru Impreza WRX STi and not the old rival Mitsubishi Evo's Well its' fairly straight forward to me. I have the up most respect for the Mitsubishi Evo range of cars. In fact on paper and on track the Mitsubishi Evo is often seen to be better than the equivelant Subaru Impreza WRX STi . But that don't mean squat. Quite frankly The Mitsubishi Evo does nothing for me. Instead the Subaru Impreza WRX STi and it's winning formula with professional British drivers Colin McRae and Richard Burns behind the wheel in 1995 and 2001 respectively, taking the Subaru Impreza WRC home to become World Rally Champions. No other car had given us a British World Rally Champion! Plain, and simple as that...
It was a stray dog hair in the cabin that made me realise the XF had been put to good use.
As I wound down for a break, I?d handed? the key to resident road tester Alan Taylor-Jones, who needed a comfortable car in which to transport his family ? including Sprocket the dog ? around the country.
As payback, Alan agreed to deliver some observations on the XF, and I?m pleased that he returned as impressed as I have been with ?the XF?s ability as a comfortable consumer of miles, bar a couple of minor quibbles.
Wet roads provide a reminder of the V6?s fruitiness. Alan notes that when you are driving ?in Normal mode and squeeze the accelerator to pull away from a standstill, there?s a slight lag before the power is delivered, a trait that?s not uncommon in automatics. When the power does arrive, boy does it arrive in a hurry, and Alan reports that ?it is possible to overwhelm the rear tyres when the road surface is greasy?.
Over 6000 or so miles, I?ve learned to anticipate that slight lag, particularly when pulling out at busy junctions and roundabouts. Indeed, applying a large clog of accelerator from a standstill can? be fun in the right circumstances, although perhaps not when elderly relatives are being ferried around.
Alan had to lower the folding rear seats during various trips. He reckons proper handles with which to fold the seats are ?a nice idea? but feels pulling the handles should do more than merely release the seats from their lockings. ?You still need to pull the seats down, which is annoying,? he says.
Overall, though, the Jaguar?s combination of comfort when you need it and decent performance if you want it really is a gift that keeps on giving.
I jumped at the offer of the Jaguar XF for a weekend, before realising what my Friday night had in store for me: yet another trip to Ikea.
Plenty of questions were fired at the XF?s guardian, Matt Burt, all asking about the car?s practicality. From memory, the Jaguar didn?t have the rear space and access of many cars out there, not least my current long-termer, the very different Seat Ateca, but the Jaguar?s spec sheet lists the boot as being 30 litres larger than the Seat?s, at 540 litres.
So, armed with a tape measure, I wandered over to our car park one lunchtime to scope the boot out for myself. I was quickly reminded how limiting the boot aperture is, and then there was the mystery of how to fold down the rear seats. Eventually, I gave in and read the manual, which directed me to two (almost hidden) yellow levers in the roof of the boot. Bear in mind, too, that while our XF has the 60/40-split rear seats as standard, that?s not the case on the car?s two lower trims; they cost £420 extra. That might not sit well with some buyers, but it?s a similar scenario with the BMW 5 Series.
How did we fare at Ikea? It was a sedate spending spree, but the XF handled the job in fine style, easily swallowing a sizeable mirror and various household fripperies. RB
Seat Cupra R on on display at Frankfurt Motor Show 2017
Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up this week's gossip from across the automotive industry
Respect your elders, they say, and so it was that Autocar (founded 1895) was forced to defer to Mercedes-Benz (founded 1883, depending on how you read history) boss Dieter Zetsche (substantially younger than both) when he visited the BMW stand at the end of the Frankfurt motor show press day.
Alas, our interview with BMW R&D boss Klaus Fro?hlich was cut short so Zetsche could have a tour of the BMW i Vision Dynamics concept, his thoughts on which remain unrecorded.
How do you make a splash at the Frankfurt motor show when your company doesn?t have a stand? McLaren tried parking a 570S Spider outside the BMW hall, but Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer and his team took unsubtle to new levels when they decided, quite literally, to fly the flag for the UK manufacturer.
?I do not listen to rap music,? Bentley boss Wolfgang Du?rheimer proclaimed to a bunch of amused journalists at the show. His son does, though, he explained, and his son recently told him rappers own Bentleys. Du?rheimer?s point was that its customer base varies around the world and Bentley cars are aspirational to rappers as much as older clientele.
Seat still hasn't confirmed Cupra as a sub-brand but boss Luca de Meo dropped the biggest hint yet: ?We will be more precise [at the] Geneva [motor show]. Talk to us then.? He said Cupra gives another dimension to the Seat brand and it wanted to develop a whole range of Cupra models.
Like the regular Panamera, the range-topping Sport Turismo mates a turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine that produces 542bhp to a 134bhp electric motor.
Combined, the system outputs a maximum of 671bhp and 627lb ft and enables the all-wheel drive estate to hit 62mph in 3.4sec ? 1.4sec quicker than the regular E-Hybrid model.
The car, which produces its maximum torque from just 1400rpm, can also hit 124mph in 11.9sec, which is just one second slower than the 911 GT3 RS can manage. Top speed is 192mph.
The all-wheel drive Turbo S E-Hybrid uses an eight-speed automatic gearbox and offers a claimed 97mpg according to the NEDC test.
It uses a 14.1kWh lithium-ion battery that can be recharged in 2.4 to 6 hours, depending on the power outlet it?s connected to. It can run in full EV mode for up to 31 miles with a top speed of 87mph.
The fitment of the battery into the car?s floor has removed 95 litres of storage space from the boot, but the figure still stands at 425 litres. The rear bench holds space for two adults and a child, and can be folded electronically in a 40:20:40 split.
As standard, the Sport Turismo Turbo S E-Hybrid gets 21in alloy wheels, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control and torque vectoring technology. There?s also a rear limited slip differential and ceramic composite brakes, as well as adaptive three-chamber air suspension with Porsche?s Active Suspension Management system.
Hyundai i30 N 2018 review
We get behind the wheel of Hyundai's first crack at a hot hatchback, and the i30 N doesn't disappoint
The i30 N is the first hot hatch from a marque with a full works entry in the World Rally Championship, and therefore something to be taken very seriously indeed. That Hyundai?s aim has been to cram in as much performance for the least possible cost to buyers should also have your ears pricked up.Why now? Well, the brand is on something of a roll, recording an 87 percent increase in European sales in the last five years. To build on that success and translate rally podiums into profit, it?s now launching a new performance arm ? N.Enter Albert Biermann, long-time boss of BMW?s performance arm ? M. He?s the type of man who expects the ?ESC off? button in a car to actually mean ?off? (in the i30 N, it does) and yet recognises that in 2017 a five-door hot hatch needs to be useable to be a hit in showrooms. This machine is very much his baby, and the German?s presence is a major reason for optimism about its ability to entertain.The fundamental i30 N package is nothing out of the ordinary ? it?s a five-door hatch with a turbocharged DOHC 2.0-litre in-line four driving the front wheels. What is rather unusual is the level of hardware on offer for modest outlay, with the £24,995 base model getting 247bhp, an electronic limited-slip differential and three-way adaptive suspension. An optional Performance Package sees those figures increase to £27,995 and 271bhp.As for pace, the standard car hits 62mph from rest in 6.4 seconds while the Performance model shaves 0.3 seconds from that time. Both will hit 155mph and manage around 40mpg combined, says Hyundai.The five-door bodyshell is the same as that used for the standard i30, Hyundai claiming it to be already adequately stiff (the N gets underbody strut braces, nevertheless). Wider wheelarches have been grafted on and the N-car sits up to 8mm lower.Aggressive bumpers with deep intakes at the front, a red pin-stripe on the splitter and a triangular brake light sat within the gloss-black rear spoiler are other identifiers, though perhaps none are as conspicuous as the N?s rather lovely, and unique, signature colour ? Performance Blue. There?s also a choice of 18in wheels (shod in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres) or 19in options (bespoke Pirelli P Zero).Components for the car?s upgraded brakes, fettled engine, toughened-up six-speed gearbox, reinforced clutch and sophisticated suspension are all either built in-house or supplied by Korean firms with whom Hyundai has a close relationship. It might have been developed at the Nürburgring, but the i30 N?s physical form is refreshingly home-grown, and that?s helped it undercut the competition.The car is also highly configurable, with settings for the e-differential, engine map, exhaust, suspension, steering and ESC. All in all, there are 1944 combinations, though by default they?re grouped into Eco, Normal, Sport and a hardcore N mode. There?s also an N Custom mode, with which you can deploy your favourite settings at the touch of a button. Inside, the i30 N gets either a 5in display atop the dash or an optional 8in unit. You get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as readouts for power, torque, turbo boost pressure, lap times and ? sure to go down well with the local constabulary ? acceleration. Performance Pack models also get a removable brace that stretches across the boot floor ? how about that for intent?
Alpina B4 S 2017 UK review
Our first UK drive in Alpina?s more potent sports coupé emphasises the breadth of ability on offer from this Bavarian alternative
If you?re in the market for a fast, luxurious coupé with more than 400bhp, you?ve likely considered the Mercedes-AMG C63, Audi RS5 and BMW M4. But for a touch of added exclusivity, you might want to consider an Alpina B4 S Biturbo.The B4 S, which supersedes the old B4, is based on the same straight-six-powered platform as the M4, which has undergone extensive technical and aesthetic adjustments, as per Alpina?s traditions. It means the car is a more potent but less focused alternative to its BMW counterpart.Under its svelte bonnet is a 3.0-litre six based on the N55 block of the M3/M4, but it uses twin turbochargers that are 10% larger, a water-cooling system that?s 20% bigger and an uprated oil cooler with 35% more capacity. The engine spins a lighter crank that?s made from forged steel.Maximum power output for the Alpina-fettled N55 peaks at 434bhp at 5500-6250rpm and torque reaches 487lb ft at 3000rpm. Those figures are 9bhp and 81lb ft more than the M4, although the B4 S, which only comes with an eight-speed automatic, is 90kg heavier than the auto BMW. Still, that added torque helps the Alpina to accelerate from zero to 62mph in 4.2sec, a tenth quicker than the M4.Under the bonnet is where the technical improvements for the B4 S over the B4 end, though: Alpina has stuck with the same suspension settings, meaning it sits on slightly less aggressive springs and dampers than its cousin from BMW's M division.As before, the B4 S gets BMW Professional infotainment as standard, which adds a widescreen sat-nav and all-round parking sensors. The car?s seats also come wrapped in Dakota leather at no extra cost, although the car you see here features Merino leather, a £1285 option.