German car firm has collaborated with the new Star Wars television series.
Volkswagen has revealed two new special edition versions of the ID. Buzz, inspired by the new Obi-Wan Kenobi television series.
Keeping a Star Wars theme, the Light Side Edition and Dark Side Edition have been designed to appeal to the two sides of the force.
Each draws inspiration from Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader, with skins covering the models with designs coming from a collaboration between Volkswagen and Lucasfilm.
Looking first at the Light Side Edition, the lower section is beige like Kenobi’s tunic, while the shiny chrome on the upper section is a nod to the spaceships and droids of the Star Wars universe.
The jedi’s blue lightsaber is referenced through a thin blue line that goes down the side and onto the front of the car, while the underbody lighting and glass surfaces also have a blue hue.
The side windows and the centrecaps of the 21-inch alloy wheels have the Rebel Alliance logo to complete the look.
The Dark Side Edition is made from the ID. Buzz Cargo van, wearing ominous black and red detailing. The lower section is shiny black while the upper section is matte black, while red is used as a highlight for various pieces of trim, as well as covering the windows and headlights. The logos of the Empire can also be found dotted around the vehicle.
Doug Chaing, Lucasfilm vice president and executive creative director, said: “The opportunity to explore how ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ and the Volkswagen brand could come together on a vehicle was pure fun.
“The themes of good and evil, light and dark aren’t necessarily concepts we apply to cars. The ID. Buzz collaboration offered an unique opportunity to have the cars become graphic reflections of two iconic characters.”
The two special editions were unveiled at the Star Wars Celebration event in Anaheim, California.
The first GT86 has gone down as one of the all-time greats. JACK EVANS has been to find out if the GR86 replacement is just as good.
The original GT86 proved to be somewhat of a hit for Toyota. Its lightweight ethos, relatively low-powered engine and more slippery, eco-focused tyres meant that it was beloved by enthusiasts who could appreciate the GT86’s driver-centric approach.
So how do you deliver the tricky second album? Well, for the newly-named GR86 – enabling it to fall under Toyota’s Gazoo Racing range of vehicles – that means more power, more grip and much broader use of lightweight materials to make it a little more focused than its predecessor. Does that make it any more fun? We’ve been out to Seville to find out.
Toyota has done a great deal with this car over the one it replaces. The engine is more powerful – but more on that later – while grippier Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres replace the Primacy rubber fitted to the GT86, which famously were the same ones you’d get on the hybrid Prius.
Inside, there’s a little more technology than before, while the steering, suspension and braking have been revised to make the GR86 even more capable than the car it follows. Even the car’s rigidity has been boosted, up 50 per cent on the GT86.
It’s under the bonnet where things have been given a real push. The naturally-aspirated engine uses the same basic block, but capacity has been increased from 2.0-litres up to 2.4, with power increasing to 231bhp from 197bhp as a result. Torque has gone up too, rising from 205Nm to 250Nm, and it’s delivered earlier too in order to give a more linear, progressive acceleration. Drive is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox, though an automatic version is available too.
When it comes to performance times, the GR86 returns a respectable 0-60mph time of 6.1 seconds and it’ll carry on to a top speed of 140mph, too. It’s not too bad in the efficiency stakes, either, with Toyota claiming up to 32.5mpg combined and CO2 emissions of between 198 and 200g/km.
It’s from behind the wheel where the old GT86 really shone, so it’s pleasing to note that the same can be said for the GR86. That boost in power only worked to emphasise the car’s balance, with its nimble steering and well-managed body control working in tandem to make it very good fun to drive. We drove it on a circuit, too, and found it to be just as capable there too.
The engine note is a little muted – it’s piped in on the GR86 rather than being sent through a plumbed-in ‘tube’ directly from the engine as was the case on the older car – but it doesn’t stop you from stretching the engine out whenever the opportunity strikes. The six-speed manual is accurate and easy to use too, but it’s the GR86’s balance that really makes its presence known in the whole experience. The grippier tyres don’t diminish the GR86’s involvement, either.
Toyota hasn’t gone to town with the redesign for the GR86, but the tweaks that have been made definitely work to make this car even better to look at on the road. The front headlights appear sharper, while new air intakes by the front wheels are fully operational and aren’t just there for show.
It’s much the same around the back, too, where there are thinner rear lights connected by a full-width trim section. The GR86 is also 10mm lower than its predecessor, while also having an extra 5mm on its wheelbase. This helps to give this new version a more aggressive, sporty stance on the road. There’s also a new colour – called Ignition Red – which looked particularly good underneath the Spanish sun we were testing it in.
Toyota hasn’t messed around with the driver-centric approach that you got in the GT86 and that’s no bad thing. The seating position is good, though we do wish that the steering wheel could come slightly closer – that is quite a personal requirement, mind you. The material quality is still quite low-rent, with cheaper feeling plastics used across the lower sections of the dashboard.
Rear-seat space will be tight even for children, so it’s best to regard the GT86 as a 2+2, rather than a fully-fledged four-seater. There are 226 litres of boot space, too, while the rear seats can be folded down to expand this further. Plus, as with the old GT86, the GR86 has enough luggage space to carry four of its own wheels and tyres, should you need to take replacements to the track with you.
The big upgrade to the GR86 is its infotainment. It’s based around a new eight-inch screen and has been made quicker and more responsive. In truth, the native menu is quite plain and can be a little tricky to navigate, but fortunately, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, so you can use this to easily mirror your smartphone on the screen. It works well, too, and expands right to the edges of the display.
There’s also a small driver display ahead of the steering wheel which relays some key information and changes to a racier design when Track mode is selected. Again, it’s not as intricate as the displays on other current sports cars, but it’s clear and easy to read – so it’s hard to complain about.
The GR86 feels like an extension of the original. This is no complete rewrite, more a cleverly revised second edition. The extra power hasn’t made the GR86 feel too ‘grown up’, but instead allows you to fully exploit the balance and poise that the chassis has to offer. It was a bit of a concern to learn that the GR86 would be wearing more performance-orientated tyres, too, as there was the potential to take away some of the ‘fun’ of the original GT86, but these worries have been put to bed with this test.
It’s just a shame that the GR86 will only be on sale for a short time. This is the kind of car that needs to be enjoyed while it’s still here.
Rolls-Royce has revealed the second example of its coachbuilt Boat Tail series.
This example was commissioned by someone working in the pearl industry, with a selection of pearl shells from the owner’s collection providing inspiration for the exterior paint job.
The luxury car firm describes it as ‘one of the most complex Bespoke finishes ever created by Rolls-Royce’, with a combination of oyster and soft rose with large white and bronze flakes adding a pearlescent quality that changes under different light.
A contrasting cognac colour is used for the bonnet, while the lower sills have a rose gold weave within the material’s thread.
At the rear, the unique butterfly opening has a Royal Walnut veneer with rose gold-plated pinstripes. This wood was chosen as it will age over time to match the cognac-coloured bonnet.
Inside, there is a similar theme, with cognac and oyster colours used throughout, with the same wood veneer and a pearlescent leather upholstery.
The timepiece in the centre of the dashboard is made from mother-of-pearl, chosen and supplied by the client from their collection. The same material is used for the switches and instrument dials as a nod to the family heritage.
Alex Innes, head of coachbuild design at Rolls-Royce, said: “Boat Tail is a step-change in ingenuity and creative liberty. Building a motor car by hand offers a new realm of exploration and possibility: we can accomplish things and resolve challenges that normal industrialised methods would prohibit.
“This is the tale of two worlds: a modern motor car of contemporary design, made possible by historical techniques and time-honoured craft. It is truly, one-of-a-kind.”
The first Boat Tail was revealed in May 2021 to promote the return of the firm’s bespoke coachbuilding service. This example debuted the rear hatch, which contains a luxury picnic set, complete with chairs and an umbrella.
Porsche’s Cayman line is famed for poise and accuracy. How does the GT4 take things further?
How do you follow on from an all-time great? That’s the challenge faced by the Cayman 718 GT4, which arrived in the shadow of its predecessor, the Cayman GT4. Now powered by a 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine – rather than the old car’s 3.8 – the 718 GT4 aims to be just as involving, engaging and downright brilliant to drive as the car it replaces.
We drove the 718 GT4 some years ago, so wanted to give it a thorough going-over to see if it still stands up today. Let’s check it out.
Technically not the top dog in the 718 Cayman range anymore – that title falls to the more hardcore Cayman GT4 RS – the GT4 is still packed with go-faster measures and all manner of aerodynamic touches. There’s also a sports exhaust to give this Porsche an even more menacing growl.
Plus, it’s even got adaptive cylinder control that can switch the engine into three-cylinder mode in order to improve efficiency when travelling on the motorway.
As mentioned, the 718 GT4 uses a 4.0-litre naturally-aspirated flat-six engine, which actually has its base on the 3.0-litre turbocharged units found in many 911 models. Here, you get 414bhp and 420Nm of torque, equating to a 0-60mph time of 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 188mph. It’s certainly more than enough performance for a car of this size.
All cars come with a six-speed manual as standard, with power being sent to the rear wheels alone. There’s even a shorter gear level for a more tactile, engaging shift. And, with that cylinder deactivation tech, Porsche says you should see 25.9mpg combined – though we far exceeded that – while CO2 emissions stand at 249g/km.
All doubts about whether this car could live up to its predecessor’s reputation are quickly put aside once you get behind the wheel. The 718 GT4 is a truly engrossing experience, with all of the main controls put right where you need them.
The gear stick is there to hand, while the fixed-back bucket seats hold you in place well. The steering, as we’ve come to expect from Porsche cars, is utterly superb and though this new engine can’t quite match the old one for outright noise, it’s still wonderfully responsive.
As we’ve found in other Cayman models, the 718 GT4’s gearing is almost hilariously long, with second alone allowing you to reach motorway speed limits. It does mean that, at times, you’re not as encouraged to shift through the gears as you might expect.
With its huge wing and large front air intakes, there’s no disguising the GT4 as something ordinary. Our test car came in a particularly eye-catching pink shade – known as Frozen Berry Metallic – which only added to the theatre. This colour is continued inside through a variety of trim pieces finished in the same shade.
Unlike the 911 GT3 models, you can’t get the 718 Cayman GT4 with the Touring package. This lops the rear wing off and gives the car a far more understated appearance. However, few can fault how much drama the GT4 brings to the table.
The GT4’s cabin is centred around the driver, which means that there are actually very few distractions or add-ons to speak of. The Cayman hasn’t been graced with the touch-sensitive buttons that you’ll find in the latest 911 and Panamera models, and instead uses the somewhat old-school-looking controls positioned around the gearstick. That said, they’re easy to use and give you quick access to settings for the traction control and auto-blip gearbox mode.
Luggage space? There’s actually a little more than you might expect, with 130 litres in the ‘frunk’ and an extra 275 litres at the rear. Combined, you’ve actually got a decent amount of storage space and more than enough for a weekend away.
The Cayman 718 GT4 remains one of the tip-top options if you’re after involvement from your sports car. Yes, it may have lost a tiny bit of outright aural drama, but in all other areas, it’s still hard to beat. In an age of electrification, the GT4 seems like a fitting reminder of just what is possible with an engine, a well-executed chassis and a six-speed manual gearbox.
Given the industry’s fondness for turbocharging, it feels as though this GT4 might be something of a last hurrah. So it’s best to make the most of it.
The first electric Moke has rolled off the production line, just in time for summer.
Moke International announced its relaunch in 2020 with a limited run of petrol-powered models built in the Midlands, but last year it confirmed that the iconic car would enter production as an EV.
As of January 1, 2022 it was no longer possible to order the petrol version, replaced by a 44bhp electric model. The Moke weighs just 800kg, so despite the low power it’s capable of hitting 34mph in about 4.5 seconds. The top speed is 62mph while the battery takes four hours to charge.
It has a range of about 75 miles, which the firm says is fit ‘for at least three round trips from Cap-Ferrat to Monaco’. Although it is road legal, the Moke is not intended for long journeys and is pitched as a model in which to cruise around the countryside and seaside towns in the height of summer.
With the first production models finished, Moke says that the first UK customers will receive their cars in June through the official UK distributor Hendy Group.
Robin Kennedy, commercial director at Moke International, said: “Moke is all about country roads, beach excursions, the summer breeze in your hair and enjoying the journey, rather than hurrying from A to B.
“We’ve taken the original Mini Moke, created by Sir Alec Issigonis and reimagined it for today’s world – and tomorrow’s – as a fully electric vehicle.
“Our team has been working relentlessly for three years to engineer and manufacture a worthy, sustainable successor with the latest technologies. Made in Britain, the Electric Moke is now ready to inspire and delight a new generation.”
Moke International is building the electric Moke at a new facility in Northamptonshire. They are available in both right- and left-hand drive.
Hypercar was driven by a customer at the Kennedy Space Center Merritt in Florida.
An SSC Tuatara has hit a new record top speed of 295mph while testing at the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds at Space Florida’s LLF, Kennedy Space Center Merritt.
The hypercar was piloted by car collector and Tuatara customer Larry Caplin, who was also behind the wheel when the model hit a two-way average of 282.9mph last year.
However, this new record appears to be from a single run, with SSC noting that the information was recorded by data logging firm Racelogic, who sent a technician to validate the figures alongside independent analyst Robert Mitchell.
Mitchell is the owner of Apex Nurburg, a performance car rental firm based at the Nurburgring Nordschleife race track in Germany. He was one of a number of prominent online personalities who questioned claims from SSC in 2020 that it had broken the world production car speed record with a two-way run average of 316mph.
Concerns were raised as analysis of the video footage did not tally with the speeds that were being claimed. Dewetron, the company that made the GPS data logging technology used in the run, said it did not have a technician on site to check the device was correctly calibrated, with SSC later admitting it could not verify the top speed claims it had made.
In later runs, the firm has worked to provide more transparency to ensure its claimed figures are accurate.
Speaking after the latest run, Mitchell said: “I think this car is a 300 car all day. The sheer acceleration at these high numbers above 250, 260, even into the 280s, it’s hands down the fastest car that I have seen.
“The acceleration is there, the top end is there, and I believe that this is the only car that I know of right now that can be verified running 300, especially in such a short distance.”
The SSC Tuatara uses a twin-turbocharged V8 engine that makes 1,726bhp while running on E85 or methanol fuel. It has a carbon-fibre monocoque that is lightweight while also providing extra safety for the driver.
Convertible weighs just 65kg more than the hardtop version.
Maserati has unveiled the convertible version of its MC20 supercar – called Cielo.
Powered by a 621bhp twin-turbocharged V6 engine, the Cielo manages to weigh just 65kg more than the hardtop version. It’ll also manage the 0-60mph sprint in just under three seconds.
Underpinned by a carbon-fibre platform – the same one that is used under the coupe and will be utilised by the upcoming electric version – the Cielo features an electric folding roof that can be opened or closed in 12 seconds. Launch versions of the car will also feature a new three-layer metallic colour called Acquamarina, which is also available as part of Maserati’s Fuoriserie customisation programme.
A clever electrochromatic window is also fitted to the Cielo and it can be changed from clear to opaque at the touch of the central screen. It uses polymer-dispersed liquid crystal technology to quickly change how much light is allowed to enter the cabin. The same butterfly doors as the coupe feature on the Cielo, too.
A variety of safety systems have been fitted to the Cielo, including blind spot monitoring, autonomous emergency braking and traffic sign recognition. A new 360-degree parking camera is included, too.
There’s also the option to add a premium sound system from Sonus Faber. It has been specifically designed for this convertible version and incorporates 12 speakers to create a ‘natural sound’, according to Maserati.
Much like the hard-top, the Cielo incorporates a stripped-back interior but features high-definition screens giving access to a variety of functions.
The Ford Mustang Mach-E GT is the performance version of the firm’s electric family SUV. DARREN CASSEY has been behind the wheel.
When the Ford Mustang Mach-E was first revealed, it aimed to bring some pony car flair to the electric vehicle market, albeit wrapped up in a stylish SUV package. However, while it offered exciting acceleration, it was always the GT model that was to bring truly eye-opening performance.
Mainstream electric performance cars are few and far between, so the GT could carve itself a little niche. The question is, does it have what it takes to be a new fast EV icon, or does it offer little over the regular model?
There’s already a twin-motor version of the Mach-E, but in GT form the numbers have been given a boost. There’s more to it than that, though, with upgrades designed to make it handle and stop better.
On top of this, there’s a new Untamed Plus mode that unleashes full performance, though it’s aimed more at track driving than on the road. There’s also a new body kit and grippy new tyres to further its sporting credentials.
There’s a motor on the front axle and rear axle that provide all-wheel drive. Combined they make 480bhp and 860Nm of torque, with that latter figure contributing to the violent acceleration off the line. Going from 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds – in an SUV – feels as gloriously silly as it sounds.
In fact, accelerating from a standstill there’s so much power that the wheels slip a little, delivering a chirrup before catapulting you forward. It’s actually better to accelerate from a slow roll, accumulating speed so quickly it’ll make your cheeks go numb and your passengers feel queasy. Some of these fast EVs are almost too fast…
Despite all this performance, the official range is an impressive 310 miles as the GT is only offered with the Mach-E’s larger battery. For context, in the regular model this 88kWh unit sees 336 miles with all-wheel drive and 379 miles with rear-wheel drive.
Once you get over the excitement of ballistic acceleration, there’s a generally excellent EV to be found. The regular Mach-E feels annoyingly stiff, but the GT has more control in everyday driving thanks to its upgraded suspension. And despite its prodigious performance, in its normal modes it’s easy to potter about and enjoy the easy refinement of electric motoring.
There are a few frustrations that remain from the regular car, though, with the key issue being the driver assistance systems. While you can push them to the background they never really fully turn off, with the lane keep assist struggling with narrow country lanes. Sometimes, when large vehicles are approaching, it can resist your attempts to put a wheel on the inside lane, which can be rather unnerving.
While the Mach-E is definitely an SUV based on its proportions, few others in this class manage to provide such sleek and sporty looks. There are a couple of awkward angles, but particularly from the front, the sharply angled headlights and muscular body panels make it a real head turner.
The GT model is distinct from regular Mach-Es thanks to a 3D-effect polycarbonate front grille, unique front bumper with air intakes, body-coloured wheel arches and a chin spoiler. There’s also a couple of new paint options to make it really stand out, called Grabber Blue and Cyber Orange.
One of the Mustang Mach-E’s key selling points is its interior, which is a comfortable, spacious and ultra-modern place to be. There’s decent forward visibility so you don’t need to sit too high to get a great view of the road ahead, and the seats are snug and comfortable on shorter trips, though the GT-specific Ford Performance seats aren’t quite so well-suited to longer journeys.
The large portrait-orientated screen continues to be one of the best in the business, though it does take some getting used to. It’s also surprisingly unobtrusive at night once you’re accustomed to it dominating your peripheral vision.
The GT does a great job of elevating the Mustang Mach-E experience through stomach churning acceleration and a more upmarket appearance, inside and out.
However, it does feel like a bit of a one-trick pony car. It’s all straight line speed with limited improvements to handling, because it still feels like the big, heavy electric car it is.
For those who want supercar performance in a practical SUV package, however, the GT makes great sense. With the price jump over the regular car, it’s arguably more of a ‘heart over head’ purchase.
Is the manual gearbox potentially making a last-minute comeback?
It’s no secret that manual gearboxes have been dwindling in popularity in recent years, with many car buyers simply not interested in changing gear themselves.
And as no hybrid or electric car is likely to be offered with a traditional gearstick, the days of finding a manual gearbox in a new car are truly numbered. It’s true of performance cars, too, with very few actually being supplied with anything that isn’t an auto ‘box.
It’s not over just yet, though, with several manufacturers in recent months coming out to say their performance cars will still be offered with a stick shift. None more so than Toyota, which has revealed its GR Supra with a manual gearbox as the brand aims to cater more to the driving enthusiast market.
But what other new performance cars can you still get with a manual shifter? Let’s take a look.
Toyota is really catering to the sports car market, with its GR Supra and GR Yaris getting the brand’s performance division off to an incredible start. But it’s the GR86 that really seems to have hit the nail on the head, with its pricing making it one of the most affordable sporting models on the market.
There are few better ways of enjoying the American lifestyle than with Ford’s Mustang. A true brutish muscle car, Ford has been officially importing them in right-hand-drive since 2015.
You might expect it, by default, to come with an automatic gearbox, but Ford actually offers it with a six-speed manual gearbox, which really lets you make the most of its raucous 444bhp 5.0-litre V8 engine.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
These days a DSG automatic gearbox is commonplace in pretty much every performance model from the Volkswagen Group, but for those that like a traditional manual ‘box, VW still caters with a six-speed manual on its legendary Golf GTI.
Now in its eighth generation this hot hatch is a seriously good option for those that want to use their performance car every day, with this latest Golf also getting a tech-laden interior and bolder styling than its predecessors.
Porsche 911 GT3
Buying a new manual supercar in 2022 is pretty much impossible, but one exception to that rule is the magnificent Porsche 911 GT3. Coming with a naturally-aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six engine, and the choice of manual or PDK automatic gearbox, if you really want to enjoy your GT3, the manual is by far the best option.
The GT3 offers fierce performance and a fiery, analogue character that you don’t get from modern performance cars. But with a steep starting price, the GT3 certainly isn’t a car many will be able to enjoy.
Lotus has been rather bold with its electrification strategy, as after the launch of the new Emira sports car later this year, every car this British brand launches in the future will be an EV. That makes the Emira even more sacred, and undoubtedly a future classic.
Using the investment from Chinese automotive giant Geely (which owns Lotus), the Emira is the firm’s first brand-new model in more than a decade, and represents a significant step forward where technology and quality are concerned. Yet, purists will be pleased that Lotus will still sell you an Emira with a traditional gearstick.
New performance cars don’t get much more affordable than the MX-5, and this two-seat roadster is hugely entertaining to drive, and guaranteed to bring a smile to your face whatever the weather.
The vast bulk of MX-5s sold today also come with a manual gearbox, making it a fantastic choice for those that still like to change gear the traditional way. With generous equipment levels and low running costs, there’s a lot to like about this little Mazda.
Hyundai i30 N
Like Toyota, Hyundai has quickly established itself as a performance car brand to be reckoned with, and it was the i30 N that got this firm’s sporty arm off to a brilliant start. Based on what is usually quite a mundane hatchback, it’s truly transformed when the brand’s ‘N’ division gets its hands on it.
Though Hyundai recently introduced an automatic gearbox option as part of a mid-life update, a conventional six-speed manual remains available, and is the version to go for if you want to make the most of this hot hatch.