Driving Torque

Articles, reviews and opinions about cars and all things automotive

Archive for the month “February, 2011”

Geneva Motor Show 2011

Well, the doors haven’t yet been opened and already we have a fair idea of some of the new models set to wow us at next month’s Geneva motor show. Below are a few titbits I’ve selected which may be of interest.

BMW alpina b5 in white

Alpina B5

Alpina B5 Touring. This 500bhp, 188mph monster may possibly be the quickest way to ferry four adults and a large dog around in sumptuous comfort. Alpina may well be onto a winner here as BMW have already announced that the next gen M5 will not be available in estate guise. Something tells me this may change if the B5’s sales figures rocket!

Subaru coupe

New Subaru Concept

Subaru have used a clear, plastic body shell to showcase their ‘Boxer Sports Car Architecture’ concept. This will be a rear drive coupe which will undoubtedly be beautifully built, handle like a dream and be capable of embarrassing some expensive exotica. If some of Subaru’s recent designs are anything to go by (Impreza, Tribeca etc, etc), they may be wise to consider offering this new model with the concept’s transparent panels as standard.

aston martin virage in orange

Aston Martin Virage

Aston Martin have revived a name not seen since the ‘90s – the Virage. Looking suspiciously like every other Aston in the range, it will be available as either a coupe or a convertible and will be priced from about 150k to £160k. Aston Martin hope the Virage will fill the ‘huge’ gap between the DB9 and DBS models.

Lotus Elise Club Race in blue

Elise ‘Club Racer’

Geneva will see the launch of a new, track day orientated Lotus Elise, the Club Racer. Boosting power output by 5bhp and stripping the Elise of its few creature comforts will make the car even more focused, even more precise. It may also transform a car that already offered an uncompromising ride into the world’s fastest iron maiden.

Jaguar XKR-S in blue

Jaguar XKR-S

Jaguar have fired another warning shot across Aston Martin’s bow with the XKR-S, the latest hardcore version of the XK. With 542bhp and 0-60mph time of 4.2 secs, it is the quickest XK yet but at £85-90k, also the most expensive. Purely for comparison’s sake of course, Aston’s V12 Vantage achieves 0-60mph in 4.1 secs but would set you back £140k.

Rolls Royce 120EX Powered by lithium ion batteries

Rolls Royce 120EX

Rolls-Royce are displaying an all electric Phantom, codenamed the 102EX, the world’s first electric ultra-luxury model. Sources at Rolls-Royce are apparently unsure whether the Phantom could achieve an acceptable range in extreme weather conditions using electrical power only. Surely in a car as powerful as this, uranium rods would be a more appropriate power source than lithium-ion batteries.

mini rocketman concept in gray

The Mini ‘Rocketman’ concept

Finally, a Mini that isn’t in danger of contradicting its own name. This ‘Rocketman’(!!!) concept is highly likely to see production in the upcoming 2013 range of new Minis. Whether neat styling touches such as the Union Flag etched roof and retro exterior door hinges make the final cut is anyone’s guess.

And most pointless exhibit on display goes to……

smart forspeed in white

Smart Forspeed

morgan threewheeler in green

Morgan Three Wheeler

The Smart Forspeed. I was originally going to give this award to the Morgan Threewheeler but the order books are full for this little oddity so, who am I to argue? The all electric Forspeed however, has no windscreen or roof, no rear seats and very little range. It is essentially the lovechild of an Ipod and a mobility scooter. Oh dear!

By Ben Harrington

Jaguar’s 12 Year Plan

mg3 in yellow


Anyone who’s seen the press shots of the new models from MG – the 6 and the 3 may possibly be as under whelmed as I am with them. My fears seem to be confirmed, leaving this once great British marque a minority brand with seemingly no hope of regaining their status on the World stage. The designs mainly merge pitiful rip offs of genuinely inventive cars with a blandness not seen since, well, the last MGs. This coupled with engine technology from when Noah was a lad really makes me wish MG had been left to rest in peace with its friends who had already passed, the likes of Triumph and Austin.

This tenuously brings me onto an unreserved apology to Jaguar’s spectacular owners, Tata. When this Indian owned firm assumed control in 2008, I genuinely thought that any misgivings I saw in Ford era Jags would pale into insignificance once Tata’s influence had taken hold on this most historic of car makers. The XK was always good but it was inherited so credit couldn’t be given to Tata for this. Just wait for their first true car I thought, it’ll be amusing if nothing else.

First came the XF with its designer clothes, aimed squarely at the likes of BMW and Mercedes. I admit I’m still not too sure about the exterior but I seem to be in a very small minority on that one and the interior appears to have even fewer detractors. The motoring press also love this car, a point proven by the XF recently winning What Car’s executive car of the year award. For the fourth year running.

Ok, so the XF’s not that bad but surely this was just a flash in the pan, a stroke of luck and the unravelling of the Jaguar brand would definitely begin with the next release. Then along came the new XJ. I’ve made no secret of my unbridled passion for this car, I adore it from every angle, including underneath and I would sell my granny to own one. For me, the XJ is the yardstick by which every other large saloon is now measured and so far, nothing comes close.


Jaguar XF

This was beginning to look like the real deal to me, I was in genuine danger of being proven emphatically wrong and then, just this week, I was. The plans for Jaguar’s next twelve years were unveiled, focusing on a 3 series competitor that once again shoots straight to the top of its class in the looks department. Other future releases include a new XF, a crossover model and most thrillingly for me – an XJ Coupe. I can only see a bright future for Jaguar now, a future that has truly dragged them into public view and out of the golf club car park.

On that note then, I would like to publicly apologise to Tata for ever doubting them and also to thank this Indian company for once again giving us a British automotive manufacturer to be proud of.

By Ben Harrington

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