Driving Torque

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Archive for the tag “GT”

Hyundai Veloster Turbo – Driven and Reviewed

hyundai_veloster_turbo_front_sideBelieve it or not, the Hyundai Coupe (aka Tiburon/Tuscani) first landed on our shores nearly two decades ago, in 1996. Back then, it shocked and delighted in equal measure – Hyundais weren’t supposed to be sexy or daring, they were just, well, functional, a bit like a lump of coal. There were split opinions regarding whether this was just a temporary blip in an otherwise nondescript range, or if it really was a signal of Hyundai’s intent for the future.

hyundai_veloster_rearWell, back to the present day, and what we have here is the Coupe’s successor – the Veloster; a car that shares a slightly unusual name with an equally odd design feature. What Hyundai call a 1+2 door design is essentially a 2 door coupe, with one rear door……well, apart from the hatch, which also counts as a door, so it’s really a four door……..it’s probably best if you look at the pictures – this is definitely one of those instances where they paint a thousand, slightly rambling words.

hyundai_veloster_turbo_side_doorNon symmetrical portals aside, the Veloster’s looks are nothing if not dramatic, especially in this range-topping Turbo guise we have on test. We start off with an Audi-esque trapezoidal mouth that dominates the front end, sucking in enough air to keep the greediest engine satisfied. There are creases and slashes aplenty on the Veloster, from the bonnet, to the sides, all the way to the rear. They’re mainly for decoration and they fit the bill perfectly; there’s always something new to look at and the optional matt grey paint (£565) on our test car does nothing to detract from this.

hyundai_veloster_exhaustsThe Turbo’s rump is finished off with some purposeful looking twin exhaust pipes – a massive improvement over the slightly underwhelming efforts on the standard car. Adding a double-barrelled blunderbuss to the Veloster was always going to add menace, it’s just a shame that they’re rather ‘all mouth, no trousers’, as the tradition of Asian automotive politeness continues.

hyundai_veloster_turbo_rear_doorRight, that rear door then. Yes, it does spoil the otherwise pretty coupe’s lines slightly, but it’s only on the passenger side so as a driver, you don’t have to look at it that often. On the other hand though, Hyundai have been sensible enough to put it on the safe side for this country (we’re looking at you –  now thankfully defunct MINI Clubman). Speaking from a parent of two little girl’s point of view, it’s also incredibly handyThere is the option for them to put the driver’s seat forward like a traditional coupe if so required, but having that door there takes so much of the hassle associated with this genre of car out of the equation – far more than I expected if I’m honest.

hyundai_veloster_interiorInside the Veloster is far more conventional, with a Ford-style layout for the central control binnacle and black plastic aplenty. The seating position is low and flat, as you’d expect in a self-respecting coupe, but the seats are a tad unforgiving and I could imagine things getting slightly fidgety over long distances. The hand-brake lever is obviously still in the optimum location for LHD cars, as it’s far too close to the UK driver for comfort and, whilst I’m moaning, the way the stereo completely forgets your iPhone playback preferences after every journey gets a little tiresome.

door pulls - not usually something I get excited about.....

door pulls – not usually something I get excited about…..

On the plus side though, there’s some great little touches like the chunky, Incredible Hulk-hand friendly door pulls, and the 30mph marker on the speedo that’s otherwise marked in 20mph denominations (that should surely be law in a country with so many 30mph limits?). The rear visibility isn’t impeded at all by the split rear window, in contrast to the likes of Honda’s CR-Z which employs the use of guesswork due to a similar design.

'nuff said

’nuff said

One note of caution concerning the Veloster’s rear seats. They may have a nice friendly door providing access, but the seats are purely for passengers under 5ft in height. Anyone taller than this won’t just be a bit uncomfy, they’ll require a third-party to  unfold them to get back out – a point emphasised by the warning sticker on the boot hatch, highlighting the potential risk to loftier passengers when closing it.

hyundai_veloster_badgeThe Veloster Turbo is propelled by the same 1.6l T-GDi unit found in the KIA pro_cee’d GT we tested earlier this year, although, quite perversely, the hot-hatch is given the full-fat, 201bhp variant of the engine, whereas this ‘sports car’ makes do with 184bhp. Why they couldn’t share exactly the same engine is beyond me slightly – hopefully it’s to leave room for a fire-breathing ‘Turbo S’ variant further along the line.

Either way, the Veloster Turbo makes good use of its 184bhp and performance – although not ‘pants-on-fire’ quick, is steady and predictable throughout the gears, with no real lag or dips in torque. On dry tarmac, the car negotiates bends in a similar fashion, with no scary surprises lurking unseen, and any potential weight unbalance from the extra door goes pretty much unnoticed. Push the Turbo too enthusiastically on wet roads though, and the front wheels will claw and scrabble for grip, making the experience a touch hairy as the weight of the front end typically forces understeer.

Overall, the Veloster Turbo is quite a complete package and, for fear of repeating myself, that extra rear door is very handy. Would I buy one over a GT86 though? –  I don’t think so. The Veloster is more generously equipped for the money and it’s more economical. The GT86 though, is faster, better looking and ultimately,  more of a hoot to drive.

By Ben Harrington

Specifications; Hyundai Veloster Turbo, Transmission6 spd manual, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power – 184bhp, Torque – 265Nm, Emissions – 157g/km CO2, Economy – 40.9 mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 133mph, Acceleration – 8.4s 0-62mph, Price – £22,000 OTR, £22,565 as tested.

For full details, go to http://www.hyundai.co.uk

Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible – Driven and Reviewed

Bentley_Continental_V8S_Side_Monaco_YellowA 21bhp hike in a more ‘normal‘ car, say a Fiesta ST, would represent a decent dollop of a power increase that could potentially change the whole car exponentially. This isn’t a ‘normal‘ car though. This is the ‘S’ version of the much-lauded V8 Continental Convertible that I heaped praise on earlier this year. The question is, then, just how much difference can 21bhp make to a car weighing over 2.5 tonnes that’s already stuffed full of 500 snorting thoroughbred  horses in, ahem, ‘standard’ guise?

Well, in pure performance terms, the straight answer is a drop of 0.2 seconds to 4.5s in the sprint to 60mph and a rise of 4mph to 191mph in terms of maximum, flat-out speed. The battle for extra speed against physics does get pretty ugly when you’re up in what is really super-car territory. But this wouldn’t be telling the whole story of the ‘S’ at all, oh no, there’s far more to it than that.

Looks wise, it’s not that dissimilar to the rest of the Continental fleet we’ve become so accustomed to these days. There’s the 8 shaped exhaust tips that are found on all Bentleys with this (co-produced with Audi) V8 under the bonnet. There are a few, purely cosmetic highlights on the ‘S’ that make it stand out from the V8, such as the gloss black door mirrors and brake calipers in bright red, unless of course you opt for the highly advisable carbon-ceramic brakes that our test car came with; they might be a touch pricey at over £10K, but they work beautifully and I’m delighted to confirm that they lose most of the squeakiness I’ve previously reported, once they bed in a bit.

Bentley_Oil_CapThis is where the V8 S really comes into its own though; any other changes over the V8, visual or not, are there to add to the whole driving experience, and you can really tell. There’s the new gloss black lower sections of bodywork such as the sills, front splitter and rear diffuser, coupled with a 10mm drop in ride height – these might enhance the look of the V8 S, but their real purpose is to aid handling and high-speed stability. On a completely invisible level, the suspension and steering have also been tweaked to make the GT more responsive. So, just what do all of these relatively little changes add up to, you ask? Well, the answer is – a hell of a lot……

At this point, those clever engineers at Bentley should give themselves a rather large pat on the back. They were given the task of stiffening up a car that wasn’t renowned for its jelly-like nature in the first place, whilst keeping a firm hold of that all-important Bentley ride quality, and they had to accommodate a power-hike – just to unsettle the car a touch more.

The result is a car that’s still very obviously not lacking in the size department, but that’s lost a lot of the slightly unnerving feeling you get when you try to throw a huge piece of metal (and leather, and walnut) around our weaving, typically British B-road system. The nose is far happier to change direction than any other Bentley I’ve driven and the ever-present 4WD system does its usual job of keeping the rear end from attempting to overtake the front. It’s almost as though the whole car’s been shrunk to fit more appropriately down our country roads, with none of that usual sensation of attempting to thread a Bentley-shaped camel through the eye of a needle.

Bentley_Continental_V8S_Black_InteriorThat said, it’s not perfect; the front wheels still have a tendency to wander slightly around high-speed bends, and if the dampers are left in their most rigid setting, certain bumps and potholes send something of a crash through the unforgiving 21” wheels, all the way up into the chassis, leaving a kind of scuttle-shake sensation in the steering wheel. The simple answer, of course, is to adjust the dampers to one of their other four settings and reserve super-stiff mode for those occasions when you may feel inclined to throw your £152K convertible around a race-track – in which case you hopefully wouldn’t have to contend with bumps and potholes anyway. I left my test car in the 3rd most rigid setup for 90% of the time, and I’m pretty sure that the levels of grip and responsiveness on offer will satisfy most.

Whichever Continental GT you’re lucky enough to find yourself piloting, the sheer performance is nothing short of breathtaking, and it’s no different in this V8 S. Shift the consistently impressive 8 speed ZF ‘box into ‘S’ mode, and the slightest growth spurt of the nail on your right foot’s big toe will result in a kind of  ‘Millennium Falcon’ effect – trees and bushes become a blur and the horizon gets very close, very quickly.

Bentley_Continental_V8S_Front_Monaco_YellowIn fact, the only aspect of the V8 S that trumps its performance is the cacophony of noise that accompanies it, especially if you opt for the sports exhaust, which could literally be the best £1,860 you ever spend. Ever wondered what it must feel like to run across the Serengeti Plains, whilst 5 feet behind you’re being chased by a particularly loud and hungry lion, whose very keen to get to grips with his main course of raw human, once he’s emptied his mouth of the kilo of marshmallows he had for his entrée? If so, get yourself a Continental V8 S, put the roof down, and floor it – the way the wall of noise emanating from the rear end grows in volume and tone will send a shiver down your spine, plus you get the added bonus of not being gored to death by 250kg’s worth of Simba when you slow down.

The Continental may have been around for some time now, and a total revamp is probably not too far in the future. Bentley obviously aren’t quite done with this version yet though, and when they keep improving on the recipe, as they have done with the V8 S, why fix something if it’s not broken?

By Ben Harrington

All pictures courtesy of Neil Shearer Lswpp – http://www.neilshearerphotography.com

Specifications; Bentley Continental GTC V8 S, Engine – 4.0l twin-turbo petrol V8, Transmission – 8 spd auto, Layout – Front engine, 4WD, Power – 521 bhp, Torque – 680Nm @ 1700rpm, Economy – 25.4mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 191mph, Emissions – 258g/km CO2, Acceleration – 4.5s 0-60mph, Price – £152,900 OTR, £192,205 as tested.

For full details, go to: http://www.bentleymotors.com

KIA pro_cee’d GT – Driven and Reviewed

KIA pro_cee'd GT front and sideIt’s never easy being the new kid in school, trying to maintain your own identity within a well established peer group, and that’s just what Korea’s first hot-hatch  – the pro_cee’d GT is currently attempting to do. So just what have KIA done to gain the respect of the big boys – the likes of VW’s Golf Gti and Ford’s Focus ST?

KIA pro_cee'd GT side and rearWell, I think the way the GT looks is a good place to start – from any angle, it’s pretty stunning. Where the old-timers had a recipe to stick to and a look the public have come to expect, the designer of the GT – Peter Schreyer was only restricted to his own ‘Tiger nose’ design feature – the rest was a blank canvas. From certain perspectives there are hints of Fiesta ST, Astra GTC and Alfa Romeo Brera, but not enough of any-one to take away from the GT’s own identity. It’s sweeping lines, minimal glass-housing and deep side-strakes make the pro_cee’d GT stand out from the crowd and it all adds up to make a distinctive, attractive car that gets attention wherever it goes.

Could only be a pro_cee'd!!

Could only be a pro_cee’d GT!!

It’s impossible to talk about this car without mentioning its daytime running lights (DRL). Audi were the first to introduce LED DRLs, and for a while they were popularly referred to as ‘those Audi style lights’, but since then (and especially since DRLs became law on new models) they’ve become a common feature on many new cars and each manufacturer has strived to find their own lighting pattern to make them stand out. So, again, just how were KIA going to ensure that their debut performance car gets noticed amongst the sea of bright lights? – Well, with ice-cubes apparently. That’s what KIA themselves have christened this quad-bulb design, but whatever you call them, they’re surely a stroke of genius – if any other car were to be launched with this style of lighting, it’d permanently be referred to as ‘that car with the same lights as that fast KIA’. So they may be complete novices to this sector, but already they’ve stamped their mark and established a trademark feature, just by fashioning a cube of twinkling LEDs.

KIA pro_cee'd GT interiorThings are a little more orthodox inside the pro_cee’d GT. There’s the usual varying grades of plastics, dependent on how near the eye-line they are, but the ones you’ll see most are of admirable quality and feel more expensive than you’d warrant too. The leather and suede Recaro seats with their ‘GT’ logo were always going to impress prospective buyers in this segment, but how comfortable they are might surprise some. I’m not the widest bloke in the world but I’m increasingly finding that my shoulders don’t fit in-between the side bolsters on more sports-orientated seats, leaving my back suspended in mid-air. Not so with the GT. They provide sufficient support to stop the driver sliding around through the bends, whilst actually letting you settle in and feel cosseted.

KIA pro_cee'd displayThe rest of the surprisingly spacious cabin is a bit of a mixed bag really. The build quality tends to fall into one of three categories; there’s many parts that look solid and feel solid – some parts that look a bit cheap but feel solid enough, and a couple of parts (i.e. the overhead glasses compartment) that look cheap and feel like they might not survive the journey, but on the whole I think you’d be pleasantly surprised with the environment you’re sat in. No modern fascia would be complete without the usual splashes of piano-black plastic that are so de rigueur at the moment, but press the GT button on the steering wheel, and the electronic dash transforms into something that you’ve probably never seen before. On each side of the central pod a neon day-glow millipede appears and climbs up and down the display – these act as gauges to demonstrate the turbo pressure level and the amount of torque being created. Now, I’m inclined to think that the majority of drivers wouldn’t really know what to do with information pertaining to their generated torque levels, but either way, it looks impressive and, yet again, is a feature that can be associated with the pro_cee’d GT.

It may not seem like such a big deal, but I’m  getting a little irritated with certain manufacturer’s attempts to personalise steering wheels. Well, if you’re like me then you’ll be more than happy with the pro_cee’d GT and its perfectly shaped and sized, multi-functional, traditionally round effort. Whether it’s accidental or not is another matter, but as you grab hold and glance through to see the GT’s natty graphics flash up on entry and exit – there’s a real sense of pride in what KIA are trying to achieve here.

KIA's tiger-nose

KIA’s tiger-nose

For the time being at least, the pro_cee’d GT is available with just one engine – a turbocharged derivative of the 1.6l ‘Gamma’ engine that’s found its way into many KIAs and Hyundais. With 201bhp and 195lb ft of torque on offer, the figures are impressive enough without breaking any records in the super-competitive hot-hatch segment. 143mph and 7.4s to 60mph would have left everything else in its wake a few years ago, as would the 38.2 combined mpg, but with engine technology moving at unprecedented rates these days, the pro_cee’d GT struggles to match its peers and the whole driving experience feels somehow detached and distant.

In contrast, with independent Macpherson struts up front and independent multi-link suspension setups at the rear, the way the pro_cee’d GT navigates around turns doesn’t leave much to be desired at all. The ride feels rigid enough to let you know it means business, without making that fatal mistake found in some hot-hatches and leaving it nigh-on impossible to live with on our less than perfect roads. You’d really have to push the GT to get the nose pushing wide through corners and the whole car feels unflustered as you straighten up or change direction in a hurry.

KIA pro_cee'd GT sideWe all know that car makers are being increasingly constrained regarding how much noise they’re allowed to generate, and the likes of Ford have come up with clever systems that pipe engine noise into the cabin, keeping people like me who place such importance on the aural quality of a car happy. It might be to keep costs down, or it could be due to the Korean’s stereotypically polite nature, but the pro_cee’d GT doesn’t seem to place much importance in this area, and to be honest, they could do with turning the volume up a tad. Turbo-charged engines are always going to be muffled by their very nature, but inside the GT really is whisper quiet, and outside, the few pleasant burbles the engine makes could easily go unnoticed.

Mention KIA to anyone and they’ll probably want to talk about two things; the price and the warranty. I’ve not included them in this review yet as I prefer to judge a car on its merits as a car, not as an asset, but I don’t think I can go any further without bringing them into the conversation. First of all, that market-leading seven-year warranty; A confident move some might say, others could say it’s a little foolhardy. Well, looking at it purely subjectively, the seven-year warranty was introduced alongside the pro_cee’d’s sister car – the cee’d in 2007, exactly seven years ago. If the concept was flawed and the product wasn’t up to such a lengthy guarantee, KIA would be hemorrhaging money by the bucket-load by now, and the offer would have to be revised. Having had first-hand experience of the build quality of KIAs (some slightly flimsy interior features aside) I’d say that the pro_cee’d GT feels properly screwed together and capable of withstanding anything you’d care to throw at it.

KIA pro_cee'd GT badgeSo what about the cost? Is the £19,995 price-tag enough to tempt people out of their Gtis and STs? It might take a brave person to turn their back on the more established models and opt for the KIA, and the people who only know badges, not the car behind them might be impossible to convince just yet. But whichever may you look at it, the pro_cee’d GT offers a teasing saving of nearly £3K over the alternative Focus, and a massive £6K+ over a Golf Gti, and that’s before you add any extras or extended warranties.

So have KIA done enough to establish themselves amongst the hot-hatch hierarchy? I’m not completely naive and I’m not going to say that the pro_cee’d GT is better than the competition in every way, but I will say that in some aspects it’s better than its peers, in many ways it’s just as good, and in a few ways it’s got to try harder. But taken at face-value, this car is well-built, a lot of fun and undoubtedly belies it bargain-basement price-tag.

By Ben Harrington


Specifications; KIA pro_cee’d GT, Engine – 1.6l 4-cyl 16v turbo, Transmission – 6 speed manual, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power – 201bhp, Torque – 195lb ft, Emissions – 171g/km CO2, Economy – 38.2mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 143 mph, Acceleration – 7.4s 0-60mph, Price – £19,995 OTR, £19,995 as tested

For full details, go to http://www.kia.co.uk



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