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    The greatest thing about our passion is the fact that it’s only about 150 years old. If we were all Bible scholars, instead of petrolheads or gearheads, we’d be spending our days poking around in the searing heat out in the desert somewhere. Instead we get to go to cities like Modena, Stuttgart, Detroit and Paris. Or even Woking.

    / #McLaren-P1 / #McLaren / #2015 / #2015-McLaren-P1

    When I was a teenager my life was muscle cars. I used to feel sorry for people who grew up in the 1920s and ’30s because cars seemed so slow back then. But the more knowledge I gained, the further back I wanted to go. That’s the reason I got interested in steam. I wanted to know what came before the internal combustion engine.

    Steam ran the world from the 1800s until the opening decade of the 20th Century, just as the internal combustion engine ruled the world from the 20th Century to the dawn of the new millennium. Sure, the internal- combustion engine is still around, but the writing is on the wall. A child born this year will most likely not ride in an internal-combustion vehicle as an adult, just like most kids in America today have never been in a manual-shift car.

    I now realise that every decade had its supercars. In 1906 Fred Marriott, driving a Stanley Steamer, set a world land speed record of 127.6mph on the beach at Daytona, Florida, that record stood for 103 years as a steam car’s peak speed achievement until it was broken by a British three-ton, two-stage turbine-driven steam car which only went a hair over 20mph faster - over 100 years later.

    Another early supercar I lusted after, and was fortunate enough to acquire, was the 1918 Pierce Arrow Model 66. The Pierce 66, as it was popularly called, still holds the distinction for being the largest production engine ever put in a car. It has six cylinders with a total displacement of 825 cubic inches, that’s 14 litres.

    The pistons are the size of paint cans and the engine has three spark plugs per cylinder. It needs three spark plugs because the combustion chambers are so huge, the bore is 5in, the stroke is 7in and the wheelbase is 147.5in. Horsepower is rated conservatively at 125. This car is a torque monster. One time when I was pulling away from a traffic light I thought to myself, it feels a bit sluggish, then I realised I was in fourth gear.

    The twilight of the 1920s brought what has to be the greatest American classic of all time, the Duesenberg Model J. A straight-eight, twin-cam, 7-litre masterpiece, with four valves per cylinder and 265bhp. Or 320bhp when fitted with the optional supercharger, this was at a time when 100bhp was considered exceptional. It was also the first American car to be fitted with four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Between the braking, the horsepower and the handling, it’s one of the few cars of the 1920s that you could actually drive today in modern traffic with no problem at all. Assuming, of course, you have massive biceps and a strong left leg.

    Another thing you learn when you study automotive history is that there is really nothing new under the sun. Four-valve heads, twin cams, hemispherical combustion chambers, even hybrid cars are nothing new. All these things existed before the First World War. One of Ferdinand Porsche’s first cars was a hybrid: the 1899 Lohner Porsche, which was front-wheel drive and had its electric motors in the front hub. And since battery technology was still in its infancy, he had two small gasoline engines directly powered to a generator, providing the electricity to the front wheels. Sounds like the future, doesn’t it?

    When I was a teenager, the King of the Hill was the Chrysler Hemi - a massive V8 with two four-barrel carburettors and an unheard-of 425bhp. It really ticked all the boxes, the one I have is in a 1970 Dodge Challenger with a four-speed transmission and the hilarious pistol-grip shifter. It’s painted Hemi orange with a black vinyl roof and matt accents on the hood. It handles like a bowling ball on a waterbed but that doesn’t matter because it goes like stink in a straight line. Or it seemed like it did, back in the day, when 0-60 in 6.3sec was as good as it got. And 13.1sec quarter-mile times were all it took to beat everything else out there, all the while getting nine miles to the gallon. On a good day.

    Unfortunately, today driving a ’70s muscle car is like walking around with a rolled-up sock in your pants. It looks impressive until a kid in a hot hatchback blows your doors off while still getting 30 miles to the gallon.

    In this era of McLaren-P1s, Corvette ZR1 s, Bugattis and Koenigseggs, there are probably kids now looking back at my era and feeling sorry for me. Why? Because cars were so much slower then.

    ‘A CHILD BORN THIS YEAR WILL MOST LIKELY NOT RIDE IN AN INTERNAL- COMBUSTION CAR AS AN ADULT'
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    Switching from a Cayman GT4 to a GT3… That is exactly what my friend Ron Mercurio recently did. Ron owns a local body shop called BumperDoc. He does all the paintwork for Makellos Classics, who have been featured in Total 911 several times. The Porsche fanatic has owned 911s in the past, but when the GT4 was released he jumped on the opportunity to get one. While he was enjoying Porsche’s mid-engined GT4, he was still missing the 911. As we Neunelfer owners know, once you have owned a 911 the experience stays with you forever, and nothing else will do.

    San Diego, USA
    Model 997.2 GT3 RS
    Year 2011
    Acquired February 2011

    Model #2015-Porsche-911-GT3-991.1 / #2015 / #Porsche-911-GT3-991.1 / / #Porsche-911-991.1 / #2015-Porsche-911-991 / #2015-Porsche-911-GT3-991.1 / #2015-Porsche-911-GT3-991 / #Porsche-911 /
    Porsche-911-991 / Porsche

    Year 2015

    Acquired December 2014

    As I’ve written previously, every weekend several of us take our GT3s along with Ron’s GT4 for some incredible drives through the back hills of San Diego. On one of those drives in mid-2018 I offered Ron the chance to drive my GT3, which he enthusiastically accepted. After experiencing driving a GT3 for the first time he set his mind on getting the new 991.2 GT3.

    He searched every dealer in California but only found one local dealer willing to sell him the car. However, if he wanted one it would cost him an extraordinary $30K over MSRP.

    Determined not to give up, he searched the entire US Porsche dealer network and eventually found Champion Porsche in Florida. They allowed him to order a GT3 for $10K over MSRP. Ron eagerly put in his order for a Chalk-coloured GT3 with a manual transmission. After what seemed like an eternity to him, he took delivery of the 911 just before Christmas.

    I asked Ron how the GT3 compared to the GT4. He noted that driving the 911 feels more like an event, and you know you have something more ‘serious’ behind you. He states that while the GT4 clutch is stiffer, the Cayman feels tame in comparison.

    He said the GT3 touches your senses much more. The sound of that 4.0 engine is incredible in comparison to the Carrera S engine in the Cayman GT4. The mid-engined Porsche is no slouch, but when it comes down to it, it just isn’t a 911. Once you have owned a 911 it makes its way into your soul and nothing else will do.
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    Mazda MX-5 Mk1 & MX-5 RF How does the latest RF compare with Mazda’s original MX-5? / #Mazda-MX-5-NA / #Mazda-MX-5 / #Mazda / #Mazda-MX / #Mazda-MX-5-RF

    Running Evo’s MX-5 RF alongside my old Eunos Roadster is proving a fascinating experience. Few other cars, aside from perhaps the Porsche 911, have stayed so true to the same formula over the course of a quarter-century or more – and even the 911 has both grown in size and undergone fundamental changes, first from air to water cooling and then from natural aspiration to turbocharging.
    The MX-5, meanwhile, has stuck rigidly, for better or worse, to the same formula. It’s broadly the same size, the Mk4 being only 60mm wider and 5mm taller than the Mk1, but 35mm shorter, and in basic 1.5-litre form its engine differs in capacity by a scant 102cc, in favour of the older car. There’s still an aluminium bonnet and Mazda still uses its ‘Power Plant Frame’ concept, which ties together the gearbox and differential down the transmission tunnel to reduce unwanted twisting effects from the propshaft.

    Our Mk4 is a 2-litre model, of course, and in Retractable Fastback form it’s a fair chunk heavier than the original (though still lightweight by modern standards, at 1045kg) while being a great deal faster.

    But there are still overt similarities between old and new; little details that give you a hint into Mazda’s way of thinking, and characteristics that some engineer back in Hiroshima probably agonised over as they tried to marry facts and figures with the intangibles of character and fun.

    I love the short, notchy action of the RF’s gearshift. It’s not quite as mechanical in feel as that of my older car and maybe seems a little flimsy alongside a 911’s, but it’s still a major point of interaction with the car and one Mazda has decided not to smother under layers of modern refinement. The pedals, too, somehow pair supermini ease with the weights, placement and responses you’d want from a sports car – just like in my old MX-5.

    The three-spoke steering wheel? It has a slim grip, narrow spokes and a surprisingly large diameter, just like the Momos and Nardis that came as standard in old MX-5s – or the wood-rimmed Nardi I’ve swapped into my Eunos to give the leather of the original wheel a break.

    Open the bonnet and Mazda’s 2-litre #SkyActiv is almost a spitting image of the ‘B6ZE’ 1.6-litre four in the original, its own cam cover designed to ape the look of old Lotus twin-cam units and the like. Mazda didn’t have to make its brand-new engine look like an old one – it could have thrown a big plastic cover over the lot, like most manufacturers do – but even though you’ll rarely see it (MX-5s have always been reliable), it looks good anyway.
    And the differences in how the two cars drive? I’ll be writing about that in a future report.

    Above: Ingram’s own Eunos Roadster (left side) rolled off the production line at Hiroshima in 1992, and when compared with our 2017-spec RF it’s clear that the fundamental MX-5 package has hardly changed.

    ‘The MX-5 has stuck rigidlyto the same formula for a quarter of a century’

    Date acquired Feb #2015 / Feb #2017
    Total mileage 95,925 / 5644
    Mileage this month 150 / 1488
    Costs this month £0
    Mpg this month 28.1 / 41.7
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    Porsche 911 GT2 With values of the original GT2 going through the roof, Nick Trott contemplates what this means for his later version.

    Top: the only way is up? Only time will tell if #Porsche-996 / #Porsche-911-GT2 values will emulate those of other rare 911s. In the meantime, Trott’s just going to enjoy his.

    Date acquired June #2015 / #Porsche-911-996 / #Porsche / #Porsche-911-GT2-996 /
    Total km 45,395
    Km this month 350
    Costs this month $0
    L/100km this month 14.8

    The 996 GT2 is defined by the fact it was the last Porsche without driver aids

    I’ve been dodging this subject, but it keeps being raised. So let’s talk Porsches, auctions, market values and the grubby subject of cash.

    The circa $3,100,000 sale (including fees) of a 1995 993 GT2 at a recent RM Sotheby’s auction in London raised eyebrows clean off some people’s faces. How on Earth, they mused, did it achieve significantly more than double the estimate? Well, I’m guessing two very wealthy bidders wanted it very badly – and all but fought to the death over it. Naturally, this means it’s unlikely that the car was bought by a dealer eager to flip it for a quick profit, and so it’s probably gone to someone who will love, cherish and hopefully drive the hell out of it. And this makes me happy.

    The 993 GT2 was always going to be a high-value Porsche. It’s rare (just 194 were built), it was one of the last air-cooled 911s, it looks suitably berserk and, crucially, it is a true homologation special. Plus when you consider that its racing rivals of the day – F40 LMs and McLaren F1 GTRs – fetch big, big money, perhaps the sale price isn’t so absurd after all. So what, people have asked, does it mean for values of the later (2002) 996 GT2 like mine? I’ll be honest – I struggle to care because at present my car isn’t for sale and I can’t buy anything with the equity within.

    I paid c$250K for it in June 2015 – which still gives me cold sweats – and it’s now insured for $350,000. Is it worth this amount? Okay, let’s break it down. Yes, the 996 GT2 is rare (circa 1000 built in total, with around 100 of them right-hand-drive), but it’s not a unicorn like the 993 version. The styling isn’t to everyone’s taste – not modern enough to tempt people out of the latest GT3s, and not yet ‘period’ enough to appeal to the nostalgic buyer. The latter, of course, is also an important factor for those attempting to profit from a purchase: when will the generation who lusted after the car in their teens be in the position to buy one? It’s this trend that’s pushed the prices of the 205 GTi, and some RS Fords, into the stratosphere over the last 12 months.

    Finally, and perhaps crucially, the 996 GT2 wasn’t a homologation special. Instead its story is defined by the fact it was the last Porsche without driver aids. This is a factor, no doubt, because Porsche is highly unlikely to build a high-power, two-wheel-drive, turbocharged semi-track car with uncompromising suspension and zero safety net ever again.

    In summary, the 996 GT2 has significant upward potential – but I guess you’d expect me to say that.

    However, if it ever reaches the giddy heights of that 993GT2, I shall eat my (very expensive) hat. Psychologically, the increasing value of the car hasn’t changed me at all. I figure it’s insured, it’s got a Tracker and it’s always securely parked. I don’t commute in it anyway and I never leave it at the train station, so my driving habits haven’t changed. Most importantly, I still love it and its value doesn’t feel like a burden. If and when the latter happens, I’ll flog it. Until then, it’s a quite magnificent car that best expresses its value in the way it drives.
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    McLaren P1. Our hypercar has been remarkably problem-free, despite its complexity.

    I’ve just dropped the P1 off for its first annual service. This is the third time it has been back to the McLaren service centre since I took delivery, the first time being for an indicator that came loose, the second for a manufacturer’s recall to replace the front bonnet latch. Because the car had its brain updated immediately prior to delivery there have not been any further software updates, and for a car of this complexity the fact that the only two issues to emerge in year one were both minor and mechanical is hugely impressive. Indeed, my experience with the P1 has reinforced my personal policy of asking for late build-slots on limited-edition cars.

    While I’ve yet to put any big miles on the car, through a number of regular shorter drives I am getting much more comfortable behind the wheel. While the #McLaren DNA is patent in the P1, once you begin to push it the car is clearly the wild child in the family. Both the 12C and 650S are much more linear and progressive. Put your foot down in a 650S and it will fly, but it all happens with a much smoother progression. Do the same in a P1 and you seem to jump from one- to five- to ten-tenths. The P1 seems to defy physics and compress time. Luckily the low, short bonnet coupled with the large windscreen make placing the car on the road very easy.

    While traction is immense, on a concrete road with any moisture it disappears quickly if you are not careful with your right foot. Years with an F40 have taught me to be quite sensitive about twitchy back ends, and on two occasions now this experience has come in handy. So where in the 650S I usually put the traction and gearbox settings into Sport, which allows for some fun, in the P1 the calibration of the systems means that, on the road at least, both are left safely in Normal. With no known issues for the P1, the service should be fairly straightforward. Looking at the work order, the majority of the cost is labour, as they go through each of the car’s systems in detail as well as changing all the fluids. Can’t wait for the car to be back.

    Below: on dry surfaces traction is supreme, but on even slightly damp roads the P1’s 903bhp and monumental torque make it a tricky beast.

    Car #McLaren-P1 / #McLaren / #2015-McLaren-P1 /
    Date acquired July #2015
    Total mileage 505
    Mileage this month 35
    Costs this month $2358 service
    Mpg this month 16

    ‘While the McLaren DNA is patent in the P1, the car is clearly the wild child in the family’
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    Does it ever rain in South Africa? Vivid Guards Red paintwork sings in the sun, on an early morning run to Bloubergstrand – Table Mountain as the backdrop.

    CAR #Porsche-911SC / #Porsche-911 / #Porsche /
    Run by Graeme Hurst
    Owned since June #2015
    Total mileage 196,712km
    Kilometres since acquisition 1712
    Latest costs £45

    BOXER FULFILS A TEENAGE DREAM

    My mates call it an early mid-life crisis, but it was actually my teenage, wall-poster memories that fuelled our latest acquisition when a #1979 SC found its way onto the fleet last year. That, plus spiralling 911 prices in recent years as the Rand weakened and collectors hedged their bets with hard-currency priced cars. It was now or never.

    My passion for 911s was kindled more than 30 years ago, when my late father’s best mate Syd bought a Guards Red 3.2 out of the box in ’84. I remember being mystified by the unusual howl of the flat-six as it tore down our road unseen for the first time and my father Peter exclaiming, from the depths of his workshop: “Syd’s bought a Carrera!”

    Two years on and that sound (along with Dire Straits’ Love over Gold ) got etched into my cerebrum at dawn every Saturday morning as I rode in the passenger seat on the way to a part-time job at Syd’s factory. With the sunroof open, sun rising ahead and the speedo needle way over to the right (the first time I’d been in a car at 200kph-plus), it was an intoxicating experience.

    One that fuelled my passion. Fast forward to 2014 and I got to explore the performance myself when visiting Syd in Australia, where he and the 911 now reside, with a trip to drop off the car at his exhaust man, Fast Eddie. Now heavily tuned up as a track-day weapon, his 3.2 is a serious piece of kit that I did my best not to bend, although Syd brags that his 911 is just a one-owner car driven by a little old guy at weekends…

    My 911 experience was further intensified with a run in my brother Andrew’s early-’70s 2.2 T on the same visit. Once I was back home, I was browsing through Gumtree and Autotrader for a permanent ‘fix’.

    I know from various C&SC features that these cars are robust and can handle huge mileages. But the paperwork in many a Case history has shown that they can also bite if they’ve been neglected. And they rot. That kept me at bay until a mate texted a photo of one that he was selling. It was a tidy early, lefthooker SC that was previously in the same ownership for 20 years and had 195,000km on the clock.

    He was selling the SC only because an ultra-low-mileage 3.2 that he’d owned 20 years ago was back on the market. With the car being on the other side of the country, I took his word and asked for his bank details before getting it transported down.

    Happy? Definitely! The condition was as described. It had clearly been the recipient of a respray and partial retrim, but that’s expected for a 35-year-old car. Mechanically, it feels very strong, with no slop in the controls or ominous noises. It has plenty of poke, too, despite not having the kick of the 3.2 Carrera that got me hooked. The early SC – or Super Carrera, to use the full model name – boasted just 180bhp compared to the 3.2 model’s 231.

    The first job was to get a Certificate of Roadworthiness. This is a bind with an old car because South Africa doesn’t have an annual MoTstyle test. Instead, vehicles are only inspected after a change of ownership, meaning that maintenance issues can build up progressively and you could be hit with a big bill.

    Fortunately I wasn’t, but the SC failed on three counts: the foglights weren’t functioning, one headlamp was pointing to Mars and there were signs of oil on the gearbox casing, which the tester didn’t like.

    The foglamps were a later addition so I offered to remove them there and then, which the tester was fine with – as long as I also removed the switch. I didn’t fancy having a hole in the dash so I decided to get them working. Adjusting the errant lamp turned into a bigger job after the captive nut inside it (for the adjuster) snapped off. My attempt to epoxy a nut in place failed as soon as the adjuster was turned, so I removed the bowl and tried to find someone who could braze on a nut.

    While out searching, I dropped into Italsud Motors to get the flatsix steam cleaned. Seeing the car’s one-eyed front, proprietor Tony L’Abbate offered a quick fix with a nifty machine that reinstates the captive nut by inserting a threaded rivet into the hole. That’s providing the surrounding metal has enough meat in it to be drilled out. It did, and the light was back on in less than 15 minutes. An hour later I had the important COR, along with nicely parallel headlamp beams, ready for my own early morning blasts.
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    NEW E-TYPE TO BE ‘FOR EVERYONE / #Jaguar-E-Type / #Jaguar / #Jaguar-E-Type-Lightweight / #Jaguar-LIghtweight-E-Type-Stratstone-Mayfair / #Jaguar-E-Type-Stratstone / #Stratstone / #2015

    Big news last year was the announcement by #Jaguar that it would be building six brand new Lightweight E-types. In 1963 Jaguar planned a run of 18 stripped out, lightened and raceprepared E-type coupés for GT racing, with hand-made riveted aluminium bodies. Mixed results on the race circuit meant that only 12 cars had been built when the project stopped in 1964 – but Jaguar had already assigned all 18 chassis numbers. What became known to Jaguar enthusiasts as 'The Missing Six' remained in the company's ledger book in a strange existential limbo. These records were unearthed in 2014, affording Jaguar the opportunity to build those cars at its Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division to the exact same specifications and on the same tooling as the other 12. As far as the manufacturer and historic racing regulators are concerned these are just as genuine as any other E-type – there’s just been a little 52-year delay in production.

    Deliveries of each of the hand-built E-types have now begun and only one is remaining in the UK. This has been purchased by Stratstone, the London-based premium car retailer which is celebrating its 95th anniversary this year. Stratstone has had a Jaguar franchise in Mayfair, central London, for over 50 years and sold E-types in the ‘Sixties, which made the Mayfair premises the perfect place to unveil the newlyacquired E-type at an event held on the evening of Monday, May 10.

    Trevor Finn, CEO of Stratstone’s parent company Pendragon, received the keys to the Jaguar, which is Lightweight #15, from John Edwards, the managing director of Jaguar Land Rover SVO. Like all the new Lightweights, the Stratstone car has been delivered in period competition trim with a stripped-out interior and a 340 horsepower, alloy-block 3.8-litre XK engine, with dry sump lubrication and triple Weber carburettors.

    After the handover John Edwards talked a little about the Lightweight E-type project from Jaguar's point of view and how the thousands of would-be owners of the new cars were whittled down to six. "We were only ever going to build six new cars," he said. "Obviously we could have kept going and built ten, 20 or 50 and sold all of them but they would lack that vital authenticity. They wouldn't have those handwritten chassis numbers that have been on the books since 1963 – that's the romance of The Missing Six."

    When it came to owners, he said: "We were only going to offer the cars to buyers who understood the car's importance and its history. We had to be sure they were going to actually use the car rather than just see it as an investment."

    The actual pricetag of the new E-types has not been disclosed but is estimated to be around £1.2 million – a 1963-vintage racing Lightweight E-type would be worth six times as much. Trevor Finn revealed that Stratstone had to approach Jaguar with a pitch outlining its plans for the car before the deal could go through.

    Trevor could not yet reveal any specific details about what the Stratstone E-type will be used for but he said that the “intention for this very special Jaguar is that it will serve as a living and dynamic ambassador for Stratstone across the UK and Europe.”

    Trevor said that with Lightweight Number 15 being the only one of its type to be based in Britain, “we want it to be ‘the UK’s E-type’ and the plan is to give as many people as possible the opportunity to see it in a variety of locations. Some of these will be motorsports related but we want to bring the car to people who are not just hardcore motoring enthusiasts. There are some interesting uses in the pipeline and they’re not just the obvious choices.”

    Certainly there were early signs that the Stratstone E-type is not going to be a pampered indoor exhibit – prior to the Mayfair unveiling the car was run up a very wet Shelsley Walsh hillclimb to film a promotional video and parts of the engine bay and the wheelarches were still splattered with Worcestershire mud.
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    AUTONOMOUS DELIVERY / #2017 / #DB-Schenker / #Volvo / #Transwheel / #Cody /

    Will a robot take your job? Rise of the machines. A brave new world of autonomous vehicles could change the delivery landscape forever. Richard N Williams finds out more. Illustration: Pierluigi Longo.

    Cover story. Autonomous delivery… The rise of autonomous vehicles could change the delivery landscape forever.

    A lot has happened since Amazon announced its drone project in 2013 and forced the delivery industry to sit up and listen. Posts around the world are now not only experimenting with drone delivery, but some are also using the UAVs to deliver parcels on a day-to-day basis.

    “We are further along than many people think,” says Brody Buhler, managing director for postal and parcel at management consulting and outsourcing organization Accenture. “A lot more experiments are going on than are made public, but we do know that companies like Deutsche-Post , Swiss-Post and Posti are all working on them.”

    Buhler says postal operators are delivering parcels daily using drones, with companies is well tested. The economics for drone delivery are so compelling, it will advance as fast as the regulatory framework allows.”

    Piloting drones Postal operators across Europe are fully aware of the opportunities presented by drone delivery. In many countries, urban drone testing is restricted by tough regulations, but several posts have been conducting test flights in rural areas, where they see drone flights having the most financial advantage. “In cities, delivery by postmen is still very efficient, but here in Switzerland, we have a lot of mountains and rural areas,”explains Janick Mischler, project manager for development and innovation at Swiss Post. “That’s where we are looking for business cases, because it will save so much time and money.”

    He says Swiss Post began experimenting with drones in 2015, but it has advanced from simple test flights to planning actual deliveries. “We have found some business cases that make sense,” says Mischler, “and we begin real deliveries in spring this year.”

    Mischler believes there may be other opportunities for drone use beyond the last mile. “We are still learning, but I think all applications will have to be specific. I can see the advantage, for instance, of using drones between warehouses within the company, transporting goods from one hub to another, but currently we are focused on getting more experience with the technology.”

    Swiss Post has teamed up with US drone manufacturer Matternet. The drone is a very light construction, so it can only carry small packages up to 1kg (2.2 lb), but it can travel over 10km (6 miles) without human control. “All of our drones are fully autonomous.

    They don’t need a pilot; everything is computer-controlled. I think this is the only way to go. Not only does it save on having an operator, but it also eliminates human error,” comments Mischler.

    He adds that they are now planning longer trips up to 30km (18 miles). “This is not beyond the current technology, I don’t think,” Mischler says. “We are in discussions now working out how to make it happen.”

    Safe flight? Many postal operators have found drone delivery to be full of challenges. In January 2016 for example, DHL was forced to cancel a media demonstration of its nextgeneration DHL Parcelcopter 2.0 due to bad weather. The Parcelcopter project’s maiden flight was in December 2014. An unmanned aircraft successfully delivered packages from the city of Norden in northern Germany to the North Sea island of Juist – a distance of 12km (7.5 miles).

    Bad weather is a major challenge for drone delivery. Posti trialled a robot helicopter in September 2015 in Helsinki, between the mainland and the island of Suomenlinna, a distance of approximately 4km (2.5 miles), but things didn’t go completely to plan. “The main target of the pilot, to deliver a parcel successfully, was achieved,” says Jukka Rosenberg, senior vice president for parcel and logistic services at Posti. “However we did identify areas where the technology could be improved in order for it to be more stable during windy conditions.”

    He says the copter, built by Finnish company Sharper Shape, was computercontrolled but the post used a human pilot for take-off and landing, for safety reasons. “It successfully negotiated telephone wires, trees and cell phone masts, however over the sea it became a little unstable due to the wind. It made it, but I don’t think the technology is 100% reliable yet,” admits Rosenberg.


    “I do think there is lots of potential, though,” he adds. “For rural areas it definitely makes sense. We could also see it as a premium service in urban areas, perhaps for same-day business deliveries.”

    Robot postmen Regulations governing drone use in cities are very prohibitive in most parts of the world, and fears over security and safety may mean drone use in our towns and cities is a long way off.

    However, aerial drones are not the only form of autonomous delivery system that is currently being tested. Launched by former Skype founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, Starship Technologies has unveiled and tested a fleet of autonomous robots for the last-mile delivery of local goods, groceries and parcels.

    Starship’s COO, Allan Martinson, explains, “It’s a self-driving, slow-speed robot, designed to deliver most sizes of packages people receive in their home. They can carry up to 40 lbs in weight.”

    Martinson says the robot, so far unnamed, is fitted with an array of sensors, cameras, a GPS system, and is guided by a pre-programmed map of the area it operates in, accurate to within a quarter of an inch, and it could provide huge savings for postal operators.

    “We are pretty sure that the last mile will eventually be dominated by robots like this. Aerial drones are fine in rural areas but not urban environments. Currently the last mile is very inefficient when you take into account fuel, labor and vehicle costs. We can cut last mile costs to less than a dollar,” claims Martinson.

    He says Starship piloted the robots in 2015, racking up 500km (300 miles) and this year the company has partnered with several businesses and plans to trial actual deliveries. “At the moment we have a radius of one to two miles because that is the most cost-effective distance, and we are looking at more suburban areas rather than, say, London’s Oxford Street with its high volume of pedestrians,” comments Martinson.

    One of the big concerns with unmanned vehicles like this is security and preventing theft of the packages, but Martinson says they have this issue covered. “We’re well protected. We have live feed from nine cameras, seeing 360° around, tamper sensors, and a lockable lid that is very difficult to break open,” he explains. “We’ve tested it and it took six to seven minutes to access. By that time we could have come to assist the robot. Besides, it’s far safer than leaving a package on a doorstep, which can happen these days.”
    At the moment, Starship says its robots would cost in the region of US$2,000, a cost the company thinks posts could easily recoup in last-mile savings.

    Posts are watching this sort of technology with interest, keen to reduce last-mile costs and find new solutions. “We have been investigating and trying to understand what is going on at the moment. We are very interested in all these advances. So far aerial drones seem to be the most advanced but I think it will all progress very quickly,” argues Posti’s Rosenberg.

    Swiss Post’s Mischler agrees: “I think the future will involve a combination of technologies, drones, robot postmen and self-driving vehicles. We will choose the most efficient.”

    Driverless delivery The self-driving vehicle is another technology that is not too far off. Google pioneered the concept and now a race is on to bring a fully selfdriving autonomous vehicle to the market, which could have huge implications for post and last-mile delivery.

    In February this year ( #2016 / #Drive-My ) #Google took a step toward developing an autonomous delivery solution when it was awarded a patent on self-driving delivery trucks that could deliver packages to homes. The patent explains that the truck would be full of compartments that people can open using a passcode or credit card. The vehicle would use radar, video cameras and range-finding lasers to see the road and traffic around it.

    “Self-driving vehicles can have real implications for postal delivery. A postman parks his van, walks to deliver letters down a street, and then has to walk back to his van. That’s a lot of wasted time. What if the van could follow, park itself, or even move to the next delivery location, all while the postman is preparing deliveries?” asks Accenture’s Buhler. Major car makers, including #Audi , #Lexus , #BMW , #Mercedes and #Tesla are all developing the technology, and Volvo has a system that could be ready for trials on roads next year.

    “Autopilot is an autonomous driving functionality that allows the driver to do something else behind the steering wheel when it is activated,” explains Volvo’s Marcus Rothoff, autonomous driving program director. At the moment the system is cloudcontrolled, so drivers will be limited to using it in quiet areas where there are few oncoming cars and low numbers of pedestrians. “The car is equipped with sensors to ensure the vehicle understands its surroundings.

    Cameras, radars, ultrasonic sensors and lidar [laser radar] are used, as well as a detailed 3D digital map and a high-performance global positioning system so that the car knows exactly where it is and can navigate safely on the dedicated road sections,” Rothoff says. Next year Volvo will be trialling the system in Gothenburg – a pilot that will include 100 cars used by real consumers on public roads. It is hoped that the system will be commercially available by 2020.

    But the technology will need to advance and cope with high-density areas if it is to benefit the postal service. “Low-speed autonomous driving is a potential next step for the automotive industry,” comments Rothoff. “Delivery solutions might be in the future. From a technology point of view, this should be possible within the next 5-10 years. Last-mile delivery, driving at low speeds, offers a safe application in less complex environments in about the same timeframe.”

    Above: Volvo’s autonomous car will be trialled in Gothenburg in 2017 Below left: Sensors ensure the car understands its surroundings Below: Volvo customers will be able to remotely connect with their car.

    Next-generation robots take over the warehouse In January 2016 transportation and logistics provider DB Schenker successfully completed the implementation of a new automated online order fulfillment and returns handling system in its Arlandastad Logistics Center near Stockholm, Sweden. The CarryPick solution, developed by Swisslog, is an automated storage and goods to person order picking system, which uses robots (also known as automated guided vehicles) to drive underneath mobile racks and deliver them to pick stations. The solution is operated DB Schenker for Lekmer.com, Scandinavia’s largest online toy retailer.


    The CarryPick system runs on intelligent software that has been linked to a warehouse management system. Due to its modular design, the solution can be expanded to face seasonable peaks or growth in the customer’s business. According to DB Schenker, it increases staff productivity by up to 60%.

    Anders Holmberg, business development manager, #DB-Schenker , Sweden, says, “With more than 60 robots and 1,550 mobile racks, we are able to manage 35,000 different articles, every day. And pick up to 40,000 orders per day.”

    Tomorrow’s world

    Autonomous technology could revolutionize delivery, but what sort of vehicles could we see delivering the parcels of tomorrow? Here are some ideas that could one day be on our streets.


    In September 2015, #Posti carried out a four-day experiment to test the use of drones in mail delivery.

    The #Rapid-Delivery-Vehicle

    An idea by industrial design student Leighton McDonald, from Savannah, Georgia, USA, the RDV is aimed at city use. With a proposed extendable chassis, the vehicle can transport and deliver packages ranging in size from small parcels to large freight. The resizable vehicle transforms from a truck into a small transporter for smaller deliveries.

    Cody

    Proposed by innovation and design firm Ideo, Cody is a transparent vehicle made from a carbon-composite x-frame to save weight. The idea is that packages are tracked in real time and Cody uses algorithms to find the quickest route, can change destinations on demand, and can even sort packages inside using vacuum power and a robotic arm.

    Transwheel

    A concept by Israeli student #Kobi-Shikar , Transwheel is an autonomous robotic wheel that can combine with other Transwheels to carry packages of any size. With a selfbalancing system and electric arm to carry the load, Transwheel could carry cargo from single parcels to truck-sized loads by working with other units.

    Ecotranzit

    Created by freelance industrial designer #Martin-Rico from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ecotranzit may look like a truck but its small size means it could ride on roads or sidewalks, carrying up to 110kg of parcels. Completely autonomous, it would be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell or battery pack, ensuring it is environmentally friendly and quiet.


    Distribution truck with autonomous containers

    Entered for the James Dyson Award by mechanical engineer and industrial design student Dubur Stéphane from France, the concept is aimed at last-mile delivery. The truck carries three autonomous electric containers, which can be unloaded at the edge of the city and then make their own way to the delivery location, reducing congestion and freeing the city from heavy goods vehicles.

    In September #2015 , #Posti carried out a four-day experiment to test the use of drones in mail delivery.

    Starship robots can be used to deliver parcels in suburban areas.

    Matternet’s lightweight drone is set to transform last-mile logistics.

    Swiss Post and Matternet have been testing drone delivery since July 2015.

    Governing change

    For postal organizations to begin wide-scale drone operations, the first thing that will need to change is regulations. In the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority forbids unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) use within 150m (490ft) of a congested area and 50m (165ft) of a person. In the USA, the FAA forbids all commercial use of drones without special permission. However, many think the laws will soon change.

    “What we will see is consumers, not commercial industries, driving a change in the regulations. So many people are using drones now, for photography and such like, there will have to be change,” comments Accenture’s Brody Buhler. “I think in the USA they are looking at some sort of register.

    In some European countries, things are already becoming more flexible, allowing far more testing. “Here in Switzerland, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation is very progressive,” says Swiss Post’s Janick Mischler. “We have had many discussions about what we are planning to do and they are very open-minded. Flights over cities are not forbidden as long as we fulfill the requirements.”

    “Whether we will see drone delivery in urban areas will definitely depend on the regulations,” adds Posti’s Jukka Rosenberg. “I know that the government in Finland is looking at it. I don’t think we will see drones landing outside buildings, but I can see a situation where we have drone hubs, where you can go to pick up and drop off a package.”
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    FACE OFF! Group B icon Vs. rallycross monster. S1 E2VS1 EKS RX. Pics courtesy www.EKSRX.com.

    These two S1s may have been created 35 years apart but they share a surprising amount of DNA… Face off – S1 E2 versus S1 EKS RX.

    Back in the halcyon days of rallying, there was only one car for me – the #Audi S1 E2. This Group B machine had it all: extreme looks, savage performance and the kind of sound track that could wake the dead. The fact it was a real handful to drive just added to the legend. It’s the car that Walther Röhrl drove to victory in the gruelling Pikes Peak event, complete with its be-winged aero battle armour. A fierce, fire breathing machine that emitted an off-note warble, punctuated by loud bangs from the anti-lag system. As a snapshot of the 80s, it captured the excess perfectly.

    With the banning of Group B, the S1 E2, along with many other legendary cars such as the 205 T16 and Lancia 037 were left with nowhere to go. Victims of their own success you might say. At the time, many commentators said that the world would never see the likes of these crazy machines again.
    But they were wrong.

    In 2014, we got word of a new generation of S1 that would be competing in the World Rallycross series. Based (loosely) on the S1 road car, it promised over 500bhp and was designed and built to be flung around Rallycross courses all over Europe. It is, in effect, the spiritual successor to the original S1.

    Technology has moved on significantly over the last 35 years. From turbo design, featuring ultra responsive variable vein technology, to suspension which is able to keep a car planted and stable when it lands after a big jump, there’s no doubt that the new S1 would destroy an original in a head-to-head race. But this isn’t about asking which is better, or faster; it’s about appreciating both cars and looking at how the S1 has evolved for the modern age.

    The original S1 was a thing of compromise. While other teams were building well balanced, mid-engined machines that were right on the pace, the Audi quattro was big and nose heavy. The Short Sport was born to try and quell that issue and reduce some weight. A lighter alloy block helped, as did the more upright windscreen to reduce glare from the sun. The vast cooling system was moved to the rear, to get more weight off the front, and top wheelmen Stiq Blomqvist and Walter Röhrl were tasked with piloting the thing. The addition of a lockable diff meant the rear could be more easily brought into play, while towards the end of its career, the S1 E2 received a primitive version of what we know today as a DSG transmission. Even so, the S1 was a very analogue beast. You had to really drive the thing and have a full understanding of its shortcomings. Walter Röhrl said it was one of his favourite cars of all time – citing the challenge of driving it on the limit as one of the main reasons. Here was a car that still had three pedals, a regular manual gearbox and even featured steel body panels.

    The S1 EKS RX is a very different machine to the S1 E2. For starters it was designed and built with a specific purpose in mind – the Rallycross series. Unlike the S1 E2, it wasn’t an adapted version of an existing car, so it had a clear brief. With modern CAD, hightech composite materials, plus access to the latest technology in braking, suspension and engines, this was always going to be a ruthlessly efficient machine.

    Designed to compete in short, high intensity events, the S1 EKS didn’t need the longevity required of a rally car. They do however need to make a good start, which is where the power and suspension all comes together. Being able to lay down a savage launch and get ahead of the pack is critical to success in this event. The suspension in particular takes a lot of development as it has to cope with tarmac and gravel – the original S1 would have been set up according to the rally it was competing in.


    There’s a six-speed sequential box with a mechanical shifter for lightening fast shifts. The 2.0 turbo engine creates over 560hp and is capable of taking the S1 from rest to 60mph in just 2secs – on a dirt track. Last year, S1 EKS RX lead driver, Mattias Ekström was joined by Röhrl, who drove the S1 EKS. He is said to have remarked on the modern S1’s unbelievable power, lightness as well as telepathic handling and immediate gear shifts. Ekström commented that Röhrl approached some corners faster than he did!

    At the time of writing, the S1 EKS has not had the success that the team has hoped for. Having said that, fifth in the team standings and sixth for Ekström in the drivers’ championship offers something to build on. As to the question, which of these machines is best? Well, clearly, the modern S1, dripping with the latest in race car technology is the more capable and competitive car. But, I’d bet my last Jelly Baby, that almost all of you reading this, like me, would take the original S1 E2.

    Above: Bumper to bumper action. Below: Rally cars and a road going S1.

    QUICK SPECS #Audi-S1-EKS-RX-quattro / #Audi-S1 / #Audi /
    Year: #2015
    Category: Supercar
    Engine: 2.0 straight-four turbo
    Transmission: 4WD, 6-speed sequential box
    Power: 560hp
    0-60mph: 1.9sec
    Chassis: Reinforced steel body (based on S1)
    Suspension: MacPherson struts, Ohlins dampers
    Brakes: 4-pot calipers with Pagid RS pads
    Wheels: 17in OZ



    TECH DATA #Audi-S1-E2-Quattro / #Audi-S1-E2 / #Audi-S1 / #Audi-Quattro / #Quattro
    Year: #1985
    Category: #Group-B
    Engine: 2.1 five-cylinder turbo
    Transmission: 4WD, synchronised 6-speed manual
    Power: 500hp
    0-60mph: 3sec
    Chassis: Self supporting steel body with sheet steel parts
    Suspension: MacPherson struts with lower wishbone, Boge twin tube spring strut inserts
    Brakes: Two circuit hydraulic system
    Wheels: 16in

    Evolution

    Back in the 1980s, manufacturers had to satisfy strict rules of homologation. To prevent rally teams from producing multi-million pound specials, all competition cars had to be part of a production run of at least 200 road going models for Group B. Consequently, manufacturers created road versions of cars like the Sport quattro – cars that today are worth a small fortune. Sadly, the rules have changed, so manufacturers no longer need to make road going models. Although cars like the S1 EKS must still be loosely based – i.e resemble their production counterparts. They may look similar, but with high-tech spaceframed construction, complex composite bodies and the latest in race car engine technology, they are much further away from the road car than their 80s sibblings were.

    Below: “The S1 E2 is ace!”

    Above: Evolution of the S1...

    “Group B grunt versus modern Rallycross technology”
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    The Art of Deception AC Schnitzer knows a thing or two about suspension as witnessed by its setup for the M4. The M4 is developing a reputation for being a little bit of a handful in slippery conditions, so does it really need more horsepower and other upgrades? Words: Adam Towler. Photography: Gus Gregory. #AC-Schnitzer-ACS4-Sport / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS4-Sport-F82 / #S55B30 / #S55B30-AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer / #2015 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS4-Sport / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #AC-Schnitzer-F82 / #BMW-M4-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW / #BMW-4-Series / #2016

    It’s quite likely that many readers of this magazine believe the BMW M4 is the finest incarnation of the mid-size German sports coupé yet built. However, it can’t be denied that amongst the car-loving community at large, the M4 has split opinion. No one questions whether its performance is adequate, or for that matter superlative; I can’t give you an exact figure off the cuff but I’m sure it completely demolishes something like an old E46 M3 around a certain German racing circuit, and many others, too.

    Let’s consider, though, some of the more esoteric elements of the M4 proposition. The power increase over the old E92 M3 is actually only marginal – an extra 11hp taking it to 431hp – so it’s the torque that’s making the difference, all 406lb ft of the stuff versus the 295lb ft from the naturally aspirated V8. And that’s not all. Forget for a moment the peak difference and consider where that number is now developed: it’s from as little as 1850rpm and is then held all the way to 5500rpm in one arrow-straight line. In one of the older V8s the engine needed to be turning at 3900rpm before the full 295lb ft came on stream. Quite simply, whenever you plant your foot in an M4, as long as the engine is working at more than a whisper above idle speed, things happen… and they happen fast. Gear choice is vastly less critical, and while I won’t get into the highbrow discussions of whether it has become all too easy and the loss of that gorgeous soundtrack, there’s no denying that on modern, crowded roads, the S55 engine’s on-demand haymaker is exceedingly effective.

    This sheer grunt does give the M4’s chassis something to really think about. On a smooth, dry surface the car is hugely effective, with EDC damping allowing for a fairly comfortable ride or ruthless body control at the press of a button. But on a cold, greasy, wintry B-road with all the irregularities in surface that are to be expected, it’s a car that can really bite the unwary. Left in the standard setting, the suspension can struggle to contain the torque if deployed clumsily, and sudden crests can make the car very lively indeed. I could probably add that the rather muted steering in the modern style doesn’t assist the challenge, either. In such a situation, you either spend a good deal of your time watching the yellow traction control light flicker incessantly, which is very frustrating, or DSC is switched off whereupon you’re really juggling with the steak knives set.


    That’s where this Schnitzer ACS4 comes in. I know, it doesn’t look like it’ll be the answer to this particular problem. Despite keeping an open mind the additional ‘aero’, tuner-style 20-inch rims, lowered ride height, talk of coilovers, plus a comically noisy exhaust threatens to overwhelm me with preconceptions of a negative kind. A ‘slammed’ aftermarket treatment might be the last thing this car needs.

    Then there’s the news that really sets the alarm bells ringing: peak power on this M4 has been raised to a massive 510hp. Whatever you say about the new turbo power generation, that’s a figure that any M3 driver just ten years ago would have thought impossible. Moreover, the maximum torque now stands at 479lb ft, which threatens to really give the rear axle something to get in a flap about.


    I travel to Schnitzer’s UK importer, Rossiters, near Kings Lynn, to collect the Austin yellow demo car, mine for a few days. Rossiters held the franchise before BMW made things official in the late 1990s, and then picked up the reins ten years later when BMW UK ended that arrangement. Today, you can order Schnitzer parts in 40 of the UK’s BMW main dealers, as well as 20 other non-franchise BMW specialists. This demo car features plenty of the Schnitzer goodies on offer: there’s the engine upgrade, which I’ll come onto in a minute, with a new engine cover for added artistic embellishment; the carbon fibre front spoiler elements, ‘canards’ either side of the nose and carbon rear diffuser (no aerodynamic advantage is implied or given); the ‘RS’ suspension kit; ‘export version’ sports silencer; Type V forged 20-inch rims with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres (255/30 R20 front and 275/30 R20 rear); a fancy pedal set; and some stickers for the exterior. All in that’s £20,081.61 added to the price of your M4, including fitting. Let’s see if it’s worth it.


    The most exciting snippet of information I gather from talking to Chris Rossiter and Lorcan Parnell at AC Schnitzer UK is that their colleagues back in Germany have developed this kit over many miles of road testing, and that their mantra is ‘better fast not hard’ (stop sniggering at the back please). In addition, the finer points of the setup have been tweaked after driving on the lanes close to Rossiters’ Norfolk workshop. This attention to what matters in a road car and not a pursuit of lap times bodes very well already. Such thoughts momentarily leave my mind when the ACS4 fires up with a boom and idles angrily. The cat-back exhaust keeps the factory valving system, but when they’re open – especially on cold-start – it is mercurially loud.


    The modifications to the engine consist solely of altering the messages from the ECU. Schnitzer achieves this not by remapping what’s already there, but by fitting a ‘piggyback’ second ECU that adjusts the electronic information accordingly. It claims that the achieved outputs remain inside the limitations of the gearbox, and it supplies the car with a twoyear/ 60,000km warranty that sits alongside the regular BMW warranty for the car. This can be extended to three years for an additional £1082.02. Quite rightly, Rossiters feel this peace of mind elevates the conversion above some of the straightforward remaps out there.

    It may well have over 500hp but that’s not what is grabbing my attention at the moment. Leaving the small town of Dersingham it’s the ACS4’s low speed ride that I’m most aware of. With such low profile rubber fitted it’s no great surprise that the car picks out every last little bump on the road, which makes for a busy experience. This coilover option is the third and highest level of modification offered by Schnitzer for the M4, and forsakes the factory EDC dampers for a passive setup that is nonetheless adjustable manually for rebound, compression and ride height.


    Fairly soon we’re beyond the limits of the town and the speeds inevitably increase, whereupon it occurs to me that the jostling has petered out considerably. During my time with the car I become obsessed with this aspect of the ACS4: there are occasions when I think it’s too busy, and on a particular surface that it doesn’t like – one busy dual carriageway springs to mind – it seems to make a meal of a road that I’d never thought that bad. But overall I sense that while the suspension is working hard, it does filter out the worst of the movements entering the cabin. It sounds worse than it is: the intrusions banging through the M4’s structure and causing the odd rattle here and there, but my head isn’t nodding against my chest and my wobbly bits aren’t being, er, wobbly. I learn to live with it, and soon accept it as ‘normal’.

    The faster your drive the ACS4, the better it gets. And going fast is one thing this car does very well indeed. The sheer rate of acceleration is now shocking. It’s easy to get into the mindset where you work the engine between 2000-4000rpm and can’t imagine going much quicker. Then an odd occasion presents itself where the engine can really be wrung out to the redline and it’s simply biblically fast. Or at least it is when it can find traction. In the middle of winter, that isn’t all that often, it must be said.


    This is where the Schnitzer bits really shine. I find it most refreshing that the damper setting on the dash can be ignored, primarily because it’s one less thing to meddle with on the move. The real advantage is that as a driver, you learn the car, get to know how it will react in certain situations and under certain provocations. There’s something really straightforward about this car which, if you switch the DSC systems off partially or completely, means it’s nowhere near as scary as a 500hp coupé should be. Compressions and crests don’t hold any fear for the Schnitzer driver, the ACS4 piercing through them without any of the unsettling behaviour of the standard car, and even the steering seems to have gained a little more feedback, tugging slightly this way and that depending on the road’s surface.

    The ACS4 likes to go sideways, usually at every opportunity. This is one of those cars that can be made to lose traction at the rear almost at will, but once you’ve got a handle on what happens next it is surprisingly controllable. Time and again the big yellow 4 Series has me giggling with euphoric nervousness at having kept things facing in the right direction, but the control once the tail has swung around is just lovely, and it’s a great feeling to have it all hooked up on the exit of a corner just on the cusp of wheelspin. If anything, the ACS4 makes 500hp seem more manageable at times than the standard car’s 431hp. It’s worth saying, though, however obvious, that it would be foolish to treat this M4 as if it were a grownup Mazda MX5. If there’s one thing you’re always aware of, even when having a lot of fun, is that it is an inherently overpowered, rear-drive car that’s tractionlimited in bad weather. It’s unwise to take too many liberties with any 500hp+ car, however progressive it seems most of the time. An aural indication of this is the snort released through the quad tailpipes when you lift suddenly off the throttle under full boost. It’s an ugly kind of noise, akin to a lightning bolt cracking through the atmosphere, and it adds to the impression that this is one bad car to know.


    By the end of my time with this M4 it has really got under my skin. I’ve really enjoyed its transparency in a modern car market obsessed with modes and button pressing. Left in the normal drivetrain setting it’s a more refined proposition without the fake engine ‘noise’ (I think the straight-six sounds nice just as it is to be honest), and the benefits that the suspension bring to the body control and predictability of the chassis in extremis are really appealing. I’d do without the body addenda, although that may well be at the top of your list – these things are, of course, down to personal preference. I’d forsake the wheels, mainly because I’d love to try this car on standard 19-inch wheels fitted with tyres that have a larger sidewall to see what the ride and road noise were like then. The engine upgrade is one of those mods that once experienced there is simply no going back, and given it’s under a warranty I don’t think I could say ‘no’. I could drone on for paragraphs about how rapid this car now feels, but it’s something that has to be experienced to be believed in truth: it never, ever, feels dull. I’d leave the exhaust though, ostensibly to stay a bit more ‘under the radar’, and anyway, there are no performance claims made for it either. In other words, just taking the engine and suspension options adds around £7000 to an M4, and given the performance and dynamic benefits they bring, that seems like a very good deal to me. Sometimes, appearances can be deceptive.

    CONTACT: AC Schnitzer UK / Tel: 01485 542000 Website: www.ac-schnitzer.co.uk

    TECH DATA AC #Schnitzer ACS4 Sport

    ENGINE: Twin-turbo, straight-six
    CAPACITY: 2979cc
    MAX POWER: 510hp
    MAX TORQUE: 476lb ft
    0-62MPH: 4.0 seconds
    50-120MPH: 6.2 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)

    MODIFICATIONS:

    ENGINE: AC Schnitzer performance upgrade: £3641.04; engine optics package: £378.73; optional third year warranty: £1082.02

    EXHAUST: Quad sports exhaust system (export version) with black tailpipes: £3275.75

    WHEELS & TYRES: AC Schnitzer Type V lightweight forged alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. Front: 9x20-inches with 255/30 R20 tyres. Rear: 10x20-inches with 275/30 R20 tyres: £5949.66 (including wheel bolts and RDC tyre pressure valves)

    SUSPENSION: AC Schnitzer RS adjustable suspension package: £3473.75; wheel alignment: £144

    STYLING: AC Schnitzer carbon fibre ‘canards’: £960.50; carbon fibre front spoiler: £1050.26; carbon fibre rear diffuser: £1319.50

    INTERIOR: AC Schnitzer aluminium pedal set: £195.60 All prices quoted include parts, labour and VAT

    I’ve really enjoyed its transparency in a modern car market obsessed with modes and button pressing.


    It might look pretty standard in the interior from the driver’s seat, but the driving experience is anything but standard!
    • How fast? Looking at your performance figures for the AC Schnitzer ACS4 Sport I have to assume there is an error regarding the 50-120mph time? Unless How fast? Looking at your performance figures for the AC Schnitzer ACS4 Sport I have to assume there is an error regarding the 50-120mph time? Unless it’s rocket-powered it would have to be 16.2 seconds rather than 6.2? If not, then that means a 0-120mph time of less than ten seconds?!  More ...
    • While we haven’t independently verified AC Schnitzer’s figures Chris, we have no reason to doubt them; even in its standard form the M4 is a staggerinWhile we haven’t independently verified AC Schnitzer’s figures Chris, we have no reason to doubt them; even in its standard form the M4 is a staggeringly quick machine! Schnitzer tested the standard car through this speed increment (80-180km/h, which equates to 50-120mph) and recorded a time of 7.9 seconds, so with 80hp more we wouldn’t be surprised if Schnitzer’s ACS4 Sport was indeed that fast.

      It is an unusual increment to time, but if one has a look at quarter-mile times for the M4 many magazines have posted pretty impressive figures for the standard car. Car and Driver recorded a 0-100mph time of 8.6 seconds for an M4 on its way to a 12.1-second quarter-mile time with a terminal velocity of 119mph. With the additional power and torque of the Schnitzer car we reckon it’s probably just about spot-on.

      The bottom line is that cars these days are hugely faster than they used to be!
        More ...
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