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    SHOWROOM STARS #Aston-Martin-One-77 / #2016 / #Aston-Martin / #2016-Aston-Martin-One-77 / £1,800,000

    Aston Martin Works, UK. +44 (0)1908 610620, www.astonmartinworks.com

    The economics of buying a brand new car outright still make little sense in general – the AA reckons that the average new car is worth just 40% of the purchase price after three years – but in recent times several hypercars have demonstrated that not everything loses value the moment it is driven away from the showroom. Defying the depreciation curve with particular belligerence is the Aston Martin One-77, a £1.2-million machine when delivery began in 2011, and even more expensive in the UK once Her Majesty’s Government had added VAT at 20%.

    It was easy to understand why the price tag was so large, though: each of the 77 cars built was completed to the buyer’s specification inside and out, and beneath the handcrafted aluminium body was an awe-inspiring 750bhp V12, then the most powerful naturally aspirated petrol engine in the world. (That title now belongs to the 6.2-litre 770bhp unit in the Ferrari F12tdf but, if the factory figures are to be believed, the One-77 is nonetheless the quicker car, topping out at a tyre-shredding 220mph.)

    It was devastatingly attractive, too – very recognisably a post-DB9 Aston, but with a don’t-mess, all-business aesthetic of its own. Unsurprisingly, in the years since 2011, those who were unable to secure a One-77 when new have been prepared to pay handsomely to acquire a used car. Handsomely enough, in fact, that values are already far north of the new price.

    ‘Used’ is probably the wrong word, for there are not many One-77s in the world that are driven regularly. Indeed, the car currently available through Aston Works has done just 900 miles, and presents in correspondingly pristine condition.

    Its first owner picked a combination of Pearl Black paint over a silver-and-black interior. That wouldn’t have been our choice, but we needn’t worry about that: not only do we not have £1,800,000 to spend, but the car is also unlikely to be available for long. The market shows that the world’s car enthusiasts have conferred classic status on the One-77 already. Getting hold of one will only get harder.
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    LONGTERMERS #BMW-F10 / #BMW-520d-SE / #BMW-520d / #BMW-520d-F10 / #BMW / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-F10
    CAR: BMW-F10 / BMW-520d SE /
    YEAR: #2016
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 20,149
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 972
    MPG THIS MONTH: 39.2
    TOTAL COST: nil

    Fate has played a hand in my story this month. The other day I was ruefully thinking how it was going to be yet another ‘quiet month’ for OU16, and then a rock came sailing over a fence, hit my car, and all that changed. My daughter attends an afterschool club and it was while I was collecting her from there that the trouble started. The car park is next to a sports field, but separated from it buy a high, solid fence.
    Evidently, what had happened was that one of the ‘sportsmen’ on the other side had found the lump of stone in the grass and thought the simplest thing to do was to lob it over the fence.

    The trouble was, of course, that they’d obviously not thought about what or who might be on the other side – or, worse still, didn’t care. I was sitting in the car as my wife and daughter approached, and was about to start the engine when, ’crack!’, the stone landed out of the blue, literally.

    The loudness of the impact certainly gave me a shock; it was like close-proximity gunfire. My first thought was for my wife and daughter so I jumped out of the car to check on them but, thankfully, they were both fi ne. Initially a little confused, I then spotted the rock on the ground and the damaged windscreen.
    Now, as much as I like my car, it is insured and repairable. What a different story it would have been had the rock hit a person. As I write this, Autoglass is booked in to visit and, for a 75 quid excess, will fit a new windscreen.
    Needless to say, ‘nobody saw nuffink, guvna’ when I went round into the sports field to investigate. Even though I could tell by the body language of some of the youths that they knew full well what had happened, nobody was prepared to own up and take responsibility.

    I’ve had no luck taking the matter further, with the authorities responsible for booking the playing field, the police or my local MP. I’m still waiting to hear from the latter but, to be honest, I’m not holding my breath. In many ways, I think I’d rather that it had stayed a quiet month, after all.

    Thrown ‘blind’ from a nearby sports field, this rock could have done some serious damage. ‘Luckily’ it hit my front screen rather than a person. Autoglass is coming to the rescue.
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    CAR Audi R8 Spyder V10 END OF TERM

    / #Audi-R8-Spyder / #Audi-R8-Spyder-V10-Plus / #Audi / #Audi-R8-Mk2 / #Audi-R8-Spyder-Mk2 / #Audi-R8

    It’s farewell to our drop-top supercar – and its magnificent #V10 . But will we miss having an R8 as a daily driver?

    Knocking about in a drop-top supercar for half a year is likely to sit pretty high up on any petrolhead’s bucket-list. Running an R8 Spyder was, of course, a brilliant experience – one I may never be lucky enough to repeat. And with the Spyder’s £129,990 base price taken up to £167,740 by options such as carbonceramic brakes (£7700), the gloss carbon exterior styling pack (£4900) and the Sport Plus Pack (bringing Audi’s three-mode magnetic adaptive dampers, Dynamic Steering and a sports exhaust, for £3500), this R8 really was deep into supercar territory. But before I get into the many reasons why it was such fun, there are a few (decidedly first-world) irritations I want to air.

    My first complaint relates to the attention a car like the Spyder gets out on the road. Mostly the waves and the thumbs-ups and the friendly comments are all quite fun, but what I could have done without was the steady stream of morons who were determined to lure me into a street-race on motorways and dual carriageways. I’m no saint, and there will be drivers out there who’ll have vivid memories of a bright red projectile firing off into the distance, but mostly I just let them go.

    You could spot these bargain-bin Brian O’Conners a mile off. They’d approach at speed, then suddenly stand on the brakes when they clocked the R8’s extra-wide rump. They’d sit behind for a little while, too close for comfort, before pulling alongside. I never looked over to make eye contact, instead fixing my stare on the road ahead. From here they might circulate the car once or twice, or sit in front of it, or even flash their lights to try to get my attention. After a short while, once they’d realised there was no sport to be had, they’d disappear, probably to recount to their mates the time they roasted an R8 on the A43.

    Then there was the fact that a car such as this one stands out wherever it’s parked. I was always nervous about leaving it out on the street overnight (living in a city, I had no other choice), a concern that was realised one morning when I found the driver’s window had been smashed. Unless you happen to have secure parking wherever you go, I suspect that underlying nervousness is, sadly, part of the supercar ownership experience.

    There were a few annoyances relating specifically to the R8, too, notably the fixed-back bucket seats (a £3000 option), which I’ve written about far too often already, and the width of the thing, which made certain car parks hell to navigate. It also needed a quiet-start function, as my poor neighbours will attest. Does this all sound a bit moany?

    Perhaps it does. Regardless, in just about every other sense, running the Spyder was utterly brilliant.

    How could it not be? I always smiled to myself when I caught a glimpse of it. I made a point of dropping the little window behind the seats on every single journey, no matter how tedious, and stretching the magnificent engine all the way around to the 8500rpm red line, with the exhaust in sport mode, just to let the V10 howl flood into the cabin. There’s no better way to start the day. Or finish it, for that matter. I suggested when the car arrived that this exercise would be more a case of living with a whacking great V10 engine than running a particular car, and it’s certainly true that the motor dominated the entire R8 experience.

    Once the weather improved, sometime in March, I could actually use the car as its maker intended by getting the roof down. I found that quite a calming experience. I wouldn’t drive the car particularly hard with the hood lowered, but instead would stroke it along and enjoy the sounds and the smells and the fresh air. It isn’t often you can use 533 wild horses to their full potential on the road, so having something to enjoy about the R8 at moderate speeds was a massive boon.

    The car averaged around 23mpg, with high-20s just about achievable on a long, steady run. It didn’t need a service during its time with us, but it did need a fresh set of Pirelli P Zeros (just over £1000 fitted) soon before it went back to Audi. Smashed window aside, the R8 didn’t once let me down in any way – which, of course, is how it should be.

    One final thought. Having run a bona fide supercar as my everyday car, I’m not certain I’d be in a hurry to do it again. Not because the R8 was in any way taxing – given its massive performance and handling ability, it was actually very easy to use – but because I wouldn’t want to normalise what is actually a very special thing. I think I’d keep the supercar for weekends and driving holidays. After all, eating steak every night would soon wear thin.

    Date acquired November #2016
    Duration of test 6 months
    Total test mileage 9667
    Overall mpg 22.8
    Costs £1048 four tyres
    Purchase price £167,740
    Value today £120,000-135,000

    Left: Prosser took the R8 to north Wales for a farewell drive. Where better to enjoy that mighty, 533bhp V10 one last time?

    ‘There will be drivers out there who’ll have vivid memories of a bright red projectile firing off into the distance’
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    Car Skoda Octavia Estate vRS 230 / #Skoda-Octavia-Estate-vRS-230 / #Skoda-Octavia-Estate-vRS / #Skoda-Octavia-Estate / #Skoda-Octavia / #Škoda-Octavia-5E / #Škoda-Octavia / #Skoda-Octavia-Estate-vRS-230-5E / #Skoda-Octavia-Estate-5E / #VAG / #SKODA / #Škoda / #Skoda

    Overarching VW Group strategy means Skoda models often don’t get the power they could. But there is a remedy.

    While the Octavia’s 227bhp is a commendable amount of shove, it’s some way short of the 280bhp-plus that the hottest Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon models deliver, yet all these cars use essentially the same 2-litre turbo engine. With the vRS 230 sporting an electronically controlled limited-slip differential and adaptive chassis control, just like those more potent Golfs and Leons, I reckon it would cope well if given, say, 25 per cent more go.

    So this month I’ve looked into some of the remap options that are available – the kind you might want to consider if you own a vRS – and it turns out the figures that can be achieved for quite modest amounts of money are eye-widening.

    One of the more affordable offerings is from Superchips, who for £399 will increase the vRS 230’s peak power by 59bhp and torque by 68lb ft, taking the totals to 286bhp and 326lb ft.

    DMS Automotive, meanwhile, takes things a little further. Its remap lifts power to 305bhp and torque from 258lb ft to 332lb ft. The price for this is £690, but it does include an individual mapping session in one of the company’s dyno centres.

    Finally, there’s Revo Technik, a company whose wares this magazine has experienced before in the form of a 371bhp Golf R capable of cracking 60mph in 3.7sec.

    Revo offers upgrade packages that comprise electronic changes alone or include further hardware modifications. Its Stage 1 package for the latest Octavia vRS is purely electronic and results in a scarcely believable 319bhp (as a minimum, apparently). That’s more potency than a Golf GTI Clubsport S. The company’s development Octavia, fitted with a Stage 1 pack, has posted a 0-100mph sprint of 11.2 seconds. The cost? £599, or £7 per extra horsepower.

    Any of these remaps would make the Skoda a very quick car, and as some of these tuners claim, the difference in fuel economy when driving steadily should be negligible if not non-existent – something that our experience of the more powerful factory versions of this engine would confirm.

    Pretty enticing, isn’t it? Sadly, though, my hands are tied, as evo’s Octavia is owned by Skoda, not us. But if any Octavia owners out there have had an aftermarket power hike, do get in touch at – I’d love to hear about your experience.

    Date acquired November #2016
    Total mileage 14,655
    Mileage this month 943
    Costs this month £0
    Mpg this month 30.6
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    Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe This German muscle car was always going to have to deliver something special to justify its eye-watering price-tag. So did it?

    / #Mercedes-AMG-C63-S-Coupe / #Mercedes-AMG-C63-S-Coupe-C205 / #Mercedes-Benz-C205 / #Mercedes-Benz-AMG-C63-S-Coupe / #Mercedes-Benz-AMG-C63-S-Coupe-C205 / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Class / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Class-Coupe / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Class-Coupe-C205 / #Mercedes-Benz-Coupe-C205 / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Class-205 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes / #Mercedes-AMG /

    It’s fitting that my last drive in the C63 S was one of the best: a one-day round-trip to Anglesey Circuit to drive the new 911 GT3. It was a long day in the saddle; one that started with a 4.30am alarm and finished with me arriving back home just before 9pm. In between was the best part of 500 miles of motorways, majestic A-roads and nadgety B-roads, all dispatched in effortless, engaging style.

    As I’ve discovered over the last six months and nearly 10,000 miles, that’s the nub of the C63 experience. I’d never run a Mercedes before, let alone an AMG model. I suppose deep down I never considered myself a Merc person. This car has made me revise that belief. It did everything so well, and with such big-hearted enthusiasm that even if the journey was a stinker I always found plenty to savour about the car.

    Star of the show is the 4-litre biturbo V8. In ‘S’ spec it’s an absolute powerhouse, feeling good for every last one of its 503bhp and 516lb ft. It’s smooth and refined, with a ton of endlessly elastic low and mid-range thrust, so in most situations you just dip into its vast reserves of performance. Yet when you do extend it, there’s proper fire at the top end. It’s a thoroughbred powerplant, no question. And fuel economy? I’m pleasantly surprised to report that over the six-month loan period the average was 22.9mpg. Yes, I saw sub-15mpg on a particularly enthusiastic commute to the evo offices, but the car countered that with a hugely impressive 29mpg on an epic 700-mile Cambridgeshire-Ayrshire- Cambridgeshire day-trip. Merc’s muscle cars aren’t the dipsomaniacs they used to be.

    Being an AMG, there were plenty of modes to choose for the engine, gearbox, chassis and exhaust, from Comfort through Sport, Sport+ and Race. Comfort and Sport were my preferred and most-selected modes. They just seemed to offer the best blend of response, fuss-free pace and comfort for most trips. However, when I did elect to blitz a few A- and B-roads, Sport+ was hugely effective and great fun. The seven-ratio Speedshift automatic transmission could really up its game and was uncannily prescient with downshifts. Unless I was in a particularly committed frame of mind, Race mode was a bit full-on, but even that had its moments.

    KN66 ZPB was very generously equipped, with options including carbon-ceramic brakes (£4285), lightweight forged alloys (£1735) and the AMG Driver’s Package (£765), which elevates the speed-limiter to 180mph. All in, the price shot up from £68,710 to £82,875: a lot of money for a BMW M4 rival. That said, the car’s fit, finish and looks backed up the big ticket. Sleek and compact, with a purposeful stance and a muscled physique, the C63 S had plenty of presence without showing off.

    The leather, Alcantara and carbon interior was a delight, with the glass roof and Burmester hi-fi (part of the £2595 Premium Package) adding to the feel-good factor.

    We often criticise cars for a lack of connection, and I was worried the C63 S might be a bit numb. Those concerns weren’t entirely unfounded, as it quickly became clear the Merc’s feedback was muted and finely filtered. The steering feel was hardly sparkling, but you could build a picture of what the front end was doing, and its rate of response was well judged. Just as importantly, the rear end’s communication skills were good enough that you always knew when traction was at a premium. I knew where I was with the car, in dry or wet conditions. It helped that the stability-control system was on the ball, and could be relaxed enough to let you have fun yet still remain effective when run in Sport mode. The ceramic brakes had great feel and made light work of stopping the 1725kg coupe, even when we had a quick hoon down the runway at the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground.

    The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres worked well through the winter and generated plenty of grip. And there was still a useful amount of meat left on them when the car went back. Must try harder next time.

    Traction? Well, that was at the mercy of my right foot and/or the electronics, but I was surprised how much performance the software enabled you to deploy in the wet. In the dry, the car easily nailed 0-100mph in nine seconds, and I was amused to find it would hit 60mph in seven seconds while performing an epic rolling burnout.

    Dislikes? Well, I quickly switched off most of the semi-autonomous driver-assist widgets (lane-assist and the like). The coasting mode, which disengages drive when you’re cruising off the throttle to save fuel, was annoying too, so I frequently switched that off as well.

    I tend to miss long-term test cars when they go, but this one really got under my skin. It was special in ways that transcend objectivity, and I can honestly say I enjoyed every one of those 9955 miles. You can’t ask for more than that.

    ‘Star of the show is the 4-litre biturbo #V8 – in this spec it’s an absolute powerhouse ’

    CAR #Mercedes-AMG-C63-S-Coupe / #Mercedes-AMG / #AMG /

    Date acquired October #2016
    Duration of test 6 months
    Total test mileage 9955
    Overall mpg 22.9
    Costs £0
    Purchase price £82,875
    Value today £62,500-68,000
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    Car: #BMW-i8 / #BMW
    Date acquired November #2016
    Total mileage 12,526
    Mileage this month 1074
    Costs this month £0
    Mpg this month 37.2

    Three years after driving one for the first time, Richard Meaden revisits the i8. Have his feelings about it changed?

    THE TROUBLE WITH

    The future is it quickly becomes the present and then, in equally short order, the recent past. The first time I drove an i8, during eCoty 2014 (the silver car pictured here), it very much felt like I was in some kind of time machine. The looks, the technology and, yes, the driving experience all felt like something very fresh.

    A few years later and that bold Bavarian vision of the future is parked outside my house, thanks to the benevolence of editor Gallagher, who wants to share the i8 love.

    Its presence has certainly taken the sting from losing my old Fast Fleeter, the stonking AMG C63 S (the final report for which you may have read on). I’m struggling to think of two more different takes on the quick, premium, German two-door, but the contrast is very good for revealing what I like and dislike about BMW’s statement of intent.

    Do I miss a big, ballsy combustion engine? When I press the i8’s starter button, yes, of course I do. The AMG was like a shot of adrenalin, whereas the i8 starts with an aural cue much like turning on a laptop. The funny thing is, so long as it has some juice in the batteries, that disappointment lasts just as long as it takes to pull the gear-selector into D and whirr off down my drive on near-silent electric propulsion. No, that novelty never wears off.

    Sadly, the thrum of the i8’s triple-cylinder petrol engine is less endearing – unless you really clog it, at which point it starts to become interesting. I didn’t mind it so much back in 2014, but expectations have grown in 2017. In fact, I’m the first to admit the most satisfying solution could easily be more/all electricity and less/no internal combustion. As it stands, the i8 feels like it’s caught between two worlds – those of an all-electric future and a past rooted in performance cars requiring petrol engines to feel authentic.

    Does it feel quick? When you floor it with all 357bhp, absolutely. The torque-fill from the electric motor really does deliver a decent shove, and the tall gearing adds to the sense of reach and elastic, accessible performance.

    Chassis-wise, it’s competent but a bit of a cold fish. The numb steering is the weakest element, which is a shame as you do feel inclined to drive the i8 at a decent pace on fun roads. The damping is firm but the body is nicely controlled, so it’ll find a flow on a good A-road. Some of the lack of feel can be blamed on the tyres, which generate decent grip in the dry but lack progression when you exceed their limits. And it all gets a bit spooky in the wet, with a glassy feel that offers little clue as to how much grip there is to play with.

    What the i8 does brilliantly is provoke thought and reaction. Kids love it – surely a good thing to enthuse new generations of car nuts – and even those adults I’d have down as diehard petrolheads are intrigued by the looks, technology and driving experience.

    You can’t directly compare the i8 in value-for-money or bang-per-buck terms with conventional rivals. But as a bold attempt at reconciling a love of cars and driving with an environmental conscience, this BMW has plenty going for it.

    Richard Meaden (@DickieMeaden)

    ‘Chassis-wise, it’s competent but a bit of a cold fish. The numb steering is the weakest element’
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    BMW F21 120d M Sport / #BMW-F21 / #BMW-120d-M-Sport / #BMW-120d-M-Sport-F21 / #BMW-F21 / #BMW-120d-F21 / #BMW / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-F21 /

    As I write this I only have three weeks left with the 120d, which will take me up to 11 months of ‘ownership’, so it’s a little bit of a shame that I couldn’t enjoy a full year with it but that’s just how it goes. I’m not being left in the lurch, though; as I type, my 630i has been collected from a Preston auction and is awaiting a thorough, two day detail at the hands of Ian of Lullingstone Cars (lullingstonecars.co.uk), who sourced it for me, before delivering it to me where it will begin its new life as my ‘sensible’ daily.

    My E39 is also coming home after a 16 month absence and dramatic makeover, so while I will miss the 120d I will have two cars to keep me busy. If you want to follow the E63’s journey with me then you’ll have to pick up a copy of Performance BMW as it will be standard for about 30 seconds before I begin to ‘ruin it’, as Bob so amusingly puts it.

    Not much to report on the 120d; it ferried myself and a photographer over to a shoot in Reading without any fuss, swallowing all of his paraphernalia with relative ease, and it proved to be as comfortable and capable a companion as it ever has been. Next month I’ll swap back to the original wheels and tyres, which will thankfully get rid of the tyre pressure warning bong, and bid it farewell with some closing thoughts, one of which is that this might well be the last diesel I ever own, which is food for thought.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE BMW F21 120d M Sport
    Year: #2016
    Mileage this Month: 547
    Total Mileage: 7905
    MPG this Month: 54.8
    Total cost: Nil
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    Italian? Check. V12? Check. Orange? Check. This Aventador ticked all the boxes for a place on Simon George’s supercar experience fleet. And it means he also has a new daily driver.

    NEW ARRIVAL #Lamborghini-Aventador-LP700-4 / #Lamborghini-Aventador / #Lamborghini / #2016 / #Lamborghini-V12 / #V12

    Date acquired April #2016
    Total km 38,653
    Km this month 911
    Costs this month $0
    L/100km this month 22.0

    For most businesses, sinking the best part of three quarters of a million dollars into new machinery is a pretty significant decision. When that machinery happens to be a #V12-engined #Lamborghini , it’s one you want to be particularly sure of.

    Only a tiny minority of the 6th Gear Experience’s 45,000 annual customers are actually petrolheads. The overwhelming majority are members of the public who have been bought a driving experience as a gift. This means most aren’t quite sure which supercar is which, although a Ferrari has to be red and any Aston Martin is usually associated with James Bond. That said, there are some cars that most customers instantly recognise as something special. The Ferrari 458 Italia is one, a big V12 Lambo another. Anything with doors that go upwards always goes down a storm. Throw in a bright colour and you have the pulling power of a bikini-clad Kelly Brook stood amongst a line of smartly attired fashion models.

    Enter the Aventador LP700-4. Another Sant’Agata supercar had been on the cards for some time. Prices, though, have recently firmed up, with even the earliest Aventadors seldom dropping below $600,000 (they cost $760K new).

    It was a tip-off through a main dealer that led us to LJ12 KJZ, which was a bit leggy at 38,000km but had a full Lamborghini service history complete with every invoice. And it was the right colour and sported a plain black interior. Not my personal preference, but spot-on for what we needed it for. Additionally, the carbon-ceramic brakes had recently been replaced at an eyewatering $30,000. Regular readers may remember my thoughts on ceramics, which work well for an owner who is familiar with how they behave but are not ideal for use by a customer who isn’t – and that’s even with an experienced instructor in the passenger seat with their own stop pedal. So whether the ceramics stay, we’ll have to see.

    After a lengthy inspection, a deal was struck at $590,000 and within 24 hours our new leviathan was negotiating its way at speed around Castle Combe. And I really do mean speed – 515kW propels just 1575kg for a power-to-weight ratio that matches a Carrera GT’s.

    First impressions? It’s difficult to write anything that hasn’t been said before, of course, but compared with the Murciélagos we have run in the past, the Aventador unsurprisingly feels punchier, although both models seem to have almost identical all-wheel-drive handling characteristics. I’m guessing that with its more modern driver aids it’ll look after you better than the older car in a crisis, too. It’ll be interesting to see how the Aventador copes on a wet track. On the road it certainly generates overwhelming attention, which as many supercar owners will confirm is great at first but can become tiring in the long term.

    With the imminent return (yes, I know, I’ve been saying this for months) of the monster-mileage Murciélago, too, it looks like the future is bright. Orange, too…
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    Ultimate Daily. We test VAGtech's RS3. With an explosive, tuned five-pot and everyday practicality, this Sepang blue RS3 is a true all-rounder… Words & Photography Davy Lewis. RS3 VAGtech’s potent daily driver.

    One thing I’ve found from working in the UK car scene is that you tend to bump into the same faces over the years. It’s quite a small world really, so it’s to be expected, but I still love it when I meet an old contact from years back.

    I first met VAGtech’s, Jon Watts, back in 2005, when I worked on Redline magazine. He’d built a turbocharged Golf R32, which he let me drive for a road-test feature. It made around 400bhp and coming from a 150bhp Golf GTI, it blew me away. Unsurprisingly Jon became known as the go-to man for R32s, but when the first generation of RS3 was launched, he got into Audi’s premium Sportback – in a big way.

    With his own demo car making big power, and being used to constantly test and develop performance parts, it was a regular at events and track days. This extremely well-prepared RS3 was eventually sold to a customer, leaving Jon with a quandary: what to replace it with?

    Well, that was an easy one – a brand new RS3 8V.

    The Sepang blue Audi is Jon’s daily, but also a test bed for performance parts. Over a coffee, I asked him his thoughts on the tuning scene today.

    “I think it’s come a long way. The thing is, cars are so good from the factory, that you don’t need to go too far – a few well chosen upgrades and you can create something that’s plenty fast enough for the roads,” he says.

    The RS3 is a prime example of this. The potent 2.5 TFSI unit not only sounds fantastic, with that characteristic offnote warble, but it also makes strong power. Matched with the superb s-tronic transmission and quattro drive, it’s one of the best, all-round, practical, performance cars you’ll find. No wonder they’ve sold so well since launch in 2015.

    Jon’s own car has been treated to the kind of upgrades that his customers ask for, so it represents a real-world example of what can be achieved. I’ve been fortunate to drive several RS3s now and I have to say, they’re great fun. Jon’s car is no exception.

    Let’s kick off with the looks. There seem to be a lot of Nardo grey, white and black RS3s on the road, which is fine, as they’re all great colours. But I have to say it’s refreshing to see something else, and Sepang blue is a cracking hue. When the sun catches it, this thing really pings.

    The subtly aggressive styling of the #Sportback means it doesn’t scream ‘look at me’ like say a Mercedes A45 AMG, but it packs enough firepower to show the majority of cars a clean pair of heels. I spent some time trying to figure out why this particular RS3 looks so pleasing to the eye and then figured it out – it’s the wheels. The genuine #BBS CH-Rs look absolutely, bang on the money, tucked up in the arches courtesy of Bilstein B16 coilovers. It sits just right – not too high, not too low and the offset is spot on, too.

    Performance wise, even in stock fettle, the 2.5 TFSI unit brings plenty of grunt to the party. But with so much potential held in reserve, they can easily be persuaded to give more. As a #Revo dealer, Jon is beta testing Revo’s latest Stage 2 software. It’s still at the development stage, so no official figures are available, but it’s likely to be around the 420bhp mark.

    The RS3 already had the required hardware fitted – namely a larger front mount intercooler and full turbo back exhaust system – these were supplied by Forge Motorsport and Milltek Sport, respectively. With the restrictive primary cats removed and replaced with a much freer flowing Milltek Sport downpipe with sports cat, the RS3’s potential can be unleashed. Getting at it is another matter.

    To access the cats, you must first drop the sub frame. I actually watched the #VAGtech technicians do this before photographing the car. Fortunately, being a new car, everything came off easily and it was a pretty straightforward procedure. Again, Jon wanted to trial it on his own car before a customer asked for it, so he knew exactly what would be involved. You can see a full fitting guide next issue.

    The hardware and software upgrades have given the RS3 a harder edge. It now pulls more strongly, right across the rev range and delivers an explosive punch when you really mash the throttle. But this isn’t at the expense of drivability or comfort. The #Revo Stage 2 development setup allows you to exploit the potential of that 5-cylinder, but it retains its manners. Around town it’s docile and just like a stock car. It’s only when you ask it for more that its character changes. Be in no doubt, this RS3 is very quick. Launch control is ridiculous and guaranteed to make passengers feel a bit funny. So full fat hooligan mode is just the flick of your ankle away. Yet, this car is so refined and well put together that you can pootle about in it all day with no fuss or dramas.

    The only issue, as far as Jon is concerned, is that his daily commute isn’t quite long enough – a sure sign that you’re driving something a bit special.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE / SPECIFICATION #Audi-RS3-8V #2016 / #Audi-RS3 / #Audi-A3-8V / #Audi-A3 / #Audi / #Audi-RS3-Typ-8V / #Audi-A3-Typ-8V / #Audi-RS3-Typ-8V / #Audi-RS3-VAGtech / #Audi-RS3-VAGtech-8V / #Bilstein / #Audi-RS3-Revo / #Audi-RS3-Revo-8V

    Engine 2.5 TFSI 5-cylinder, #Forge front mount intercooler, #Milltek non-res exhaust system from turbo back, #Revo-Stage-2 developement software
    Power Around 420bhp (currently running beta testing software)
    Transmission 7-speed s-tronic
    Brakes RS3 Stock
    Suspension #Bilstein-B16 coilovers
    Wheels 20in #BBS-CH-R wheels with 245/30 Yokohama tyres
    Interior Stock RS3
    Exterior Stock RS3 in Sepang blue
    Contacts and thanks #VAGtech www.vagtech.co.uk

    Top: Performance is very brisk! Above: Sports seats. Left: Half-Alcantara wheel is very nice. Right: Milltek cerakote tips. Below: 5-pot is one of the best engines around.

    “It delivers an explosive punch...”
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    / #Best-ever-sales / #BMW-5-Series-G30 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW-7-Series-G12 / #BMW-7-Series-G11 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F30 / #2017

    The BMW brand is celebrating an all-time sales high, both worldwide and in the UK. Globally the BMW brand achieved a new full-year sales record of 2,003,359, 5.2 percent up on 2015. The onward march of the X vehicles was certainly responsible for some of this growth with one in three #BMW vehicles now being equipped with four-wheel drive. With nearly 645,000 X models being sold worldwide this represented a year-on-year increase of 22.3 percent. Other notable growth drivers for the brand include the 2 Series (up 24.8 percent) and the #BMW-7-Series , which saw sales increase by 69.2 per cent to total 61,514.

    In the UK the BMW brand accounted for 182,593 sales, an increase of 9.0 percent compared to 2015 and over 15,000 vehicles more than its previous UK sales record in 2015. The #BMW-1-Series five-door was the brand’s biggest selling model closely followed by the #BMW-3-Series-Saloon , the #BMW-5-Series-Saloon and the new X1. #2016 also saw demand doubling for BMW’s electric and hybrid models with more than 9000 customers choosing an alternatively fuelled vehicle. The recently launched #BMW-330e-F30 iPerformance models have already become a popular choice with over 3500 vehicles sold in the UK last year.
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