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    Drive-my drives world's fastest supercar. The power to impress. Robert Coucher discovers that what's truly remarkable about the new Veyron Super Sport is not its sheer speed, but the civilised way in which it achieves it. / #2011-Bugatti-Veyron-X16-Super-Sport / #2011 / #Bugatti-Veyron-X16-Super-Sport / #Bugatti-Veyron / #Bugatti-Veyron-Super-Sport / #Bugatti-Veyron / #Bugatti /

    Let's not waste words. The new 2011-Bugatti-Veyron-X16-Super-Sport is the best supercar in the world. Priced at a cool £2 million and with just 30 to be constructed, already 24 have been bagged. Fittingly, it's the Veyron's swansong.

    The changes over the regular' car include an uprated #W16 , 8.0-litre quad-turbocharged engine that produces 1183bhp, up by some 196bhp thanks to bigger turbos, bigger intercoolers and better breathing. Torque has also risen to a staggering 1105lb ft, all delivered between an easy 3000 and 5000rpm.

    To handle this 20% increase in grunt the SS's drivetrain has been extensively re-engineered, with a tougher gear-set in the sevenspeed #DSG gearbox, as well as uprated brakes, suspension and steering. Crucially, the aero package has been adapted to suit this car's astonishing (potential) 268mph top speed.

    The ultra-high-speed Veyron SS is designed to be a totally useable road car and this is what makes it so impressive. You climb into the well-made but understated interior, fire it up. Select Drive on the auto box and trundle off. The steering is light, the ride is comfortable, the engine sounds powerful but muted, the brakes are viceless and visibility is perfect out of the front and acceptable to the rear. The Veyron is more Bentley than it is Porsche in terms of comfort and refinement, which is a real achievement.

    But find an open road and allow the speed to rise over 180km/h - about 110mph - and the SS switches into Handling mode. The ride height drops and the rear wing deploys. Touching a paddleshifter mounted on the steering wheel seamlessly switches the Bug from auto to manual. Depress the accelerator and as soon as 3000rpm spools up on the rev counter (the red line is at a lowly 6500rpm), which it does very quickly, then wham, the 1105lb ft of torque hits the tarmac and the SS is immediately at warp speed. But the deep rumble from the W16 engine remains subdued and the Bugatti does not lose its composure one iota as the superb DSG gearbox whips through the gears almost imperceptibly. The SS tracks down the road at impossible speed but the steering remains light and linear and the huge carbon ceramic brakes are totally reassuring as they evaporate huge speed with disdain. The Bugatti might weigh a chunky 1838kg but it never feels like it on the road.

    The Veyron's all-wheel-drive chassis does a valiant job of flattering the driver, making progress on any sort of road surface seem easy. And of course, this is all happening at speeds well beyond the capability of any Ferrari. Porsche or Bentley. And that's the surprise and the real attraction of this monster car. It is so powerful, yet so refined that you soon start to drive it like a gentleman, enjoying its supple ride, quiet and comfortable interior, and immense ground-covering abilities. It makes small aircraft appear horribly antiquated - it is not only the best supercar in the world, it is one of the best GT cars as well.

    Above How many Super Sport buyers will have the restraint to opt for a discreet colour scheme like this one, we wonder' The SS hardly needs to advertise itself.
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    No more slip, just more grip

    CAR: #1973-Porsche-911S-2.4-Targa / #1973 / #Porsche-911S-2.4-Targa / #1973-Porsche-911S-2.4 / #Porsche-911S-Targa / #Porsche-911-Targa / #Porsche-911 / #Porsche /

    OWNER: Robert Coucher

    As mentioned last month I took my Porsche 911 2.4S Targa up to Prill Porsche Classics, where Andy attended to the fuel tank, suspension bushes, tuned the fuel injection and exacted a few other tweaks.

    But I didn’t have room to mention another important fix. The tyres. The Targa arrived from Australia wearing a nice-looking set of 195/60x15 Pirellis. Lots of tread and in fine condition. With the car up at the workshop, Andy called to tell me he’d date-checked the Pirellis and found they were 11 years old! No great surprise, as the 911 spent its life in dry, speed-restricted Sydney, where tyre performance is not so critical.

    I have a bit of a fixation about tyres, especially fitted to classics. Original tyres are narrow and high-profile so have a smaller footprint than modern, wide, low-profiles. So you really need classic tyres to be fresh and grippy, not hard and slippery. I’d noticed on a rally and at an Octane trackday at Goodwood that the 911 felt rather twitchy coming out of corners under power. I now know why.

    I called Dougal Cawley of Longstone Classic #Tyres to order some fresh rubber. Dougal pointed out that 195 Pirelli 6000s are wrong and that I needed a set of original-equipment Pirelli Cinturato 185/70VR15 CN36s for optimum handling. At £179 each (£799 for a set of five) plus the Vodka And Tonic, Dougal sent the set to Prill. Longstone doesn’t charge delivery in UK, Europe and most other countries.

    Combined with the replaced suspension bushes, the new Cinturatos offer a great improvement and the Porsche now rides superbly. There’s no more crashing over transverse ridges, the ride is quieter and the grip hugely increased. On top of that, the previously good steering is now even better, with sharper turn-in and lighter feel.

    A very satisfying result, which demonstrates the difference a decent set of fresh, correct-spec tyres can make. I’d suggest you check yours (date-stamped on the sidewall) and, if they’re more than six years old, a new set will transform your classic.

    Thanks to Dougal Cawley, www.longstonetyres.co.uk; and Andy Prill, www.prillporscheclassics.com.
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    Robert Coucher
    Robert Coucher joined the group Classic Porsche 911
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    Wabenzi in Africa

    OWNER: ROBERT COUCHER

    CAR: #1988-Mercedes-Benz-560SEC-C126 / #1988 / #Mercedes-Benz-560SEC-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-126-Series / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class / #Mercedes-Benz-126-Series / #Mercedes-Benz-W126 / #Mercedes-Benz-W126-Coupé / #V8

    I haven’t mentioned the ‘Big Block’ before. This is the Mercedes-Benz 560SEC C126 my father has owned for over a decade. It lives in Cape Town and on our last trip over for Christmas he lent it to my wife and I.

    I had never taken much notice of it before. I was never mad about the colour - a Broederbond racing bronze, significant because it is rumoured the car was previously cwned by General Magnus Malan, a past Minister of Defence in South Africa.

    But I have read that the W126 series, 5547cc #Mercedes-Benz-V8 560SEC was often cited as the best coupe of the 1980s. Weighing some 1750kg and pumping out about 300bhp, it promises a 0-60mph time of seven seconds and a top whack of 150mph. So I pile my wife’s ample luggage into the huge boot and we motor off in comfort. The Benz slides down the motorway in air-conditioned serenity with its typical MB wooden throttle response, woollen steering and sluggish auto-box.

    Leafing through the Big Block's fat silver- covered handbook, it seems it has a fully stamped MB service history from new and the 167,000km (104,000 miles) reading is correct. Then I read that the gearbox has two settings: ‘E’ for economy and ‘S' for standard. Surely ‘S’ is for sports...

    Next morning, on a solo mission, I fire up the 560 and switch to ‘S’ mode. The Benz pulls away in first gear (in E it moves off in second) and instantly feels a lot more alert. After allowing the big V8 to warm properly, I reach the bottom of a long mountain pass and floor it. The Wabenzi draws a deep breath and hoofs up the road with a muted roar. The steering, despite its loose straight-ahead position, becomes accurate when weighted into the comers, the handling is taut and sharp when pushed, and the big brakes more than capable of slowing the beast down for the next bend.

    Later, with my wife back on board, I slip the gearbox back into ‘E’ mode and smile in the knowledge that the Big Block can be awakened at the merest flick of that innocuous little switch.

    Above Switch to the left of the transmission selector is key to unlocking 560SECs huge potential.
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    Robert Coucher
    Robert Coucher joined the group Mercedes-Benz W126 / V126 Club
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    Fit for further fun

    CAR: #1955-Jaguar-XK140 / #1955 / #Jaguar-XK140 / #Jaguar

    OWNER: ROBERT COUCHER

    The Jaguar is continuing to receive winter maintenance work at Classic Motor Cars of Bridgnorth. The big job was to fix the rear halfshaft and worn rear spring mounts, but CMC found a hole in the chassis in front of one rear spring mount. I thought the Jaguar’s chassis was built like the Forth Bridge. Well, they just found a big crack in that too, didn’t they!

    Hmm… seems neither is invincible. The good news is that, with a separate chassis, the repair is relatively easy and should last for another couple of decades. CMC also replaced a worn balljoint on the front suspension, which I already knew about as I could feel and hear it clonking while I was driving.

    The brakes had been playing up as well. New rear shoes and pads helped but it turns out that the front brake piston rubbers were causing the pistons to be pushed back in the caliper, thus creating a long brake pedal. That is now rectified.

    With the new balljoint in place, CMC advised that the front set-up was a bit low at 6½ inches (it should be 7½). I don’t like the front of a car to stand up too high (the XK had spent some time looking like a praying mantis) so I compromised and asked them to set the ride height at 7in. It now looks to be on an even keel.

    So, there was quite a lot more work than I had been expecting but, then, the Jaguar had been used relatively hard last summer during the Octane Tour of Scotland (which ended at the Palace of Holyroodhouse Concours of Elegance) and a highly enjoyable gastro-blast to La Chartre-sur-le-Loir on the Octane Hotel de France Tour.

    Thanks to CMC’s attentions, the Jaguar is ready for more many more motoring adventures at the push of the starter button – and that’s exactly how I like it.

    THANKS TO Classic Motor Cars, www.classic-motor-cars.co.uk.
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    Religious service

    CAR #1955-Jaguar-XK140 / #1955 / #Jaguar-XK140 / #Jaguar

    OWNER Robert Coucher

    I’m hardly a fanatical person but one thing I’m religious about is changing the engine oil and filter on my cars. I noticed the XK had done almost 3000 miles since its last oil service and with winter on the way it was a good excuse to motor down to specialist Twyford Moors in bucolic Hampshire.

    There was nothing much wrong with the old bus but the list of niggles included the rear brake lights only coming on if I stood really hard on the brake pedal – not ideal in busy London. And the handbrake needed adjusting.

    With the Jaguar in the workshop, the oil, oil filter and coolant were changed. The TM chaps found (using an electric heat probe) that the electric fan was coming on too soon, as the gauge over-reads by about five degrees, so it was re-set. The car also needed a bottom ball-joint, a brake pedal bearing, a new brake light switch, fanbelt, the wipers freeing off and the steering column bracket tightening up.

    The cost of the parts, which included fresh sparkplugs and a fuel filter, was a reasonable £200 – and the Jaguar takes 12 litres of 20w/50!

    Arriving at Twyford Moors to collect the XK from Ian Mills (pictured left), I was pleased to see it had been beautifully polished and valeted inside. I very rarely wash the XK as I don’t think water is good for old cars. Instead I use a soft feather duster to wipe off the garage dust, which works but not as well as a proper wash and wax.

    It’s amazing how the Jaguar always feels noticeably sharper after a few days down at Clanfield. Driving off, the brake pedal immediately felt much firmer, with reduced travel, and the engine is superbly crisp thanks to the six new plugs. The handbrake now holds the XK’s 1350kg weight and the front suspension is quiet thanks to the ball-joint attention. Pity there’s now salt on our wintry roads, as I really want to drive the XK. Oh well, the Number 19 bus ain’t so bad…
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    Robert Coucher
    Robert Coucher created a new group Jaguar XK140

    Jaguar XK140 Open Group

    Jaguar XK140 1954-1957

    View Group →
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    Are four cylinders enough? Jaguar’s F-type gets a new turbo engine of just two litres, but it still has the claws. Words Robert Coucher.

    / #Jaguar-F-Type / #Jaguar-F-Type-Coupé / #Jaguar / #2017 / #2018 / #Jaguar-F-Type-R-Dynamic-2.0-Coupé-Carbon-Fibre-Pack / #Jaguar-F-Type-R-Dynamic-2.0-Coupé / #Jaguar-F-Type-2.0-Coupé / #Jaguar-F-Type-R-Dynamic

    GAD! A four-cylinder Jaguar sports car? Whatever next? A diesel? As we know, a ‘proper’ Jaguar should have a large-displacement, multi-cylinder engine that’s smooth and powerful. But a new F-type has just been launched with a 1997cc turbo engine – surely this has to be a laggy screamer.

    The F-type is certainly a looker in both Coupé and Convertible configurations and the four-pot version appears almost identical to the proper V6 and V8 models. Only the single tailpipe gives the game away. The car benefits from a freshened-up bumper design, lovely (optional) LED headlights and attractive alloy wheels, 18in as standard.

    But hang on. Jaguar claims its state-of-the-art, lightweight Ingenium four-cylinder engine produces a whacking 300bhp, with 295 lb ft of torque available at just 1500rpm. This translates to 150bhp per litre, the highest specific output of any engine in the F-type range, and it’s also the most efficient, with a 16% improvement in fuel economy over the V6 and CO2 emissions of just 163g/km. Driven through an eightspeed Quickshift auto ’box, the F-type promises 0-60mph in 5.4 seconds with a top speed limited to 155mph. That’s as near as dammit to the V6 model!

    To our eyes the Coupé is the best-looking F-type and has all sorts of Jaguar design cues harking back to the fabled E-type FHC. The Convertible is cute but more derivative and less distinctive. But what will the four-pot sound like and how will it feel in action?

    Slip into the low-slung bucket seat; the interior is attractive with its large, central infotainment system, neat instruments and fatrimmed steering wheel. But don’t look too closely because some of the swathes of plastic appear a bit cheap. Thumb the starter button and the little four erupts with a big sound and settles down to a purring idle. It reacts instantly to a blip of the throttle pedal and sounds much larger than just 1997cc.

    Switch into Dynamic mode, select the loud exhaust setting, pull the paddle into first gear, then mash the throttle. The purring engine ignites angrily and the F-type leaps off the mark. Six thou’ comes up almost instantly, so click the paddle and second slams in as the F-type accelerates with seamless enthusiasm, accompanied with nice crackles and pops on the overrun. Well, well, well.

    OK, so it’s not a supercar but nor is it priced as one, starting at £49,000. But this engine certainly sounds big enough for the job.

    Calming down a bit, what about the torque? Amazing! Of turbo lag there is none and the four comes across as deliciously muscular. Into the corners the steering is beautiful, the chassis is planted and flat and the car turns in fast thanks to the four-cylinder being a useful 25kg lighter than the V6. Think neat, playful, nippy and obedient. Spring rates have been adjusted accordingly so the ride is excellent. Turn off the dynamic mode, switch the exhaust to quiet and the F-type goes stealth with very little engine, tyre or road noise: sports car morphs into comfortable GT.

    So is this a real Jaguar? It sounds good (if not as operatic as the V6 or V8), it handles extremely well, it’s fast, the engine produces huge torque, the ride is superb, it looks gorgeous, it’s efficient, it can be serene and it’s very desirable.

    So yes, Jaguar has a feisty new cub.
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    Robert Coucher
    Robert Coucher joined the group Jaguar F-Type
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