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    Untold tales The time #Performance-Car upset Ferrari with a #smokin ' Ferrari-456GT Words John Barker

    / #Ferrari-456GT / #Ferrari-456 / #Ferrari / #1994 / #Performance-Car / #1994-Ferrari-456GT /

    I was delighted that we'd managed to bag a big beast to re-launch the Performance Car magazine road test.

    The handsome 456 would produce some arresting numbers at Millbrook and look great on the cover. Best of all, I'd broached the subject of tyre wear with Tony Willis, our contact at Maranello Concessionaires, and was delighted when he said that he was planning to replace the whole set when it came back from the loan anyhow. Very much game on, then.

    At the track we suckered our Datron Correvit test gear to the rump of the 456, wound up its 5.5-litre V12 and side-stepped the clutch. The results were impressive and right on the money: 0-60mph in 5.1sec (the factory claim was 0-100km/h or 62mph in 5.2) and 100mph in 11.2sec. We tried to verify the claimed 186.5mph (300km/h) top speed but on the banked Millbrook bowl (hands-off speed 100mph), the big Ferrari faltered at about 180mph, possibly due to fuel surge, so we didn't push our luck.

    No matter; we got a superb set of photos, including a lovely sequence of oversteer shots at my favourite corner on the B660. For the cover, art director Gill Lockhart and photographer Michael Bailie had come up with a plan that involved a cherry-picker and a standing start with plenty of tyre smoke. With Bailie and his camera poised high up behind the 456,

    I wound the V12 right up and let it go. It felt ludicrous, the rear tyres immediately letting go and only after a few moments finding traction and sending the Ferrari howling down the mile straight.

    'It looks great,' said Lockhart, 'but there's not enough smoke.' Hmm. I tried a different technique, which involved side-stepping the clutch and moving that.

    ‘The editor got a letter from Ferrari UK. The gist was that we’d abused the car and made it unsaleable’ foot immediately to the brake. It worked a treat, the front brakes stopping the car on the spot while the rear tyres spun.

    After about five seconds the car was engulfed. Job done. The rear Bridgestones were hot but remarkably unscathed. In fact, it was the track that had suffered; each tyre had dug a groove in the asphalt. Oops. We cleaned the car up and delivered it back, explaining to Mr Willis how well everything had gone.

    A few days after the magazine hit the newsstand, the editor got a letter A long and very detailed letter from someone else at Maranello, listing everything that was wrong with the car It started with the tyres and went on to catalogue everything we might possibly be culpable for, including minor paint defects, light scuffs on the leather and even a slight smell in the glovebox. (OK, I made up that last bit but you get the idea.) The gist was that we'd abused the car and, because people would know it from the article, made it virtually unsaleable. I thought we'd just shown what a brilliant car the 456 was, both dynamically and in performance. terms. Happily, Mr Willis agreed. A few months later, all was amicable again.

    Left and below In 1994, Performance-Car re-launched its road test with a cover story showing what was involved in obtaining a full set of performance figures. Staged pics of smoking 456 didn’t go down well with Ferrari
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    John Barker
    John Barker joined the group Ferrari 456 GT
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    / #2018-Kia-Stinger-GT-S / #2018 / #Kia-Stinger-GT-S / #Kia / #Kia-Stinger

    The Stinger gatecrashes BMW’s party, and shows that it can soak up the miles, too

    I guess it was a teeny bit provocative turning up to the drive of the still-prototype BMW M850i Coupe in the Stinger, what with Hyundai-Kia having lured a couple of significant Germans to work on the increasingly impressive Korean brands. They are Peter Schreyer, the former top Audi designer, and Albert Biermann, once chief engineer of BMW’s M Division. But, hey, it’s my long-termer, and when you’re going to assess dynamics it’s useful to arrive in a car that you rate, and for me the Stinger has great steering and brake feel.

    If I’d not been hurrying back I’d have taken the Kia onto some of the very best north Wales roads, but I had to make do with those to and from the hotel in Ruthin where the BMW event was hosted. Happily, this included the famous Horseshoe Pass (featured in the dummy ‘issue 000’) and I was pleased to find my take on the Stinger’s on-centre steering feel and initial brake response stood the test.

    These roads challenge a chassis and I confess that even in its firmer Sport mode, the sense of mass in the Stinger is inescapable. It’s a 1780kg saloon, and it was on roads more suited to fast hatches and sports cars weighing 500kg less. The many thousands of development miles at the Nürburgring have delivered much, but there are a few questions asked by Welsh asphalt that it can’t answer. Maybe, as with BMW, it will become a stop on Kia’s new car development programme.

    Another big trip this month was to Cadwell Park, which luxuriates in the nickname of the mini-Nürburgring. The weather looked good and the club racing had something for everyone – Caterhams for me, 2CVs for my big brother, and karts for my eldest two boys. After that it was off to see my mum in Cleethorpes.

    Across country from Northants to the coast, via Cadwell, the roads are ideal for the Stinger, flowing but challenging, and it soaked it up. It’s terrifically comfortable all the time, and that twin-turbo V6 has the response you need to dispatch the dolly danglers that would otherwise spoil some of the best stretches. On a long, gentle run (i.e. clogged motorways), I’ve seen over 33mpg, which is impressive. More generally, I’m seeing about 26mpg, and as low as high teens stropping along favourite local runs, but the trend is upwards, suggesting the V6 is running in nicely. And still the admiring glances come.

    Downsides? A few, mostly details. I haven’t yet found out how to stop the seats reversing and the steering wheel raising when I stop the engine and open the door. It’s unnecessary, and upon getting back in I have to wait for them to whirr back into position. Also, on first start-up or shut-down, the Stinger plays a tune that sounds like a Windows operating system firing up. Of more consequence, the lever of the eight-speed auto seems to be becoming less responsive when rowing between drive and reverse when manoeuvring, occasionally stranding me in neutral. Overall, though, I’m still very much enjoying life with the Stinger.

    Date acquired April 2018
    Total mileage 2751 Mileage this month 1527
    Costs this month £0
    mpg this month 28.5

    ‘It’s comfortable all the time, and has the response you need to dispatch the dolly danglers’
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    John Barker
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    John Barker
    ‘Some cars can’t cope with the tricky roads of the North York Moors, but the 13-year-old, 60,000-mile 996 Carrera 2 made itself right at home and confirmed that it’s a “proper” #Porsche-911 / #Porsche-911-996 – characterful and capable, tactile and engaging. It’s currently Porsche’s most underrated and undervalued car.’
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