Late-life changes make the Aston Martin Vanquish S even nicer to drive and put a bit of necessary air between it and the DB11
The Aston Martin Vanquish S is a necessary revision. Aston Martin’s ‘second-century plan’ has just brought us the DB11 – and very nice, so it is – but it still has other cars for sale. You know what we used to say: sometimes they look a bit alike and do alike. Of them all, though, spare the biggest thought for the Vanquish, whose patch the DB11 encroached on most when it replaced the DB9. The Vanquish was Aston’s most powerful series production model and flagship super-GT, and it needs to stay on sale – and stay selling – until its replacement arrives in 2019.
Some at Aston feel it wasn’t totally on-message for the segment anyway. “It was more GT than super-GT,” says Aston. One problem is that the Vanquish’s non-Aston rivals include the Ferrari F12, which is rather loud, rather urgent and rather 731bhp. So Aston has looked to inject a bit more ‘super’ into the Vanquish’s GT mix.
A few tweaks, then. Given that they’ve got quite a lot else on, I don’t know where they find the time, but here it is. Power is up from 565bhp to 592bhp, and while peak torque stays the same at 465lb ft, it’s spread over a wider range. There are new exhausts and there’s more carbonfibre on the outside, including bits that reduce frontal lift, and there are suspension alterations.
I say tweaks, but even the smallest changes are rather in-depth. Front and rear springs are both 10% stiffer and rear roll stiffness is up by 3%, but that’s not even approaching the half of it. The dampers have been retuned so that while the primary ride (body control) is much improved, the secondary ride (over small imperfections) doesn’t take a hit.
Then the engineers started talking through the compression and rebound damping alterations and your correspondent smiled bleakly and nodded helplessly. The upshot is that there’s less understeer than before and the car feels more agile. The steering – still hydraulic – is said to offer better connection and a more progressive build-up in weight. Oh, and they’ve added an S to the name.
I haven’t driven a Vanquish for a while, but I can tell there’s more noise on start-up. More all the time, in fact, from the 5.9-litre V12. The note is a bit more howly and hollow, although, in three hours at the wheel, I never found it tiring. I rather like it at a subtle 3000rpm upshift or downshift – actually all the revs you need on the road most of the time.
Yes, the Vanquish is still down on the F12’s power, but I can’t imagine the circumstances in which 592bhp is insufficient. Unlike the turbocharged V12 of the DB11, you do have to work the motor a bit to get a huge shove in the back, but it rewards the effort.
The eight-speed auto is the same as before, but there’s a new, firmer coupling between the engine and the propshaft (the gearbox is at the back), which makes gearshifts feel much more urgent, positive and – although they aren’t – quicker.
There’s so much more to the 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S than its ability to compress your eyeballs into wee-bitty pancakes while inspiring expletives that would make a Russian sailor blush, but such is the ridiculous level of linear g-forces this all-wheel-drive projectile can inflict upon flesh-and-blood humans, once strapped within its leather-lined environs. Say hell-oh to Launch Control.
And it’s so easy a monkey could do it. No obtuse sequence of button pushing or secret codes required. Simply turn the little drive mode select knob on the steering wheel to Sport Plus, push both feet hard to the floor (note: ensure there is a pedal beneath each one), grip the steering wheel, clench sphincter, then lift left foot off the corresponding pedal (that would be the brake if you followed Step 2 correctly).Before you can say “Holy F…!” you’ve passed 100 km/h and are well on the way to prison. Or to the underwear rack at Winners if you didn’t follow Step 4.
Now, I’ve never piloted a Bugatti Veyron, but I have driven a Lamborghini Aventador, Lamborghini Huracán, Mercedes SLS AMG, Audi R8 Plus, Challenger Hellcat and McLaren 570S, and the Porsche 911 Turbo S is the only one that gives me “launch” vertigo.
And of course, being a Porsche, it is engineered to do this all day long if one so desires. The main ingredients here are a rear-mounted 3.8L aluminum direct-injected twin-turbo flat-six that delivers 580 hp and 553 lb-ft from 2,100 rpm, a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox, all-wheel drive and an inherently brainy management system that directs torque and allows just enough wheelspin for consistent, sub-three-second hole-shot blasts.
An astounding engineering feat in itself.
Okay, we got that out of the way. So what is the 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S like to drive day-to-day? A breeze. Unlike some of the more high-strung entrants in the junior supercar segment (McLaren 570S, Lambo Huracán), the Turbo S can be as benign as a Civic when tooling about town.
In normal mode the drivetrain is smooth as silk, and while the adaptively damped ride still shows some of that classic 911 clunkiness, it is still reasonably civilized. And lo-and-behold, on relaxed highway touring the mighty Porsche turns in near-economy-car fuel mileage.
At $214,800 the 2017 Turbo S is pricey, yet considering its capabilities, blue-chip cred, bulletproof build, and all-year functionality paired with near-humane back seats, it’s the runaway left-brain choice in this rarefied segment.
Although who buys supercars with their left brains? Isn’t this all about passion? If you dared level any criticism at Porsche’s über street 911, it would be that it is a bit too aloof. It effortlessly conquers every challenge with a shrug and hiss of tortured air. To the intoxicating wail of the Audi R8 Plus’ 5.2L V10, the Turbo S sounds like an atomic vacuum cleaner.
Indeed, one could argue the Turbo S lacks soul, but the numbers don’t lie. This car delivers a turn of speed like few others, and it does so with uncommon accessibility. It’s secure, surefooted, and while its limits are far beyond anything mere mortals can approach (especially on public roads), no matter how hard you dare push, the Turbo S never feels like it’s trying to kill you.
If you want more soul and daring in your 911, go for the $200,700 GT3 RS or $211,000 911 R (if you can find one).
In lock step with the lesser 911s that saw big changes for the 2017 model year, the Turbo S gets new headlights and taillights, freshened front fascia and vertical strakes on the engine cover.
Inside we see Porsche’s new infotainment system with its larger touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and pinch and swipe functions. This is a huge improvement over the previous antediluvian affair. We also welcome the ergonomically successful drive mode selector that lives at 4 o’clock within the lovely 918-style steering wheels. Much better than the outgoing fussy buttons found (with difficulty) on the console, it is now very easy to switch between Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual while on the move. Each stetting has a preordained influence on throttle response, transmission mapping, stability and traction control, adaptive damping, active aerodynamic aids, auto start/stop and PDCC adjustable anti-roll bars. Individual allows for a custom dynamic cocktail.
In the centre of this controller is the Sport Response button. Pressing this nets a 20-second burst of full attack mode for those times when the Turbo’s “regular” performance just isn’t enough. Presumably when being bothered by a pesky Lambo or McLaren.
For 2017, the 3.8L flat-six in the Turbo S receives new turbos with larger impeller wheels, increased fuel pressure and reworked intake ports. Porsche claims a top speed of 330 km/h, which is up 11 km/h from last year.
The Turbo S gets standard carbon ceramic brakes, 20-inch centre-lock forged alloys shod with 245/35ZR20 front and 305/30ZR20 rear, dynamic engine mounts, rear-wheel steering, Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus along with the aforementioned adaptive damping and active roll bars.
A whack of sensors, servos, computers and hydraulics blend all this mechanical wizardry into seamless speed, be it in a straight line or something more challenging and interesting. In Sport Plus, the Turbo S feels ferocious – flip the paddles, feel the shifts slam home and revel in the downshift throttle blips. The car feels like it’s planted a few millimeters below the surface of the road, such is its tenacious grip on terra firma and the way it slingshots out of bends.
You really do feel like a hero, but what you don’t feel are all those marvelous systems doing their marvelous things. It’s just you and this incredible machine.
No surprise, my tester sported a few optional goodies, as all Porsches tend to do. Seat ventilation runs $960, and adaptive cruise with collision mitigation braking adds $2,850. Factor in front lift system ($2,960), Burmester audio ($4,230), sunroof ($1,700), lane change assist ($970) and a few other doo-dads and we’re looking at a sticker just north of 230 large.
There’s no other car on the planet like the Turbo S. Think of it as the ultimate expression of a grand touring 911. It’s insanely fast, brags enough technology to keep the International Space Station aloft and does a mighty fine impersonation of a luxury car (sans the cushy ride). Plus, it is built to the highest standards – it comes across as being one hundred percent bomb-proof. For those who can afford it, the 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S will be worth every penny, and very likely the cheapest way to give your friends launch vertigo.
4 years/100,000 km; 6 years/110,000 km powertrain; 7 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 4 years/100,000 km roadside assistance
Aston Martin Vantage
Audi R8 Plus
Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG
Pricing: 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S Base price: $214,800 Optional equipment: seat ventilation $960; adaptive cruise with Porsche Active Safe $2,850; Light Design Package $590; Porsche Entry and Drive $1,250; Front Axle Lift System $2,960; Burmester audio $4,230; Lane Change Assist $970; sunroof $1,700; A/C tax: $100 Destination charge: $1,095 Price as tested: $231,505
2017 Audi S5 Sportback review
New S5 Sportback is more spacious, better to drive and offers a calmer ride than before, but rivals offer greater involvement A car that is set to make life highly challenging for Audi’s these days pronounces S5 coupé, no doubt – the 2017 S5 Sportback. Offering an additional pair of doorways and a flexible liftback-style tailgate over its two-door sibling, the new five-seater has been built from the flooring up as part of the second-generation A5 Sportback line-up. amongst its competitors are the BMW 440i GranCoupé and Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupé. An attractive soundtrack accompanies this flexibility and urgency. On light throttle a loo there's a raspy exhaust note that grows in quantity and depth, at college starting to be quite menacing in Dynamic mode on the strategy to the 7500rpm redline. The eight-speed automated gearbox deals more effective smoothness than the old seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch computerized, specially on downshifts, notwithstanding it did baulk on occasion when moved quickly with rapid-fire handbook shifts at stronger revs. Audi claims a 0-62mph time of 4.7sec, which is 0.4sec faster than the old S5 Sportback. even if the additional functionality, gasoline intake is greater by 2.0mpg at 38.7mpg, this present day CO2 emissions are rated at 166g/km. The coping with is well resolved, though lovers may bemoan a lack of real involvement over probability roads. With excellent body management and better steadiness you can sensible extraordinary speed through corners. family tree there is better fluidity and experience of willingness to the new S5 Sportback in contrast to its predecessor, however it fails to be glad about the outright verve of the 440i GranCoupé or the comments of the C43 Coupé. Should I purchase one? It’s arguably better looking, more spacious and better to pressure than its predecessor and deals a calmer journey, so if you’re in the market for a quality govt class car you’d be silly not to accentuate the new S5 Sportback. It’s short, too. The new engine provides a extra size in functionality these days providing greater economic system and customize emissions. There’s more effective involvement to be had from its competitors, notwithstanding the Audi afford be recommended for its genealogy refinement, which is extremely extraordinary and at the root of its appeal. Audi has publicizes pricing for the S5 Sportback, with its £47,000 access aspect putting it about on par with Mercedes' C43 Coupé, however a few way adrift of the less expensive BMW 440i GranCoupé. however if the ordinary styling is to your flavor and the flexible injuries fits your approach to life, then we’d understand why you’d select it above the coupé S5, or certainly, both of these opponents. Audi S5 Sportback Location Ingolstadt, Germany; On sale Early 2017; Price £47,000; Engine V6, 2995cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 349hp at 5400-6400rpm; Torque 369lb ft at 1370-4500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd computerized; Kerb weight 1660kg; 0-62mph 4.7sec; Top speed 155mph; financial system 38.7mpg stumble upon( CO2/tax band 166g/km, 30% opponents BMW 440i GranCoupé, Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupé
What is it?
At last, the Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy has become part of the furniture. The Trophy was the beefiest version of the Clio RS range, but only available as a special edition. Now, accompanying a mild facelift of the Clio in general, it’s a regular part of the line-up. And, following a brief sojourn on a track in France, this is the first time we’ve had a steer in the UK.
Mild facelifts don’t get much milder than this one. There’s a new front bumper, which gets some signature RS driving lights, as well as a new design of alloy wheel and a titanium Akrapovic exhaust system on the options list.
Otherwise, mechanically things are as they were. With 217bhp, the Trophy makes 20bhp more than the regular Clio RS, while it sits 20mm lower at the front and 10mm lower at the rear. Our first go in this car was on a dry, smooth, small circuit in France a couple of months ago. Well, now it’s getting the autumnal roads of the home counties.
What's it like?
For the most part, the RS 220 Trophy is an engaging, enjoyable hot hatchback. It’s pretty firm on British roads – and feels even more so compared with the Ford Fiesta ST200, whose own dampers were recently revised to give it a softer ride – but taken in isolation, you don’t worry about that a great deal. Body control is terrific.
The chassis in general, in fact, is a strong point, which is no great surprise, given the pedigree of Renault Sport’s engineers. It grips strongly, has high levels of agility and is even a bit adjustable, although only to any great extent on a circuit.
What’s frustrating about this generation of the Clio RS remains, though. The EDC dual-clutch automatic gearbox means there’s no manual option and, although its shifts are fine, there’s no great level of interaction there. The turbocharged 1.6-litre engine zings happily enough at the top end but, again, the Fiesta has more rort about it. And when it comes to the steering – that ultimate deliverer of feedback and communication – the Clio’s rack is still less involving and rewarding than – yes, again, sorry – that darned Ford. But it's also, by my reckoning, inferior to that of, the DS 3 Performance, a car I have quite a soft spot for and which I think steers particularly nicely.
When the Clio was revised, it got some better interior materials, infotainment and switches, and they make their way in here too. They’re all worthwhile improvements – albeit small ones. None changes the intrinsic character or overall perceived quality of this five-door hatchback, which, to its credit, disguises the bulk of its extra doors well compared with its three-door rivals. So if you do need to put munchkins or a pet on the back seat, the Clio, slightly surprisingly, is the hot hatchback you’ll be wanting. That’s not quite what Renault Sport was about, though.
Should I buy one?
The RS 220 Trophy is a good car, make no bones about it. It’s grippy, quick and relatively enjoyable. Trouble is, ‘relatively enjoyable’ is not what we’ve come to expect from a Renault Sport product, and there is always that glaring, unavoidable comparison to be made with the Fiesta ST. Which means the Clio is perennially fighting it out for second place in this class with the DS 3 Performance and the Peugeot 208 GTI.
Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy
Location Hertfordshire; On sale Now; Price £22,030; Engine 4 cyls, 1618cc, turbo, petrol; Power 217bhp at 6800rpm; Torque 192lb ft at 2000rpm; Kerb weight 1204kg; Gearbox 6-spd dual-clutch automatic; 0-62mph 6.6sec; Top speed 146mph; Economy 47.9mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 135g/km, 22%; Rivals Ford Fiesta ST200, DS 3 Performance
What is it?
If you look at the ingredients on paper, the Smart Fortwo Brabus cabrio can be made to sound quite tempting. After all, it’s a rear-engined, rear-wheel drive two-seater that’s available for less than £20,000. According to Smart, it’s ‘the urban sports car’.
It may have just 898 cubic centimetres to push it along, but power has been increased to a fairly healthy 108bhp. With a kerb weight of just 1040kg, that’s enough to give it a 0-62mph time of 9.5sec, although an electronic limiter calls time at 102mph.
To help cope with the additional 20bhp you get over a non-Brabus Fortwo, there’s sports suspension and steering, retuned electronic stability control (ESP), plus bigger wheels with wider tyres. As for gearbox, there’s no manual option, just a dual-clutch automatic.
Of course, there’s also some added visual clout so people know how much money you’ve spent. This includes those larger rims, twin exhaust pipes, sportier front and rear bumpers and, of course, Brabus badging.
What's it like?
If you’re expecting the boffins from Bottrop to have transformed the way the Fortwo goes, then you probably don’t have a very good grasp of the laws of physics. No matter how you tune something so short, tall and wide, a sports car it will not be.
Yes, the Brabus feels more planted than its cooking relatives, and it can be hustled round corners faster than most other road users would expect. Even so, you won’t be exploiting the car’s rearward weight bias and rear wheel drive. The ESP may have been recalibrated, but it still kicks in early and sometimes abruptly.
That said, its quick, if inert, steering and large amount of lock mean it’s great for darting around town and has a ridiculously tight turning circle. The Fortwo Brabus feels nervous at speed, however, with even small steering inputs having a big impact on the car’s trajectory; it’s also easily upset by bumps.
The Nissan Pathfinder (Platinum model shown) gets major
upgrades for 2017, including new front and rear styling and a
more powerful V6 engine.
CARMEL, CA: Nissan’s Pathfinder is getting a number of changes for the 2017 model year.
Now in its fourth generation, Pathfinder falls somewhere between the mid-size
Muranoand the full-size Armada.
With an EPA interior volume listed as 4,468 litres (157.8 cu ft) that’s full-size to me,
but Nissan prefers to call it a “large” CUV.
Either way, the Pathfinder offers its EX Flex Seating system for seven with a
three-seat second row 60/40 split/fold bench and a two/seat 50/50 split/fold bench third row.
Lift a handle on the second row seat and the seat back tilts forward and the
cushion tilts up so it can slide forward for a claimed best in class access to the third row.
Also available is a power liftgate, which opens when a kicking motion is made under the rear bumper.
Introduced as a 2013 model, Nissan thought it was time to harden up the exterior
styling to make it more rugged looking with an entirely new front end incorporating the “V Motion”
grille design and a reshaping of the rear with a new bumper/rear panels and new taillights.
In the process, Nissan lowered the Cd to 0.326 from 0.34 on the outgoing model.
The 3.5-litre DOHC V6 now has direct injection, raising the power to 284 hp and 259 lb/ft
of torque up from 260 hp and 240 ft/lb on the 2016 version.
Fuel economy is also improved at 11.6/8.5/10.2L/100 km city/highway/combined for the
front-wheel-drive version and 12.1/8.9/10.7L/100 km for the all-wheel-drive model.
The new engine with its CVT transmission results in a claimed best in class towing capability
of up to 6,000 lb.
Suspension remains the same with McPherson struts with 26 mm solid stabilizer bar at
front and a multi-link system at the rear with 26.5 mm hollow tube stabilizer bar.
What is changed is the springs being 11 per cent stiffer at the front and 7.0 per cent
stiffer at the rear, which results in reduced body pitch over rough roads or potholes or when entering corners.
Steering response was improved with a quicker ratio which helps during turn-in and changing lanes.
The three-mode AWD offers 2WD for best fuel economy; Auto which is on-demand 4WD
that sends torque to wheels as needed and Lock for situations such as snow,
boat launching or on a slippery surface.
The interior is basically unchanged, but there have been some enhancements with a rear-view
camera with eight-inch color touch screen now standard on the base S model and it includes voice
The S also gets a Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System and streaming audio and outside mirrors
with side turn indicators.
New for 2017 is available Forward Emergency Braking and Forward Collision Warning
that augments the available Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Convenience features for 2017 include Moving Object Detection, Intelligent
Cruise Control and a class-exclusive 360-degree view camera system.
We were test driving the Pathfinder in and around Carmel, CA, at
the same time forest fires were raging to the east and south of the hotel where we were staying.
It was heartening the see hundreds of hand-made signs on cardboard, bed sheets or
whatever to hand with words like “God bless our firefighters” and “Thank you heroes.”
Back and forth between Carmel and the Laguna Seca racetrack, the Pathfinder
felt much more agile than the 2017 Nissan Armada we were testing at the same time.
Nissan has got CVTs down to a science to the point it responds like a “normal” automatic
and thus can be driven with verve, which the co-driver definitely did on the very twisty
mountain highway to Salinas.
The toptrim Platinum model we were driving was nicely appointed on the inside
with tasteful wood trim and a centre stack with nice, big rotary knobs for the HVAC and audio.
The EZ Flex Seating system is pretty slick. Even with a child seat fitted on the second row,
the seat will slide forward enough to allow easy ingress to the rear.
There are five trim models – S, SV, SL, SL Premium Tech and Platinum. At this writing,
pricing had not been announced.
Pathfinder has been a very successful model for Nissan, with more than 155,500 sold to date in Canada.
With the upgrades for 2017, the success story is bound to continue.
Nissan Pathfinder 2017
BODY STYLE: Full-size, seven-seat crossover.
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, front-/all-wheel-drive with CVT transmission.
ENGINE: 3.5-litre, direct injection DOHC V6 (284 hp, 259 lb/ft)
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) FWD, 11.6/8.5/10.2/100 km city/highway/combined;
AWD, 12.1/8.9/10.7L/100 km
CARGO: 453 litres (16.0 cu ft) behind third row seat, 2,260 litres second and third row folded
The 610 hp, 5.2 litre V10 is able to rev to an astonishing 8,700 RPM, making it one of the highest revving ten-cylinder cars ever made. Combined with all-wheel drive traction, the R8 will hit 60 mph in only 2.7 seconds.
2. Honda Integra Type R - 8,800 RPM
Some versions of Honda’s B18C engines were shipped with an incredible 8,800 fuel cut-off point. 20 years ago this was a huge achievement, and paired with the sublime handling of the Integra, a legend was born.
3. Honda S2000 - 9,000 RPM
Continuing the traditions of high-revving, low-displacement engines, the 1999 Honda S2000 came with an even more bonkers 4 cylinder engine. The F20C produced over 240 horsepower and revved over 9000 RPM. The engine held the record for producing the highest specific power output for a naturally aspirated piston engine (until the Ferrari 458 came along).
4. Ferrari LaFerrari - 9,250 RPM
Revving to an obscene 9,250, the F140 engine is a true work of art. The 6.3 litre V12 is good for 789 horsepower. Combined with the 161 hp KERS system, it makes the LaFerrari the most powerful Ferrari road car ever made… and it’s RWD! 😁
5. Honda S600 - 9,500 RPM
The predecessor of the S2000 boasted an even higher, 9,500 RPM fuel cut-off point. This was possible by using a small displacement (600cc), lightweight engine, that produced 92 bhp / litre. Not bad for the 60s!
6. JDM Mazda RX8 Type S - 9,500 RPM
Wankel engines are known to be rev-happy, but some versions of the RX8 are taking things to another level. With the rotary topping out at an unbelievable 9,500 revolutions-per-minute, it makes these beasts the cheapest ticket to 9k+ RPM territory.