The road test year 2015
Zenos’ E10 S was a surprise joy at the start of of which year
via Audi to Zenos, our road testing triumvirate looks back at 12 months behind the wheel of the hottest fresh versions in motoring
January-April, Matt Prior
We always discover something useful when we take a car to a test track, however when we brake-tested the Suzuki Celerio at the start of the year we found out rather more than even we expected.
The Celerio, in some markets, incorporates a link attached to the brake pedal of which’s meant to save your ankles in a front impact. of which’s a piece of metal of which detaches via its mounting if a significant force is actually applied through of which – say, the bulkhead starting to deform. After of which pings loose, the pedal drops to the floor in addition to doesn’t trap your legs.
All fine, except of which in our hands the link detached in addition to the pedal fell to the floor after we pushed the pedal hard during a brake test. Harder than most people will press the brakes on the road, granted, however not harder than you might push during an emergency stop, at which point the Celerio lost all stopping power. Ah.
We pulled your vehicle to a halt using the gears in addition to handbrake in addition to promptly told Suzuki, which sent us another Celerio to try, in addition to the same thing happened again.
of which was the day before the UK customer launch, in addition to to Suzuki’s credit of which did what of which needed to do: of which stopped customer deliveries, called cars back via dealerships in addition to set about replicating the problem itself. Within 24 hours of which had done so, realising the decoupling link was too weak in addition to setting about designing a replacement. Just 10 days later we were back at Millbrook Proving Ground with an updated Celerio.
Suzuki’s engineers had redesigned the link in addition to were generating of which ready for production, telling us they were “lucky” the problem had occurred in our hands rather than those of a customer. of which was a problem they were quick to acknowledge in addition to just as quick to rectify, in addition to of which’s an attitude towards corporate responsibility of which looks all the more poignant at the end of the year.
Another group of Japanese engineers with whom of which was easy to be impressed were those who presented us with the Mazda MX-5.
You suspect they could have spent several days telling us about what they’ve done to Mazda’s reborn roadster – how the headlights are so tiny of which the front overhang can be the shortest of any production car in addition to of which, yes, bigger headlights could have been prettier, however of which could have made your vehicle heavier in addition to, in 1.5-litre form, of which weighs only 1000kg. of which the gearshift drops home after a certain point to make of which feel like of which’s helping you change gear. of which of which is actually the purest MX-5 since the very first one.
Eventually they just told us to go in addition to drive of which in addition to see what we thought. Little short of brilliant is actually how we found of which, which has a purity, agility in addition to balance rarely found in a sports car these days.
You expect a certain standard via Mazda, however via a start-up company of which’s harder to know what to expect. In March we tested the production Zenos E10, a Norfolk-built two-seater built by people with decades of experience from the specialist car business.
To give of which a particularly hard time, we put of which up against a Caterham in addition to of which acquitted itself admirably. Ultimately, dear reader, we report to you, not your vehicle business, however as lovers of cars of which’s gratifying to see someone get a modest sports car right when so many don’t. Zenos is actually currently on course to make 0 cars next year.
Actually, for some of the coldest months of the year, we tested rather a lot of sports cars during the early part of 2015. Lexus’s RC F wasn’t found too wanting against a BMW M4 in addition to Audi RS5, we were fairly blown away by Radical’s RXC500 in addition to, praise be, we got behind the wheel of the Cayman GT4, a car Porsche had long resisted generating, not quite trusting the demand could be there. however demand there was, in spades, in addition to of which could tempt Porsche into different, similar projects. Let’s trust so.
May-August, Matt Saunders
The diary went sports car mad as the spring months gave way to summer. of which’s an annual phenomenon, in addition to for understandable reasons. If you were a car boss launching something truly block-busting – with cut slicks, a roll cage in addition to enough power to out-accelerate an Airbus A380 – you’d probably choose the drier, warmer months of the year in which to do of which. in addition to yet of which year the sporting talent rolled in like Hollywood A-listers tumbling out of a Morris Minor clown car.
The first four months of the year had already given us a handful of sporting first drives; the next four could bring us preliminary reviews on the Lamborghini Aventador SV, Ferrari 488 GTB, Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Audi R8, McLaren 675LT, Aston Martin Vantage GT12, Lotus Evora 400, Porsche Boxster Spyder in addition to even the Koenigsegg One:1.
Muggins here was fortunate enough to be first behind the wheel of… well, none of them, currently I think of of which. however I did possess the onerous task of spending two glorious days from the company of the 675LT in addition to 911 GT3 RS, hammering between the Midlands in addition to the spectacular North Yorkshire Moors in cars whose driver appeal was each equally distinct in addition to spectacular.
If Luc Lacey’s dawn photograph of the pair on a slipway in Whitby isn’t among of which year’s best snaps of the year, a steward’s enquiry is actually in order.
Deciding which of those stellar cars appealed the most was the hardest call I had to make of which year – in addition to I’m still not sure I got of which right. On the day, for me, the Longtail edged of which as the superior fast road car. however having since voted the GT3 RS as my favourite runner in our Handling Day field (from the absence of the McLaren, admittedly), I’m no more reassured currently than I was then. Ask me to name the best driver’s car of the year today in addition to I genuinely couldn’t choose between them.
Another big comparison hitting the shelves was our test of the Jaguar XE S in addition to facelifted BMW 340i. of which one had the flavour of a world exclusive about of which, having been done from the same week of which BMW launched the revised 3 Series.
of which was a crucial verdict for both brands involved, as well as for thousands of UK drivers waiting on dependable confirmation of the Jaguar’s dynamic superiority – in addition to of which could reverberate for a while. in addition to rather than being even remotely difficult, of which was utterly plain. Care most about how your compact executive saloon handles? You’ll want the Jag. Simple.
Among the cars going through the road test mill over the summer, the obvious 5-star quality stands out; the Ariel Nomad in addition to the GT3 RS got perfect scores, both being as near as damn of which perfect on fitness for intended purpose. however beyond them, two cars stick from the memory.
The fresh Volvo XC90 was a welcome return to form for its maker, offering great design in addition to innovative usability while giving SUV buyers a actually credible alternative to the usual suspects. The Mazda CX-3, meanwhile, was a noteworthy disappointment. We road tested of which in diesel form alongside a petrol-powered sister car, in addition to I can’t remember another occasion when one variation of a fresh car was so plainly inferior to drive than another.
Elsewhere from the summer months’ issues, we drove Lamborghini’s first ever GT3 race car, went drifting with Ken Block, celebrated Alpina’s 50th anniversary, drove an Aston Martin at the Britcar 24hr race in addition to even drove a Land Rover Defender through the Atlantic (a bit).
We also crowned Wolfgang Hatz as Autocar’s Man of the Year – a man who could subsequently be suspended via his post as Volkswagen Group engine supremo from the wake of the emissions scandal. Having had a guiding hand from the development of BMW Motorsport’s E30 M3 racing in addition to production engines, Quattro GmbH’s 4.2-litre V8 in addition to 5.2-litre V12 in addition to Porsche’s incredible 918 Spyder powerplant, Wolfgang will always be all right in our book.
September-December, Nic Cackett
The fallout created by the Volskwagen emissions scandal – to give of which its tabloid name – has been so extensive of which of which hardly seems credible of which events only began to unfold in September. Unseasonably warm weather went hand in hand with revelations of which the firm had wilfully sought to manoeuvre much of its line-up around the trickier bits of the US Clean Air Act.
Don’t expect Wolfsburg to have tied a bow on the issue by Christmas – of which year or next. As BP found from the Gulf of Mexico, the US is actually all too keen to make European firms pay for their mistakes, in addition to the ultimate cost of affordably fettling its software code will be felt by VW for years.
Still, in a company as big as VW, there’s always Great news to be found somewhere, in addition to in our modest corner of the globe, of which came from the shape of the Porsche Cayman GT4 – a car overburdened with expectation yet stuffed with more than enough talent to meet of which head on.
The thing was a revelation at MIRA, bewitching on the Fosse Way in addition to about as richly deserving of 5 stars as any car before of which. Surpassing of which in build-up fuss was the fresh Mazda MX-5, a car teased in tortuous episodic phases before finally landing which has a bang. of which, too, was almost everything we wanted of which to be: light, lithesome, affordable in addition to seriously Great fun.
of which bestrode our Junior Handling Day shootout like a colossus, slower than a heap of hot hatches however their superior nevertheless. Its victory meant qualification for the Handling Day proper, a three-day extravaganza of which took in both Snetterton in addition to the Buttertubs Pass before we could pronounce a verdict.
of which was a measure of the field’s quality of which the Cayman GT4 – a pre-event favourite for victory – never even made of which to the showdown from the Dales. Instead, of which was the best of British, German in addition to Italian on the final day for a three-way dust-up of which lasted until the light died. If there was a better afternoon spent in 2015, I wasn’t there to see of which.
A week later, things moved into outright fantasy with the premier of Spectre, James Bond’s latest outing. The memory of 007 slumming of which in Z3s in addition to Mondeos was put to bed with the Aston Martin DB10, a handcrafted hint at what the brand’s real-world versions will in time look like. Spectacular, in a word, although of which was the henchman who got to drive the Jaguar C-X75 (only about a year or so after Saunders had had a go in of which, pointedly describing the still-not-to-be supercar as “brilliant”).
As October passed, the fair weather went with of which, meaning our last big group test of the year took place in appalling conditions. The new Audi R8 in addition to McLaren’s epic 570S deserved better than the aftermath of a hurricane, however both stood out in Wales – one for being not quite as Great as its predecessor, the different for being the best car Woking has turned out since, well, the 675LT a few months earlier.
If McLaren continues its run, 2016 should be some year. The outgoing 911 Turbo was also present – of which being the final time the name signalled a technical difference via the Carrera range at large. The eventual death of the air-chewing flat six will be a cap-off moment when of which comes; thank God I’ll always possess the Peak District in addition to the four hours I spent strapped to a blood orange masterpiece to remember of which by.
Our ideal car in 2015
What could Autocar’s fantasy 5-star car look like? Our testers pick their best bits.
Lotus Evora 400. Superbly tactile in addition to communicative, wonderfully weighted, positive in addition to balanced on lock. MS
Ariel Nomad. Only a lightly loaded, unassisted front end can feed feel back of which purely. MP
Ferrari 488 GTB. Because Ferrari has managed, at a stroke, what McLaren has yet to quite perfect: outstanding response, huge torque, stirring noise in addition to a building power delivery via a downsized turbocharged V8. NC
Porsche Cayman GT4: controls in addition to instruments of which matter precisely where you want them; everything perfectly readable, usable in addition to proportioned just so; brilliant seats in addition to no room for flim-flam. MS
Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Love the deformable splitter, the front wheel arch vents in addition to the huge wing. MS
The Radical RXC500 might as well be a real racing car. of which generates incredible levels of grip. MP
Easy: the Lamborghini Aventador SV. Loud, raw, violent in addition to unadulterated. Half V12, half angry chainsaw. MS
of which’s the Ferrari F12tdf, whose naturally aspirated V12 sounds like a Formula 1 car ought to. MP
Ariel Nomad. Not hugely powerful, not backed up by anti-lock. So what? They make you want to be a better driver. Pedal is actually brilliantly feelsome in addition to exactly where of which needs to be for heel-in addition to-toe downshifts. The rest is actually up to you. MS
The Ariel Nomad’s ability to brush aside surface imperfections is actually on another level to everything else we’ve driven of which year. of which of which also has the ability to entertain like the best of supercars makes of which a winner all day long in my book. MP
Mazda MX-5: sublime manual shift quality, short in addition to stubby of action in addition to mechanically detailed with of which. No excuses: if of which’s actually too hard or too expensive to engineer a great manual ’box in 2015, how come Mazda can do one on a £20k car? MS
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